|Next week our Alpha course starts. What is Alpha? Its is a course which introduces people to the basics of Christianity. It consists of a series of sessions that each explore a different question about faith in order to create conversation. Each week Alpha includes a relaxed dinner, a video presentation and then a discussion where you can both ask questions and share your thoughts. Millions of people all around the world have done it.
Alpha is great for people who are new to the church, or even have no connection whatsoever to the church, and want to find out more about Jesus and what Christians believe. But Alpha is also great for people who have been coming to church for years but maybe want a safe place to hit pause and think through God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit and the Church, and ask some questions about how it all fits together.
Why not RSVP for our introductory session on Tuesday 7 February at 7.00pm, and come and see if Alpha is for you? Better yet, why not invite a friend to come along and try it out with you?
Blessings to you in Christ Jesus –
If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans. I often find myself thinking, ‘if only I do this or that, plan this, go there for a year, work there for a time’ it will ‘fulfill’ me and my life will be satisfied, so to speak.
However, James in his epistle says, why do we make such foolish plans for ‘you do not even know what will happen tomorrow’ (James 4:14b). How sober are the words of this apostle. In my 3-year theology degree I never thought I would find my way to little old Berwick in 2016 to work for 12 months, shaping me for future ministry, but indeed God opened doors at just the right time only to close other ones behind me.
The door God opens for us in life often is the hardest one, the one we least expect, and the one regularly with some form of suffering, likely with some type of authority that requires submission to. And what’s worse, what do we do when that authority is sometimes unjust? The answer. To submit with grace, as Jesus did, entrusting ourselves to the Father, our just judge (1 Peter 2:23). For as Christians we live with hope, longing for the ‘Day’ of the Lord where his righteous judgement will reign in all its fullness.
What doors in 2017 will God open and close for you? Remember to be sensitive to the Spirit and allow God to direct you, even when you least expect it.
Every Blessing –
Now that I’ve been at Berwick Anglican for over a year, it is becoming clearer and clearer to me that one of things I most appreciate about our Church is its sound preaching ministry. Do you know what a wonderful privilege it is to have God’s Word proclaimed and applied to us, week by week, through the ministry of preaching? God uses preaching to remind us of the great things of him and his salvation so that we might together truly have their benefit in our lives.
As the great theologian Jonathan Edwards said of preaching: ‘God has appointed a particular and lively application of his word, in the preaching of it, as a fit means to affect sinners with the importance of religion, their own misery, the necessity of a remedy, and the glory and sufficiency of a remedy provided; to stir up the pure minds of the saints, quicken their affections by often bringing the great things of religion to their remembrance, and setting them in their proper colors, though they know them, and have been fully instructed in them already’.
May we ever be a Church that honours God’s Word and the work of preaching! I look forward to great things that God will teach us and remind us of through our sitting together under sound preaching in 2017.
Will 2017 be a ‘Happy New Year’? Because the world’s mood seems to be darkening! In late December, you might have noticed that in many year-in-review TV shows and newspaper articles and blog posts that people thought that 2016 was pretty tough. There were wars, terrorism, Brexit, Trump, the Australian Senate was clogged, the housing market and economy started to look wobbly, and 2017… looks uncertain.
But the book of First Peter, which our 8:30 and 10:15 congregations are exploring over January, reminds us of how we can indeed be full of joy, no matter what comes in 2017.
Like gold being refined in a smelter, Peter tells us that suffering and trials test and purify our Christian faith. This is because like fire in the smelter, suffering burns away the dross of our false hopes in this present world (1:6-7). And as our hope in our future salvation though Christ is purified, then our hearts are increasingly ‘filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy’ (1:8-9). And this joy of Christ is a resilient joy that will stand firm, no matter what the new year brings.
So rest your hopes more and more on the living hope of Christ’s salvation, and have a Happy New Year!
Do you have any new year’s resolutions this year? While on one hand new year’s resolutions are notorious for being broken, on the other if you never commit to trying to change something… nothing ever will!
As the writer G. K. Chesterton famously argued: ‘The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes. Unless a particular man made New Year resolutions, he would make no resolutions. Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective’.
In terms of your spiritual life, what might be a good new year’s resolution? Perhaps the most beneficial single thing you can do for your Christian faith is to read the whole bible in a year. The bible is a big book (or 66 books to be exact), but when broken down into 365 daily portions reading it cover to cover becomes a manageable task.
So if you’ve never read the whole bible, or maybe have not done so for a long time, then 2017 is the year for you! If you are keen to take the on the challenge, there are many good bible reading plans available, or you could simply start reading the New Testament at the Gospel of Matthew, and keep going from there.