MILESTONES AND OTHER MATTERS

Dear Friends,

A  We had a very wonderful Home Houseparty last weekend and a huge thank you again to all who came and contributed. The fellowship – like the weather – was warm and very special. I received very generous gifts from the church for being the speaker – a photo, a text, some puzzles (!) and a ‘dinner for two’ voucher – thank you so much.

B  Today across Australia many many churches are thanking God for the Bush Church Aid society that turns 100 this year. We have had long links with BCA – though for many it remains an unknown outback ministry to people in the bush – but now we have a personal link in supporting Glen and Beth McDonald (Zac, Lili, Jaxon, Jesse and Asher – who are 12,9,6,4 and 2) who serve the Lord in Roxby Downs, near Coober Pedy in the middle of South Australia. The mining town has a population of 4,500 – many young families. I hope this family will find a place – along with our other missionaries – in our hearts and prayers. Glen is a pastor and Beth is a chaplain.

C  At the Home Houseparty last weekend we grappled with James 1:2 to consider trials with joy. Some of our members who face trials (or people with trials) rightly wanted to get this text clear. Here are some extra thoughts.

  • It does not mean we should enjoy trials in some masochistic way nor tell each other to rejoice in some simplistic way.
  • The idea that our trials should be “pure joy” does not mean “total joy” as if there is no pain or hardship in them. There is.
  • The original language says “all joy consider” and I suspect this means “every joy consider” – do not see trials without some joy.
  • And the joy that James is talking about is that every trial is an instrument to teach or train in some way – no trial is outside God’s loving purposes.
  • James is not being slick or annoying here – he is simply saying to all God’s people facing all types of trials – “let the light of eternity shine on them”

D  With the election over I remind you that it has never been – and it is certainly not my job – to tell Christians how to vote (though some think that it is). Having said that, a friend in Canberra wrote to his congregation recently to say that as a lifelong Labour voter he felt he could not vote for them this time because he considered too dangerous:

  1. Their policy on abortion
  2. Their views on ‘Safe Schools’
  3. Their discrimination against Christians employing Christians
  4. Their attack on free speech and religious freedom

I am writing this because the election is over but these issues are going to need gospel power if they do not soon infiltrate our political parties – whichever one is in power. 

On August 25 we will welcome Martyn Iles from the Australian Christian Lobby to guide our minds on what (truly) can be done.

E  The “Church and State” separation is a heated issue today. Historically the “separation” began in America to protect the church from political control.

But “control’ should never be allowed – whether it’s a communist country trying to eliminate

Christianity or whether it’s a catholic system trying to manipulate the kings and queens.

Better than “separation” is “cooperation”. The state has a God-given role to protect all people and reward or punish as required –while the church has a God-given role to remind all people that there is a permanent King whose influence now and decisions later is of eternal consequence.

And yet notice how the “cooperation” is being attacked in the West. There are many in the political process telling the church it cannot say anything that contradicts or upsets some minorities. So the power to protect the church has become a power to silence the church – “separation” now is not for mutual listening but one-way listening. 

In fact, “separation” is impossible. There will always be two voices and the single question is whether two will be courageous to speak or one. The apostles didn’t wait for permission to speak when they were told not to (Acts 4:29 and 5:29) they asked for boldness and changed the world.

Yours,
Simon Manchester