24/01/2021

Hi Friends,

This weekend we have the opportunity to gather again physically following the lockdown mandate from the Queensland Government.

And if we drill down into what it means to gather corporately together in worship, one of the things that we do in worship with others, that we don’t do in worship by ourselves is summed up in the word ‘together’.

We are made to worship, but there is something about gathering together as a community in worship that makes it more special, meaningful, and uplifting for our faith.

This is not to say that worshipping online is not worship. But when we gather with others we can more intentionally build relationship, encourage each other in our spiritual growth, pray for each other as we reach out into our community, and together we serve our community in response to the gospel.

Due to health reasons, government lockdowns, transportation, and other reasons we might not always be able to gather together – but what can we do then to ensure we are supporting all the members of the community in seeking to know Christ and also make Christ known?

So often we say ‘I haven’t seen such-and-such in worship recently’ and we seem to always push the problem onto someone else, a leader, the chairperson, the pastor, rather than taking the initiative ourselves to go and give that person a call, a text, a visit.

We seek to for whatever reason outsource our community building to someone we perceive to be an ‘expert’, rather than following our call from Jesus to encourage each other, serve each other and love each other.

This week, I would love for you to think about that person, or persons, or family and ask yourself how you can ‘know Christ and make Christ known’ to them. There are a thousand different ways for you to do this, but it will involve us getting outside of our comfort zone and seeking to connect with others in a meaningful way.

Because as we gather together more and more, building each other up, serving each other and the community, and reaching out to our community with the good news of Jesus – that is when we are going to see God’s Kingdom continue to grow.

That sounds exciting, that sounds like something I want to be a part of, so let’s be the change that we want to see!

Ben

17/01/2021

Hi Friends,

Recently I have found that I have had to catch myself from saying ‘go back to normal’ because ‘normal’ is a bit of a fluid concept right now for us.

What is ‘normal’ a year ago is no longer ‘normal’ anymore.  We might have thought that shaking hands is ‘normal’, or hugging our friends is ‘normal’, or being able to fly to amazing and exotic destinations around the world is ‘normal’ – yet we are now unable to do any of those things.

Our ‘normal’ has changed… and continues to change. Even what was ‘normal’ just a week ago – being able to sit where we want to in church, not wear masks, leave our homes – has all changed, in an instant.

Which makes me wonder if we will ever have ‘normal’ again? 

In the past, I have loved the excitement of change and wondering about what is going to happen next. At the moment though, the different things we get to (not necessarily because we want to) do – I would love for there to be some ‘normal’ because ‘normal’ is easy, it is known, it is safe and secure.

But I wonder if it is like that too often also for our faith?

We get baptised, grow up in the church, attend week after week, maybe even go to a small group – but then we get into some sort of ‘normal’ rhythm that is safe, comfortable, known, easy and secure.

And when I read through my Bible, I don’t see a lot of safe, comfortable, known, easy and secure – in fact, I see pretty much the opposite. I see uncomfortable, unknown, uneasy, and insecure – but the best thing about all of that is it led those people in the Bible to trust and rely on the one thing that never changes – God.

Because no matter what is happening in the world around us, whether we are allowed to leave our homes, or have to wear a mask, or tap elbows instead of shaking hands, or not be able to attend the funeral of one we love – through all of this there is one thing that never changes, and that is God’s love for you.
So while we continue to navigate life – knowing that we have this one ‘constant’ (I’ll use that word instead of normal) in our lives – God, and what He has done for us by grace through Jesus Christ – how can we challenge ourselves to seek to grow in faith in Him?
My prayer is that while we await any sense of ‘normal’ in the world around us, that the constant that is God is present in your lives, leading you to grow closer and closer to Him, challenging what might have been ‘normal’ in your faith life. I pray for something that’s exciting, challenging, maybe at times even a bit scary as we seek to go out into the world and share the good news of the one ‘constant’ we have, and the hope and comfort that gives to us.

May our ‘constant’ God bless you this week,

Ben

10/01/2021

Hi Friends,

This week I had the sad honour of leading a funeral for a baptised child of God, aged seven. And for some of you, there would have been a point where maybe you had to explain death to your children, or to other young people. In these cases, we try to simplify it as much as we can to enable these young people and children to understand it.

But how do we explain the death of a child? What words, or turn of phrase, or nice things can we say that can help to explain the omnipotentcy of our God who we say is loving, kind, gracious and giving?

Children who die far before what any one of us might say is ‘their time’, it leaves us with a sense of unfulfilled potential. Through baptism, they belong to God, and while they might die young, they don’t miss out on a thing, because the fulness of all things is now available to them: eternity with God forever.

The one thing that a death of a child gives you though, is perspective. In working out what to say and share with the family all of the things that we busy ourselves with fall away, and we’re left with the foundation of what is truly important.

We often all say that we are busy, and we don’t have enough time, or money, or both to do all of the things that we need/want/decide to do – but when something like this happens, all of a sudden we have all the time in the world to be present for the family and friends at the death of one they loved.

I wonder how much of what really matters gets lost in the busyness of our lives each and every day? And is what we spend most of our minutes, hours and days on actually all that important?

Often one of the things we almost go out of our way to do at Christmas is to spend time with family and friends and others who we love. But why do we wait for this one time of the year, and not do it more often?

Because a good relationship is not built on a once-per-year visit. It is built on constant communication, frequent catch-ups, calls, visits and taking time out of what might the most busiest of schedules to spend with others. When we prioritise someone, we send them the message that they have value to us, above all of the other things that make demands on our time.

If you can manage to do it if things go pear-shaped, then I want to encourage you to think about how you might be able to do it right now.

Spend that time with the people you love, share with them, care for them, spend quality moments with them. Don’t wait until ‘later’ or ‘next Christmas’. But of most importance, especially within our own families – think about how you are sharing Jesus with them.

One of the great promises of Christmas is that Jesus came to us, he came to live, die, but then live again so that those who believe in Him can have eternal life.

When visiting believers in Christ in their last weeks or days or hours, the good news I can share with them is that “I will see them again”, maybe not this side of eternity – but through faith in Christ, one-day I will get to see them, and Jesus, face-to-face.

I pray that it gives them comfort and hope, and that you might also be able to share this comfort and hope with those you love.

In God’s peace,

Pastor Ben.

03/01/2021

Hi Church Family,

Christmas is behind us and New Years is ahead.

Christ came. God himself, in the person of Jesus, dwelled among us, as one of us, and then died, rose, and ascended. The cheer of Christmas might occur on a fixed day, but the reality of Christmas is every bit as true today as the day we come together to open presents.

We are called to live on. History, and our lives in this age, are not yet over. The decisive event has happened in the coming of Christ, and because of that first Christmas event, there’s now “work” to be done, in us and through us. New days come. New years come. And God calls us to build our lives – through years not yet unfolded – on the cheer of Christmas. We are called to bring that great unchangeable Christmas past into the present and live a different future because of it.

For this reason and to this end we receive this simple and significant New Testament blessing:

Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.” (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17)

From Christmas into the new year and beyond. So one decisive divine action in the past, fuels the engine of the present to energise new life (our lives) and fresh strength for the times to come.

God is with you. Have a most blessed 2021.

In His service,

Pastor Roelof