Apr 222018

On Sunday I shared a little about how we ended up here in Cottesloe. Now I want to put that through the grid of the five main ways God guides his people (stolen from Nicky Gumbel). I want to show how God led us through each of the five ways in the hope that it will help you with godly decision-making.

Five Main Ways God Leads

  1. Commanding Scripture (the Bible)

Besides the obvious command to ‘go and make disciples’ (Matt 28:19), this verse became really important:

Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first

(Matt 19:29)

There’s a lot to this, but we started to see the comfortable middle-class Christian lifestyle as falling far short of the adventure God had for us. We wanted to translate our theoretical willingness to ‘go’ and to ‘leave it all behind’ into real life action.

  1. Compelling Spirit (the Holy Spirit)

‘Our address of being in Christ is permanent,

but the postcode of our location of Christian service is subject to change.’

It’s hard for me to separate the first two here because ‘the sword of the Spirit is the word of God’ (Eph. 6:17). But I am glad for the strong physical impression I believe God gave me when I read these words at a crucial moment of decision.

  1. Counsel of the Saints (the church)

This morning my coach warned me about being an individualist who doesn’t ask for help. How easy it is to go it alone but it’s so important for us to test what we’re hearing and call on the body of believers for help.

The most common question we got asked when we told people about Perth was, ‘Why?’ I started to joke that it had nothing to do with living really close to the beach. (Of course that was a factor!) But what else? Is that the reason? Our friends and family were able to ask the tough questions as we sought out their counsel.

  1. Common sense (Reason)

One of the biggest reasons for coming was my good impression of Malcolm. The last guy I worked for is very different from Malcolm – very godly and very gifted, but very different! Let’s just say he was more of an introvert and an administrator! I learned a lot from him but I I wanted to learn from more of an extrovert and an evangelist.

  1. Circumstantial Signs (Providence)

On Sunday I shared how I kept knocking on doors in Melbourne (specifically youth and young adult pastor roles) but nothing opened. After trying and trying, and with the way the door opened here, I took this as a clear sign that God was leading us to Cottesloe.

Ruth and I give thanks to God for his steadfast love and for the way he has led us on this exciting adventure. I hope you find these 5 points helpful. Have a look over them again. Which one do you think you could work on?





Apr 152018

“The whole point of seeing through something is to see something through it”, C.S.Lewis, The Abolition of Man.

In starting a new church, I need to understand the prevailing culture The Common finds itself in, to see through it and identify its idols. Then we can see how the gospel destroys the idols and saves people from them. The context for the Gospel here is not The Common’s congregation but the culture of Palmyra. The task of identifying idols in the culture can be difficult because we Christians often worship the same idols and are blind to it. I know when I or someone else identifies an idol in the culture I’m living, my sin often wants to protest because it is my idol also.

Why am I musing about this today?  The answer is that I am overwhelmed by the gospel of Jesus. I want to share how it is changing people in Palmyra and for you to be reminded of His saving grace. I am seeing God change people’s lives – people coming to faith, people coming alive in the gospel for the first time in their lives. I am seeing people repent from their idols to believe and trust in Jesus as their Lord and Saviour.

Last night at Alpha one young woman who, in her own words, has had an “on/off” relationship with Jesus, described how her heart has been softened towards others and particularly the church. She told me that she is having a deep revelation of God and his love for her and is now able to love others in a far more grace-filled way. Another young woman shared how she has stopped listening to the lies she has been telling herself. For many years she has told herself that she has totally mucked up her life and that the dreams she had as a young girl are not worth entertaining or pursuing. This has changed. She is so excited to play the piano again but now firstly for God. It was only 6 weeks ago that she knew very little about God and His love for her. A middle-aged man was able to come face-to-face with his sin and confess it to his wife and me and is now healed by Jesus. It is changing his marriage, his family and his faith. Praise God!

Every person that shares with me their struggles, pain and victories can be answered with and transformed by the gospel of Jesus.

I came upon this quote last week which I think touches on some of our idols:

“The world is increasingly designed to depress us. Happiness isn’t very good for the economy. If we were happy with what we had, why would we need more? How do you sell anti-ageing moisturizer? You make someone worry about ageing. How do you get people to vote for a political party? You make them worry about immigration. How do you get them to buy insurance? By making them worry about everything. How do you get them to have plastic surgery? By highlighting their physical flaws. How do you get them to watch a TV show? By make them worry about missing out. How do you get them to buy a new smartphone? By making them feel like they are being left behind. To be calm becomes a kind of revolutionary act. To be happy with your own non-upgraded existence. To be comfortable with our messy, human selves would not be good for business.”

To quote John Piper: “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” This is the only way that a calm revolution can occur.

Thanks for all your prayers and support for me, my family and The Common. I’m looking forward to sharing more with you.




Apr 082018

What conversations have you had recently? Have you had some conversations that leave you deeply encouraged? What about challenged? And what have you offered into those conversations?

I’ve had a number of precious conversations over the last couple of weeks. Precious but not necessarily comfortable. One such conversation was initiated by someone who’d had a sense from God regarding me. Gently and carefully initiated and offered. Sensitive stuff handled with love. Definitely a risk. I’m so thankful that the person took the risk. I’m thankful that she considered how her own perspectives impacted the content of the conversation and that she offered what she had to say with humility. I’m also blessed by her willingness to be engaged in the response. And I’m pleased that I was able to hear and respond well to all of that (not always the case!). It has brought us closer and enabled me to step further into what God has for and through me. The conversation that we had also brought a different perspective on some things for the person who initiated it.

Another precious conversation was initiated by someone as we ate a meal together. She asked me about whether and how I’d experienced healing from a situation in my life. After I shared about the way God had worked healing in me about that situation and how I’d cooperated with Him in that, she shared a situation in her life that had prompted her question and we explored together what freedom and life might look like for her in that, considering what the Bible said about it as we spoke. Out of our conversation, she went away with some action points and we prayed together about those things and that God would be at work in the situation. Again, some risk involved and a willingness to hear and respond. Again, a conversation that brought us closer and that will lead to good Kingdom outcomes.

Precious, rich conversations and ones which are already bearing fruit. The kind of conversations that we are urged to have with one another as the Body of Christ. Risk taking, deep and real sharing, listening to what the Holy Spirit is saying, invitation and challenge, humility, active presence with one another, shaped by Scripture, steeped in prayer. And followed up by responses of obedience to what God’s saying, support and accountability.

How have your recent conversations been? I wonder which of the things I’ve mentioned in here you might helpfully be mindful about over the coming weeks? As we know, conversations like these are precious for the participants and bear deep fruit for the world … and bring God glory. They are so worth it.





Apr 012018

Happy Easter! I think for many of us Easter has snuck up on us this year. It’s early and many of us have been distracted by other things. Others of us have journeyed Lent strongly, some along with the Christian Meditation times that Pam has facilitated. What was your Lent experience and how have you entered into the Easter journey so far? The cross was no surprise for Jesus. It certainly didn’t sneak up on Him. It was the key [continue reading…]

Mar 252018

I have been embroiled in some strange conversations this week.  Some of them have been about Kieran. We are still waiting for a determination from head office to make the pathway clear for him to join us. They have their reasons for questioning some things, but from my perspective, what’s the hold up?  Get on with it!  It feels like we are dangling like a carcass on a hook.  It feels unfair on us AND especially on the Carrs. We [continue reading…]

Mar 182018

Last Sunday James spoke about the importance of us having a faith that is both existentially satisfying as well as intellectually credible. (If you weren’t there, it’s well worth a listen to the podcast). I wonder where your faith sits on the scale of those two things. Is your faith existentially satisfying? Is it intellectually credible? Of course, there are times when we are struggling in either of those areas; that’s been a normal part of the faith journey for [continue reading…]

Mar 112018

I thought it was worth summarizing at some length an article I really enjoyed in this month’s Eternity Magazine. The author, Greg Clarke, CEO of the Bible Society, wrestles there with how truth works these days. He declares that, according to many people, “The best book to read is the Vible.” What is the Vible? Well, it’s something you feel in your guts.  It’s the vibe, and its sacred text is called the Vible. The Vible is the summary of [continue reading…]

Mar 042018

What do you ask of Jesus? How do you respond to his questions to you? At our morning prayer time, the staff and others are currently reading through the book of Mark and Thursday morning’s reading had Jesus asking two different lots of people the same question: “What do you want me to do for you?” The first people he put this question to were James and John who asked Jesus to grant them to sit at his left and [continue reading…]

Feb 252018

When we farewelled the Duffs, I gave the family presents.  I hope they were meaningful items that encourage wise living and godly behaviour. In light of the Deputy Prime Minister’s last fortnight, I think our 2017 studies of Proverbs and the emphasis on wise living are particularly appropriate.  As I thought about ‘a Barnaby’ of a fortnight, I found myself reflecting on my present to Will Duff, a magnetic compass.  Objective truth, morality and deciding right from wrong have become [continue reading…]

Feb 182018

It’s the first Sunday in Lent, a time that through the years Christians have used as a period of particular devotion as we prepare to remember and celebrate Jesus’ death and resurrection. I wonder what Lent has been for you in the past and what it will be for you this year? As I was preparing for our Ash Wednesday service this week, I saw a statement written by a friend about Lent: “Lent is a time-bound way of ‘stepping [continue reading…]