Thursday, January 31, 2013

Sacrificial Seconds

"When you offer blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong?  When you sacrifice lame or diseased animals, is that not wrong?  Try offering them to your governor!  Would he be pleased with you?  Would he accept you?" says the Lord Almighty (Malachi 1:8)

The sacrificial offering requirements for the people of Israel outlined in the Old Testament may seem to the modern reader as onerous and unreasonable, but they were fundamentally about giving God our best.  Offering God anything less than our best diminishes our act of worship as it devalues the worthiness of the One whom we worship.  While these sacrificial requirements were fulfilled by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, our response to God is no less in the New Testament.  Jesus told the disciples to leave everything and follow Him; the believers in the early church shared everything they had; and Paul urged the Romans, "In view of God's mercy, to offer yourselves as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God" (Romans 12:1).

I don't want to dishonour God with sacrificial seconds, I want to honour Him with ALL that I am, loving Him with 'all my heart, my soul and my mind' (Matthew 22:37)!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Living By Faith, Not By Sight

There is an interesting battle in our family car now our kids are on the threshold of being teenagers - the battle between my favourite easy listening radio station and their iPods music playlist!  Much to the delight of us all, relative peace has returned to the car with a mutual love of the band "He is We."  Quoting their Wikipedia page, "He is We is an indie pop band from Tacoma, Washington.  The band originally was made up of Trevor Kelly and Rachel Taylor as the lead vocalist."

While I have no knowledge of their faith perspective, or the background to their song "Tell Me," I find myself connecting with the lyrics of the refrain:

Tell me, “Don’t give up!”
Tell me, “There’s someone out there!”
Give me a pure love
Give me a forever that we both can share

Show me it's okay,
Show me it's all right,
That I'm far from crazy for living by faith, not by sight

As a person of faith I am often stepping out into the unknown pursuing a strategy for a future that is neither seen nor understood by those who don't share the same vision.  There are times when living by faith leaves me with a sense of vulnerability where I wrestle with my own doubt, let alone the doubt of others who think I'm a little crazy.  When I have experienced ridicule and opposition for living by faith, I have looked to God and like minded people to "Tell me, 'Don't give up!'" and "Show me it's's all right."

The Scripture reminds me that "faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see" (Hebrews 11:1).  Yet, rather than inferring that faith is a blind journey of chance, the confidence and certainty that comes through "living by faith, not by sight" is found in the knowledge that the Object of my faith sees what I do not see.  I believe in a God who is outside of time and space and calls me to step out in faith towards a future that has already been planned for me.  While that future may still be full of uncertainty, it is a vision of what could be and should be and "I'm far from crazy" exercising faith in a preferred reality that reflects God's purpose for His creation.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


I fear that the pendulum of leadership has swung so far towards ‘self-care’ that the fighting spirit of leadership has been weakened.  No one wants to see a leader burn out, but few are inspired by leaders who give up!

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Resources Are In The Harvest

I once heard about a famous preacher who was invited to speak at a Church's new building fundraising campaign.  He got the congregation all excited when he declared that all the money they needed for their new building had already been provided by God.  Their excitement soon subsided, however, when he went on to say that it was in their wallets and was just waiting for them to release it!

I hold a firm belief that God provides everything we require to fulfil His mission.  Today, I heard a statement that took this belief to another dimension, capturing my imagination - "The resources are in the harvest."  Think about that for a moment.  The resources that we need to fulfil God's purposes are not only among those who are called to that purpose, but will be found among those whom we are called to reach.  The implications of this statement is that our response to a lack of resources for a God inspired mission should never be to withdraw from mission but to advance the mission.  If the people of God generously sowed into the mission and reaped the harvest that awaits the fulfilment of the mission, then it seems to me that the mission should never be lacking.  I know that sounds simplistic and maybe a little naive, but I worship a faithful and generous God who always provides for His purposes.  So why then do so many mission endeavours in a well resourced western world struggle with resources?  If we follow my interpretation of this statement through to it's logical conclusion, then I think the answer has something to do with a lack of sowing and reaping by those called to do the mission!  I think it has little to do with accounting and way more to do with discipling.  

Let us inspire and challenge the people of God to sow extravagantly and reap enthusiastically and watch the God of the harvest pour out more blessings than we could ever contain.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Featured Blog - Major Andrew Craib

Andrew's Blog:  Make Me A Conduit...

Alignment Of Vision

It always excites me when different parts of the body of Christ who are joined by the same Spirit share a common vision.  Today, we encountered such an alignment of vision at our 'Welcome & Installation' meeting at Cranbourne and the Divisional Welcome to Officers at Camberwell.

The vision for Cranbourne Corps, "Loving God, Loving People, Helping Others Do The Same" is given a three dimensional expression through a sculpture which embodies the three mission components to this vision statement - Engaging with the Community, Belonging and Nurturing, and Journeying with Purpose.

The message I shared this morning as we were welcomed as the new leaders of the Corps reflects the heart of this vision - Pursuing a passion for the LORD, the LOST, LIFE and LEADERSHIP.

This evening at the Divisional Welcome, this common theme was again expressed when Major Kelvin Merrett spoke into the vision for the Eastern Victoria Division - Connecting with our local community, Impacting our local community, Discipling our local community.

It seems clear to me that God is up to something in the Eastern Victoria Division!  When the body of Christ is united around a common vision and is committed to turning that vision into reality, something extraordinary will happen!!  I am excited to be in a position of leadership where what God has planted deep within my heart forms a part of the ethos of the people I am appointed to lead.  Something felt so right about this new appointment as I stood before our new congregation this morning and shared the passions of my heart. We were affirmed and encouraged by the leadership team giving us a strong sense that together we will be a part of a mighty movement of the Spirit in Cranbourne.

Saturday, January 19, 2013


The leaders, past and present, who I consider to be among my heroes of the faith are those who have instinctively seized divine moments to advance God’s mission, usually amidst great opposition and personal cost.

Thursday, January 17, 2013


Meetings are one of those necessary evils of leadership.  Love them or hate them, you can’t seem to avoid them.  However, instead of trying to avoid or endure them, we need to learn how to have better meetings, with a clear purpose that stimulate effective outcomes, not stagnate into endless talk fests.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Beyond The Rainbow

For the second time in our ministry while on the threshold of something new, a rainbow has appeared right over the place where we were about to embark on a new journey.  While unloading our belongings from the removalist truck at our new home in Cranbourne, we were once again blessed by this beautiful reminder of God's promises.  Coincidence?  Maybe.  But I choose to believe that God is visually reminding us of the covenant we entered into as Officers and that His hand is on us as we obediently step into this new appointment. On both occasions, the rainbow has given us a tangible sense of God's presence, affirming that we are right where He wants us to be, doing exactly what He wants us to do.

In Genesis 9:13 God said, "I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth." This divine reassurance to a world that was on the threshold of a new beginning was the symbol of an everlasting covenant of new life.  At the beginning of our new life in Cranbourne I am not only excited about the life ahead for us, but also for those on the threshold of new life in Christ as we live out the covenant that has led us to this new beginning.  Beyond the rainbow is a land of opportunity and the promise of fullness of life just waiting to be grasped.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Impacted by God

As we celebrated our 8 years of leadership and ministry at the Noarlunga Corps today, we were so encouraged and blessed by who was present at our celebration service.  We saw friends and colleagues who have partnered with us in ministry, those whose lives have been radically transformed, those who are still exploring their faith journey and those who have invested into our lives and ministry.  In addition to our regular congregation, this included...

...local business leaders who have generously invested financially into our ministry leaders who have supported programs and events organised by our church
...other church leaders with whom we have partnered in the gospel through combined church events
...a Congolese pastor who contributed to the spiritual development of our leaders
...a missionary family who we financially supported to go to Kazakhstan
...a bible college student who generously shared her mission experience with our short term mission teams
...a young man who we supported into a drug and alcohol recovery program
...our neighbours with whom we have built a supportive relationship between both families
...the school principal who has valued our input into the school community athiest friend who cares enough about our friendship to sit through a worship service
...former church members who returned to offer their support for the next phase of our ministry
...close friends from Darwin who made time in their holiday schedule to be a part of our farewell
...a family we became close to as we journeyed with them through their time of loss and grief teachers who invested into the lives of our children
...parents from our kids school who valued Vanessa's relationship and input into their lives
...the local federal member of parliament who affirmed the impact of our leadership in the community
...the RSL president who has appreciated our annual support of ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day

While those gathered graciously acknowledged the impact of our service, we honoured God  for the impact of the Holy Spirit in our lives and granting us the privilege of being used to serve our church and community.  Today, I saw the manifestation of Jeremiah 33:9 which has been the prophetic motivation behind our mission and ministry - "Then this city will bring me renown, joy, praise and honor before all nations on earth that hear of all the good things I do for it; and they will be in awe and will tremble at the abundant prosperity and peace I provide for it." (Jeremiah 33:9)

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Doing Life Together

Tonight, we said good-bye to an extraordinary group of people with whom we have formed a small community we call a "Life Group" in our church.  We are four families at a similar stage of life, with kids around the same age and a mutual desire to encourage each other in our faith journey.  Over the past four years we have met in each others homes every fortnight for a meal, fellowship, discussion, study of the Word, pastoral support and prayer.

Our Life Group has provided an evironment for us to engage in authentic relationships with other like-minded people who really enjoy doing life together.  We have laughed, cried, debated and shared an intimacy as friends that I have never before experienced as a Corps Officer (Pastor).  This group has allowed us to build a foundation of trust that has taken the relationship with our Life Group members far deeper than a traditional Officer (Pastor) - Soldier (Parishioner) relationship.  As a result, we have grown as much as the other members of the group; we have experienced love and care as much as the other members; and we have experienced something akin to what I imagine the Acts 2 church to be like (Acts 2:42-47).

I cannot imagine settling for anything less than an experience of church that involves doing life together with a small group of Christ followers who have "devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer" (Acts 2:42) and where "All the believers [are] together and [have] everything in common" (Acts 2:44).