Oct 152017

Musings are whatever is on the mind of one of the staff team here at St Philips.  We write one every week.

As I write this,  I am sitting outside in the sun in amongst the playgroup mums and kids. I am also thinking about all the visitors to our church today!

I wonder how many of you have been to a church recently?  I wonder what you find yourself thinking as you come here this morning supporting Charlie, Venetia and little Hugo? You’re here for a baptism.  Do you know what baptism is all about, what it signifies and what we are asking of God as we celebrate Hugo’s baptism? James will explain some of this in his talk. But if you’re more of a TV type, you can watch some very short videos on the St Philips Cottesloe website that explain baptism simply but a bit more thoroughly.

Anyway, I want to welcome you into this community for Hugo’s baptism, as you spend an hour or so with God’s people while we worship God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Churches can be very diverse things, from smoke-filled cathedrals to almost rock concerts.  None is right or wrong.  There are many ways to gather as what the bible calls “the people of God”.  At St Philips we are up to all sorts of things; faith-building, practical help, caring for people, training, mentoring, even being a genuine family for some. These activities cross all ages.  You will hear from Graham what we are up to in Africa.  James may mention what he is up to in Palmyra. 

But what are we trying to do as we gather this morning? We are fundamentally a community of worship on Sundays.  Worship carries the idea of ‘Worth-ship’.  We know that God is worthy of our love, thanks, even praise and this time is when we seek to express that.  Why?  Because God has first loved us and made us for friendship with him.

We are celebrating with thanks the goodness of God, as well as celebrating what God has done for us, to bring us into relationship with himself – which baptism symbolises and James will talk about. But for us here at St Philips it is a time to celebrate and give thanks for what God is doing in us and through us, in all manner of ways, not just in here but out there: caring things, teaching things, training things, faith-building things, welfare things and many more.

It’s fantastic to have you to share in this Christian community at ‘worth-ship’ today.




Oct 082017

Malcolm and I were having a conversation on Monday as he read about what had happened in Las Vegas. My response was a small sigh of despair. Mal reminded me that we are not a people without hope. Indeed we are not. I have found myself this week wondering about how we ensure we remember that and live as a people with hope, rather than buy into the worlds lies and our fears and, consequently, live as a people without hope. How do you do that with regard to things in your personal life as well as when you reflect on world events?

This week during one of our morning prayer times at church we were reading Philippians 4. Paul helps us in this passage with wisdom on how to live as a people who have hope. He encourages us to rejoice in the Lord always, to let our gentleness be evident to all, to remember that the Lord is near. He also exhorts us to not be anxious about anything, but rather to bring every situation to God, with thankfulness, and he reminds us that the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. He also encourages us to think about things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy.

As we notice ourselves getting anxious about things in our lives and the lives of those around us, how are we going at bringing them to God in prayer? And are we dwelling on those things that we are anxious about or are we thinking about things that are life-giving like Paul encourages us to? And are we rejoicing in the Lord always?

I’m really enjoying the lovely clear Spring mornings after what felt to me like endless days of wet Winter mornings. My experience is that as I bring the things that I’m anxious about to God, dwell on those things which are true and life-giving and rejoice in the Lord whatever the circumstances that it feels a bit like the shift from the dreariness of Winter into the clearness and freshness of Spring. I find peace in the midst of circumstances, a different perspective on life and a readiness and freedom to join with God in what He is doing in and around me.






Oct 012017

What a week of wet and cold it has been.  One of the spinoffs of my not too distant surgery is that I feel cold a lot of the time. In fact, because I am a bit of a foolish man I have expected recovery from a double hip replacement to be a routine thing that I would get over fairly quickly. Ahhhhh! Foolish, foolish man.  I have been really struggling, physically and emotionally.  I have never felt this depleted before.

What do you do when you are really struggling?  Does your faith have a part to play?  What role do other people serve?

Here is what I find myself doing.  I start by having a big sook.  Then I hope other people [mostly those closest to me] will be super kind and loving.  But I often don’t clearly communicate my situation or what I need; I just sook and expect them to intuitively know my unstated wants and needs. I then get resentful when they don’t deliver – pathetic, right!?

Anyway, there is the confession. I’m not much fun to live with some of the time.

After I ‘get over myself’, I usually get more constructive. I often share how I’m feeling in prayer at our in-church prayer times. For others, it can be good to state things and God is a good listener.  Others just need to do that ‘on the inside’.

Then I remind myself that in this situation God is not dead.  He is good all the time,  he is with me and he does care.  If I am feeling especially pious, I can even remind myself that struggle is always the place of strengthening and growth.

Then I go to the bible to read what the word of God actually says.  Today I wondered what ‘faith’ really means.  What have I put my faith in?  It’s not my feelings that will carry me on.  The bible constantly tells me that our ‘faith’ sustains us.  So, I’d better know what my faith is in, right?

The beginning of Romans was useful today (Romans 1:1,2). It says, “Paul, a servant…”, Ok, I’m a servant; “called…”, I cannot be forgotten if I am called; “for the gospel of God…”, God is and has delivered good news.  What is the good news I am part of? Well, we are told it is woven through the whole bible from beginning to end.  It concerns his Son, who was declared to be Son of God with power.  If I truly believe this, it is the “Spirit of holiness” who has revealed it to me. And it is sealed for good, or proven once for all “by resurrection from the dead of Jesus Christ our Lord”.

That is my foundation.  I am only as good as my foundation.  Foolish though I can be, I try and find my way back to bedrock –  “This one thing I have!

This is what Kieran and Ruth will be doing as they prepare to shift their whole life over here.  It is what James and Jane must do as they take on the risks they are confronting in their service and call to build a new thing in Palmyra.  It is what every Christian disciple of Jesus is called to do – secure their life in the One who is faithful, whatever may be happening in the here and now.

I just need to thank so many of you for your words and expressions of support during this time.  They have meant a great deal and have been used by God to bring strength and encouragement.  We all need them. Thank you.

Every blessing.



Sep 242017

As many of you know, some of us are heading to Augusta in January to be part of the Family Festival (Beach Mission) in the Flinders Bay Caravan Park. While we will run some programs for children, youth and families while we are there, a large part of what it is about is camping alongside other holiday-makers and joining in with what we see God doing around about us. It’s about being and bringing good news into that caravan park. [continue reading…]

Sep 172017

As some of you know, I am currently studying at Tabor Christian College. As part of my Christian Ministry unit we are engaging in lots of reflection regarding God’s mission and how we, the church, are the second way that God chooses to incarnate Himself in the world – “Whoa!” As part of my refection in this unit I was challenged by a friend who asked me whether I had included the wider body of the church, not just my [continue reading…]

Sep 102017

I often talk about ‘.people of peace’. People sometimes ask me “What do you mean by ‘people of peace’?” Let me tell you a story. I ride my bike with a group of guys and a few wonderful girls.  Now some of these guys are from church and they bring a wonderful generosity to our rides and chats over coffee afterwards.  But most of the guys represent the general population of working men in and around the western suburbs.  Most [continue reading…]

Sep 032017

This Sunday James moves to two days a week here at St Philip’s in order to continue to shift his focus more towards The Common, the church plant that the Duffs and the Murthas are leading in Palmyra.  What God is doing already in and through this missional community is so exciting and we look forward to what is to come.  As well as praying for James and Jared as they work out structural and financial avenues, let’s continue to [continue reading…]

Aug 272017

Over the last few weeks I have been walking in the Fremantle pool to help strengthen my back.  One particular weekday I finished up at church and headed to the pool before going home.  When I arrived I was surprised by how many children were taking swimming lessons after school.  I felt very old and somewhat exposed.  Here I was struggling to get changed into some swimwear, bent over, hobbling along with a crutch for support, my torso was so [continue reading…]

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 [continue reading…]

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…]