home > Pastor’s Desk > 2016 > July 14th > Farm or Mine

WHERE TO MINE IF YOU WANT RICHES

SAM_2442Great wealth comes from mining. Australia has benefited greatly from its recent mining boom, making us one of the wealthiest nations on earth. Many of Australia’s cities and towns exist because of mining and many of supportive communities have grown as a result. We saw this dramatically a few years ago when the ‘Beaconsfield Mine Disaster’ happened just a few minutes up the road from where our church is and how it affected our community. Of course, without mining, we could not have our precious technology which depend upon the silicon, copper, bauxite, neodymium, gold, and silver being mined. The world owes a lot to mining. Mining is a primary industry. So is farming. But farming has one massive advantage over mining. And curiously enough, I’ve noticed that the farming versus mining disparity not only applies to primary industries but even more aptly to our relationships.  

Legana Apple OrchardWhen I was growing up, nearly all of my uncles (with the exception of just one of the six), was a farmer. Dairy, beef, crops, sheep, and bees were their livelihoods. The thing about farmers is that they are dependent on sustaining their livelihoods. Miners, on the other hand, cannot sustain their supply of what they mine. Once it’s mined, it’s gone

If you drive around Tasmania you’ll see what appear to be roadside forests. But upon closer inspection, there’s something a little odd about these roadside forests: all the trees are in straight rows. As any local can tell you, there’s a reason for that. These aren’t really forests. They’re plantations. Many of them were planted ten or fifteen years ago, some even sooner. Some harvests in life take that long.

Let me jump straight to my concluding point. If we ‘mine’ those around us – especially those closest to us – we are treating them as if they are expendable, something to be tossed aside when we’re finished with them. But if we farm our relationships, we grow them and they are not only enlarged they are sustained. This means: the one who loves best loves the most for the longest. The husband who treats his wife as an object is not farming. He is mining. And because of his neglect he is the one who is depriving himself of some of the richest blessings this life offers.

The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.
Genesis 2:15

The very first wedding took place in a garden. The symbolism is rich. The original picture takes place in an environment where there has been planning, planting, cultivation, tending, watering and feeding. Marriage began in a garden and, in many respects, is a garden. In the Song of Solomon the love between a husband and his wife is described as being like the relationship between a gardener and a garden.

On the Tasmanian Overland Track

Awake, O north wind,
and come, O south wind!
Blow upon my garden,
let its spices flow.
Let my beloved come to his garden,
and eat its choicest fruits.
Song of Solomon 4:16

Farming involves tending, sowing, nurturing, watering, and feeding. To reap a harvest of intimacy you must sow trust and fertilise it with consistency and mulch it with understanding and transparency. This type of farming produces bountiful harvests. This is the essence of being faithful in marriage. The boy who learns to go off partying with his mates looking to ‘pick up’ a girl for a cheap thrill is learning to treat women as objects to be be ‘mined’. No woman deserves to be treated like this! This is why pornography is so insidiously evil and grossly unjust! But the boy who is taught that women are a treasure to be prized, guarded, and respected is learning how to farm for the day when his future love is in his life so that he will reap a life-time-together harvest. This is why “dating” (where there is no realistic expectation that it will lead to marriage) is not really a Biblical concept. Rather, the Biblical prescription seems to be friendship within community leading to a courtship with the permission of relevant authorities within that community (particularly parental approval). Parents play a key role in helping their children to relationally ‘farm’ their love for another.

 

OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD

Walking the Freycinet TrackOur relationship with God though, has parallels with both mining and farming. Some people inflect a deprived spiritual childhood upon themselves by only ever raking the surface of a relationship with God. If only they would dig like a miner! The treasures they would find! Raking, at best, can summon leaves, twigs, and dirt. But digging can be the means by which one discovers gold, gems, precious metals, and even life-sustaining water.

My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you…if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures,
Proverb 2:1, 4

The only difference between natural and supernatural mining is that the metals and gems of earth are finite and limited, where as the treasures to found in a relationship with Christ are unlimited and infinite or to use the language of The Mine, they are unsearchable!

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
Romans 11:33

to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,
Ephesians 3:8b

And our relationship with God is also a farming one. He is the Gardener who plans, plants, tends, prunes, waters, feeds and harvests.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”
John 15:1-2

The Milky Way clearly visible over my house from my backyard

The Milky Way clearly visible over my house from my backyard. This is yet another example of the incredible riches that are often ours for the taking but yet go unnoticed and ignored.

But God is also a limitlessly fertile field into whom we can sow our time, talent and treasure.

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
Galatians 6:7-8

In one sense, our devotion to God by Scripture reading, study, and memorisation, is mining our relationship with God while our good deeds including prayer, worship, witnessing, serving the Body of Christ, is farming our relationship with God. Australia’s wealth has been based on farming and mining. Even with all the high-tech advances in the global economy, people are always going to what mining and farming give us. While ‘mining’ has no place in our relationships with each other, especially for those who are married, it can and should share the basis of our relationship with God along with ‘farming’. After you finish reading these few brief thoughts, I invite you to begin ‘mining’ your relationship with God through the reading of Scripture and to make a commitment to spiritually ‘farm’ your relationship with God as well by sowing good deeds in the Name of Christ.

The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully …  ¶ He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.
Second Corinthians 9:6, 10

Your spiritual mining-rights entitlements and harvest awaits.

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.