home > Pastor’s Desk > 2016 > April 1st> For The Love of Pete

For The Love of Pete

Of the many interactions that The Christ had with people, He had two particularly extremely curious conversations with his chief apostle, Peter. Curious may not be the right word. Bewildering may be more apt. One of them required Peter to act, the other required Peter to answer. My suspicion is that these two poignant conversations give us insight into the two greatest struggles anyone desiring a deeper spiritual life will have to face.

These are the Twelve:
¶ Simon (Jesus later named him Peter, meaning “Rock”),
Mark 3:16, The MESSAGE

Satan’s Sift

Having changed his name from “A reed that bends in the slightest breeze” to “Strong and solid as a rock”, Jesus reverts to Peter’s birth-name in addressing him now. “Simon, Simon” He says. It seems that Jesus was reminding Peter of who he was – one easily influenced by others. The world loves to sway people away from following God. Sometimes Satan orchestrates this. A young man gives his life to Christ and becomes a real threat to the powers of Darkness. Satan begins scheming.

¶ “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.
Matthew 6:16

Most of us, left to our own devices, are reeds that bend in the slightest breeze. We want to be “in”. We want others to accept us. We want the approval and affirmation of the crowd. This will cause a child of God to succumb to the devilish temptations that the world offers if they lose their vision of their Saviour. But I have slightly rushed ahead to the second curious conversation that Jesus had with Peter.

Idou” is the Greek word that Jesus uses to begin His address to Simon. Pay attention to what I am about to tell you is the sense of the Greek word idou. It carries a sense of gravitas (stern importance). Imagine Jesus taking you aside from the crowd, putting His hand on your shoulder and looking you square in the eyes and saying, “My little lamb, you are so easily swayed by the world. Pay attention to what I am about to tell you!” Can you hear the tone in Christ’s voice? Can you feel the weight of this moment? Idou. Behold. Listen very carefully.

Following Christ is no trivial, frivolous exercise. While our salvation is won for us at the Cross our journey with Christ does not stop at the Cross. Our journey has twists and turns, mountains and valleys, crowds and isolation, plenty and want, moments of urgency and moments of rest. But idou, we have an Enemy lurking!

Simon, Simon, behold: Satan has demanded to have you!” In a scene reminiscent of the Book of Job where the God of Glory had Satan make a similar demand for the soul of Job, the Son of God had Satan demand the soul of Peter. Like Father like Son, Jesus was stunningly confident that Peter would remain loyal to Him despite Satan’s best efforts to lure him away. At this point in the Gospel account of this sombre episode I expect the next statement from Christ to be something like, “But I have rejected his request! But it stuns me that it isn’t. Jesus granted Satan’s request!

Many a young man has been introduced to Jesus in their youth then had Satan lure them away before they could idou the Christ. The world has its pleasures, delights, and attractions.

“Stolen water is sweet,
and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.”
Proverbs 9:17

Beware lest there be among you a man or woman or clan or tribe whose heart is turning away today from the LORD our God to go and serve the gods of those nations. Beware lest there be among you a root bearing poisonous and bitter fruit.
Deuteronomy 29:18 

sifting-wheatBut these pleasures are fleeting, these delights are dangerous, and attractions are often traps. “Simon, Simon, behold: Satan has demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat!” Sifting wheat involves shaking, wind, and fire. The sift allow the wheat to pass through and the chaff, the husks, and the debris to be removed. The weightier wheat drops down while the lighter chaff is blown into the fire.

His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
Luke 3:17

What does it take for Satan to lure a child of God away from their Redeemer? A relationship? A drink? A pill? A bed? Chocolate? A football game?

But

peter-s_roosterAfter announcing to Peter that he was to be sifted by Satan – with Christ’s permission – Jesus assures Peter that his impending failure will not be his final doom. “But I have prayed for you” Jesus tells him. It seems that even the Son of God thinks prayer does something eternally significant and immediately helpful. Jesus prayed for Peter. For facing Satanic sifting, Jesus prayed for Peter. Satan will attack, but Jesus is praying. But nearly always changing everything. Given the choice between having Jesus guarding us against Satanic attacks and having Jesus pray for us while we go through them, how many of us would choose the prayer option?

But what Jesus prayed for Peter is even more curious: “but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail.” Even after three years of spending everyday with Jesus, Peter still needed the Son of God to pray for him to keep believing, keep trusting, and keep being confident in what he had come to know as the truth. If the Apostle Peter could have his faith in Christ rocked, so could we. If he needed assistance to keep believing the truth, so do we. Prayer, daily Bible reading, and Church attendance are each ordained by the God of All Glory for His children to grow and thereby be able to withstand the onslaught of our Enemy.

For us today who do not have the privilege of walking each day around the shores of Galilee with the incarnate Christ, we have to inform our souls of the truth by acquainting ourselves with the Word Made Flesh in the Word made of words, the Bible. It is in times of Enemy sifting that we need to be reminded of the truth from God’s Word so that we can stand firm.

¶ “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”
Luke 22:31-32

Do You Love Me?

Jesus went on to describe Peter’s failure during this coming time of sifting.

Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.”
Matthew 26:34

As a result of Satan’s sifting of Peter, the chief apostle would publicly deny, three times, even knowing Jesus. But this would not be the end of this sad episode. There was hope for the fallen apostle – “And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers!” There is hope for us too.

This charge to Peter about strengthening his brothers was repeated by Christ in the other very curious exchange he and Jesus had after the resurrection of Christ. Perhaps in a one-for-one correspondence to Peter’s denial of knowing Jesus, the Son of God asked him three times do you love Me?

¶ When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.”
John 21:15

It really is the question. Do you love Me? I’ve met people who love Jesus. They are different from most people. Even though they suffer at times, they remain exceptionally positive – because they love Jesus. Despite struggling with their church fellowship from time to time, they would never walk away from it – because they love Jesus. In face of Satanic sifting they are able to stand firm, because they love Jesus. And because they love Jesus they have dedicated their lives to serving and strengthening their brothers while doing what they can to feed the lambs of Christ.

He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.”
John 21:16

Jesus could have asked a far lesser question like Will you serve Me? or Will you obey Me? or Will you dedicate your life to being a pastor of My sheep?  Will you read your Bible everyday? Will you be faithful each Sunday in attending church? But He asked the question that has eternal and therefore immediate consequences, Do you love Me? And well He might us: Do you love Me? 

He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.
John 21:17

Three times. “My reed-like-easily-swayed-by-the breeze-of-other people’s-opinions Chief Apostle, do you agapas (pronounced as: argarpars , ἀγαπᾷς) Me?” ’Aγαπᾷς is translated into English as love – because we don’t have a word in English that truly captures this beautiful Greek word. The best we could do in English is to use several words such as, self-sacrificing, utterly-heartfelt and dedicated, the highest commitment and affection for, (12 words) to translate this word into English. But each of the three times that Peter was asked by the Son of God about whether he loved his Lord, he did not answer Christ’s question. Instead, Peter replied, “Lord, you know that I really like you a lot.” Instead of agapas, Peter used the word, philoh (φιλῶ). I wonder how many people today, who identify as followers of Christ, would answer like the recently-sifted Peter if they too were asked how they feel about Jesus?

It is my mission as a pastor to help those entrusted to my care to love, in an agapas type of love, the One Who Is Love. It is my greatest burden to achieve this pastoral mission. But it is my saddest confession that it is my greatest deficiency as a pastor. To this end, I would value your prayers – especially after learning what we have just learned about prayer from Luke 22:32. And in the meantime, I too will apply Luke 22:32 and pray for you to love Jesus, withstand the sifting of Satan, and to strengthen your brethren.

Your Pastor,

Andrew

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The most basic form of investing was described by Christ in the parable of the talents where He described it as putting money with the money-lenders to earn interest. Albert Einstein stated that ‘compound interest’ is the eighth wonder of the world! When some people hear the word ‘investing’ they might think that it only involves money. Investing involves thinking about present action and the future consequences of those actions. And then acting in a way that sacrifices present income to invest in a richer future. Understood in a much broader sense, investing can and should mean thinking about much more than just money. It can involve investing time, effort, wisdom, training, and prayer. Investing done well results in increased wealth and riches which is not just limited to financial rewards. It is exemplified in the biblical promise, “You reap what you sow.” Each generation is responsible to steward the resources that are at its disposal. These resources are managed by individuals, families, communities, states, nations and the Church. Church leaders have a duty to invest well into the spiritual resources that shape culture to the glory of God so that a tree is planted for the next generations will be the ones who enjoy its shade.

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).

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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.

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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. 

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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.  

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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.

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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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