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  • Jan 04 / 2016
  • Comments Off on World’s Biggest Problem Survey Results
Blog, General, Sermon Series

World’s Biggest Problem Survey Results

The survey results are in. 162 people responded to the survey and the top 10 results are:

  1. Terrorism 15%
  2. Lack of respect 12%
  3. War 12%
  4. Poverty 11%
  5. Greed 8%
  6. Religion 7%
  7. Pollution 4%
  8. Drugs 4%
  9. Lack of belief in God 4%
  10. Humanity 3%

Other answers included politicians, animal cruelty and overpopulation.

Later in the year we’ll be seeing how the Bible addresses the biggest issues in the world.

3 – War and Poverty
2 – Lack of Respect
1 – Terrorism

Stand by for the dates…

  • Feb 17 / 2015
  • Comments Off on Survey Results are in!
Blog, General, Sermon Series

Survey Results are in!

The results from this year’s survey are in! We had over 200 people respond to the following two questions:

1. If you could ask God one question, it would be:

The top 5 answers were:
33%     Why is there so much pain and suffering?
18%     What happens after I die?
10%     What is the meaning of life?
6%       Aren’t all religions the same?
6%       What does God want with me?

2. I believe that God exists

Strongly agree 20%
Agree 23%
I don’t know 35%
Disagree 9%
Strongly disagree 11%
No response 1%

What do we learn from this? We learn that people in Sale ask deep questions. Even though some people asked questions like, ‘Can I have a million dollars?’ most people were thoughtful and even deep in their thinking. There is also a much stronger tendency to believe in God than disbelieve, with a large number of people in town confused about God.

The Bible claims to be God’s word, so we’d like to spend the next two weeks digging into the Bible to find answers to the two most popular questions. So join us over the next two Sundays for:

22 Feb   Why is there so much pain and suffering? (Listen to the talk here)
1 Mar     What happens after I die?

  • Jan 20 / 2014
  • Comments Off on I do not believe in organised religion
Blog, General, Sermon Series

I do not believe in organised religion

It’s a very common complaint today, and with good reason. The large church institutions of the past have a mixed track record in how they’ve used their power. Sometimes that record is blown out of proportion. Like the claim that all the wars have been started by religion. The Encyclopedia of Wars claims that less than 7% of the world’s wars have been fought over religion. But one war caused by a large church institution is one war too many. Christians agree that the churches have a chequered  past and much to apologise for. The same can be said for the instances of abuse, and even worse – cover-up, among churches. There is and never will be any excuse for such behaviour. What is it essentially that we hate about organised religion? It is the hypocrisy.

If you hate the hypocrisy of organised religion then you’re in good company. So did Jesus. In fact he saves his most stinging criticisms for the religious leaders of his day. Check out some of the things he said:

Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples:  2 “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat.  3 So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.  4 They tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.  5 “Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long;  6 they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues;  7 they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them ‘Rabbi.’  8 “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one Master and you are all brothers.  9 And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven.  10 Nor are you to be called ‘teacher,’ for you have one Teacher, the Christ.  11 The greatest among you will be your servant.  12 For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.  13 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.  14   15 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are… 25 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.  26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.  27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean.  28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness. (Matthew 23:1-15,25-28)

Jesus hates the way that they look good on the outside, but on the inside they’re just as bad, if not worse than those they condemn. Many of us have seen churches just like that: in the history books, in the media or we’ve had personal experience ourselves. But does that mean that Jesus isn’t into church? Is the answer to follow Jesus and avoid church? Not at all. Notice what Jesus also says earlier in Matthew’s Gospel:

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”  14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”  15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”  16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.  18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. (Matthew 16:13-18)

Church is Jesus’ idea. He’s not talking here about massive human institutions, but the heavenly gathering around himself. Just as Jesus’ kingdom is a heavenly kingdom, so also Jesus started a heavenly church. It’s his heavenly church that meets locally in your town – the local church. If you’re into Jesus then you’ll be into your local church. So if you’re going to follow Jesus you’ll steer clear of organised religion, with all the associated hypocrisy, but you’ll be deeply into your local church. After all, it was Jesus’ idea in the first place.

Want to hear more? Come and listen to the talk here.

 

  • Jan 15 / 2014
  • Comments Off on I believe faith is individual and private
Blog, General, Sermon Series

I believe faith is individual and private

There’s something profoundly true about that, isn’t there? This was the second most popular response in our recent survey. Faith is an individual choice, and it is not the role of the government to decide people’s faith for them. Both those ideas are taught in the Bible. Christian faith is about a personal relationship with Jesus. Christians are to convince and persuade people to take up their faith, not to bully people into it, especially by using the government and laws. But does that mean it’s ok to believe anything we want? What if I believe that I should be a suicide bomber? Is that ok? Well, now we need a caveat: you can believe anything you want as long as it doesn’t harm someone else. This has been a popular expectation in Australia for the last 50 years or more, and as far as laws and public policy go, we would have to say it has been good. But is it good morality? Is it a good way to live personally?

One of the popular ways we’ve used to decide if something is good morality or not, is to ask the question: what if everyone did it? What if everyone restricted their behaviour to the standard: not harming others? What would our society look like? There would be no expectation to volunteer, no expectation to venture out and meet the neighbours, no expectation to think of others before ourselves. Society would have low levels of volunteering, become more lonely, and self-focused. That’s exactly what’s happened to our society over the last 50 years, and many see it as a tragedy.

Christian morality, however, calls for a different standard. In a post I did a while back I showed how the golden rule leads Christians to selfless initiatives for others. This is an ideal, but one Christians are encouraged to live up to after the supreme example of their Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Christians believe that the greatest good they can do is share the life-saving and life-changing message of the gospel. This however, will lead to a discussion, and discussions can easily become arguments. Arguments lead to pain and angst. One motivation behind the phrase ‘individual and private’, I suspect, is a desire to avoid the arguments, and the pain and angst that go with them. If we just cut faith out of our discussions we can cut out pain and angst. But it hasn’t worked out that way. We still argue, we still live with pain and angst. It’s just over different topics now. e.g. smoking. Smokers must be the most persecuted people in Australia. Even if a smoker manages to find the only legal location left where they might light up in public, someone will feel utterly vindicated to cross the street to tell them that it’s a disgusting and filthy habit that’s going to kill them. You would be safer swearing at your children then you would be smoking a cigarette in public.

The secular vision for peace is to retreat away from topics like religion that may lead to arguments. The problem with this approach is that it leads to loneliness, and loneliness is at epidemic proportions in Australia today. The Christian vision is a community that comes together in love and peace, but the problem is, how do you do that?

The apostle Paul confronts one of the biggest rifts of his day in the letter to the church in Ephesus. It was the divide between Jews and non-Jews (Gentiles).  He points out to them that when we have peace with God, we can have peace with each other.

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.  For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility,  by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace,   and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.  He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.  For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. (Ephesians 2:13-18)

He then gives them three images to show them how they share powerful things in common that build a community of peace together: fellow citizens (shared identity), fellow household (i.e. family) members (shared resources), built together as a temple (shared focus – God).

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household,  20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.  In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.  And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. (Ephesians 2:19-22)

Through peace with God we can have peace with each other.  We can have a faith that’s shared and public without the pain and angst. We’ll still rub up against each other a bit, but the peace that Jesus has won for us on the cross leads to a genuine peace between each other. Don’t believe it’s possible? Why not take a visit down to your local church and find out… Want to hear more, check out the sermon over here.

  • Jan 06 / 2014
  • Comments Off on I can be good without going to church
Blog, General, Sermon Series

I can be good without going to church

This was by far the most common response from our recent survey.  There’s certainly a lot of truth in that statement.  We all know people who are very nice who don’t go to church.  We’ve at least heard of, if not know personally, people who aren’t nice , who do go to church.  Given that there are nicer people who don’t go to church than do, why would I go to church?  Especially if I’m a good person already?

This only makes sense if church is about making people good.  What if church is about something different?  If that was the case, then this reason wouldn’t make sense.  It’s like saying, ‘I don’t go to the supermarket because I can watch movies at home.’

It’s interesting to see what happens when Jesus meets a good person.  In Mark 10:17-27 Jesus meets the quintessential good bloke.  He’s never broken most of the 10 commandments (v19-20).  He calls Jesus a good person and expects that Jesus will say the same back to him.  What Jesus points out instead is that he has devoted himself to wealth instead of to God (v21-22). Jesus uses this as a teaching point to his disciples – if even a good bloke can’t get into heaven by his own good works, what hope do the rest of you have? (v23-25). But then he delivers the most wonderful news of all – even good people and bad people can get into heaven: “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”

Getting right with God is what the Bible calls salvation.  God gives salvation as a gift.  Salvation is impossible for us to do, but it’s not only possible with God, he will happily give it to anyone who asks, free of charge.  Do you have salvation?

Church isn’t about making people good, it’s about getting right with God. Want to hear more? Listen to the talk here.

  • Jan 02 / 2014
  • Comments Off on Survey Results are in: Why I don’t go to church
Blog, General, Sermon Series

Survey Results are in: Why I don’t go to church

Sale has had their say and the survey results are in.  81 people responded to our survey and explained to us why they don’t go to church. Here’s a look at the results:

The top 4 reasons given, in descending order, were: I can be a good person without going to church, I believe belief is individual and private, it isn’t relevant to my life and I don’t believe in organised religion. As promised, these top 4 reasons will be the topics for our sermons in January. Why not come along on a Sunday afternoon at 3pm at Guthridge Primary School hall and hear us address these issues honestly, openly and frankly.  You’ll be welcome not just to listen, but also to ask questions and give responses. Here’s the dates:

Jan 5 – I can be a good person without going to church

Jan 12 – I believe belief is individual and private

Jan 19 – I don’t believe in organised religion

Jan 26 – It isn’t relevant to my life

Can’t make it on a Sunday? You can always download the talks here.

  • Jul 16 / 2013
  • Comments Off on Old School: Old Testament Overview
Blog, General, Sermon Series

Old School: Old Testament Overview

Old School

creationfallcovenant2

Exoduslaw1Promised land1

kings1exile1prophets1

Join us on Sunday afternoons for a high altitude plane ride over the Old Testament.  What are the most important events in the OT?  What are the themes that find there way into the New Testament?  What is the big idea of the Bible?  How does the big story of the Bible unfold and what light does it shed on Jesus? You’ll be amazed at the coherence of the Bible’s story line, even over a period of more than 1500 years and 39 different authors.  There is one big story and it all points to Jesus.

Want to know more? Contact us
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