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

How to respond to Christchurch

This is a time to show our love and support. (CREDIT: Farrukh via Flickr)

Last Friday afternoon, I came across the horrific news from Christchurch, where two shootings saw at least fifty people murdered… and all by the hands of an Aussie. 

I watched as thousands of Australians spoke up and responded to the tragedy, laying flowers in mosques and showing support for our neighbours in Christchurch.

However, I was left wondering about the best way to respond to this tragedy.

I read an article by Samuel Green and he had three helpful reflections.  

Firstly, it’s important to address the seriousness of the issue.

This was an act of pure evil and we cannot excuse or justify it in any way: this mass murder was driven by racism alone.

However, we know all people are created in the image of God, and that Jesus’ death was for all people who turn to him in repentance.

This leaves us with no excuse for any acts or thoughts driven by racism. 

Secondly, we want to reach out to the Muslim community and assure them of our love and support.

This is a great time to meet with our Muslim friends and listen to their concerns and worries.

We can attend community events standing against these acts of violence as people who promote peace, just like our Saviour Jesus, the Prince of Peace. 

Finally, we can be praying.

As the families of the victims mourn their losses and the family of the shooter grapples with this tragedy, we can pray that God would be glorified, and that through this horrific event, the good news of Jesus would be spread. 

Despite the sinfulness and cowardly acts of violence in our world, God still rules as king, and remains in control.

We have a God in whom we can bring all our worries to and trust in him alone.


Is ‘Sex’ a Good Excuse?

Is ‘sex’ the reason some people choose not to follow Jesus? (CREDIT: via Flickr)

I’ve known Jesus for a long time, and to be honest, I find it hard to understand why someone wouldn’t want to accept his love and forgiveness?

But I wonder if sex is the excuse people give for why they don’t want to follow Jesus and enjoy a relationship with their loving creator?

Perhaps people don’t want to follow Jesus because they think that it will mean they have to give up their sexual freedoms in order to be constrained by the Bible’s rules?

They don’t want to give up having sex with their boyfriend, girlfriend, fiancee… or the person they’re having an affair with.

They don’t want to stop having homosexual sex or visiting prostitutes, or doing all the kinds of things that they know God forbids.

Or maybe people don’t want to follow Jesus because they feel that their sexual sins will somehow disqualify them from being a Christian.

After all, it would seem impossible that Jesus would accept someone who’s had the kind of sex that is prohibited in the Bible.

But both of those excuses don’t work.

When Jesus chatted to a woman who was drawing water from a well, he promised her spiritual water that would fulfil her forever.

And even though this woman had been in a series of sexual relationships, Jesus was willing to accept her and to give her the kind of satisfaction that sex couldn’t bring.

So, no matter what you’ve done, Jesus will forgive you if you seek him.

And even though your sexual practices will be restricted to the maker’s instructions, it will actually provide the true sex that was designed for the greatest enjoyment.

As Jesus promised the woman,

“…those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.” (John 14:4)


Does God Hate Sex?

If you think God hates sex then you’ve probably never read ‘The Song of Songs’. (CREDIT:

Have you ever thought that God hates sex?

Maybe it’s because the Bible has lots of rules that seem to restrict our freedoms and that cause us to miss out on the ‘fun’ and ‘naughty’ side of sex?

Well, if that’s the case, then you’ve probably never read ‘The Song of Songs’.

This book of the Bible talks openly and unashamedly about sex, and its mention of private parts and private acts is enough to make anyone blush.

Throughout history some people have thought that the intimate love portrayed between the husband and wife was only just describing the love between Jesus and his church.

These people couldn’t cope with thinking that this saucy sex was in the Bible.

But God is pro-sex, and he made sex to be celebrated and enjoyed.

But like any good thing, it can easily be damaged if it’s not used according to its maker’s instructions.

And that’s why we learn in Song of Songs that true sex is wonderful, honourable, secure and committed.

It’s designed to be between a married man and a women, who together preserve this remarkable gift from God.

So instead of seeing God as some sort of spoil sport, we should see his words in the Bible about sex as the kind of wisdom that is worth a fortune.

The Song of Songs shows sex to be mind-blowingly good, but it also makes it clear that this powerful tool has the potential to cause real harm when it’s not used according to its maker’s instructions.

We carry this glorious love poem around inside our Bibles, so it is good for us to read it, and understand it.

And so, over the next four weeks, we’re going to study this remarkable book of the Bible, and whether you’re old or young, married or single, male or female, this will be a spiritual journey not to be missed!

The talks will run on 9-10, 16-17, 23-24, and 30-31 March 2019 at both our 5pm Saturday and 9am Sunday services at Jamberoo Anglican Church.


When The Church Fails

Even if you feel like giving up on the church, don’t give up on Jesus. (CREDIT: Jim, The Photographer via Flickr)

As news broke this week about the conviction of Cardinal Pell for child sexual abuse, I was deeply saddened.

It reminded me again of how the church has failed so many people.

Sexual abuse has occurred in churches of all denominations, and it is an overwhelming tragedy.

There have been many cases of abuse in the Anglican Church of Australia, and we remain truly sorry for the betrayal of trust and the harm experienced by so many people.

Whilst new systems now provide greater protection from abuse, it comes too late for those who have already been hurt by the leaders they trusted.

Indeed, the impact of sexual abuse in the church goes wider than the immediate victims: it affects everyone who has had faith in the church.

For those who see the church as the place to meet God and receive his grace, this news can create serious disillusionment.

After all, if the church is polluted, then it seems impossible to really know God and receive his blessings.

Yet, from the ashes of this tragedy rises a new hope.

The Bible says that every one of us can relate directly to God, without priest or sacrament.

God speaks directly to all of us in the Bible, and you can hear him for yourself.

Which means that when the church fails, God doesn’t.

Even if you feel like giving up on the church, don’t give up on Jesus.

You can meet Jesus directly by reading God’s word, the Bible for yourself.

And you can pray directly to Jesus, because his death on the cross brings the ultimate forgiveness.

Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28).


There is always hope

If you think someone may be experiencing suicidal thoughts, then it important that you ask them how they’re going. (CREDIT: Thomas’s Pics via Flickr.)

There are people everywhere who feel as though they cannot be part of our world any longer.

Sadly, some of those people have tried to take their own lives.

In 2015, over 3,000 people died by suicide, and it is presumed that for every death there were as many as 25 attempts.

Whilst this seems like a new phenomenon, we read in the Bible about people who have struggled with great fear, sadness and hopelessness.

The Psalmist even declares that God was the only thing that, “kept my eyes from closing [for he] was too troubled to speak.” (Psalm 77:4).

Yet even though these feelings of hopelessness and suicide are common, Christians believe that suicide is a great tragedy.

After all, God has knit each person together in their mother’s womb (Psalm 139) and made each of us in his image (Genesis 1).

It grieves God to see his children feeling so hopeless, especially when Jesus offers such hope.

If you think someone may be experiencing suicidal thoughts, then it important that you ask them how they’re going.

This is the message that Tim and I were taught in a recent seminar by Lifeline on this topic of suicide intervention.

We were encouraged to speak to people who seem troubled, and to say something like, “hey, you’ve seemed really down lately: have you been thinking about suicide?”

It’s a bold question to ask, but it will let that person know you care and give them an opportunity to talk about what’s going on in their lives.

For, in the same way that you’d run to help someone who was clutching their chest in pain, we need to assist people who are suffering emotionally.

We must care well for others and try to offer hope.

If you need to speak to someone now, contact on 13 11 14.


Where is your faith?

Our only hope is in the man who could still the storm with a statement. (CREDIT: via Flickr)

If you’ve ever sailed on a yacht then you’ll know the exhilaration of submitting to the awesome power of the wind.

Yet when the breeze turns into a gale, it can be terrifying.

The Bible records a time when Jesus and his friends hit a fierce storm as they sailed across a lake, and it caused their boat to fill with water.

They were in real danger, and they feared for their lives.

And in their powerlessness, they woke up Jesus who was asleep in the boat.

They said to him “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” 

As he awoke, Jesus did not share their fear like any other human would, but instead he showed his sovereignty over the weather.

The Bible simply says “When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and the raging waves. Suddenly the storm stopped and all was calm.”

Like a parent rebuking a naughty child, Jesus rebukes the wind and the waves.

Can you imagine what it must have been like to be in the presence of a man who could truly control creation?

And as the roar of the wind was silenced, Jesus simply asks the disciples, “Where is your faith?”

On the one hand, it was a rebuke to them for not trusting that Jesus was in control.

But on the other hand, Jesus’ statement is a genuine question: “Where is your faith?”

For the people in the boat, fearing for their lives, they had to choose the place in which they would put their faith.

The only real hope is in the man who could still the storm with a statement.

In their wonder, they asked the question: “Who is this man?”

For before their eyes they witnessed the power of the man who created and rules the universe, and now offers true comfort and forgiveness when you put your faith in him.


We Must Protect 
the Vulnerable

For the vulnerable in our world we must obey the voice of God and show love to those who are unable to love us back. (CREDIT: John Finn via Flickr.)

The decision for a mother to terminate the life of her unborn child must be the most painful and difficult choice imaginable.

Sadly, our society has placed this burden upon women because it has given mothers the option to abort their unborn child.

In the rare situation where a decision needed to be made between the life of a mother or her child, people have made the painful decision to terminate the child.

Yet our society has now extended abortion to allow situations where a pregnancy is simply ‘unwanted’.

In a recent development, New York legislators have chosen to permit late-term abortions, allowing medical practitioners to terminate a pregnancy in its final moments.

Even if it could be argued that a first-trimester foetus was not yet human, there is no doubt that a baby of more than thirty weeks is more than a clump of cells.

And yet we are growing less and less shocked by the thought of doctors causing the death of a human whose only fault is that they have not already traversed their mother’s birth canal.

The Bible makes it clear that God sees unborn children as humans, and view has been held by civilised people for centuries.

Yet, as we stray further and further away from God’s word, our collective heart is hardened, and we are more convinced by an atheistic view that values humans based on their benefit to others.

If we keep travelling this pathway, we will soon justify infanticide of babies with disabilities, and more euthanasia of the aged.

For the vulnerable in our world we must obey the voice of God and show love to those who are unable to love us back.

And we must defend these unborn babies from the acts and decisions of health and legal professionals whose oaths should have led them to protect the vulnerable, not lead them to their premature death.


Our World Needs Ethics

CREDIT: Raniel Diaz (via Flickr)

How do you know what is right and what is wrong?

This is one of the biggest challenges that we all face every day.

Some people will say that humans have a deep-down understanding of what is right and wrong.

Maybe it’s come from our upbringing, as we follow the example of parents and friends.

Or perhaps it’s from our society, as together we try and work out the ‘norms’ of acceptable behaviour through dialogue and discussion.

Yet, when we use crowdsourcing to make decisions about ethics, we place a great deal of faith in our own ability to make true judgements.

Sadly, history is full of examples of when people have got it terribly wrong.

This is why we need an anchor for our ethics… and this is why the Bible is so important and useful.

The Bible is grounded on the idea of love: love for one another that comes from God’s love to us.

Through the Bible, God helps us know our weaknesses, and he shows us how to be saved from the just punishment we deserve as we all, naturally, live independently from him.

That’s why the Christian scriptures are so deeply practical for people of all ages.

And this is why the officially-approved curriculum taught in Special Religious Education (SRE) is so deeply valuable for children in our public schools.

The best place to learn right and wrong is to turn to the Bible.

And the best thing about the Bible is that in those words we learn about true love and true forgiveness, as we hear how Jesus gave his own life as a sacrifice for us.

This is the best lesson any student can ever learn.


Connecting with our Community

Jodie McNeill and Mongo Delamont from Jamberoo Rural Fire Service

As we celebrate Australia Day, it’s a great reminder of how many people give up their time and energy to serve our community.

I’ve recently got to know a bunch of wonderful locals, who spend countless hours of their time to help protect life and property.

Jamberoo Rural Fire Brigade members are always on standby for a ‘fire call’, ready to drop everything to attend a blaze or an incident in our area.

Recently, some of the brigade members were risking their lives as they extinguished the petrol tanker in West Wollongong, and only this week some of us travelled to Tumut as part of a strike team to assist in a large blaze in Southern NSW.

Plus, this weekend, brigade members will be using fire for a different purpose… cooking sausages on the BBQ for breakfast on Australia Day in Reid Park.

I joined the Jamberoo RFB last year, as I wanted to connect more with our community as we seek to serve each other, especially in times of crisis.

This is everything that is great about our village: the willingness to sacrifice time, energy, and safety, to serve others.

This kind of service gives us a glimpse of what it is like for Jesus, the Son of Man, to serve us. We read in the Bible:

“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

The Bible, Mark chapter 10, sentence 45.

Jesus’ rescue mission was costly, because it meant he sacrificed his own life in order to save the people who came to him for help.

And this is the most courageous act of community service we’ll ever experience.


Are you prepared?

CREDIT: Karen Cox via Flickr

The end of January is often a time of preparation.

People all over Australia are getting ready to send their kids back to school, or to go back to work themselves.

They are organising Australia Day parties and outdoor activities for the end of Summer, before life gets busy again.

Tim and I are very much a part of this as Tim prepares to go back to school to teach in a few short weeks and I plan and prepare for the youth ministry here in Jamberoo, as well as pursuing some other part-time work alongside my ongoing visa applications!

But the Good Lord in his Good Book tells his people to be preparing for something different, and not just in light of Summer coming to an end.

Scripture tells Christians to be ready because the Son of God is coming back.

“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. (Matthew 24:42-44)

So what does being ready look like?

It’s about knowing that Jesus, the Son of God, is coming, and living a life to honour him full of faith in him and his saving grace.

It’s about making every decision in life as though Jesus might come back today.

So as you prepare for all sorts of things in the coming days and weeks, ask yourself if you are prepared for Christ’s return.