Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!

Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!

Did I say “thank you”?

Thank you to everyone who leaned in & helped out in so many ways while I was away in the US!

For everyone who adjusted around the changed worship roster & pitched in to make our visitors feel welcome & keep the gospel happening…thank you!

To the women who just did what needed to be done with Ladies Fellowship & your Bible Study…thank you!

To all those who did the little things I’ll never know the full story behind…thank you!

 

It was great to be away. My mother is doing really well & my sister has adjusted to having her in her home so that my mother seems in better shape now than when I last saw her…about 4 years ago. Hard to believe, but it is true. It was exciting to spend time with my nieces & nephews & the next generation…They’re all doing very well too.

My trip was not without a few dramas…last minute cancelled & re-scheduled flights…missed connections because of weather etc…lost glasses in airport security…and a niggling stomach thing when I finally made it home. And now Brenna, Leonie & I seem to be sharing a head cold…We’ve all tested negative for Covid-19 so that’s something!  So I’m laying low for this first week back just to make sure nothing is truly amiss. You’ll probably see me more in a mask this Sunday than in the last few months…just to be safe.

But I am delighted to be back & getting ready for our 9th birthday as a congregation. This Sunday we’ll note with thanksgiving the road on which God has led us to create a new outpost for his mission in our city. As I look around, both at Living Water & Wagga Wagga, I can tell our work here is not yet complete. So what a better time to find a fresh way to reach our community in the name of Jesus…and if “reach our community” seems too big an ask, try “reach my son, daughter, grandchildren, friend of a lifetime, colleague, next door neighbour…” then let’s talk about that over the coming days.

  • We’re meeting to Pray Together on Saturday morning…I have 10:00 a.m. @ the Guide Hall. I’m sure there was an announcement Sunday & in the Bulletin about that so check that for the correct details.
  • ALSO – a group of our women (about a dozen or so) will be attending the EQUIP22 livestream @ Wagga Baptist Church Saturday…9am-3pm I think. Keep that in your prayers as well. Last year’s event was very well received & to be joining with another group of Christian folks to share that experience…should be awesome!
  • Sunday is a Morning Tea Week! So you know what that means.

I was in the US for the Biggest Morning Tea…so I’m probably going to have to restrain myself. The worship I attended there had lunch after worship which was lovely…and my oldest US nephew preached. He’s an electrical engineer…but he & his brother-in-law gathered a few friends from around the Dallas area & have started a church. They’re a thriving band a bit larger than Living Water & heaps younger! My nephew is 42 so you know how old his friends & their friends are. I can’t tell you how proud I was listening to him share his heart & God’s word. His father would have been so so delighted…and I know his Father was too.

  • We’ll re-start our Friday Zoom Bible Study Catch ups next Friday the 24th. I’m still waking up & wanting to sleep at funny times so I’m going to give myself a bit to resettle…then we’re off and running.

As I have mentioned…I’ve been asked to write a month’s worth of devotions for a book Australian Church Resources will publish for 2023. My assignment is most of 1 Corinthians. As I travelled, I read & wrote. It was also a great way to pick my mom’s thoughts & hear her insights about the Scriptures as we talked about what I was doing…for instance, take a minute to read 1 Cor 5:1-8.

Let’s just say the folks in Corinth have a real problem on their hands. Paul’s solution seems harsh. Kick the guy out of church fellowship because of what we might think was a matter of private morality between consenting adults. But for the Corinthians, and for the church as a whole, we are never “private.” We are always ‘the body of Christ & individually members of it.’ (1 Cor 12:27) There’s no escaping that. We are always always always united to one another in Christ by baptism into his death,  resurrection & rule over all things. When we act as if our behaviour has no impact on anyone else but us, we tell a great lie. When we think we can live beyond the correction & rebuke of the church, that’s rebellion. Paul’s response seems just right in that context.

There is a protective grace we enjoy living among other believers in Christ as his church. It’s dangerous to act self-centredly against the wisdom of the church. It’s dangerous to put oneself over against God’s word or his people. It’s in fact dangerous to live as if regularly meeting with other believers for worship or prayer & study is a “take it or leave it” thing. The koinonia of the church is more than just great picnics & fun activities for adults & kids alike. It’s a spiritual shield…and to step outside the shields of faith of your fellow members of the body is to become incredibly vulnerable. The longer & more self-willingly someone lives outside the shield of the fellowship, the greater the spiritual risk. In Corinth it had become a real issue on many levels…so Paul called for swift immediate action hoping it would lead to repentance & restoration.

This is why we pray for constantly, encourage lovingly and challenge honestly those who look at the church as a “when I’m ready or want it” experience…not because we want more butts on seats or bucks in the offering, but because those people we love are at risk…serious spiritual risk. And we do not facilitate or ignore their danger to themselves & others: “…a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough…”

I’m looking forward to seeing you Sunday. I’m excited about our Romans series…I’m always excited about sharing God’s word…but Romans was the book that brought Luther & others to deep faith in Christ & birthed the Reformation.  This week…Romans 2 & 3. Have a read before worship to get a sense of what we’ll be looking at. You’ll find some familiar verses & some great encouragement.

Peace

John

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