the resurrection changes everything!


When Jesus walked the earth He made some pretty outlandish claims and statements. He upset the religious and political leaders of the day – confusing them with His parables and stories, inciting them by confronting their fastidious laws and self-righteousness; defying them by prioritising the love and care of others over strict observance of the Sabbath. He said He was the Way, Truth & Life, the Bread of Life; the Living Water. He ate with sinners, healed untouchables; offered forgiveness to law breakers. 

This Resurrection Sunday we celebrate the time when all these statements and actions find their fulfilment. Just two days before, He had been brutally tortured and murdered and laid to rest in a sealed tomb. All of His teachings and declarations had a great big question mark over them. Could He really be “the Life” if He was dead? 

What dark days they must have been. 

And then He rose from the dead!!! Putting a massive exclamation mark on everything. He said He was the resurrection …and then He resurrected! 

The resurrection changes everything. The truth it reveals beckons us to respond by receiving its power and surrendering our lives to all Jesus would seek to do for us, in us and through us. 

serve one another – an example to follow


“I have given you an example to follow” – these are the words of Jesus to His disciples, to us, and the very core of discipleship. Jesus is our example of how to live and love, how to follow after God’s heart and pursue His mission, ministry and purpose.

Except these words were said by Jesus after He washed the stinky, gross feet of His disciples. Removing His Rabbi robes, wrapping a towel around His waist – the uniform of a servant, and kneeling on the ground to pick up one disciple’s calloused, dirty, smelly feet after the other – washing and drying them. (The story is recorded in John 13.)

I have given you an example to follow.

Sure, Jesus says His disciples should also wash the feet of others as He has done, but His call to follow an example is greater than that.

Think like Jesus

The text tells us that Jesus is filled with a sense of who He is and Whose He is and SO He gets up from the table and goes to wash the disciples’ feet.

That’s a completely different way of thinking. It’s a way of thinking about power, about position,  authority, about influence, about knowledge, about privilege, about entitlement, that is completely different to our own natural thinking on these things. Position and power for us can mean you think you are to be respected, treated differently; honoured. Our ‘celebrity’ culture is such that a person’s status or fame or notoriety becomes something of a free pass – you get the better seats, the table in a ‘booked out’ restaurant – all the bowing, scraping and pandering to your every need and whim.

Jesus THINKS differently. He sets us a different example.

5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross! Philippians 2:5-8

Jesus HAS the power, authority and influence. He just didn’t consider it something to leverage for Himself – for His own gain. Instead He set it aside, He gave it up … He took off the robes and He put on the servant’s towel. He humbled Himself enough to become human … but then He went even further and died a criminal’s death – the lowest of the low.

Jesus THINKS differently.

Love like Jesus

Verse one set up this whole foot washing scene through the lens of Christ’s incredible love for His disciples … for us. He had come to the world because of love. He had walked with them in the years of His ministry in love. This was the night before He was going to be crucified for the sins of the world because of love. And here in this room as He washed the feet of each one of them … it was again, an act of love.

And, of course, we see as He did go to the cross – this incredible demonstration of His love for us.

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13

Jesus lay down His life for us out of love. This example that Jesus portrayed for us in the washing of the disciples’ feet was MAGNIFIED in the work He did on the cross. Stooping down. Bending low. Getting in amongst the dirt and stink and messiness. Using His power and authority to serve and elevate.

And our call is to let His love in us compel US to great love. To be so stirred by the needs of people around us and so captivated by the picture of others that GOD has – people of infinite worth and preciousness to their Heavenly Father – that we would respond by setting ourselves aside. Stooping low. Humbling ourselves. Putting others before us. Letting go of pride and self. Lifting our attention from us and our own needs and our own hurts and our own desires. Leveraging whatever power or influence or authority we might have for those who have none. Laying down our lives.

Jesus’ example is love.

He calls us to THINK like Him, to LOVE like Him and to RESPOND like Him.

Respond like Jesus

These two serving examples are pretty useless in terms of an actual activity to repeat.

Most of us can wash our own feet! We probably (hopefully) did it in the shower today or will tonight. If I showed up at your place and you proceeded to try and wash my feet I would probably be offended that you thought they stunk or that you were worried about me making your floors dirty or something – it certainly wouldn’t feel like an act of service. In fact, those who don’t like people touching their feet would probably leave rather than subject yourselves to a foot washing. It’s not a helpful illustration in that sense.

And neither is dying on the cross. There are very few opportunities we have to actually give our physical life for another’s. And certainly not in a way that would buy any sort of eternal security or salvation.

So when we look at this idea of ‘Responding like Jesus’ we have to look at the principles rather than the practice.

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

We have to see that we are called to RESPOND … in humility, grace, forgiveness, generosity, compassion and mercy. We have to consider meeting needs of a practical nature – it might not be dirty feet but it might be a long lawn or overwhelming financial issues or a broken down car or a ministry opportunity. We have to consider meeting needs of a spiritual nature – to be prayed with and for, to be led to Jesus, to be helped to understand the saving message of Christ, to be grown in faith and obedience. And we have to consider meeting needs of an emotional nature – the need for companionship or a hug or advice or support through a difficult time.

We won’t be asked to give or do as much as Jesus – but we do need to be prepared for the fact that it will cost us something. Laying down ourselves by virtue does cost.

It will inevitably cost us time. It’s a blessed thing when you can serve someone else without impacting your own schedule – but it’s unlikely! It might be costly to your family, to your finances, to your study schedule, to your sleep – that’s what ‘laying down your life’ might mean. Completely setting yourself aside for the purposes of considering someone else. It’s big.

Serving costs us because loving costs us – it costs us something of ourselves.

Jesus says “I have given you an example to follow” … to serve one another in love.

Think like Jesus. Love like Jesus. Respond like Jesus.

stop saying “they” when you talk about the church

I LOVE the Church! 

Jesus committed to building it and He intends to come back for it and until then it’s the hope of the world! It’s the means by which Christians are built up in faith, pointed to Jesus and mobilised for His mission. It’s a community that can reveal and represent the love of Father God to those yet to encounter Him. It’s a mechanism to mobilise those who’ve experienced the greatest of love, mercy and grace to extend it to the least and the last to bring transformation to the world. I love the Church – even in all her brokenness and dysfunction. 

I am grieved anytime the Church falls short of all it can be and do. I hate when the Church does a bad job of showing Jesus to others and advancing His gospel. I am disappointed when people are let down by the Church. I am eternally frustrated by those within who have such negative and critical things to say about her. 

But then I remember why. 

Because the Church is me. It’s you. It’s not an entity or organisation beyond the people who are in it. You are the Church. You are the “they”. 

Of course, each church will have its leadership and many will have paid staff of varying sizes and makeup, but these roles aren’t the Church. They exist to help you and I to be the Church. 

God calls us to connect to a faith community and invest ourselves in it. He gifts us to serve one another so we might experience and express the fullness of that and so together we might be a force for His Kingdom in our local area and beyond. To see the broken restored, the wounded healed, and the bound set free in Jesus’ name. 

So if “they” are not doing something right, enough or at all. If “they” don’t have suitable programs for specific demographics, sufficient leadership or quality of volunteers. If “they” haven’t got the budget for further facilities or to staff opportunities. If “they” aren’t active enough in the community. If “they” aren’t welcoming of new people. If “they” aren’t providing mentors or developing leaders. If “they” aren’t employing new technologies or advocating for justice or … or mowing the lawns frequently enough! 

Let’s remember who “they” are. 

God gives vision and authority to leadership to guide us. But He gives each of US to our churches to partner with Him in His ministry and mission. When you speak of ‘the Church’, you’re talking about me, you’re talking about you! 

AS FAR AS IT DEPENDS ON YOU – #5 Grow in Humility

Without a doubt the greatest enemy of good, healthy, thriving relationships is … you!! It’s me! Ourselves. Our self-focus and our pride will, time and again, derail our ability to do relationships well.

We easily identify that in other people – in fact, you’ve probably even said it before in a heated exchange or about someone “all you do is think about yourself” or “why can’t you ever just admit that you’re wrong”!?

Pride is an expression of our selfishness because it is birthed out of our desire to either improve the way we feel about ourselves or protect the way we feel about ourselves. Continue reading

At least we came!

Most Sundays at church I get to stand on the platform at some point and look out at all the brave souls who have made it to church that morning. I say ‘brave’ because I think sometimes (most times?) the well-dressed, sweet-smelling, generally-got-it-together people looking back at me are not really indicative of the true story of what it took to get them there!

For some reason, getting up on a Sunday morning – even an hour later than you probably do for work – can be the hardest task of your week. Kids that neversleep in decided to do it TODAY (or they wake at an hour that is un-godly … even on God’s day!!)! The ‘leisurely’ breakfast went feral when one of the children decided to be ‘helpful’ with a whole box of cereal. The weekly ‘you’re-not-wearing-a-basketball-uniform-to-church’ and the ‘no-you-can’t-wear-your-flowergirl-dress’ (or a combination of both) battles have been waged … with tears … from everyone! Husband/wife decided to drive “that” way instead of “your” way and then parked in the“wrong” place and did that “thing” they always do …etc etc … Continue reading

Making Links

One Easter my brother was having a chat with his young son around Communion. They talked about the bread and the juice and he was most pleased to hear my nephew able to recount that they represented Jesus’ body and His blood.

“And what are they to remind us of?” he asked.

“That Jesus died.”

“That’s right! (*insert proud parent moment … potentially Christian-Father-of-the-Year worthy*) … And why did He die?”

Pause … serious thinking face …

“Because He ate too many Easter eggs?”

Hmmmm … so close!! 🙂

Easter presents a similar dilemma to Christmas – where the commercial version of the celebration has moved so far from the original event that making the links, particularly for young minds, can be a challenge. “Jesus died on the cross to forgive us from our sins … and … so we can have Humpty Dumpty themed chocolates and a camping trip with our cousins.” You can see how that might be problematic.

The events of the ‘Easter’ weekend are what Christianity is all about! The fact that the God of the universe became flesh in the form of Jesus Christ, lived on earth, died a torturous death on the cross (for OUR sin) and then rose to life again is THE story!! Everything we know of God, everything we experience of relationship with Him and the security of our future in Him was made possible by the true “Easter story”.

As with Christmas, the commercialisation of the event comes with some great perks. There’s lots of chocolate! There are hot cross buns! There’s a long weekend! But the obvious caution is that we can lose something significant if we don’t counter that message with the message of Jesus.

There are lots of ways to get intentional about communicating the REAL Easter message to our young people. I’m sure many of you have some super creative ways to do that or some simple but tried and tested methods and traditions. It matters less HOW you do that and more that you just do! Prioritise church (Friday AND/or Sunday) and take the opportunity to invite friends and family along, read the Biblical account of the Easter weekend (there are lots of kid/family-friendly versions available), take time to reflect on the significance of Jesus’ death and to celebrate His resurrection.

“12 thoughts of Christmas” #8: Fostering Gratitude

My Kids Hope friend was away from the school the day of our last session for the year and so I had to leave her Christmas present with her teacher. It was a bit sad not to be able to enjoy that moment of giving and unwrapping but I left her a little note telling her I was excited to see her again next year.

On Sunday, one of the teachers from her school who attends our church gave me a card from her. A delightful hand made one that thanked me for her “preze” (pressie) and said that she too was looking forward to spending time with me again in 2013. It was a beautiful, heartwarming thought.

It probably goes without saying (but let’s say it anyway) that gratitude is a great virtue to foster. It’s good for the person who IS grateful and it is so encouraging for the people that we’re grateful FOR!

Christmas is a time that we are given MUCH! Firstly, the gift of Jesus – the whole point of Christmas! In the Bible, Paul says we thank God for that “indescribable gift”! But then we are given a whole lot more. We receive gifts, we receive the hospitality of friends and family, we receive the love and relational connection of people near and dear to us … we get lots!!

Of course, we in polite society would always say ‘thank you’, but to foster a spirit of gratitude and to express gratitude takes a little more intentionality and effort.

But let’s do it!!

  • Encourage your children to write thank you notes to people who’ve given them gifts. It will help solidify in their minds who gave them what as well as being a delightful surprise for the people who receive them.
  • Take a thank you card or gift with you to the family who hosts your various celebrations. You know what it means to have people over for Christmas (that’s why you voted to go to theirhouse) so a little bit of thankfulness could go a long way.
  • Take time to pray together and thank God for His indescribable gift to us at Christmas time.

“12 thoughts of Christmas” #7: Party Time!

Yesterday was my sister-in-law’s birthday so family and friends had gathered at her house to celebrate with her. A friend made a stack of macarons and stuck some candles in a few of them. We sang, we hip hip’ed and then she blew out the candles. Then her 1 year old daughter wanted a turn, so they were re-lit and she blew them out. Then her 3 year old wanted in on the action, so they were re-lit and she blew them out. Of course, the cousins had to have a turn … as did all the other children that were gathered. By the end of lighting, blowing out and re-lighting there was hardly anything left of the candles and we were finally able to get into the macarons!!

You’ve all no doubt been there before. You’ve scraped the wax (& a little bit of spit) off a cake after some enthusiastic blows! You’ve had the party hats and balloons, wacked the piñata, played pass the parcel, eaten a few footy franks and the odd slice of fairy bread. We do birthday parties! From the quiet family gathering to the themed extravaganza; the BIG numbers that need extra acknowledgement to the years that slip by relatively unheralded (or mentioned out loud); the McDonald’s hosted to the ‘hostess-with-the-mostess’ home party … all sorts, sizes and locations. Birthdays get celebrated well in most households and families.

So, given that Christmas is essentially Jesus’ birthday party, what part does that play in your Christmas gatherings and traditions? Does He get a mention Christmas day or does He get lost under the tinsel and mountains of discarded gift wrap? How do you acknowledge Him on the actual day?

I’ve heard of families that have a birthday cake for Jesus as part of their Christmas lunch. Others read the Christmas story together before they open their gifts. One family reveals baby Jesus and adds Him to the nativity scene. Some will honour Him in their prayers of thanks when the family gathers around the meal. I recently heard a child excitedly noting that Jesus’ birthday is one of the only birthdays you ever get to celebrate where you GET presents as well as GIVE them – that’s how generous and kind Jesus is!

What about you? What do you do? How do you include Jesus in His special day? Share some ideas below.

“12 thoughts of Christmas” #5: Looking Outward

The central message of Christmas is one of sacrificial giving. The God of the Universe gave His only Son, Jesus – born in a manger, killed on a cross, raised to life – so that we might experience the ultimate gift of Salvation. While all sorts of other things will compete to crowd out that truth … the reality of this incredible gift needs to draw us to a different heart posture and a different response.

The Christmas season provides us all manner of opportunities for self-indulgence or to facilitate the self-indulgence of others, it takes a fair degree of intentionality and a whole lot of clear communication to write a different story for ourselves and our families.

Here are some ideas for ways to foster an outward focus during the Christmas season.

  • Give gifts that support other causes. Many organisations have developed creative ways to give to need locally and around the world through unique gifts such as a goat, a toilet, a well or a mosquito net given on behalf of friends and family. You can talk about them at home in the planning stage and then you have further opportunity to speak to it when the gift is exchanged.
  • Serve together as a family. Shop together to buy food or gifts for families in need. Deliver hampers or food through your church or a welfare organisation. Donate time to wrap gifts in a shopping centre. Serve at a community meal.
  • Open your home. Invite someone in who doesn’t have family to spend Christmas with. Include a family for a meal that might otherwise struggle to afford a more ‘special’ celebration. Do an ‘open invitation’ for a Christmas Eve or Christmas night drop in time so people have a safe and hospitable opportunity to connect with others over the celebration period.
  • Perform random (anonymous) acts of kindness. Pay for the person behind you in the drive through at McDonald’s. Offer to return someone’s trolley to the bay. Leave $20 toward a person’s petrol while you’re inside paying for your own. Leave a cake or some Christmas goodies on the doorstep of a neighbour. Handwrite Christmas messages and post them or leave them under someone’s windscreen wipers.
  • Include the WHOLE family in your planning and giving. As a family, discuss the ways you can be generous together – how will we serve, who will we bless? Wrap presents together so everyone knows what you’re giving to family and friends. Handmade is always a special touch – include children in baking/icing/decorating or in making cards, wrapping paper or tags.

What ideas have you seen/heard of? What have you tried yourself? What have you been the recipient of and how did it bless you? How can we make sure the greatest gift of all to us incites a gratitude that inspires giving?