Robyn’s Testimony

In 2018 I set myself a challenge to read the Chronological One Year Bible. This Bible is arranged in the order the events occurred in 365 daily readings.

At the time I had a New Age business and had studied various New Age practices over the past 20 years. I had a collection of crystals, books, essential oils, statues of various false gods, Oracle cards and assorted ‘tools’ for my business.

I was inspired by the testimony of a prominent ex-new Age woman named Doreen Virtue, who had recently had an encounter with Jesus. Doreen was a successful author (with Hay House), teacher, and a successful businesswoman in the New Age. She walked away from it all to follow Jesus.

At the end of 2017 Doreen announced she was going to do daily video posts for the 365 daily Bible readings. I decided to join in, along with thousands of others. Her daily commentaries and links to helpful videos really helped me to get through some challenging areas in the Old Testament.

My original thoughts were that I would still be able to have my feet in both worlds, keep up my new age work and read the bible. Four months in I threw out all my new age books, the essential oils, and many other items I had collected over the years. God’s words were sliding into my heart and I knew His words were the TRUTH. Two passages from the Bible that spoke to me were from Deuteronomy.

Deuteronomy 4: 16-20

So do not corrupt yourselves by making an idol in any form – whether of a man or a woman, an animal on the ground, a bird in the sky, a small animal that scurries along the ground, or a fish in the deepest sea. And when you look up into the sky and see the sun, moon, and stars – all the forces of heaven – don’t be seduced into worshiping them. The Lord your God gave them to all the people of earth.

At the time I was attending Full-Moon and New-Moon rituals, honoring the four directions, and believing certain animals, crystals, and false gods held various powerful energies that could enhance/improve my life.

Deuteronomy 18: 10-12

And do not let your people practice fortune-telling, or use sorcery, or interpret omens, or engage in witchcraft, or cast spells, or function as mediums or psychics, or call forth the spirits of the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord.

Reading that the things I was practicing were detestable to the Lord really hit me, because I honestly thought I was helping people.

Each of us comes to the Lord damaged. So, He begins a renovation program to repair our thoughts about Him, about others, and about ourselves.

(from Bob Gass)

Doreen often encouraged us to find a church to attend. She said having other Christians to support and encourage you was an important step. When Sunday would come around, I would make excuses as to why I couldn’t go. One day I was walking past St Nics and felt God was calling me to this church.

In May 2018 I attended St Nics for the first time. Being a person who finds going to unfamiliar places with people I don’t know very challenging, I was comforted by the warm welcome I received from Jamie, Verity and all the parishioners. I feel so blessed to have found this church. Since then I have completed the Alpha Course; which I found incredibly helpful and answered some of the questions I had, in easy and simple terms. Verity invited me to join the lovely ladies in the Connect group; where I have made valued friendships.

On Sunday 20th October I was Baptised and Confirmed by Bishop Ian, supported by my family and my church family.

John 3: 5-7

Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.

The decision on January 1 2018, to begin to read the bible in one year, has changed my life. Instead of believing my thoughts created my reality, worshiping false gods and God’s creations, I now know that God is the one who walks with me, He is my provider, he is my redeemer, the one who forgives, and the one I worship.

Isaiah 55: 11

My word that goes out form my mouth will not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

Blessings,

Robyn

 

Panida’s Testimony

I come from a little village in a part of Thailand called Chaiyaphum. I grew up in the Buddhist faith. I came to Australia in 2011 after I married John.

In 2015 I came to Little Lambs with my children. This was my first contact with church. I met Verity there. She invited me to the Nourish women’s group and I went for a while. I know Verity and the women in the Nourish group were praying for me a lot. However, I wasn’t really thinking about God at all until this year when I began to have some trouble in my life. I had bad dreams nearly every night. It was so bad it made me grumpy and gave me headaches. I felt very low. I tried reading the Buddhist holy book to make me feel better but nothing changed. One day I watched a video of people talking about God healing people. I began reading the Thai Bible that I got from the Nourish group. I said to myself, “I’m going to believe only in God and put everything else down”. I prayed, “I am going to believe you God, please help me”. During the night I heard God speaking to me clearly for the first time. He was showing me my sins. Soon after that I saw Jesus in a dream. He was standing by my bed and was speaking to me in Thai. He touched my shoulders with warm hands and said, “Repent of your sins”. I woke up and I could feel the warmth of his hands on my shoulders. I didn’t know how to repent of my sins, so I called Verity and asked her to help me and she prayed with me.

I don’t have bad dreams anymore and the problems I had before are getting better. I started coming to church and I went on the Alpha Course. This was very helpful and made me want to learn more. I also go to the Connect women’s group. I am very happy to be part of the church. Everyone is very friendly; it’s like a family.

I can feel the Holy Spirit touching me. It’s so amazing. You can’t explain how happy it makes you feel. It’s like you are experiencing true love with God. It’s a feeling you can’t put into words. The Holy Spirit helps me to be connected with God and makes my faith grow.

Blessings,

Panida

Prayer Ministry Training

The Wednesday evening Connect group and men’s groups hosted a Prayer Ministry Training Course during the month of February.

It was a great time of fellowship and encouragement, with overwhelmingly positive feedback from those who attended.  Some people received tangible healing, others received new spiritual gifts and all were encouraged in prayer.  Many commented on the helpful video presentations by Sandy Millar (the then Rector of Holy Trinity Brompton in London) and in particular his humour and gentleness.

We also enjoyed practicing what we were learning in a safe environment, with the opportunity to ask questions and discuss as we were going along. As someone put it “it was daunting at first but so satisfying to be doing and not just listening”.

22 people attended the course, with 15 people attending all three sessions.  Nearly all expressed an interest in further training.  We are looking forward to continuing to learn and grow in this very important and encouraging ministry of Christ.

Verity Murray

The revealing of a role model for all humanity

by the Venerable Brian Newing.
Fr Brian has been a priest of this Diocese for over 50 years, faithfully serving the South West.

We are all living through a breathtaking revolution in electronic communication which is changing almost every aspect of our life. Nearly all communication is through the written word and not face to face conversation. This change is being driven by business and picked up by institutions such as Centrelink and Medicare. Have you ever tried to speak to a police officer in the middle of the night? By the time you have pressed two sets of number buttons, confusion reigns supreme. Even worse, trying to get your NBN phone to work when it has failed.

Comments fly to and fro on Facebook making all sorts of comments and allegations. All this communication takes place without seeing the face of the other person. There is no way of knowing how the other person is feeling, laughing, crying, disappointed or even in shock. Things are written that can never be retracted. I recently attended a Supreme Court trial where the judge addressed the jury and instructed them to disregard all they had all they had experienced using social media because it had led people to making snap judgements on limited evidence. He further stated it had cost people their jobs, destroyed relationships and driven people to suicide.

I am not trying to say all in the social media are wrong, but I do believe there are very real danger signs and it is against the way God wants us to live in the community.

The incarnation

In the fullness of time the God of all creation chose to communicate with His beloved people to reveal Himself to the world for all generations. The wisdom of God was to communicate with His people face to face in the person of Jesus Christ. The scriptures reveal to us Jesus was the exact image of God. “Not what God looks like but what is”. Jesus lived in community first with His family and later with His disciples and followers. He spent countless hours teaching them and preparing them for their ministry.

He taught them stories centred on everyday experiences they could easily remember. The shared His frustration and disappointment when so many people failed to comprehend or refused to hear His simple message of salvation. The disciples experienced the pain of Jesus trial and crucifixion. Following these events, they also shared the joy of His resurrection and the birth of the Christian church on the day of Pentecost. The Christian faith has come down through the centuries because people have shared their faith stories from generation to generation.

The Epiphany of Our Lord

The Epiphany means the revealing of Jesus to all people throughout the world. Peter declares, following Pentecost, that he now understands that God has no favourites but loves all people equally. This was the theme the disciples and Christian converts carried throughout the known world, from India to Britain, from Africa to northern Europe. Despite persecution, the Christian faith flourished and transformed the lives of millions of people. The new Christians were recognised by the love they shared with one another.

Down through history we have been called to shape and mould our lives on the role model of Jesus Christ. To look at the world through the eyes of Jesus. To make our decisions in accordance to the moral values of Jesus. To love sacrificially as Jesus loves us even to the cross. To forgive one another as Jesus forgave the repentant thief crucified with Him.

The word Christian means to be a Christ-like person. May we all strive to be a little more Christ-like during 2019 and reflect His glory to a world that is in need of a perfect role model to follow.

Carols, Cappuccinos & Celebrations!

Today, Saturday 15th December, we gathered as a community to celebrate. We held together two historical narratives that though distinct relate to one another around the person of Jesus.

Did you know…

… it was because of his love for Jesus that John Allnutt offered gatherings for Christians originally in his own home (now called Henton Cottage). On 12 September 1850 having reordered the cottage across the street it was consecrated as a church building where he led services until his death in 1861.

A lot has happened since that time here in Australind

Did you know…

… that many people continue to gather around the person of Jesus? Families such as the Narroways, the Cliftons and others have shared life together in and around this little building. In 1914 the Anglican Church purchased it and renamed it Church of St Nicholas Australind and consecrated it in December 1915.

Did you know…

… that in the 1990’s the church grew to sustain life as an independent parish? Since then the church community has grown and new buildings have been funded by the congregations over the years through sacrificial giving. The same love John Allnutt had for Jesus has continued to be shared here in the community that is St Nicholas, Australind.

Community stewardship, a historical resource and a place for prayer…

Do you know why we have given sacrificially to restore the smallest church building in WA? Firstly we are stewarding part of our shared heritage here in Australind. This is advertised by our Shire and attracts tourist interest and commercial benefit to the area. Tourists go across to the retail park following a visit here. We have appreciated the shire’s support of the project in helping provide a protective fence. Stewarding this building is in part a gift from us to the wider community. As we want to bless those around us in Jesus name.

Secondly did you know it allows us to create a meaningful historical resource that we can share with local schools? Several of our parishioners are professional teachers and we will work with local schools to facilitate resource packs and visits in line with curricular needs.

Last but not least did you know that though too small for our current congregations it will again be a renewed sacred space for prayer, worship and blessing? Jesus is the reason for the season, but He is also the reason for the continuing existence of the building. Do you know Immanuel, God with us, in your life? If you want to explore life with Jesus try an Alpha course in 2019 or join us for our open meals on Wednesday. It was a great pleasure to welcome so many people here today to celebrate with us.

Carols, Cappuccinos and of course the Celebrations!

Our celebrations continued with a sausage sizzle, children’s entertainment, specialty stalls and an excellent Op Shop fashion parade. It was a pleasure to have our younger members with us, enjoying the bouncy castle, and participating in the service and fashion parade. We look forward to the next chapter with them following Jesus as part of St Nic’s.

United in Prayer

‘If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land’ (2 Chronicles 7:14)

Each Sunday at St. Nic’s we have a prayer and worship service at 6pm, which (although I know you’re not meant to have favourites) is most definitely my favourite service to attend! It’s usually a smaller gathering of around 7-20+ people who come together, firstly to spend time worshipping God through song, then to pray.

Each week this looks different. Sometimes we sit in smaller groups and pray into different situations that have become apparent in church or in the community. There are some great testimonies to how God has answered prayer following this dedicated time of prayer – but again, that’s for another blog post! We have also used prayer stations, prayer walks and often we spend time simply seeking God’s face and asking Him to speak to us to share a word or a vision that He may have for us as a group or as a church.

Churches Together, united in prayer

The most recent Churches Together united prayer service was represented by 7 different churches and had 41 people attending, who gathered together in Jesus’ name, believing in the power of prayer. And how amazingly powerful it was. We began with a time of worship, and it was a real testimony to how ‘where two of three gather together in [His] name, there [He is] with them’ (Matthew 18:20). It really was beautiful to see different churches, people of different nationalities and of different denominations come together to worship the same God.

Prayer stations and a prayer walk were the two main ways that had been set up for our time of prayer – and we were asked to choose one. Then in small groups, we spent time praying into these different circumstances. We prayed for individual churches, for leaders, for streets and areas within Australind, Bunbury and the surrounds, highlighting places that were placed on our hearts and praying over them. We also prayed for the leaders of churches and over other aspects within the community.

There was also an area dedicated to quiet time in prayer, with Bibles available and scriptures available to provide a starting focus for prayer. I spent some time asking God to speak to me and I was really encouraged with a word for everybody, from Romans 12:4 ‘For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts according to the grace given to each of us’.

Together we are one body

It was a real encouragement for the individual churches represented there to continue doing what they’re doing and that they each have their own gifts that they can use to bless different areas of the community in different ways. Not every church needs to be great at youth ministry, and it would be unrealistic and unnecessary if we all focused on that one aspect! Similarly, not every church needs to provide a playgroup to bless the local community. However, together we are one body, united; with all local churches individually doing a great job at what they’re already doing! Isn’t that encouraging?!

Fortunately, as I spoke about in my previous blog post, we are called to pray into and focus on the areas that God has placed on our hearts according to our passions and interests. So this applied directly to churches too. What are people specifically gifted at in your church? What are you passionate about that you could serve your church in? Maybe God has placed one of His desires on your heart and has been nudging you to act upon it; something that you are personally deeply passionate about that you could serve God in.

Give it back to God

I would really encourage you to pray about this – give it back to God and ask Him to give you the reassurance or the nudge that you might need to act upon it! God calls us, just as we see in Jesus’ life on earth, to serve others. ‘For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many’ (Mark 10:45). Don’t get me wrong; we are not all called to give our lives, but throughout scripture, we are reminded to ‘serve one another humbly in love’ (Galatians 5:13). I would love you to share any words or passions that God places upon your heart following this blog post. Let’s come together, united in prayer, believing that prayer changes things.

Blessings, Zoë x

Prayer Changes Things

‘If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land’ (2 Chronicles 7:14)

The thing that struck me the most about St Nic’s when I first started attending almost 2 years ago, was their heart of prayer. Prayer that supports, prayer that heals, prayer that changes. It changes circumstances, it changes hearts, it changes relationships and it changes lives! All we need to do is call upon the Lord, pray to Him and He will listen to us (Jeremiah 29:12). There are so many promises throughout the Bible of God promising His people (that’s us!) that if we engage in a relationship with Him through prayer, He hears us and responds. Although that response may not always be in the way that we imagine or hope for, we can trust that ‘as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are [His] ways higher than your ways and [His] thoughts your thoughts’ (Isaiah 55:9).

Recently I have been wonderfully blessed by two separate events at St. Nic’s: The Australian Prayer Network (APN) Foundational Level prayer course, and the Churches Together united prayer evening. I just wanted to share some of my experiences, some of what I’ve learnt and how I have been encouraged me in my own prayer life in the next two blog posts…

Prayer Changes Things

The APN has several ‘levels’ of different prayer courses and this was the first one which focuses on the beginnings of really learning about how prayer works and how we can put into practice some Biblical truths. I want to focus on HOW prayer works. The main thing that I took away from this session was that prayer only changes things if we do what God tells us to do in response to our prayers to Him. There is no point in us praying and hearing a response from God then completely ignoring what God is telling us to do! Prayer requires action.

Prayer requires action

Prayer is an activity of God and it requires our cooperation: to be ‘totally available and radically obedient’! He wants to work through people – through you and me – to change the world. There’s a thinking that prayer requires God’s cooperation; that when we pray we want God to do exactly what we want and exactly how we want it. But that’s where we’ve got it completely wrong! God is far bigger, far greater than our circumstances, and if we focus on trying to simply find the right words to say, or believing that we have the answers then we’re losing sight of WHY we pray. Prayer is praying into God’s plans and purposes which are already known; ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).

You know that feeling of when you’re praying for somebody or something, and you just can’t find the right words to say? That you don’t really know what to pray for? That the circumstance feels too big or too out of your own depth that you are lost for words? I want to encourage you and reassure you that THIS IS OK. It is not our words in our prayers that change the world. We need the power of God to change the circumstances. All we need to do, in every aspect of our lives INCLUDING our prayer lives, is to ‘trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding…’ (Proverbs 3:5-6) And prayer is one beautiful way that we can reach out and touch the power of God, and allow it to flow through us in our lives! While I am aware not all of us pray in tongues, I have found this I have found that using this gift can really help me personally when I don’t know what to pray for – but that’s for another day!

Prayer and your passions

One of the big questions that many people have is ‘what do I pray for? There’s so much to pray for: my own family, friends, my community, my nation, the world… Where do I begin?’ Don’t worry. God has it covered. Start by understanding the passions of your heart; those individual talents and passions, remembering that He created you in His image (Genesis 1:27) and that He knit you together in your mother’s womb and that you are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:13-14). This is where to begin. God wants to use these things that He has given you to make changes in your life and others’.

I spent some time in prayer after this challenge and I wanted to share one of my biggest passions – people. For people who are hurting, people who are in need or who are suffering. And also just to love people, to connect and encourage people as they are, where they are. For those of you who know me, this may not surprise you (ha!) but I’ve been really following God’s passion and trying to take every opportunity that presents itself in action and in prayer whenever I can, on a whole new level. It’s something that comes very naturally to me and I just love meeting and connecting with others wherever I go. But this is what God wants to use! He wants to use what we already love and are already passionate about to increase His kingdom here on earth!!

What you need to pray for every day

So I want to encourage you to seek God’s face and to ask Him what He wants you to pray for. Consider what are your passions? What gets you out of bed in the morning? What encourages you to keep going? These are the things that are God’s call on your life – and what you need to pray for every day.

Lift these things up to the Lord. Place them before Him and then ask Him want He wants you to do – then act on it! Remembering that faith moves the hand of God. Passion moves the hand of God. God searches for our hearts and uses those passions. So keep praying – passionately praying. We can’t NOT pray if we carry God’s heart for something. And we can stand secure in the faith that God will hear us, and He wants to work in us and through us to change the world. All we need to be, is ‘totally available and radically obedient’. That’s my challenge to you today.

Blessings, Zoë x

Journaling Part 1: A Reflection on the Benefits

This week and next week will feature a two part series on Journaling by Dannielle Barry.

Many of us (40 odd!) here at St Nic’s are currently studying the Boundaries course in our small groups on either Tuesday or Wednesday. In our Boundaries workbook there is a section on journaling, which is what I’d like to talk about in these posts.

It’s a love-hate relationship…

First of all I should say that I have a love-hate relationship with journaling. Fortunately now its more often love than hate, and it often comes naturally, but it has taken a little bit of effort and practice to get to that point. I say this to give you hope. If these journaling sections intimidate or even terrify you, it’s okay, it will get easier, there’s light at the end of the tunnel – and I promise the experience is helpful, and maybe even rewarding.

Why Journal?

For me journaling provides an outlet when I feel overwhelmed: with thoughts, with life, with questions. Have you ever had the experience of racing thoughts, too much to think about, that awful panicked or anxious feeling? Try writing some of it down. The act of physically putting thoughts on paper will often stop the thought spiral or slow it down, and making short lists when you feel like you have to much to do helps to form a plan of attack. Often I’m surprised that in taking this time to write I realise that the things I need to do are achievable, and the things I’ve been worried about might not be as bad as first thought.

Another good reason to journal is to keep records, particularly records of prayer requests and answered prayer. This is only something I’ve started this year, but it has been such a blessing to go back over my prayer requests and record some of the ways God has answered them. In doing this I’ve also realised how quick I can be to forget all the times God has provided, and therefore so quick to doubt and question whether he’ll be faithful again in my future worries and problems. Keeping records also helps me to reflect on my life journey, learn from it and see the ways I am constantly growing and changing. Having recorded stories of good memories and not so good has been an unexpected blessing, a way to really see how God is working all things for my good (Romans 8:28).

If you’re not yet convinced there is also some evidence that journaling can be good for your health. One psychologist from Texas, James Pennebaker has researched the strengthening effect journaling has on our immune cells. Other research into problem solving hypothesizes that by transferring our thoughts to paper the right side of the brain becomes unlocked to solve problems from a creative point of view rather than the left brained analytical approach we tend to.

Please visit again for next week’s Journaling Part 2: The only rule? There are none…

Finding Her Voice: The Evangelical Women in Academia Conference 2018

A Long Way to Go

You may have heard that last Friday, Dannielle Barry and I got on a plane.

Melbourne is a long way to go for a one day conference but, to quote Dr. Ellen Stofan, “You can’t be what you can’t see.”

The Evangelical Women in Academia conference is a chance to see the bigger picture of the positive impact evangelical women are making in ministry, theology, and academia in Australia and around the world. It is a grace-filled, encouraging conference where we all spur each other on towards love and good deeds, whilst using our gifting for the Kingdom of God and His glory.

Her Small Voice

Currently, the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) disciplines have a representation of women at 25%. In Theological disciplines, the Society of Biblical Literature has a female representation of 24%. However, in the Evangelical Theological Society, this representation drops to 6%.

The annual EWA conference was begun in 2017 by three female faculty members of Ridley Theological College in Melbourne in response to such dismal statistics.

The conference connects, inspires and develops female theological students, lecturers, tutors, and ministry practitioners in the church and the world.

Keynote speakers were Katya Covrett, Executive Editor at Zondervan Academic Publishing and Rev Dr. Katy Smith, lecturer in Old Testament at the Bible College of South Australia. Their addresses and workshops all geared towards informing and enabling women to ‘find their voice’ in writing and speaking.

Carli’s thoughts…

Having gone last year, I was ready for a day and a half of rigorous networking, conversation, and learning. I gained so much; tips on how to lay out my sermons, new insights into the world of academic writing and a serious expansion of my ‘Books-I-Need-to-Read’ list.

I’m reinvigorated to keep going in my studies and my ministry. God needs more women in Evangelical Academia — maybe even me?

Dannielle’s thoughts…

”God desires us to have life, wholeness, resting in him…he can transform our brokenness, weakness and sinfulness.” These words were spoken by Rev Dr. Katy Smith in her presentation on Genesis during the conference, and they stuck with me during the whole day.

There is something powerful about bringing women together, and in a room full of women with a passion for their faith in God, for theology, for teaching theology and making it accessible to everyone, Dr Smith’s words were spot on. God really can use our brokenness, weakness and sinfulness, and coming back from the conference refreshed and inspired, I am excited and ready to see how he might be able to use me.

Listen to Her Voice

There is something for everyone (men and women!), in the keynote addresses from the conference. You can listen here.