Tim Keller: Moved to heaven

I was surprised and a liitle saddened to hear of the passing of Rev Tim Keller this week, that, is, his passing from earth to heaven. Saddened for his family and church family, but not for him!

Keller’s impact upon New York and upon the world has been nothing less than outstanding and a glowing testimony to the gospel which is ‘the power of God for the salvation of all who believe’ (Romans 1:18).

Below is an excerpt from a lengthy blog post called ‘Moved to heaven’ in which the author (a friend and fellow worker of Tim’s, not only shares the news of his death, but also the value and the impact of his life (including all his sermons and books) that continues to impact the Kingdom of God

This is how the post begins…

“Timothy James Keller went to Heaven earlier this morning, May 19, 2023. The New York City pastor was one of the world’s most insightful presenters of the good news of God’s forgiveness, acceptance, and charge to change the world for the better. He was born on September 23, 1950, in Allentown, Pennsylvania and founded Redeemer Presbyterian Church of New York City in 1989.

Yesterday, at 5:45 pm, Thursday, Michael Keller announced, “Today, Dad is being discharged from the hospital to receive hospice care at home. Over the past few days, he has asked us to pray with him often. He expressed many times through prayer his desire to go home to be with Jesus. His family is very sad because we all wanted more time, but we know he has very little at this point.”

Two nights before this message came, Michael’s father prayed in a family prayer, “I’m thankful for all the people who’ve prayed for me over the years. I’m thankful for my family, that loves me. I’m thankful for the time God has given me, but I’m ready to see Jesus. I can’t wait to see Jesus. Send me home.”

Then, his son Michael wrote, “Dad waited until he was alone with Mom. She kissed him on the forehead and he breathed his last breath. We take comfort in some of his last words, ‘There is no downside for me leaving, not in the slightest.’ See you soon Dad.”

This morning (May 19) at 11:18, Redeemer Presbyterian Church’s leadership passed the word, “Tim Keller, passed away this morning at age 72, trusting in the sure and certain hope of the resurrection.”

You can read the rest of the post here

Thanks be to God for this remarkable man and his faithul service to God’s Kingdom

Crown Him Lord of all!

All hail the power of Jesus’ name! Let angels prostrate fall.
Bring forth the royal diadem, and crown him, crown him, crown him, crown him Lord of all.

It would be interesting to know if Edward Perronet (1721-1792) wrote this much-loved hymn after being inspired by watching a coronation service in his day, although in the end it doesn’t really make much difference. The Scriptures are already full of coronations – just think of Samuel’s anointing of Saul (1 Samuel 10:1) and fairly soon after of David (1 Samuel 16:13) and you’ve got the fiirst two covered – on occasions hardly anything at all like the service now underway for Charles III – but that’s what they were. Both Saul and David were anointed Kings over God’s people.

The rest of the Old Testament reveals that there were many Kings of both Israel and Judah, from Solomon, (David’s son and heir) right down to Zedekiah. Not all of them were ‘good’ (in the sense that they loved and served the Lord God with all their heart) and many of them were intent on following their own will and disregarding God as much as He would allow them to. Yes, reading through the lives and deeds of the Kings of Israel and Judah leaves a lot to be desired. Where was the True King, so longed for and promised? Where was the One who would bring lasting peace and joy to the people of God?

It is with a sense of irony that we read in John’s gospel, “He (Jesus) was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.” (John 1:10). Nothing truer could be spoken. Though Jesus was that True King, He neither looked like nor lived like a King. With no royal carriage or palace or robes or even coronation ceremony, you could be almost understand why the people failed to see that He was a King at all. But He was and He was a King with a difference. These were His words to Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36) and by this He reminded all in authority that their kingdoms will one day bow and give way to His. But not yet. His coronation service is still coming. And when it does, the glory and grandeur of it will be seen by all, not just by many. The writer to the Hebrews reminds us of this fact, that in the present, “we do not yet see everything in subjection to Him” (Hebrews 2:9) But when we see Him next there’ll be no doubt as to who will bear the crown of the Kingdom that will have no end.

All hail the King!

Salvation… It just can’t be earned!

History tells us that people from all over the world have done all sorts of strange things in order to achieve salvation. A German monk, named Martin Luther was one of those. But any effort to ‘save ourselves’ will be wasted.

Funnily enough, this is what the Pharisees said to Jesus while he was on the cross. ‘Come down now from the cross, save yourself and we will believe you’, they said. But Jesus didn’t come down. And he didn’t do that because He was busy saving us!

See, the bad news the Bible presents about us is that ‘all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3:23), but the good news the Bible also presents is that Jesus said he came “not to call the righteous but sinners.” (Mark 2:17) and all through his life he welcomed the less than perfect, even extending forgiveness to them.

If we do not know these things for ourselves, it will not be because He is not willing, but because we have not come to Him to receive them!

This Easter, take note that Jesus came to bring a salvation that can’t be earned… but can be received as a free gift. Have you done that?

Youth Group is on again!

It may be a little late to start advertising this… but, as they say, ‘better late than never!’

We are so pleased that our Youth Group is ‘up and running’ again.

You can see the program for term one here below…and the necessary details (where? when? who? what?) are all there for you!

Next term’s program (when available) will be found here…. https://bendigopc.org.au/youth-group/

Significant threat to Christian Schools

The Federal government will almost certainly seek to amend Anti-Discrimination Legislation so that religious schools lose current exemptions which allow them to have enrolment and employment policies that promote their mission and enable them to develop an educational community that reflects their religious convictions. In particular, the current exemptions which allow religious schools to discriminate on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital or relationship status or pregnancy would be removed.

The first step toward these changes is a review by the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC). The ALRC has now released a consultation paper: Review into Religious Educational Institutions and Anti-Discrimination Laws.

The ARLC is due to present a final report for the government in April which will provide a basis for drafting amendments to the legislation. It is important for the Christian and religious community to have a clear voice at each step along this process. This opening round will be crucial. The suggested changes will make it harder for religious schools to maintain their distinctive ethos.

Please pray with us that our God will protect Christian Schools in this country!

For further reading, check out the following link;

A prayer for our nation on Australia Day

Please continue to pray for our nation. We have much to be thankful for, but much that is far from the will of God.

But how to pray? Take a lead from Rev Dr Peter Adam, emeritus of St Jude’s Carlton, formerly principal of Ridley College Melbourne, who has shared this prayer (as a model for us to regularly pray).

“Gracious Heavenly Father,

We thank and praise you for your creation of this world, including this land of Australia. We praise you for its beauty and its bounty, for mountains, hills and plains, for rivers, creeks and seas, and wonderful variety of animals, birds, and sea-creatures.

We praise you for the peoples to whom you first entrusted this land, each one made in your image, and all loved by you. We thank you for their careful management of the land, for the strength of their communal life, and the richness of their culture.

We lament the damage done to them by the arrival of the British in 1788. For the loss of life, land, language, livelihood, culture, and the damage done to structures of their communities. We grieve the sins of coveting, theft and murder committed by the invaders, and their failure to recognise the God-given human dignity and rights of the indigenous people. We lament the damage done to this land by greed, bad management, arrogance and ignorance. We pray that indigenous people may find their rightful place as citizens, and that their voices would be heard in our society. We pray that you would help us close the gap in the provision of health, education, housing, justice, and opportunity.

We praise you for Christians who came to Australia, who continued in their faith, who prayed and read their Bibles, who lived to honour you, who loved their neighbours, who planted churches, and who worked for gospel growth in their own generation, and for generations to come.

We thank you for Christian people who tried to defend the indigenous people, who provided for them, who brought them the gospel of the Lord Jesus, who translated the Bible into their languages, and who recognised their common humanity. At the same time we grieve their mistakes, and any damage they did, while trying to do good.

We thank you that Australia has provided a new start for people from many countries in every generation. We especially praise you that many who arrived with very few resources have been able to find education, training, and employment, and have enriched our common life.

Please forgive Australia for our greed, our worship of money, possessions, comfort and happiness, and our neglect of you, your Son, and your salvation. Please reform and revive your churches, that we may be a shining light for our nation, may serve your will for this country, and may bring many to saving faith in Christ. We thank you for indigenous Christians, and pray that they would continue in faith, love and hope. Please raise up the next generation of leaders for their communities and churches, and prosper their work and ministry.

Please give us good government, wise policies, justice and equity, and the ability and wisdom to tackle the major issues long-term of our day. Please rid us of corruption, incompetence, selfishness, greed, inequalities, and self-indulgence. Help us to contribute generously to our neighbouring nations, and to our world.

Please have mercy on all Australians, and teach us to trust in your Son and our Saviour, to love you, and to love our neighbours. May your name be sanctified in Australia, your kingdom come, and your will be done.

For Christ’s sake, Amen”

Another year! Welcome 2023!

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: “Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.” And he replied: “Go out into the darkness and put vour hand into the hand of God. That shall be to you better than light, and safer than a known way.”

Minnie Louise Haskins

Tribute to Rev Dr John Edward Webster

It’s almost 38 years since John Webster was inducted as the Minister of the Bendigo Presbyterian Church, and yet the news of his illness and subsequent death on 14th December 2022 were received with a sincere measure of sorrow by current members who remember him fondly.

John began his ministry in Bendigo in 1985 when the Charge consisted of two congregations, Eaglehawk and St John’s, at a critical time in the Church’s history. Just a few years earlier, the St John’s congregation had voted to join the Uniting Church and the Property Commission left the remaining Presbyterians with only the Eaglehawk Church to meet in – which was, sadly, almost on the point of being condemned.
However, following on from the pastoral ministries of the Rev John Aitken, and then the Rev Colin Harrison, the ‘continuing Presbyterians’ found themselves in a good space, when they called John (Webster) to come and build on what had been begun. And ‘build’ is just what John did, and he did it as ‘God’s man’ for the hour. Faced with congregations who had been used to a more ‘liberal’ flavoured theology rather than Reformed or evangelical, John’s ministry was exercised in the context of a certain measure of opposition and criticism from some quarters. But this did not deter John nor the eventual growth of the congregations. His faithful and strong preaching, his firm commitment to the Church’s theological standards and his Presbyterian convictions shone through over the 10 years in which he served both congregations, resulting in significant growth in the Charge – especially in the St John’s Bendigo congregation, paving the way for it to become a full charge in its own right, something that John had been working towards and planning for, soon after John accepted a call to Hamilton (NSW). He could not have foreseen the fruit of his ministry in this city where now three Presbyterian congregations are flourishing under the teaching of God’s Word and days of opposition from within the church have long passed. Truly we are reaping where he has sowed.

John will be remembered for his love for and his labour in the Lord Jesus Christ, whom he served faithfully and in the spirit of 1 Corinthians 15:58, ‘Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.’

Rev Philip Burns