Written by Ben Willis
I love gifts and free stuff. I was at the rugby league in Brisbane yesterday, and I was disappointed not to find someone handing out free stuff. On the other hand, I get really excited to see people giving out free samples at the supermarket. I have never actually bought the product that they are selling, but I appreciate the free sample. What a good time.
Why do I (and probably everyone on earth) enjoy free stuff so much? There is a tonne of things attached to that answer, but the biggest thing is that someone else has done the work for you, and all you have to do is walk up and accept the gift that someone else has prepared for you, which comes at no cost to you. It’s good and wholesome and it’s yours to receive.
Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” You see, our very salvation is a free gift from God. It’s like the free stuff you get in the supermarket. Someone else has done the work for you and is handing it to you for free on a platter. You don’t have to work for your salvation; you can’t!
When we accept God’s salvation for us, we are acknowledging what Jesus did for us when he died on the cross and then rose from death. The Godhead has done the work for us. Imagine how full of pride we could get if were able to work for our salvation?
It would be wrong of me not to point out the key differences between God and the free supermarket handing out person.
God will always be there. The supermarket person won’t.
God is not a one-time-encounter guy. The supermarket person is. Once you choose to accept God’s free gift and follow Him, you and God get to walk together in life, and you get to live by the power of the Holy Spirit. You are wrapped in God’s love - how could you want out of that deal?
God’s gift is eternal. The supermarket person’s isn't.
Accepting God’s gift can cost us. The supermarket person’s gift probably won’t (unless it is very spicy food). Being a Christian can come with its costs. I’ve recently been reading a biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and his idea of cheap grace vs costly grace, but I might save that one for next time.
Anyway, whether you identify as a Christian or not, you should choose to follow God. It’s the best thing you will ever do, and in my opinion, the most important choice you can make.
Written by Alexia Medland
Just over a month ago, we got sent the songs for Youth Councils, and one of the songs really struck me.
Now, I must admit, at first I really liked it because it’s a new Hillsong song and it’s sung by Brooke Fraser (or now Brooke Ligertwood), and she has been one of my favourite musicians for as long as I can remember. But the more I listened to it, the more I loved it for the words (at this point I recommend going and listening to the song before you continue and hopefully it will make my ramblings seem a little more coherent).
Today, on the walk to work, while listening to the song, I felt a tear come to my eye. Granted, it could have been because of the cold wind, or the fact I have a stubborn cold that doesn’t want to go away, but I’m pretty sure it was because of the emotion of the song.
The thing that really resonates with me in this song is the lines of the bridge:
“I am chosen, not forsaken, I am who you say I am.”
And the reason is for a long time, I have struggled with not feeling good enough for any calling I’ve felt by God on my life.
But there’s one thing that seems to be really following me around lately - it's that God knows us, what we’ve been through, who we are, and even with this, he still calls us, and no matter what we may say about ourselves, he calls us as we are.
If he’s calling you, he thinks you are ready. It’s like when God speaks to Moses from the burning bush and says, “So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.” (Exodus 3:10), and Moses replies, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11). God doesn’t say to Moses 'no you’re right, maybe go away for a bit and then I’ll come back to you later,' he says 'I will be with you.'
But what made Moses good for the job God had for him was that, not only was he an Israelite, but he had grown up in the house of the Pharaoh. It was his experiences that made him the man for the job.
And I think that’s why 'Who You Say I Am' has stuck out to me so much and strikes such emotion in me; because often I feel just like Moses did, asking “who am I that I should do this job?” Or even, as the opening words of the song say, “who am I that the highest king would welcome me?” Because often I feel as though I’m not the right person for what he calls me to, but as the song says, “I am chosen, not forsaken, I am who you say I am.”