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David Cook Reflects On His First Year As Moderator-General Of The Presbyterian Church Of Australia

David Cook provides a ‘state of the union’ style summary of his observations about the Presbyterian Church Of Australia to mark the completion of the first year of his three-year term of service.
The post at the Presbyterian Church Of Australia website is titled ‘The Health Of The Church’.

I have now completed the first year of my three year term and have visited each State Assembly, except Queensland.
It has been a privilege to see what is happening throughout Australia and to be able to draw some conclusions about the health of the church.
In Victoria I spoke at the Ministers’ Family Camp and then gave the Expositions at the Assembly, it was good to get beyond the courts of the church to hear what is happening in the congregations.
Observation 1: Each State Assembly has a united focus on the gospel. The single mind of the church in Australia is to glorify God by seeing the gospel reach into every corner of our nation. It is a privilege to be part of such an harmonious, evangelical and evangelistic denomination.

Observation 2: The theological emphases of the Sixteenth Century Reformation are the emphases of the Bible and they are the emphases of the Presbyterian Church of Australia. However, I see a widespread determination to present a contemporary face to our culture and not transmit a distant, censorious and unwelcoming tone, which sometimes flavours the reformed tradition.
This balance between Biblical faithfulness and cultural relevance, often difficult to maintain, is largely being maintained.
Observation 3: Our Presbyterian structure serves us well. Congregations are cared for as part of a wider denominational family and at the same time are given the freedom to reach their own communities in their own way.
Nowhere is this more apparent than the new church plants springing up in Victoria, such completely different approaches being adopted at parishes like Bendigo, Daylesford and Doreen and yet all thriving within the denomination.
Observation 4: I have found not only unity but mutual affection for one another at State level. It has been very encouraging to attend Assemblies. There is no way that these are a drudgery, one would have to be a stone not to be moved to hear of the work of God being carried out by the church throughout Australia.

However there are three areas I think we need to work on:
First, at more than one Assembly, a good deal of time was spent dealing with the problem of institutional leadership devoid of Christian commitment. Why leaders who are not Christians are appointed to hospitals or aged care facilities or schools or campsites, who do not share our ethos, I will never know.
This is a source of anguish and frustration to us and cannot be a pleasurable experience for those thus appointed.
Our institutions must be led by well qualified people and such qualifications must include the vital recognition of Christ’s lordship in all of life, otherwise why are we involved in such institutions?

Second, the health of the APWM and PIM is wonderfully apparent.
Are we giving equal vigour and support to evangelistic outreach at the local level? New churches are being planted, but are the vast number of settled congregations reaching out in missions to children, youth and adults, where the gospel is presented and people invited to respond.
Where is the APWM equivalent to encourage creative and persistent and persuasive local outreach?

Third, our spiritual health is highly dependent on the ability of our theological colleges to attract quality people and to train them well.
This involves a financial commitment which will see our growing number of candidates well taught and cared for by faculties who are united in the truth and have close contact with the local church, the arena where candidates will work.
Our colleges must model and duplicate the local church so the faculty members, preach and disciple students as well as lecture them, set exams and mark essays. Our colleges are more than academic institutions, they are places where pastoral ministry is practised and modelled.
Pray for our colleges and their leaders and promote their interests at State Assemblies, so that they do not lack resources to fulfil the demanding ministry required of them.
I was recently at a conference in Geelong and two fine young men told me they were about to go to College to train for ordination. Where, I asked? PTC Victoria was their response. PTC along with QTC and Christ College must have enough quality staff to cope with the influx.

Brethren, sometimes in the middle of the battlefield of parish work, we can lose sight of the big picture. Be encouraged and rejoice because I believe the big picture of our church is healthy.
From the remote PIM outback patrols, to major regional centres like Launceston, Mt Gambier, Fremantle, Tamworth, Warrnambool; to growing outer city areas and inner suburbs of major cities the name of Jesus Christ is being proclaimed in church buildings, school halls and community centres.
Chaplains are visiting hospitals, hostels, gaols, schools, SRE teachers are delivering the message, Sunday School classes are being taught, Bible studies are being led, chapel services being conducted.
How grateful we can be that our testimony duplicates that of the apostles, “they reported all that God had done through them ….” Acts 14:27, 15:4, 21:19

David Cook

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The Sharers And The Builder

Something my Lutheran colleague said yesterday while preaching his last sermon to the congregation he served in Mount Gambier went like this: The Gospel is shared by many; the Church is built by Jesus alone.
I’ve been thinking about that ever since.
It’s true and very encouraging.

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Robert Benn Worshipping With The Dili Evangelical Presbyterian Church At Their New Building

The building will be officially opened next month.
Taken from Robert’s Facebook posting:
“I arrived in Timor Leste when visibility was very limited. February 2000. Dili was on fire, as was much of the country. Terrible suffering all round. Out of the ashes the new nation began to regroup, and many folk from around the world were very ready to help to rebuild. What a difference now. Repaired and renewed infrastructure; streets in good order; new buildings going up all over the place; a new settledness. The church? Last time I was here in 2011, a group of Presbyterians were still gathering for worship under a blue-plastic ‘tarp’. Rain, hail or shine. Today about 80 of us gathered for worship in the new building which will officially opened in December this year. A wonderful facility, and my pleasure to be the guest preacher this morning. Plenty of room for rejoicing. I counted this a great privilege, as well as, during the week to talk for so many hours with our church leaders and members. Dining together. Travelling together. Sharing the gospel, and gospel experiences together. Talking about the aches and pains of growth, and the joys and privileges of building a spiritual family whose name is inscribed in the Book of Life.”

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For All You’ve Done – Sunday Songs

I attended a wonderful time of worship as a friend and colleague concluded his pastorate at one of our local churches.
What a blessing the relationships between the pastors in Mount Gambier has been, and hopefully will be again.
Most of the songs we sang today have already featured on Sunday Songs, but we concluded with For All You’ve Done.
It doesn’t have a lot of lyrics, but the ones it does sum up the gospel saturated theme of our worship today.

The lyrics.
My Saviour, Redeemer
Lifted me from the miry clay
Almighty, Forever
I will never be the same
Cause You came near
From the everlasting
To the world we live
The Father’s only Son
You lived and You died
You rose again on high
You opened the way
For the world to live again
Hallelujah, For all You’ve done

Reuben Morgan
© 2004 Hillsong Music Publishing

This goes for a while, feel free to stop when you’ve heard enough.

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Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 43

Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 43

Q. What is required in the ninth commandment?
A. That I do not bear false witness against anyone, twist anyone’s words, be a gossip or a slanderer, or condemn anyone lightly without a hearing. Rather I am required to avoid, under penalty of God’s wrath, all lying and deceit as the works of the devil himself. In judicial and all other matters I am to love the truth, and to speak and confess it honestly. Indeed, insofar as I am able, I am to defend and promote my neighbor’s good name.

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Hoping To Sing This Song Tomorrow

Since I’m still on holidays I’m attending the final service led by a friend before he leaves town to pastor another church.
All the songs he’s chosen are great, but there is no more appropriate one than this for tomorrow.
He is a Lutheran, after all.
And it will be Reformation Sunday.
I’m sure he said we’ll be singing this.
Who said you can’t lead this song on guitar?

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The Canadian Sergeant-At-Arms Returns To Work

Kevin Vickers, the Sergeant-at-Arms to the Canadian Parliament, was the person who shot the gunman who assailed the Parliament after shooting sentry Nathan Cirillo.
The next day Vickers resumed his duties carrying the ceremonial mace into the chamber.
The video is extraordinary, particularly after the party enters Parliament.
The emotions on Vickers’ face in the chamber are what affect me most.
There are other versions of this, but here’s one.