Gospel Exploration Blog

The good news about money

posted Sep 16, 2017, 5:18 PM by Luke Williams

Money is a point of stress for most people, and yet God intended it to be a powerful tool which we use to serve him and help others. I spoke this morning about money as part of our series called 'WEiRD: Because normal isn't working' but was really only able to scrape the surface of what is a mammoth topic.

I've been truly blessed by some fantastic wisdom on biblical use of money, including that of Dave Ramsey. I highly recommend checking out these talks by Dave: https://www.life.church/watch/life-money-hope/

If you've like to talk about wise ways to handle your finances feel free to give me a call at the office - 9455 6474 or check out the CAPS money course (google CAPS in WA)

Gospel based marriages

posted Sep 6, 2017, 11:20 PM by Luke Williams   [ updated Sep 6, 2017, 11:43 PM ]

The postal survey on same sex marriage has been a hot topic in recent weeks, and today the high court confirmed that it is going ahead. Its a complicated and challenging issue for Christians, one we shouldn't take lightly.

On Sunday the 3rd September I spoke on marriage and family relationships as part of our series 'Weird: because normal isn't working' and admittedly, I was trying to stir the pot! Why? Because I hear a lot of fear in the voices of those wanting traditional marriage to be preserved. "What if we lose our freedoms? What if the gays get their way? We're going to get persecuted!" There's legitimate concerns here, but its very easy for us as gospel people to start erring on the side of pharisaism. Wanting to hold up a moral code while forgetting that only by the grace of Jesus can we as human beings be changed from the inside out to live moral and respectable lives. This is why I preached on embracing our primary mandate of presenting the gospel to all people no matter what and held off from saying "I'm voting this way because..." That sermon can be found on our website, and I finished with this 'stance' which I also nervously posted to facebook that morning:

Leading up to the plebiscite, I stand with followers of Jesus.
I stand with those who make Jesus Lord of every part of their life.
I stand with those who in their family, their parenthood and their marriage wish to reflect the heart of their Father and the incredible love of their Saviour for his bride.
I stand with those who while they may vote differently to me on marriage equality, still have one primary goal of presenting Christ and his passionate love to this broken world.
I stand with those who care most of all about the spiritual orphans of this world because with me, they have experienced adoption into the family of the King.
As we go to vote on this important issue, I stand with those who know that only one thing matters in the end - that the good news of Jesus is proclaimed to all.

But what about gay marriage? Should we vote no? Should we vote yes? I'll share my view below, but let me challenge you again - if you skimmed over what I've just written without considering whether your primary motives are that our words and actions present the good news of Jesus to all, then stop worrying about the plebiscite and start worrying about the lost! Gay people, straight people, married people, single people and cohabitating people need Jesus. Only Jesus can save, transform and redeem sinners, of whom I am the worst!

So, are we on the same page now? Can we move on? Cool....

This is a big issue. This vote will affect our society, and we should vote in a way that will uphold God's order and way. Society is well past being 'Christian', but that doesn't means Christians have no place in it. So here's the way I followed up my first facebook post the other day:

Nerve wracking post number 2...
I spoke yesterday on how our marriages and parenthood are simply a reflection of the love of God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. As dads and husbands, what a daunting responsibility this gives us to lay down our lives. For me, its clear that this means the Christian covenant of marriage is between a man and a woman who serve one another in love, because they serve Jesus. It doesn't mean marriage is my right, its a huge responsibility - to reflect Christ in the way I love Kerin (and now, raise Micah).
On the other hand, I'm also very much aware that we live in a post-Christian society, and the church needs to earn its voice. But that doesn't mean the principles we hold as followers of Jesus have no place either. I DO believe that no change to the marriage act would be good for our country in the long term. And I will vote accordingly.
But my concern remains the same as yesterday - do we care first and foremost that the good news of Jesus is shared with every person we meet? Or does our fear of losing control and facing persecution drive us to pharisaism? I want one thing and one thing only for those I have the chance to befriend in my life - that they know the life transforming love of the Father. So while my conviction and my vote won't change, I'll vote with a deep sense of longing that not one person whom God is pursuing will be turned away by his people. I'll vote with the hope that I'll never take my own marriage for granted. And I'll vote with the understanding that this is not just about a law, this is about people - people who like me are broken and need one thing - Jesus.

If you plan to vote no like me, consider how you will do that with a deep longing that LGBTI people will come to know the saving love of Jesus and consider how you can play a part in welcoming them into the church and introducing them to Jesus.
If you plan to vote yes, consider how men and women, different but equal, reflect the true marriage of Christ to his bride through mutual submission and love. Even though non faith based marriages don't recognise this, this is still an element of 'God design' in heterosexual marriage.
And if you're wrestling with your vote, wanting to allow same sex couples to marry but fearful about religious freedoms eroding and persecution coming, remember that we are called to present grace and truth in love and that Jesus said "blessed are the persecuted, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven" (more on that this Sunday).

And whatever happens, lets show the world what God has for family and marriage the way he intended it and in doing so, earn the right to share our message of good news.

The way of generosity

posted Jul 23, 2017, 6:09 PM by Luke Williams

Its fair to say that Jesus was the most generous person who ever lived. Not only did he give up his life for those he loved, we Christians believe that he gave up privilege, status and power as the second person of the trinity to come and live among humanity where he would be treated like the lowest of the low. In order to reach people no one was reaching, he had to do things no one was doing, and that involved sacrifice. One of the ways he lived was to do everything with generosity. 

In fact, a generous life is arguably the way of Jesus. If every aspect of our lives were marked with generosity, we would be a lot closer to living the way Jesus lived. He was generous with his 'personal space', allowing his friends and strangers to be around him for long periods of time when he probably wanted a break. He was generous with his knowledge, teaching from the scriptures regularly in the temple when he had no obligation to do so. He was generosity with his authority and power from God, healing those who asked with faith, even if it risked his safety and security. See every time he showed someone unconditional love and generosity, he risked offending agitating those who would eventually killed him. In being generous, he risked his life. And that's truly generous. 

Jesus also commended generosity and criticised those who lacked generosity. My reading this morning was about the poor widow and her offering at the temple. Jesus sits down near the offering box (probably much like the one we have at The Billabong) simply to watch people give their money. (This is why I give by direct debit - so Jesus can't see. Oh wait...) Some rich people give large amounts and then a widow drops two small coins - everything she had to live on. Jesus pulls his friends aside and says "See that - that's generosity! Its easy to give 'big' when its just a fraction of your huge surplus, but she gave more than the rich - everything!" (my paraphrase).

I happen to know that there's a young person in our congregation who gives a regular 'tithe' of $1.50. I won't say who he or she is, but I suspect they are one of the biggest financial givers in the whole of The Billabong. At least by Jesus standards he/she is, and I reckon his standards are the ones we should live by! Funnily enough, this person and many others I know who give generously from their pockets also give generously with their time and their talents. Generosity breeds generosity.

The opposite is also true according to Jesus. In the previous verses, Jesus criticises those with position and privilege for going about their business in a way that benefits them. Shortly after he points out that their 'large' donation is also greedy.

Do you want to become more generous? Take a first step. Does giving the first 10% of your income (tithing) scare you? Consider what God might be able to do with your 90% in comparison to what you can do with you 95% or 100%. Then, take a leap of faith. Is God challenging you to take unpaid leave to go on a mission trip seem, but you know that means selling your golf clubs? Talk it through with a friends, at least. Do you desire to serve in Christian community but know it would mean giving up your video game time? Or your overtime? Or worse, your 'me time'? Whatever the challenge God is putting on your heart - the rich and stingy were forever known for their lack of generosity. The woman who gave 'a little', but in fact gave everything will forever be known as one who reflected the heart of God and the way of Jesus. How would you rather be remembered?

The Way(s) of Jesus

posted Jul 22, 2017, 11:20 PM by Luke Williams   [ updated Jul 23, 2017, 12:14 AM ]

One of the most valuable things about the accounts of Jesus life (the gospels) is the glimpse we are given into the way Jesus lived his life. The gospels are indeed records of his speeches and verbal interactions with people and the miracles he did as a taste of God's Kingdom. But the gospels also paint a picture of the way he went about his days, his weeks and seasonal period. They show us the kind of people he chose to spend time with. The places he went and why he went there. Even the mindset behind why he lived the way he lived.
Its a little harder to observe the way of life Jesus lived when reading the gospels, especially in comparison to the miracles he did, the stories he told, and instructions he gave. However if we look more closely for these patterns, rhythms, 'ways of life' when reading the gospels, its all there. If we only read short chunks - a story here, a parable there - we'll miss it. But read through a whole gospel (or even 3 - 4 chapters) in sequence, and you begin to see how this incredible man lived.

At our church, we talk about the Words, Works and Ways of Jesus. His words (or message) are important, because we as his followers are to take this message and proclaim it in a way that makes sense in this day and age. His works (or miracles) are also important. Whether its supernatural works the Holy Spirit does through us as we have faith to believe he can and will, or the 'little miracles' through serving, love, caring for others - we carry on the works of Jesus. But those alone are not enough. His ways were a method we must take note of.

This blog is about exploring the gospels, because in them are not just 'gospel' (good news) for us but our best example of how to live a life that honours God. In future posts we'll explore a number of these 'ways of life' that Jesus modelled, and what it might look like to build them into the culture of our life. But don't hesitate to also read jump over to the book of Acts from time to time, because you will notice that the ways of Jesus did not stop with him. Paul and the other leaders continued the same rhythms, patterns, approach to people as Jesus did. Their method of bringing God's Kingdom to earth was the same as Jesus'.

So what were these ways? We'll begin to look at some of them one by one in this blog. But I encourage you to read the gospels for yourself and discover the ways of Jesus. What do you notice about the way he goes about his life that provides him with God opportunities? Where does his lifestyle differ to yours? What subtle hints to the gospels give about the method he had for showing people his Father's love?

Lets explore together the words, the works but most of all the life transforming ways of Jesus.

Gospel Exploration

posted May 15, 2017, 6:51 PM by Luke Williams   [ updated Jul 22, 2017, 10:55 PM ]

Christianity has for almost 2000 years been driven by its core sacred texts, a collection of 66 books of various genres called The Bible. At the 'theological centre' of The Bible is four accounts of Jesus life, called "the gospels". Without the gospels, literally the good news's, the Bible would mean something completely different to us. Jesus frames and guides our faith, because our faith is indeed not driven by the written word, but by him, the living word, the one who fully reveals God to us.

Even still, we rely on written accounts of this living person to learn how to live as children of God. No wonder Christianity is expressed in thousands of different ways across the world. We have the great task of studying these accounts which frame the rest of the sacred scriptures, and learning together to 'follow Jesus' in this day and age.

The gospels present us with a fascinating account of an amazing man who we claim is not dead, but alive. So we follow not just the man who lived 2000 years ago, but the living God incarnate, who now dwells within the believer each and every day. Yet it is the way he lived as the man Jesus of Nazareth that is our prime example to follow and model our lives after.

So, what can we learn from these 'good news' accounts that we've missed or forgotten? What do the good news's teach us about how we follow the living Jesus now, today. That... is worth exploring.

1-5 of 5