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Last Service Ulladulla Festival 2015

October 12th, 2015
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1.Our Knowledge of God

One can stand in awe of who God is by just wondering at the creation around us. An electrical storm quickly shakes one’s sense of security. In fact any natural display of nature can do this.

 This can lead to all sorts of ideas about God which we see in religions and cultures around the world. We can even become angry at the unpredictability and randomness of the world and declare that if there is a God I don’t want to know him for allowing all this chaos and unfairness – the cry of many an atheist.

 So our knowledge of God is quite subjective and in many ways inadequate. We could say, left to ourselves, we really don’t know God and he becomes a product of our imagination or even the proverbial gap filler who gives an explanation for things we don’t presently know or understand.

 Often a lot of arguments about God are like the 6 wise men of Hindustan.

One of the most famous versions of the 19th century was the poem “The Blind Men and the Elephant” by John Godfrey Saxe (1816–1887).

The poem begins:

It was six men of Indostan
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind[13]

They conclude that the elephant is like a wall, snake, spear, tree, fan or rope, depending upon where they touch. They have a heated debate that does not come to physical violence. But in Saxe’s version, the conflict is never resolved.

And so these men of Hindustan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right
And all were in the wrong.

Moral:

So oft in theologic wars,
The disputants, I ween,
Rail on in utter ignorance
Of what each other mean,
And prate about an Elephant
Not one of them has seen!
We experience only a part of the whole and then extrapolate that to be the whole.

 Have you noticed that at a funeral there are so many people present who really don’t know each other. But they have one thing in common they know an aspect of the deceased. So when different people describe their knowledge of the deceased we suddenly realize there is more to his/her story.

We only knew something about the person and it isn’t who they totally are. In fact , it may even distort who they are.

 At best, we only know God in part. And the danger is that we reduce him to our thoughts or life story or the insular walls of our group.

 It has always been healthier to listen to the discussions over the centuries than to be limited to our group’s present experience. But discussion which is not founded on revelation can go around and around in circles.

 We would think that people educated in the OT, basing their life on the Torah, filled with 1500 years of experience and conversation would know and belong to God. Yet Jesus told the Jewish leaders “You don’t know me or my Father. You don’t belong to God.” Which is quite a shocking thing to say to very religious people who made the Temple of God at the centre of their way of life, with meticulous observing of the Old Coveant rules and regulations.

 Thus to be very religious, to be zealously devoted to God is not enough – even within the framework of the Old Testament. One can be nearer than other nations but it isn’t the same as really knowing.

 We can never know God as he really is by our own deductions or experience. The God we can imagine is not God but an image we have reduced to our creature level.

 And this leads us to the challenging claim of Christianity

 Listen to Paul describe from where is our true knowledge of God.

 2 Corinthians 4 :4-7

 4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.

7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

We heard from Gary Deddo about not having a 6th grade knowledge of Jesus.

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Message for the Day

First Service Ulladulla

October 6th, 2015
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Traditionally I like to review what we did last year and then introduce this year’s theme.

 Delighting in God

Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God.(Matthew 5:8)

One cannot think of a more wonderful anticipation than to see God face to face. As the apostle Paul wrote:

 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. (1 Corinthians 13:12)

Anything we know in this age is not necessarily inaccurate, just incomplete. But we know enough revealed in the face of Jesus to have a true knowledge of God and thus to really look forward to this deeper fellowship.

What does it mean to be pure in heart? The person whose heart is pure knows their heavenly Father is the giver of all abundant, joyful and good life. They believe in the end, all things have to do with God.

Cathy Deddo wrote:

The pure in heart, however, long for integrity. They long to have their inner life and their outer life be the same. They want God in every part of their lives and they look forward to the time when there is no slippage between their outward behavior and their inward character. It will be wonderful, they think, when there is nothing left to hide inside, no dark or shameful secret left….

Jesus also has nothing hidden or dark in Him. All that we see Him say or do comes out of His heart and can tell us truly who He is. Jesus is what He says and does. And this enables us to totally and completely count on Him and to know that as we learn more about Him our new knowledge will not contradict what we have already see of His great character…

And the wonder of it all is that someday you will see God, filling the whole universe with His glory, and all things able to realize their full connection to God, responding at last, fully and completely to Him and His glory.

At this festival we want to look forward to a time Isaiah the prophets said:

9 They will neither harm nor destroy
    on all my holy mountain,
for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord
    as the waters cover the sea.

10 In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his resting place will be glorious (Isaiah11:9-10)

Kerry spoke on Delighting in God.

 Jesus said unless we turn/repent and become like little children we will never enter the Kingdom of God.

Using the imagery of the joy of being close to his grandfather as a little child (the special smell of pears soap) Kerry showed we can love God for his own sake.

 He introduced the idea of El Shaddai which has the meaning the breasted God. It conveys the imnagery of one who is powerful, yet we are safe, content like an infant with his mother. This is how God wanted to be viewed by Abram.

 We are to be like a little dependent child- safe, contented and at peace.

 We had an excerpt from Gerrit Dawson’s presentation at the 2013 Orlando conference. In which he described that God is our susceptor –the one who chooses us as his own. He gave the background to the Roman father’s authority to receive or reject a child born into the household. He then shared the powerful message of Abraham and Isaac and how God took all the loss himself. He illustrated this with the example of the lady who had lost a child.

 Helen then spoke on people being blessed because they already know God. That’ why they have a pure heart. He will clean us up. Just like Peter who was conscious of his sin in Jesus’ presence. This was illustrated with the example of the stinky feet. Jesus came down to clean us all. Jesus said”Just come to me and be loved”. When we tap into this love we are washed , cleansed, made pure –receive Christ’s righteousness. We are to live loved. Do we know how loved we are?

 Drew spoke on on how do I know I am committed to the faith. 5 questions on how to examine oneself to be in the faith:

 1.Do you love God

2. Do you repent from sin

3. Are you humble

4. Do you glorify God

5. How often do you pray.

 Luke spoke on 1 John 2:14

I write to you, dear children,
    because you know the Father.
I write to you, fathers,
    because you know him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men,
    because you are strong,
    and the word of God lives in you,
    and you have overcome the evil one.

This is described in the past tense.

What motivates us in our free will is the hope we have in him.

 Zane completed the youth day how Jesus is being shared with a new generation sharing his experiences as a Crusader camp leader.

 Ken Slade spoke on the need to love God with all our being, not just our mind. It is too easy for people to lose their passion for God and slip back.

 The darkness is almost over, Jesus is coming. Renewal is in his hands. We are to be excited waiting, delighting and rejoicing in him. In the meantime we are to be a priesthood that that shares the good things of God with people, knowing that all things will be changed

 Randal spoke about how God prepares us to live in the City of God. He showed the temple imagery in Genesis and God’s relationship to Adam and Eve. He then showed how the City of God will be like the Holy of Holies – God filling every thing with his flourishing life.The whole universe will be the Holy Temple of God.

 The last thing to be placed in the temples of old was the image of the god. But God didn’t have a mute idol but us, male/female to represent him to the creation, tenderly caring for it like a mother with a child, and loving one another as God does.

We don’t build temples for God. He builds his own. We don’t make images of God, he appoints us. We don’t provide for him, he provides for us.

 Jesus is the true image bearer. It is not about us, but him. It is not us preparing to live in God’s city, but trusting him to change us with his life.

 Gerrit Dawson again shared with us the importance of praise .

 God has enthroned himself on the praise of Israel. We are to be the spokesmen of creation. We see the creation and take notes. We are the secretaries of his praise.

 Kerry spoke on seeing God face to face. He referred again to El Shaddai who asked Abram to walk before me, I’ll take care of the slack – you will be regarded as complete/perfect.

 It is not our maturity or what we have done, but to come as a little child, he views us as perfect because we are in his embrace,

 God wants us to view him in this way. It like a nursing baby viewing his mother’s face. God saves by his great hand, not ours. We cannot be worthy to see him face to face, but we can be worth it.

 The proud man is full of himself, the humble man is full of God.

 The Last Day’s message was on the God who is our life. We saw that only God can provide the living waters that fill us. We are to come to the well and drink.

 We are yearning for beauty, justice, to be able to believe in something good. We have a message of hope and new life that flows from Jesus’ resurrection.

 The God revealed is the one we want to meet. Too often this has been distorted. He was amongst us and witnesses saw him. The more we know Jesus the more we want to meet God face to face.

Today it is a hidden reality but one day the world will see the reality of our hope. In the meantime we are to foster hope wherever we go. And while our efforts seem small they will in the resurrection bring a great harvest.

 1 Corinthians 15:42-44, 58.

42 So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.

If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.

58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

 To bring the life of heaven to birth in actual, physical, earthly reality ”Jesus resurrection is the beginning of God’s new project not to snatch people away from earth to heaven but to colonize earth with life from heaven”. We saw the fulfillment of that in Revelation 21-22.

 I would like to read 1 John 4 to be followed by a song by Michael Card “Will You Not Listen?”

 1 Dear friends, don’t believe everyone who claims to have the Spirit of God. Test them all to find out if they really do come from God. Many false prophets have already gone out into the world, 2 and you can know which ones come from God. His Spirit says that Jesus Christ had a truly human body. 3 But when someone doesn’t say this about Jesus, you know that person has a spirit that doesn’t come from God and is the enemy of Christ. You knew that this enemy was coming into the world and now is already here.

4 Children, you belong to God, and you have defeated these enemies. God’s Spirit[a] is in you and is more powerful than the one that is in the world. 5 These enemies belong to this world, and the world listens to them, because they speak its language. 6 We belong to God, and everyone who knows God will listen to us. But the people who don’t know God won’t listen to us. That is how we can tell the Spirit that speaks the truth from the one that tells lies.

7 My dear friends, we must love each other. Love comes from God, and when we love each other, it shows that we have been given new life. We are now God’s children, and we know him. 8 God is love, and anyone who doesn’t love others has never known him. 9 God showed his love for us when he sent his only Son into the world to give us life. 10 Real love isn’t our love for God, but his love for us. God sent his Son to be the sacrifice by which our sins are forgiven. 11 Dear friends, since God loved us this much, we must love each other.

12 No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is truly in our hearts.

13 God has given us his Spirit. That is how we know that we are one with him, just as he is one with us. 14 God sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. We saw his Son and are now telling others about him. 15 God stays one with everyone who openly says that Jesus is the Son of God. That’s how we stay one with God 16 and are sure that God loves us.

God is love. If we keep on loving others, we will stay one in our hearts with God, and he will stay one with us. 17 If we truly love others and live as Christ did in this world, we won’t be worried about the day of judgment. 18 A real love for others will chase those worries away. The thought of being punished is what makes us afraid. It shows that we have not really learned to love.

19 We love because God loved us first. 20 But if we say we love God and don’t love each other, we are liars. We cannot see God. So how can we love God, if we don’t love the people we can see? 21 The commandment that God has given us is: “Love God and love each other!”

To watch”Will You Not Listen?” by Michael Card please click here.

Introducing Ulladulla Festival 2015s theme.

 What a beautiful passage. As the song says are you listening. We are seeking to understand the fullness of God. As you can read in the welcoming pamphlet:

Fullness of God

 “And to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:19)

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Message for the Day

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit

January 27th, 2015
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In  our Christian story we all had the same words said to us: all of us were baptized with the following: in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. And specifically it was said not into a denomination or organization of men. This means that we were baptized into a profound reality that is above anything on this earth.

 Did we ever really stop to think about those words? Perhaps we were uncomfortable because they are used in all churches, especially the Catholic church when they make the sign of the cross.

 What are they telling us about God and our relationship to him?

 The church was following Jesus’ instructions in Matthew 28:16-20

 16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

 So have no doubts about who is telling you this. He has all authority.

 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations,

 This was probably needed to be said because the church at the beginning was locked in to a Jewish centred view of the world. The expectations from their understanding of the prophets was that the nations would have to come up to Jerusalem to learn how to become Jewish.In fact the opposite is true. The church would go in to all the world, making disciples where people lived in all their diversity: from every nation, tribe, people and language.

 The authority of the risen Jesus gives this permission. It is a change in understanding the scriptures and how the Messiah would deal with the nations.This revealed the non discrimination of the good news. It is inclusive: meant for all mankind.

 But what is the common experience?

 baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

 One name (singular) belonging to three persons. It implies equal authority, divinity.

 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

 And at the centre of living in this name is Jesus: his teaching and his presence.

 As we have said before: it is Jesus who reveals and leads us to the Father and it is Jesus who sends forth the Holy Spirit from the Father.

 One way of describing this: the Holy Spirit is the light that shines on the face of Jesus revealing the true knowledge of the Father.

 How vital it is to have true knowledge of God. This underscored by the horrific things people do in the name of their God.

 But what is important to acknowledge is that the church is responding to a reality that comes down to us from heaven. It is not a product of our religious imagination, to satisfy our needs.

 In our understanding of this name most would say I have heard a lot about the Father and the Son, but my knowledge of the Holy Spirit is rather fragmentary.

 Should we be giving more time to the Spirit? And why does the Holy Spirit seem to be in the background?

 It is interesting to study Christian movements as they seek to rectify what they perceive as an imbalance in their theology.

 Some will become a Father God movement : there are actually books, one from a Catholic Abba Father and Protestant The Forgotten Father. I would say in the early years our church we had a Father God focus.

 Then there are the Jesus movements, rediscovering the radical challenge of Jesus in this world and how central he is to everything: the Jesus and emerging church movement. I would say we have rediscovered recently the centrality of Jesus in our theology.

 And then there is the Holy Spirit movement seen in charismatic or pentecostal circles. This tends to focus on the leadership of the Holy Spirit, particularly from the book of Acts. They feel his power and gifts have been neglected. This attracted a number of people who used to attend our church.

 I have a key point to take from this message. In fact it is a vital point to understand as we proceed over the next few weeks with sermons based on a series by Gary Deddo on the Holy Spirit.

 The key point:

 But we are not baptized separately into each. We are baptized into the name of all three. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit cannot be separated into some independent will or work. In other words you cannot talk about Father, Son or Holy Spirit without including the other. We have revealed to us a Father -Son – Holy Spirit God.

 Keep that in mind as we read what Jesus said in John 14 before he died. Notice how all three relate.

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Message for the Day ,