Monday, November 26, 2012

The Blessing and Challenge of Family...

I have been thinking a lot recently about the blessing and the challenge of family and of being a parent.  Parenting is something that I think we "grow" into, although I don't think that makes it necessarily any easier. And yet the time that we spend with our children can be some of the happiest moments of our lives.

I am sure that although we meet each other daily, or weekly at school, or church or bible study, I am not convinced that we share with one another just how difficult and demanding being a parent can be.  Do we continue to perpetuate the motherhood myth and just pretend that we somehow have it all together? Are we really keen to help others and be an encouragement or are we just so busy caught up in our own little world that we do not have the time or energy to be involved in each others lives.

How can we know that the women we are speaking to at church has just lost a baby in miscarriage...are we aware of the things that we say, do we stop to ask the difficult questions?  These were some of the issues that we raised at our recent Flourish Conference. I was wondering how we are all getting on out there?  What have we gone on to be involved in?  Have we been inspired and challenged?  Sometimes it seems that life just goes on regardless and we are too caught up in it all to be reflective or even to have time to pray.

How has the Lord been ministering to you?  How have you been able to be really present in the lives of your children? What a great challenge it is. Despite the busyness of this time of year and all the energy that is required, it is so reassuring to  know that we can take refuge under the wings of the Lord and find rest in Him.

  5 Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. 6 He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. 7 My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. 8 Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.
Psalm 62 Verses 5-8

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Praying for our children.

I had been taking my kids to this school for over three years before I met another Christian parent. I had made plenty of friends over that time but none knew Jesus as their lord and saviour. Well, if any did, I hadn't discovered it.

It was a good school in many ways - it still is, but the school hierarchy were resistant to the idea of a chaplain or even Scripture taking place in the school. It had been made plain to me by the Acting Principal that he didn't believe kids should be taught such fairy tales in school!

When the new principal arrived, she too saw no role for a chaplain or Scripture in the school. It is the local Public Primary School. We live just across the road and up the hill a bit - less than 5 minutes walk there seeing it is all down hill. It takes a little longer to get home at the end of a long day.

I have now had kids at the school for nearly 12 years and assuming we stay in the area we will have kids there for another 4! I am part of the furniture.

In my 4th year at the school a change took place. I kept meeting Christian mothers. A family of 6 children with 5 of them at the school who had recently moved South from Alice Springs; A mother of 2, the wife of a Church of Christ minister; a grandmother from the local brethren church; another grandma helping with school pickups for her twin grandchildren....

An idea started to form. Maybe it was time to start a prayer group for this school! So after a few conversations with these new friends and much trepidation I approached the principal to get details of the group included in the school newsletter. I was expecting criticism and objections but they didn't come. She may not want Scripture being taught in the school but she was very happy to know there were people meeting to pray for the school, the teachers, the students and the community.

We now meet 3-4 times a term, we are still only a small group of about 5-6 parents and grandparents though we rarely get that many to the prayer meeting. About 15 parents have been involved over the years as children have come to the school and then moved on to other schools. We pray, we encourage each other to evangelise our friends and contacts in the school, we have donated Christian books to the library and run thank you morning teas for the staff.

My eldest left the school and moved to the high school next door - we started praying for the high school too! The High School has a Chaplain - she started coming to the prayer group so we could encourage and support her in her job. My daughter left the school and moved to another high school in the area, we started praying for that school too! We pray for our children as they live as Christians within a secular school environment, as they think about sharing the love of Jesus with their friends.

I am amazed at times as I see friends of my children going to different churches as they have been invited, as several are now going to Boys' and Girls' Brigades with my children and hearing about Jesus there.

There is still no Scripture taught at this public primary school but God is obviously at work. He reminds me often that He is greater than I am. He can work in the hearts of people even in a school that sees no place for Him.

Please join us as we pray that God will touch the lives of parents, teachers and children in the Public Schools of our country. Pray that Christians will shine the light of Christ as they live and participate in these communities. Pray that many of the parents and children will have a chance to hear about Jesus because individual Christians within their school communities are seeking to be faithful witnesses to Him.

Oh, and maybe you could start a prayer group of parents and friends for your local school!

Friday, November 2, 2012

A Surprise Conversation

I was chatting to a friend. Not an easy conversation as she was upset about something she had had to do. It did not come easily to her so she wanted to talk. Talk we did. It was one of those times when friendships suddenly deepen as we share more of ourselves than we intend, or expect.

I was chatting to a friend. We help each other out in lots of ways. We look after each others kids, our kids are at the same school, in the same teeball team, have danced together in the past, have attended each others birthday parties. Our daughters are often mistaken for sisters because they know each other so well they bicker and spat and laugh and play.

I was chatting to a friend and I was surprised to discover she couldn't wait to be invited to church with me. In fact she was thrilled that we had asked her to come along. It was something she felt she needed to sort out and so jumped at the chance. She came the next Sunday and plans to come this Sunday too!

I was chatting to a friend and she wants to learn about the Bible. I asked if she would like to start reading through Mark with me and she has agreed! WOW.

I was chatting to a friend. She wants to start TODAY! Can we do some each week? Thursdays are good days to meet!

Why am I surprised? I have been praying for an opportunity to invite my friend to Church. I have been praying for a chance to ask her to read the Bible with me. Thanks Father for answering my prayer!

Women's ministry doesn't need to be big, or organised, or formal. It can be as small as chatting to a friend!

Friday, September 28, 2012

So what is next?

That is so often the question after a conference!

Flourish 2012 happened almost 2 months ago and we have all gone back to our lives and ministries. We have got back into the routines of life and are busy with the normal flow of things in our lives. For me that has meant sick kids (winter is like that!), teaching Sunday School, work, housework, meeting with friends, meetings, reading, watching movies and a whole range of day to day activities that are just too routine to mention. With a son in year 12 and a daughter about to change schools there always seems to be something going on in our household.

So where do we go from here?

Last Thursday I had the chance to share about what happened at Flourish with a group of women here in Perth. It was a small group - as is so often the case here - but none had been able to attend either conference and few really knew much of what it was about so it was a great chance to open up the discussions with these ladies.

The good thing was getting to open up the topic and the history. The difficult thing is that such a session can really only give a small glimpse of what went on over 2 days back in July in Sydney!

So what is next? More talking I suspect! More prayer, I hope. More opportunities to talk with individuals about how women and men can partner together to reach out to people with the Good News that Jesus loves them and has died to set us free.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Flourish 2012 continued... Fighting for our Daughters

One of the practical workshops that I attended at Flourish 2012 was with Letitia Shelton, entitled "Fighting for our Daughters". It was an incredibly challenging workshop that really inspired me to get more involved with ministry to girls in our community.  Letitia spoke about how she started working with a small group of girls and how that initial contact with teenage girls demonstrated so clearly to her how much teenage girls need to hear about the love of Jesus and to be shown love. 

Letitia now leads a group of 10 churches in Toowoomba, which has formed a group called City Women who work together to provide a range of opportunities for teenage girls and young single Mum's in the community.  Girl's Getaway camps are one of these such events and since they first started, 800 girls in the local area have heard the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Bella Chicks is a Friday night fun filled group which meets in a local shopping centre, it is designed for girls in year 6 and 7 and  is aimed at building positive relationships. Also, Bella Sistahs offers mentorship and discipleship for girls keen to develop their own personal values and beliefs – to truly live out what they believe.

Another initiative that Letitia Shelton is involved with is, the creation of a positive magazine for girls, Bella which provides girls with an alternative to "Dolly" and "Cleo". Bella reinforces positive images and role models for teenage girls without exposing them to inappropriate sexualization and harmful messages.

 Bella is a non-profit magazine that is a catalyst for a cultural revolution, reversing the tide of self-damaging attitudes and trends imposed upon our young women.

In August Bella Magazine was launched in Launceston, Tasmania by MP Michael Ferguson & his daughter Eloise. In Tasmania Bella is available at Koorong and Birchalls. Bella subcriptions are available here.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Created to create...

Have you ever wondered where the creative part of you comes from? Maybe you don’t think of yourself as creative? But do you bake? Are you good at organising? Can you sing? Do you enjoy writing? Are you clever with wit? Do you enjoy making your house a home? Do you like to teach? Are you a wizz on the computer? Can you make people feel welcome in your home? Are you good at your job? Do you invest in the lives of your children? Creativity takes so many forms! 

The Bible starts with God the creator... we all know the opening lines of the bible so well... “in the beginning God created...” the heavens and the earth, the sky, the sea, the plants, the fish, the animals... and last of all he created mankind... and you know, he looked around, and everything he saw was good... but mankind was VERY good! I wonder if you’ve ever imagined the creative process for God... do you look at the range of fish, for example? I get blow away when I think about their differences... did he laugh as he created the cat fish or the electric eel... did he think of the power of the shark and the whale... when he made the tiny fish he considered their need for community... did he invent new colours to paint these creatures with... of course he did... he took time and imagination... we are still discovering the hidden depths of the world... beauty that is even now undiscovered... you could study a whole lifetime and never see every type of creature... plant... bird... planet... that God has created! His creative powers are limitless! God loves beauty! “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse”

The bible says “he alone spreads out the heavens, and treads on the waves of the sea... he made the stars, the causes the mountains to move at his will... “. Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise him in the heights above. Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his heavenly hostls. Praise him, sun and moon; praise him, all you shining stars. Praise him, you highest heavens and you waters above the skies. Let them praise the name of the Lord, for at his command they were created, and he established them for ever and ever... praise the lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths, lightning and hail, snow and clouds, stormy winds and do his bidding, you mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars, wild animals and all cattle, small creatures and flying birds, kings of the earth and all nations, you princes and all rulers on earth, young men and women, old men and children. Let them praise the name of the Lord...” All through the bible God’s creative talents are evident! 

But when he’d finished making all the natural world and the creatures in it he made mankind in His image! “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; you works are wonderful, I know that full well!... all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”  God fashioned mankind with love and care, shaping us in his image... making us to love and enjoy relationship... to celebrate life... to enjoy the wind on our faces... to smell the beauty of the flowers... to taste... to see glorious colour... it wasn’t random... it took the creative power of the God of the universe to make that happen! 

I’m sure you’ve thought about the way the body works, how we are built full of such complex emotions, depth of feelings, gifts and talents, how the muscles in our bodies work, how the tiniest part of the brain can move something so far away, how the body fights illness, there are so many depths of the human we haven’t even begun to fully understand. The bible say “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; you works are wonderful, I know that full well!... all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” You know, God does more than look and enjoy us... he delights in us! Yep! Our lives can get really messy, we can feel unloved, we can stuff things up and beat up on ourselves... but God delights in us! We bring joy to him... can you imagine! The God who created all things looks and he sees YOU! Yes, you! And he takes pleasure, and even more when you acknowledge him and come to him for love. 

There’s a great example in Exodus where the temple is needing building and God said to Moses, “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts — to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of craftsmanship. Moreover, I have appointed Oholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, to help him. Also I have given skill to all the craftsmen to make everything I have commanded you.” Do you notice there that God gives each one skills and creative ability that suits us and that we can use... every one of us have creativity built into us... 

That’s where you get your creativity from... the one who made you... who looks at you and sees something that is VERY good! The one who has given each of us gifts and talents to use... The one who considered you worth sending His Son to die on the cross for so that you could be made perfect one day! He is the one who puts creativity in you! If that doesn’t move you, nothing will! 

And one day his creation will be made perfect so we can enjoy it in peace and harmony forever. Revelation talks about the new creation... God’s ultimate creative demonstration... “Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth”, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Imagine a world where there is no sadness, no war, no destruction, no pain...
So next time you get creative... in whatever way rocks your boat... think about the One who made you and loves you... and think about how you can use your creativity to help those around you!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Dear Stay at Home Mum!

My dad sent me this to encourage me today... and I thought I'd share it with you (apologies for the narrow demographic!)

Dear Stay-at-Home Mom,
You are a gift of God to your husband and your kids.
But you don’t always feel that way, do you?
There’s a low-level feeling of guilt that creeps into your heart from time to time. Sometimes it bubbles over into tears, usually on lonely, difficult days.
You scan blogs and read books about being a good mom. You find some helpful tidbits here and there, often from women who are grandmothers now. Women you can learn from but who seem to have forgotten the struggle. They seem to have it all together.
In your heart, you want to be the kind of mom who trains up kids to make a difference for the kingdom. You know it’s an honor to be entrusted with these kids. You know you’ve only got one shot. You want to be the mom who teaches them the Bible, models how to pray, and trains them up in the fear of the Lord.
But most of the time you feel like you’re barely holding it all together.
Your house cleaning can’t keep up with your kids’ mess-making.
The kids embarrass you by acting up right when your guests arrive.
Your husband doesn’t get just how worn out you are by the end of the day.
You come to the end of your patience. You lose your temper. Then you feel worse.
The last thing you consider yourself to be is a “good mom.” And you think to yourself, It’ll be a miracle if my kids turn out okay.
And – surprisingly – that’s right where God wants to meet you. The place where you admit your powerlessness and your need for Him.
It’s only by God’s grace that any kid grows up to be a force for the kingdom.
You see, there are no perfect kids and no perfect mothers. No matter what you read in blogs, see in magazines, and learn in books. There are sinful kids and sinful moms and dads.
And the only thing greater than both is the grace of God. The God who says “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” The God who loves to forgive, to transform, and empower.
God loves you – not because you are a good mother but just because you are His precious child.
God loves you – not because you’ve mastered all the skills of parenting but because He has.
It’s divine grace that will transform your parenting – not guilt.
It’s grace that will keep you going and serving and scrubbing when you’re exhausted and worn out.
It’s grace that will conquer your feelings of inadequacy and remind you of God’s love for you in Christ.
It’s grace that goes for the heart of your kids, not just their behavior.
God has demonstrated the fullness of His love for you through the cross of His Son, even while you were still a sinner.
He has promised you His presence.
He has spoken His approval over you in Christ.
He is the perfect Father who delights in you as a daughter.
Find in Him your Treasure and Joy. Be to others what He is to you.
So walk in freedom. Let Him hold you together when everything seems to be falling apart.
Bask in His unfailing love for you. And rest in His promise of power.

by Trevin Wax

(you can find the direct link at

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Reflecting on Flourish 2012

Life is crazy! Often it's tough! Sometimes it seems impossible! Encouragement isn't always as easy to find as it should be! But, you know what, Flourish was like a little oasis in the midst of life! It was so good to get alongside such a wonderful assortment of gifted, enthusiastic, Christ-centred women (and men!). It felt good to have one's soul enriched and to go back home feeling glad to have come, full of ideas, ready to get back into it!

So, what were some of the highlights for me!?

I was so encouraged to be around some godly men in leadership who wanted to be there to encourage women's ministries, to build up not tear down. It's not always obvious but it makes such a difference when women feel supported, heard, and encouraged by male leaders in a teamwork kind of way.To be respected as equals, to be given opportunity, to be valued... is indeed something we long to have more of... we yearn to see the Body of Christ built up... how can we do that better while celebrating unity yet difference in healthy ways?! (And, just in passing, pretty sure I heard something about the Moderator dyeing his hair purple!?)

I was encouraged by the ministry of Letitia Shelton who is heading up a ministry to young girls in Toowoomba. It's so easy to stay comfortable. We may not feel called to that specific ministry but it made me think about where I am willing to give myself to ministry that costs? There was a lovely story she told about a group of women who said they'd like to help by producing a cookbook. She swallowed her reservations and encouraged them to do that... a beautiful cookbook and over $44,000 of money earned for the ministry later... she was prepared to acknowledge that God will use things we often don't see the big picture about! I loved that! How often do we put our blinkers on and decide there's only one way to do ministry... ours!?! I want to make sure ministry has cost in my life... and that it reaches beyond the safety of my church walls!

I found the interview with Karen Thornton got me really thinking about how often the person we sit next to in the pew is struggling with a whole lot of stuff they have heavily guarded behind a wall of protection. Are we going to be willing to sit long enough to be the person who reaches into someone else's hardship and provides encouragement, support, prayer, and practical help. It's easy to be self-focussed... it takes courage to look outside ourselves. Will we be Christ to our neighbour?

I was deeply encouraged to hear Ros Barrett encouraging us from God's Word at the QLD welcome breakfast... when God gifts a woman with teaching we should encourage her to use those gifts in appropriate ways so that we can be built up. When we see women using their gifts let's encourage them to use them... maybe that means we think outside the box a little... it's time we did a little more inviting around... being built up and inspired by what God can do! Get excited! 

I shared some things about church conflict that were challenging for me and was deeply encouraged by a fellow christian who shared their struggles and sought to live in a way honouring to God. It made me think about all the times I've been afraid to speak for fear of rejection or more hurt... and yet when we share our struggles in a healthy way God so often uses us to bring healing in the lives of others. I wish we did that more in our churches. Sometimes the Body of Christ feels more like a science lab than a living, beating, unified being. We all hurt... but will we use our hurt to bring healing... or to bring destruction?

I loved the round-table concept... ordinary people sharing from their heart... what a blessing! If we could just learn to learn from each other more! How much richer would our lives be!? Makes me want to go home and interview all the saints around me! In honesty can we be encouraged to strive for greater holiness, knowing that, as David Jones reminded us so aptly, we have been made righteous through Christ... challenging each other to see God's workings in our lives day by day, through the hard stuff especially... and the older women amongst us... what a blessing to have you share so richly...
And the singing... how enriching was that... oh to capture a sense of heaven... pretty sure we need "The Voice" Pressie style... stay tuned!?  Rachel I want to hear a whole lot more about some of those songs on this blog soon! Not to mention a little interview with a certain talented writer... just saying!

And finally... I loved the food... the coffee... the buzz of discussion over meals... what a wonderful opportunity to meet people from all over! I got so much encouragement from 2 days that I'm still living on the blessing of it! We need more of this connectedness and unity! We all have so much that God has given us, so many gifts, so many stories to build each other up with... I can't wait for what God is going to do next...

What will it look like in your part of the world?! Love to hear about it on this blog soon!


Monday, July 30, 2012

Flourish Sydney 2012 Get Real...Bound for Glory!

What an amazing couple of days we have just enjoyed in Sydney at Flourish 2012.  It was so wonderful to have 2 days set aside from our busy lives to listen to some inspiring and challenging bible talks, network and catch up with friends and to spend time looking at practical aspects of how we serve "do" Women's Ministry. 

Kathryn and Chuol Yat & Alistair Bain, Vic and Tas Delegates 

Prof Douglas Milne raised many possibilities during his Keynote Address and spoke clearly about how we can be more empowered and equipped for ministry in our churches. He also helped us look at the practicalities and addressed some of the perceived problems involved with Women's Ministry... He reminded us that the leadership style of the Lord Jesus can at times be challenging as it means giving of ourselves and working together as men and women in partnership.

Rev David Jones challenged us and preached powerfully from 1 John 3:1-10 reminding us of who we are...Born of God, and where we are going...Bound For Glory. He then helpfully applied how we are to battle with sin as we do ministry this side of Glory...we may fall into the mud of sin, but we get up and shake it off and continue to set our sight on God as we join in the battle for purity and righteousness...It was such a blessing and a reminded us so clearly of the way in which God has set his love on us.  There should not be a question mark about our faith, but an exclamation mark in our hearts!

Some of the Flourish Committee...

To be continued....

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Flourish - a great two days
David Jones
Flourish 2012 finished yesterday afternoon. We had a great conference. The keynote speakers, Douglas Milne and David Jones, did a great job; the workshops were engaging and challenging and it was encouraging to hear stories and reflections in interviews and roundtables. Stay tune for pictures, more reflections and some workshop summaries.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Tribes and Nations @ Flourish, Sydney 2012

Tribes and Nations Fair Trade Coffee...

We are all starting to get really excited about Flourish 2012!  The committee are busy planning for a really great conference full of excellent bible teaching and wonderful practical workshops.

It is now just a month away...27th and 28th of July at Burwood Presbyterian Church in Sydney. For those of you who are planning to come...make sure you bring some change if you would like to purchase some Fair Trade Coffee at Flourish 2012. 

We are looking forward to hosting the Tribes and Nations Coffee Cart, especially for those of us who need a coffee to function clearly in the mornings!
From the Tribes and Nations Website:

Tribes and Nations is part of a Fair Trade Store, empowering and encouraging a community of quietly dynamic people who know that this world can be transformed by fairness! We offer you a place to get quality Fair Trade products, where traceability and accountability are important, resources to understand Poverty and Fair Trade and  interactive DIY Fair Trade kits to empower lives. We welcome you, as you seek to live a more thoughtful life, by knowing your goods are ethically sourced, of great quality and have biased the handmade, the little guy and the charity over the corporate factory.

There's more information about Tribes and Nations here.

If you are interested in registering for Flourish 2012 please click here. 

Flourish is a Conference for Women and Men about Women's Ministry. "From Why to How" 
Key Note Speaker: Rev David Jones  
Wide Range of Workshops lead by Men and Women

Round Table Forums 'Building Strong Ministry Teams' and 'Stages of Life and Ministry'

Saturday, June 16, 2012

I just finished a book!

Sometimes that seems like a great achievement! It seems ages since I have read a Christian book designed to stimulate my thinking. I have started a few of late but haven't finished them. I can think of a number of reasons why that was the case! One book I started was Jerry Bridges Respectable Sins. My problem was just the title alone reminded me of the truth of my sin. I haven't got more than a chapter into it yet - not because it is no good but because I am driven to self-evaluation of my own sins that I ignore or consider, somehow, to be OK! Repentance is needed, all right and sometimes that takes time! One day I will actually get to the end and then I will review that one more fully. Now I will just say he is certainly dealing with a problem SO real we need to engage with it! I can see the sins committed by others so much more clearly than my own!

But, that is not the book I finished. That one is called, God's Good Design by Claire Smith. In it Claire takes us through the main Bible passages that relate to how women and men are designed by God to relate together. She carefully explains passage by passage what the Bible teaches and what it doesn't teach on these issues. 

Claire comes from a background where she lived and breathed the feminist belief that everything a man can do a woman can do better. So it was a bit of a shock for her to discover, several years after becoming a Christian, that God taught a different pattern of relating. One which recognised that both men and women are created in the image of God, where both women and men are equally saved through the amazing work of Christ on the cross, but where there were different responsibilities for men and women when we gather together and in our marriages.

Claire works through each passage carefully and also through the major objections to her understanding of each passage. She carefully considers arguments and then explains why she agrees or disagrees. I found this very helpful.

In some ways there was nothing particularly new for me in this book. It is not the first time I have looked at these passages and thought about what they mean for me in the way that I live out my faith within the Christian community and in my home.

But what an encouragement it was to find a book that clearly summarises the Bible’s teaching, engages with objections in a clear and gentle way and points us again to Jesus and His word which can be trusted!

This is a book well worth reading by all women and men who are trying to be obedient in following Christ – particularly in how we relate to each other.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Gift of Encouragement

I have been thinking a lot recently about the gift of encouragement and how important it is in our every day lives.  Encouragement always seems to me to be such a gift and it brings the recipient such blessing.  I wonder do we think consciously about how we can be an encouragement to one another and how we can actively build each other up?  Life has lots of ups and downs, sometimes more downs or times of frustration and yet a word of encouragement can really change a day and bring such blessing, enabling us to persevere in serving the Lord and helping us to re-clarify our purpose here on earth as God's children and servants of the Lord Jesus.

Perhaps it is just a posy of flowers, a card in the mail or a phone call, a short chat at the school gate or time for a coffee and the opportunity to sit down and talk and pray.  The ways in which we are blessed by others can be a timely reminder from the Lord of how much he cares intimately about the small details of our lives and what a deeply relational God he is. 

Psalm 145 

13b The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises
    and faithful in all he does.
14 The Lord upholds all who fall
    and lifts up all who are bowed down.
15 The eyes of all look to you,
    and you give them their food at the proper time.
16 You open your hand
    and satisfy the desires of every living thing.
17 The Lord is righteous in all his ways
    and faithful in all he does.
18 The Lord is near to all who call on him,
    to all who call on him in truth.
19 He fulfills the desires of those who fear him;
    he hears their cry and saves them.
20 The Lord watches over all who love him,
    but all the wicked he will destroy.
21 My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord.
    Let every creature praise his holy name
    for ever and ever.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Flyer ready to print

Why am I always surprised by how long it takes to get something like a flyer ready to print? It seems it should be a simple job, but getting all the relevant information together, presenting it so that it makes sense (let alone is attractive!) and then getting rid of all the little typos …
At last the Flourish brochure is ready to go to print. It is going to be a great conference. I am confident that the main speakers (David Jones and Douglas Milne) will do a terrific job. The workshops all look absorbing (the brochure can only list a sample of the workshops). We are also planning some extended interviews with women who have fascinating stories. There is already plenty of interest in Flourish and we are looking forward to that building over the next few months. Keep an eye out for a print brochure in the next few weeks. If you want an electronic version let us know.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Missional church in Auckland

"Missional" church is a trendy term (or maybe it isn't as trendy as last year - it is hard to keep up with trends). When people talk about missional church, they usually mean a church that is approaching ministry in a Western nation with the mindset of a "missionary". It doesn't assume that it has a right to exist and be heard, it realises that the gospel needs to be translated into the language and culture of the people, it aims to be an alternative community and not mimic the society it lives in, it is determined to bless the community it lives in. All that can be an excuse to make church fun for Gen X Christians who are burnt out by programmed church. But it can be an important paradigm shift.

I saw a great example of real missional church in Auckland last week. Redeemer Presbyterian Church is a about 10 years old. It has focussed on a defined area in South Auckland and a community with high rates of unemployment, broken families, alcohol abuse and crime. It is the kind of place where kids are quickly left behind in the education system. Redeemer have spent the last ten years building relationships in that community. Over the time they have built real trust in the community and from that have been able to talk about Jesus and show how he makes a difference. They have been part of setting up a pre-school and an after school homework club that runs every school day. There community centre provides a mid-wife service for the community as well as legal advice. Amidst all this they talk about Jesus (a lot!) and they pray and the Lord has used them to make a difference.

I was in Auckland with a bunch of students from PTC Sydney as our annual 'mission'. It was great to see what was happening at Redeemer and share in it for a week. As I've thought about now that I'm back, it dawned on me that missional church is hard work. It is long term investment in relationships for the sake of the gospel, not funky music, stylish graphics and great coffee. (In fact on the evidence of Redeemer, great coffee doesn't get much of a run in mission in South Auckland). Missional church is often paired with being incarnational. If the incarnation is our model, then we can expect mission to be hard, painful and even deadly.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Family as calling

At the consultation in February one of the issues that lots of people wanted to talk about was making decisions about work, family and ministry. In our society, and even more in conservative churches, husbands assume they have to work full-time and wives and mothers feel they have to make a decision about how much work to do.

One way of rethinking that approach is for husbands and wives to recognise family life as a calling from God. This book seems to do that, according to an interview with the authors (Gene Edward Veith Jr. and Mary J. Moerbe). I haven't read the book yet, but it sound worth looking at. The message for parents and children is "Love and serve your family, not because of who is in your family, but because God is in your family".

I'd guess that sometimes means earning money to keep your family (1Tim. 5:8 ). But it also means having time for them, and showing the love of having time for relationships, worship, evangelism and generosity. If all the family view family life and roles as God's calling, then the work/life balance might start to fall into place.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Flourish workshops

The WMPCA committee is working on Flourish for July and talking to people about doing workshops. There are heaps for great topics that are worth looking at and so many gifted people who can deal with them. The 'trick' is getting the right topics for the right people who are available for Flourish! It is great hearing the enthusiasm of presenters we've approached. When you ask someone about a topic and they come back with "this is such an important topic and I'd love to do it. You should know that I am quite opinionated about this!" - you've probably asked the right person.

It will be a few weeks before we can give the list of workshop topics and presenters. As a teaser, here are some of the topics we are talking people to. We are looking for topics on some of the key areas of church life and ministry, personal and life issues for women and church leadership and women's ministry. The workshops will probably have more interesting titles than these!

Small churches
One to one
Connecting with young women
Developing ministry through PWA
Seniors ministry
Kid’s ministry
Connecting with global mission
Disability ministry
Social Media
Craft Ministry
Counselling Women
Women's Bible Studies
Ministry to women in difficult marriages and in divorce
Health and Beauty
Making decisions about work and ministry
Success in life and ministry
Keep growing
Infertility – treatment etc
Intergenerational women’s ministry
Teaching complementarianism
Teaching the Bible to women
Leadership style and structures
Training women
Multicultural Ministry
Building a women's ministry
Bridges between Leadership and Women's Ministry
Building a Mercy ministry

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Wait...I can't catch up!

What do you do when you feel as though life has gone ahead of you and you just can't catch up? I have been thinking about that a lot recently as summer holidays are just a distant memory and autumn is showing it's signs in abundance...the apples and pears are ready on the trees and the tomatoes are being harvested, quinces are on the table and I am still trying to work out the best way to use my time...Life is so full.
As a whole church we have started off the year looking at Christianity Explored, which has been a real blessing, but it has got me thinking... on the front cover it says in bold type

One Life. What's it all about?

Sometimes I ask myself just that - what is it all about and how do you fit it all in? Life just gets in the way...moving house, children who are really unwell, trips to hospital, relative who need caring for, weddings... the list goes on and that says nothing about the size of my ironing pile!

But sometimes we just need to remember that we don't do it all in our own strength and that praying is always a great first step...How can we best follow and serve the Lord Jesus and be an encouragement to one another? By trusting him and praying daily that our lives even in the ordinary or busy things would be extraordinary as we seek to share with others the love of Jesus.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


It happened and it all ran well!

We had about 50 people together for a day at the PCNSW Church Offices in Sydney. The aim was to hear about what's happening in womens' ministry around the PCA and collect ideas for Flourish. It turned out that the day was also a taster for what we can expect at Flourish.

David Jones gave a wonderful study from Romans 16. He talked about the women who were part of Paul's ministry circle and are mentioned in that chapter. But his big point was not about women, but about God's people working together for the sake of the kingdom.

We then heard from each state about some of the recent developments in womens' ministry. Three points came through very clearly: each state is quite different in structures and issues; there is growing momentum in the four eastern states (and the ACT), and SA and WA where the Presbyterian church is small women's ministry has less energy. If was great for all of us to hear about what it happening in each state and the challenges.

Carmelina Read gave a great overview of what she thinks are the current developments and challenges in women's ministry. She talked about a growing desire among Christian women for serious Bible teaching and training - and a trend away from big events as a focus of ministry in churches , finding ways for women to train, helping men and women work together in staff teams and the need for an emphasis on all-member ministry for women (and men). All of this left us with lots of think and talk about.

I gave a summary of some of the theological debates about women and church life . I might give a longer version of that in another post.

We divided the consultation into groups and a committee member in each group listened as people talked about their concerns and insights and what they'd like covered at Flourish. We ended with a wide ranging list with lots of stimulating ideas.

The day finished with prayer.

Now the committee is sorting through all those ideas and working on a program and publicity for Flourish.

More news soon.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Looking forward seeing you...

I am looking forward to seeing those who are coming to our Flourish Women's Ministries Consultation Day on Saturday in Sydney.

It will be great to have the day together to hear from others about what's happening in other parts of the country, and to have the chance to catch up and encourage each other. I am praying that it will be a wonderful day of exchanging ideas and supporting one another as we minister to those around us in our own context.

There will also be a chance to hear from God's word as we listen to our Moderator General David Jones and to hear others speak about the Biblical implications of Women's Ministry. We'll have some time to unpack all of that and to look at some key questions.

So we come!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A New Year's Resolution

Having just come back down to reality after the blissful days between Christmas and New Year, yesterday we were somewhat back into a that does involved watching the cricket mind you! I was spending some time meeting up with a friend to read the Bible. As we were reading I was struck by the beauty and joy that is found in Paul's prayer for the Ephesians in Chapter 3 and verse 16-19.

Ephesians 3:16-19

New International Version (NIV)

16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

I thought what could be more wonderful than these words as a prayer for the New Year? If only we would make a resolution to be more prayerful and to spend more time reading God's much richer and more fulfilling our lives would be.