The Good Samaritan

Jan_Wijnants_-_Parable_of_the_Good_SamaritanWhat does it mean to love well?

The two greatest stories about love were both told by Jesus. One is about a Father who forgives a runaway son. The other is about a foreigner who loves a man lying beaten on the side of the road. Both of these stories tell us what love looks like. Both of these stories challenge us to love well.

Christianity is a divine revolution. It is God coming to change his world. That is the big story within which we read everything else. Whether it be Jesus offering forgiveness, healing the sick or doing great acts of mercy… this is God renewing his creation!

So what does Jesus revolution look like? The kingdom is pre-eminently good news for the poor, the lost and the outcast. And we shouldn’t rationalise that away because so many of us are wealthy. It should be a constant challenge to our own prosperity. But this is not just how Jesus chose to live, this is about the calling of others who would join his revolution. They are to show mercy to the undeserving, unfortunate and the lost.

The parable of the Good Samaritan is given in response to a Jewish theologian asking about the meaning of neighbour. He has answered correctly about inheriting the life of the age to come. It means to love God and love your neighbour… but who, he asks, is my neighbour? It’s a good question. To Jews then and to us now a neighbour is usually thought of as those to whom we live next to, or have a friendly relationship. But does it include everyone? To Jews in Jesus day it certainly didn’t include Gentiles. That is, those who were not of the same ethnic group. People like the Samaritans. So Jesus gives us a confronting story…

A man goes does a road down from the hills of Jerusalem to Jericho where he set upon by bandits who leave him within an inch of his life. Those hearing would have known this stretch of road and known the risks involved. Seeing a man robbed, beaten and dying on the side of road was not outside their experience. So two religious guys walk by, a priest and a Levite… part of a privileged group! Part of the shock of this story, is that it could be expected that as servants of God, they would understand God’s heart for the lost and hurting and respond with compassion. They don’t. They walk on by.

What is going on when we don’t help someone? Maybe it is self preservation… if this guy has been robbed and beaten, maybe the bandits are still around? What about you? Why do you not help? Too busy to stop? Maybe a conviction that it’s the addict’s fault, that they will only use your help to buy more booze? Whatever the reason too often the human story is one of not stopping, but passing by.

Then a Samaritan comes on by. These were perhaps Jews least favourite people. The animosity went back centuries, it had to do with their ethnicity, over ownership of land, over ways of worship…There were often violent clashes between Jews and Samaritans. In one incident some Samaritans got into the temple in Jerusalem during Passover and scattered human bones, making the temple unclean.So you get why the introduction of a Samaritan into a story about compassion and mercy gives it a controversial nature… everyone would be feeling uncomfortable…

But what incredible, undeniable kindness. He stops for the one. He does not veer away from the bandit’s victim.It says in verse 33 of Luke 10 that ‘his heart went out to him’. His heart went out to him. It is the same description used here of the Father in the parable of the prodigal son. If that parable is an insight into God’s heart for us, it suggests that the Samaritans heart is a reflection of God’s for the lost. Now that is important. Remember we never reflect God’s character more, than when we love the lost, the broken and the poor.

And his compassion is not an ideal; it is expressed in practical action… The revolution is not about an idea about love, it is an outworking of the love, poured into our own hearts. He binds the wounds, applies medicines, he puts him on his donkey which he would have been riding and he takes him to an inn to personally take care of him. And then with extreme generosity he pays for a long stay and promises to pay anything more that might be needed. All this done by a hated Samaritan for a Jew.

Now, all of this has come in response to a theologian asking what it means to love your neighbour. Being a lawyer he was probably looking to cover the scope of what a neighbour is, to justify his own actions, to make himself look good in the eyes of others. So who has been a neighbour to the man robbed and beaten by bandits? And what does loving a neighbour look like? The theologian replies “the one who showed mercy on him.” Jesus says, “Go… go and do likewise.”

This is the revolution of God that Jesus came to initiate. As Jesus says in Matthew 9, “I require mercy not sacrifice.” In other words not religious ceremonies or outward appearances of righteousness… the revolution requires generous mercy that reaches out. Go and do likewise. Eternal life, the life of the age to come involves living like the good Samaritan. Go and do likewise.

Well, there it is… there is your application if you are looking for one… kind of hits you over the head like a two by four… Go and do likewise. This is how the revolution works! Jesus announces the kingdom, he demonstrates the kingdom and then he calls others into the life and work of the kingdom.

The kingdom of God, the revolution that Jesus came to initiate involves the renewal of all things. And in this revolution, Jesus wants to change your heart so you can change your world. Let me say that again… he wants to change your heart so you can change your world. As you are loved by an unquenchable love, your capacity to love others grows.

So, as I said, the application is pretty simple – go and do likewise… because really this is about continuing on the life and works of Jesus as a community. This is how God renews his creation… he calls and commissions a people to go and do likewise.

I reckon if you are a Christian you need to be involved somehow in helping the poor, the battered and the broken. Hopefully you do that by supporting your local church that in turn supports organisations like the local Salvation Army. All of us are called to radical love of our neighbour… and as Jesus has shown in this parable, that means those in need. A lot of you are sponsoring children. Keep going! Victoria and I give a percentage of our income not just to the church but also to an orphanage in Mozambique. Greg who comes to Manly Life sets up orphanages in the poorest parts of the world… check out the website, speak to him, get involved.

But one of the most important things we learn in this passage is that love stops for the one in front of us. And love looks like something. It is not an ideal; it is an action. It cost the good Samaritan his own personal safety, it cost him his ride, it cost him money for the inn. And it also cost him his comfortable personal prejudices. He crossed social boundaries, ethnic boundaries, historic boundaries…Because love knows no boundaries.

Could you impact a hundred lives, could you change the world? Well it starts with the one. And usually it is the one in front of us whose path we have cross. Love stops for the one. Love looks like something. It is how Jesus treats us.

The Jesus Manifesto

resurrected jesusTruly transformational leaders are rare in any field. It is easy to talk a big game, but delivering… well that’s another question. Leaders of all stripes lay out their intentions before campaigns, AGMs, rallies, only to find the reality of compromise, human nature and bureaucratic institutions stifle their best hopes. One man was different.

Luke who was a companion of the Apostle Paul recalls for us one of the greatest moments in history. Fresh from his baptism where the heavens opened and God declared Jesus as his son whom he loves, fresh from being tested and overcoming the temptations of the devil in the wilderness, Jesus goes to the temple and reads Isaiah 61…

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news for the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”

He then rolled up the scroll, handed it back, and sat down. We are told every eye in the temple was on him. Then he proclaims, “It’s just come true in front of your eyes, right now in this place.”

Now that is a moment in history. I would give anything to have been there for that!

This manifesto, this statement of intent is made in fulfilment of Isaiah 61. This is a direct quote from Isaiah 61 but interestingly the last line of it is missing… have you ever noticed that? Isaiah 61 finishes with “to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour and the day of vengeance of our God.” Put simply Jesus is going to usher in an era of grace. Now is not the time for judgement or vengeance. Jesus has come to bring salvation and restoration! This is what he is going to do… open blind eyes… release oppressed people… free prisoners. And accordingly this is the heart of what our faith is like… If we are to ask as a church are we being effective? Well is this stuff happening?

Right lets just go through this manifesto… 

The Spirit is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.” Jesus always has a bias for the poor because Jesus is interested in restoring the fundamental dignity inherent in everyone. A Darwinian approach to life leads to the survival of the fittest. A gospelised approach leads to a restoration of hope! That is why every Christian should be involved in some outreach or care for the poor. It is a reflection of our saviour.

Next Jesus says, “he has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners.” Central to Jesus ministry is rescuing people out of darkness and into the light… He casts out spirits that possess people. He frees people from sinful lives.

Next Jesus says about his mission, “Recovery of sight for the blind.” Some have tried to spiritualise this line making it about opening the eyes of the spiritually blind. We sing songs like Amazing Grace (I was blind but now I see…) and that is all true and good. But this was an actual aspect of Jesus ministry. In Luke 18 a blind beggar calls out to the passing Jesus, “Jesus, have mercy on me”. Jesus stops and asks what do you want me to do for you? “Lord I want to see” and with that his eyes are opened by Jesus. That is a life changed… that is what Jesus does! And he continues to open blind eyes today. Just read about Heidi Baker in Mozambique. The healing ministry of Jesus continues all around the world!

Next Jesus says, “To set the oppressed free”. I love the Message version of Matthew 11. Jesus says, “Are you tired out? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I wont lay anything heavy or ill fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

What a great mandate for the church today. Introduce people to this Jesus! My hope for Manly Life is that the tired, the burned out will come to know him.

This is all in one sense summarized by the final line: Jesus says; “To proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” This is our story… it is his story… Jesus continues to save! We want to join God in bringing his LIFE to Manly. That is our vision. The Jesus manifesto is our manifesto for life and ministry. That is why in the very next chapter of Luke he starts calling a ragtag bunch of people to follow him and join in his ministry.

Well finally, is this a fulfilled manifesto? After all lots of leaders promise big and deliver little. Well yes, in Jesus life it was fulfilled. The blind did see, the poor got good news, the favour of God was proclaimed, the oppressed were set free. But it is always a work in progress. A work that we must commit ourselves to for the glory of God.

Mandela, Jesus and the Power of Grace

MandelaMatthew, Mark and Luke tell the actual story of how Jesus was born. You may be familiar with it… angels, shepherds, a donkey, a baby born in a manger. But what John does in his account of Jesus’ life is start his story with the meaning and significance of what is happening. The Word, that is God it says, has become human and has dwelt amongst us. It says we have seen his glory, and it is full of grace and truth!

The world is currently mourning the loss of another truly great person, former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela. A couple of year ago a great movie came out called Invictus. Have you seen it? It had all the elements of a great film; intriguing politics, a sporting victory, and no soppy love story! The film tells the story around the 1995 Rugby World Cup and particularly how Nelson Mandela and Francois Pinaar – the white Springbok Rugby Captain united the nation.

You may remember the event – at the Rugby World Cup in 1995 Nelson Mandela comes out to give the Springboks the trophy and he is wearing the no.6 Springbok jersey – that of Francois Pinaar. The film, like John’s Gospel tells the story of the significance of that moment. The significance was that at the time the country was deeply broken and divided, half a century of apartheid rule had deeply scarred the nation.

And now, Nelson Mandela who had been in prison had emerged to become the first black South African President. The country however was still on a knife’s edge. The threat of violence and revenge hung over the nation. In the middle of this, rugby which was the sport associated with white dominance was hosting its World Cup in South Africa. Aware that the country needed healing and reconciliation, Mandela reached out to a divided country and in that incredible moment of forgiveness and reconciliation, he entered the stadium in a green Springbok jersey.

He wears the jersey that symbolises division and brokenness and turns it into an image of peace.

That is what grace does… Mandela who could have sought revenge instead enters the stadium and offers reconciliation! Grace is an amazing thing! It can change the world…

The story of Christmas is somewhat similar. Like Mandela whose act of grace changed South Africa, at Christmas we celebrate the living God, who for the sake of reconciliation, took on flesh and dwelt amongst us. Like Mandela who instead of revenge brought peace, God comes not to punish you but to love you and offer grace!

When God entered the stadium, that is, his world, the affect is even more remarkable. Like Mandela entering the stadium, God enters the world. As it says in John 1, the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. It says Jesus’ coming is like light shining in the darkness.

You know there is darkness in this world, with trouble and strife everywhere… even in our own lives! But as you get to know Jesus, which I hope you will, you will behold light, behold glory. It is the story of the living God, humbly dwelling amongst us, showing us grace and truth. My guess is you need a bit more of this in your life!

At Christmas and beyond we encounter this Jesus hanging out with the broken and forgotten in our world and showing compassion and mercy to the least amongst us. You encounter the power of God as he heals the sick, releases the captives and walks the stormy seas. This Jesus will teach you to love your neighbors and forgive those who sin against you. And in the greatest act of love, the one who enters this stadium called earth will die for us, winning us reconciliation with God by offering his life in our place!

It is quite a story… and it has incredible significance for you and the entire world. As we begin to follow Jesus, our lives are changed by grace.

At the end of the game when the Springboks had won, the entire team, led by their white captain fall to their knees to pray and give thanks to God. In one sense it is a sacred moment. Not to take the analogy too far, but they have beaten the All Blacks… dispelling darkness? OK too far… And there is Mandela, in affect reconciling the nation! Offering peace.

God having shown us what he is like in Jesus Christ has the same affect. All around the world as people get to know the grace, love and reconciliation won by Christ the King, they fall down on their knees… In that moment of thanksgiving, something remarkable can begin to happen. We get called children of God and begin to walk in his light.

What a great time of year! Friends, family, free time…  but in the midst of this let me ask you this. Have you responded to the grace and reconciliation offered by Jesus? This is the living God, the light of the world who stepped down into darkness who calls us to follow him…

Christian Conferences for Dummies

worshipChristians, especially Pastors, like to spend a lot of money going to church conferences. I quite like going to conferences across the church spectrum , though I must admit after going to a few, you could basically predict what will be said. So if you want to save yourself the money, here is my tongue in cheek guide to what you will hear!

The visiting American Mega-Church Pastor Conference: “So we launched our church back in 2008 and a year later we had 5,000 people. Isn’t God great?”

The Local Denomination’s Conference: “I am so glad 9 of you could make it.”

The Charismatic Church Conference: “I healed 200 people in Africa and you can too.”

The Evangelical Church Conference: “We must guard the truth, especially from the errors of the liberals, Catholics, Charismatic’s, emergent’s and women.”

The Emerging Church Conference: “Who here will go and be Christ in the local transgender, environmentalist artist hub up the road?”

The Creationist Conference: “The decline of the church is all Darwin’s fault.”

The Pentecostal Church Conference: “Before I pluck a few random verse to talk about greatness, we are just going to unleash 100 fold blessing through a love offering”

The liberal Church Conference: “Let’s give a warm round of applause to our next speaker, the Dalai Lama.”

Thank God for the Pope

PopeOften when someone in my evangelical circles writes something positive about Catholicism or the Pope they feel the need to caveat their statements with something about not agreeing with most of the Catholic Church. Stuff that.

This new Pope, who has taken on the name of one of my heroes in the faith, St Francis of Assisi, is confounding the world with his words, actions and lifestyle. The reason is, that so few outside the church can find Christ in the church. What I mean is that when most non-Christians see the church they do not see the compassion of Jesus on the least, the power of Jesus to heal or the simple lifestyle of Jesus. What they see is wealth, abuse, corruption, hypocrisy and intolerance. In fact they see all the things that Jesus opposed in his life. So what then do you do with the current Pope?

Some things that have stood out so far include taking on humble accommodation, washing the feet of a young female muslim prisoner, praying for a man held captive by evil, embracing the young, calling people on the phone who are struggling. And then this in the last week, embracing a man covered with what looks like boils and praying for his healing. What do you do with a man who leads a huge percentage of the worlds Christians, who actually resembles in part, Jesus?

And yet what the elites in the West will still find hard, despite their attraction to this genuine Christian is that he is also speaking truth. Despite having a place in his church for everyone, he is not about to condone immoral lifestyles, corporate greed, global injustices or wishy washy spirituality. In other words he is balancing grace and truth.

That is what all Christians are called to. We are to love extravagantly, live simply, be hospitable to all and condemn no one (Jesus spoke about all that). But we are also to speak the truth about Jesus as Lord and alert people to the new reality of the kingdom of God and repentance that leads to life. I say thank God for the new Pope.

Why I love Manly

Manly StormIt is easy when living in Manly to get a case of the complaints… oh the property prices are too high, oh I can never find a park… oh another load of tourists flooding the Courso… oh that seagull just took my burger out of my hand…

But this is a special place. Here is what I love about Manly;

Manly is a village. If you want to be a part of a great local community and get to know the people who live around you, Manly is the place. If you get involved in your local church, a swimming group, the schools… you will run into people on the streets. Just try and walk along the beach and not run into a dozen old and new friends.

– If you want it, it is all here… surfing, swimming, snorkelling, paddle boarding, sailing, fishing, cafes and bars. You just got to get out and enjoy it!

It is friendly. Not like pretentious Bondi (kidding!). That is my experience… Manly is not too cool for school. The Bold and Beautiful swimming group exemplifies this. Just turn up at 7am at South Steyne, get given a free pink swimming cap and off you go. And then everyone is welcome for coffee after. This is Manly!

– Finally, the churches are alive. Every week there are great services happening, people opening up their homes for Life Groups, the Salvation Army are serving the needy, the Street Pastors are helping the 1am’ers falling out of pubs, Christian Surfers are mentoring young people… I could go on!

So if you live in Manly, be thankful and make the most of it. If you don’t live in Manly… stick to the Courso please… nah – come and enjoy this beautiful part of the world!

What would you add about Manly that you love?

Manly Churches Big Day Out

pilavachi picThere is so much more to life when you are following Jesus! To celebrate this, eight local Manly churches are coming together for some family fun, and a combined service with Mike Pilavachi up at St Patrick’s Estate in Manly. Here are the details…

Manly Churches Big Day Out – Sunday the 29th of September 2:30-5:30pm

Venue: ICMS Headland – St Patrick’s Estate, 151 Darley Rd, Manly

Plan: Family Fun with jumping castles, face painting, sausage sizzle, live music and a magician from 2:30pm. Combined service starts at 4:30pm (with kids 3-12yrs heading into the castle at 4:15pm for their service).

Parking: Available on site for first 120 cars. After that, parking available on Darley Rd.

Mike Pilavachi is a gifted speaker from Soul Survivor UK. He shares the good news of Jesus all over the world with love, grace and humour! This is an event not just for Christians but anyone who is interested in what life is all about and discovering who God is.

It is so exciting to see the churches of Manly coming together for this. The main participants are Manly Life Church, Ruach, St Matthew’s Manly, Seaforth Baptist, All Saints Balgowlah, H30 Dee Why, The Upper Room and Small Boat Big Sea. Some others will be there on the day too.

So come along this Sunday – it is going to be a huge amount of fun and, we believe, life changing!

Be a Prophet?

Martin Luther KingWhen you grow up what do you want to be? Maybe a prophet is not high on your list! It can be a tough life… Jesus said that the same prophets who you build tombs for were the guys your ancestors killed. He is saying it is not easy to be a prophet in your own day! Respect comes later for the stand you take… but at the time, prophets are rarely popular! Martin Luther King jr is a pretty good example of this. In the states they now recite his speeches and build monuments to his legacy, but when he lived he recieved death threats, was under government surveillance, and was ultimately assasinated!

So who wants to be a prophet?

Archbishop Rowan Williams – former head of the global head of the Anglican church said this…

“As Jesus found in Nazareth prophets are not always popular people. Yet we need prophets today. We have focus groups but where are the prophets? We have spin-doctors but where are the prophets? We have pollsters but where are the prophets? We have image consultants but where are the prophets? We have politicians and church leaders but where are the prophetsAs Jesus showed, the prophet has to endure the changing mood of the crowd, the rage of the mob to protect their own interests. Who has the courage for that sort of mission? The blessing that comes to us through standing with the poor is not derived from some self-righteous satisfaction of having done good. Rather, it is because in standing with the outcast and the poor we come dangerously and safely close to Christ Himself who said “In as much as you have done to the least of these my brothers and sisters you have done it to me.” This is the doing of God’s Will on earth as it is done in heaven. This is our mission: the heavening of earth. This is the truly prophetic voice.”

I like what Williams says – we are to be about the heavening of earth! This is what being a prophet is all about! – Jesus prayer – your kingdom come your will be done on earth as it is in heaven!! In other words we have a vision of what heaven is all about. No more divisions, no more pain and suffering, no more wars or poverty… And then we rally against the status quo – we call our world forward towards that heavenly vision. That is what MLK did – if in Christ there is neither Jew nor gentile, male nor female, slave nor free, then he knew that segregation in the US had to end! This was not God’s vision for society!

So who wants to be a prophet today?

I want to suggest that to do this we need to understand the biblical story of history and where the future is going. Without understanding the bigger story of God’s redemptive plan and our role in it, our faith can grow cold and we can end up just warming pews…

Of course there are different competing stories or worldviews for what life and history is all about. The growing secular mindset is that the whole thing is random, there is no God and there is no purpose to human history. Take Richard Dawkins… “What are all of us but self-reproducing robots? We have been put together by our genes and what we do is roam the world looking for a way to sustain ourselves and ultimately produce another robot child.”

I guess if that is all we are, there is no meaning, no purpose to life and no story of where things are going. The result of living in that kind of universe is a pretty selfish and meaningless existence. What should you do with your life – be a self reproducing robot? Get as much for yourself as you can! It’s a scary worldview… If we are going to make the most of our lives and know what to do, what to say, what to give our lives to… we need to understand the Christian story and where we fit in!

So we as followers of Christ live in between two times. David Bosch calls the church “Too early for Heaven and too late for this world. She lives on the borderline between the already and the not yet.” You see that future reality of heaven has broken in when Jesus came… It is not yet fulfilled totally, but it is on the move! He brought the future restoration in now! That is how he could heal, restore and renew!

Tom Sine in Taking Discipleship Seriously writes about how, if we are to be disciples of Jesus we must commit ourselves to his vision of the future. God intends to bring about a new age of righteousness in which there is no more sin, a new age of justice in which there is no more oppression of the poor, a new age of peace in which the instruments of war are transformed into the tools of peace, a new age of wholeness in which the blind see and lame walk; a new age of restoration in which creation itself is not destroyed but restored. It will be a kingdom of reconciliation, homecoming and great joy. These are not just slogans – this is where history is heading. Jesus has kicked this off – and we are put to work!

This age he speaks of however will never be complete until the consummation of history at Christ’s second coming. The taste of this kingdom though is amongst us now as the people of God. So we are called to follow a different vision embodied in Christ. Knowing God’s intention for the future we do not withdraw and wait for his return (the world is going down the dunny – but soon I will be out of the loo mentality…) but rather we commit to being formed into the image of Christ and the work of the King. That is why I get excited about Manly Life helping at the Salvation Army lunch, or the upcoming Halve Poverty event.

Theologian Jurgen Moltmann says “God unceasingly desires the freedom of his creation.” So just as we see God in Jesus healing people, helping the poor, bringing grace, we join God in bringing life, in seeing freedom come to God’s creation!

Bishop Leslie Newbigin states, “A preaching of the gospel that calls men and women to accept Jesus as saviour but does not make it clear that discipleship means commitment to a vision of society radically different from that which controls our public life today must be condemned as false.”

I was interested to read an interview with Bono. He said; “I had always been a skeptic of the church of personal peace and prosperity … of righteous people standing in a holy huddle while the world rages outside the stained glass. But I’ve learned that there are many people of the cloth who are also in the world, and from debt cancellation to the fight against AIDS and for human rights, they are on the march.”

This is a bigger story ah? The people of God on the march. Modern day prophets… This is not just about getting saved and waiting for heaven… This is God inviting us into the midst of this great story and inviting us to work towards a glorious redeemed future…

So who wants to be a prophet?

And how do we act prophetically? By that I mean being voices and participants in creating God’s future world. And this is what the ancient prophets did! They saw a broken world and a misguided people of God and they spoke up for God and for what is right! The prophet Isaiah is one of my favourites in all of this! He lived 700 years before Jesus and after making himself available to be used, he heard from God about how things should be! He speaks of the fall and the miserable state of human affairs. He speaks of the coming messiah in passages like the suffering servant who takes away our sins (Isaiah 53). He speaks of the future picture of new heavens and new earth when Gods righteousness will dwell with us and of course he paints a picture of what God’s people are called to do and say!

 Isaiah 58:6-8 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.

Loose the chains of injustice. Untie the cords of the yoke. Set the oppressed free. Share your food, provide for the poor wanderer…

Well who will go, who will stand up and be counted, who will act on behalf of God?

The church had grown rich, corrupt, full of war – St Francis lead the people back amongst the poor. Society had grown rich on the back of a transalatic slave trade – Wilberforce fought against powerful forces in parliament until the scourge of slavery was defeated. American society was segregated and discriminating against its African population – A Baptist Minister called Martin Luther King saw a different vision of society from the scriptures and with non-violent protest overturned two centuries of racist law.

Today the worlds poor continue to experience a quality of life that we wouldn’t tolerate… women dying in childbirth, lack of access to clean water or proper sanitation. Many of the great social issues that we face today feel like huge, unmovable mountains.

Exploitation of child workers to make the clothes we wear. Widows forced off their land, people sold into sexual exploitation… Massive inequality that imprisons half the worlds population in miserable poverty. Human sexual trafficking. So many threats to the sanctity of human life from abortion to unjust wars. The alarming unraveling of both family and community systems….

Isaiah 6:8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

You cant do everything… indeed you might feel that you cant do anything… but you must do something! If we have faith as small as a mustard seed we can move mountains…

Our government pledged when times were good to keep increasing foreign aid… But as our national bottom line has gotten in a hole the pressure has mounted to forget our promises to the global poor. That is why we are spelling Halve Poverty on Manly Beach next Saturday morning. We want to show our government and our local member Tony Abbott that thousands of people care! That our prophetic vision is not based in fear and our own prosperity. But that we care about the world’s poor!

And when we do… what does Isaiah tell us? “Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.”

Exciting News: Wellspring Church joining Manly Life

joining-god-in-bringing-life-to-manlyWe are thrilled to announce that Wellspring Church in Manly is joining the Manly Life Church community from this Sunday on. Wellspring is a dynamic community of Christians that have met together as a church for over 4 years. Recently their Pastors Ennio and Anna Marone decided it was time to hand on pastoral responsibility. Victoria and I are excited by the opportunity to bring together Wellspring and Manly Life into one Christ centred, Spirit filled church!

This Sunday we will celebrate our coming together by sharing communion and eating together after the service. We will also honour Ennio and Anna for their service to Wellspring over the past 4 years. We are blessed that Ennio and Anna will become a part of the combined church.

grace treeAs we move forward the words that keep coming to mind are love, unity and hospitality. We are to be known for our love for one another, our oneness in Christ and our radical open table where we do life together. What joy to join God in bringing life to Manly as a larger, more dynamic, more resourced community of people. Come on!!

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