Sunsets, signals, and seeking
(8th June 2018) The weather this time of year in Townsville is stunning! So are the sunsets: this is a picture taken from our church's front yard a week or two ago. It was a moment of silence, with a clear blue sky and orange highlights shining on the green shrubs and the browning grass. A moment where you think, "How beautiful is this?" and "I wonder what could have caused it?"
Beauty is, in that way, what a man named Peter Berger called a 'signal of transcendence'. It's not proof that there's a higher being, but it does 'signal' to us that there is something more, beyond our sight; much like a lighthouse signals to sailors.
Signals though are meant to prompt us to act: in this case, to seek out what's beyond our sight; to seek out God. For, as the apostle Paul said in Acts chapter 14 verse 17, "[God] has not left himself without witness" in this world, witness which at this time of year, looks a lot like a sunset.
Days of remembrance
(22nd April 2018) The similarities between Anzac Day, which is this week, and Good Friday have always been worth considering. In fact, I began our Good Friday service a few weeks ago by saying "Welcome to (our) Anzac Day."
Both days are days of remembrance. On Anzac Day we remember the sacrifice that was made by Australian & New Zealand soldiers to win our freedom from aggressors; on Good Friday we remember the sacrifice that was made by Jesus to win our freedom from the power and consequences of sin. On Anzac Day we remember the lives that were given on our behalf to secure peace for our nation; on Good Friday we remember the life that was given on our behalf to secure peace with our God. Both are sombre days of reflection, when we remember the selflessness of others (or of one other) exercised on our behalf.
In that case perhaps it's not so unusual that we see so many crosses displayed on Anzac Day. For the cross and the cenotaph have much in common.
Easter service times
Good Friday: 8.30am, Easter Sunday: 9.30am.
Come and remember the death of Jesus and celebrate his resurrection with us!
(Photo Bud Ellison, flickr)
Looking for a sign?
This is our new church sign. It's been put up down the street to give people directions to our church. It's not a particularly flashy sign - there are no flashing lights or dancing bears (or unicorns!). But it does the job.
Many people want a spectacular sign from God before they'll believe in him. But in my experience God usually works in much more mundane ways. Like through reading the Bible and praying, and seeing people whose lives have been transformed by him. Like you might see at church.
So maybe our church sign is the one you've been looking for after all! Good thing is it's very easy to follow.
Acts 2:42 life
It's been a joy during February to gather together with people in our home groups to eat together, study the Bible and pray. We called it 'Pot Luck and Bible' but we could have called it 'Acts 2:42 life'.
Acts 2:42 tells us that people in the early church "...devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers." It's a great picture of what we've been trying to emulate this month in bringing our home groups together.
Why not join us sometime? It may not be exactly like being in the early church in Acts, but it's not bad!
Towards the cross with Jesus
It's a new year and a great time for us to refresh our minds about Jesus. We're planning to do that starting on 28th January, as we begin to look together at Mark 9-16. This part of the Bible looks at Jesus' journey to Jerusalem, culminating at the cross and resurrection which we will get to by Easter.
If you'd like to refresh your mind, and heart, by looking at this key part of Jesus' life, then please come and join us, 9.30 Sunday mornings. All welcome.
Christmas service times
6.30pm Christmas Eve, 8.30am Christmas Day
(Please note: no 9.30am service on Christmas Eve)
Tis the season to be carolling!
We're pleased once again this year to be contributing to our local community Christmas event being put on by Stockland at North Shore. Our church is partnering with some friends at North Qld Operatic & Musical Theatre (NQOMT) to help our community sing about Jesus this Christmas.
It's on Saturday 9th December, 5pm for markets and 7pm for carols, at "The Green", Iris Lane, North Shore. Hope to see you there.
Meanwhile here's a lovely little Christmas video that encourages us to connect with those who are on their own this Christmas. (If it doesn't come up on your device you can view it here.)
A helpful website
(30 July 17) I want to highlight this website which has recently been launched. It's from a crowd called GiST (Gospel in Society Today). GiST is a committee of the Presbyterian Church of Queensland which interacts with questions being asked in our society. It seeks to address these questions using the gospel - the good news of Jesus - as a framework or starting (and ending!) point. A small disclaimer: I (Andrew, the minister at North Shore Presbyterian) am on this committee.
Notwithstanding my bias, this website is worth checking out. There are in-depth papers on things like sexuality, gender, humanity, the environment, and domestic violence. There are also shorter articles. Well worth a look.
We have moved!
Our new building is finished and we're now meeting in it on Sundays, at 5 Okino Place, North Shore (Burdell). See map on the side bar. Still at 9.30am. Hope to see you there!
(23 April 17) Here's a sneak peak at our almost-complete building at North Shore!
Dealing with grief
(19 March 2017) What does the Bible have to say about dealing with grief? Psalm 137 can be a surprising help. Click here to listen to this morning's sermon. (Photo: uneduex on flickr)
(5th March 17) Last Sunday a few of us from Northside were able to inspect progress on our new building! Here are some photos, plus a couple more from yesterday.
Good sex and godly marriage
Northside is pleased to be able to host sexologist, author and speaker Patricia Weerakoon for a special Valentine's Day meal and marriage seminar. This seminar is for married and soon-to-be married couples. Patricia is a Christian and former lecturer at Sydney Medical School.
Child-minding will be available on site. Details of how to book are on the flyer below.
Our heavenly provider
(15 January 2017) I was encouraged today as I read a report from our church's management committee detailing our financial records for the year just past. Management committee reports don't usually get me excited(!) but this one did because it shows the faithfulness and generosity of our God.
Last year Northside faced a huge financial challenge. Looking to our own resources we had no idea how we would meet it. But thankfully it's not only to our own resources that we can look. Because God's resources are infinite and he's the one who's looking after us.
To cut a long story short our management committee report showed that not only did we meet our financial challenge last year but were able to pay even for the significant unforeseen expenses we had - an amazing achievement indeed.
God's people in the desert once asked one another, "Can God spread a table in the wilderness?" (Psalm 78:19). Our management committee's reply is, "Yes he can."
This video is a great reminder that Jesus came especially for those who are feeling lonely or rejected this Christmas. Enjoy!
This Christmas video is a great reminder that Jesus came especially for those who are feeling lonely or rejected. Enjoy!
Turning the first sod
(20th November 2016) Last Sunday was a special day for Northside as we 'turned the first sod' on our building project.
There was a long list of people to thank, foremost among them our God of course! But it was a nice moment especially to thank the people who come along to Northside regularly and support the work that we're doing. They've put in the 'hard yards' (as it were) to establish a new church in this part of our city and it was nice to be able to acknowledge their significant contribution.
It shows an important aspect of what we want our church to be: a group of people supporting one another. It really was an encouraging moment to be a part of.
Some exciting news!
(18th September 2016) We had a meeting of our church members today to take what we hope is one of the final steps in an exciting enterprise for us. We are, God willing, looking to build a church building!
With help from our denomination and from sale of property elsewhere in our region we were able to buy a block of land in North Shore late last year. We have been designing a building for that block throughout this year and hope to be able to award a contract for the building in late October.
God has been incredibly good to us and has removed hurdle after hurdle in getting us to this point. We continue to look to him to bring it to completion.
All of that means though these are exciting times as we look to shine Christ's light brighter in the north side of Townsville! We look forward with anticipation to what the coming months will bring.
(4th September 2016) Happy Father's Day to all those dads out there! It was great to acknowledge in a small way at church the great role dads play in our families. And we're grateful to the kind person who made these little gifts (pictured above) to make the dads amongst us feel special.
It was also appropriate though on Father's Day to think about those who are unable to spend time with their dads, for whatever reason. The Bible speaks many times about God's love for those who are without parents. I love especially though Jesus' promise (John 14:18) not to leave those who follow him "as orphans", but rather to provide them his ongoing presence by his Spirit.
It's one of the great joys of following Jesus: never to be alone - left "as orphans". But to know the constant love of our heavenly Father.
North Queensland Christian Convention
(21 August) Registrations are now open for North Queensland Christian Convention. This will be a great weekend, held in Mission Beach, on 1-3 October (Queens Birthday weekend). The speakers are Peter Jensen and Phil Campbell. You can register here.
Nothing very special
(7 August 2016) Today at church was nothing special. We did what we normally do - we read the Bible, heard it explained (in a sermon), sang some songs, the kids went to Sunday School (Sprouts), we had morning tea... normal church stuff. It was an ordinary Sunday, nothing special.
And yet... as I looked around, each of those things was very special. We had the privilege of hearing God's very words read to us, something not everyone around the world is able to do. The reading was explained (in the sermon) accurately, and then applied to our lives. We were able to meet freely without fear of persecution. And over morning tea, all over the place people were encouraging each other, caring for one another, and talking about what they'd just heard.
With church, looks can often be deceiving. It can look like nothing very special is happening. And yet, if you look closely, what's happening is very special. It's great to be part of it.
NQ Extreme Camp
(31 July 2016) NQ Extreme is a camp for high schoolers during the school holidays at Lake Tinaroo on the Atherton Tablelands. It's a great camp for kids to get to know God while enjoying some awesome activities as well - water skiing, theme nights, and more.
If you know someone who'd like to go along you can register here. Financial assistance is available; just let us know.
(24 July 2016) Every Friday night my wife & I are thrown out of our house. Well, not really: our Northside Youth leaders kindly lead youth group at our house on Friday nights, and because our boys are in it, it's best we make ourselves scarce!
But that leaves us with no option but to spend some time every week down at our local friendly pub. (Oh the burden!) If you'd like to share that burden with us, why not come along? Details in the image beside.
How do you live with God?
13 July 2016
Living with anyone in close relationship can be challenging! As people we all have our faults and those faults tend to show up most clearly in our relationships.
Jesus told us though that God has no faults (Matthew 5:48). So how do you live in relationship with someone like that? Or rather, how does someone like that live in relationship with us?
Our new sermon series, beginning this Sunday looks at that question. It does so from the second half of the Old Testament book of Exodus. Because this is where the ancient nation of Israel learned how a perfect God could live among people who were far from that.
Why not come along and learn the lessons they learned, and see how God can live in relationship with you?
Philippians - the gospel enterprise
I'm excited that over the next couple of months at Northside we plan to be looking together at the book of Philippians. It's one of the most affectionate letters in the New Testament as the Apostle Paul thanks the Christians at Philippi for their gift to him.
But more importantly the book of Philippians gives us a great insight into what it looks like to be in relationship with one another at church and with others who follow Jesus outside of our church. What kind of relationships are these? How are we to function within those relationships?
Why not come along and explore these questions with us? We'd love to see you. Everyone is welcome.
A sneak peak of what's coming up
In previous years at Northside we've issued a calendar of events at the beginning of each year. Problem is though, by about April it's already out of date(!) as things change. So this year, no calendar.
Instead I think we'll put out something like this (see photo) on a regular basis. We gave this out at church this morning.
Hope it's helpful!
Easter service times
Over Easter Northside will be meeting on Good Friday at 8.30am and Easter Sunday at 9.30am, Northern Beaches High School, Meranti Street, Deeragun.
All are welcome to join us to remember and celebrate all that Jesus has done.
We had the privilege today at church of hearing the story of how God has worked in the life of one young woman who's part of our church family.
It was a prelude to her baptism, which happened in church today, where she was symbolically 'immersed' in Jesus and all that he has done for her (the water symbolises that immersion, amongst other things).
It felt like a family celebration (and rightly so) as we celebrated together what our heavenly Father has done for our (new) sister, and were all reminded of what our heavenly Father has done for each of us as well.
God is good. May there be many more.
New kids program
Starting in February we're planning to trial a new kids program at Northside (see promo video).
The thing I really love about this program is not just that kids get to learn from the Bible, sing songs, and learn memory verses (although those things are great). What I love is the integration with the app that parents can download and use at home with their kids during the week.
We're hoping this program will really help us, and parents, teach the kids amongst us more about Jesus.
Having the Spirit
The early part of this year at Northside sees us have a bit of focus on the role of the Holy Spirit.
And that's an important thing for us to understand because the Holy Spirit plays such an important role in the lives of Christians. The Spirit turns what would otherwise be a distant relationship with God into one that's more like the kind you have with a favourite family member.
He (the Holy Spirit) can seem a bit elusive though. Jesus (John 3 v.8) compares him with the wind: that is, something you can't see but you certainly know is there.
I'm hoping that as we have this short focus on the Spirit, we will come to grasp the 'wind' just a little bit more.
I love this time of year just after Christmas. Whether you're on holidays from work or you aren't, it's still 'holiday time' in our community, with everything slowing down just a bit.
Which makes it a great time to pray(!) - to slow down and reconnect with God, stop and think about things you may not have thought about in awhile, things of the soul. (Incidentally, we were thinking about this kind of thing as part of a recent sermon.)
Whatever you're doing this 'holiday time' can I encourage you: don't waste this opportunity! It only comes around once a year. Use it. Your soul will thank you for it.
It was great to be a part of our local community Christmas carols event at North Shore on Sunday. The weather was fine, the food was good... what's not to like? We count it a real privilege to be part of this event and serve our community by helping it sing carols. It helps everyone come together and start to feel like Christmas is really coming!
But more than that we love singing carols with people in our community because many of the carols so clearly point to Jesus, God's gift to us at Christmas time.
My prayer this Christmas is that you would enjoy being together with friends & family - whoever is in your 'community'. But more than that I pray you would know the greatness of God's Christmas gift - Jesus - as you celebrate together.
Going the extra mile
The last two years at Northside we've been asking people to 'go the extra mile' in a number of key ways.
The saying itself originates from Jesus' words in Matthew 5, where in contrast to the Old Testament rule of 'an eye for an eye' Jesus says we are to 'turn the other cheek' and 'go the extra mile'. "If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles," Jesus says (Matthew 5 verse 41).
I'm not sure about others, but I've found it's pretty hard to live up to Jesus' words! But I've been really encouraged to see people at church try. It really is counter-cultural, but I would love to see this kind of thinking grow in our world.
The bullet in the Bible - Remembrance Day
This week sees our nation mark Remembrance Day, the day hostilities ceased in World War I.
This story came out from the Bible Society to mark Anzac Day this year, and it seems appropriate to mark this week's occasion too.
It's the story of an Austalian man (Elvas Jenkins) whose life was saved, literally, by his Bible. Enjoy!
We were looking at Exodus 5 in church today. "Days of Darkness" was the sermon title. It's a chapter which starts out with God's people being faithful, yet days of darkness still come. By the end of the chapter Moses is wishing God had never sent him.
It reminded me of the great day of darkness in the New Testament, the day when Jesus was crucified and darkness covered the land. At that time the one who was most faithful experienced the darkest day possible.
And that should really encourage us, because he experienced it for us. So that we might be rescued from our dark days when He returns, if we've put our trust in him.
Have you trusted in Jesus, so that you can be be delivered ultimately from whatever dark days have come your way? That's what Jesus offers you.
The image above is one that appeared in our church notice sheet this week, to illustrate an announcement about an upcoming members' meeting. At first it seems a bit of an odd picture to choose for a church meeting. But not when you think about it.
The Bible uses a number of images to describe the local church: house, family, body... I wonder though if the Bible were being written today whether 'football team' might have made it in!
Because there are a lot of similarities between a football team and the Bible's description of a church: both have many players but one team, each player has a different role, and all (though with different roles) strive for the same goal.
I'm not sure if one of our goals is to physically hurt other teams! But apart from that, I'm hoping for a meeting which is characterised by teamwork, a sense of unity, and striving for a common goal.
A church I know of calls it's regular prayer meeting 'The Hub'. And thinking about Northside's monthly prayer meetings (which are today) I can understand that.
Because the hub drives what happens around the outside of the wheel where the rubber hits the road. It's also interconnected in lots of different ways (like in this photo) to what happens around the outside. The hub really is at the centre of things.
And our prayer meetings are like that too: they 'drive' so much of what happens around our church. Because they call on God to drive what happens around our church. And he is really the only one who can make things happen (John 15 v.5).
Northside Youth is back for another term! If you're in high school or know someone who is, you're welcome to come along. Details below.
We celebrated Father's Day at church today by singing the song "How Deep the Father's Love". It's a song not about our earthly fathers, but about our heavenly Father.
It reflects the words of the Bible in places like 1 John Chapter 3, where the Apostle John encourages us to "See what kind of love the Father has given to us: that we should be called sons of God."
And that's a great thing. Because whether you have the greatest dad in the world, or on the other hand you've had a terrible dad or not even known your dad, if you trust in Jesus then you have a heavenly Father whose love puts the love of your earthly dad (at best) into a distant second place.
So let's celebrate our earthly dads today; but let's celebrate our heavenly Dad even more.
The power of Jesus' forgiveness: Charleston church shooting
This video of the relatives of the victims of the recent church shooting in Charleston in the US addressing the shooter is a wonderful demonstration of how forgiveness from Jesus can change people. One by one, as forgiven sinners, the members of the Charleston church address the man who shot their relatives. One by one they forgive him. Powerful stuff.
A change of pace
We're having a change of pace at Northside this term, as we take a break from the book of Romans and embark on a series we're calling "Box of Chocolates". With this series, like Forrest Gump said, "You never know just what you're going to get!"
We'll be looking at topics like money, the Lord's Supper, guidance, sex, work, and heaven. But in no particular order - it really will be quite random.
But, as they say, a change is a good as a holiday! And these topics have been chosen help us to follow Jesus well in these important areas of life.
A few people from Northside recently went along to NQOMT's production of Oliver! at the Townsville Civic Theatre. It was a great night and we all enjoyed it immensely. On the night I handed out to our group some thoughts I'd written down on the story of Oliver! and how it relates to Jesus. Here it is.
At one level Oliver! is a simple story of the triumph of innocence over evil. This was the author's (Charles Dickens') own explanation of the main theme of the book 'Oliver Twist' on which the musical is based, according to his preface in the 1841 edition. Throughout the story Oliver never succumbs to temptation, either to 'bite back' at his oppressors in the work house, or to turn pick-pocket in Fagin's crew. He illustrates Jesus' words, "The meek will inherit the earth." Such innocence is rewarded in the end.
But there is much more to Oliver! than that. When the book first appeared (1837-1839) it was shocking to some that one of the heroes of the story, Nancy, is a prostitute and a thief. Because how can good live in the heart of someone so apparently fallen? But Dickens wanted to remind people that good can live even in those others see as most fallen. The Bible reminds us of this too: that even though humanity is fallen (Genesis 3) the image of God is still seen in us (see Genesis 9:6), although it is now badly spoiled by sin.
Also, the story of Oliver! is a critique of the institutionalised Christianity of Dickens' day. The sub-title of the book is "A Parish Boy's Progress"; that is, Oliver is a 'parish boy' - an orphan under the care of the institutionalised church. The work house, for example, is a church-run work house charged with providing care to some of society's most vulnerable. It is shocking therefore that Oliver receives more hospitality from Fagin's gang of thieves than from the church. The church's care is a million miles away from the care of the Good Samaritan of Jesus' story. We who follow Jesus today need to take heed of Dickens' warning.
This is the second time a group of us from Northside have gone to the theatre. We're looking forward to what we will see next year perhaps.
Contributing to God's banquet
I love that ad for Cadbury Favourites where the husband & wife are invited over for dinner. The wife asks the one who's invited them, "What can we bring?" and she receives the answer, "You don't have to bring a thing."
The husband's response, once they're alone, is "Sweet! We don't have to bring a thing." The wife's response is the opposite: "Oh no, what am I going to do now? I can't just bring nothing."
Unfortunately, very often the second response is our response too when we learn that God's invited us to a heavenly banquet. We respond by saying, "Great! But what can we bring?" That is, what can we contribute so that we make sure we're not just getting in for free.
But the amazing news that Jesus gives is that the invitation to God's banquet is free. We can't actually contribute to it; it is, by nature, a gift (Romans 3:24).
Are you trying to pay (contribute something) in order to get in to God's banquet - into a relationship with him that will culminate in a heavenly celebration with Jesus and His Father? The great news is you can't pay; you can only hold out your hand to receive this amazing gift.
And that, friends, is grace!
Being the greatest
What does it take to be the greatest? Commitment? Strength? Desire? Hard work? All of these things perhaps. When we look at a great sports-person we almost take it for granted that he or she has those qualities.
What about a great follower of Jesus? In Mark 12:30, in what Jesus calls the greatest commandment in the Bible, he says that being a great follower of his requires some quite similar things: heart, soul, mind, strength.
We do, of course, become Christians through what Jesus has already done for us - not by our own efforts at all. But once we become Jesus' followers, just like being a great sports-person, it demands all that we are.
What are we supposed to learn at church?
At this time of year, our leadership group at church (our elders) are considering the shape of the year - our church calendar - deciding what things we might we do together as a church this year.
And the question that shapes those decisions is, "What are we supposed to be learning at church?" It's a great question.
The answer the Apostle Paul gives to Titus is that we're to be learning about the good news of Jesus (Titus 2:11-14). But we're also to be learning what that good news "trains" us to be like in the various situations of life in which we find ourselves (Titus 2:2-10, 3:1-2). It's a very practical answer.
I'm looking forward to helping teach, and learning more myself, of these things at church this year: as a younger man who's now getting older (or am I just old?!) how I am to be following Jesus, in my home, my neighbourhood, my workplace, and my nation. And I pray that the shape of our church year would help us do that.
Happy New Year!
A happy new year to all from Northside! As you review the year gone and look forward to the year ahead, may you know him who makes up for our weaknesses and gives us hope for the future - Jesus. "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses, but one who was tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin." (Hebrews Chapter 4 verse 15)
How has life NOT lived up to your expectations?
We all have have high expectations for some areas of life. For some people their expectations are high for things like love & marriage. For others it's career or excitement that they're looking for. Or perhaps for you it's new experiences, or wealth. We all come to life with expectations about what it might provide and what will fulfill us.
At Northside in Term 4 we want to have a look at some of the things people invest their life in and see what Jesus has to say about them. But we want to look at the ones that are relevant for the most people. So we've designed this short survey.
If you could help us by filling it out we would really appreciate it. It will only take a minute. And you won't be asked for any details like your name or contact information. We simply want to find out what people in our city are thinking.
Thanks in advance for your help!
Term 3 at Northside - The All-access Gospel
We're used to things being 'all access' these days. As well as stairs we have ramps (or lifts), as well as escalators we have those long, rampy-like escalators, and our buildings (at least the new ones) are designed so that access is made easy for everyone.
This term at Northside we're finding out that the good news about Jesus - the gospel - is 'all access' too. That is, it's open to everyone. Because in this last section of the book of Acts that we're looking at this term (Chapters 19-28) the Apostle Paul encounters all sorts of people - citizens of the city, Jews, Romans, governors, kings, queens, sailors, people on remote islands - you name it.
And what we find in each case is that the good news about Jesus, and the forgiveness he offers, is available for all of them. Even for someone like you.
Why not come along this term and find out about it for yourself?
Preaching Seminars 23&24 May
Click here to register
An Easter Experience
Easter is always a special time in any church - the death of Jesus, the resurrection: these things are central to what we believe.
But something extra special for us as a church at Easter is that it's the one time in the year we get together with Christians from other churches in our area (Baptist, Pentecostal, and I'm told some Uniting Church people too this year) to worship God together.
And they're all crazy - that Baptists, Pentecostals, and UC's ;-) But they're forgiven, and accepted by God just like us. And it was great to spend time with them.
Thanks to the Baptists especially for putting the service together.
Christmas Day 8:30am
Good Friday 8:30am
5 Okino Pl