Google Zeitgeist 2011

This is a video from Goggle. It is basically 2011 in review.

Quite a lot happened in 2011.

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Have Faith. An update.

One of the reasons I started this site was to keep our friends updated of how life was going while Kirsty and I go through Bible college. (Kirsty isn’t actually studying at college, but she is still heavily involved. If you catch my drift. Hence, we are both going through college)

I wanted to write an update to tell you how things have been going recently for us. So here goes. Sorry, this post is long and doesn’t have a fancy video.

College has been busy, much busier than I had thought it would be. Managing college work, seeing family, seeing friends, church work, secular holiday work, starting tyro designs and spending time together as a married couple has been a steep learning curve. I don’t pretend to have mastered this yet, but our friends are gracious when we can’t see them, and our families are even more forgiving when we seem absent or exhausted. We are extremely thankful for this.

At the same time as being busy, this year has been excellent. The stuff I have learnt this year will prove to be valuable into the future, and the friendships we have made at college have been a real encouragement to us both. Our Church this year has been a real highlight of our ministry together. Ministering to the people of St Ives Family Church has been a delight and a privilege, and we have been greatly encouraged by our brothers and sisters there.

One of the most difficult parts of this year has been the status of Kirsty’s job. Kirsty works in the public health system, where she is a Speech Pathologist, helping young kids speak. Kirsty got the job at the end of 2010, and it has been a blessing. Both financially and relationally (She is working as a locum for another speechie on maternity leave). A difficultly presented itself a few months ago when we heard the news that the woman Kirsty was replacing was returning to work. Because of this Kirsty’s job looked like it might be terminated. The prospects of this were scary. We were tentatively making arrangements to move back in with one of our parents.

In the midst of this, there was a slight prospect that her job might be extended for a period of time, but we sat in limbo for weeks. Not knowing what the outcome might be, we did what we have always done in times of uncertainty. We prayed. We prayed, and trusted that God would work the situation out in the way that he wanted. Trusting in and having faith in God is not something that is foreign to us. In faith, Kirsty and I have made all of our plans in the last few years focused on God and based on what we think God would have us do. There have been numerous times that these decisions have caused stress, mostly financial stress, but still stress. This was another period of that. God has always worked things out for us. Wether it has been where we are going to live or work, God has always provided for us.

To cut a really long story, long. Once again God has answered our prayers by once again providing Kirsty with work in the form of an extension. Her contract has been cut from 5 days to 3, but it is still some work. The health sector is a really difficult area to find work in at the moment, so we are thankful for the 3 days she has been given.

I have written this, not to make you think that we are excellent Christian people. Instead I write this so that, if you are a Christian, you might be encouraged by God’s goodness to us in a time where we had faith in him. If you are not a Christian, I would love to encourage you to check out 2 ways to live, in it you will discover that God has done so much more than just provide materially for Kirsty and I. He has done so much more than that for people who have faith in him.

 

Sorry for the long post. Thanks for reading it.

Love, Tim and Kirsty

Suffering and the Sovereignty of God

A couple of weeks ago Kirsty and I had the pleasure of heading away with our Church for a weekend away in Galston. It was a great time of fellowship, and time around the bible.

The weekend was themed around the topic of “Suffering and the Sovereignty of God”. Our speaker was Steve Covetz, Steve is the lead pastor at The Point Community Church.

Everyone will suffer at some point in their life. Suffering can take almost any form that you can think of, you could experience physical suffering, like a long term illness or something more short term. You can also experience persecution from others, which is also a form of suffering, and that persecution might even incorporate some kind of physical suffering. You can download all of the talks for free here.

I took a great amount away form the weekend, some of my notes are summarised below. (you can download my full notes here)

  • Because God is Sovereign, suffering does not surprise him.
  • Suffering is a by-product of sin entering the world. Jesus dying on the cross was a one in history event to deal with that sin, but we still wait to enter heaven, where suffering will be abolished.
  • Just like in the exodus. Being a Christian is about being in the desert with 2 million people, with no food and no water, with impending danger, and being able to say to God, ‘I trust you’.
  • If sin wasn’t a problem for God, then he wouldn’t be God worth following. A perfect holy, just, righteous God.
  • In Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus says that he will always be with us. This gives us confidence that we do not endure suffering without his knowledge.
  • We can’t lie that our suffering is better or sufficient over Jesus Christ.

1 Timothy 2:1-7 – Edwin Ngubane

Last weekend at church we had the pleasure of having a brother from Africa come and preach. His name is Edwin Ngubane, and he is a bishop in the Anglican Church in South Africa.

He has a truly amazing life story, and an even more amazing story of how he came to believe in Christ. You can learn more about him in this video.

From ancestors to Jesus from Sydneyanglicans.net on Vimeo.

He preached the second sermon in our series on prayer from Paul’s first letter to Timothy, the specific section was chapter 2, verses 1 to 7. He was challenging us to think about how, People in the household of God, should act. I found it to be a really helpful sermon, so I thought I would share it.

He also challenged Kirsty and I to think about going to work with him in ministry to students in South Africa. He told me that Moore really should set up an exchange program with GWC. Cheeky.

Reaching men in St Ives, Part 4

Two weeks ago I posted the intro of a new series of posts, which is about a study that I had recently done for an assignment at college. This is the fourth post in the series.

This fourth and final post will speak about some of the implications for ministering to this sub-culture.

Ministry Implications

For Christian Churches
The main implications that appear for Christian churches in St Ives is the issue that people in the sub-culture have a high level of denominational affiliation, but without the church attendance. Meaning that, a high proportion of people (41.6%) identify somewhat with the Anglican Church, but the church attendance at the Christ Church St Ives and St Ives Family Church do not even come close to this figure. The overall attendance of Christ Church could be identified as being closer to around 1,100 people.

The implication is that, those who are in the sub-culture who are not active Christians simply do not see it as being of much worth to them. Perhaps through their past experience of religious education, they feel affiliated with a particular Christian denomination but they feel that active participation in religion had a time and a place in their lives, and that time was in the past. Regarding this feeling came a few remarks from Richard, who feels like the religious education he received from Barker College taught him really good morals for how he should live his life. But apart from that, he never felt like he actually needed to become a Christian. So a solution for this would be to show the sub-culture the relevance of Christianity for their lives today. It would be effective to show them, it is not a thing of the past that taught them morals for how to live a comfortable and thought out life, but that Jesus is not really concerned with their morals, but more concerned with them accepting him as their Lord and Saviour.

Another barrier for this sub-culture could come from how Christianity is portrayed by the media; media that they are constantly consuming and basing their judgments on. An example of this came recently in the form of a tweet from a prominent Christian leader in Australia, Jim Wallace, the leader of the Australian Christian Lobby. His tweet, which was written on Anzac day said “[I] Just hope that as we remember Servicemen and women today we remember the Australia they fought for — wasn’t gay marriage and Islamic!”. Even though he deleted the offending tweet and posted a retraction of the statement soon after,  it still caused outrage within the Australian community, and was picked up by news agencies in Australia.  Homosexuality is an issue that has been identified by younger demographics, but it could also have implications for the demographic covered in the study.

The individuals in this sub-culture are constantly basing their decisions on the things that they see and hear, and this is another area in which the Church needs to be attuned to when engaging with this culture. The Church, and the Christians in them, need to be ready to discuss and speak about these topics with individuals in this sub-culture. A failure to do this effectively could result in the Church being regarded as out of touch and unaware of what is happening in the world.

For Christian People
The implication for Christian people is for them to be making friends with the men in this sub-culture. This will mean going out of the Christian culture, and Christian structures to meet an engage with people.  This might be a difficult thing to engage in because of time constraints, but this year the men in my church have been actively joining various, typically, secular organisations in the St Ives area in a hope of becoming genuine friends with men in the sub-culture. Real examples of these are.

  • The P&C association of all the local public schools, in particular the school our church meets in, St Ives North Public School.
  • The local Lions Club.
  • The Local soccer team.
  • Running the school féte during government elections.

Though there are plenty of other opportunities that present themselves, these four focus areas that our church has concentrated on have reaped returns for the kingdom. We have had numerous people, not just from this sub-culture, come to Christ through becoming friends with Christians in these groups. This exciting reality brings another implication for Christians. This implication is a pastoral one.

When someone from this sub-culture becomes a Christian, it is not just enough to leave him to be a Christian. These men have already lived large parts of their lives, and will probably have things that they now regret doing. This new guilt is mixed up with the new joy that they now feel because they are now one of God’s people. The more mature Christian person is in a good position to care for the younger Christian.

Another area of pastoral awareness that Christians should be aware of is the family of the man. This is especially relevant if the man has a non-believing partner, and even more complicated if they have children. The man will need support as he develops as a Christian, women in the church will need to get to know, and invest time into becoming friends with the wife, and the kid’s church leaders will need to welcome the children, and also introduce them to the same Jesus that their father has recently come to believe in.

Conclusion
During this study, I have been reminded of the importance of interacting with non-Christian people in this community. There are many ways that my Church is currently interacting quite well with the community around them, but there is always more work to be done. St Ives is a growing suburb, with new units being built all the time. Due to this, the suburb is facing a large culture shift. The hardest job of the Christian church will be to keep diversifying the way that they operate evangelistically in this change.

Reaching men in St Ives, Part 3

Two weeks ago I posted the intro of a new series of posts, which is about a study that I had recently done for an assignment at college. This is the third post in the series.

This third post will mostly speak about the education and the influence of religion of 6 men who I had the pleasure of interviewing for this study. Their names have been changed so that they remain anonymous, because of this I wont be able to post the complete interviews.

Education and Learning
The worldview of this sub-culture also highly values education and the pursuit of knowledge. This was observed in the high value that they place on providing a good education and opportunities for their children. Example of this were observed in the sending of their children to private high schools, providing after school tutoring for their children in the area of Mathematics and English, the importance placed on learning other languages and external music lessons with professional musicians. In the interviewees, this emphasis on education came directly out of their own experience of being educated, as 4 out of the 6 interviewees attended a private education institution.

Influence of religion
The influence of religion on this sub-culture is a large one, although there is no concrete information as to why this is the case. The clue comes in the form of identified religious affiliation in the 2006 census data. There are 4 main religious positions that people take in the suburb of St Ives; and unfortunately we have to examine the entire male population as there is no breakdown by age. The influence of Christianity is quite large in proportion to other religious groups in this sub- culture. In St Ives, 57.2% (3,912) of the male population identify themselves as having Christian affiliation. The other main groups are Judaism (14.2%) and no religious affiliation (16.3%).

With this large percentage of individuals indicating that they have Christian affiliation, you need to ask why this is so. Through my experience, there is nowhere near 50% of the male population walking through church doors each week.

The answer might come through the surrounding religious schools that surround the area. Within a 15 minute drive you can easily get to Barker College at Hornsby, Knox Grammar at Warrawee, and Covenant Christian School in Belrose. Not to mention the Catholic run, Brigidine Girls College, a high school, and Corpus Christi, a catholic primary school; both located in St Ives. These five schools are all Christian run, with Barker being Anglican, Knox being Uniting and Covenant being interdenominational, along with the two Catholic run schools.

This method could account for the high number of identifying Christians in St Ives, but where it runs into problems is when you break the numbers down from the large figure of 3,912. The Anglican and Catholic numbers are a lot more that you might anticipate when compared to the Uniting percentage.

The percentage breakdown is as follows.

  • Anglican 41.6%
  • Catholic 32.2%
  • Uniting 9.8%

Reaching men in St Ives, Part 2

Last week I posted the intro of a new series of posts, which is about a study that I had recently done for an assignment at college. This is the second post in the series.

This second post will mostly speak about the worldview and hierarchy of 6 men who I had the pleasure of interviewing for this study. Their names have been changed so that they remain anonymous, because of this I wont be able to post the complete interviews.

Worldview
The worldview of this sub-culture is as diverse as the people who make it up. The range of men that were interviewed made this evident with their different verbal responses. Another strong indicator of worldview, was how they go about living their lives.

In the interviews that were conducted, a theme of work being integral to their identity kept coming up for each of these men. But what was surprising to me was that it wasn’t just the work that they were doing that was important to them. The question of how they went about doing their work was also hugely important.

William and Richard are both from a working class background and therefore have a strong worldview and work ethic of success coming mostly from your own hard physical work. This is contrasted by the worldview of James, Tim and Anthony in which you gain success mostly through good decision-making. Completely different to these two groups is Tobias, who measures success, not by the possessions that he owns, but by the impact he has had on the world around him.

Ultimately, a prevailing worldview for this sub-culture could be described as an “improvement” worldview. This improvement worldview means that they are constantly striving to improve themselves and their achievements. This can be professional improvement or personal improvement, working towards their ideal job, or training for a marathon. Irrespective of area, they do these things with all their energy until it is completed. After completion, they will find something else to “succeed at”, and then work towards its fulfillment.

Hierarchy
The hierarchy in this sub-culture could be easily classified into two different spheres of life. These two spheres could be thought of as being a Professional sphere, and a Social sphere.

In the professional sphere, the hierarchy is easily defined. In each work place there is a set hierarchy in place. This hierarchy is based on both or either, length of employment and the level of qualification attained by the individual. Individuals in this sub-culture like this system, because it gives them a framework for their self improvement worldview. It also gives them set achievements in which they can work towards.

The social sphere is a little more difficult to describe. While the sphere is still concerned with achieving success, there are many different interests and hobbies with each individual involved in the sub-culture. Outside of the professional sphere, individuals prefer to do away with the rigidity of their Monday to Friday work structures. This might be because of their desire to be involved in activities that they find enjoyment from; training for a marathon, attending football games, playing sport or just spending time with their immediate families. Ultimately they wish to have the freedom to enjoy these activities in a less rigid way than they are used to at work.