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

Baptism Sunday

Would you like to be baptised or (if you were already baptised) make a declaration of faith?  Let us know by the end of February (earlier the better) so we can prepare you for baptism on 10th March.  We’re planning to gather down at the Bargo River (car park from Charlie’s Point Rd, near the intersection with Rockford Rd) at 2pm on Sunday 10th March for a baptism celebration.

Lent

Today (Ash Wednesday) begins the season of Lent.
Lent is the season of 40 days (not including Sundays) leading up to Easter and is often associated with fasting, repentance and acknowledging our need for God’s grace.
Traditionally, at an Ash Wednesday service you go forward to have the sign of the cross written on your forehead in ash.  As we prepare for Easter, it is confronting and humbling to recognise that Jesus died upon the cross at Calvary – he suffered in my place for my sins so that I might be forgiven and reconciled to God.
Fasting is a practice of self-denial in order to focus or discipline oneself.  Many people choose to refrain from using Facebook, or from eating chocolate or coffee, or from watching TV.  And while there is value in self-deprivation in developing self-control and discipline – I think its important that fasting directs us towards a positive cause, not just a negation.  For example, you could refrain from using Facebook or watching TV, and then use the time you would have been scrolling Facebook, to read your Bible and pray instead.  Or you could stop eating chocolate or paying for coffee and instead give the money saved to a charity or gospel cause.
However you choose to celebrate Lent, I pray that it helps you to appreciate and give thanks for Christ’s work of salvation through his death and resurrection so that we might have life in Him.
Yours in Christ,
Ben Boardman

Questions?

This term as we study the book of Genesis in Church, we are bound to raise some controversy and there are likely to be many questions.

For example: Where did Cain’s wife come from? Did Methuselah really live 969 years? Where did the serpent come from? How did Noah convince all the animals to get on the ark, and how did they not eat each other?

I’d love to hear your questions or comments, either in response to the sermons, or just things that have been simmering away in your head from the book of Genesis. We will attempt to address some of these questions / comments in Church, and they will also help us to understand where to focus our preaching. You can write your question down and put it in the Giving Box up the back of Church, or you can fill out a question form online at the link below.

And don’t forget that joining a Bible study group, or arranging a meetup with friends can be a great way to explore and discuss the Bible and encourage each other. Most of our Bible study groups will be starting up this week ahead, and I’d love to connect you with a group.

Yours in Christ,

Ben Boardman

Click the link to submit questions / comments: https://forms.gle/kevB6k7jZ6Qt9aPF8

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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.