You Are What You Love

You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit
James K A Smith

Our sermon series “Creatures Of Habit” was born from this book.

“You Are What You Love” is one of the best books I’ve read this year. I can’t recommend it highly enough. I usually dislike re-reading books, but I will be coming back to this one for sure.

I love the author’s mind and creativity. This book is full of insight and profundity on everything from the Book of Common prayer to how George Lucas created the Star Wars universe, even the “liturgy” of the shopping mall. Here’s the Koorong blurb:

“In this book, award-winning author James K. A. Smith shows that who and what we worship fundamentally shape our hearts. And while we desire to shape culture, we are not often aware of how culture shapes us. We might not realize the ways our hearts are being taught to love rival gods instead of the One for whom we were made. Smith helps readers recognize the formative power of culture and the transformative possibilities of Christian practices. He explains that worship is the “imagination station” that incubates our loves and longings so that our cultural endeavors are indexed toward God and his kingdom. This is why the church and worshiping in a local community of believers should be the hub and heart of Christian formation and discipleship”.

Here is Tim Keller’s summary and commendation:

“James K. A. Smith’s You Are What You Love provides a user-friendly introduction to the sweeping Augustinian insight that we are shaped most by what we love most, more so than by what we think or do. If sin and virtue are disordered and rightly ordered love, respectively, and if the only way to change is to change what we worship, then this will lead us to rethink how we conduct Christian work and ministry. Jamie gives some foundational ideas on how this affects our corporate worship, our Christian education and formation, and our vocations in the world. An important, provocative volume!”

Chaplain’s Statement: Ahmadi Muslims On Norfolk Island

I have been asked to give my opinion on the activities of the Muslim missionaries currently active on Norfolk Island. While I maintain that religious freedom is the bedrock of all other freedoms, I did think it best to write to you about this group particularly due to our isolation, and lack of contact and context. What we need to know most about the Ahmadi, who have come to us claiming to be “True Islam” – is that they are considered by other muslims to be a cult.

I first became aware of the Ahmadi two years ago when they arrived as guests and companions of the “Universal Peace Federation” who were manoeuvring  to establish a “Peace Embassy” on Norfolk Island. 

The “Universal Peace Federation” was later exposed as a front organisation for the “Unification Church”. You might know the Unification Church by their other name – the “Moonies” (the “Moonies” continue to be known around the world for their mass, public weddings). Today, the “Moonies” in Australia meet in a “Peace Embassy” in central Sydney. A quick google search reveals that the Ahmadi Muslim community and the Unification Church share a strong connection, appearing at many of the same places and events.

It interested me that these two groups were connected, and on closer examination, I discovered that the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is a significant Islamic cult (the equivalent of a “Christian” cult like the Church of Jesus Christ and the Latter Day Saints – the Mormons).

On their first visit to the island they suggested to me (and to others) that they had been asked to compile a special report for the United Nations. I consider this to be misleading. 

The Ahmadi movement, which has its origins in British-controlled northern India in the late 19th Century, identifies itself as a Muslim movement and follows the teachings of the Koran. However, it is regarded by orthodox Muslims as heretical because it does not believe that Mohammed was the final prophet sent to guide mankind (as orthodox Muslims believe is laid out in the Koran). In fact, the founder of the Ahmadi movement (Mirzā Ghulām Ahmad, 1835-1908) claimed to be the second-coming of Jesus.

While they go by the phrase “Love For Hatred For None” I do urge you to research the history of their movement, using your discernment and proceeding with great caution. Mirzā Ghulām Ahmad was a noted opponent of the Christian mission to British Pakistan.

Ahmad perceived that Islam (as it was being preached and practiced in Pakistan) was inferior to Christianity, and he began a project to reform Islam to better rival Christian teaching. Part of his solution was to include more anti-Christian elements in Islam and he also wanted to remove the respect in Islam for Jesus the Messiah. In fact it could be argued that the Ahmadiyya movement is more anti-Christian than the rest of Islam. 

Source: Kenneth Cragg, The Call of the Minaret, Oneworld Publications, 2003, 223. 

Post Script:

So, how should we respond to those who want to preach another Jesus? We must pray that they would come to know the Jesus of history, the image of the invisible God. Throughout the New Testament, the Apostles sought to fight false teaching and heresy. In fact, in nearly every letter, some false teaching or heresy is exposed and dealt with. For example, 1 Corinthians deals with teachers who denied the bodily resurrection of Jesus. Galatians argues against those who said that justification is by Jesus plus becoming a Jew, not faith alone in Jesus alone. In Colossians, Paul warns against a strange Jewish-mystical teaching that seemed to combine Jewish dietary laws with esoteric Greek philosophy. 1 John confronts many who denied that Jesus, the Son of God, came in a human body. Over and over, the church’s leaders fought against false teaching in their churches.

This isn’t to say that in defending the faith we can or ought to forsake courtesy. One mark of our conversion is that we treat everyone, even those in error, with gentleness and respect (2 Timothy 2:24; Titus 3:2). Surely, we can disagree without being disagreeable. And yet, there are truths at stake, and even more than truths, there are precious individuals whom God has entrusted to us for pastoral care and oversight. Our task is to protect the flock even as we examine ourselves to ensure that our teaching and doctrine are pure (1 Timothy 4:16).

God Won’t Give Me More Than I Can Handle And Other Lies I’ve Believed

“God Won’t Give Me More Than I Can Handle And Other Lies I’ve Believed” preached at the Church of England on Norfolk Island on Sunday 12th May 2019.

In a culture that tells us we can be anything we desire, this motivational slogan is meant to encourage, to reassure us that life won’t be too hard. There will be challenges, sure, but God knows my limits. He won’t overdo it.

The problem, however, is that God will give you more than you can handle. He’ll do it to make you lean on him. He’ll do it because he loves you.

Everything Happens For A Reason (And Other Lies I’ve Believed)

Inspired by the best selling book Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I’ve Loved (see link) our new sermon series explores five lies that we are tempted to believe as Christians:

“Everything Happens For A Reason And Other Lies I’ve Believed” preached at the Church of England on Norfolk Island, Sunday 28th April 2019
“We Do Church The Right Way And Other Lies I’ve Believed” preached at the Church of England on Norfolk Island, Sunday 5th May 2019
“Everything Happens For A Reason And Other Lies I’ve Believed” preached at the Church of England on Norfolk Island, Sunday 12th May 2019
“The Devil Made Me Do It And Other Lies I’ve Believed” preached at the Church of England on Norfolk Island, Sunday 19th May 2019
“A Decision Makes Me A Christian And Other Lies I’ve Believed” preached at the Church of England on Norfolk Island, Sunday 27th May 2019

Thirty-five-year-old Kate Bowler had finally had a baby with her childhood sweetheart after years of trying, when she began to feel jabbing pains in her stomach. She lost thirty pounds, chugged antacid, and visited doctors for three months before she was finally diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer. How can a good God exist, in the face of all the injustice and suffering in the world? This book describes, in a very honest way, her search for the answer to that question, as well as her experiences with doctors, relatives and her own thoughts whilst on her sickbed.

28 April Lies I’ve Believed:  Everything Happens For A Reason
5 May Lies I’ve Believed:  We Do Church The Right Way
12 May  Lies I’ve Believed:
God Won’t Give Me More Than I Can Handle
19 May  Lies I’ve Believed:  The Devil Made Me Do It
26 May  Lies I’ve Believed:  A Decision Makes Me A Christian

What’s The Point Of Preaching?

We do a funny thing at church.

Every week, roughly the same group of people (the congregation) come to hear the same person (the preacher) speak.

If the average preacher speaks 100 words a minute, that means you’ll hear 2,500 words a sermon – maybe around 130,000 words a year. 

What difference does it all make?

Luke 8:1-18 Preached at the Church of England on Norfolk Island, April 7, 2019

10 REASONS TO GET MORE INVOLVED AT CHURCH

At the beginning of any year most people tend to evaluate their priorities. This is a good thing. In fact, one of our problems is that we do not assess ourselves enough. Let me encourage you to evaluate the level at which you are involved in serving the Lord at church. In no particular order, here are some important things to consider:

1. Serving is the purpose of our salvation.

Sometimes when we emphasise that salvation is not by works, we fail to fully appreciate that we have been saved to do good works (Ephesians 2:10). To be stationary or sedentary is to neglect God’s purpose for your life.

2. I have been gifted to serve.

Several Bible passages help us to understand the concept of spiritual gifts. Among them are Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, and Ephesians 4. In these chapters we learn how God graciously and supernaturally gives to each believer their own distinct ministry gift!

What a privilege!

3. Serving demonstrates the reality of my faith.

Nobody has said it better than James when he taught us that faith is not about what we know (or have heard), and it’s not about what we say. Faith without works is dead.

4. The workers are few.

Our Lord Jesus said: “Pray for more workers for the harvest!” If you are not already serving, somebody somewhere is praying for you to get involved. The need is greater than ever. The harvest is ready. The workers are few.

5. Do it for the kids (they’re watching).

When Jesus selected His apostles, He chose them to be “with Him.” Ministry is more often “caught” than “taught.” What is the next generation learning about positive, heart-motivated ministry by watching us?

6. The commission is great.

Our master and commander, the Lord Jesus Christ has given us our marching orders!

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18

7. Ministry involvement enhances biblical understanding.

As we put the Word of God to practice in our lives, the Lord brings His purposes and His will into focus. At the wedding in Cana, the servants understood Jesus and His ways better than anyone else in the room: “the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew (John 2:9).

Serving God enhances our knowledge of God.

8. Doing anonymous or little things for the Lord is like whispering, “I love You” in His ear.

We don’t do in order to measure up. We do because we measure up in Christ! God can’t love you any more than He already does! You are His treasure. He has redeemed you and called you by name. With this mindset, mundane duties became majestic acts of service. Serving becomes its own reward.

“Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart”. Ephesians 6:6

9. I will forge long-lasting and valuable friendships.

One of the major fringe benefits of serving the church is the building of genuine friendships. Those to whom we feel the closest in life are typically those with whom we work. Adam and Eve began their marriage side by side, working together – he the gardener and she his helper. Checkout Romans 16, where Paul takes time to assign value to his coworkers in ministry. Read it. Sense his heart. Ministry partners are the best lifetime friends and great sources of encouragement.

10. We will stand before the Lord.

He loves me. He died for me. He has given me purpose. Only what’s done for Him matters. I will meet Him face to face. Someday. Maybe today.

Involvement in ministry is living for Jesus, being like Jesus, and being with Jesus. If that doesn’t inceltivize us, I don’t know what will!

What would you add to this list?

Thanksgiving 2018

A lot of people ask, “What is God’s will is for my life?” At out Thanksgiving Day service on Norfolk Island we read 1 Thessalonians! “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

What is God’s will for your life?

In everything give thanks!

Click here for the Chaplain’s sermon.

Praying For Norfolk Island

 

  • Sunday – That the Gospel would be boldly and unashamedly proclaimed in our churches today. That our churches would be places for the broken, unwanted and hurting. That Jesus will be offered as the only solution for the very thing we can’t do on our own –  make our selves better or save ourselves.
  • Monday – Pray that Romans 8:35-39 would become a reality. Pray for yourself, for your family, and for our church. Pray that our hope would be found in Christ alone.
  • Tuesday – Pray Matthew 6:10 over our island. Spend today replacing the word “earth” with Norfolk Island (“on Norfolk Island as it is in heaven”).
  • Wednesday – Pray that the Spirit would weed out the sin in your life that has kept you from living a life on mission. Ask that He would open up opportunities for you to be share your hope with your family and friends. Pray for them by name.
  • Thursday – Pray boldly Psalm 33:8 over Norfolk Island. The people would stand in awe before Him.
  • Friday – Pray Habakkuk 3:2 over Norfolk Island. That the Lord’s love, wrath, justice and mercy would be made known.
  • Saturday: Pray that the Lord would increase our love for Norfolk. That our love and growth in Jesus would produce a desire to see others saved, and grow in their love and understanding of who God is, what He has done and what He is doing.