Category: newsletter (Page 1 of 7)

Merry Christmas!

Do you realise that the birth of Jesus Christ was not his beginning? And I don’t just mean that he had already spent 9 months in Mary’s womb.

The incredible thing about Christmas is not just the birth of a cute baby who would do incredible things. It’s also the fact of who Jesus is. He is the eternal Son of the Father, second person of the Trinity, Creator of the Universe, as we read in Colossians chapter 1:

“The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”

Colossians 1:15-17

It is incredible that the eternal Son of the Father would come down among us out of love, as we read in Philippians 2:

“He did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross!”

Philippians 2:6-8

Praise God for his Son Jesus Christ, God become man on Christmas day, so that man might be redeemed back to God!

Yours in Christ,

Ben

birthday visits

I was speaking to some ‘oldies’ in a Retirement village this week and they were lamenting the fact that [some of] their children only come to visit them for their birthday. ‘Just come anytime,’ they said. I’m ashamed to say that I most frequently call my parents when I need something (babysitting?) – but I love them and I want to spend more time with them. Sadly, we often relegate the ‘oldies’ in our lives to the occasional birthday visit, instead of being involved regularly in each others lives.

Is that the sort of relationship you have with Jesus? You turn up for his birthday (Christmas), but don’t ever see him or even call him up (prayer) in between times?

Jesus doesn’t resent your visits at Christmas time – he loves to see you. But he has so much more to offer if you’ll live your whole life with him in mind. In fact, Jesus promises his disciples in Matthew 28 – ‘and surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’

If we become one of Jesus disciples we have the blessing of his promised Holy Spirit, and we have the wonderful promise of eternal life in him. Don’t relegate Jesus to just a ‘birthday visit’.

Yours in Christ,

Ben

Wilton Anglican Church is growing out of one and growing into two.

Some welcome it. Others resist it. Still others haven’t noticed. Let me tell you plain and clear: Our church is growing. In the mere 4 years I’ve been connected with Wilton Anglican Church I’ve seen so much growth.

The church has grown. The suburb has grown. The kids and youth ministry has grown. The petrol price has grown. Wilton Christmas Carols has grown. The traffic has grown. The roster has grown. But best of all, gospel ministry in and among us has grown as God has worked in us to glorify himself and grow his kingdom.

And so, with all this growth comes change. Good change. Soon, our Wilton Anglican Church will grow out of one and grow into two in 2023. It’s still early days but we thought it was a good time to share with you our plans for the launch of a Wilton morning service in 2023.

In some ways, growing from one Wilton congregation into two is the plan – not to cut ourselves in half, nor to be stretched twice as far and neither to be spread half as thin – but to healthily and faithfully grow from one into two. More foundationally than that, we’re aiming for every single one of us (whatever church service you call home) to grow up together in Christ to face the challenges ahead of us, and to faithfully bring the gospel to a world that desperately needs Jesus.

Here’s the nuts-and-bolts plan that we’re moving ahead with for a Wilton morning congregation in 2023:

  • January to February – Gather a Wilton Mornings Team
  • March to June – Meet as a team regularly to pray and plan
  • July to September – Final preparations for launch
  • October – Launch Wilton Mornings

So, what now? Please pray, dear reader. Prayer warriors, bible study groups, congregational pray-ers – please pray that we would healthily and faithfully grow out of one and into two. Pray for the gathering of a launch team. Pray that we might reach our neighbours with the gospel, and love our neighbours like Christ, and for many, many more to find life in Jesus.

Yours in Christ,

Scott

Advent

How do you prepare for Christmas?

For many of us its a mad scramble to finish off projects at work, buy the presents, arrange the food, plan the end of year parties. Sometimes the mad scramble distracts us from what Christmas is all about. We call this season Advent because it is a time of preparing to celebrate Christ’s birth, and also of putting life in perspective and being prepared for Christ’s second coming.

Lets make the most of this advent season by reflecting, reading, praying and giving thanks for our Saviour Christ and preparing our hearts for his return.

Here are a few resources that you might choose to use this advent:

– Youthworks are putting together some advent devotionals (https://youthworks.net/advent).

– Grab an Advent book, such as The One True Story, by Tim Chester (https://www.thegoodbook.com.au/the-one-true-story).

– Instead of Mariah Carey (or maybe as well as) – listen to a Christian Advent Playlist (https://open.spotify.com/playlist/1LaIzZ2YCSbX6YlqMK9S0t).

– Pick a Christian Advent Calendar to use with your household (like this ‘Names of Jesus’ one – https://au.lacewingcreative.com/products/names-of-jesus-advent-calendar).

If you have used some other resources that you recommend, I’d love to hear about it.

I look forward to singing with you once again on Christmas Day:

‘Joy to the world, the Lord is come!’

Yours in Christ,

Ben

Everyone a Prophet?

As we open up 1 Corinthians 14 this week at Church you might be surprised to hear Paul in verse 1 encouraging everyone to take up prophecy. Isn’t prophecy just for people with crystal balls and tarot cards? Or crazy guys from the Old Testament who did strange things like Ezekiel lying on his side and cooking his food over cow dung?

No – prophecy is speaking Gods word into a persons life. It’s taking the unchanging truths of God and applying them to the particular circumstances of our lives so that we can live it out. This is one of the greater gifts (1 Cor 12:31), this is something we should all eagerly desire to do (1 Cor 14:1) and it’s something we CAN all do, with practice.

Here’s a tip from me: this week as you read your Bible, find an interesting verse and think about how you could share it with someone else. In particular, think about how that verse helps you or challenges you to live for God in your daily life. If you share that with someone else on Sunday at Church, then you are a prophet.

And if we are sharing God’s Word with each other and encouraging each other to live it out in our daily lives, that’s when Paul says unbelievers will ‘fall down and worship God, exclaiming, ‘God is really among you!’ (1 Cor 14:25).

And won’t that be exciting to be a part of!

Yours in Christ,

Ben

Unsung Heroes

The Bible tells us that the Church is like a body. The body has many parts that work together to achieve a purpose. Right now, my brain is thinking of words to tell my fingers to type into the computer and send to you. Without my brain, I couldn’t come up with the words, without the fingers I couldn’t type them, and without eyes I couldn’t ‘chkec taht I wsa tpying tehm rgiht’.

Each part of our bodies plays a different function and all of them need to work together. In the same way each member of our Church family is different and unique, and we all work together to serve Jesus Christ our Lord, who is the ‘head’ of the body, which is the Church.

Church is not a consumer activity, its a working together with a common purpose activity. Some people in Church serve in up-front ways like preaching a sermon, or leading a service, or leading us in song. Some people serve in behind the scene ways like washing the dishes, or cleaning the toilets, or making sure the bills get paid. 1 Corinthians 12 tells us that the gifts and skills we have doesn’t matter nearly as much as how we choose to use the gifts and skills that we happen to have. This weekend we’re celebrating the many different ways that each person in our Church serves and loves each other.

I’m wondering if you could share who you are thankful for in our Church. It could be the person at Church who asks you how you’re going each week and really wants to know the answer. It could be the person who puts particular thought into the way they lead the prayers. It could be the person who takes a real interest in your children and takes the time to play with them. It could be the person who has faithfully taught Scripture and prayed for their Scripture class.

Whoever it is, why not go and tell that person just how thankful you are for them – they’ll be so encouraged.

Yours in Christ,

Ben

Doin’ a shoey?

Are you ‘doin’ a shoey’ this year? And I don’t mean skulling a beer out of a shoe 🙂

Operation Christmas Child is a project of Samaritan’s Purse (https://occ.samaritanspurse.org.au/home/operation-christmas-child/). It is a hands-on way for you to bless children in need across the world by filling shoeboxes with toys, hygiene items, school supplies, and fun gifts. Samaritans Purse collect the boxes and distribute them in the name of Jesus Christ to children living in vulnerable situations.

The mission of Operation Christmas Child is to provide God’s love in a tangible way to children in need around the world, and together with the local church worldwide, to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Collect a shoebox from Church this Sunday; follow the filling instructions on the brochure or at the website; and be sure to return it to Church by 13th November.

You might also like to invite a friend or neighbour to fill a shoebox too – this will give the opportunity to explain what you’re doing and why – and you can pray for an opportunity to share the good news of Jesus with them too.

Yours in Christ,

Ben

Zeal without Burnout

A few years back I read a great little book called ‘Zeal Without Burnout‘ by Christopher Ash. It encouraged me to serve and sacrifice for Christ, since Jesus calls us to take up our cross and follow him (Luke 9:23-24). But it also encouraged me to recognise that I’m not God, and to reflect on the limitations and needs of my humanity. Key topics were sleep, rest, friends, inward renewal, and more – but essential to getting it right is to realise that God is in control and that the success or otherwise of God’s kingdom and his Church rests not on me, but on him.

As a Church, we have important work to do together – offering new life in Christ to those who don’t know him yet, growing up together in our faith and godly living in him, and showing love to each other and the community around us. There is a lot to do, but the most important thing is not to do – but to be. In order to be Christ’s disciples we need to depend and rely on him and not on our own efforts. We need to cry out to him in prayer, we need to rest and find renewal and encouragement from him.

Christopher Ash concludes his book by encouraging us to make the following resolution. Why don’t you read through it now, and then if you like, say it out loud as a resolution for your life. What areas might you need to work on particularly?

“I am – and will never, this side of the resurrection, be more than – a creature of dust. I will rest content in my creaturely weakness; I will use the means God has given me to keep going in this life while I can; I will allow myself time to sleep; I will trust him enough to take a day off each week; I will invest in friendships and not be a proud loner; I will take with gladness the inward refreshment he offers me. I will serve the Lord Jesus with a glad and restful zeal, with all the energy that he works within me; but not with anxious toil, selfish ambition, the desire for the praise of people, and all the other ugly motivations that will destroy my soul. So help me God.”

Yours in Christ,

Ben

This photo is Issy and I on our family day in Katoomba yesterday (Tuesday).

Queen Elizabeth II

The Queen has finally met her King.
The whole world seems captivated at the passing of this woman of dignity, grace and service.  Perhaps the primary reason is that she did not live for herself and did not prize her own reputation and fame as most of us do.  Amidst the pomp and ceremony of her station we met a woman of humility and deep faith in Jesus Christ.
The Queen herself prepared us for a time like this in her Easter Message during the first wave of COVID19 in 2020. Her Majesty said at that time:
“The discovery of the risen Christ on the first Easter Day gave his followers new hope and fresh purpose, and we can all take heart from this… As dark as death can be – particularly for those suffering with grief – light and life are greater.”
So, in light of her passing, I must ask you the question: are you ready to meet your King?  And I certainly don’t mean King Charles III, I mean the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, before whom every knee will bow and every tongue confess – our King Jesus Christ!
Yours in Him,
Ben

Honour your Father and Mother

There is something different and unique about the 5th commandment. While each of the ten commandments offer wisdom for how to live as God’s people – Paul points out in Ephesians 6:2 that the fifth is the first commandment with a promise.

If you ‘honour your father and your mother’, it follows that ‘it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth’.

There is clearly something important and life-preserving about the roles of Father and Mother. And the research bares this out. Check out this extract from ‘The Fathering Project’ website (https://thefatheringproject.org/):

“Research from Australia and overseas demonstrates that children with disengaged fathers experience poorer educational outcomes and higher rates of mental illness, illicit drug use and incarceration. Conversely, children with engaged and effective fathers have improved cognitive and academic outcomes, higher levels of empathy, self control and self esteem and better social and emotional skills.”

So, let’s honour and celebrate Fathers this Father’s Day, and lets be encouraging and challenging Fathers to be engaged and involved in their children’s lives. Let’s encourage them to take responsibility for the spiritual discipleship of their children too! Of course, not everyone has a positive Father-figure in their life, so lets pray for healing and lets give thanks for our heavenly Father, who will never let us down!

Yours in Him,

Ben

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Sundays 9:30am @ Picton and 5pm @ Wilton (with Kids Program). Also livestreamed on YouTube.