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

Kids’ Ministry is Great!

In our increasingly-professionalised world, we now employ people to do many of the things that we once did, ourselves—from mowing lawns to walking our dogs.

There are good reasons why we engage the services of others, but as we have become wealthier, we now value our time so highly that we spend money to deliver us with more leisure.

In the church context, we now employ some specialists to do ministry where we once relied on volunteers to serve in different practical ways.

One way that this has changed is in the area of youth and children’s ministry: where we once had a young adult parishioner volunteer to coordinate the youth, or a mum or dad to be the Sunday School Superintendent, we now encourage people to invest in specialised ministry training so that they can deliver specialised ministry to children and youth in our churches and schools.

This comes at a cost, but it also brings a benefit, for in the same way that we rightly require our school teachers to train in the skills of child and adolescent education, we now are training some specialised ministers to be knowledgable in the Bible as well as skilled in teaching young people in their specific ages and stages of life.

We have been thankful to God for our partnership with Youthworks College, and we delight in how Brad has benefited from his theological and ministry education that he now uses to invest deeply in our teenagers.

God willing, we hope to also welcome a specialist children’s minister to help us disciple and evangelise children in our village, valley and region.

May the Lord grant us wisdom as we consider this option for our staff team, and may he provide the right person to join our church and to help us teach and pastor our youngest people, for his glory.


A Prayer for Israel and Palestine

Dear Father God,

In light of Hamas’ recent attacks on Israel we are reminded yet again of the sad reality that the present Jerusalem is in slavery with her children.We pray for those who belong to the heavenly Jerusalem – our brothers and sisters living in both Israel and Palestine – that you’d enable them to boldly proclaim and live in accordance with the gospel of peace during this time of dreadful conflict. May their love of the Prince of Shalom/Salam so motivate them to comfort and serve those who have experienced devastating loss, and may they themselves know the genuine comfort that comes from the Great High Priest who empathises with our weaknesses.

For our brothers and sisters in Palestine, may you embolden and equip them to stand against the political leadership of Hamas, and agitate for non-violent solutions to the current conflict. May their desire to love their enemies be used to show up the futility of Palestinian jihadists perpetuating the cycle of violence.

For our brothers and sisters in Israel, may you embolden and equip them to stand for and promote only the just and reasonable use of defensive force, and to condemn terroristic forms of retaliation. May Israel’s military action be swift and measured, and restore safety and security to their nation.

We pray for Gentile Christians in Israel – that their love for Jews, along with their firm confidence in your Fatherly goodness, might be used to provoke elect Israelites to envy, and that through this, you’d bring many of your chosen people back into your kingdom through the blood of their own Messiah. We praise you that on the last day we’ll see a nation of elect Israelites, along with multitudes from all tribes, nations and languages, surrounding your throne – a testament of your absolute faithfulness to your promises.

For those on both sides of this multi-generational conflict who have deep animosity and hatred for the other – may they come to appreciate the extraordinary love that you showed in the giving of your one and only Son for your enemies, that they might know true reconciliation.

For world leaders, and for your church all over the world, may we be slow to make definitive calls about the absolute rightness or wrongness of political decisions in regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We recognise that you alone are omniscient and omnibenevolent, and that you look favourably on the one who is humble and contrite in spirit.
Whilst we lament the conflict itself, we pray that it might give rise to gospel opportunities with our Jewish neighbours. May our love for the Jewish Messiah and our desire to see His own people blessed by embracing Him, shine forth in our conversation and prayer. May we be unashamed of the gospel, remembering that it is the power of God for the salvation of all who believe – first for the Jew, and also the Gentile.

We pray boldly that the heavenly Jerusalem would soon come down, whereupon we’ll rejoice that all conflict will end, all perpetrators will be brought to perfect justice, and all your people will enter into the joy of your eternal kingdom. Come Lord Jesus. Amen.


The Joy of Youth Camp

From the 13th-15th of October, Jamberoo Youth will be heading down to Burrill Pines (5 mins south of Ulladulla) for the weekend. It will be a time of fun and games and friendship – a weekend to make memories together.

The main reason we’re going away together, though, is to spend time growing our relationship with Jesus.

Over the course of the weekend, we are going to read through the book of Colossians. Through talks, discussion groups, songs, questions and quiet times, we will be encountering the risen, living Jesus.

Our theme for the weekend, and indeed the theme of Colossians, is the Supremacy of Christ. We will discover how Jesus is the answer to the emptiness the world offers us, and how that brings us true freedom.

In our church service, we will often say together what we believe about Jesus from Colossians 1:15-20. This passage sets the tone and the themes which the rest of the book explores. What better way to spend a weekend than diving into this message!

Praise God we have stacks of youth coming – between youth and leaders, we will have about 30 of us down at Burrill Pines.

Please be praying for safety as we drive down and back, and do some fun activities as part of the weekend. Pray that it would be a great time of fellowship.

But most importantly, please pray that we would come back loving Jesus more as Colossians shows us his love for us.

Praise God that Jesus has made peace between us and God by his blood shed on the cross. 


Two Kinds of Wisdom

Wisdom is wonderful! 

Wisdom is the art of understanding the world and how to live in it for your joy and success. 

Wisdom is the secret ingredient to better decisions, flourishing relationships, and fruitful work.

Who doesn’t want a big tasty slice of that every day!?

But there are two kinds of wisdom. Both will help you succeed in life, but they look very different. 

We see both of them in James, here is the first kind.

“But if you harbour bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such ‘wisdom’ does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.” James 3:14-15 NIV

Selfishness and envy may help you succeed in life, but they are evil. Have a look at how envy works.

Love says, “I’m happy when you’re happy, and I’m sad when you’re sad.” Envy says, “I’m happy when you’re sad, and I’m sad when you’re happy.” Could anything be more terrible?

Now take a look at God’s wisdom to see how it compares.

“But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favouritism and is always sincere.” James 3:17 NLT

This kind of wisdom couldn’t be more different from evil wisdom that’s full of envy and selfishness.

God’s wisdom is good because he is good! Delight in God’s way of living and ask him for help. We all need it.

“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.” James 1:5 NLT


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!