Wednesday, April 25, 2018

As a part of moving towards the realisation of Missionhouse, the Missionheart community has established our first Connect House. We began renting a granny flat in North Canberra that will house 1-2 participants at a time. This house, being a part of the Missionhouse ministry, will foster the culture and hopes thereof, and offers its residents support as they journey towards living life to the fullest becoming more of the people they were created to be.

Our first tenant is doing really well, we are already seeing the benefit of being in the Connect House and the support they are receiving. We hope to see another person benefiting from this venture soon. The movement from isolation towards greater experience of community is so very important to the success of all Missionhouse endeavours. A number of our team are regularly in and out of the house, James has been running a Boundaries course there for 8 people, people have come in to engaging bible studies and facilitate a Life Transformation Group, others to help with navigating NDIS, routines and keeping house, or just to spend time together. We are so grateful for our landlord Linh and his generosity and Kingdom partnership that makes this Connect House possible.

Don’t forget to register for the Missionhouse Vision Dinner March 22nd (register before March 12th) to discover more.  

 
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The last few months have seen a flurry of activity for the Missionhouse Action Team. First off, let’s briefly recap what Missionhouse and its action team is. Missionhouse is a concept that has been years in the making and seeks to be a live-in residential ministry in which people who most need it can receive growth, healing, discipleship, love, compassion and purpose. Thus far, the ideas and plans for Missionhouse are steeped in prophetic words and visions. Missionhouse has over one hundred and thirty thousand dollars saved so far, with many of those dollars having very captivating and God-breathed stories behind them. The Missionhouse action team is a group of about thirteen people who are dedicated to seeing the hope of Missionhouse realised. They meet regularly to make plans, research, wait on God, pray, and figure out in which direction the next steps for the Missionhouse ministry are headed. In July, the action team went on a road trip around the surrounding areas of Canberra to look at different properties that may or may not be suitable for a Missionhouse ministry. It was a very useful experience that helped the team develop more of an idea about what aspects of a property are important to Missionhouse. There was also a tangible sense of excitement in the air as members of the team began to really feel the nearing fulfilment of Missionhouse.

Kelly has begun her research project on behalf of Missionhouse in order to explore and develop how to best create the intentional Missionhouse community in which discipleship is modelled throughout every aspect of life. The action team assist Kelly with her research by being part of the insider team. In addition to this, Kelly has several very knowledgeable experts in the field who are giving her guidance and assistance with her project. Kelly and some of the action team will be embarking on their first visit to some like-minded discipleship communities in November and we look forward to hearing all the wonderful things they will learn as they live with these communities for a few days.

‘Missionhousing’ is another very exciting thing that the action team has been undertaking in different contexts over the last few months. Rather than just sit around and wait for the Missionhouse project to be fully underway with a residential property, the Action team has been challenged to find opportunities to start living out the culture of Missionhouse in their existing lives. There have already been many inspiring stories of people in the Missionheart community opening their homes to those in need (and even some pets in need), sharing meals and hospitality, and caring for sick friends.

Planning is underway for a Missionhouse vision sharing evening in which there will be opportunities to learn more about the vision for Missionhouse, to celebrate all that has happened, and look forward to all that is around the corner. More details coming soon! It’s a busy and exciting time for the Missionhouse project, please be praying for all aspects of Missionhouse and for wisdom and guidance for the action team, especially those travelling to visit other communities in the coming months.

Jen

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What a joy it is to journey with you as we engage in living faith that models the love, compassion and generosity of Jesus. We have been busy creating stories of God’s goodness in our day and look forward to sharing these with you. From the start of October, we have been exploring Practical Faith as we engage with the book of James in our sacred scriptures. It is a refreshing, yet challenging book. James calls us to prove our faith in living a life that displays it, he confronts mere talk with an expectation that alive faith is only seen in its expression (actions). James invites us to humble ourselves before God, resist the devil and draw near to Him with such wonderful promises, not the least of which is that He (God) will draw near to us and our enemy the devil will flee! He reminds us of the power of prayer and invites us to practise it. The word of God fond in James gives us perspective as it explains what is true faith or Christian living. The message paraphrase puts it this way,

“Anyone who sets himself up as “religious” by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the father, is this: reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.” (James 1: 26-27)

At Missionheart we are living a lifestyle of reaching out to the homeless and many you may categorise as ‘loveless’ yet this call is as much for us as for others. It is easy to justify a shying away from the call of faith to act with strength and courage by the things we do that are seen to be faith-full… Faith is always calling us out upon the water, to places where an absence of God would mean failure - this is the edge of the kingdom, this is where faith is alive, this is where I want to live.

What is God calling you to? Are you diminishing faith through religious justification? You say you believe - prove it! says James. Go on have a go, take that step of faith, drag someone along with you, pray for somebody in a way that only God acting could see the prayer answered. Follow Jesus into deeper places of power and influence, “the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5: 16bNIV) so death to sin, take a serious stance towards sin that limits todays church so dramatically, repent and call others to the same, for as Jesus says, “the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17)

We serve the same God that those of the new testament served and he has not diminished in potency or ability, or desire, next time you sense the prompting of God – respond, leave the results and outcome to Him, simply respond in faith. This dark world needs the light of Jesus to shine hope and life through the faith of His devoted children and experience the love and transforming power of God that delivers people from darkness to light, death to life, sin to righteousness. May we be those children for, “Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgement; because as He is, so are we in this world.” 1John 4:17 NKJV

As we approach Christmas may we remember this great hope for which Jesus came into the world, to reconcile it to himself. So glad to have you on this journey with us. Be encouraged, you are here as a person of faith for such a time as this, God be near,

Jase

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This is the last remaining footing for the Allawah Flats here in Canberra City. These blocks of public housing units were home to many of our people, who have been dispersed to other public housing properties across Canberra. They have been demolished so that many more units can be built and sold to those of us Canberrans who would like to live in the inner city, across from the Canberra Centre and close to Glebe Park.

                I have conflicting feelings about the end of this public housing precinct. When I look at this picture I remember the problems associated with grouping many of our most vulnerable members of society together. If moving from here means moving away from your dealer, then it is a positive move. I remember visiting in these flats and accidently waking our guys up because their front door was open. It couldn’t shut after the home invasion the week before. I remember the fire in Bega Flats, when the second floor flat occupant lit her apartment on fire, and the apartment of the man above her too. Jase tried to look after him that night, but he was too traumatised to sleep and spent the night walking around the lake processing what had started as a normal day. I remember one occupant told me how she had to wake up at 5am to do her washing because it got stolen from the machines if she did it during the day. I also remember the day I took one of our volunteers out for their first Streetwalk, where we would go walking around the city and these flats, stopping to talk with anyone we came across. We rounded one of the buildings and saw a skinny shirtless man trying to drag one of the big waste hoppers towards his block. After asking if he wanted any help, he informed us that he was trying to get it close enough to his block so he could throw his television from his third floor balcony into the bin.  He was very cheery and friendly to us, but very annoyed with his tv.

                I remember these problems, but I also remember the love and characters. There was the time one of the ladies we had been visiting rang me up to see if I could help one of her friends who had had a fire in her apartment. She wanted to see if we had any furniture we could give her while her flat was being repaired. There is a mum who has looked after and loved her daughter with a disability for 30 years, and even after all the heartache and struggle still just wants the best for her daughter. I remember the flat of the man who always looked after people who didn’t have anywhere to go. I remember my friend who could fix anything on a car, but struggled with people. I remember delivering Christmas Hampers amongst the flats, and getting to share the joy of Jesus’ birth with our people. I’m hopeful that when our people move away from the city they are able to enjoy their new environments. However I’m worried that living so far from services will isolate and endanger our vulnerable members of society. Some of the times Missionheart has been most useful have been the times we can tell somebody just isn’t quite themselves. When we see our people frequently we can offer help when it is most needed. We attend court dates and sit in meetings with our people. We visit them when they are sick, and we notice their mental health issues have increased in severity and encourage them to get help. We have learnt that people isolate themselves when they are not doing well, and I am worried that if our people are removed from the communities they have here in the city, then they may not be known well enough to have someone know when they are regressing.

                As a society, how do we look at our vulnerable people? My fear is that we see them like we saw their flats; as taking up valuable real estate. That smelly person is taking up a table at my favourite café. That weird looking man is sitting near my kids. That loud lady is yelling in my shop.

My hope is that we look at our vulnerable people like we look at our underutilised real estate. Our guys have so much potential. Here at Missionheart we believe that God made all people to be a blessing to their communities. Some of our people have had their beauty hidden by the overgrown weeds of trauma, addiction and illness, but their capacity for love,joy and peace remains.

I wonder what the next year will bring. For our community, I wonder who the next year will bring.

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Seriously, do we have to think about Christmas already?

It seems that we are in September already and Missionheart will start to put together our Christmas events and activities soon. Every year we do Christmas hampers for those most in need in our community. There are some who are desperate for the assistance and others we just want to bless with a gift at Christmas.

If you would like to help organise the Christmas hampers this year or donate items you can get in contact with Kelly and offer your services. Useful items are toiletries, non-perishable food items, Christmas treats, gifts for children, teenagers, men and women. Our hampers are very sort after each Christmas, known to be brimming with lovely treats, blessing many individuals and families each year. This has been possible because of the generous assistance of those who donate items, help pack and deliver hampers, thankyou in advance.

Email Kelly on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or call 0432 867 027.

 
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What does a toothbrush have to do with camp this year?

Was it one of the everyday objects used to create an incredible catapault that launched a tennis ball further than anyone expected?

No it wasn't, but that certainly was a camp highlight. 

Were toothbrushes given to junior leaders so they would be recognised by the children?

No, the junior leaders were recognised by their maturity and important role in caring for the children during session times. We are very thankful for their help. 

Were toothbrushes used as a way to creatively show our thankfulness to God?

No they weren't, we had playdough, tree leaves, rocks and music for that purpose which we used to mould, draw, write and sing. 

Did people use a toothbrush as a microphone when telling their testimonies?

No, these amazing stories of how God has brought people closer to Him didn't need any embellishment.

What does a toothbrush have to do with camp?

Everyone received a toothbrush as a daily reminder of the camp theme "a space to become". In particular to make time for God in our lives and see and get on board with what He is already doing. The toothbrush is to help us not forget to listen and look to God in everything.

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Dr. Grace (AKA Pete Ehsman) visited us at the Gathering last Sunday to help us explore the idea of forgiven-ness. With bible scans that revealed our sin-lesions that left us all in a terminal state, he directed us to our only hope – Jesus blood! It was fun to laugh but at the same time explore the deep reality that all too often we know about Jesus’ power to forgive but miss out on the privilege of experiencing genuine forgiven-ness and the ensuing intimacy with God that accompanies it.

Knowing that I know, that I know, that I am forgiven is such a powerful experience and a place from which we can be who God has called us to be and experience what he has designed for us to experience (fullness of life). This position of forgiven-ness places us out of the reach of Satan’s influence he loves to exert in accusation, torment and shame. The freedom from guilt, bitterness and the need to earn favour provides a space where we can enter more fully into who we were created to be and we become more available for God to use for his life giving kingdom purposes.

This forgiven-ness is the key to an intimate relationship with Jesus (impossible to have this without it). If you don’t know what this forgiven-ness is like then take your sin-lesion infested self (we are all in the same boat – all have sinned) to Jesus and ask him to take you to a place where you can truly say, “I am forgiven”. Sometimes we need to do this with other Christians so if you need help – find someone you trust who has a strong relationship with Jesus and has tasted forgiven-ness and pray with them – If they have known this they will not judge you, they will be excited for you to know the beauty of forgiven-ness. Jesus died for us that we may live the life of the forgiven…

- Jase

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Bec is a member of the Mission Heart community. She has lived in Australia for the past 3 years, is married to Stew and has a very loved dog called George. She is actively involved with Soul Survivor and works as a dental hygienist and massage therapist. She has a huge heart for Jesus and loves to talk about him at every opportunity she gets. She is about to embark on the adventure of running women's fitness retreats 'shaping fit disciples for God'. she was asked by Jason to share her testimony with us and give us an insight into how her massage journey began. One full of God’s love, grace and faithfulness. 

Be:blessed started from a place of uncertainty, confusion and the feeling of being lost. 

I had moved to Australia from the UK and was beginning a new life chapter as a wife. I was working as a dental nurse while I was trying to obtain my Australian dental hygiene licence but due to visa restrictions after 6 months I had to leave and find another place of work. 

My husband Stew had recently been diagnosed with stage 3 Hodgkin's lymphoma and was very sick. We had a huge battle on our hands, Stew physically and for us both emotionally and financially but we were certain with God's amazing Grace we were going to be ok whichever way that looked. We ensured our prayer life was healthy and counted every blessing giving thanks on a daily basis.

However I was jobless and unsure if I wanted to go back into dentistry. 

I felt ashamed and guilty, while my sick husband was out earning I was swanning around, trying to work out my own future. Stew being the loving, supportive husband he is never tried to rush me but encouraged me to take all the time I needed. So I did.

I turned to God. I climbed a mountain (well large hill) every day and prayed. Mount Taylor became my place of refuge. Sometimes they were prayers of thankfulness other times he got a good shouting at. I remember singing my heart out to him one day, standing on the bench, jumping around and singing his praises and another screaming at him, why God? What do you want from me ? Why won't you use me ? I'm right here come on!!! 

Thankfully God made me - so praising him one minute and screaming at him the next I feel is ok. 

He understands me through all my what seems like crazy and extreme emotions. And he still loves me just as I am. So I continued my prayers week in week out day by day. And although he may not have given me clear answers at the time, he started me on this unknown journey into massage ministry.

A job was advertised at a local gym as a massage therapist and it flashed across my radar. 

I mentioned it to Stew and said well I'm qualified maybe I should apply. Not thinking with little out of college experience I would ever get it.... BUT after 3 weeks of intense interviewing, testing and training I was offered the job and by then I wanted it !! So began my new carer. 

But I was so confused! God I don't want to be doing massage in a gym! That isn't ministry!? 

I wanted to talk to people about my best friend and share his amazing love with them. I wanted God to be my boss not an earthly man. So there I was still feeling lost and confused. 

I worked at the gym part time and used the rest of my time to volunteer at Canberra hospital and at Missionheart. This time taught me so much about Gods love, grace and charter and I felt God used this time to equip me and grow me in my ongoing journey with him. Looking back I feel it was at this point I found my calling to serve and strongly felt he had gifted me with a servant heart which I had to use. 

It wasn't long before I started speaking to my clients quietly about church and then after time, and building relationships was able to speak about Jesus and his love. I was able to pray for people, prayers for healing both physically and emotionally and catch up with them for coffees outside of the gym. Then it hit me, I wanted to do this all the time, I didn't want to hide my faith, I wanted God to be the centre of my massages, I wanted to build relationships with my clients and know them as people, caring for them on and off the table and be led by The Holy Spirit in all I do So Began Be:blessed Massage Therapy. 

I had never ran a business before and had no clue what I was doing but I thought I would take the risk - step out of the boat ! If I walk on water great - all I have to do is keep my eyes fixed on Jesus - if I sink I knew he would catch me. Matthew 14:27-31 NIV

I now have a strong and successful business that God’s hands have shaped and moulded. I use it to glorify God - always listening for his next commands and he uses it to speak to my clients and minister to them. All they have to do is listen and receive. I have many stories of clients feeling Jesus's presence some who have never known or felt him before, I also have stories of people coming to faith and healing physically and emotionally through the short time Be:blessed has been running. I now love what I do and look forward to the next chapter and journey and what God's plans are for my future.

- Bec

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Jesus instructed his disciples to ‘be his witnesses’ to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8) and it is their testimony that grew the first churches. To provide testimony in this case is to give a public recount of a religious conversion or experience, to be a witness to the work of God in our lives. Imagine if the wonders that God was doing in the disciples lives and those they met remained a secret, were not shared with everyone they met. Would our church be here today?

Giving testimony of what God has done is a natural expression of praise and thankfulness to God for his work in our lives. It gives witness to others that God is real, alive and active today. While it encourages our fellow believers it also points others to Jesus. It is so exciting to share with each other what God has been up to during our week as we see answers to our prayers and situations and lives change.

I am always excited to get to the Gathering or hope group or any meeting with my brothers and sisters in Christ because I long to hear what God has been doing and to share what I have experienced. Our hope group has become a very special time of sharing testimony of answers to prayer, as we walk with God together some of the deepest desires of our hearts are beginning to be touched by Jesus. Sometimes we spend the whole evening just sharing our testimony and giving thanks to God.

You can sense God’s presence as we share and praise God through just giving witness to God’s power and presence in our lives. Sometimes we miss what God is doing though as we rush through our busy lives, we forget to stop and take notice. We must always have our Holy Spirit antennas on, tuning in to what God is doing and cooperating with His leading. But it doesn’t stop there, we have been blessed to be a blessing, what God has done for you is your testimony and is powerful for encouraging the believers, building up the church and bring others to faith.

So come prepared when we meet to tell us what God has been doing, we long to hear and celebrate with you. When God does something awesome the story is not over until you provide testimony of His work, so we can all be blessed and our faith increased. So let’s be prepared to give testimony of Gods work in our lives, what an exciting place to be when everyone has something to share, when we run out of time to share everything that God has been doing. Take notice today, Jesus is always at work, what from your day can you share with me to encourage my faith. Please tell me - I long to hear!

- Kelly

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We’ve all seen it before: sporting stars who have been caught in a fight off the field or found in a compromising position after drinking too much or taking illegal drugs. It’s sad and embarrassing – and it’s there for everyone to see.

How could they do that, the newspaper columnists and commentators ask. Don’t they know they are role models?

In the middle of the unwanted attention that comes from being at the centre of a media scandal, I bet those sporting celebrities wish they weren’t held up as examples by other people. They would probably prefer to avoid all the extra attention. But when you live in the spotlight, that can be hard.

And while none of us are high profile celebrities, we can understand that. It’s nice to have people whom we can hold in high esteem and learn from. When we trust someone and admire the way they live their life, it can be helpful to follow their lead and to take stock of the way they behave in different situations.

Over the last few months in our community we have been thinking about the role models we look to in our walk with Jesus. People from Scripture like Joseph, David, Paul and Stephen, and people we have met in our lives who have lived out their faith in an uncompromising way.

But being role models ourselves – that’s a whole different ball game.

When we are the ones that others are watching, that introduces a whole new level of responsibility and scrutiny into our lives. It means that we need to be uncompromising in the way we seek to follow Jesus. And that requires big commitment.

Yet isn’t that exactly what God expects from us?

Back in ancient times He called out the people of Israel to be a light to the nations, showing the rest of the world what it looked and felt like to live as God’s people. And since Jesus lived on earth, died and rose again, that mission has been extended to all of us who have called on His name.

In his letter to the first century church at Philippi, Paul urges them:

“You are to shine as lights among the sinful people of this world.” (Philippians 2:15b)

In other words, be role models to the rest of the world, demonstrating what it means to be a follower of Jesus. Being a role model is not an optional extra. It’s not something for super Christians who have reached a higher level. It’s what we are all called to do. And it’s something we should consider prayerfully and take seriously.

As we go about life, at work, at home, at study, in our sporting team, in our community, at the shops or the library, there are plenty of opportunities for us to choose to live for God.

One key to doing that is constantly choosing to park our own ambitions and desires to the side and actively seek God’s will and choose to follow it. When we do that, listening to the prompts and guides of the Holy Spirit, we will be well on the way to living lives that help to tell God’s story in a world where it is largely forgotten.

Recently in our Hope Group, we were looking at how Jesus surrendered to His Father’s will as he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. As I looked to do that myself in the week that followed, I found that as I aligned my life with God’s will, it was easier and more natural to be loving to others.

Imagine the impact we could have on the people around us if we lived in a way that models what it means to truly follow Jesus.

A while ago, The Newsboys had a song called ‘Shine’ with a chorus that encapsulates what it looks like to live as a role model to those around us by following Jesus’ example:

“Shine.
Make 'em wonder whatcha got.
Make 'em wish that they were not
On the outside looking bored.
Shine.
Let it shine before all men.
Let 'em see good works and then
Let 'em glorify the Lord.”

Our challenge and responsibility is to do just that.

- Tim

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We are made to worship God. It is good for us, it is right. For a long time I felt like God was calling me to worship him more, and it seemed that if I did that it would sort out a whole lot of things. Not like all my problems would be fixed but I'd be in the right place to handle them. Because I would have been doing what was good for me. 

And I’d dearly love to be able to write about how I'd followed that call and I became great at worshipping God regularly. But I didn't. Why? Well I think partly sometimes the enemy is pretty committed to stopping us doing the very thing that is best for us and our relationship with God. Partly because I have two small children and it's tricky to get time to be still with God. But also partly because I'm not always great at making good choices. 

Paul talks about this struggle to do what we know is right in Romans:

"But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time." Romans 7:17-20 (The Message)

Does it matter? Well sure if I'd managed to spend more time with Jesus worshipping I’d be in a more intimate relationship with God and I might have been in a better place within myself because worshipping God is good for us. 

But does it matter to God? Well I know he likes us to worship him. But I also know he doesn't love me any less because I didn't do the thing he was calling me to do. It didn't make me any more or less worthy of his love, any more or less accepted by him. Because he loves me just because he does. He made me and he thinks I'm great, even when I'm not. Why? Because of Jesus. Because he is a God of grace. 

"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8 (NIV)

So how do I like to worship God? I like to remember how he loves me, even when I don't deserve it at all. I like to thank him for his abundance of grace. I like to just call out to him, 'Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, I need  you Jesus' because I don't know what else to say sometimes and I'm desperate for him. 

I like to look at the sunset and see the beautiful colours, I like to walk along a beach and think about the bigness of the ocean and what that means for the bigness of the one who created it. I like to think about who he is, not who I am. Sometimes not think about what he's personally given me but just think about who he is.  He is amazing and so worthy of my praise and I long to worship him. And I'll endeavor to make time to do it more, to do it while I cook dinner or walk with my children or drive to work. But when I do worship him, I'll also worship him for loving me regardless of if I've managed to worship him for 30 whole minutes that day or if I got to putting my head on my pillow to go to sleep and realised that I'd been busy all day and forgot to pray in my busyness and then used my down time after my lovely children finally went to sleep to just switch off and look at Facebook instead of in prayer and bible study. No doubt I'd probably better rested and refreshed and in a better place to face the next day if I'd spent even a little of that down time connecting to God, but I sure am grateful that his love for me isn't dependent on that.   

Update:

I actually wrote this blog post two and half years ago and never got around to publishing it. It was interesting to find it recently and realise I’m actually still working on the same things. Thankfully God is still the same and he is still desperately in love with me despite my short-comings. Stay tuned for a new blog post soon about simple changes I’ve made to make more space for God in my daily life.  

I can do it if He helps me! 

“For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13 (NLT)

- Ali

 
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