Author: Ben (page 2 of 5)

Delving into Mystery

There are some things we will never understand. As finite human beings, limited by time, space, intellect and life-span, in a vast and complex universe, we shouldn’t expect to know and understand the answer to everything. There will always be mystery, there will always be uncertainty. But that doesn’t mean we should stop pursuing answers, that doesn’t mean we should leave our questions unexplored.
As Christians we don’t know the answer to every question, but we do know the one who does. We can have confidence to be completely open and honest about our faith and about our doubts. We can and should explore the big questions and the challenges to our faith, to find out the answers where we can and to trust God when we can’t.
As we explore the big ‘Reasons to Doubt’ during these weeks – I hope you will grow in confidence in the robustness of the Christian faith and the goodness and comfort of God and knowing him through Jesus Christ. I hope you will feel confident to ask the questions you have on your heart and in your mind. To not just ‘practice religion’ but to believe and trust and learn and defend the truth of the good news of Jesus Christ. Let’s go deeper in our faith and understanding – let’s not be afraid to ask questions and pursue the truth.

He is Risen!  He is Risen Indeed!

Sometimes that feels like a quaint greeting on Easter Day.  Sometimes it is just the thing you say without realising its significance.  
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the watershed moment of Christian faith.  Everything hinges on the resurrection of Jesus.  
If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead – then Paul declares that ‘your faith is futile, you are still in your sins… we are of all people most to be pitied’ (1 Cor 15:17-18).  But, he declares, ‘Christ has indeed been raised from the dead’ and the implications of his resurrection are enormous.  He has conquered death and can offer forgiveness and eternal life to all who trust in him.  We don’t need to fear death but can live in certain hope of our own resurrection life.  He is the Lord triumphant whom we must obey and love because he will call everyone to account on the last day.
How will you respond to the Easter message?  Apathy just doesn’t make sense.  You either trust and live for the risen Lord Jesus, or you walk right away if you think he never did rise.
He is Risen!  He is Risen indeed!

Tell me Your Story

I’m writing to you from Wentworth Falls where I’m spending the week with 5 other pastors helping each other grow in our faith in Christ and focus on ministry in a long term sustainable way.  We started the week by taking time to share our life stories, the highs and lows, the glory and the shame.  It was quite confronting and emotional (much tears and laughter), but also comforting to be able to share deeply together and trust each other with the intimate details of our lives.
It is remarkable to hear how God has been at work among his people, bringing salvation and reconciliation.  We are all broken people with stories of joy and gladness, and stories of shame and sadness.  But if we invite Christ to be part of our stories by trusting and submitting to him as Lord and Saviour we can walk with confidence and assurance – knowing that whatever else happens around us we know we are loved by him.
We are the family of God, united by our adoption as sons and daughters of our heavenly Father.  Let’s tell each other our stories, trusting one another with the highs and lows, the triumphs and the regrets and walking together in love. Let’s not play the game of putting on a facade, but be honest and real with each other.  Let’s grow together in love for Christ and one another.

In the Face of Tragedy

How do we make sense of tragedy?  How can God allow such things to happen in our world?  When a head on collision leaves two people dead and two people critically injured on a road that many of us travel daily, how do we respond?

This tragedy has affected many people, but none more so than the family and friends of the deceased, our thoughts and prayers are with them. It’s been wonderful to see the outpouring of love and support, prayers and giving to the families.  I spent Wednesday morning debriefing students at Wollondilly Anglican College affected by the incident, and will spend Friday afternoon praying with parents.

We grieve, we pray, we do what we can to support the families involved.  We struggle to understand why.  There isn’t always an explanation beyond the fact that this world is broken – spoiled by sin.  When we hear of the death of a young person we get angry and upset – only old people should die.  But the reality is all death is unnatural.  Death and tragedy are not normal – they’re not how God made this good world.  Death is the great enemy.

But in the face of tragedy and death we find hope in the words of Jesus:

‘Everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.’   – John 6:40

AGM Results + Lent

Thankyou to everyone who participated in our AGM meeting last Sunday, and particularly to those who nominated for positions of leadership in our Church.  That desire to serve is a noble thing and I am thankful for your willingness, whether or not you were elected.
Congratulations to our elected leaders:
Wardens: Glenn A (Wilton), Peter F (Picton), and Neil R (Wilton); Parish Councillors: Tony K (Wilton), Joan B (Picton), and Kate B (Wilton); Synod Reps: Charlie D (Picton) and Milton L (Wilton); and Parish Nominators: Milton L (Wilton), Tony K (Wilton), David P (Wilton), Glynis K (Picton), and Glenn A (Wilton).  
Please join me in praying for them as they take up these responsibilities, that they might live godly lives and make wise decisions for the glory of God.
Today (Ash Wednesday) begins the season of Lent. Traditionally, people give up something luxurious for Lent, not to earn favour with God but as a sign of repentance and of carrying our own cross, as we remember and anticipate the suffering of Jesus at Easter.  The traditional prayer for Ash Wednesday begins this sacred season beautifully:

“Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing that you have made, and you forgive the sins of all who are penitent: create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain from you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

Growing Family

When I was a kid, family life was simple.  There was mum, dad and my three brothers.  We saw the grandparents and the cousins too, pretty regularly, until they moved away from Dapto (why would anyone do that!?).  
But as families grow they get more complicated.  At Christmas time now we travel between my family and Kate’s.  There are more and more kids to include and consider each year.  We have to make sure the diaries line up for the occasional birthday get together.  It won’t be long before our children have their own events they want to be at and we have to consult their diaries too.  It is truly wonderful to be part of a large and growing family, but sometimes I hark back to the simplicity of those earlier days.
I anticipate our Church might feel a bit like that as we grow.  It becomes more and more difficult to know everyone’s name.  We have to work harder and harder to make sure everyone feels included and cared for.  We might have to implement systems and strategies because doing it ‘ad-hoc’ just doesn’t work anymore.  
But isn’t it wonderful to see our family grow and flourish – as we strive to bring ‘Life, Growth and Love in Jesus Christ’ to as many people as possible.

Praying for you…

This week Greg, Matt, Phil and I (your pastors) spent a day and a half at Kangaroo valley.  We read the Bible together, prayed for every one of you by name, (all 200 of you), and gave thanks to God for how our Churches are growing and being blessed under God’s mighty hand.  We spent time preparing and planning for Easter and for the rest of the year ahead.  We are excited by what God is doing among us and thankful for the privilege of leading a Church of many and diverse members serving and building one another up in love and pointing one another to our Lord Jesus Christ.
Please pray for the election of good leaders in our wardens, parish councillors, nominators and synod reps next week at the AGM.  And don’t hesitate to put your own hand up in answer to those prayers by filling out a nomination form.  Finally, please take time to read through the AGM reports carefully in preparation for our AGM so that you can understand and engage fully in what is happening in our Churches.

Don’t give up!

Sometimes I’d much rather sit at home on the couch and watch a movie.  People are hard work.  Church is tiring.  And it takes effort to rally all the kids and get everyone out the door after a busy week and weekend.  Afterwards I’m usually glad I made the effort: challenged by the Word of God; uplifted by the singing; and encouraged by the fellowship.  But even if I don’t enjoy Church it’s still important to go along – because going to Church isn’t just about ‘me’ and what I get out of it.  Going to Church is actually about ‘us’ – it’s about God’s people gathered.  All encouraging each other and working together as a team, as the body of Christ.  When one part is missing, the whole body doesn’t function as it should, the whole body suffers for it.    
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another– and all the more as you see the Day approaching“. (Heb. 10:24-25)

Into the big wide world!

On Thursday I took a moment to pray for the 6 children connected with our Church who were experiencing their first day at Kindergarten. Perhaps it would be more pertinent to pray for the parents coping with the anxiety of sending their kids off into ‘the big wide world’. It’s so exciting to see a new generation of young people growing up as representatives of Jesus Christ.
This serves us well as an analogy for our Christian lives. We grow up and mature spiritually as we learn from God’s Word and as God’s Spirit works in us to make us more like Christ. We don’t grow up and mature spiritually so we can hide together in a little ‘holy huddle’, but so we can be sent out into ‘the big wide world’. We bear witness by our lives and words to all that God has done and is doing in our lives and we share the good news of forgiveness of sins through Jesus which is available to all. We don’t do this alone, but we love and support one another and we continue meeting together around God’s Word week-by-week.
Praise God for all he is doing among and through us at Picton and Wilton Anglican Churches!

A World that Knows Jesus!

This weeks newsletter comes to you from the Blue Mountains, where the Boardman family have been attending the Church Missionary Society’s (CMS) annual ‘Summer School’.  It has been a huge encouragement to hear from missionaries about their work of proclaiming the gospel around the world, and to hear from the preacher, William Taylor about the universal need for forgiveness and salvation from judgement from the book of Genesis.

This year 18 new missionaries are being sent from CMS NSW and they need our support, both in prayer and in money (https://goo.gl/3Ybuw9).

Although we’re not all going overseas, we’re all part of God’s mission proclaiming the good news of our risen Lord Jesus.  Let’s pray that God will be at work in Picton and Wilton and around the world calling people to trust in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour.

Yours in Christ,
Ben

Older posts Newer posts
x
Sunday Service Times: 9:30am @ St Mark's, Picton and 5pm @ Wilton