An Ordinary Miracle

Written by Anthony Douglas on Wednesday, 03 May 2017.

The beautiful thing about testimonies is that they are all different. Everyone has their own story. Everyone has their own experience. We love to hear the dramatic tales of those who overcame addiction, war torn counrties, illness or had a dramatic change of heart, like Paul on the road to Damascus. They encourage us when our lives are full of uncertantiy and doubt. But many of us don’t have a story like that. Many of us are like Peter. We are just hanging out in a boat and next thing we know, we are being called to follow Jesus.

Maree’s story is just like that. Simple. But a story that is as importanat as any other and certainly worth sharing!

I owe my conversion to one of God’s ordinary everyday miracles: geography. When I was a child, my parents were not Christians , but God placed my family home directly opposite a church. So my parents sent me off to Sunday School and allowed me to go to any kids’ activities that I wanted; it required no effort on their part. When I was 10, I went to a church service with the Girls’ Brigade (a group a bit like kids’ club), and heard the minister explain (actually in a sermon on Esther!) how each of us needed to believe in Jesus as our Saviour, declare our faith in him and commit our lives to follow him. I realised that I believed and so stood up to become a Christian.

I did not understand everything about Christianity at that stage, but I am profoundly thankful that God enabled me to begin my life with him at an early age. When hard things happened in my life later, I do not know how I would have coped without the support only God and his people can give.

An Ordinary MiracleMaree Stavert

Love in Struggle

Written by Anthony Douglas on Wednesday, 26 April 2017.

Kyck is always a great time away. The experience, atmosphere and group bonding that happens, can have a lasting impact on those who attend. This week we have Chelsea Bevan, a SPY attendee and Junior Leader talking about her experience becoming a Christian.

I grew up in a non-Christian family; however, my sister Brooke, and I would attend the Kids’ Church, Playgroup and Kids’ Club. We are known around the place for being the first youth to rock up on the very first day of SPY. Even though I attended SPY, went to scripture at school and went to these church groups, I did not see myself as a Christian. I believe I truly opened my mind to being a Christian while attending the first Kyck I went to with SPY in 2013. I looked around and saw all these young Christians and felt as if this was something I could believe too.

During Year 9 and 10 at Bomaderry High School I struggled with mental illness. I lost my friends, my hope and also my faith. It was through the love I found at church, especially from my youth leaders and now close friends, Jonathan and Amanda, that I came to call myself a Christian and regained my faith.

As I look back on that time of mental illness, I can see how the love and support I was receiving came not just from them. That love, I could see, was shaped and empowered by God and his love for them and also for me.

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I am proud to say I am healthier and stronger in my faith and I have my church and God to thank for that.

Chelsea Bevan

Another Year As God's Friend

Written by Anthony Douglas on Friday, 21 April 2017.

Over the next few weeks we will have the opportunity of hearing how people in our community came to know Jesus... starting with David Mulready:

Although I’d been to Sunday School and a Church School I didn’t understand what the Christian Faith was all about until I was 17. I’d been to some Christian camps run by “Crusaders” and then at an Easter Camp the Lord opened my eyes to see that Jesus had died on the Cross to pay the punishment that my sins deserved. I committed my life to Him and have followed Him ever since.

I have failed the Lord many times but He has never failed me. Over the years I’ve sought to grow in my understanding of God through regular Bible reading, prayer and regularly sitting under the teaching of God’s Word at Church.

I prayed that the Lord would give me a Christian wife which He did when I married Maureen 46 years ago. Together we’ve served the Lord in ministry for all of those years. We’ve also prayed for our three children and are thrilled that they too are serving the Lord with their marriage partners. Now we’re praying for our five grandchildren aged 4 to 13 that they will commit themselves to Christ.

The greatest joy I have is knowing the Lord and knowing that my sins and the sins of Maureen and our children have been forgiven on the basis of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Easter is like a birthday for me as I celebrate another year as God’s friend. David Mulreadyfamily-hands-copy

The Nature of Sacrifice

Written by Anthony Douglas on Thursday, 06 April 2017.

The ancient world was a dangerous place for domesticated animals. Sacrifices were all the rage - to win the favour of the gods for your crops and herds, or to deflect whatever misfortune had come upon you, and everything in between. In many cases it was simply part of the rhythm of life.

And so it feels very far away. Our pets are safe, though the chickens have been asking after their eggs... Yet the concept persists. We speak of people making sacrifices all the time: the dedicated athlete, the devoted parent, the ambitious careerist. No longer is the thing sacrificed merely a household’s animal; now it is more likely to be our time, our money, our freedom or our futures. In many ways it is now more costly than it once was.

So why, in our more godless modern world, do people continue to make such sacrifices? The answer, usually, is that it’s an exchange. The sporting champion gives up some of their childhood in hope that it will make the difference between competence and glory for them. The young graduate works late each night in hope of future promotions. Sometimes the exchange is retrospective, such as a parent wanting to give their child the same precious upbringing that they received years ago.

Agnus DeiWhat’s remarkable about Jesus’ sacrifice? Let me count the ways: he sacrifices himself, which is unusual; it is us that gain from the sacrifice more than him; and most significant of all, where we sacrifice to gain an advantage, Jesus’ sacrifice restores him to his proper place. He isn’t paying his price for what he wants, he’s paying our price for trying to deny him.

The Big Wet

Written by Anthony Douglas on Sunday, 02 April 2017.

It was around a fortnight ago that the weather bureau was spruiking a story for the press about how light a cyclone season it had been for Australia this year. There had been a relatively mild cyclone called Blanche that gave the Top End a drenching at the start of March, but that was the worst of it. It was a puzzling anomaly that had meteorologists across the world scratching their heads, according to the manager of climate prediction services, Dr Andrew Watkins. “The projections are for fewer tropical cyclones but when we do get them, they will potentially be more intense, just not this year,” he told the press.

Those last few words remind us of our limitations. For all our satellites and computer modelling, we still can’t see what is coming with certainty. We are, in the end, at the mercy of God.

Indeed. It’s the mercy of God that he promised never to flood the world again back in Genesis 9. While Debbie has been very busy this week, nevertheless we know that the waters will recede. While sadly there has been loss of life, nevertheless these have been the exceptions, rather than universal.

DebbieWe know, however, that God has set a day when Jesus will return to claim his planet and his people, and to establish justice for all. Debbie and all our other disasters remind us not to get too comfortable, too smug, too sure of our futures. They point us back to Jesus as our saviour, and remind us of the truth our world tries so hard to ignore...

That we are, in the end, at the mercy of God.

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