A pastor visiting an elderly member of his church asked if she ever thought about the “hereafter.”     “Yes,” she said. “Whenever I enter a room in my house, I wonder what I’m here after.”

If you are anything like me, your memory is not what it used to be. I’m sure my memory is backed up somewhere; it’s just that my hard drive fails far too often. More frustratingly, I know that my ‘forgettery’ is working just fine. Writing things down has become almost mandatory. My wife lovingly calls it: ‘Stress induced amnesia.’

We all love remembering special milestones in our lives, like birthdays and anniversaries. Last year we had a special church centenary celebration. As a nation, we have many special days that we observe. Our country also has many monuments reminding us of the sacrifices of many people in so many ways down through the years.

God knew that the children of Israel would also inevitably forget the important things in life. That is why they were to celebrate the Passover every year. This – and many other festivals – was to remind them of significant ways in which He had led them through important events. In my reading this week I was reminded of the instruction of God to take twelve stones after they had crossed the River Jordan. They were to make a monument, so that they and their children would recall His past faithfulness to them.

Every week during communion we remember what Jesus Christ accomplished for us on the Cross. It’s a special time for us. We do this ‘in remembrance of Him.’ So we don’t forget. So we can learn to love Him more. This is just one of many ways God has blessed us. We love to sing the old hymn ‘Count your many blessings.’ How many blessings have you remembered today? Why not try counting them – or even writing them down? And it ‘will surprise what the Lord has done.’


The Trouble with Heroes

Over recent days the media have been abuzz with the tragic news of South African double amputee athlete, Oscar Pistorius, an Olympian of some note. He has allegedly shot and killed his girlfriend. The news has shocked the sporting world, along with the general population who admired his achievements in overcoming adversity.

In recent times we have also had the drama surrounding the admission of cyclist Lance Armstrong that he took performance enhancing drugs during his seven “victories” in the Tours de France. I spent many enjoyable hours watching and admiring him conquer those steep mountains, and even up to the last moment I refused to believe the story – until I heard him admit his guilt.

We’ve also had admissions from our much hyped Olympic swimmers that all is not as wonderful as it may have appeared. Our footballers and team officials are being found out for various misdemeanours such as allegedly being involved in match fixing, drug taking and bending the rules to suit their needs.

Going back even further in time, cricket has had a very blemished history, with bribes and match fixing, corruption and other nasty activities tainting the game. Probably the worst case in this so-called “gentleman’s game” was the South African captain, Hansie Cronje, admitting to match fixing. Here in Australia, even the great Don Bradman was not entirely squeaky clean it seems, as fellow team mates accused him of bullying, favouritism and being dictatorial.

Making someone your hero is fraught with danger. You will inevitably be disappointed. They will let you down in some way. It’s one thing to aspire to follow in the footsteps of an effective and inspiring role model, but to put them on a pedestal, to think that they are somehow exempt from doing wrong, and to think that they are perfect is to place your trust in someone who is flawed. We are all sinners, says the Bible. Not one of us is perfect – except Jesus Christ.

The revelations in the media, and from our own dealings with ordinary people in our community, show us time and again that we can’t fully put our trust in people. At some stage they will let us down. Not so with Jesus. He was without sin. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He can be trusted. He is faithful.

I think that it’s fine to be inspired by others, to aspire to emulate their achievements and to use them as role models, but we need to do so with our eyes wide open, knowing that at any time they can let us down. On the other hand, to follow Jesus Christ and be inspired by his life and teaching, is quite another matter.


Do you have a ticket?

Reading: Ephesians 2: 1 – 9

Probably all of us have needed tickets for various events. These tickets might have been for entry to a concert, a play, a building such as a museum, a sporting event and many other places. When we travel on a train, ship, bus or plane we need a ticket to allow us to board and get to our destination. Very occasionally a ticket is given to us which is a gift, or which allows free entry or free travel. My Seniors Card is one example; one benefit of one’s mature years.

In most cases, if you don’t have a ticket, you can’t enter or travel. No ticket, no go. In our reading today from the first nine verses of Ephesians, Paul strongly emphasises that sin means no entry into the kingdom of God. Sin means we have no ticket; we are excluded. He says it very strongly indeed: in our sin we were dead.

Now the good news: “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love for us… made us alive with Christ… and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus.” That’s amazing. That’s awesome. That’s God’s mercy, and love and grace in action. And it’s ours now.

But wait – there’s more. Paul goes on to say: “For by grace you have been saved, through faith… it is the gift of God.” That gift is our ticket, and it’s freely available to all who have faith in Jesus Christ. It’s our entry ticket into God’s kingdom, and there is no expiry date. It’s an eternal ticket into heaven and God’s presence.

Some tickets are “free”, but most are not. Even with a “free” ticket, there is a cost; someone has to pay. Jesus Christ paid for your ticket into heaven – with his life. Our eternal ticket was at His expense.

A ticket is of no value unless you use it. A gift is not yours unless you accept it. Your ticket to eternal life in Christ is waiting for you; why not accept it today?

If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your saviour today, please let us know. Or if you have any questions use the contact form (click here). If you live near Murray Bridge in South Australia, we’d love to get to know you, and have you visit our church – or even join us on a regular basis.

˄Trevor Hampel


What do you have in mind?

Is Your Mind Stayed on God?

“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You” (Isaiah 26:3).

Is your mind stayed on God or is it starved? Starvation of the mind, caused by neglect, is one of the chief sources of exhaustion and weakness in a servant’s life. If you have never used your mind to place yourself before God, begin to do it now. There is no reason to wait for God to come to you. You must turn your thoughts and your eyes away from the face of idols and look to Him and be saved (see Isaiah 45:22).

All of the above comes from Oswald Chambers’ devotional book My Utmost for His Highest. If you haven’t ever used this wonderful book, may I encourage you to seek it out in our church bookshop (click here); they will order it in if it’s not in stock.

I’m not sure about your experience of life, but I find that my major spiritual battlefield is in the mind. I can resist the temptations of alcohol, of gambling, of adultery, of idolatry, of illicit drugs and a whole raft of other nasties, but when it comes to my mind, well, I must admit it is a battle-scarred zone. Too easily doubts and fears creep unbidden in, like ghastly monsters in a horror movie. Too often depression sends waves of despair crashing onto the shores of my mind. Too frequently I let the trials of ill-health lead me down the path of grumpiness, like some shell-shocked war veteran in desperate need of some post traumatic stress counselling.

It should not be so.

And it can be different. Paul encourages us to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Cor 10:5) Paul is encouraging us to win this spiritual battle by bringing every thought – EVERY thought – captive to Christ – and in obedience to Him. When we allow Jesus Christ to not only reign in our lives but also in our minds, the Holy Spirit can defeat those negative thoughts, those periods of doubt, those long, dark nights of despair.

Paul says it far more eloquently:

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Phil 4:7-8)

That whole verse speaks to me of Jesus. When I think about him, and let my thoughts dwell on all he has done for me, and on the multitude of blessings that come from God because I am in Christ, then those negative thought patterns have to move on; there’s no place for them in my mind. They have to find another home.

Let your minds dwell on Jesus Christ.


A worshipping church

Over recent days I have written about a waiting church and a witnessing church.

Today we turn our attention to being a worshipping church.

A worshipping church

This is a huge topic; myriads of books have been written on the topic of worship, and what it means to be a worshipping church. My simple comments here are just a reminder of some basic truths from scripture; an encouragement to be a worshipping Christian in the midst of a worshipping church which comes regularly into the presence of God.

Firstly, a negative: worship is not something we only do for an hour or so on a Sunday morning. That is just the pinnacle, the climax, the culmination of our worship 24/7 throughout the week. It is the coming together of His Church for corporate worship, reflecting what has been happening all through the week leading up to that time together.

“They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.” Acts 1:14

Note the word “constantly”. Prayer is an essential part of worship, but worship is so much more. Worship is acknowledging the “worth-ship” of God and Jesus Christ our saviour.

Jesus Christ should be the focus of our worship. It is abiding in him, constantly aware of his presence, leading and guiding us through each day. It is focussed on a communion with Christ, a conversation that is ongoing, a lifestyle which reflects the fact that, as Christians, we are “in Christ” (see Ephesians chapter 2) . That is why Christianity is not a religion; it is a lifestyle.

When we are truly a worshipping church, this lifestyle brings with it some wonderful results.

Some results of being a worshipping church

Refreshing: There is no question about the fact that many aspects of the modern world are on the nose. Morality – mostly lack of morality – stinks. People everywhere moan about the lack of standards and anti-social behaviour. God calls this sin. When we come together to worship as a body of believers, the Holy Spirit brings a breath of fresh air into our lives. He refreshes us, not unlike the cooling breeze after a hot summer’s day.

Refueling: Life is hectic. And when we are heavily involved in the life of the church, our tank sometimes runs on empty, especially people who have a full-time job and do volunteer work within the congregation. Private, individual worship and prayer times, supplemented by corporate worship times together with other believers, can refuel us. The Holy Spirit is constantly seeking to fill us, energising us for the tasks ahead.

Renewing: The mercy of God is new every morning. When we come to him in worship, the renewing that comes from being in communion with Him brings a new freshness, a new perspective on life. Worship lifts us from the mess of our lives, bringing us into a closer relationship with God, renewing us in the process.

May your worship of our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ regularly refresh, refuel and renew your life.


˄TH based on a sermon by ˄DA.

A witnessing church

A few days ago I wrote that our church is “a waiting church” (click here to read the article). We are waiting on God’s leading and directions concerning the future ministry within our church. All who are in fellowship are being encouraged to be in daily prayer regarding this, and we have a special church prayer meeting every Thursday evening. We are in awe as God is working, both in the church and in individual lives. Praise his name!

The article I’ve just referred to was based on a sermon preached recently by David A. Today’s devotional article picks up further points from that sermon. David went on to say that, not only was the early church we read about in the book of Acts, chapters 1 and 2, a waiting church, it was also a witnessing church.


“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

That just about covers every part of the world, even us here in Murray Bridge, South Australia. The interesting thing is this: while it is the church and the people in the church who do the witnessing, it is the power of the Holy Spirit which does the work of evangelising. It is the Holy Spirit who convicts each one of sin.

We are called to be witnesses to the saving power of the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. Through friendship with those who are not yet Christians, we can testify to what Christ has done in our lives, and what he continues to do in our lives. It is then totally up to the Holy Spirit to take our faltering words, our feeble attempts at friendship, our sometimes inadequate attempts to help in a practical way that God can use. He then can minister to the hearts of our friends, neighbours, fellow workers and family, and through the Holy Spirit’s influence challenge people to accept Jesus as their own saviour.

Paul challenged young Timothy to “do the work of an evangelist.” (2 Tim. 4:5) Few people are truly called and gifted to be evangelists, but we can all do the work of an evangelist. We can all tell people about salvation through Jesus Christ which is available to all. In that way we can truly be a witnessing church, one which can have a lasting influence on the lives of many within our community and change our little part of the world.

Blessings to you all.

˄TH based on a sermon by ˄DA.



A waiting church

David A., our speaker last Sunday,  looked at various aspects of the first church, as outlined for us in the book of Acts chapters 1 and 2. We read in Acts 1:1-5 that the early church was a waiting church.

Jesus had commanded them to wait in Jerusalem for provision from God the Father. Jesus had already told them that they would soon be receiving the Holy Spirit. We can now look back and see that he meant the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the young Christian church. We now know that this happened on the day of Pentecost when 3000 people were added to the church on one day.

After all of the exciting events leading up to this time the disciples must have been anxious about all this waiting. They had to wait for 40 days. They had experienced with Jesus the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the observance of the Passover – the Last Supper, the prayer in the Garden, the sudden arrest of Jesus followed by a sham trial and finally his shameful crucifixion. Add to this the confusion and utter dismay when they saw, not once, but on many occasions, Jesus alive and in their midst. And now he was asking them to wait.

Waiting times are not wasted times. On many occasions in scripture we read of people waiting on God.

Those who wait on the LORD
    will renew their strength.
    They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:31)

Our church is a waiting church. Tomorrow marks David’s last Sunday with us as an interim pastor. Many will be sorry to see him and his wife leave us. They are going to a new ministry in another church. In the meantime, our church is again left waiting on God. We have been going through a season of prayer for several months now, seeking God’s leading  regarding future ministry here.

Some of our folk are concerned that not much appears on the surface to be happening. This is quite understandable; we all like to see progress and to get on with God’s business here in this community. On the other hand, the eldership, along with most of the congregation, is seeking to wait on God’s leading and provision. Just as the early disciples had to wait patiently for the provision of the Holy Spirit, so must we wait on God to provide for us in the future. We have been praying, and are confident, that God is steadily working in background, preparing the right person to come here to work with us to shepherd the flock, and to reach out to the hurting, confused, and needy people of Murray Bridge.

And while we are waiting, we will keep praying.

˄TH based on a sermon by ˄DA.