home > Pastor’s Desk > 2016 > February 11th > Jehoshaphat’s Triage


I was struck the other day when reading F.W. Boreham’s, WHEN SWANS FLY HIGH, as he discussed an apparently unsolvable problem he was facing, by his observation about many of life’s problems: “But the problem soon solved itself.” (p. 112) Shortly after reading this I was doing my morning devotions and had come to the story of Jehoshaphat in Second Chronicles where he too was faced with an overwhelming problem. But the gravity of his crisis and the urgency and enormity of its dire consequences if left unattended meant that this problem would never solve itself. If it is granted that some problems certainly do solve themselves, and it is similarly true that some other problems are solved by our diligence, there is surely yet another category of problems and King Jehoshaphat’s problem was definitely in this category.

Some men came and told Jehoshaphat, “A great multitude is coming against you from Edom, from beyond the sea; and, behold, they are in Hazazon-tamar” (that is, Engedi). Then Jehoshaphat was afraid…
Second Chronicles 20:2-3a


It is of course one of life’s guarantees: problems will happen. The late David Cartledge once said to me that the capacity of a person’s leadership was measured by the size of the problems they deal with. The bigger the problem, the bigger the leader needs to be to deal with it. If this be the case, as I think we can agree it probably is, then I shamefully confess that I have not always been a very big leader. Too often I have let relatively small problems fluster me. And because practice makes perfect I can testify on behalf of Dr. Boreham that many of life’s problems do indeed seem to solve themselves.

And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?
Matthew 6:27

But Jehoshaphat’s problem was never going to solve itself and, quite frankly, there will be a few problems you are confronted with that will never solve themselves and like King Jehoshaphat’s problem they will never be solved by our diligent efforts either.

Then Jehoshaphat was afraid and set his face to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.  And Judah assembled to seek help from the LORD; from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the LORD.
Second Chronicles 20:3-4

Some problems get worse if they are incorrectly assumed to be the type of problem that will solve themselves. The ancient masters of problem-solving all started by categorising problems into either of three categories (“triage”) :

(i) Problems that solve themselves,

(ii) Problems that are solved by diligent attention and efforts,

(iii) All other problems.

Distinguishing our problems into on of these categories is like triaging our problems. Jehoshaphat was quick to triage his problem into the third category. But how does anyone deal with a problem so big, so overwhelming, so grave that no amount of personal effort could ever resolve it? People we work, study, live with, face these type of problems and despair. The doctor tells a nervous mother the news that her young child will not be coming home today as they have found something concerning in the blood tests. A teenager has a moment of consciousness and feels a jolt of pain. The only thing they can recall about this day was driving off and looking at their phone after receiving a message. They then notice they can’t move their arms or legs and the shock takes over. A man drives home to his double-mortgaged house and wonders how he’s going to tell his wife that his business partner has fled after cleaning out their life-savings from all of their joint bank accounts. Yes, some of life’s problems are category (iii) problems! And Jehoshaphat gives anyone overwhelmed with Category (iii) problems a strategy for how they can be dealt with.


¶ And Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the LORD, before the new court, and said, “O LORD, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you.
Second Chronicles 20:5-6

I currently have problems in all three categories. My category (iii) problems at times overwhelm me. I take great heart from the way Jehoshaphat responded to his category (iii) problem. There is a lot to learn about leadership from this chapter of his life. As I consider how we as a church have to raise an additional $300,000 over the next six to nine months to fund our building extensions, I look to the principles this beleaguered King of Judah used for his overwhelming problem.

  • He led his people in worship of God in truth and didn’t try to solve his problem on his own. (2Chron. 20:4-6)
  • He reminded everyone of how God had provided what they needed in times past. (2Chron. 20:7)
  • He reminded God of His promises to them and prayed the Scriptures to God. (2Chron. 20:9)
  • He presented their precise need to God in prayer. (2Chron. 20:10-12)
  • He opened his heart and mind to God by heeding the voice of God. (2Chron. 20:14-17)
  • He led Judah in worship of God. (2Chron. 20:18)
  • He made the House of God and the worship of God a top priority by having the Levitical singers and musicians set the tone of each day. (2Chron. 20:19-21)
  • He then acted on what God’s Word said and waited for God to do what He promised. (2Chron. 20:22-30)

And the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, son of Benaiah, son of Jeiel, son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, in the midst of the assembly.
Second Chronicles 20:14

No matter what number your problems can be categorised as, (i) (ii) or (iii), there is a God in heaven who longs for us to turn to Him in dependency with whatever need is overwhelming us. Your problems don’t need to be level (iii) before you can look to God to meet them. In fact, a great strategy for dealing with any problem is to ask for God’s help and do all we can within our resources, expertise and power to solve them. But there will be times when you have to tackle a category (iii) problem. When that time comes, remember King Jehoshaphat and what he did.

Then they returned, every man of Judah and Jerusalem, and Jehoshaphat at their head, returning to Jerusalem with joy, for the LORD had made them rejoice over their enemies. They came to Jerusalem with harps and lyres and trumpets, to the house of the LORD. And the fear of God came on all the kingdoms of the countries when they heard that the LORD had fought against the enemies of Israel. So the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet, for his God gave him rest all around.
Second Chronicles 20:27-31


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Anyone who has attended a large event such as the recent Will Graham Outreach event that was held at the Launceston Silverdome would be familiar with the varying levels of access that are provided to staff and volunteers associated with this type of event. The security system used included identification in the form of different coloured shirts, prayer volunteer cards, and all access cards that permitted access to the entire venue with no questions asked by security personnel. This is like the access level that God has to our lives. Being omnipresent, He has unhindered access to every aspect of our lives. He knows our innermost thoughts, sees all that we do, hears all that we say. God has the ultimate ‘all access’ card.


How can we determine whether a claim is true or false? Some people think there are different kinds of truth — my truth, their truth, and your truth. But how do they know that their assessment of truth is true? After all, their assessment – that there is my/their/your truth might just be based on their truth rather than the truth. Truth has certain qualities that distinguishes it from what is false-
 Truth corresponds to reality.
 Truth is verifiable (that is, if it is true, it can be evidentially shown to be so).
 Truth is falsifiable (that is, if it is false, it can be evidentially shown to be so).
 Truth is sometimes testable (that is, claims that are experiential can be tested by experience – including scientific claims, historic claims, and existential claims).
We have good reasons for the believing that the Bible is true because it is the divinely inspired, reliable and authoritative Word of God which has been superintendedly preserved by the Holy Spirit (read more about this).


Parents, Kids Church leaders, and Christian school teachers should be intentional about shaping children to be fully devoted followers of Christ who have reasons for believing Christianity is true – which shapes them into virtuous contributors to society and to find their role in God’s Kingdom. This will be one of the necessary and indispensable means for the Church to fulfil the Great Commission of Christ.


We live in a fast paced world. We expect things to happen quickly. None of us like to be kept waiting. Even when we order something online we expect it delivered straight away. Some of us having to work two or even three jobs just to be able to pay the bills. We describe ourselves as time-poor. Yet, we all get twenty-four-hours in a day. Sixty-minutes in an hour. And sixty-seconds in a minute. Most of us need to adjust how we see, understand, and treat our time. This will involve, what will be for some, adopting a foreign and largely unaccustomed view of time that involves worship, sabbath, and deepening relationships. From this biblical perspective we will come to see time as a gift from God, not a curse, or source of frustration. Within this gift of time God teaches us how to worship in those times when it is difficult to do so. Rather than thinking this divine gift of time is ours to do with what ever we want, God uses this gift to teach us that we should gift it back to Him beginning with (but not limited to) treating Sunday as a sabbath to come together to recommit our hearts, voices, minds, and presence with God’s people, back to God. God gives us passing time to learn to deepen relationships – especially with our kin, and our friends. Time is meant for relationship building. 


One of the greatest lies that the would-be enemy of all our souls attempts to perpetuate is that we are what we are and we can never change. This lie is whispered into the ears of many people’s invisible ears so imperceptibly that they actually think it originated with them. “You were born this way – and you can never change”, “This is who you really are – and you can never change”, “There’s no hope of anything ever changing for better – so you might as well just kill yourself” and so on. But these sly alien voices inside the heads of the vulnerable are lies. People can change. People do change. Some circumstances were always going to be temporary and were always going to change. I know this is true because I am living proof. I am who I am but I am not who I used to be and I am not yet who I will be.


It may well still be the best-selling book of all time – and continues year-by-year to be so – but certainly is not the best-read of our current times! If there was ever any doubt about this, the events this week in Hobart, at St. Mary’s (Catholic) College Girl’s School, should remove all doubt! A furore erupted over the news that the prescribed Scripture reading for the year-end graduation celebration, which incorporated a Mass, was “Wives submit to your husbands” taken from Ephesians. Callers into ABC radio’s breakfast program decried this assault against women – especially young, vulnerable girls. One caller, responding to the news that the text being used was a citation from Ephesians, denounced Ephesians and apparently demanded, “Just who does this Ephesians bloke think he is?!” Another caller stated, “Why are they quoting ancient Roman philosophers in the twenty-first century?!” And yet another caller somehow linked all religious wars to passages like this one in the Bible! He remarked, “I’m an atheist. All wars are started by those who are religious! No war was ever started by atheists!” (Perhaps he had never heard of Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot, Vladimir Putin, who were collectively responsible for the deaths of over 20,000,000?) This furore led to the Archbishop conceding that the Ephesians passage did not have to be used at the graduation ceremony. But this furore has highlighted just how unaware many Tasmanians are about what the Bible is, what is actually says, and why it says it. And I am now about to correct this deficiency.  


Of the many tributes paid to her majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, was the often noted reflection that during her reign the world underwent a series of rapid changes that were dramatic and unprecedented in human history. There were technological inventions that revolutionised the way people could access international travel options enabling them to be virtually anywhere in the world within a matter of hours. New forms of communication emerged with the development of a global satellite communications network enabling people to watch Neil Armstrong take his one giant leap Live on their black-and-white TV screens (as I did in the corridors of Corio Primary School in 1969). Space exploration, the stuff previously just in the realm of science fiction writers, became a reality with manned and unmanned voyages to the Moon, Mars, and beyond. But the past one hundred years have also been a time of great upheaval with empires crumbling, governments toppled, wars waged, genocides committed, pandemics raging, nations birthed, rulers assassinated, and massive refugee movements from oppressive Islamic and Communist regimes. Added to this has been the demise of professional journalism and the rise of internet-citizen-journalism where it is now common for TV News reports to feature footage taken from someone’s cell-phone which was posted on social media rather than the more expensive option of sending their own film crew there. And while we’re mentioning the internet, let’s not forget to mention – the internet. This alone has possibly been the most monumental change in the way people communicate, work, learn, and shop. But while it was noted that the Queen had witnessed all of these many changes, it was also noted that the Queen herself was an unchanging constant during all these upheavals who brought about a sense of stability, peace and reassurance. To millions of people around the world, she was their rock in a world of turmoil and change. Yet this was only possible because she herself had an immovable, dependable rock upon which she had built her life.


home > Pastor's Desk > 2022 > October 7th > Who Builds A City On A HillFor those who don’t know, I was born in Geelong, and have always been fan of the Geelong Football Club. But I’m not just a fan, I’m a paid-up member of the Club. In fact, I’m a student...


This is not for everyone. If you are already a parent, this is not for you. Instead of reading this I suggest you read one of my other more abstract Pastor’s Desk articles. If you are not a parent and have no intention of ever being a parent, this is not for you. Instead of reading this I suggest you read one of my more weighty articles on FindingTruthMatters.org. If you are not yet a parent and one day hope to become a parent, this is for you. Find a quiet place, take the next six minutes thirteen seconds and use the reading of this article as an investment into your future parenting strategies. I did not invent these guidelines. Like many parents who have also discovered the value of these guidelines, once discovered, they seem obvious. These successful parents probably grew up with own parents who inculcated these guidelines almost intuitively. However, my suspicion is that this is becoming increasingly rarer. As with all true guidelines they are adaptable, flexible, and are not a guarantee of parental success — but if ignored they become the point in the mathematical problem solving where you can see you made an error in your working out. In other words, while these guidelines may not guarantee success, if ignored their neglect almost certainly leads to frustration and disappointment. Here are five indispensable guidelines for every prospective new parent.


I’ve been praying for Penn Jillette for some time now. It began when I first heard him ridicule the Bible and Christianity. My fascination with Penn (and Teller), and other world-class magicians, has been due to my pursuit to develop my craft of preaching. There are a lot of similarities between preachers and magicians (just as there is also a lot similarities between solo musicians and preachers). I seek to learn from magicians about how to keep an audience’s attention, how to tell a story, and how to make a point by employing the element of surprise. But there are some significant differences between what magicians do and what preachers do though. A magician is deliberately deceptive. A preacher is striving to uphold truth in an honest way.