28/03/2021

How Can I Help?

Recently I have been watching a show on Netflix/Channel Nine called ‘New Amsterdam’. It is a story of the equivalent of a CEO of a hospital (called a ‘medical director’) who is brought it to turn the New Amsterdam hospital around.

With a doctor’s background, the medical director aims to improve the health of both the patients, but even more insightfully, improve the health of the community around the hospital based in New York City.

To do this, he constantly works with his staff of doctors, surgeons, nurses, janitors and everything and everyone in between by asking them one simple question: ‘How can I help?’

He asks them how he can help them. Whether that be to provide better imaging equipment, or post-natal care nurses, or some other idea to overcome a problem they have as together they seek to help those in need.

In my conversations with people over this past week I have been a little bit more in-tune with these words ‘How can I help?’, and so have found myself saying them, but more interesting to me is the amount of times you (those who have spoken to me) have asked them of me.

And to be honest, it is quite humbling to hear people ask me ‘how can I help?’, but I have also found it quite enlightening.

Because as much as I am here to help as your pastor, I realise that together we are also seeking to grow God’s kingdom and make disciples, and in that sense there is only so much that I (as one individual person) can do, and so to hear those words ‘how can I help’ are very encouraging, as together we seek to impact our community with the Good News of Jesus.

So this week, as you go about doing what you do, maybe think of how you can help those around you: physically, mentally, financially, and spiritually – as you seek to make disciples.

If you need help, I am only ever a phone call away, and if I answer ‘how can I help?’ don’t be afraid to let me know!

Pastor Ben.

21/03/2021

Giving

Money is a touchy subject. It is so often the last thing that gets converted in a Christians life. After the head, and the heart, there is the conversion of the wallet 😊

But we know that the Bible teaches generosity, and specifically, to the local church of which we are a part.

Many do give.

Many don’t.

Why is that?

The commands in scripture to give are clear and unambiguous. Obedience in the Christian life is always about the heart. It’s wanting to find out what God wants, and then wanting to do it. It’s the wonderful dynamic of having Him as both Forgiver and Leader. It’s like being in love with your spouse and wanting to do things that you know would please them. Giving is always a reflection of where your heart is positioned.

I do not believe in the ‘health and wealth’ idea that if you give, you can expect to get rich. I do believe there is blessing on our lives that can very well be financial in nature when we give the way God asks us to. But our giving will never outpace our supply.

The larger picture is that God has shown His generosity so much that he we can never outgive God. He has given us literally everything, and so anything that we might give back to Him is paltry in comparison.

Money is a uniquely human issue, one we all struggle with to one degree or another. Even if you’re financially blessed, you still have the burden of stewarding your money wisely. And I believe that one of the best ways to invest your money is into the local church.

Your tithes and offerings on a regular basis not only supports the work we do at Ipswich Lutheran Church. It doesn’t just support local and international missions and community growth. It also shows an obedience to God by making his work a financial priority in your life.

As you can see from the infographic above, we are seeking your help in order to ensure that we can continue to ‘know Christ and make Christ known’ in our community, in our city and around the world by preaching the gospel, making disciples and supporting those in our community who need help.

I encourage you to put God first in both your head, your heart AND your wallet, and invite you to think about increasing your regular offering amount. You are a valued member of our church family, and you’re financial support can make a difference.

So let’s seek to give generously in the same way God has and continues to do so, as we are a beacon of light to our community.

In His Service,
Pastor Ben.

14/03/2021

Grumbling

If you look up this weeks biblical passage that is the focus of the sermon, you will see that it is entitled as “Do Everything Without Grumbling” in the NIV translation. This title is from verse fourteen, and someone, at some point in history, has used this phrase to give this passage to this title.

Think about the word ‘everything’ for a moment. It can be so easy to read a passage, think, “Thanks God, that sounds good,” and then go about your day. When I think about the number of times I complained this week alone… I don’t think that I can remember them all.

The thing is, I can’t think of anything that I really had to complain about. Sure, things weren’t perfect and there were some stressful moments. And I’m not saying that no circumstance can impact you. But a few weeks from now, I’m not even going to remember what made me grumble.

Having emotions when something unexpected or negative happens is understandable, normal and human. But we can still choose our response to it. Do we grumble, letting ourselves focus on the negative. Letting frustration have control over our thoughts and actions. Or, do we acknowledge the way we feel and why, but try to see the big picture?

There is a lot of good in my life. I often say that most people could tell the story of their life as a comedy or a tragedy, it just depends on the lens they focus through. So much of life is out of our control, it’s circumstances we find ourselves in because of other peoples’ choices. We have so little control over anything. What we can choose is our actions and responses to world around us.

Next time that something happens that makes me feel irritated, frustrated or befuddled (it will probably happen today, if I’m honest), I’m going to try to choose something better. To acknowledge how I feel and why, but to then choose to make the best of whatever circumstance I find myself in. I’m going to try to grumble less and instead focus on the good in my life, and how maybe this seemingly negative circumstance could be used for good somehow.

Lauren

07/03/2021

Missional Prayer

Over the past few weeks if you have been worshipping with us face-to-face you might have noticed an addition to the prayer of the church.

This prayer – loosely termed (for lack of another name) a ‘missional prayer’ has been intentional to allow us as a church to think outside of ourselves, and focus on our missional call ‘to know Christ and to make Christ known’.

In this prayer each week we pray individually within our gathered community for those people the Holy Spirit is leading and guiding us towards, as we seek to make Christ known to them.

And we all have those people within our circles of influence that the Holy Spirit will be prompting us to share the Good News with. They are what we would call ‘our neighbours’. Not necessarily because our house block borders with theirs, but because they are ‘neighbourly’ to us. Maybe it is your local butcher that you chat to each week, or the person that comes to clean your house. It might be a co-worker that you chat to while grabbing a coffee in the morning or the person you always sit next to at bingo. We are asking for God to soften their hearts as we listen to His promptings in our conversations with these people, always being ready to give reason for the hope that we have.

We also pray for all people within our city, and each week we are especially praying for a particular suburb within our city, that the people who live there have their eyes opened to God’s love for them. Maybe as we pray for particular suburbs you might think of some people who live in that suburb that you pray this specifically for them.

Praying for our fellow partners in the Gospel at a local church, and the part that they play in building God’s kingdom also helps us to see that we are but one piece of the puzzle.

So we pray for a local congregation, of any denomination, and the work that they are doing in seeking to make Christ known, and build God’s kingdom. Because God’s kingdom is across denominational lines, and it helps us to see that we are part of something that is bigger than ourselves, while also asking God to bless them in their efforts to share the Good News.

And the final part of our prayer is for us to think more missionally. It hopefully is a prayer point that gets you a bit uncomfortable, and really makes you think a bit before praying it.

Because the Christian journey is not always going to be comfortable, and it is not always going to be easy, but it is a journey that we are called on, and one that has eternal implications for our neighbours and family.

Each week as we pray, we are going to be spending some time individually to pray for these things, to help us to remain focussed on what God has called us to do: ‘to know Christ and to make Christ known’.

In prayer together,

Pastor Ben.

28/02/2021

Idols

An idol is a person of thing that is greatly admired, loved, revered. It is also an image or representation of a god used as an object of worship.

We also know that one of the Ten Commandments that we find in Exodus is that we shall not have idols.

During the protestant reformation, a number of over-zealous persons took this idea to the nth degree as they went through all the church buildings discarded not just the statues and images of the saints, but even throwing out images of crucifix’s and crosses as well.

And the reason for this extreme behaviour was that they wanted to remove anything that might lead them to worship anything or anyone other than Jesus.

In more recent times we don’t have ‘idols’ so much that we worship (although I wonder if at certain times of the year we worship those idols/statues that we see at Suncorp Stadium), but there are things that we hold on to and greatly admire, love and revere, and in a sense, by doing so, we are using that thing/idea/person as an object of worship.

But ultimately, by admiring, loving and revering someone or something in this way, it will, over time, continue to lead us away from Christ, and away from the Gospel.

Sometimes I wonder if we admire/love/revere the style that we prefer in worship more than we admire/love/revere God? Or we admire/love/revere the building in which we worship more than we admire/love/revere God. I’m sure I could (or you also might be able to) list a dozen things that we admire/love/revere sometimes more than we admire/love/revere God.

But what do we do about this?

The simple answer – listen to God. Commune with God. Be intimate with God. Because the closer and closer we get to Christ, the more we will seek to admire/love/revere Him more than anything or anyone else.

I’m not saying that liking certain things is bad or wrong – but if we like them, and elevate them above Christ then we are creating an idol, and over time we will begin to worship the idol, rather than worship Christ.

My encouragement for you is to take this time of Lent to reflect, repent and repair. Reflect on those things that maybe you have crafted into an idol, however innocently. Repent of this sin. Renew your relationship with God by listening to Him through His Word, and receiving Him through His Gospel and Sacrament.

As we journey in this way together, we can continue to grow in Christ, but also be free of all our idols to further go out into our community to make the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ and what He has done for us known.

In His Service,

Pastor Ben