home > Pastor’s Desk > 2016 > February 5th > New Changes

NEW CHANGES

“ It is odd how we drift to the conclusion that the usual thing is the thing that ought to be.” -F.W. Boreham

Pat Rafter was languishing in the world rankings well outside the top 50. Despite being an elite athlete who was well coached, hard working and motivated, he just couldn’t breakthrough into the world’s top 50 professional tennis players. Then someone suggested he change something. The suggested change seemed so unlikely to have any bearing on his game that it met with some initial skepticism and resistance. What he was being asked to consider was so different from what all the other elite tennis pros were doing. He made the change and even though he struggled at first it wasn’t long before he broke through well beyond his best expectations! New changes things as well as us.

old head - young heart “Old” is not just relative to years of existence – and in some cases – is actually quite distinct from it. If “young” is the phase of adventure, discovery, risk-taking, trying new things for the first time, then it becomes obvious that too many of us have become old before our time! Premature ageing has less to do with the amount of smile-lines on a face and much more to do with how open a person is to change and all things new.

Patrick Rafter of Australia pumps his fist to his family box after beating Mark Philippoussis of Australia during the U.S. Open men's final at the USTA National Tennis Center September 13. Rafter captured his second consecutive U.S. Open title in the four set win 6-3 3-6 6-2 6-0. Photosource: bps/Photo by Blake Sell REUTERS Photodate: September 13, 1998 Processed: Thursday, June 17, 1999 11:19:48 AMIn 1997 it was suggested that Pat try a completely different racquet string from a small start-up Belgian manufacturer called Luxilon. These strings were not natural or synthetic gut which were up until Luxilon came along the only category choices for tennis players. These strings were polyester. Players soon discovered that these strings did exactly the opposite to gut strings (which “ping” the ball so that it feels crisp off a racquet – I used to love playing with a fresh natural gut restring). Rather, these strings made a “thuuud” when striking a ball. The difference is that the ball is gripped slightly longer by polyester strings than gut strings. While most players using gut were hitting a ball at 1,000rpm, polyester players were now hitting balls with 2,000rpm – and Pat Rafter joined them! (Rafa hits between 3,500 – 5,000rpm!) It meant that players could now hit the ball much much harder and add topspin to have them drop in. Pat began to beat players he was previously losing to. At the French Open in 1997 he stunned everyone by making the Semi Finals. He broke into the Top 50, then the Top 20. He then won the U.S. Open – which John McEnroe said was a “Fluke!” and that Pat was “a one Slam wonder!” So Pat came back the following year and won it again! He also went onto become a two-time runner-up at Wimbledon. He went on to become #1 in the world. And it was all made possible because he made a small, but initially uncomfortable change.

André Agassi was also reluctant to change and in his very early thirties when most of his fellow pros were retiring and he was languishing at #104 in the world, he made a series of painful changes. First his training régime, then his coach (an Australian), then in 2002 his strings. As a result he got a second-wind for his career and won the Italian Open and another Australian Open Slam. He wrote in his autobiography –

People talk about the game changing, about players growing more powerful, and rackets getting bigger, but the most dramatic change in recent years is the strings. The advent of a new elastic polyester string, which creates vicious topspin, has turned average players into greats, and greats into legends. [Coach Darren Cahill] puts the string on one of my rackets… In a practice session I don’t miss a ball for two hours. Then I don’t miss a ball for the rest of the tournament. I’ve never won the Italian Open before, but I win it now, because of Darren and his miracle string.

“Open”, André Agassi

Change is uncomfortable. It is often painful. It can be annoying, It slows us down. But nearly all of us who have been advised to change and have done so have got over the hill of difficulties and then enjoyed a previously unknown downhill stretch that has made us wonder why hadn’t done this sooner!

God will give ear and humble them,
He who is enthroned from of old, Selah
they do not change because they
do not fear God.
Psalm 55:19

Our Enemy does not want us to change – at least not the kind of change that is positive and therefore often slow, new, challenging, stretching, different, uncomfortable, awkward, embarrassing. But change is the door through which someone comes out of darkness and into light and change is the path that must be trod to remain in the light. To follow Christ is to change and be changed. It is to embrace newness.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
Second Corinthians 5:17

When was the last time you did something for the first time? Old is not a matter of years!

When we share our faith in Christ with someone and hope that they too might turn away from bondage to salvation we are hoping that they will make the most dramatic change of their life! We are summoning them to a life-time of constant change!  Therefore don’t be surprised if people are a little reluctant to accept the Gospel upon first hearing it. Such mammoth change in the way they live, talk, think, feel, can be daunting for most.

Andrew CorbettI’m coming into a stage of life where I yearn for the easy and the comfortable and find change a little frustrating. I must overcome this. I may be getting old but I don’t want to get old before my time – and the way to ensure that doesn’t happen is to embrace change. Let’s be open to the new, the different, the strange and let’s understand that this is most often an uncomfortable zone. But as a church we need to change. Where we are now is not where we were 20 years ago, and where we’ll be in five years is not where we are now – if we make positive changes. This will include our facilities, our leaders, our music, and one day our pastor. When something isn’t working we want to try something new. Some of us met this week with the Youth and Young Adults leaders and outlined the changes we are introducing this year. These guys are all young so it was very pleasing to see the positive reception of these changes.

And no one pours new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the skins burst and the wine is spilled out and the skins are destroyed. Instead they put new wine into new wineskins and both are preserved.”
Matthew 9:17

Change has a fragrance to it. When we spend time with Christ we smell of this fragrance. He causes us to have open hearts to new things generally but to His newness in our lives particularly. And as a church this fragrance comes not just from the new wine of His Spirit but the new wineskin for His Spirit as well. I dare say that if we will open our hearts to the new things God wants to do in us each and in us each together, Tasmania might yet see a demonstration of the kind of Church that Christ said He had come to build!

Your Pastor,

Andrew

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AMAZING ACCESS

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.

WHY FINDING TRUTH MATTERS

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).

THE 5 MOST IMPORTANT YEARS OF ANYONE’S LIFE

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.

TIME- YOU CAN’T CONTROL IT – BUT YOU CAN LEARN FROM IT

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. 

I AM WHO I AM BUT I AM NOT WHO I USED TO BE BUT I AM NOT YET WHO I WILL BE

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.

WHO DOES THIS EPHESIANS FELLA THINK HE IS?!

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.  

THE LORD IS MY ROCK

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.

WHO BUILDS A CITY ON A HILL?

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...

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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.

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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.