Dec 23, 2018
Uncluttered 3 – Make Room For Giving
Posted by Sarah Walker
Series: Uncluttered

One of my favourite youth group traditions is our annual Secret Santa. Each year at our Christmas break up, we each purchase a present worth $5 and gift it to someone else in the group. Some years we’ve bought for a specific person, and others we’ve bought generic gifts to be used in a game where you get to pick gifts, trade them and steal them from others. It’s always a hilarious and chaotic time because most of us get competitive with our gift giving and receiving. Some kids are really into it and pick funny, thoughtful gifts. Others completely miss the point and buy something thoughtless or irrelevant (which is still funny most of the time). This time at youth is always fun, but it’s also a mini glimpse into the reality of Christmas.

Obviously a big part of the Christmas season is giving. We exchange gifts with family, friends, co-workers and often we make an annual contribution toward our favourite charity. But sometimes our giving can get caught up in materialism, competition, or just become a thoughtless obligation. Our lives are so full that meaningful giving is often lost at this time of year because we just don’t have the space to make it happen. So how do we make sure we’re truly giving the way Jesus would want in this season?

After the birth of Jesus, Magi came from afar to visit Jesus. Not only did they present him with gifts, but they bowed down and worshipped him. These men gave their time, valuable possessions and their worship to Jesus. Their gifts were not given out of obligation or competition; they were given to honour the king and reveal his value. These gifts expressed the joy of the wise men at the coming of the promised Messiah. One more sentence to tie this in.

WatchNotesDownloadDateTitle
  • Dec 23, 2018Uncluttered 3 – Make Room For Giving
    Dec 23, 2018
    Uncluttered 3 – Make Room For Giving
    Posted by Sarah Walker
    Series: Uncluttered

    One of my favourite youth group traditions is our annual Secret Santa. Each year at our Christmas break up, we each purchase a present worth $5 and gift it to someone else in the group. Some years we’ve bought for a specific person, and others we’ve bought generic gifts to be used in a game where you get to pick gifts, trade them and steal them from others. It’s always a hilarious and chaotic time because most of us get competitive with our gift giving and receiving. Some kids are really into it and pick funny, thoughtful gifts. Others completely miss the point and buy something thoughtless or irrelevant (which is still funny most of the time). This time at youth is always fun, but it’s also a mini glimpse into the reality of Christmas.

    Obviously a big part of the Christmas season is giving. We exchange gifts with family, friends, co-workers and often we make an annual contribution toward our favourite charity. But sometimes our giving can get caught up in materialism, competition, or just become a thoughtless obligation. Our lives are so full that meaningful giving is often lost at this time of year because we just don’t have the space to make it happen. So how do we make sure we’re truly giving the way Jesus would want in this season?

    After the birth of Jesus, Magi came from afar to visit Jesus. Not only did they present him with gifts, but they bowed down and worshipped him. These men gave their time, valuable possessions and their worship to Jesus. Their gifts were not given out of obligation or competition; they were given to honour the king and reveal his value. These gifts expressed the joy of the wise men at the coming of the promised Messiah. One more sentence to tie this in.

  • Dec 23, 2018Uncluttered 3 – Make Room For Giving
    Dec 23, 2018
    Uncluttered 3 – Make Room For Giving
    Posted by Sarah Walker
    Series: Uncluttered

    One of my favourite youth group traditions is our annual Secret Santa. Each year at our Christmas break up, we each purchase a present worth $5 and gift it to someone else in the group. Some years we’ve bought for a specific person, and others we’ve bought generic gifts to be used in a game where you get to pick gifts, trade them and steal them from others. It’s always a hilarious and chaotic time because most of us get competitive with our gift giving and receiving. Some kids are really into it and pick funny, thoughtful gifts. Others completely miss the point and buy something thoughtless or irrelevant (which is still funny most of the time). This time at youth is always fun, but it’s also a mini glimpse into the reality of Christmas.

    Obviously a big part of the Christmas season is giving. We exchange gifts with family, friends, co-workers and often we make an annual contribution toward our favourite charity. But sometimes our giving can get caught up in materialism, competition, or just become a thoughtless obligation. Our lives are so full that meaningful giving is often lost at this time of year because we just don’t have the space to make it happen. So how do we make sure we’re truly giving the way Jesus would want in this season?

    After the birth of Jesus, Magi came from afar to visit Jesus. Not only did they present him with gifts, but they bowed down and worshipped him. These men gave their time, valuable possessions and their worship to Jesus. Their gifts were not given out of obligation or competition; they were given to honour the king and reveal his value. These gifts expressed the joy of the wise men at the coming of the promised Messiah. One more sentence to tie this in.

  • Nov 25, 2018Serve Everyone, Always
    Nov 25, 2018
    Serve Everyone, Always
    Posted by Sarah Walker

    While musicians are touring or actors are on set, they will often have a rider - a list of extras they expect to receive for their performances. Usually, riders include a list of items to be left in their dressing room including food and beverages. Generally, the more fame a person gains, the more ridiculous their demands become. On their 1982 tour, Van Halen’s rider insisted on bowls of M&M’s with all the brown ones removed. David Hasselhoff requires a life-size cutout of himself set up backstage. Brittany Spears requests McDonalds cheeseburgers with no buns, and Jenifer Lopez demands that every single thing in her dressing room be white - the chairs, the curtains, the carpet - everything. The craziest part is, these demands are met! These celebrities have such a high opinion of themselves that they demand whatever they want and expect other people to make it happen. It’s all about them and meeting their every need because they hold the power. They want to be served, because they are the most important.

    Most of us can’t imagine demanding people serve us in this way, but we can easily get caught up in that, ‘All about me’ mindset. We can be quick to trample over those who are beneath us, and push people out of the way as we climb towards the top. Ancient Rome, not unlike today, was a society where a small minority at the top held all the power and control, and didn’t care much for those who were at the bottom. It was all about climbing the ladder and making yourself more important. But Jesus came to show us a different way of living. He entered the world in the position of a servant. He didn’t demand power, he didn’t exploit people because he was in a position of authority, in fact, he made himself nothing. He poured himself out for people and showed us that what is required from Christ-followers is a posture of humility and an attitude of service. Not so that we can get ahead or elevate ourselves, but that we might live lives that put others first and be satisfied, because our identities lie in who God is, rather than the position we hold in the world.

  • Nov 4, 2018Welcome Everyone Always
    Nov 4, 2018
    Welcome Everyone Always
    Posted by Sarah Walker

    “You can’t sit with us!” Most teenagers or twenty-somethings would recognise this line from the 2004 comedy, Mean Girls. The movie is an over-dramatised description of high school social cliques and the damaging effects they can have on teenagers. This moment in the movie happens when one of the popular girls breaks a cardinal fashion rule and turns up to the group’s lunch time hang out in track pants. This moment is meant to make us laugh - it’s rare in real life for anyone to be that blunt, but it’s also there to remind us of how ridiculous it looks when we exclude people because we don’t like their track pants.

    Sometimes, the world looks far too similar to the Mean Girls cafeteria. People only interacting with those who share the same beliefs or ethnicity or sexual orientation. This might be ok for those who are on the inside, it might be ok for the world to be unwelcoming and exclusive. But it’s not ok for the church. The church is called to welcome everyone, always. Why? Because Christ first welcomed us. There should be no, “You can’t sit with us!” moments in the life of the church because we are fully aware that each one of us is made in the image of God. Christians have a call and responsibility to welcome all people, especially those who are strangers and outsiders. Welcoming is more than just a warm feeling; it takes courage and open-mindedness to walk alongside people who are different than us, but often when we do we realise we are not so different after all. When we become more welcoming people, we not only help the people around us to feel accepted and valuable, but we grow in character and our lives become richer.

  • Sep 23, 2018Kingdom Come- What About Us
    Sep 23, 2018
    Kingdom Come- What About Us
    Posted by Sarah Walker
    Series: Kingdom Come
  • Aug 5, 2018The Power of Prayer 5 – Lead Us, Deliver
    Aug 5, 2018
    The Power of Prayer 5 – Lead Us, Deliver
    Posted by Sarah Walker
    I wonder if you’ve ever paid attention to bugs mindlessly flying into a ‘bug zapper’. You know, one of those contraptions people often have hanging in outdoor entertainment areas to prevent flies and mosquitoes from congregating around food and people. The gadget attracts insects with its light, only to sizzle them when they get too close. If you watch for an extended period of time, you will see bug after bug flying towards the light and being zapped from existence. You would think that an approaching bug might observe the tray underneath the zapping light filled with hundreds of dead bugs and wonder, “Is this really a good idea?”
    Only a bug could possibly be that dense, right? Only a bug would go flying into the same trap that killed countless other bugs, right? Well, what about the glowing light of temptation that the evil one places in front of human beings? Over and over we hear of people who fall into temptations that devastate their lives, destroy their families and end their careers. Perhaps, more commonly, temptation comes in a subtle or hidden form but is just as destructive to the inner self. One thing is certain, temptation is everywhere.
    The Bible makes us aware that we have an enemy that draws us into sin. Scripture not only warns us about temptation, but provides us with tools to resist the lure. It’s important for us, as Christ-followers, to be aware of the temptations of this world and to understand how we can resist with God’s help. Fleeing temptation begins with praying this final phrase of The Lords Prayer, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”
  • Jul 8, 2018The Power of Prayer 2 – Your will be done
    Jul 8, 2018
    The Power of Prayer 2 – Your will be done
    Posted by Sarah Walker

    For a number of years now the Social Justice Department AUE has been encouraging social media users to use the #KOG or ‘Kingdom of God’ hashtag on images that give us a glimpse of God’s kingdom here on earth. In the midst of our day-to-day lives in a world that is messed up, confusing and sometimes so different to His kingdom, we can see a glimmer of hope. Perhaps it’s something beautiful, somebody being kind to someone else, or maybe it’s one of those moments when we are overwhelmed with thankfulness for a friendship, or for all that God has given us. Those moments, those glimpses of the kingdom of God, are just a taste of what is to come when God makes this world all that it is meant to be.

    Over the past couple of years, this social media campaign has reminded me of two things. Firstly, that God’s kingdom is not some far-off, mystical place that I will one day get to rest in. God’s kingdom is his ideal plan for the world, and it is unfolding all around me. It has also reminded me that I have a role to play, both in identifying where God is already at work in the world, and in bringing his kingdom to earth. For me, this begins by reading, understanding and praying the same words Jesus taught his disciples, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” This prayer is more than just well articulated words for Christian’s to recite; it is revolutionary. God’s kingdom, as Jesus describes it, though completely upside down compared to the world we live in, is coming, and we can each play our part in joining with the God who rules it all.

  • Jun 17, 2018Different- Calling in a Dark World
    Jun 17, 2018
    Different- Calling in a Dark World
    Posted by Sarah Walker
    Series: Different
    “God’s calling me to be a missionary.” “I’m called to be a teacher.” “I’m called to be an officer.” “God is calling me to _______” When I was a kid, I was fairly convinced that I needed to ‘discover God’s call on my life’. To be honest, I’m not even really sure what that means. Somehow, I’d misunderstood the concept of calling, and believed it to mean something incredibly narrow. I was anticipating an audible voice of God that would reveal to me my life’s purpose. If I didn’t hear it, well, perhaps I wasn’t one of those ‘called’ people and I could just choose for myself the direction my life should go.

    Reading through the book of 1 Peter, we see that he uses the words call, calling, or called, over and over again. When Peter uses these words, they are not in reference to an occupation or career, but a different way of life. A call to a different standard of living, every single day. A call to live holy, from our God who is holy.

    As it turns out, I do believe I’m called to be an officer, but that calling is temporary in the scheme of eternity. What matters more is how I live out everyday. ‘An exemplary life’, as Peter puts it, is what I am called to live as a follower of Christ. Do you want confirmation on what you believe to be God’s call on your life? Then start living out his call to a relationship with him, to a better way of living, to a life of holiness. The reality is, if we don’t understand our daily call to a different standard, we will never grasp our temporary call to an assignment.

  • May 13, 2018Foundations Week 11 – What about the church?
    May 13, 2018
    Foundations Week 11 – What about the church?
    Posted by Sarah Walker
    Series: Foundations
    A young man was struggling in his faith and found himself drifting in his doubts. Seeking advice, he went to see a wise older man who lived in a cottage with a coal fire. The two men discussed the young man’s troubles, and as they did the older man got up and walked over to the fire. With his tongs, he reached in and took a red-hot coal out of the fire and placed it on the hearth. He watched the coal transform from red-hot to black and cool. When the young man finished speaking, the wise old man picked up his tongs once again and put the coal back into the fire. Within a few minutes the coal was red-hot again. He didn’t need to say a thing. The young man left knowing exactly why his faith had gone dull.
     
    There seems to be a trend in western society of people who are saying goodbye to the local church. We’ve heard statistics of those who leave because they no longer believe or they are no longer engaged. But, surprisingly, others leave because they say they want more of God in their lives and the church just isn’t doing it for them. Often, their disenchantment with the Church is legitimate. But we have to ask, would Jesus, the Head of the Church, favour a churchless Christianity? Many who are disillusioned with the Church today romanticise the early church, not realising how broken things were then as well. Take Corinth, for example. As the most prominently represented New Testament church, Corinth was a dysfunctional mess. But Paul never gave up on Corinth. Instead of walking away, he pressed in. He knew why the church existed, and he believed in what it could be.
     
    There is no such thing as a perfect local church. But the impact of being part of a local church is transformative. It’s where we live in community with other believers; where we belong; where we work together. The church is where we grow, recharge and reignite our faith. It’s where we be Jesus, together. In this message we wrap up our ‘Foundations’ series by answering the question, “What about the church?” Tune in as we we’re reminded of why the church really matters.
  • Apr 15, 2018Foundations Week 7- Why & How We Pray
    Apr 15, 2018
    Foundations Week 7- Why & How We Pray
    Posted by Sarah Walker
    Series: Foundations

    Earlier this year, Christian aid organisation Tearfund commissioned a poll to discover who still prays in the UK in 2018. The results were fascinating, revealing that just over half of all adults in the UK pray. The study also found that one in five adults, despite saying they are not religious, still pray. Family tops the list of prayer subjects at 71%, followed by thanking God (42%), praying for healing (40%) and for friends (40%). Among the non-religious, personal crisis and desperation tends to be what prompts most people to pray with 24% of respondents saying it was a “last resort”. Despite people’s understanding of what prayer is, there is something interesting in these statistics. There’s something in us, as human beings, that longs to be connected to something greater. People, despite their religious standing, still want to reach out to a loving God and be heard.

    What many people tend to lose sight of, however, is that prayer is all about relationship. It’s recognition of where we sit in relationship with God and it is the communication that enables this relationship to flourish. Prayer isn’t a list of requests or about finding a solution to our problems. It is about pursuing an intimate relationship with the Father. As we continue looking at the foundational elements of our Christian faith, it becomes evident that prayer is one of the most important activities of our lives. In order to grow in relationship with God, we must understand what prayer is, why we should pray and how we can develop a vibrant prayer life that is consistent and thriving.