Author: Ben (Page 1 of 34)

Prayer

I just spent an hour praying on Zoom with 70 or so other Senior Ministers from Anglican Churches around Sydney.  Our Archbishop, Kanishka,  encouraged us from Isaiah 55 in these glorious words from verse 1:
“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat!  Come buy wine and milk without money and without cost.”
Prayer is so valuable because God is so powerful and he loves for us to call upon him, he loves to hear and answer our prayers.  Prayer is also great because it allows me to take my cares and worries off my own shoulders and cast them before the LORD.  Praying reminds me that I don’t have to micromanage and stress about every aspect of my life or yours – because ultimately, God is in control and he loves us.
Prayer can also realign me with God’s purposes.  When I’m praying, it prompts me to align my life and my energy with God.  It puts my trivial and foolish pursuits in perspective and helps me focus on what really matters.
So let me encourage you to pray right now – bring to God the concerns and troubles of your day – give thanks for the joys and blessings and ask him for help to live his way.
Our God is gracious and kind – he loves to feed us and fill us with the life-giving water of his Son, Jesus Christ, without cost and even when we don’t deserve it.
Yours in Christ,
Ben

Farewell Pulpit

This week we say farewell to the pulpit of St Mark’s – as we gift it to the Oaks Historical Society. 
Many a sermon was preached from its heights, many a member has looked up in reverence as they heard God’s Word proclaimed. 
The sermons will continue to be preached, and the Word of God will continue to be revered, but the pulpit has had its day and the modern preacher doesn’t want to be elevated.  It’s more than a decade since the pulpit was used – and we need the space.
There have been some marvellous and some funny moments in the pulpit of St Mark’s.  From the galloping parson, Thomas Hassall, who rode his horse over Razorback to preach in the mid 1800’s, to students of Picton High School who travelled in the bus to have their Scripture lessons at St Mark’s. 
At one point a button was wired into the pulpit to switch on a light by the organ console to alert the deaf organist that it was time to start the next hymn.  Unfortunately one very enthusiastic guest preacher thumped the pulpit so hard that they triggered the light and the organist started playing the hymn in the middle of his sermon.  He had no choice but to lead the congregation in singing the hymn, before returning to his message afterwards.
In a world of constant change, we need something to hold onto.  Don’t hold onto pulpits, hold onto Jesus.  The unchanging and glorious good news of Jesus Christ is our certain hope and joy in life and in eternity.
This Sunday, Scott will preach his sermon from the pulpit as a last hurrah.
Yours in Christ,
Ben

Violence and the Transforming Power of the Gospel

Paul and his companions experienced violence and persecution in Thessalonica when they first preached the gospel there.  In fact, they had to escape at night from a rioting mob, opposed to their teaching that Jesus is the Messiah (Acts 17).  In a week where Sydney has experienced at least three incidents of gross violence, you might feel anxious or uncertain about our society. 
But in the midst of severe suffering the Thessalonians were filled with joy in the gospel.  The message of the gospel rang out from them as news spread of how their lives had been transformed.  We serve the living and true God – and we are awaiting the return of his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.  This fills us with hope and comfort, and enables us to live with joy, hope and faith in our Saviour Christ.

The gospel is powerful to transform our lives, and when it does, people notice.
Imagine if people said of our Church: they ‘turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he rescued from the dead – Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.’ (1 Thess 1:9-10).
Imagine if the gospel transformed our lives in such a way that people around noticed and were drawn to find out about this transforming power for themselves.
Yours in Christ,
Ben

Marriage isn’t easy

Last week Kate and I spent some time in Western Australia to celebrate our 20 year wedding anniversary! It was wonderful to celebrate, to enjoy some time just the two of us, and to explore a part of Australia neither of us had ever visited before.

Marriage isn’t easy – and it doesn’t always work out how we’d hoped – but it is important. If you’re married, it’s important to you, its important to your broader family and friends and to our entire community. Marriage provides stability and a natural support network for everyone within or around its web. But marriage isn’t everything. Marriage is reflective of the relationship between Christ and his Church and it is in every case, only a pale and poor reflection of the love of Christ.

If you are married, I believe you should invest in having a healthy and strong marriage relationship. If you aren’t married, you should invest in healthy friendships and making the most of the freedoms you have in singleness. All of us need connection and friendship, not all of us need to be married. All of us should strive to be content* in the situation God has put us in and to serve and love others in the family of God and the community in which we’ve been placed.

If you’re married, one way you could invest in your marriage is by participating in an upcoming marriage enrichment course – limited to 15 couples – Monday nights starting 29th April (https://pwac.org.au/building-a-safe-and-strong-marriage/).

Yours in Christ,

Ben

*Some situations are not safe and we should escape them, don’t strive for contentment in an unsafe relationship.

Christ for the Coast

What seemed to be a typical Gong combined youth event with some snags and some games turned out to be much more. Last Friday, 30ish teenagers from Wilton Anglican Youth went down to a Wollongong combined youth event called “Christ for the Coast”. We all crammed ourselves into a mini-bus and a couple of cars and travelled to Figtree Anglican for the event.
The first thing we noticed: The traffic. The street outside the church was mistakable for times square (or Picton Road on a Sunday arvo). Next, we noticed the migration pattern. A dense and constant flow of happy youthy people walking through the gate of the church carpark. Next the smell of cooking onions and finally the sound of a noisy mob of over 700 youths. Seven hundred!
An hour of 9-square/jumping castle/silent disco/slushies/parkour/free t-shirts/sausage sizzle/ping-pong/buffoonery and then we all squeezed into the 650-seat auditorium where many were relegated to the floor at the front or the standing room at the back. A ten-piece band, an interactive stage show, Christian testimonies and prayers from high-schoolers, and then into a full-length sermon on Matthew 14 – Jesus Walks on Water. The preacher said: “Is Jesus worth trusting? It’s the biggest question you could ever
ask in this life. […] The truth is that Jesus is worthy of our trust! He’s worthy because he saves us, and he is the only one who can do that.” 
One of the girls in our group gave her life to Christ right there and then. Three more from our group recommitted to walking with Christ again. Many, many other young people made similar decisions. Understandably, we’re all still raving on and on about how good the night was. We’d like to ask our whole
church family to please pause and give thanks to our God – to pray specifically for the four who made deliberate decisions that night, and to keep praying for the growth of God’s vine among the young people of our area.
– Rev. Scott Williams (Assistant Minister)

Money

We directly ask you for your money because we think what we’re doing together is a worthwhile investment. We don’t fundraise at Church – there are no ‘bake sales’ here. We believe that helping people find Life in Christ is vitally important and so we partner together with our gifts, our time and our finances in this task. We only ask Church members to give (not ‘guests’ or the local community), because we want you first to receive the generous gift of grace and forgiveness that Jesus offers.

We don’t often talk about money in Church, but that doesn’t mean its not important. Our annual expenses for 2024 are just shy of $350,000 and while we trust God to provide, the primary way he does this is by your generous, regular giving. Last year 93% of our income was congregational giving (the remainder was made up of grants, interest, funeral services and hall hire). There is no central diocesan source of money or government money tree for us to draw from.

We’re in the middle of a 5 year plan to become a sustainable ‘2 minister Church’. That means we’ve employed an assistant minister (Scott) even though we can’t afford it, with the intention of using up savings while we grow the capacity to afford it. Our plan is ahead of schedule and God-willing (with your help), we’ll have achieved our goal by 2026.

There is never any pressure or obligation for you to give and your giving remains anonymous as far as possible. You decide what to do with your dollars, and our approach is simply to explain why we think giving to Church is a worthwhile thing for you to do and a normal part of the Christian life. Each of you have different financial responsibilities and obligations and so generosity will look different for each of you. Some households give $1000/month, while others give $20/week. Thankyou for your generosity!

Yours in Christ,

Ben Boardman

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.
~ 2 Corinthians 8:9

The Quiet Life…

Jake and I have been reading through 1 Thessalonians recently as he prepares the preaching series for next term. Among many other things, Paul encourages the Thessalonians to “make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, …mind your own business and work with your hands… so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.” (1 Thess 4:11-12)
God doesn’t expect anything fancy from us – he’s not expecting you to be an incredible evangelist, or a miracle worker.  He just expects you to get on with living the Christian life. God is the miracle worker – he saves us by Jesus Christ and he is at work in us by his Holy Spirit to strengthen us to live quiet and godly lives.
Often our ambitions are flashy things that make us look good: having a career that people marvel at; or a house that other people envy.  But as Christians our ambition should be much simpler – we don’t draw attention to ourselves – we don’t want the glory – we know that the glory goes to Christ.
So we get on with living our lives for Christ, working hard and being people of love and integrity.  
Yours in Christ,
Ben Boardman

Parenting and the Digital World

A free parenting seminar by Steve Dining, Anglicare Counsellor.

Sunday 24th March, 2:30-4:30pm at Wilton Anglican Church.

The aim of this seminar is to stimulate and inspire parents and carers to be reflecting thoughtfully on their parenting and the digital world. A key idea is that parenting and the digital world is relationship-based with parents in the driver’s-seat. There is some information given to help orientate parents on some realities of the digital world, plus pointers to practical tips and resources.

All welcome, please RSVP on the form below:

AGM Meeting

You probably associate meetings with boredom and tedium. But meetings are important. Good meetings bring together the wisdom and diverse input of a team to make good decisions which lead to great outcomes.

Our Annual General Meeting is next Sunday 3rd March, 11:30am at Wilton Church, and if you care about our Church and its vision of helping people find ‘Life in Christ’, let me encourage you to be there.

At this meeting we hope to review how God has been at work among us over the past year and dream about the possibilities for the year ahead. It’s an opportunity for transparency with questions and discussion about our strategy and purpose. And its an opportunity to elect wardens, parish councillors and parish nominators to ensure the good governance of our Church and its properties and finances.

The 10am Wilton congregation have been thinking a lot in terms of the ‘Trellis and the Vine’. The Vine describes the growth of the gospel and it is the goal of our Church. But the vine will only grow healthy and strong when its supported by a solid trellis. The trellis is the logistics, governance and management of healthy systems and processes at Church which enable the gospel work to grow and thrive. This means that meetings are important, it might even mean that meetings are exciting – imagine the gospel vine (growth) that might be facilitated by the decisions we make at our AGM (trellis)!

Yours in Christ,

Ben Boardman

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Easter Service Times - come celebrate Easter with us!

Sundays 9am @ Picton; 10am and 5pm @ Wilton (both with Kids Program). Also livestreamed on YouTube.