- Who we are
- What we do
Wise people are open to correction.
If you are anything like me, you spend more time thinking about how to address the foibles of others than you do listening to their corrections of you.
It is tricky to work out how to rebuke someone else well, but are we the kind of people who can receive a difficult message?
Like an earring of gold or an ornament of fine gold
is the rebuke of a wise judge to a listening ear.
The proverb above likens having an ear open to correction to an earring or jewellery of fine gold. It adorns and enhances the person.
Are we a church where encouragement is freely given and correction is invited? Having a personal or congregational culture of only one or the other is not good. Correction only can crush, and encouragement only can be stifling.
But also note that having a listening ear doesn’t mean you need to take on board what everyone says. Don’t just listen to anyone. Develop an ear that listens to the rebuke of a wise judge—a person who can discern truth and error, wisdom and foolishness, and teach it. Look out for wise people who input God’s truths into your life, and give you good advice.
So, let’s develop our hearts and ears ready to receive correction from the word of God and from one another. Such a disposition is more valuable than gold, and more striking as well.
– Sam Pursell
Eat honey, my son, for it is good;
honey from the comb is sweet to your taste.
Know also that wisdom is like honey for you:
If you find it, there is a future hope for you,
and your hope will not be cut off.
I love warm crumpets with butter and honey! Such a simple breakfast pleasure helps start a day off well. Honey (and crumpets!) bring health, energy and joy.
The simple analogy of this proverb is that like honey, there is life-giving sweetness to be found in the wisdom of God’s word. But unlike honey, we cannot have too much of God’s wisdom! And not only does it set us up for the day, God’s wisdom sets us up even beyond this life.
So, how is your appetite – not for honey, but for wisdom from God?
If you haven’t developed the taste, each day just read a bit of the Bible – even a little – so that over time you come to love it for yourself. And in doing so, you will have joy and hope that sustains you not just for one day, but eternally. Your life and wisdom will be in God, who is the world’s only secure hope.
Growing deeper in the scriptures is not just about reading, but holding it in our mind as you would savour honey on your tongue. In doing so we can ponder on its meaning for us today and personalise it. Through that we are changed and enlivened for God. What a sweet gift God has given us in the Bible!
– Sam Pursell
One of the hardest things we have to learn is how to deal with others who have offended us, while doing it with love and self-control. And no one does this perfectly, so we all have some growth in this area.
Finger pointing and the blame game started right after the fall and taking up an offence ensued. Enmity and jealousy were introduced and you know the rest of the story…
Growing up, my brother and I were best friends, however we also used to fight over everything. And in particular the small things, such as whether a crumb was on what side of the table and therefore who was responsible for cleaning it up. Heels dug in, neither side would let it go, and tempers flared. After all calmed down it was rather silly and we knew it, but in the heat of the moment sinful hearts were revealed.
Sometimes we all like to argue and fight over insignificant things because it’s in our sinful nature to take up an offence, point fingers, and insist on a satisfactory outcome in the courtroom of our own justice.
But where does this leave us? Consider what the scriptures say:
“Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook an insult.”
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.” Romans 12:18-19
The next time there’s a ‘crumb’ in your family, point it out, talk about how it needs to be overlooked, and explain that love covers a multitude of sins. Explain how we should be gracious and merciful, and how it relates to the gospel… “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
Let’s help train one another to overlook the offence because we live in a broken world where offences come frequently.
– Valerie O’Regan
Hang on a minute! Didn’t I just write about changing the other week? Yes, but there is more to add!
Last century, western culture moved away from institutions, including the church, and expressive individualism continued to grow. Therefore, some churches began to change their doctrine, practices and style and in order to keep relevant. Of course, some churches realised the dangers in this and aimed to hold fast to doctrine, while changing in other areas to connect to the culture, like Paul promotes. The same gospel, but in a different wrapper.
This did work to an extent, and many people were reached, but it had a negative effect. Once good doctrine is confirmed, people now judged churches on their wrapper. This then causes a big problem within the church. For variations in church styles and practices can end up reinforcing expressive individualism in the church – not so much for unbelievers as already believing Christians. So, now I tick the good doctrine box by default, but really look for the church with the style that fit my self-image. The church-shopper is born. This thinking is antithetical to making disciples of Christ who lay down their lives for the kingdom of Jesus.
What can we do? At least two things.
Firstly, change for connection, not consumerism. It’s worth remembering that Paul’s concerns was not for Christians, but for those who did not know Christ yet. We must ensure our efforts at change are truly for the benefit of the outsider, and not merely an expression of our own preferences and self-image. This involves insight and humility.
Secondly, commit deeply to one another. If we are to begin to overcome our society’s pervasive loneliness caused by the granularization of preferences cause by extreme expressive individualism, we need to spend time with one another and grow through the challenges we cause each other! Freedom to be vulnerable in front of others, acknowledging others’ preferences, praising the gifts and contribution of others, sharing joys and sorrows, being self-controlled on our frustrations – the list could go on.
We all want to promote and be a part of a deep and loving fellowship which changes lives, but will commit to and give up our preferences for it.
– Sam Pursell
As you may know, the NSW government has announced further easing of COVID-19 restrictions. The headline is of 50 people for religious gatherings. The reality for most churches is less due to the space available in their buildings.
Two points impinge on how many people we may have at church:
At Oak Flats this means we may have up to 35 people based on total floor area, but may be less due to seating arrangements in order to physically distance. Each of our live stream services has had about 8-10 people present.
Therefore, the wardens and I have decided that initially just those members who have not been able to access the live stream online will be invited to attend from June 14. They will be personally contacted.
After we have observed how this change works in practice, and in communication with others, we will decide further changes as appropriate. Further easing of restrictions from 1st July 2020 is possible and you will be kept updated.
Thank you to everyone for your patience and graciousness.
– Sam Pursell