Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Life/Small Group course: Towards Belief

Towards Belief is a great ten week apologetic resource that developed as a result of research undertaken by McCrindle Research.  This research looked into the religious and spiritual beliefs of modern Australians, and specifically what issues turned them off Christian faith and the Church. The research also clarified the belief blockers – the reasons many people have lost confidence in the Church and its message.

As a result of this research 10 episodes were formulated.
The episodes include:
Episode 1: Suffering 
This episode presents both an intellectual and personal response to the issues posed by the existence of suffering.
Episode 2: The Bible 
This episode looks at whether what the Bible contains is historically accurate and can be trusted.
Episode 3: Supernatural 
This episode explores belief in the supernatural and looks at a specific case where it seems that supernatural intervention is undeniable.
Episode 4: Religious Violence 
This episode explores whether Christianity, as a religious worldview, causes wars, atrocities and genocides. How does the Church respond to this charge?
Episode 5: Exclusive Faith 
Christianity’s claim that Jesus is the only way to God is viewed as arrogant, intolerant and a significant blocker to personal belief. In this episode, guests give plausible reasons for the Christian worldview.
Episode 6: Church Abuse 
Abuse scandals, particularly in relation to children, have rocked the Church, leaving it open to the charge of hypocrisy.
Episode 7: Science & God 
Eminent and experienced scientists explain how and why they can have scientific credentials from the world's leading universities, as well as having a Christian faith.
Episode 8: Homosexuality 
In this episode we look at the Biblical view on homosexuality and what is the Christian response in the current social environment.
Episode 9: The Church 
There is a public perception that the Christian Church is dying. We talk with leaders who are seeing the Church grow and they give their perspective on the future of the Church.
Episode 10: Towards Belief 
In the end, there is still a step of faith to be taken. This episode looks back over the personal stories of some of the guests and seeks to clarify that choice.

Some of those being interviewed:
Prof John Lennox, Prof Richard Swinburne,  Amy Orr-Ewing, Rev Nicky Gumbel,  Ps Erwin McManus, Os Guinness,  Dr John Dickson,  Prof Stanley Hauerwas, Michelle Tepper,  Dr Greg Clarke, Dr Dale Kuehne, Michael Ramsden, Joel A'Bell, plus more...

visit http://www.towardsbelief.org.au/ for more information!!

Reflection: Real love is like a soaker hose

The Christian life revolves around having two loves.
One is God. And the other is other people…people in our congregation and people in our wider community.
But loving as God commands is not always easy….some people can be very difficult to love Is there someone you find difficult to love?
Do you struggle with loving some people?
Maybe they have hurt you.
Perhaps they are so different from you that there is nothing in common.
Our struggle to love someone shows that we are human. And it shows that we are serious about love.
Anyone can have a theoretical romantic approach to love. From a distance we can say we care about someone. We can even pray for them. But shouldn't our prayers be the starting point that are pointing us towards some action?
 For instance in Matthew 9:37-38 Jesus says to the disciples ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into the harvest field. Then in the very next verse in chapter 10 guess what He says to the disciples. “You go.”
And that is being active in love.
And such love is hard.
Loving a homeless person, loving someone who has hurt you, loving someone who is different from you or loving a problem person are some of the people God wants us to love. And loving them can be difficult.
Consider verses 12 and 13 of John 15. Jesus says “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”

God is calling us to be involved in a love that gives.
Many people find giving and laying down their life even for their friends difficult much less those people we have problems with.

 As people affected and infected by this world, most of our lives are orientated around what makes us comfortable, what we want, what we can get, what we have.
Giving like Jesus is not a natural thing for us. At times we will struggle in loving others as God has loved us.  There is only one remedy for this.
We need to constantly be connected to the source of love. When it comes to love we are a lot like a soaker hose. A soaker hose is nothing more than a dry bit of rubber. It has no hope of giving life. For it to be effective it needs to be connected to a source of water.
But when it is connected to water, water flows not only into it but also through it and out of it. It not only receives water it also passes water onto whatever is around it. Likewise for us to love like Jesus we need to be connected to God.
And when we do this God and His love not only flows in us, it also flows through us and onto those around us. And so our times of worship together, our times in small groups, our times in personal and family devotions are times where God is not only showing His love to us, but also preparing us to love others as He has loved us.
Now back to your situation and the people you are struggling to love.
It may take time to love as God has loved you. However keep on persevering. Keep listening to God. Some of these people may take time. We are called to live a life of love….loving God and loving others. They are not to be separated.
Remember the Greatest Commandments....Life is about loving God and loving others...and why? because Jesus first loved us.....
 by Pastor Richard Schwedes (Portland-Heywood Lutheran Church)