Church planting in Oz

this is a little snapshot into an organisation I have the privilege of calling my work.

Also features a long time hero of mine, my brother, Toby Neal🙂

Click here to discover more about  Geneva Push 

Why we need gospel friendships – Part 3

How do you actually pursue deep and rich friendships? Look the potential for Christ to work in each others lives. 

  • What are the possible areas of growth for individuals as Christians?
  • What are some of the different stages of the Christian life?
  • How can we turn problems into opportunities for Christian growth?
  •  Ask each other what their own plans for Christian growth are. Encourage them in that.

Here are some great questions to use to ask yourself at the beginning of the year. Potentially you could use these questions to ask a good friend and share your responses together.

 10 questions to ask at the start of the year

  1. What’s the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?
  2. What’s one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?
  3. What’s the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your family life this year?
  4. In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year, and what will you do about it?
  5. What is the single biggest time-waster in your life, and what will you do about it this year?
  6. What is the most helpful new way you could strengthen your church?
  7. For whose salvation will you pray most fervently this year?
  8. What’s the most important way you will, by God’s grace, try to make this year different from last year?
  9. What one thing could you do to improve your prayer life this year?
  10. What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in ten years?  In eternity?

HT:  Vine Church, Sydney

 ——————————

Cities have grown.

We no longer live and work in the same location, we meet a lot of people in life, and our relationships with these people tend to be stretched thin rather than relationally deep.

Recently, my church asked me to run a course that’d help promote deep friendships with one another that are centred on the good news of Jesus. This six part series  is based on material presented at that course.

Click to read:  Part 1  |  Part 2  |  Part 3  |  Part 4  |  Part 5  |  Part 6

Why we need gospel friendships – Part 3

Cities have grown.

We no longer live and work in the same location, we meet a lot of people in life, and our relationships with these people tend to be stretched thin rather than relationally deep.

Recently, my church asked me to run a course that’d help promote deep friendships with one another that are centred on the good news of Jesus. This six part series  is based on material presented at that course.

Click to read: Part 1 | Part 2

___________________

Whose hand to strengthen in the Lord?

Firstly, look at the person next to you in the pews on Sunday. Or look in front or behind you.
Ask yourself  who has God placed around you in your church / faith community that you can encourage?

You shouldn’t have to really look too far. Remember, Everybody needs deep and rich friendships.There is nobody is to far gone and nobody to high and almighty. Look for the potential in everybody. Believe in God’s power to transform lives.

I reckon some of the best friendships to invest in the lives of people already around you. i.e. those in your community / bible study group.

 

  1. PRAY
    Ask God to show you who you should invest in.
    Pray that he would give your the eyes to see and open pathways to meet people who need encouraging.
  1. INVITE
    Invite ‘that person’ to meet up with you intentionally to read the bible.
    In person, via email or text:

    “Hey, I’ve been thinking, would you be keen to catch up regularly to read the bible together? I reckon it’d be a great way to hang out but also learn from each other and grow? Let me know if you are keen and we can work out a regular spot in our calendars”

  2. CATCH UP
    Be confident. Know that God can use you to spur another on.

    Your hope when meeting up with this person is to discern next steps for encouraging them in the gospel and to enjoy deeper and richer friendship with them – One step closer to Christ.

 

Who might you meet up with?

  • Friends outside the  Church Community who are inquisitive about Christianity.
  • New to Faith / Vine Church
  • Returning to Faith
  • Young Christians –share the riches you already know and be refreshed.
  • Potential Leaders who need nurturing and training
  • People in your Community Groups who want to go deeper into study – perhaps you’ve noticed a topic/sermon/passage they’re struggling with
  • Your Pastor – everybody needs deep and rich friends.
  • People in Crisis
  • Christians who are struggling in their faith
  • Christians who can’t make it to Church or CG each week due to work or sickness etc.

 

Keep an eye for the next post to discover What to do when you meet up!?

Why we need gospel friendships – Part 2

Cities have grown.

We no longer live and work in the same location, we meet a lot of people in life, and our relationships with these people tend to be stretched thin rather than relationally deep.

Recently, my church asked me to run a course that’d help promote deep friendships with one another that are centred on the good news of Jesus. This six part series  is based on material presented at that course.

Click to read: Part 1

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4 lessons about deep and rich friendship

15 David saw that Saul had come out to seek his life. David was in the wilderness of Ziph at Horesh. 16 And Jonathan, Saul’s son, rose and went to David at Horesh, and strengthened his hand in God. 17 And he said to him, “Do not fear, for the hand of Saul my father shall not find you. You shall be king over Israel, and I shall be next to you. Saul my father also knows this.” 18 And the two of them made a covenant before the Lord. David remained at Horesh, and Jonathan went home.  – 1 Samuel 23:15-18 (ESV)

1.    Everybody needs deep and rich friendships
Not even a future king with the Lord’s anointing is free from the need of a good friend. Nobody is above the need for friends. God created us for community.

  • Who has God placed around you to befriend and encourage? Look for the potential in everybody.
  • Ask God to show you who you should invest in. 

As Bill Hybles puts it in Just Walk Across the room:

“My ultimate goal is to see how many people I can have on each elbow when I cross the finish line of this earthly life and run into God’s presence for all eternity”

2.    Friendship requires thought and effort
Jonathan got up and travelled to strengthen David’s hand in the Lord.

  • Be Intentional: When will I meet with them?
  • Be Vulnerable: What areas of my life can I show them I need Jesus?
  • Be an Example: How am I going at imitating Christ so they can imitate me?
  • Be Honest: How can I show that I honour Christ with my money, in my relationships, in the decisions I make?
  • Be Fun: How can I include them into my social life / leisure time?
  • Be Real: How can I genuine love them? What questions can I be asking them?
  • Be Christian: How can we serve together? How can we point each other to Jesus?

 3.   With Divine Strength
Jonathan strengthened David’s hand IN GOD. Avoid believing the lie, that Gospel growth depends on our abilities. Our proficiency in the bible is not the key factor in our spiritual growth. . The Holy Spirit uses people like us to spur others on and He powerfully illuminates scriptures to us and is the power behind our transformation. Therefore:

  • PRAY TOGETHER – Demonstrate dependence on God
  • POINT EACH OTHER TO JESUS – We need Jesus, not you!

 4.    Singing the song back to each other
Regularly ask yourself, How can I remind my friend of the promises of God? We are forgetful people, and too often we forget the truths that God is good, glorious, gracious and great. Invite your friend to preach the gospel into your life when you are tempted to forget it.

“A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.” – Unknown

Based heavily on this John Piper sermon

Why we need gospel friendships – Part 1

Cities have grown.

We no longer live and work in the same location, we meet a lot of people in life, and our relationships with these people tend to be stretched thin rather than relationally deep.

Recently, my church asked me to run a course that’d help promote deep friendships with one another that are centred on the good news of Jesus. This four part series  is based on material presented at that course.

———

3 reasons why gospel friendship are important.

1. Together we’re pilgrims on a journey.

The people of God as narrated throughout the bible, are on a journey of transformation always looking ahead to the founder and perfector of their faith (Heb 12:2).

“…the Lord is daily at work in smoothing out wrinkles and cleansing spots. From this it follows that the church’s holiness is not yet complete. The church [the people of God] is holy, then, in the sense that it is daily advancing and is not yet perfect: it makes progress from day to day but has not yet reached its goal of holiness.”  – Jean Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion.

 2. It’s a community project, not just a personal pursuit.

We don’t merely choose to join a church because it’s a fun thing to do or because it’s a great place to make friends. God created us and saved us to be in community, to journey with each other.

 See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end.” – Hebrews 3:12-14

3. Ultimately we are longing for deeper friendship with God

 “God is the highest good of the reasonable creature. The enjoyment of him is our proper; and is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied. To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here. Better than fathers and mothers, husbands, wives, or children, or the company of any, or all earthly friends. These are but shadows; but the enjoyment of God is the substance. These are but scattered beams; but God is the sun. These are but streams; but God is the fountain. These are but drops, but God is the ocean.” Jonathan Edwards, The Works of Jonathan Edwards.

See also: Rom 8:29; 2 Cor 3:18; Gal 5:22-23

Empowering Women in Missional Movements

Recently from Q IdeasJo Saxton share 3 ideas to get us started in thinking about how to empower women in a missional movement. (these aren’t really exclusive to women)

1. Restored Identity
Acknowledge the reality that humanity is made in the image of God, and that we are made to know Him and serve Him. A woman’s value and vision should come from this.

2. Recovered Heritage
Encourage women to remember the saints of old that have gone before them. Women you aren’t alone, remember Deborah, Priscilla, Tabitha, Elizabeth Elliot, Helen Roseveare, Gladys Aylward, Fanny Crosby etc.

3. Discipleship Jesus style 
Empower them to take all they’ve learned to their family, their workplace and their church. Encourage women not to get fat on the teaching they have received, allow opportunities for them to use the gifts they have been given.

Here are my additional 3 ideas to add to the mix:

1. Remember Life is Short:

Heed missionary martyr Jim Elliot’s advice to his sister:

“Fix your eyes on the rising morning Star. Don’t be disappointed at anything or over-elated either. Live every day as if the Son of Man were at the door and gear your thinking to the fleeting moment. Just how can it be redeemed? Walk as if the next step would carry you across the threshold of heaven. Pray. That saint who advances on his knees never retreats.” My own brother ‘gave’ me this quote as advice to me his sister in a birthday card several years ago. It has been stuck up next to my bed since and served as a constant reminder of how to live life in light of the urgency of the gospel.

2. Recognise the Grass IS Green:
Don’t  measure your potential, value, worth or effectiveness by the roles you aren’t or can’t serve in. Guard yourself from the ‘grass is greener on the other side’ mentality by lifting your eyes to see the countless roles you can serve in and the extensive possibilities you can dream for.

3. Utilise Encouragement:
Words are powerful, you can be a huge influence in the lives of many by encouraging them to do all of the 3 point from Jo and the 2 points above from me: help others to dream big, believe in them and their dreams for the kingdom. Sharpen and inspire one another to: “Expect great things from God and to Attempt great things for God” – William Carey.

Read the rest of Jo Saxton’s article here

And I quote…

“If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.”  — C.H. Spurgeon

 

And I quote…

“I beseech you never to cease to pray that here God’s Word may be a quickening, a convincing, a converting word.  The fact is, brethren, we must have conversion work here.  We cannot go on as some Churches do without converts.  We cannot, we will not, we must not, we dare not.  Souls must be converted here, and if there be not many born to Christ, may the Lord grant to me that I may sleep in the tomb of my fathers and be heard of no more.  Better indeed for us to die than to live, if sould be not saved” -Charles H. Spurgeon

And I quote…

It is not our comment on the Word that saves, but the Word itself. 
– Robert McCheyne

And I quote…

The way the Spirit of God takes, is like that we take in preparing the ground: do you think any farmer would have a crop of corn next year unless they plow now; and you may as well expect a crop of corn on unplowed ground, as a crop of grace, until the soul is convinced of its being undone without a Savior. That is the reason we have so many mushroom converts, so many persons that are always happy! happy! happy! and never were miserable; why? Because their stony ground is not plowed up; they have not got a conviction of the law; they are stony ground hearers; they hear the word with joy, and in a time of temptation, which will soon come after a seeming or real conversion, they fall away. 
– George Whitefiel