I just arrived back to civilization–at least, I just returned to an area where I have internet access! I’m in Brisbane, Australia, and am back from Camp Gidawarra and my week-long retreat with Christians from throughout NE Australia. What a great time we had! These people are so precious: loving, hungry, committed to Christ, eager for teaching. You would fall in love (as I have) with the brothers and sisters of Australia.

The retreat went really well. I spoke each morning (about three hours worth!), then met with various people and church leaders through the afternoon, and capped the day with a question/answer/discussion session each night. After a week of that pace, I must confess that I’m exhausted! 

In general, the church here tends to be on the more conservative side—established by people from the States in the post-WWII missionary wave. Missionaries of that era tended to be enthusiastic but lacking in theological breadth. Churches throughout the Pacific, Europe, and Asia were shaped by teachings that emphasized the plan of salvation and patterns of church behavior but too often overlooked important themes like the eternal purposes of God, the role of grace and faith in salvation, and transforming power of the Holy Spirit. The church in Australia, at least, has been paying the price for these theological gaps ever since.

My theme through the week has been the Gospel. God’s eternal purposes and plans. The Creation–initiated and shaped to address those purposes. Man in God’s Image–made for relationship with him. The Fall. The nature of Covenant Relationship. Incarnation. The Cross. The Resurrection. The response of faith. The Transforming Spirit. The Culmination of God’s purposes at the final judgment. What a joy it has been to proclaim this Gospel again, to announce it boldly and gratefully! I’ve had a great time here.

Below are a few pictures of God’s people in Australia. And, in the Toolbox, I’ve attached a poem that captures what (to my thinking) is the core of the gospel that saves us. Enjoy!

view

The view from the front door of our meeting hall. Pretty nice, huh?


hall

An assembly period. I'm teaching a session.


teaching

Not sure what point I'm trying to make, but I obviously think it is important!


cardplayers

There are two social activities we know how to do well: eat and play cards!


piano

Learning new songs and enjoying each other.


coffemaker

My favorite person at camp: the barrista!