What is the key to a successful ministry?

walk-of-fame-star_23-2147513560When we ask ourselves this question, we often ask it in the context of a success and fame driven world. While as Christians, we may not be wondering ‘how can I be great,’ but we often as not are wondering ‘how can my ministry be successful?’ or ‘How can I do great things for God?’

I’m not sure these are bad questions to ask, but as I was praying through this recently for my own life, I sensed God give me clarity on how to achieve success: I need to redefine the goal.

In my life, God must be the prize, not ministry success. The goal is to seek Him more; love Him more; find more joy in Him.

As I pursue God, I may find that he uses me for some great, joyous purpose. He may give me what the world defines as ‘success,’ but if He doesn’t? Who cares? I’ve already attained the greatest treasure.

Run the race so as to attain the prize, but don’t forget that He is the prize.

So… I wrote a book.

UntitledSome of you have been faithful followers of my blog for a couple of years now, and you may have noticed that my posts have become a bit less frequent over the last year.

It’s because I was writing a book.

It has been my absolute privilege to have co-authored the book PURE LOVE – Pursuing Purity in a Sex-Obsessed World with my senior pastor, Timon Bengtson.

We are so excited to be able to present the Christian community with this resource that takes an honest, biblical look at many aspects of our sexuality and that calls Christians to a radical standard of purity.

As a high school teacher I am so passionate about helping to inspire and equip the next generations to live out their calling to not only glorify God with their bodies, but also to be freed from the enslavement of sexual sin to discover the joy-filled life that God has for them.12071576_10153360242288143_1168645822_n

If you live in Australia and would like me to personally post you a (signed or unsigned) copy of the book, I can do so for AU$20.30.

If you live overseas and would like a copy, you can purchase it on Amazon or Book Depository or download it from Kindle.

Would love to hear from any of you who would like to read it or have already read it!

God bless you as you seek to exalt Him in all areas of your lives.

Love Sarah

Things I’ve learned from killing consumerism #13 – We want beauty for ourselves


I’ve been thinking about why it is that I used to shop so much, when I’m actually completely fine without it. It’s as though I had this consumer instinct inside me that just needed to possess. The more I thought about it, the more I realized how much this permeates all of our lives.

We’re not content to just look… we want beauty for ourselves.

I think this covetous instinct dates back to the beginning of time, but it astounds me how it has exploded in recent decades. It’s not just about buying; it’s about capturing. Why is it that half of us travel the world, seeing it all through a camera lens? Why is it that we record concerts and speeches and sermons? Why is it that when I see something beautiful in the shops, I feel such a desperate need to possess it?

Is it fear? Are we afraid that if we don’t hold on to things, the beauty will be lost? Why can we not just stop, look, appreciate and move on? There’s enough beauty to go round.

P.S. I wonder if I could go a whole year without taking a photo? Just a thought…

Things I’ve learned from killing consumerism #12 – ‘Groceries’ is a broad word

I’m five weeks off the end of my no retail challenge. I think I’ve learned a fair bit. I’ve given up a lot, but I also know I’ve exploited a couple of loopholes.

This weekend I bought a tree – a mandarin tree. And yes, I justified it as groceries. I mean, that’s what it will ultimately turn into, right? What’s $40 now when in two years I’ll have all the free mandarins I want?20151025_170005

I do think it’s justifiable, but I could have tried harder. I could have found out how to cultivate a tree from cuttings (is that even possible?) or grow it from seeds. I guess that’s the difference between me doing this challenge as a challenge and doing it as a necessity.

I can look for loopholes and excuse myself for buying things under the banner of groceries. I really have no idea what it’s like to live pay check to pay check and not be able to afford a new dress. I’ve gone without by choice. I can’t presume to know what it’s like to go without by necessity.

I hope I’ve learned more discipline. I hope I’ve learned to live simply and not gratify my lust for shopping. But at the end of the day, I have to acknowledge, that really, I’m still a rich girl who can afford to look for loopholes.

Things I’ve learned from killing consumerism #11 – Reclaiming the joy of shopping

Fashion, Freedom

My birthday is at the end of the year, and as I’ve found things I liked this year, I’ve kept them in mind as possible birthday presents.

It’s been like being a kid again, in those days when the anticipation of getting something would drag out for months, either until I saved enough money, or until my birthday came.

Today I bought some things for my parents to give me for my birthday. I’d had my eye on them for about 4 months, so I knew I really wanted them, and then today I discovered there was a sale at the store.

It had been so long since I’d first seen these items, that I knew they could be sold out and they were no longer listed online.

I actually prayed on the way. I prayed that if God wanted me to have them they would be there, and that if not, I would be content in that.

It was all there. And all 60% off.

For the first time this year, I bought something for myself (though I won’t actually ‘receive’ it til December.)

I couldn’t believe how it felt. No buyers remorse. No guilt. No feelings of excess. Just a real joy that I haven’t felt since I was a kid, after having saved for something for months.

My going without has returned to me a more pure form of shopping joy.


If you love Harper Lee, don’t read ‘Go Set a Watchman’


If Harper Lee wanted to destroy everything good she did in To Kill a Mockingbird, I’d say Go Set a Watchman was a massive success. But I’m afraid it may be an even greater tragedy than an author self-destructing.

I wish I could un-read this novel, and it’s not because it was a terrible sequel, it’s because it caused me to doubt every character that was great in one of the best novels of all time.

Had Go Set a Watchman been a genuine sequel I could have dismissed it, but it allegedly wasn’t. Apparently it was Harper Lee’s first novel. After being rejected by publishers, Lee went away to write the prequel, To Kill a Mockingbird. In doing so she created one of the most heroic, moral characters ever written.

Go Set a Watchman gives us an insight into the ‘original’ Atticus, and he turns out to be a disappointing shadow of the man we thought we knew. Reading through Scout’s eyes, once again, we find ourselves wondering whether, like her, we had seen Atticus incorrectly all along.

There is only one way in which Lee is redeemed in my eyes and therein lies an even greater tragedy. She never wanted this book published.

Harper Lee, the unassuming, silent, reclusive, now elderly author, has possibly been manipulated and betrayed by money-hungry publishers.

As one writer put it, tragically “Our Boo Radley [has been] dragged into the light.”

Don’t read this book.

It’s not Carl

carlOne of the guys at our Church, Carl Robinson, preached a cracker of a sermon last night. He has a real heart for loving people and, at the end, during the closing song, I found myself thinking: ‘I really rate that guy.’

Suddenly I felt God speak to me in a surprising way: “It’s not Carl.” With that revelation, I got more clarity about godly speakers than I have, perhaps, ever had before. Instead of just seeing Carl, I saw Jesus.

That heart for people? That was Jesus. The compassion for the broken? Jesus again. The Gospel that changes people? That’s Jesus. The ability to speak with passion and conviction? Even that is Jesus working through a man to show love to his people.

How quick I was to glorify Carl and forget Jesus. I saw Jesus more clearly last night and he used his servant Carl, but all the great bits? They were Jesus, not Carl.

Next time you are inspired by a great Christian, remember that the glory you see belongs to Jesus.

Don’t have Jesus as your backup plan


Do you realize you don’t have to do anything good to get to heaven?

I’m so blessed to go to a church that is very focused on the Gospel. We are constantly reminded that we are saved by grace, not by works, and the more I am reminded of this, the more I realize I need to hear it.

Because the Gospel of Grace is completely counter intuitive

I was sitting in church last night while a friend preached from Hebrews 11 about the righteous being justified by faith. He reminded us that when we die and come before a Holy God, we will have nothing to commend ourselves other than our faith in the righteousness of Christ and his ability to cover our sin.

I found, in that moment, sin in my heart.

You see, I kind of treat Jesus like my back up plan.

I do good things to gain approval with God, and entrance to heaven, and when I fall far short (which I inevitably will), Jesus covers the rest.


Jesus covers it all.

It’s hard for me to accept, and may take a lifetime to grasp, but Jesus isn’t filling the gaps where we’re lacking, he’s doing it all. He’s taking the dead (both spiritually and literally) and bringing them back to life.

When I stand before God, I will have nothing to recommend myself, just faith in the fact that Jesus will speak for me.

He’s no backup plan. He’s all or nothing.

My faith is not my own

little-girl-in-amusement-park-free-photo_385-86I had my mind blown the other night as I was talking to a friend and wrestling with the question that many Christians ask themselves at some point in their lives: ‘How do I know that I have believed?’
Was it when I was 5 and prayed a prayer to ask Jesus into my heart?

Was it when I was 12 and cried out to God because I was afraid of hell?

Was it when I was 22 and saw deep into my heart and recognised its sinfulness?


See the thing is, I feel that my comprehension of the gospel is so much greater now and it makes me wonder how I ever could have understood enough to have saving faith at age 5. I mean, I’d never even heard words like propitiation or atonement, and I couldn’t fully comprehend death or resurrection or depravity or righteousness. So how did I believe in things I knew nothing of?


The penny dropped last night. My faith is not my own. It is a gift from God. My saving faith at age 5 was not incomplete. It was not reliant on further revelation or deeper knowledge. As God’s gift to me it contained within it the fullness of that which is required for salvation. It was all there. I just didn’t understand it all yet.


If faith and belief were reliant on full comprehension then none of us could ever attain it.

Why was the blood of animal sacrifice a ‘pleasing aroma to the LORD?’

blood sacrificeI’m reading Leviticus. It’s tough going. There are rules and regulations listed in extreme detail, and a lot of directives involving the blood, fat, meat and regularity of animal sacrifices.

My housemate told me that she loves reading the Old Testament because of what it teaches her about God’s character, so I’ve been really focusing on what I can learn about who God is.

He seems to like blood.

The picture of God as presented in Leviticus appears demanding and somewhat brutal. How can the God I know and love have been so keen on the constant offerings of blood and flesh, to the point where he considers it a ‘pleasing aroma?’ It seems sadistic.

So I’ve been praying and meditating, and last week God gave me something powerful: It shows his abhorrence to sin.

So often I just ignore sin in my life. But God really hates it. He cannot abide it. There is absolutely nothing good or worthwhile in sin.

God doesn’t like death either. He created a world without it. But death has in it one redeeming feature that sin doesn’t have. Justice.

In the disgusting brutality of the shedding of blood, there was something good: The pleasing aroma of justice, which covered the stench of sin.

God was willing to endure the death of animals, and even of His own son, so that the sin of humanity could be washed away. It was not the smell of death that pleased God, but the smell of atonement.