27/06/2021

Hi Everyone,
 
As a church family we are frequently reminded of God’s love for us displayed in and through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus which we are baptised into. We are also frequently reminded of what that means for our life now and for eternity. That we have been saved by grace through faith for a purpose, that purpose being the Great Command (love God and love others) and the Great Commission (go and make disciples, baptising and teaching ‘here, there and everywhere’).
 
I have recently heard a great conversation on a podcast of a page that I follow (*details at the end) regarding the “disciples” part of the Great Commission we are joining God in mission with.
 
Simply put, a “disciple” is a follower. In “Bible times” a “disciple” would follow a Rabi (or “teacher”) to hear their teachings and to emulate their way of life. Christians or “disciples of Jesus”, you and I included, are therefore followers of Jesus who live to hear his teachings and emulate his life. We do this by listening to his words through the word, the Bible, and by looking at other faithful Christian’s lives to also learn from their faith and emulate their life of faith. Afterall, Paul told us to do just this when he said to the Corinthian church to “imitate me, as I imitate Christ”.
 
So, we are to disciple and also be a disciple, which begs the question, who is discipling you?
 
Some wonderful points from the podcast I mentioned earlier give some ideas in finding someone to disciple you, someone who reflect Jesus to you as you spend time with them, in your Christian journey: 

· Pray. Ask God to bring someone to mind as you meditate on this, or someone to cross paths with you in a way that it is very clear that this is someone you could spend time with and learn from regarding a life that makes much of Jesus, a life that images God truthfully. Someone you can look to and go, “their life looks like Jesus and I want to follow that”.

· Be an active member of your church community. The New Testament says that the church community is where discipleship happens. That, as a Christian family, we gather because we want to be on mission with Jesus to make his name known as we become more like him. Therefore, we want to be around others who do that so that we can do that more and help others also.

· Watch other people’s faith. Notice the reactions of and spend time with people who trust in the Lord and make the most of Jesus when tough things happen. What does it look like when they trust in Jesus when a loved one dies, or when they get terrible health news, or they lose a job or their response to some other significant life event.

· Notice who knows, reads and teaches their Bible in truth and with integrity. Who spends time in their Bible? Who, when they talk, you can hear Biblical truth?

· Look for “stage of life”. If you’re about to get married, find a married couple whose marriage looks like a marriage that is faith filled and what you would love to have. If you are having kids, a home where the kids are loved and treasured and love Jesus. If retiring, a retiree who joyfully makes much of Jesus in retirement. If a teen, a young adult whose faith carried them through their teens towards joy in their life of faith. Etc.

· Look for someone who shares their faith life openly and in an encouraging way. Someone who speaks about God’s goodness and God getting them through tough times openly and honestly.

 
Then…approach them and make time for a coffee and just get to know them.
 
And…if you are approached…make time for them and get to know the one who approached you over a coffee.
 
God bless you as we continue on this journey of “Knowing Christ and Making Christ Known” together.
 
In His service,
 
Pastor Roelof
 
*Key part of the book: How Can I Find Someone to Disciple Me? By Garrett Kell, discussed by author and panel on 9Marks website titled “On How Can I Find Someone to Disciple Me? (Garrett Kell & Mike McKinley), “Pastors Talk, Ep.173”.

20/06/2021

The Psalms Are Like a Box of Chocolates

Some of you will remember the movie called Forest Gump, and one of the famous quotes from Forest is: “Mama always said: ‘Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.’”
I was listening to someone reflect on this quote in the context of the Book of Psalms, and it was ‘the Psalms are like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get’.

And if you have read through the Psalms before, you would know that this is true. You don’t know if you are going to get a Psalm of wisdom, a royal Psalm, a Psalm of lament, an imprecatory Psalm, a Psalm of thanksgiving, a pilgrimage Psalm or an enthronement Psalm.

And I think that there is beauty in that. Yes, there can be helpfulness in knowing or finding the right Psalm for the right occasion, but there is also some sort of beauty in just diving in, not knowing what you are going to get.

And I think there is merit to having a sort of ‘table of contents’ as to where to go when you are looking for a particular piece of scripture for the situation that you find yourself in, but there is also merit in allowing God to speak to you in whatever Psalm you flick your bible open to.

It is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get. But there are a few things that you know you will get. You will get God’s Holy Spirit moving in you and through you as you read His Word and you will allow God to speak to you in ways that maybe are surprising or unexpected or convicting or instructing or informative or grace-filled.

So this week, I want to encourage you to open that box of chocolates, whether a paper copy or a digital copy of the Psalms and allow God to speak to you through the beauty of the words he has for you.

In His Service,

Pastor Ben

13/06/2021

As you would know, on Saturday last week (the 5th June), I was elected by the Lutheran Church of Australia Queensland District Convention of Synod to serve as the full-time First Assistant Bishop.

This 3-year call from the church is deeply humbling. While I allowed my name to go forward as a part of the nomination process, to have the support of my fellow pastors from across the district to the level that mine was the only name to go forward still leaves me somewhat in disbelief.

The questions of ‘why me’ and ‘what have I got to offer’ though quickly dispel as I read through the scriptures of where time and time again God takes people, and uses them despite their faults and failures and feelings of inadequacy.

To be honest with you, I am both excited, but also a little bit daunted about the task that is in front of me, but I know that whatever that is, the Holy Spirit always goes with me guiding my way.

It was only when I was at the podium sharing some of these things with the delegates of Convention when I realised that this election means that I will be leaving this wonderful church in Ipswich where both Kelly and I have loved and been loved for 8 years.

I have built many relationships and friendships, and have been blessed to each and every one of you.

In terms of how this all plays out, in the email I sent I spoke about the transition happening over the coming three months. As I encounter the lasts of many things.

My final service is on the 18th July, which will be a combined farewell service at Bethany, Raceview at 9am. From there I will go on 3x weeks holidays, and be starting in the District Office on the 9th August. We are planning for my ceremonial installation service to happen on the 22nd August – but I will keep you informed.

Thank you all for your ongoing prayer, love and support. Not just during this time of transition, but across the many years of my service to you and our wider community. It is deeply appreciated, and I truly am grateful.

In His Service

Pastor Ben

06/06/2021

Advertising, really, if you dig underneath the surface a little bit, you could say that advertising is in the insecurity business.

The premise is simple enough: walk past a billboard, or bus stop shelter, or bus, or in the corner of your favourite website and there is an image of some A-list celebrity holding a can of engine oil alluringly, using the latest cashback shopping app, or drinking a new brand of high-energy sports drink, and the response it is trying to illicit from us is a “Where has this been all my life, I need that now!”

Within seconds, we scan the QR code and are counting the hours until we can relish the vast improvement to the speed of our Mitsubishi Lancer, see how much we’ve saved on our shopping, or waiting to take off with our new wings.

Advertising expresses the gap in our lifestyle while promising satisfaction and wholeness via the new product. At least until the new upgrade, or innovation, or until we realise that the old version was actually better.

And a lot of this is brought about because of our insecurity.

Many movies, well, maybe the movies that I like to watch, have the scene of an injured character, propped up against the warehouse wall. The hero then decides that they need to hunt down something to help them, and despite any pleas to the contrary, they leave the injured character alone. Meanwhile, the baddies, aliens, killer bees are at large.

This tension is bought about because of our common fear we have when we feel helpless, that we will be left behind.

Sometimes we wonder if God has done the same. Perhaps we wonder if he has better things to do with his time? Maybe we fear we have done something so terrible that we have blown it with him?

Paul in his letter to the Colossians reassures us that we do not have to be insecure, that we are not alone, we are not left behind. Paul does this by reminding us that we have been brought to Christ, and we are in Christ, and he does this by turning the thoughts of the Colossians, and our own thoughts to Baptism.

If all that Christ has done to this point were not grounds for confidence enough, this idea of us being buried and raised with Christ through baptism takes our union with Christ to a whole new level.

Paul points us back to our baptism, back to the public expression of what God has already done in our lives.

The logic we can follow is through our baptism we are united to Jesus. Therefore, where Jesus goes, we go.

He went to the cross, died and was placed in the tomb. Maybe this seems a bit ridiculous. You might be thinking, “I’m old, but I’m not two millennia old. I wasn’t there. I’m not dead.”

However, “through your faith in the working of God” we went with him so that we were indeed ‘buried with him’ through our baptism. Each one of us.

But like him, despite the stone and the Roman guards, we did not remain there. We too were ‘raised with him through our faith in the working of God’. If that seems unlikely, then remember that nothing could possibly be as unlikely as Christ’s resurrection in the first place.

So because God ‘raised him from the dead’, we can be sure that we are united to Christ. We can be assured that we are secure. We can be assured that we are not helpless or left behind.

The good news also is that it did not hurt when water was poured over your head (well I hope not), and the pastor pronounced your name in the saving name of Jesus.

But if we think more deeply about what Paul says, we are buried with Christ. And being buried with Christ means we must crucify our sins with Him. Any form of crucifixion is a painful experience, and it takes all the faith God can give us.

If our Baptism is to have everyday significance for us, reminding us that we are united to Christ, that we are secure, that we are not left behind, then there will be some spiritual sweat on our part, as we ask for an unwavering heart and a steady mind to live in our heavenly washing.

But because we get to begin and end each day with Jesus, it is also exciting, as we live in our baptism promise of Christ knowing that we are united to Him, that we are secure, and we are never left behind.