This is the latest blurb that is published on the front of our weekly bulletin

Alive With Christ

Did you know that our tagline, ‘Alive with Christ’ came from the official name for our parish, ‘The Church of the Resurrection?’

Most churches are ‘Saint Something’, but our church is the only one in the Diocese of Sydney that has ‘Resurrection’ in its official title.

We are a church that exists because Jesus is alive!

What’s more, because Jesus is alive, it means that when we are united with him, then we, too, are alive.

Here is the verse from the Bible upon which our church tagline is based:

“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” (Ephesians 2:2-5, NIV11).

The thing about being made alive is that it is something that happens to dead people.

Jesus’ resurrection was truly amazing and wonderful because we are certain that he was fully dead, only to be fully raised to life.

In the same way, we who have believed in Jesus as Lord have been brought from spiritual death to life, as we have experienced our own, spiritual resurrection through his mercy.

Following Jesus is not about improving our life, nor getting more out of life.

It’s about a radical, dramatic transformation from death to life… from being a cold-hard spiritual corpse into a warm and living body, raised to serve and love.

And it all comes from grace… it’s all an extraordinary gift from God because of his mercy, even through we were dead in our transgressions and sins.

It is wonderful to be in the church of the resurrection, because we know that our place in this church is only because of the remarkable gift of Jesus.

That’s why it’s wonderful beyond words to be alive with Christ!


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Doubting the Devil

Has it ever struck you as odd that Christians often speak about doubting God and his word, but very rarely think about doubting the Devil?

I think this is even more evidence of the deception that the Devil seeks to lead us in, especially when we’re feeling weak.

After all, there has never, ever been a time when our Lord God has failed to deliver on a promise.

Yet the Devil has a proven track record of lying, deceiving, and generally leading God’s people away.

I noticed this again recently when I read the third chapter of the Bible, in Genesis 3.

The Lord God has given his people a glorious place to live, and they have experienced the blessings of living an obedient life under God’s rule.

As a sign of their acceptance of his loving rule, they were told not to eat the fruit of just one tree in the entire Garden of Eden.

Yet, Satan deceived the woman, asking her “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?” (Genesis 3:1).

Even with this first deception, Eve had to correct the error of the serpent, telling him that it was only one, special tree that they were to avoid.

Satan was already proven to be wrong, and yet he bowled another delivery to the woman, telling her that if they eat from that tree then they would not die.

We then read in verse six that the woman was convinced by the devil, so she ate some fruit and shared it with her husband, who went along with her sin.

The tragic results of that sin proved the utter evil and lies of the devil… and yet we are still tempted day after day to reject God’s good rule.

It should seem obvious, but remember that the devil can never be trusted.

We should faithfully doubt the devil… and faithfully obey the good and gracious word of our Lord.


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2022… Let’s Go!

As we start the new year together, we stand at the edge of a new era of opportunities for Christian growth amongst the members of our church, as well as those who live in our village, valley and region.

As numbers of Covid-19 cases rapidly rise, we are in the midst of another moment of slowdown, especially for those of us who have tested positively or who are in isolation.

It is a time for us to take advantage of this moment to mediate on God’s word and to pray to him in this season of our nation.

This week a number of people from our church have been participating in the annual ‘CMS Summer School’ conference, which has been streamed online.

If you’ve missed it, there’s still time to go to to register to view the sessions and the other missionary online content.

It should come as no surprise that churches with a heart for overseas mission are often the churches with a passion for outreach to the people in their own suburb.

For, the same drive that leads us to pray, give and go, is the same drive that motivates us to tell those who live nearby about the life-changing message of the good news of Jesus.

This year we’re looking forward to an extra mission boost in the months leading up to Easter, and I’m praying that the Holy Spirit will lead us to prayerfully proclaim the powerful gospel of Jesus to everyone from Jamberoo to the ends of the earth.

So, when it comes to mission in 2022… let’s go!


Change Happens

It’s pretty common for people to say that this-and-that or so-and-so could never change. 

But when I hear people speak like that, I tell them that I’m in the change business!

I know that people and things do change, even though it often seems humanly impossible.

We see it most clearly when we witness a person’s conversion to Christ, when they go from being enemies with God to being friends with Jesus… and their life is turned upside down.

As they say, it doesn’t always happen overnight, but it will happen!

Some of the most dramatic life-changing experiences were seen when Jesus walked on earth, and when people came to him, they had their lives turned upside down.

One of the most famous stories was when Jesus met Zacchaeus, as recorded in Luke chapter 19.

He was the chief tax collector and had become rich through his corrupt work.

When Jesus saw him, he called him by name and said, “I must be a guest in your home today.” (Luke 19:5).

After Jesus called him by name, Zacchaeus, “took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy” (verse 6), and he told Jesus, “I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have cheated people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!” (verse 8).

When Zacchaeus met Jesus, his life was changed completely.

Jesus explained what happened, saying, “Salvation has come to this home today” (verse 9).

When it comes to dramatic life changes, never say never!

As we start a new year, it’s time for us to pray that 2022 sees many people have a dramatic change in their life as they come to know Jesus and understand how good it is to be forgiven and to have hope.

May this change be seen in the lives of many in our village, valley and region!


Powerful Forgiveness

How can a person forgive someone who has abused them?

Well, this is a very serious question, and it’s important to know that if you’ve been abused by someone, then it is sad, painful and wrong.

If you’re still being abused by someone, then you should act to stop it happening anymore.

Please visit the website to find out more, or speak to a trusted church leader or Christian friend.

But how can you possibly forgive someone who has abused you?

Well, if someone has abused you and they ask for your forgiveness, then Jesus tells you that you should forgive them, as hard as that may seem.

When Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?”, Jesus said, “No, not seven times, but seventy times seven!” (Matthew 18:21-22).

Even though it might seem impossibly difficult for you, we need to remember that the cost for God to forgive us was even greater.

It cost him his son, dying on the cross, for you and for me.

That’s not to say it won’t be hard, but we must trust in God to strengthen us to forgive others, and to give us the ability to do this difficult thing.

Now, if the person who has abused you has not asked for forgiveness, then we are still called to love them, as we are told to love our enemies.

It does not seem possible to truly forgive them if they don’t request it, but we still need to love them and be ready to forgive them in the event that they might, one day, say sorry.

It will be hard, but that’s the power of the Holy Spirit in us, who will lead us to love and forgive like Jesus loves and forgive us, even when we have done nothing to deserve his love for us that is so rich and mercy.

Healthy Conflict

It might be a bit strange to think that conflict could be good, but healthy relationships will include good conflict, whether it’s two people in a marriage, a team of people, or even an entire church or larger organisation.

The reason is that conflict is simply any disagreement between two people or parties, which, when handled well, is a normal part of life together.

This is something I learnt in a book called ‘Five Dysfunctions of a Team’ by Patrick Lencioni, in which Fear of Conflict’ is listed as a significant problem in teams that don’t work well.

As Christians, we rightfully “make every effort to keep [ourselves] united in the Spirit, binding [ourselves] together with peace.” (Ephesians 4:3)

And, at the same time, we know that it is right for us to “speak the truth in love, (Ephesians 4:15), knowing that truth will bring conflict amongst us.

Indeed, Jesus made it clear that his message will “set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother,” (Matthew 10:35) as the call to follow him will bring conflict amongst even the closest families.

Another form of conflict comes when we tell someone to stop sinning, as we read in this week’s chapter from Matthew 18.

It’s sometimes hard to pluck up the courage to lead someone to be convicted of their sins, but “wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy. (Proverbs 27:6).

For if they listen to our rebuke, then we will be serving them in love as we seek to help them see their error and to lovingly serve them as they move towards repentance and reconciliation, as needed.

This kind of conflict is often the hardest, but it is always the most important for us to pursue, out of deep love for each other and for the church of Christ.


Protecting the Bad Guys

I’ve started reading our book of the month, ‘Being the Bad Guys’ by Stephen McAlpine, and it’s reminded me of just how much our society has changed in its attitude to religious people.

There was a time when we were tolerated for being nice, and maybe useful, but then before too long, we started to be seen as restricting the freedoms of our society with our views.

The book reminds me of the strategy that we adopted, where we thought that we could now become one of many voices in the marketplace of ideas, finally having the chance for our views to rise like cream to the surface.

However, that’s not happened: we’ve become the ‘bad guys’, and far too often, we and others have become ‘cancelled’.

Whether or not people think that Christians are wise or dangerous, I believe that silencing the voices of opposing views is something that our society should resist at all costs.

We should be pleased to tolerate the views of people we disagree with, so that we can be humble enough to learn from others.

That is a healthy society, and this genuine tolerance needs to be encouraged at every level.

That’s why the Religious Discrimination Bill that was introduced this week in Federal Parliament is so important for atheists and believers, alike.

Our society needs to restrain its natural desire to ‘cancel’ opposing views at the drop of a hat, and to instead allow different voices to speak in a safe way.

Furthermore, it makes perfect sense to continue to legally protect the choice of religious schools to employ staff who share the beliefs and ethos of their faith.

This bill appears to be a sensible move forward for our nation, especially as we continue to become more and more multicultural and diverse in our land.

Let us pray that our nation would listen to each other, and ultimately, speak the truth in love.


Life is Fragile

On Wednesday I met ‘Marie’, a six-year old mannequin who had ‘jumped’ into the river near Jerrara Dam to escape a pretend bushfire.

It was part of an Illawarra Shoalhaven Health training exercise, which included NSW Ambulance staff as well as our local,

Jamberoo Rural Fire Brigade, of which I was a part.

As part of the afternoon scenario, I was first on scene, providing first aid care for this hyper-real dummy, made more real by the paediatric specialist hiding in the bushes, ‘speaking’ on behalf of the little girl… “where’s my daddy? I’m cold! I’m scared!”

It was a great relief when the paramedics arrived on scene to take over from my feeble attempts to administer first aid to the nearly-drowned girl, and it showed me afresh the skill and care that our medical experts provide for our community every

Again, it showed that life is unpredictable and fragile.

Any day at any time we may face death, and so we must all be prepared for the time when we will stand face-to-face before Jesus.

I take great comfort in knowing that I have certainty for eternity, because I have trusted in Jesus and have sure forgiveness from him because he died for me.

It’s something that is on offer to anyone who wants it.

This week I also met with the family of a man who passed away aged 91, as I helped comfort them and prepare a funeral service with them to honour him.
He was old and had plenty of time to plan and consider eternity.

The six-year-old girl who nearly drowned in the RFS scenario could have died much younger, and with fewer opportunities to stop and reflect on eternity.

My prayer is that everyone, young and old, would stop and reflect upon the fragility of life, and make sure that we’ve followed Jesus before it’s too late.


The Joy of Coming Home

Returning to church after a long time away can be an emotional experience, as some of us felt at this week’s midweek service.

The concerns and restrictions from Covid-19 have meant that for many of us, the church experience has been on a screen… but now we can return, face-to-face!

At our service on Wednesday we reflected on the joy experienced by God’s people as they left their 70-year ‘lockdown’ in their forced exile in Babylon.

They ascended up the mountain to Jerusalem, and this was their experience:

When the LORD brought back his exiles to Jerusalem, it was like a dream! We were filled with laughter, and we sang for joy. And the other nations said, “What amazing things the LORD has done for them.” Yes, the LORD has done amazing things for us What joy! (Psalm 126:1-3)

They were full of joy because they had been graciously saved by God.

Even the people of other nations recognised that the Lord was the one who saved them from the punishment they deserved.

It’s a fresh reminder that grace is all from God… and that grace brings God the glory, as it did back then, and continues to do to this day.

And the way we experienced that grace today is through the cross of Christ, as we read in Ephesians:

Eph. 2:4    But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, 5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)

As we now come together, we praise God for the experience of joy, together, as we give him the glory for his rich mercy.


Introducing Sunday Brunch

Meals have always had an important place in the ministry of our church, because food has featured strongly in the life of God’s people throughout the ages.

God’s people remembered the amazing Exodus from Egypt with a special meal, the Passover, and then Jesus fulfilled and transformed that meal into the Lord’s Supper.

In fact, the Bible often records Jesus’ meals with people, many of which led to his reputation as someone who, “eats with sinners”.

Food slows us down and brings us together, as we share in a moment of both sustenance and reflection for people of all ages.

Our Saturday night dinners have played an important part in the life and growth of our church, as they have been a powerful way to welcome newcomers and visitors into the life of our intergenerational church.

Indeed, our after-church meals are probably the most strategic and effective way of attracting, welcoming and integrating new people into the life of our church.

Whilst we’ve done something similar for morning tea, we’re ready to take our Sunday mornings to the next level by running a weekly, sit-down Sunday brunch.

So, for every Sunday morning we’re going to invite a household to purchase, prepare and share a meal for everyone present, just like we’ve been doing on Saturday nights.

If each household is happy to cater once or twice a quarter, then that should be enough for us to have a weekly brunch for all ages, every Sunday morning of the year!

We expect that it is likely to take a little while to get the systems in place, so please be patient and generous as we upgrade our hospitality each Sunday morning.

Our prayer is that every week we enjoy this opportunity to sit and enjoy a meal with others, especially when we ‘chew on’ the word of God that has dwelt richly among us during the church service we’ve just experienced, together.


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