Monday, April 30, 2012

Part Of Something Bigger

I love the church, and one of the reasons why is because I believe we are the most powerful instrument in ending extreme poverty. It might sound trite, but really, who else but Christians are currently more involved in acting to achieve this?

I am not dismissing the valuable work done by others, this is not an exclusive mission. But God has given us a special call to shine the light of Jesus, to help the poor and those is need, and I am convinced this does not come without selfless action.

The question I am asking myself, and others who call themselves a Christ follower, is how much are you willing to do? Will you, in the words of Mama Maggie Gobran, "give until it hurts?"

58: is an action-based, global alliance of Christians, churches and organisations working together to end extreme poverty in our lifetime. We at Willow Creek are choosing to be a part of it because we see the possiblity of this ambition succeeding!

We encourage you to check out this trailer below, search for your nearest film screening and get along to find out what you can do to play a part in this story. Then ACT!


Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Main Game

Recently during a Seminar I was leading which emphasised the pivotal role of God's love as the most powerful agent for changing our lives for good, a lady shared that her personal security level, and therefore personal well being, had risen significantly through 40 years of God's unconditional love from her husband.

The good news from God to us is significantly about the possibility of us being changed from the inside by God's Spirit of love both directly from His Spirit and indirectly through His Spirit in others.

Formation of God's character in us by His Spirit is an 'essence' of our faith rather than just an 'aspect'.  From early in the gospels e.g. Matt 3: 11-12, till the conclusion of the New Testament writings, this is a central theme. Jesus emphasised it in Matt 5:8 “You're blessed when you get your inside world – your heart and mind - put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.”  (The Message) 

Paul almost invariably has a significant section in his letters which nails down that the Spirit's work in us produces fruit e.g. Galatians 5:22, 23 and Colossians 3: 12-14. Personal qualities and relationship capacities such as compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline, are vital to effective living and are probably universally desired and valued above any other personal qualities and relationship capacities. 

This biblical theme has a similar pivotal place in my Christian walk and belief to the way Paul regarded teaching about the resurrection “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins” (1 Cor 15:17 The Message).    If God can't and/or doesn't change us from the inside by His spirit to be maturing into His fullness (Ephesians 4:13) then we best give Christianity away.

It is my fervent belief through a lifetime of close and sometimes almost desperate observation that these 'formation' teachings are true. 

Often it is frustrating that the changes do take place at about the same pace as fruit grows and ripens… quite slowly. But it is still real and absolutely vital, especially to the effectiveness of our witness and evangelism. When Jesus sent his disciples out he told them “you are the equipment” (Luke 9:1-5 The Message).  We are the message.

Who we are through God's Spirit in us is crucial to us getting an opportunity to speak the gospel.  The New Testament tells us that we can 'hinder the growth of God's character in us by quenching or grieving the Spirit' (1 Thes 5:19 and Eph 4:30).  We have a stewardship opportunity and responsibility to relate 'intimately and organically’ to God (John 15:5-6) so that the character of God grows in us.

“Formation” is the main game. It is not an optional extra.

Keith Farmer
Keith Farmer Mentoring

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Voice For The Voiceless

reposted from

Pranitha Timothy is changing history. The International Justice Mission’s (IJM) director of “After Care” in Chennai, India has the courage to lead teams into life-threatening situations and the perseverance to free victims of modern-day slavery—no matter what the cost. Visit the IJM site to to stay up-to-date on their work in India.

“There are 27 million slaves in our world today,” she says. Even though a brain tumor left her with what she calls a “strange” voice, she is proud to be a voice for the voiceless—including the millions who toil under burden of harsh manual labor. Working in bondage to Brahmin slave masters, millions struggle from dawn to dark in places like rock quarries and brick mills, even though bonded labor was made illegal in India more than 30 years ago.
IJM is on a mission to free slaves and restore them to a life of dignity and wholeness.

In April, 2011, government officials, IJM staff, and police entered a brick kiln to liberate laborers held by force. They estimated it would amount to 200 people. They were wrong. More than 500 workers assembled to hear freedom was at hand. Facing the throngs of slaves, Pranitha Timothy shouted, “Who wants to come out?” Hundreds of hands shot up.

The owner of the brick kiln was arrested and four trucks were arranged to transport the laborers to a nearby school where their releases could be processed. Four trucks weren’t enough, so a truck belonging to the former slave master was confiscated.

More than 500 men, women, and children are now living in freedom thanks to the largest anti-slavery operation in IJM’s history.

Read the full story in this article in the Times of India.

Friday, April 13, 2012

April Webcast: Charles Jenkins

reposted from

In this webcast, Charles Jenkins, senior pastor role at the historic Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church, talks with Jim Mellado about thriving in change. You can read more on the topic in Pastor Jenkins’ book Thriving in Change.

Here are a few of our notes to get you thinking!
    “There is applied change and basic change – basic change is just change for change’s sake. Applied change is change with a needed necessary end result.”
    “I knew I needed to start at the concept…what’s the destination? I couldn’t get people there if the destination wasn’t clear.”
    “Honor people with one-on-one conversations. It’s critical to help resistant people process the changes. The goal with early adopters is to create advocates, but with the resisters your goal is to help them find neutrality.”
    “When it comes to change, often leaders make change to problems only they see. You’ve got to make everybody see the problem so they know why the change is necessary.”
    “For a senior leader, it’s like Shakespeare. Play your part and then exit the stage. For a successor, be comfortable in your own skin – David can’t wear Saul’s armor.”

Monday, April 2, 2012

Transition and Change

Six months ago I was planning the next steps and thinking about the next year for the ministries I was involved in. I really loved my job and the people I worked with. Exciting things were happening; church communities across the state were (and still are) thinking about how to reach out to children, youth and their families. New families were becoming part of our church community, people being introduced to Jesus and faith was growing. 

Six months later I have a new job, I’m in a new house and a new city and if you had asked me back then about what the next year would look like, where I am now would not have crossed my mind!

It seems very obvious to say that life is full of transitions and change. Starting school, loosing your first tooth, moving school, high school, university, starting an apprenticeship, people leave, new people come, marriage, children, new jobs, death, no job, children growing up, children moving out, retirement, I could go on. Change even for the person who loves change can be unsettling and even crippling.

My move and the starting of a new job, which by the way I am really enjoying, has contributed to me thinking more about how we help our young people deal with change. I’m not in any way saying there is a quick and easy answer, because more often than not helping will be long term, but why would we persevere, what encouragement to hold on is there, why can we still have hope when our faith feels like the thinnest piece of string? Why might we be able to cope with never knowing the answer to why?

Our God reveals himself to be the constant in an ever changing world, the faithful one who remains faithful even when his people are not. That he does indeed see, know and understand when we don’t. Jesus the King of Kings, will indeed return, death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more (Revelation 21:4 NRSV). What amazing truths to hold on to!

Although the changes I have experienced on one level seem quite trivial, for me the last six months have been a process of taking hold of and putting more into practice the truths about God that I already know. I have been reminded again of what Proverbs 3:5-6 means when it calls us to trust God with everything.

It is my prayer that each of us will grow in our knowledge and love of God and from that there will be an ever increasing confidence that, no matter the circumstances, will never be shaken.

Kate Boughton
Youth and Children’s Minister
St Jude’s Anglican Church, Carlton