We are thankful to God that Tony Payne will be joining the KCC platform as a speaker at Katoomba Easter Convention (KEC). In this interview, Tony shares on life and faith, and how the resurrection gives him hope in a jaded world.
As you get older...it's easier to become jaded and depressed about the future and indeed of Christianity...But the more starkly and realistically you come to appreciate the nature of sin and its consequences, the more brightly shines the hope of the resurrection.
1. What occupies your time during the week?
This year, I’m dividing my time between two organisations—Matthias Media and Moore College. I’ll be be spending about half of my time as a Writer and Director at Matthias Media, mainly responsible for generating new resources and projects to help churches in the great task of making disciples. The other half will be as the Director of the Centre for Christian Living at Moore College, plus also helping out with some lectures in ethics. I know the Bible says that you can’t serve two masters, and that you will hate the one and love the other. But I honestly love both of my masters this year!
2. What do you think are the benefits of attending conferences like Katoomba Easter Convention?
It’s been a few years since I’ve been to KEC, but it was a regular part of our yearly rhythm as a family in the past. And I think the benefits we experienced were the ones that most people testify to: a time to pause amid the furious regular pace of life to think and pray and refocus; an opportunity to hear God’s word powerfully taught and be challenged about our walk with Christ; a time of fun with our kids, especially mixing with other families; a chance to catch up with many old friends!
3. Who is someone who has inspired or spurred you on in your Christian walk?
I think Phillip Jensen has probably had the biggest influence on my Christian walk: as a teacher and example and encourager. He’s now hit 70, but is still as insightful and passionate as ever for the gospel and glory of Christ.
4. The KEC theme this year is "The end of all things: life on the edge of eternity". How does the 'end times' and promise of eternity with Jesus shape the way you live today?
More than anything it gives me hope. As you get older (I’m 56 now), I think it's easier to become jaded and depressed about the future — of our society, and indeed of Christianity. Somehow things don’t seem as rosy and hope-filled as they were in your 20's. You run up against the stubborn realities of sin, corruption, dishonesty, foolishness and all the rest—not only in your own life and those around you, but in the world more generally. But the more starkly and realistically you come to appreciate the nature of sin and its consequences, the more brightly shines the hope of the resurrection, and the more urgent becomes the work of the gospel. That’s how it is for me anyway.
5. What spiritual disciplines or habits helps you to persevere ahead of eternity?
For me, the most significant is the discipline of continuing to meet in prayerful, word-based fellowship with other Christians. Talking about the encouragement we get from brothers and sisters in the Christian community, especially when we have doubts or struggles, Dietrich Bonhoeffer said: "The Christ in own own hearts is weaker than the Christ in the Word of the brother”.
There’s a lot of truth in that. We can get the wobbles quite easily; we need the Word to come to us from outside—on the lips of our brothers and sisters, whether in preaching or in mutual encouragement and conversation—to help us persevere. I think that is the main means God has used to help me persevere in Christ over all these years.
6. If you could give some pastoral advice to your younger self, what would it be?
That’s a toughie. The easy answer is ‘read the Bible and pray more’ — and that would be true. It’s always true! But I think I’d say two particular things to my younger self:
1. Watch less television, and spend the time you save talking to people more, and reading more.
2. Be stronger in saying 'No' to various good and worthwhile opportunities and activities (including in church life), so as to focus more effectively on the things you’re most responsible for (especially shepherding your family and focusing on the key ministries you’re responsible for).
Hear Tony speak at KEC!
Join us at KEC 19!
Katoomba Easter Convention is an annual retreat for the whole family.
Get away over the Easter long weekend with the entire family and be immersed in God's Word whilst relaxing in the beautiful Blue Mountains. Connect with family and friends, and grow in your walk with Jesus together.
Register today at: www.easterconvention.com.