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Pastor's note:

I was talking to Skip from Alpha after the brilliant training night he led for us on Tuesday. Skip told me that he was blown away by the heart of The Grove. He has led many training nights at churches, but said he doesn’t always see the leaning in and hunger to be part of what God is doing that he witnessed among those gathered from The Grove. Now I don’t pass that on to pat ourselves on the back, or be prideful. Rather, because I agree with Skip that I constantly see this growing heart to follow Jesus and reach the world with the good news. It's like a shift is happening in many lives, that is totally from the Holy Spirit. 


Now saying this isn’t minimizing the pain of hardships we face, or that struggling emotions due to circumstances are a lack of faith. We only need to read the bible to see the ups and downs of life and faith, even in our most loved bible characters. However, what I am seeing is a special nearness of God and perhaps an increase of his power in his church. Little by little, more people are coming alive, and faith is growing. It’s making me feel so expectant about what’s coming.  


The key to being caught up in a movement from God is a little like being swept along in a current. Standing on the banks of a river won’t take us anywhere, it's only as we dive in. Practically speaking, it’s making ourselves available to God. I pray we would all be caught up in this movement of the Holy Spirit among us. To move from observing what God is doing, to being totally part of it. 


Let’s consider what God is calling us to dive into. Maybe it's inviting someone to the Alpha Dinner or joining a Connect Group. Perhaps it’s being baptised or serving in a ministry. It could be that God is calling us to stop running away like Jonah, and be fully engaged with his people and mission again. Whatever it is, we probably recognise God’s call in our hearts. 


Grove family, I really believe the Lord is working among us and inviting us to be caught up in something marvellous. However, we need to leave the safe shores and shallow waters to really see what God can do through our lives and church. It’s getting late, the world is dark, but the movement of the church and the gospel is growing in brilliance and power. Maybe the lyrics of the old Mercy Me song, Caught Up In The Middle, is an appropriate response. 


I believe Your Spirit is alive and on the move, Oh I want to be caught up in the middle of You.
I want to be a part of what I know You're going to do, Oh I want to be caught up in the middle of You.


God bless, 


Pastor's note:

I am very thankful to the Lord for the opportunities we had to honour Jesus to hundreds of people across our Easter services. There were a number of moments during the services that were particularly powerful for me. The first was on Good Friday, when Frank and Louis shared on Isaiah 53. It was not only the meaningful things said that were so moving, but the backstory of how Jesus brought Frank through major surgery only recently, and that Louis had written all the spoken words for his second Easter as a Christian. 


The second moment was Easter Sunday when Zoe Hanlon and Stephen Day were baptised. The Hanlon’s came to The Grove for the first time on Good Friday eleven years ago. Zoe was the last of her family to be baptised at The Grove, testifying to the one who not only changes lives but whole families. 


I only met Stephen this year, and got to know him through Alpha. Not too long ago Stephen decided to follow Jesus, and as he shared in his testimony, a significant moment was meeting a Christian librarian at a public library who not only showed him where to find a bible in the spirituality section, but where to find a church. Stephen went to church, and things started to fall into place leading to his baptism on Resurrection Sunday.  


Recalling the saving and restoring work of Jesus sets a good tone for term 2. There are so many more people in our neighbourhood and city who Jesus is pursuing with his love. There are fresh signs of a hunger in people to find what will fill the hole in their heart that nothing else does. That's why we must be ready as a church to introduce people to Jesus. I am convinced that preparing to have a conversation about God is the kind of faith action he will always honour. 


I pray many would come to Alpha Training on Tuesday night. Imagine fifty people in The Grove being Alpha ready. We are going to need this, because more are coming with questions, struggles and a deep desire to explore faith in Christ. 


The Alpha dinner is also an opportunity to grab hold of. Many have been praying for up to five friends since before Easter. Now is a great opportunity to invite someone to dinner. Perhaps this will be the moment they share in a baptism testimony, of the night they came to dinner. 


Next Sunday we are starting a short series on the life of Jonah. There is hardly a better story in the Old Testament about God’s relentless pursuit of people. He chases those running away, he rescues those sinking in despair and revives cities even as dark and racked with evil as Nineveh was. If we think certain runaways can’t be chased down, or the best we could hope for 

a city like Brisbane is the Olympics, then we need a deep dive into Jonah. 

It’s the Old Testaments gospel of amazing grace! 


God bless, Marty.

Pastor's note:

Welcome to our Easter services


We have come to remember the loving sacrifice of the Saviour King, and to celebrate the triumph of the Risen King. The crown of thorns was placed on Jesus head to mock him. The crown of glory to honour him. He accepted both crowns for He alone was worthy and able to reign over sin and death. His love was pure enough, and his power strong enough to do what was impossible for any of us. 


But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.


What a King Jesus is. He suffered and died in a way that relates to our experience. At times we feel crushed, our hearts pierced, our failures weigh us down with guilt, and our wounds are so painful. But God invites us to look at the cross, see his love and experience his life that removes our guilt, heals our shame and transforms our suffering into a living hope. 


No matter where you are from, or what’s happened in your life, may you see

Jesus, the Saviour King this Easter who died and rose for you.  


Have a blessed and happy Easter, Marty.


Pastor's note

I have always found comfort in the wisdom of Proverbs 16:9, In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps. It’s good to make plans and work towards goals, but as we have all experienced, things don’t always go to plan. This is where this proverb is most helpful. Sometimes it’s in the things we don’t plan that reveal God’s plans the clearest. 


An example of this is why Ryan Vallee is preaching today. Originally Stephen Meharg was planned as our preacher, however, due to circumstances beyond our control, Steve needed to postpone. Well, it just happened that the week before, Ryan had mentioned to me that he was available the same day. So I checked again, and he was good to go. 


Now here’s the ‘Lord establishing our steps’ part. We had already planned our Alpha dinner and an Alpha training event for after Easter. In fact Ryan is QB’s Alpha director and was helping me organise the training event. Last week I wrote in the newsletter about this idea of inviting people to ‘come and see’ Jesus, which came out of our staff devotions. When Ryan sent me his sermon title I could hardly believe my eyes. 




In my mind, this is revealing God’s plans, through an unplanned guest speaker, to work powerfully through the upcoming Alpha series. It sounds to me like Jesus has been preparing people to accept the invitation to come and see in the next Alpha. So let’s not leave that one in the ‘it doesn’t fit with my plans’ box, but grab hold of this opportunity from God to invite someone along. God has revealed his plan to fill us with faith. 


This also made me take a risk on something else that’s been in my heart for some time. Baptism is the outward symbol of someone who has become a Christian. It’s not for those who reach some higher level of Christianity, it accompanies salvation. It simply refers to confessing with our mouths what’s happened in our hearts. I can’t think of a better day to get baptized than Resurrection Sunday, but we don’t have any baptisms planned. We have added a space in the service program for baptisms anyway. If you have become a Christian but have never been baptized, why not Easter Sunday. Simply email me at martin@thegrove.org.au and I will get in touch. Can’t wait to celebrate new life!


Let's make plans, but never plan the movement of God out of the picture. 

May he do many unplanned things to establish our steps in life and faith. 



Pastor's note

We are working through the gospel of John in our staff devotions, and in chapter one I was reminded of the cascading stories of invitation to come and see Jesus. First John says to Andrew, “look the Lamb of God”. Then Jesus invites Andrew to come and see. Andrew goes and brings his brother Simon to meet Jesus. Then Phillip invites Nathanael to come and see Jesus. I don’t think we are meant to miss the power of invitation in John 1. If you have seen The Chosen series, they have made t-shirts with this tag line from the gospel, come and see. 


There are a lot of people with questions about Jesus, and last year we heard the call to reach out to them one at a time. Coming up we have opportunities to invite people to come and see. To come to our Easter services and come to our Alpha dinner. 


The CEO of Crossover Australia, Andrew Turner, wrote in an article sent to me this week, that baptisms in 2023 were up 34% from 2022 in Australian Baptist churches. Andrew suggests that this could be a sign of the turning of the tide in our nation. He wrote: 


As Western culture increasingly becomes a spiritual desert…should we be surprised that spiritual thirst increases? Along with stories of baptisms, I’ve been inundated with stories of ‘gatecrashers’ – people (especially young adults) walking into churches that neither advertised nor invited them – and asking to be introduced to Jesus and Christianity.


Ten years ago the ‘New Atheist Movement’ held the floor among Western intellectuals, but it has died much faster than any church it mocked, and in its place we now see the ‘New Theist Movement’ – including such opinion-leaders as Jordan Peterson, Tom Holland and Ayaan Hirsi Ali (now openly a Christian). 


So are we seeing the turning of the tide?


I am not sure if my response is fuelled by the powerful week of prayer we are in, or from the increasing signs of awakening we are seeing in more and more people, but I believe the tide is turning. There is a thirst for something real, authentic and fulfilling in a time of artificial reality and empty promises. The gospel of Jesus, the love of his imperfect people in the local church shines so stunningly beautiful against this backdrop. 


Our part is simple. Come and see. Jesus work is finished. The cross is empty. 

The Holy Spirit’s work is constant. Lives are turning around. 


God bless, Marty.