Since I have such limited Internet access, I am publishing two posts at once. The one just before this one is actually a guest column. It is MUST reading. What a beautiful testament to the grace of God (a grace spoken of in a different context in this post - both true)! Now, on to this post.
Last year when we visited Australia, Alison and I fully intended to spend one of our Sundays at Hillsong Church in Sydney. Alas, we failed to get to the world-renowned church. We use a lot of their music at Grace Community Church, so it was a disappointment not to make it to Hillsong. My disappointment was nothing, though, compared to the amount of criticism (abuse? :)) that I took for not attending. This year, we made it!
On Sunday morning, Alison and I met her good friend, Sharon, who drove us to church. Sharon is a member at Hillsong. To say that the music was loud was quite the understatement. Well, at least Alison and Sharon told me it was loud. I didn’t notice – volume just doesn’t bother me. I never got over the 60’s, so I still listen to loud music, especially when I am alone in the car – though you won’t hear the bass thumping from my speakers!
During the first song, youth were jumping up and down during the song. It looked like a mosh pit. When I looked later in the service, there were quite a few adults in the first few rows. Do you think . . . ? On the platform, behind the musicians, there was a choir, of sorts – or, perhaps I should say, of singers and jumpers (praising God – don’t think I am making fun – well, not too much fun). These jumpers were being led by a chief jumper, whose face I never saw. She did have a very long ponytail, though.
The message, delivered by founder and lead pastor, Brian Houston, was about grace. So many good thoughts, but this one stands out: “We are told that God’s grace is sufficient for all of our troubles. We tend to think that it is barely enough grace to get by. The same Greek word (for “sufficient”) is used when we are told that ‘sufficient for the day is its own trouble.’ We certainly do not think that our troubles are barely enough to register – we think they are overwhelming! Well, so is grace!”
After Hillsong we went to downtown Sydney where we spent the night in a hotel with a beautiful view of the Opera House and the Harbor Bridge. On Monday morning we caught a ferry to Manly Beach where we had lunch with Max and Rose Boys. Max was Alison’s pastor for eight years at St. Philip’s Anglican Church in Sydney. What an encouraging refreshing time! The body of Christ is a marvelous blessing!
As I write this post, I am also listening to a debate about religion on Australian TV that includes a Muslim, an atheist, a journalist who has written about religion – and, John Lennox, an outstanding debater for Christianity. Lennox is a professor of math at Oxford University. He will be debating well known atheist, Peter Singer, next week in Australia. This fair land is in trouble, with regard to the gospel. (Notice, it is not the gospel that is in trouble – it is flourishing in Africa and Asia) America is, of course, very much in trouble as well.
In the last post, I wrote about Mike Raiter, who is principal of Melbourne School of Theology. In January, Mike will be embarking on a passion of his and developing a school/center to promote the practice of expository preaching – passionate expository preaching, that is. May the gospel regain a foothold in Australia! If it does, it will be according to God’s will – so, PRAY! Does that seem strange to you – pray because God is sovereign? After all these years, it makes perfect sense to me! God is the only one who can change the hearts of men and women, and He calls us to pray that He will. He also uses the (expository) preaching of the cross to draw men to Himself.
Thanks for checking in!