Monday, 9 March 2015
A mate of mine is a Senior Minster of a church that was thinking about changing its name to “Grace Church”.
He wisely carried out some focus groups in his community and found that almost everyone thought it was referring to a woman’s name. Very few outside the church community had any idea that it might be referring to God doing us a favour.
As I was preparing some talks on how to live God’s way as we looked at our five purposes as a church it struck me how easy it is even for us regular church goers to fall back in to trying to earn God’s approval.
We know that we join God’s family by God’s free gift but then we assume that we continue in his favour by our good life, and it’s all too easy to fall into that trap in the pulpit. The truth is that we enter God’s family by His free gift and we continue to stay in His family by His free gift. It’s all about grace. Thank God for that otherwise we’d all be in strife.
So where does the “living a good life” thing fit in? Well, to go back to the family analogy, in my better moments I want to do things to serve my family because I love them. It’s a joy to serve them. I get so disappointed when I realise that I’ve failed them, or when my failure is pointed out to me.
Likewise it is a joy to obey our God. David put it so well in Psalm 19:8 “The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart.”
By Bruce Dingwall, Senior Minister
Monday, 2 March 2015
Over December 2014 we took our pulse. We asked you to complete a quick ‘health check’ survey and let us know how you think our church is going.
Here’s what you said…
You think that our church is good at Bible focused teaching (86% of you said so), preaching (81% of you think we are good at this) and Bible Study / Growth Groups (68% of you). This is great news. Ensuring the Gospel message is at the heart of all our proclamation and teaching is one of our core values.
It’s also fantastic news that 89% of you said that yes, you would bring a friend to church. This was reinforced in the comments. For example, ‘solid, gospel focused teaching, ‘and, ‘a warm environment for a visitor,’ and ‘I’m proud of our church and want to encourage my friends to become Christians’.
Having said that, we are falling well short of hitting our goal of doubling in size by the end of 2016. (That would mean 1,100 people in attendance weekly.) We need to investigate why we are happy to invite our friends, yet we are a long way from achieving growth targets.
One way we can possibly help is by holding special events to which we can invite people. 48% of you said it would be a good idea to hold events on depression and anxiety. Well, watch this space – we are planning something on this for the near future. Other popular suggestions for special event topics were on women, worry and busy life syndrome and more men’s events.
Overwhelmingly, the survey was full of positive comments about our church. There was of course some constructive criticism – and we thank you for this – we need to hear it and want to continually improve. There weren’t any key patterns in this – comments varied from looking at how we can become more involved with the local community to how we can make people feel more welcome and including music that is more Christ centred.
Thank you to everyone who completed the survey. Please be assured that your comments are taken seriously by the team. We want to stay focused on our vision of introducing Jesus, changing lives, by regularly reviewing all that we do, so expect some more brief surveys in the future.
By Stella Brown, Communications Manager
Monday, 23 February 2015
We can’t get away from the impending execution of the Bali Two - Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran. Everyone, it seems, has a view.
The old biblical idea of “an eye for and eye and a tooth for a tooth” was meant to be a principal that stopped people going too far in their anger and desire for “Justice”. It put limits, even on the state, on the desire for vengeance – “you can go this far in your punishment of wrong-doing but no further.”
Each nation, and often states within nations, decide what is appropriate when it come to the ultimate punishment.
Drug dealing is a terrible crime. It pushes evil at the expense of lives to make money. (Not a lot of difference with gambling to my mind but that is another issue.) Those who engage in pushing drugs deserve to be punished. No one disagrees with that. The issue is whether or not the death penalty is appropriate.
A nation has every right to come up with its own set of penalties and execution does not of itself contradict the Bible’s command not to commit murder. In the Bible murder is unlawful killing – taking the law into your own hands. It does not include lawful execution.
However, it is so final and I for one would not wish to consign a person to God’s final judgment without giving them every opportunity and all the time possible to repent. And that is not taking into account the fact that a disturbing number of people have been executed over the years who were innocent.
Furthermore, the death penalty punishes the innocent family. You could argue that any alternative to the death penalty would do that as well, but the families of these two men seem to be saying very clearly that the death penalty will hurt them far more than life imprisonment. Not being in their shoes I’m in no position to disagree.
In the end we need to be sure that doing something that is “legal” does not diminish us as human beings or as a society.
By Bruce Dingwall, Senior Minister
Thursday, 18 December 2014
I was baptised recently. In the morning, I had a bit of a ‘freak-out’ moment when I realised there were 250 sausages on order for the post-ceremony BBQ. How many? It was both terrifying and humbling that there were so many in my new Christian family who were invested, happy and delighted in the choice I was making – even people I had never met – and wanted to celebrate it.
It struck me that ‘terrifying’ and ‘humbling’ pretty much summed up my Christian journey over the past six months. So how did I get here?
About 35 years ago, my family had a bit of a bad day. In the morning my Dad announced he was leaving the family home. And in the afternoon my Mum overdosed on sleeping tablets.
I don’t share this for the ‘poor, damaged, child’ angle. Mum pulled through and my Dad remains happily married to the woman who went onto become my step-mum and I therapied my wounds a long time ago.
I share it because what happened next impacted incredibly on how I viewed God, Jesus and Christianity.
You see, so-called Christian friends turned up with judgement about adultery and the sin of suicide. The dogma obliterated the grace. And that skewed my viewpoint. Not helped by the bloke in the black dress at the front of the school chapel who failed to make Christianity relevant to me. Then, as a cadet journalist in Ireland, I saw too much fear and terror enacted out in the name of God to make it an appealing proposition.
New age spiritualism and yogic non-attachment called me far more than Jesus did, and pretty much formed my agnostic life for the past 15 years.
In New Age, God is there but in a distant, malleable way. An energy you can somehow harness through the power of correct thought. If your life isn’t going the way you hoped, then you’re not thinking the correct thoughts. So you pay for another course! New age exhausted me. I was tired of having to fix myself!
Yoga and meditation gave peace but felt empty – I was dessicating my soul in my striving to non-attach. I kept forgetting we are relationship driven. We are not built for non-attachment!
Deep down I wanted a relationship with God. I wanted that still, small voice of calm. But with all my childhood baggage from Church and religion, I couldn’t figure out the right path. I was also petrified of vulnerability. After a parent attempts suicide, there’s a lot you lock-off in self-preservation.
So I am blessed that God hunted me down, put Jesus squarely in front of me, and made me listen.
It started with a failed job interview. One of the job criteria was a practising Christian, active in church. No surprises, then, that I didn’t get the gig. And the interviewer was kind and graceful but pleasantly steadfast in telling me that my faith wasn’t there. And he said something about structure…
Someone recently reminded me how God presses on us, this insistence that shoves at you. Jesus and that phrase about structure kept pushing into my brain. I kept telling myself it was because my ego had been pricked.
But the Easter weekend that followed was packed with too many ‘insistencies’, too many signs to ignore:
· The Bible falling off the shelf at my feet at a holiday house communal library – with no one nearby to cause it to fall, and with at least a hundred of other books that could have fallen.
· The yacht at Palm Beach, the sail unfurling, emblazoned with the words ‘Mister Christian’.
· Awaking with specific lyrics from Jennifer Warnes’s ‘Song of Bernadette’ playing over and over in my head around 3am each morning for four days in a row, when I had not heard her music in probably a decade.
In the end, on Easter Monday morning at 3am, I sat bolt upright and asked, “What? What are you trying to tell me?”
And a voice that was of me, but not of me, said clearly: Sort out your baggage around Christianity. You have all this unconditional love and non-judgement for other religions. You need to get rid of your stereotypes about how ‘Christians’ should be. Sort out your faith.
The next morning I asked my husband’s opinion, a small bit of me hoping he’d give me a ‘get out a jail free card’. Instead he responded: “Well, Phil, Jesus did have to ask Peter 3 times….”
I thought I’d just do some research. C of E stuck me as similar to Anglican. The kids attend school in the area so I found Menai Anglican online, spotted that a Christianity Course was running and picked up the phone. I’d missed a couple of weeks, but figured I could do some catch up - some solo, distant education.
Again, God was having none of it. Instead of a quick video download in my own time, I ended up having theological emails with an associate pastor who was refreshingly honest. There was no watering down, which was a change compared to what I had known. It was my first adult conversation with a Christian who was happy to unpack his faith and really let me rummage around in it – whilst kindly challenging me both intellectually and spiritually.
It was obvious he wasn’t going to let this seeking soul just do distant education! I found myself at a 10am service. Then another. Then an 8am. Then a 6pm.
As my heart whispered to me how astounding this love, the cross, the resurrection was, my head was on the sidelines, arms folded. Could a man really have come back to life? Well, then, I got to do the CE course. Which helped my head catch up with my heart.
I liken my new-age relationship with God before like some faulty light bulb. That flickered on and off. Jesus reached past me and screwed in the bulb.
As soon as I accepted Jesus, it literally clicked into place. How liberating it was to go: I am more sinful and flawed than I could ever imagine, yet at the very same time I am more loved and accepted in Jesus than I could ever dare dream.
And after all my new-age work? The ease of this astounds me every day. Just keep accepting the grace. And I pray that God just keeps me, all my flawed ego self, out the way.
Being loved, no matter what, gives you an incredible blank canvas of trust and grace from which to create. Jesus died for me. How can I do anything but humbly accept?
My acceptance gave me a new freedom to embrace the joy. After trying to be all yogic, trying to non-attach, to not feel, all this… it is like going from black and white to technicolour.
All my numbed nerve endings fizzed back online. And even if there are hurts – all that sensitivity I tried to hide, the vulnerability I was so fearful of – what are they compared to the pain Jesus’ took on for me? My biggest wounds are like a broken nail compared to crucifixion and taking on the sins of the world. Vulnerability delivered me joy, faith and more.
Six months ago I would have laughed at anyone who said I’d have a Bible app on my phone and be writing a blog about my Christian journey.
Preparing this testimony, I was asked to share examples of how my life has changed since I accepted God and Jesus. But I can’t give examples of incidents, because this isn’t incidental to my life.
It is like breathing. The edges have been smoothed. I’m sure my husband would agree that the ‘point scoring’ of life has dropped away.
I find myself in a range of places – the café, getting my back adjusted, a business networking event - and God insistently tells me to share the blog and my experience of returning to church.
God: ‘Tell them!” Me: “Really?” God: “Yes, now” – and so I do and every time, every time, I end up in a conversation with someone who has been wondering about going back to church after having a poor experience.
So now, whilst I do still question, I trust. And so, even when He’s telling me to step forward and I feel like it’s off a cliff, I trust and honour that He knows what He’s doing. So I step forward and the bridge – or path – appears.
And getting baptised? I now recognise that God and Jesus were always on the look out for me over these past 43 years; they had my back. But I hadn't got their's. I needed to reciprocate. Choosing baptism was my testimony to them, saying: "I'm sorry it took me so long. Thanks for chasing me down. Here I am."
Yet despite that, for the 42 intervening years, I know God and Jesus were always on the look out; they had my back. But I hadn’t got theirs. I needed to reciprocate. Choosing baptism was my testimony to them, saying: “I’m sorry it took me so long. Thanks for chasing me down. Here I am.”
Finally, although I say God chased me down, and Jesus worked his grace – there is one more important factor.
The past six months have clearly demonstrated that, just as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a supportive husband, an amazing ministry team and an engaged congregation to raise a new Christian.
So on the days that you wonder what exactly God and Jesus are up to in your life – and I’m pretty sure we all have them – please remember each time over the past six months I saw you here at church – even if we have never spoken – I saw you here.
In worship. Treading the path. And it gave me joy and encouragement to keep stepping forward on mine. Thank you.
By Phil(ippa) Lowe, a member of our 10am Service, and a PR/Communications Manager who takes God and Jesus seriously, but herself not so much.
Wednesday, 8 October 2014
I recently visited a high school graduation. I had the pleasure of seeing some of my good friends on their last day of high school – they are solid young Christians and I’m honoured to be both their pastor and friend.
But here’s what I noticed. Secular humanism is so utterly empty. In the speeches the year 12s were told that they could change the world and make it a better place. They could look inward and see that the solution to life’s difficulties could be found within themselves. They were told they could achieve anything – any dream they had could become a reality with enough hard work and trust in themselves.
I sat there wondering if I was the only bloke scratching his head; wondering if I was the only bloke who had watched the news recently. Everything that was said seemed to have no connection with reality. Surely if we have learned anything at all from modern history (Ancient is the same, people’s names are just harder to pronounce), it’s that we humans are not the answer to the problems we have created. We’ve flippin made the mess we’re in – and we add to it every day.
But history was ignored today. The take home message was that this group of year 12 students could change the world by the sheer force of their inner brilliance and capacity to ‘just be themselves.’ That’s a pretty heavy burden to place on 17 and 18 year olds, don’t you think?
I reckon the Bible makes much more sense. Here’s a bit of 2 Corinthians 12.
But he (Jesus) said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Romans 7 knocked on my head a moment later:
19For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
21So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Here’s the wash up of my morning. Jesus actually takes the pressure off us – we don’t need to try and perform well to get in His good books – we can't make it on our own. Yet He turns up and says, “I’ve got it. I’ve got you. I won't drive away anyone who comes to me.” (that’s my paraphrase of John 6:37).
Secular humanism, on the other hand, places all the pressure squarely on us – on our young people, our elderly, and people like me – middle aged blokes just battling away trying to keep our heads above the water – and it says: you do it. It’s all up to you. You change the world. You change yourself. Heck, half the people I know can't change a tyre…
No wonder depression is an epidemic.
So here’s a thought – maybe when Jesus said all that stuff about…“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (that’s Matthew 11:28-9, in case you want to read that bit – it’s pretty sweet, eh?)
Maybe He really meant it – because He is the answer. Not us.
Steve Wakeford, Associate Minister
Wednesday, 20 August 2014
The presence of God: the dwelling place of the Christian
How do you react to conversation about the presence of God? Does it elicit a positive or negative reaction? Perhaps your protective wall has already gone up. Or maybe your ears have been pricked in a good way. Whether it is a word you want to shy away from, or embrace, the truth is that the Scriptures have a great deal to say about God’s presence. What exactly do they teach, and what does this mean for us?
The Scriptures make three things abundantly clear regarding God’s presence. Firstly, God’s desire is that we know him deeply, in relationship, at the level of our heart, mind, soul and strength, as we dwell in his presence, without restriction or barrier (Lk 10:27). Secondly, the privilege and joy of living in God’s presence was stripped from humanity because of sin. Thirdly, from the moment mankind was cast out of God’s presence because of sin, there has been a gracious movement on God’s part from being far away to near his people.
God’s drawing near has been inaugurated in Jesus, through his dealing with our sin, and realised in the giving of the Holy Spirit to those of us who are in Christ by faith. Having received the Spirit by faith, those who are in Christ now truly live in God’s presence, and he in them. Despite this, however, the Christian still awaits the final and full expression of this reality, to be put into effect in the New Heaven and New Earth. Let’s examine what the Scriptures teach on this issue in a little more detail.
Prior to sin, Adam and Eve enjoyed an unbroken, intimate relationship with God, as he walked with them in the garden (Gen 3:8). Since the fall of humanity (Gen 3) mankind has been deprived of fullness of life in God’s full, unrestrained and unveiled presence (Gen 3:22-23). Unfortunately, Adam and Eve’s sin resulted in them desiring to hide from God’s presence (Gen 3:8-10), only to be cast out of it soon after (Gen 3:23-24).
Since this time God has been progressively revealing his plan of redemption, with the ultimate purpose being to bring humanity back into the fullness of his life-giving presence again (Rev 21:3), that God might be glorified by his saving works (Ezek 20:44). God has shown himself to be a God of grace, initially demonstrated by his tempered judgement of Adam and Eve’s sin. The book of Exodus, in particular, shows God’s transition from being distant from Israel, to delivering them from Egypt, that they might be his ‘treasured possession’ (Deut 7:6), and choosing to dwell with them, represented by him dwelling in the tabernacle in the centre of the Israelite camp (Exod 25:8). This idea of tabernacling with his people was consummated when the true tabernacle of God ‘pitched his tent amongst us’ (John 1:14), in the incarnation of the Son of God. In Jesus, God’s presence truly has drawn near to mankind.
Exodus also records that it was God’s presence that led Israel to Horeb (Exod 13:21-22), provided water from the rock to nourish his people (Exod 17:6), and which descended on Sinai to deliver his word to Israel (Exod 19:18). And despite there being need for Moses to mediate between Israel and God, representing the reality that God is transcendent and cannot be in friendship with sinners, God’s immanence was demonstrated in him speaking to Moses ‘face to face’, as they stood in one another’s presence (Exod 33:11). It was God who established a sacrificial system whereby sinful man could come into his presence (Lev 1:3), and it was God who ‘walked in the midst’ of Israel’s camp (Exod 23:14). In fact, God was not merely portrayed as being in Israel’s midst, but as being Israel’s dwelling place (Deut 33:27).
The writer of Deuteronomy shows us that God’s gracious works on behalf of Israel were for the purpose of revealing him to be the one and only God – ‘there is no other besides him’ (Deut 4:35). Additionally, they are to be understood as an outworking of his personal revelation of who he is (Exod 3:14). God’s works on behalf of Israel are an expression of his desire for relational intimacy with his chosen people – they reflect him drawing near. The nature of God’s promise of land to Israel adds additional weight to this point. The promised land was to be understood as an inheritance of God himself, because the promise was accompanied by God’s declaration that his Name would dwell there too (Deut 14:23). All of this is to say that God’s agenda in salvation history is to restore us to the place of being in his presence again. Deuteronomy, therefore, paints a forshadow of this agenda, which was inaugurated in Christ, and fulfilled in the giving of the Holy Spirit (though not fully experienced).
Our greatest inheritance is not God’s forgiveness, nor his justification, nor heaven, but God himself. These lesser blessings are blessings in as much as they make it possible for us to inherit God, not just as Saviour and Lord, but as Father, Treasure and Friend. Those who have the Holy Spirit experience God in these ways in the present. The fullest experience of God’s presence, however, is yet to come, in the New Heaven and New Earth.
For the Israelite on the plains of Moab, to be in God’s presence was to exercise faith in his word, by stepping into his promises in faith, specifically the conquering of the promised land, for that is where the Lord was to be especially present with his people. God’s involvement with Israel, therefore, is an example of him revealing his redemptive plan in the earthly realities of Israel’s history, for the purpose of foreshadowing the greater spiritual reality now realised in the giving of the Holy Spirit, for those who are in Christ.
After Israel inherited the promised land, the presence of God continued to be revealed primarily through God’s word, but the location of God’s earthly dwelling place narrowed down to a focus on the Temple (2 Sam 22:7). The emphasis shifted from encouraging Israel to conquer the land to exhorting them to repent and be obedient to God’s covenant, so that they might continue to live in the land, which would allow them to continue to live a life centred around the temple, where God’s presence dwelled in a unique way. The exile, therefore, was particularly painful for Israel, because it did not merely suggest that God had removed his blessing because of Israel’s sin, but that he had cast them out of his presence, evoking reminders of Adam and Eve being cast out of the garden (Gen 3).
Beyond God’s word, the promised land, and the temple, God’s presence has been inextricably associated with the presence and work of the Holy Spirit throughout history. In the Old Testament there are allusions to the need for all people to have the Spirit of God (Num 11:17, 25 & 29; 1 Sam 16:13; Ezek 36:26-28; Joel 2:28). Acts 2 is evidence that this has now been fulfilled through the giving of the Holy Spirit. Being sealed with the Spirit through faith (Eph 1:13) is the ultimate fulfilment of what the Old Testament tabernacle and temple foreshadowed. The Christian himself is now the new temple of God because the Holy Spirit resides within him (1 Cor 3:16; Eph 1:13). The extension of this is the church, that is, the body of believers, who collectively are being built into a dwelling place for God by his Spirit (Eph 2:22). God truly has drawn near in Jesus Christ, not merely because Jesus dwelled amongst us as a man, but also because Jesus as our representative, has entered the Father’s presence. If I am in Christ then I too, in a spiritual sence, also dwell in the Father’s presence. ‘For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf’ (Heb 9:24).
Bill Johnson argues that the ‘baptism of the Holy Spirit is the fulfilment of the Old Testament picture of entering the promised land’ and that ‘those who discover the value of his presence enter realms of intimacy with God never previously considered possible’. These statements are helpful for us to consider. All Christians have the Spirit of God, but there are varying degrees to which we submit to his leading, and pursue him in relationship, and therefore experience his presence. The degree to which a person dies to self and submits to the will of the Spirit, is the degree to which he is aware of the Spirit’s presence in his life. This is not to say that we can usher in the presence of God by our worship, nor is it to suggest that the Spirit is present in some circumstances but not others, as if he comes and goes in response to worship or lack thereof. God is omnipresent (Jer 23:24; Ps 139:7-10). However, despite God’s omnipresence, the Scriptures do make clear that God is uniquely present in believers (Eph 1:13), and especially present when believers gather together (Matt 18:20). And so despite God being present everywhere, his manifest presence can and does fluctuate.
The point is this. What the Scriptures testify to is that the Spirit of God is everywhere, but there are certain circumstances that result in him manifesting his presence in unique ways. This seems to be what James 4:8 is suggesting, along with Ps 22:3. Although ever-present, God responds to our attempts to draw near to him. As already discussed, the Scriptures depict a movement of God from ‘far’ to ‘near’ his people. This trajectory of drawing near continues throughout salvation history up to when God comes closer than ever before in Jesus, and beyond when he blesses believers with the indwelling of his Spirit. Mankind, however, is not passive in the process. We are required to embrace God’s initiative by stepping into his promises and making them our own, and this has direct consequences on us knowing his manifest presence in our lives, whether that be because our awareness of him increases, or because he chooses to manifest himself in a more profound supernatural manner.
The time is coming when redeemed humanity will enjoy the full manifestation of God’s presence in his eschatological kingdom. Although inaugurated in Christ, and realised in the giving of the Spirit, this reality is not yet experienced in full. Therefore, the trajectory from far to near continues. In this age, however, the onus has fallen upon us. God has already fully drawn near by choosing to dwell within those who have faith in his Son. Jesus has torn the curtain of the temple in two and given us his Spirit, purchasing for us unrestricted access to the Father. Will we embrace this reality and take up James’ call to draw near to him in return?
Relationships require investment. They don’t start out intimate. Yes, we have unrestricted access to the Father, through the Son. But access is different to intimacy. Access speaks of opportunity. Intimacy, on the other hand, is cultivated when a person takes advantage of such access. Everyone knows that the opportunity to know someone is not the same as knowing them. The degree to which we take advantage of our access to the Father, by pursuing him in relationship, is the degree to which we will know his presence, because to experience God’s presence is to experience him.
To conclude, for the Christian in the church age, to follow the Lord by obeying his word and walking in step with the Spirit, is to be in his presence, and the gathering of believers is a unique expression of it (Matt 18:20). We should seek, therefore, to give increasingly more of our lives over to the Spirit’s rule, as we pursue a functional relationship with God, defined by the parameters of his word. In doing this the divine presence will be made more manifest in our lives. So let’s respond to God’s initative of drawing near to us with his Spirit, by drawing near to him in return! May a desire be awakened within all of us to pursue the Lord with intention and fervour, that we might experience on earth as much of the heavenly reality as is available to be tasted this side of heaven, as we hope for the final and full expression of God’s presence in the New Heaven and New Earth!
by Peter Crowther, Student Minister
Johnson, Bill. When Heaven Invades Earth: A Practical Guide to a Life of Miracles. Shippensburg: Destiny Image Publishers, 2013. Kindle.
 The Macquarie Dictionary, 5th ed., 2013, defines inaugurated as: to make a formal beginning of; initiate; commence; begin.
 The Macquarie Dictionary, 5th ed., 2013, defines realized as: to make real, or give reality to.
 Bill Johnson, When Heaven Invades Earth: A Practical Guide to a Life of Miracles (Shippensburg: Destiny Image Publishers, 2013). Chp. 6. Kindle.
Sunday, 22 June 2014
By Eric and Carolyn Hatfield from the Justice and Mercy (JAM) Team
Carolyn and I first met Tim Costello at Black Stump Christian Arts Camps where he was teaching and leading seminars on social justice issues. We were impressed with his broad knowledge and the fact that he could speak for an hour without notes while holding his audience enthralled.
At that time he was pastoring Collins St Baptist Church in Melbourne and we heard stories of the more well-to-do parishioners having to step over homeless people sleeping on the church steps while coming to the morning service.
As a result of this obvious need, Tim began a ministry from his church to serve the marginalised in inner city Melbourne. When we visited Melbourne we were privileged to be invited to attend an informal evening service in the basement where these people felt comfortable to attend.
Tim is now well known as CEO of World Vision in Australia and a respected spokesperson on justice and overseas aid. He will be our guest at Saturday Night Church (SNC) on 26th July at 6pm to present us with an award. For the second year running we were the top money raising church in Australia for the World Vision 40 Hour Famine.
World Vision is one of the World's largest relief and development organisations with annual revenue of almost $3bn. It runs the 40 Hour Famine each year, and Menai Anglican Church has participated for more than a decade.
Tim's topic will be God's mission in the world, how Christians can relate to the community around us, and how the 40 Hour Famine is part of all that. Having visited many countries where World Vision has responded to disaster, war, famine or injustice, he shares from deep experience.
Joining him that night will be musician Levi McGrath, who will lead us in worship and share some of his own songs. Levi has volunteered overseas with World Vision.
It promises to be a great night of celebration, learning and being challenged to serve God in our world. 6pm Saturday 26 July.