The New Testament speaks of the gift of the Holy Spirit as being the birthright of every born again Christian believer. The Apostle Paul writes, ‘And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ’ (Romans 8:9).
The Holy Spirit works to bring us to Christ, to regenerate us in Christ, to sanctify us in Christ-likeness. The work of the Holy Spirit cannot be separated from the work of the ascended Lord Jesus, who first poured out the Spirit on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2).
In the worldview of the New Testament, something is ‘spiritual’ if it pertains to the Holy Spirit. This means that true spirituality is only found in the Spirit of Christ working to show us Christ and helping us to experience the love of Christ. Beware those talking up spirituality without Christ!
It is popular to label any experience that is strange or solemn a ‘spiritual experience’. However true spiritual experience is found in the Spirit of Christ – God’s gift of pointing us to Christ, helping us to trust in Christ and fix our eyes on Christ as Lord. Where Christ is honoured, there the Spirit is working, and there we have true spiritual reality.
Today we thank God for our mothers and seek God’s blessing on the mothers in our church community. We are blessed if we have had godly mothers who presented Christ to us. Today is a great day to honour before God the unspoken and untold service of our mothers.
Godly mothers have an incredible ministry and impact. Moreover the Christian community is to be a place where spiritual mothers can bless, teach, serve and protect a new generation of disciples.
There are many ways in which today can be painful or difficult. Today we glorify God for those women who have walked in a godly reverence and fear of his name. Sentimental traditions come and go, but disciplined love for God and his church builds a legacy.
Today we welcome back Pastor Wayne Schuller from his work in Mongolia!
And of course while we are very thankful for the work we have been able to send Wayne to do on our behalf, and for the exciting growth of Christianity in Mongolia over the past two decades, there is still much to pray for. In particular, according to Operation World, there remains a number of groups in Mongolian society who have little access to the Good News of Jesus Christ, and thus are priorities for our prayers:
- Nomads: who find their traditional life increasingly difficult to maintain. Pray for culturally sensitive holistic ministries that demonstrate the gospel to them.
- Kazakhs: are a majority in the far-western province of Bayan-Olgiy. Most are Muslim, but a few are Christian, and some Christians evangelists work among them.
- Ethnic minorities: the Chinese and Russian communities in Mongolia have a few believers, with at least one church for each group. But little to no specific outreach is directed toward the Kalmyk, Tuvan and Evenki peoples.
- Students: a number of Christian student groups work to reach students through camps, seminars and student discipleship groups. Mongolian Christian leaders are emerging through this ministry, but the process of taking young adults from initial interest to mature disciples requires much patience and faith.
Please continue to pray for Mongolia!
Our Senior Pastor Wayne has now completed his work in Mongolia, helping to train Mongolian church leaders in expository preaching, and will be returning to us later in the week. Please continue to pray for Wayne, especially that his return journey would be smooth and he would have a good chance to rest.
It is worth considering the amazing growth of the Mongolian church, and how we can continue to pray for their country. According to Operation World, which is a near exhaustive guide to praying for every country in the world, in 1989, just before the fall of Mongolia’s Communist government, there may have been only four Christians in the nation. But by the year 2000, this tiny seed had grown into a community of 8,000 to 10,000 Mongolian Christians, and by 2010, it is estimated that there was over 40,000 believers in hundreds of churches meeting in most parts of the country. This is a wonderful encouragement, and a great answer to prayer!
However, there is still much work to be done, and much we can pray for. In particular, please pray that the church’s leaders would develop, and that God would raise up a generation of astute preachers who will powerfully teach and model God’s word to his people in Mongolia. Please also pray that many more people in Mongolia would become disciples of Jesus Christ. And please also echo these prayers for our nation of Australia too.
I once helped start up a brand new growth group programme for a congregation of Karen Anglicans from Burma. However, what a growth group is, and why they are needed, proved to be very difficult concepts to explain! Many of these Karen Christians struggled to understand why the church would want to meet in small groups, during the week, in different people’s homes. But I in my cultural ignorance, and having grown up in a Church with a strong growth group programme, thought these things were immediately obvious. There was a cultural gap between us about how the local church gathers as the people of God during the week. Over time, I learnt that way the church gathers in a small traditional village (or in a refugee camp on the Thai Burma boarder) is very different to how we gather in the vast suburbs of a car based city like Melbourne.
If Berwick Anglican Church existed in a small town of 300 or so people who all lived and worked within a 10-minute walk of each other, we would organically gather during the week. Outside of Sunday worship we couldn’t help but see each other all the time, in the streets, in the marketplace, at work, during our recreation; and this would provide amble opportunity for us to regularly pray, encourage and reflect on God together as we lived out our daily lives.
But of course we don’t live in some quaint village, we live in the fastest growing region of the fastest growing city in Australia! Our homes, workplaces, services and schools are all far apart in different directions, and for many of us, except for an hour or two on Sunday, we have little chance to gather as the people of God. So the church in places like Casey and Cardinia must gather intentionally. This is one of the reasons why growth groups are so important to our discipleship. And it is why introducing a growth group programme for the Karen congregation was necessary, because like us, they too needed a way to gather intentionally as God’s people during the week in their new home of Melbourne.
Our BAC growth group programme restarts for term two this week. If you not already in a growth group, it is not too late to join one! Please let me know if you are interested.