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Tune into Christmas

1 December, 2019 Children's Presentation

In the rhythm of life, sometimes we find ourselves out of tune...ever heard a violinist or trumpeter play out of tune? Ever heard someone sing out of tune? Though the note or the voice out of tune was still making music, it was just a little “off”. The ear would tell you something wasn’t quite right. When we think of Christmas, we think of family, joy, peace, love and hope but sometimes in the busyness of this season, what we hear and experience is not music to our ears. So today as we begin our season of preparation, we tune into Christmas and remember what Christmas is really all about.

#1 in series: A Christmas Playlist

THEME VERSE:

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:10-12

REMEMBER THIS WEEK

Whenever life is out of tune

At the manger there's always room

To kneel before Christ the King

Who gives a tuneful song to sing.

FAITH TALK

1. What was your high and low from last week?

2. What do you most look forward to at Christmas time?

3. What is your favourite Christmas carol and why?

4. What about Christmas is always out of tune for you?

5. What things can you do to better tune into the real reason for Christmas"

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Pressing Pause

24 November, 2019 Pastor Mark Schultz

The high five, the chest bump, the goal or try dance, the ticker-tape parade, the wedding reception, graduation ceremony…all have one thing in common. They’re celebration rituals. They are unique ways to celebrate special moments. So how do we celebrate in the Church? Sometimes in our desire to move forward we can fail to take the time to celebrate God’s goodness, faithfulness, love. We settle for a quick “thank you, God”…a “burst” of worship and then on to bigger and better things. But today, as we come to the end of the Church year, we’re Pressing Pause. It’s time to temporarily stop the forward motion of life and ministry and spend some time in reflection and taking in all of God’s goodness over the past twelve months… Today is a day to celebrate. For God has been good to us.

THEME VERSE

(God) did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.” Joshua 4:24

REMEMBER THIS WEEK:

God has been good to us. As we step into the future, our confidence is this: the God who has provided a way for us in the past, will make a way for us in the future. For the God we follow and serve is the same yesterday, today and forever. Step forward with courage and boldness for in Christ, we cannot lose…ever!

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Mental Illness

17 November, 2019 Pastor Mark Schultz

Turn and look at the person next to you. Do you relize that according the statistics, one of you will experience mental health issues sometime within your life. Have you ever felt paralysed by anxiety or experienced the depths of despair? Or maybe you know someone else who has? Mental illness can be a very lonely, isolating experience, both for those who are going through it, and loved ones who see them suffering. Despite all the advances in treatment, despite all the ways in which our culture has become more enlightened and compassionate, somehow mental illness remains in a category of its own, regarded as some sort of peculiar affliction that is best dealt with by toughing it out, picking themselves up and getting out of it, or pretending that everything is ok. Many are embarrassed to speak about it, especially in the Church, where for too long we have been silent about mental illness. We have let people suffer in silence, and alone without the support of the community to get alongside, support and encourage them in the deep places of the soul. It's time for that to change. Today we will encounter a God who will never abandon us in suffering but love us with an everlasting love and draws us up out of a desolate pit.

#3 in series: Shhh, we don't talk about

THEME VERSE:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

REMEMBER THIS WEEK

The pain of mental illness is real.

But there is hope for the helpless

Rest for the weary

And love for the broken heart

There is grace and forgiveness

Mercy and healing in Jesus.

He will meet you, wherever you are.

FAITH TALK

1 Why do you think people don’t talk about mental illness?

2 Why do you think the Church has been silent on mental illness?

3 What’s the darkest time that you have ever experienced in your life and what did you think about God in that moment?

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Domestic Violence

10 November, 2019 Pastor Mark Schultz

Domestic or Family Violence is hidden behind many closed doors, in places that should be a sanctuary. The statistics are frightening, it's impact devastating. A survey of domestic violence in Australia shows that 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men have experienced at least one incident of violence from a current or former partner since the age of 15. IOne woman is killed every week as a result of violence in the home. Police respond to a domestic violence incident every 2 minutes. It's not a problem that we can ignore, be ignorant of, or silent about especially in the Church. God created the church to continue his work on earth and to be the vehicle for bringing his love and life to the world. He gave his Word, not be used as a weapon against those who suffer or as a means to control, but so it could be a shield for everyone in need of refuge and strength. Join us as we continue to look at how we can be a place of grace where healing can begin.

#2 in series: Shhh we don't talk about that

THEME VERSE:

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 4:6-8a

REMEMBER THIS WEEK

God cares about what has happened to you and is happening to you now. If you are being abused, we believe you. Jesus invites you to find comfort in his arms. If you are the abuser, know that this behaviour is unacceptable. Always. No asterisks. Jesus invites you to find forgiveness in him through repentance. For the home is a reflection of God's image, designed to be a sanctuary and safe place, characterized by tender strength, courageous protection, self-giving devotion, compassionate mercy, gentle nurture and unfailing love. May it be so in your home.

FAITH TALK

1. What do you understand by the term 'Domestic Violence.

2. Why do you think the Church has been silent for so long on the issue of domestic violence?

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The Church's Failures

3 November, 2019 Pastor Mark Simpfendorfer

The Church's failures’. We don't have to look far to find them. We’ve seen them. We've experienced them. The media have highlighted them for all the world to see. There's abuse from those in power, both physical and spiritual. There's the cover-ups and secrecy that have ensued. There's the failure to respond to people's needs, or minister effectively. The failure to speak the truth or show compassion when called for. How do we view the failures of the Church? Or when the people of God fail to live up to the standards they proclaim? How do you respond when the Church fails you, disappoints you, lets you down? What happens when people come to Church to find Jesus and sometimes all they find is us. Today, we are not going to be quiet but open up and talk honestly about 'The Church's failures.'

#1 in series: Shhh...we don't talk about that

THEME VERSE:

I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign Lord. I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice. Ezekiel 34:15-16

REMEMBER THIS WEEK

When the Church fails, Christ does not.

When the Church hurts, Christ does not.

When the Church s unmoved, Christ is not.

When the Church is absent, Christ is not.

Scandal may rock the Church, bring the good news into disrepute, or even close the doors for Gospel work

but it will never frustrate Christ's unchanging purpose or his mighty power to build a people through whom he is at work to bring justice, love, mercy and healing to the world.

FAITH TALK

1. When you hear of the Church’s failure, how does it affect you as a Christian?

2. How does it affect the way you relate to God?

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A slave to the Master

27 October, 2019 Pastor Mark Schultz

Slavery.” The very word causes a gut level revulsion for most of us. It's a dark part of our history; the forced slavery of Aborigines, and the "blackbirds" or "sugar slaves" that came on boats from Melanesia. It's a dark part of our present with an estimated 40.3 million people caught up in modern day slavery. In a world that values independence, freedom and autonomy, the whole notion of being a slave and having a master is abhorrent. But our early Christian ancestors gladly, willingly and boldly named themselves “slaves of Christ.” They lived and died, completely bought and sold into Christ’s life, death and resurrection. They held no other allegiance, offered no other devotion, and answered to no other master than Christ. In being “slaves of Christ” they found a freedom like nowhere else on earth, a power no earthly ruler could match, and a fullness of life and joy that no-one else could offer. So as we celebrate the Reformation today, we discover the radical freedom that comes in being a slave to the master, Jesus Christ.

#5 and final in series: 'I can relate to that.'

THEME VERSE:

But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. Romans 6:22

REMEMBER THIS WEEK

Confessing Jesus Christ as your Lord and Master means you belong totally to him - absolute ownership, absolute control, absolute subjection, absolute obedience, absolute loyalty, absolute dependence. That changes everything for it means that you need nothing other than what he commands and gives in his grace and mercy. That's when true freedom is found.

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A Bride to the Groom

20 October, 2019 Pastor Mark Schultz

THEME

Everyone loves a good wedding. The moment the bride walks down the aisle. The face of the groom as he sees his bride. The joy is infectious. But beyond the pageantry or the spectacle, is the enormous promise that they make to each other - "as long as we both shall live. This is my solemn vow." These vows are huge. They are also hard. For anything we set our lives on “until death parts us” is just going to test us, stretch us and expose the strengths and especially the weaknesses of our hearts. Today we hear God's vow to us - a vow he is faithful to day after day and a promise that not even death can separate us from. So come, as the Holy God invites us to relate to him as a Bride to a Groom. Hear him renew his vow of love for you; to forgive, to protect, to preserve and to be intimately with us forever. There is no more beautiful moment

#4 in series: I can relate to that

THEME VERSE:

I will make you my wife forever, showing you righteousness and justice, unfailing love and compassion.

I will be faithful to you and make you mine, and you will finally know me as the Lord. Hosea 2:19-20 (NLT)

REMEMBER THIS WEEK

God is emotionally, mightily, passionately and whole heartedly into you. He woos you tenderly for all he desires is to have the most intimate and pleasure-filled relationship with you eternally. Today, he renews his vow and gives you again his Son, saying 'Receive my Son as proof of my promise of love and faithfulness.'

FAITH TALK

1. Other than your own if you are married, 'What the best wedding you’ve ever been to? Why was that one “the best”?"

2. When is the last time you simply delighted in God? Describe it. If you can't remember, why do you think that is?

3. How would your relationship with God change if you loved him warmly as a husband rather than just served him dutifully as your Lord?

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A Branch to the Vine

13 October, 2019 Pastor Mark Simpfendorfer

Remember how easy it was to make friends as a kid? Just show up at the playground, bond over your shared love of football, cricket or chasey and bam! Instant connection. But today it seems you need an App for that. From Facebook to Instagram, WeChat to WhatsApp, LinkedIn to Bizzabo, there are hundreds of Apps designed to connect us with others all over the world. But what does it mean to be connected? Social media may have given us the promise of a connected world but it seems that everyone is feeling a little more isolated. Robin Dunbar, a British anthropologist developed a hypothesis, known as "Dunbar's number", that says human brains can’t healthily maintain more than 150 genuine relationships at a time. Not every connection is equal so what connections are you investing in? Jesus said there is one pivotal connection that can help our lives grow and flourish and the community thrive – the connection of a branch to the vine. We hope you can relate to that!

#3 in series: "I can relate to that"

THEME VERSE:

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5

REMEMBER THIS WEEK

There is only one connection that is life-giving in every season. One connection that will not fail you in any circumstance. A connection with Jesus. He is with you, holding onto you, loving you and will not let you go. Even when it feels like you are cut down by life, hang in there, for growth is ahead, and new life will come. That's his promise.

BIBLE READING: John 15:1-8

FAITH TALK

1. How many close friends do you have that you could go and share the deepest parts of your life with?

2 Other than a family member, who is the person in this Church community that you feel most connected to and why?

3 Is your connection with Jesus in a season of fruit bearing, growth, dormancy or pruning at this present time. Explain

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A Sheep to the Shepherd

6 October, 2019 Pastor Mark Simpfendorfer

Dumb, Defenceless, Directionless, Dirty. Sheep often get a bad rap. Sheep are vulnerable. They’re helpless. They have no depth perception. They’re fearful and panic easily. They tend to flock together. They are prone to wander and their reactions to situations are predictable. Who would want to be compared to a sheep? Who wants to be seen as useless? Stupid? Vulnerable? But maybe that's the point. For inside, we often feel worthless, stupid, and directionless. At times we are full of self-loathing and hate; we go along with the crowd when we know it is not the best way. We cry out (bleat) but no-one seems to hear or care. To anyone who has felt that way, Jesus today wants to tell you that sheep to a shepherd is the most beautiful, comforting, secure, life-affirming relationship that you can receive. So today we explore sheep to the Shepherd.

#2 in series: I can relate to that

THEME VERSE:

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. John 10:27-28

REMEMBER THIS WEEK

Dumb, Defenceless, Directionless, Dirty? Not in the presence of Jesus, your Good Shepherd. You are gifted, valuable, cherished, protected, led and clean! In his presence there is a place of welcome, community, security and rest where you are intimately known, loved and cared for all the days of your life.

FAITH TALK

1. If you were to rate animals on their level of intelligence (1 = lowest level of intelligence and 10 = highest level of intelligence), where would you rate sheep? Why?

2. If someone were to refer to you as sheepish or sheep-like, would you view that as a compliment or an insult? Why?

3. In what ways have you experienced the care, compassion or leading of the Good Shepherd?

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