The Pastors’ Pen

How excellent is Christ!

Each new day let us draw our minds into the realm where we can replay the wonders of what it means to be in Christ. They suggest this habit is the best one to draw us away from the love of the world for we are so mesmerised by the love of God, it captures our affections. Everything else falls into the background. I think is part of the ‘secret sauce’ for us to love our city well.

Tell them how much we love Christ. Tell them how good he is. Tell them how much the good news of Christ means to you. Tell them about transformations you have seen in your life. This is how a Scottish evangelical pastor concludes his famous sermon ‘The expulsive power of a new affection’. [1] In his sermon from 1819 he is trying to suggest that the way we transform the world, is by holding the
beauty of Christ up for all to see. [2] At times it’s a little tricky to work out what he’s getting at. But
read it three times slowly and I reckon you start to get a sense of things…
If during this time of contemplation, some happy island of the blest floated by… and he clearly saw that there a purer beauty rested upon every field and a more heartfelt joy spread itself among all the families; and he could discern there a peace and piety and a benevolence that put a moral gladness into every bosom and united the whole society in one rejoicing sympathy with each other and with the beneficent father of them all and he could further see that pain and mortality were there unknown and above all that
signals of welcome were hung out and an avenue of communication was made for him – perceive you not that what was before the wilderness, would be the land of invitation and that now the world would be the wilderness.

How did you go? He is suggesting that when people see how incredible Christ is (like a beautiful
island signalling welcome), they will leave behind their love for the world simply by being drawn by
the absolute beauty of Christ. How cool is that vision? I love it!

Remember, if you find a neighbour or friend interested in reading the Bible with you, we have a stack
of Word One to One resources available. Here are two short videos that help to explain Word One to One: – this one explains the history of the resources, and
this one (from Rico Tice, on of the creators of Hope Explored) helps us to see how you can be so powerful in helping love our city for Christ sake.

Let me finish off with the classic passage of the treasure in the field and the fine pearl…
44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. 45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46 When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it. Matthew 13:44-46



1 Piper, J. The Expulsive Power of a New Affection, Thomas Chalmers. (Illinois: Crossway, 2020), 70-71.
2 The text he was working from was 1 John 2:15 (NIV): Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.

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The Pastors’ Pen

The Committee of Management (CoM) for 2024 kicked off last Wednesday night. It was a real joy to welcome two new, humble and hungry [1] members to the team. They posed refreshing questions and asked questions of clarification. I even heard they are willing to come back again (so we didn’t scare them off)!

I am loving the culture of our CoM. We have now shared some really challenging seasons together through the pandemic and flood. I sense the level of trust has grown through these trials and that is the commodity desperately needed to forge teams together and help to achieve goals in partnership with each other. Christian adult educationalists Karen and Rod Morris [2] suggest a group often experiences a ‘forming, norming, storming, performing’ pathway – I really sense we are now performing together.

Don’t get me wrong there are real challenges ahead, but with the commitment and cohesion of our CoM team and their competence, I believe we can reach the goals and challenges before us.

Stay tuned for the CoM Term 1 ministry reflection (which will be sent at the start of Term 2) as I’ll aim to outline some of the goals and challenges before us.

To finish, can I encourage you to scan the final chapter of Romans (Romans 16) to see how many fellow workers [3] the apostle Paul thanks the Lord for. I thank the Lord for our CoM and their eagerness, loyalty, hard work, and joy-driven service. Let me sign off with the closing verses of Romans 16…
25 Now to him who is able to establish you in accordance with my gospel, the message I proclaim about Jesus Christ, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, 26 but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all the Gentiles might come to the obedience that comes from faith – 27 to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.



[1] Craig Hamilton uses this language in recruiting to teams, from his book from Matthias Media called Wisdom in Leadership.
[2] They have an excellent resource through Sydney Anglican Youthworks publisher called Leading Better Bible Studies.
[3] From a quick count, I counted 27 people that the apostle named!

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The Pastors’ Pen

We find ourselves faced with another venue change [1] for our Sunday gatherings. So, what will that
mean as we look forward?

But firstly let me pause and look back…

I wish to apologise to the Ritchie family for any grief I may have caused to them through my comment on Sunday in the Bible talk. It is true that Ritchie has taken six weeks of leave after a harrowing season of health challenges for his extended family. He wants to be proximate to them at this perplexing time. There are other issues at play as well which have meant his capacity has been affected. However, if you have questions about his leave, please send an email to Leadership Team (rather than directly to Ritchie or the family.)

Regarding our future meeting space, it is a difficult area to speak into. At this point we have no concrete information from LHS regarding the length of time required for repairs to the main hall. Obviously, it was as unexpected for the school it was for us. The executive staff at the school have been courteous and thoughtful as our SCPC staff team also tried to pivot towards a solution for last Sunday’s gatherings. Please can I encourage us towards the fruit the spirit during this unsettling time – love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. [2] Our executive staff team, along with LHS executive, will aim to keep you informed as further information becomes available. Nonetheless, I imagine we could have a lengthy absence from the hall.

Finally, I firmly believe our Father God in his extravagant grace has “got this!” [3] Sure, it would not be my pick to do our popular Easter services in the MPU! However, please pray that God is somehow preparing something through the coming weekend, and that through the Spirit’s ministry of conviction some human hearts would be deeply moved and that they might find hope in the midst of chaos!!!

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. 1 Peter 1:3-4



[1] As Southern Cross between Goonellabah and East Lismore we have become a nomadic people, using 5-10 different meeting spaces for our Sunday gatherings since March 2020!
[2] Galatians 5:22-23
[3] I remember the ute commercial that made this claim!

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The Pastors’ Pen

Last weekend was the Northern Rivers Youth Convention [1] at Lennox Head. It was a little lighter on than expected, but still, big things happened! (What an exciting age and stage to have godly Christian leaders investing in the Next Generation of our district).

A very cool story from the weekend was a young teenage girl from Byron Shire who has been on the edges of the life of a local church family. Yet, as the weekend progressed, her year leader posed a question to the group about where they were: ‘10 out of 10’ in with Jesus OR way back at ‘1 out of 10’. She scored super high! This simple little task revealed that this young woman’s heart is being drawn to Jesus. Her local leader was shocked and didn’t realise she was sooooo keen. Please commit this young life to prayer.

Again, SCPC has had a massive role in the weekend. Cam was absolutely the engine room, ably supported by Sarah, Luka, Henk and some of our other great youth leaders. We also had cameos from our music team helping out over the weekend, along with Susan and I operating as Camp Mentors, [2] where we were aspiring to create a ‘non-anxious presence’ [3] without, cramping the style of our youth from SCPC!!

Weekends like this remind me and other regional leaders of the impact SCPC has not only had in Lismore, but across our region. It is likely 70% of the event was fuelled by SCPC. If this makes your heart skip a beat like it does mine, can I encourage you to keep giving generously to our general account. Your generosity feeds into initiatives like this, as all our ministry efforts come from the same giving. Giving to our general account keeps our heartbeat strong in next generation ministries. We have had a very slow start to the year financially in a pressured financial season. Yet, we want to be strong in this area to position ourselves to employ a next generation pastor on the 1st of January 2025.

Finally, plans for YC25 have already begun, with serious thought being given to a possible location move to enable the convention to keep growing, particularly with community youth who don’t know the hope of Christ. So please pray for wisdom in this space. How cool would it be if 13-18 year olds across the Northern Rivers came to see how brilliant Christ is!

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. Psalm 34:8



[1] Presbyterian Youth NSW is the administrative backer of this conference.
[2] Interestingly, I created this role and others at YC ten years ago, after adopting them from my three years of student ministry with Presbyterian Youth NSW in 2007-2009.
[3] This language is borrowed from family systems theory, that encourages leaders to stay calm even when faced with complex pastoral or physical crises.

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