Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Confirmation Video

For your enjoyment we now have a short video of some of the confirmation carried out at St John's last Sunday. Enjoy!

If you have a fast internet connection, just CLICK to view, otherwise, right click and save to your computer for the best view HERE.

(Photos published by permission i.a.w. LCA privacy policy.)

Ask the Pastor

Ask the Pastor: A Q & A with Pastor John.

Q. I was perplexed about these verses from Romans (8: 20-21). In my bible (TLB) the verses read:

'For on that day thorns and thistles, sin, death and decay-the things that overcame the world against its will AT GODS'S COMMAND- will disappear, and the world around us will share in the glorious freedom from sin which God's children enjoy.' (emphasis added)

It appears to me that Paul is saying that God actually commanded (not just allowed or failed to stop) sin to despoil His creation after the act of eating the fruit by Adam & Eve. This is backed up in Genesis 3:17. My question is does God have control of sin, applying it where He wills, thereby limiting certain places to suffer more under sin (ie. cursed) while allowing faith in other places to flourish? I'm thinking here about North Korea and Saudi Arabia v's Australia and the UK. Whilst I can see that God could do this, how does it fit in with Matt 5:45? I'd like to know your thoughts.

A. I've had a quick look at the passage of interest. The NLT really gives a paraphrase rather than a translation of these verses and it's not a very helpful one. A literal translation of the Greek goes like this:

[21.] For the creation was subjected to futility/ emptiness/ hopelessness/ purposelessness (take your pick of these words and check out Eph 4:17, 2 Peter 2:18, Romans 1:21 to see how it is used there) not willingly, but by the one who subjected it, in hope [22.] that the creation will also be set free from the bondage of decay/ destruction/ death into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.

The context of the passage is Paul's discussion on how the Christian is free from the power of death and yet we live in the hope of the fulfillment of that freedom (the saint/sinner dynamic). It is only tangentially touching on sin.

Genesis 3:17-19 obviously is in focus here (hence used by the NLT to fill out their paraphrase), but the words 'AT GOD'S COMMAND' are an interpretation (and a misleading one) and not part of the original Greek.

Genesis 3:17 reads: 'And to the man he said, 'Because you have listened. . . cursed is the ground BECAUSE OF YOU' [emphasis added].

God did not create sin, nor command it. In both these passage the sense I get is one of God allowing creation (including human beings) to be subject to sin, death and decay (futility/hopelessness) at that/this time. He didn't command it to happen - it was human beings that caused sin to come into the world - (cf 'through one man's disobedience' Rom5:19) God is also not powerless to stop it. He just didn't sit on his hands and say, "Sorry folks, you're on your own". That's why Paul in Romans talks of hope - the hope of freedom in the glory of God. Freedom for all creation.

If I was to paraphrase what Paul is saying in Romans 20-21 I would say: Sin came into the world through human selfishness and God allowed it to run it's course in order that he might redeem the whole of creation from the futility sin brought into the world.

So, God does have control over sin. He has controlled the power of sin through the death and resurrection of Jesus. When we are in Christ sin has no power over us either. Romans Chapter Six is all about freedom from sin. But, he is not capricious in the way he controls sin. He doesn't MAKE sin to flourish in some places more than others. The whole ground was cursed because of human sin, not just some places.

I think we need to be careful about contrasting so called 'Christian' nations with 'non-Christian' ones and claim God at work more in these nations than others. Remarkably, the growth of the church and of faith happens in times of persecution more so than in times of stability. I think there is strong evidence to see God more powerfully at work (if that's possible) in places like North Korea and Saudi Arabia than in Australia. We are blinded by the 'good life' - the futility of Western materialism. We don't think we need God anymore (the original sin!!) while many in so called 'non Christian' countries know for sure that they do need God and they're willing to die for their beliefs.

Matthew 5:45 still holds true. God sends rain on the just and the unjust because God cares for all people and desires all people to come to the knowledge of the truth which is salvation in Jesus Christ.

This has taken longer than I thought but it's been interesting. Hope it's given you some more food for thought and inspired you into the Scriptures further.


Pastor John

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Confirmation Pics!

Here's some pics of the day for all to share. Hope to have some more later, too!

Click on the pics for a larger view.

(Photos published by permission i.a.w. LCA privacy policy.)

Sunday Message: Confirmation.

Todays message, which can be found here, was featured in the confirmation service for Christina Harvey and Matthew Dobie. Welcome in His name!

We all hope that you will continue you growth in the Faith: this is not the end, but the beginning!!

Prayer of the Day

Holy Father, your Son prayed for His diciples that they would be one, as You and He are one. Keep Your church together in faith and love, united by one Spirit. We ask this through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Today's Readings
Acts 1:15-17, 21-26
1 John 5:9-13
John 17:6-19

Thursday, May 25, 2006

A Link to Make You Think!

Hi All,
On this blog I like to tell you folks about some of the fantastic resources we have on the web for digging deeper into our Christian faith, especially from a Lutheran point of view.

Recently I was looking for comparisions between Christianity and Taoism and came across Probe Ministries. Their articles kept me reading for hours!! They are non-denominational, but their work is of value to all thinking Christians.

So, if you want to feed your mind, I recommend spending some time here: you won't regret it!

Monday, May 22, 2006

Data Recovery Programme.

Just had occasion to use this programme to recover some files off a corrupt floppy disk.
It worked a treat and best of all it's free!
There are also several other useful programmes on the site, also free.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Bible Search Link

Ever wanted to search the bible but didn't have a good concordance handy?
This link to Search Gods will allow you to search in several different translations, by keyword or scripture reference and you can include study resources! Enjoy!

A Bit of St John's History.

Hi All,
Tonight I've uploaded a pic of St John's during its construction. This photo is from the booklet 'Power Through the Spirit-the story of a post-war congregation', which details the early years of the congregation in the Illawarra up to 1980.
This photo is early-1968, when the church was erected in front of the original church hall (1957) fronting Burelli St, Wollongong.
As you can see, in those days we had a thriving church body and although numbers have slipped in recent years, I am hoping we can see the church grow again when the surrounding Wollongong CBD residential developments are completed. New people in the city need the stability a church can bring to your life!

Sunday Message: Friendship.

Hi All,
Todays message from Pastor John is on friendship: what 'mateship' means and how Christ fits into the Aussie meaning of a friend.

Download or listen online here: Friendship.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Link to KFUO Radio.

Todays link is to the radio station KFUO, located in St Louis, Missouri, USA. It is run by the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and has the best resources in the form of Podcasts for all to listen to free-of-charge.
My favorites are Issues,etc (current events) and The Bible Study (including Luthers Catachism).
I have to say that The Bible Study was directly responsible for pointing me to the Lutheran faith, such is the power of their teaching!

Monday, May 15, 2006

Link to The Lutheran Hymnal.

Here's a link to a great resource for Lutheran (and other) hymns. It contains midi's, lyrics, sheet music and mp3's.
It's maintained by Rev. Richard Alan Jordan, an LC-MS Pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, Van Meter, Iowa. Please note the copyright provisions of this site.

Lutheran Church of Australia

Our next link is to our own Lutheran Church of Australia. Lots of good info on the website, so drop by for a view!

Link to The White Hourse Inn.

Our next link is for the White Hourse Inn. Launched in 1990, The White Horse Inn (named after the pub in Cambridge, England, where the Reformation came to the English-speaking world), is a nationally syndicated radio broadcast featuring regular round-table discussions on faith, culture and apologetics. Hosted by Michael Horton, Ken Jones, Kim Riddlebarger, and Rod Rosenbladt, the White Horse Inn aims each week to equip Christians to "know what they believe and why they believe it."
You can listen each week using Real Player, Windows Media Player or download the MP3's.

Link to the Luther Library.

From time to time I'll be posting links and buttons to resources on the web.
The Luther Library seeks to encourage the reading of good books by confessional Lutheran pastors, church workers, and lay people through regular reviews and recommendations. Enjoy!

NEW- The Post Emergent Blog.

Hi All,
Here's a new link for you to read. Its all about the 'new' Post Emergent Church. You may have heard of the latest fad in the USA concerning the 'Emergent Church'. Well, now things have changed and theology is moving back to reclaim what is true and correct. As the blog heading puts it:

We Believe in a 'Sure and Certain Faith' which is Christ Centered & Cross Focused. This Faith Calls Us to Re-Discover the Church Rather Than Re-Imagine It.

I've read some great statements on this blog and I'm keen to share them with you. Hope you enjoy it!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Mothers Day Message 14th May 06.

Hi Everyone!
It's Mothers Day and Pastor John has a special message for you on the way God fills not only the Father figure in our life, but also possess the Motherly ideals that so shape our lives.

Click on this link to listen (or right click (Windows) or CTRL+click (Mac) and save to your computer .

(Admin apologises for the abrupt start as the first few seconds of the recording were unusable.)

Interested in Lutheran Theology?

Came across a website FULL of links to Lutheran theology:
Lutheran Theology Web Site
If you have an interest, have a look: they certainly make for good reading!
(Also available in the links on the right.)

Friday, May 12, 2006

A Change of Plan!

Hi All,
Pastor Johns' service will not be available in written form.
"Sermons are really meant to be heard and not read..." he said, so in future only the mp3's will be available. Thank you for listening.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

First Message.

Our first mp3 download of the service on the 7th of May 2006 is now available here. The full text will soon be added.

Hello world!

Welcome to the weblog of St. John Lutheran Church, Wollongong, NSW, Australia.
We will be posting the messages of Pastor John Strelan for your reading pleasure, and will have a mp3 available, too!
We hope you enjoy our offerings and look forward to bring you Reformation theology from an Australian viewpoint.