Friday, July 20, 2018

We’ve all seen it before: sporting stars who have been caught in a fight off the field or found in a compromising position after drinking too much or taking illegal drugs. It’s sad and embarrassing – and it’s there for everyone to see.

How could they do that, the newspaper columnists and commentators ask. Don’t they know they are role models?

In the middle of the unwanted attention that comes from being at the centre of a media scandal, I bet those sporting celebrities wish they weren’t held up as examples by other people. They would probably prefer to avoid all the extra attention. But when you live in the spotlight, that can be hard.

And while none of us are high profile celebrities, we can understand that. It’s nice to have people whom we can hold in high esteem and learn from. When we trust someone and admire the way they live their life, it can be helpful to follow their lead and to take stock of the way they behave in different situations.

Over the last few months in our community we have been thinking about the role models we look to in our walk with Jesus. People from Scripture like Joseph, David, Paul and Stephen, and people we have met in our lives who have lived out their faith in an uncompromising way.

But being role models ourselves – that’s a whole different ball game.

When we are the ones that others are watching, that introduces a whole new level of responsibility and scrutiny into our lives. It means that we need to be uncompromising in the way we seek to follow Jesus. And that requires big commitment.

Yet isn’t that exactly what God expects from us?

Back in ancient times He called out the people of Israel to be a light to the nations, showing the rest of the world what it looked and felt like to live as God’s people. And since Jesus lived on earth, died and rose again, that mission has been extended to all of us who have called on His name.

In his letter to the first century church at Philippi, Paul urges them:

“You are to shine as lights among the sinful people of this world.” (Philippians 2:15b)

In other words, be role models to the rest of the world, demonstrating what it means to be a follower of Jesus. Being a role model is not an optional extra. It’s not something for super Christians who have reached a higher level. It’s what we are all called to do. And it’s something we should consider prayerfully and take seriously.

As we go about life, at work, at home, at study, in our sporting team, in our community, at the shops or the library, there are plenty of opportunities for us to choose to live for God.

One key to doing that is constantly choosing to park our own ambitions and desires to the side and actively seek God’s will and choose to follow it. When we do that, listening to the prompts and guides of the Holy Spirit, we will be well on the way to living lives that help to tell God’s story in a world where it is largely forgotten.

Recently in our Hope Group, we were looking at how Jesus surrendered to His Father’s will as he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. As I looked to do that myself in the week that followed, I found that as I aligned my life with God’s will, it was easier and more natural to be loving to others.

Imagine the impact we could have on the people around us if we lived in a way that models what it means to truly follow Jesus.

A while ago, The Newsboys had a song called ‘Shine’ with a chorus that encapsulates what it looks like to live as a role model to those around us by following Jesus’ example:

“Shine.
Make 'em wonder whatcha got.
Make 'em wish that they were not
On the outside looking bored.
Shine.
Let it shine before all men.
Let 'em see good works and then
Let 'em glorify the Lord.”

Our challenge and responsibility is to do just that.

- Tim

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We are made to worship God. It is good for us, it is right. For a long time I felt like God was calling me to worship him more, and it seemed that if I did that it would sort out a whole lot of things. Not like all my problems would be fixed but I'd be in the right place to handle them. Because I would have been doing what was good for me. 

And I’d dearly love to be able to write about how I'd followed that call and I became great at worshipping God regularly. But I didn't. Why? Well I think partly sometimes the enemy is pretty committed to stopping us doing the very thing that is best for us and our relationship with God. Partly because I have two small children and it's tricky to get time to be still with God. But also partly because I'm not always great at making good choices. 

Paul talks about this struggle to do what we know is right in Romans:

"But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time." Romans 7:17-20 (The Message)

Does it matter? Well sure if I'd managed to spend more time with Jesus worshipping I’d be in a more intimate relationship with God and I might have been in a better place within myself because worshipping God is good for us. 

But does it matter to God? Well I know he likes us to worship him. But I also know he doesn't love me any less because I didn't do the thing he was calling me to do. It didn't make me any more or less worthy of his love, any more or less accepted by him. Because he loves me just because he does. He made me and he thinks I'm great, even when I'm not. Why? Because of Jesus. Because he is a God of grace. 

"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8 (NIV)

So how do I like to worship God? I like to remember how he loves me, even when I don't deserve it at all. I like to thank him for his abundance of grace. I like to just call out to him, 'Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, I need  you Jesus' because I don't know what else to say sometimes and I'm desperate for him. 

I like to look at the sunset and see the beautiful colours, I like to walk along a beach and think about the bigness of the ocean and what that means for the bigness of the one who created it. I like to think about who he is, not who I am. Sometimes not think about what he's personally given me but just think about who he is.  He is amazing and so worthy of my praise and I long to worship him. And I'll endeavor to make time to do it more, to do it while I cook dinner or walk with my children or drive to work. But when I do worship him, I'll also worship him for loving me regardless of if I've managed to worship him for 30 whole minutes that day or if I got to putting my head on my pillow to go to sleep and realised that I'd been busy all day and forgot to pray in my busyness and then used my down time after my lovely children finally went to sleep to just switch off and look at Facebook instead of in prayer and bible study. No doubt I'd probably better rested and refreshed and in a better place to face the next day if I'd spent even a little of that down time connecting to God, but I sure am grateful that his love for me isn't dependent on that.   

Update:

I actually wrote this blog post two and half years ago and never got around to publishing it. It was interesting to find it recently and realise I’m actually still working on the same things. Thankfully God is still the same and he is still desperately in love with me despite my short-comings. Stay tuned for a new blog post soon about simple changes I’ve made to make more space for God in my daily life.  

I can do it if He helps me! 

“For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13 (NLT)

- Ali

 
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Addictions, like many cyclic behavioural issues, are frustrating to both the addict and the people trying to live with them, or assist them to a fuller experience of life. There is hope and we believe the key is Jesus. One thing I often hear said is “I’ve been trying, but I fell off so now I am even worse off and it will be harder…” Well this is simply not true. The truth is you now have skills to build upon, like learning any new activity or behaviour each attempt to escape addiction and establish a new way of thinking, relating and living is a step closer to freedom. I love the power of God to set people free and continue to pray for this and believe we will see more of it in the coming days. I also believe in the often neglected but essential partner of this, the discipline needed to live fully and the effort it takes to learn to live well. When we are discipling people in the life of freedom, we need to see both a setting free from addiction (spiritually, emotionally, relationally, and physically) and an equipping to live life differently. This often takes practice and may take some time to get it right.

To understand a little more the extent of Australia’s problem with substance abuse I’ve included the below quote from The New Daily’s article about Australia’s 'toxic relationship with alcohol':

“…“It’s a damning indictment of this country’s toxic relationship with alcohol when we have more than a third of Australians affected by alcohol-related violence,” he said.

“These troubling findings are really a reflection of the extent of alcohol harm in Australia; the 15 lives lost and 430 hospitalisations caused by alcohol every single day.”…”

(Wiedersehn, Sarah. 2017, ‘Australia has a ‘problem’ with alcohol: poll’, The New Daily, 27 April 2017, accessed 3 May 2017, <http://thenewdaily.com.au/life/wellbeing/2017/04/27/australia-alcohol-problem/> )

We have a number of friends in our community right now who through their ‘toxic relationship with alcohol’ are flirting with death – we love them and it grieves us to see the damage this socially acceptable drug does to not only individuals but their whole family and community. Yet there is HOPE – His – Overcoming – Power – Equips! Jesus sets the captive free Luke 4: 18-19…

So if you or a friend have fallen (again!) take heart you are one attempt closer to victory. Ask Jesus to empower you to find both freedom and a new way of doing life.

How can you support someone struggling with addiction?

1. Pray for them

2. Love them

3. Do the above again

Here as some ideas we have gleaned over the years:

Don’t make them your project – be their friend.

Don’t give up on them – they may have given up on them-selves (you might be the only one who hasn’t given up on them) they may need to borrow your faith and hope for little while until they find their own.

Don’t take on their responsibility/s – sorry you can’t do it for them – it doesn’t work.

Do help them pursue their goals for life (not your goals for their life).

Do give honest feedback (speak the truth in love).

Do encourage them to find a web of support – they need a team to help not just you.

Lead them to Jesus – with him all things are possible!

Luke 4:18-19 was our commissioning verse when we were sent out to see Missionheart established – in it we are told by Jesus that he has come to set the captive (insert addict) free, and we know that who the son sets free is free indeed. There is HOPE, addiction does not have to be a life sentence and God, if we let him, can not only set the captive free but also restore, heal, reconcile, and transform anyone to live life fully as we were designed to do. 

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” - Jesus (John 10:10 NIV)

Pray with us for our dear friends struggling with addiction – if you need help in this area let us pray with and support you too.

Freedom!

Jase

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What a wonderful time of year. This is your chance to really focus on Jesus and all he has done for us. It is also a great chance to take stock of where we are at with him.

Let me invite you to celebrate Jesus this Easter, to reflect on the story of the cross and Jesus’ death and resurrection. I invite you to remember the first Easter and to reflect on your relationship with Jesus today… Here are a few questions that may help;

  • We see Jesus as our friend: how are you going as His friend? What can you celebrate? What can you do to add value to this friendship?
  • Do you know the story of the gospel (the good news of Jesus)? Can you share it clearly; do you understand the eternal significance of the story of Jesus? The great love of God! If you had 2 minutes to explain the gospel, what would you choose to say?
  • The bible encourages baptism as a response to faith in Jesus. Jesus told His followers to go and tell people about the Gospel and God’s kingdom, and to baptise and teach people to walk in trusting obedience to God. Is God asking you to take the next step in your faith and enter the waters of Baptism?
  • How and where in your day to day life can you share your story and the story of Jesus? (Romans 10:9-11)

This Easter we will be together on both Good Friday and Easter Sunday to celebrate together.

Good Friday - Prayer cave… G05 Drop-In space 10am-12pm
We are holding a Good Friday Prayer Cave at our G05 drop-in space. There will be worship, prayer, and a chance to engage with the story of Easter in this space of prayer. All are welcome. In previous years we have seen salvation prayers, recommitment to living for Jesus, and a strong sense of community at this event.

Easter Sunday – Gathering 11am -2pm Glebe Park (G05 if raining)

We are also holding a special Easter Sunday gathering to celebrate the risen Christ Jesus. Kids activities, Easter service and a share day for lunch (bring food to share). Help your friends and family know someone greater than the Easter Bunny. Hope to see you there!

To read the story of Easter grab a Bible and read Luke chapters 22-24 – why not read it with a friend…

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Missionheart still has a very positive relationship with our friends in Kenya. Currently Roger, Graeme and Trent are visiting Bishop Abednego and his wife Elizabeth, they are due back at the end of March. They are enjoying visiting churches, encouraging the members, reconnecting with old friends, seeing the new school and visiting the farming project. Missionheart currently supports a farming project which when fully operational will feed the orphan children at the school and provide valuable educational experiences. We also support the Getting Started Fund, which assists struggling families to start new businesses. The photo attached is of the well at the farm being dug, as drought has taken hold of the region the search for water is the most paramount need.

Kelly

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In the last few months there have been multiple deaths in our community. Sometimes when I am at our Gathering in Glebe Park, or in our Drop In space, I still expect to see these friends walk in and interact with us again. I find it difficult to stop thinking of them as part of our community. Yesterday I opened the freezer to get some ice cubes to put in the jug of cordial for lunch. I used the last of the pre made cubes, and as I did this job I suddenly remembered one of our men who just passed away. He used to come in talking a mile a minute, and help himself to the freezer. He often refilled our ice cube tray from the sink, and I realised that these cubes I was about to use were probably made by him. These ice cubes were the last ones he would ever make for us.

I don’t have an emotional attachment to these ice cubes, and if I tried to take them home they would only melt on me. I do however, have an attachment to our people and our community, and I think this is why I find it hard to believe that my friend will never return.  My heart is to see the people we serve at Drop In come to be fruitful members of our community, using the gifts God gave them to enrich the community around them. Philippians 3:17-4:9 talks about our citizenship being in heaven. Here at Missionheart, we are privileged to be able to view people as God made them to be, not what they are now. I am aware that many of the people we have through our front door are addicts, cheaters and thieves in the eyes of the world. I think that some of the more streetwise people who have lunch with us view me as naive – someone who doesn’t know who these people really are. Nothing could be further from the truth. I know that I get to see people on their best behaviour. I know that people stay away when they are doing badly, and come when they feel they can present their best selves. I know that the whispering in the corner is someone setting up a deal. I know who is on ice, and who is hiding a bottle down their pants. I know the standover man without a shirt, I know who sleeps around to get a roof over their head. I know there is a lot I don’t know.

I also know that Jesus views these failures with a gracious heart. I know that He would rather concentrate on whatever is true, noble, right, lovely and admirable about my community members. I know that he would call out into the open the gifts He put into these people when they were made in the womb. Our people are kind. Our people are brave. Our people want to help each other. Did you know that the gambling addict in the government flat is helping combat homelessness more than I am? The amount of people who are put up by others who have almost nothing is equal to or more than the amount taken in by shelters. My friend who has been arrested for assault is the same man who regularly has someone staying with him for months at a time because they either can’t get a housing flat, or are too traumatised to go through the onerous application process at the moment. One of our friends who passed away recently was there at Drop In the day another of our people had a breakdown. This friend gently and calmly tried to remind the lady bashing her head against a window that she was loved and it would feel better if she talked about it. They followed her down the driveway and next to cars roaring up from the underground carpark did my job for me, kindly ignoring the abusive words and rubbing her back. The kicker in this story is that 5 minutes later my friend decided to go see their dealer, leaving me to deal with the unwell lady, and the police.

I’m not naive; I simply choose to see the Jesus music. What do you focus on? The kindness or the addiction? What did Jesus focus on? Forgetting what is behind I strain on to see the gifts of our people realised in our community. Imagine if the evangelist of heroin became an evangelist of the Gospel. Imagine if my friend was free of addiction and could love our community without being pulled away in the time of their greatest distress? I pray and eagerly await: “a saviour from there (heaven), the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body”. (Philippians 3:21).

I see the drug addiction, how could I not notice that your beautiful smile only has half the teeth of a year ago? I also see the gift of prophecy that God has given you for our community. I choose to focus on the benefits I see you bringing to my community, and for the rest, “my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus”. (Philippians 4:19) That’s why I’ll miss you if you pass away. The ice cubes were just a symbol of the contribution you had to give.

James 

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Sleep in your Car, an event organised by Fusion Canberra, is on the 6th August 2016. The events purpose is to raise awareness of homelessness and funds to help support this vulnerable group of people. Funds raised go to Fusion Canberra's preventative work with at-risk young people and Missionworx. If you want to find out how to get involved go to use the below links or contact the office 6147 9049. We hope to have a good team of Missiohearters taking part this year, hope you can join us. Should be lots of fun.

To register go directly to: https://sleepinyourcarcanberra16.gofundraise.com.au/cms/home
For more info on Sleep In Your Car go to: http://www.sleepinyourcar.com.au/

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totally listening

Time is relative, some days feel quicker than others. In fact, some seasons feel quicker than others. As I move ahead with the year, parts of my brain are still remembering things that I no longer need to hold onto: the jobs I hadn't gotten around to last summer, the blender I wanted to get so we could make smoothies (we have since purchased an all in one food processor and blender that makes great smoothies), the blog post I meant to write. In fact, when I checked today I was surprised to note that the last Missionheart blog was written before Winter, and owing to the fact it is now Spring, a whole season has passed without any action on my behalf to write another blog entry. Yet part of me was stuck there, in May, thinking I'll write another post soon.

Do you ever find yourself running as fast as you can, all the time, without a chance for anything to catch up to you. Perhaps you're going so fast for that very reason. Or perhaps you feel the need to do something, anything, all the time, because the world is a hurried and unsettled place, and all the injustices and wars and organisation that is needed will never get any better unless you fix it? If this isn't you, if you don't struggle with this, then don't let me cast that net onto you, but if it is then listen to Psalm 46. I say listen purposefully because if you're running then you can't read a Psalm (and if you just thought that you bet you could, then this article is definitely for you). Go on!

Why do we need to be still? Why do we need to know that God is God? We need to be still, because we have run so fast that we have left pieces of ourselves behind, and some of those pieces are God given gifts and abilities which He uses to benefit His plans. If you're trying to fix things it might be good to have all of your resources where you can find them. And we need to be still so that God can untangle us from the net. God being God is not dependant on us, whether we are still or not, but until we understand that it is God who stops wars, and God who mends broken things, we will feel the need to rush up again and start running.

God spoke to me last night about being still. I was listening to the radio and the preacher spoke words I knew and had practised, and they were specifically for me. Be still. Stop. Nothing else. Listen. So I've been trying, funny how hard it is to stop.

What has God been saying to you lately? Where have you left part of yourself? Will you let Him......?

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Who do you let encourage you?"Are you drinking much at the moment?”
“Yeah.”
“Me too......It’s good for you.”
“Yeah, you need a bit.”

A couple of guys were visiting our “Drop In” lunch, and sat just outside the door, drinking coffee while I washed the dishes. For some people, our small Drop In space is more about having a place to be still than getting a feed. It’s a place to escape the problems of the day for an hour or two, with friendly conversation if you feel sociable, or a sleep on the couch if you need it. As I listened to the guys encourage each other in the art of pretending to enjoy alcoholism, I realised that our attitude to our struggles is defined by with whom we choose to share. It is easy to find someone who will let you off the hook, and help you find excuses for not trying to change. However this sort of friendship is no more friendship than a doctor is doing his job by leaving a skin cancer alone. “What you say can preserve life or destroy it; so you must accept the consequences of your words” (Proverbs 18:21). I wished that I could have been a part of the conversation that was happening outside the Drop In door, but I hardly knew the guys, and they had not invited me to offer an opinion. They had chosen to sit outside by themselves, and were not really looking for a different point of view.

At Missionheart we are privileged to be invited to listen to stories of struggle, to pray with someone and to see God work healing and hope into their life. It is a joy to spend time with people as they work through issues; God is amazing and generous. However, when someone chooses to stop talking to the people who are supporting them, and avoids us, it is always a sign that they do not want to hear anymore about letting God be in charge. They know that we will tell them the choices they are making are destructive. They know we will offer to listen, and to help, and to pray. And they know that God will surely make it uncomfortable for them to remain in destruction.

When I find myself searching out someone to back up my excuses I know it is time to pray. Often, all it takes is for me to be honest with God about my problem, and He shows me the way through. When a friend invites me to be a part of their life, I hope to remember the consequences of my words, and speak preservation into their life.

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