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

Are You Prepared?

You’re probably aware I’ve been battling cancer for five years. I’m sorry to say my treatment has had to come to an end, any further treatment won’t help, and might cause further problems.

My cancer appears to be growing slowly, but it has lodged in the lining of my lungs.

I became a Christian when I was 20. I didn’t ask God to set his love on me back then and choose me to be his in Christ (Ephesians 1:4), and so I can’t complain he has now asked me to walk this road. 

People often talk in terms of “living with cancer”, but the apostle Paul is more helpful when he says that “to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).

What does the future hold? Well, there are many passages in the New Testament that focus on heaven and eternal life with God. Often people will think in terms of doing your favourite activity, like golf, or bingo, forever in a party-like atmosphere. 

But the New Testament focusses on God the Father and Jesus the sacrificial lamb at the centre of heaven, with a vast circle of saved sinners (and I’m not writing as anything other than as a sinner who has been forgiven by Jesus), focusing their shared delight upon the centre of heaven. Maybe this is what the old pictures of harps on the clouds were trying to convey.

The gospel clearly states that we cannot enter heaven by trying to be good. We all have sins in our lives. These sins need to be wiped away, forgiven, because nothing unclean can enter God’s heaven. This is why Jesus died as our substitute on the cross. 

I want ask you, are you prepared for heaven? Only by being forgiven is the door opened, and it’s open very wide indeed.


The Greatest Love

On the wall of Jamberoo Anglican Church there are two honour boards: one for World War One, and one for World War Two.

Every Sunday, I see these two lists of very people who offered themselves in service to their king and country.

Some names are extra special, for next to their name they have a small cross which shows us that they gave their life for their country.

When they left for war, I wonder if they expected to die?

Regardless, they still gave their lives for us. Some gave their bodies, but all gave their hearts and minds and souls. 

Nobody returned the same: everyone lost something, some lost everything. They sacrificed their lives for those they loved, and they did so willingly… but why?

These days we spend our time trying to live longer, and we fill our days pursuing health and wealth. So why would we risk our wellbeing for the sake of others?

I think it’s because of Jesus, who modelled sacrifice when he died for his friends.

Before his death he said: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13)

Jesus modelled sacrifice when he died for his friends, and he cut his life short to offer eternal life. His attitude has inspired our servicemen and women.

Jesus showed that it’s better to give than receive, and that sacrificing one’s life is the greatest love of all. Jesus sacrificed his life to bring justice and mercy. He died to take our punishment, so his followers will be forgiven.

His sacrifice brings true forgiveness for his followers. It cost him everything, but he did it for love.

When I see the honour boards at my church, I see very important names: those who served showed there’s more to life than health and wealth.

For the greatest love lays down one’s life for one’s friends.


Bad Things Happening

“You might have seen bad things happening on the TV news… you might be worried ‘bout the world and wonder what will happen to you.”

That’s how Colin Buchanan started his famous song ‘The Lord is King’ more than 20 years ago… and nothing has really changed.

Even though we get less of our news from the TV, we still are bombarded through social media with things that make us sad and lead us to wonder why there’s so much pain.

The tragic events of Westfield Bondi Junction, and the church in Wakeley in Sydney’s West, both show us the chaos of this world in which we live, and prove it’s impossible to be truly safe, even in a sophisticated city like Sydney.

Acting Premier Penny Sharpe said of the first attack, “this is not who we are,” which although is generally true, ignores the reality that it was an everyday Australian who committed this evil act against other, everyday Australians.

The world in which we live is a tragic mess, and though there are many, beautiful acts of kindness and heroism, we know that evil always lurks, waiting to explode before our very eyes.

This is why we put our trust in the Lord Jesus, who is king… and who is going to look after everything in this world.

It doesn’t mean that when you put your trust in God that life will be easy and safe, but it does mean that you have a certainty for eternity, and that no matter what you go through in this life, there will be justice for those who do evil, and hope for those who trust in Christ.

Blessed are all who find their place in the shelter of his grace.


School’s Out, Kids In!

We love having an intergenerational church that welcomes and includes people of all ages within our everyday church, every week.

Normally, everyone begins in church together, and after around 45 minutes, the children from babies through to year six head out for their own, age-specific Bible teaching whilst the high school youths and older remain in church for the sermon.

However, during these school holidays we’re going to trial something new called ‘School’s Out, Kids In,’ where the kindergarten, infants and primary-aged school students will remain in church for the whole time, as we tweak our service to make it even more suitable to younger people.

This will mean that during these school holidays we’ll skip our normal Question Time, we’ll aim to have the sermon a little shorter, and we’ll make a number of minor tweaks that will help our younger people participate more with us all.

Our prayer is that this will help our kids feel that attending church is a normal experience for everyone, so that they will never know a time when they’re not welcomed and embraced fully during church.

The other benefit of this is that it means our children’s ministry team will have a break during the school holidays, allowing some holiday kids helpers to enjoy serving the younger kids in the creche program during the sermon.

We also will be blessed as our children’s minister Rach Bemmer is able to creatively shape church, as she leads the services, and works hard behind the scenes to help church be even better for kids as well as grown ups.

This holiday it’s just a trial, so we’d love your feedback as we seek to strengthen our ministry to younger people, as well as all of us as we enjoy life together, all ages and stages together in church.


An Unexpected Journey

Sometimes when we look back on difficulties, the blessing of hindsight enables us to see just why it is that God took us on an unexpected journey that was more difficult and less obvious than the main road.

But sometimes it’s only when God’s word specifically explains a situation that it’s possible to know why God did what he did.

When God brought his people out of slavery in Egypt, the most obvious way for them to travel on their exit route was to take the main road that was easiest and shortest.

Yet, God had other plans for his people, and so instead he took them a more difficult route, which if they didn’t know better, might have been interpreted as being a sign of God’s lack of love or wisdom.

However the Bible tells us exactly what God was thinking, for we read in Exodus:

When Pharaoh finally let the people go, God did not lead them along the main road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that was the shortest route to the Promised Land. God said, “If the people are faced with a battle, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” (Exodus 13:17)

God didn’t take them the obvious way, but instead they went through the wilderness so that they might avoid a confrontation with another enemy which might then lead them to return back to where they were slaves in Egypt.

We might not know why it is that the Lord is taking us on a longer and harder journey than normal, but we do know that the Lord disciplines his children (Hebrews 12:7) and that everything works together for the good of God’s people (Romans 8:28).

The Lord might take us on the longer, harder path, but wherever he leads us, we know he’s good and that he loves us.


Jesus is Alive!

The empty tomb of Easter Sunday is the greatest miracle of history, for at that moment it was clear that Jesus’ mission to conquer death was a complete success.

If he remained dead then everything he promised was false, and his death on the cross was a tragic waste.

But now that he’s alive it means that when a person trusts in Jesus as their loving ruler, then he promises to forgive their sins and give them the certainty of eternal life.

Nonetheless, even though Jesus told his closest friends that he was going to come back to life after he died, they still found it hard to believe him.

There are many examples of when Jesus’ friends had serious doubts, and it wasn’t really until the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost that they really ‘got it.’

But after that, they couldn’t keep quiet, because they knew that Jesus really did rise, and that because he’s risen, there is now a certain hope for the future.

This Easter is the perfect time for you to personally reflect on whether you have this iron-clad assurance about your future.

There is nothing certain about your future unless you trust in Jesus, because unless you know him and have been forgiven by him, then you face judgement.

Why would you take the judgement from God that you deserve, when Jesus has offered to take it from you… and has proven his success with the empty tomb?

This Easter, come to Jesus, say ‘sorry’ for rejecting him, and simply ask to follow him… and his resurrection will be your resurrection, too… for his empty grave will be your guarantee for the future.

Your future awaits you… if you come to the one who conquered death.


Is Good Friday a sad day?

For many Christians, Good Friday is a day on which the death of Jesus is remembered and experienced as if it was his funeral.

It was certainly a tragic day when the creator was killed by the creation he came to save.

Plus, when we realise that our sin caused his sacrifice, then we feel remorse for our rebellion that led him to the cross.

Yet Jesus said something on the night before he died that should make us pause and reflect upon our emotions on Good Friday.

Jesus said to his disciples:

So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy. (John 16:22)

When Jesus was to appear to those disciples in the days after his resurrection, they would rejoice, and nothing would stop their joy.

To make the point, Jesus likened their emotions to that of a brand new mother:

It will be like a woman suffering the pains of labor. When her child is born, her anguish gives way to joy because she has brought a new baby into the world. (John 16:21)

After the birth, all that matters is the joy of the new baby.

Likewise, after the pain of Good Friday, all that matters is the joy of Easter Sunday.

We who live as people of the risen Lord are right to continue to remember the joy of the resurrection, even as we stop to reflect on the sacrifice of his death.

For though it was the darkest day, all we now see is the light of life, even as we rightly feel remorse for our sins that brought him to the cross.


Experience Easter with us!

GOOD FRIDAY – 9am all-age service to remember the earth-shattering death of Jesus and to celebrate his forgiveness… with espresso and hot cross buns.

EASTER SUNDAY – 9am free bacon and egg BBQ breakfast, followed at 10am on our lawn for a special, open-air, all-age celebration of Jesus coming back to life, then hot cross buns and espresso with lots of fun games for young and old.

Everyone is welcome to this FREE celebration of the most important weekend of the year!

The Spirit of Easter

The Holy Spirit has a message that he’s telling the world—and it’s all about the need for everyone to personally know Jesus.

On the night before he died, Jesus said that the Holy Spirit will “convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment.” (John 16:8)

This is the clear message of the Spirit, and his word has three main points.

Firstly, The Spirit tells the world that it has a broken relationship with God, which is the ‘sin’ of refusing to believe in Jesus.

Secondly, The Spirit tells the world that it can become reconciled with God, because Jesus died and rose and then returned to be with his heavenly Father.

Thirdly, The Spirit tells the world that it needs to act upon this offer of forgiveness, because judgement is coming soon.

The work of the Holy Spirit is to bring a message of sin, righteousness and judgement to the world—and he uses the followers of Jesus to share it with the world.

Easter is such a wonderful occasion to share the message of the Holy Spirit with a world that needs to know the reconciliation of Jesus before it’s too late.

Because at Easter, we learn about why the world needs Jesus, what Jesus did on the cross, and why we need to ask for forgiveness with Jesus before he comes back soon.

This Easter we’re going to hear about the Spirit of fulfilment on Good Friday (from John 19:28-37) then on Easter Sunday we’ll hear about the Spirit of Peace (from John 20:19-23).

There’s no better time to come to Jesus than Easter.

Will you join us for church this Easter?


Strategic Youth and Children’s Ministry

In my report to Tuesday night’s Annual General Meeting (AGM), I drew attention to the important place of children’s and youth ministry in the life of our church.

Our ministry to youth and children is not our most important ministry, but I believe it’s our most strategic ministry at this time.

Around four out of five people become Christians before they become adults, which shows us that younger people are more open to considering the big things about life, including the need to follow their creator Jesus as king.

Plus, when people decide to follow Jesus when they’re younger, it means they’re better-placed to head down the pathway of Bible college and word ministry.

So, our church has decided to invest deeply in ministry to kids and youth by employing a part-time youth minister, and more recently, a part-time children’s minister.

Already, we’ve seen the fruit of this strategy, as young people are not only encouraged to grow in their own knowledge and love of God, but they’re also emboldened to naturally invite friends from school to join them at church with their household.

Plus, when a family visits us for the first time, they will know that our church is a place that focuses on growing their kids and youth, providing a great place for them to choose as their spiritual home.

We pray that our kids and youth ministry will keep growing so that more young people and their households might know how to follow Jesus and why it matters.

Pray for Brad, Rachel, and all our youth and children’s leaders, as they lovingly bring the word of God to the young people in our church and in our world.

There’s nothing more strategic for the growth of God’s kingdom!