Monthly Archives: October 2012

One reason I love our Archbishop ….

Archbishop Peter Jensen has been a pretty good leader of our diocese the last decade or so.  But if I were to reflect on the one thing that has effected me most in my time under him, it’s been the great things I learnt under his preaching.  I still even remember the sermon he preached on the Holy Spirit when he was guest speaker at St Clements Mosman (over 20 years ago)!

This year, he came to speak at SPCH on the same day Stephen Lungu was giving his testimony.  Stephen Lungu is a powerful African evangelist.  And the Archbishop was scheduled to preach from Romans 5 immediately after Stephen’s awesome and engaging testimony.  And of course, Peter Jensen did not disappoint.  I’ve given and heard a lot of evangelistic sermons this year – and the Archbishop’s has to be up there in the top couple!  Listen to the audio below:

Stephen Lungu’s testimony –

Archbishop Peter Jensen’s response –

PS: Peter gave this sermon after dinner, and one thing I love is the spontenaity of the sermon.  On the way into the church he said “I’m bored of the sermon I wrote, do you mind if I preach another?” (ie do you mind if I wing it?)

PPS: The last 30 seconds of the sermon brought the house down.

Christmas Carols that are good to attend but also preach Jesus?

Christmas is fast approaching.  It’s a time when Australia basically stops: schools break for holidays; offices shut down; and people gather together for one never-ending BBQ.  All for what?  It’s obviously a naturally low in the working cycle (except if you are a shopkeeper or work in a shop). However, for Christians it is the opportunity to once again, present the gospel clearly to our world.  Once again, we get the opportunity to gather a large proportion of the wider community, sings hymns, and remember God lovingly “breaking” into our world by sending his Son, Jesus, into the world to do his mighty act of salvation.

One opportunity churches have to proclaim Jesus is through running a Community Carols.  The idea is to run a family-friendly, attractive, yet gospel centered event that will not only bless the community but also reaffirm the true meaning of Christmas to people who may never hear otherwise.  There is a fine line that churches need to think through.  Questions like:

  1. What do we do with Santa?
  2. What do we do with secular carols that are anything but Christian – like Jingle Bells or Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer.?
  3. Should we even have a sermon address?

These are good and valid questions and depending on how you answer them have a real bearing on how many people will actually attend your carols event (and future ones).

I’m no expert, but may I suggest a narrative approach to your Carols event.   You can see it diagrammatically, as follows:

It’s an integrated Christmas narrative that could be used as a framework for the whole carols event. The main benefit of this is that it presents a faithful, coherent and unified narrative that would work well for a whole Community Carols, whilst also being flexible, accommodating and engaging to the modern (secular) resident.

  • This proposal is a framework we believe will work.  There is lot of room for flexibility around the readings and carols for items, etc.
  • Each reading will be a faithful paraphrase, read by an accomplished reader .  We don’t expect each reading to exceed a few minutes per reading.  With all the carols, the readings, the MC, and Santa, etc, we calculate the carols event to be about 1¾ hours in total.
  • The carols around each reading are suggestions that would work well for each particular reading.
  • Santa Claus is a welcome part of the Community Carols.   He is of importance because children and families are familiar with him, but also because his historical origins lie in Bishop Nicolas, who lived among the poor and because of his love and mercy would buy, wrap and give gifts to the children in the poorest area of his community.  It would be wonderful if we could meet this Santa through a fun and interesting interview.

At our Community Carols, we plan to cap this year at 5,000 people. That is eminently achievable for our area and a great opportunity for the Gospel.  I’d love to hear stories of what your church has done or plans to do in the future – you know where to find me!

Surviving your smart phone

I’m writing this as a survivor of smart phone addiction.  In days gone by, I could spend all day and all night playing with my phone.  This was dreadful for my sleep patterns, my work patterns and my relationships! But, by the grace of God and after incessant pressure from my beloved wife to change, I have turned over a new leaf!

You can actually program your phone to do basic tasks automatically so that it becomes what it ought to be – a useful tool and not your digital overlord! The principles I’ve adopted are:

  1. Make the phone automatically invisible when it should be and
  2. Take the phone off the network when I should be invisible from the connected world.

I have a Samsung Galaxy Note, but I presume you could do this on your Android or iPhone too (I don’t have an iPhone so I can’t confirm it!).  On my phone, I installed an app called Tasker.  Tasker allows you to write triggers for events and states and locations on your phone. Here are the some profiles I’ve written (and I’ve posted the recipes so you can do it to your phone too!)

A. Night Flight Mode

This turns the phone to Flight Mode between 11pm and 5:50am each night.  Yes it is awesome because no one can email, call or text you in that time!

How to make a “Night Flight Mode” Profile:

  1. Select “New” Profile
    New -> Time -> From: 2300 To: 550
  2. Select “New Task”, then select the plus sign in the left bottom corner,
    Net -> Airplane Mode -> Set to “On”

This should turn the phone to Flight Mode during the hours you set.  It should revert to non-Flightmode outside these hours.  If your version of Tasker has a problem doing the latter, then put an “Exit Task” of turning flight mode off.

B. Automatic Mute Phone in Meetings

This automatically turns the phone to vibrate (or silent depending on what you want) during calendar event which mark you as “Busy”.  There are stacks of examples of this one, such as on the Tasker Wiki.  My tips for the stock example are:

  1. If you want the phone to “un-mute” when the event is over, you may need to add an “Exit Task” which toggles the Vibrate mode to “Off”.
  2. Be selective in which calendars that you wish to trigger off.  This means that not every even needs to mute your phone.  Instead, I only mute the phone during church and work meetings.

Tasker is a really useful tool to help get your Android smartphone working better for you.  I recommend that you go to their wiki for more recipe examples.