Mar 172019

After my sermon last Sunday, Jenni Hinspeter and I had a long conversation and a good pray around some of the particular issues that arise for us around the Sabbath as single people in vocational ministry. Later in the day, as I was driving home from something where I was the only single person, Brenda, who would often have been there, rang knowing that it is often a transition that I find difficult. It was one of those times when I was both thankful for God’s provision (on this occasion even before I realised I had a need of it!) and Brenda’s thoughtfulness and response to the Holy Spirit’s prompt.

During the week I also read a book, The 7 Myths of Singleness, by Sam Allbery, a good covering of lots of the myths around singleness, written by someone who is both realistic about the struggles of singleness and also recognises the many gifts and opportunities that singleness brings. I’d highly recommend it as a useful book for people to read whatever your situation in life.

All this has got me thinking a bit more broadly – about how we might utilise the benefits and gifts of our circumstances in life for the sake of others; how to support each other in both the similar and the very different struggles and needs we have in our current life situations; and how to recognise and act upon the needs that others have in their current stage and season that we are able, often without all that much effort, to offer assistance in. There are lots of ways in which our community does this well. I could tell story after story of the ways in which people have loved others well within and beyond our community, both in similar and in very different life situations.  But it’s so easy for us to get quite focused and consumed with our lives and all the demands on us and to not see each other’s needs and struggles and the ways in which we could bring life and ease the burdens of one another. So often just a little thoughtfulness, creativity and an offer of help bring  much life to others, and we may find ourselves substantially blessed as a result. As well, something that will make an immense difference to another can be incorporated into what we are already doing.  (On that note, thanks to the many people who regularly include me in meals, especially when I need to be around Cottesloe.) Of course, sometimes what we offer will have a significant cost – and that’s appropriate; we do have a Lord who calls us to die to ourselves – but often it will be something that just takes some willingness to consider the needs of others and to step a little beyond our own everyday life. So I encourage you to reflect this week about how you might further support those around you in ways that are low weight for you but that would be of significant benefit to them, to pray around this and then to act on it.

Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers (Galatians 6:10).




Mar 102019

Whew, what a week!

I need a day off!

When I feel like this I have frequently found that that day off has been very disappointing, just another chunk of wasted time rather than anything life-giving and restorative.  So what is Sabbath?  And what is the difference between Sabbath and just a day off?

I’m bruised by Sabbath.  It happened to me in childhood.  When I was just a little chap there was a time when my parents decided we should go to church.  Now this was a new thing and didn’t last that long.  I was a clingy little guy for reasons that had to do with Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Week 5 – the grief and loss week.  Anyway, I hated going to church.  I hated being taken away from my mum and being put into this cold, dank hall that smelled of old carpet.  I hated it so much my brother and I conspired to create all sorts of strategies to make us so late as to render church not worth bothering with.

Sunday was Sabbath in those days.  Sundays were ‘dread’ days of boredom, dampness and worst of all church.  I hated the word Sabbath!  Give me a day off any time.

It’s taken me a while to recover.

In that recovery I have discovered that true Sabbath, the type God meant us to have, is a beautiful opportunity to value and schedule in true restoration – restoration as distinct from just not working.

Pete Scazzero’s key word in relation to Sabbath is ‘delight’.  What a delightful word.  A day, or a 24-hour period, somewhere in the week, the same time each week, where there is no other priority than to do what you delight in doing or being.  If you are a couple, it may be shared, or individual, or a mixture.  Sleeping, walking, reading, riding, gardening, surfing, drinking, eating, painting, sewing or just blobbing; with friends, alone, active, passive, nature, city . . . and on and on – anything that, in the presence of God and his world, brings you delight.

This is more than just a day off.  True Sabbath is intentional, regular, life-giving and utterly different from any other day.

The questions to ask is, did it bring me love, joy, peace, patience and so on?  Was it delighting in oneself and others as God’s child?  Did my eyes get opened?  Was there space and time to see and hear?

Cheryl and I have made Friday our Sabbath day together but with fixing a house, it’s become ‘renovation day’ – really productive but actually not a Sabbath.  This EHS process we have been sharing has awoken us to this fact.  So, two weeks ago we declared Friday to be Sabbath once again – a day of delight.  We both had really missed it.  It’s great to have it back.





Mar 032019

At St Philips we are keen for everyone to be continually living more deeply in a three-dimensional life, individually and corporately, one where we are connecting UP with God, IN with each other and OUT with the world. I wonder how you see your OUT dimension going?

Jesus came into the world, lived, died and rose again, that we might have a relationship with God – the ultimate act of self-giving and living OUT for others. He called disciples to follow him in living a three-dimensional life, including going into the world and doing all that he had done.  He commissioned them (us) saying, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20).  It’s not an optional commission or only for some of us; it’s to all disciples of Jesus everywhere. And, having come to know and experience the good news found in Jesus, why wouldn’t we want to share this with others?

There are lots of ways people within St Philips are living OUT, individually and corporately, sharing the love of Jesus and the truth of Jesus with a world that desperately needs it. We have people on staff and boards of organisations involved in living this out in various ways; we have people passionately committed to doing their part to see justice lived out in the world; we have people who love their neighbours, family and others in their sphere in simple but profound ways; we have people who go into prisons, schools and other contexts. There are plenty of other ways we are actively involved in living OUT.

But I wonder how all of us are going in this area – how mindful we all are about it, and what might be hindering us. Are we ready to give a reason for the hope that we have (1 Peter 3:15)? Are we actively seeking to point people to Jesus in our interactions with them, looking for opportunities to share the good news of Jesus and for making disciples?  Are we praying for the Holy Spirit to be at work in those that we love and those that we are in contact with for them to come into a living and saving relationship with Jesus?  Are we looking for and asking God to show us the places and people that he would have us actively invest time, prayer and energy in?  Finally, I wonder what you need to do to be better motivated, grounded and equipped in this area. (As always, do speak with staff about any ways we can support you as you reflect on these questions and live in the ways and spaces that God is calling you into.)

It’s so easy to get caught up in all that life is and to lose sight of the precious life that we have in Jesus and the living water that we have to share with people in a world that desperately needs it.  So I pray that all of us would grasp more and more how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ (Eph 3:18) and that from that place we would seek to make disciples in the various contexts and relationships that God has placed us.



Feb 242019

The average church experiences a drop-off rate for teenagers of 50-80% after they graduate from high school. This statistic emerged out of an in-depth analysis of Christian teenagers conducted by the They also conducted an in-depth analysis of hundreds of churches that are ‘Growing Young’ (eg. doing a great job of discipling youth and young adults). Their research uncovered six core strategies that churches implemented that helped them reach young people for Jesus. Empower youth to lead. Empathise with [continue reading…]

Feb 172019

Place is important to many of us embodied creatures. This week I’ve been up to New Norcia for an overnight retreat by myself. It was a lovely time. . . stillness, rest, reading, prayer. It’s a quarterly rhythm that brings me renewed life and after a very full few months it was a much-needed couple of days. What struck me is the way in which I quickly went into the space of rest, prayer and reflection. Part of that is [continue reading…]

Feb 102019

You may have heard we are introducing a Code of Conduct for our youth and children’s ministry. Young people need, and like, clarity around things.  Sure, they push against clear boundaries but that is why they need them.  The older we get the less we like clear boundaries.  We know there is so much grey in life and in ‘the real world’ and we are suspicious of certainty.  We, sometimes rather smugly, ‘look to God’, rather than his desire that [continue reading…]

Feb 032019

It’s over 60 years since I sat in the stands at Claremont Showgrounds to hear Billy Graham. I remember the swelling excitement prior to his address and the powerful, compelling message he delivered. Even as first-year high-schooler I was drawn to accept the call to go forward and commit my life to Christ. Instead, I simply progressed through Confirmation in the Presbyterian church I attended. That was my introduction to evangelism and it was pretty impressive! So I was enthusiastic [continue reading…]

Jan 272019

I thought I’d follow in Kieran’s footsteps and reflect on my top books of 2018. Two of my favourites were also in Kieran’s top 5: Jack Deere’s personal memoir, Even in our Darkness (a complete page turner) and This is Our Time: Everyday Myths in Light of the Gospel by Trevin Wax (so good that I read/listened to it twice in a few months). I had a year of series/authors. Here are three authors / series that had me engaged [continue reading…]

Jan 202019

Here are the top five books and the author that has had the biggest impact on me in 2018. Even in our Darkness (Biography) This is the book that had the biggest impact on me in 2018. It is Jack Deere’s personal memoir. Jack Deere was a significant leader in the Vineyard church movement, led by John Wimber. At the same time as having a very influential ministry, he had all kinds of personal struggles to deal with behind the [continue reading…]

Dec 232018

December . . . So often so tricky for so many people; either too busy or too quiet; the end of the year bringing pressures that are real, imagined or put upon us; events that feel like obligations; spending time with people who  we would not necessarily choose to hang out with. For some of us there’s great things in the mix too: fun, celebratory times with good friends and family; the finish of school, work and other commitments for [continue reading…]