In addition to preaching, Adam leads the Young Adults ministry as well as providing oversight for the Student and Children’s ministries. When not at church Adam can found enjoying a good book & a good coffee with his wife, working towards completing his Masters of Divinity or supporting any Queensland sporting team.
As I was studying for our current PM sermon series through the book of Colossians recently (“Jesus + Nothing = Everything”), I re-discovered an earth-shattering, paradigm-shifting and life-changing truth. This little but powerful truth is so simple, yet it is also so easily forgotten. And because it is so easily forgotten I believe it is the reason that so many of us struggle to make sense of our walk with Jesus and the accompanying joys and responsibilities.
The truth I am talking about is simply this: as a redeemed Christ-follower you and I are no longer citizens of earth but we are right now citizens of heaven (Phil. 3:20; Eph.2:9; Col. 3:3). Simple huh? But so profound and practical! Let me explain.
When you and I are born into this world we are naturally citizens of earth. We are born in sin as part of a race that has rebelled against its Creator (Psalm 51). Our sinful physical birth means that we are spiritually dead. This is why Jesus says to Nicodemus “you must be born again!” (John 3:3). Now I am quite certain that Jesus did not intend for Nicodemus to climb back into his mother but rather he meant ‘spiritual’ re-birth.
I have a confession to make. This isn’t going to be easy, but here goes…
I love to read.
I love to buy books, collect books and I even like the smell of books.
In fact, one of my favourite things to do is wander through a bookstore, scoping out my next literary conquest. Then, when I have a bit of spare time, I love to find a quiet place to be on my own and read. That is my happy place.
There I said it. I have outed myself as a nerd and a bibliophile.
The Easter weekend is possibly the most important event on the Church calendar. The cross of Christ and his empty tomb stand at the very centre of the Christian faith. But many people ask the question; why? In fact, throughout history people have asked over and over again, why did Jesus Christ suffer and die? It is a question that on the surface appears simple to answer, and in fact it is. But it is also a question that we could spend the rest of our lives answering and reflecting upon. I like what Tim Keller says: “The gospel has been described as a pool in which a toddler can wade and yet an elephant can swim. It is both simple enough to tell to a child and profound enough for the greatest minds to explore.” So I would like to remind you of a few reasons why Jesus came to die and the ensuing results and in doing so I hope that you would take a swim with the elephants; plumbing the rich depths of the Easter message.
On Wednesday morning I was fortunate to attend, along with Pastor Jim, an information session hosted by the Pine Rivers Care Network (PRCN). I was greatly encouraged to hear about all the good work that the PRCN is involved in and I must admit I was also a little proud to hear how BPCC is a vital cog in all of that. The PRCN is a network of churches and organizations that bring together shared ideas, resources and information to meet a wide range of needs in our community including financial support (CAP Money, NILS), housing needs (homeless support services), material resources (baby needs, furniture, school needs), legal and financial advocacy, as well as emotional and social support (counselling, medical, support groups).
It was so encouraging to be around people that genuinely love people and want to help them, even if they receive nothing in return (Luke 14:12-14). It was so encouraging to hear stories from people who are doing what Jesus’ commanded by feeding the hungry, by giving thirsty people a drink, by welcoming in strangers, by clothing the naked, and by visiting the sick and infirm (Matt. 25:41-46). It was so encouraging to hear how so many people from BPCC are intimately involved in these efforts as well. Whether that is in the Community Cupboard (food relief), CAP Money (budgeting), NILS (No Interest Loan Scheme) or the Simply Single ministry (which we found out is unique in our area and is meeting a great need). BPCC, be encouraged, you are making a difference!
I am not a very good ‘pray-er’. I’m not sure if that is too honest but it is true. Laying my heart bare before the Lord and seeking His will and intervention in every area of my life is not something that comes naturally to me. I have to work at it. And I don’t think I am alone. I get the impression from talking to a number of people that many followers of Jesus Christ find prayer just plain old difficult. We pray at life group or before meals or maybe when illness strikes but beyond that we are largely silent before the Lord.
And I think I might know why.
Beneath prayerlessness, beneath our lack of urgency and fervour to seek the Lord is the illusion that ultimately we are in control. We feel like we are in charge of how things work out in our lives. Our lack of prayer reveals that we are quietly confident that our intellect, our time, our money and our talent are all that we need to get by in life. That illusion remains firmly in place until something happens to completely shatter it; whether it be sickness, loss of work or a loved one, we suddenly realise our actual position before God; completely dependent and utterly helpless.
A couple of weekends ago, Molly and I ventured south to Geelong where we attended the ‘Fan the Flame’ conference at the Reformed Theological College. ‘Fan the Flame’ is an annual conference held by the RTC aimed at encouraging and equipping anyone that feels they might be called to pastoral ministry in the CRCA. It was a rich and edifying couple of days for both Molly and I as we sat under some brilliant exposition of God’s Word and learnt what it means to be “called” to ministry and to fulfil the mission that Jesus has given the Church to make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:19). It was a blessing to attend and Molly and I both thank you, our Church family, for sending us along.
I want to ask you a question.
Chances are it is going to be a convicting one. It was for me when I asked myself this same question earlier this year. It caused me to take stock and evaluate a number of things in my life. It caused me to change the way I pray and it created a big shift in the way that I relate to God.
The question arose when a few months ago I was listening to a sermon podcast on Acts 4 and the early church by Andy Stanley. Andy is a well known and well respected preacher and in this sermon he asks his listeners an incredibly insightful question. It is a question that I want to ask you today and it is this: If God answered all the prayers you have prayed this past week what difference would they have made in the world?
Very simple but very convicting. Let me ask that again: If God answered all the prayers you have prayed this past week what difference would they have made in the world?
For most of us, as a result of the prayers that we pray, our own lives and the lives of our families would probably be very different. We probably would have an abundance of safety and travelling mercies and maybe even more money. But beyond our own circle and our own lives would our prayers have made any impact? Could our prayers have been bigger? Bolder? Focused more on others? More fervent to see people far from God come to know and love Him?
Last week I had the privilege of attending Hillsong Conference 2012 in Sydney. I went as part of a group of around 70 students from Genesis Christian College as well as about 20 people from BPCC. This year was my fourth time attending the conference so I knew what was coming; passionate worship, powerful teaching, helpful elective sessions and way too much McDonalds.
However the thing that never ceases to amaze me about Hillsong Conference is the amazing spirit of unity amongst the people in attendance. For those of you that don’t know, Hillsong Conference is a gathering of roughly 20,000 believers (mostly) who all represent hundreds of different churches and many different denominations and ministries. In fact, during one of the morning rallies, Hillsong Lead Pastor Joel A’Bell, shared with us the different denominations that were present at the conference; Catholic to Charismatic, Baptist to Brethren, Salvation Army to Seventh Day Adventist, Presbyterian to Pentecostal.
I am guessing that a lot of you grew up thinking about the Bible the way I did. I am guessing that a lot of you went to Sunday School or Catechism and learnt about the Bible the way I did. I learnt, whether implicitly or explicitly, that the Bible is God’s instruction manual; filled with rules to keep and examples to follow. If you had of asked me, I could have told you all about the stories in the Bible; Noah and the Ark, David and Goliath and Daniel in the lion’s den. I could have told you that we should obey God like Noah did, trust God like David did and be daring and brave like Daniel was. But now I realise that, while all of these lessons may be true and good, they actually miss the point of what the Bible is all about.
You see, it is entirely possible to read and study the Bible, to memorize parts of the Bible while missing the very point of the Bible! In other words, it is possible to read the stories and miss the Story. This is what happened to two of Jesus disciples on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24.
There were times when I used to dread going to Church... My parents would wake me up early (okay it was usually around 8am which, in my defence, when you are a teenager feels more like 4am) and I would have to brush my hair (God forbid) and put on some ‘nice’ clothes (something with a collar) and then sit though the singing and the long prayers. Of course, I am being overly dramatic but there was a time for me when Church wasnot a chance to connect with God and His people but more of a weekly appointment that I had to keep.
Thankfully, God is gracious and over the years my view of Church changed dramatically! Instead of attending just to say that I had, I started to look forward to going to Church, I looked forward to hearing the Bible taught, I looked forward to seeing people prayed for and I looked forward to spending time with other believers. The gospel changed my heart and moved me towards seeing Church not as a service to attend but as a family to belong to and a place to serve God and others. My motivation for coming to Church changed from what I could get out of it, to what I could bring and give and contribute.