JESUS IS______

JESUS IS______.
How do YOU finish that sentence? Is it, “Jesus is the best news!’ or “Jesus is the best news. I’m just not confident in telling people”?

Sharing your faith publicly is challenging, and the recent marriage debate hasn’t made it easier. Maybe you’re thinking “I might just keep my head down for a while”. The JESUS IS___ week is all about lifting our heads above the trenches — to get people talking and tongues wagging about Jesus.

Wearing a ‘JESUS IS____’ t-shirt or badge is a way to get the conversation going. When asked, you can simply reply “We’d like to know what others think about Jesus…so how do you finish that sentence?” Even if no-one should ask you, at least they will see this question everywhere. I started wearing my badge this week. The other way to get people thinking about Jesus is to invite them to one of the events during mission week. There is something for everyone from High Tea for seniors, Dessert Night for women, youth event in Wollongong, and of course the Colin concerts.

When it comes to inviting families to the Colin concert, you may feel you don’t know a family well enough. Here’s a daring idea of faith—why not buy 2-5 tickets and let Josh find a good home for them. Our Scripture teachers might be able to award them as prizes. Let’s be creative, generous and gospel minded.

Did you realise Colin is doing an adult concert for us as well? Colin has won 9 Golden Guitars, an APRA Award and nominated for four ARIAs. He is also a regular Guest on Richard Glover’s Thank God it’s Friday on ABC 702. He has written for Lee Kernagan, Troy Cassar-Daley, Adam Brand, John Williamson, Sara Storer, Anne Kirkpatrick. Put simply, he is the songwriter behind the songwriters. He is a fantastic entertainer and his concerts are always great evenings. Why not buy a couple of tickets and make it a night out with some neighbours and friends.

Ladies, aren’t you thinking its about time we all got together over some cake? You’re in luck! That just happens to be on the menu. ‘Dessert Night’ will be a delicious excuse to bring a friend to hear Karen from Moore College speak on ‘Jesus is for Women’.

For the retired and seniors, High Tea with our former Archbishoop Peter Jensen will be a special event. Peter is wise, witty and a great speaker. If you live in a village style community, belong to an interest group, or just have a gang of friends, come as a group.

All this term we have been creating a different conversation space on Sundays about Jesus—how his life and teaching have changed the world. Now we are asking ‘who do you say Jesus is?’. WIll you allow him to change your life?

Meanwhile, Big Day In is this Sat. I hope you will make the choice to be there. 

Faith, Hope & Love,

Geoff Thompson


The Feet of Those who bring Good News

“Billy Graham was perhaps the most significant religious figure of the 20th century, and the organizations and the movement he helped spawn continue to shape the 21st. During his life, Graham preached in person to more than 100 million people and to millions more via television, satellite, and film. Nearly 3 million have responded to his invitation to “accept Jesus into your heart” at the end of his sermons. He proclaimed the gospel to more persons than any other preacher in history” Christianity Today Magazine.

This week, ‘Billy’ passed away. As the world pays tribute to this evangelist and pastor to presidents, many Australians reflect fondly of his impact on their lives. “We in Australia are especially grateful for his first visit to our country in 1959, where his crusade in Sydney of that year had all the hallmarks of revival with increased church attendance, increased candidates offering themselves for the ministry and a marked effect on criminal statistics with fewer crimes being committed” said Archbishop Glen Davies.

It is estimated 130,000 Australians responded to Mr Graham’s call to pledge themselves to Christ, including former Archbishop Peter Jensen who attended the 1959 crusade in Sydney as a teenager with his brother”  “Like so many others, I came to know the Lord personally through the preaching of Mr Graham,” Dr Jensen said. “Throughout his life, that is what he did, never missing the chance to talk winsomely about Jesus. I thank God for the wonderful gift of this extraordinary man.” After his successful first tour, Mr Graham returned to the country in 1968 and 1979”. (Source SBS News)

For Billy Graham, the reason was as simple as it is compelling, Romans 10, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?”.

As we farewell a great evangelist, remember, the mission hasn’t changed! The mantle  and calling of Rom 10 falls to us. The ‘Jesus Is’ mission is just around the corner and is our time to bring good news. Could a child in your street hear the gospel through your invitation to the Colin Buchanan family concert? Could a work colleague talk about the time he came to saving faith as your guest at Colin’s adult ‘Calvary Road’ concert?

You’ll probably never preach to thousands at a Crusade, but buying tickets and inviting a friend may be just as life changing. If you don’t have someone to invite, consider funding tickets for Josh to give to families in his ministry in schools.

Faith, Hope & Love
Geoff Thompson

Hurtling & Striving

Hurtling & Striving

It’s winter Olympics time again, and if you hadn’t noticed, these Olympics are all about hurtling—hurtling down mountainsides on skis, snow boards or luge dressed in Gladwrap. And, when no mountain is required, it’s about hurtling along ice wearing shoes with razor blades attached for soles! (okay, so ‘Curling’ isn’t so much about hurtling!) But have you noticed that the winter Olympics are not like the summer Olympics in which the events are safe? The winter Olympic events are crazy. Personally, I would rename the winter Olympics the ‘Life Threatening Adrenaline Olympics’. The wipeouts, scars and hours spent in rehab are mind boggling. Human beings are curious creatures. When we’re passionate about something, we’ll sacrifice everything for it—the hours of training, relentless repetition, even tears and pain. It’s about the prize.

Whether your prize is a cycling P.B., best in show for scones at the Nowra Show, or getting that reverse Larkshead stitch perfect in your macrame, we strive for the prize.   

Paul doesn’t talk a lot about hurtling down mountains on a luge, but he does talk about the prize and striving. “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.  Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air.  No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize” 1 Cor 9:26-27.

Christians are prize people. We look to the prize that lasts forever, of resurrection and eternal life—the prize of knowing Jesus. This prize drives us. Yet it isn’t won by sweat and sacrifice, or even by turning up—it’s the free gift of God by faith in Jesus. Paul isn’t suggesting we strive to win or hold our salvation. He’s expressing the Christian life as a challenge—to follow Jesus when the world whispers “it’s not worth it”. Paul calls the prize people to stay focussed. When we’re distracted we can falter and lose our way. To be focussed is a call to training and a disciplined life, shaped by the routines of being in God’s word, in conversation with Him; serving and sharing life with His people, and saying no to the things that compete for our hearts. The call is to strive with our whole self not just our Sunday self.

Sometimes it feels like we run in two races—God’s race and the ever frantic rat race of our culture. Remember, the Jesus prize is greater. In sport, the gods of Nike say ‘Just do it’, but when it comes to life, God says, ‘do it for my glory, enjoy me, run with joy and discipline, and spur one another on to finish’.

                    Faith, Hope & Love,

Geoff Thompson

On the Threshold of a Year

Even in these early weeks of 2018 I get a sense of a special year unfolding for our church. Here are a few things I see God doing among us. The first glimpse for me was Summerfest in January. As I watched on from my vantage point (as barista for the cafe) I saw members of All Saints using their gifts and serving in bold, generous and winsome ways. I watched on as members of different congregations met each other (some for the first time) and shared that great expression of belonging —serving together on mission. During that week we also made new friends in the community as we held out truth and grace and a quality, week long event for families. And yet, even before the dust had settled new people began arriving from different parts of NSW, some for work, others for retirement, to make All Saints home. Last week we welcomed our new assistant minister Robin, who brings a very important dimension to our life together — looking after GrowGroups, welcoming, and 5pm congregation. Meanwhile like a phoenix from the ashes, new kitchen benches and a commercial dishwasher have arisen from the wreckage—thanks everyone for your patience. (Now if only a coffee machine will arise from those ashes!)

There are also new things this year for ASCC (all will be revealed shortly) and COACH adds a great new dimension with mentoring.

In March, 50 Moore College students are coming to the Shoalhaven to partner in a week of mission leading into Easter. There’s plenty of events to invite friends to, and by the way, it’s time to get your tickets for the Colin Buchanan concerts! Before the year gets too much older we’ll make some fresh changes to 10am and 5pm services, as we respond to the opportunities and challenges of generations coming together to worship God.

After much preparation, we have a development application before council to change the way our building functions, including air conditioning, lowering the floor to one level and introducing chairs for comfort and flexibility. Pray really hard over that D.A!

So how should we set out on such an adventurous year? We call it ‘Big Day In’. We meet on Mar 3 to pray and hear from God’s word, as well as discuss and commit our vision for All Saints. Sun Mar 4 is our AGM where we elect wardens and parish council. Whether you’re new or old at All Saints, I hope you’ll come out and join in.

Finally, Ron Hockey’s new job takes him to India, 4 weeks out of every 6. He starts next week! We are thankful for all Ron has done for us as warden for many years and pray for the whole family in this season of big adjustments.

Faith, Hope & Love,

Geoff Thompson

Australia and Me

I’ll say it up front. I love being Australian. I have just come back from fishing the Snowy with a mate. Wombats, platypus, echidna and the whole coat of arms showed up at our campsite! I love the freedom, opportunity, peace and prosperity of Australia, not to mention belonging to a people who know the importance of a good sausage sizzle. There is a lot to love!  And yet, Australia Day is becoming increasingly complex. One man’s Australia Day is another man’s invasion day. The pain for many first Australians, is that white settlement was founded on the assumption of Terra Nullius—that Australia was uninhabited (which was news to the inhabitants at the time). New Zealand white settlement, on the other hand, was based on a treaty with the Maori people (Waitangi). A treaty doesn’t guarantee everyone lives happily ever after, but Australia lives with this largely unresolved tension, which becomes a rallying cry for a range of issues for aboriginal people. Complex? You bet.

Whether Jan 26 is the right day to celebrate will continue to be debated, and a way forward searched for in our national consciousness. As Christian Australians however, we need to remember we are not defined by historical choices, conventions or even mistakes. We are a people whose foremost citizenship is of heaven, and our identity is ‘in Christ’. Our status has moved from ‘far away’ to, ‘brought near’ to God. Once ‘excluded’ we are now ‘included’. We are part of the ‘one new humanity in Jesus’. These phrases come directly from Ephesians and form the manifesto that declares us to be the difference in this complicated world of tribes. We are the grace and forgiveness difference. Our responses will be shaped by these truths, not by national pride or even preferences for our most comfortable version of Australia.

At the heart of our identity is the belief that the world is not meaningless, but that we are created in the image of God. Therefore we believe all people have value and purpose. This Sunday in ‘Jesus the Game Changer’ we explore one extraordinary way that Jesus shaped the world and western values— ‘equality’.

As you celebrate this weekend, remember you are more than Australian… you are the faith, hope and love people to Australia.

Geoff Thompson


Good News Week

It’s been a great week for sharing good news at All Saints Summerfest. From the tent raising last Sunday to the daily kids program and cafe, it was all about sharing the Jesus invitation to life. Some sixty All Saints members found a place to serve. Some made crafts, others exotic sea creatures and costumes, some wrote dramas, while others made morning teas. And yet, whether you were giving a talk up front or washing up, it was all a good-news team. A big thank you to everyone who was able to be involved. Hosting a mission like Summerfest takes a lot of energy, especially on top of all the hard work to create such engaging Christmas events. Clearly God has brought so many gifts and talents together in this church.

Remember though, that while we celebrate these very visual and vibrant events, there will be quiet pastoral words spoken to brothers and sisters going through difficult times. Also, acts of mercy and kindness will go unheralded. These quiet ‘givers’ too make up our rich and diverse team. I am thankful to belong with folks changed and challenged by Jesus, to be a good news community to the world and to each other. Let’s keep our eyes on our Saviour through prayer and his word …love each other humbly with grace and forgiveness  …welcome the newcomer …and always be ready to give an account for our hope.

Paul wrote to the Corinthian church,

“Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain”

1 Cor 15:58

The church office will be closed for Mon and Tues this week while some weary team members catch their breath. This Sun we begin a thought provoking series on the impact Jesus Christ has made on culture and society. It’s called Jesus the Game Changer. Who might you invite to hear this good news?

Finally, we look forward to Robin and his family joining our All Saints family very soon.


Geoff Thompson

The Way in A Manger

“So this is Christmas, and what have you done? Another year over, a new year just begun”. So sang John Lennon, which became a Christmas anthem. It is a beautiful, endearing song, but the opening lines betray the angst that most people carry through life—what have they done to validate their lives this year? For the Christian, we might well change the words to, “So this is Christmas, and what has God done? Another year on since he sent us his son”. The point is, we don’t have to weigh what we have done from year to year to prove our worth. After all, it’s NOT what we do, it’s what Jesus has done. He came from heaven to earth (miracle #1), manger to cross (miracle #2) and from grave to life (miracle #3). Because of these 3 great movements of God we can sing another anthem, “Born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth”.

Some will not be convinced by the free gift of salvation and try to justify themselves by doing good works. Others will say, “well, if there’s nothing I have to do, then no change to my life is necessary”. However, as I heard it put recently, even though there is nothing we can do to earn salvation, it’s more than accepting a pardon, it’s accepting a person; more than receiving forgiveness, it’s receiving Jesus. Have you accepted Jesus as your Saviour and Lord? The Lordship of Jesus changes lives!

In the lead up to Christmas we’ve also been considering Tim Keller’s reflections on the incarnation—God coming into the world as a man. The Bible has a word for it, Immanuel.
“When God showed up in Jesus Christ, he was not in a pillar of fire, not a tornado, but a baby. There is nothing like a baby. Even young children can have their own agenda and run from you. But little babies can be picked up, hugged, kissed and they’re open to it. Why would he come this time in the form of a baby, rather than a firestorm or whirlwind? Because this time he came not to bring judgement but to bear it, to pay the penalty for our sins, to take away the barrier between humanity and God, so that we can be together” Tim Keller.

Sometimes a person can go a whole life’s worth of Christmas’s hearing but never grasping it personally, until one day, it all makes sense—the Holy Spirit awakens the mind and heart. I hope this is the Christmas that ‘Immanuel—God with us’  changes everything for you!

From all the team at All Saints (some lost to us this year and some joining us for the future God has for us) we wish you a happy and Christ-centred Christmas!


Geoff Thompson

The Way in a Manger

By now there are probably a few pretty boxes under your tree, their contents a mystery. Will that box with the gold paper and my name on it hold ‘just what I’ve always wanted’? What if it contained a crisis? Strange, but that’s how Tim Keller describes the contents of that box we call the manger.

“The claim that Jesus is God poses a personal crisis. A crisis is a fork in the road, and the assertion that ‘Jesus Christ is God’ is certainly that. Whenever you see Jesus act in the gospels, you see him putting people into motion. He is like a giant billiard ball. Wherever he goes he breaks up the old patterns, he sends people off in new directions. Jesus evokes strong reactions. Some are furious with him and try and throw him off a cliff and kill him. Others are so terrified they cry out, “Depart…Get away from me!”  Others fall down and worship him. Why the extremes? It is because of the claims about who he is.

If he is who he said he was, then you have to centre your whole life on him. And if he is not who he said he is, then he is someone to hate or run away from. But no other response makes any sense. Either he is God or he isn’t—so he is absolutely crazy or infinitely wonderful. The modern world, however, is filled with people who say they believe in Jesus, they say they understand who he is but it hasn’t revolutionised their lives. There has been no crisis and lasting change. The only way to explain this is that, contrary to what they claim, they haven’t really grasped the meaning of “God with us.”

     From ‘HIDDEN CHRISTMAS’ Tim Keller

I like what Keller says about Jesus as a crisis. Of course Jesus is also the solution to the crisis of sin and death. When Jesus preached ‘repent and believe’, he wasn’t presenting a lifestyle option. There was urgency. The Bible says “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus our Lord” Rom 6:23. The crisis is that we stand before God in guilt. The solution is we can stand before God with Jesus, in forgiveness.

Maybe we should write on our Christmas cards, “have a wonderful Christmas crisis!”


Geoff Thompson

The Way in A Manger – incarnation

The manger—that must have little box of hay at the centre of the nativity scene. It just wouldn’t be Christmas without it. And no manger-watching would be complete without those classic lyrics, ‘The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes, But little Lord Jesus no crying he makes’. (Well, of course baby Jesus didn’t cry. After all, he wasn’t a normal baby, he was God, and God wouldn’t be naughty and keep tired grown ups awake…would he?). I wonder, if our world would feel just a little more comfortable if Jesus was still tucked up in that manger — helpless, harmless, wrapped in myths, and very manageable. To our modern culture, the manger is more like a manager, where Jesus can be kept at a safe distance.

However, to those who receive the good news of Jesus as saviour, the manger could never manage Jesus for very long. It was merely the first staging point for the incarnation! God docked into our biosphere and into this primitive (not to mention unhygienic) agricultural facility. The manger was the official arrival lounge for the death destroyer. This manger was a hope hatcher and dream catcher; a peace-pod and king crib. Rather than smile sentimentally, we should shake our heads in amazement at that outrageous little box of hay — that this simple construction should dare to hold the one who holds the universe. Now there’s some confronting lyric ideas! 

As we think about the manger, Tim Keller offers us some incarnation insights from ‘HIDDEN CHRISTMAS’

“Some have argued that the supreme miracle of Christianity is not the resurrection but the incarnation. The beingless, omnipotent Creator of the universe took on human nature without loss of his deity, so that Jesus the son of Joseph of Nazareth was fully divine and fully human. Of all the things that Christianity proclaims, this is the most staggering. J.I. Packer puts it starkly:

God became man; the divine so became a jew; the almighty appeared on earth as a helpless baby, unable to do more than lie and stare and wriggle and make noises, needing to be fed and changed and taught to talk like any other child… The babyhood of the Son of God was a reality. The more you think about it, the more staggering it gets. Nothing in fiction is so fantastic as is this truth of the incarnation”

Keller writes, “Everyone’s path to faith is different. But I have known people who have discovered that once they wrestled with and understood the incarnation, it became far easier to accept the rest of the teachings of the New testament as well”

We’ll reproduce more Keller’s insights in the lead up to Christmas. Why not share them. Copy them onto a piece of coloured paper and tuck them into your Christmas cards.


Geoff Thompson


The Way in A Manger

This Sunday we are acknowledging White Ribbon Day.  Men, you are asked to wear a ribbon on your shirt or jacket for 2 weeks, to raise awareness that violence toward women is unacceptable.

Meanwhile, on a lighter note, we can safely say its beginning to feel a lot like Christmas…(if indeed blaring cicadas is your Christmas soundtrack). This year we will again produce a Christmas Eve Carols & Pantomime event at 5pm for families, in the primary school. The nativity story will be told, this time through the nativity animals. Yes, there is a movie coming out along similar lines but Josh thought of it first! At 11pm we will create a very special service you can have confidence inviting friends and family to. The arch of lights will be back, and beautiful music as well. It is a 100% joy, don’t miss it! (Be sure to invite someone!) Our theme this year is ‘The Way in a Manger’ and our church sign will look suspiciously like an official highway road sign. A very large manger will go up next to it.

Who would have thought a simple wooden food box would become so significant. One minute it’s holding hay, the next minute it’s holding the hope of the world. Each Sun leading to Christmas we will preach a different idea around the manger. Next Sun we are calling the manger a ‘hope-hatcher’. These messages will be brief, and just right for Christmas visitors to hear about Jesus. These too will make great invitations for the curious  at Christmas. Two weeks before Christmas we will ask members of All Saints to letterbox a street with our Christmas card and invitation. Plan to letterbox with love a street near you.                                          

A few months back we talked about the art of being invitational. As it’s nearing a special time of outreach, we are praying and thinking about opportunities to be invitational…

There is a power and beauty in being invitational.  Can you remember when an invitation arrived for you with genuine love? In Jesus we have the great invitation. In January we’ll host Summerfest, and then in March we’ll take part in an outreach week with the Shoalhaven Anglican churches. We’ll want to invite our friends and family to our events. However, if we pop up out of the blue and invite at short notice, they may be justified in feeling ambushed! Let’s face it, if we ambush, we’re not being truly invitational. We may even be perceived as a little manipulative. A better way is not to be a pop-up inviter at all. Instead, better to be an all year round, invitational friend or neighbour, concerned for their wellbeing. Pray for your friends and neighbours that they will have a receptive heart. In the end, it’s about being a person of integrity, with the inviting aroma of Christ.


Geoff Thompson