Dec 292019

Welcome to our Christmas and New Year services and news sheet.

This is just a word of welcome and recognition that we are saying “goodbye” to 2019 and “hello” to 2020.

We at St Philips refer to this as our month of ‘abiding’.  It’s a season to slow, stop and reflect and acknowledge what has gone by: to say thank you, to celebrate, as well as to be honest about disappointments and sadnesses . . . and take these things to Jesus.  Then we look forward to what might lie ahead.

I do encourage you to be intentional in this goodbye/hello season – to remember that God always acts out of love; that He is primarily about our spiritual growth; that He may use sharp instruments to challenge our growth; and, finally, that He will never settle for lukewarm or wishywashy.

Thank you for worshipping with us.


Dec 222019

The Bible’s Christmas story introduces us to all sorts of people-with-purpose.  Their purposes seem well-formed – by birth, natural gifting, education and Divine Providence.  The Magi, wise guys who discerned the coming king through astronomy from way over in Iraq and brought well-thought-out gifts, are a good example.  The shepherds, whose lot in life was set by birth and for whom the revelation of God was pure grace and wonder, are another.  We meet Zechariah, the priest, John the Baptist’s father; Joseph, in David’s line, a righteous man who was open to God’s voice; and Mary, a young woman uniquely gifted to take on the challenge of out-of-step motherhood. 

We don’t get purposeful just by clicking our fingers.  There is a whole story behind each life that gets us to where we are.  Some of that story of formation has to do with being ill-fitted as well as well-fitted.

Since we moved to Coolbellup, Cheryl has had two hydrangea plants in pots.  She put them on the south side of the house in the shade because hydrangeas don’t like too much sun.  But these hydrangeas just looked sick.  Now you hear about people who talk to plants.  Well, Cheryl threatens them.  [Jesus did that sometimes, specifically to a fig tree with no fruit.] These plants were on their last warning.

My mum had hydrangeas.  They lived in the dark on the south side of the house and every year she’d cut them down to the ground.  They thrived on neglect and a brutal prune annually.

In disgust, Cheryl moved her two hydrangeas out the back, where they got the morning sun and afternoon shade and she had to walk past them when she watered her seedlings each morning.  They had a new location – a bit more sun, a chance of getting a bit of fertiliser and greater access to water. . . a new place and BANG!  Cheryl says they have found their happy place.

Instead of criticising yourself for failing in things, or excusing yourself for being unsuited for a particular purpose [especially a spiritual purpose], perhaps there is something to be said for seeking your ‘happy place’ – not your lazy place, or your self-excusing place, rather the place where you thrive, where you are doing the most good and where you are most spiritually alive.

Don’t know how to do that?  A tip: Don’t ask just anyone’s advice.  Do ask your Christian friends where they see you being most fully alive.

Blessings [Just 3 more sleeps!]

Dec 152019

Theology in the Raw (Podcast)

Recently I’ve been listening to some very interesting podcasts called Theology in the Raw by Dr. Preston Sprinkle. He is a professor, author and president of The Center for Faith, Sexuality & Gender. He earned a Ph.D. in New Testament from Aberdeen University in Scotland. His titles include People to be Loved, Living in a Gray World, and the New York Times bestselling book Erasing Hell.

I found the following three podcasts to be fascinating and informative:

How to Raise Anti-Fragile Kids by Dr Leonard Sax (M.D., Ph.D).

Why are kids growing up so much more fragile and unhealthy mentally and physically? Part of it has to do with parents who are coddling their kids and shrinking back from establishing God-given parental authority. Lack of boundaries on screen-time and content also plays a significant role in the epidemic of anxiety, depression and suicidality among kids. Sax is also a leading expert in sex and gender theories, especially as it pertains to transgender identities.

Sex, Youth Culture, Pornography, and the Purity Movement by Jason Soucinek

What really grabbed my attention in the podcast was this claim: The first person to educate a child about sex will be considered the ‘expert’ and ‘authority’ on sex. In other words, parents should strive to be the first to provide their kids with a balanced and biblical education on sex. Ruth and I have our complete set of ready to educate our kids when the time is right. Jason’s website is

Understanding our Cultural Moment by Mark Sayers

Mark Sayers pastors a church around the corner from the house I grew up in (and where my parents still live). He is a pastor, cultural commentator, writer and speaker who is highly sought around the world for his insights on faith and culture. I absolutely loved this podcast! The various topics included the global reaction against progressive values, China’s control of Hollywood, how the situation leading up to the 18th century Great Awakening is similar to today, as well as the similarities and differences between evangelicals in the US, UK and Australia.

Holy Moly Cartoons

Finally, I urge you to watch the Holy Moly cartoons on if you haven’t already. We used them for our bed-time devotions with the girls after Jasmine’s birth. They’re so fun! If your kids are a bit older, you could try Connect.

In Christ,
Kieran Carr

Dec 082019

Some of you will be aware that I love reading – in fact, some good reading time is one of the things I am most looking forward in our abiding time in January. My list of possible books is rather long and I expect it will end up being a mix of theology/ministry, novels, biographies and social research. Stay tuned for some reviews in the new year! You too might have some more space for reading during January so, with [continue reading…]

Dec 012019

We have been thinking about where God might be when things don’t seem to make much sense. Nothing could have brought this home this week like sitting in hospital with Trevor and David Parry and Paul Manley while a kind, gracious medical registrar explained the damage caused to Liz’s brain by a bang to the head at home.  To learn that the damage was catastrophic and nothing could be done medically for Liz was for us all the epitome of [continue reading…]

Nov 242019

Though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature (Hebrews 5:12-14). Think about the difference between milk and solid food. Milk is actually pre-digested food (ie. mum eats solid food, digests it and makes it [continue reading…]

Nov 172019

What a great time we had last weekend at our St Philips Youth Camp. God continued to work in the lives of our young people through this temporary community experience. Ten young people with five leaders attended for a weekend of fun, faith and friendship.  Research has shown that a peak experience of this kind is one of the factors that helps young people stay connected to church and their faith. Time together is so valuable – we all know [continue reading…]

Nov 102019

From Hamo’s Blog PostPastor, Quinns Rocks Baptist Church. “Did you know there are twins in New Zealand and their parents named them ‘Fish & Chips’? True story. Another family have 3 kids – Faith, Hope and… yeah, you guessed it… Kevin! Not surprisingly, ‘Fish & Chips’ have been banned as a names in NZ, along with other choice names like ‘Robocop’ (Mexico), ‘Circumcision’ (also Mexico) and a host of others. Names matter.  In the ancient world names carried weight and [continue reading…]

Nov 032019

What is known as ‘peak experiences’ is one of the things that has been found to be a key factor in young people continuing on with their faith. One of the influential places for these ‘peak experiences’ in people’s faith journeys is in the context of the temporary community that camps provide. Many of our community can testify to their experience of that over the years, including things like the men’s and women’s retreats in the life of our church. [continue reading…]

Oct 272019

Today, we are acknowledging what has become known as the Protestant Reformation, one of the cataclysmic changes in Christian understanding that reshaped the world as we know it. A trip to Israel illustrates and reminds us that the greatest reformation by far came in the person of Jesus Christ, a relative nobody, a tradesman from an inconsequential village in the upper reaches of the outback of Palestine. Just one little Jesus tidbit from 10 days ago: We were in Nazareth, [continue reading…]