Category Archives: Pastor’s Notes

A Christmas Confession

 

 

manger-to-the-cross

 

A CHRISTMAS CONFESSION

I believe in Jesus Christ and in the beauty of the gospel begun in Bethlehem.

I believe in the one whose spirit glorified a little town; and whose spirit still brings music to persons all over the world, in towns both large and small.

I believe in the one for whom the crowded inn could find no room, and I confess that my heart still sometimes wants to exclude Christ from my life today.

I believe in the one who the rulers of the earth ignored and the proud could never understand; whose life was among common people, whose welcome came from persons of hungry hearts.

I believe in the one who proclaimed the love of God to be invincible:

I believe in the one whose cradle was a mother’s arms,

whose modest home in Nazareth had love for its only wealth,

who looked at persons and made them see what God’s love saw in them,

who by love brought sinners back to purity, and lifted human weakness up to meet the strength of God.

I confess my ever-lasting need of God:

    The need of forgiveness for our selfishness and greed,

     the need of new life for empty souls,

     the need of love for hearts grown cold.

I believe in God who gives us the best of himself.

I believe in Jesus, the son of the living God, born in Bethlehem, for me and for the world.

 

 

Pastor’s Notes: A New Thing

I ended off my Notes last week with the words “Forget the former things, God is doing a new thing” – these are words from Isaiah 43. They were prophetic words relating to the return of the exiles from captivity in Babylon, but are also used to speak of God’s Restoration of His Kingdom in the Messianic Age.

As we move on in our E100 Bible Reading Challenge to the the time beyond the Cross we find a completely new thing taking place. Christ has come, He died to pay the price of sin, He bought us redemption and new life (or rather a restored life). The life of every person was radically encumbered in the Garden, as sin came into the world. We were separated from God. The only way this separation could be taken away was that this imputed sin had to be atoned for. This is what Jesus did at the Cross.

But amazing things begin to happen beyond the Cross. The tomb is found to be empty, the Risen Christ appears – first to Mary Magdalene, then to the two disciples on the Road to Emmaus. He appears to the disciples, later more than 500 people see Him. Stephen sees the risen Christ in heaven, Paul encounters Him on the Road to Damascus and John sees Him while exiled on the Island of Patmos. Not one of these is a “vision” or an apparition – they see the living Jesus, in the flesh. He is risen from the dead and then ascended to heaven. A New Thing is happening!

And after the Ascension, the small group of believers is gathered in the Upper Room – waiting, watching, and praying, as they had been instructed by the Risen Lord. Ten days later tongues of fire enter the room where they are praying and each person present is anointed with this fire. It draws a crowd and thousands become believers – daily! A New Thing is happening!

The fiercest opponent of this new movement- one, Saul of Tarsus, is instantly converted while on his way to arrest and kill the followers of the Way in Damascus – this was after he had seen to the killing of Stephen and the scattering of the believers in Jerusalem. He is so dramatically affected by his encounter with the Risen Jesus that he changes his name to Paul to mark that he is a changed man. He becomes the greatest proponent of the Gospel, ensuring its spread beyond its initial Jewish audience into Asia Minor and Europe. A New Thing is happening!

And as the years progress, the followers of Christ reach out into every nation. They are responsible for the establishment of democratic forms of government, healthcare systems, education, caring agencies. They initiate almost everything which we hold as good today. They see to prison reform and the abolition of slavery. They work to re-establish the sanctity of marriage and the integrity of family.

There are fluctuations in their effectiveness. Sometimes (many times) the church has lost the plot; it has been an aggressor and an abuser. It has claimed a power which it had no authority to do. As an institution it has failed God’s people many times. It has not consistently carried the message of Good News, and has often reinterpreted this message in limited ways.

And yet, there is still the Good Thing which God is doing. Lives are still being redeemed, hope is still being restored, people are still finding meaning in this life and living out the Promise of the Life which is to come.

The question is: Are we, as a Church, still being as effective as the early Church? Are will still consistently holding to the message of Good News in Jesus Christ?

In answer to that question, I have been quite humbled by the journey we have taken in the Prayer Room. We have seen expressions of faith, hope and love rise up from the depth of our corporate being. I believe that the Prayer Room is a New Thing which can, and will, spark a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit as we take that which has always been deep within our soul, and allow that faith, that hope and that love to permeate every aspect of our being. God is doing a New Thing!

Pastor’s Notes June 10 2012

Our focus today is on Joseph and Moses and the escape of God’s people from the bondage in Egypt. I guess the underlying message is one which we often overlook – God has an amazing purpose and plan for His creation and especially for those created in His image. While it might often not seem like it, He is involved in every aspect of our life and every turning point of our journey.

While Joseph’s rejection by his brothers was horrible, God was sending this man on ahead to prepare Pharaoh’s heart to receive Jacob and his descendants in that country when the drought came. Later He put Moses into a later Pharaoh’s household to create a familiarity by which he was enabled to speak to the ruler of the country to request freedom for God’s now enslaved people. He also gave Moses an experience of the supernatural burning bush in the desert of Midian that he could trust God in that area where most people are skeptical.

And God is continually at work in our lives too. Sometimes we hear clearly, other times He needs to prod us forcibly, and sometimes He needs to work to fix up our mistakes – That’s our God! He is worthy of all praise and honor. Amen!

We had visits this week from Rick Morrell and also the National Co-ordinator of the Christian Motorcycle Association. Both were very impressed with our work for the Lord in our community. Rick’s prime purpose was to see the work of Ride for Life but was also impressed with news of Muckaround and the Young Adults Group. Lisa Clarke from the CMA spent the night with us and met the members of our Branch. She rode up from Albany in the rain and headed off to Perth and Geraldton in the rain as well. A lovely Christian lady (a midwife!) who loves motorbikes; she spend a lot of time working with the bikies and in overseas missions.

I am away next week with a series of strategy planning meetings in Perth for Pastoral Placement Commission and Rural Ministries Network. I will also attend the Mission-shaped church conference next weekend. Luke Williams will come back with me for the final two week rural ministry exposure before he becomes eligible for ordination. He will work primarily in Southern Cross and Bruce Rock. For the last weekend of the month I will be in Geraldton as part of the consultation team to the Lighthouse Church.

 

CONGREGATION MEETING

There will be a meeting of the Mukinbudin Congregation at 11am on Sunday 24th June for the election of elders and committee members. The meeting will be followed by the service and a shared lunch.

 

Pastor’s Notes: December 4th 2011

What a joy there is in being together in worship today. We take it so much for granted but, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer says. “between the death of Christ and the Last Day it is only by a gracious anticipation of the last things that Christians are privileged to live in visible fellowship with other Christians.…Not all Christians receive this blessing. The imprisoned, the sick, the scattered lonely, the proclaimers of the Gospel in heathen lands stand alone. They know that visible fellowship is a blessing.” — Life Together, Chapter 1 “Community”, p. 18

 

The season of Advent continues … as we await the Last Day. Last Sunday, at the start of the Advent season we asked the question, “What would you do today if it were your last day on earth?” – today our focus is on the difference that Christ’s Incarnation, Presence and Expected Return makes in our life. You don’t need to be a Christ Follower for this reality to make a difference in your life – it will anyway! However, choosing to follow Jesus does turn this difference into a pleasant journey.

 

Today, in Merredin, we join together to celebrate the baptism of Reze Coetzee, the daughter of Fanie and Suzette. Today she enters into this journey as she is baptised into Christ. Some might say that she is too young to understand this, and that there is no conscious decision on her part. That’s true but, as I always say, with regard to the baptism of infants, when the parents are convinced of their own faith in Jesus Christ then they want their children to share that faith. Infant baptism, has two aspects to it – there is the covenant of Christ, in which God commits to receive and be with the child; and there is the covenant of the parents, in which they undertake to lead their child in the way of righteousness by the example of a Christian life. And, as at every baptism service, we all have the privilege of affirming our own baptism vows as we profess our faith in the words of the Apostles’ Creed.

 

I am still in the throes of planning the detail of our program/life for next year and some of this is included elsewhere in this Newsletter. The three main events are the Alpha Course talks which will be given during the usual Sunday services in each congregation. In Merredin this will finish by May 6th but the other congregations, who only have two services a month, will only complete in September.

The Alpha Course is a practical introduction to the Christian faith, covering such areas as Jesus, the Bible, prayer, the Holy Spirit, resisting evil, witnessing, healing and sharing faith. Many people around the world have been deeply influenced by the course which began as an introduction for new members at an Anglican Church in Central London. It has also been credited as being one of the vehicles which God is using in the present revival spreading through the United Kingdom. Another is the 24/7 Prayer Movement (which is connected to the same Anglican Church in Brompton). We will be setting up a Prayer Room along the guidelines of the 24/7 Prayer Movement during Holy Week next year.

Superimposed over the Alpha Course will be the LentEvent which runs during Lent from February 22nd (Ash Wednesday) until April 8th (Easter Sunday). I received the LentEvent Journey Guide and Resources this week. Having looked at the 2012 material, I see that it is much more focussed on the Sunday services (and group study) than on being a personal journey guide. That’s not going to work while we are focussed on the Alpha Course. I believe that it would be better for me to give guidelines and encouragement in the Newsletter than for each of us to purchase a Journey Guide. We will still use the LentEvent focus on “This One Life” and as an interest stirrer and fundraiser for Missions during the season.

We are however still going to use the E100 Bible Reading Challenge during 2012. In Australia, most Christians own a Bible, but only 39% will read it one or more times during the week. Only 20% of Christians read the Bible on a daily basis. One of the main reasons for not reading the Bible is that people find it hard to understand. The E100 Bible Reading Challenge features 100 carefully selected readings designed to give people a good understanding of the Bible story. The “E” stands for Essential and each of the essential 100 readings range from a few verses to a few chapters. The motivation behind the challenge is to build a regular habit of spending time with God through Bible reading and prayer.

 

Thank you to all those who completed the NCLS questionnaire and the Pastoral Information form. Copies of the latter are available for those who have not yet completed it. I had to fill in a very different NCLS form as the Pastor of the church. I found it quite inspiring and it affirmed for me that I am in the place where God wants me to be – both geographically and spiritually. I am convinced more than ever of my call to the ministry. The questions dealt with positive things like hope, satisfaction and confidence, which all got a big tick from me. It also dealt with negative things like unhappiness, depression and uncertainty which are not at all a part of my life.

 

Finally – Sven and Linda have decided, after much prayer, to forgo the opportunity of a firm job in Melbourne, in favor of staying in WA. We are delighted – Linda will join Tegan at King Edward and Sven is waiting a response to a number of job applications. Meanwhile Quinten is changing jobs in a couple of weeks.

 

Shalom

 

Pastor’s Notes

Happy Fathers’ Day to all our Dads!
Today is a double Fathers’ Day celebration for me—not only did our children celebrate with me earlier in the year (South Africa has Fathers’ Day in May) but today is also our eldest son Garth’s 35th birthday. So it was thirty five years ago today that I first became a Dad. It was one of the best days of my life. I remember walking out of the Maternity Home in Port Elizabeth after he was born and I felt like I was walking on air. I had been in the Delivery Room and had signed as a witness to his birth and record of his vital statistics—I was a Dad!!!
I could scale a wall, I could advance against the troop. Woowee…

Thank you to Sal for stepping up to the pulpit today. She also did it for Mothers’ Day, so it seems to be her forté to celebrate parents. I’m away at the Men’s Walk to Emmaus in Katanning together with Steve, Tobias & Gerhard. When you read this, I’ll be getting ready to present a talk on Sanctifying Grace. Each time that I have presented this talk I am amazed at how God is continually at work changing us from who we are into who we can become. And each time I have to add to the talk because He has changed me just a little bit more. Steve, who is one of the Lay Directors on the Walk, will be speaking later in the morning about how we can continue to live our lives with God when the weekend is over.

Wasn’t last weekend really great. I was particularly inspired by the personal time I was able to spend with Chris Walker. And I thought that the sharing of God’s faithfulness in the service and in George & Val’s anniversary celebration was so uplifting.

I’m going to be away several times during the next month. During this next week I have a meeting with my Supervisor Group (a person appointed by the UCA as my mentor). Actually, in my case, several of us meet together every six weeks as co-mentors to share ministry thoughts and prayer. I have found these meetings to be exceedingly helpful to build up relationships with my new colleagues in the Uniting Church. The following weekend is the Synod Meeting and I shall be attending together with Steve Higgins. During the week which follows Synod I will be away on a retreat to fast and pray as I seek the Lord’s direction for us here in the Wheatbelt. There are times when the Lord begins to move His people in a particular way and I believe that we are presently in one of those times. You might well call it revival. The danger when God does begin to stir us is that we run ahead of Him and end up in the wrong place. I will be spending several days alone with the Lord so that I can be clear of His intention, both for preaching and for our outreach as a congregation of His people.
However, the whispers of the Lord are already sounding quite clear. Our combined churches prayer meeting for rain in Merredin had a number of consequences—apart from the rain, of course! First, it developed into a Statewide Prayer Meeting involving many churches, and hundreds of Christians across the State. Now it is developing into a regular fortnightly Combined Churches prayer meeting on a Friday afternoon. The first of these will take place at 2pm on Friday 10th at the SDA Church. And then, as a further direct consequence, we have been invited to host an evening meeting in Merredin on Sunday October 3rd with Marc Poree. Marc is Angus’ Buchan’s pastor as Shalom Ministries in South Africa. He is in Australia for a series of Mighty Men Regional Meetings but when word got out that we were praying for rain, Mac Forsyth & Craig Lydon who are organisers of the Mighty Men Conference Team, got in touch with me to hold a special meeting here in Merredin. This will, I believe, be another great opportunity for the churches in Merredin to get together and for us to reach out to people with the good news of God. Begin to pray about this meeting and invite your friends to come along.
Ladies—don’t forget the Fellowship Meeting on Tuesday. Chatting with Anne Sutherland about what is planned, I think that this yet another opportunity for us to reach out to others and to share what God is doing.

Love you all.
David