30/05/2021

Dear Church Family, 
 
This term, at youth, we have been focusing on God and our emotions. How emotions are neither “good” or “bad”, but rather a guide to what might be going on with our processing of a situation. We have also looked at how we can move our focus from the negative affects of some emotions (depression, anxiety, anger, disappointment for example) and refocusing on God and His truth.
 
Here is one way in which you could do the same should you experience anger, anxiety, frustration or similar feelings:
 
Find somewhere safe and comfortable to sit and close your eyes. Bring to mind something that you have been struggling with lately. AS you think about this problem, notice all the thoughts and feelings that come into your mind. Think about how this is problem is currently impacting your life – how it has already influenced your past and how it might change the future. Where in your body do you feel the most upset when you notice this emotional pain? What does it feel like?
 
Now remind yourself, “God is always with me”. He said he would never leave us or forsake us (Deut 31:6). Imagine He is physically with you now. Imagine He is placing His hand on your pain. Imagine that as His hand rests on your pain that there is a warmth that comes from His love, and the place that hurts is softening around the pain. It is like the pain is lessening its hold on you and His love is allowing you to make room for it.
 
Sit with this exercise as long as it is helpful. Ask God to help you with this problem, and prayerfully surrender it to Him. Trust that God can help you with this and that He will sustain you in this.
 
Take a moment to reflect on a Bible passage that is encouraging to you or speaks of God’s love (for example Psalm 103:8-13 and Romans 8:35-39).
 
Take a couple of slow, deep breaths in and out (5-10) as you meditate on God’s love and feel the amplified emotion mellow with each breath.
 
Thank God for His closeness and love. I hope that you will find this helpful in your day to day Christian walk.
 
In His service,

Pastor Roelof

23/05/2021

Power

If you have been following along the news this week you will see that the Federal Government have committed a large amount of money to build a Fossil-fuel powered electricity plant in the Hunter Valley, NSW.

Regardless of which side of politics you might sit on, and where you side in terms of the climate-change debate; one thing we would agree on is that in the electronic age we live, we rely on power.

I know how annoyed, angry, frustrated I get when the power goes out, even for a few minutes. I can’t imagine not having power for days or weeks or months!

Yet, so often, as Christians, I believe we forget to tap into the power reserve that we have been given through the Holy Spirit.

Scripture says that we will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on us, yet so often, I wonder if that is true, because at times it is not all that evident in the way we talk or in the way we act.

This power of the Holy Spirit is abundantly available to us because of Jesus, and yet so often I think we forget this important information.

Maybe, like the electricity we have available at the powerpoint, it is only when it gets turned off, or doesn’t work that we appreciate having it there at every moment of every day.

How can we seek to appreciate the power that the Holy Spirit gives to us, but even more than that, seek to use it in a way consistent with God’s will and leading for our lives.

Imagine if all those who are a part of the church realised the power of the Holy Spirit that is living in them and through them, and used that power to share the gospel message across our communities, city, nation and around the world?

It happened some 2000 years ago at the Day of Pentecost. What can we do, individually, and as a church, to see a movement of the Spirit like that again?

In the Spirit’s power,

Pastor Ben

16/05/2021

This week I was able to join a number of people to listen and learn as a part of ‘Visiting with Vic’ that was organised by Bishop Paul Smith.

Rev. Dr. Vic Pfitzner was one of my lecturers as Seminary, and while now long retired (his last year of teaching was my first year of studying), he came to share a little bit about his background, the history of the Lutheran Church in Australia and his hopes and dreams for the future.

Vic didn’t actually know this, but when I was a young lad of 15 years of age, he actually presented while I attending a youth camp that was run alongside the LCA Convention of Synod.

While we attended a few of the business sessions, we also did ‘young people’ things, and had some of the church leaders of the time (like Vic) come and speak to us.

For me, this was actually the beginning of my journey to becoming a pastor.

Because until this point, while I had always gone to church, and we had always had a pastor at our church (most of the time, anyway), I never really saw being a pastor as a ‘job’ or something that a person does.

Some 20 years (and a bit more) later, it was great to be able to share this with Vic and thank him for his input into my life, and how that input has led me to where I am today.

But it makes me wonder, who am I sharing with, encouraging, and inspiring?

I think there is something lost if those if people feel as though they have nothing to offer anyone else in the church.

Vic could have said ‘no’ to sharing with us at our youth event, and who knows what journey my life might have taken.

You have something to offer as well. No matter if you are a young person, young adult, mature adult, middle-aged adult – you have something to offer. You can inspire, encourage and share with others. My challenge for you is to take up that opportunity – allow God to use you, and who knows what He could accomplish!

In His Service
Pastor Ben

09/05/2021

On Friday morning in the early hours I waited with anticipation for my football team (Arsenal) to play in the second-leg of their semi-final again Villareal as a part of the UEFA Europa League.

90 minutes later I am disappointed as my team crashed out, and will not be going on to the final this year.

After the game at a more reasonable hour, Kelly came downstairs to ask how it went, and how she was ‘awoken’ with some yells and screams at various times through the morning.

But it highlighted for me how passionate I was to cheer on my team, and how I rode the highs and lows of the game with them.

It also led me to wonder how often we do this for others – whether they be children, parents, extended family, friends or work colleagues?

I mean, I know each of the players on ‘my team’, I know a little bit about them, where they’ve come from, what recent injuries they might have had, how old they are, and more.

Are we as invested in the people around us?

I am doubtful I will actually form a real friendship with any football player from ‘my team’, but what about you? Are you forming friendships with others, getting to know more about them? Riding the highs and lows of their life with them?

A few weeks ago I was speaking to the new LCA Director for Cross-Cultural Ministry, Craig Heidenrich, and his comments in regards to so many within the church is that we have forgotten how to be a friend to others.

And if we are ever going to share the gospel with them, we need to start by building that relationship first, by learning what it means to be a friend, sharing life, the highs and lows, showing support and encouragement to them at all times.

So let’s start with the basics. Forming friendships and loving others as Jesus has loved us. Let’s not get tripped up with how to share Jesus, and focus first on being His hands and feet to others around us.

Unless we are building relationships, and growing friendships, we are not going to have opportunity in the future to share Jesus with others.

Let’s make friends!

Pastor Ben

02/05/2021

It is gone – all of it.
 
What am I talking about? My facial hair – of course!
 
I do believe that for the almost 8 years I have been here serving as pastor in Ipswich, that I have not been clean shaven – until Wednesday.
 
Wednesday – it all changed. For how long? I guess we will find that out together (it is hard to hide).
 
If you still wanted to donate – there is opportunity over the next few days to still do so, and you can do that here: Lose The Moustache (mycause.com.au)
 
But why? Well – as many of you are aware – I am quite passionate about sharing ‘Messages of Hope’, and in a world that is struggling in more ways than ever (and not just because of the global pandemic), it is very important that we share hope and the Gospel message to the many people in need.
 
One way that is done across Australia and New Zealand (through over 800 radio stations) is by Lutheran Media, but a great way for it to continue is for each of us individually, and together to share that same message of hope and Gospel to those people around us.
 
We don’t have to lead people to baptism in the space of a 30 minute coffee catch-up, but we are called to give reason for the hope that we have, and it is a case of constant relationship with others that open up doors and avenues for the Holy Spirit to work in us and through us to inspire faith in others.
 
My encouragement to you as you share hope and Gospel with others is to not give up. But also love the person for who they are.
 
Sometimes we fall into the trap of loving people only because we want to share Jesus, but these are real people, so just love them for who they are, not who you want them to become.
 
We also sometimes give up to easily because we don’t see results. But this work takes time, because relationships take time.
 
So let’s seek to build on the work of Lutheran Media in following the call of Jesus to bring the Gospel to light within our community.
 
May God bless you in this task,
Pastor Ben