Keep contending!

“I’ve recently had my 5-year health check, and am waiting for a letter from the NHS promising all sorts of details: blood pressure, pulse rate, cholesterol level and so on. Who knows what it might say!

But as someone who loves eggs, chocolate and cheese, the temptation when it arrives will be to either not read, or totally ignore, the cholesterol part because I don’t want to be told to cut down on foods I like. In actual fact, of course, I shall not only read the whole thing but do that in company with Katie my wife, because I believe doctors know what they’re talking about, and I would need accountability and help with any parts of the letter requiring challenging changes.

Many of us know this same temptation with Scripture. …

This is why I found Lee Gatiss’s ‘Fight Valiantly’ so helpful. He examines all of God’s commands relating to contending, and thereby protects me from simply pursuing what is instinctive …”

– At Church Society’s blog, Andrew Towner commends the new expanded edition of Fight Valiantly.

The post includes a link to a free PDF of Chapter 8.

Getting the time right

“It’s awful when you get the time wrong. Missing a meeting, a party, a flight. I’ve done all those things at various points and it’s not a nice feeling!

It’s important to get the time right. There’s no point applying for a position which has already been filled, or waiting for a bus which has already gone.

But imagine getting the time wrong, not just for little things like that, but for your lifetime: living one’s whole life prioritising one thing, when actually the purpose of that lifetime was something else entirely. It is something which is very possible to do and many, many people have done it. …”

– Annabel Nixey writes at The Australian Church Record.

Are You Listening to Yourself?

“A verse that encourages me greatly, in preaching, is Jesus’ words in John 10:27:

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.

When we communicate God’s word, it gathers the sheep, the sheep come to listen, they recognise Jesus voice.

Its encouraging, because God’s truth attracts God’s people, so when I am discouraged by small numbers, this verse reminds me – God’s people listen to God’s voice, and want to hear Him speak to them through His word, and faithful preaching. …”

– At The Expository Preaching Trust, Jim Mobbs encourages preachers to listen to their own sermons.

Picture: Detail from “The Evangelist”, a painting of Arthur Stace preaching in the open air, by artist David Lever.

The promise of life — some thoughts on 2 Timothy

“What is the primary role of the Christian pastor?

The question might yield a variety of different responses today. For the definitive answer, however, we need look no further than 2 Timothy.

As Paul sends final instructions to his ‘child’, his own execution imminent, priorities are set forth with unequivocal lucidity.”

St. Helen’s Bishopsgate has published the latest audio reflection on 2 Timothy by Dick Lucas. An encouragement for pastors as well as members of churches. 14 minutes.

(Dick turned 98 last month. Do give thanks for him and pray for him in his continuing ministry of gospel encouragement.)

Related – from ten years ago:

Judgement, Salvation & the Living and the Dead – Dick Lucas Sermon Jam

Church Society Editorial: Good Lord!

“There’s been a lot of talk about the doctrine of the Church of England of late. The doctrine of the Church of England is clearly stated in Canon Law. Canon A5 says:

“The doctrine of the Church of England is grounded in the Holy Scriptures, and in such teachings of the ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church as are agreeable to the said Scriptures.

In particular such doctrine is to be found in the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, The Book of Common Prayer, and the Ordinal.”

I have devoted my life and ministry to these things. …”

– In this important editorial, Church Society’s Director, the Rev Dr Lee Gatiss, wonders what we can do when we are exasperated by bishops and the direction of the Church of England.

He goes on to say this about ‘canonical obedience’ to bishops –

“if bishops now require obedience or acquiescence in something neither lawful nor honest, and against the plain and public definition of Anglican doctrine, it is clearly not just a matter of conscience but my duty to the truth to say no. They should expect resistance.

(Emphasis added.)

Bishop of Bathurst’s latest newsletter – Synod 2023

Bishop of Bathurst Mark Calder has released his post-Synod newsletter.

Download it for your encouragement and for your prayers. (PDF file.)

Included in the prayer requests:

Parishes without clergy – Dubbo, Cudgegong Valley, Kelso, Narromine, Gilgandra, Coolah-Dunedoo, Condobolin, Trundle, Coonamble, Warren, Bourke-Brewarrina, Cumnock and Warren.

Please pray that the Lord would raise up 13 godly, able and passionate men or women to serve in ALL of these parishes, to his great glory!

Bishop of Bathurst’s Synod Presidential Address 2023

Bishop of Bathurst Mark Calder gave his Presidential Address to the Synod of the diocese this morning.

Video of the address is now available here.

There’s been a lot happening in the diocese. Bishop Calder spoke about:

Included were these remarks about assistance from Sydney –

“Last synod I was able to report that following my presentation and our video of thanks, Sydney synod agreed to renew their initial support of $250,000 a year for six years, for a further six years. This is extraordinary. Given the long history of suspicion between our dioceses, we don’t deserve such generosity. But that is the nature of grace – it is undeserved. Thanks be to God for the humility of Bishop Palmer, and the vision and generosity of Archbishop Davies along with the help of Bishop Stead for opening up this possibility. Bishop Stead and Archbishop Raffel have both been extremely helpful in encouraging and facilitating the extension of the gift.

This gift supports the bishop and the registrar and were it not for Sydney’s generosity, our parish assessments would need to be 20% of income, not 10%. Perhaps we’ll find one day, a way to appropriately express our thanks to Sydney Diocese. I am quite sure that old suspicions and criticisms are melting into the background.”

He also speaks about extraordinary support from the Bush Church Aid Society and from partner churches and individuals far and wide.

The full address is not too long to read and is most encouraging. Download it as a PDF file here or watch the video.

2023 ACL Synod Dinner Address — Archdeacon Simon Flinders on The Importance of the Local Church

Archdeacon Simon Flinders gave the address at tonight’s ACL Synod Dinner in Sydney.

His topic? The Importance of the Local Church.

Take the time to listen to his most encouraging address:

 

or download the audio by right-clicking here.

The transcript is available as a PDF file.

This would be great to share with members of your church.

Related:

The Robinson-Knox view of Church — Interview with Chase Kuhn.

Children of believers belong to God’s family

May our children never know a day apart from the saving grace of Jesus.

I work as a chaplain at a theological college, and I have the joy of hearing dozens of testimonies. One of the things I’ve found really encouraging is hearing the stories of how the students came to faith.

I grew up in a non-Christian family, but the majority of the students have come from believing homes. Most of them can’t pinpoint an exact day, or even a year, when they turned to Christ. The students’ stories have highlighted to me the way that God has been pleased to use the consistent faithfulness of their parents to grow them up into their faith. It brings to mind the pattern Paul mentions in 2 Timothy …”

Jocelyn Loane shares encouragement for parents – at The Australian Church Record.

‘The peace we often forfeit’ — Encouragement from New Zealand to Pray

“Among the hymns that formed part of the background noise of my upbringing, one of my favourites was ‘What A Friend We Have In Jesus’.

Just look at the title – what message could be more uplifting for a child? The opening words ooze with warmth:

What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear.
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer.

But the second half of the opening stanza offers something of a sting in the tail:

Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer.

What seemed heart-warming to a child who could only absorb a title now strikes me as a rebuke whenever I sing it. I don’t know what was in Joseph Scriven’s mind as he wrote the poem that became this hymn (thanks, Wikipedia). But I wonder whether he was reflecting on James’ words: ‘You do not have, because you do not ask’ (Jas 4:2)…”

The latest edition (September 2023) of Ministry Matters from the Church of Confessing Anglicans Aotearoa New Zealand, is packed with encouragement to pray.

Do take the time to read, and then pray – including praying for Bishop Jay Behan and the churches of CCAANZ and the preaching of Christ in New Zealand.

Humility at the Heart of Mission

From Moore College’s Centre for Global Mission:

“What does it mean to ‘clothe yourself with humility’ in cross-cultural ministry and mission work

For most of the last 200 years of evangelical mission history, the gospel has been taken from wealthy and powerful countries to the majority world. Sometimes this missionary expansion has been marked by decidedly more pride than humility. This has disfigured the gospel and distorted expectations about what God promises his people. Humility must be at the heart of mission.

In this public event Dr Simon Gillham will be unpacking what the Bible says about the humility of the Lord Jesus and any who would serve in his name. We will also explore the particular relevance of humility as a virtue in cross-cultural engagement and Christian mission.”

Watch here.

Turning Biblical Convictions into Practical Expectations

“At the end of 2021, Suellen Milham was feeling unsettled. As the Women’s Ministry Worker at Orange Evangelical Church (OEC), there was a lot of change happening in her ministry space. The Covid years had meant she felt some disconnection with the women; there had been virtually no opportunities over the previous couple of years for large gatherings in the women’s ministry context; the church was just about to transition into their new building; and there were 3 new ministers on the staff team.

One of the tools that Suellen devised to tackle this unease was to hold a number of Women’s Focus Groups – just to see where the women were at, spiritually, and to pull women together after this period of disconnection. …”

– At Equal But Different, Lesley Ramsay shares a story of one church’s journey towards clarity.

Do not be afraid! — Encouragement from Archbishop Kanishka Raffel

Archbishop of Sydney Kanishka Raffel has recorded this message of encouragement for church members.

Watch here on Vimeo – or on YouTube.

Improving our church’s public Bible reading – with Simon Camilleri

At The Pastor’s Heart, Dominic Steel speaks with Simon Camilleri:

“We put lots of emphasis and training into becoming better teachers. But how can we improve the clarity, comprehension, conviction and confidence in public reading?

Bad public Bible reading is too soft, too fast, with mispronunciations, lack of preparation, bad pausing, emotionless, lacking understanding of the text, monotone and mono speed.

Good public Bible reading is faithful to text, without errors, understands context, has good eye contact, articulation, conviction, flow.”

Watch or listen here.

Very helpful – and ideal to share with Bible readers and others involved in public ministry.

Also see Simon’s website – publicbiblereading.com

Be careful how you build

Andrew Heard spoke from 1 Corinthians 3 at Moore College chapel yesterday on being careful how you build.

Most encouraging and challenging – for theological students and pastors in particular.

Watch here.

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