Our family has been in Perth for just over a month this week and we are still finding our feet. We have had a wonderful time getting to know people, the playgrounds, the seaside and Swan River. I want to share some things that I’ve been impressed with and for which I give thanks to God.
You may remember that my very first word to you, from Colossians 4:2-4, was to ask you to pray, for an ‘open door’ and a ‘clear message’. I have been so encouraged by the weekly prayer meetings at church (Tues – Thurs, 9am). When Malcolm mentioned these meetings to me, it was another sign that St Philips was the right place for me to serve.
When Charles Spurgeon, the ‘Prince of Preachers’, was invited to be the pastor of a new church, he wrote to the elders:
“One thing is due…namely, that in private as well as in public, [the people] must all wrestle in prayer…that I may be sustained in the great work.” When he was asked the secret of his influential ministry, he frequently responded,
“My people pray for me.”
In a letter to one of his friends, John Newton (author of Amazing Grace), wrote:
“I trust I have remembrance in your prayers. I need them much: my service is great…A cold, corrupt heart is uncomfortable company in the pulpit. Yet, in the midst of all my fears and unworthiness, I am enabled…to rely on the power of the great Redeemer.”
Wednesday’s prayer time was wonderful, beginning with a psalm and continuing with prayer as the Spirit led. I’m so very grateful for these prayer times.
A couple of weeks ago at the 9:30 service, as the final song came to a close, our singing spilled over spontaneously into applause. There was nothing contrived, forced or fake – just an overflow of joy and praise, or so it seemed. We are encouraged thus in the psalms:
Clap your hands, all you peoples; shout with loud songs of joy (Psalm 47:1).
Sing to him a new song; play skilfully on the strings, with loud shouts (Psalm 33:3).
A few days later I read this quote from Francis Schaeffer, an influential Christian thinker who worked a lot with young people:
“If the church is what it should be, young people will be there. But they will not just ‘be there’ – they will be there with the blowing of horns and the clashing of high-sounding cymbals, and they will come dancing with flowers in their hair.”
I hope that doesn’t sound too raucous to you! It’s not what I’m advocating for anyway; I just give thanks for the freedom in Jesus that this kind of display represents. Speaking of which, I highly recommend the latest episode of Australian Story (ABC), about a retired pastor (Morris Stuart) who took a gospel choir from Central Australia to Germany.