A message from Matthew 5th March 2017

Refresh: a season of reflection. Starting today, 5th of March, 2017 

Here is a short taste of our Refresh Studies. They have been written by members of our congregation and our consultants especially for our community at this time.

The supremacy of Jesus

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. Col. 1:15-17

We need to know who Jesus is, so we can know who we are in Him. It is a staggering thought that He who created the universe and holds everything together by His creative power, is the same One who lives within us if we belong to Him.

The Son is Life

What do you understand by ‘eternal life’?

Eternal life speaks of a quality of life, not just its length. It starts from the moment we receive Jesus as Saviour, and when we die it continues on forever. Those things that we know and experience partially now we will fully know (1 Corinthians 13:12). This is the life that God calls us into through His Son, involving a loving intimacy with Him; forgiveness, peace, purpose, and more blessings than we can imagine
(1 Cor. 2:9). And it starts now!

And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
Whoever has the Son has life: whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.
1 John 5:11-13

What does it mean to you to ‘have the Son’?

To ‘have the Son’ is sometimes expressed as making Jesus our Saviour and Lord. Jesus saves us from the consequences of our pride, rebellion and ignoring of God (Rom.6:23), and gives us instead the free gift of life forever with Him. To make
Jesus our Lord is to hand our life to Him: listening, obeying, seeking. Pleasing Him becomes our number one priority.

Accessing this new life

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

We cannot ‘have the Son’ through activity or good works. It is only by God’s love for us, through our faith. We access this salvation by believing and receiving what Jesus has done on the cross for us, and then living in it!

 

A message from Matthew 26 February 2017

Matthew PhotoRefresh

Take a moment to think about the relationships you have experienced through life.

One of the first would be your relationship with your Mum. The mother child
relationship is basic to our survival and is typically one of love and care.

Next you may think of your relationship with brothers and sisters. These can be challenging as we are all aware of sibling rivalry. I remember the ongoing races with my big brother trying to get home first from school over the 5 mile bicycle ride. Strangely, we both remember always winning?

Another important relationship is our first love. Your brain is put into neutral and there is nothing you wouldn’t do to be with that amazing person. Time with them is so precious and goes so quickly. Some of these first loves last a lifetime and others just a few days. But they are never forgotten. Some of the best celebrate 60, 70 or 75 years together. We hold them in great esteem.

Then there is our relationship with Jesus to which nothing can compare.

Who can compare to You, my King
Who can compare to You, my Lord
Who can compare to You, my Friend
I looked and I’ve found that there’s no one like You in all the earth

And You take my hand, and You call me Your own
You show me the way to life
And You lift my head, and You give me hope
You show me the way to life

No one compares to You, my King
No one compares to You, my Lord
No one compares to You, my Friend
I looked and I’ve found that You’re the One I needed all along

You are the way
You are the truth
You are the life

(Jesus Culture – “Who can compare”)

The “Refresh” study we are beginning at church next week is a wonderful time to grow your relationship with Jesus in the security of a small group of followers of Jesus who are also seeking to develop a deeper relationship with Jesus, our Lord, Saviour and friend. This is the most important relationship we will ever know.

 

A message from Matthew 19 February 2017

Matthew PhotoThis devotion from “With Love to the World” 7th of Feb, 2017 grabbed me when I first read it and I would like to share it here with the whole community.

Deuteronomy 30:15-20 (NIV)

15 See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. 16 For I
command you today to love the
Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.

17 But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, 18 I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.

19 This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live 20 and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

I was at a meal with a family the other day. We were talking about churches that would rather die than change. A 12-year-old said, “Who would choose to die?” A wise question that needed to be asked by a child; indeed, why would anyone choose death? Choosing life seems so obvious! But there are many ways in which we choose death. For the ancient Hebrews it was to break covenant with God,
extending their time in the Exodus and ultimately sending them into exile. For us as individuals, choosing death can be about holding onto addictions, habits and
dependencies. We know that such things will kill us, but we can’t break with them. The possibility of life and freedom can seem more painful than our familiar ailments and slavery. In the same way, many churches actually choose death through
preferring control and predictable decline to the risk of freedom and change.
Today’s passage sets the choice before us. God has sworn to be faithful to the promises made to our ancestors. God does not need to curse us; we do this
ourselves.

God of birth and resurrection, help me to choose life.

Please continue to choose life with me and everyone here at Burnside City Uniting Church as we follow Jesus together – Matthew.

 

from Rev Linda Driver – 12 February 2017

16174651_10209991562999596_1878715257807251810_nHave you ever had someone suggest that you could do something ..and thought, “Who me? They must be thinking of someone else – I can’t do that!”

As I began my Period of Discernment, that’s
exactly what I was thinking, “Who me?” “Who am I to think that I could be a minister of the Word, to be ordained, to be a leader serving in Christ’s church?”

As part of my Period of Discernment (or PoD) I went on a
discernment retreat up at Nunyara Conference Centre at Belair. At one point during the
retreat we were sent off to spend some time in silence and listen for the still small voice of God speaking to us.

I headed off by myself to sit quietly with my Bible. During that time I was led to one particular verse which stood out and has been significant for me ever since:

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and
self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7 NIV)

 It was that word timid, that stood out for me.

Time after time I have felt called to take on challenging roles or tasks. Some have called me courageous or brave. But I don’t think that’s been the case. Under the surface I have often lacked self-confidence, wondering if God picked the right person!

Through this time of formation, first in my PoD and then as a Candidate, God has shown me over and over how much God loves me – with such a deep, abiding,
immeasurable love.

God has shown me that if I trust in God and step out in faith,  I can do what God calls me to do, through the strength and enabling power of the Holy Spirit – many times confirmed by the encouragement and prayers of others – often just at the right time! 

And God has shown me that if I call on God’s name and wait for God’s leading, God’s
promises will be fulfilled.

So, through the Holy Spirit, I have learned that God does give me the courage to do the things he calls me to do.

The power, love and self-discipline that come from the Holy Spirit far outweigh any fear or self-doubt or timidity – even when they do come creeping back in to my mind.

In this time of formation, through mentoring, study, prayer, ministry-practice,
vulnerability and reflection I have moved to a place where I can say, “Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8)

What is God asking you to do?

Each one of us is unique and brings particular gifts, skills and passions to contribute to the body of Christ and to this world we live in.

May you too, have the courage, power, love and self-discipline of the Holy Spirit to carry out your unique calling.

 

from Rev Matthew Bond – Sunday 5th February

On Wednesday morning as I walked to church I witnessed a traffic incident followed by an awful scene of road rage. A car and a cyclist tried to share the bike lane due to a brief moment of poor judgement. The two ladies stopped to sort things out and make sure that no-one was injured, when an aggressive man in the car behind them decided to throw his weight around with his version of the events. The two women were clearly shaken by the incident and didn’t need it to escalate, so I stepped in. I sent the man away, telling him that I saw the whole thing and we didn’t need his help. I am grateful that he agreed and went back to his car. As the cyclist and the motorist exchanged details they discovered that they were both cyclists and understood how vulnerable they are on bikes and the constant need for caution. The cyclist explained that the reason for her high level of concern is that she is 18 weeks pregnant. The angry male motorist drove away, still angry and the three of us left on the roadside breathed a collective sigh of relief.

Two hours later I got a text message from the cyclist thanking me for stopping and telling me that it really helped to have a quick chat.

Our Bible reading today, from Matthew chapter 5. Verse 14 tells us that Jesus wants us to be the light of the world. When you read the Bible, there are times when you may struggle to comprehend how it may relate to life. You may wonder, how can I be the light of the world?

My experience on the road is no big deal. Each of us show God’s love many times a day as we do the normal things of life. This is Jesus alive in our lives and his light shining through. My point is that we can often overlook what we are doing and not give Jesus the credit for making a difference in our lives and the lives of those around us.

As followers of Jesus Christ, I encourage you to let the light of Jesus shine through you and to acknowledge in your own mind that Jesus does make a difference. When you start there you will want to tell others about Jesus too.

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden” – Jesus.

 

from Rev Matthew Bond – Sunday 18th December

Looking to the future    

Our Ministry Team met this week for breakfast on Monday to give thanks for the year that has almost come to an end. It has been a challenging year and we look forward to continuing our celebrations of the birth of our Saviour together in the coming weeks.

There are many people to thank for their amazing ministry during this year. Linda, Rob, Ben & Deb have each been amazing as they have used their God-given gifts. The Church Council have worked tirelessly to listen to God and fulfil God’s mission in this place along with the many other wonderful people who faithfully serve God here.

The coming year holds much excitement. Linda will be ordained at Adelaide West Uniting Church on Sunday the 5th of February at 1.30pm. Linda will continue her ministry here at BCUC as the Reverend Linda Driver from that day and will continue at 0.8. Linda will continue her studies at the Uniting College of Leadership and Theology. Her regular days with us are Monday to Wednesday and Sunday.

Rob Williams has been elected as President of the South Australian Council of Churches for 2017 and will continue to serve at Burnside City Uniting Church next year as our Minister-in-Association as he has done in recent years.

Ben has some exciting new ideas with Youth Ministry planned for 2017. Many of our youth have graduated year 12 this year and a new younger group are developing. Ben will be focusing his time on connecting with these younger people and reaching out to young people in the community.

Deb will continue in her role as Church Administrator, working here Monday to Thursday from 9am to 2.30pm. The Church Office is open from 9am-12noon these days. Deb is a valuable support to the Ministry Team and the Congregation here at BCUC.

My role as Ministry Team Leader continues in 2017 as we look with renewed vision to how we can effectively serve God together here. In this Advent Season we are celebrating the birth of Jesus and looking to Jesus returning as Lord of all. This will happen as one heart at a time is given to Jesus and we each seek to draw closer to our Lord & Saviour. This year I am challenged to listen, pray and preach. I continue to point people to Jesus with the same challenge that we listen to Jesus, remain faithful in our prayer-life and declare our love for Jesus at every opportunity.

Church Council appointments for 2017

Chairperson: Valerie Aloa;
Deputy Chairperson: Michael Dring;
Secretary: Gill Cibich;
Treasurer: Randolph Alwis;
Liaisons with Mission Action and Mission Support Areas:
Spirituality, Worship and Prayer: Thomas Pruszinski;
Ministry with Children, youth, young adults and their families: Sarah Randall;
Ministry with Adults: Keith Maynard; Living Beyond Ourselves: Julie-Anne Bingham;
Communication Support Area: Clare Bleakley;
Administration Support Area: Michael Dring;
Facilities Support Area: Chris Lake;
Finance Support Area: Gaynor Strapp

We thank all these people for their willingness to serve God at BCUC in these ways and ask that you support and cover them with prayer

from Rev Matthew Bond – Sunday 27th November

As we commission our Elders today, it may be helpful to have a fresh look at the role of Elders in the Church. This is what the Bible says about Elders.

An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the  charge of being wild and disobedient. 7 Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. 8 Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. 9 He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. (Titus 1:6-9 NIV)

This is what the Uniting Church says about Elders.

The Church Council shall give priority in its life to building up the congregation in faith and love, sustaining members in hope, and leading the congregation to fuller participation in Christ’s mission in the world. This priority shall be reflected in the agenda of its ordinary meetings. The Uniting Church Regulation 3.1.13(a)

It is timely to appreciate that every aspect of the life and mission of a congregation has a spiritual dimension. The old divisions about “sacred” and “secular” dimensions of church life need to be discarded, and in particular there needs to be a reclaiming that decisions about the maintenance and use of property and financial resources are profoundly missional and spiritual.

It is appropriate to reaffirm that the role of Elders is one of spiritual oversight.

The context for Congregational life and mission in Australia in the 21st century requires that the Council within the congregation consists of those whom the congregation recognises as endowed by the Holy Spirit with gifts fitting them for rule and oversight.

Those whom the congregation recognises to have other gifts can be welcomed as members of sub-committees which provide advice to Church Council.

Please pray for the Elders of our church as they serve God here with the gifts God has given them. This is a challenging role which requires a high level of commitment, time and prayer.

Our Elders will be commissioned on Sunday 27 November 2016 at all three services.

(https://assembly.uca.org.au/resources/key-papers-reports/item/1552-a-fresh-look-at-elders-in-the-uniting-church)

from Rev Matthew Bond – Sunday 6th November

floatheartsWhy do we Worship? 

Is It a Requirement? 

A man once told me that He would never bow his knee to God. He argued, “What kind of father wants his own children to bow down to him?” He thought it was strange because he did not want his own children to bow down to him. Philippians 2:9-10 says, however, “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth.” So high and great is Jesus that eventually the knees of everyone born or created will bend in reverent homage to Him. This man was so blinded that he did not understand even this.
We might consider understanding the worship of God as simple, but doing it is not always easy. It is simple only after we have learned some basic things about it. I Chronicles 16 largely consists of a psalm of praise and thanksgiving David composed to commemorate the bringing of the Ark of the Covenant to the Tabernacle in Jerusalem. In verse 29, David writes, “Give to the LORD the glory due His name; bring an offering, and come before Him. Oh, worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness!”

Let us add to this Matthew 4:9-10, the occasion of Satan’s third temptation of Christ in the wilderness. “And he said to Him, ‘All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Away with you, Satan! For it is written, “You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.”‘”

These two verses clearly establish the most basic element of why we must worship God: because God commands it! He must command us to worship Him because it is possible to worship others and things besides God. Satan was clearly attempting to get Christ to worship him—a being besides God—and that Jesus replies, referring to the Father, “Him only you shall serve.” Not only does God command us to worship Him, He also forbids us to worship any others. In addition, Jesus’ statement shows the inextricable link between the worship and the service of God. It is as if they are synonymous. Worship involves highly regarding and then serving the One worshipped.
We worship God because God commands it. We worship God because God alone deserves it, knowing what God is and what God does. We worship God because without worshipping God we cannot rise to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.

This is the final week of our October series on worship. Prayerfully our worship will be enriched by what we have learned in these articles.

http://www.cgg.org/index.cfm/fuseaction/Library.sr/CT/PERSONAL/k/64/Why-Worship-God.htm

from Rev Matthew Bond – Sunday 30th October

floatheartsGrammatically, worship can be either a verb or noun. According to Webster’s Dictionary, its verb form includes such synonyms as “esteem,” “exalt,” “revere,” “glorify” and “respect.” As a noun, it can encompass adoration, veneration, devotion, supplication and invocation. Its actual definition, though, is “reverence, honour or homage paid to God; ceremonies or services expressing such reverence.” Worship thus includes both an attitude and the actions that accompany and are motivated by it.

The Dictionary of Biblical Imagery says, “Worship is first and foremost a verb, an action” (p.970). This is revealing because so many equate worship with either a place (usually a building) or a feeling. That worship is an action becomes clearer when we examine the roots of the Hebrew and Greek words for “worship.” According to the New Bible Dictionary, both the “Hebrew aboda, and the Greek latreia originally signified the labour of slaves or hired servants” (p. 1262). Therefore, the underlying concept of worship in Scripture is that of service to the One revered. This understanding greatly expands the application of worship far beyond the walls of a building. It includes any activity done in service to and because of the one worshipped.

Worship is homage consisting of both an attitude of deep respect, adoration, reverence and even awe and the activities designed to describe the position and worth of the One worshipped. We must understand that biblically, the Creator initiates our worship of Him and that our response in worship is merely a reaction to His insertion of Himself into our lives. Most of the Old Testament allusions to worship are confined to services in or about the Tabernacle, the Temple, the sacrifices and festivals. They celebrate Him as Creator, Deliverer, Provider and Redeemer, and centre on such things as the Passover, Exodus, His miraculous provision in the wilderness and bountiful harvests.
In the New Testament, these “restraints” are greatly diminished. In fact, Jesus showed in John 4:21 that worship in a place like the Temple is unnecessary. Further elaboration by Paul reveals that we are the Temple, and the worship of God expands to any time, any place, under any circumstance. This does not mean that fellowshipping as a congregation in a formal setting is no longer necessary, but it enlarges the idea and practice of worship beyond and besides the formal setting. In other words, worship expands right into the home, the work place, the bedroom, the kitchen, the highway and the sports field. In fact, worship includes all the activities one does as well as the formal religious setting. Thus, we have the opportunity through all our activities to show the high regard and homage we hold for the One we worship. We can see, then, that worship even plays a part in the quality of witness we make before the world, though it is an indirect fruit of worship.

Worshipping God plays a far more direct, positive and practical role in the comple-tion of His purpose in us than we may have realized.

This is the fourth week of our October series on worship. Please join us as we learn more about worship.

http://www.cgg.org/index.cfm/fuseaction/Library.sr/CT/PERSONAL/k/64/Why-Worship-God.htm

from Rev Matthew Bond – Sunday 16th October

floatheartsWhy Do We Worship?  

In his revelation, Jesus portrays a picture of heavenly choirs. Throughout the pages, he paints a graphic scene of the heavenly congregation continually in relationship with God, engaging in worship, and bringing praise to the Lamb of God. These worshipers and choristers are in the presence of the Messiah; they need hope no more, for the Messiah has come. Toward the end of Revelation, God completes the redemption of all creation, and God and humanity dwell together. John writes that a loud voice from the throne shouts, “Look! God’s dwelling is here with humankind. He will dwell with them, and they will be his peoples. God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more. There will be no mourning, crying, or pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (vv. 3- 4). Finally, there are no barriers to our worship, no distractions, no more confusing our need with worship. Finally, all worshipers give full attention to God, our creator. Can you imagine what that will be like?

“I Can Only Imagine” by the award-winning Christian singers Mercy Me, wonders aloud about John’s picture of Revelation. What will life be when our complete focus is on the one who is present among us? Written in first person, this is a song sung as a prayer to God. “Surrounded by Your Glory, what will my heart feel? . . . I can only imagine!”

What will you do? Perhaps the question Jesus poses for us today is, what are you doing? If the Christ, our Messiah, has come, if Christ, our Lord, is present today, then how is our worship? Someone says, “But Lord, the music was just not of the quality that you deserve?”

Christ replies, “But my friends in the ghetto sing passionately without any accompaniment.” Another complains, “I just couldn’t worship today, Lord, because I just wasn’t fed.” Christ answers, “By whom are you expecting to be fed? I was with you. Did I not satisfy you?”

Can you imagine what it might be like when we finally know that Christ is present?

This is the third week of our October series on worship. Please join us as we learn more about worship.

http://www.ministrymatters.com/all/entry/2909/why-do-we-worship