Farewell Eugene Peterson: a man with a Message
Christian pastor and author Eugene Peterson died recently. If you're unfamiliar with Eugene Peterson, he was the author of a paraphrase of the Bible called 'The Message' - the Bible in contemporary language. Really worth having a look at.
But it's his attitude approaching death that impressed me in this article. It's reported that among his final words were "Let's go!" That is, he was keen to get on with things and go and be with Jesus. It reminds me of the Apostle Paul's words in 2 Corinthians, that instead of remaining (in this life) he would "rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord." (2 Corinthians 5:8)
It's a refreshing reminder that when you're a follower of Jesus, death really does hold no fear for you. Because it only gets better from there on.
Jesus, sex, and Christianity
Christians are often thought to have a negative view of sexuality, consisting simply in a series of 'thou shalt not' type rules. But in reality Jesus offers an incredible vision for sexuality that's part of a broader vision for a life lived to the full. We're going to be exploring this vision at church in from October 21st. We'd love for you to come along and join us. Topics and dates are below.
(18/8/18) This is Matt. Matt oversees our kids & youth ministries at North Shore church. Recently at church Matt got thrown in at the last minute to help lead our kids song. We thought the video was worth sharing (see below, or here if it doesn't load on your device). He takes awhile to get into it, but works his way into it nicely!
Well done Matt for serving our kids and showing them Jesus! I can see Jesus making a fool of himself in front of the kids from time to time too.
Abortion and gospel of Jesus
(22 July 18) Abortion is a topic which touches many in our community. The Queensland government is currently proposing changes to its abortion law. (For full details you can find the Law Reform Commission report here.)
Robyn Bain, convener of the the Gospel in Society Today (or GiST) committee of the Presbyterian Church of Qld, recently recorded this podcast on abortion from a Christian viewpoint. Robyn is a doctor and also has theological training. She's done a lot of thinking on this topic and the podcast is really worth listening to.
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.
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.
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!
(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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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 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!
Christmas Day 8:30am
Good Friday 8:30am
5 Okino Pl