Blog

Weakness in serving Jesus

Gus’ blog  – Weakness in mission 

Some of you might be aware that I am doing some research at the moment. I’m a few years in and I have a few years to go. My subject area is “The inefficiency of God and vulnerability in Christian leadership”. It’s a provocative title but I pray that by reflecting on the way that God works in his world, we might as his church, be less burdened as we seek to serve him. I don’t feel very efficient – in fact I feel quite broken. I have a stutter and I suffer from depression. So how does God use someone like me? Maybe you’re tempted to ask a similar question. 

The agency for God working in the world is through the local church via his Spirit and his Word. God is surprisingly inefficient in this I think. We know that Paul the great Apostle, pastor, missionary and church planter showed that God works significantly in human weakness. It seems crazy! Paul writes of himself, “His letters are weighty and strong, but his bodily presence is weak and his speech is of no account” (2 Cor 10:10). Paul is afraid of the governor under King Aretas and so escaped through a window by being let down in a basket! Paul goes on to write, “If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness” I wonder if Paul applied for a pastoral job, whether he’s actually get it! He summarises his thinking by quoting Jesus, “My grace is sufficient for you for my power is made perfect in human weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

That’s why he boasts in weaknesses, because he trusts that’s how God works. We see that most clearly at the Cross where God demonstrated his love, mercy and justice, saved his people, defeated death, gave us an example of love and began the new creation all at the death of his Son in human weakness and then His resurrection 3 days later.  It is clear that our worldly idea of efficiency and God’s notion of efficiency are quite often very different!  

Why do I write about that here? Because in our weakness, though God’s Spirit and Word, God has said that he will grow his people and build his church. You might feel weak in that and that’s a good thing! That’s when God acts – in human weakness! So as we prepare for our upcoming City Bible Forum mission, trust that God is the God who will work through our weaknesses to accomplish his purposes. You might not feel very efficient or shiny as we invite our friends, family and colleagues, but that’s a good thing. If everything is humanly strong and there is no weakness, then where does the power of Christ show itself? 

Let’s be praying in our weakness about the people we might invite to the mission breakfast in particular. David Robertson is speaking on ‘Is there any reason to follow Christ in modern Australia? What a great opportunity to share the good news of Jesus Christ with those in our lives. 

With love,

Gus

This is my beloved Son, listen to Him

Gus’ blog

 Introducing our Lenten Sermon Series: ‘The Superior Christ’ from Hebrews 1:1- 4:13

On Wednesday night at our bible study leaders’ meeting we spent a moment or two looking at the  Thessalonian church. Paul speaks very highly of it. I imagined as we were reading it together that Paul came to Arawang. What would he say about us? 

In chapter 1, Paul thanks God for the Thessalonian’s faith, love and hope in the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul explains that the reason why they show such great faith, hope and love is that the “gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit with deep conviction” (v 4,5). Their transformation as a church family did not come via the power of human effort, but by the transforming work of the Holy Spirit as they received the word of God. Their transformation into a church marked by faith, hope and love was very obvious. Paul mentions that they imitated Paul, Silvanus and Timothy and were joyful in affliction (v6). They not only imitated Paul, Silvanus and Timothy but they also became examples to others and their faith went out everywhere (v8). Their transformation included a rejection of idols to worship of the one, true and living God (v9) and they waited diligently for Christ to return (v10). What an encouraging report! Thessalonians 1 is one of many texts that show that God’s people are transformed by the Spirit of God as people read the Word of God in all its fulness. I suppose that’s why Paul says to the Ephesian church that he “did not shrink from declaring the whole council of God.” Acts 20:27). 

In light of such thinking, Parish Council and I have agreed that we move away from preaching through the lectionary and I preach systematically through books of the bible. What this means is that I will write my own lectionary. We will still have an Old Testament,  a Psalm, a gospel and an epistle reading and so practically not much will change unless you’re reading the lectionary in detail before church. 

The reason for this change is so that:

1 we can look at the whole council of God (Acts 20:27) as it was originally intended, trusting that by God’s Spirit, He will continue to transform his people.  I would like to bring the church closer to the mind of the human author, preach in context and according to the literary structure of each book and fit each passage into into the unfolding story of God’s redemptive plan. 

2 we can build through the book each week which I believe people would find rewarding. It is also rewarding for the preacher.

3 we move slowly towards linking the children’s ministry into line with what the parents are studying. I love the idea of children and parents studying the same thing and having conversations about it around the dinner table. This would be down the track though. 

4 finally and importantly, we can get excited about delving into a part of the bible in depth. We can promote the next series and look forward to it as a church family. 

My idea is to preach around the school terms and we’d have a major Old Testament series and a major New Testament series each year. These major series would be broken up into probably 7 or 8 weeks each. In between each major series, we’d have mini series of 3 or 4 weeks each. I have often preached ‘summer psalms’ in January because they’re isolated and so as people are coming and going for holidays, they wouldn’t miss out on part of a series. 

Our first series, ‘The Superior Christ’ will be a lenten series from 1st March until the Easter weekend and will cover Hebrews 1:1-4:13. Can I encourage you all to be praying that as we delve into God’s Word in greater depth, the Spirit might quicken us, transform us and grow us as a family. 

With love,

Gus