27/09/2020

Hi Church,

For those of you who know me well, you will know that I am a ‘Samsung’ man, which really means that I am not an ‘Apple’ man. And for those of you who do not have any idea of what I am talking about – it means that I prefer ‘Samsung’ or ‘Android’ or ‘Microsoft’ based products and technologies over ‘Apple’ ones.

But there was a period in my life, probably about 10 years ago, during the advent of the ipod and the ipad and the iphone and too many other things starting with ‘i’ that I went through.

And one of the most common themes during that times was that people with an ‘i’ something, (a product made by the Apple company) would try and tell me how good their ithing was, and that I needed a ithing in my life as well.

Maybe you know someone with a thermomix who is just like this. A thermomix is a cooking appliance, which (if you ask someone who has one – not me) will do everything for you, and for those who have one, it is almost like they must get commission if someone else gets one, because they will forever tell of their benefits and how good they are and how I ‘must’ need one myself.

If you are of a certain vintage, I think it might have been the Kirby Vacuum cleaner which could (on demonstration) suck the water right out of a toilet bowl.

But, now, as I reflect, isn’t it interesting that we would forever tell others about the latest gadget, cooking appliance or vacuum, and have no issues with it at all, but when we think of telling the same people (sometimes even strangers) about Jesus – we get worried, scared, fearful?

Why is that?

Why are we so happy to share about something that has no eternal significance, something that will eventually stop working and get thrown in the bin or left to die in your garage or junk room, but we won’t share about something that is life altering and has eternal significance?

Maybe our priorities are wrong? Maybe we have confused what is important? Because there is really only one thing that is important, both in this life, and that same thing gives us the hope of the ‘next’ life as well – Jesus Christ.

So I encourage you, this week, to think about ways that you can work on knowing Jesus more, so that the thought of sharing him doesn’t make you worried, scared or fearful – but in the same way that you have received the gospel: with hope, excitement and zeal, the Spirit will lead you to share the gospel.

20/09/2020

Hi Church,

This past week I have for the first time been ‘enjoying’ what so many people in Victoria have ‘endured’ for quite some time – isolation. After presenting with symptoms congruent to COVID-19, I was ‘brain-tickled’ and then fortunately received a negative result. But for the time from when I had symptoms, until I received the result I was in ‘isolation’, not able to venture from my home, and not even able to hug my wife!

I struggled with a few days, so for those of you who because of health issues are still in self-isolation, or our sisters and brothers in Victoria who are under a enforced ‘lockdown’, I have total compassion and empathy for what you are going through. 

But it makes you think then about what the church is. I am grateful if one thing that we learn from COVID-19 is that the ‘church’ is not something that we go to, or something that we do, and we instead realise that the ‘church’ is who we are.

At our most recent Parish Ministry Team meeting we elected a new chairperson of our Parish, Mr. Martin Oldfield. You will know him from a few weeks ago when he shared part of his story and God’s message to us on Father’s Day.

I am excited about working with Martin to lead us to fully realise that we are the church, and that we exist for the world (and definitely not the other way around). Martin is passionate about following Jesus, and my prayer (and I hope yours as well), is that he will lead as chairperson a Church that is more in love with Jesus above and before anything else.

Because if we are in love with Jesus, that is when love truly does come to life, because it is obvious and evident in our actions as who we are and what we do as the church, because as Jesus said “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”. 

So let’s seek to love God and love others, and being the church in all that we do and in all that we are.

In Christ’s Service,
Pastor Ben.

13/09/2020

Hi Church,

This past week I started something that is hopefully going to continue over the next 6 weeks: a digital book club with some fellow pastors from across Australia. We are intentionally going to meet for an hour each week over these coming weeks and read 2 chapters of the book we are working through: “Work Well Being: Leading Thriving Teams in Rapidly Changing Times” by Mark McCrindle and Ashley Fell.

And the reason I share this, is because the first part of chapter one goes like this: “When you think about work, how often do you think about it being tied to our human purpose, as a key to flourishing and thriving or as part of the reason for life?”

And on reflection of this, I really thought about the blessing I have in my vocation, and the way that often I don’t see what I do as ‘work’. It reminds me of something my dad always used to say: “If you find a job that you love, you will never have to ‘work’ a day in your life”

While that might not be always true, there is quite a bit of truth to that, and I think it is the same in the church as well. Yes – we are always going to require volunteers to do some of those jobs that we don’t always ‘love’ to do, and they might feel like hard ‘work’ at times, but if we find a role within the church that we love, we will never have to ‘work’ at all, and McCrindle and Fell would say – you will actually flourish and thrive in that role.

So it begs the question – what do you ‘love’ to do?

Sometimes we get this idea that what I love to do would be of no use to my ministry in and through the church to our community – but I believe that is well off the mark. As one body, made up of many members, all of our unique skills, talents, abilities and passions will each help us to achieve great things for God’s Kingdom, if we use what God has given us for his glory.

We never really then even have to ‘retire’ from service, because we will find joy in our serving, flourishing and thriving, knowing that God has blessed us with these gifts, for us to be a blessing to others.


In Christ’s Service (not really ‘working’ but loving my vocation and purpose),
Pastor Ben.

06/09/2020

Hi Church,

Relationship really changes the way we talk about someone else, doesn’t it?

I remember growing up, and I had a friend in my class at school who lived just down the road for us, and his mum would pick up myself, and my brother and sister, and we would travel to school together. And during this time, we called my friends mum and dad Mr. and Mrs. Stanley. 

As we grew older, unfortunately my friends mother died, but then during high school, instead of his dad being Mr. Stanley, it was shortened to Mr. S (because we were high schoolers and that was much ‘cooler’).

In later years, I actually started working with my friends dad as colleagues when I was a truck driver, and so now, as our relationship changed again, I now called him Barry (or Baz or another nickname which I shouldn’t mention in our school newsletter ;P )

And at each stage our of relationship changes, it changed the way I talked about my friends dad.

And the same is true for God our Father in heaven. 

Maybe some of you only call on him as ‘Our Father’ when you pray the Lord’s Prayer. Maybe you pray more often and call him ‘Heavenly Father’ or just ‘Father’. Or maybe your relationship with God is closer and intimate and so you call him ‘Dad’ or ‘Papa’.

It is no different to our relationship with our earthly fathers or father-figures. The way we speak about them really tells us a lot about the relationship we have.

But no matter what you might call God, this Father’s Day, the best news I can share with you, is that he calls you ‘my beloved’. He doesn’t care about what you’ve done, what you will do, or what you are doing now – he sees you as his loved child, one that he loves so much that he sent Jesus to live, die and rise again to life so that he could spend eternity in heaven with you. 

Wow! You have a dad who cares for you to the point of death – he cares intimately for you, I wonder what your relationship with him is in response? Something for you to consider this Father’s Day, as any celebration of an earthly father we have, is ultimately a celebration of our Heavenly Dad who created him.


God Bless you all,
Pastor Ben.