My question for the future Archbishop

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I know I don’t get to vote for the new Archbishop of Sydney however I do have a question for the nominees. I’ve submitted it to both of them via whyrick.info and glenndavies.info

Here’s my question

Looking at the major committees/boards/governance structures in the Sydney Diocese it seems that women are under-represented. For example

  • Standing Committee – 10 out of 56 members are women
  • Moore Theological College - 1 out of 16 members are women
  • Anglican Church League – 7 out of 59 members are women
  • Anglicare – 4 out of 16 members are women
  • Evangelism and New Churches - 1 out of 8 members are women

What do you propose to do to correct the under representation of women in major organisations in the diocese?

The Briefing on Hillsong 2012

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A brilliant article from The Briefing reflecting on Hillsong Conference 2012.

There’s a reason the Scriptures place such a high burden on teachers of God’s word—from Ezekiel’s call to be a watchman (a burden taken up by the apostle Paul) to the instructions in the Pastoral Epistles to find men of sound character, godly convictions, and ability to teach the word of God faithfully and well. One reason such a burden is placed on the teachers of God’s word is to ensure that the people of God are actually taught God’s word. That seems like a self-evident statement until you see how they aren’t fed. No-one who came to that conference heard of the need for forgiveness (by God, that is, for our sins). No-one heard about what Jesus accomplished. There was no mention of salvation from God’s wrath through the atoning work of the cross, or of how God’s Spirit works in us to make us more and more like our Lord Jesus, or of how we look forward to and long for the day of his return.

 

There may have been 20,000 people in the room, gathered as one church under Christ, but the church was too small. It was too small because the gospel being proclaimed was too small: it was just about you and me, and how God makes our lives better. We weren’t really being gathered together under Christ, we were gathered together as a large collection of individuals. Not only was the form of preaching individual—the preacher sharing what God had revealed to him or her personally—but the content was individual too: God’s revelation to the preacher is about a promise to make your life better. How unlike the way that Paul talks about what God has done in and for us! God chose us before the foundation of the world:

In [Christ] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. (Eph 1:7-10)

God’s work in gathering us together to be his church is a story that is so much grander than my personal circumstances. But my personal circumstances, my life and what God has done and is doing in it: that is the size of Hillsong church. I simply don’t think that my life is big enough to be good news.

Read the whole article

I was at the last night of that conference and completely agree with Sam’s reflections of Steven Furtick’s talk. I remember feeling stunned that he could preach on John the Baptist from Matthew 11 and neglect the whole point, when it’s stated so clearly. 

 “I assure you: Among those born of women no one greater than John the Baptist has appeared, but the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been suffering violence, and the violent have been seizing it by force. For all the prophets and the Law prophesied until John; if you’re willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who is to come. Anyone who has ears should listen!”

Matthew 11:11-15

 

Elect Exiles: 1 Peter from The Village Church

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The Village Church has just started a 4 week sermon series on 1 Peter. Here is the first sermon. 

The first 40 minutes less preaching and more of an extended commentary on changes in the culture that we live. It’s really a kind of introduction for the next 3 weeks. Very insightful. And a reminder of why the letter of 1 Peter is so important for Christians today.

Therefore, with your minds ready for action, be serious and set your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:13

The problem with forgiveness

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I’ve been pondering this for the last few weeks. The problem with forgiveness is it’s hard. When we’re hurt, the precious and sought after ‘I’m sorry’ rarely satisfies. It never changes what happened. It certainly is no magic fix to relationships. So even when we’ve heard the words, we must choose to put aside our hurt if we are to forgive. As much as we’d like them to, no-one can take the hurt away. We absorb it ourselves. True forgiveness means giving up the desire for vindication (or revenge).

But what about when forgiveness seem impossible? Like when a man walks into a school and shoots 26 people. How does anyone forgive him? Even if an apology helped, it’s not possible. Not even the strictest of guns laws will restore the life that was lost. No mental health care improvements will ease the pain for those who grieve. How do we begin to even contemplate forgiveness in this situation?

As Christians we remember that we have been shown overwhelming forgiveness. That our own sin, which is just as evil as this man’s, has been dealt with on the cross. We remember that true justice is not ours to enact, but God’s. A day will come when he will judge in perfect righteousness. And we cling to the promise that Jesus will return and the world will be as it should.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. Revelation 21:1-4

And we pray come, Lord Jesus!

Holiness, not marriage

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I just pulled an old bible off my bookshelf and came across a post-it note I’d stuck in the back with this sentence on it

the goal is holiness not marriage

Honestly, I can’t remember when I wrote it. I assume it’s something I heard someone else say and wanted to remember. I have no idea who said it. 

I like it. Not because I’m against marriage (I’m not!) but because as Christians we should all be for holiness. Even, or perhaps especially, as a Christian it’s easy to feel like the goal of life is to be married, to buy into the idea that I’ll somehow be more complete if I get married. It’s also easy for other to perpetuate that belief (though probably unintentionally). But marriage is not the goal. Holiness is. 

But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all do, for it written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy’. 1 Peter 1:15-16

‘It’s a girl’. Why are these words so deadly for so many?

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Last night I saw a documentary called ‘It’s a girl’.

In India, China and many other parts of the world today, girls are killed, aborted and abandoned simply because they are girls. The United Nations estimates as many as 200 million girls are missing in the world today because of this so-called “gendercide”.

Girls who survive infancy are often subject to neglect, and many grow up to face extreme violence and even death at the hands of their own husbands or other family members.

The war against girls is rooted in centuries-old tradition and sustained by deeply ingrained cultural dynamics which, in combination with government policies, accelerate the elimination of girls.

Shot on location in India and China, It’s a Girl reveals the issue. It asks why this is happening, and why so little is being done to save girls and women.

The film tells the stories of abandoned and trafficked girls, of women who suffer extreme dowry-related violence, of brave mothers fighting to save their daughters’ lives, and of other mothers who would kill for a son. Global experts and grassroots activists put the stories in context and advocate different paths towards change, while collectively lamenting the lack of any truly effective action against this injustice.

Here are some truly frightening stats from the documentary -

  • each year China & India ‘eliminate’ more girls than the number of girls born in the USA
  • each year in India 100,000 women are killed because they haven’t produced sons, or their husband and in-laws are unhappy with the dowry paid by her parents
  • dowries have been outlawed in India, however ‘dowry deaths’ still occur and are rarely investigated by authorities
  • female feticide (abortion due to discovering the baby is a girl) is socially acceptable in India
  • techniques used to enforce China’s ‘one child policy’ include forced abortion & forced sterilisation
  •  the ‘one child policy’ means that there are many more men than women in China. This leads to increased child trafficking from nearby countries and kidnapping of child brides

Horrifying.

The film shared stories of women who have killed baby after baby waiting to give birth to a son. But it also shared stories of brave women fighting to save their daughters lives.

One such women was Dr Mitu Khurana. Her husband and mother-in-law starved her for days, then feed her food they knew she was allergic to in order to get her to a hospital so they could bride a doctor to secretly find out the sex of her unborn twins (in violation of the PCPNDT Act). When it was discovered they were girls she was pressured to have an abortion. Instead she fled, gave birth to her daughters and now, years later, she continues to try to have her husband & doctors held accountable for what they did. In return she has been threatened with rape and the death of herself & her daughters if she doesn’t drop her complaint against the doctor.

Read more about her story here.

And visit itsagirlmovie.com to find out what we can do to speak for the voiceless girls around the world.

Collective Shout: crossed off list

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Every year Collective Shout publishes a list of companies NOT to buy from this Christmas

You’re about to be bombarded. Bombarded with junk mail, TV, radio and outdoor advertising all competing for your Christmas dollar. Before you purchase gifts for your friends and loved ones, lets remember those brands that have excelled in sexploitation this year, the brands and companies that do not deserve your hard earned money. Cross ’em off your Xmas list! For our third year running (see lists from 2010 and 2011) we are making it easier for you to make ethical decisions rejecting of companies which have not demonstrated corporate social responsibility.

As a first this year, we’ve added a positive alternative: Toward the Stars, an inspiring on-line global marketplace for products for girls. And we’re hoping to be able to add our first major corporate to sign on to our Corporate Social Responsibility Pledge. (Watch this space!)

See the list here. Happy responsible shopping!

God redeems the despised things

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At church we’re coming to the end of a 14 week sermon series in Levitcus and Numbers. I’ll admit that I was not particularly looking forward to 3 months in these Old Testament books but I’ve loved the way we have been constantly pointed to Jesus. I have been (once again) amazed at what Jesus achieved for us on the cross.

Today’s sermon was from Numbers 21

They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the desert? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!”

Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.

The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, he lived.

I was especially struck by this thought from the sermon:

A few chapters earlier (Num 11:6) the people had complained about the manna God gave them to eat. They took what should have been hope of life (food in the middle of the desert) and made it detestable. In chapter 21 God takes what is detestable (a snake) and turns it into hope of life.

Then this from John 3:

14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.

Once again, God takes what looks detestable and turns it into the ultimate hope for life everlasting.

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