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

Let me know what you think below in the comment section and feel free to share this someone who might benefit from this Pastor’s Desk.

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Follow Me AS I FOLLOW JESUS

We all walk a path in life that is set before us. We start with very little experience and knowledge about the purpose of our life and the world beyond us. All of humanity experiences joy, wisdom, strength, weakness, suffering and hardship, especially those who are “contending for the faith”. Knowing Jesus is a very special part of this life journey.

A CERTAIN GOD

We can be reasonably certain about many things. In fact, without this certainty about life, none of us could function. We can be certain that tonight the sun will ‘set’. Tomorrow the sun will ‘rise’. After the February 28th it will be February 29th. This year there will be international unrest and much political instability in many parts of the world. In the coming months global warming will be identified by politicians as the source of floods and wildfires. Several high profile international celebrities will die this year. Archaeologists will make a discovery that will require some aspects of history to be rewritten. And you will certainly have one of the most memorable moments in your life in the coming days. You see, there are clearly some things we can be quite certain about. However, there are some aspects about our future that we cannot be certain about, yet in those moments we can be certain about what we should do.

LOW COST LIVING

Turn on any TV or radio news lately and there’s bound to be a story about the current “cost of living crisis”. We all feel it. Initially most people accepted the widespread price-rises were caused by 2020-21 pandemic lockdowns. But whatever the reasons for the rapid price hikes over the past two years, every time we go to the supermarket we feel it again. While governments are striving to curb the impact of this cost of living crisis, there remains a way to enjoy low cost living. The key to this is recognising that the most valuable things in life are literally priceless. The path to enjoying low-cost living is to be found in Christ, and what He taught — and it begins with treasure.

How To Know Jesus Better

It’s a scary thought to realise that the Jesus we have been told about and worship may not really be known to us at all. We can ‘know’ about someone or something, but not really know them. In Christian circles it’s often referred to as head knowledge not heart knowledge.

Knowing Christ Better

As a church, this year’s theme is coming closer to Christ by getting to know Him better. I feel that I am “the least qualified person” to tell anyone how this is done — but someone else has already claimed this distinction – the apostle Paul. After decades of hearing directly from Christ, seeing extraordinary miracles, being taken to heaven temporarily, planting churches across the Roman Empire, he could still say I would give anything to really know Christ – even if it meant suffering like He did! (Phil. 3:7-10). Therefore, I could say: If you do this or that, you will then know Christ better – but in my view, it’s not as easy as that! How we develop our relationship with Christ is shaped by several factors including our personality, our life experiences, our physical health and fitness, and our relationships with others (especially our parents and particularly our father). In fact, I believe that there is a relationship between how we have learned to build relationships with others (and notably how we have learned to relate to those who are closest to us) and how we then proceed to have a relationship with God. Even though I have expressed my lack of qualifications in telling anyone how to have a closer relationship with Christ, I still can, like one hungry beggar to another hungry beggar, offer you a few of the morsels of food that I’ve been able to find.

SOME PEOPLE HAVE AMAZING BUTS

I know of several people with amazing buts. There’s Jo’, Mo’, Sam, Esther, Jerry, and others. Each of these people were gifted by God with an amazing but that changed there life and the course of human history. Sometimes these gifts came with a …then, or …God, or …the LORD. When it comes to the size of things, a but is a relatively small thing (in Greek it can be just two letters: de) but it can have huge implications and enormously great blessings for multitudes. I hope to show you how this was the case with each of the people I have chosen as samples, and then show you how God is your God of buts.

OPEN

What does the word ‘open’ mean to you? Like language itself, it is like any word in which the meaning only comes from the context in which it is used. I can think of at least 12 different understandings of this word, some of which I will point out, most I will not, and one that I focus on because it is prophetically important for where we are at as a church at this crucial time.

ONE THING I HAVE TO SAY

​I’m always amazed at the really cool events I’d organised for my kids to experience, so that they might have happy memories – but now they don’t remember it except the random comment someone made in the car trip on the way there or what snack was eaten. Conversely, if you make a mistake, well that one is remembered! Once I drove Andrew’s car and just lightly hit something so it ended up with an annoying 2cm scratch. The mistake is (still) there in full view to anyone who looks. Is Andrew going to remember this above the years of my devotion to him? (Not likely, but some people do remember the wrong for way too long!) If you had the choice, what one thing would you want to be remembered for? What one thing would you want your family to remember? It’s not often going to be the thing you have in mind.

‘Famous last words’ comes from the hope that you’ll be remembered for them. If you were given the privilege of being able to articulate as the important thing to say, to be remembered by all, what would it be? Would it be a reflection on your love toward someone? Would it be a directive on how to have the best life? Would it be that you wished you had done something? Someone once mused, ‘would your dying words be that you’d wished you’d spent just one more day in the office’? (Not likely.)

AT THE END OF THIS YEAR I WILL RECOUNT 12 WONDERFUL THINGS (An Explication of Psalm 9)

This is my last end-of-year Pastor’s Desk post. When the head of our Live-stream ministry, Sari, asked me what I was thankful for this year, my immediate answer was obvious and predictable. But since then, I have considered that I also have eleven other things for which I am grateful to GOD for. In this last ever end-of-year Pastor’s Desk please indulge as I share my heartfelt thanks to God and for those God has used to bless me this year.

HE WAS BORN A KING

The king who reigned over Judea when Jesus was born was Herod the Great. Herod had no legitimate claim to the throne of Israel. He was from an Idumean noble family who supported the Roman occupation of Palestine. As a reward he was appointed by the Roman Senate as the King of Judea. Despite his attempts to curry favour with the Jews, including several major public works programs (including completing the temple reconstruction) he was still largely unpopular among the Jews. Little wonder then that when the Magi arrived in Jerusalem with their large retinue and requested to view the birth of the prophesied King of the Jews, Herod was emotionally threatened by this revelation. Herod immediately ordered an enquiry from the chief priests and religious scribes.