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THIS WILL ONLY TAKE A MINUTE

Have you ever had someone come to you with a request who said, “This will only take a minute!”? I did it this week to a tradie who came to do a quick little job in our new kitchen at church. My “This will only take a minute” actually worked out to be about an hour of Mark’s valuable time (sorry Mark). I’ve to realise that the expression “This will only take a minute” is code for – “There is no way this could be done in under an hour.” A few weeks ago, the 105.3WayFM General Manager popped into my office and asked, “When you get a few spare minutes, could you knock up some more Godspots for us?” (A Godspot is a one minute radio spot for a Christian radio station that takes about 90 minutes to create.) “A few spare minutes!” I thought to myself. Is this guy kidding? But I think Jim has come to know what most successful people have come to know, that when you want something done, always ask a busy person to do it! (I haven’t done the fifty new spots that he needs yet, but I have managed to “knock up” a few.) When I was a young pastor I was completely unprepared for the number of interruptions that a pastor in a church office had to deal with. I was utterly caught off-guard and wondered how I could ever accomplish all that needed to be done. But then something dramatic happened that changed everything.  

 

A THEOLOGY OF INTERRUPTIONS

As part of study program I undertook a few years ago, which involved taking a course on pastoral time-management, there was a requirement to study how Christ responded to interruptions. What I found in my research was stunning. The majority of Christ’s miracles and profound teaching moments were the result of people interrupting Him. For example, consider the time that Jesus sat down for His dinner and had His meal interrupted—

¶ And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” But He did not answer her a word. And His disciples came and begged Him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before Him, saying, “Lord, help me.” And He answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.
Matthew 15:21-28

While Jesus was God-incarnate (and therefore fully human), there was at least one emotion that every human experiences that I doubt Jesus ever experienced: surprise. Therefore, each time it appeared Christ was being interrupted or caught off-guard, the reality was: He was never surprised and He was always ready for it! While Christ had the advantage of divine knowledge to anticipate such interruptions, we don’t. But what we can do is treat our interruptions the way Jesus did. It seems that He viewed every ‘interruption’ as an appointment made for Him by His Father. And so can we.

I cannot begin to describe to you how much this realisation revolutionised my life. As I then read through the Gospels I became increasingly aware that Christ stayed on course with His mission even though He was continually interrupted by people wanting something from Him. Some wanted healing. Some wanted to challenge Him. Some wanted Him to settle a family dispute. Some just wanted to get a glimpse of Him and even climbed a tree to get it (which resulted in a spontaneous lunch for Mrs Zacchaeus to prepare. In each instance, Jesus treated the people prompting these interruptions as important and valuable. And as it turned out, each of these interruptions were actually integral to His mission! Therefore, consider that the interruptions (and even disruptions) we all have to deal with, may well be a part of God’s plan for us that are not a distraction away from fulfilling God’s mission and purpose for our lives, but might actually be an integral means of us fulfilling it!

From Luke’s Gospel it is apparent how Jesus managed His time and maintained His mission focus while being regularly being interrupted. 

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

Jesus intentionally spent time alone with His Father away from the crowds. Down through the ages Christians have considered solitude with God a necessary spiritual discipline just as Jesus did. 

¶ While He was saying these things to them, behold, a ruler came in and knelt before Him, saying, “My daughter has just died, but come and lay Your hand on her, and she will live.” And Jesus rose and followed him, with his disciples. And behold, a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind Him and touched the fringe of his garment, for she said to herself, “If I only touch his garment, I will be made well.” Jesus turned, and seeing her He said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well.
Matthew 9:18-22

 

JESUS IS NOW UNINTERRUPTIBLE

As I hope I have briefly demonstrated, Jesus had a knack for being interrupted well. He viewed each of these interruptions as divine appointments which aided Him in His mission. He was, during His days in the flesh, essentially uninterruptible because He didn’t regard any of these interruptions as disruptions. In other words, Christ did not seem to view these apparent interruptions in the same way that most of us seem to. And if you think that’s amazing, then consider this: Christ is now seated at the right hand of the Father in the dimension of eternity with the divine ability to “be with you always” (Matt. 28:20). That is, despite sustaining the very universe (Col. 1:17) and ordering the events of history toward the culmination of His redemptive plan (1Tim. 6:15), He sees you, He hears you. He knows exactly what you’re going through. Put simply, you can not interrupt the uninterruptible God!  

Consequently, He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.
Hebrews 7:25

 

CHANGE THE WAY YOU VIEW INTERRUPTIONS

Jesus reaches out to Zacchaeus

When we reflect on the life of Christ we can’t help but notice that He was a supremely important mission but what we may not as easily notice is how often Jesus was interrupted. Out of these interruptions came miracles, moments, and monumental messages. It’s as if Christ considered these interruptions to be divine appointment that actually furthered His mission! For those of who live busy lifestyles and find interruptions to be frustrating, Christ’s example presents an inconvenient challenge. To meet this challenge involves a posture of worship and divinely ordering our priorities. And I do not at all suggest that this will only take a minute!

Your pastor,

Andrew

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.

5 Comments

  1. LYDIA

    Hello Andrew
    Here I sit. I have just read the “This Will Only Take A Minute” spiel. Where I often wonder if someone can be patient with me, all things considered, it was very encouraging to read that Jesus as focused as He was, used the interruptions He received, where the disciples tried to get rid of the pesky person. He dealt with what ever the need was and would have known anyway as He is that Searcher of hearts and knows us. Tomorrow being Sunday I am going to wear my Zacchaeus Cross, to remind me, if I forget, that Zacchaeus climbed that tree and Jesus said He was gonna come to His house, meaning He planned to have a discussion with him. I am appreciating what comes each week from the Pastor’s Desk, a time to consider, reflect, discover, examine and be encouraged. Just a few adjectives that come to mind.

    Reply
  2. Louise

    Thx for your thoughts and encouragement … after a week of interruptions and it will only take a minute moments this was great to read 🙂

    Reply
  3. Vanessa

    Hi Andrew,

    As a very task orientated person, what you shared today has really spoken to me.

    Thank you for taking “more than a minute” of your time each week to send us your thoughts and teaching.

    Reply
  4. Therese Stepanovic

    Hi Ps Andrew
    Reading about the interruptions that Jesus was faced with during His ministry really puts a perspective on our life and what really matters. Thank you once again, for another wonderful description of Jesus’ character.

    Reply
  5. Wendy Williams

    Thank you Andrew!! A good reminder that every interruption in our lives, is an opportunity to stop, look and see what work God has sent our way to accomplish. The more we look beyond our own frustration, at constant interruptions, the brighter His lamp becomes for our feet to find His rewarding path. And what a gift we receive when our frustration and impatience are put to rest whilst our eyes are opened to His great plans for the future of others He loves.

    Reply

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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.

THINK ABOUT THIS

In Australia, it’s football finals time and the U.S. the last Grand Slam event for the year has just concluded. I find a lot of life lessons from observing elite athletes — including and especially those who play football and those who play tennis. Most people might consider football to be a team sport and tennis to be individual sport. But the distinction is not so clear these days. Often times footballers are individually coached by “position coaches” and a tennis player is often just who the public sees of a team of people responsible for the performance of that player. At the time of writing, there are remaining four Australian Rules Football (AFL) teams about to play off in the Preliminary Finals (including my beloved Geelong Cats). Last weekend, Carlos Alcaraz of Spain defeated Casper Ruud of Norway. Both players have intriguing stories which I will mention shortly. In the AFL, after a disastrous last season, the Collingwood Magpies appointed a new coach for this season, Craig McRae. Even though they got off to a slow start this season, under McRae’s oversight ended up having an 11-straight winning streak toward the end of the season and now look like genuine  Premiership contenders. What do Carlos Alcaraz, Casper Ruud, Craig McRae, and the Collingwood football team, all have in common? All the players at the elite level of their sport make an enormous commitment to train, practice, sleep, hydrate, and eat a regulated diet. Yet at the very highest levels in their respective sporting codes the difference between the elite and the extra-elite is no longer skill or fitness. In fact, the difference between them is so applicable to everyday life that it may be the most relevant and do-able thing you hear for a long time. So, think about this.

LOOKING BACK OVER THE PAST 200 YEARS

As Kim and I enjoyed our weekly coffee-date this morning at Stillwater, she looked out ruminatively across at all of the development that has taken place over the years where the North and South Esks merge to form the Tamar River.

“I wonder if the settlers who came here two hundred years ago” she asked, “could have imagined the silos would have been built over there and then turned into a luxury hotel, or that two bridges would have been built here, or that their tiny village would grow into a large city?”

“What’s more interesting” I responded, “is if anyone today can envision what it will all look like in another two hundred years!”

And my response then got me thinking. Could it be possible to imagine what Launceston will end up looking like in two hundred years—and, what about our church? What will our church will look like in two hundred years?

relevance-intact-the-place-of-the-church-in-tasmania

Tasmanian churches play a vital role in our state as a moral compass and social leader. Our moral compass was given to us 2,000 years ago by Christ  who then commissioned the Church to preach, teach, and care in His Name. The Church’s role as a social leader was instigated by Jesus who embraced the shunned, condemned oppressors of the vulnerable, and upheld the sacredness of every human life and taught His followers to do likewise. Two thousand years later, Tasmanian churches gather weekly and continue proclaim the good news that Jesus taught, care for the poor and homeless, feed the hungry, welcome refugees, and provide thousands of young Tasmanians with an education. This is why the former Examiner deputy editor recently described the Tasmanian Church as “the most fundamental pillar in society” but then described it as being led by “a pious clique of fancy robed hypocrites, with less and less relevance each year to the wider community” (28/8/2022). The basis for his sharp criticism is grounded in his assessment that the Tasmanian Church has not recalibrated its moral compass to align itself with culture’s progressive values. Here’s why I disagree with the esteemed former deputy editor.

THE GOOD SAMARITAN AND THE INN-KEEPER

WHO IS MY NEIGHBOUR? The Jewish leaders had a very strict understanding of who God accepted and who God rejected. Obviously, they taught, God had accepted the Jews as His favourite – particularly Jewish men. Jewish women were sort of accepted, but only as second-class members of God’s people. This obviously also meant that unless a gentile (a non-Jew) converted to Judaism they could not be accepted by God. Therefore, God rejected all gentiles — and He especially rejected Roman gentiles — but He reserved His ultimate rejection for Samaritans! Jesus then tells the Temple-lawyer the story of the Good Samaritan.

THE PRODIGAL FATHER

 Does anyone know what the word prodigal means? Perhaps most people assume that it means: “wanderer”, or “rebel”, or perhaps even “backslider” or that it only applies to sons. This seems to be based on the story that Jesus told in Luke 15 to which most Bible Publishers assign the division title – The Parable of the Prodigal Son. But the word prodigal does not occur in this parable. Interestingly, there are three lead characters in this shocking and famous parable: the father and his two sons. One of these was genuinely ‘prodigal’, and, as Tim Keller points out, it was neither son! To appreciate what Keller means we might need to take another look at what the word prodigal actually means. It comes from the verb prodigious which means remarkably great in extent, size, or degree (New Oxford American Dictionary). It is a word often used to describe an author who regularly writes books – John Grisham is a prodigious author. A prodigal person is therefore, prolific, extravagant, excessive, and, lavish. Keller points out that even though most people ascribe this to the wayward son in the parable, it is more appropriately a designation for the lead character in the story, the father!

SUPER SUCCESSFUL CHRISTIANS

Spare a thought for those people who are often overlooked by churches—and if they are Christians—they frequently struggle to even find a suitable church where they can deepen their relationship with Christ. Often we think of those who struggle with life as those who are “down and out” and blighted by impoverishment, or destitution, or ill-health, or family breakdown, or poor mental health. But surprisingly, even those who are seen as super-successful because of their wealth, social stature, public acclaim or amazing achievements, are actually struggling with loneliness, emptiness, and poor mental health — even if they are a Christian. These super-successful Christians are CEOs of large companies, or world-class or national sporting champions, or internationally renowned performing artists, or A-lister actors, or media personalities, or highly sought after professionals such as surgeons or barristers. They often pay a high price for their success, including, long work hours, constant stress, public criticism, extended time away from their families, fierce competition, and strained marriages. These pressures are exacerbated by their constant travel associated with their work which also makes them vulnerable to exhaustion and extraordinary temptations. This is why these super-successful Christians need to join the kind of church that can provide them with the kind of support, counsel, and accountability that every Christian needs. Here’s how a church can become this kind of church.

MAKING CHURCH A WELCOMING HOME

For many people, making a decision to attend a church is a significant and potentially daunting decision. As they come through the front door they are entering an unfamiliar environment. It is also an environment that may be associated with preconceived ideas of what the expectations and rules of the church community may be. These people probably will not know anybody and they might have concerns that relate to their previous or current lifestyle. For those of us who are regular church attendees, it is possible that we may not fully appreciate the challenges a new attendee may be facing. When we can relate to these concerns, I believe we are better equipped to provide a warm and patient “welcome” to what we hope will become their new church home.

LOVE IN ACTION

Physical illnesses and stressful events are endemic in our society. They can be likened to the thorns that cause both pain and damage. It doesn’t take much for them to impact a person’s life in ways that they did not expect. I believe that we can become more resilient as followers of Jesus by applying an appropriate solution to a known problem. I believe that an appropriate and important part of the solution is for us to show love the way that Jesus demonstrated love during His ministry on earth.