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How to avoid God – and others . . .

It was Seventy-five years ago this week (June 8, 1941) that Oxford Professor C.S. Lewis ascended the pulpit at the University Church of St Mary the Virgin in Oxford and delivered a sermon entitled “The Weight of Glory”. Now, I must admit, up until this week I had never read it from start to finish but only ever read excerpts and quotes in other literature. It is breathtakingly beautiful and shines a light, if such a thing were possible, on the heavenly world that is to come. In 1949 Lewis published a book by the same title, and in it was a prescient warning of the dangers of the world he was heading into, and in which we now live.

Lewis wrote: “We live, in fact, in a world starved for solitude, silence, and privacy, and therefore starved for meditation and true friendship.”

In his own homeland of Britain, The Guardian reported that the Office for National Statistics published statistics in 2013 which found Britain to be the loneliness capital of Europe. The article notes research from  the University of Chicago which “found loneliness to be twice as bad for older people’s health as obesity and almost as great a cause of death as poverty.” As worrying as this is, the 18 to 34-year-olds surveyed showed higher incidence of loneliness than did the over 55’s. America shows similar trends with the suicide rate growing over the last decade, and things would be little different in Australia.

NY Times columnist, Ross Douthat calls what is happening in the West a “retreat from community” and ponders that if it continues, it “is simply destined to leave more people disconnected, anxious and alone.”

Lewis saw this retreat from community on the horizon, one in which he diagnoses the root cause as a retreat from God. He ponders, “How then, it may be asked, can we reach or avoid Him? The avoiding, in many times and places, has proved so difficult that a very large part of the human race failed to achieve it. But in our own time and place, it is extremely easy. Avoid silence, avoid solitude, avoid any train of thought that leads off the beaten track. Concentrate on money, sex, status, health and (above all) on your own grievances. Keep the radio on. Live in a crowd. Use plenty of sedation. If you must read books, select them very carefully. But you’d be safer to stick to the papers. You’ll find the advertisements helpful; especially those with a sexy or a snobbish appeal.”

The irony is this: if we make time for God in our lives, we are more likely to make time for others. Faith has a private and personal dimension, but lived in the Spirit and love of Jesus, it always leads us out in love to others.  Jesus came to this world so that no would be lonely, He is a true friend to all.

In Christ,

Nicholas.

 

The God I Don’t Believe In

Unbelief is kind of the cultural vibe at the moment in the Western world. Doubt is the new black. Sociologists and demographers have coined a term for those with no religious affiliation: “the nones”. Written 45 years ago, John Lennon’s dreamy song, Imagine, has become a reality for “the nones” with its phrase “imagine no religion,” as has the classic R.E.M. anthem, Losing my Religion.  We see atheist writers and speakers taking on celebrity status and even churches for people who don’t believe in God.

And yet, globally speaking, religious faith and devotion is on the up and shows no signs of slowing down. Most people in the world believe in God or gods and the vast overwhelming majority of people in the world believe in the reality of spiritual, non-material life. So really, the question globally is not so much “do you believe in God,” but rather, “What sort of God/gods do you believe in?”

It’s within this context that we are exploring over the next little while what sort of God Jesus reveals to us.  We will ask questions of faith by starting with a negative: The God I don’t believe in. We want to thoughtfully and respectfully engage the erroneous caricatures of God that have become common in our culture. We want to ask: “what sort of God does Jesus reveal to humanity?” Maybe you do or don’t believe in God; either way, this series is for you.

Whoever you are and whatever you do or don’t believe about God, you are most welcome to come along to NightChurch at Kew Baptist, 5:30pm on Sundays. Perhaps you resonate with one of the images of God below? We would love you to hear what followers of Jesus really believe about God.

April 17 – The Arrogant God

How can Christians claim Jesus is the only way to God?

The Arrogant God – Sermon Notes

The Arrogant God – Discussion Questions

April 24 – The Intolerant God

Is faith just a repressive moral straitjacket?

The Intolerant God – Sermon Notes

The Intolerant God – Discussion Questions

May 1 – The Violent God

Doesn’t religion cause wars?

The Violent God – Sermon Notes

The Violent God – Discussion Questions

May 8 – The Uncaring God

How can God be good with so much suffering in the world?

The Uncaring God – Sermon Transcript

The Uncaring God – Questions

May 15 – The Homophobic God

Does God really hate gay people?

The Homophobic God – Summary and Discussion Guide

May 22 – The Ignorant God

Hasn’t science disproved the existence of God?

The Ignorant God – Questions

John Lennox – 7 Days of Genesis

June 19 – The Angry God

How can a loving God send people to hell?

The Angry God – Questions

June 26 – The Gender-Stereotyping God

The Gender-Stereotyping God – Questions

July 3 – Q&A Panel Night

NightChurch Summit

February 2015
Over the last two weeks at NC we encouraged people to seek God, consider where we are at, and have an opportunity to speak into the life and direction of the church. We considered the early church at worship and saw that everyone had an opportunity to serve and share as they gathered for worship. There were some conditions around things needing to be helpful, tested, and that people are encouraged and built up in faith:

1 Corinthians 14:26 What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up.
29 Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. 30 And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. 31 For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged.

Over both weeks people prayed together in groups and we simply sought to seek what God was doing among us and what he was saying to us.

The general sense is that there are no burning issues or major problems for us at NightChurch, thanks be to God! Here is a snapshot of things that were shared. We encourage you to prayerfully consider them, listen for God personally speaking to you about acting, and be open to what God may be putting on your heart to share with the church. (in brackets are a few random comments from pastor Nicholas)

• Dan F– Allow time for the Holy Spirit to move in services and encouragement for people to use spiritual gifts and share what God is putting on their heart.

• Lachlan H– Encourage youth and teens to get along and participate at NightChurch

• Sarah T– Follow up for people who have drifted off- not just pastors doing this, but pastoral care team- all of us. Also, we might need to be careful not to focus too much on the Res and consider the whole of NC.

• Josie C– Prayer requests and the need to invite them by way of green pew cards.

• Luke E– Apathy…an issue. How do we overcome apathy?

• Ash Moore– Better follow up for people who don’t live in Res/Kew or around NC anymore.

• Jadon D– high throughput of Uni students- good, but stability a challenge with high turnover. NC a great opportunity to have positive input into young professionals lives

• Mel H (Via email)- When praying for Kew Baptist tonight I saw a bird’s eye view of the church. I saw the 2 side doors and the front door flooded with people going from the church. People that were encouraged, inspired and affirmed. People who were BOLD in their faith. People that were confident and not afraid to step out into the uncomfortable to build the kingdom of God. I don’t know where they were all going, but felt like it was both people being sent far and wide but also people sent into their workplaces etc.
My vision for Kew Baptist, for this year in particular is for us to know our gifts, to be empower to test them out and to then be BOLD to use them for Gods glory.
BOLD and SPIRITAL GIFTs where two words that I felt strongly.

• James D– Understanding our heritage and what we have been given by the people at KBC who came before us. We are part of the global body of Christ…maybe we can’t meet every need and demographic, but what is God calling us uniquely to do. What’s our one job for Christ?
I saw a Raging river…people were being pulled out…(is this an evangelistic call?) what is the one thing we can do very well? Young adult and University students are a strength and live all around us.

• Dave P-Discipleship and mentoring are vitally important for young adults.
(Mentoring/discipleship for can be sideways- serving one another with spiritual gifts.)

• David A– 10am started and looked after Res, but this has changed. Who is going to look after the Res now? We could get bogged down on challenges and issues, let’s focus on opportunities.
(Our Willy Wonka moment- ok, let me explain: the KBC younger generation [Charlie] need to receive the mantle and oversight from the older generation [Willy Wonka] to keep the factory going [church] and look after the Oompa Lumpas [Res and other ministries]).

• James C– Res need to be influenced and inspired by NC. Promote Christianity as a good thing.

• Andy H (via Video) – Strength of NC is that we are a group of people genuinely wanting to learn more about the God we serve. We want to do this sharing life together without pretension. People are attracted to the genuine openness to learn more and share our lives with one another. What’s exciting about NC now is the changing demographic with people staying longer and young couples/families appearing more.

• Luke G (via leadership summit) I felt that as I was praying in the week leading up to the planning day that there were two critical hurdles that we need to address at Kew:

1. People wearing masks in church (not being real)
2. Conflict – even for people who had moved on from Kew, the conflict they had been involved in has left scars and divides in the congregation

• Nicholas T– I believe God is calling us to a new level of commitment to prayer, but also other things too. The phrases that I believe God has spoken to me personally, and also for our church are:

1. Revive Prayer (personal and as a church in groups)
2. Renew Worship (recapture a delight and love for the glory and beauty of God expressed artistically and creatively in everyday life and together as a church)
3. Rebuild Community (by way of thousands of real acts of kindness an love, rebuild our church as a place of Christlike love, care and support for one another)
4. Reach Out (take hold of the missional nature of the gospel; The Holy Spirit ALWAYS leads us into mission and acts of love to a broken and needy world)

NightChurch News, 1 June

NIGHTCHURCH NEWS, SUNDAY 01 JUNE 2014

 

THIS WEEK @ NIGHTCHURCH: We continue ourseries on 1 Thessalonians with Nicholas Tuohy preaching on ‘Being Disciples: Love, Sex, etc’. Jadon Dutra is leading the service, Tom Tuena and Romona Boswell are leading the music team, Mike Follent will lead in prayer, Sarah Trebilcock and Luke will be praying up the back, Sarah Vosti will be providing supper, and Katie Cantwell is convening. Everyone is invited for dinner at the house next door after the service. Thanks everyone.

 

You can download the study guide for our Thessalonians series here: http://kewbaptist.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/1-Thessalonians.pdf

 

MAY MISSION PROJECT: As part of May Mission Month, we’re aiming to raise $5000 as a church to support a recycling project in South East Asia (further details here: http://www.globalinteraction.org.au/Support/Project/Projects/Recycling-Project.aspx). You can give via direct transfer to the church account (Kew Baptist Church, 083-166, 515441921) with reference ‘May Project’, or in a marked envelope in the Sunday offering. Please give generously!

 

PRAYER & WORSHIP NIGHT: This is happening tonight, Wednesday 28 May, 7.30pm in the church hall. It is a time to intentionally set aside time to seek God, open our lives, to His Spirit, and pray for our world and each other.

 

FAN CLUB: Matt Hill is heading up the Food After Nightchurch Club, and is looking for volunteers to organise a place to go for dinner after church on 8th, 22nd, and 29th June. Please get in contact with him if you can organise dinner somewhere on one or more of these weeks.

 

RES FAMILY NETBALL: This weekend is the Res Family Weekend, and as a part of that, on Sunday 1 June there will be a netball tournament! Players are needed for three teams; res, ex-res, and Nightchurch. The tournament is free, and will be held 11am-3pm at Sacred Heart Primary School (116 Cotham Rd).

 

GUILTY PLEASURE EVENT: “Grey Matters: How a porn saturated culture is affecting our brains”. Wednesday 11 June, 7-9pm at CrossCulture (333 Swanston St, Melbourne). Keynote speaker: Dr William Struthers. Cost: $5 per person. Men and women welcome. Register online: http://guiltypleasure.tv/event/grey-matters-porn-saturated-culture-affecting-brains/

 

LOVE ABBOTSFORD: Kew Baptist Church will once again be loving Abbotsford on Saturday 14 June, 12-5pm at the Housing Estates at 229 Hoddle Street. There will be sport, music, face painting, a BBQ, and it will be a chance to continue to build relationships with the people there.

 

KBC CHURCH FAMILY CAMP: We will be heading off to Camp Wilkin in Anglesea for our church family camp on the weekend of July 11-13. There will be no official program, just a chance to have some rest and relaxation and to get to know each other. More info and registration can be found here on our website: http://kewbaptist.org.au/kbc-church-family-camp/

 

PRAYER: There is prayer at the back of the church at 5pm every Sunday. We’d love you to join with us in this important ministry!

 

That’s all for this edition of NightChurch News – Steve Pattison.

NightChurch News 3 February

THIS SUNDAY: Dan Follent is leading the service as Paul Pallot brings us the final message in our series on the book of James. Jono Newmarch is organising the music team, Zach Moore and Phil Prior are on audio/data, and Lauren Morgan and Steph Ward are providing supper. Thanks everyone.

KEWMUNITY OF WOMEN: The girls’ gatherings will be held fortnightly this year, and every meeting will be run by a leader who can organise whatever they want to do. It could be that you’re passionate about volunteering and you want a group to volunteer at a soup kitchen, or you might want to run a Bible study, or even do a Zumba class! This will be a great time for people to share their gifts and learn about leadership skills. Laura Baker will be organising a roster, so please contact her if you’re interested in helping out.

FIVE IN FIVE: Five in Five encourages single people to pledge to go on five dates in five weeks, raising funds for charities that work to break the cycle of social disadvantage. A number of people from NightChurch are participating – you can help by sponsoring them, or if you are interested in signing up as well, you can register at the website: http://fiveinfive.org.au.

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED: Karana is an aged care community in Kew and every Sunday morning they have a chapel service at 10.30am. We are looking for volunteers to help take residents from their rooms to the chapel on Sunday mornings. It’s a lot of fun and a great way to serve our wider community. If you are interested in helping out (either regularly or occasionally), please contact Laura Baker.

RES WORKING BEE: Saturday9 Februaryat the Res, starting with breakfast at 8.30am. A great opportunity to serve the Res community and also get to know the new managers Stephen & Anouchka Chatelier. For catering purposes, please contact the Chateliers if you will be at the breakfast.

PRAYER: Andrew Crawford, Roman Falls and Jacquie Johnson are heading to India on 2nd Feb. Roman and Jacquie will be there for almost 3 weeks and Andrew, for about 8 weeks. They will be volunteering in different ways at Mukti for the majority of the time, after doing some travel of India (if anyone is interested in checking out what Mukti do, the website is www.mukti.org.au). They will be travelling with a small group of young adults from Victoria. Please be in prayer for them.

LANSDOWN FAMILY: As a church community, we continue to pray for Dan Lansdown and his family at this difficult time. If you would like to offer financial support to the Lansdown family, you can transfer your gift into the church account – simply put ‘Lansdown gift’ in the transaction description.

WEBSITE OF THE WEEK: Australian evangelist John Smith has a home page at www.bluespreacher.org. On his home page he has some articles, videos and podcasts where he talks about his views on issues that face people living in Australia and other countries as well.

ITEMS FOR NIGHTCHURCH NEWS: Steve Pattison.