Leaders in Training

Hope you are enjoying some January downtime and refreshment, but also that you’re taking the time to set up for and look forward to the year ahead.
Right now I’m spending the week at Port Hacking, leading on a youth Leaders in Training camp with 440 people in attendance.  I felt a little bit frustrated and annoyed on Wednesday when we arrived, because there is a lot to do before the school year gets underway, and because I wasn’t looking forward to 5 days away from family and home.  But after just one day here, I’m completely convinced that its the right place to be.  There are 400 teenagers here (including two of our own) eager to serve our Lord and be trained to lead God’s people.  We are studying the book of Deuteronomy and thinking about how to read, understand and teach God’s Word to others, being trained in how to lead people to Christ and into maturity in Christ.
Please pray that many many leaders of the future will be raised up to serve Christ’s Church and that in Wilton we will invest in the next generation of our Church.
Another aspect of this is the arrival of Stuart McConnell.  Starting this Sunday, Stuart is our new student minister, studying at SMBC and being trained as a leader among God’s people.  We will give Stuart opportunities to serve and provide training, feedback and encouragement to him.  Please take the opportunity to introduce yourself, set a date in your diary to have him round for Sunday lunch and pray for him to settle in quickly and grow and mature in his relationship with God in Christ and his ability to lead and to teach God’s Word.
Yours in Christ, Ben

It’s OK to be not OK

For the first 3 weeks in January we’re exploring 3 Psalms of David (all laments – or complaints).  It’s interesting that such a variety of Psalms exist in the Bible through the collection of 150 preserved for us.   The Bible is not like Facebook, or Photoshop – it presents a real and honest picture of God, his people and salvation.
In each of these Psalms, David was not OK.  He wasn’t happy with his life or circumstances or the way God was dealing with him.  He didn’t pretend everything was OK, he brought his complaints to God by way of these Psalms and he called out to him for help.
More than likely we’ll have many days / months / years when we feel the same.  When we’re not OK, life isn’t going as we’d hoped, and we’re not happy with the way God seems to be dealing with the situation.  That’s OK, that’s to be expected.  Of course we’ll work with others to try to improve this situation, we’ll ask for God’s help and we’ll ask for help from others.  But most of all we’ll cling to hope that things will improve.  We’ll persevere with the assurance that we are loved and precious in God’s sight despite the difficult circumstances we’re encountering.
It’s OK to be not OK.  Let’s trust God and love and help each other in the different life circumstances that we each find ourselves.
Yours in Christ, Ben

One New Humanity

Sometimes we are told to ‘keep our religion to ourselves’ or that religion ‘has no place in the public sphere’, but Christianity has necessary public implications.
As we read Ephesians 2 and 3 (and hear it preached on this weekend) we see that God has brought us back into peace with him through Jesus Christ, we have gone from death to life.  But Paul doesn’t end there.  If we have been brought near to God and at peace with him, then the clear implication is that have also been brought into peace with one another.
In providing salvation by grace through Christ the barrier between peoples has been torn down.  No longer are we to compete against one another in virtue or accomplishment.  We are all equally sinners, all equally saved by grace.  This isn’t just an accidental implication either, it is stated that God’s purpose was ‘to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace.’
This should spell the end to racism and discrimination.  Instead of fending people away from our country (refugees) shouldn’t we be welcoming them just as Christ has welcomed us?
During this week we held the ‘race that stops a nation’.  Others controversially protested, declaring instead that we are ‘the nation that stops the races’.
How are you letting the grace of God impact your private and public life?  How are you going at living in the humility and grace that Christ has demonstrated for us towards ALL women and men?  We won’t do it perfectly, but we ought to look to Christ and give it our best!

PRESS RELEASE (13/7/2017): St Mark’s Anglican Church Re-opening 413 days after Picton Storm

St Mark’s Anglican Church in Picton will re-open on 23rd July 2017, 413 days after the Picton Storm.  This marks the completion of Stage One of repairs to the Church.

All are welcome to our Re-opening service at 9:30am, to be followed by a BBQ lunch, history tour and festivities within the grounds.  The collection taken up during the service will be divided 50/50 between Church and cemetery repair projects.  The service will include musical accompaniment by the Wollondilly Anglican College Strings musical group and choir.  The Church will be open for a few hours following the service for anyone who wants to come and take a look.

Congregation member, Brad Kitchen recalls that fateful day on 5th June 2016, ‘I was leading prayers when the power suddenly cut out and microphone went dead’.  The service concluded amidst heavy rain, but no-one anticipated that 2 metres of water would surge through the building that evening.

Rev Ben Boardman commented, ‘It has been a long 413 days, but we’re thankful for the support of Wollondilly Shire Council, our Insurers, and our builder, Pagewood Constructions.  We’re also particularly thankful to God for the resilience he’s given to his people in the inconveniences and difficulties of the past year.

This is not the ‘grand opening’ and there is still plenty of work to be done on the building, including storage, a bathroom and the reinstallation of a pipe organ.  We will be sure to invite everyone along to celebrate with us when the refurbishments are finally complete.  After the re-opening on the 23rd July, weekly services will again be held at St Mark’s at 9:30am and everyone is welcome to join us any Sunday.  The facility will also be open for special celebrations like baptisms, weddings and funerals.

One particular item that we’d love to get help with is the repair of the damaged grave sites in the Pioneer Cemetery, which has been estimated at $70,000-250,000.  The cemetery has enormous historical significance and is not covered by any insurance policy.  We’re preparing to launch an appeal to crowdfund some of this work, and details are available on our website: http://pwac.org.au.

Further information including photos and video can be found on our website (http://pwac.org.au) or Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/pictonanglican/).

 

Yours sincerely,

Rev Ben Boardman

Picton & Wilton Anglican Churches

Owning up to Domestic Violence

Two weeks ago I attended the Faithfulness in Service Conference, a once-every-three-years conference, compulsory for all workers in the Anglican Church in Sydney.  We were encouraged to trust Christ, look after ourselves and build resilience to deal with the stresses of ministry.  We were also hit with some very confronting facts about Domestic Violence in Australia and challenged to do our bit to care for and protect women and to raise awareness about the scourge of domestic violence in our community and in our Church.

The reality is 1 in 5 Australian women will be the victims of some form of domestic violence in their lifetime.  On average 2 women per week are killed by an intimate partner in Australia.  The NSW police respond to around 400 incidents relating to domestic violence every single day.  It is probably the most prevalent issue they are called upon to deal with.

Sometimes men don’t realise they are doing anything wrong because controlling and violent behaviour to women is what they’ve grown up with.  For the same reason, some women don’t realise the way they are being treated is wrong.  But it is not right.  The biblical command to men is to love their wives by leading them in Christ and being willing to lay down their lives for their wives, never to control them and certainly never to manipulate or be physically violent with them.  Let’s aim for our Church to be a safe place, where women are protected and safe, and where young men and women can learn to respect one another and relate in healthy and godly ways.  If you need to talk about your own safety or your own behaviour, or someone you care about regarding these matters – please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

The Daisy app is a great way of connecting women with a wide range of helpful services to provide help and keep them safe.  Click the link to find out more and download to your phone.

Thankyou Mum

Thankyou Mum.  You carried me, bore me, fed me, taught me, laughed with me, supported me, loved me, disciplined me, hugged me, and so much more.  You taught me and showed me the love of Jesus Christ and the security, joy and hope to be found in him alone.  You forsook your own desires and needs in order to meet mine just as Christ did at the cross of calvary.  Thankyou.
Mothers Day is a wonderful day to celebrate and be thankful for our mums.  But it can also be a difficult day.
This Mother’s Day may come as yet another reminder that you don’t have something you desire. Another year of miscarriages, infertility, or even waiting for a child through the adoption process. Whatever the unfulfilled desire, it tugs at your heart and plagues your mind.
I pray that all of us, mother or otherwise, would know the deep love and grace of Christ and that we’d have the strength to live each day for him.  Through the struggles and exhaustion of parenthood, or the grief of childlessness, let’s support and love one another as the family of God.

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

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