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

Set our Minds on The Spirit

One year ago I received the bad news that my cancer was back, and since then I’ve lost a few kilograms, gained a few kilograms, had a longish break from chemotherapy after a bad reaction to a dosage, and recently I’ve just resumed chemo with a different drug. 

A number of my medical consultants have suggested counselling, since obviously one pathway I might have to shortly tread is death, but because I have God’s word, a minister and a church family, I feel I have all I need.

As I reflect on how I’m doing, I’m surprised at how relaxed I am… but I know that the main game is the spiritual one.

Even though I’m now sleeping better, I’ve found wakeful periods to be a good time to read my Bible.  I’m concentrating on the longish books, like Isaiah and Psalms in the Old Testament, and Romans, Hebrews, Revelation, in the New Testament. 

I’m reminding myself that the Bible is all about God’s promises which are revealed to us in the Old Testament with their partial fulfilment, and then they are fully fulfilled in the New Testament. 

Reading the Bible enables us to, “set our minds on the things of the Spirit” (Romans 8:6.) 

In fact, Romans 8 is a sustained discussion on suffering for the Christian: as always, Paul’s thinking is based on the death of Jesus for our sins (verses 1 to 4), then comes the resurrection of the believer (verse 11) based on Christ (verses 1 to 4.)

All of creation is shot through with suffering (verses 22 and following), but the Christian’s response ought to be prayer (verse 26) and trusting in the goodness of God, no matter how dire the circumstances. 

As Paul so memorably concludes: “If God is for us, who is against us?” (Romans 8:31)


Cattle on a Thousand Hills

When I ask someone to give thanks for the food, I don’t normally expect them to mention cattle… but this is exactly what I often heard in prayers when I was a student at theological college.

As we were about to eat our meal, the principal would sometimes quote from Psalm 50, saying, “Lord, you own the cattle on a thousand hills…” and then he’d give thanks for the food.

It’s certainly a bit of a change to the good old, “for what we are about to receive,” but what makes it so good is the startling reminder that the Lord to whom we pray is actually the one who owns every hill, and every animal, on planet Earth.

Like a megaphone, it shouts out the true place of the true and living God: the one who not only created the world but also sustains it with his mighty word.

As I reflected on God’s kindness, I also thought about the other things we thank him for, as well as the many things we ask him for.

We say ‘thanks’ and ‘ask’ prayers because we know that God ultimately owns everything.

As we think about our church finances for the remainder of this year, and as we plan for the year to come, it’s a great relief to know that God owns the cattle on the many hills of Jamberoo, as well as every other asset in our pockets and on the planet.

And so we thank him for all he’s given us, we pray that he’d provide for our needs, and we trust him with great confidence.

God owns the lot, and so that’s why we can confidently thank him and ask him for all our needs.


Hope in Life and Death

Back in 2020 when the extraordinary events of the global pandemic threatened us with fatalities beyond our gravest fears, a song was released that brought calm and confidence for those who trust in Jesus.

The song, ‘Christ, our hope in life and death’ by Jordan Kauflin, Keith Getty, Matt Boswell, Matt Papa and Matthew Merker, put to words what we know and believe about the impact of the death of Jesus upon our own life.

The first verse reminded us that Christ alone is our hope in life and death, and that our only confidence is knowing that our souls belong to him and that the love of Christ will keep us to the end.

The second verse helped remind us that the goodness of God brings calm to our troubled souls, and that we know his grace and goodness in the blood of Jesus, our redeemer.

The last verse spoke of the confidence we have as we approach the grave, knowing we have the reward of everlasting life, and that we will feast in the endless joy that will come as sin and death is destroyed.

As we reflect this week on the remarkable words of 1 Corinthians chapter 15, we have a fresh reminder that our natural fear of death should be calmed as we remember again that because of the death of Jesus, we have a confidence that when we die, we will rise to be with him, and have life forevermore with Christ.

So with that, we sing hallelujah, as our hope springs eternal, for now and ever we confess, “Christ our hope in life and death!”


Father’s Day Prayers

As we celebrate Father’s Day, it’s good to thank God for our earthly fathers, and for their contribution to our lives.

Fatherhood is a good thing, even though none of our earthly fathers are able to match the quality and character of our heavenly father.

In his first letter to the church in Thessalonica, the Apostle Paul embraces fatherhood, as he compares his own ministry to the role of father:

And you know that we treated each of you as a father treats his own children. We pleaded with you, encouraged you, and urged you to live your lives in a way that God would consider worthy. For he called you to share in his Kingdom and glory. (1 Thessalonians 2:11-12.)

The apostles pleaded, encouraged and urged the members of the church—three behaviours that earthly fathers should do as they lovingly lead their families.

At the same time, the Apostle Paul tells the Ephesian fathers that as they lead their children, they must do so wisely and lovingly:

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)

Fatherhood is a good thing, but sadly, it’s stained by sin and affected by the fall of humanity.

That’s why we must pray that our fathers would model themselves on our heavenly father.

We also should pray for children whose fathers have caused them sadness and pain, asking our heavenly father to fill up in those children all that their earthly father has failed to provide.

For, ultimately, as all earthly fathers fail to meet the standard of our heavenly father, it is a fresh reminder for us to know the depth of our fathers’ love for us—how vast beyond all measure!


Apprentice Ministers

For many trades, the idea of an apprenticeship makes lots of sense, especially given the practical skills in using physical tools and the need to learn how to ‘use your hands’ to do the work.

But for over 40 years, the idea of a Christian ministry apprenticeship has become more and more commonplace as people have realised that so much of church leadership is ‘caught not taught.’

It was in 1979 that the first four ministry apprentices were trained by Philip Jensen at the University of New South Wales, and since then, there have been over 3,500 people who have followed in their stead around the world, in churches, universities and a range of different contexts.

In 1995 I began my two-year Ministry Training Strategy (MTS) apprenticeship at my home church under the leadership of my rector John Woodhouse, and even to this day, I still draw down upon the skills and wisdom of those two years ‘on the tools’ in church.

It helped me to know what questions I needed to ask as I commenced my four-year theological degree, and it helped set up a context for me to learn how to study the Bible and how to explain it to others.

As we look to the future of our church, it is my prayer that the Lord would provide for us a ministry apprentice to shadow me in my ministry, and to be equipped in our church for their own, future ministry, wherever they might be after they study.

Whilst ministry apprentices are to be ‘trained not used,’ they will inevitably bring an important contribution to the ministry of our church, and that’s why I’m praying every day that the Lord would give us someone for us to train and serve, and then in turn, to be served and blessed by their ministry.

Will you pray with me that the Lord will bring us an apprentice next year?


Dual Action Church

When people think about asking an unbelieving friend to come along to a Christian event, they sometimes hesitate to invite them to church on Sundays.

After all, many people think that church services are for people who have already trusted in Jesus, and not for those who are still starting that journey.

Yet, in 1 Corinthians 14:23-25 we read that Christians should conduct our gatherings with the expectation that unbelievers will be present with us.

For, as the outsiders hear God’s word, “they will be convicted of sin,” (verse 24), “their secret thoughts will be exposed, and they will fall to their knees and worship God, declaring, ‘God is truly here among you.’” (verse 25).

In other words, unbelievers will recognise their need to become friends with God, and so they’ll join us in worshipping Jesus as Lord… all from watching and listening to normal, Sunday church.

The reason this works is that God’s word is ‘dual action,’ for its essential message is that Jesus is Lord.

So, for people who already know Jesus as Lord, it grows our knowledge and trust in him; and for those who don’t yet know Jesus as Lord, it shows them how to follow Jesus and why it matters.

Like dual-action shampoo and conditioner, the Bible is effective to achieve two things at the same time—both mission and maturity—which is why we love to have the Bible front and centre in all we do.

So, if you’re thinking of bringing a friend along to a church event, then every Sunday’s a great day… especially as they join with us to enjoy our delicious, sit-down meal after church each week, with people of all ages and stages.

And if you don’t yet know Jesus, then Sunday church is the right place and the right time, for we pray that as we all gather together to hear God’s word, that together we’ll worship Jesus as Lord!


Sharing Our Ministry

As a church with more than one minister, we need to work out how to share the pastoring of paid and volunteer leaders.

For next year we’re looking for a replacement for Jacob as he heads off to Moore College, so our staff and Parish Council have been considering ways to best define our different responsibilities.

We’ve chosen to adopt and adapt a popular church leadership strategy called ‘Team Pastoring’ that breaks up the responsibilities of our church into seven portfolios, each beginning with the letter ‘M.’

So, these key things we need to do together are to glorify God in our gatherings and devotions (Magnification), reach people outside the church (Mission), integrate, connect and and care within the church (Membership), grow in the knowledge and love of God (Maturity), equip and recruit for service (Ministry), foster intergenerational unity and distinction (Multigenerations), and manage people and resources (Mechanics).

To help us do this, we’re assigning these portfolios to our ministers, so that I will look after Magnification, Maturity, Mission, and Multigenerations as your Senior Minister, Sandee will look after Membership as the new ‘Care and Connections Minister’, Steve will look after Mission as the new ‘Evangelism Minister’, and Brad will continue to work across the whole church as Youth Minister.

To complete the team, we’re now looking to find an all-new, part time ‘Executive Minister’ who will manage our Mechanics, and lead and support our all-new team of volunteer Ministry Coordinators, whom we look to appoint soon.

Please pray that we successfully find a new ‘Executive Minister,’ and that we will identify and recruit an all-new team of ‘Ministry Coordinators’ as we work together to see each person in our village, valley and region know how to follow Jesus and why it matters.


Our Highest Value

It’s been a delight to hear back from so many of you by email about what you consider to be the values of our church, and for me to praise God for how he’s used our church to encourage and equip you to love others.

As I’ve read your responses, it’s been clear that there is one value that stands head and shoulders above the rest: that our church is deeply Bible-based.

You said we’re “Bible-based in a real and well-articulated way that does not shy away from why we are like that,” and that we have “faithful teaching of God’s word by people of real conviction and gifted by God for that ministry,” with preaching where “the main focus is God.”

It’s a genuine delight to know that the labour of our preachers is not in vain, as we seek to humbly sit under God’s word ourselves, and as we are lead by his Spirit to know more of him and ourselves, which we then bring to you.

I often think of teaching God’s word like serving up food for friends: the greatest compliment is when our guests finish all the food on their plate, and they are deeply satisfied in a way that brought real change and comfort, by God’s strength.

Sadly, this is not something that all Christians embrace, with some feeling that being too Bible-based somehow quenches the Holy Spirit or dampens our experience of God.

Yet, in my experience over the years, the churches that have been most profoundly impacted by God are those that humbly receive his word… especially as it challenges us to stand firm in a world that wants to own us as its own.

Praise God for his glorious word, and for the passion his Spirit has brought upon us to devour it and live for Jesus in every way.


Refreshing our values

Almost three years ago to the day, we invited everyone from our church to gather for a ‘Vision Day’ to consider our mission, vision, and values.

As a result, we identified six values that have defined who we are and, most significantly, what we consider to be important.

We decided that we were orthodox, Anglican, missional, intergenerational, village and heritage.

Using these values, we have explained to people what our church is like and why we do things the way we do.

It’s also helped us as we’ve considered change, so that we could work hard to do things that were ‘us’ and not things that went against our grain.

Since that day three years ago, God has kindly lead us through lots of change, and we’ve grown in many ways, especially as we’ve welcomed so many of you to be new members of our church.

And so it seems wise to have a fresh look at our values so we can consider whether these values are still the best six words to sum us up… and we’d love to hear from every current member of our church so we can consider your thoughts.

So, to help us review things, we’d love it if you could take just a few minutes to write down what you think is important and special for our church… and even to consider what might make you unhappy if we changed it.

Please email your thoughts (or write them down) so we can draft some refreshed values to help redefine who we are, so we might grow and change in a way that’s consistent with how God has formed our church.

It’s such a joy to be a part of our church at this time, and we pray that the Lord might continue to lead us to glorify him, as we keep loving each other.


(photo credit: Mike Cohen via Flickr)

Members or Partners?

Over the past few weeks some of our staff and senior leaders have been giving prayerful consideration to the best way to help support our growing church through refreshing and defining how leadership works in our church.

One of the things we talked about was whether it might be better to call each of us ‘partners’ rather than ‘members?’

Now, they’re both useful names to use to describe each of us who are actively involved in the ministry of our church.

And, as we’ll see in this weekend’s sermon from 1 Corinthians 12, the idea of ‘member’ actually makes sense when you think of each of us being a part (or a ’member’) of a body.

But in our common speak, we sometimes can think of a member as someone who pays their membership fees and seeks to get the benefits of being a member… which feels more of a consumeristic way of thinking.

Yet, that’s not how  our ‘members’ act in our church, for we all participate as partners who work together with servant hearts to sacrificially share our lives and resources with our fellow parishioners as we seek to see each person in our village, valley and region know how to follow Jesus and why it matters.

So, in that sense, the idea of being ‘partners’ is a more an active way of describing us, and perhaps , it better describes the depth and joy of our rich fellowship.

So, what do you think? Should we speak of each other as ‘partners’ of Jamberoo Anglican, or is the name ‘member’ still the more user-friendly way of describing all of us as parts of the body of Christ in Jamberoo?

Either way, the Lord has blessed with a wonderful team of disciples, who love to serve him as he has served us… no matter what we’re called!


(photo credit: ajusticenetwork via Flickr)