23 September 2018

Welcome to everyone reading this Newsletter. It’s great to be part of Emmanuel and we’re glad that you are part of our “extended family on mission” too!

We’ve just had another really good hard rubbish collection experience! We got rid of heaps of stuff and almost all of it was taken by people putting it to good use. AND we got to recycle a piece of furniture from someone else’s pile which we’re now putting to good use too.

Did you know there are other forms of recycling which can help in our outreach to others?

Our most precious commodity (some would say) is time and the use of our time is something we have to manage carefully. Sometimes people say to me, “I’d love to get involved in ministry/mission in some way but I have no spare time!” We’ve all been there.

But what if we were able to recycle time? “What?” I hear you say, “How can we use time again?” Well, maybe the phrase “upcycling” is more appropriate. Here’s what I mean:

There are loads of activities we do every day, every week, every month, even every year. We do them over and over and over again. And usually with the same people (or on our own).

But how can that work for mission and ministry? (I acknowledge that some people need time by themselves so you don’t have do this with every activity . . . ) If I’m going to the movies, I try to think of someone else who might like to come. If I’m going to watch the footy on TV (whatever code) maybe there’s someone else who can come around and watch it with me – or maybe go to the local pub and watch it with a bunch of different folks.

This one is my absolute favourite though. I eat meals two to three times a day (at least!) I’m always going to be eating seven days a week. That’s 14-21 opportunities to share a meal with someone: you don’t know very well; you’d like to get to know better; you need to talk through an issue with; get advice from; try a new cafe with; you get the idea. And here’s the thing – they’re going to need to be eating all those times too so it’s not like you’re wasting your time or theirs either!

It’s an easy way to extend the “family” – what if we each tried to find just one of those 21 opportunities each week to include someone else? Might we change our little bit of the world? Maybe . . . how many times do we read of Jesus sharing a meal . . . just saying . . .

God bless,  Ian.

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9 September 2018

Welcome to everyone reading this Newsletter.

I’ve just come from a visitor’s night at Girls Brigade where Fathers, Uncles, Grandads or other special males were invited to help make a crazy golf course which we then later did our best to conquer. What a great night and wonderful to see the culture of inviting visitors to our activities developing in our next generation! I hope there’ll be many more events and special services that we can feel confident to invite our family, friends and especially people who don’t yet know Jesus to. Plans are underway for one such event at Christmas – stay tuned for more details!

To help us in this task, Trinity College is hosting a night with Dr Sam Chan on Thursday 1st November on the topic, “Things I wish I knew when telling my friends about Jesus”. Please let me know if you are interested in going as we can get a group discount with 5 or more people. Their next open night is also coming up fast this Monday night 10th September, 7-9pm.

We had to very interesting conversations on Tuesday with regards to same gender marriage. A total of about 35 people attended and most people who attended felt able to express their feelings and opinions. Some of our Elders were able to be there and they will feedback into the next stage which is that our Church Council will now make a decision about whether to allow such marriages to take place in our buildings at Emmanuel. We expect to meet on Monday 17th and would value your prayers for that occasion. 

Speaking of prayers, I came across this article in Eternity Magazine (online) 28th August, 2018, on how to pray for our new Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, who is a practising, Pentecostal Christian . I commend it to you not just for the Prime Minister but for all our parliamentary representatives.

10 Things to pray for our Prime Minister

Do pray for him, rather than preach at him.

Do see his appointment as a responsibility, rather than claiming him as your right.

Do encourage him, rather than instruct him.

Do ask God for his blessing and protection on his family, rather than being only committed to his support for yours.

Do realise that his responsibility is to govern for all Australians, not just those of your denomination or expression of faith.

Do seek his peace, rather than have a piece of him.

Do attempt to understand the pressures of the office, rather than add pressure on him from your office.

Do intercede for God’s agenda to operate through him, rather than push your agenda to him.

Do use your social media influence to build up, rather than “grand stand” or point scoring to your mates.

And most of all …

Every AM pray for your PM!

God bless,  Ian.

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26 August Newsletter

Welcome to everyone reading this Newsletter.

Today is a good day to celebrate belonging to Emmanuel. Many churches around the world celebrate Patronal Festivals (the festival where your Patron Saint is honoured) and this can be ours. Perhaps every year on the last Sunday in August we will gather for this purpose. Thank you to everyone who has contributed to making this day happen, especially Jess, Russell and Cheryl and all those who’ve supported them. What wonderful people we have in our church!

With new signs, flags, audio/visual equipment in the hall, and some much-needed renno’s in the admin area, and new furniture in the foyer on their way, it feels like we’re getting ourselves set for some fresh beginnings. Two other things, which will help us on our way in 2019, are a Congregational Consultation in early November and next month I will be launching a new initiative called “Deep Foundations” in which I will gather all those in leadership at our church for some extra input and training. There is good reason for optimism into the future.

In which case, it will be great to offer our annual tithing commitments and any other general thanksgiving offering today as a sign of our investment into the ministry of our church. If you are not able to make such a commitment today (or have simply forgotten your pledge forms), you are welcome to deliver them to the office in due course.

Today also marks the end of our period of prayer and fasting to consider our response to the 15th Assembly decision to allow for Same Gender Marriage in the Uniting Church. As part of our ongoing discernment process, at Church Council the other night, I was asked to facilitate two conversations at our church to allow for comments, questions and just being heard on the issue by any member of the congregation who wishes to. To that end there will be two conversations held on Tuesday 4th September: one at 9:30am and then again at 7pm, here at church. They will be no more and no less than conversations between interested people. If you would like to do some further reading on the issue we have made available three documents: the Assembly’s Working Group on Doctrine report “Marriage & Same Gender relationships”; a pastoral Letter from the President of the Assembly; and a proposal called “Standing Firm by Stepping Aside”. There are a limited number of printed copies available in the foyer today or you can ask for them to emailed to you via the office. I have also included my critique of the current situation at the request of Church Council.

So, plenty to read, plenty to think about and plenty to celebrate – let’s keep giving God all we have and remember that because of Jesus and in the power of His Spirit we do indeed experience Emmanuel – God with us!

God bless,  Ian.

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12 August Newsletter

Welcome to everyone reading this Newsletter.

I hope by now you’ve received your 2018 stewardship letter, including response forms, and are planning to join us for our “Emmanuel Day” Celebration Service, followed by our Big Brunch and family games. It should be a great day to give thanks to God for all he’s given us and to offer ourselves afresh to the mission he’s calling us to!

You know me well enough by now to realise that I try to keep these letters bright and breezy but today marks the beginning of some rather more serious dialogue.

Many in the Uniting Church, me included, feel betrayed by the 15th Assembly’s resolution 64 which provides for an additional understanding of marriage to include marriage between partners of the same gender. They wish us to believe that it is perfectly reasonable to hold two mutually exclusive beliefs about marriage as equally valid. On the one hand they wish us to say “Christians believe that marriage is exclusively between a man and a woman” and on the other that “Christians believe marriage can be between any two persons, regardless of gender”. Whilst the second allows for the first, the first certainly does not allow for the second. So they have delivered us an illogical, nonsense, (and one which places us, especially registered marriage celebrants, in legal jeopardy if challenged).

But there are two, far more serious grievances.

1. The Assembly decided that this was not a matter of “vital importance to the church” and therefore that it did not require wider consultation or “concurrence” (agreement between all of the Councils of the Church, ie, Assembly, Synod, Presbytery, Church Council and especially you, the members of the congregations).

In claiming that marriage between two persons of the same gender is “biblically valid” they have in effect led our church into what is known as Apostasy (heresy – ie rejecting a religious belief). Let me state this again - there is absolutely no biblical affirmation for homosexual marriage – not one scrap. The only “biblically valid” form of marriage affirmed by scripture is the traditional one, between a man and a woman.

The horrendous truth before us is that our church leadership neither value our opinions nor worse, is quite happy to mislead us into false teaching. How could this happen? I have included a reflection from a UCA Minister from NSW for one perspective.

As a result, many congregations are agonising over whether to leave the Uniting Church, and some already have. In fact, any congregation which is not considering their future is in effect saying, “We agree with this new teaching on marriage”.

By my reckoning we are about two thirds of the way through our 40 days of prayer and fasting. In addition, this past week I have been on four days retreat focussing on how to respond both pastorally and institutionally. I urge you, please, to pray for our Church Council as we face this crisis and try to find a way through. [I can tell you there are moves afoot, amongst wider networks, to find alternative ways of belonging whilst still maintaining our integrity as orthodox Christians and I (amongst many others) am working hard to find a palatable solution.]

God bless,   Ian.

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29 July Newsletter

Welcome everyone! If you’re reading this for the first time or the hundredth, online or in print we hope you will find something of our character contained herein and that being part of God’s people at Emmanuel will bless you.

Thank you to all those who filled in for preaching, newsletters etc whilst I was on leave – it’s good to know, although not at all unexpected, that the place can run smoothly without me! 

I’ve already said plenty about the ups and downs of my “time off’ but one thing remains clear – God is with us. I have seen God work in amazing ways over the past few weeks both in sadness and in joy. I have witnessed the generosity of friends and the care of strangers. I’ve said hello to new family members and goodbye to old ones. I’ve visited places I’ve never seen before and returned to places I’ve called home.

But to be frank, the one thing that keeps me going is understanding who I am in God. He is the unchanging one, the everlasting God, the same yesterday today and forever. “In him we live and move and have our being”, as St Paul said when preaching to the Athenians at the Areopagus:

 Acts 17:24-28 (NIV) 24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

Rick Warren (author of ‘The Purpose Driven Life”) once said, “Real security can only be found in that which can never be taken from you – your relationship with God.”

It is a precious thing to be called a child of God. It is the most precious relationship we can have. And we can only have it by trusting in his son Jesus. Feeling tossed about or uncertain, got anxieties or stress, relationships strained or finances crumbling? Jesus is the rock on which we stand and on whom we depend. If you’ve never done it before, find out about and start following the ways, words and works of Jesus, for he is the Way, the Truth and the Life!

God bless,  Ian.

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15 July Newsletter

Hey hey hey! Hello to everyone reading this in worship and online. After a great (and full) week at Day Camp last week, I’m back to enjoying my ‘downtime’ between bible college semesters and the time that gives me to catch up on some professional reading (that isn’t a textbook or lecture notes). 

I’ve recently finished “Family on Mission” by Mike and Sally Breen, and am part way through “Sowing, Reaping, Keeping” by Laurence Singlehurst. They are both great reads and come highly recommended. I’ve found that they nicely complement the things I’ve been learning at college, especially around faith formation and mission. 

Over the last few weeks we’ve heard from Joy and Dom about sowing seeds and being part of God’s family. If you missed these sermons I encourage you to listen to them online or on our Church App. Some of the things that I’ve been reminded about through these is that mission is not about where we see a need, or where we think that we should do some good work; but that we must see where God is already at work, where He has sown seeds and join His Family to do His mission. 

In “Family on Mission” Mike Breen says, “Missional purpose is about listening for the word of Jesus, living in the way of Jesus, and practicing the works of Jesus.” One morning at home, while I was reading this book, my kids asked what I was reading. I explained it was a book about mission which led to a great conversation. I asked them what they thought our family mission was and they offered a few suggestions. “To get to school on time” and “to get Lachlan to band practice before 7:20am” stick in my mind. These are things our family struggles with but wasn’t quite what I had in mind. I continued to ask questions, and we talked about Jesus’ mission, and the mission he gave us. We pulled out a bible, looked up the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19) and they decided that was a pretty good one to adopt as ours too. I realised at that time, that we do already work as a family on mission. We eat, read, learn, laugh, grow, pray and rest together. It takes the effort of our whole family working together to do life. We don’t always do it perfectly, but I think we are getting better at it, and as we do, our faith grows. 

Faith formation can be a long and slow process, led by the Holy Spirit, with us playing our part. John Westerhoff’s research found that the first stage of faith is experiential, where people experience God, through his people. The next stage is affiliative, where people feel they are part of and contribute to the community. In “Sowing, Reaping, Keeping”, Laurence Singlehurst says we are to sow seeds first by building relationships and showing others that ‘God is good, and we are ok’. With these in mind, I believe then that this is what our mission is now, to help those in our community experience God through us, make them feel welcome and like they belong to our community.  

I see God already working in many places in our community; Enoggera State School, Tiny Town, Playgroup, Boys’ and Girls’ Brigades and Day Camp to name just a few. Are you ready to join him? Are you ready be real people who listen to the word of God? Do you have relevant faith and try to live as Jesus does? Are you ready to be God’s hands and feet for our community? If you are, welcome aboard, if not, what do you need to be ready? I’d love to talk to you more about any of this!

God Bless,

Jess Pinkerton (Families Pastor)

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1 July Newsletter

Welcome to everyone reading this newsletter. I believe that Jesus led a life worth imitating. A life where His primary concern was how He was glorifying the Father and calling people to a life of discipleship. As I try to follow Jesus I find myself challenged with the question: “Is what I’m doing able to be imitated and is it worth imitating?”

There are so many assumptions around Christianity which stops people from being willing to engage in faith. Sometimes we find ourselves believing that because others are confident in their delivery of prayer we ourselves lack the skill or authority to pray in public. Or we are so impressed and appreciative of the style that people have when they lead prayer that we start believing that because we don’t do what they do then we don’t feel comfortable praying out loud. Fundamentally prayer is a part of discipleship that we need to ensure that we are being genuine and authentic about. In Matthew 6:7-8 Jesus says:

“And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”

Jesus goes on to teach us the Lord’s prayer. Once again giving an example of how discipleship should be able to be imitated.

During Church services at Emmanuel we have prayer that is led by a worship leader. Part of what we work towards as worship leaders is using language that encourages people to know that no matter where they are they too are able to pray. The key point of how we conduct ourselves in leading worship is having people, regardless of their previous experience, be able to say “yeah I can do that”. The same should apply with all that we do as disciples of Jesus.

Even outside of the worship service we continue to see how a life of discipleship is one that must be able to be imitated.

We start to consider if we’re behaving in a way that enriches people's lives and helps them in their relationship with Christ. If we boil it down to helping people in their relationship with Christ sometimes it becomes easier. Instead of trying to be overly complicated and smart sounding we end up going for the answer that comes most simply: “I am loved by Christ. The people around me are loved by Christ. Who I am, what I do and how I treat people should reflect that”. Those are the simple words which, when lived by, ends up being imitable. Through which we end up sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with everybody we meet.

Grace and Peace

Dom Chan

Worship Pastor

 

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17 June Newsletter

Welcome to everyone reading this newsletter. 

At Emmanuel we believe that God is with us each and every day and that by learning about and following Jesus we get “closer” to God who helps us make better sense of the world and our part in it. 

In fact in the bible, in one place (James 4:8) it says, “Come near to God and he will come near to you.”

That’s an amazing thought isn’t it? That: the God of the Universe is willing to come near to us. In ancient days people thought of God as remote and disinterested in what humans were up to. Kind of like a watch-maker who makes the watch, winds it up and sets it running and leaves us to it.

But that’s not the God that Jesus taught people about. In fact, as we discussed in church last week, (and if you like you can listen on our website to the sermon from 10th June) when Jesus walked the earth, he was trying to help people understand that he, was in fact, God. That getting to know Jesus was and is how you get to know God. 

And what we discover about Jesus is that he is intimately concerned with what is going on in our lives. He understands what it is like to be human and in another place in the bible (John 10:10) we discover that, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full”. In other words, Jesus came so that we could make the absolute most out of life. 

So we commit ourselves to learning from Jesus, or as they call it in the bible, becoming his disciples. And the following is a discipleship prayer which you may like to pray (or one like it) at the start of each day:

“Lord, show me the world through your eyes today.

Show me where you are at work today.

Whisper in my ear when you need me to speak

(Gag me when you need me to listen!)

Cause me to pray & work for healing, 

Cause me to pray & work for justice, 

Cause me to pray & work for reconciliation.

Cause me to see where I need to ask for forgiveness and

Cause me to see when I need to forgive

Make my heart beat in time to yours, Lord,

I want to do only what I see you doing!”

In Jesus name, Amen

As I write this I have just over 24 hrs before I head off overseas to spend a month in the UK. Some of the time I’ll be with our son Jack, and the rest with colleagues and friends. You’ll be in good hands with our other staff members and elders. I’ll be back in church on Sunday 15th July – see you then!

God bless,  Ian.

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3 June Newsletter

Welcome to our latest newsletter! If you’re visiting with us today please do make yourself known so that we can show you around and enthuse about our church – which is awesome! We welcome Dr Paul Hedley Jones, from Trinity College Queensland as our guest preacher today on 3rd June.

Last week in the sermon we took a “romp” through the Sermon on the Mount. That is to say we covered three chapters in frightening speed. The reason was simply to point out that choosing to live by the words of Jesus is much easier said than done and that if we really do want to build our lives on the firm foundations of Jesus’ words – then we each have some challenges.

It could be that some of the material brought up issues for you – you are not alone! They certainly did for me. But if there was any sense of confusion or even conviction of sin, what are we to do about it?

Here are some suggestions:

Write it down, so you don’t forget that God might be speaking to you directly about that issue.

Spend some time reflecting on what you are feeling and thinking. Remember, the Holy Spirit does not condemn but He often does bring a sense of conviction about an issue.

You may realise that you need to take some kind of action – perhaps ask forgiveness of another person and of God.

1 John 1:9 (NIV) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Matthew 18:21-22 (NIV) 21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

You may need to confess a sin – go carefully, but find a trusted Christian friend and/or one of our staff and tell them, in confidence, what you have done

James 5:15-16 (NIV) . . . If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

Recognise that your sins, once confessed have been forgiven by our gracious God through then loving sacrifice of Jesus our Saviour.

Then rejoice!

NB: Our duty of care and safe ministry guidelines now require us to report serious sins (which have broken the law) to the appropriate authorities. There are consequences for our actions in this life, even if we have received eternal forgiveness. None the less, if you believe yourself to be in this category, please still consider beginning to work through this, with me, if you like.

God bless,  Ian.

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