Advent 1: Waiting

Ian's sermon from Sunday 2nd Dec.  Readings from Jeremiah 33:14-16, Luke 21:25-36.

December 2nd – my sons 29th birthday – where did those years go?

Just the other day something our youngest son said reminded me of all our children. He said what they and thousands of others have said before him.  Can you guess what it was?

4 weeks to Christmas – I can’t wait!

It seems that children look forward to Christmas with an eager anticipation, straining forward as if they can make it arrive sooner; while their adults can’t wait for it to be over.

We spend a lot of time waiting. Continue reading

Transformational Disciplines: Savouring Scripture

SERMON 5 OF 5 IN A SERIES EXPLORING SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINE, PREACHED 18 NOVEMBER 2012.  READ Psalm 1:1-3; Psalm 119:97-105 (better read the whole psalm); 2 Timothy 3:1-17

 

The Bible is alive, it speaks to me; it has feet, it runs after me; it has hands, it lays hold of me.

Martin Luther, “Martin Luther–The Early Years,” Christian History, no. 34.

And I add – it challenges me, comforts me and converts me.

This book we call ‘the Bible’ is no ordinary book – it is living and active, continually challenging us to uncover fresh meaning and giving us insight into how we might live out God’s story. By savouring Scripture we are challenged to change, we are comforted with knowledge of God’s love, we are converted to Jesus likeness and thus he is seen in us, in our attitudes, and in our actions.

What is the Bible?

  • A collection of stories
  • A book
  • Scripture – holy Words
  • A Word of God
  • The Word of God

Let’s stop with that thought for a moment. The Bible is the Word of God. What does that mean?

This is no ordinary book – it is not a story about God, it is not a text book about God, it is God’s Word to us.

That surely affects the way we regard it! Given that we say we LOVE God you’d expect that we would love God’s Word. Given that we say we want to follow Jesus you’d expect we would immerse ourselves in the Word to know him more.

Yet strangely we don’t. Continue reading

Transformational Disciplines: Prayer with Ears

SERMON 4 OF 5 IN A SERIES EXPLORING SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINE, PREACHED 11 NOVEMBER 2012.  READ Ecc 5:1-3; MATT 6:1, 5-8

Of late we’ve been exploring Spiritual Disciplines: 

Discipline does seem to be an unpopular word yet it is a word that conveys an approach to walking with Jesus that is lacking in the Church today.

Continue reading

Transformational Disciplines: Fasting that pleases God

SERMON 3 OF 5 IN A SERIES EXPLORING SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINE, PREACHED 04 November 2012.  READ Matthew 6:1-18

You don’t hear much about fasting these days, in fact in the worship surveys conducted at the start of the year some here noted that they knew little about fasting and that they have never heard teaching on it.

Well that is about to change!

I guess as we look around our culture we can understand why fasting may be out of favour.

It doesn’t fit!

Seemingly in NZ and much of the world we’ve become conditioned to comfort, excess and instant gratification and that direction is only increasing.

If we want fast food – we want it now, and if they can’t serve us in only a few minutes we complain. Following trends set overseas we increasingly upsize our orders, and at a eat all you can buffet we end up eating more than we need, even more than we should – just because it’s there.

This attitude of having what we want when we want it extends to most aspects of life: texting, FB, entertainment. There is little we have to wait for. And we believe it’s our right to satisfy our desires whenever we want. So excess marks our landscape: and in the busyness of satisfying ourselves where is God?

God of course is where God has always been. Continue reading

Transformational Disciplines

Sermon 1 of 5 in a series exploring Spiritual Disciplines (or practices), preached 21st October, Read Romans 12 especially verses 1-2


I’m returning today to a passage that is one of my favourites: I find that God is often bringing these words to my mind – probably because I need to hear and apply them.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.   (Romans 12:1-2, NIV) Continue reading

A sermon for Spring

A sermon preached Sunday 16th September 2012. Read 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 1 Corinthians 15:35-57.
Sometimes living here in the south it seems like winter just does not want to go away.  Late snow, plunging temperatures, howling winds, dismal days all seem to do their best to dampen our spirits as they assert their control.

The garden – often looks unkempt, untidy, uninspiring..

Yet every year spring does roll around and claim it’s time.

Our garden right now is bursting with new life – and spring colour. The roses are sending out new growth, the Rhododendrons are breaking into colour, the blossom blooms, weeds have suddenly appeared and amongst it all daffodils and tulips and unknown things are thrusting their fragile heads above the cold earth.

Living here in the manse for our first spring this is all new to us – unlike last year when we knew what we’d planted here we have no idea what lies beneath the ground. We have no way of knowing what will come up – so there’s extra delight as we’re surprised by what is now pushing it’s way through the earth.

Continue reading

Lessons from Joseph: Grace Wins!

a sermon from Sunday 9th September, Read Genesis 42:1-29, 36-38 

It’s time to wrap up our story of Joseph for the time being.  Much has changed in his life as we have journeyed with him, we have been challenged by this story to examine our relationships, with family and friends, and God.  We’ve been reminded of the ways temptation can whisper to us and the need to stand firm, and we’ve seen how God can use us when we wait faithfully for his time, and are spiritually centred in Him.  And now today we catch up with the family again, reunited after about 25 years apart. Continue reading

Lessons from Joseph: Prison to Power

From a sermon delivered 26 August, read Genesis 41.

When we look at this episode in Joseph’s life it’s as if his break comes when he had stopped striving for it.  As a youngster he had always tried to be the best, the most popular, the brightest, yet all his striving only caused disappointment, division, and rejection.

In prison he’d hoped that the right connections would help him – but as we recall his ‘connections’ forgot him.

Now two years later – we imagine he’d resigned himself to his fate when unexpectedly – a lifeline – he is called upon to help Pharaoh. Hope restored. Continue reading

Lessons from Joseph: Stop the Clock!

a sermon preached 12 August 2012. Text Genesis 37:11-36

When in the 7th form we played numerous practical jokes on the staff.  One day a very loud alarm clock was hidden in the lectern before Assembly, as the deputy-principal began to speak the clock was heard to go off and our class the hall on mass.  We knew that the clock was actually a stink bomb and that with the alarm going off so would the bomb. 

As soon as the clock began ticking it was always going to go off, unless somehow someone or something intervened and stopped it.

Last week as we began to understand Jacob’s favouritism, Joseph’s arrogance, and the brothers growing resentment combined to create a stink-bomb – which was simply waiting to explode. Continue reading