Belong – Believe – Become

Culture is defined as the unwritten rules of behaviour within any social group. We use basic terms such as language, custom, food, dress, religion and festivals to best understand culture. It is the way we see things and naturally behave without giving it much thought, in common with others of our group.

Every community has culture whether or not the people in that community realise it, and what is of immense importance is that it can be good and life giving or the culture may be one that’s negative and toxic.

7798613_origAs part of the Church of the Lord Jesus, we also have a culture that’s borne from the Word of God and the influence of the Holy Spirit but is also not independent of the behaviours, attitudes and mannerisms of the people in the Church. To a large extent we determine the spiritual and social barometer of the Church as the Holy Spirit and the Word works within the lives of individual saints.

The early Church in the Book of Acts stands as an indelible model of Apostolic culture today that was both dynamic, bold, passionate and transformative. This is what we must strive to emulate in order to have an atmosphere of a revival and life giving culture. The very first characteristic is the unity of the Church. Acts 2:1 tells us that, “When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.”

Unity is the keystone feature in any thriving culture and in the Church. It is brought about by the love of Christ in our hearts for one another; producing an environment of acceptance and non-judgemental attitudes towards those in our church and all who come in. Though culture is often natural and unwritten, we can however build and change our culture intentionally to where people are welcomed with love and celebration as part of our family. In the process, souls are added to the Kingdom of God. The old paradigm of ‘Believe, Become then Belong’ must give way to a culture of:

Belong – Believe – Become

Acts chapter 2 began with Unity and it ends with these words:

“So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” Acts 2:46-47 NKJV

This is a blog post from Stanley Harvey, the Senior Pastor of the Pentecostals of Sydney.

Everything Matters

Upon first glance, and a surface read of the book of Ecclesiastes, we are immediately struck by a foreboding and pessimistic perspective of the author about the weary futility and utter meaninglessness of life on earth. The repetitive qualities of nature, history and our human existence itself underscores a depressing outlook that we can neither refute or honestly deny.

52482What this deep consideration does ultimately give rise to however, is that life without God is utterly meaningless. The good news is that we can live for God, and with God, in the richness of a real and dynamic relationship of faith with our heavenly Father.

As the Righteous Judge; morally perfect and upright in all his adjudication, He brings meaning to every aspect of our lives. The mundane, day to day activities, our behaviour, and the decisions that we make all have meaning. His presence and abundant life that He gifts to us fills us with true joy and purpose. The fact that our actions and words have eternal consequences, and thereby ultimate meaning, brings us the joy of the Lord that becomes our strength.

Ecc 12:13-14 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

This is a blog post from Stanley Harvey, the Senior Pastor of the Pentecostals of Sydney.

He Is Risen

He is risen, a three word statement that is so profound and carrying huge implications. Because if Jesus was not resurrected from the dead, as the great Apostle Paul said, in 1 Cor 15:14, “And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.”

13132In essence, if the resurrection of Christ did not occur then, our ministry, faithful enduring, acts of love and preaching of the Gospel is useless and empty. It would all be for nought, if this event never took place. Why? Because firstly, it would mean that Jesus was wrong and he lied, when he claimed that he would rise from the dead on the third day. If this is the case then we can not trust anything that he said or did, or the veracity of the Bible. Thus, there’s no point in believing Him. Secondly, if Jesus did not rise then, there may be no resurrection for anybody else, including his followers.

Thus, if we simply disappear and no longer exist after death, then there is no perfect judgement and no ultimate accountability for the life that we have lived. If we are not having to be accountable to the ultimate Judge, then it makes no difference in the end if we obey God or disobey, if we sin or live a good life, we all just disappear and everyone’s end result is the same, nothing.

This certainly makes for a horribly bleak and miserable prospect but the Good News however is that the resurrection of Jesus is one of the most provable events in history.

Dr. Simon Greenleaf, Royall Professor of Law at Harvard University said, “There is more evidence for the historical fact of the resurrection of Jesus Christ than for just about any other event in history.”

The weight of evidence of the resurrection of Christ is overwhelming when examined, and since He did rise again, it means we can take Him at His Word because not one jot or tittle shall be passed from his Word until it’s fulfilled. We can also take courage that our lives here on earth counts towards our eternal reward. When we obey God’s Word, we can trust that we receive God’s gift of salvation. Let us walk in the newness of life and victory wrought through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, receiving God’s abundant life here on earth and everlasting life to come!

This is a blog post from Stanley Harvey, the Senior Pastor of the Pentecostals of Sydney.

Obedience Today

Obedience is a word and a concept that today is considered old fashioned and misplaced in an “enlightened” and post-modern world. Especially with the prevailing worldview of relative truth and subjective reality in our society. The idea of obedience then is misconstrued by such perspectives, that it’s relevance becomes subject to convenience, social acceptance and immediate gratification.

As followers of Christ however, we are required to obey God’s Word unequivocally. That means that we are to do what God commands us to do, even at the expense of what is convenient for us personally or what may or may not be popular in the world. There is also the great temptation to delay obedience for another time for the sake of personal gratification now. As parents we teach our children about delayed gratification in order to instill resilience and discipline in them and in like manner, as Christians, it’s our personal desires that must take a back seat to immediate and radical obedience.

It’s of vital importance for us to understand that God gives us his laws and statutes to follow, not because He is some egotistical megalomaniac as suggested by modern atheists but because obeying his word is of great benefit to us spiritually and physically, as well as every other aspect of human life. On the contrary, a life that is without rule and boundaries is often destructive and unfulfilled.

Radical obedience to God’s word is not laborious or mundane but it is life and life more abundant because it is obedience borne out of a love relationship with our Creator and Saviour, Jesus Christ. We don’t instruct our toddlers not to walk on the railway track because we want to be controlling parents and make life miserable for them, we do it out of love, even if they don’t completely understand the why. Obedience is so powerful that without it, we can not go to heaven but to reiterate, it is an outflow of our passionate love for Christ and as such, it is not a chore or a burden, but a privilege.

John 14:21 Those who accept My commandments and obey them are the ones who love Me. And because they love Me, My Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal Myself to each of them.

John 15:6-7 Anyone who does not remain in Me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in Me and My words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted

This is a blog post from Stanley Harvey, the Senior Pastor of the Pentecostals of Sydney.