Tuesday, 19 January 2010

A New Blog

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Some very exciting things have been happening in my life over the past 2 months. To avoid re-typing a long story: Tiarnee & I are moving back to the country where I'll attempt farming, and she'll be a teacher.

So as the title 'Country Nerd in the City' will no longer apply in 3 weeks I've started a new blog complete with my own domain! On my new blog I'll be posting about all the things that life throws at me as I learn to farm and again live rural life.

So, update your bookmarks & RSS feeds (all 14 of you!) to point at the fantastic new blog. If you're feeling really adventurous, leave a comment and tell me what you think of the new site/layout etc:

Sunday, 3 January 2010

The Party God

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I've tried more in more than 5 ways to describe how impacting this sermon clip is to me. But I really can't, so please just watch it & learn about the God who brings freedom, love and parties. Forget what you've seen and heard from those whose religion is rules and oppresion.

Learn about the God who longs to party with hookers at 3am in the morning.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Exercise

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Once the winter weather cleared away I once again took up riding to work. Replacing my bus ride with a bike ride. Now we all know the many benefits of regular exercise, but there's been one benefit to it that I didn't consider when I started riding to work. There's plenty of evidence out there that regular exercise has a positive impact on a persons mood and motivation and that has been my experience exactly.I've noticed this in several areas including:
  • Better ability to focus at work. (Compared to days I don't ride)
  • More motivation to get stuff done around the house when I'm home.
  • General mood etc. which has many benefits!
The icing on the cake for all this was this morning when I raced my bus into the city. So not only is it healthier, it's faster too.

If you've been thinking you should get more exercise, I encourage you to do it! It just might help you more than you imagine!

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

One Year On

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It was our first wedding anniversary on Sunday.What an awesome year it has been. We've managed to do a lot in our first year of marriage, including:
  • 2 Overseas Holidays (Fiji & NZ)
  • 3 Short breaks closer to home.
  • Tiarnee finishing her degree and starting teaching.
  • Learning to live together.
  • Growing as people together.
I've heard people say that the first year of marriage is the hardest but I'm not completely sure if that's true. I don't say that because this year has been easy, marriage is hard work. But it's been a privilege, and a blast so far! We (or at least I!) don't regret it in the slightest! Marriage streches you and grows you in ways you can't imagine before it. But I fully believe that God has used it to make me a better person.

I can't wait to see what God has in store for our future. It's all very breathtaking and exciting and right now, I'm loving the ride!

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Sermon Notes

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This is the sermon that I preached at the Kaniva Church of Christ on the 24th of October.


Introduction

If you didn't guess from our bible reading this morning, our topic for this morning is: 'money'!

Money. Something that's around us constantly, we use it daily. Money brings us both pleasure and pain. Most of know at least something of money and how it works, but how much do we know of God's outlook on money? The bible talks about it frequently, but do we know shekels and denarius are relevant to us know?

Because we're talking about money, I have 2 pieces of money here:

1. A 2006 Australian 50 cent coin.

2. A 1966 'Round' 50 cent piece.

Apart from the obvious 2 differences in these coins:

  • Age – 40 years
  • Shape

These 2 coins are worth different amounts! But Jonny aren't they both 50 cent pieces? Yes they are! Allow me to explain.

1. Coin #1 is a plain old ordinary coin.

2. Coin #2 was a commemorative coin released in 1966 to mark the introduction of decimal currency into Australia. (Some of you may remember that event!) This coin is 80% silver. Hence, if you weighed it, you would discover that it contains about 1/3 of an ounce of pure silver. This makes this coin worth between $5- $6 based on its silver content.

Interesting. But Jonny, what does this have to do with the bible?

Well, I'm so glad you asked!

You see, unlike our currency now, coins in biblical times (& even up to 1900s) contained actual gold silver and yes, occasionally bronze. So our 1966 coin is similar in many ways to the coins used in biblical times. This brings me to my first point!

1) Our wealth, our money and our possessions belong to the Lord!

Psalm 24 clearly states this by proclaiming: "The earth is the Lords and everything in it, the world and all who live in it!"

Psalm 50 takes this idea into more detail as it says:

Psalm 50:9-12 (New International Version)

9 I have no need of a bull from your stall
or of goats from your pens,

10 for every animal of the forest is mine,
and the cattle on a thousand hills.

11 I know every bird in the mountains,
and the creatures of the field are mine.

12 If I were hungry I would not tell you,
for the world is mine, and all that is in it.


But perhaps this point is made most directly when God says to Job in Job 41:11

Who has a claim against me that I must pay? Everything under heaven belongs to me.

Or is Haggai 2:8

"The silver is mine, and the gold is mine" declares the Lord God Almighty.

As you've heard, the bible is clear our wealth does belong to the Lord and because of this we're told to be thankful for it. Which is my second point.

2) Be thankful for the wealth that God gives us.

This exhortation to be thankful for our wealth occurs in many places through the bible. But the one I'm going to focus on, is the first reading we heard from Tiarnee earlier, Deuteronomy 8.

In this passage, God is reminding the Israelites of everything good about the promised land he has delivered to them. He speaks of the wonderful farmland, and the great wealth in that land. In verses 17 & 18 he says:

Deuteronomy 8:17-18 (New International Version)

17 You may say to yourself, "My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me." 18 But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today.

It's a wonderful picture isn't it! God creating the world, his providing us with wealth, housing, education, and money. Tiarnee even read to us of how we can put our

"hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment."

I mentioned to one of Tiarnees friends in Adelaide during the week that I was preaching a sermon on 'money'. Her response was one of surprise "How can you preach on money? Don't Christians think that money is evil?"

It was a fair question. Christians often quote from our reading this morning, "the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil". Or they'll misquote it: "Money is the root of all evil". They do this without knowing that same chapter speaks of God providing wealth for our enjoyment!

If only I could end the sermon there. We could all leave feeling good, reminded of a God who created us, loves us & is generous in his blessings to us. Yet, there's more.

My final point for the morning:

3) Warnings against desiring money.

Both of today's readings carry specific warnings about what can happen when we do forget God & lust after money. Our reading from 1 Timothy 6 has a specific message for Christians who believe "godliness is a means to financial gain". Amongst other things, they are 'conceited and understand nothing".

Paul also warns more generally against desiring wealth. People who wish to get rich give in to "many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction."

It seems here, as in many other forms of idolatry, that the problem is the desire of the creation and not the creator. As we know, God detests idolatry, and a very ominous warning is given to those who forget the true source of their wealth.

Listen to the 2 verses immediately following our previous Deuteronomy reading:

Deuteronomy 8:19-20 19 If you ever forget the LORD your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed. 20 Like the nations the LORD destroyed before you, so you will be destroyed for not obeying the LORD your God.

Tying it all together

So what should our response be to all of this? Well, let's look again at points 1 & 2.

By remembering that our wealth is Gods, and he created it, we acknowledge who God is. He is above and beyond us, and has no need or use for even the finest goods.

By remembering to thank God for his provisions and gifts of money, we rejoice and are glad in a God who is generous above and beyond all reason. This should also encourage us to be generous in our giving, yet cautious and prudent in the way we spend the Lords money.

If we concentrate and remember these 2 things, that will assist us greatly in avoiding the pitfalls of the final point.

There are warnings aplenty in the bible for those who do not ascribe God as the provider of their wealth. Let us not be one of those who becomes conceited and proud.

Instead let us live with godliness and contentment, as Paul commanded us:

1 Timothy 6:6-7 6But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.

Friday, 30 October 2009

Debut Sermon

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Those of you that follow me on twitter will know that I preached my first ever sermon last weekend. I preached at my small home church, the Kaniva Church of Christ. I preached on the subject of 'Money'. I selected this subject because it was topical for me, having recently lead a series of studies on it (see earlier posts!) & because I'm interested in it. As I think we all are!

It was an interesting and enjoyable experience. I'd always wanted to give preaching a go, to see if I could do it. While it's hard for me to say how it went, it seemed to go well and I recieved a lot of positive feedback. Hopefully not too much of it was politeness. I was quite nervous at first, but managed to relax a bit more as I got into it.

It took a long time to prepare, several hours for a 10-15 minute talk. But I'd definitely do it again. Hopefully God used and spoke through what I said, and hopefully he'll do it again.

It was quite a family service, with my talented wife Tiarnee doing the bible readings and kids talk, my dad leading communion, my mum playing piano/ organ & my sister running the data projector. For all you comedians out there, no we werent the only ones there....

I'll post the notes that I spoke from in the next day or two. Maybe someone else out there will find it encouraging.
 

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