Thursday, February 3, 2011

Promises of God

When Nehemiah prayed for the restoration of Jerusalem, he reminded God of his promises to the people, and held them up to God in prayer. "God you promised this, please act in accordance with your word". 
Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses, 'If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples; but if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts are under the farthest skies, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place at which I have chosen to establish my name.' They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great power and your strong hand. Nehemiah 1:8-10

I was thinking of the promises that we could call on today for God to act in establishing his reign and rule in Melbourne.

Here are a few I have come up with:
Psalm 67:7 God will bless us; And all the ends of the earth shall fear him.
Psalm 86:9 All the nations you have made shall come and bow down before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name.
Psalm 22:27-28 All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD; and all the families of the nations shall worship before him. For dominion belongs to the LORD, and he rules over the nations.
Isaiah 59:19-20 So those in the west shall fear the name of the LORD, and those in the east, his glory; for he will come like a pent-up stream that the wind of the LORD drives on. And he will come to Zion as Redeemer, to those in Jacob who turn from transgression, says the LORD.
Matthew 24:14 And this good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the world, as a testimony to all the nations; and then the end will come.
Matthew 8:11 I tell you, many will come from east and west and will eat with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven,
John 12:32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself."
Revelation 11:15 Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign forever and ever."

It would be good to think of some more. Let's pray these promises for Melbourne

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Persevering in prayer

I preached on Nehemiah 1 last week, and was struck with how Nehemiah, when faced with an enormous challenge, wrestled with God in prayer long and hard. The text suggests four months of weeping and fasting and praying before God about the people of God and the mercy they needed.

Then yesterday I got this great email from a member of the congregation, telling me a story about faithful persevering prayer. It went like this:

A godly guy (now 60+) at our church (in the town where I grew up) still prays through the list of kids he had in Sunday School in the 1970s. He's had trouble trying to work out how to make the list more manageable now that we have all married and had kids! The kids were really treasured in that church and encouraged to start volunteer ministry early eg. kids talks @ 14. God's grace in all that is that 8 of those kids are now theologically trained and in full time ministry. Pretty amazing for a town of 4000!
How faithful is our God!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

An Exciting Year

Very excited thinking about St Jude’s this year. We have lots of new things beginning.

Sunday Feb 13th will be the last service of St Jude’s 5 at our Carlton Site, because on Sunday February 20th, they will become St Jude’s in Parkville meeting at Ridley Melbourne at 10am and 5pm. The 5pm Congregation at St Jude’s began in 1994, and has been fairly unique in the Melbourne scene, as a place where young professional workers have gathered together to worship and serve. Now it is expanding and multiplying. We are delighted about this, as it is a clear expression of our Vision to multiply congregations in Melbourne’s inner north. Feel free to join us at either place. More information is here.

However in March there will be another new venture. The Unichurch Congregation, which meets at 7.30 is seizing the opportunity for growth as well. From February 20, they will meet at 6.30pm on the Carlton Site, so that on March 20th, they can multiply out to two congregations meeting at 5pm and 7.30pm, with the potential to reach twice as many tertiary students as before. This is a very exciting venture and we pray that God will be glorified through it.

On top of this are new staff and other new programs. We are calling people to prayer in the next week, so that we bathe all this in the presence of God. Do you want to join us in praying? Drop me a line and we can send you some prayer points.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Gospel Activity

At our staff prayers this week I was really struck by all the Gospel activity going around St Jude's at the moment.

  • This week is the Don Carson – Christ Expo at RMIT Story Hall.
  • Don has been speaking at the 5 Weeks 5 Questions at Melbourne Uni CU.
  • Several staff mentioned people by name with whom they were sharing the gospel.
  • Two short term mission trips are being planned one to Pakistan and the other to Thailand (with the youth)
  • There are several camps (5, youth group, Unichurch) in the pipeline.
  • Our 5x2 Project trying to find a new venue for St Jude's ministry is well underway.
  • City Bible Forum events kick off next week.
  • Two baptisms are planned for this Sunday at 11am and 5pm
  • Cross Cultures are having dinner in Leader's homes this week.
  • Kid's ministry planning a film and pizza night
  • And a Taste of Mission event next week

On Sunday I continue my sermon series on the ten Commandments on Sunday morning 9am and 11am.

What a joy to be involved in all of this.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Nothing New Under the Sun

It has been so good to see City on a Hill grow so well over the last couple of years. Earlier this month they took up a new home in the Hoyts Cinema in Melbourne Central, and God really seems to be blessing his church right in the City

It seems a bit edgy to have a church in a Cinema, very 2010! Until …

I was cleaning up my library after moving house, and found a book by the Revd Arthur Preston, who was the minister at my parents' church, West End Methodist Mission in Brisbane in the 1940's and 50's. Having re-heard some of his story when planning Dad's funeral, about how he began the Blue Nursing Service in Brisbane and Dad helped him out, I decided to read the book.

In an attempt to reach the ordinary working person in West End in the late 1940's, Arthur Preston, much to the shock and horror of the established church, rented out the local cinema during the week for church meetings. He gave "Plain talks to the people" and basically used the Cinema as a gospel preaching platform! Many hundreds of people came to Christ as he took the message to them in their own space. The book is filled with testimonies of conversion.

May God bless City on a Hill like that again, 60 years later in Melbourne.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Gospel Fruit

When I was at university, we used to run missions in local country towns during the semester breaks. One of these was in the far NW NSW town of Collarenebri. We never heard much about the ongoing fruit of the Gospel in those places. Today I received this great email from a Uni friend, Ian, who was on the Collarenebri Mission:

Hi Richard,

Thought this would encourage you. Billy Williams is a dynamic indigenous leader and preacher up here in Qld. We had him come and preach at our Church last Sunday. Here is his story:

Last Sunday night I was preaching at North-East Baptist church for the first time. In order to fill the congregation in I commenced by telling them I was originally from a small town in North-West NSW called Collarenebri. After the service concluded the Senior Pastor, Ian Hussey, came over and told me that in the early 1980's, when he was living in Armidale NSW (400km away from Collarenebri), he and some other students had travelled there to conduct a kids holiday program. I asked him, "Did it have a frog in it?" to which he replied, "I think so." We both cautiously agreed that I may have been a participant because there wasn't much to do in Colly during holidays and one of my Aunties was part of the Anglican church at that time and I remember going to a program when I was about 10 before I left for school in Tamworth (356km away from Collarenebri). I remembered that I had kept a memento from the program (why is only apparent now!), a folded A4 sheet of paper with encouraging notes from The Adventures of Ernie the Frog leaders; so when I got home I dug up amongst some old papers and found it. My Mum, who is staying with us, heard me cooee and wondered what was going on. There on the front page was this message, "Dear William, Good luck in the future. Remember that Jesus is always there waiting for you... Ian Hussey." How true those words from 1984 proved to be, truer perhaps than Ian, and certainly I, could have ever imagined as 15 years later I came to faith in a Baptist church in Townsville (1410km away from Collarenebri) and 26 years later I came to preach in Ian's church in Nundah (645km away from Collarenebri).

Now doesn't that send a shiver down the spine!

Kind Regards


God works in amazing ways, sowing seeds and reaping when he wills.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Honour your Father and Mother

This seems particularly pertinent this week. Not only is Sunday Mother's Day, it is also just over a week since I attended my father's funeral. So preaching on the 5th Commandment is especially relevant.

It is easy to think that this commandment is directed at small children. And certainly some of the NT applications of it, like Ephesians 6:1-3, seem to be directed there. But it is most likely that the target audience of the Commandments were adults. Today we live in a very different world to Ancient Israel. Rather than living in the home with my parents as they did, my folks have lived thousands of kilometres away from me, for most of my adult life. What on earth can honouring them mean now?

I was thinking about this last week as I stood beside my father's bed. He was sweating profusely with a fever, as his body struggled to fight the infections in his lungs. I was mopping his brow with a damp face washer. I remembered how he had done the same to me as a little child. How he held me strongly when I was ill. What an amazing privilege to honour my Dad, by tending to his needs as he had done to mine so many years before. The role reversal in honour was quite something.

I am not a child any more. I was an adult serving another adult. But at the same time, I felt like such a little helpless child, as my Dad's life ebbed out of his body. Here was my father, so helpless. And his loss in my life is profound. With him goes his voice, his kind words, his pride in me, his disappointment in some of my choices, the discipline I had as a kid, his laughter. To honour him now seems to be to grieve him well, to speak of him, to tell people what a great guy he was.

And to honour my Mum, who is now widowed of her husband of 53 years? Well I try to call every day. I pray. I will try to relieve her administrative burdens. and so on. But it goes deeper than that. Honour is an attitude of the heart.

I wonder if others want to share what they think this commandment can mean today?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Yes I knowthe list of books to the right it looks a little bit ridiculous. But yes I am reading all of these books at different times.

We have just invited Steve Addison who wrote the book on Movements to speak at our staff conference in June. I heard him speak a few years back on what has fuelled missionary movements around the world. His book is study of this. He also blogs about it here.

It is really exciting stuff, about when things just take off and multiply. The sad thing is he claims that movements never ever take off from the centre of an organisation, and that's where I find myself most of the time. But maybe we can create an organisation at St Jude's, or even the Diocese of Melbourne, which is a good seed bed in which movements can grow.

I bought the book ages ago and skimmed it then. But I read 1/3 of it last night. Trouble is, it is so good it keeps me awake.

Friday, April 16, 2010


Beginning to think about next Sunday's sermon on "idolatry". Wonder what makes the difference between enjoying something like food, or a new car, or a job, and making it your idol. Well, not what "makes the difference" because that is clearly worship and the place the thing has in your heart. But more the question is: How do we stop good things that we enjoy, becoming idols in our lives? Any ideas?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

10 Words

Preparing to preach on the Ten Commandments beginning this Sunday. I am stunned by how contemporary they are. They address so many issues that are live in our world today: (the links take you to the secular media)

· Atheism and Belief in God (#1 No other gods)
· Materialism, Workaholism, Environmentalism, ???ism (#2 On Idols)
· Swearing Oaths and the ubiquity of the phrase “Oh my God” on the TV (#3 on the Lord’s Name)
· Work-Life balance (#4 Sabbath keeping)
· The breakdown of the family (#5 Parents)
· Wars and Rumours of wars, capital punishment, street violence (#6 Murder)
· Marriage and Sexuality (#7 Adultery)
· Global Poverty and Western wealth (#8 Stealing)
· The main backdrop to every story on A Current Affair (#9 Lying)
· The darkness of the human heart (#10 Coveting)

I have called the series “Words of Life” because I think that, far from being restrictive, negative and outdated, these words give us a vision for the good life. The life as God intended. A life full of hope, security, confidence, work-life balance, strong families, peace, faithful relationships, generous care of the needy, truthfulness and purity of thought. Now THAT is a world I want to live in.