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Apr 14, 2019
Come and See – 2 Simon Peter
Series: Come and See

It only takes a couple of bars of the song ‘Borderline’ playing on the radio to take me back almost 3 decades to my 15 year-old self. For me, the song brings to mind fond memories of summer holidays; driving from the city to the beach in my friends new (very old) car, windows down, sun streaming in, not a care in the world. My recently acquired cassette containing ‘The Immaculate Collection’, of Madonna’s greatest hits playing from the car stereo. I smile upon hearing the familiar tune, close my eyes, and in a sense, I am there again.

There is something about a song that stirs up emotions and causes people to remember significant moments in time. Songs can bring back cherished memories. Songs can create a feeling so strong they seems to transport you to another time and place. Songs are powerful reminders of important snapshots and seasons in our life.

We can only imagine how Peter was impacted by the song the crowd sang on the day he and the other disciples escorted Jesus into Jerusalem with a Triumphal Entry on Palm Sunday. Thousands of people were making their way from the surrounding countryside into Jerusalem to celebrate the feast of Passover. That day, they sang a song that stirred deep emotions, a song that their ancestors had sang for centuries. They sang a song that reminded them of how God had rescued them from their enemies. A song that helped them to recall how the great original Passover led to an Exodus out of slavery in Egypt thousands of years ago. Peter, likely, was singing this song too, as he walked with Jesus and the other disciples into Jerusalem. He knew this song by heart. All the disciples did for this, ‘Hosanna song’, was a tune that every Jew knew well and sang with gusto, “Save us, we pray, O Lord! O Lord, we pray, give us success! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Psalm 118:25-26)

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  • Apr 14, 2019Come and See – 2 Simon Peter
    Apr 14, 2019
    Come and See – 2 Simon Peter
    Series: Come and See

    It only takes a couple of bars of the song ‘Borderline’ playing on the radio to take me back almost 3 decades to my 15 year-old self. For me, the song brings to mind fond memories of summer holidays; driving from the city to the beach in my friends new (very old) car, windows down, sun streaming in, not a care in the world. My recently acquired cassette containing ‘The Immaculate Collection’, of Madonna’s greatest hits playing from the car stereo. I smile upon hearing the familiar tune, close my eyes, and in a sense, I am there again.

    There is something about a song that stirs up emotions and causes people to remember significant moments in time. Songs can bring back cherished memories. Songs can create a feeling so strong they seems to transport you to another time and place. Songs are powerful reminders of important snapshots and seasons in our life.

    We can only imagine how Peter was impacted by the song the crowd sang on the day he and the other disciples escorted Jesus into Jerusalem with a Triumphal Entry on Palm Sunday. Thousands of people were making their way from the surrounding countryside into Jerusalem to celebrate the feast of Passover. That day, they sang a song that stirred deep emotions, a song that their ancestors had sang for centuries. They sang a song that reminded them of how God had rescued them from their enemies. A song that helped them to recall how the great original Passover led to an Exodus out of slavery in Egypt thousands of years ago. Peter, likely, was singing this song too, as he walked with Jesus and the other disciples into Jerusalem. He knew this song by heart. All the disciples did for this, ‘Hosanna song’, was a tune that every Jew knew well and sang with gusto, “Save us, we pray, O Lord! O Lord, we pray, give us success! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Psalm 118:25-26)

  • Apr 7, 2019Come and See 1 – Jesus Loves
    Apr 7, 2019
    Come and See 1 – Jesus Loves
    Series: Come and See
    A few years ago Rebecca and I were in Hawaii on holiday and we visited the big Island so we could go and see some active volcanos. We particularly wanted to go and see actual lava flowing and walk all over newly formed rocks. I don’t know if its the same now but at that time it was a 13km walk (one way) from the car park out to the lava fields. So we each took a couple of litres of water and set out. It was a great walk, most of the way on a well graded road. But once we got to the lava field we had to climb over very hot shiny black rocks. The Hawaiian sun, black rocks and hot lava just a meter away meant that our water supplies did not last long.

    We still had an incredible time clambering all over the amazing landscape watching the rock flowing like mud. We stayed until the sun had gone down and the landscape glowed with pools of lava spreading over the terrain, it was surreal. By the time we got back to the car however I was desperately thirsty. I had a headache, my mouth was dry, my tongue was swollen and my muscles were like jelly - I needed water. I couldn’t think about anything else. When I did get some water it was the sweetest thing I have ever put in my mouth. I cannot describe just how incredibly good it tasted.

    This Sunday we begin our Easter message series called ‘Come & See.’ Each week we are going to look at a different encounter someone had with Jesus.

  • Mar 31, 2019Philippians 4 – Peace
    Mar 31, 2019
    Philippians 4 – Peace
    Series: Philippians

    A few months ago a friend of mine was diagnosed with cancer. Following surgery he is now working out what follow-up treatment he is going to require. This week was his first visit with a new oncologist and he was naturally a little anxious about it. In a social media post he quoted an inspirational text from the bible, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God (Philippians 4:6).”

    As inspirational as it is, as encouraging as it is, it also seems impossible. How is it that someone with cancer could not be anxious? How could someone with a brain tumour not be anxious? How could someone with a sick child in hospital not be anxious? How could a parent who’s child leaves home not be a little anxious? How could a student sitting an important exam not feel anxious? How is it that someone is supposed to be at peace in the middle of any and all situations?

    In Paul’s letter to the Philippians he claims to have found the secret of true peace in all situations. Fortunately for us, he doesn't keep the secret to himself, but explains the basic elements required to achieve that peace. For thousands of years believers have wrestled with these elements, and following Paul's advice they have found that same incredible sense of peace in all situations.

    Whatever your life story we would love for you to join us at 10am on Sunday as together we look at what Paul taught and attempt to find peace in all the crazy things we face. #wollongongsalvos #peace#cancer #philippians

  • Mar 24, 2019Philippians 3 – Hope
    Mar 24, 2019
    Philippians 3 – Hope
    Series: Philippians

    We live in a credential-conscious society. Those with the right credentials can get into certain places, and do certain things, and those without credentials can not. Try to enter Vietnam without the appropriate travel credentials and you will very quickly discover that these particular credentials matter. Try to gain entrance into the Pentagon without the proper military credentials and see how quickly you are escorted from the premises. Try to get onto the sidelines of your favourite professional sporting match without the proper team or media credentials, and security will re-direct you very quickly. We might not like the hassle, or the barriers credentials create, but we accept the fact that they serve a purpose. Credentials keep the wrong people out and allow the right people in.

    No one would want to go to a doctor’s office and notice that they didn’t have any credentials posted on the wall. What if you asked your doctor, “May I see your credentials?” Only to hear the response, “Well, honestly, I never went to medical school. I didn’t want to waste my time or money. I don’t actually have a license to practice medicine.” What if they said, “Well I may not be an accredited doctor, but here’s my mechanical engineering degree?” Either way, I’m not sure you would let this person stand over you with a scalpel. Like it or not, credentials are essential, but they must be the right credentials.

    In Philippians 3 the Apostle Paul confesses that for too long he was using the wrong credentials. Paul was trusting in his impressive heritage, unsurpassed religious zeal, and uncompromising morality. These were the things that had given Paul a false sense of security for many years. And, when we look closely, we realise that these are often the very things that give people a false sense of security today. However, Paul discovered that the Gospel changed everything in his life. As Paul looked at his background, he said, “Everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung.” (Philippians 3:8 MSG) Paul realised that his prior credentials were insignificant; Jesus was the only credential he needed. When Paul gave up everything he had for Jesus, he discovered that he had actually given up nothing, to gain everything.

  • Mar 17, 2019Philippians 2 – Minds
    Mar 17, 2019
    Philippians 2 – Minds
    Series: Philippians
     Very few people have a mild reaction when they first taste Vegemite. Vegemite is so strong, bitter and salty that it turns peoples faces inside-out. This is very amusing for Australians as they often coax unsuspecting foreigners into trying huge spoonfuls of Vegemite by convincing them that it tastes something like chocolate. In some ways Jesus was like Vegemite. People rarely had a mild reaction to Jesus. They would either recoil in hatred at the things he claimed or they were attracted to his teaching, believed what he said and worshipped him. Jesus was a strong person, his message was powerful and his claims were incredible. Over time thousands of people began to follow Jesus. They discovered who he was, they learned what he taught and it changed their lives.

    In Philippians 2 we learn that one of the most important lessons Jesus taught and demonstrated was that of humility. Intentionally using your power and influence to build up others rather than yourself, is such a powerful counter-cultural concept, but it leads to a life of true satisfaction.

  • Mar 10, 2019Philippians 1 – Relationships
    Mar 10, 2019
    Philippians 1 – Relationships
    Series: Philippians

    The philosopher Aristotle said, “In poverty and other misfortunes of life, true friends are a sure refuge. They keep the young out of mischief; they comfort and aid the old in their weakness, and they incite those in the prime of life to noble deeds.”

    One of the most overlooked benefits of friendship is that it helps keep our bodies and minds strong. In fact, it’s as important to our physical health as eating well and keeping fit. A recent Harvard study concluded that having solid friendships in our lives helps us deal with stress, make better lifestyle choices that keep us strong, and allow us to rebound from health issues and disease more quickly. Friendship is equally important to our mental health. One study even suggested spending time with positive friends actually changes our outlook for the better. That means we’re happier when we choose to spend time with happy people. Modern research suggests that friendship may even hold the key to alleviating social problems such as divorce, homelessness and obesity, because our friends aid in the way we deal with stress or unhappiness.

    The apostle Paul knew the importance of friendship. In the book of Philippians, often referred to as a letter of friendship, we witness a very personal and warm Paul expressing affection for his friends. His friends were a safe refuge for him when the circumstances he faced seemed relentlessly dire and they gave him much needed strength to persevere. His partnership with them, in sharing the gospel, was life changing - it had changed everything. The letter to the Philippians was unlike other letters which Paul had written to respond to crises. Paul's love of and dependance on his friends in Philippi is evident from the very beginning, expressing, "I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now.”

    Paul, while in prison, has reflected on the value of friendship and in the book of Philippians we get an insight into the importance of sharing life with people who will partner with us and pray with and for us.

  • Mar 3, 2019Selfless 4 – Extravagant in Giving
    Mar 3, 2019
    Selfless 4 – Extravagant in Giving
    Series: Selfless

     If someone was to ask me about my favourite movies, “Rocky” would definitely be in my top ten. Rocky is the story of a complete and utter underdog boxer from the streets of Philadelphia, who comes up against the reigning world champion Apollo Creed. No one gives Rocky a chance to get through the first round let alone “go the distance” with Apollo.

    It’s not the achievement of Rocky “going the distance” that stands out most to me, but it is his sheer determination, tenacity andperseverance. The fact that he battles not only the world number one but also his circumstances of being uneducated, unemployed and not given a shot by anyone only makes the feat more impressive.

    There are many times Rocky could have given up and thrown in the towel in the lead up and during the fight, but Rocky absorbs each blow and is determined to follow his passion and persevere through his circumstances.

    What are your circumstances today? Are you just about ready to throw in the towel or are you ready to get up and keep fighting?

    If we are looking for the perfect example of someone who never gave up in the midst of struggles you can’t go past Jesus. The Son of God had all the power and authority to live a life of comfort, but Jesus chose to be amongst the poor and needy. Jesus chose to go to the cross and take the sin of the world upon his shoulders in order to have a relationship with us for eternity. Jesus chose to be grateful and embrace the grind of what life has to offer in order to have a relationship with us.

    Are we willing to be grateful in the grind of life and push through our circumstances so that others may experience the love of Jesus too?

  • Feb 24, 2019Selfless 3 – Greatful in the Grind
    Feb 24, 2019
    Selfless 3 – Greatful in the Grind

    If someone was to ask me about my favourite movies, “Rocky” would definitely be in my top ten. Rocky is the story of a complete and utter underdog boxer from the streets of Philadelphia, who comes up against the reigning world champion Apollo Creed. No one gives Rocky a chance to get through the first round let alone “go the distance” with Apollo.

    It’s not the achievement of Rocky “going the distance” that stands out most to me, but it is his sheer determination, tenacity andperseverance. The fact that he battles not only the world number one but also his circumstances of being uneducated, unemployed and not given a shot by anyone only makes the feat more impressive.

    There are many times Rocky could have given up and thrown in the towel in the lead up and during the fight, but Rocky absorbs each blow and is determined to follow his passion and persevere through his circumstances.

    What are your circumstances today? Are you just about ready to throw in the towel or are you ready to get up and keep fighting?

    If we are looking for the perfect example of someone who never gave up in the midst of struggles you can’t go past Jesus. The Son of God had all the power and authority to live a life of comfort, but Jesus chose to be amongst the poor and needy. Jesus chose to go to the cross and take the sin of the world upon his shoulders in order to have a relationship with us for eternity. Jesus chose to be grateful and embrace the grind of what life has to offer in order to have a relationship with us.

    Are we willing to be grateful in the grind of life and push through our circumstances so that others may experience the love of Jesus too?

  • Feb 17, 2019Selfless 2 – Faithful in Service
    Feb 17, 2019
    Selfless 2 – Faithful in Service
    Series: Selfless
  • Feb 10, 2019Selfless 1 – Bold in Witness
    Feb 10, 2019
    Selfless 1 – Bold in Witness
    Series: Selfless

    When I was about 10 years old my Sunday school teachers challenged us to invite a friend to Sunday school. We would even be rewarded with a prize if that friend actually came along.

    This prize was necessary because there was no way I would normally invite someone to church. Just like most other people I was terrified of talking to people about God. I was terrified of inviting people to church. I was terrified of the response or reaction of my friends. What if they laughed at me? What if they got offended? What if they asked a question I couldn’t answer?

    As it turns out, the promised prize was good enough that I gathered all the courage I could and I invited a couple of school mates to Sunday school. None of the things I feared actually happened and we all had a great time.

    I’m not sure if we should offer a prize for inviting people to church but I’m still curious about what kind of incentive it would take to actually get adults to invite others to church? Why is it that people are afraid to talk about their spiritual experience? Why is it that people are hesitant to share their faith story? Why is it that so many of us lack a little boldness when it comes to our faith?