Abe Lincoln, suffering, and his trust in the providence of God

Abe Lincoln, suffering, and his trust in the providence of God

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! (Romans 11:33)

Abraham Lincoln, who was born 1809, remained skeptical, and at times even cynical, about religion into his forties. So it is a most striking thing how personal and national suffering drew Lincoln into the reality of God, rather than pushing him away.

In 1862, when Lincoln was 53 years old, his 11-year-old son Willie died. Lincoln’s wife “tried to deal with her grief by searching out New Age mediums.” Lincoln turned to Phineas Gurley, pastor of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington.

Several long talks led to what Gurley described as “a conversion to Christ.” Lincoln confided that he was “driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I have nowhere else to go.”

Similarly, the horrors of the dead and wounded soldiers assaulted him daily. There were fifty hospitals for the wounded in Washington. The rotunda of the Capitol held 2,000 cots for wounded soldiers.

Typically, fifty soldiers a day died in these temporary hospitals. All of this drove Lincoln deeper into the providence of God. “We cannot but believe, that He who made the world still governs it.”

His most famous statement about the providence of God in relation to the Civil War was his Second Inaugural Address, given a month before he was assassinated. It is remarkable for not making God a simple supporter for the Union or Confederate cause. He has his own purposes and does not excuse sin on either side.

Fondly do we hope — fervently do we pray — that this mighty scourge of war might speedily pass away . . . .

Yet if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bond-man’s two hundred years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid with another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago so still it must be said, “the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether.

I pray for all of you who suffer loss and injury and great sorrow that it will awaken for you, as it did for Lincoln, not an empty nihilism, but a deeper reliance on the infinite wisdom and love of God’s inscrutable providence.

Welcome back to Blogging

After a little time off, we've decided to jump back into the wonderful world of blogging. The St. Luke's blog will be an eclectic spot where staff will be able to share sermon illustrations we loved but didn't get to use, interesting articles we've read, and other information that we think might be interesting to members of the parish.
Make sure to check in each week for some interesting content!


God Alone be Glorified

In 2013 my friend Greg Cooper and I sat down to write a song about the Reformation. After countless conversations, edits and average home recordings, we met last month to make a live recording of the finished song. God Alone be Glorified is our effort to express in song something of the truths which were recaptured by those men and women who loved the truth more than their lives, and by their living and dying sought above all the glory of our God and Father.

Verse 4 of the song is my prayer for our whole church this term.
May our faith be:
“kindled into flame
And daily fueled till we obtain
The promises that you have made
In your living word alone.”

We’ll be learning God Alone be Glorified later in the term but until then you can watch the video on our church website.

All glory be to God alone,
Mike Begbie - Focus Pastor for 5pm.

Standing up!

Standing up!

During his sermon on Sunday, Mike reminded his listeners how discouraging it can be when we feel like a shrinking minority as Christians. If Islam really is going to outgrow Christianity by 2070 does that mean that maybe, we have something wrong? However, the gospel of John reminds us that rejection was experienced by Jesus and prophesied by Isaiah, yet neither the prophet, nor Lord lost heart because they knew that God was laying a stage for the grand work of Jesus’ death and resurrection.

As I listened, I was reminded of the famous picture above. In June 1936, the Nazi party was at its zenith point. A huge group of workers were attending the launch of a new navy training ship, and as the crowds gave the Nazi salute, one man, back right hand corner, stood resolute, arms crossed. Despite the overwhelming popularity across Germany. Despite the pressure, both social and political, August Landmesser refused to salute a regime that persecuted Jews, including the woman he was engaged to marry.

This picture is a great example of how perspective plays an important role in how we view our surroundings. At the time it simply represented the means by which Landmesser could be identified and punished, but 80 years later, we look at this picture and we see a man willing to stand up against an oppressive regime; a man willing to stand up against an overwhelming swell of wrong thinking!

Throughout the last 2000 years, the Christian church has constantly found its teachings at odds with the popular opinions of the cultures around us. It’s very difficult to swim against the tide of popular opinion, but we need to remember that the perspective we bring to this is not “is this popular?”, or ” will people agree with me?”, but “does this reflect God’s good, pleasing and perfect will?”.

We know that the tide of popular opinion is one that ebbs and flows. Many hot-button topics that seem so important today will be forgotten tomorrow, but God’s Kingdom and God’s will is one that will never change. While we might sometimes feel like that lone man, crossing their arms in the midst of a cheering crowd, we know that one day, maybe in 80 years, maybe when God calls us into his kingdom, standing up for our Christian faith will be vindicated!

- Tim Goldsmith, Miranda North Focus Pastor

Kylie Zietsch - CMS

I am nearly off! I head to Johannesburg in South Africa on May 29 and am looking forward to working with women at Johannesburg Bible College (JBC). I’ll be involved in teaching and mentoring women and look forward to seeing them grow in their faith and excitement to share Jesus with others. 

Leaving my country, my family, my friends and the beach will be tough. Learning how to teach, love and serve will take time and energy. I would love it if you would be willing to pray with me as I transition to a new country and this new work.

You can sign up for this through the prayer cards or online at:


Kylie Zietsch

Children's and Youth Ministry

Ministry to children and young people is vibrant and exciting work, and also greatly significant to the life of the church. Teaching children and youth about Jesus is an incredible privilege and responsibility.

Here at St Lukes and Miranda North, we are incredibly blessed to have a rich and thriving history of Children’s and Youth ministry currently headed up by our wonderful Cam, Sam, Deb (and until recently Brett).

Along with this blessing comes significant responsibility to ensure the well being of those entrusted in our care. It is our responsibility to provide an environment that is safe from any form of harm.

In order for this to be at its most effective, we are endeavouring to raise the profile of Safe Ministry in our church so that the whole community is aware of Safe Ministry practices and procedures and what we are doing as a church in regards to child protection.

Child protection is everyone’s responsibility.

Melinda Seddon,

Safe Ministry Representative for St Lukes Miranda


For more information, please go to:


Thanks from Narromine!

In 2015 and 2016 small, dedicated teams from St Luke’s (with friends) travelled to the village of Narromine (west of Dubbo) for 8 days of fellowship with the local parish.  These visits were at the invitation of the Minister of the parish, Rev Phil Howes.

The challenge for our teams was simple – live with local families and work with members of the parish to raise awareness of the need for evangelism within the town.  The parish hosted Beer and BBQ nights, Soup, Sweets and Stories nights, Garden Teas, and other outreach events.  We spent time with them sharing the Christianity Explored program and doing some training on evangelism. We helped make a community garden in the church grounds and when things were quiet, we carried out Backyard Blessings – tidying up the yards of locals who were not members of the church and would benefit from a bit of love.

The work was exciting, tiring and a great blessing to all involved.

The following letter of thanks has been received and we would like to share it with you all and to say thank you for your partnership through prayer in this exciting adventure:

Hi Jennie,

Please pass on my heartfelt thanks to all who have come to Narromine. The great advantages that were begun in 2015 were certainly consolidated last year.

The outlook of our parish towards gospel reach has massively increased as a result.

We now have James and Brittany Daymond resident in the parish as a BCA supported evangelist and we’re starting a new service at 5pm at the end of April.

None of this would be anywhere near effective if it had not been for people from Miranda coming along in the past couple of years. Miranda will always have a significant part in the history of this parish, as so many things begun will continue with the confidence gained that we can do it.

I am also so thankful that fellowship continues and for those who keep in touch with people here. Visitors are always welcome.

Thankyou Miranda.

Yours in Christ, Phil

Our New Staff Member!

I am very pleased to announce I have offered a position to Rev Tim Goldsmith to be our New Assistant Minister, with special responsibility for our Miranda North congregation. Tim has accepted. Praise God!

Our interview panel were unanimous with our recommendation after our interview with Tim & his wife Shona last week. The panel was Julie Sherring, Deb Uebel, Tim Clipsham, Dan Zietsch, Brett & yours truly.

Tim & Shona presently serve on the Central Coast at Kincumber Parish, which is an evangelical parish in the Newcastle Diocese. Tim’s ministry has given him the opportunity to work with people from all ages and stages of life: from running Sunday school and children’s ministries, high school lunch group, youth group, adult congregations, and participating in retirement village ministries. Tim has also trained in Clinical Pastoral Education.

Shona was a member of St Luke’s and still has friends here. Tim and Shona have four children: Annika (7), Hamish (6), and twins Edward and Hugo (4). Tim says of his interests: “Between my work and raising our four kids, there isn’t a great deal of spare time. When I find some, I enjoy photography, Saturday morning surfs, trips to the Zoo, watching rugby & Gridiron, reading or watching movies.”

Tim grew up in Sydney, and after a teenage conversion was part of Christ Church St Ives. He trained and worked as a librarian and in outdoor education. He later did MTS at St Thomas’ North Sydney then studied at SMBC.

Our expectation is that he will commence at the start of Term 2.

Please pray for Tim & Shona and their family as they join us in serving Jesus here in the Shire, Stephen Gibson.

School Ministry

St Luke’s Miranda has a long history of valuing and investing in ministry in our local primary and high schools. Ministry in our local schools is an integral part of our children’s and youth ministry and a great privilege to be involved in.

We have a great team of people who minister in a number of ways in our local schools. Some examples of our school ministry are:

  • Kids’ Hope mentoring program at both Miranda North Public School and Yowie Bay Public School. We have 20 mentors who meet 1-on-1 with a student each week.
  • Each week our 14 scripture teachers teach around 450 primary school students at Miranda, Miranda North and Yowie Bay.
  • We also teach SRE at Port Hacking High School.
  •  We run weekly lunch time groups at Miranda North Public School and Port Hacking High School.
  • Members of St Luke’s are school chaplains at Yowie Bay, Miranda North, Kurnell and Inaburra schools.
  • We run Homework Club each Thursday afternoon where kids from our local primary schools come and get help with their homework and most now stay on for SLABS or G4J.

Ministry in our local schools is an exciting place to serve and we are very thankful for each of our team members that faithfully serve each week.

There are always opportunities to become involved and if you would like to find out more about any of these ministries please chat to Cam Harte, our Children's Minister.

Reflecting on Revelation

Choosing songs for God’s people to sing together is a thoughtful task. On the one hand our songs must reflect God’s own words to us in their content and wording yet on the other hand singing the Bible word for word rarely works. I don’t want to just sing the NIV84, yet I want to hear the NIV84 in the song. I want to hear its wording, phrasing, structure and imagery. So one of the questions I ask a song when I’m considering it for use in our church is, Is this song digested Scripture? Has the artist read, chewed on, meditated and dug into God’s word and then brought it forth again not exactly the same as it went in, but still in such a way that I can hear the Scriptures. Have the Scriptures been digested?

For example, in the song Oceans will part, Ben Fielding writes. “When I’m blind to my way, there your Spirit will pray”. In these lines I can here Romans 8:26, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us with our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” It’s a beautiful example of digested Scripture

In our Bible study groups and corporate gatherings this term we’re giving ourselves to the book of Revelation. Below are some songs which are digested Scripture. They are from an array of artists playing in different genres and we won’t sing many of them in church together but my prayer is that in listening to them they will help all of us digest God’s word in Revelation more fully. Why not jump onto iTunes after church today and download them.

  • Lion and the Lamb by Leeland from his album - Invisible
  • Revelation Song by Kari Jobe from her album - Kari Jobe
  • Whom shall I fear (God of angel armies) by Chris Tomlin from his album - Burning Lights
  • Beautiful Saviour by Stuart Townend from his album - Ultimate Collection
  • Let the earth resound by Keith and Kristyn Getty from their album - Facing a task unfinished
  • Soon by Hillsong United from their album - Across the earth
  • Christ is Victor by Emu music from their album - Songs of the saved

Mike Begbie
Magnification and 5pm Service Pastor

Month of Prayer for Marriage and Families

Month of Prayer for Marriage and Families

4 Sundays in October 2016

Scripture and the Church’s history give us many examples of the great impact when a whole community undertakes prayer together.

We hope that in this time of national conversation on the subject of marriage we can encourage all to pray for the well-being of marriages and families, and in a particular way for people who are same-sex attracted or gender questioning. We also pray for a respectful national discussion on marriage.

Sunday 2nd October
For the flourishing of marriages and families in Australia.

Sunday 9th October
For the strengthening of marriages and families in distress.

Sunday 16th October
For all persons who experience same sex attraction or gender uncertainty and their families.

Sunday 23rd October
For a respectful and fair national discussion on marriage and an outcome that preserves God’s plan for marriage.

New Sermons Available!

Got a free 20 minutes while you do the washing up or drive to work? Why not pop in some ear phones and have a listen to the latest sermons we've uploaded here!

Want more? Here the live version on a Sunday! Our services are 8:30am, 10:15am, 5pm and 7pm, and our Miranda North service is at 10am.

Pray for Dan in Rwanda

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Thank you for your prayers as I head to Rwanda for the next 2 weeks. I will be in Kigali from 20th August until 4th September teaching the Moore College PTC course to a group of Rwandan ministers, assisted by Michael Tunks from Ryde Anglican. This will be the second group of students to participate in the course, which consists of 6 subjects taught over 6 weeks. Our students have classes from Monday to Friday, then an exam on Saturday.

Even though our course participants currently pastor churches or work as evangelists, most have not had the opportunity for formal theological training. The PTC course provides a sound framework for understanding the Bible as a whole, especially its focus on Jesus as the fulfilment of God’s plan for salvation.

Pray for:

  • Our students to grow in Biblical understanding and godliness as we study God’s word together
  • My ability to communicate God’s message clearly, truthfully and with cultural sensitivity
  • The gospel of Jesus Christ to penetrate hearts and lives in Rwanda and beyond through this course
  • Jo, Charlotte and Jamie who will remain in Australia

In Christ,

Dan Bidwell

Miranda North and Local Missions Pastor

If you’re a God of love, why send anyone to hell?

If you’re a God of love, why send anyone to hell?


There are only two kinds of people in the end:

Those who say to God “Thy will be done” and

those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done”.

All that are in Hell choose it.

Without that self-choice, there could be no Hell.

No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it.

Those who seek, find.

To those who knock, it is opened.

From C.S. Lewis “The Great Divorce”


Hell appears as God’s gesture of respect for human choice.

All receive what they actually chose,


To be with God forever, worshipping Him


To be without God forever worshipping themselves.

From J.I.Packer “Concise Theology” 1993

Introducing our Term 3 Sermon Series

Introducing our Term 3 Sermon Series

In a culture that is trying to silence religious discussion, we wanted to give our friends and neighbours the chance to ask God the hard questions. We wanted to create a safe space for thoughtful, respectful and civil discussions of matters that are deeply important to all of us. And we didn’t want to shy away from the issues that are contentious even among believers.

Each of the topics we will be discussing next term came from questions our friends and neighbours have asked. This is the perfect opportunity to invite them along to church to continue the conversation. So start praying, start inviting, and start the conversation.

Dan Bidwell, Local Missions Pastor

Talk topics available Sundays during Term 3:

"What about Science?" 24.07.2016

"Why Bother Asking?" 31.07.2016

"Is the Bible Made Up?" 07.08.2016

"Why Send People to Hell?" 14.08.2016

"Why is there Suffering?" 21.08.2016

"Homosexuality?" 28.08.2016

"Other Religions and God?" 04.09.2016

"Religion, War and Violence?" 11.09.2016

"Christianity and Hypocrisy?" 18.09.2016

"Can I be Sure of Heaven?" 25.09.2016

“Jesus never told people what to believe in, only how to treat others” – Really?

Until Hugh Mackay claimed last week at the Sydney Writers' Festival that Jesus never told people what to believe in, only how to treat others, I never really stopped to count all the ways such an idea misses the mark. I'll spare you the list, but it is striking how the truly paradigmatic statements in the Gospels nearly always urge beliefs as the basis of behaviour. See for yourself:

1.       The opening words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew's Gospel: "Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

2.       The opening words of Jesus in Mark's Gospel: "The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the gospel".

3.       The opening manifesto of Jesus in Luke's Gospel: "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners ... to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour."

4.       Jesus' own summary of his teaching, according to John's Gospel: “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”

5.       When asked, "Which is the greatest commandment?", Jesus replied, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart ... and love your neighbour as yourself."

6.       When summarising his sayings on love and non-retaliation, Jesus concluded, "Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful."

I'm almost tempted to say that Jesus never taught people how to treat each other without grounding it in stuff we are meant to believe. In an odd way, I'm thankful for the reminder of this principle which Mackay's comments provoked.

by John Dickson – Centre For Public Christianity


Singing the Psalms of Ascent

Emotions often take our words away from us. Joy, grief, confusion, longing can all leave us speechless. Knowing this, our Lord has given us a gift – the Psalms. St Athanasius said that in the Psalms "you find depicted ... all the movements of your soul, all its changes, its ups and downs, its failures and recoveries. Moreover, whatever your particular need or trouble, from this same book you can select a form of words to fit it, so that you do not merely hear and then pass on, but learn the way to remedy your ill." In the Psalms the Lord has given us words to speak to each other and to him when our own tongues are lost for words. What a precious gift!!

But the Psalms are more than spoken words. They are sung words. Israel, Jesus and the new family of Jew and Gentiles he created all took the Psalms, put them to music and let their voices rise with instruments.

So this term we too will sing a version of Psalm 126. And below is a list of musicians who, in different ways have put the Psalms of Ascent and many others to music. I encourage you to google the artists below so that God’s word might dwell in us more richly as we take his word on our lips in our own private moments and in our gatherings.

Sojourn Music: Psalm 126 from their album New Again (we will be singing this version in our 1015, MN, 5 & Night church congregations)

The Corner Room: Psalm 121 &127 (plus others) from their album Psalm Songs, Vol. 1

Sons of Korah: Psalms 123, 125 and 128, 130 (plus others)

Coram Deo Church: Psalms 120, 121, 126, 130 and 132 from their album Life in between


From Mike Begbie Assistant Minister.

If You Could Ask God One Question

If You Could Ask God One Question

If you could ask God one question, what would you ask him?

How can a loving God condemn people to hell?

How can a good God allow suffering?

How can I be sure my sins are forgiven?

Our friends and family have so many questions about God, and we want to help you answer those questions for them. But we know it can be hard to raise the topic of faith in your conversations, so we’ve created an online survey that we’d love you to share with your friends.

Based on the results of the survey, we’ll choose the most frequently asked questions for our Term 3 sermon series: If You Could Ask God One Question.

So send your friends to the St Luke’s website, Facebook page or follow this link directly: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/L9B8KNH

One child, One hour, One church, One school

St Luke’s Miranda and Miranda North Church are running KIDS HOPE AUS at Yowie Bay and Miranda North schools.

KIDS HOPE AUS is a life changing program that provides our church with an opportunity to serve our community through partnership with these 2 local schools by providing volunteer mentors to spend one hour per week with a vulnerable child who needs extra care and support.

How can you help? 

  • Can you consider being a mentor? Mentors can be male, female, young or seniors. No previous experience or particular skills required. Mentors nominate their preferred days/times, for just one hour - mentors can still go on holidays!
  • Can you pray for the program and/or be a prayer partner for a mentor?
  • Could you donate some resources (preferably new) for mentors to use? E.g. Card/board games, dominoes, UNO; craft projects to create; Lego kits, model building kits etc.

Jo Bidwell and Helen Hodsdon would love to hear from you and can provide training and support. Please contact Jo Bidwell, Helen Hodsdon or the church office.

Thank you!

Welcome Mike Raiter!

Michael Raiter is a gifted, internationally recognised speaker of the Christian faith. Born in Liverpool, England and raised in New South Wales, Australia, Mike began his career as a high school teacher in Sydney and Pakistan. He studied at Moore Theological College in Sydney, becoming the head of the Department of Missions in 1997. On concluding his study at Moore, he returned to Pakistan to teach at the Zarephath Bible Institute. Subsequently, he worked with Church Missionary Society Australia and Interserve in Pakistan. From 2006–2011, Mike served as the principal of the Melbourne School of Theology, an evangelical theological college.

Mike is currently the Director of the Centre for Biblical Preaching, an organisation that seeks to train and equip churches around the globe in expository preaching. Mike is also the author of a number of books, including Stirrings of the Soul: Evangelicals and the New Spirituality which won the 2004 Christian Book of the Year Award.

MIKE RAITER is Speaking at:

  • Palm Sunday March 20th (MN, 5pm&7pm)
  • March 21st Preaching Seminar
  • March 22nd XY teaching night
  • Good Friday (9:30am at PHHS) / Easter Sunday (Jackson Ave)