So, you’ve finished school? Well done. It’s a massive achievement to stick at anything for 13 years. This may not have occurred to you at the age of 5 when you began school, but it’s a massive achievement nonetheless.
The first few months after you finish school can often be a make or break time for your Christian faith.
For some who have grown up in a Christian family this might be a time when they graduate from the church youth program and keep walking straight out the door as they graduate from Jesus too. It’s heart-breaking when that happens.
Conversely, it’s massively encouraging to see young crew graduate from high school and make godly decisions to keep following Jesus into adulthood.
This blog series is all about the “now what?” question. Most of your life has probably just happened up until this point. I’m not suggesting you have been totally unreflective and unthoughtful in how you’ve lived your life. But, in Australia at least, school is compulsory and you just roll with it until it’s over.
Now what? You have been on a trajectory for sometime out from your parents authority and increasingly taking responsibility for yourself. There are a bunch of questions you should ask yourself at this point.
How you answer these questions will shape how you live your life. The answers to these questions will answer the “now what?” question.
I’ll be upfront. I believe Jesus should be central to each of these answers. So please follow along if you are a follower of Jesus or if you’re simply curious to see why Jesus might be so significant.
(IMAGE copyright Joel Coleman. Used by permission)
I’ve really enjoyed preaching 4 of the 5 weeks of our series on Colossians. Many suggest, and I agree, that Colossians 2:6-7 are the key verses in this book. “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” The way you begin the Christian life – with Jesus as Lord – is the way you continue the Christian life. The Lordship of Jesus is a big deal in Colossians. In chapter 1 Jesus is revealed as the Supreme LORD. Chapter 2-3 shows how the Christian can be raised with Christ and shows how our new identity in the Lord should change how we live. Then in chapter 3-4 Paul speaks about how Jesus as Lord will impact everyday life and relationships. This sermon explored those relationships.
DAVE MIERS SERMON ON “RELATING FOR CHRIST” (right click to download etc)
Here is the structure:
THE COPERNICAN REVOLUTION
CONTEXT + KEY VERSE: COLOSSIANS 2:6-7
1) JESUS IS LORD OF YOUR HOME LIFE (Colossians 3:18-21)
2) JESUS IS LORD OF YOUR WORK LIFE (Colossians 3:22-4:1)
3) JESUS IS LORD OF YOUR PRIVATE LIFE (Colossians 4:2-4)
4) JESUS IS LORD OF YOUR SOCIAL LIFE (Colossians 4:5-6)
JESUS IS LORD OF ALL!
It’s a little crazy in the lead up to Christmas. We spend lots of time preparing physically for this season. Whether it’s the purchasing of gifts, the tidying of homes, the completion of renovations, the cooking of food or trying to compete with the Griswolds for number of lights on your house!
Yet we don’t prepare spiritually for the season ahead. I think that’s what Advent is seeking to do. What is Advent? It’s a season of preparation that some Christians observe to prepare their hearts and minds for the coming of Jesus. The word ‘advent’ means ‘coming’.
I’m planning on reading through Bible verse and the short reflection each day in the lead up to Christmas. I won’t read the reflection with my kids, but I’m hoping to read the Bible verses and spend time preparing as a family for the coming of Jesus.
Are you interested in joining in? Go on. It’ll be good for you.
Here’s the idea…
The Christmas preaching series at St Faith’s this year is based on the lyrics from Keith Getty & Stuart Townend’s epic song, “Joy Has Dawned”. Kings Kaleidoscope released an excellent version of the song last year on their Christmas EP. The four part series will go for the three weekends in the lead up to Christmas as well as Christmas Eve/Christmas Day.
I thought I would share the overview of the series. You are free to use/adapt it for Christmas this year or bookmark it for the future! Getty & Townend’s lyrics are poetic, theologically rich, and clearly shaped by scripture. The overview includes: title; summary; key scripture; other scripture; and the verse from “Joy Has Dawned”.
Earlier this week I asked the question ‘how do you avoid losing the gospel from one generation to the next?‘ The answer was to remain in Christ. In a sense that’s only half an answer. The full answer is remain in Christ and train up the next generation to receive Christ and remain in Christ.
One of the current ads on this site is NEXT GEN. It is a conference run by Katoomba Christian Convention all about training kids and youth ministry leaders to keep reaching the next generation with the gospel.
It’s held twice in January 2014 (13-17th or 20-24th). If you’ve been before, who could you take with you this year? If you haven’t been before and you’re involved in kids or youth ministry, do whatever you can to get to Sydney this January… it will be a profound investment in the gospel going to the next generation.
Click the ad in the side bar to find out more information.
Find out more about the why and how of advertising on my blog.
You’ve seen this video right? It has dominated social media for the past week. Check it:
Dustin Kensrue, former font man of Thrice, recently released a new album under the Mars Hill Music label called THE WATER AND THE BLOOD. It’s got some great tracks and I’m really enjoying the album. Below is an acoustic version of the opening track “REJOICE”. A good song that I’d love to see in the mix with the songs we do at Soulies and St Faiths. Here it is:
I’ve outlined previously the danger of Christian culture. One generation preaches the gospel of Jesus and within a few small steps later generations have assumed, neglected and then denied the good news of Jesus. How do you avoid this? In Colossians 2:6-7 Paul urges his readers to continue in Christ. See the Colossians sermon below to see how I unpack this idea of remaining in Christ.
DAVE MIERS SERMON ON “REMAINING IN CHRIST” (right click to download etc)
Here is the structure:
ONE GENERATION AWAY FROM LOSING THE GOSPEL
KEY VERSE: COLOSSIANS 2:6-7
1) FULLNESS IS FOUND ONLY IN CHRIST (Colossians 2:8-15)
2) FREEDOM IS FOUND ONLY IN CHRIST (Colossians 2:16-23)
KEY VERSE: COLOSSIANS 2:6-7
ONE GENERATION AWAY FROM CHANGING THE WORLD
Devastating scenes coming out of the Philippines in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan. There is an urgent need to bring relief to survivors. There are plenty of relief organisations offering support. Choose one and give as soon as you can! We have given money through Compassion Australia’s appeal. I love the work that Compassion do and they are part of ongoing, longterm work in the country. The people they work with have been significantly impacted by the tragedy.
CLICK HERE TO GIVE NOW // See below for details from the Compassion website:
Puritan Prayers is a fantastic site with a solid collection of prayers from the Puritans. I used one of them tonight after the first block of songs at church. I love the movement from adoration to confession of sin and then through to thanksgiving. Here it is:
Thou Eternal God, Thine is surpassing greatness, unspeakable goodness, super-abundant grace; I can as soon count the sands of ocean’s ‘lip’ as number thy favours towards me; I know but a part, but that part exceeds all praise. I thank thee for personal mercies, a measure of health, preservation of body, comforts of house and home, sufficiency of food and clothing, continuance of mental powers, my family, their mutual help and support, the delights of domestic harmony and peace, the seats now filled that might have been vacant, my country, church, Bible, faith. But, O, how I mourn my sin, ingratitude, vileness, the days that add to my guilt, the scenes that witness my offending tongue; All things in heaven, earth, around, within, without, condemn me – the sun which sees my misdeeds, the darkness which is light to thee, the cruel accuser who justly charges me, the good angels who have been provoked to leave me, thy countenance which scans my secret sins, thy righteous law, thy holy Word, my sin-soiled conscience, my private and public life, my neighbours, myself – all write dark things against me. I deny them not, frame no excuse, but confess, ‘Father, I have sinned’; Yet still I live, and fly repenting to thy outstretched arms; thou wilt not cast me off, for Jesus brings me near, thou wilt not condemn me, for he died in my stead, thou wilt not mark my mountains of sin, for he levelled all, and his beauty covers my deformities. O my God, I bid farewell to sin by clinging to his cross, hiding in his wounds, and sheltering in his side.
Good one, right? (From here)
Each week that I lead the church service I normally do a prayer that involves confession of sin. That is something that is often missing from contemporary church services. We do corporate confession when we share the Lord’s Supper, but that is only once a month at Arvo Church slightly less at Night Church. So after the opening block of songs, I will normally flow off the back of the song, into confession and then onto the gospel and a prayer for the rest of our gathering.
I switch between prayers of confession from: the Common Prayer book; based on scripture; or using the wording from the song just sung. This was the first time using a Puritan prayer. I swapped the personal pronouns from singular to plural (I to we etc). It meant I probably tripped over a few words, but I think it was well received.
Does your contemporary, relaxed church service keep confession of sin type prayers in your gathering? If so, what does it look like? Feel free to leave a comment.
ps – warm fuzzy if you can name the Puritan in the pic above…
As a young man, Bill Bright, wrote down a commitment that he made to God.
“From this day forward, I am a slave of Jesus Christ.”
It was a pivotal moment in his Christian life. Bright was the founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, commissioned the JESUS Film and many lives have been impacted through his lifetime of proclaiming Jesus.
On the final night of NYMC 2013 Andy Hawthorne spoke about Bright and urged everyone from Romans 12:1-2 to give ourselves wholeheartedly to the cause of Christ. Hawthorne gave a fantastic summary of Romans 1-11 and the gospel of free grace for sinners through faith in Christ Jesus. He then showed how this was the mercy described in Romans 12:1 “in view of God’s mercy”. It was my favourite talk of the conference and I am compelled to continue seeking to live out Romans 12:1-2 as a slave of Jesus.