Leadership Blog

Senior Minister Transition – 11.12.2016

Rohan & Megan Dredge

Transition FAQ’s

Megan and I have had the honour and privilege of leading Discovery Church
through a significant generational transition since January 2009.

We believe God will use the past eight years to serve the future of Discovery Church.
God called us to lead Discovery Church and we have a great sense of peace
as we make room for our next season and the next season of the Church. We
believe you go where you are called and stay there for as long as God’s hand
is upon you to lead. We believe we have done this.

We also believe God doesn’t need us to lead Discovery Church. We believe
he graces us to lead. Discovery Church is bigger than one person. Discovery
Church is much bigger than a leader. God has intended Discovery Church to
reach and influence Eastern Melbourne and beyond since July 1st 1947 and it
will continue to do that with the next leader at the helm. We are honoured
beyond words to have played a small part in this story.

We’ve taken some time to respond to questions that may be asked of us.
Thanks in advance.

Why am I choosing to resign?

The last 18 months have been the most challenging season for me in the last
two decades of leadership and ministry. As a result I have had to evaluate
whether or not I was prepared to continue to lead Discovery Church into the
next season or if it was time to step back. I certainly feel capable to lead but
that wasn’t the question. The question was ‘what is the wisest thing to do for
Discovery Church and our family?’– this IS the wisest thing to do. I am not
burnt out. I am 46 years old, physically healthy with a strong sense of God’s
hand on my life and a passion to lead and contribute to the spheres I am
already engaged in.

What is the timing for our change?

Our final Sunday will be Sunday February 5th 2017. I want to position our
Elders and Staff, (and ultimately the new Senior Pastors) to begin the ministry
year with the leadership space they need to cast vision and set direction. The
best time to do that is at the beginning of the year. I want to lead, if I stayed
around I will hinder more than help. Vision and direction is a mandate that
belongs to our Elders now.

What is Megan’s sense of this change?

Megan is completely supportive about this. She shares the same sense of
peace that this is what God is leading us to and is faithfully and graciously
partnering with me in this change. Our marriage is as strong as it’s ever been and
our kids are in great shape – as a family we are positive.

How will Discovery function from now until the change and thereafter?

Our Eldership is assuming responsibility for the overall leadership of the
Church and for setting the spiritual and operational direction of Discovery
into 2017. They are taking all appropriate measure to ensure a smooth and
fruitful transition. They are in fact already doing the important things Elders
must do at these times. Please uphold these outstanding Elders in prayer.

What do our family and key people of wisdom think about this?

We have walked closely and deeply with some very caring and very kind
people over the last 12 months and the one thing that connects all these
people (our Elders as well) is the same sense of peace around this being the
best next step for Discovery Church and for our family. Parents, mentors and
intercessors have all supported this decision. This is humbling and
confirming all at the same time.

What’s next?

We are on annual leave over the Christmas/January period and return two
weeks before finishing up at Discovery. At this early stage we plan to stay
living in Melbourne. We have no plans to plant a Church at this time.
I do not have a role to go to and was not offered any roles that led to this
decision. We are stepping out in faith. And, for the last ten years I have been
running a Corporate Leadership practice in my spare time which is doing
very well – I will continue doing this full time for the foreseeable future. I will
also be making myself available to serve Churches on weekends and during
the week to help them with leadership development, strategic change,
transitions and encourage these faith communities as much as possible.

How is Rohan Feeling?

I feel peaceful. And sad. I’m strangely excited, and also a heavy sense of
responsibility for our team and Church. Overall, Megan and I are comforted
by a sense of supernatural peace that passes all understanding. We wish the
same for you.

If Rohan could ask you for something what would it be?

Our Eldership has a profound sense of unity around this change. We’d like
you to trust that God’s leading and timing is perfect, that his people are good
and his Church is beautiful. Encourage the elders and staff of Discovery
church a thousand percent more than normal. Pray for your new Pastors
(whoever they may be.) Speak to and not about, and be especially wise and
kind on social media. Don’t talk about what you know nothing about and
remember that when we trust the Lord and love magnificently we can serve
the will of God and protect the people of God.
Thank you for the privilege of serving and leading in the season. It’s an
honour beyond words. We are anticipating great things for each of you
moving forward and look forward to celebrating that with you.

Ephesians 2:10
“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, to do good
works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

***For the pdf file of Pastor Roh and Megan’s Transistion FAQs please click HERE.

Daniel Fast Recipes

Fasting is all about depriving ourselves of something natural, so that we become hungry for things supernatural. It’s about the passionate pursuit of Jesus! Fasting can help you recover your passion, recapture your dream and restore your joy! Fasting is a principle that God intended for everyone to practice. It is not a punishment; it is a privilege!

21dayfast

We hope that you find this collection of recipes suitable for the Daniel fast helpful (and tasty!) We pray that as you deny your physical body certain foods during the fast you will encounter God in a fresh way, experience breakthrough and claim victory in those areas of prayer.

Garlic Mushroom Quinoa

fastrecipe1

Prep Time 10 minutes  | Cook Time 25 minutes | Total Time 35 minutes | Yield 6 servings

Ingredients

1 cup quinoa
1 tablespoon olive oil
500gms mushrooms, thinly sliced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions

In a large saucepan of 2 cups water, cook quinoa according to package instructions; set aside.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add mushrooms, garlic and thyme, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 3-4 minutes; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Stir in quinoa until well combined.
Serve immediately

(Adapted from Barefeet in the Kitchen)

Soft Banana Raspberry Oatmeal Cookies

raspbery-cookiesBaking time: 20 Minutes | Yield: 10 cookies

Ingredients

70 grams oats
1 banana
1/2 cup raspberries
1 splash rice milk (optional)

Preparation

Generally, it’s enough if you simply mash up the banana and oats and add in the raspberries, but if you wanted the texture a bit finer, use your blender as per the recipe:

Preheat your oven to 180°C/360°F.
Put half the oats and the banana in a blender and whiz away – add a splash of rice milk if you need to (I needed).
Add the rest of the oats and combine without pulverizing the oats (my blender has a pulse button, which I used for this).
If you have fresh raspberries, add them in by hand, if you have frozen ones, you can add them in an pulse once or twice so they get mixed into the dough.
Line a baking tray with paper or a baking mat and use a spoon to place the dough on it.
Bake for about 20 minutes or until you can lift up the cookies with a spatula without breaking (the cookies will still be soft – unless you bake them much longer).

(Recipe adapted from Chloe Langer’s E-Book Healthy Alternatives to your Favorite Comfort Foods)

Crispy Potato Curry

potato-curryPrep time 15 mins | Cook time 30 mins | Total time 45 mins | Makes 5 servings

Ingredients

1 kg potatoes
½ onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1½ teaspoons fresh ginger, grated                                                                                                                              1 jalapeno (seeds and ribs removed), minced
1 400ml can coconut milk
1 cup vegetable stock
1 bunch coriander (for topping)
1 bunch green onions, sliced (for topping)
For the curry powder blend:
½ teaspoon ground yellow mustard
1 teaspoon ground coriander                                                                                                                                        1 teaspoon ground cardamon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons turmeric
A few pinches of cayenne pepper

Instructions

Preheat your oven to 240 degrees. Dice your potatoes into bite size pieces (no need to peel them) Place them on a baking sheet, and pat dry with paper towels.
Drizzle vegetable oil over the potatoes and toss with your hands until all the potatoes are well coated in vegetable oil. Season with salt and pepper. Toss to combine.
Spread all the potatoes out in an even layer and place in your preheated oven. Roast for 30 minutes, removing the baking sheet every 10 minutes and tossing the potatoes with a spatula before placing back in the oven.
Meanwhile, make your sauce. Heat a pot over medium high heat with some vegetable oil. Add your onions, garlic, ginger, and jalapeno and saute for a few minutes until the onions have softened. Stir in your curry powder spices and let that cook for about thirty seconds. Add in your coconut milk and veggie stock. Bring this to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Let the sauce simmer for ten minutes. Season the sauce to taste with salt.
When the potatoes are done, remove them from the oven and add them into the curry* Season to taste with salt, and top each bowl with cilantro and green onions

*Note: if you prefer your potatoes to remain crispy, spoon them into your bowl and ladle the curry sauce on top right before eating rather than mixing everything together in the pot before serving*

(Recipe:  Annie Chesson)

Warm Banana Coconut Breakfast Bowl

bananna-breakfast-bowlservings: 1 | prep time: 3 min | cook time: 2 min | ready in: 5 min

Ingredients

2 Ripe Bananas sliced
1/2 cup Coconut Milk
1/4 cup Pecans
1/8 cup Shredded Coconut
1 tsp Cinnamon

Directions

Mix all ingredients together and warm in microwave or stove top.

(Recipe sourced from Fast Paleo)

One Pan Mexican Quinoa

one-pan-mexican-quinoa

Yield: 4 servings | Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cook Time: 25 minutes | Total Time: 35 minutes

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, minced
1 cup quinoa
1 cup vegetable broth
1 425gm can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 400gm can diced tomatoes
1 cup corn kernels, frozen, canned or roasted
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 avocado, halved, seeded, peeled and diced
Juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander leaves

Directions

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add garlic and jalapeno, and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Stir in quinoa, vegetable broth, beans, tomatoes, corn, chili powder and cumin; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer until quinoa is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Stir in avocado, lime juice and Coriander.
Serve immediately.

(Recipe by Chungah from Damn Delicious®)

Banana Coconut Icecream

recipe-art-template-10Yield: 12 servings (serving size: 1/2 cup)

Ingredients

2 400mls cans coconut milk
2 bananas, peeled, sliced
¼ cup Date Honey or 6-7 soaked dates, drained

Instructions

Place ingredients in a food processor or blender. Mix until smooth. Place in a covered glass bowl in freezer 5-6 hours or until firm (but not solid). If the mixture gets too hard, set it out on the kitchen counter to thaw until soft enough to serve.

Recipe Notes

If using whole dates instead of Date Honey, soak dates in ¼ cup water. Let sit at room temperature 2 hours or until softened. Drain water and place dates in food processor with coconut milk and bananas. Process until smooth, and freeze.

  • To add a strawberry flavor, mix in 2 cups sliced strawberries. Try this with other berries as well.
  • Substitute some of the coconut milk with unsweetened pineapple juice for an added flavour. Be careful to not add too much otherwise the icecream may be more icy than creamy.
  • Grind up some pistachios or other unsalted nuts and add them to the mixture.

(Recipe sourced from Ultimate Daniel Fast.)

Veggie Quinoa Sushi Rolls

vegequinoasushiRecipe yields 4-5 sushi rolls.

Ingredients

4-5 nori sheets
1 cup quinoa (Be sure to rinse quinoa if it is not pre-washed.)
2 cups water
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1/2 avocado
1/2 cucumber medium
1/2 cup baby carrots
1 cup baby romaine
Reduced sodium soy sauce to taste

Instructions

Add quinoa, water, ground ginger, and salt to inner pot in rice cooker, close lid and cook on white rice setting.

  1. Alternately, you can cook the quinoa on a stovetop – add the ingredients to a saucepan, cover, and bring to a boil then allow to simmer on medium low for approximately 15 minutes.
  2. When quinoa is done, remove from heat and stir in vinegar.
  3. Allow quinoa to cool while you peel and seed the cucumber and avocado and slice into long thin strips.
  4. Slice baby carrots into thin strips lengthwise.
  5. Place a nori sheet on a bamboo mat and place about 2/3 cups of quinoa in the center of the nori sheet. Wet the tips of your fingers (you may wish to have a bowl of cool water nearby for this purpose) and press/spread the quinoa into a thin layer – working towards the edges of the sheet, leaving about an inch of sheet remaining on the edge farthest from you.
  6. Place a row of baby romaine leaves an inch or two in from the edge closest to you. Top with a thin row of cucumber, carrot and avocado slices.
  7. Use bamboo mat to roll the sushi roll. Set sushi roll aside and repeat with remaining ingredients.
  8. Once all ingredients are used, slice the sushi rolls into evenly sized pieces and serve with low sodium soy sauce.

(Recipe sourced from Veggie Primer.)

Philippians Study #6

Joy in God

Matthew Destry – Communications Pastor

Philippians 4:4

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!

There is something majestic about altitude. There is something wondrous, interesting and elating about being higher or above things that we usually see from the ground. Some of us may have a fear of heights, or even a negative experience with being off terra firma, but for all of history, man has been fascinated with altitude and flying.

Paul’s exhortation to the Philippian church here is particularly helpful. We must not forget that Paul is writing from jail, whilst chained to a Roman soldier, with very limited options and perspective. But in praise and rejoicing he is able to access a view that would usually be reserved for someone in a different situation. He is able to access a heavenly perspective while being held in a most trying circumstance. This is what praise does. It changes our perspective – our skyscraper-like problems get smaller, and our God (and his power, might, and faithfulness) gets bigger in our view.

Rejoicing in the Lord is the physical, mental and emotional act of bringing praise to God. It is the art of using our words and actions to exalt, magnify and honour God the Father and Jesus, His Son. Just like we would praise a well cooked meal (“that was so tasty!”), or praise a friend (“you’re such a thoughtful person” etc.) we are invited to do the very same thing with God. Except it’s not exactly the same. Praise is a spiritual act, and because it’s a spiritual act, it has spiritual benefits.

To be above the buildings, landscape, cities, mountains, or even clouds is a view that we don’t often experience. We are tethered to the ground by gravity and geography. Walking a mountain trail you might come across an amazing vista, but it’s only a short time before you must head back down the mountain again and get back to ‘regular’ life. In praise, we can access this perspective at any time: ‘Rejoice in the Lord always’.

It can be a difficult discipline to live out and master; this habit of praise. Particularly because praise is most important and effective when we don’t ‘feel like’ doing it. We least feel like going or a mountain hike when there is freezing weather and snow at the door. Still, when we get above the clouds, we get above the snow as well. We are able to see where to go next, able to see where God is in our situation, and God is given the glory at the beginning, in the middle, and at the end.

Reflection Questions

1/ How could you incorporate praise more into your every-day life?

2/ What do you find challenging about the exhortation ‘rejoice in the Lord always’?

3/ What would be the benefits for you of gaining regular access to a ‘heavenly perspective’?

Philippians Study #5

Matthew Destry – Communications Pastor

Philippians 3:13-14 (NIV)

“Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

It’s said that an elephant has such a good memory, that it never forgets a face. In fact, an Elephant relies on it’s vault-like memory to survive in the wild – discerning friend and foe, places for food and water, even recognising other Elephants with which they may have cursorily passed in the jungle. Of course, there are limits to an Elephant’s mind, but it’s memory is something that has become legend.

Often it is our temptation to live our Christian lives in a similar way – holding on to and locking down every memory, every experience, every encounter, just in case we need it to ‘survive’ the future. Our emotions catalogue events and experiences of our lives – we can’t always remember exactly what happened, but we can certainly remember how it made us feel. While our memories are certainly helpful for survival and the avoidance of pain (a child will always remember the first time their fingers touch an open flame, and hesitate to do it a second time), they can also hold us back from leaning toward the glorious future we have in Christ.

The Apostle Paul puts it this way: “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead”. In the immediate context he is referring to any grounds for boasting in salvation; boasting is excluded on account of the all-sufficient grace and mercy of Jesus. No matter what your pedigree, the ‘good’ you’ve done, the people you spend time with, none of it makes us ‘fit’ for salvation, which is only found in Jesus’ death and resurrection. But there is also something else: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?” (Isaiah 43:18-19a)

Our lives should not be shaped by even what God has done in the past – they should be shaped by God’s glorious future. The ancient Israelites remembered the Exodus to confirm their identity as beloved children of God – but under the New Covenant our lives are shaped not by the stories of the past. Today the follower of Jesus looks forward to a new heaven and a new earth to confirm their identity as sons of God, and to give impetus to living for Jesus now. In order to not be held back by our history (good, bad or ugly), our future must be bigger and brighter than our past. Thankfully, for those in Christ, there has never been anything truer. Let’s not forget it.

Reflection Questions:

1/ Is there anything in your life that you will sometimes trust in other than Christ (good behaviour, church attendance, Christian background, anything else)?

2/ Are there any negative past experiences that are currently holding you back from living a full life for Jesus now?

3/ How could a big, bright and beautiful vision for the future influence your living today?

Philippians Study #4

Philippians 2:12-16

A Do and A Don’t

Matthew Destry – Communications Pastor

Every truth has implications. When we understand something for the first time, the next thing that we think is: “what does this mean for my life?”. Sure, not every piece of information we receive is earth-shatteringly transformational, but when revelation comes to us, it comes with a response from our lips: “what do I do now, Lord?”.

To bring some personal application to the grand story of Jesus’ incarnation and ascension in Philippians 2:5-11, Paul gives two exhortations. A “do”, and a “don’t”. To the Philippian church, in the light of all that has been accomplished by Christ, and all that is ahead, Paul issues: Do work out your salvation. Don’t grumble and complain. Two very clear instructions, with two very clear reasons why.

The first instruction to the church is to ‘work out’ their salvation. Not ‘work for’ or ‘work at’, for who can work for something that has already been given? They must ‘work it out’. Salvation is a free gift that comes with faith in Jesus, but just because it’s free does not mean it’s easy. “Faith without deeds is dead” says the book of James. If our faith is real, it will flow through from the thoughts of the mind, the intents of the heart and into the work of the hands.

Paul is very clear why this must be so: “for it is God who works in you”. When we work out our salvation, when we work with our hands to serve the Lord, the eternal and wondrous mystery of ‘God in us’ is revealed. God is working in us to will and to act according to his purposes, so the church must serve. To skip working is to skip the wonder of God at work in your heart.

Secondly, Paul issues a second decree: “Don’t grumble and complain.” This seems to make more sense than the first instruction, as we seem to know intuitively that grumbling and complaining is futile. Yet, we (and the Philippians) persist with it! We tend to think that by venting our frustration to others and calling into question the things that God has said, we will be somehow happier and more joyful. This is simply not true.

We have been called to shine like stars, and nothing will dull your lustre quicker than a grumbling spirit. We have been given the ‘word of life’ as our words to use, and from here we find words of thanksgiving and lament – Jesus used both. When we speak God’s words and remember his promises, we are better positioned to be who God has called us to be in the world.

So, Paul gives the Philippians a “do” and a “don’t”. Do keep moving and working with the Lord – keep in step with the Spirit. Don’t hold out a complaint – hold out the word of life. In these ways, we make the death and resurrection of Jesus more real to ourselves and the world around us.

Reflection Questions:

1/ What do you find challenging about ‘working out your salvation’?
2/ What strategies do you have to keep a sweet spirit, when all you want to do is complain?
3/ What are you learning and what is God saying to you during this series?

Philippians Study #3

The Call to Humility

Matt Destry – Communications Pastor

“Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow. So one hundred worshipers met together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be, were they to become ‘unity’ conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship.” (A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God)

When Paul exhorts the Philippian church to an attitude of oneness and a spirit of humility, he has one example in mind; one person to whom all others bow. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility, consider others more significant than yourselves”. He then encourages them that their attitude should be the same as that of the Master (Philippians 2:1-5).

If there is a flaw in our concept of humility, our notion of sacrifice, it is this: we feel good about our own humility when we compare it to someone whom we consider to be ‘less humble’. It sounds like this: “I know I shouldn’t be selfish, but have you met so-and-so? All they do is talk about themselves – I’m certainly not like that…” Do you see what has happened? We have used a command on humility to be a platform for our pride.

When anyone turns to Christ, their nature is also crucified. When anyone is in Christ, “they are a new creation, the old has gone and the new has come”. The hard part is that our human nature dies a long and slow death – much longer than we would like! When Paul leads people to humility in Philippians 2, it is in the context of many problems – political problems in Rome, theological problems in Philippi, and relational problems in the church. The need for humility is so apparent, yet so hard to do!

This is when Tozer’s advice is perfect for us. We do not tune our ‘humility’ with another person or group – we tune our humility to Christ. He alone is the standard, for he alone is the one who left heavenly glory for the pain of the cross. There is then no grounds for boasting – it is excluded. There is no grounds for comparison – for our standard (and our righteousness) is in Him. The call for humility and the grace for humility is alone found in Christ.

Reflection Questions

1/ How could you best position your heart to be humble before God?
2/ Read Isaiah 66:2. What are the characteristics of someone who gets God’s attention?
3/ In what areas of your life is God challenging you to exercise humility and grace?

 

Philippians Study #2

The Blessing of Limitation      

Matt Destry – Communications Pastor

Philippians 1:12-30

As people made in the image of God, who follow after the resurrected Jesus, we are well acquainted with the idea of hope. The idea of possibility, the knowledge of a brighter day ahead of us, and the unbridled potential of human life connected with God’s life is something that we love and celebrate. As believers, we are also heirs of something else: of limitation and weakness. We follow a Saviour who ‘emptied himself’, who ‘made himself nothing’; we have faith in the eternal Word, who ‘became flesh and lived among us’. A study of Philippians 1:12-30 brings us into close proximity with this idea. It also shows us that not all limitation is bad, but can sometimes be the very thing that God uses to advance His Kingdom.

While he was in Ephesus, Paul’s desire was to get to Rome (Acts 19:21). In the course of time, Paul did get to Rome, but not in the capacity that he expected. When he got to Rome, it was as a prisoner, not a preacher. Even so, Paul is very clear in our text that his chains have served to advance the gospel, not to hinder it – indeed, the Word of God cannot be chained! What the enemy had purposed for harm God turned for good, and the Philippian church continued to grow, develop and rejoice. So, not all limitation is negative. Here’s a few reasons why.

Firstly, limitations cause us to see things from a different perspective – to see differently. In the second week of the Philippians series, Ps. Rohan talked about the idea of a ‘reframe’ – that is, seeing the same situation from a different perspective. A reframe does not change the situation, but it changes the way we see it and think about it. Have you ever met someone who, in experiencing a life-changing event, also had a change of perspective about the way they see their life and the people around them? Limitations can sometimes serve as an external force that acts upon us to cause us to think or live differently.

Secondly, limitations in our lives cause us to problem-solve and think creatively. Many amazing artistic projects; albums, books, films and visual media, have been created with little to no budget. A lack of time or personnel. An editor’s deadline. These limitations have been the cauldron out of which some of the most inspiring and incredible work has arisen. Walt Whitman’s epic “Leaves of Grass” was originally self-published, and the initial run of 200 books were pressed at the author’s expense. Australian film “The Castle” was produced on a shoe-string. Bruce Springsteen’s critically acclaimed album ‘Nebraska’ was recorded in his home with 2 microphones and a tape recorder. Limitation can be the birthplace of incredible thinking and new paths.

Finally, limitations cause us to work co-operatively. As we discussed last week, we were not designed to live in isolation. We were designed for each other. Limitation on our lives causes us to collaborate and work together, fighting for each other. We can see the power of community in this context. We can experience the wonder (and humility) of someone completing something we began, or helping us in a way when previously we had felt all alone. Limitation can bring us together, to find answers to our common problems.

Perhaps, by embracing the lessons that our limitation would teach us, we could move forward into a new sense of freedom and liberation. Perhaps we could see differently, think creatively, and work co-operatively. Perhaps we could say with Paul: “I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance” (Philippians 1:19).

Reflection Questions

1/ What would be one major ‘limitation’ in your life right now?
2/ What would you need to do, say and pray in order for it to become a blessing to you?
3/ How might God use that limitation to encourage the people around you and advance His Kingdom?

Philippians Study #1

Joy In Community

Matt Destry – Communications Pastor

When John Donne penned the famous words, “No man is an island”, although he was speaking of humanity itself, he might have also been speaking of the church. The church is the one true community on earth that should live these words with not only mental assent but with passionate conviction. After all, the church was birthed by the very same Word of God that declared “it is not good that man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18).

When we find ourselves in Christian community we find our spiritual home – the people with which we will spend eternity. It is no surprise to us then that in this place is where we will find joy. The joy of connectedness – with both God and each other. This is what Sundays are for. In yesterday’s message, Ps. Rohan showed us from Philippians how ‘a church full of joy is a church full of Jesus’. The book of Philippians provides us with such a sublime look at church and joy and community. But, what is most sublime can also be the most corruptible.

Every week, many people stay away from community. Many people stay away from church community, due to hurts, fears, tension and unresolved conflict. It seems to be far from the place of joy that Paul speaks about in the scripture. This is also understandable, but tragic all the same. Church community is a place of safety, but also a place of challenge. The Spirit of the Lord will use community to change and transform us, and we don’t always like it! People will disappoint or hurt us, so instead of running towards community (the place of joy), we run the other way. It’s no wonder we can find ourselves so miserable.

So, when we find ourselves in a place of hardship, facing difficulty with church community it’s important to remember: 1/ the church is full of imperfect people. Flaws and all. They will encourage you, change you and spur you on if you can learn to forgive. 2/ the church is a place of joy! We contribute to that joy every time we connect. With every conversation, every smile, every prayer. 3/ the church is full of Jesus. He’s the one who brought the church into existence by the action of His Spirit. When we connect with God through community, Jesus is glorified.

As we begin this series on Philippians, continue to connect with God and each other in community, because a church full of joy is the best representation of God on the earth.

Reflection Questions:

1/ what is it about being ‘in community’ that a) most challenges you and b) most excites you?
2/ when do you most experience the joy of the Lord?
3/ how could you best share that with others?

Welcome Home – 40 Day Fast Devotion #40

The Fruit of the Fast

Matt Destry – Communications Pastor

Scripture

Acts 13:2-3

While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas an Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.

Insight

We are now coming to the close of our season of prayer and fasting. Across forty devotionals, mid-week prayer meetings, overflow nights, and personal fasting and prayer, we have given ourselves as a church to the purpose of God to see His Kingdom come. So, what fruit should be expect as a church? What should be the outcome of our fast corporately? No doubt, we all have things on our hearts and minds that we are fasting and praying about personally, but what about for all of us, together?

Saul and Barnabas are still in Antioch – and there is now an established, healthy church in that Greek city. So much so, Luke records that Antioch was graced with prophets and teachers – there was lots of gifted people in that church. As always, God desires not that gifts are possessed, but that they are given away. The church at Antioch were in a season of prayer and fasting, as we have been. During the fast, while they were worshiping the Lord Jesus, he gives some direction through the Holy Spirit as to the next steps for two of their number. Immediately the church is mobilised in the act of sending – blessing and prayers are given to Barnabas and Saul as it was revealed what their next step was.

It was fasting and prayer that brought this about. Through fasting and prayer the church was able to hear and understand the will of God for Barnabas and Saul, and the end result was mission. The end result was Kingdom advancement. We can expect salvation, sending, and Kingdom ministry to be the fruit of our fast this year. Why? Because, as we fast and pray, it aligns us with the purpose and mission of God. It enables us to fully engage with the calling God has on our lives individually and corporately. We access all that God has for us through worship and prayer. Fasting brings the power to our invitation, and we hear God speak to our hearts about what is ahead.

As this season of forty days of prayer and fasting ends, look for the fruit of your fast. Expect God to speak to you about your next steps. Expect Him to use you to encourage others. Expect that many lives will be transformed as we draw together under His purpose, to see His Kingdom come.

Welcome Home – 40 Day Fast Devotion #39

Who Gets the Glory?

Matt Destry – Communications Pastor

Scripture

Acts 12:22-24

They shouted, “This is the voice of a god, not of a man.” Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died. But the word of God continued to increase and spread.

Insight

Everything is a gift. All the good things in your life have been graciously provided for you. There is nothing you’ve done to earn the blessing in your world, and much less ‘every spiritual blessing’ that is ours in Christ. It is all a gift. We have responsibility, to be sure, we have to be diligent with what is entrusted to us, but the things we have are exactly that – an entrustment. We are stewards, not owners.

One minute, King Herod is enjoying the praise of the people, the next minute, he is brought to nothing. Why? Momentum is deceptive. We can become so enamoured with our own success, ability and prospects that we forget where it all comes from. We can forget that we live on ‘borrowed time’ – that all things have been richly and graciously provided by God.

In the passage today we see a dichotomy – we see a vast contrast between the abundance of one man and the abundance of the word. Herod is praised among the people, gives no glory to God and is struck down. The disciples who carry the Word are maligned, but in giving glory to God, the Word spreads and brings forth fruit.

When God gets the glory, things prosper and grow. When man steals the glory, he builds for himself a burden too heavy to carry. Who do you give praise to for your health, opportunities and strength? Who comes to mind when you think of your right standing before God? Who do you appeal to in view of your righteousness? The Lord Jesus is the one from whom all good things flow, and we must recognise His grace in our lives lest we become short-sighted and believe ‘our own press’ – lest we build for ourselves an a barrier too high to jump over.

God has blessed us – God has honoured us, God has loved us in Christ before we loved Him! Walk with Him today in gratitude and thanksgiving, for everything is a gift.

Welcome Home – 40 Day Fast Devotion #38

A Prayer In Time…

Matt Destry – Communication Pastor

Scripture

Acts 12:5,12

So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him… He went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying…

Insight

The Epistle of James declares that “the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective”. Prayer changes people, and prayer changes things. We don’t always see the results of our prayers straight away, but we do see the results of prayer, not least in the heart of the one praying, as well as in the situation being prayed for. Unfortunately, we do not learn about our attitude towards the effectiveness and power of prayer until it is put to the test by trial and fire!

After the church was established in Antioch (a Greek-speaking city where the term ‘Christian’ was first coined), persecution broke out again against the believers at the hands of King Herod. This is when heaven received the life of James, the brother of John; one of the ‘sons of thunder’. This serious and shocking act of violence against the disciples pleased the Jewish people living in Judea, and they bayed for the blood of Peter also. Peter was captured and placed in prison, being guarded by four squads of four soldiers each.

It is at this point that Luke, the writer of Acts, pauses to tell us in verse 5 that the church was then thrust into a flurry of prayer, on behalf of both Peter and the fate of the church at large. As the narrative continues, Peter is awoken in the middle of the night by an angel of the Lord, his chains are rendered useless as he stood in his cell, between his sleeping captors. Finding his way out of prison, he arrives at John’s mother’s house, where he found the gathered disciples labouring in earnest prayer for him! His miraculous release from prison was occurring as good people prayed for him in real-time!

“The Word of God is not chained”, declares the Apostle Paul. The prayers of the church on behalf of those who are suffering and afflicted run near to the Father’s heart – let us never doubt their power. As the church gathers to pray, lives are changed, hearts are transformed, and prison doors are opened as a sign that God’s Kingdom approaches.

Reflection Questions:

1/ Who in your life needs freedom right now? How can you pray for them?
2/ How can you pray for those that are suffering?
3/ How has this last 40 days of prayer and fasting changed your prayer life?

Welcome Home – 40 Day Fast Devotion #37

Spirit, Break Out!

Matt Destry – Communications Pastor

Scripture

Acts 10:44

While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all those who heard the message.

Insight

Do you like going to the movies? We enjoy the relief, escape, and identification with characters that we get from a well-told story or film. The part that is sometimes most memorable is when the ‘hero’ arrives on the scene – the moment when the main protagonist, who is here to save the day, bursts through the doors with a plan to beat the ‘bad guys’.

The Acts of the Apostles is that moment, that part of the story in the Bible. The part where the ‘hero’ arrives, to put wrong things right, to bring justice, and to make everything OK. So much so is the arrival of the Spirit in Acts the grand emergence of God into the human story (in the same way that Jesus was, although in an omnipresent way), that some commentators call this book ‘The Acts of the Holy Spirit’.

Undoubtedly, God is the Hero of this story, and when He arrives, everything changes. Peter is summoned to the house of Cornelius, and not by co-incidence. He receives a vision (see: yesterday’s devotion), and is told to go with the people who would arrive presently on his doorstep. Those people have responded to the voice of God via an angel to Cornelius – the whole stage has been set by an all-seeing, all-knowing and outrageously beautiful God.

As Peter speaks the word to these ‘unclean’ people, the Holy Spirit visits them in a very special and noticeable way – in a way that manifests supernatural gifts and inspires spontaneous worship. The Hero arrives, and a response of praise and love is the result. The very thing that our hearts ache for is the presence of God. Our ministry on earth is more than programs and sin-avoidance: it’s ultimately about God and his mission to seek and save the lost. It’s about His ministry to bring bring people into an experience of redemption and transformation that would ultimately usher in renewal to all creation.

Reflection Questions:

1/ How can we experience the presence of God today?
2/ What experiences of transformation and redemption have you had?
3/ Do you believe God can do this again for your friends?

Welcome Home – 40 Day Fast Devotional #36

“Keep Me Posted…”

Matt Destry – Communications Pastor

Scripture

Acts 10:15

The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”

Insight

What was the last thing you heard God say to you? Sometimes we can be so invested in what God said last year, that we do not hear what He’s saying now. Of course, nothing will EVER add to Scripture, and we’re not suggesting that God will ever speak to us contrary to His Word, but in a living, dynamic relationship with God by the Holy Spirit, we need to be attentive to His voice in our lives today.

Peter is being accommodated at the house of Simon the Tanner. The comedy in this scene is palpable. Peter, a Jew, who by the law is not meant to associate or touch dead animals, is living with a taxidermist – one who specialises in dealing with animal carcasses. He is hungry (perhaps due to the smell of meat) and goes to the roof of the house – it was common in those days for houses to have rooftop areas much like a deck or verandah. Slipping into a trance, he sees all kinds of animals falling from a sheet in heaven, with a voice saying “Kill, and eat”. Peter, a good Jew, has never touched any of these things!

What Peter experienced was an update of God’s will. In this particular case, the message was pertaining to God’s love and acceptance for the Gentile nations that surrounded Jerusalem. God was about to pour out His Spirit on the Gentiles, and He was telling Peter that no more was there to be a ‘wall of hostility’ between Jew and Gentile, that all would be one under Jesus Christ! This would be authenticated by the infilling of the Spirit, experienced at the house of Cornelius in just a few days’ time. Up until this point, the Gentiles had been ‘unclean’ – but the new era of the Spirit had come! Peter heard God, and it gave him confidence to go with the friends of Cornelius when they arrived at the house of Simon the Tanner.

We must remain attentive to the voice of God. We must also remember that no-one is outside of His reach. God can draw anyone, the gift of the Spirit is for all who would call on Him in faith, and as His disciples we should remember to listen to His voice today, as there may be keys to unlock this life of God in others.

Reflection Questions:

1/ When was the last time God spoke to you from His word?

2/ How did you respond?

3/ Ask God to speak to you with special insight and wisdom in order for you to have spiritual conversations with people in your world.