Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Amazing Race #4 of 4: Leaving The Wilderness

Tonight Brett spoke about how the Christian life is the journey away from self-absorption.

Our scripture reading was from Numbers 27:12-23.

You can download the podcast by clicking here. (15MB / 0:35)

This Week's Challenge:


Start your days this week with the same acknowledgment Moses made of God - the source of all breath. Tell God that you are grateful for your life and everything in it. Make a time or find a place where you can do this daily. Then become alert to the provision of God in your day and to the opportunities to live for others you come across. Maybe pause at natural pitstops in your day to remind yourself (eg. morning tea, lunch, driving home from work...)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Amazing Race #3 of 4: Highs In The Wilderness

Snakes On A Plain

This week Brett, full of the Holy Spirit, spontaneously improvised the most astounding sermon that any preacher has ever given ever. The lame were healed, the dead were raised, and thousands committed their lives to Christ. Unfortunately, the podcast recorder stuffed-up. Sorry everyone.

However, in his own words, here are the main points again, preceded by the reading...

The Bronze Snake

They travelled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea,[a] to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, "Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!"

Then the LORD sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, "We sinned when we spoke against the LORD and against you. Pray that the LORD will take the snakes away from us." So Moses prayed for the people.

The LORD said to Moses, "Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live."

a. Or the Sea of Reeds

- Numbers 21:4-8 (NIV)

1. Slow Forward

The 2nd generation of Israelites, born after the Exodus, were impatient for the Promised Land. They began to resent their circumstances – the shortage of food and water and God’s command to travel around Edom – and to reject God’s provision for their lives.

When we resent the present, we end up rejecting the God who lives with us "in the present"… God has been in our past and he is in our future, but his presence (surprisingly) is in our present. An obsession with our circumstances banishes God from our lives.

2. Circumstances and Consequence

As a result of the people’s rebellion they become plagued with serpents. Moses prays for the people but God does not take away the snakes. He does not shorten the journey. The menu stays the same. The circumstances remain as they were.

Instead, for a lack of trust – he prescribes faith - For rebellion he prescribes obedience. And faith looks a lot like keeping their eyes on who God is and not on themselves or their own circumstances. Obedience looks a lot like, not avoiding what God has put in place in their lives, but pursuing those things he has called them to.

3. Circumstantial Evidence?

In John 3:1-16 Jesus identifies himself with the Bronze Snake that Moses lifted up. Like the Bronze Snake, Jesus is a target of faith. Jesus is a source of healing. Jesus is everlasting life with God. Jesus who entered the present, submerged himself in the physical world of circumstances - just 2 chapters back in John 1, John speaks of Jesus as becoming flesh and dwelling among us.

Which in a sense, like the Bronze Snake, was a breach of the second commandment as well. God made his own graven image. Jesus. He sculpted him from flesh. So hard for us to package God, but in Jesus we see God perfectly revealed in a human life.

Is Jesus the target of our faith? Or are our circumstances a false idol?

This Week's Challenge:


Allow the impact of your circumstances on the presence of God in your life to become clearer this week. Take time to reflect at the end of each day - record your reflections: Where was God in your day? When did his presence seem distant? Ask for strength to be content in any circumstance:

"... I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength."

- Philippians 4:11b-13 (NIV)

Take this with you into your week and place it in a prominent place.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Amazing Race #2 of 4: Lows In The Wilderness

Tonight Brett spoke about the (potentially literal) tension between the promises of God and our expectations of God.

Our scripture reading was from Numbers 20:1-13.

You can download the podcast by clicking here. (15MB / 0:52)

(reading and sermon begin at 24:00)

This Week's Challenge:


Live each day in the immediacy and urgency of the presence and will of God. Start each day by praying that God's will would be done in and through you... If you are going through circumstances that test your trust in God, pray Jesus' prayer in Gethsemane.

"My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will."

- Matthew 26:39 (NIV)

Take this with you into your week and place it in a prominent place.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Amazing Race #1 of 4: Entry Into The Wilderness

Tonight Brett spoke about fear. Brr.

Our abridged reading was from Numbers 13-14.

You can download the podcast by clicking here. (18MB / 0:39)

This Week's Challenge:


God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgement: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. (1 John 4:16b-18)

Keep this close to you this week - in your wallet, on the car dashboard, your computer, the bathroom - somewhere you can read it every day. Ask God daily to show you what you are afraid of and ask him to show you what His love looks like in that place.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Politically Incorrect Guide To Relationships #4 of 4: Manipulation

Tonight, Brett spoke about manipulation, with help from the Rt Hon Sir Jeremy Smythe MP, author of his best-selling exposés Where The Other Candidates Went Wrong, Some More of the Other Candidates’ Greatest Mistakes, and Who Are These Other Candidates Anyway?

Our reading was from 1 Kings 1:5-18 & 22-26.

The scenario on the Scruples card read:

"You arrive home late after a night out with friends only to discover your flatmate, partner, mother waiting for you. The problem? Someone ate the last piece of cheesecake and you are the prime suspect. What's more you are being accused of a whole list of things you didn't do. You know it wasn't you, in fact you are pretty sure it was Keith. But the really annoying thing is that your food is constantly going missing and your accuser is the likely culprit. You try to put it off till morning but there's no stopping the discussion. What do you do?"

You can download the podcast by clicking here. (14.5MB / 0:50)

To summarise Brett's conclusions:

1. Take control of not being in control.

2. Practice listening to the values and preferences of others.

3. Get a better agenda.