Blogs

  • Esthers Voice - by Janine Kubala

    Have you ever had one of those days where you feel like you’re living in a battle zone? Maybe for you it has extended into a battle season where even the most straightforward tasks have become challenging. I feel like I am in the midst of battle season! What I am realizing is that perspective is everything.

    For the past few months I have been preparing for the Esther’s Voice retreats in April and in doing so I have had to fight some very real battles.  But as I reflect over the past few weeks I have to admit the fiercest battle has been in my own head.  My greatest battle is fear.  It’s not what has actually gone wrong but the anticipation of what could go wrong that has been elevating my heart rate and robbing me of peace and sleep! There is a giant of intimidation inhabiting my promised land. 

    As I continue to read through the book of Joshua I see so many parallels.  Joshua was entrusted with leading the nation of Israel at the end of a season of fear that had robbed a generation of freedom.  Instead of crossing the Jordan and claiming God's promise, the previous generation had wandered the wilderness for 40 years.  Rescued but still not free.  

    The message of Esther's Voice is a message of freedom and the sound of freedom is different to the sound of rescue. Freedom is a confronting message. It requires us to acknowledge our own personal authority in defeating the giants that stand against us.  It also requires a revelation of the authority of the God who is the author of our freedom. 

    In the story of Joshua, the previous generation was so consumed by fear they wanted to stone both Joshua and Caleb when they gave the report that Israel could overcome their giants and claim the territory God had promised them.  However when Joshua sent two spies to scout out the land and get a feel for the giants opposing them, this is what their enemies told them, 

    'We know the Lord has given you this land.  We are all afraid of you.  Everyone in the land is living in terror. For we have heard how the Lord made a dry path for you through the Red Sea when you left Egypt…….. No wonder our hearts have melted with fear! No one has the courage to fight after hearing such things.  For the Lord your God is the supreme God of the heavens above and the earth below.' Joshua 2:9-11

    In the context of claiming God's freedom, our fear is nothing more than an illusion.  The giants who for so long had God's people paralyzed and unable to possess their promise were in reality no threat at all.  They were 'living in terror', 'melting with fear' and 'lacking the courage to fight'.  

    The only thing standing between God's people and their victory was their perspective. They forgot who they were, and they forgot who God is.  The adjustment in thinking required for a whole nation to leave the familiarity of their rescued existence and cross the fast running Jordan River took courage and a significant shift in perspective from fear to faith.

    Taking ground will always provoke resistance in some form.  Overcoming is a necessary part of the journey toward inhabiting our promise of freedom.  Which brings me back to my greatest battle and the only way to overcome fear is to stay the course and remember the promise God gave me that forms the foundation of Esther's Voice 'My daughters are not helpless. Their voices will change their nation'

    God is famous! There is no giant we will ever come up against who has not already heard of God's awesome power and does not tremble with fear at the sound of His name!! The longer I am on this journey the more I realise that my fears are just an illusion and giants are no threat at all. I may sometimes forget who God is, but my enemies haven't.  They've heard about God's miraculous rescues and His supernatural provision and they know it's only a matter of time before we cross the Jordan and take hold of our freedom.  Their days of inhabiting our promises are numbered and they are running scared!!

    www.janinekubala.com

  • Rugby Club Rooms - By Christoph Zintl

    In the year following Richie McCaw holding the Rugby world cup for New Zealand my eldest son wanted to play rugby. He became the first Zintl to play. For Matteus it was a year of new experiences and the odd missed tackle. Every once in a while the parents from the team would get a warm invite to the rugby club rooms to have a few drinks. Being right into football (Go Germany), I never was that interested.

    I figured that rugby club rooms were similar to a football club rooms. They’d serve the purpose of being a gathering place for players and their families to connect. Each environment would be awash with its own traditions; passionate patrons, cheap jugs, and fostering conversation deeply grounded in their code.

    The day came where I finally got my chance to visit the rugby clubroom for Mattues’ end of the year prize giving. We all went as a family. As we ascended the stairs we were met by some kids running about. The walls in the foyer were filled with portraits and faded shirts of players long past their prime on the field.

    The atmosphere was warm enough and filled with much conversation. The diehard regulars were front and center. They held the main table, almost as guardians of the club. Amongst their fellowship they knew all tales of rugby heroics as well as their own cherished heritage. As a pastor I have become acutely aware of new people who come to church. Sometimes it’s not hard to spot someone at the back who feels a little out of place or nervous. Sometimes as a church we do welcoming and relationships really well. Sometimes we don’t for all sorts of reasons; we get overloaded, busy or are ourselves a tad dysfunctional.

    Back at the rugby club rooms, the boot was well and truly on the other foot. This time I was the one who was nervous. I was the outsider. I didn’t know where to sit or what to talk about in rugby terms. I simply didn’t know what the social norms of my new environment were. In hindsight it was a timely reminder because it was right then that I sensed God say that my “rugby clubroom time” is what it’s like for most people who’d come along to a church. It can be rather fashionable to knock “the church” like a piñata these days. People have disappointments on some level about how other people can treat each other. Sadly this is true for the church also.

    A hefty critique is not the point of this blog entry. I do want to emphasize that being a part of a church means that we have our own traditions, language, culture, theology and liturgy. The centrality of Christ and the fore mentioned elements define us as a community. It is because of these things that new people won’t understand or get right away. That’s a point of great consideration. As the church may we be reminded of what it means to host, commune and to connect with others. I once heard a speaker say “May we be committed at the core but be open at the edges.” That sounds easy to say I know that it’s hard to model. We’d do well to on occasion to venture to places and spaces in which we are the visitors… mine is that rugby clubroom

    https://thestoryvineyard.wordpress.com

  • Make what of who? - By Andrew Smith

    Go make what of who? Disciples... Of all nations! Christ makes a defining statement to his friends as He prepares to return to His (and our) Father, in order to send us the person - Holy Spirit (a blog for another day). He said 'go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (‭Matt 28‬v19-20‬ NLT)

    A power packed scripture right there, so lets first look at what we mean by disciple. In the Greek world at the time of Christ, the word “disciple” referred to an adherent to a particular teacher or religious/philosophical school. It was the task of the disciple to learn, study, and pass along the sayings and teachings of the 'master'. In rabbinic Judaism the term “disciple” referred to one who was committed to the interpretations of Scripture and religious tradition given him by his rabbi. Through a process of learning, at set meeting times with questions, answers, instruction, repetition, and memorization, the disciple would become increasingly devoted to the rabbi and his teachings. In time, the disciple would, likewise, gain rabbinical status, and pass on the traditions to others.[1]

    Sounds intriguing doesn't it! So how did one become a disciple in the time of Christ. Well, I'm glad you ask! First of all, you didn't choose your rabbi, they chose you!... That's if you showed sufficient promise. Training methods were referred to as 'yokes'. To become a rabbi yourself, one would have to adjust current mindsets and behaviours to sufficiently emulate their rabbi.[2]

    Hopefully by now revelation of all sorts is flooding your heart and mind as you consider the many scriptures that come to mind! One such for me is Paul's statement in Ephesians 1v4 "Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes"(‭NLT). What I find astounding about Christ's statement is He was entrusting rabbinical status to his followers and accepting all humanity into His school of discipleship! His premise for this? 'All authority in heaven and earth has been given to Me' (v19). In Christ, we are complete already. Wow! A multitude of mini Jesus rabbis notifying the world of their inclusion and outworking our gifted status as community through prayer, worship, edification and service.

    I find the importance of inclusion of 'all' a key mindset we could do well to further develop as the church. Do we view our fellow man as sinners, or children made in the image of God himself, for whom he eagerly wants to see growing under his yoke of freedom, not their blind yoke of slavery? Freedom for all! So we are greatly blessed and in receipt of a holy task, to be an make disciples. The force is strong with us young Jedi's [3] for Christ himself is in us, for us and with us!

    References:

    [1] Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for 'Disciples'. Holman Bible Dictionary 1991. [2] Time Magazine, 1947. [3] Star Wars, Ep VI, 1987.

  • Shadowlands - By Lizby Warren

  • You are amazing! - By Jodie Christinat

    I've been in Youth Ministry for 13 or 14 years now, it's a good thing the teenagers let me keep coming! Ha! I find that even though the generations and society are constantly changing there are some things that just seem to stay the same... One of the biggest things is that need for relationship and human interaction. No matter how much society heads toward the world of social media madness, I believe that you can never, ever remove from the human heart the need for relationship and it will never, ever be filled by a comment or a like on facebook or a retweet on twitter!
    Just this week I took one of our youth girls out for ice-cream, she's 11 and it was the first time she had ever been to Cold Rock, we then went and checked out Word Bookstore, I saw her looking at a cute little book that had a scripture for every day in it... As we spent those couple of hours together we chatted about being a girl and image stuff and self esteem, looked at Psalm 139 that says we are fearfully and wonderfully made, we chatted about the joys of getting grounded and doing prank calls and all sorts of other fun things!! I dropped her home and gave her the book that I'd sneakily bought for her, told her I believed in her and off I went... Not long later my phone lit up with a message from her saying 'Thanks for today Jodie. You are amazing.' Seriously, I don't feel amazing, but if that's all it takes to be amazing then wow - let me at it! I don't say any of this to promote myself, I tell you this story to ask you what you can do today, to be 'amazing' in someone's life?
    Every day we pass by many, many people, some of whom to be amazing all you need to do is smile, or maybe it's a friend that just needs you to take them to coffee, perhaps it's a neighbour that you can visit and have a cup of tea with... Maybe it's a mate you can spend time jogging or going to the gym or playing basketball with... Or what if it's that lonely person who just desperately needs someone to say hello... Perhaps it's just spending that bit of extra time with people pressing a bit deeper than the usual surface chatter... Jesus said in Matthew 25:40 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me' Today I encourage you no matter who you come into contact with, to think about what you can add to their life. A simple smile can add to someone's day, and a chat over ice cream can take you to 'amazing' status! Always remember, whatever we do for others, we do for Him. ....no matter who you are, you have something to give, and you are AMAZING!
    www.jodiechristinat.com
    
    
    
                                        

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