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Flooding Creek Community Church

FCCC is a God-loving, evangelical, reformed church in Sale, Victoria.

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  • 13 Dec 2013
Blog, General

Why Skipping Church to Evangelise is Self-defeating

Over many years I have heard many excuses why people can’t make it to church.  Many of them are good reasons, like a child is sick, or I work shift work and can’t make it this week.  One I hear commonly is that people are skipping church for the sake of evangelising a friend.  Now in many ways this is pleasing because in more than a few churches people wouldn’t think of evangelising at all. But the more I think about it, the more I think that skipping church to evangelise is self-defeating.

Why do I say that? It comes from the nature of what evangelism is.  You see, if evangelism is simply introducing people to a personal, individual relationship with Jesus, then it makes perfect sense to skip church, especially if the opportunity may not come up again.  But if evangelism is more than that – if it is inviting people to join the church, the body of Christ, then we send very mixed messages when we skip church to evangelise our friend.  On one hand we’re saying, ‘Come and join the church, because there is nothing more important that God is doing in this world than building his church’, and on the other hand we’re saying merely by our non-attendance, ‘You are more important to me than church’.  It’s a mixed message.  Perhaps a more powerful response would be, ‘I’d love to, but I have church on at that time, and I love to go to church and wouldn’t miss it for the world.  Is there another time we can do it?’  Our friends are unlikely to believe us when we say one thing with our lips and another with our feet.

But is evangelism inviting people to join the church?  Absolutely.  As Paul says to the church in Corinth:

“For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.” (1 Cor 12:13)

Baptism during the early church was carried out at conversion, and so Paul here is talking about what happened when they became a Christian – they joined the ‘one body’ of the church.  It’s not something that we opt into later only if we happen to believe in ‘organised religion’. It’s something that a Christian is converted into. To become a Christian is to join the church, and so we make it our weekly habit of attending our local church for the rest of our lives.  We miscommunicate this important element of Christianity when we skip church to spend time with our friends, despite our best intentions. So, showing a strong, even sacrificial, commitment to church does not inhibit evangelism, but compliments it.  It will mean, however, that we’ll have to find more time in our week for non-Christian friends…

  • 05 Dec 2013
Blog, General

Have Your Say

Here’s your chance to have your say.  We want to know what you think.  Most people in Sale and the surrounding areas don’t go to church. If they do, it may only be a few times a year. Why is that?  We’d love to know. If you’re one of those people, then here is your chance. You can tell us by filling out this very quick 30 sec survey just below. We’ll collect all the info and publish the results on our website at the end of the month. We’ll take the top four responses and address them in a series of talks at church through the four Sundays of January. You can actually choose our talk topics for January! Why not take  a few seconds to fill out the survey below…

 

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world’s leading questionnaire tool.

  • 31 Oct 2013
Blog, General

The Crushing Weight of Gold

It’s been called the golden rule, largely because every society seems to have had it somewhere in their tradition. But have they? As I thought about the golden rule this week it struck me that few people in our society actually understand it. Do you really understand the golden rule, or is your rule made from pyrite (fool’s gold, like in the image to the left)? I have a lot of friends who tell me that they don’t like much of Christianity, but they agree with the golden rule, and point out it’s widespread acceptance. But I suspect we don’t really understand what the golden rule actually says. I suspect most people understand the golden rule to say something like this: be careful to make sure that whatever you do to people is only something that you’d be happy for them to do to you. We hear different ways of saying the same thing: if it doesn’t harm anyone else, then why shouldn’t I be allowed to do it? Another way to conceive of it is as a form of reciprocity: I’ll only do things to you that I want you to do to me.’ In that sense it creates a kind of social contract where people voluntarily restrain antisocial behaviour on the belief that it will build a better society. In this form it can be found in ancient Babylon, China, Egypt, Greece, and Rome. It can be found in the religions of Baha’i, Buddhism, Confucianism, Hinduism, Humanism, Islam, Sikhism, and the list goes on. But is that what the golden rule in the Bible actually says and means?

We find the golden rule in a number of places in the Bible, but I want us to focus today on Luke 6:31.

Do to others as you would have them do to you.

The first thing to notice is the lack of the word ‘only’. This is not a rule that restrains action. It is not a restriction. It is a command. It’s a command to do something. What? Do to others what you would have them do to you. It expects deliberate action. In other words, it’s a command to be radically other-person centered. It’s a command to be obsessed with serving others rather than yourself. How can we be so sure? Look how Jesus continues on from the golden rule:

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back.” (Luke 6:32-35)

The golden rule does not sit in a hermetically sealed container. It comes in the context of Jesus’ teaching. Jesus unpacks for us the golden rule. Love people who don’t love you. Wouldn’t you desire to have your enemies come and love you and reconcile with you? Of course. Well do it to them first. Wouldn’t you love people to give you things that you don’t deserve? Of course you would. Well then, do it to them first. The golden rule, when pushed to its limit ends up like this: love your enemies (both Luke 6:27 and 35). Now, how many of us do that? Let me be the first to raise my hand and confess that I do not live a life radically centered on serving others. That’s not something I’m proud of. It’s something I want to do, but fail at continually. It’s something that I confess to Jesus and come on my knees begging his forgiveness every day. The great news is that Jesus offers forgiveness to people such as me and you precisely because he obeys his own golden rule. Even to us who are selfish and undeserving, Jesus offers love. The golden rule is a crushing weight that none of us can claim to have kept, and yet Jesus did, and offers to take that weight off our backs through his free forgiveness.

How far has our society departed from the golden rule? It struck me this week that we can see it clearly in the drug debate. Is it ok to smoke cannabis? About a quarter of all Australians think it should be legalised. Few Australians would think more deeply about the morality beyond asking this question: is it hurting anyone? But that is a long way from the golden rule, at least as far as Jesus taught. The question isn’t, ‘does it hurt anyone?’, but rather ‘does it serve anyone?’ If not, then why do it? It’s pure selfishness. If I get wasted and am no use to others, isn’t that selfishness? But hang on, why take issue with cannabis at this point? Doesn’t this happen among a significant portion of our youth every Friday and Saturday night using alcohol? (Not to mention a growing proportion of more ‘mature’ parts of our society). The problem at heart isn’t with cannabis, it’s with hedonism: that life is primarily about my own happiness and enjoyment. Few in Australia would dare to challenge such a statement, and yet it is here that Jesus makes his stand. Jesus says a very loud ‘NO!’ Life is about serving God and serving others. Ironically, the scientific research into happiness points out that the happiest people in society are those who dedicate themselves to serving God and serving others. So not only is our modern society morally bankrupt but foolish as well.

So which golden rule is it that you follow, the one made form gold or pyrite?

  • 21 Oct 2013
Blog, General

God loves you – but not for the reason you think!

God loves you.  We here it all the time.  A lady in our town shouts it out to everyone who passes by.  Have you ever stopped to wonder why God loves you?

The most famous verse in the Bible sheds some light on the issue:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

Here we find out how much and in what way God loved the world.  He loved the world in this particular way: he gave his one and only Son.  That gives everyone this amazing offer: believe in him and have eternal life.  The fact that God loved the world in this way clues us in to just how much God loves the world – enough to send his one and only Son.  As a father of three boys I can get a glimpse of the size of that love.  But only a glimpse.  Jesus’ life is far more valuable than any of my boys.  Yet God gave his life for us.  But why?

Here comes the clue.  Who is it that God loves?  The world. The world in John’s gospel is not so much a huge place as a bad place.  e.g. Jesus says “The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that its works are evil.” (John 7:7) What makes God’s love amazing isn’t that he loves so many with such an intense and generous love.  It’s that he loves the world which is so very bad and undeserving.  So that immediately rules out some big possibilities for why God loves us.  It’s not because we deserve it.  It’s not because he sees our inner goodness.  There is nothing in us that prompts God’s very good love.  Why does God love us?  He chooses to. A similar point gets made to Israel in the OT.

“The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.  The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath he swore to your ancestors” (Deut 7:6-8).

God tells Israel that there was nothing about them that made him love them.  It was because he chose to: a choice he announced ahead of time to their ancestors.  Likewise God loves us, not because we deserve it but because he has chosen to.  This is the love that characterises Christian living, as we try to reflect the love that God has shown us.  We aim to love those who don’t deserve it.  So Jesus says, ‘Love your neighbour’ or even ‘Love your enemy’.  The same love will persevere in a ‘loveless’ marriage, continuing to love the spouse who no longer seems to deserve it.  We will love our kids unconditionally, even when they don’t deserve it.  But it’s only ever a dim reflection of the love of God for us: an amazing, undeserved, self-giving love of monumental proportions.  God so loved the world.

 

  • 14 Oct 2013
Blog, General

Family Business

How do we think about our church meetings?  Are they for Christians or for those seeking God?  On the one hand I see the death of the ‘seeker-sensitive’ movement from powerhouses such as Willow Creek in the US, where church was done primarily for the seeker.  On the other hand I hear voices calling for greater ‘holiness’ within the church service, decrying how we have ‘sold out’ for the sake of getting people in the front door.  (Ironically these voices come from churches that have not seen a seeker through the front door for many years.)  How do we think about church?

The Bible is clear that church is for Christians.  It is the assembly of the saints (1 Cor 1:2.  Note that Paul’s letters are addressed either to the church(es) in… or the saints in… used interchangeably – saints just means Christians).  When the activities of church are discussed they are focused on other Christians (e.g. Col 3:16).  But before we close the Bible and declare that we don’t need to consider the seeker, look at the way that Paul keeps an eye toward the outsider in Corinth:

 

But if an unbeliever or an inquirer comes in while everyone is prophesying, they are convicted of sin and are brought under judgment by all, as the secrets of their hearts are laid bare. So they will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!” (1 Cor 14:24-25)

What is it that Christians need at church?  They need the gospel:

“Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.” (1 Cor 15:1-2)

What is it that outsiders need to hear?  They need the gospel:

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” (Rom 10:14-15)

So straight away we see that there is more overlap than we first think.  What is the best way to conceive of our church meetings, then?  I like to think of them as doing our family business.  We get together as God’s family and do the things that God’s family does together.  But just as God is hospitable to us (as shown in Jesus welcoming us into God’s family), and we as individuals are to show hospitality, we as God’s family show hospitality to the outsider.  So we avoid any unnecessary offence, confusion or weirdness.  We leave the offence up to the gospel.  We don’t ridicule non-Christian culture or ideas, but instead treat them with generosity and then allow the gospel to critique them.  We don’t speak using insider language or jargon unless necessary, and then we explain what it means.  Where we have the freedom to do so we do things in the normal cultural way.  (e.g. use the musical style closest to the radio, give people something to drink when they come in).  We don’t have it perfect, but I think this is a helpful way to begin thinking about it.

  • 10 Sep 2013
Blog, General

Maximise the Prophet

Reading through the prophets in the Bible is a wonderfully rewarding experience.  The richness and depth of the material, the call to return to God and live in holiness, the reminders of God’s great love and faithfulness, the glorious hope held out for the future all make this part of the Bible a profitable place to plunge.  But it can be confusing.  The images are strange, the terminology unusual and sometimes it seems so far away from Christian experience.  How can we make the most of this part of Scripture?

One important step is to put the prophet in context.  This needs to be done in two different ways.  One is the historical context.  Often the book will open by doing exactly that.  Various kings or rulers will be mentioned at the very start of the book.  Take, for example, the book of Amos:

The words of Amos, one of the shepherds of Tekoa– what he saw concerning Israel two years before the earthquake, when Uzziah was king of Judah and Jeroboam son of Jehoash was king of Israel. (Amos 1:1)

Straight away we notice two rulers: Uzziah, king of Judah and Jeroboam, king of Israel.  Armed with this information we can go to 2 Kings 14:23-15:7 (Uzziah’s other name was Azariah).  Often a good cross-reference Bible will tip you off to where to look to find out background information in the historical books.

Not only should we put the prophets in their historical context, but also in their place in the big unfolding story of the Bible.  Most of the prophets fit between the reign of Solomon and the end of the Old Testament.  But there is a significant landmark to pay attention to in order to understand the significance of their place in the Bible’s big story.  That landmark is the exile.  In the exile Judah lost almost everything it meant to be Judah.  They lost their homeland, their city, their temple, their king.  All they had left in the exile was God’s word, and so the prophets became even more important to them, and we see in the prophets an elevation of their words, ideas and promises beyond anything that had been given to date.  The return from exile did not deliver the fulfillment to these promises, nor did it see the moral transformation of Judah, and so we see the prophets writing after the return, calling Judah continually back to obedience as well as painting promises still forward into the future.  Pay attention to where the prophet sits in reference to the exile.

Gospel and kingdom schematic

This diagram (from Graeme Goldsworthy’s excellent book Gospel and Kingdom) gives you an indication of where some of the prophets fit in the Bible’s story line. You may find it useful to plot the prophet that you’re reading on the diagram.  When did they speak?  Who was their audience?  Where do they fit on the timeline?  Where do they fit in relation to the exile?

Finally, read the prophet through the lens of Jesus.  The New Testament teaches us how to read the Old Testament.  Peter tells us that all the prophets were looking forward to Jesus:

Indeed, all the prophets from Samuel on, as many as have spoken, have foretold these days. (Acts 3:24)

Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care,  trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.  It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things. (1 Peter 1:10-12)

Reading the prophets can be harder work than some other parts of the Bible, but the effort will reward you with great profit.

  • 26 Aug 2013
Blog, General

Community BBQ

bbqCome and join us for a bbq.  We’re having a community bbq on 31 August and everyone is welcome.  There’ll be lots of great food, great conversations and fun for the kids.  All ages welcome. At Flooding Creek we love to sponsor community and this is an opportunity to get together, have fun and get to know some other people in town.

Here’s the details:

When? 12 pm 31 August 2013

Where? At the Sale Fauna Park, near Lake Guthridge

What to bring? Just bring some food to share

Cost? Nothing

You might even like to check it out on Facebook.  See you there!

  • 18 Jul 2013
Blog, General

What to say when you pray

What do you say when you pray?  That’s a question I’ve always asked.  You hear of great Christian leaders in the past who would rise 3 hours before dawn to pray, but what did they spend all that time praying about?

Paul gives us a taste of what he prays about in his letter to the Colossians.  He tells us that he doesn’t stop praying for the Colossians (1:9).  What does he pray for them?  That they would come to understand God’s will fully (1:9), and that that understanding would cause them to live worthy lives (1:10).  It’s Paul’s plan for Christian maturity.  He wants all Christians to grow in maturity in Christ (1:28).  He sees that as a combination of knowing what God wants and then putting it into practice.  It starts with knowing the word through the power of the Spirit and then living consistently with that.  When Paul fleshes that out he uses the same language he used for what is happening with the gospel in the world: bearing fruit and growing (1:6, 10).  In other words, Paul prays that the gospel will bear fruit and grow in the lives of the Colossians.

Likewise, when Paul asks for prayer from the Colossians he asks for an open door for the gospel (4:3-4).  Though he is in chains, his greater concern is that the gospel is unchained.  This may include his release, it may not, but his primary concern is that the gospel is preached.  Again, Paul wants prayer for gospel growth.

What is it that we pray for?  It’s good to pray for healing from sickness, improved circumstances, job, house, family, etc.  This is right and good because we are to bring everything before God in prayer.  But the centre of our prayers, if we are going to pray like Paul, is gospel growth.  What does that mean?  It means praying that Christians will mature, and that many more people will become Christian.  Here and overseas.  How do we do that well?  I take it, it will mean praying for many people.  That takes a little organisation.  Some people produce lists of people to pray for and work through those lists gradually. Some get updates from missionaries (local and overseas) and use their prayer points to educate their prayers.  Find what works for you and let’s pray like Paul – for gospel growth.

  • 18 Jul 2013
Blog, General

The Bible on TV

the Bible

 

As with any time your favourite book gets adapted for television there will be bits missed out, bits oversimplified and some favourite lines missing.  But having said all that, the first couple of episodes of the Bible have been enjoyable and largely faithful to the original.  Why not watch the series at the same time as we go through the Old School preaching series?  And if you like the show, you’ll like the original book even more.  You might even like to check out the Bible Society’s reviews after each episode.

  • 16 Jul 2013
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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