‘This Then Is How You Should Pray’

It used to be really easy for me to do a lot that looked like praying before I realized that prayer is the language that builds intimacy between my Father in Heaven, me and all those I have been given responsibility and favour for, right here ON the earth. It is the language of communion, of love, faith and hope. Jesus didn’t just teach us some words to pray, He taught us a prayer to LIVE in our everyday lives. It starts with giving God the praise and honour He is due, not just for what He has done but for WHO HE IS. The very next thing the Lord’s Prayer reveals is God’s Primary Purpose. IN Christ His kingdom comes and His will is done ON Earth AS IT IS in heaven. This priority means we have access to the full provision of the creator of Heaven and Earth (give us this day our daily bread) AND we operate in God’s empowering presence which enables us to walk in the culture of forgiveness (being forgiven by God AS we HAVE forgiven others). I am pretty sure that living our lives with these things as our focus will actually diminish our distraction to temptation and minimize the evil one’s hold on us. Just prior to this, Jesus had spent time with the devil in the wilderness for 40 Days and had proved that representing and demonstrating the kingdom of heaven defeats the devil and causes evil to flee. I’m looking forward to unpacking this revelation about prayer over the next 5 or 6 weeks when we will play our part as a registered corporate prayer space with the 40 Days of Prayer Relay.

Visit www.40daysofprayer.org.au for more info and your search will confirm that ‘THE PRAYER GROUP WITH LEGS FOR HOPE’ will meet in The Hub Prayer Lounge EVERY Tuesday evening from 5.30-6.30pm, initially for the duration of the 40 Day National Campaign but then beyond Easter as the Holy Spirit leads us. If you have the opportunity, JOIN US from THIS TUESDAY the 20th February or whenever you can during this season of STRATEGIC PRAYER for Cultivating the Culture of Heaven right where we are. We have so much to learn and grow in together.

HOPE for the Children

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” This is a crucial strategy in the repairing of the signpost, ‘SEE and ENGAGE the harvest as Jesus did’. As many of you would be aware, I get requested to dedicate (bless) little children on a regular basis. The majority of these requests are from couples I have conducted weddings for, about 400 in the last 10 to 12 years.  This consistent season of weddings was the result of a revelation from God I received about everyday Australian young people really wanting God to play ‘some’ role at the commencement of their primary relationship on earth, if they were offered the opportunity. Over 80% of the couples I have conducted ceremonies for have had no relationship with a church nor have they had any or much context for a living faith but Karen and I believed that this reality didn’t mean they weren’t interested at all. Blessing families and children, whatever their ideas about Good is an opportunity to represent and demonstrate the kingdom of heaven in a special and invited relationship with people and is one I am honoured and privileged that Jesus has opened up the way for. But, it took a decision to move beyond the walls and be available outside the parameters of what churches think is still the domain of Christendom. I can talk about what I mean by that sentence another time but suffice it to say we are kidding ourselves if we believe that marriage is a Christian institution in Australia. That’s sectarian thinking at best and last year’s plebiscite is surely evidence enough. The church needs to reclaim marriage as a Christian rite, not by fighting what it’s become  but by being and living what it should BE.

I have made more mistakes in my relational life than anyone I know. I have hurt people and I have hurt myself and I am so sorry for what has happened that God has shown me how I can be a desperate champion for what marriage and family life can be and achieve IN Christ.   The journey has been challenging at times and I’m sure not saying I’ve responded rightly to everything I’ve learned from both God and people’s circumstances BUT I do know there is MORE and I am devoted to helping people find it and experience it in their everyday lives. This season of calling has not been without its opposition from both inside and outside the church, but overall, we have witnessed God do amazing yet simple things to bring people closer to the kingdom. Like in Jesus’ time, just because a person was healed miraculously, didn’t mean they became followers of Jesus so God has taught us during this endeavour to simply serve people at their point of need without manipulating outcomes, genuinely represent and demonstrate the kingdom of heaven, take opportunity to sow the seeds of the gospel beyond the seeds sown by representing and demonstrating, and trust Jesus with people’s hearts because we can’t make them soft and receptive. Yes, it is true that God chooses BUT the thing that gets lost in that debate is that we DON’T choose; not our job. Our task is to GO and MAKE DISCIPLES of ALL nations. Let’s sow into as many lives as we can.

As such, for about a dozen of these families, I have been asked to bless 3 and even 4 of their children to date. For the family I am highlighting in this sitrep, I have performed 3 weddings and 5 baby ceremonies in the past 9 years. On Saturday last whilst in Canberra supporting Karen performing in Lucy Sugerman’s backing band at the annual Multi-Cultural Festival,       I got to do the latest of the 5 baby ceremonies with the awesome and brave little Beau. Every now and then in this journey, God leads us to people He wants us to be more salt and light with than normal (if that’s even possible), and Beau, his older brother Braedon and his Mum Erin and Dad Gerald or Gezza as he likes to be known, are an example of one such family.  Beau turned one last week and his life expectancy is another 12 months unless there is life saving medical intervention or God has other plans. I’m believing for both because one of God’s plans could include lifesaving medical intervention for a whole bunch of reasons beyond this one circumstance. Beau has been diagnosed with Ohtahara Syndrome which requires 24/7 care, monitoring and record taking because the episodes of epilepsy don’t come from a localized point in his brain. If you are interested you can find out more via this link. https://www.epilepsy.com/learn/types-epilepsy-syndromes/ohtahara-syndrome

Not unlike our wonderful little friend Chloe, life starts for children with these disorders ‘normally’ then, at some moment in time the disease is triggered. These diseases of the brain are still the frontier of medical research and in both scenarios there are only a couple of hundred cases worldwide and no or little investment in specific research. In our Chloe’s case, her situation remains dire and the focus of our heartfelt concern and support but even this last week the Saxby’s received some welcome news with the Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute announcing it will begin studying the condition earnestly, largely in response to the Saxby family’s efforts to bring the condition into the spotlight.

Our intention is to develop relationships (to whatever level that is possible) with anyone God gives us favour for or some responsibility for. It is inside a trusted relationship that the kingdom of heaven can be seen and even engaged and so we will continue to serve and turn up to support Chloe and her family and Beau and his family in any way appropriate. More about this soon …. In the meantime I’d like to finish this reflection by testifying that God has opened up doors for the above described sphere of harvest engagement (which has largely been across the ACT and Sth NSW) to start to regularly occur in our region. I have purposely NOT advertised or try to make this happen. I have simply prayed that if God wanted us to continue serving the community through life celebration ceremonies and all the doors that service opens, that He would just open the way. I believe this has happened and so I ask for you to pray with me for the development of this kingdom advancing ministry for His sake and for His primary purpose.

Skip into Quilting

Thank you – thank you – thank you!!! to all of our church family who in some small or large way, helped us clean out the back hall and storage spaces last weekend. We are committed in this ‘HOPE Project’ to align our facilities with our mission efforts and this simple clean up will bless and welcome the ‘Illawarra Quilters Inc.’ who have requested to hire our hall for their purposes from the beginning of March. More details about this will be in ensuing journals but for now just to let you all know that the times our new friends will be in the building will be well communicated and advertised after this next week, anything that is currently booked will be able to continue happening and we will be doing some very minor work which will ensure that we can develop other areas of ministry at the same time the hall is booked and hopefully this is just the beginning of our Hub’s use as a community engagement facility. Thank you again so much for your partnership in all of this.

The Great Commission: ‘GO and MAKE DISCIPLES’

This reality is WHY we are developing a framework for learning and equipping which INTENTIONALLY lifts ‘making disciples’ to the top of our priority list as a church family. We have called this framework ‘HOPE College’ but even though it does and will provide pathways for people to gain recognized community wide qualifications in Leadership and Management, it also provides resources that will help us meet the equipping needs of followers of Jesus at each and every level of the life-long journey of discipleship.

Jesus commands us to GO. His commission to His church was and is to represent Him and demonstrate Him (the kingdom of heaven) wherever we are planted on the earth and our primary task is to make disciples; how? By baptising people who seek to follow the Jesus they meet when they encounter us AND teaching them to obey everything Jesus commanded to which Jesus says, ‘surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’ 

THIS FRIDAY EVENING (23rd) AND SATURDAY MORNING (24th) we will conduct our very first    ‘Taste and See’ College Orientation Boot Camp. The idea is to provide brief and engaging (stand-alone) work shop INTRODUCTIONS to some of the content of our study program for 2018 to give all who might be interested a taste of our pilot discipling framework and what an equipping community could resemble and function like.                                                                     NB: EACH Session will PROMPTLY start and finish according to the schedule.

Friday                23rd February                7pm to 9.30pm

7pm                    Session 1           ‘HOPE College: Its Core Values & Biblical Equipping Model’

7.55pm              Session 2           ‘Kingdom of Heaven Reasons for Safer Spaces & Safer People’

8.45pm              Session 3           ‘Letter to the Church at Philippi: Building a Culture of HOPE’

Saturday          24th February                9.30am to 12.15pm

9.30am              Session 4           ‘Leadership-Empowerment Challenge according to the ACTS’

10.30am            Session 5           ‘Discipling: Start with Your Gospel Story’

11.30am            Session 6           ‘Identifying Your Gifts will Refine your Mission Task’

Important Extra Information about this Boot Camp

  1. REGISTRATIONS ESSENTIAL via a simple message to the Reception Phone answering machine (4285 5014) or via email to Donna; secretaryccc09@gmail.com that alerts us to your intention to be present at ONE, TWO or ALL SIX sessions by NOT LATER THAN THIS Wednesday 21st February COB 2.  ALL sessions (for THIS camp) held on site at the Corrimal Community Church HUB          3.  Coffee / Tea and Bikkies provided                                                                                             4.  Cost is FREE but an opportunity will be given to make an offering

A Summary of this week’s message for Prayer, Reflection, Response & Action

The Series is … ‘Cultivating the Culture of Heaven On Planet Earth’


Our FOCUS Scripture is Matthew 5: 13-16 (Please read this first to give you context)

On Sunday, April 8, 1945, German pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer was taken from a worship service he had just conducted for prisoners to a concentration camp in Flossenburg.    He was tried for treason and hanged just a couple weeks before the Allied Forces liberated the prison camp. A doctor named Fischer was at the scene and in his report described Bonhoeffer’s final moments:  “Through the half-open door in one of the huts I saw Pastor Bonhoeffer, before taking off his prison clothes, kneeling on the floor praying fervently to his God. I was most deeply moved by the way this lovable man prayed, so devout and so certain that God heard his prayer. At the place of execution, he again said a short prayer and then climbed the steps to the gallows, brave and composed. His death ensued after a few seconds. In the almost fifty years that I worked as a doctor, I have hardly ever seen a man die so submissive to the will of God.”

Bonhoeffer believed the words of Jesus, even to the point of death.

‘You Dietrich, are the salt of the earth and you are the light of the world.’

When we accept those words, it may mean that we are called to do something which will lead to persecution, ridicule and difficult decisions. It means radical obedience to Jesus.

Radical obedience and Radical Discipleship are terms that many commentators use to refer to people like Dietrich Bonhoeffer and this is further emphasised by his famous book, ‘The Cost of Discipleship’ which may in fact have been a prophetic word for himself in the end)

As a very young Christian, coming from no Christian background with a simple faith built on my Sunday School experience and my viewing of ‘The Cross & the Switchblade’ at about age 13 the person trying to disciple me gave me that Bonhoeffer book which has been a beacon of challenge and inspiration along with my Bible since that time. I revisited it this week because I became aware of an interesting connection from last week’s revelation about YOU AND I BEING THE YOKE that makes it possible for the people we come in contact with to see who they have been made and called to be because that’s what Jesus did for US.

According to Bonhoeffer, ‘cheap grace is to hear the gospel preached as follows. Of course you have sinned, but now everything is forgiven, so you can stay as you are and enjoy the consolations of forgiveness. The main defect of such a proclamation is that it contains no demand for discipleship. In contrast to cheap grace, costly grace confronts us as a gracious call to follow Jesus, it comes as a word of forgiveness to the broken spirit and the contrite (or remorse expressing) heart. It is costly because it compels a person to submit to the yoke of Christ and follow Him; it is grace because Jesus says  “My yoke is easy and my burden is light”.  Grace = God’s empowering presence, the presence that helps us FIT well (from last week’s message) and empower us to be our FULL selves IN Christ and as a result – be that for others’ to help them find THEIR FIT and so on …..

Grace should result in discipleship or as Bonhoeffer referred to it …. ‘the act of following Jesus’ which is the true meaning of the original title of his book (Nachfolge – original book title)                  This is why discipleship has to be our intentionally renewed priority AND … Not only our new priority but I believe the true meaning behind Jesus’ words in Matthew 5. Check it and pray about this yourself.

Jesus doesn’t just leave the word at ‘You ARE salt and you ARE light, as important as those metaphors are for our understanding of how to represent and demonstrate the kingdom of heaven where we are BUT He talks about Salt that is no longer flavoursome and Light under a bowl. I believe a  prophetic word about the need to re-align our ‘following’ with Jesus, to look more like heaven AND less like a religious or Christian culture (as Bonhoeffer argued) that has been enculturated with the kingdom of the world. Jesus wants us to be able to SEE and TASTE the difference

In the preached version I shared a story about the conversion of my mate Greg, who lived a moral and well loved life as the eldest son of an active christian family. He DIDN’T NEED anything and I focused on him as a breakthrough study on WHY a person like him would ever find that he needed Jesus. I shared how I INTENTIONALLY discipled him by inviting him to move in with me and trusting Jesus to show Greg what he was truly all about; not a judging Father seeking a perfect moral person but rather a loving Dad who could make His life work more fully IN Christ because people can only be blameless if their hearts are being shaped by the Holy Spirit. My life was not the best example of the best way to live as a christian but according to Greg when he gave his life to Jesus, it was an imperfect life that struggled with its humanity BUT couldn’t be a conduit for what it was if Jesus wasn’t as real as he said he was.   

Jesus says …… You ARE the salt of the earth, You ARE the light of the world. If you take my yoke upon you and learn from me, you will discover that my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Not so outside of Christ’s arms. Our life IN Christ … IS the difference.

George Barna (look him up if you want to know who he is) writes that statistically ‘little’ difference between the cultures of the world and church in the western world.

The Challenge IS to be SALT and LIGHT (re-aligned to the kingdom of heaven) = we need to give up trying to achieve morality and learn from Jesus, become more like Him by taking on His yoke and letting Him shape us TOGETHER as His body in our community.

Like salt, clearing away the rubbish of distraction and making people THIRSTY for Christ …

Like salt, being a healing agent, not a healing magician with good tricks but Christ’s body that demonstrates the complete healing that is represented by the kingdom of heaven

Like a shining light that draws people out of darkness to SEE Jesus – a transparent illumination of our failures in the context of forgiveness WHICH allows US to SEE the Harvest as Jesus sees it..

Let’s cultivate this and create safe space within which OTHERS can experience the integrity and honesty that Christ represented as he prayed in the garden …. ‘Father if you are willing, take this cup from me, yet not my will but YOURS be done.’ yes even Jesus. That’ll do for this week.   

Here’s the Link to What’s Happening at the HUB this week http://corrimalcommunitychurch.com.au/blog/9-uncategorised/7-click-here

Here’s the Link to this week’s Prayer Diary for The HOPE Project http://corrimalcommunitychurch.com.au/blog/9-uncategorised/9-click-here

Here’s the Link to HOPE College, Student information & Application Process http://corrimalcommunitychurch.com.au/blog/9-uncategorised/10-click-here

Here’s the Link to Graeme’s Available Weekly Calendar Times https://graeme2.youcanbook.me/