home > Pastor’s Desk > 2016> July 1st > Jesus And That Woman

DAMES, DEMONS AND DOGS

 
JESUS AND THAT WOMAN!
 
Just after Jesus had offended the religious elite in Jerusalem, He secretly went to the Gentile region of Tyre and Sidon. While in the region we today call Lebanon, Jesus had one of the most unusual and offensive conversations of His ministry. Anyone listening in on the initial part of Christ’s conversation with this heathen Gentile may well have been stunned at His offensive language!
Syro-Phoenician-woman
Imagine you were facing a dire situation and you were desperately wanting to meet with God. Imagine you go to those who He has appointed to represent Him and they do all they can to prevent you from meeting Him. Then imagine that even though God turned up in your neighbourhood, He refused to meet with you. To make matters worse, imagine you are the woman who has had to climb through a window and then God in the flesh won’t even look at you! Just when you think it can’t get any worse, Immanuel tells you to get lost and calls you a “dog”!
But, as hard as this is to imagine, this ‘heathen’ woman did persist in her attempts to get Christ’s attention and gain from Him her petition, despite these unimaginable obstacles to meeting with Him.

 

And from there he arose and went away to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And he entered a house and did not want anyone to know, yet He could not be hidden. But immediately a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit heard of him and came and fell down at his feet. Now the woman was a Gentile, a Syrophoenician by birth. And she begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. And he said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” But she answered him, “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” And he said to her, “For this statement you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter.” And she went home and found the child lying in bed and the demon gone.
Mark 7:24-30

 
 
Tyre-from-LebanonCan we imagine the desperation that this Syrophoenician woman was feeling? Perhaps she was a single mother? Perhaps she was scorned by her community because he daughter was, well, “odd”? Somehow she found out that Jesus was in her neighbourhood. Despite the attempts to keep it a secret, this desperate woman found out where to meet with Jesus. I wonder if this is like many people’s experience today? We live in a very desperate world with more broken, hurting, damaged people than we realise. Like this woman, many of these people are hurting for those they love. They have often looked for help and found none. Some have heard that Jesus can help. They have heard the stories of others who have met with Jesus and found healing, help, and hope. No doubt this Syrophoenician woman had heard the stories of how Jesus had cast out demons from the children of other desperate parents.

 

And when they came to the crowd, a man came up to him and, kneeling before him, said, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly. For often he falls into the fire, and often into the water. And I brought him to your disciples, and they could not heal him.” And Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him here to me.” And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was healed instantly.
Matthew 17:14-18

 
Yet this Gentile woman had overcome some great offences in order to have her needs met. It seems that Jesus tests people’s desperation and sincerity to meet with Him by seeing how they deal with offences.

 

“And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”
Matthew 11:6

¶ When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, “Does this offend you?”
John 6:61 

 
To get closer to Jesus requires pressing on despite offences. Too many churches miss God’s best for them because someone responds poorly to an offence. In this moment, Jesus was in a Gentile territory where this woman lived. Ironically, many churches are located in the midst of a neighbourhood, community, or city where there is tremendous pain, yet, just like this moment, they keep Jesus away from these desperately hurting people. Just like this moment, too many churches seem to keep Jesus to themselves – as if they too want to keep Him a secret. But the problem for any church that wants to truly love, follow and serve Christ and yet wants to keep Jesus away from those who need Him most is that Jesus just cannot be hidden! He will always attract those who are humble enough to know they need Him.
SAMSUNG CSCLast Sunday we farewelled Rhys and Jodi to the Mission Field of North-West Western Australia. They reminded us that six years ago their lives were falling apart. Alcoholism, relationship tensions, and other problems were taking a heavy toll on them both. Rhys shared just how dark his world has become. He cried out to God for help and said that he received an overwhelming urge compelling him to go to church. Without an invitation or even a connection of any kind, they turned up one Sunday morning in church. Jodi said it was the hardest thing she had ever done. On that first Sunday in church, Jodi said, “I thought I was going to die! I couldn’t get out fast enough! But for some reason we stayed.” Jodi had some offences to overcome, just like this Syrophoenician woman. Rhys and Jodi kept coming to church and as they did Christ touched them, and healed them.
As a church, we don’t want to be like Christ’s Tyre hosts who tried to keep Him to themselves. We don’t people to have to endure the obstacles that this woman had to overcome simply to meet with Christ. I hope our door-greeters know just how important they are to removing some of the first obstacles that a seeker encounters. This poor Syrophoenician woman would have initially encountered Christ’s disciples who had some very ingrained attitudes about women let alone Gentile (“Heathen”) women at that! How are we going to respond to a Muslim man walking through the doors of our church on a Sunday with his four wives in tow? How are we going to respond to the two men who walk through our doors for the first time holding hands?
It seems to me that when Christ spoke roughly with this Gentile woman, in front of His disciples, He was parroting the standard way women – Gentile women in particular – were spoken to by Jewish men. But this exchange led to Christ yet again showing His disciples how he not only felt about women, but how He also felt about people – irregardless of their nationality. Can we as a church reveal Christ’s heart to our community? He still loves women. He still loves people who feel despised. He still loves and heals hurting people. And He still calls His disciples today, the church, to not only let all people come to Him, but to go out and show them His love and grace and invite them in.
 
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

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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.  

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.

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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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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.