home > Pastor’s Desk > 2016 > December 17th > Why We Must Feel


An ounce of experience outweighs a ton of argument! As much as I think that the claims of Christianity are reasonable, logical, factual, and true, there are some people who will never be persuaded to accept this. They have been hurt in the name of God. One of the trickiest aspects to reaching such people is that they often hide behind a façade of what they assert are logical and reasonable objections to God. If we are not careful, we might be tricked into thinking that their objections to the existence of God were actually intellectual. If you care, and want to help such ones, here’s some suggestions.

They’re all hypocrites! All they want is your money!” someone said recently to one of our new converts in our church. “Besides, look at how many children they’ve sexually abused!” they followed up with. This rocked our church member and sowed some seeds of doubt into them. However, it didn’t take long for them to realise that these allegations were weak in the light of their experience. They recalled how people from our church had sat with them in their darkest hours and shown patient support. They remembered that church leaders and other members had taken them into their homes and shared meals and time with them, and offered a caring, supportive, listening ear to them without any sense that they were trying to get something from them. They considered that the church presented its financial accounts to everyone in and outside of the church in a very public fashion for all to see, query, and scrutinise. In those financial accounts were the records of hundreds of people who had been assisted in some way over the past year. And the allegations of sexual abuse of children had nothing to do with this church – and in fact, there were some very accountable guidelines in place for preventing even a hint of this. 

In one sense, such allegations could be seen as an attack against our church. (As it turns out, this person had never been to our church or knew anything about us.) Rather than seeing this as an attack against us, I feel we should see this as an uncurtained window into someone’s heart. It lets us see that they feel hurt by someone who was supposed to be representing God. Their objections to God are grounded in their emotional experiences where they were subject directly or indirectly to someone’s hypocrisy.



After one of our church TV ad campaigns (which we run every Summer on commercial television stations), a lady phoned our church to attack us. As she shared her anger at our audacity to publicly invite people to church and declare that God loved them, I gently said to her,

It sounds like you have a story.”   

“I do!” she replied. “And maybe one day when you’ve got the time, I could tell it to you.” 

I’ve got the time now,” I said, “if you’d like to share it with me.

For the next two hours she shared how she had attended church with her family as a little girl and was all the while being secretly molested by the priest. This took place from the age of 6 up until the age of 17! She was now in her late 50s. She had tried to bury all this pain in her past and forget it, but the recent Royal Commission Into The Sexual Abuse of Children had brought it all back up for her. She told me how she actually longed for a spiritual connection with God, and knew that this necessarily involved being in a community of sincere believers. But her trust had been so egregiously violated that she suffered from involuntary physical reactions even setting foot outside of any church building. This had prevented her from attending family weddings and even funerals. I felt her pain. It was deep and almost incurable. This is not the kind of story that invited a reasoned argument as a response. It required a sincere pastoral response.

¶ “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.
Mark 9:42



I recently heard the story Prof. Rosaria Butterfield. She was the Professor of English & Women’s Studies at Syracuse University, in the USA. And, by her own admission, she was also a strident atheist, feminist, and practicing lesbian. She wrote a piece for the New York Times titled, “Why Promise Keepers Is A Threat To American Democracy” (Promise Keepers was a Christian Men’s Movement striving to encourage men to be more godly) in which she attacked “right-wing Fundamentalist Christians”. Her article drew quite a reaction. But one response caught her by surprise. It was from an elderly Presbyterian minister. She later described it as, “The kindest opposition I had ever received.” She found Pastor Smith’s manner very appealing. They began to dialogue. The pastor invited Rosaria over for a meal with him and his wife. Rosaria was keen to publicly dismantle Christianity and was pleased to have this contact with Pastor Smith whom she regarded as “a research assistant”. These dinners became a weekly event, sometimes at Pastor Smith’s home, sometimes at Rosaria’s home. This went on week by week for the next two years. Professor Butterfield fired her objections to the Bible at these dinners and Rev. Smith patiently and reasonably answered each of them. In this time, the Professor read the Bible through from cover to cover seven times – looking for its glaring inaccuracies and fallacies. She couldn’t find any. But this wasn’t the tipping point for her being converted to Christ. It was kindness she received from Rev. Smith and his wife. Several times over those two years one of them would call her after a snow blizzard and ask how she was and whether they could help her in anyway.

She observed that during their meals together, people would just drop by. Often they would make their way into the Smith’s kitchen and fix themselves a cup of coffee and make themselves at home. This sense of community was something she had come to value among her LGBT friends. Now she was experiencing it firsthand among Christians! She said, “Around this time the Word of God got into me. It was no longer an outside book – it was now inside me!” She was converted to Christ. She came to realise that her “attractions were not her identity”, yet her feelings of same-sex attraction did not disappear with her conversion to Christianity. She became more involved in her new community of fellow believers and the kindness, acceptance, and grace she received from them was transformational over the coming years. Today, she is married to Rev. Ken Butterfield, is a mother, and a home-schooler, who lives with her family in North Carolina.

but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious…¶ Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.
First Peter 3:4, 8

The Gospels repeated describe Christ as “having compassion” for the people He was with. I suspect that if we could do the same, some of the people who feel hurt by those they expected to more accurately honour God, would eventually come to see that God is real because they can see Him in us as we care for each other and for them. It might take two years of dining each week with them in our homes or theirs, but then again, when the hurt is deep, it might take even longer.


Your Pastor,


Let me know what you think below in the comment section and feel free to share this someone who might benefit from this Pastor’s Desk.


  1. Jim & Beth Dixon

    G’day Andrew One can always rely on you to give balanced sensitive and insightful writings, that make one think and search.
    Beth and I think of you and uphold you in prayer. In answer to our prayers since leaving Tassie the Lord has led us to fellowship with a church with an emphasis on prayer and worship. It is a very welcoming and loving church and the pastor is originally from Chile. He’s a brother with a great love for God and people. They’ve made us very welcome and it’s good to have ‘home church’ after so long looking around, and somewhere where we may be able to sow into as the Lord enables
    We pray that you all at Legana will continue to enjoy much blessing from the Father in every way, especially as we use this time to remeber our Saviour’s birth. Greetings and love in Jesus to Kim your families and the saints that are at Legana>
    Jim & Beth

    • legana

      Thank you Jim. Great to hear that you are both doing well and no doubt being a blessed night to tho around you.


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The One who spoke the world into existence entered materially into His World and “split time in half”. He came to rescue the world because a great betrayal occurred. One of His chief agents was filled with self-deception and conceited envy and manipulated a serpent to his bidding in destroying the very last and highest of the Lord’s “very good” creation. Disappointingly she fell for it – and her husband who supposed to protect her failed in his most basic of responsibilities. Their fall from innocence and into grace plunged that was momentarily and formerly under their vice-regency. The world had now gone rogue. When the Eternal Son of God submitted to His co-LORD, the Holy Spirit placed Him into a virgin’s womb by uniting his consciousness and sinless essence with the ovum of this young virgin. In doing so, Immanuel relinquished none of His sovereign power or prerogatives but chose to lay aside His glory and become fully human. And for those who came to recognise who He actually was, it ever caused them to fall down at His feet in adoration, or shrink back from Him in terror. The side-effect of those who who adored him was a new ability to sleep. If you have trouble sleeping because of worries, you too can discover how an acquaintance with the Lordship of Jesus the Christ can also help you to sleep better. 


Today, “Jesus Christ is Lord” sounds like a bumper sticker or part of an ancient church liturgy but when Christianity was founded if someone uttered these words it could literally mean death! ’o christos ’o kurios “Christ is Lord” was a risky thing to declare when the only safe thing to declare was ’o kaiser ’o kurios “Caesar is Lord”! Yet it was upon these words that the earliest confession of the Church was founded. For the early Christians, this was not a glib, throw-away line uttered during a church service or something stuck on the backside of your donkey (or chariot if you were wealthy).  


I really dislike the expression ‘moving forward’. So many people say, ‘moving forward’ from the meeting, the experience, the…. whatever! Has anyone stopped to think that time continues. We can’t go back. Even if we are reflecting, or for that matter mulling, we are in the continuum of time, and unless we have a mythical time machine, we just can’t go backwards in time. Our only option is to ‘move forward’.


I have long said that my primary role as a shepherd-pastor is to help people to die well. To do this, as I have often said, requires that we learn how to live life well. Of all the normally uncomfortable subjects that Christians find it difficult to talk about, death should not be one of them. But it is. This is because, of all the world religions, only Christianity has a positive view of death. After all, we have a divine Saviour who confronted and conquered death. As a result the original apostles mocked death.
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
¶ The sting of death is sin,
and the power of sin is the law.”
(First Corinthians 15:55-56)
These apostles refused to be intimidated by death which was ultimately evidenced by their martyrdoms. The apostle Paul could look forward to his death with the obvious lament that he would no longer be available to help those he had led to the Lord (Phil. 1:23-25). But he could face his impending death with the assurance that it would mean that he would immediately be in the presence of his Lord — and so should we! And like Paul, we too should be be able to talk about death in a very different way to those who do not know what we know.


A suburban home in Australia is shrinking in land size even though the average house size is headed in the opposite direction. What hasn’t changed is fencing around the block of land in order to separate it from a neighbour’s property. Broken fences, overgrown hedges and pets jumping fences are a known source of conflicts. We value our privacy. Those fences are boundaries. To go over them without permission will be trespassing. Renting, owning or owned outright – our home is our safe haven. When we chat with neighbours across the fence, there is a sense of security that comes with standing on our own patch of land. A little piece of Australia over which we have custody, albeit temporal.


Each of these uncomfortable topics in this brief series of articles are uncomfortable because there they carry a sense of embarrassment or even shame attached to them. But this particular topic also carries a good deal of pain associated with it – in addition to any feelings of embarrassment or shame. This pain may involve a sense of failure, betrayal, rejection, and humiliation. Divorce rarely effects just the two people involved in ending a marriage. Divorce can scar people like little else can. It can scar socially, financially, emotionally, relationally, and even a person’s physical health – and sometimes do so permanently.


All of us feel sad at some point – even people who are usually happy most of the time. Usually though for most people there will be some understandable reason for it. This might include the loss of a loved one, a certain disappointment, an accident, or sympathy for someone. This kind of sadness is temporary. But there is a kindness of sadness that lingers which leaves a person drained, teary, thinking dark thoughts, and feeling desperately lonely. This is usually when we consider someone is experiencing ‘depression’ and it is one of those things that Christians find difficult to admit to or even talk about.


There are some things that Christians can’t and don’t talk about – but probably should. So, I would like to pastorally share some thoughts about this taboo topic of doubt in what will be part 1 in this short series of pastor’s desk articles of four taboo topics that Christians can’t talk about.


Resilience was one of the predominant character traits of the early Christians. They called it being steadfast. For these early Christians being ‘resilient’ meant being able to keep going despite set backs, discouragements, betrayals, unforeseen circumstances, lack of energy, motivation, and resources. Like a weary hiker looking down a long road that leads to the mountain range they must walk over, being resilient in life means putting one foot in front of the other, and then doing it again, and again, and again, and so on. God knows that today, in what many are describing as “Post-Christendom” (and the resilient among us prefer to think of as Pre-Christendom) to be resilient is to live with a purpose, to stay focused, to live for others, and to strive toward a good, honourable, goal. With so many reasons to lose sight of the true purpose of life the tendency is to be tricked into believing that life right now is too hard. But the truth be told – people need to know how to be more resilient. Leaders especially need to be resilient right now. Churches assuredly need to be resilient at this time. With the recent interference into churches by government through the measures they said was “to keep people safe” — it has actually depleted people’s ability and willingness to be resilient! Here’s what leaders, people, and churches can do about it.


home > Pastor's Desk > 2023 > July 21st > COME ON IN AND JOIN USSome people think of ‘church’ as a place of religious rituals. To them it a place where sermons are preached, hymns are sung, weddings are conducted, funerals formalised, and babies are...