home > Pastor’s Desk > 2016 > July 29th > The Truth About Inconvenience

WHEN JESUS IS INCONVENIENT!

Apostles Andrew and PeterPeter and Andrew were small-businessmen. Along with their father, they ran their family business and had to work long hours just to make ends meet. But this all changed one day when The Messiah came along uninvited and uttered the words: Follow Me. There must have been a moment of dilemma for these hardened sea-farers. “Now?” perhaps they wondered, “It’s hardly a good time now!” But follow they did. Yes, to follow Jesus is to live a life of inconvenience. It really does seem that Jesus often – if not usually – interrupts a person’s life when it is most inconvenient! It’s not just that it seems inconvenient to walk through life with Jesus – it is! There is a cost to honouring Christ and it is counted in the currency of convenience.

While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
Matthew 4:18-19

And as inconvenient as Jesus is, no-one was ever more inconvenienced than He! He came from eternal and infinite bliss and laid aside His divine privileges and inconveniently became a human.

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Philippians 2:5-8

jesus-praying-all-nightEven though He was on a mission to redeem all mankind by His sacrificial death on the Cross, He was repeatedly interrupted with the most inconvenient requests. “Heal my daughter“, “Raise my son back to life“, “Cast the demon out of him“, “Open my eyes” “Give me back my legs“, “Let me just touch You“, were not the cries of patients who had made an appointment! These people came from seemingly nowhere and inconveniently intersected Christ as He continually strove toward the Cross. In addition to this, Christ’s days were often so full that the only time He could find to commune with His Father was when His own weary body would have screamed for sleep and despite how inconvenient it was, He chose to spend the night instead talking with His Father.

In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God.
Luke 6:12

Bartolome-Esteban-Murillo-The-Martyrdom-of-St-Andrew-Each of His disciples went on to live very inconvenient lives. They had to be away from familiarity of their families, jobs, communities, and go where it would have been most inconvenient for them to go. Peter eventually went to Rome where he was crucified upside down in 64AD for preaching the Gospel. Andrew went to Patras, Greece, and was crucified diagonally by the Roman Governor there in 70AD for preaching to, and converting the Governor’s wife to, Christianity. Thomas went to India and preached the Gospel there with signs and wonders following and met with violent opposition and was eventually publicly skinned (“flayed”) then crucified for doing so. The Apostle Paul was inconvenienced throughout his preaching ministry when he was repeatedly imprisoned for up to two years at a time as he travelled across Europe. The early followers of Christ gladly embraced inconvenience in order to serve and follow Christ, and two millennia later, we are the eternal beneficiaries!

And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.
Matthew 19:29

INCONVENIENT CLOSENESS

Australian-Olympic-Swimming-trainingIn a couple of weeks from now the 2016 Rio Olympic Games will commence. This extravaganza will showcase the world’s best sporting and athletic prowess. Undoubtedly, each of these athletes has been inconvenienced to even make it to the Olympics and it’s probably safe to say that every Gold Medalist could tell their heart-rending story of the inconvenience they and their family had endured to be the best in the world. The greatest delights and pleasures of this world are exchanged for those prepared to be the most inconvenienced. For Olympic swimmers it means 3AM get ups and 4AMs in the pool and twenty kilometres of laps later, they’re ready for school!

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
Matthew 16:24

The case can be made in the spiritual realm as well. The closer you want to get to Christ, the more inconvenient it will be. It too will mean sacrifice. It too will mean getting out of bed rather than staying in it. It will mean hanging in there even though everything within you wants to quit. It will mean being misunderstood. It will mean more times alone when it would be nicer to be with others. It will mean reading your Bible for just a few minutes more than usual when you could be enjoying browsing Facebook or Instagram instead. It will be inconvenient to get closer to Christ and, without doubt, the more people you want to reach for Christ, the more you will be inconvenienced!

INCONVENIENT LEADERSHIP

Christian leadership involves carrying a cross of inconvenience. This means that a leader will turn up even though they are tired and busy. A local church team leader knows that their presence – not just their attendance – will often be inconvenient for them because of the sacrifices involved, but the blessing it generates is felt by more than they might ever know. This is how you can tell the difference between close-Christ-following leaders, and leaders. Jesus categorised these two groups of leaders as either: shepherds or hirelings. He offered Himself as the preeminent Shepherd-leader. Shepherd-leaders, unlike hirelings (who are only there when it is convenient and they are paid) more often than not, do not even consider the inconveniences they face due to their genuine delight in serving Christ and His people –

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me,
John 10:11-14

Dr. FW. Boreham, 1921Christ’s comparison between shepherds and hirelings might well be the comparison between those who embrace inconvenience (shepherds) and those who don’t (hirelings). No church can possibly reach it’s Christ-honouring potential if its leadership is comprised of hirelings. No barrier can stifle a church comprised of leaders who each gladly carry a cross of inconvenience. This is why the greatly inconvenienced Dr. F.W. Boreham said in his last sermon, “The Church does not ordain men to be preachers – it ordains men because they are preachers!” To put it another way, “A church does not make someone a leader then hope they will (lead). Rather, the church appoints proven (shepherd-)leaders (ones who have overcome the inconveniences to following and serving Christ within a local church) to official positions of leadership.”

Will you join me in striving to be a church of shepherd-leaders? Will join me in praying that we can minister to broken, damaged, lost, hurting, confused, people, even when it’s inconvenient for us to do so?

Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead.”
Luke 10:30

Preaching at The Rock Christian Church, Capalaba, QueenslandLast Sunday I preached in a church in Brisbane about the Good Samaritan. The man robbed and beaten and lying on the side of the side is like the broken of the world. The busy priests and Levites who were too busy to tend to the hurting man are like many of us today – not prepared to be inconvenienced by the needs of others. And the Samaritan is like Jesus who despite the inconvenience takes the time to clean the half-dead man’s wounds and bandage them. He then transports the beaten man to an inn where he cares for him overnight. In the morning he gives the inn-keeper two denarii (2 day’s wages).

And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’
Luke 10:35

The inn is like the church where still today Jesus wants to bring in the broken, damaged, hurting, lost and abandoned, that He finds scattered along life’s byways. But the only way this can happen is if we, His Church, joins Him in embracing our own crosses of inconvenience. And as we do, we may discover that the very things we were depriving ourselves of to follow Christ, may well be the very thing which Christ provides anyway!

And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.”
Luke 5:4, 9-10

Amen.

Your Pastor,

Andrew

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3 EXERCISES THAT WILL WILL MAKE YOU HEALTHIER, FITTER, AND STRONGER, PART 3

Now I turn my attention to an oft neglected aspect of our spiritual well-being: resting. As a disclaimer, I am one of the least qualified to discuss this topic—but, embarrassing, any lessons I have learned about the value of rest have come negatively from not resting as I should have and then enduring the inevitable consequences.

3 EXERCISES THAT WILL MAKE YOU HEALTHIER, FITTER, & STRONGER, Part 2

A healthy lifestyle involves regular vigorous exercise (aerobic exercise) – such as long brisk walk, a competitive game of tennis, or a 30-minute jog – and, eating a healthy diet. In Part 1, I drew the parallel to how we maintain our physical health with how we can contribute to our spiritual health. In particular I pointed out that just as doing aerobic exercise delivered more oxygen into our blood stream, so too does developing our times of prayer add spiritual oxygen into our soul. In this instalment, I am going to draw parallels with maintaining a healthy diet of eating fresh fruit and vegetables, cutting down on sugared and processed foods, and how our spiritual diet. Too many Christians have poor diets. I hope to encourage you not to be one of them. 

3 EXERCISES THAT WILL MAKE YOU HEALTHIER, FITTER, & STRONGER, Part 1

Every physical fitness coach will tell you that daily exercise which causes you sweat and puff is the kind of exercise that is doing you long-term good. Vigorous physical exercise such as running will cause you to need more air in your lungs which will cause you to puff. Puffing, the act of heavy breathing to replenish your need oxygen helps your respiratory and cardio-vascular systems to become healthier. Interestingly, breathing is the word that the Bible uses to describe how God created the First man. As a result of the lack of spiritual exercise, too many people do not have spiritual reserves, and consequently lack spiritual strength, capacity, confidence, psychological contentment, or the emotional happiness that they would otherwise have had. Yet, this is so unnecessary considering that there are three very simple spiritual exercises that everyone whose spirit has been regenerated can do to remedy this malady. 

AS MOSES LIFTED UP THE SERPENT

It might seem an odd thing to write about just two days before Christmas, but the story of God plaguing the Israelites with poisonous snakes and then commanding Moses to construct a bronze serpent and attach it to a cross-beamed pole has baffled even the best minds for centuries. Some people have regarded this story as yet another reason for them to reject God and the Bible and consider both to be nonsense. An ever-so-slightly-less-cynical approach that some, who seem to really want both God and the Bible to be true, have taken is to regard the story as a fictional myth with mysterious allegorical meaning. I think this is how Dr. Jordan Peterson recently interpretted it in his discussion with Mr. John Anderson on their Youtube discussion last week. The high profile psychologist Dr. Peterson seems to have been on an interesting spiritual journey of late and he is obviously delving into the Bible and coming up with what appear to be some roadblocks to his complete acceptance of the claims of Christ largely due to these obscure passages in the Bible such as this account in Number 21. “No one has ever been able to explain it to me!” he told Mr. Anderson. I wish he had asked me, because if he had, this is what I would have explained to him.

THUS SAITH THE LORD

Within the sixty-six books of Scriptures we have a unified and coherent revelation from God about His identity as the Creator, the Law-giver, the Redeemer, the Saviour, and the Final Judge. Its sixty-six books tell one story – God’s plan of redemption and conquest over and ultimate vanquishing of evil. Within the Scripture is the revelation of how to be reconciled to God by having our sins forgiven through Christ. It is the Scriptures which assure us that we have one mediator between us and God the Father – Jesus the Christ (1 Tim. 2:5; Heb. 9:15; 12:24) through whom we can directly appeal. It is within the Scriptures that we find the commands of God for how we are to live, conduct our lives, order our affairs, treat others, and prioritise our worship of God. Thus, we are not permitted to just be “hearers” of God’s Word, we are to accept its authority and be compliant with its commands and imperatives (Rom. 2:13; 1 Tim. 4:16; James 1:22-23) – because it is the Word of God.

HOW TO BE A SUCCESSFUL INVESTOR (OF MORE THAN JUST MONEY)

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).

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.