From Our Team

Bray Park Community Church

Words of thought from our Church Team

Five Things Every Child Needs

I’ve recently been re-reading a book by Reggie Joiner called ‘Think Orange: Imagine the impact when church and family collide’. In it, Reggie includes a list of five things every child needs. I found them quite thought-provoking and helpful in my role as a parent and a leader of children’s ministry. I’d like to share them with you, along with my own thoughts. It’s my hope and prayer that you, too, will be encouraged. 1.A really big God they can trust—no matter what We want our kids to grow up with a close-up view of God; a God who captures their imaginations. We as the church and their parents need to show them the wonder, mystery, and power of a God who is too big for them to define, yet who has proven through time that He loves them intimately. We want our kids to be captivated by God’s character and...
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Why You Shouldn’t Be Cynical

Cynical (adjective): distrustful of human sincerity or integrity; doubtful as to whether something will happen or whether it is worthwhile; synonyms: sceptical, doubtful, distrustful, suspicious, disbelieving, scoffing, pessimistic, negative, hardened, world-weary, disillusioned, disenchanted, jaundiced, bleak.   Let’s be honest, sometimes it’s hard not to be cynical. An endless news cycle of disease, corruption, violence, and exploitation frustrate our enjoyment of life and wear away at our optimism. Sometimes it’s hard not to close our newspapers or shut down our social media apps in the morning without a resigned sigh.    But is this the way it should be? Should Christians walk through life with a permanent scoff and hardened scepticism? Dan DeWitt, author of Life in the Wild: Fighting for Faith in a Fallen World, suggests not. He provides 5 reasons why Christians shouldn’t be cynical. I’d like to share them with you:   1. We know how this story ends:...
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Responding to the Gift of Scripture

“I have hidden your word in my heart…” (Psalm 119:11) We really are so fortunate to have access to the Bible. In India, just delivering Bibles can be seen as trying to convert people to Christianity, and in several Indian states this is against the law! Not only are we fortunate because we can buy and distribute Bibles freely in our country, we are fortunate because God has provided us with the Bible in the first place. Our God is so gracious, that he has revealed himself clearly and concretely through the Scriptures. Think about that for a moment. What would life be like if we had to guess about God? I feel sorry for the countless pagan cultures who attempted this. They would try their best to link different events together in order to understand their god/gods. In my Old Testament studies, I remember reading an example of a fox...
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So Loved

One of the most quoted and well-known verses from the Bible is John 3:16: ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life’. (NIV) I am certain that this verse was quoted, written, and spoken about last Easter weekend. In my reflection upon Easter, I have been reading a devotion plan called ‘The Reason for My Hope’, a devotion based on excerpts from Dr Billy Graham’s book ‘The Reason For My Hope: Salvation’. Dr Graham writes about a time in 1934, which was when he gave his life to Jesus at the age of 16. As I read what he wrote, about being loved by God and that, truly, all we need is in Christ, I was reminded again that God so loved the world he gave his only Son. God so loved the...
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Did Jesus really rise from death?

“If the resurrection of Christ is not reality, then we have no assurance that God is the living God, for death has the last word. Christian faith is incarcerated in the tomb… if Christ is indeed dead.” (George Ladd) The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the foundation on which the Christian faith either rises or falls. In fact, the Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15 that the resurrection is “of first importance” (v.3), and if it is not true then our faith is “useless” (v.14) and “we are of all people most to be pitied” (v.19). Strong words. But the reality is if Jesus has not been raised he was a fraud, our sins are not forgiven, justice is not coming, and our hope is baseless. So, the question we must answer is: Did Jesus really rise from death? Is there any evidence to suggest that he was indeed resurrected?...
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Hot Cross Buns and God’s Love

One of my favourite accompaniments of the Easter season is the hot-cross bun. Perhaps you didn’t know this, but there are actually a few theories about the origin of the humble hot-cross-bun. The most popular is that in the late 12th century a monk baked spiced current buns and marked them with a cross in honour of Good Friday. The monk, Brother Thomas Rocliffe, then distributed the hot-cross-buns to the local poor on Good Friday. I love this story! And even if it is not completely accurate, it’s a wonderful illustration of showing God’s love tangibly to those who don’t know Him and those who are in need. Easter on the Lawn is an opportunity like this; to tangibly show the love of Jesus to our local community. Easter on the Lawn gives each of us an opportunity to be involved in blessing others and showing God’s love to those you...
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A Lesson from World War II Christians

“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil… Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer   I’ve been reading biographical books lately about Christians during World War II. The first one is about a man called Dietrich Bonhoeffer, an anti-Nazi pastor in Germany who witnessed Hitler’s rise to power. The other is about Corrie Ten Boom, a faithful woman of God who lived in the Netherlands during the Nazi occupation. Both of them lived extraordinary lives. The evils of war confronted them both at the deepest level and forced them to work out the implications of their faith in ways they had never imagined. Do I really love my neighbour enough to risk the concentration camps (Matthew 22:39)? Are God and his ways important enough for me to risk death and execution (Luke 14:27)? Dietrich and Corrie took risks such as these because...
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Selah: The Power of Pausing

Are you familiar with the word ‘selah’? Perhaps it reminds you of the popular Christian vocal group by the same name? Or maybe you recognize it from the Psalms? The most comprehensive way to define selah is to combine a few different meanings: ‘to hang’, ‘to praise’, ‘to lift up’, and ‘to pause’. The Amplified Bible help us understand how selah can be interpreted by adding “pause, and calmly think of that” to each verse where selah appears. Each of us can take heed of selah moments in our private worship and also in corporate worship during a Sunday service. During corporate worship on a Sunday we have selah opportunities at different times in the service. During prayer we might be given the opportunity to pause and reflect. When we worship in song we have selah opportunities during musical interludes. In fact, at BPCC we include musical interludes intentionally to give...
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The Importance of Lent

Do you celebrate or recognise Lent? Do you do anything special or significant to prepare your heart for Easter? Maybe you haven’t given it a lot of thought. So, what is Lent? The season of Lent is traditionally the 40 days leading up to Easter. The forty days represent the time Jesus spent in the wilderness, enduring the temptation of Satan and preparing to begin his ministry. For many Christians, Lent is a time for self-examination and reflection, a time to prepare spiritually for Easter. Lent offers us an opportunity to again acknowledge our sinful nature and our need for a Saviour. It’s a time to repent of our own rebelliousness, and return to God. Lent is also an opportunity to contemplate and reflect upon what our Lord Jesus endured on the Cross to achieve our redemption. I must admit that some years Easter sneaks up on me and I find...
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The Finish Line

Recently I’ve been dwelling on the words of one of my favourite passages in the Bible: Revelation 21:1-5. These verses have always been a great encouragement to me, and I am looking forward to preaching on them in a few weeks. This passage stands out from the surrounding chapters of Revelation because it is one of the few parts of this enigmatic book that is comparatively clear and easy to understand. There are no dragons, cups of wrath, or symbolic gems to try and interpret. I mentioned these verses in a recent message I gave at the Genesis Christian College Middle School Chapel. In the message I spoke on perseverance—and these verses are what my mind turns to when I think of the end point of the race we are running, the finish line. Because as broken and challenging as this world is, our existence will not always be like this—we...
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What a Watchmaker Can Teach Us About Work

What did you want to ‘be’ when you grew up? I love asking my children what they want to be. Over the years they’ve wanted to be superheroes, postmen, policemen, and more. Once my youngest son told me he wanted to be a car-robber, so he could drive really fast – that was an interesting teaching moment about stealing and making right choices! When we become adults and actually start working, the anticipated joy and fun of working we had as children quickly fades! But of course, work is a blessing, isn’t it? In his book ‘Called to Create’, author Jordan Raynor talks about work being used in powerful ways to glorify God, love others, and make disciples of Jesus Christ. He uses Casper ten Boom as an excellent example of how everyday work can be used to accomplish God’s will. He writes: In a fallen world, it can be difficult...
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This Little Light of Mine

We remember singing a song as children titled "This Little Light of Mine." As we sang we held up our index fingers and twirled them around. The second verse is "Hide it under a bushel, No! I'm gonna let it shine." The next verse is titled "Don't let Satan blow it out" and the last verse is "Shine my light 'til Jesus comes!" We are sure you can imagine the hand motions for each verse. (I just looked it up; you can find a Veggie Tales version of the song on YouTube) It was a fun song to sing, but neither of us remember any Sunday school teacher of ours stopping to talk to us about what the song actually means.  We encourage you to go on YouTube and play the song for your kids if you don't already know it. What do your kids think their "light" is?  If you...
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Personal message to my church family…

Last Sunday I announced to the church that at the end of March 2018, I will retire as Snr Pastor. 31 March 2018 will be my last official day in the office as I will be taking some leave. My decision to do this comes about because of continuing health challenges which prevent me from functioning as effectively as I need to in this role. I assure you, my decision has involved much prayer, medical advice, and wise counsel. Carla and I are not leaving – we will continue to worship and serve here in our church family. We love BPCC! Church Council have been very supportive as I’ve wrestled with this decision. We have also been working for many months on the succession plan of my replacement, which is the recommendation that Adam Schoenmaker become Snr Pastor to continue leading our church and wonderfully gifted ministry leadership team. We have...
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Committed to Growth

Growth doesn’t happen automatically. Ask anyone or anything. To grow tall and strong, trees need sunlight, water, carbon dioxide, and nutrients from the soil. A baby needs love, sleep, and lots and lots of milk. There are certain elements required for all organisms to grow. It is the same when it comes to our relationship with God. Our growth in Christ-likeness doesn’t happen automatically with the passing of time. The writer of Hebrews once said to a group of Christians: “...though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again.” (Heb. 5:12). These Christians grew older, but they did not grow up. The truth is that spiritual growth requires a commitment to grow. The Apostle Paul writes in Philippians 2:12-13: “12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence...
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The Community-Creating Power of Mission

At BPCC, our mission is ‘to make growing disciples of Jesus Christ through gospel-centred and Spirit empowered worship, community, service and mission’. We therefore created a ‘discipleship pathway’ to help us achieve this disciple-making mission: Connect through Jesus, grow in Jesus, serve like Jesus and go with Jesus. This is a clear process for us to follow as we seek to make fully-formed followers of Christ. One of the mistakes we can make, however, is to make each step absolutely distinct and separate in someone’s discipleship journey. People are complex and won’t necessarily follow one step neatly before entering the next. Someone might encounter God (Connect) and immediately begin to tell others about Jesus in their workplace (Go), but aren’t yet part of a Growth Group (Grow), for example. People are complex, and our journeys are different. One of the things that I think go hand-in-hand is community (Connect) and mission...
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The Practice of Fasting

“The greatest enemy of hunger for God is not poison, but apple pie.” – John Piper This week, during the morning service we are talking about ‘Kingdom Spirituality’ or piety. In chapter 6 of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus points us God-ward. He shows us that the practices of giving, prayer and fasting are not about impressing others but about drawing near to our loving and compassionate Father. We go into far more detail in the sermon. However, I thought it would be beneficial to provide an excerpt from Richard Foster’s book, ‘Celebration of Discipline’. In his chapter on fasting, he talks about some of the practical aspects because it is so alien to our culture. If you have health issues, get medical advice before attempting a fast. Here is Richard’s advice: “As with all the Disciplines, a progression should be observed; it is wise to learn to walk well before we try...
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Living under God’s Rule in 2018

We are currently in a sermon series during the morning services called ‘Kingdom of Heaven’. We spoke last week about the concept of the kingdom. The ‘kingdom’ represents God’s rule or reign. Where the will of God is done, the kingdom of God is present. Jesus announced its arrival in Matthew 4:17, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”, and brought the kingdom through his life, death and resurrection. The arrival of the kingdom of God was life-changing news! We discovered last week that the arrival of God’s kingdom is good news for everyone. Jesus’ announcement in Matthew 4:17 meant that the defeat of God’s enemies was imminent – Satan, sin and death would be conquered. It meant that God’s long-awaited restoration plan had begun (Isaiah 52:7; Ezekiel 11:19-20) – and that he was going to restore the broken image of God in us (Genesis 1:26-27). The restoration of...
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A Different Kind of Year-End List

One of my favourite things about this time of year—apart from Christmas, cricket season, and more time with family—are the end-of-year lists. Everything released during the year, from albums to movies to books, are reviewed and ranked. I enjoy looking back on the year that was and discovering what other people enjoyed and what I might have missed. However, on this, the last day of 2017, I’d like to offer a different kind of year-end list; one that does not look backwards but forward. One that takes into account our rapidly changing cultural landscape and casts an eye towards the type of church required in our volatile times. This list offers four realities that, I believe, must mark the church in our day, and it is offered in the hope that it might give us a pathway toward health, vitality, and influence in the days ahead. The four realities are: Clear...
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The Greatest Gift

What’s the greatest gift you’ve ever received? I have been given lots of beautiful gifts at Christmas time and for my birthday. Two particular gifts, however, stand out in my memory. The first was when I was a teenager, my parents gifted me a ‘debt paid in full’ certificate. I had a credit card loan to pay for a car accident which I shouldn’t have caused because I didn’t even have my licence. Talk about a gift undeserved! The other was receiving my engagement ring from Troy early one Christmas morning 16 years ago. Such a special memory! There are of course gifts in life that come from our experiences. Travelling overseas and seeing remarkable sights, holding your newborn child for the first time, overcoming sickness, I could go on. My children are very excited about receiving their Christmas gifts in a few days time. I find their excitement infectious; it...
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How much worth is in your worship?

I’ve been studying the book of Revelation this summer, and I’m currently spending time in chapters 4 and 5. These chapters contain an awesome heavenly scene. The scene is so breathtaking that it simply demands our worship. You get the privilege as a reader to see things from the perspective of heaven. In these chapters, you encounter angels and elders and heavenly creatures and extravagant worship. And yet, John hardly describes the God of heaven. He talks more about the throne of God than God himself: ‘one seated on the throne’ (Rev 4:2), ‘they cast their crowns before the throne’ (Rev 4:10), ‘he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne.’ (Rev 5:7). It’s as if God is just too wonderful to describe. He is indescribably awesome! He is so much higher than us, so transcendent that John simply can’t explain Him....
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