Get Wisdom!

This term you have an opportunity to make a significant change to your life. A change that could reshape everything and bring greater satisfaction, perspective, hope and joy. A change that will be hard to make but worth every moment of the blood, sweat and tears it may take. A change that you are empowered to make by the one who dwells within you.

The question is, will you keep in step with His desires for you and make it?

Sadly, our lives are centered around the acquisition of stuff for enjoyment and for safety in the future. We work to pay for things we want. We work to put learning in our minds and in the minds of our family. We work to put a roof over our head. We work so we can play later. We focus so much on work and acquisition that the bigger things in life can pass us by. The bigger things like the acquisition of wisdom, prudence, discretion and insight. We need to change this.

This term in church we will be helping each other to Get Wisdom through the book of Proverbs! I hope we can all see the truth of this:

How much better to get wisdom than gold, to get insight rather than silver!

Proverbs 16:16

I encouraged my Growth Group to write down an area of life they would like to be wiser in, to grow in insight and understanding of throughout this series. It was fascinating to hear people’s goals and we all agreed that all of us have room to grow in wisdom.

Through the stages of life, I have often thought I would get to wisdom eventually – but I have discovered I need increasing and new wisdom at each stage! In the end, what I really need is more of the mind of Christ who is ultimately the power of God and wisdom of God.

Why don’t you write down how you would like to grow in wisdom through this series. Don’t be surprised however, if you are challenged in ways you least expected and in areas you thought you needed no work. You have the opportunity this term to make significant changes to your life. But will you?

ANZAC Day – A Sacrifice Worth Remembering

Dear Friends,

A few years ago I heard a friend speak about ANZAC Day surprisingly. He spoke of the way that from the 1950s-1970s barely a soul celebrated the Day and that the hills around Gallipoli were almost always empty of people. He explained that the French lost four times as many soldiers as we did and that the Turks see their victory in 1915 as the successful defence of Islam. But he spoke of more than facts – he called for a deeper analysis of why the ANZAC legend has become so important to Australians.

His contention was that since rejecting Christianity, Australia has been a nation in search of a faith and a story that explains us. One that explains where we came from, who we are and how to live, that gives us a sense of unity and cohesion – a national identity – and that gives us a faith that we can turn to and believe in and use to find strength and courage in times of need. A story that gives us back God or gods who are like us – but are greater than us – and about whom we can only speak of in hushed voices of deep respect and sombre reverence.

The thinking is compelling. Australia emerged from the freewheeling 70s looking for something to hold onto (having excluded the possibility of Jesus) and we found ANZAC. And woe betide anyone who takes the name ANZAC in vain as Woolworths discovered last year!

We have fashioned ANZAC into an idol and a myth that gives Australian life meaning.

None of this takes away from the courageous efforts of our family and friends who served and self-sacrificed for our country at Gallipoli or anywhere else. Rather, identifying this reality, turns ANZAC Day into a moment when you can point people to the Cross.

But not just to a man who gave his life that his countrymen may be free. But a man who gave his life that his enemies might be free. A man who gave his life – and won a great victory – without raising a hand in anger. Indeed, by raising his arms in glad surrender. For the only blood shed that day on the hill of Golgotha was his own.

Most of us will have a day of rest on Monday in recognition of sacrifice. How will you use the day to help those around recognise the greater sacrifice of Jesus?

A Moment for Pause

Dear Friends,

 Earlier this week I stood with friends in the fading light on Windang Beach, fishing. Gusts of wind and the clatter of waves created a stage for the wondrous salty, fishy smell that filled the air. Nylon lines were slack in the waves, occasionally tensing for a fish or shark; but there was little disappointment as this was a moment for pause.

As I absorbed the misformed clouds, my mind wandered to thankfulness, questions and concerns about our church, where we are heading and how we are going to get there.

The enormity of the sky pointed me to the reality that God has got it all in hand and I recalled that this has been one of the big lessons from our study of Acts. God has got this! Do you remember the mission Paul wanted to be on, the one the Holy Spirit stopped him from being on? God’s plans never fail.

I pondered 8am at St Peter’s. Why have we had a reduction in numbers – perhaps 20%. Yes, many are unwell and some have gone to meet Jesus but is there something more, something we are missing?

I gave thanks for St Andrew’s at 9.30am, for the vibrant caring congregation that meets there but wondered what else should be done. We have many contacts but few appear willing or able to connect.

I smiled at the chaos that is often 10am at St Peter’s. Sometimes 100 people arrive during the first song and watching parents work out seating with children can be stressful. Even just identifying who is new is sometimes troubling, but always delightful.

I prayed for the Indigenous Church, thankful for the recognition of our partnership in the plaque that will be permanently affixed to the church soon. An increasing number of people gather on a Sunday and through the week to read the Bible and pray to the God who loves people from every tribe and nation, language and tongue. What a joy!

I felt pensive about 6pm at St Peter’s. It’s the most diverse of our gatherings and has within it the most spiritually vulnerable of our people – 16 to 26 year olds. They need deep gospel foundations that will serve them for all of life – are we doing enough to help create those?

Why don’t you take a moment for pause. It needn’t be while fishing. What are your reflections on the year so far? I’d love to hear them.

Thanks for your partnership,

Nigel

Parish Council

 

Dear Friends,

Our Annual General Meetings have now been held and the following people have been elected and appointed to positions within the church:

St Andrew’s Wardens: Chris Main, Robert Palmer, Margaret Hiron

St Peter’s Wardens: Derek Poole, Michael Douglas, Barrie Atkins

Parish Council: Alanna O’Brien, Arya Darmaputra, Lindsay Schroder, Kevin Hines, Jon Ponsonby, Kylie Williamson, Jason Manning, Sharon Richards.

Parish Nominators: Sarah Manning, Derek Poole, Nicole Schroder, Barrie Atkins, Alanna O’Brien.

Please pray that all these people would serve with wisdom and grace for the Glory of God.

But please don’t stop there. The life of our church is not determined by any one group of people – not even the ministry staff. The life of our church is under the headship of Christ and the guidance of leaders but involves everyone for we are one body. We all have gifts for serving and we all have minds that God has given us to be creative and thoughtful. Remember the encouragement of Ephesians 4:16: “From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”

Your part in the work involves prayer and support but also contribution and thought. Parish Council love to hear suggestions, ideas, concerns and comments on the ministry work they are facilitating. Please don’t sit back and think someone else will see, say or think something. Speak to one of them or to me.

There is lots going on at the moment with new ministries launching and various events taking place. The core of what we do however is our weekly Growth Groups and if you are yet to join one, now is a good time as most take a short break right now and will restart in a few weeks with new study material to work on. Join one today by using the Next Steps Card or speaking to a member of staff or inviting yourself to someone’s group. Just go for it.

In Christ

Nigel

Communication and Connection

Dear Friends,

One of the things we want to ensure is that communication between us as a church is clear and efficient! We dearly want every member of our church to know what is going on in church. We also want every member of our church to be sure that the staff and pastoral team know what going is on for you so we can pray and care.

There are many ways communication happens.

First is the newsletter – this newsletter. Each week it contains information about the who, what where and why of church. I want to encourage you to read it each week! It is emailed and copies are available in church. If you don’t get emails from us, let us know after you check your spam folder.

Second is the Next Steps Card available in church. Our staff and pastoral teams simply cannot have a conversation with everyone every Sunday – but we want to know what is going on, what you need, help you’d like, your news etc… Please fill in the connection card every week and place it in the offertory in your service. It is of very great help to hear from you!

Third is email. Every week we send out at least one email with news and reminders from church. If you do not receive email from the church office, please email us and we will get you on the list:  office@campbelltownanglican.org. You can also email us questions, requests, news or suggestions!

Fourth is the website. The website has information, registration forms, sermons and a host of other things that will be helpful for you to know. Make sure you visit about once a week to catch up on things that are happening.

Fifth, for some particular ministries there are blogs. The Growth Group leaders have a blog that they receive help for weekly groups on in the way of ideas on the passage and ideas for running groups well. Ask them about it!

Sixth is social media. We use Facebook, Twitter and Instagram regularly to pass on prayer points, news and special requests. People of all ages are on each of these communication channels and if you are not connected yet, please search for Campbelltown Anglican Churches and join us!

Finally, you can ring and make a time to meet with a member of staff. We are in and out of the office most days but we always have time in a week to meet and talk. Just give us a call.

Communication is vital to good understanding and care.

Thanks

Nigel

No Small Thing

I am sorry if we haven’t explained Jesus death on the cross clearly enough. It is no small thing.

Christians everywhere know that without Jesus death on the cross we would all be done for.

Christians everywhere know that because of Jesus death on the cross we are forgiven.

Not because of our works.

Not because of being good.

Not because of going to church.

Not because of baptism.

Not because of giving to charity.

Not because of our families.

Not because of swearing a little less than the next guy.

Christians are unrighteous like everyone else.

But at the cross, Jesus died for me and for you. He took my sin and the penalty I deserved for not living God’s way, for committing wrong against God and other people; Jesus took that and made it his own and he was punished there at the cross for me. Instead of me. Because of men. In my place. As my substitute. Jesus paid the price of himself for me. Jesus died for me.

And Jesus died for you.

The cross is no small thing.

It is how God takes sinners like me and forgives me, makes me perfect and invites me into relationship with him now and in heaven forever.

I am deeply sorry if you have never understood this until now.

As Christ hung there upon the cross, he saved us from certain eternal death. He gave me what I could never have.

And he offers this exact same thing to you right now.

To anyone and everyone.

No matter what you have done, no matter what you have become, God has an invitation for you.

Come to Jesus, for his death at the cross was for you too.

Friends, there is a King on a cross, because God wants to draw you into a relationship with him. The death of this King is the very foundation-stone of the Christianity. Christ’s cross is our ticket to heaven. It is true that we have all done wrong – but it is equally true that our King has taken that wrong for us and died because of it on the cross. It is true that we deserve that death he suffered – but Jesus has died on our behalf. It is true that none of us is good enough to get into heaven – but that’s OK because the door does not open for the good, but for the forgiven.

Retreating for Relationship

Dear Friends,
We have almost come to the end of a most excellent week away with 37 of the more “Senior” members of our church. We have been on a harbour cruise around Eden, visited a local historic car club, wandered through Burnima, a classic Victorian homestead (think Downton Abbey) and visited the eccentric town of Tilba Tilba. And that’s not even scratching the surface.

But the week away is not really about visiting interesting and historic sites. It’s about relationships. I’ve loved watching people who did not previously know each other gather around the big square tables at breakfast and dinner to share stories and laugh. There is much to share of course, more than just the days activities. I’ve heard stories of moments when life has taken unusual turns. I’ve heard stories of the way Campbelltown used to be. I’ve heard stories of the history of our church and the comings and goings of clergy and people and buildings. Again, I feel like I have just scratched the surface with many but the time together and shared experiences create memories and future opportunities.

I’ve also loved our evening devotions where we have sought to reflect upon our relationship with God and the way we pray. We’ve thought about praying repentantly, praising God, interceding for others and trusting God as we pray. Each day we had the opportunity to reflect together on one of the prayers from the Bible and to write or pray our own prayers in response. It has been great to hear from people about the desire they have to make their prayer life fuller and more robust as they pray to our great God.

Time with other people, getting to know them, encouraging them and learning together with them, is an essential part of the Christian life. It is what Paul instructs us to do:

“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” Colossians 3:16

You don’t need to go on a Seniors Retreat to do that. You can do it around the dinner table with family. You can do it by inviting others to a meal at your house. You can do that in your Growth Group. Go for it!

Our next Seniors Retreat will be 2018. If I was you, I wouldn’t miss it!

Prince of Life, Man of Sorrows

What does it look like to triumph at life?

I walked past a three storey house on Sydney Harbour last Friday with a view to the harbour bridge and a Lamborghini in the garage. Are they triumphing at life?

I walked past a family a four swimming at the beach, enjoying the sun, laughing together and munching on some healthy sandwiches. Are they triumphing at life?

I walked past an old man, smiling as the sun rose over Bondi, enjoying his coffee, sitting alone. Is he triumphing at life?

What would triumphing in life look like for you?

Paul explains in Colossians 2 that Jesus triumphed at the cross!

“When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”

For Jesus, triumph in life came through his submission to the will of God, his subsequent suffering on the cross for us and work of defeating the enemy of his friends through that same death.

Triumph came not through gaining what life has to offer but by providing life to the full to those who would trust in him.

Easter is a celebration of this triumph. That at the cross, Jesus bore our sins in his body that we might die to sin and live for righteousness; that we might give away the pursuit of things in this life and look ahead to the things of the next life.

There is so much that can disappoint in this life. There is nothing that will disappoint about the next if you trust in Jesus. Moreover, triumphing without Jesus in this life excludes you from triumphing with Jesus in the next.

Easter is the best time of the year to invite friends to hear this message. Who are you praying might come to know Jesus and join our fellowship in the next 5 years? Would that person be ready for an invite?

Annual General Meetings        

Dear Friends,

The Annual General Meetings for our Church will be held on the Sunday’s either side of Easter.

  • St Andrew’s AGM – after church on Sunday 20th March.
  • St Peter’s AGM – at 12.30pm on Sunday 3rd April.
  • Combined AGM – no earlier than 1.30pm on Sunday 3rd April.

At the AGM we will elect people for the office of Parish Council (St Peter’s AGM), Warden (St Andrew’s & St Peter’s) and Nominators (Combined AGM).

Wardens are actively involved in ensuring the proper management of property and finances on at least a weekly basis. They also assist in managing ministry and staff. We will elect two wardens for St Peter’s and two for St Andrew’s. Nominations are open now and should be in writing via letter or email to me.

Parish Council make decisions on how money and property should be spent and used in light of the church strategic plan. They also assist the minister and staff in directing the ministry.  We will elect a Parish Council of 3, 6 or 9 people. Nominations are open now and should be in writing via letter or email to me.

Parish Nominators are the people who select a new Senior Minister for the Parish if the current one leaves. We will elect 5 Parish Nominators. Nominations are open now and should be in writing via letter or email to me.

I ask you to pray that God will continue to raise up Gospel hearted people to serve us.

But the most important thing we will do at this year’s AGMs will be to think about our Strategic Plan that flows from our Vision Statement. Last year we all participated in the M20 Survey that took the temperature of our church on four significant issues: Mission, Maturity, Ministry and Diversity.

I have attached the results to this week’s newsletter because I would love you all to look through them and come prepared to the meetings ready to discuss ideas that flow from the data.

What does it tell you? What should we work on? What concerns you? What excites you? What ideas do you have to improve weak areas? What should be our focus over the next 12 months?

Spend some time reading and thinking and praying, write some observations and questions and come ready for a discussion.

I’m excited about all God is doing among us and hope you are too.

In Christ,

Nigel

Ministry Thinking

Dear Friends,

The “M” I am taking responsibility for at church is MINISTRY – God has saved us to serve. We have not been captured up into the church of God by the blood of Christ to watch others use their gifts but to use the gifts God has give us to serve him. In the church, no one is left on the bleachers!

I have been reading a few books to get some fresh ideas and in one of them, it is suggested that there are four types of people in churches when it comes to ministry and serving…

1. “On the fence, thinking it over” People – You’ve see the opportunities, you know the need but you’re not quite sure they are for you. You worry about whether you really have the skills, time or passion required. You’re not doing anything but want to.

2. “Let me at me, I can’t wait to start” People – You’ve seen others involved and excited about their serving opportunities and you know you are going to love it. You can’t wait for the next opportunity to start doing something.

3. “I haven’t found the right fit, maybe they don’t need me” People – You have tried different things but nothing seems to fit. You may have even put your name on a list and not been called. You want to serve somewhere but feel like there may not be a place for you.

4. “Veteran Serving” People – You have been serving and you love it – there are moments of exhaustion but you feel involved and engaged in Jesus’ work at church and are thankful for the opportunities you have.

 I want to suggest that there can also be a fifth type of person….

5. “Can I stop now” People – You have been serving but you don’t have the energy to keep going or you know your skills are tiring or you have been a square peg in a round hole serving opportunity. You worry that if you stop there may be no one to start.

 I’d love to have a conversation with you about where you see yourself and how we can help you in your love and service of Jesus. Catch me after church or call me and let’s arrange time to talk and see what God has equipped you for in 2016.

Thanks for your partnership in Christ

Nigel