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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FORMING A TRUE MAN

Domestic violence, sexual assault, date-rape, sexual trafficking of minors, marital infidelity, street-gang violence, illicit drug abuse, high rates of suicide, increased ‘deaths of despair’, homelessness, are all major problems in our culture right now. Governments regard these issues as matters of justice (punishing offenders) while agencies regard these issues as matters of social justice (helping victims). Both are valuable but neither are equipped or positioned unilaterally to solve the causes of these growing problems, and many in both of these sectors believe that it can mever be solved. But I believe they can be. And I need your help. To achieve this, I propose two outrageous, yea – ridiculous – strategies. They are outrageous because they are simple (although not easy); and, they are ridiculous because, to materialists, these are just fanciful, idealistic and supernatural nonsense. However, I have history on my side. It will involve men and women, young and old. But I particularly need all men to read what I am about to propose and for them to share this with other men and together with everyone else help me to bring about the biggest social and cultural revolution our country has ever seen.

WHEN WE MISH EAR

Perhaps I was a little unfair to this gentleman though, because it is a well established fact that all men are born with selective hearing (as every wife can testify to) and perhaps this may sometimes spill over into incidents such as the one I just recounted(?). But I also suspect that some women have a similar deficiency.

A few years ago the kids and I were a little concerned about Kim’s hearing difficulties. As it turned out, one day outside a shopping centre that we had just arrived at, there was a government sponsored mobile hearing clinic. We urged the reluctant Kim to go in and have her hearing checked. Much to the utter shock of myself and our children the clinician told Kim that she had “perfect hearing”! This then proved that even women may be able to imitate the innate ability of a man to produce selective hearing 🙂 Therefore, there is a high likelihood that both men and women are equally subject to hearing difficulties.

The problem with any hearing difficulties is that it inevitably leads to the far more serious problem of misunderstanding. Misunderstanding is at the heart of nearly every relationship problem that anyone will ever face. Misunderstandings due to mis-hearing or mis-communication frequently leads to disputes that if not handled correctly, which it is mostly not, is likely to lead to relationship breakdowns. But there is a different – almost secretive – way to deal with misunderstandings. Let me explain by using several pictures that will make my point. 

WHAT WESTERN ELITES DON’TUNDERSTAND ABOUT MARY’S BOY-CHILD & THE COMMANDER OF THE ARMY OF THE LORD

WHO THEN WAS THIS MARY’S BOY-CHILD ANYWAY?
Mark Lowry is normally comedic. But his now classic Christmas song is no joke! It presents baby Jesus as the eternal God the Son, the creator of heaven and earth, the Saviour of the world, the Redeemer of all humankind who turn to Him, the all-conquering Lamb of God, and the Great Judge of all people, the I AM. The event of His miraculous conception is known as the incarnation (God becoming human). But the incarnation was not Jesus the Christ’s first entrance into our world. In fact, it is as though He felt a divine right to enter our world any time He chose. These various appearances of Jesus prior to His incarnation are referred to as theophanies (appearances of God) or more particularly as Christophanies (appearances of God the Son). I want to highlight one of these in particular…

CHILD SAFETY

We have all seen parents abruptly terminate conversations with other adults to keep an eye on their children. Children can wander about easily. They could get involved in acts that are detrimental to themselves. Parental instincts, often reflected more in the mother, is one of those protective gifts that ensures children are kept safe.

THE LORDSHIP OF JESUS CHRIST, Chapter 6 – The deGorified Newborn The ReGlorified Lamb of God

One of my favourite stories of concealed identity hiding in plain sight is from Victor Hugo’s 1862 novel, Les Miserables, where the escaped convict, Jean Valjean, is pursued for years by now retired Inspector Javert. As it turns out Jean Valjean, who had changed his name to M. Madeleine has now become a successful business man and the Mayor of Toulon. Javert arrives in Toulon and is immediately recognised by Valjean. But Javert does not recognise the now clean-shaven, genteel aristocratic Mayor of Toulon as his nemesis. But when he observes the compassion of M. Madeleine he recalls the time in prison when Jean Valjean had also displayed a similar extraordinary compassion for unfortunate fellow prisoners. The more he observed such acts of kindness and generosity from M. Madeleine the more Javert became convinced of the true identity of Madeleine. There is something about this idea of concealed identity that comes from the story of Christ. The prophet Isaiah foretold that when the Servant of the LORD would appear He would be largely unrecognised – there would be no form, no beauty, that we would desire Him (Isa. 53:2). But how on earth was this possible? How in God’s Name  could those who were created by Him in His image not recognise Him for who He was? The answer to this great puzzle lies in one word: the kenosis.

ALL I’VE EVER REALLY WANTED IS

Andrew, on occasions, used to wistfully say, “You know, all I really want is…” then he would say some ephemeral pleasure, like ‘a drink of coke’, or ‘quiet’, or ‘to get something finished’. So, one day I decided to ensure that his greatest desire (‘all I really want’) was met. This time all he ever wanted was a coffee, so I bounced up and brought him the best cup of coffee I could make and added a little yummy treat to compliment it. A few days later he once again said, “All I really want…” and I interrupted to finish his sentence for him … “was the cup of coffee that I was able to make for you the other day. I bet it was the best ever. I’m so glad I could meet that greatest desire you have.” He never said, ‘All I really want’ again!

THE LORDSHIP OF JESUS CHRIST, Chapter 5

THE LORDSHIP of JESUS CHRIST, Chapter 5 – He is the Creator of Heaven & Earth and all things Visible and Invisible
While the pagan religions in the days of the patriarchs, judges, and kings of Israel, all conceived of their gods as territorial, the God of Israel, Yeshua, declared that He was the Creator of all things and that He was Lord of Heaven and Earth. And He still is.

Freedom in Christ encompasses Freedom FROM and Freedom FOR

God offers freedom to those who turn to Him in faith, and this, as Pastor Andrew says, deserves a Toyota jump. It is worth celebrating. The freedom the New Testament speaks of is not just any old freedom. In Romans 8:21 Paul speaks of ‘the glorious freedom of God’s children’ (NET). In the same way you might savour a piece of chocolate as it slowly melts in your mouth, allow your spirit to savour the meaning of the freedom that is yours in Christ in all its richness. This single word freedom is densely packed with meaning, and we benefit from taking time to unpack just a little of what it means for believers.

THE LORDSHIP OF JESUS CHRIST, Chapter 4

Throughout the Old Testament, God made certain promises to the patriarchs (Abraham, Issac, and Jacob/Israel) that their descendants, the nation of Israel, longed to see fulfilled. These promises centred on having a holy Homeland and a Messiah. Over the centuries that followed their expulsion from their Land which sent them into exile into Babylon initially and then into Persia, the Israelites became known as Jews. Their expectations of how these divine promises would be fulfilled became greatly embellished with powerful military overtones.

THE LORDSHIP OF JESUS CHRIST, Chapter 3 – Before He was Incarnate, He was the Eternal LBefore He was Incarnate, He was the Eternal Lordord

For those unfamiliar with the story of the Bible who may be seeking to remedy that unfamiliarity, I would recommend that they start reading in the New Testament. It is there that they will be introduced immediately to Jesus who is the central character of the whole Bible. For many novice readers of the Bible who then attempt to read the Old Testament of the Bible (its first 39 books), it initially seems like they are reading a completely unrelated story which seems to describe a completely different God. But with a little patience and persistence the reader will begin to suspect that this is not a different story but is in fact the prequel to the New Testament. Then a strange supernatural thing happens as they continue to become acquainted with the lives of the patriarchs, judges, kings and prophets, as these characters interact with enemies, giants, angels, strange heavenly beings, and GOD Himself. The reader begins to see in a similar way to what a photographer could not previously see clearly until his camera’s focus was adjusted to make the picture clear — the GOD who created, acted, spoke and judged, frequently referred to Himself as ‘us’, ‘we’, ‘our’, and at times seemed to have conversations with divine characters identified as ‘the LORD’ and ‘Me’ and ‘His Spirit’ (Isa. 48:16). And this all begins to sound very reminiscent of the GOD described in the New Testament as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. With a growing knowledge of the Bible and hunger to understand it, the follower of Christ discovers that literally for thousands of years prior to this day there have been many many others who have also walked the journey of discovery through the mysterious pages of the Bible and have each made a startling discovery about the human Jesus’ pre-existence throughout the pages of the Old Testament.