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Sam Reeve

Calling on God

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How’s your prayer life? What does it look like? Is God like the fire brigade to you – you make a panic call whenever something goes “wrong”, or is He more like a trusted friend and mentor that you want to connect with regularly and hang out with often?

So far in Jonah, he’s been totally avoiding talking with God, even though everyone around him is, including pagan sailors. But God brings him to a place where his only option is to cry out for his help. It’s when he’s staring death in the face that he finally calls out in desperation.

There’s nothing wrong with crying out to God in our distress, in fact there’s everything right with it. He’s all-powerful, all-loving, all-knowing so it makes total sense to do throw ourselves on him. The tragedy is that if that’s the only time we call on Him, we miss out on so much. God wants to guide and direct and help us in all circumstances. His plan is that every part of our lives reflect his glory and point people to him, not just our disasters.

That’s what it means to have Jesus as our Lord and Saviour – accepting and joyfully living out his rule and rescue in every circumstance.



He’s a Jonah!

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We sometimes hear this expression for someone who seems to attract trouble. Every time they’re in the car, the boat, on the team, something goes wrong. It’s as if they bring bad luck with them (and that’s often what is meant when the expression is used). The saying comes from our passage today (Jonah 1). Whilever Jonah is on board the ship, the storm rages harder and stronger. Toss him overboard, and all is calm, all is bright!

But it’s not a case of bad luck, it’s a case of bad living. The storm comes not because Jonah is unlucky, it’s because he’s wilfully running from God’s good plan and purpose – for him and the people of Nineveh. The storm is not punishment, but part of God’s loving plan to rescue Jonah, the sailors and many others. Sometimes God takes pretty drastic action to get our attention and bring us back into line with his good plan for us and his world. Is God trying to get your attention now? Are you ready to listen, and follow his good direction for your life? It could be the difference between life and death, eternal life and death, for you and many others.

If you’re a follower of Jesus, you’ve been given a message to bring to a lost world, just like Jonah.  It’s easy to dodge that task, or just not do it, or pretend it’s someone else’s job, or even actively avoid it, as Jonah tried to do. But God is relentless in pursuing people, even his enemies. That’s why Jesus came to earth – to die, so that we could live and take this life-giving message to the nations. Let’s do it!




Open House, Open Heart, Open Heaven

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Welcome to CrossCulture Open House! We’re so glad you could come today and hope that you find your time with us inspiring and encouraging. Please take advantage of the many things that are on today to get to know us and the church better. There are tours that will give you some idea of what goes on here and why we’ve been here for the last 152 years. We’d love you to stay around to enjoy some food and friendship too.

We try to be open-hearted to everyone who comes, not just on Sundays but throughout the week as many people come through our Open Chapel and other programs. We hope you will find open-hearted friendship here today and whenever you choose to come.

The reason we want to be open in these ways is because God is like that. He’s keen for us all to get to know him – so much so that he came to visit planet earth, in the person of Jesus. Jesus ‘went about doing good’ the record says, and finally did the ultimate good of opening the door of heaven and relationship with God forever. That’s worth celebrating!

Enjoy our 152nd birthday party!


Where to CrossCulture?

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152 years ago today our forebears in the faith formed this gathering of God’s people now called CrossCulture. By the grace of God, the witness has continued and grown. The light of the good news has gone out, thousands of lives have been changed, hundreds have gone out to other parts of the world to live and to proclaim the message of Jesus. To God be the glory!

What about the future? Our context has changed a lot. (Former pastor Alan Webb recalls that in the 1970s Swanston St was deserted on Sundays – there was nowhere open to even buy a coffee, and Christians probably wouldn’t have done it anyway, even if there was!) Today is very different. Tens of thousands of people go past our church daily. Many are indifferent or even hostile to God. But many are open to hearing the good news of Jesus. All need to hear it, as do the people in the communities where we live and work.

God’s vision of his church is people shining like stars in a dark world, holding out the word of life, as we humbly and sacrificially follow our Master. It’s not an easy life (Jesus never promised that it would be), but the good news is the only hope for lost and broken people. More than ever we need to be praying and living so that people will see and hear the wonderful and powerful message of Jesus – God’s only remedy to the darkness. Let’s shine like lights!


The green-eyed monster

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One of the strongest drivers of human behaviour is envy or jealousy – the green-eyed monster (apparently the expression originates with Shakespeare). Wanting to have a better car, kitchen, phone, career, relationship, body, education, family, hairstyle, etc, etc – the list is endless. Of course wanting these things is not necessarily wrong. It’s what drives the desire that’s the problem. If it’s to be bigger and better than others that’s driving it, then of course ultimately it’s self-directed and wrong. Envy is a dangerous thing. It’s a pernicious form of self-promotion – evidence that our self-interest has been frustrated.

Jesus tells us not to worry about getting ahead of the rest (Matthew 6:25-33). God knows what we need, and doesn’t hold back in providing it (Check out he birds or the flowers, he says). What He wants us to have at the top of our priority list is to seek God’s kingdom and his righteousness. In other words his loving rule over our lives and the lives of others, and to seek to reflect his goodness and purity in our lives – to be like Him. This frees us up to be like Him in other ways. To really seek the good of those around us. With envy on the back burner (or switched off altogether!), love and generosity can flourish and grow on the front burner. This is God’s great plan for his people. Let’s not get sidetracked on lesser things.


The grace of generosity

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One of the first things we learn is to try to get what we can. Anyone who has had a toddler knows that the word ‘mine’ gets used regularly and loudly, pretty much as soon as it’s learned. We learn fairly early on in our lives that we can (often relatively easily) get what is not ours, sometimes without anyone knowing. Someone has said that a thief is someone who regularly confuses ‘mine’ and ‘thine’. God’s instructions to us are very simple. Don’t steal (Exodus 20:15). In contrast to the vast volume of our ownership laws, God is very brief. Just 2 words!

Wanting what’s not ours is a pernicious and prevalent disease. What is the antidote? God has given us the lead in this. The context of the giving of the 10 commandments is one of grace. The grace of God, who rescues his people. They have already been rescued from slavery, and now He’s telling them how to respond to his rescuing love. His generosity is vividly apparent. Even more so to us, who have had God’s grace lavished on us through the sacrifice of Jesus. Imitating this generosity of our Lord and Saviour not only benefits and lifts up those in need, but it turns our eyes off ourselves and helps us experience the joy of the Lord, the One who for the joy set before him endured the cross (Hebrews 12:2).

Let’s excel in the grace of giving (2 Corinthians 8:7).



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This Thursday is RUOK day. It was begun by Gavin Larkin who as a 27 year-old, unexpectedly lost his father to suicide in 1995. His father was his hero and a successful businessman, and Gavin had no idea he was hurting so badly inside. He started his RUOK movement as a simple way of reaching out to the people around us and caring for each other. Not long after starting RUOK day, he died from cancer. Two years later his oldest son also passed away, leaving a grieving widow and mum with 2 young kids. It’s a tragic and inspiring story of a family who in their grief are helping people to value the lives of their family, friends and colleagues by simply checking in on them. I don’t know if they are believers, but they sure value life – everyone’s life.

God’s command to not murder is really his way of telling us that life is very precious to him. Every life is sacred because everyone is created in the image of God, no matter how badly the image is shattered. We know this because God has told us, many times over. But more than that, we know because He has shown us. He gave up what was most precious to him, his beloved Son Jesus, so that we could be redeemed, forgiven, healed, put back together again in the likeness of his Son. Let’s make it RUOK year, rather than just one day. True love can do no less, as we seek to love our neighbour as much as we love ourselves.



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G’day, how are you?” What’s the most common answer to this Aussie greeting? I don’t have any research to prove it, but by far the one I hear the most is: “Busy!” It’s almost a badge of honour, or a mark of godliness. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against people being gainfully and fully occupied, especially in the great work of honouring Jesus. But if the key indicator of our lives is how busy we are, something is wrong. It’s what we’re busy doing that matters.

Balancing competing priorities or just the business of surviving is not easy. It takes wisdom and skill. Wisdom to know what is really important, and skill to keep focused on what matters. And then a good plan to have our diaries (what we do) align with our priorities (why we do it).

God knows this, so he set the world up so that there are 6 days for work, and one when we stop working, take a rest and reflect – recreation – be re-created. That’s why it’s important that we gather together for part of the rest day – to help one another be re-created in the image of Christ.

This is one of the ways we truly love – the Lord with all our heart, mind, soul and strength (as we prioritise serving Him well and resting well) and our neighbour as ourselves (as we serve them well and also give them a rest from us!). That’s what Jesus says is what the law and prophets are all about – loving God and our neighbour. Responding to God’s love to us.

Let’s make sure that our priorities don’t get out of whack, and that what we do with our time reflects God’s priorities for us, our careers, our families, and our church family.



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It’s interesting to follow the word image through the Bible. Right at the beginning we’re told that God made us in his image – male and female (Genesis 1:26-27). It’s something that’s not said of anything or anyone else in the created order. Human beings are uniquely made in the image of God – to reflect his likeness. It goes without saying that anything we make is by definition somehow less than us (no matter how complex and clever). That’s why it’s so offensive to God and demeaning to us to worship anything man-made – we’re bowing down and serving something less than ourselves. God warns us against it in the strongest terms, for our own sakes and for the sake of our relationship with him, as we see in the second commandment. The story from the giving of this commandment onwards is mostly a catalogue of God continuing to draw his people into true loyalty and worship, and human resistance to that, and often active constructing of alternatives to worship and serve.

At the other end of the bible, Jesus is referred to as “the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15), or as the writer to the Hebrews puts it, “the exact imprint of his nature” (1:3). In Christ we have the full revelation of God. So much so, that to worship him is to worship God, to listen to him is to listen to God. In the end, “every knee will bow to him, every tongue confess that He is Lord” (Phil 2:10). He is the real image of God – one in whom all the fullness of God lives. Worshipping and serving anything or anyone less is idol-worship, whether it’s an image on the shelf or in the head, or wealth, health, power, relationships, whatever detracts from giving Jesus his true place. At the most basic level, Christians are people who declare and live that Jesus is Lord. This is the abundant life, full of all that God intended for us.

True love

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I was a teenager in the 60’s – the age of ‘free love’. It’s when people took up the idea that ‘love=freedom from all restraint’. We’re still dealing with the aftermath, in terms of broken families, shattered relationships, generations of insecure people who have never experienced safe boundaries. It’s like a game of football with no line markings, the referee is either absent or refuses to blow the whistle and there are no fouls. It inevitably ends up with lots of conflict, anger and injury. If you need convincing of this, take a visit to the family law courts and sit in the waiting area. It’s a tragic sea of broken hurting humanity. Unfortunately, many of us know the reality of this all too well without going there.

Thank God that He has not set things up like this. His love for us is so great that He wants us to live in safety and enjoyment of him, each other and the creation He has given us to live in. He has taken the trouble to reveal himself to us in his word and in the person of his Son, Jesus. He has lovingly explained good boundaries that show us how to get the best out of life. He’s also put in place a rescue plan when we make a mess of it, as we inevitably do. Jesus came so that we could have life, abundant life. He is so committed to it that He died to pay the price for our sin and brokenness and open up the way back to God for us.

As we begin our True Love series, opening up the 10 commandments, let’s pray that God will help us to know him better, love him more, and trust Jesus our Saviour more totally.