Barney's - The Story so Far

Here is a video from a talk I gave back in June 2012 in Canberra.  I was asked to talk about our ministry and mission in Tasmania.  I re-watched this recently, and felt extremely thankful to God at what's going on in our midst.

(BTW - I'm not responsible for the editing!!!  I think a sledgehammer was used!)

the conclusive proof that God speaks with a northern-English accent...

I've told a few people this story already, but I enjoy telling it! Way back in March last year, on a lovely sunny morning, after we had been in Tasmania about twelve months, I was with a few other young pastors in Launceston and we were about to go off for a coffee. I was feeling pretty happy - the sun was shining, I was not on my own, and there was coffee coming (three sure-fire criteria for a happy Andy!).

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hope is kindled

There is a brilliant scene in Lord of The Rings which has spoken to me again in the last week.  The scene is from the third movie, where Gondor is under siege and it looks as if the battle is lost.  But there exists a network of beacons, permanently manned, with wood and fuel on hand, established long ago, and if these beacons can be lit, Gondor can signal for help from Rohan. God speaks to me through this clip every time I see it.  In the midst of darkness and desperation, the bravery of the clumsy, seemingly insignificant hobbit, Pippin, means that the beacon of Minas Tirith is lit - and the next beacon, and the next, and the next.  Across the peaks of the mountains, beacons are lit, resulting ultimately in the call for help being received and responded to by the King of Rohan.

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do whatever he tells you - part 2

Here is a great video I stumbled across on the weekend.  It made a real impression on me - and illustrates so much of what John is pointing towards in his account of Jesus turning water into wine:It's a new world.  There is a new reality.  The Kingdom of God is at hand.  Do whatever he tells you.

Johnny Cash is a great example of redemption - of the ways in which a broken, damaged, messed up and very lost human being can be totally changed and transformed through encountering Jesus - and of the ways God can then use such a person to be salt and light and a witness to others in equally dark places (e.g. in San Quentin prison, California), ....  Take a look!

do whatever he tells you… - part 1

These words, "Do whatever he tells you…" were the stand out words for me yesterday, as we continued our journey through John's Gospel in our community at Barney's. After about five weeks in John chapter one, we finally made it into chapter two! We were considering John 2:1-12, where Jesus turns water into wine. It's a well known passage, but as is (almost) always the case, each time we go to scripture God highlights something new.

For me, one such thing was these words of Mary's (John 2:5) - "Do whatever he tells you…". The scene, familiar I'm sure, is that Jesus, Mary, and some of Jesus' disciples have been invited to a wedding in Cana - a small village just north of Nazareth. Weddings in Jesus' day tended to happen over a few days, rather than the few hours we are more used to in Western cultures.

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an encouraging week

It's been a good week. There are fifty-two weeks each year, and I find good things in most of those weeks. But this week was definitely a good week. I have enjoyed lots of conversations and a few good meals with people who are new in town and keen to join us in mission and ministry among students and the local community in North Launceston. This is great, because I love a good chat, and a good meal. And I don't really like doing stuff by myself. It's great that God is bringing people alongside us for the next bit of the story.

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fans or followers?

I'm still enjoying plodding slowly through John's Gospel with our people at Barney's. This last Sunday we thought about the way in which Jesus called some regular guys, fishermen mosty, to leave the way of life they had always known, and follow him. You can read the story in John 1:35-50.

What Jesus did We thought firstly about what Jesus did, and said. I was struck by the clear description John gives of Jesus 'seeing' the guys. Andrew and his companion were 'seen' by Jesus, before he spoke to them. Even more clearly, Jesus tells Nathanael that he had seen him previously, while he was sitting under the tree.

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living life backwards

One of the many things I learned while doing a discipleship training year back in the UK in 2001, was the idea of living life backwards - considering what you would like to be remembered for after you die, and working backwards from there in order to work out what to invest your life in today.Pretty awesome advice I reckon, and it definitely helps us to focus on living for what is really important, rather than what seems important / urgent / fun in the moment.

As I was browsing online for a couple of things today, I stumbled across news of the death of an Anglican Bishop of the Arctic, Bishop John Sperry, who died on Feb 11 this year, aged 87.

The article immediately grabbed my interest as I read that John, like me, had been born in the English midlands, and yet had spent his life engaged in ministry and mission in a far-flung corner of the world - far from his birthplace, and also far off the beaten track of world affairs - a trajectory my own life also appears to be on.

The write-up of John's life and ministry from the perspective of another priest, also from the same part of the UK, and also based in Canada, is well worth a read.  And yet what really moved me, were the comments on the local newspapers website.

Here, it seems, was a man who chose to serve God in a far-flung corner of the world, far off the beaten track, far outside of the limelight, far away from any chance of fame or glory for himself, and yet the comments and memories of his family and friends show that he indeed lived a life of great significance.

I find myself moved, and challenged, by the life of a man I never met, in a place and am unlikely ever to visit, challenged to serve God humbly, wherever he leads me, and challenged, again, to live life backwards.