Rick’s Testimony

I must admit, I entered the Alpha course with some apprehension considering that it would be done in the isolation of our own homes, online! Most courses I have been on or facilitated involve a heavy bias towards interaction and the fellowship of being together. These fears soon dissipated with the warmth of the people involved and the excellent way that Jamie and Verity ran the sessions.

There was a good mix of people in different stages of their journey with Christ. The course material is very well structured. The initial meeting focused on the solid foundation of belief. I found the presentation of the history and supporting evidence of the Bible and the session “Why did Jesus Die’ particularly compelling.

The narration from Nicky Gumball and his team is uplifting. This is followed by testimonies by some incredible people. They ranged from hardened criminals that had turned to Christ to personal prayer friends of the Pope! The common thread is the love of Jesus and you could see the gentleness and warmth these people exuded.

I highly recommend everyone to participate in an Alpha course, whether you have been involved with church for a number of years or just a few weeks. I am looking forward to my renewed journey with Christ. God Bless. ~ Rick

News From Our Youngest Members

How our families continued in their relationship with God over the Covid isolation period – Melissa Cahill

Hello to all the members of St Nicholas. I have been asked to collate some of the Home Godly Play experiences of the families from St Nics with young children during the COVID isolation. As much as we were unable to connect at Church and at Godly Play, we still continued some form of Godly Play within our families at home. We wanted to share some of the activities we did with all of you, so we can continue to feel connected as a Church Family, even though we haven’t all caught up in person yet!

Leading up to Easter, although it was quite sad knowing we would not be able to attend church, it was also a little easier to arrange Godly Play with my family, as it provides a clear platform for our readings from the bible and enacting out the stories. Our first attempt was a little disorganised, though having a bit of a perfectionist personality, was more about too high expectations! Emily and Imogen were so excited to set up our Godly Play area. We set up candles on a plate on the floor, had my laptop ready to play worship songs the girls knew from school (YouTube is great for this!). The girls grabbed barbie dolls for our enactment of the bible story. We used a children’s bible so the girls could read from it easily. We also had a cup ready with water and rice crackers to do our own little ‘feast’. We said the Lord’s Prayer and then each of us said a prayer for our family and the community. I found it easier when we had set roles, everyone wanted to do everything the first time, which was too much. So we started with having set roles for the reading, the story enactment and also the asking questions about the story. My girls loved organising the Godly Play, which included, making more appropriate clothes for their dolls, dressing Jesus and the donkey, and making props. They also relished each having a lead role in the Home Church.

Emily & Imogen Cahill

We also added from Verity’s suggestions and Carol’s, lighting coloured candles, and placing the various items such as the palm cross in the centre of the plate of candles. We also included standing in a circle, placing a hand on each others’ shoulder and saying a personal prayer for that family member at the conclusion of our Godly Play. Even though it was a difficult time, it’s been lovely to see my children’s development in their understanding of God and understand how they relate to Jesus.

Lighting of the coloured candles

Other families participated in more structured Home services, such as the online Zoom church services provided by a few other churches, which meant they could see other families and share a spiritual connection via online video. The Elliott family watched a lot of online ‘Bedtime Bible Stories’ which they found entertaining and perfect for primary and older age groups.

Karen and Logan enjoyed using the children’s Examen in the ‘Pray as You Go’ app. They enjoyed incorporating the Examen at the dinner table or as part of the bedtime routine. Karen and Logan explained how they loved the simplicity of the app and found the daily reflection helped them to focus on God and how he had worked in their day. Karen expressed how ‘it had been a great springboard into other conversations about school, their needs and wants and what was important to them’. Karen included the app which you can download from the App Store or access the website https://pray-as-you-go.org/.

Karen also described ‘how they held a special blessing for their puppy ‘Jack’, the newest member of their household. They lit Logan’s baptism candle as a reminder to him of God’s light and that we are responsible for looking after God’s creation. They sprinkled water on Jack to bless him from his dog bowl to remember that water is vital for God’s creation’. Karen and Logan described this as ‘a very memorable ‘service’ and one they won’t forget as a family’.

Karen and Logan’s newest addition – Jack

The Lotufo family read Bible story texts and watched YouTube videos of Bible stories with a discussion afterwards as part of their Godly Play at home. Julieta provided one of the stories here, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AYO_382TpCc the YouTube story on The Good Shepherd which she recommended to watch and discuss.

Julieta described Levi’s two favourite stories.

  • The Easter Story – the story of Jesus dying and being resurrected and what this means for us today – His great sacrifice, which shows God’s love for us. They also discussed the bread and wine and what this means and why we partake of them. Julieta explained, “Levi does not like the part in which Jesus is arrested by the soldiers, he thinks this is ‘bad’ and would like to stop them from taking Jesus. However, Levi knows that happens next and the outcome. He likes the part in the story in which the tomb is empty and understands that Jesus has risen to heaven”.
  • The second favourite story is David and Goliath. Julieta expressed, “Levi has a great interest in how David was able to defeat Goliath with only the use of rocks.” She explained, “they begin the story by talking about how God looked after David and received God’s favour”. Julieta added, “I secretly think he likes the story because a giant was killed by a boy who used rocks instead of the swords that the army had. Every time we read this story he always says that if he had to fight a giant he would do the same thing – I do love how his little mind works. Only 5 years of age and such innocence.”

So as you can hear from our stories, we have all found a way to continue our relationship with God and share this with our families. It has been a wonderful time for sharing and interacting together and gaining a greater insight into how our children are building a relationship with God and learning from them.

Emily’s and Imogen’s Barbie dolls dressed up for Palm Sunday, with Jesus on the donkey.

Surrendering my prayers to Jesus during Isolation

Dear friends,

I would like to encourage everyone to consider sharing some of their isolation experiences. Today I will set the ball rolling.

I have been blessed in many different ways. I’ve shared with you before the wonderful results since I started surrendering my prayers to Jesus and asking him to take care of everything. Last month, I was praying for Kelvin who had throat cancer. He wasn’t eating and was rapidly losing weight. I told him that I was surrendering him to Jesus during my daily prayers. he’s not a believer but thanked me anyhow. Then, out of the blue, he told his wife that he fancied a lamb chop. It was grilled and cut into the smallest pieces and he got it down. Since then, his appetite has returned and he’s put on weight. Last week, he was told that the cancer has gone and that they don’t need to see him until six months time!

Another friend who had survived prostate cancer was told he had pancreatic cancer and the prognosis was very dire. He had no idea that he was being surrendered to Jesus everyday, but the cancer has miraculously disappeared. Thank you Lord!

My sister, who had sunk so low into depression that she had convinced her family and herself that she was dying, has been reading the daily Novena and surrendering herself to Jesus. She has since completely recovered. her husband mocks my claims of answered prayer and attributes her recovery to the drugs, but I tell him the doctors were guided by the Holy Spirit.

 Our friend, Patricia, sent me a chain mail with a difference. I was asked to send a poem or story to the name at the top of the page. I thought of a short poem exchange I had with out second son who was meddling with drugs nearly forty years ago. I sent it and the stranger responded saying, “it was inspiring and deserved a bigger audience”, so here you go! I wrote,

Moth dancing around a flame 
Fascinated, flirting with death 
Don't ask me to join your game 
Don't ask me to watch you play 
But when you've had enough 
Come home 

The blighter cheekily answered his distraught mother,

I don't want to cause you pain
To see the tears etched on your face
One day I will find my place
And when I do I'll shout Home Base

Thank God he did, and is now a wonderful self-employed family man.

Love and Blessings,

Betty

Monday Fellowship Group

We are a diverse group of men and women, mostly mature Christians, who meet each Monday to study God’s word. Our studies are based on prepared courses covering six weeks. The topics vary; some compiled by Jamie and Verity, and some adapted by Jan Capp.

Discussions are open and all members are encouraged to express their opinions. I sometimes have to close and discussion continue over afternoon tea.

When we started studying ‘Being Together’ the Roman Catholics in our group were concerned that it might be Anglican centred but we have all found the topic interesting and thought provoking.

We are aware of the evil of gossip, as against open discussion of concerns. Our group has developed into a  safe place where people feel free to raise matters of concern.  Free discussion with fellow Christians can be helpful in many ways.

Once a matter has been brought to light and viewed form different angles it may be proven to be unworthy of concern. Shared discussion may produce a solution that can be taken further.

Of course we need some wiser, mature Christians in our group to see that discussion doesn’t slip into gossip. We have those people. Next term we will be studying ‘Living Free’. We would love for you to join us.

Blessings,

Betty Frost

A Holy Lent

Last Wednesday we marked (literally with ashes) the beginning of the season of Lent. There is a lovely phrase in the service where we encourage one another to ‘keep a Holy Lent’. Holy means set apart for a special, sacred purpose.

If you have been around St Nic’s for a while you will know that the purpose of taking seasons of focus in the church year is to realise God’s grace in our lives. We bless and receive blessings, we belong to Christ and to one another, we grow in our renewed belief, we see our behaviour change and participate with God for that transformation. As we live this out, we become increasingly the person God intended. Paul describes the process of putting of our old natures and putting on our true, new nature in Christ. This idea of putting something off is what lies behind the notion of denying ourselves certain things in order to develop certain things. Eg. take Facebook off your mobile phone and limit your social media to your laptop to create more mental space and time for a bible app a verse a day or simple prayer. Or just space!

If you live in solitude most of each day perhaps it’s putting on an additional social activity, joining a St Nic’s small group, visiting the craft group or serving at Little Lambs or in the Op Shop. Feel free to munch as much chocolate as you like. What is a Holy Lent between you and the Lord this year going to look like?

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.