Sunday morning encouragement

With thanks to Rob Smith and St. Andrew’s Cathedral.

The Importance of Children’s and Youth Ministry

“It is no surprise to ACR readers that Australia is radically and rapidly changing as a nation.

Whether or not it is accurate to describe the initial colonies or federated states as a “Christian” nation, it is abundantly clear that as we enter the third decade of the 21st Century, Australia is increasingly a post–Christian and post–church society.

In 2017 45% of Australians identified as Christian and 25% of Australians were de­scribed as ‘cold’ towards Christianity. Only 15% stated that they attend church monthly or more.

As confessional Anglicans, we are not specifically concerned with Australia being a culturally Christian nation. However, we are passionate about Christ and his Kingdom. We are passionate about making disciples of all nations by evan­gelising the lost and discipling the saints …”

– At The Australian Church Record, Tim Beilharz writes to encourage clarity on Children’s and Youth Ministry.

Sunday morning encouragement

With thanks to Emu Music.

A regular diet of Scripture

“Although it shouldn’t surprise us, hearing the word of God regularly can be surprisingly helpful as we navigate life, mid-2021 included. The frustration of another lockdown, separation from loved ones, the monotonous grind of working life, the fracturing of relationships, the sluggishness and mediocrity we feel as we struggle through online work, online school and online church – there is so much in life that can bring us down and take us away from the wonder, awe and majesty of knowing our great God and Saviour. …”

Here’s some encouragement from Ben George at The Australian Church Record.

Sunday morning encouragement

With thanks to Emu Music.

Faith vs Reason

“A lot of people assume that faith and reason are irrevocably opposed. Reason is seen as the ability to think, understand and form conclusions logically. Faith is seen as belief in things based on conviction rather than proof. So, we find people very nervous of the merits of either faith or reason. …”

– In the latest (July 2021) Ministry Matters from the Church of Confessing Anglicans Aotearoa New Zealand, Bishop Jay Behan writes about the relationship between Faith and Reason.

Also in this edition, there’s encouraging news from South Auckland, “Gifts from God – the Formation of South Auckland Anglican Mission”, and “The Call to New Zealand” from Mike & Maddy Turner waiting to go to West Hamilton Community Church.

Fuel for your prayers.

GAFCON Chairman’s Pastoral Letter July 2021

“Every day we are challenged with troubling news from around the world. Of late, there is a further complication from the global pandemic. There is a mutation to COVID-19 called “Variation D.” In addition, some regions are having a much higher mortality rate than others.

Archbishop Laurent Mbanda has shared that a rise in cases has led to a new lockdown in Rwanda. Western Kenya and parts of Uganda are also being hit very hard. Archbishop Stephen Kaziimba reports that Uganda is in the midst of a 42-day total lockdown. …”

– GAFCON Primates Council Chairman Archbishop Foley Beach shares his pastoral letter to members of the GAFCON family for July 2021.

Encouragement from the Archbishop

Archbishop Kanishka Raffel has recorded this message of encouragement for churches.

via SydneyAnglicans.net

Engaging with the Media — A worthwhile endeavour

Recently I decided to enter the fray of letter writing.

It was in response to a piece written by Nikki Gemmell, published in The Weekend Australian, “Why the Anglican church must evolve or die”. (Sorry – link is via subscription)

The thrust of her article was aimed at the Anglican Archbishop of the Sydney Diocese of the time, Glenn Davies (and Anglicans like him), who believe what the Bible and the Lord Jesus teaches about marriage – that it is between a man and a woman. However, according to Gemmell, the church needs to become like the world if it wants to survive and thrive; specifically, it needs to get on board with the pansexual zeitgeist of the modern western age.

Gemmell writes:

“the majority of Australians do support same-sex marriage. It feels like the archbishop is damaging his church and Jesus’s teachings of tolerance, gentleness and inclusivity.”

“The church has been on the wrong side of public opinion recently on abortion as well as same-sex marriage. It’s slowly killing itself by refusing to open its heart to others.”

So in response to her article, I wrote the following:

Ms Gemmell in her article “Archbishop You have Lost me”writes, “the Bible as we know is open to interpretation – pick and choose at your will”.

To read the Bible in this way is to make the reader the author. There is a significant difference between interpreting the Bible and understanding the Bible.

Understanding the Bible requires a person to listen to what God has said and submit to His authority. When we seek to understand, understanding submits our reason, tradition and contemporary circumstances to God’s Word. When we seek to interpret, interpreting submits God’s word to our reason, traditions and contemporary circumstances. Archbishop Davies is simply issuing a clarion call to fellow Anglican Bishops to do the former instead of the latter, which is what they promised at their ordination.  

It does not matter if the church is on the wrong side of public opinion. If there had been opinion polls in Jesus’ day, the results would have been disastrous. People wanted him dead the moment he was born, he was accused of being a blasphemer, demonic, promoting sin, a law-breaker. Jesus said things that made people hate him, made people want to kill him, made followers leave him, and compelled close friends to deny and betray him, and he was crucified on a Roman Cross.

The Lord Jesus also said that to his followers

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (John 15:18-19)

The message of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ will never be cool or popular to our world, the Lord Jesus was none of those things.  If the church did what Ms Gemmell suggested, and mirrored the world, the church would be indistinguishable from the world and in essence have nothing to offer.

Although only what is underlined above made it to print, it made it to print.

Thus to have the Christian world view published in a culture that increasingly cares nothing for such a world-view I hope serves as encouragement to more of God’s people that engaging with the secular media is still a worthwhile endeavour.

– Joshua Bovis is the Vicar of St John The Evangelist in Tamworth.

Rico Tice on Luke 19:1-10

Rico Tice at All Soul’s Langham Place preached on Jesus and Zacchaeus from Luke 19:1-10 on the first day of the Evangelical Ministry Assembly 2021 in London.

Watch here. A great encouragement in so many ways, and well worth sharing.

(Link updated to reflect the edited video uploaded.)

The Great Rescue

“26th May was the anniversary of perhaps one of the greatest rescues of all time.

World War had broken out in September 1939. Into 1940, the Nazi German army was surging across Western Europe with lightning speed and force.

As the month of May progressed over 300,000 troops from the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) along with Belgian, Canadian, and French soldiers, were trapped and encircled at the beach of Dunkirk in France.

A terrible disaster seemed inevitable. …”

– At SydneyAnglicans.net, John Lavender has some godly encouragement for you. (Also published in the June 2021 issue of Southern Cross.)

The Word of God — the Bible!

“Central to our Christian faith is our conviction that the Bible is God’s book, the book through which He reveals Himself, His will and purpose.

The very first clause in the ordination vows of Elders and Minsters relates to the ordinand’s conviction about the Bible.

The most important reading in any class preparing people to preach is to read what the Systematic tomes teach about the doctrine of revelation.

Preachers need to understand the nature of the book they are to spend a lifetime preaching, so whether it be Robert Reymond or Wayne Grudem or Kevin DeYoung, the preacher in training needs to understand the inspiration, authority, reliability and sufficiency of God’s Word, the Bible. It is a constant battle keeping the Bible, and therefore God, central in our ministry and lives. We may be losing the battle!

I have noticed three unhealthy trends. …”

Encouragement from David Cook.

Ordinary Time

Ordinary:

adjective
with no special or distinctive features; normal; ”he sets out to depict ordinary people”.

Similar: usual, normal, standard, typical, stock, common, customary, habitual, accustomed, everyday, regular, routine.

example of usage:
not interesting or exceptional; commonplace.”he seemed very ordinary”

noun
what is commonplace or standard; ”their clichés were vested with enough emotion to elevate them above the ordinary”



I don’t know how may parishes in my beloved Armidale diocese observe the Church Calendar and so I know even less if there are parishes in the Sydney diocese that observe it, (my guess is about ten?). But for those of you who have a vague curiosity about it or foggy recollection of it, we are once again about to enter in what the church calendar refers to as
Ordinary Time.

Taken as a unit, the season of Ordinary Time is the longest season of the liturgical year and is composed of 33 or 34 weeks (June to November).

Although it is long, and the liturgical colour is green (which I do not see the same way as everyone else thanks to being colour blind), it is far from ordinary, for it is the time where we strive to growing together as the Body of Christ and His witnesses in the world, to grow in our Love for God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

The means to our growth is being grounded in the Word of God, being people of prayer, being nourished spiritually by the sacraments and being encouraged and encouraging each other.

So if you are one of those Anglican Christians who observes the church calendar, how are you going to spend the time, the ‘ordinary time’?

Here are some tips:

1. Remember that you follow the risen and ascended Lord of the Universe, the Lord Jesus! Who ascended into Heaven, not to rest, not to relax but to reign!

2. Be consistent in your time with God. This is why I find the Daily Office such a helpful thing. It gives me the rhythm and routine that I am made for and at the same time makes prayer and the word part of that rhythm and routine. (The Daily Office), is to put it simply, a time during the day where Christians prayer and read the Bible. It is based on the ancient practice of prescribed daily times of prayer.  Although the Prayer Book is not in vogue or used by most parishes, the Prayer book has a daily service in the morning and evening for this very purpose. Anglican theological and author, the late  J.I. Packer says, “None of us will! ever find a better pattern for private prayer and Bible-reading anywhere than that offered by the Prayer Book’s own daily offices.”

3. Be committed to your church. Although since the Covid lockdown opportunities for online church are so much more readily available, there is no substitute for face to face fellowship and physical corporate worship. It is also easier than ever to have a laissez-fair attitude to church, since we can attend anywhere at anytime, with no checks.

4. Be open and honest with God about your sin. Do we have the determination to see ourselves before God as we are, without excuse. We must face “the things what we have done and the things that we have left undone.” How am I participating in the systems of the world and the flesh? In what ways have I given the devil place in my decisions? 

5. Get practical with your faith  None of us can expect to follow the Lord Jesus and simply have our own comforts baptised. Sacrifice has to cut deep. The Lord Jesus calls us all to radical discipleship and it is costly.  It costs to be an agent of the Kingdom in this world. Where are we letting go of the riches we cling to in order to use our time, energy, and resources to serve, the body of Christ and also to help those in need?

6. Be a contagious Christian The Christian faith is contagious, it is to be shared and spread. Pray that God will grant you boldness and opportunities to introduce people to the Lord Jesus. I am praying that this time will open people’s eyes to the folly of the cultural idols that are in our lives and will be receptive to the Lord Jesus and the abundant life he offers.

We may be in ordinary time, but following the Lord Jesus is far from ordinary!

– Joshua Bovis is the Vicar of St John The Evangelist in Tamworth.

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