Monday, October 26, 2009

Craig's Talks online

Flourish has now been and gone and we're looking forward to hearing the feedback. Lots of people have asked if Craig's talks are available. No surprise that people were keen to get them, because they were great talks. The good news is they are. You can download an MP3 or listen on line. Go to the resources page and follow the link.

Conference Evaluation

Please take the time to do the conference evaluation if you attended Floruish

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

We hear from you

On Saturday afternoon at Flourish we will run a session called "We hear from you". In that we want to collect feedback not just about the conference but about women's ministry in the PCA and what directions it can or should take. We'll divide up into small groups and ask each group to work on one of the following six questions as well as making general comments. You might like to start thinking about them now or add a comment, or even suggest how we can improve the questions (its not too late!).

1. Comment on employment and ministry leadership opportunities for women in the wider denominational setting. Discuss the blocks and the ways to overcome any unnecessary obstacles.

2. What do you believe a Session can do to affirm the importance of men and women working together in ministry in the local church?

3. How should women's ministry be structured at the State & National levels and what is needed is make it effective and responsive?

4. How should women’s ministry be structured at the congregational level and what is needed is make it effective and responsive?

5. Suggest ways that the State Assemblies and/ or the wider Presbyterian church can develop resources for training, developing and encouraging women to assist the local congregations. Also consider how to ensure commitment to biblical principles.

6. Discuss what will need to happen to strengthen the networking across the denomination with the various women’s organizations in all the states.

Are there any other areas we need to look at?

Are there things you would like to improve if a conference like Flourish was held again?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Flourish - 5 days to go

It's five days till Flourish starts and the conference looks exciting. We've got almost 190 people registered (I think it will go over that by the time we tidy up the details this evening). When we started planning for Flourish we thought it would be great if we could get 150 people, so the response has been bigger than we'd even hoped for. There are people coming from churches in every state of Australia and a mix of men and women and people from a range of age groups. It is going to be great to see them all together, and even more exciting to hear the conversations and ideas that come from the conference.

The Flourish committee meets by phone tonight to put the finishing touches on the preparation. Pray that things will go smoothly and that we will think of all the details that need to be covered so the conference runs smoothly. Pray also that the conference will be encouraging for all who come and that different perspectives on how we apply the Bible's teaching on men and women will be stimulating and not a cause of difficulty.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Ever felt completely overwhelmed? Feel like you're pulled in a million directions... work... husband... kids... friends... Sometimes the frenetic pace of life in the 21st century can seem totally out of control... like someone else is driving and you're just hanging on for dear life! Ever felt like that? I'm sure you have! I certainly have!

Even Jesus felt like that sometimes. Remember the crowds pushing in on him constantly (remind you of a paparazzi pack?!), asking him questions, begging for healing, trying to trick him. Needy people everywhere it seemed. What was his answer? Well, the Bible is quite clear... Luke records (5:15-16) that "the news about him (Jesus) spread all the more so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed." Does that make you stop and think? It should! If you think you can be a superwoman and do it all perhaps it's time you stopped to consider that even the Son of God Himself couldn't do it all! He needed time alone on a regular basis with His Father in heaven. We too need that time alone with the Father in heaven we share with Him. He's anxiously waiting for us... and He wants to give us rest from the weariness of life (remember He factored that in right from the beginning of time...).

Take some time out to consider your life at the moment. Maybe jot down your commitments. Fill in the details. Then set aside some time alone with God to pray about your commitments and see what adjustments you need to make. If your life is so full of busyness that God doesn't fit in you can be sure something needs to go! That may mean that you need to delegate or reduce your commitments. Don't panic. God will honour your commitment to Him and He will take care of the things or people you can no longer devote time to. Jesus is very clear in Matthew 6:33... "seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things [the cares of the world] will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow..." As women our time is often carved up in what seems like a million pieces. Unless we learn to put Christ at the centre each and every day we will end up constantly overwhelmed and stressed. I wonder what things you can prioritise better? Lets pray that Christ Himself will guide us into the coming days, weeks, months and years...

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

"Take time to be holy, speak oft with thy Lord;
Abide in Him always, and feed on His Word.
Make friends of God’s children, help those who are weak,
Forgetting in nothing His blessing to seek."

As I have been preparing for "Flourish" this old hymn has stuck in my mind. It ties in with some of the material I have been thinking about and preparing. We are all so busy these days. Busy with work, busy with children, busy with relationships, busy with ministry, busy with... the list is endless. I am struck by how often our modern Christian culture encourages us to be busy in ministry, yet how little time we spend encouraging each other to be holy... to "speak oft with thy Lord". A cursory glance of the devotional materials in your local Christian bookshop will demonstrate this amply for a start... the range of "5 minute devotions" or "devotions for busy mums" or "the busy woman's devotional" books are endless. In fact you have to search quite hard to find anything that has much depth, promotes time with the Lord, or challenges your thinking to any great depth.

A book I have been reading put this quite graphically. "In my workroom, I have two identical jars. One is three-fourths full of sand. The other contains fist-sized rocks. The jar of sand represents my activities on any given day: to do lists, shopping, community projects, painting, cleaning. The list is as... endless as, well... grains of sand. The other jar containing the rocks represents what God wants me to do on any given day: spend time with Him, study His Word, and pray.

If I fill the jar with large rocks first, then, amazingly, I can pour all the sand into the same jar and it fits nicely around the spaces and crevices. However, if I begin by filling the jar with sand and then try to squeeze the rocks into the same jar, they won't fit.

Likewise, if I start my day spending time with God (the rocks), everything else (the sand) seems to fall into place. If I spring out of bed and hit hte floor running to tackle all the tasks that I feel are so necessary for the day, somehow my time with the Lord just never seems to fit in." ("A Woman's Secret to a Balanced Life" by Lysa TerKeurst and Sharon Jaynes)

It's so often true, isn't it. We often spend more time wondering how we are going to spend time with the Lord, growing holiness, than actually spending time with Him. Our generation is all about quick fixes, speedy connections, instant service. God just doesn't work like that. He takes time to carefully craft our lives, shaping us into the people he wants us to be... a holy, royal priesthood. I wonder what changes we need to make in our priorities in order to spend time with the King?