Archive for June, 2010

State of Preaching Today!

Posted in Preaching with tags , , , , , , , on June 29, 2010 by Corey Turner #ironprophet

2 Timothy 4:1-4 “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus…. preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”

R. Albert Mohler, Jr recently quoted John Broadus in his new book, “He is not silent”, “Preaching is characteristic of Christianity. No other religion has made the regular and frequent assembling of groups of people, to hear religious instruction and exhortation, an integral part of divine worship.”

Preaching is central to the advancement of the Gospel. Biblical preaching is the main strategy God has ordained and blessed throughout the church age and He still uses it today to grow His church. Unfortunately, my observation of pulpits across Australia would be that the state of preaching is a mile wide and an inch deep… shallow at best (I know that I risk being criticised for my observation but it’s true).

I have travelled far and wide across the Body of Christ, attended many conferences and conventions and the same pattern of superficial and thematic preaching is abundant everywhere. A lot of the messages I would have heard from other pulpits would fit into the category of self-help motivational talks than biblical preaching.

Instead of the pulpit being the sacred desk we may as well call it the “Therapy Couch” where people can get tips and techniques all starting with the same letter to help them improve their lives. This isn’t why the church exists or a good enough reason to attend a church. It reflects more of a humanistic ideal, such as satisfying Maslow’s Hierarchy of felt needs than it does the gospel of Jesus Christ that calls men and women to repentance of sin and surrender to a life of following Christ.

I love my brothers and sisters in the Pentecostal movement and thank God for many of the unique contributions made but unfortunately I think there is a whole lot that needs to be looked at when it comes to the expounding of God’s Word. It concerns me and some of it is very unhelpful or sadly even unbiblical. The emphasis weighs more on experience than it does on truth. Our experience needs to be interpreted through the Scriptures, not the other way around.

I have heard from dozens of different people over recent months about their hunger for truth and sound biblical teaching. There is only so many times people can hear about, “Honour”, “Generosity”, the “Anointing” and “Blessing and Favour” before they start to wonder, “Is there anything more?” These things are not going to sustain your faith when it really matters.

There are certain doctrines that have been over-emphasized (Health and Wealth Gospel) at the expense of sound and fundamental doctrines such as the Trinity (who God is); Creation (what God has made); Revelation (How God speaks); Ecclesiology (the Church God sends); Christology (the Son of God – Jesus Christ); the Cross (substutionary atonement); the Fall (man, sin and God’s judgement)… Just to name a few…

When was the last time you heard a series on the major doctrines of Christianity? I think it’s absolutely essential in our plural, postmodern society that we know exactly what we believe and why we believe it. Some pastors may think, “these aren’t very sexy topics” but the reality is these doctrines and others like them form the foundation of Christianity. Jesus isn’t as about attracting crowds of cheer-leaders as he is about making disciples.

I, like the author of, “He is not Silent” would make the following observations of how we got into this state of shallow preaching in the first place.

  1. Contemporary preaching suffers from a loss of confidence in the power of the word: We have had so much critique of different passages of Scripture that some preachers no longer have any confidence to preach exactly what the word says.
  2. Contemporary preaching suffers from an infatuation with technology: In the absence of truth and conviction, many preachers resort to trends and techniques. Technology is good and I utilize it but it is over-used by some at the expense of the message.
  3. Contemporary preaching suffers from embarrassment before the biblical text: Let’s face it, some of us preachers are just unwilling to teach on certain texts because they are too hot to handle and difficult to interpret (Ephesians 5:22-33; 1 Timothy 2:8-3:7)… only if you preach for the approval of man. We have to go there and give our best energy to teaching the hard issues.
  4. Contemporary preaching suffers from an emptying of biblical content: More opinions are entering the pulpit than the actual text being addressed. Little study is evident in many sermons and the BIG idea of the text is not being presented.
  5. Contemporary preaching suffers from a focus on felt needs: Topical series abound on handling finances, fulfilling your destiny and faith and very little preaching focuses on the simple exposition of biblical texts, book after book. We have found that if you just teach the Scriptures book in and book out you will go far more in depth on several ‘felt-need’ themes that will be in context and helpful for everyone listening.
  6. Contemporary preaching suffers from an absence of the gospel: There is a lack of preaching centered on the cross. It doesn’t matter what text you are dealing with, both the OT and NT points back to Jesus. Christ-centric preaching needs to be established as the dominant theme of our preaching.

I want to be a voice for change in our pulpits and while I may have some viewpoints that some may take offense at, the reality is, we preachers have a sacred responsibility and will be judged with greater strictness because of the call and gift we have been generously given. The task is too important and people’s souls too precious, for us not to pay greater attention to the sacred desk.

Lead the Change!

Get a Daily Journal!

Posted in ministry with tags , , on June 27, 2010 by Corey Turner #ironprophet

Over the last 10 years of life and ministry I have filled up at least 15 Moleskin Journals with insights, thoughts, sermon ideas, plans, reflections and bible study.

More recently I have started to journal my reflections every night before I go to bed. I have found this a very helpful exercise to de-brief with God and myself and to remind myself of all of the amazing things that have happened during the day.

All of us have so many amazing things that happen to us and around us on any given day but most of us never take the time to reflect on them and process them as we should. When we should and want to remember certain key things from our lives, we may find it difficult to but with a journal, it makes it easier.

In Nehemiah 1:1 it reads, “The words of Nehemiah the son of Hacaliah. Now it happened in the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Susa the capital…”

Now the reason why Nehemiah could record what had happened to him is because he journalled his story. Who would have thought at the time, that Nehemiah’s journal would become a book of the Bible, completely inspired by the Holy Spirit?

Your journal can not only help you in your life and ministry and relationship with Jesus but it can become a legacy for your kids and others to read one day of the most important events of your life. Head to Borders Bookstore asap and buy a Moleskin journal and start writing each day. Why a Moleskin? They are a solid, reliable and quality product and because you’ve paid the little extra for it, you will value it more than a 99c exercise book from the supermarket.

In the first few pages of your moleskin, create a Table of Contents and from left to right across the top of the page write, “Date – Scripture – Title – Page No”. Start writing each night before bed and when you are finished a journal entry, record the details in your Table of Contents and you’ll have a documented record of the important events in your world. Alternatively, you can just type away on your MAC lap top. I do heaps on my MAC but I also enjoy that old activity you learnt at school called writing. Happy Journalling!

Lead the Change!

The Leadership Challenge!

Posted in Leadership with tags , , , , , on June 25, 2010 by Corey Turner #ironprophet

Leadership is challenging!

Over the last 48hrs some extreme measures have been taken in the Australian Federal Government, particularly, the Australian Labour Party. As many Aussies would know by now, Kevin Rudd has been ousted by his own party and we now have the first female Prime Minister of Australia, Miss Julia Gillard!

I saw, via media, every speech given ‘live’ and it was an interesting and tense process to watch unfold. There is no doubt that politics has once again confirmed it’s reputation as being absolutely cutthroat. Even though Rudd’s parting speech was honourable of his party (yet painful & awkward to watch), he must be feeling a sense of betrayal and emotional wounding from some of his colleagues who under-minded his leadership, regardless of the issues at hand.

Leadership at any level is a tough gig but especially at a Federal Political level. It appears, from comments given by political commentators, that Kevin Rudd left his transparent humanity and accomplishments presentation too late. This tells me that apart from other issues, which we will never fully be aware of, leaders everywhere need to live and lead from the heart, collaborate thoroughly with their team members and never stop talking about the great things being accomplished…if that is the case.

Leading people is bound to get you tons of criticism and place tons of pressure upon you as expectations fly at you from all directions. One of the challenges of leadership is the potential for misunderstanding and the ensuing small windows a leader gets to clarify what they actually intended to say.

Leadership involves making hard decisions but making those decisions with as much information as possible and then with everything in hand, making a call. As much as we’d like to have a win-win outcome every time, the reality is, someone or something loses out more often than not.

Leadership is about inspiring people to move from where they are to where they need to be. Be it in a nation, business, church or family. Leadership that relies on titles and intimidation alone is poorly lacking. Leadership that serves people out of a love for them, collaborates through seeking to understand then to be understood, ready and willing to make a decision even if it’s unpopular, and able to communicate clearly and with integrity the BIG Idea is leadership worth following.

Is Julia Gillard this type of leader? We will wait and see. She has stepped into leadership under bad circumstances and her first speech as PM designate indicates she has strength to her character but is this enough for national leadership? I’m not aware of her ethics or theological position (I’ve heard rumors) but time will tell what she contributes to the health and future of Australia.

1 Timothy 2:1-3 says “First of all then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good and it is pleasing in the sight of God our saviour.”

One of the most important things we can do for our leaders is pray for them. This includes pastors, dads, single mums, principles, CEO’s and politicians, amongst others. This nation has a warped view of authority (it must be a convict thing) but we need to pray for God’s wisdom and intervention in all leadership endeavors whether they be in the Church, Education, Business or Political arenas.

Be also praying for Kevin Rudd and his family. He will be shattered and his family will now be cleaning up the pieces of his emotional processing. Humanity can be very harsh and we all need to be a little more respectful and gracious with our leaders who are doing their best in often difficult situations.

Leadership is a hot topic right now and it’s so important that we keep our eyes on the greatest leader of all time – Jesus Christ! He is the author and perfecter of our faith and when contemporary culture shifts and changes, Jesus Christ’s character and teaching stays the same. Stay close to him, keep your eyes on His Word and follow him, for he is a leader worth following.

Lead the Change!

Stuck in the BUBBLE!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on June 24, 2010 by Corey Turner #ironprophet

Matthew 5:14, 16 “You are the light of the world…In the same way let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

Dan Kimball in his book, “They like Jesus but not the Church” talks about the downward spiral of  many Christian’s who once were excited missionaries in the community but now are citizens of the BUBBLE (Christian sub-culture).

He writes of 4 phases a Christian goes through to become citizens of the bubble:

  1. We become Christians – Joy, excitement and bursts of insight come as we relate to God and discover his grace and truth. In the first year of someone becoming a Christian, they tell approximately 20 people about their faith and even invite them to church.
  2. We become part of church life – Assimilation into church life gradually takes place. This is both helpful in establishing new patterns of thinking and relational influences but slowly our engagement with the world around us is eroded. Statistically, the longer we are Christians, we get fewer non-christian friends and have less impact on culture around us. Don’t you think it strange that the longer we are Christians and walking with Christ, the fewer non-Christians get to experience the overflow of Christ from inside of us?
  3. We become part of the Christian Bubble – When we start to see evangelism as something the church does through events, and we simply invite people to church to have the pastor do all the evangelizing through his sermon, we’ve missed the point. Church gatherings are important and hearing the word taught is important but we are the church everywhere we go and we must spend time with people being in relationship with them, not to proselytize them, but just to be a friend to them. When we are only listening to Christian music, wearing Christian T-shirts (“Jesus is my Homeboy” t-shirts do not count – it’s just cool), only attending Christian conferences, putting dorky Christian stickers on our cars (You must really like aquatic life) and using Christianese as your first language, it’s official, you are a citizen of the bubble.
  4. We become like Jonah – Before we know it, we are complaining about how ‘evil’ the culture is and when Christ calls us into it to be on mission, we, like Jonah, head for the hills…or water… We even get a secret sense of delight, knowing God will one day punish those sinners and we start to complain that church isn’t meeting my needs, forgetting the needs all around us. Our contentment in the bubble blinds us to the fact that we are STUCK. When stuck, we tend to get more excited about the latest Christian CD and End Times novel than about people we pass by weekly who don’t know Christ.

Jesus said, “We are the light of the world!” Lights illuminate dark places and are clearly visible. When we get stuck in the bubble, we hide our lights away and miss out on being the miracle in someone’s world.

I know what it’s like to be a citizen of the bubble, growing up in the church, son of pastors and spending the majority of my working life around the church. I have had to work hard in my role as a pastor to remove myself from the bubble and at times have received criticism for it, but it’s worth it. The conversations started, the hope shared, the lessons learnt, the people I’ve met and the love of Jesus given is all worth it. What about you? Are you stuck in the Christian bubble? Get out while you can…without throwing the baby out with the bath water.

Lead the Change!

Pass the TEST!

Posted in Bible Study, character with tags , , , on June 22, 2010 by Corey Turner #ironprophet

James 1:2-18 (Read) “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds…”

I know what its like to feel the pressure of tests and exams. When I was in the Police Academy, we had to pass a LAW exam every 2 weeks and if we failed, we were sent back to a rookie squad. Thankfully, this didn’t happen. No one likes to face a test, especially a test to our faith in Jesus.

James the Just exhorts us to expect tests to come our way and to count it all joy when being tested. As Jesus was tested (Matt 4:1-11), so we will be. The Father tested Jesus to bring out the best in him but Satan tempted Jesus to bring out the worst in him. The same happens with us. God designs tests to produce spiritual maturity and Christ-likeness in us. If we value comfort, material things and the present more than we value character, spiritual growth and eternal matters, then we will approach tests with a negative outlook.

Joy is possible when you know that God has a purpose for the test. God’s goal for us is maturity, not prosperity or success. If these things come, good and well. If not, we haven’t missed out be we have missed the point of the journey if we don;t grow closer to Christ and become more like him. Ephesians 2:8-10 outlines 3 works that God does in the believers life:

  1. For us – salvation
  2. In us – sanctification
  3. Through us – service

God is more concerned with what he is doing in us before he is concerned about what he’s doing through us. Character is not developed in an altar call but in the process of surrendering our will to God while we endure the test. Ignorance of the Scriptures limit our hope during a test and we set ourselves up for a fall during the test but Romans 15:4 says, “It’s through the endurance and encouragement of the Scriptures that we have hope.”

Ask God for WISDOM when facing a TEST. We need wisdom to not waste the opportunity the tests gives us to grow. Too often we don’t learn what God intends for us to learn from the tests we face and we end up going back around the mountain. Ask God for wisdom and not simply to escape the test.

James wants us to realise in this text that one of the greatest tests for the Christian will be the challenges that come with wealth. Wealth has a way of distracting us from our need for salvation and to be dependent on God. The world encourages us to be self-sufficient but God’s word exhorts us to be God-dependent. There is nothing wrong with having money, in fact, God exhorts us to be good stewards of the resources he entrusts to us but there is something wrong with money having us and we directing our lives, first and foremost, by how it will affect us financially. The love of money is the root of all evil.

We also need to know the difference between a test and a temptation. God tests us to grow us but he never tempts us to defile us. We are not to blame God when our own desire leads us into sin. When dealing with temptation, we are to look past the bait, to the consequence. Romans 6:23 says, “The wages of sin is death.”

God intends our tests to become testimonies. V12 is such an encouragement to stand the test and one day receive the reward. Don’t let your test become your tombstone but make it a stepping stone to greater maturity in God. Don’t respond manward in a test but Godward.

Lead the Change!

i58

Posted in activate church with tags , , on June 19, 2010 by Corey Turner #ironprophet

Over the past week I have been apart of a wonderful initiative and exciting opportunity to serve and love others called i58. Not that we need a project to do this day in and day out but it’s been great to see the church put Isaiah 58 in action In a focused way.

We have visited the sick, given free clothing to people who needed them, served homeless people food, given counsel to people seeking it, encouraged community services in the area and loved people however and wherever we can.

I was moved to tears last night as I witnessed one of our congregation help a man pray to Jesus and surrender his life to Christ in the middle of the ‘Food @ the Vault’ experience (runs fortnightly at Activate). Loving and serving people is the right thing to do regardless of the outcome but it is wonderful to be apart of seeing broken people transformed by God’s love and power.

It is such an honor to serve alongside great men and women of God who, this week, have given of themselves tirelessly to serve the well-being of others. Kate Johnson (Community Impact Director) needs to be specifically mentioned for her incredible leadership of i58 projects. Thank you Kate. You are a blessing to the church and your Christ-like leadership is a great example to others.

At the end of the day, i58 isn’t just a weeklong project, it’s a way of living. I want to lead a church that thinks, talks, and acts like Christ 24/7. As I read the Bible and travel and speak throughout the Body of Christ, it’s clear that MISSION is what Christ is calling us to. It’s needed everywhere and it’s happening everywhere. Where are you on mission for Christ in your world?

Lead the Change!

Reinvent Intimacy!

Posted in Intimacy with God with tags , , , , on June 17, 2010 by Corey Turner #ironprophet

I sat on a panel at a leaders conference recently and answered questions with other speakers. One of the questions centered on hearing God’s voice. I shared with them the importance of reinventing your intimacy with God in different seasons of your life.

Anyone who connects with God on a regular basis needs to freshen up their approach to intimacy with God. We can easily get stale and settle into a comfortable routine that steals the joy from relationship with God. In different seasons, different approaches should be tried.

For me personally I have gone through seasons of going for long walks and conversing with God. I’ve listened to certain teachers and preachers on podcast talking about a subject that I am working through in that moment. I’ve prayed and fasted. I’ve just read Scripture. I’ve listened to worship music or other types of music that challenged me about what I think about God.

You need to be prepared to reinvent your intimacy with God from time to time. For some of you walking on the beach or going on long drives in the country or being out in nature bring you closer to God. Doing something creative, painting, drawing or creating music brings you closer to God. Whatever it is, do it and do it regularly.

What undergirds all of our intimacy with God are the Scriptures. 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, rebuke, correction and for training in righteousness that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”

Some of us are seeking God’s voice everywhere else except the Scriptures. God has given us His logos (written) word and most of what God wants to say to you he has revealed in and through His Word. If you posture yourself in the Scriptures, God’s rhema (inspired) word will speak to you and give you wisdom and insight for your life. Those who know the Scriptures aren’t ignorant of the truth and cannot be distracted by lies and false teaching. Study the Word!

Lead the Change!