Lookin’ to Jesus

It’s been a little while since I posted – I’ve been feeling a little like there’s nothing happening to write about. This is rubbish of course, the truth is that lots of things are happening, but by and large they are going well and as they should. It’s easier and more interesting to write about crises.
The month coming up will be busy. I am away for the next 2 weekends.
1-3 September is the Annual Freeze Conference, held in Cooma for people from Canberra and the surrounding region. I have helped out with the organizing committee for AIM Youth which runs this event for the past 3 years.
9-10 September is the AFES National Board Weekend away. This is held at the same time each year to give AFES board members a chance to get to know each other better and spend solid chunks of time in planning and discussion for the coming year. It the only time each year when all the board members and representatives for AFES get together in one place. (The AFES is the national fellowship of which FOCUS at UC and ANU are a part – find out more here).
This weekend away is followed immediately by 2 days of a staff retreat for our staff team at Crossroads (the Church where I minister). This will be a really good time, getting away from the pressures of everyday and thinking on a larger scale about the direction of our church. Please pray for us that we will have godly wisdom so that our efforts would be for building the Kingdom. Anthony Kerr, who is the new staffworker replacing me at the Uni of Canberra will be joining us for these days. I’m looking forward to getting to know him better and talking through some of the issues that will be involved in handing over to him.
So… there’s plenty about to happen. This is the last week of Uni term – there are 8 more FOCUS main meetings before I leave at the end of the year. It makes you realise how short a Uni year really is. During the term break (apart from the above) I hope to be working on some talks coming up later in the year. I have a talk for our Youth Group (CrossFire) entitled “Standing Firm” to give at the end of September. I’ve been given the topic but have to work out the content myself. I’m enjoying this process, I don’t do a lot of topical talks. At the end of the year I’m doing a 3 week series at Crossroads. I’m hoping to preach through the book of Job (although I might change my mind). It will be a big challenge, but I heard a great series done by Simon Manchester from St Thomas’ North Sydney at the start of the year and I’ve been inspired to study Job ever since. My thinking about the book has changed from seeing it as a book about the struggle to understand suffering, to seeing Job as a passionate defence of God’s character and an argument that he is able to keep his people against all the might and power of those who would seek to snatch them away.

We had a bush dance with the FOCUS group on Saturday night (26.08.06) and during the day was the University Open Day. FOCUS ran a stall so that we could meet prospective students and get to know them before they come next year. If people give us contact details we try to send out an email or letter at the start of the year letting new students know about our activities. The first couple of week of Uni can be crucial for some young Christians in their decision to put Jesus first while they are at Uni. I’ve posted photos of the Shin-Dig here and of the Open Day here.

There is one thing that has been weighing heavily on my mind and spirit over the past 2 weeks. It has deeply affected a number of people on our ministry team. It’s not the sort of thing that should be published in a blog like this though, suffice to say that a good friend of ours in ministry at another church admitted to us that he had been charged with professional misconduct and dismissed from his church role. This has been a very emotional and difficult experience for many people. Pray for him, his family, and his church family. It is very sobering to see the catastrophic effects of sin on ministry. There are lots of hurt and angry people.
God has comforted me in this time by turning my reading of his word back to the stories of the life of his Son. It seems trite to say it, but, no one compares to Jesus. Even if all his professed servants turn out to be the blackest sinners, or to have completely misunderstood his mission, none of the stain is capable of sticking to him. There is no question that we can tarnish the reputation of the gospel through our actions (just as godly Christians are an adornment to the gospel), but when I reflect again on Jesus himself, I’m continually struck by his mystery and his goodness. I can’t get to the end of understanding him, but I can never escape the conviction in every word of the text, in every response of those he met, and in my own response to reading, that he is good, and worth trusting.
I’ve found that my best ministry to myself, and to others in the past couple of weeks has been to take them to Jesus again.

John 1:43    The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” 47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” 48 Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” 49 Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” 50 Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” 51 And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” (ESV)

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