Aug 042019

By their fruit you will recognise them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? (Matthew 7:16 NIV)

Words are powerful (I remember so vividly a scornful comment from my Year 7 class teacher delivered 40 years ago.)  Daily we communicate words of life (blessings) or words that kill (curses) to others and ourselves. AND, words are cheap. They can’t stand alone – they scream hypocrisy when inconsistent with our actions. When they match, we see integrity. 

At my ministry workplace, Scripture Union (SU), we hold to the truth that real life transformation ONLY comes from Jesus, so we look for opportunities to ‘speak’ his gospel with our words AND actions. SU people are God’s people seeking to lovingly serve others –  particularly youth, children and their families – then watching as the Holy Spirit gives people faith in the power of God’s Rescue for them through Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension.

We are confident in God and in his love, and he often chooses to reach people through SU – whether on camps, at holiday (beach) missions or in schools. However, hoping that’s true isn’t enough; we need to ask participants in SU programs what the impact has been for them.

Malcolm asked me to share some stats from camper feedback on SU 2018 holiday camps:

  • 104 campers were interested in knowing more about Jesus;
  • 100 wanted to connect with a church or youth group;
  • 32 decided to follow Jesus;
  • ·53 wanted a Bible (and probably didn’t already have one).

83% of campers on SU programs also claim the camp experience moved them either closer or significantly closer to God. Now that is why we do camps! Real fruit.

To personalise it, a mum of a 15-year-old girl on CHIC camp in April wrote me this:

“Our words could never express the kindness and true love that has been shown to M by you, Jamie and Holly. I know M has felt the immense prayer and unconditional love over her life.”

I share this with you not to blow my, SU’s or anyone else’s trumpet, but to blow GOD’S trumpet! (and not in a Revelation kind of way). It is to HIM we owe all thanks and praise and glory.  His goodness and power have given us the most precious treasure to share.

I do want to mention some in our church family who have been pivotal SU workers and volunteers in years past. These people don’t look for honour and I usually only know about their SU work through others: Liz and Trevor Parry, Pam Kerruish, Jan Morgan, Rosalie and Lynn Wadley, Graham and Alison Dowling, Bevan and Tess Hill, John and Ellie Macpherson, as well as others I have forgotten or not yet heard about. Current SU staff and volunteers continue the gospel work of those who went before them, right back to our beginnings in 1867 – back to the first disciples, who passed on to us the words and the ways of life from the Living Word himself, Jesus. True fruit from the true Vine. Praise him from everlasting to everlasting!


Dec 032017

A couple of weeks ago there was a terrible accident where a distracted driver ploughed her car into a school building. Two 8-year-old boys were killed and others injured. As one little boy lay dying he said, “I want my Mum.”

When the crunch comes, we just want Mum – one who genuinely and deeply cares. For an 8-year-old, that’s often Mum. This sad story didn’t cause me to reflect on motherhood, as much as it triggered a pondering on how I pray, “I want you, Jesus.”

Do I? Do I want Jesus as desperately as that little boy wanted his Mum at that moment?

Honestly, often, no.

This is despite that I have clearly shown myself that doing life on my own doesn’t work well. Despite the reality that I too, like you,  am ‘dying’, and rational thought sees eternity is the main game and this earthly life is only a shadow, a sigh in time. Despite the overwhelming evidence that Jesus is who he said he is – the one holy God.

A couple of weeks ago I was caught up in the wave of hopelessness and grief which sometimes washes over me when I visit my dear close family member and notice her ongoing deterioration from dementia, and remember the vital, curious, engaging and engaged person she used to be.

At the beach soon after I cried out to God as I looked across the ocean. Other areas of grief flooded in as if to a spontaneous ‘grief party’ – a beautiful friend’s broken marriage, a teenager’s chronic pain, the suffering people of Yemen, Syria, etc. The wave was building into a tsunami! How do I hold all that pain, grief, disappointment? Help!! “I just want someone to partner with me in all this,” I pleaded to God, “someone to share this deep sadness, for whom it isn’t unknown or overwhelming.” His response came to me instantly:  “I will partner you.”

For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you [Isaiah 41:13].

In a few seconds everything looked different. Feelings of thankfulness and joy rose in me. Brighter, lighter, I jumped into the car. This is what repenting looked like for me that morning. Not a brow-beating self-loathing. I have done that too. It is obvious to me that I am sin-full. This was my response to a real call of God to turn back to him and to remember He is the one who saves. “I want you, Jesus.”

What does it look like when you repent? I’d love to have that chat with you. Language around repenting often pushes me into a defensiveness. Yes, I know; that too is my sin. But what does a winsome invitation to repent look like for you?

I suspect Jesus (on earth) invited those to repent who knew their brokenness well, with a softeness in his voice and compassion in his eyes. Deadly serious AND full of mercy.

Happy repenting to the one to whom we can safely say “I so need you.”






Feb 192017

It was a bit of a shock. . . to hear that really loving someone is excruciating.  But it made sense, because where does the word ‘excruciating’ come from?  The cross – the greatest symbol of love the world has ever seen!  (The ‘cruc’ part of the word means cross in latin.)  The God/man, Jesus, willingly surrendered his perfect life and his perfect unity with Father God, to suffer rejection by those he came to love and die for. God [continue reading…]

Apr 062014

“It is at the moments when we are at our least that we discover who or what we believe in the most.” This has been a statement that has engaged some of us at St Philips this Lent season, as the following testimony shows. Being blessed by being served…. I completely agree that we are blessed by serving others – One Hundred Percent! I want to describe how blessed I’ve been in the last week by being served. In truth, [continue reading…]

Jan 202013 Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 37:57 — 13.0MB) Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Android | RSS | Why not subscribe? Listen to this exploration by Sally Howe, of John’s gospel . Readings – John 1:35-51 recorded at 9am service.

Jan 082012 Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 27:33 — 9.5MB) Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Android | RSS | Why not subscribe? Sally Howe spoke about “who God is and who we are in relationship to God”. Readings: 1st Reading  1 Corinthians 12 : 12 – 27; 2nd Reading 1 John 4 : 7 – 21 Recorded at 9am service  

Aug 302011

Walk to Water 2011,  3pm -5pm, 10 September at St Philips Cottesloe. As a result of Walk to Water 2009, Open Doors provided 4 new boreholes to villages in Northern Nigeria, at a cost of about $52 000 USD. The cost relates to needing to bore through subterranean rock, below the level of rivers carrying typhoid to access “clean” water. A pastor at one village said  “We cannot thank enough the people that made this borehole possible.Only God can thank [continue reading…]

Jan 092011 Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 28:23 — 11.4MB) Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Android | RSS | Why not subscribe? How we learn to hear the voice of our living God. Firstly we must see with our ‘ears’. Sally Howe takes this further as she walks through Isaiah 42. Readings: Isaiah 42:1-9, Acts 10: 34-43, Matthew 3:13-17 Recorded at 9am Service

Aug 082010 Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 24:45 — 9.9MB) Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Android | RSS | Why not subscribe? Your Testimony – How is God with you? Psalm 8, John 1:29-34 9.30 Baptism Service Sermon and Testimonies from Sally Howe , Cathy Kiernan, Dianne Hooley and Nick Lockwood