Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Since I came to Australia in 2019, we have had drought, bushfires, floods, covid, a plague of mice, trade war with China, riots, and now today an earthquake in Melbourne which was so strong it was felt in Canberra and Sydney! Why do I feel like Jeremiah? Maybe I should go home?!
It’s been some time since I have written you. There are many reasons. You would think that being in lockdown means I have so much time to do what the pressure of everyday work prevents me from doing. But the trouble with lockdown is that it leads to a kind of Groundhog Day every day. You lose motivation (and discipline), and it takes twice as long to do even the most mundane things. A lot of my work is writing, and although there is a lot of perspiration, I tend to work by inspiration.
In this regard I would appreciate prayer as I seek to write a follow up to ASK – called SEEK. Again you would think that lockdown would provide the perfect opportunity – but it is not working out that way!
August was all set up as a month for a new beginning. I was supposed to be at a week-long media conference on the Gold Coast, a week in Perth, plus meetings in Canberra, Brisbane, and Sydney. All were cancelled – although I did do some things online. As I have said before there is much to be thankful for living in this wonderful country, but currently it is a bit like being in the world’s biggest (and nicest) prison.
I thought about this and although I am not in any way making a comparison, I considered how Paul, when he was much more restricted in prison, was still able to write that letter of joy to the Philippians. I love sharing God’s word – it’s kind of hard to describe – but it’s like a fire in my bones. So, I decided to overcome my dislike of the camera and start an online series on the book of Job. Part of my reluctance was based on a wrong perspective – I honestly felt “why would anyone want to listen to, never mind watch, me’?! The answer is of course obvious. No-one would. But its not about me. I want them to listen to the Word of God. I realise that we are drowning in a sea of internet content – but if even a few people are helped by the Word – then it is all worth it.
Every day in NSW the government give a press conference at 11. It is usually pretty depressing. Lots of figures, fears, and more rules. So, I thought I would at the same time every day put out some of the Good News – a 5-minute meditation on the book of Job. I was going to call it Covid, Christ and Job, but opted instead for ‘Coffee with Job’. It has been so encouraging to see that over 250 people have subscribed to either the YouTube channel or the Vimeo one. (I set up a Vimeo channel as well for two reasons – firstly there are people who don’t want to sign up to Google – who own YouTube, and secondly, I fully anticipate being banned by YouTube if I faithfully teach the Bible!). I think what has encouraged me more than anything – is not the numbers (although any preacher who tells you they don’t care about numbers is either deceiving themselves or is not all that smart!) – but the fact that every day for the past two weeks, someone has written to say how much they have been helped by the Word of God. That makes everything worthwhile.
I’m not sure if I will continue to put these up here every day. You can subscribe to the YouTube channel or Vimeo if you wish to get them every day.
Here is the latest one.
One of the disadvantages of not being able to travel, either nationally or internationally, is that we are not able to visit family. Again, the pain of that was felt this weekend when our wee granddaughter, Elianna, whom we have not yet seen, was baptised by her father in St Peters. It was lovely watching it on YouTube and brought such a range of emotions. One of the things I have missed is the emphasis on the sacraments. In Sydney Anglicanism the Lord’s Supper and Baptism do not seem to have the same significance as they do in Scottish Presbyterianism. I wonder if this is because of an over correction to previous ritualism. This seems to be especially true of infant baptism – which I am coming to appreciate more and more. This article I wrote on the subject continues to be shared widely – Baptism – A personal Journey in which it is discovered that infant baptism is Biblical!
(including on this fascinating collection of resources on the subject – https://reformedperspective.ca/infant-baptism-resource-list/
Here is the baptism service – a great sermon on Romans 8 from Andrew included…and the St Petes band reformed…
The Wee Flea podcast also keeps me busy. Again, it is great to see how the numbers listening to it are growing – and the feedback I get from all over the world. It’s a lot of work – and I had thought of stopping it – but it seems to be meeting a need and so I will continue until it is no longer necessary. Every now and then I do a ‘special’ where we just focus on one subject – the one on women being the latest. I hope this week to do one on climate change – that should be uncontroversial! If you are a podcast supporter (patron) I have just recorded a new personal message for you. Patrons get these occasional messages. I have a professional producer for the podcast and so need finance for it. So far the Lord has provided. I guess when the money stops that will be a sign for me to do so as well. If you are not yet a patron – feel free to become one here! As I am moving a lot more into video work, we may expand the podcast on to YouTube and other platforms as well.
I’m also going to start a new fortnightly podcast with Greg Sheridan, the foreign editor of The Australian – who has just written a wonderful book called Christians – The Urgent Case for Jesus in our World. Each episode will look at a different chapter. Greg is a Catholic believer who has become much more open about his faith. He is a fascinating, insightful, and intelligent man and I very much look forward to our discussions – especially as there are things we will not agree on!
Returning to the Melbourne earthquake. Although I didn’t feel it in our apartment here in Artarmon, Annabel did at her work in North Shore hospital – as did her colleagues. I think for all who felt the buildings shake and the earth move, it was a disconcerting and discombobulating experience. I believe that God is shaking up our world (sometimes literally!) to remind us that we are not in control and calling us to repent of our turning away from him. The question is whether we are listening?
I also think that for some people life is distressing and hopeless. We have a wonderful solution to that. For the past few weeks I have been meditating on, and studying Romans 8. I started sharing some of that every week
See you next week,
Yours in Christ,
PS. As part of my new social media policy (I describe it as ‘spoiling the Egyptians), I have returned to Instagram (theweeflea) and am about to start on TikTok (this does not mean dance routines to metrical psalms!). On Instagram just now I am posting a different flower or bush every day. It’s Springtime here and walking around the North Shore there is such a splash of colour. Here are a few examples….