Read some thoughts from the leaders here at City North Baptist Church.
Read some thoughts from the leaders here at City North Baptist Church.
For the average Aussie any excuse for a long weekend is a good one. The fact that it happens to be a religious reason doesn’t make much difference to most people. And when it generates a lot of goodwill, especially the sharing of Easter eggs and other expressions of friendly kindness, well, that’s even better!
But there’s something that puzzles many of us who think a bit more seriously about Good Friday. Why should a day that marks the martyrdom of Jesus Christ, the only perfect man who has ever lived, come to be regarded as “good”? You’d think that it should be the opposite. The answer, however, goes to the very heart of the Christian message.
The enemies of Jesus at that time thought that they had scored a crushing victory over him, once and for all. Nailed to a cross….pronounced dead….body wrapped in heavy bandages…..buried in a tomb guarded by Roman soldiers…..it was all over for Jesus. But it wasn’t! Not for Jesus and not for us!
Some time prior to his death Jesus said: “I am the good shepherd …….and I lay down my life for the sheep……No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again” (John 10:14-18). The death of Jesus was not simply an unfortunate accident of history but an event in which God was always in control. When Jesus died, God was placing upon his own sinless Son the sins of the world. “Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God” (1 Peter 3:18).
Do you see it? What seemed to be a tragedy, God turned into a triumph. The death of Jesus actually became the very means by which people can be brought into a personal relationship with God. Jesus died in our place. He paid in full the punishment for our sin. Do you really believe that? Because if you do, the message of Good Friday is the very best news you could possibly wish to hear.
If you are a Christian, take time out today to personally thank the Lord for his saving death on the cross. If you are not yet a believer, why not take the step of putting your trust in Him today. What better way to celebrate Good Friday 2013?
PS. Though truly dead on that Friday afternoon, God raised Jesus back to life the following Sunday morning. He is alive today and is coming back again one day. Will we be ready to meet him when that day comes? Now that’s a question worth thinking about.
When your dreams of glory in this life let you down… The following is an article from my personal blog Gospel at Depth…
Aussie culture is known for its sporting pride and uncanny ability to punch above our weight in most sports that we participate in. Nowhere else is this seen more vividly than every four years at the Olympic Games. Time and time again we have come up trumps against the odds… rising victorious over the bigger and more powerful nations, filling the hearts of young children the nation over with a passion to live the Olympic Dream!
That is until this year!
This year so far we have seen our athletes fall agonisingly short of all that was expected of them. This has brought cries of anger and frustration from the media and viewing public alike. Only in Australia can 2nd in the world be a failure… If we could bottle the Australian attitude towards our athletes into a single phrase it would be: “You don’t win a Silver… you lose the Gold!”
There is no margin for error when you follow the Olympic Dream… it is winners covered in glory and losers covered in shame.
I feel for our athletes when they are forced to break down in tears at post-race interviews. It is like they bet all of their hopes, dreams and self-worth on victory only to see it ripped from their grasp by 0.01 of a second. What a terrible system to live under… the Olympic Dream that promises so much fame, glory and significance, but can just as easily rob you of everything and leave you broken, shamed and defeated.
Jesus Christ was never one to beat around the bush when it came to speaking hard truths. In Luke 17:33 He says, “Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.” The Olympic Dream tells you to bust your guts hoping to promote your life and find everything you ever hoped and dreamed of… but time and time again it leaves you lost, broken and hurting; feeling like a failure. Jesus was right here… if you seek to preserve your life you will lose it because just like the Olympic Dream you are trusting in something that is destined to fail you… no one is guaranteed of Gold at the Olympics… just ask the guys who fell over in front of Steve Bradbury… you can train the hardest, be the strongest, mentally prepare yourself and even earn the tag of favourite, but at the end of the day there are things outside of your control…
The sad thing is that so many people live their lives with their own dream of Olympic proportions… sure only a small percentage of people actually pursue high level sport, but pretty much everybody puts their hopes in “preserving our lives” one way or another. Sport, education, career, relationships, attractiveness, sex, power, riches and fame… we are all chasing something that we think will “make us”… something that we hope will fulfil our lives. Jesus says that this is destined for failure because none of these things will last… all of them will disappoint us and leave us broken… if we seek our lives we will lose them. But Jesus goes on to
say that “whoever loses his life will keep it.” In other words if we lay down our quest for finding meaning, significance and joy in the things of this life that are destined to fail, we will actually find what we have been looking for! If you lose your life you will keep it! Ultimately Jesus offers Himself as the perfect example of this: He was the eternal Son of God and yet He relinquished His right to a heavenly dwelling and took on the very nature of a broken and weak human being… He suffered in every way that we suffer and endured mockery, torture and ultimately an agonising death on a cross all so that we might have life. Jesus lost His life when He laid it down for us on that cross; dying the death we should have died… but God raised Him from the dead and gave Him the Name above all Names!
The Olympic Dream offers you the slightest chance of momentary glory saturated with the fear of failure… The gospel guarantees you the fullest of joys and most glorious life forever…
What do we do as a church when we are presented with the possibility of sacrificing and sharing the blessing that God has given to us in order to partner with another church?
For some time at Eldership and Membership level we have been discussing the possibility of partnering with Rosalie Baptist Church. The Rosalie Church is a smaller inner city church that for the last decade or so has struggled to have the numbers or direction to see the community around her reached with the gospel. Late last year Rosalie approached the leadership of City North to see if we might be able to provide some assistance.
This led our leadership team to commit the possibility to prayer and to seek God to see if this new avenue for ministry was part of God’s desire for us as a church. The result of this was a unified sense that a formal partnership with Rosalie was where God was leading. The goal of the partnership is entirely focused on the desire both churches have to see the Rosalie church grow to become a powerful witness for the gospel in the Rosalie/Paddington community. We desire to see the church reaching unsaved people and growing disciples with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
At the heart of what we are doing is this concept of “partnership in the gospel”. Throughout his ministry Paul rejoiced when churches would partner with him in the gospel ministry he was doing. To the church at Philippi he says, “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now”. (Phil 1:3-5) In many cases this was through the provision of finances, but often it was the provision of worthy gospel workers who would partner with Paul on behalf of the church. Paul rejoiced over the generosity of the church not just because he was happy to get the help, but because of what it said about their love for God and passion for the gospel. Paul knew the gospel had taken root in their community because it was evident in their partnership in gospel ministry.
It is so easy for individual churches to become so consumed with the busyness of what God is doing in their own context that they forget about the other churches that are toiling in gospel ministry as well. However, if we love the gospel then you would expect that we would share the gospel, give sacrificially to the gospel, send the gospel overseas and get excited about gospel opportunities regardless of where they arise. We really do sense that God is calling us to look outwards… to see the need in a place like Rosalie and rise to meet the challenge.
The Rosalie community is packed full of gospel potential. Check out this map of the area! The church building is only a couple of hundred metres from the Rosalie Village shopping precinct (with cinema, restaurants and gourmet markets), Milton State School, C&K Kindergarten and Gregory Park. This area is visited by hundreds of people each day for business lunches, social outings, coffee breaks, school, shopping and recreation. Therefore the church is strategically placed to impact this community in a significant way.
As we move towards making a final decision on this partnership there are a couple of things you need to look out for:
Please commit the partnership to prayer and join us as we seek God for direction and guidance!