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Corner of Church St and Market St Wollongong Sunday 9am livestream
New Church Sign:
AND STUDY ON!
GOD OFFERS FULL MARKS
Here’s what our Senior Minister writes to church members leaving school each year… Applies pretty well to uni and TAFE students too!
Dear [graduating Year 12 student],
I hope you are well by the grace of God. Congratulations on completing 13 years of schooling.
I’m taking this chance to write to everyone starting final HSC exams, with life choices looming. In a Cathedral church like ours, I can’t get to know you all really well. But what I want to say to you now is exactly what I’ve said to my own kids at this turning point!
As a high school student, I became convinced of this by the normal tools of historical investigation – learned at a very secular academic school. I studied the evidence for the resurrection: multiple-source attestation, the empty tomb, early eyewitness testimony of Jesus’ post-crucifixion appearances, and the changed lives of his disciples even under threat of death. And I am still persuaded now that it’s heaps better than the alternative theories. Just as important, Jesus changed my own life for good.
As a Minister, I’ve taken over a hundred funerals, and it’s pretty confronting staring at the coffin each time. But because Jesus is alive, I know where I’m going when I end up in one of those wooden boxes. And I want you to be sure too!
The resurrection shows Jesus is who he said he is: Son of God. And as Lord of the universe, he deserves all glory. My favourite verse in the Bible is Romans 5:8, which says God demonstrates his own love for us in this: that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. That means we don’t need to face God’s justified wrath at sin. If you have not done so already, give your life to the Lord Jesus!
Putting our trust in Jesus is the best, since he came to give us abundant, eternal life. The alternative to believing is an awful eternity away from God and his goodness (John 3:36).
Don’t stumble through life like a zombie. Far too many today never think about life’s big questions: Where did we come from? Why are we here? Why do we love? Why is there pain? Can we really know God? Welcome discussion with others. And insist on finding answers (1 Peter 3:15). Talk to me or a youth leader you trust, if you have any questions or doubts!
It’s mistaken to think otherwise. You reap what you sow (Galatians 6:7-8). So flee things our society makes a normal part of life: gossip, greed or rage; drunkenness, porn or pride. My friend prayed the Alcoholics’ Anonymous prayer outside St Michael’s every day on his way to work. He got parts of his life back together, but he’d say it’s better not to go down those paths in the first place! Some of the worst words ever heard will be when people stand before Christ claiming to be believers, but are sent away since they didn’t do what he said (Matthew 7:21-23).
The psalm-writer said God’s Word is more precious than gold, sweeter than honey (Psalm 19:7-11). Jesus said man doesn’t live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from God’s mouth!
Christians know we should be reading the Bible regularly. Memorise special verses if you can. And pray in response. Even just 5-10 minutes a day. When you move, look for churches that actually preach the Bible systematically. Most of all, know it’s sufficient to guide you in God’s way of salvation and for all matters of godliness (2 Tim 3:16-17). If you haven’t done so, I urge you to read Guidance and the Voice of God by Phillip Jensen.
The Apostle Peter compared individual Christians to living stones being built together as a spiritual house, with Jesus as the chief cornerstone (1 Peter 2:5-6). And empowered by the Holy Spirit, local churches are the body of Christ. The gifts, energy and service of every member is needed (1 Corinthians 12).
Imagine saying you’re a netballer or footballer, but don’t play on a team! So don’t put church on hold for the next few years. During that time, you will make decisions that impact your whole life direction. If you move, or go to university, make it your first priority to find a church. Join the Christian union on any campus you attend. Do it in the very first weeks of moving.
You are single at present. That gives great freedoms! Jesus never married, and he was the most complete man who ever lived. But I want you to know that God’s plan for sex and marriage is breathtakingly beautiful. My wife and I have had ups and downs together, but saving sex for marriage has been a great decision. I’d also urge you not to date a non-Christian whom you could never marry if you’re serious about following Christ as Lord!
Don’t allow the instant gratification culture to corrupt our vision for Christ-centered weddings and homes. And those who remain single should also remember that the Church is the bride of Christ. The best moments of any earthly marriage are just a glimpse of how much Christ loves you among all his people (Ephesians 5:29-32).
Love didn’t evolve. Love wasn’t invented. Love is eternal because our three-in-one Trinitarian God is eternally love: ever giving and self-giving. He loves us and tells us to love one another. And we do. Imperfectly. But we love you. And when we get to the Heavenly City, look out for your friends from St Michael’s! In the mean time, I am a pastoral resource available to you! Become or stay friends on Facebook.
Here’s a prayer I’ve been praying for Year 12 students like you in recent months:
Heavenly Father, God of all wisdom, I pray for those currently studying for exams. Enable them to prepare with discipline, to be calm under pressure, and to give a good account of what they have learned. For those completing school, with decisions to make about life-directions, enable them to trust in you with all their heart, not just to lean on their own understanding. Please remind them to acknowledge you in all their ways, so they might rejoice, as you make their paths straight. Help them to seek first your kingdom, and to realise their significance is found in Jesus, not in the mark they achieve. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
With my warmest regards, in Christ,
13 June 2020 @ 7:30 pm