Hello from the land Down Under,
Luke 18 :17 (ESV)
"Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it."
The kids started attending Australian Christian College (college is the term for primary & high school in Australia) this year.
Serviettes: A tradition that my Mum used to do for my brother & I, was to write a note on my serviettes (napkin in Australian) in my Speed Racer (or was it Fat Albert) lunch box. If anyone saw it while I was at school, I would act like the note was not cool, but I will admit I looked forward to her words during the day. So, I thought I would do that for our kids. Something simple, but a message, from their Dad, to encourage them during the day. One day after school, I tried to use the serviette to clean Caroline's face, because I saw that it was still in her lunchbox. A look of terror went over her face and tears started to form. Ahh...What had I done to cause the waterworks? (I am pretty hopeless when it comes to understanding the hearts of girls, sometimes) Later that night, Cathy explained the reaction to me. Caroline saved all of the napkins, because Daddy had written messages to her. She has all of the napkins stashed away in her little corner of special things. This explained why I am sternly reminded if I ever forget to write her a message. Also, I pity the person who touches the serviettes or tries to 'recycle' them. She loves getting the message from Dad and she cherishes the notes. (Please do not send me any messages on idols, she is five!) Children always are great for lessons in life and it continues to amaze me how we can learn something from the devotion and love of a five year old.
I would be going too far to compare my messages on serviettes to the Word of God. Yet, the Bible is the Father's message to us. Do we treat His message to us with this level of devotion? I was taken back with the impact that this simple action by Caroline had on me and my response to God's Word. I do my devotions, I study the bible daily and I seek out good bible teachers to study under. Yet, do I look for His message with this fervor? Do my actions on responding to His message to me, show the same level of conviction? All of these are rather self-examining questions and to my shame the answer would have to be, 'no'. Thanks to Caroline and the gift she is to us, I have learned to love the Lord's Word with a new vigger and I saw again why we are asked to have a child-like faith.
Panel + Series:
We started a new method of reaching out to the communities around Sydney. Prior to every series at City Bible Forum we have been coordinating The Panel. It is a panel of three 'experts' on a topic from different positions. They come in for the lunch time and discuss/debate a topic and then open the floor for questions form the audience.
We have had two panels and they have met with Standing Room Only. Great discussion and questions. Also, it has translated to increased attendance at our lunch time meetings. We are meeting new people, especially non-believers, who are coming along to hear what our speakers have to say from the Bible.
If you would like to watch the videos, be part of the discussion or see the images from the panels go to City Bible Forum, Sydney. The two panels that have commenced, Imagine no religion...would we be better off? and Crossing Over... Is there anything after this life?
We have been looking for options to consider people coming together for a potential church plant. Afterwork is one of those considerations. We have contacted people who are seeking to know more about the bible and Jesus. They are not currently connected to a church and are looking for further study or just getting started. So, we are currently meeting with a group of about 15+ people on Wednesday nights. Please pray for the growth and fruit from this ministry.
Glorious Hope Baptist Church:
Peaks and valleys - We started this year with the hiring of a youth pastor and the youth group was quite excited about the consistency of good Bible teaching and fellowship. Unfortunately, the young man had to resign due to family issues a couple weeks into the term. So, the kids have acted well to the situation, but we could use your prayers on this issue.
The kids are getting adjusted to school. Rebeca & Hope are getting adjusted to the rigors of year 11. It is very intense compared to homeschooling, but they do love the friendships they are making. They are a blessing to the school and the teachers do appreciate them in class. Josh seems to have a good 'band of brothers' in his classmates. School is challenging, but he is excelling in Mandarin (Chinese) and Art. Also, he placed second in swimming (50 M Freestyle) and cross country (2km run) and qualified for zone. Caroline, as the principal stated, could be left alone with the class and could teach it for the day. She loves school, her teachers and all of her classmates. She is 'tutoring' some of the other little girls in her class. (Yet she thinks the word tutor is a funny sounding word, 'tooter'... must get it from her uncle)
The house we rent is on the market for sale and we are looking to move closer to the school. The rental market is less than 1% of the housing market in Sydney. Needless to say, it is quite competitive. We could use your prayers. We need a house for ministry, that fits out family and that we can afford.
Well that is the info on the Matthews for now. Thanks for all of your prayers and we look forward to hearing from you soon. Keep glorifying the Lord.
The adventure continues...
Russ, Cathy, Becca, Hope, Joshua & Caroline