home > Pastor’s Desk > 2016 > April 23rd> For Better or Worse

Pastoral Advice For Those Who Feel Out Of Control

Parents swear, and children suffer tooLife often presents us with circumstances where we feel like we are no longer in control. In these moments we tend to look for whatever we know we can control. This is why a husband will lash out at his somewhat compliant wife (and why some men would only marry a woman they knew they could intimidate). It is why a big sister, who is struggling to control her world in which her “friends” are so mean to her, will belittle her little sister at home. It’s why a boss who can’t control the economy will demean a junior employee in front of the other staff. And it’s why a boy who feels deprived of his father’s affirmation will become a bully in the schoolyard. Apart from these relational controls we have all found great comfort in at least controlling what we eat or drink. Thus, a teenage girl will stop eating – because at least she can control that. A too-long-single person, overwhelmed by loneliness, which they interpret as rejection, will eat to excess in an attempt to control something. For those who might identify with any of these examples I have two pieces of pastoral advice.

About Control


A couple can find themselves in conflict and not know how to deal with it

Powerlessness is a horrible feeling.On the other hand the ‘power’ that comes from knowing what’s happening, what’s about to happen and how to make it happen, can be deeply fulfilling. We were designed to control – but only up to a point. It seems to me that Satan’s original temptation of Adam and Eve had a lot to do with an impossible promise that they could control more.

¶ But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
Genesis 3:4-5


The appalling tragedy of this temptation is not only how false it was, but how much less it was of what Adam and Eve already enjoyed! Satan was offering Adam and Eve the power to become “like God” – but Adam and Eve were already “like God” because the were created in the image of God!

Before mankind fell into sin, God had given them control over their choices, control over their environment (Eden), control over their time, control over Satan, and control over the temptation to sin. Even after sin entered into the human race when Adam and Eve sinned, God told mankind that they had the power to resist temptation and choose not to sin.

“If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”
Genesis 4:7

But there were some things that mankind was never designed to control – even in the perfect world prior to mankind sinning – apart from the weather, it also included other people (with the exception of parents exercising ‘control’ over their infant children).

What Can We Control?

In a world filled with people corrupted by sin, there is now much we cannot control which is painfully highlighted every time there is a terrorist attack. To some extent, we also have limited control over our health – especially considering injuries inflicted upon us by others and illnesses due to industrial negligence.

For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope.
Romans 8:20

Despite the things we cannot control, we have the privilege of controlling our –

  • attitude
  • generosity
  • thoughts
  • prayers
  • time
  • diet
  • choices
  • relational transparency

These aspects within our control are important to appreciate for developing our relationship with God, and others. While relationships necessarily bring stress, conflict, disagreements, and grief, they are also the means of our most greatest and fondest joys and therefore our deepest fulfilment. We were created by God to be in relationships. This begins with our relationship with God, then with our soul-mate, then our biological family, then the family of God (Eph. 2:19), then those we interact with to lesser extents. But because relationships at each level brings commensurate stress, conflict, disagreements, and grief, they can leave us wondering how we navigate through them. This is when we take advantage of our God-given ability to control what we can. Let me explain:

AppleMarkThere will be times in life when we will not know what to do in the midst of these relationship tensions. This is when we may not know what the best thing to do is – but we should at least know what the better thing to do is by determining what would make things worse. A husband loses his cool at his wife one time too many and now his wife won’t talk to him. He may not know what the best thing to do is, but using the better-worse principle he should know what would make the situation worse (such as, continue to lose his cool at his wife, or, refuse to apologise to his wife). This is my first piece of pastoral advice.

¶ If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
James 1:5

Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.
Colossians 3:19

When Things Seem Out Of Control

And Micaiah said, “Therefore hear the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing on his right hand and on his left.”
Second Chronicles 18:18

¶  God reigns over the nations;
God sits on his holy throne.
Psalm 47:8

God is seated upon The Throne. He’s not on the edge of His throne. He’s not standing up from His throne. He’s seated on His throne. He reigns! This is why we declare that God is in control! Another way of saying this involves the word: sovereignty.

looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12:2

A Sovereign is ‘a supreme ruler’ such as a monarch or emperor. Thus, when we talk about the ‘sovereignty of God’ we mean that God is ultimately in control. Just as any monarch does not ‘control’ every decision and action of their subjects, so the Lord doesn’t ‘control’ our every decision, choice, or action. Yet, and here is where the comparison with an earthly sovereign breaks down, the Lord is still able to direct, lead, guide, influence, or intervene in every decision, choice, or action of people and the rest of creation.

The lot is cast into the lap,
but it’s every decision is from the LORD.
Proverbs 16:33

Acknowledging this calls for trust from His subjects. Whether we are experiencing comfort, ease, plenty, or illness, distress, and lack – we know assuredly that our Lord is in control, and that He is always good! This kind of trust in God leads to contentment and peace.

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.
Philippians 4:11-12

It’s easy to write about, preach, and teach, but trusting God in the midst of illness, distress, and lack is a little more difficult. I faced this six months ago when I collapsed with a severe jolt of nerve pain down my spine and was unable to walk for 5 days. After a CT scan my doctor told me to brace myself for a bleak diagnosis and booked me in to see a specialist. During this time I was confronted with the real possibility of living with severely restricted movement for the rest of my life – or worse.

Although I didn’t understand what was happening at the time and I certainly didn’t know what my future held, I had by this stage of my Christian walk grown to trust God despite my circumstances. As I was to discover, much of my now degradative spine was the result of a motorcycle accident I endured some twenty-five years earlier (which at the time saw me immobile for two months). My confidence in God’s goodness despite my adversities is grounded in Scripture and experience. And this leads me to my second and closing piece of pastor advice when life is not better, but is worse: despite how you feel or what you’re going through, worship God and resist the temptation to withdraw from regular worship.

We are designed and created for relationships and to worship God. In both of these we find our deepest joy and fulfilment – even in times of worse.

¶ I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
Romans 12:1

Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe.
Hebrews 12:28

Your Pastor,


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This year we have been laying a foundation for knowing God and then each Sunday building upon it. Throughout June we are focusing on how knowing God enables us to find our joy in Him and consequently to discover that He enables us to find joy in our relationships with others. But sadly, for many people who have vowed to love, serve, and follow Jesus, this has not always been easy to do. This is why the current sub-theme of humility is critically important if someone desires to truly experience joy in each of their various relationships with others. 


In the past few months, we have been hearing in Church and also by reading the Pastor’s Desks that through the Psalms and by the Fruit of the Holy Spirit, we can know God more. The Psalms show God as our Shepherd, God’s character is unchanging, we can be still and know Him, and that He is poetic. The Fruit of the Spirit reminds us that God is faithful, gentle and kind, and that we need to stay close to Him in the same way a baby gets nutrients from its mother through the umbilical cord. Knowing these things, we can become more like God as He helps us outwork His character in our lives. Philippians 3:10 challenged me in this regard some time ago.


What comes to mind when you hear the word Rules? For some, it is a welcome relief to all the chaos surrounding us. Rules can provide comfort, safety, stability, predictability and protection. But for many others, as soon as you hear the word rules, it causes you to sigh loudly, followed by the instant urge to do the opposite. It can cause an immense sense of frustration along with that feeling of being boxed or caged in. Then some rules are plain silly as they make no sense, or there appears to be no apparent reason for why the rule/s exists in the first place. 

The Vine and the Umbilical Cord: Life, Abiding and Bearing FruitThe Vine and the Umbilical Cord: Life, Abiding and Bearing Fruit

Jesus’ allegory in John 15:1-17 of the vine and the branches provides a beautiful picture of the intimate and living relationship available to those who would abide in Him, the true Vine; and it illustrates how naturally the Holy Spirit is able to produce fruit in the lives of those who are willing to be branches abiding in the vine.

Knowing God Through The Fruit Of The Spirit

I’m sure you can picture an occasion where food delicacies are served and someone is there who has lost all sense of decorum to the point of being rude to get to the food before others and is unable or unwilling to engage in any level of conversation for the sake of finding the choicest of foods. Maybe that was you or me on occasions. Or an All You Can Eat challenge restaurant. It is a picture of complete lack of self-restraint (especially if Homer Simpson is involved). Whilst we are away, I am looking forward to visiting a town (Kenilworth) with a bakery tourist attraction that sells 1kg doughnuts. I’m not sure what will happen there, but I can imagine many have risen to a challenge.


Australia is now grappling with a national crisis — the violent abuse of women by men. Every four days in Australia a woman is being murdered [Source]. The sad probability is that she was murdered by “a current or former intimate partner” [Source]. But added to this alarming statistic is the even greater and more horrifying statistic of number of women who are experiencing abuse – physical; sexual; verbal; financial; psychological – daily. In fact, it is so prevalent that most people working in this arena know that most domestic abuse incidents in Australia are not reported. Abuse is oppression. And since the Bible is so clear and consistent in its condemnation of oppression of the vulnerable you would naturally assume that this national crisis was being thundered and denounced as a great evil from the majority of pulpits around our country at the moment. This assumption is further reinforced by the guesstimate that one-in-four women in every Australian church is regularly abused in some way by a man. But I suspect that it is not.


My cat, Lola, had a beautiful, fluffy, soft coat. I had her for 13 years so I knew her very well. She loved a cuddle and snuggling at night sleeping in the crook of my arm. She loved me but with others she could be a rascal, hissing or swiping her claws. She never scoffed her food but was a grazer. It was common to hear her crunching her biscuits for a midnight snack and she loved ice cream. She loved hiding in cardboard boxes or in the pantry. She particularly hated the car evidenced by her continual mournful meowing til she got out. As I knew her, she also knew me. She knew I would feed her and give her pats or cuddles. When I called her she knew my soft voice, my touch, my smell. She knew my growly voice when she had done the wrong thing. When I’d take her to the vet she would be still in my arms as the vet examined her and vaccinated her. If she was injured or sick I would look after her.


The Bible is an amazing book. As we look through the book of Psalms we can so unbelievably clearly see God at work. And also most poignantly, this Psalm – Psalm 22 – prophetically points to, and closely mirrors Jesus and the events of the cross mentioned in the New Testament. This Psalm is well over 1000 years prior to Jesus.There are some well known passages of Scripture that stand out as being prophetic promises of the Messiah. These prophetic words show us that God is Omniscient; He knows everything. The first Messianic prophecy shows that the seed of the woman would eventually defeat the devil.


home > Pastor's Desk > 2024 > April 12th > THIS IS HOW AN EXPERT SUCCESSFULLY FOUGHT SPIRITUAL WARSThe distance between the spiritual dimension and our earthly-material dimension is a lot thinner than most people realise! This means that there is a direct...


So many thriller movies are just funny. Of course they are not meant to be and many people would find them more like nightmare material. The producers would be horrified to see me giggling at some of their ‘scary’ bits, but it’s just the way I’m wired. I see more of the special effects than the story line and I see the absurdity of the scenes that lack the necessary rules of consistency instead of the fear factor they hope. I once watched a movie where the victim lay dead bleeding from the mouth but the make-up blood had not dripped to the ground with gravity, but rather, accidentally dripped up. The whole movie just became hilarious from that point on.