home > Pastor’s Desk > 2016 > May 13th > The Last Day

THE LAST DAY

¶ So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
Psalm 90:12

seventeen-year-old-troubled-boyGary had just turned 17. He did not have the benefit of being raised in a loving home or the advantage of being parented by a mother and father who knew God even though they occasionally ventured into a church. The void in his heart as a result of this lack of security and guidance led him to hang with the wrong crowd. Not surprisingly, he began drinking secretly with his fellow rebels. And as sure as night follows day, it was an easy and predictable step for him to begin smoking pot. He became increasingly bored with life. Friday nights were spent down town in the city mall where he would meet his friends and go off to spend the night drinking and partying. But then Gary had something odd happen to him one Friday night.

¶ A voice says, “Cry!” And I said, “What shall I cry?”
All flesh is grass,
and all its beauty is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades
when the breath of the LORD blows on it; surely the people are grass.
Isaiah 40:6-7

troubled-youthI got the phone call Saturday morning after that infamous Friday night. Someone had felt God say to them that they needed to go to the Bourke Street Mall in downtown Melbourne and speak to a young man about God. Gary was that young man. As they got the gumption to speak with him he mocked them and looked disinterested. Yet the ache in his heart which he was trying to fill with alcohol, marijuana, and partying, caused him to inwardly crave to have this follower of Christ tell him more. The phone call that Saturday morning described what happened that Friday night and how Gary had prayed to make Jesus his Saviour and Lord. Gary lived nearby me and at that time I was a Youth Pastor in a growing church. I was asked to take Gary under my wing and ensure that he would be discipled. I arranged for another young man in our Youth Group to follow Gary up.

 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.
Hebrews 9:27

Legana April 2016Gary attended our Youth Group and Sunday church services. He had his ups and downs. But then as things seemed to be getting worse for Gary, one Sunday morning he rededicated his life to God and asked God to him. He volunteered for the church choir that same day. After our evening service, we were all heading up to McDonalds for the first stage of a buck’s party for another of our young men, Jason, who was getting married soon. We waited for Gary who was riding his bicycle down from the church service. But Gary never arrived because that was Gary’s last day. Gary died that night, aged just 17.

 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.
James 4:14

lonely-teen The word on the street was that there was some unhappy drug dealers that Gary was no longer a customer and that the hit-and-run accident on the highway may not have been an accident at all. I don’t know whether that was true or not, but this I know for certain: on Gary’s last day, he had readied himself to be right with God.

“No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”
Luke 13:5

Popular American preacher, Francis Chan, says that the reason he talks so much about heaven, hell, eternity and judgment with such urgency and passion is because he’s done an awful lot of funerals (several a week for many years) of people mainly younger than him where most of these people had their lives cut short needlessly, had failed to surrender to God and receive His forgiveness, and would thus spend eternity without their souls being healed of sin’s merciless ache! He pleads with people to repent and to turn to Christ for the healing of their souls. He scolds those who call themselves Christians yet live spiritually lukewarm lives with exactly the same plea because he says Scripture informs him that even worse fate awaits them!

 ¶  “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.”
Revelation 3:15

Gary’s funeral was held in the hall at Werribee High School. It jolted many of the youth of our city. But only for a moment. I guess when you’re a teenager it feels like you’ve got eternity on earth still yet to come. But as these young people realised, even if it was only for a moment, most of our eternity will not be spent on earth, and what we do in this life determines where and how we spend our eternity beyond our all too brief time on earth. It seems to me that God opens the eyes of some teenagers so that they ‘get it’. These teens become aware of just how serious God, life, heaven, hell, eternity, and divine judgment is – and as a result, their lives are marked by a ‘gravitas’ (an urgent seriousness).

 “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
Matthew 12:36-37

I would have been around 17 or so when I heard a New Zealand preacher, Rob Wheeler, who explained about the ‘books of God’ (mentioned in Revelation 20:12, And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done). As I realised that God was recording every detail of my life – my words, my actions, my prayers, my intents, it hit me that God takes His gift of my life to me extremely seriously. From around that moment, I began living life a holy gravitas.

“For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
John 6:40

Jesus spoke a bit about the last day. On this day, God’s “books” will be open. On that day, there will be millions of 17 year olds standing before God awaiting their eternal judgment. It is my hope that as many of these teens in our community as possible realise that the ache in their soul cannot be cured by a bottle, a needle, a pill, or a joint, but only by the Eternal Healer who gave His life to heal them and place them in His Church so that they too might dispense this Eternal Cure.

Amen.

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...

5 INDISPENSABLE GUIDELINES FOR NEW PARENTS

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.

WHAT WOULD IT TAKE FOR ATHEIST & MAGICIAN PENN JILLETTE TO BECOME A CHRISTIAN?

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.