Boys to Men

I recently took 20 Year 8 boys out on an adventure camp. Amidst all of the hiking, canoeing, setting up tents and preparing our food, I got the chance to talk to them around the fireplace at night.

While most were resistant to talking about Jesus, they were open to one particular topic – what is the difference between a boy and a man? Their insights were outstanding:

* A man thinks of others first, boys thinks of themselves

* A man takes responsibility for his actions

* A man treats women and girls properly

* A man will admit when there is something wrong.

Our discussion from this led to a question: which of these things just happen as you get older, and which of them are choices? Not surprisingly, the conclusion was that each of these things were a choice. We decided that in all of their actions and decisions, these 14 year olds had the ability to choose whether to be a boy or to be a man.

It isn’t difficult to extend this to the question of ‘What does it mean to be a Christian man?’ Regardless of where an individual is in their faith journey, in each of their decisions they can make a choice whether to be a Christian man or a man of the world – a man who chases after God or a man who chases after his human desires – a man who acts with pride or one who humbly places Christ at the centre of all he does.

Like the boys who can begin moving into manhood by the choices they make each day, we can move into maturity in our faith by making the choices and decisions which align us with our Father’s heart for us.


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“Determined love” and Christmas

This post is from Stephen Climpson, who has reflected on the events in Martin Place this week in the light of Christmas.

Following a church service to pray for the families of those killed and traumatised during the armed hold up at the Lindt cafe in Martin Place, Malcolm Turnbull spoke to the media about something he experienced on his train journey into the city to attend the service.

He said that he sensed that his fellow travellers, like him, were numbed by the events in Martin Place but that there was a quiet and deep resolve to exercise what he described as “determined love”- to choose to keep acting in love for others and not to be defeated by the fear of evil. He concluded from his train journey and from what had been shared in the church service that choosing to love in the face of evil is vital for life- “life is all about love”, he said.

Although he may not have known it, Malcolm Turnbull’s “determined love” expresses the very essence of the love that is behind the Christmas story. The hearts on that train that were choosing to act in love in the face of evil mirror the heart that drove our Creator to choose to come to earth as a helpless baby and to eventually die for this broken world.

Gods motivation and purpose in sending Jesus into the world is declared in John 3:16-17: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him”

God so loved us that he chose to give what we would understand as his most precious- his own child. Selfless costly love for the whole world (including us) was his motivation. His purpose was not to condemn but to “rescue” us from evil and to give life, life to the full and life which never ends.

At Christmas time, God invites every person to accept in our hearts this gift of life, purchased at great cost to him, but which is free to us. We do this when we simply and humbly receive his love for us with our own thankful heart of love, choosing to say “yes” to Jesus’ call: “follow me”.

Profoundly, Jesus’ final command to his followers was: “Love each other as I have loved you” (John 15: 12). In this command, Jesus calls us to love one another like God loves us- choosing costly love, even in face of evil and when it is not deserved. In some ways, Malcolm Turnbull’s call to live lives of “determined love” is an echo of this command of Jesus. It is also an echo of the call made by Saint Paul in 1 Corinthians 12:21 (particularly pertinent to the Martin Place hostage): “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

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Men’s Weekend

Phil Henry passed this on to include in the blog:


On our recent Men’s Retreat we asked the question What does it mean to be a man of God? The collection of responses is listed below. I thought it would produce some food for thought, as well as comments and additions on the blog.

  • David, Moses, Abraham, Daniel etc. as examples of Men of God. In them we see four traits: 
  1. Heart for God  
  2. Faith in God 
  3. Obedience to God,  
  4. Men who are known by their fruit. 
  • Noted that these are the same characteristics for women of God. 
  • Championing women: Role for Christian men to challenge historical view of the genders. 
  • Challenge and model against the stereotype of men dominating women. ie. more inclusive approach. 
  • Man of integrity. 
  • Speak up for what is right. 
  • Be diligent in what is consistent with our inner and outer life. 
  • Honouring women, blessing our wives. 
  • The need for a support/accountability group of men? Or meeting 1-1? Men should meet to be the shield for one another. 
  • Jesus is our model: so we become more Christ-like. But that is not works, or a checklist. Pray for the Holy Spirit to change us. Change in our character is manifest in our actions. 
  • What did/does Jesus do? Look beyond this world to eternity. How did Jesus look beyond himself – a servant to others. 
  • Seeking to have the heart of God. 
  • Our current worldview is independence.  However for men of God is interdependence: =Man + God + community we can accomplish more. 
  • We are leaders in our family, work, etc. 
  • Leaders need to define core values that are consistent.  
  • Recognising that we report to a higher authority, so we seek to be humble, holy. etc. WWJD? Set example. 
  • Sense that we should challenge apathy. Choose to engage and do things together.

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The Holy Spirit and Loving One Another

 It has been a while since we have had a Men Of Strength contribution. I am so thankful that Stephen Climpson has taken some time to share his thoughts on the Holy Spirit and how having the Spirit inside us links in with Jesus’ command to love one another. Please read, comment, and if you have something to share, send it to me at

As we have been looking at the Holy Spirit in God’s word in our services in church, I have learned something new about how the scriptures speak of a profound connection between the Holy Spirit and loving one another. 

One example is John 14 where Jesus promises that he will send Holy Spirit after he is gone. In 14:18, Jesus assures us that he will not leave us as “orphans”, that he  will come to us and, in 14:16 and 26, promises that, as we love him and obey his command, he will send “another Counselor” (the Holy Spirit) to be with us forever.  

Jesus also says that, as we love him and obey his command, we will be “loved by my Father”, that Jesus will show himself to us (14:21) and that the Father and Jesus will “come” to us and make their “home” in us (14:23). Jesus also said that, in that day, we will realize that he is “in” the Father and we are “in” Jesus and that Jesus is “in” us (14: 20). 

Jesus thus paints an amazing picture of the whole of the Godhead coming to share deeply and intimately with us and to live in us by the Holy Spirit as we love him and obey what he commands, our bodies becoming a temple where God himself dwells. Profoundly, Jesus says this extraordinary reality comes about when we love him and obey his commands. 

How are we to love Jesus? We know from other parts of scripture that it will involve us trusting him, giving our hearts and lives to him as God and Savior. However, what Jesus says about loving him in John 14 emphasizes something that Jesus saw as a fundamental aspect of what our love for him will involve. Jesus says (twice) that if we love him, we will obey what he commands (14:15 and 23). Jesus here is saying that true love for him will be demonstrated in obedience to his command. Love for Jesus and obedience to his command go hand in hand and cannot be separated. 

But how are we to obey Jesus? What is or are the command(s) that Jesus is speaking of in John 14? I believe Jesus gives a clear answer in John 15 (which immediately follows what he has been saying about the Holy Spirit in chapter 14)- “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you” (15:12). 

In this way, Jesus was revealing that there is a most profound connection between us loving one another and God living us by his Holy Spirit. 

This connection between God living in us and his Holy Spirit living is us finds a wonderful echo in 1 John 4:10-13- “This is love: not that we loved God, but God loved us and sent his son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us… We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us his Spirit”. 

The way the connection between the Holy Spirit and loving one another works is a mystery. However, I believe that God’s word is speaking of the new economy of the kingdom of God  – as we love others, God lives in us and sustains and empowers us. The economy of this kingdom is far from the “transactional” economy of the world which says “I will love you if you love me” or, “I will love if there is no risk”. God’s kingdom is all about a self sacrificial love, exemplified in the death of Jesus himself, who calls us to lay down our lives for each other (John 15:13). In God’s economy, in the process of loving others sacrificially, God himself is with and in us, feeding us and sustaining us by living in us by his Holy Spirit. 

This mystery of this connection between the Holy Spirit and loving each other finds another echo in Galatians 5 which speaks of the fruit of the Spirit and says that we are to “live by the Spirit”. Galatians 5: 13-14 urges us to “serve another in love” and says that “the entire law is summed up in a simple command: “Love your neighbor as yourself”. In 5: 6, Paul writes “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love”.  

This profound relationship between the work of the Holy Spirit and God’s command to love one another was spoken of in Jeremiah 31: 33 which prophesied the coming of a “a new covenant”, namely: “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God and I will be their people”. 

A similar prophetic word is in Ezekiel 36:26: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you. I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” 

These prophecies, made 500 years before Jesus, speak of the coming of the Holy Spirit who will remake our hearts and minds so that we can fulfill God’s law and his will for us. What is God’s law? Galatians 5 says that the entire law is summed up in the simple command to love one another as ourselves. What is God’s will? It is to love one another, as Jesus himself commanded in John 15. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to empower and remake us so we can love one another as he commanded. The profound truth is that, as we love one another, Gods deep and unfathomable love for us is made “complete” in us (1 John 4:13), God himself is active in us by his Holy Spirit and we thus become his hands and feet in the world.  

Holy Spirit, please change our hearts and minds so that we can fulfill the command of Jesus to love each other as you love us. As we love one another, fill us more and more with your Holy Spirit. Sustain and equip us to love sacrificially- live in us, guide us, empower us and remake us to love selflessly. Help us to depend on you and not ourselves because without you, we cannot produce fruit. Help us to use the gifts you give us to love others and so complete your purposes in loving us- that we become your hands and feet in the world. Amen. 


Stephen Climpson 

8 August 2014

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Opportunity to Serve

High Tea with the KIng is an upcoming Women’s Ministry event taking place on Saturday 24th May from 2-4.30.

I thought this would be an opportunity for our Men’s Ministry to support the women at our church by acting as servers, so that all of the women present can be a part of the event rather than be running it.

I am only looking for about 5 people. If you can help, send me an email to If you have an item for the blog, send it to me at the same address.


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Darrin Belousek dialogs on the Atonement

Matt Clarke is inviting us all to join him at a series of discussions at Morling College

If you know that Jesus’ death deals with our sins but not quite sure how that really works, and your calendar is empty on Saturday 31 May, then you might like to attend a series of discussions at Morling College.

The main speaker is Darrin Belousek, whose book “Atonement, Justice and Peace” I am currently ploughing through (it’s 650 pages and heavy going!) During the day, four other people will respond to his input.

More info at

Let me know if you are going so we can organise something together.


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‘Twas a Terrible Thing

This is a reflective story by Paul Taylor highlighting the challenges we can face with our non-Christian friends.


They were the nicest of people and ‘twas a terrible thing. They were such friends and so good. They came round for such pleasant barbecues and joined us in easy and interesting conversation and knew us and our children. They were so like us, ‘twas a terrible thing – because they were so unlike us.

We asked ourselves ‘how are we different from them?’ They have no faith or belief but they show such qualities. They are so good. They give to charities, as you do. They express such good sentiments, care about their nearest and dearest and their friends, and all the wrongs in the world. ‘Twas a terrible thing that we could not find a chink in that armour of goodness and niceness.

‘They are better than us’, we even thought at times, mindful of our own deficiencies and sinful tendencies and the struggles we have with doing what is right. They don’t seem to have that struggle in the same way we do. ‘Twas a terrible thing.

But we knew that Jesus had spoken in His authoritative voice, when a man addressed him as ‘Good Master’. Jesus had said, ‘Why are you calling me good? Don’t you know that only God is good?’ Would he have called our neighbours good? As we consider that question, we suspect – no, we know for sure – that He would not call them good. No more than He would call us good in our basic nature that always wants its own way and tends to forget God.

Yes, ‘twas a terrible thing. We knew that in reality there was a huge difference between us and them, that we had a life that they did not, that we had the Holy Spirit within us, whom they did not. Despite the outward likeness, there was an inward difference. We had a knowledge and faith that sustained us, which they did not. We had a view of Jesus on the cross, dying for our sins, which to them was completely redundant and unnecessary.

‘Wonderful’, they thought, ‘if you need those things, but for us, we have . . . what do we have? We have ourselves of course! And that is more than enough for us in our pleasant land and our pleasant place with our lovely children (not at every instant of course) and every other good thing’.

‘Twas a terrible thing, when we heard about the accident and wondered whether they had survived. God the Father, the creator and the almighty on high had perhaps decided that their times on earth were up. ‘You’ve had your time – now it’s My time to see what you have done or not done’.

We knew they would have said to Him, in awful surprise, ‘Lord God, we have done so much that is good and we admit a few mistakes and faults, but they were not really our fault, and surely we deserve . . . ‘ They would have been shocked and horrified to hear the Prince of Glory, the Lamb who was slain, say in return, ‘Get away from Me, you practisers of lawlessness’.

And they would have objected strongly to that. ‘No, no,’ they would have argued, ‘this is not right. You can’t do this to us. We are not like that and certainly not like these people over there. It’s unfair, it’s wrong, it’s unjust, it’s offensive in the extreme’.

And God would have replied, ‘You have always said in your heart that I am unrighteous, unjust and that you preferred your own selves and your own righteousness and goodness. Did you never hear that I condemned all of that from the beginning? I said clearly that your best efforts are filthy rags to Me, they stink worse than a used tampon, much worse than that. I cannot and I will not allow such uncleanness to live with Me for ever. Get away from Me!’

‘Twas a terrible thing.

‘But what . . . ?’ they would have responded.

And the Lamb would have said, ‘Look here at the wounds I received for those who put their trust in me to be delivered from their sins and their iniquities and their self-righteousness and all that is in them. I took their sin for them and threw it far away, as far as the east is from the west. This would have been your shield and it would have covered you from the judgement that was always there, but you would not have it. You had all that you wanted. ‘It is a terrible thing you did.’

So, when we heard that they had survived the accident – it was some other people who died – we were so relieved.

Here they come. The barbecue is on after all. ‘Hi Felicity, Hi James. Fantastic day. They predicted rain, but here’s the sun. What did you think about the State of Origin? Couldn’t believe it. Felicity, your hair looks great. You haven’t changed your hairdresser, have you?’

Yes, ‘tis a terrible thing.

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