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

Are you resolute?

Being away at the LiT (‘Leaders in Training’ camp) this week, we were talking about being resolute.

Resolute isn’t a word we often use these days and I wonder if it is because people in the world today are not resolute in much?

Though failings are not always due to a lack of resolve, passion, or commitment, it is still the case that when things don’t work out, we often do not like to recognise our part.

If you get a poor grade in school, it’s because the teacher didn’t instruct well enough.

If your marriage is failing, it’s your spouse’s fault, or their job, or the kids.

If you get knocked over really badly in the surf, many will hang up their wetsuits before having the resolve to get back on the board.

We are simply used to giving up at what we are not gifted at rather than being purposeful, determined, and unwavering.

Yet, as Christians Jesus calls us to be resolute in following him towards eternal life just as he “resolutely set out for Jerusalem” in Luke 9:51.

Jesus’ setting out for Jerusalem was not just him going on a trip, but it was him being purposeful, determined, and unwavering in going towards suffering, humiliation, and hardship for the sake of saving us.

Michael Raiter, one of the speakers this week, told us that we all need to go through Jerusalem on our journey following Jesus to heaven.

We are welcoming suffering, and hardship, but for the sake of the gospel.

Though the journey will not be easy, we must be RESOLUTE just as Jesus was.

And along the way, hopefully we will find the strength to do our best in education, our families, surfing, and in all things for the glory of the kingdom.


Telling the next generation

Walk about Zion, go around her,
 count her towers…
that you may tell of them
 to the next generation. Psalm 48:13,14

Psalm 48 is an invitation to behold with eyes of faith Zion, the city of God, and for us to not to rejoice in the number of towers, but to rejoice that this is where God dwells.

He is secure forever, and so therefore are his people.

But the purpose of this knowledge is not just for you; it’s so you will tell the next generation.

Christians are those who now see not the walls of an earthly city, but with eyes of faith see the heavenly Jerusalem, where we are gathered around Mt Zion.

And the same command comes to us to tell the next generation, and the generation after that.

Each generation must take the mantle of sharing the news of the gospel that we see by faith.

We live in a society that by and large have rejected this vision, and so have left their children adrift. We as the Church have the opportunity to fill that spiritual void and hold out the good news of salvation.

We are privileged to have a terrific relationship with Jamberoo Public School, and we enjoy the privilege of teaching the school students every week about the Christian faith through Special Religious Education (SRE).

Over the next few weeks our Jamba Kids team plan to get together to see how we can further strengthen the connections between our Saturday night ministry and the Scripture classes at the school, as we plan to re-launch our weekend kids’ ministry.

And, as I (Jodie) begin to teach and coordinate our Primary School SRE from next year, we’re praying that we’ll have even stronger ties between our church and the school.


Pray for our police

Each year, the 29th day of September holds special significance for police throughout Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and the Solomon Islands.

It is a day for police to pause and honour those whose lives have been lost while performing their duty as police officers.

This important day is also a time to remember other police officers who have lost their lives through illness or other circumstances.

And so, this week, let us pray this prayer, together:

Our heavenly Father, we thank you for your providential care of our world and the peace and security that we enjoy in our land. We especially thank you for the Police Force of New South Wales. Despite the corruption of the human heart and the prevalence of lawlessness and sin, we thank you for these guardians of justice in our society.

We pray for the members of our Police Force as they maintain law and order in our state. Give them the courage to expose unrighteousness, wherever it is found, to pursue justice for the common good, to deal with all without fear or favour, and to act with wisdom and compassion in all their work. Protect them from danger in their duties, shield them from temptation, and enable them to be role models for all whom they serve.

We also pray for police chaplains as they minister to the spiritual and emotional needs of our Police Force members. May they act with compassion, wisdom and love as they support police officers in their line of duty.

We offer our prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, who alone brings order to the human heart, peace to a troubled world and the hope of eternal life for all who put their trust in him. Amen.


Welcoming without affirming

CREDIT: Photo UNED, via Flickr.

Last weekend Mandy and I attended the ‘Anglican Future Conference’ in Melbourne.

One of the keynote speakers, Wes Hill, encouraged us to think about the challenge of having our churches open to including people who experience unwanted, same-sex attraction.

He encouraged us to be ‘welcoming, not affirming.’

We are to be welcoming to people with all sorts of backgrounds and experiences, but do so in such a way that we do not affirm behaviour that is against God’s will.

As a basis for his encouragement, he led us through a Bible study on Romans 9 to 11, where he outlined the remarkable way in which God’s gospel makes believers go from spiritual death to life.

And when God acts to save his people, his salvation is unifying.

We who were excluded as non-Jews have been included into the nation of Israel, and it had nothing to do with how faithful we were to his law.

In fact, he included us in order that we might be dependent on God’s grace, not on our own merits.

The result is that “we must forsake our looking down on others.”

For this reason, our church welcomes LGBTQI+ people.

God’s saving message of his love and mercy is for everyone: we are all welcomed, but our sin is not affirmed.

For as we read in the Bible:

Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 9b-11)


The pursuit of happiness

CREDIT: Mitchell Joyce, via Flickr.

It is hard to claim that pyramid-shaped tea-bags have added much to the sum of human happiness.

They’re just another part of our society’s never ending quest for better and more luxurious things. The continual rise of technology has made products, once considered only for the elite, now available to everyone – the pyramid tea bag one such example! I’m not sure anyone expected that particular product to create a wave of new found happiness. But what of more sought after technologies? With the ability for more people to gain access to these goods we might have expected a steady rise in our society’s general happiness.

However as levels of wealth and technology have risen, levels of happiness have gone down. Technology was meant to bring a higher standard of living with less work. However all we have found is that the goal posts have moved. We don’t just want a higher standard of living, we want a higher standard of living than others. In other words we take for granted luxuries that were only dreamed of a generation ago, and we want more. We are now working more and are dissatisfied with what we have.

This should come as no surprise to Christians (although we too find ourselves caught up in this cycle). However what may come as a surprise is that any pursuit of happiness as an end goal, seems to lead to a decrease in happiness. The more we chase happiness, the more elusive it is. We often wish this goal for others with sentiments like ‘whatever makes you happy’, or  ‘I’m happy if you’re happy.’ However this goal in the end is simply counter-productive.

That’s because God has made us for a greater goal than happiness.

We are created to love and serve him, and to love and serve others. And a wonderful truth emerges here – the more we forget about focusing on ourselves and our own happiness, the happier we become.


Praying for the PM

In the midst of a very messy few weeks in Federal Politics, our nation has ended up with a Prime Minister who trusts in Jesus as his Lord and Saviour.

In his maiden speech, Scott Morrison spoke of his “personal faith in Jesus”, noting his commitment to his faith at an early age.

We can be thankful to God that he has given us a man to lead our nation who himself follows Jesus as his own leader.

Nonetheless, it is a challenge for any Christian in public office to faithfully follow his own beliefs whilst serving a nation full of diverse faith positions.

Whilst he must not divorce his own heartfelt commitment to the teachings of Jesus, he must also lead politicians who represent a wide range of constituents.

Morrison has said “My personal faith in Jesus Christ is not a political agenda.”

Furthermore, he said that for him, “faith is personal, but the implications are social—as personal and social responsibility are at the heart of the Christian message.”

This will be a real challenge for our new Prime Minister.

We must pray for him that he will have great wisdom as he seeks to be a faithful Christian man in a very public office.

For, as he observed a decade ago, “it has become fashionable to negatively stereotype those who profess their Christian faith in public life as ‘extreme’ and to suggest that such faith has no place in the political debate of this country.”

We must pray that Mr Morrison would continue to profess his Christian faith in public life, and that he would have many opportunities to commend the truth of Jesus to those he speaks to privately and also in the public sphere.


Contentment in all seasons

CREDIT: Photo 30miller, via Flickr.

We are a people who are not used to contentment. August is too cold & windy. February is too hot & not breezy enough. Our family members are too pushy. Our friends don’t support us enough. The HSC is too hard. There isn’t enough homework in primary school. It’s about time the National Energy Guarantee is coming! Who cares about emissions, everything is meaningless!

We can all complain on any given day. And sometimes it’s deserved. Some seasons are really hard and difficult. Declines in health, death, relationship issues, stress from work or study, division in our churches. But, there are also great seasons in life where there is great joy, fulfilment, and one feels carefree.

But no matter the season, we are called to be content. Paul has amazing wisdom here saying:

I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:11-13

I am reminded of Horatio Spafford who was able to write the beloved hymn It is Well with My Soul in the face of great tragedy, losing his four daughters at sea. Though I hope no one in our congregations will face such tragedy, it is my prayer that in the face of all hardship we will be a people who will rely on the Lord to give us strength and we will reach for contentment.

We are blessed. For “whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father” (James 1:17). Let’s be a church that lives in thankfulness to the Good Lord and contentment.


Romans Eight Twenty-eight

CREDIT: Photo Chad Burnett, via Flickr.

Once there was a man who went to prison, and as he lay in bed on his first night, he heard someone call out, “49”, which was then followed by laughter from all the other prisoners.

Then another prisoner called out, “26”, which was followed by even more laughs.

When the new prisoner asked what was happening, he was told that the inmates have heard every joke so many times that they’ve given each joke a number to make things simpler.

So, the new inmate called out, “23”, but nobody laughed.

When he asked why his joke didn’t get a laugh, they said, “it’s the way you told it.”

Some verses in the Bible are so well known that we just need to say the reference in order to bring to mind the word of comfort and assurance.

The reference “Romans 8:28” is one of them:

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

When it feels like life is spinning out of control, we must remember, “Romans 8:28”.

When we are uncertain about the future, we can tell each other, “Romans 8:28”.

When things happen that are hard to accept, we can assure each other by saying, “Romans 8:28”.

We need to remember that God works in all things for the good of those who love him, and we are right to find great comfort in this assurance.

We never know what is in store for us, but we must always remember that nothing takes God by surprise.

And you can be sure that “Romans 8:28” will be a great source of comfort and assurance, no matter how you tell it.


Blessings from hard things

Throughout life I’ve realised that it’s often when I’m doing the hardest things that it’s the time that I’m growing the most.

It might be carrying a 23kg pack on a five-day, 50km walk around the exposed wilderness of Wilsons Promentory.

Or, it might be learning to stand up on my mid-life-crisis longboard, without causing further damage to my middle-aged joints and muscles.

But one time in my life that was very hard but very rewarding was my four-year stint at Moore Theological College.

This is the place I was pushed harder than I could imagine to know as much about God, his world, and myself through the studying of the Bible and the writings of the great ones who have so-helpfully grappled with the queen of the sciences.

Yet, it wasn’t just the study that was hard. The four years of learning and living in community forged friendships through the trials we faced, together.

I praise God that the time in College was one where we were all supported by godly and caring faculty and staff, who always sought to help us grow in every way, in preparation for our future opportunities in word ministry.

It was tough, but it was good tough.

Moore College is one of the finest places on the planet to study theology in a community that cherishes God’s word as his true and reliable revelation, and we need to keep praying and supporting this important ministry.

Our church benefits from this every day as our trained ministers stand on the foundations learnt from the study at Moore, and as we seek to then teach others what we, ourselves, have learnt.

As we celebrate Moore College Sunday, let’s keep praying that Moore College keeps equipping men and women for mission and ministry.


Anglicans Aid Drought Victims

The Archbishop of Sydney’s Anglican Aid has launched an appeal to help communities hit by the crippling drought in Western New South Wales.

The public appeal will raise funds to provide resources to churches in North and Western New South Wales, which are already dealing with requests for practical support for families impacted by what, in many places, is the worst drought since 1900.

99 percent of the state is now officially in drought and although the New South Wales government has launched an assistance package for farmers, the Vicar-General of the Armidale Diocese, the Rev Brian Kirk says “the suddenness of this drought has caught many by surprise.”

Mr Kirk says any help will be much appreciated by rural families.

He particularly has asked Christians to pray for rain, for farming families and businesses in rural communities, for farmers to make wise decisions and that Christians will not lose their faith in God.

Mr Kirk says clergy and church members are proactively offering assistance to farming families by providing food and clothing vouchers and visiting to provide practical and pastoral support.

Among the practical assistance is free labour to assist with the feeding of stock, maintenance and everyday chores as well as providing free drought dinners.

Funds donated through the Anglican Aid appeal will be disbursed through the Anglican Dioceses of Armidale and Bathurst which cover much of the most heavily drought-affected areas.

For more information about how to give to this appeal, visit phone 9284 1406.