Currently - on the ministry front

most photos on this page are thumbnails to save download time; click on them to give a full-sized view.  Updates older than two years are buried under older updates until later cremation....

Real prayer is not  just spending time with God, but WASTING time with Him - Sheila Cassidy - Prayer for Pilgrims 

December 2021:  The past year has (literally!) ZOOMED past at great speed!  The previous posting in January turned out to be sadly prophetic.  We have continued to be continually active in the wider Body of Christ activities in our Holroyd District, while moving more towards an advisory role in our own local church.  Yes, that is still our church family and the love-bond is as strong as ever, but aging must affect your functional role as you enter the final quarter of your "century!"  What does 2022 hold for us personally?  And for our family church?  And for the broader Body of Christ?  There seems to be a dearth of genuine biblical evangelism - the kind that produces disciples and not just casual callers who come and go within a year or two.  This is of great concern to us for the future after we have "left the building" (as was said about Elvis after his death!).  If ever there was a time when 2 Timothy 2:15 was relevant, it's now!  And yes, we see that a Pentecostal stance not only stresses the interactive existential reality of the Presence of God, but also, as Jesus stressed in his last week before His crucifixion, but a drawing into the meaning and outworking of Scripture! 

January 2021We seem to have survived a very unusual year, but let's not get too dramatic about what we have faced.  The predominance of fear over biblical faith has been quite marked.  Recently, I have tried to produce a balanced series entitled, "Fear, Faith, Warfare, and Overcoming Victory!" and sought to apply historical and biblical principles to the current "Agghhh!  The sky is falling!" hysteria.  The connection between the "Canaanite spirit" (as in, demon ruling by imposing a foreign unbiblical mindset) seen as Israel sought to invade the "Promised Land", and its current relevance to living in Sydney, with it's excessive preoccupation on business dealings (especially in real estate) and getting ahead at any cost, we found very topically relevant.  You can attempt to digest it and benefit from the analysis by clicking here.  Dare we say, "enjoy!?!"  Nahhh, but eat it and grow, and be kept safe from the zeitgeist currently invading the redeemed community (AKA the Church!).

November 2020:  What a COVID CHAOS this last ten months have been!  We thank God that the promises of Psalm 91 have prevailed and the plague has not come near the dwelling of anyone associated with our local church!  Thanks to God and the careful maintenance of sensible restrictions by our church leaders and members.  This year marked 40 years since we began again our journey towards "normality" (and some would say, "religious sanity"!).  I (Brian) felt prayerfully that after 40 years, it was time to step aside from the role of "Senior Minister" of our own local church, and refocus on some other aspects of what has been building, particularly for the last 40 years.  So the past four months have seen our church leadership conduct an application process for a much younger replacement, someone between 35 and 55, who would have a better bond of understanding with our youth and help build up our struggling children's ministry. As a result of this, Aaron Terry (with his wife, Rachel, and their three children) - who were already known to our church (they grew up locally) have come on board - Aaron as the new "Lead Minister", while Elizabeth remains in the pastoral care team and I move out to focus on our missions activities, as well as remaining involved in the various interchurch and local community activities our church is well-known for in our District.  This is an easier workload, and when you are approaching eighty(!!) appears to be more manageable....

This transition was meant to include a four-month period in which I was absent allowing Aaron and Rachel time to become integrated without us hovering in the back row (a very unnerving apparition for any incoming replacement minister!) - comprising two months back in Zimbabwe (focusing again on our biannual peak leadership Indaba, and various areas where the Lifeline Ministry Development program continues to spread), followed by a further two months in which we would start with a cruise in the Eastern Mediterranean (including i.a. Greece, Israel, Crete, and Ephesus (again).  Then slowly come home via the UK and East Coast USA.  This would have been our first-ever "sea-cruise" in 51 years of wedded bliss!  I am NOT an ocean big-liner cruiser!

Well, all of this grand idea of course, thanks to COVID, went out the window, and we have had to settle for some grey nomad driving around NSW (and hopefully later, South Australia, Victoria, and even visit some of Elizabeth's relatives in Southern Queensland).  So I am penning this update from somewhere up the NSW Mid-North Coast as we slowly turn for home and drive (trailer attached with bikes, etc) south to be home later for a short time before heading on another circuit in South West NSW, and Victoria (if Comrade Dan does eventually reopen their border with other non-foreign "fellow Australians", and even South Australia.  The easy pace, and the use of WhatsApp and ZOOM video has enabled us to enjoy the change of routine, as well as stay in touch with friends, family, and people in Southern Africa.  To be continued....

March 2020:  A recent communication with a friend who shared the same religious group background that we did 40 years ago, sparked some reflections that might be helpful to others facing similar questions and difficulties with the essential identity of the particular group they belonged to - whether it was a large church movement, or a one-off small cultic group surrounding one guru-type leader (often nowadays called "Apostle").  Here's what I replied to his email...

He said.....  I am learning, very much to my embarrassment, is just how ignorant I have been, and for so long, to the origins and development of Christian theology.  Although it was triggered over thirty years ago when involved in interaction that included (two of the leaders), it lurked in the background until, while studying reform theology, I became uncomfortable with the doctrinal assertions.  This has been a most exciting and informative adventure.

I replied....  Interesting you should have come to this conclusion after studying “reform theology”, which has its own cultish elitist underpinnings – which are more suited to the conservatism of European and Southern Baptist cultural leanings!  Another friend of mine in their leadership team struggled with the Latter Rain eschatology – and when he began asking honest, earnest questions, he was cut off and driven out of the church group.

I left the movement on ethical grounds – observing mishandling of money, abuse of controlling power, telling lies, rewriting historical stuff I had objectively observed, resisting attempts to put me down and out.  I had no idea at all of the sexual deviancy that was inherent.  I think they  regarded me as on the “outside” as I didn’t have the heritage links Elizabeth did (as a Holland) or your family had.  Those links went back to the 1920s and Pastor Horne’s church (Southern Evangelical Mission).  Long before the Jacksons, Halls, and Latter Rain teachings came into vogue in the early 1950s.

Their theology of the Trinity was orthodox, and their soteriology was sufficiently orthodox to see one saved, and receive the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.  Their emphasis on the five Ascension Gift Ministries equipping every believer was pretty orthodox too, but messed up by their controlling spirit.  But, BUT!  Their eschatology was rubbish!  Based on fear, not faith!  And smothered in elitism.  We had an access to God that no one else did!  Pure arrogance is a destroyer of other virtues that atrophy under its invasive effect.

It took about four years after being excommunicated for me (greatly helped by Greg Passmore) to extricate myself from the web of eisagetical nonsense.  They had no idea how to “correctly handle the Word of Truth” (as in 2 Timothy 2:14-15).  In eisagesis, you function on your "revelation knowledge", then go hunt backwards for (mostly Old Testament) proof texts.  This is where constant referring to the Tabernacle, etc, convinced them they were “right”, while others found their ideas laughable.  It took me a further 6-8 years to get myself properly grounded on the correct way to handle and benefit from the Word of Truth.  That’s the use of exegesis leading to the correct hermeneutic.  Gordon Fee’s material ("How to Read the Bible for all it’s Worth” is a classic) greatly helped me (and my brother too) to safely depart without making the mistake so many others leaving Latter Rain have made 1] moving to another cultic structure [like Coastlands]; or to 2] dropping out of regular Christian fellowship altogether, and coming under the judgment of Heb 10:25.  Never able to realise their God-given calling.  No regular missions’ goals, extended family fellowship replete with basic sound teaching, loss of access to people with gifts of healing, encouragement, etc, etc.

Oh, and the reason for the importance of the examination of past history – church, politics, family even, is summed up in…  Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.- alt = Those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it (George Santayana, 1863-1952) philosopher.  The Life of Reason, Volume 1, 1905.

August 2019:  It's been a while since the last update, and another (29th actually) 2-month trip back to Zimbabwe and Mozambique was completed two weeks ago.... this one with some quite different (and even amazing!) outcomes as I travelled some 5,000+ kms into many regions of Central Mozambique and Zimbabwe - never alone.  The principal highlight had to be the week four of us Lifeline leaders spent in the cyclone-devastated region of Central Sofala Province and alongside the Buzi River in Southern Manica.  The impact was quite traumatic, trying to gauge the trauma, death toll, and dispossession of houses and food sources many thousands of local people faced.  Hearing firsthand accounts of locals watching people being swept away to their death and being unable to help in any way.... seeing evidence of muddied floodwater 3 to 4 metres above the road we drove into Matarara on.... and seeing the wonderful work that UNICEF has done in providing tarpaulin refuge centres, complete with clean water bore-holes, toilet and bathing areas, and food supplies.  The church building we have used on previous visits was swept away as the floodwaters rose, and UNICEF had provided the community with new tarpaulin sheets for walls and roof for a temporary church amenity.  And even more amazing!  Not one Christian was drowned!  They fled to slightly higher ground and were spared the worst of the tragedy.  Their leader publicly gave thanks for this supernatural preservation.

A more detailed account is available on request for this visit, including the many regions of Zimbabwe we covered.  We can't publish it all publicly for discretionary reasons....

December 2018:  We have added a scanned copy of a very clear description of the growing menace that the many varied versions of martial arts (including yoga) are having in the invasion of Christianised Australian - introducing alternate forms of spirituality under the guise of self-help and relaxation techniques.  It can be downloaded in PDF here.

November 2018:  This month, the globe celebrated the centenary of when "the guns fell silent" on the Western Front in Northern France and Belgium, and WW1 (the "War to end all wars!") ceased.  This year the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month fell on Sunday morning, and our church took time out to reflect on the significance of this awful time in world history.  So on Sunday the 11th, we paused our praise time to reflect on the horrors of WW1, and I compiled a PowerPoint looking at the Chaos, the Battlefield Dead, the Battlefield Graves, the Ordered Cemeteries, and the Memorials. Including the Thiepval Memorial listing the 72,000 names of the dead whose bodies were never located!!  One lady in our church read the tragic letter her grandmother received a year after her brother was declared MIA (= Missing in Action).   Followed by the recitation of "In Flanders Field where poppies grow", and a minutes silence at 11am.  This was all sombrely well-received so I have uploaded the PowerPoint here (complete with my favourite Dire Straits song in the background, "we are fools to make war on our Brothers in Arms"....).  You can't offer the modern mantra, "enjoy!" to something this horrible, but as Georges Santayana famously said in 1905 (before WW1 broke out), "those who don't learn from history are destined to repeat it"...  As someone who was born a month before WW2 ended, my greatest desire in highlighting this has been for our young people to grasp the enormity, the tragedy, the awful cost of war.....

October 2018: Recently, we have been going over the (four) inspiring Servant Songs of Isaiah ch 42 through to ch 53.  "Inspiring" is barely an adequate way to describe them - as they point so powerfully to Jesus, the True Messiah, AND  to the redeemed community (the Universal Church) that He raised up to take the promises to the "ends of the Earth", to every people group - all 22,000 of them (according to Don Richardson in his brilliant book, Eternity in Their Hearts).  So this five part series by Selwyn Hughes was passed on by a church member at just the right time!  It's so appropriate, so we are posting the five here one a week at a time - Servants Songs of Isaiah.  Enjoy!  Be strengthened in your appreciation of our Lord Jesus, and in your awareness of your own distinct calling as a member of the Priesthood of Every Believer!

September 2018:  The 12th week of hip-replacement recovery passed by last week, and we'd been told you get a good idea of the degree of recovery about then.  I'm updating this from Bulawayo, the "City of the Kings" in Sthn Zimbabwe.  So yes, there has been definite progress, but there's still a long way to go to see the weakness in my left leg eliminated.  Travelling the lengthy kms on this trip (over 4,200km in five weeks so far, and another 1.300+ to come before I head home) has taken quite a toll on the strength-recovery process.  Not enough walking exercise and too much lengthy inertia behind the wheel hasn't helped.  But the fulfillment of our long-term Lifeline commitment has been a joy to participate in!  Wouldn't swap it for anything....  36 years and 28 trips later, things are still developing in an encouraging way.

Steve from our church came for the first four weeks and was such a pleasure to have come along.  He really hit it off with the youth and children each place we went, and will come back here for sure!  Michelle arrived overlap Steve's visit, and has contributed brilliantly to our annual Lifeline Leaders Indaba in Gweru, where the main focus this year was on Administration.  She is currently with me at the Beevers' home in Bulawayo before we go to Plumtree for some meetings and a 3-day seminar there for the 13th year.  That's where I started conducting Ministry seminars in 2005, and now we have passed more than 100 such events!  Updates on Mozambique, Sparrows Nest Orphanage, and other places we've been are available on request, or through WhatsApp.  Special thanks too to everyone who has consistently been praying for us here - distance is no problem for God to hear and answer our prayers - especially for other people! 

Oh, and we can still process donations for the various Lifeline activities - with our continued assurance that all giving is passed on 100%! As you designate!  Details are on the Lifeline Website.

July 2018:  Details of the last painful seven months are posted on the personal side of our website; here we keep track , after another (36th) wonderful 3-day annual camp, with speaker and friend, Sam Abalo..... of our plans for another trip back to Southern Africa.  The highlight will again be the peak leadership "Indaba" for Lifeline as the Network continues to slowly develop across Zimbabwe (and Central Mozambique and some other fields in Malawi too).  The emphasis is growing re transitioning the leadership and vision to the local proven leaders as we older foreigners prepare to disengage as we age.  This year, already the emphasis has also moved to include sessions on "corporate governance", and the role of administrators in the New Testament taking up some of the burden that initially fell upon those whose primary responsibility was to give themselves to "prayer and the Word" (Acts 6  1 Cor 12).  Three are going from our church, for 2, 3, and 9 weeks (for Brian).  Steve is coming again - including to Binga, where he's hoping he will hear the hyenas again nearby at night!!

Medical supplies keep coming donated from Nepean Hospital, and Days 4 Girls paks are also again on the donor-list....  Please keep us in prayer during August and September.  Thank you!

March 2018:  For the past two months, our church has been focussing on "the Person and Work of the Holy Spirit" - and this has raised our awareness of the Spirit's place in the Trinity (He is not merely an assisting archangel, but YAHWEH LORD God Himself!).  Recently, Joy Doughty presented EMBRACING THE HOLY SPIRIT - probably the best outline we've ever heard of the Activity of the Holy Spirit from Creation down through the Ages and into the Church.  An outstanding overview, that left our congregation somewhat overawed at God's grace reaching out to lost humanity and His redeemed people.  It's too big a file to email anyone, so we have uploaded it here so you can listen to it (55 minutes) or download and save it.  You won't regret it!

January 2018: An old friend, heck!  David Stickland is a VERY OLD friend(!!).  We have known him for 49 years from Ballarat Days.  David has been supplying various churches with (free) sound accounting advice for several years.  As a former accountant myself, I think it's good stuff - not written for those doing that all the time.  No, you wouldn't say "Church Accounts for Dummies", but you know the drift - "keeping churches out of financially embarrassing moments!"  David is accessible on dmstickland@gmail.com and is very happy to add people to his monthly mailout on request.

His most recent one was on making sure where money / gifts are donated for a specific purpose, that those responsible make absolutely sure that the donation(s) actually get passed on as agreed, and don't get sidetracked or reallocated.  Dangerous stuff!  Joe Garlington preached the best message we have ever hear on "The Power of Kherem Giving to Bless and to Curse" at Intermin back in the 80s in Melbourne.  It's just as relevant today as back then, so we have uploaded to our RESOURCE section (it's too big to email).  Can you really say, "enjoy" after such a powerful challenge?!?! 

September 2017: As usual, we're way behind in our communications.  As mentioned in the May post, after our missions' trip to Zimbabwe was postponed for three months, amazingly (again!) it turned out for the best!  Peter was able to join his wife (Maureen) and David (our younger techie) and they were able to spend two very intense and profitable weeks out at Chiwundura (30km from Gweru on a very bumpy road), as the men assembled the entire container-load of medical equipment, so kindly donated by the management of Nepean Hospital (where Peter and Ben both occupy responsible positions).  The shipment went through all the hurdles glitch-free and the 40-foot container was unloaded with no breakages too.

 The Midlands Anglican community were very grateful and showed it in an outstanding matter, as Bishop Mukuwanda hosted a dinner and speech night at the end of the fortnight, before the Team headed back to Harare to fly home.  18 senior Anglican leaders attended with us four Aussies.  A potted outline of this amazing project is accessible here

May 2017:  The silence since the last update wasn't because the ministry side of our lives had become boring, nor non-functional.  But this period was marked by an increasing deterioration in my (Brian's) health - leading to a five-week crash course in open-heart surgery at Westmead Hospital!  The knock down, get up again account of this awful period is here in pdf.....

After en enforced postponement of this year's African trip, and SAA's kindness in postponement fees, three of us are preparing to go now in late July.....

December 2016:  Just today, we finally gathered all the bits 'n' pieces of our most recent African Trip and collated them into one 10-page mix of activity, personal insights and observations, and some TIA moments (= This Is Africa!) to brighten your day, and make you ever so thankful for your own current situation!  If you would like to have a read of this, email us and we'll send a copy.

September 2016:  Elizabeth and I have just returned from yet another very profitable time in Zimbabwe.  I went five weeks ahead (with Steve from our church, for the first time) and we sure did some interesting travelling!  Including Steve being awakened one night by hyenas only 200m from our sleeping quarters!  Ten weeks there and not one headache!  That was a big plus after the pain of 2015.  Good health and safe travel, constant delight in what opportunities presented, and a constant awareness of the continual prevailing prayers of our many friends and supporters the whole time we were away.  The bi-annual Lifeline Indaba (for peak leaders) was by all reports a real success, and Elizabeth was a great help in the hosting of the 25 delegates who came together Monday to Friday in Gweru.

We've updated the Resource master page with some material on anger-management that has seemed to hit a topical sweet spot among people we mix with.  While our society loses self-control, the powers that are "crouching at the door" (to use Genesis 4:7 language) have an increasingly easy time of entering, and then causing the chaos we are currently seeing unleashed.  It's here both in note form and mp3.

January 2016:  The past eight months have been a slow recovery time from the after-effects of the attack of cerebral malaria I contracted in Mozambique in April.  It has had a very disorganising effect on my lifestyle and ministry, and the dictum "if you have nothing to say, say nothing!" has been my policy....  Hence the silence online!  Memory lapses, disorganised thinking (leading to somewhat disorganised planning), etc, has been my lot, and I wish to publicly acknowledge the "I am carried on angels' wings" experience I have had this past year - thanks especially to Elizabeth (of course), Michelle and Ben in our church office, Gavin and Peter and families, and some of my extended family in Africa too.  2016 awaits!?!?!

One area that has grown in increasing concern to me (and to many others I know) has been watching the growing tendency of people in public leadership roles (religious, political, business, and even families) to move towards disattaching their responsibilities from the rigours of just examination and constructive criticism.  The most recent addition to our extensive RESOURCES webpage attempts to articulate this and offer some safety factors for wannabe leaders!

August 2015:  This month we have added a new subsection to the ministry side of our website, inspired by Bruce and Anne Elliott, ex-Kiwis who have lived in Nth America for over 35 years.  We first met them in 1989 while on sabbatical in Vancouver, and discovered while ministering in the church Bruce served in as an elder, that we both went to the same high school in Auckland, and we both shared a love for running ever since those days!  To be honest, though, when he first took me up Lynn Canyon in Nth Vancouver one winter's late afternoon, and we ran past warning signs that said something like "don't approach the bears", I wondered what kind of risk-taking nutter he was!

Well, they now live in San Diego and both spend time and money founding, supporting, and funding Father's House in Kiev, Ukraine.  And they still go regularly, despite the ramping up of risk in Ukraine.  Their latest update (accessible here) tells of some of the amazing activities their heart and vision have spawned over the last 10+ years!  We don't use our website as a donations-pusher, but if you would like to help them and the staff there, the contact details are on their newsletter.

June 2015:  As mentioned on the post on the PERSONAL side of our website, this last (25th) trip was like no other....  just before I (Brian) left, some clear warnings and encouragement were passed on in prayer and prophecy on my last Sunday in my home church.  The encouragement was that no matter what happened/went wrong/changed, the rest of God  would remain unshakeable.  And so it did!  Even near death's door, I had no fear whatsoever, and the sense of God's presence never withdrew through everything.  I am now a Dr Google expert on cerebral malaria, and am still recovering from the brain damage it produces as the parasite furiously assaults your brain.  Working on a computer for more than two hours still brings on a headache (but nowhere near as bad as a few weeks ago), and I have had to learn to rest, nap, get out from the work mindset regularly, and make some quiet space.  An extensive rolling update of the time there (roller-coaster ride would be a better description this time) is available on request, but we don't make it openly available - because of the number of people mentioned in it by name.

And on the resource side, we are still adding various articles we think relevant to conditions in our society, churches, and relationships.  After the last episode in Africa though, I am light on for humorous anecdotes....  Maybe next post....

March 2015:  This testimony came out of a horrible week when many bits 'n' pieces went wrong in my life and activities.  I shared this during last Sunday morning’s sermon which covered (i.a.) when Jesus opened the door to “others” (heteros) who were “different” to Him and His people, something the Jews couldn’t handle.  Later on, the Apostle Paul went much further geographically and redefined the identity of the Chosen People of God as the Church Universal; which took a radical turn to include people from the most unexpected places, races, and backgrounds!   

What’s that got to do with my declining mental faculties, you may well ask?…  Well, my unasked-for learning experience last week started with misplacing (old people don’t use the word “lost” for the first month) my car keys, then my cellphone (which keeps me in touch daily with our Zimbabwean network via WhatsApp)…. and then it really went downhill after that!  Even my Gloria Jeans coffee mug got mugged!  If you would like to empathise with me (as in, “Brian, I really do understand…. I misplaced my husband for two weeks once”), or are simply interested in a modern Western Sydney version of the Good Samaritan parable Jesus taught, and the “and who is my neighbour?” application, click here to see the pdf.  No animals were injured doing this Friday Food 'n' Therapy, just some deeply ingrained male ego….