Monday, 28 September 2009

The Worst Deal Ever!

Sermon notes Proverbs 1 v 8-19 - The worst deal ever!

There was a group of men in the city of the same profession. Pillars of society…These guys had been for generations. People trusted them in the city. They were widely respected and good at what they did. Things were good. That was until a mysterious man arrived from out of town. There was another name on everyone’s lips. They were off the front page off the paper. This one man was a real threat to the status quo. The group made some decisions. "Come stand with us" they said to one another…They started off by discrediting him. You've seen this all the time. People pile into one person absolute character assassination. Things escalated. A couple of ringleaders led the way, before you know it the voice of reason is drowned out and there is a gang are giving someone a good kicking. These men took things even further. Tragically, they had this man murdered.

Offered gain… affirmed by the group…
No consideration of justice or mercy…

What happens to people who get rich or comfortable from exploiting/crushing others?
How do people get caught up in this kind of thing?
How can we avoid getting caught up in this kind of thing?

The offer

When someone asks you about church, does your response change much depending who is asking? Your friends? Colleagues? Boss?
Have you ever done anything that you only did because 'everyone was doing it'?
Have you ever NOT done what is right and good, because you're overly concerned with what others think?

We live in the 'current of community'. Like a sweeping the river coming every day.

Proverbs 1:11&12 "If they say…"Come with us (group), let us lie in wait for blood; let us ambush the innocent without reason; like Sheol let us swallow them alive, and whole, like those who go down to the pit."

You know this is wrong in your conscience or before God but before you know it you're hit from another angle... Pro 1:13 & 14 we shall find all precious goods, we shall fill our houses with plunder; throw in your lot among us; we will all have one purse"
Earn respect from people and get money!

Here we have a Dad to his Son…
This is the heart of the text…
Wisdom is coming for the good of the son
Pro 1:8 &9 "Hear, my son, your father's instruction, and forsake not your mother's teaching, for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck."

The warning

When you see a red flag at the beach you have to make a decision. Is it there to help you, or ruin your day? What will you make of this heavy warning?

Dad mocks the group...verse 17
"For in vain is a net spread in the sight of any bird."
They are dumb and dumber. Like the man who left his dog at the scene of a robbery he'd committed. The police found the dog and said, "home boy." And followed the dog all the way back to the man's house! Like the the guys who steal a bus as a getaway vehicle… dumb…
Going nowhere. Dumb… Verse 17 The bird is watching them do it the whole time its going to fly off in the other direction!

18 "but these men lie in wait for their own blood;they set an ambush for their own lives."
They are digging there own graves where they will die. The Potent mix of peer pressure and greed - they have lead each other to disaster…

19 "Such are the ways of everyone who is greedy for unjust gain; it takes away the life of its possessors." Big warning. This lifestyle is fatal. Blood on your hands, face law, face guilt, face God. God has promised justice (If you have ever been a victim you will know this is good news…)
One day we will all stand before him.

Two dynamics/motives in this passage…

Seeking goods and wealth at all costs… greed.
The influence of other people... fear of man.
Pro 29:25 "The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe."
1Ti 6:9-10 "But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs."

Strong warnings… you’ve gotta decide what to do with it!
Mark 8:36 "For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?"

The alternative

To live for God will cost us. Some may lose, it costs more to shop fair trade, is this really an option?

A few years back… in the city called Jerusalem…
They were highly respected,They were pillars of society known as the Pharisees…
Another man arrived from out of town who they slandered, mocked and had murdered. In a time when men motivated by greed and group dynamics, something else was going on.
This man who was murdered was wealthy. His dwelling bigger than those houses in St. Leonard’s which have Land Rovers and Porches in the driveway! He was accepted unconditionally. He had nothing to prove. He was loved unquestionably. Yet he left it all behind to come to this city.

His name is Jesus. He trusted his Father even when it cost him everything. He lived out these verses. Pro 1:15 - 16 "my son, do not walk in the way with them; hold back your foot from their paths, for their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed blood." Hebrews 4v15 "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin."

He became poor (nothing) that we might be rich… knowing God… our maker…
He was treated as guilty (with our guilt) to declare us innocent… for all we have done
He was rejected by God (as we should have been) so that we might be - Accepted by He was given death – that we might know life. He credits us with living out this perfectly!

William Cowper, "Nature is but a name for an effect, whose name is God."
We can know him because of this great exchange. He offers relationship freely. Offered freely and received by trusting and believing his words.

This relationship is freedom and power.
Free from fear of man as we cultivate fear of God. Some of us live a life trying to please people, looking for complements to give meaning and worth hopelessly living in the prison of self esteem. Jesus came to smash that and set us free. That voice of men vs the creator. We need a big view of God. Awsome Holy and our Father who is good. Proverbs 1:7 "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge." Recommend RC Sproul – Holiness of God. A W Tozer – Knowledge of the Holy. Andrew Wilson – Incomparable.

Not ruled by wealth and comfort. We can think we will be filled with joy and life will be good when we get more money! If ruled by this desire, it leads us to do things which we know are wrong. Ultimately it never satisfies and is a poor substitute for God. God sets us free from this waste of life. When you see the Gospel, when you see Jesus the pearl of great price you would give everything away to have this. Wealth beyond all imagination. Mat 13:44 "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field."

Sometimes in life before you comes an offer. It will win you respect and might make you rich but in the end it will cost you everything – It’s the worst deal ever.

So Jesus came to set you free from the worst deal ever…
So you can have something of unimaginable value – himself.

Term planner - Sunday evenings...

Dates for the diary for Sunday evenings this term...

4th - The Lounge
11th - Closer
18th - Bible Weekend
25th - Band of Brothers/Ladies night

1st - The Lounge
8th - Closer
15th - The Lounge
22nd - Band of Brothers/Ladies night
29th - The Lounge

6th - The Lounge
13th - Closer

The Lounge

Welcome to the Lounge...

Our Church loves our city. The uni plays its part in the city as the biggest employer and attracts over 12,000 students to study. Over the years our church has had the privilege of getting to know many students and sharing life with them while they are with us.

What is The Lounge?

The Lounge is a social evening for students with a bit of bite. Its a good chance for Church members to get to know other Church members. It is also a great place to bring mates from your house, hall, course or club so your friends can meet with friends.

The Lounge will also give an opportunity to hear something of the faith we share. Our aim is to challenge Christians to live with integrity and provoke guests to consider a thought that we will throw out on a given topic.

What happens in the Lounge?

During the candlelit evening you will have plenty of time to chat and enjoy drinks with mates. Each Lounge we will have an acoustic set for you to enjoy. We'll then show a video from the streets as we ask people what they feel about the topic of the evening. Some thoughts will then be shared to challenge our members and invite our guests to think. This will be followed by a text message Q&A. Ask anything! The mic will then be open for any musicians who would like to bring some music...

Where is The Lounge?

Pitcher & Piano
79-81 Queen St, Exeter, Devon, EX4 3RP

When is the Lounge?

The Lounge kicks off at 7.30pm on the following dates...

Sunday 4th October
Sunday 1st November
Sunday 15th November
Sunday 29th November
Sunday 6th December

Look forward to seeing you there. :-)

Is that cultural or authoritative?

Often when reading passages which appear strange to us we ask the question, "Is that cultural or authoritative?" If we conclude, 'it's just cultural' we can simply ignore it.

Should men kiss in Church?

1Th 5:26 Greet all the brothers with a holy kiss.
1Co 16:20 All the brothers send you greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss.

You may have pondered this when reading Paul instruct male Christians to greet each other with a kiss. I love my Pastor, but the thought of greeting him with a kiss is more than a bit strange. Do I really have to do that? Isn't that just cultural?

Rubbish question.

It was pointed out to me recently that this is really a rubbish question to start with!

All scripture is BOTH culturally conditioned AND authoritative...

2Ti 3:16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,
2Ti 3:17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

Therefore, we cannot simply ignore the parts which we find confusing and/or amusing... We have to work a little harder.

Some good questions to start with

What was going on at the time?
What is God concerned about and why?
What does that look like today?
How can we apply this value?

Some brief suggestions

At the time the above verses were written the Church was being built and ways of relating were being established.
The Church should be like family with love and affection.
Christians should treat each other as family.
'If blood is thicker than water, gospel is thicker than blood.'
Brothers in their culture would greet each other with a kiss.
In Exeter, brothers who love each other greet each other with a hug.

I find it curious that if we applied these texts without cultural consideration, we would miss the point of the text and not be obedient to God's desires. If we all started kissing each other I don't think that would cultivate the loving family atmosphere and brotherly affection God so desires.

Christians should greet each others as the family we are if we're going to apply and not ignore these verses.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Band of Brothers

  • What does it look like to be a real man?
  • Which battles am I called to fight?
  • What is my role at home?
  • What is my role in the church?

I'm very much looking forward to exploring these issues this year. We'll be gathering as young men to study God's word and then go and have some kind of action/adventure together... We've got a great group of young men who have already signed up so I can't wait to get going.

Dates for term 1:

Sunday 25th October

Sunday 22nd November

Fighting the good fight

Friday, 11 September 2009

New series - Proverbs!

Dave Bish will be kicking off our new series this weekend. We'll be going through the book of Proverbs. A very practical book with loads of insight on living life well. Should be a great series. I'll look forward to seeing you.

Teambuilding day 2

Day 2 on Dartmoor was testing in a different way.

Wrong direction?

Using a compass and directions we had to navigate to various points on a map. This was hard! We kept having to start again. We had to go back to what we knew for sure, and then re-do our steps several times!

Team challenge...

The final activity was designed to put all our skills together to complete a challenge. We had to find out who could raise the flag, a badge for them to wear, and the pole to raise our flag with.

We walked

We walked together along paths, through the trees. We scrambled over rocks. Navigation was particularly hard because of poor visibility but we kept plodding away all afternoon.

We climbed

Jono held the rope secure, Tim offered his body for a 'leggy' and standing on Tim's shoulders I climbed up the tree. The first attempt failed. Tim was not happy under my weight and a branch of the tree snapped off in my hand. This left me dangling over some rocks being held up by Jono!

We succeeded at the second attempt.

Rachel abseiled from the top of a rock to find the flag pole, Barry gave us directions and Nat raised the flag to complete the team challenge.

It was a good couple of days which we all enjoyed. I think it went someway to helping us develop as a team ready for a year of challenges...

Friday, 4 September 2009

Teambuilding day 1

Today Impact Team 09/10 took to Dartmoor for day 1 of teambuilding.


Nat, Rachel, Tim, Jono along with me and Dan spent the morning scrambling up rocks on Dartmoor. Under the watchful eyes of the instructors we helped and encouraged each other as we climbed 150ft. We helped each other bend through gaps in the rocks and cover each other as we have levels of strength and different length legs(!).


This afternoon we took turns to abseil 100ft off a bridge. This was one of the scariest things I have ever done. Climbing over the railings and standing over a hundred foot drop was enough to send a surge of adrenaline to my arms which clamped the top rail. Eventually I was able to let go, hold onto the rope and let myself down. The team all did this very well. Tim was first over while Dans face was probably the best picture of the day. The ladies seemed to do this with considerable ease while we should pray that Jono's rope position has done no lasting damage!

Great to spend time with this years team.

We have a great team.

They are very diverse and very up for stuff...

Need for Team

"You can do what I cannot do. I can do what you cannot do. Together we can do great things." (Mother Teresa)

"Plans are established by counsel; by wise guidance wage war." (Proverbs 20v18)

Jesus works together with the Father and Spirit in the Trinity.
Jesus worked with and sent the disciples.
Jesus commissioned and sent specific teams for specific tasks in the power of the Spirit.
Churches have eldership teams.
Elders appoint and equip ministry teams.
Every area of the Church has a team.
Marriages are complementary teams.
As a christian I'm part of a big family together on a mission - one big team!

The Christian life in every way is worked out in teams...

John Maxwell notes in his book, "The 17 Indisputable Laws Of Teamwork" the benefits and some of the challenges we face in building teams.
  • Teams involve more people, thus affording more resources, ideas and energy than would an individual.
  • Teams maximise individual potential by covering weaknesses.
  • Teams provide multiple perspectives and alternative ways of doing things.
  • Teams keep each other accountable to the goal/vision.
  • Teams share successes and defeats. This fosters humility and genuine community.

Threats to good teamwork:

  • Ego. You think you can do everything. "It marks a big step in development when you come to realize that other people can help you do a better job than you could do alone." Andrew Carnegie
  • Insecurity. Only secure leaders give power to others. Insecure leaders fear being replaced.
  • Ignorance. The bigger the dreams, the more the need for team. Some learn this too late, and as a result, they never accomplish their goals.
  • Temperament. Whether you are naturally inclined to be part of a team is really irrelevant. It takes a team to do anything of lasting value.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

One Church - One vision - Two services...

Our lead elder Andy was on his feet last night casting the vision for the next step forward for our church.

One Church - One vision - Two services...

The Vision

We genuinely believe that Jesus is amazing and want to love and serve our city because of him and for him. We want more people to experience his grace and love. During term time on Sundays we fill the room by more than 80%. When we have our 'high Sundays' we are rammed in there!

We feel we have momentum as a church and want to provide space for expected growth. We want guests to feel welcome on arrival and see our church as a place where there is space for them to belong. We also want our members to have a renewed sense of mission as we seek to fill the services by bringing guests.

The Challenge

Running two services increases the need for volunteers. It was amazing last night to see so many members sign up for various areas in the church. Seeing people give up time and energy to serve Jesus is a great thing to witness. When you see that Jesus gave himself for you it changes your heart and gives you a hunger to serve others. The power of God is at work! We have many teams so there is much space to people who want to help.

Welcome Team
Steward Team
Drinks Team
AV Team
PA Team
Setup Team

It's a very exciting time for us as a church. I hope and pray these teams will grow and we will go on to bless more and more people in our city.

Roll on Sunday!