Aug 202017

The famous preacher and theologian Don Carson has been in Perth this week and on Tuesday night, along with more than 1000 other people, I heard him speak.  I know some others from our community have also had the opportunity to hear him at one or more of the events he’s spoken at during the week.

On Tuesday night, he started his talk with a cheery statement: “If you live long enough, you’ll get kicked in the teeth.”  He then proceeded to open up Psalm 40 with us, sharing openly from experiences in his own and others’ lives as he did.  He explained that Psalm 40 has two main ideas: David’s joyful praise to God who saves him from the “mud and mire” and a recognition that deliverance from the difficulties doesn’t always happen, and a cry to God for help in those times.

As Don spoke to us about this Psalm, I pondered a few things.

I pondered whether those of us who have experienced God’s deliverance give testimony to that; also, how and when we do it.  One of Don’s statements struck me: “Witnessing to the goodness of God is normal Christianity.  Anything less is sub-normal.”  Are our lives marked by speaking of the goodness of God, or more marked by speaking of the daily (and often very real) struggles of life?  I’m not in any way questioning the importance of sharing the realities of our lives with others; rather, I am wondering whether we ensure that we turn our eyes to God in that.  Yep, “Where’s our focus?” (for those who heard my sermon last week); and whether we witness to the daily reality of God’s goodness in our lives. Of course, this has more power as it’s connected to the very real issues in our lives.  As Don commented, “The testimony of a life that has suffered is often more powerful than cerebral answers.”  I wouldn’t be our Families Minister if my ears didn’t prick up at Don speaking about how that’s not important just because it’s honouring to God but also because it’s vital for forming the next generation in faith.

Giving testimony to the goodness of God and telling of seeking his help in the daily realities of life forms all of the people we are around, not least those children and young people in our lives.  Often we thank God and seek his help privately, which is great.  But how much more are we forming each other when we reveal to each other the need for God in our lives and how we have experienced his goodness.  This week I heard someone who is in significant physical pain speak of how helpful it was to hear another one of our community share what a difference it makes to them when they give praise to God in the midst of their pain.  That was a great example of how the testimony of one person in the midst of the very real struggles of their life can encourage and strengthen another in faith.

I’ve been challenged now to witness more often to the goodness of God in my life.  I wonder where you might have the opportunity to do that this week.  As well, I’m excited by the potential impact – on each other, our children and the world around us – of us all living more fully in this way that is “normal Christianity”.




Aug 132017

It was fantastic to be away last weekend with a group of women from our church – a rich weekend of connection with each other and with God in a gorgeous location.  At one point over the weekend I was struck by how unique it is for that type of cross section of ages to be comfortably together – it’s pretty rare in our society these days.  I was also struck by the desire of the group of women who [continue reading…]

Jul 302017

We’ve had a couple of great weeks of prayer ministry training.  Thanks to Trevor and Liz Parry who have run these times and led the Prayer Ministry team so faithfully.  It’s also been great to see the sense of engagement and momentum at both of these gatherings.  God’s doing something in our midst . . . and it is good! At the first one, we explored what Prayer Ministry looks like at St Philip’s, some of the principles involved and [continue reading…]

Jun 252017

It’s so good to be part of a community that actively values people of all ages.  It’s precious and rare in our society today – even in the church.  It takes effort and intentionality and it goes against the grain of the norms of our society.  Thanks for the part that you play in making St Philips this kind of church community. More than just valuing people of all ages, we want to see people of all ages coming to [continue reading…]

May 282017 Play in new window | Download (Duration: 21:05 — 7.2MB)Subscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS | Why not subscribe?Readings: Proverbs 4:20-27 James 3:1-12

Apr 232017

Recently I listened to the book Grit by Angela Duckworth.  It’s well worth a read.  She (and others) have concluded that ‘grit’ comes about through a combination of passion and perseverance.  As I listened, I pondered the relationship between this and our walk with Jesus as disciples. I reckon the Bible lines up with these ideas in lots of ways.  We are called to be passionate about Jesus and to embrace His rule and reign.  Jesus calls us to love [continue reading…]