We are rightly thankful to live in a democratic nation. The freedom we have to peacefully choose and change our government is precious. Christians have had a significant role to play in the formation of democratic nations. There is a great cost made by those who stand up to serve in political office in order to serve us. We are greatly blessed by democracy.
However we must be sober enough to realise democracy has many limitations. CS Lewis wrote of the assumptions behind Western democracy:
‘A great deal of democratic enthusiasm descends from the ideas of people who believed in democracy because they thought mankind so wise and good that everyone deserved a share in the government… The real reason for democracy is: Mankind is so fallen that no man can be trusted with unchecked power over his fellows.’
The Bible commands we pray for and honour those in governing authority. God often uses elections to give us better than we deserve. The perfect system of government has not yet arrived – the full and visible kingly reign of the Lord Jesus Christ over a transformed creation with a redeemed sinless humanity. Come Lord Jesus come!
Academy Youth Ministry has been going great this first semester. We have grown a whole bunch in our faith and study of God’s Word, particularly as we have analysed John’s Gospel.
Each week we have some games and engagement of something stimulating followed by a time of Worship and hearing God’s word read and preached. Afterwards we break into groups to discuss our questions about what was talked about and create an opportunity to pray and support each other.
Over the past six months I have seen some powerful growth and conviction in several of our young people’s lives as they wrestle with the Biblical text and work out their salvation’s with fear and trembling. On the other hand, I have seen God be most gracious in spiritually feeding us as we seek him corporately, professing him as our Lord and Saviour.
Please continue to pray for our young people, for they are surely the future Church and need our every investment to be equipped with the power of the Gospel to shine it bright and proud in their schools, neighbourhoods and circles of friends. I have high hopes for many of our kids who are showing strong signs of faith. Some will need encouragement for future years as they look to us to continue firm in our example of strong Christian character and loving examples for all to follow. May Christ continue to grow our youth to be tomorrow’s evangelists, teachers, preachers and godly men and women in our Church community and beyond.
This week Berwick Anglican Church is pleased to announce some very exciting news; we are going to launch our 5pm congregation this August! Our season of prayer and planning for the new service has been very fruitful, and we have, under God, now decided to go ahead. So our first 5pm service will be held on Sunday 7 August 2016, and from then onwards 5pm services will be held weekly.
From the very first 5pm prayer meeting that we had back in January, a common overarching hope has emerged among those coming together to plan the new service. I quote from that first meeting’s minutes: “Above-all else: we hope the new service will grow the church at BAC and in Casey, with many new people coming to faith in Jesus Christ”.
The growth of the church and the glory of the Lord Jesus is main reason why Berwick Anglican is launching this new service! We hope that the 5pm congregation itself will grow, offering a new afternoon time for people to gather around God’s word and worship the Lord, and also that by people moving from 8:30 and 10:15 into the new service, that we will create new room for growth in these congregations as well.
So please continue to pray for the 5pm service, and also for our Thursday, 8:30 and 10:15 services, asking God that we and all of Christ’s church across our region of Melbourne would continue to grow and flourish.
God has given us his Word in Scripture to feed our hearts and minds. As we allow the Bible to shape us we are changed by God’s promises of grace and by the presentation of his amazing character.
Proverbs is a special and unique part of the Bible. Thirty one chapters are good for daily reading. Chapter 1-9 give a big picture of the way of wisdom. Wisdom is based on the foundation of fear and reverence for God. Chapters 10-31 are much more creative and complex in layout and arrangement.
The many Proverbs are there for extended reflection and consideration. A verse that previously we took for granted may strike us with new conviction or insight. It can help to keep a journal of thoughts and responses as you read God’s Word. I have found it helpful to underline and to write directly into the margins of the Bible my responses.
Remember, in Christ we are adopted as God’s children for ever. God’s Word is there to bless and nurture us as we grow up in God’s forgiven family. Let us not ignore the food God gives!
As the Federal Election is fast approaching, it is worth considering how Christians should vote. In my opinion, no one political party or group has a monopoly on Christian support. Thus we have to carefully weigh up the different political parties, their leaders and their local candidates that are all vying for our vote. But how should we do this?
The Book of Proverbs (as always) has some wise advice, and Proverbs chapter 11 in particular helpfully describes what kind of qualities we should look for in our public leaders. Above all else, we should look for signs of integrity and character. As Proverbs 11:11 says; ‘Through the blessing of the upright a city is exalted, but by the mouth of the wicked it is destroyed’. Thus if we care about the welfare of our nation and our city, we should vote for people of integrity.
How do you identify people of integrity? You carefully and prayerfully watch how they act in day to day life. Do they possess decency and humility in the way they conduct themselves? (‘When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom’ Pr 11:2). Are they carful and gracious in their speech towards others, including their opponents? (Whoever derides their neighbour has no sense, but the one who has understanding holds their tongue’ Pr: 11:12). Do they take the advice of others in setting policy? (‘For lack of guidance a nation falls, but victory is won through many advisers’ Pr 11:14).
Of course nobody is perfect, but these are the qualities wise people will look for in choosing whom to send to Parliament as their representatives. So over the next few weeks, please pray for all those standing for Federal Parliament, and consider their character. Because, to quote a (non-biblical) contemporary proverb; ‘The government we vote for, is the government we get!’.