Servant leadership

Servant leadership means nurturing and shepherdingThere are two types of leadership: Leader first (self-serving leadership), and servant first (servant leadership).

Jesus was an example of servant first leadership. He said:
“You [His disciples] know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man [Jesus] did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Mk. 10:42-45).

And we encourage servant first leadership at church. This means nurturing and shepherding rather than command and control.

The paradoxes of servant leadership
By Philip Clark Brewer

Strong enough to be weak
Successful enough to fail
Busy enough to make time
Wise enough to say “I don’t know”
Serious enough to laugh
Rich enough to be poor
Right enough to say “I’m wrong”
Compassionate enough to discipline
Mature enough to be childlike
Important enough to be last
Planned enough to be spontaneous
Controlled enough to be flexible
Free enough to endure captivity
Knowledgeable enough to ask questions
Loving enough to be angry
Great enough to be anonymous
Responsible enough to play
Assured enough to be rejected
Victorious enough to lose
Industrious enough to relax
Leading enough to serve

G Mathew

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Sustenance through sacrifice

Shelter prepared for the Festival of SheltersThree times a year Israelite families travelled to the temple in Jerusalem for a religious festival (Ex. 23:14-17; 34:23-24; Dt. 16:16).  The first of these was the Passover in spring, when they remembered how God delivered them from slavery in Egypt. The second was the Harvest Festival in summer (Ex. 23:16), when they thanked God for providing an abundant wheat harvest in Canaan. And the third was the Festival (or feast) of Shelters (or tabernacles) in autumn when they remembered God’s care and provision during the 40-year exodus journey. Continue reading

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Jesus: a 4-letter word or the name above all names?

Jesus: a 4-letter word or the name above all names?What do you do in that flash of anger, shock or pain? When you’re driving and another car dangerously pulls out in front of you; when you kick your toe; when you hear bad news; it seems universally human to call out in exasperation. Jesus Christ is commonly used as an expletive in these times. However the Bible tells us, Jesus Christ, an empty swear word to so many, is actually the most honourable, worthy and precious name. Why?

Jesus chose to do what no other human could or would. For a start, although He is and always will be God, Jesus chose to become human. As a human, He experienced all the pain, weakness and suffering we do, but He didn’t succumb to temptation and selfishness like us. God as a human subjected Himself to the humiliation of a shameful and excruciating execution. God as a human took all the punishment for our wrongs so we could be reconciled to Him. And that is why Jesus Christ is the name above all names – the king of heaven and earth, worthy of our greatest respect and deepest gratitude.

“God elevated Him [Jesus Christ] to the place of highest honour and gave Him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord” Philippians 2:9-11

So in times of difficulty, fear, anger, exasperation, pain or shock please do call out the name Jesus, not as a swear word, but as the king of heaven and earth who is able to help you in any time of need.

Bible verse: Philippians 2:9-11 “God elevated Him [Jesus Christ] to the place of highest honour and gave Him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord”.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, Forgive me for not honouring you and and your name as you deserve. May my tongue call out your name in times of need. Help me to understand the humiliation you suffered for me and acknowledge that you are king of all.

Acknowledgement: This article was sourced from Outreach Media, Sydney, Australia.
Images and text © Outreach Media 2021

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Mount Banks, Blue Mountains

Saturday 14 August 2021

Climb Mount Banks and Rigby Hill for views of the Grose Valley. Transport (mini bus) available from North Ryde (8.15am) and Strathfield (8.30am). Return by 6pm.

Leader : George Hawke 0422 659 589

Grade : Medium (5-7 km)

Sydney Christian Bushwalkers

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Resurrection through sacrifice

Horse-powered wheat harvestThree times a year Israelite families travelled to the temple in Jerusalem for a religious festival (Ex. 23:14-17; 34:23-24; Dt. 16:16).  The first of these was the Passover, when they remembered how God delivered them from slavery in Egypt. The second was the Harvest Festival (Ex. 23:16), which was near the end of the wheat harvest in Canaan. It was also called the “Festival of weeks” (Ex. 34:22; Dt. 16:10), because it was seven weeks (or 50 days) after the Festival of Firstfruits (which was when they dedicated the barley harvest to the Lord on the Sunday after the Passover). Later it became known as Pentecost, which is the Greek word for 50th. It was also called “the day of firstfruits” (Num. 28:26) because farmers offered the firstfruits (the beginning) of their wheat harvest to God (Ex. 34:22). And they gave other offerings to God as well. At this festival they dedicated the wheat harvest to the Lord and gave back to God some of what He had provided for them. The offering of firstfruits was an acknowledgment that the harvest was from the Lord and belonged to Him. Continue reading

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Catherine Hill Bay to Caves Beach

Walk with Sydney Christian Bushwalkers on 12 June 2021

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Forgiveness through sacrifice

At the Passover festival, Jews remembered their deliverance from slavery Three times a year Israelite families travelled to the temple in Jerusalem for a religious festival (Ex. 23:14-17; 34:23-24; Dt. 16:16).  The first of these was the Passover, when they remembered how God delivered them from slavery in Egypt. They were to kill and eat a lamb together with unleaven bread (without yeast) and bitter herbs (Num. 9:1-14; Dt. 16:1-8). The symbols were taken from the exodus. In the final plague on the Egyptians, to be protected from the death of the firstborn son, the Israelites had to kill a lamb and put its blood around their front door-frame. The lamb died so they could escape death of the firstborn and escape from Egypt. And because they had to leave in haste, they didn’t have time to add yeast to cause their bread to rise. And yeast is also a symbol of sin. The bitter herbs symbolized their bitter slavery in Egypt (Ex. 1:14). Straight after the death of the Egyptian firstborn, Pharaoh told the Israelites to leave Egypt and they escaped slavery (Ex. 12:31-33).

Jesus died “when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb” (Mk. 14:12). John called Jesus “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (Jn. 1:29). He also saw Jesus as a Lamb who had been slaughtered (Rev. 5:6). Paul said, “Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed” (1 Cor. 5:7). And Peter said, believers are saved “with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect” (1 Pt. 1:18-19). Jesus never sinned (Heb. 4:15). So He is like the Passover lamb, which was also to be without defect (Ex. 12:5). Another similarity is that the soldiers didn’t break Jesus’ legs when He was crucified and the Israelites were not to break any of the bones of the Passover lamb (Ex. 12:46; Jn. 19:33-36).

Because of the death of the lamb on their behalf, the Israelites were delivered from slavery to freedom. And because of Christ’s death on our behalf, we can be delivered from the penalty of sin to have eternal life with God.

Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper on the night before the Passover. It was a command for believers like the Passover was a command for the Israelites (1 Cor. 11:24). The Jews were to remember their deliverance/salvation from slavery once a year at the Passover festival. And, like Paul, we remember our deliverance/salvation from the penalty of sin once a week (Acts 20:7). We don’t need to travel to a holy place for this remembrance. Today we have holy people, not holy places.

The bread and the wine are symbols of Christ’s incarnation (He came in a human body) and His sacrificial death. At that time they were used at most evening meals. In this case, they represent His person and His work. The bread represents His body. And the cup represents the wine it contains, which represents the shedding of Christ’s blood, which represents Christ’s death. The main point is that forgiveness comes through Christ’s sacrifice. Just like the Israelite’s firstborn were only saved by the death of a lamb. We are proclaiming that Christ’s sacrificial death provides forgiveness and peace with God. We recall His suffering and the blessings and benefits which come from His death and resurrection. That’s why at the Lord’s Supper we offer thanks and praise for all that God has done for us through Jesus Christ.

G Hawke

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Sanitise more than hands

Sanitise more than handsHow clean do you keep your hands? Hand hygiene has certainly gotten a lot of attention lately. It reminds me of one of my favourite Shakespearean scenes — Lady Macbeth is sleepwalking after she has orchestrated the murder of her king. In her sleep she sees spots of blood on her hands and no amount of washing can remove them. She smells blood on her hands and “all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten” them. Of course it is her conscience and not her hands that is really unclean.

What do you do to try to clean your conscience? Do you focus on literal hygiene or orderliness? Do you try to cover up the guilt with activity? Do you numb the guilt with wine? Do you convince yourself you are not guilty at all?

The Bible says in 1 John 1:9, if we confess our sins to Him [God], He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.”

The beautiful paradox of the gospel is that, it is only when we admit our guilt that we can be cleansed of it. The worst thing you can do with your guilt is ignore it. It will grow in the dark. It will find its way to get to you. The best thing you can do with your guilt is confess it to God. He will not meet your humble sorry with anger. He will open His arms to you with delight. He will forgive you. And He will cleanse you from every wrong thing that has stained you.

So take the time now to sanitise something even more important than your hands, confess your sins to God and be forgiven.

Bible verse: 1 John 1:9if we confess our sins to Him [God], He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness“.

Prayer: Dear God help me to see my guilt. Help me to bring my guilt to you. I confess I have done wrong and I am guilty before you. Please forgive me and cleanse me in Jesus’ name.

Acknowledgement: This article was sourced from Outreach Media, Sydney, Australia.
Images and text © Outreach Media 2021

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Imagine someone knowing everything about you!

Imagine someone knowing everything about you!Do you know you’re not the only one? We all have parts of ourselves we’d rather no one else knew about. Parts we may try to hide from even ourselves, to distract ourselves from with busyness or entertainment, to overcompensate for with gifts or acts of service. But they are there. Whether it’s memories of what we’ve done or what has been done to us, ugly thoughts and feelings we can’t bear to look in the face, the way we treat our family when no one else is around, secret addictions we believe render us unlovable… Oh they are there and they want to remain hidden in the dark where no one can see and judge them.

The scary and glorious truth is God sees them. He sees them even more clearly and acutely than we do. He doesn’t fall for our attempts at misdirection. He doesn’t brush off our shame with platitudes and excuses. He looks at our sin and pain squarely in the eye and says to us “I still love you.”

That’s what Jesus was doing when He came to earth. He experienced being dirty, tired, hungry, criticised, accused, betrayed, beaten, disappointed, heartbroken and finally punished by crucifixion. He isn’t a God who glosses over our sin and shame. He doesn’t watch our hardship from afar and offer a condescending pat on the back. In becoming human Jesus entered into the pain of this world and the mess we’ve made. And in dying on the cross He has absorbed all our shame and sin so we can be truly forgiven – for everything, even the hidden things.

Call out to Jesus today and be assured He knows everything about you and still loves you.

Bible verse: 1 John 4:10This is real love—not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins“.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, you know everything about me. You know me better than I know myself. Please forgive me for my sin. Thank you that through your life, death and resurrection you show your unflinching love for me and that I am able to be forgiven for everything.

Acknowledgement: This article was sourced from Outreach Media, Sydney, Australia.
Images and text © Outreach Media 2021

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Grand Canyon, Blackheath

Grand Canyon, Blackheath, NSW Australia

Walk with Sydney Christian Bushwalkers on 15 May 2021

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