Tell us a little about you
I grew up in the eastern suburbs of Sydney. I attended Sunday School with my wife Michelle, so we have been part of one another’s lives for a long time. We now have three married children and six grandchildren. All of whom keep us thinking, learning and praying. They bring amazing joy. With Michelle I have been in vocational ministry for over 40 years. We have had a ball. There have been difficult and testing times, but as we both look back we recognise God has blessed us way beyond what we deserved or expected.
What's your favourite bible passage & why?
In Ruth chapter 2 Boaz says to Ruth 12 May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.”
The book of Ruth is a story of God’s rescue and provision. It portrays the beauty of the young woman; Ruth, the wisdom of her mother in law; Naomi, the integrity of the man who loved her; Boaz, the value of the surrounding community; the people of Bethlehem, and the faithfulness of God; the one whose wings cover us. In the story, God extends his wings over Ruth through his people, as they live justly and generously. The book begins in a season of despair but ends with an experience of hope. In so many ways the story of Ruth anticipates the ministry of Jesus and shows us how to live.
How do you keep your eyes fixed on Jesus?
As my feet touch the floor every morning my prayer is “Lord Jesus shape my thoughts and guide my actions today”. During the day I say my prayers for the world, for those with whom
I work and for my family. I read a passage of scripture. I give myself the time to recognise Jesus in what I read. I look for some expression of Jesus in the people I meet. It may be a consistent godly attitude they possess, an encouraging word they offer, a service they give, or it may be a need they have which Jesus can meet, an hostility that needs to be channelled in a more positive way or an action that needs to be forgiven and forgotten. Somehow in all the interactions I have, Jesus is present.
What would you like the next generation of Christian women and men to know?
As God’s people we are leaven. We are not rulers. We are servants.
We are called and equipped to be God’s presence in our close relationships, in our neighbourhoods, in our places of work and in our civil society. We are influencers and shapers, through how we live and what we say. All of us, by being disciples, are engaged in mission and ministry. We are all called and sent.
God is the one at work and he will put all things right. He equips us to be people who live in hope and reflect his character.
In our present time, how we deal with difference and how we work through conflict are of critical importance. Are we governed by God’s desire to forgive? Are we gentle; able to respect people who have different views and values to ourselves? I said to a friend recently, “On that matter (Rob) we are clearly on a different page.” He came back to me “In God’s house Paul, there are many pages”. An encouraging and helpful response. It enables us to keep talking with one another.
What's one thing that you love about your local church?
Only one thing? Michelle and I attend an inner west church in Sydney. It has a passion to see people in the local community come to faith in Jesus and it has a passion to see those beyond our own personal relationships come to faith. It has a strong evangelistic culture and, at the same time, a culture which wants to see all people treated with equity and dignity. It is a church which welcomes and affirms women in ministry, in serving, leading and teaching. It is a church that recognises the ministry of God in its corporate worship.
What did you learn about God at a time in your life you found hard?
Michelle and I had a fourth child. A little girl. She came far too early. She cried at birth but lived for only an hour and twenty minutes. She stayed with us in the ward. We experienced God’s presence and gentleness.
What are you passionate about?
That the church, that local churches, do not seek power. Power corrupts. That leaders in churches do not seek to control. Control excludes and inhibits. Our task as disciples of Jesus, gathered in the church, is first to eagerly anticipate the return of Jesus, then to reflect the character of Jesus in our life together, and thirdly to serve the world around us, through what we say and how we live. These cannot be separated.
What do you enjoy doing when you rest?
Reading, walking, eating with family. Donna Leon has a wonderful series of crime novels based on a Venetian policeman named Guido Brunetti. The walk around Black Wattle and Rozelle Bay is busy, and always ends with coffee. A pasta meal at home or at The White Cockatoo creates space for conversation and laughter. What else do you need?