home > Pastor’s Desk > 2021 > May > EXCUSE ME


Do you remember the biggest problem you faced when you were 9 years-old? Unless you had a traumatic event take place at that time, chances are that you can’t. The problems that we had to deal with when we were children seemed enormous at the time and probably resulted in many frustrating tears. But years later, looking back, they more than likely now look either trivial or long-forgotten. Actually, you probably don’t even have to try and recollect back to your childhood to now see the problems you had just a few years or even months ago in a different light which now makes them look a lot smaller than they appeared at the time. The passage of time tends to give us a different perspective on life and our priorities.

I have been young, and now am old,
yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken
or his children begging for bread.
Psalm 37:25

TAKING A LONG-TERM VIEW

It’s difficult when you’re young to think too much about the future. When we’re young we tend to focus on the now. On the other hand, when you’re old it’s too easy to look back over the years of your youth with a host of “If only” regrets. If only I’d…saved my money…listened to my parents…gone to university…said yes…said no…not eaten so much…learned the piano…made more time with those I care about… You can tell when a person has become wise by how they regard their future. A wise person will always take a long-term view of their life. It’s not that they don’t make mistakes now, or even seem to waste time or money occasionally. A wise person takes a long-term view of their life and adjusts their perspective on their present challenges accordingly.

The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance,
but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.
Proverbs 21:5

LIFE IS SHORT

The other week I saw a childhood schoolfriend of one of my children whom I hadn’t seen for quite a while. Four days or so after I had seen him I received a phone call from one of his other friends that on the weekend their mutual schoolfriend had been killed in an horrific accident. Today, someone came to see me to tell of a friend of theirs whose child had committed suicide this week. Both of these lives ended tragically and prematurely. When we say, “Life is short” –  it’s easy to think of such youthful tragedies. But the reality is, everyone’s life is short!

F.W. Boreham in 1908 in Hobart Baptist Church where he was the pastor

F.W. Boreham in 1908 in Hobart Baptist Church where he was the pastor

My hero, F.W. Boreham, was fond of writing in series. He wrote a five volume series on Texts That Changed The World that became a best-seller and still inspires millions of people even today. When he turned 40, he began to write a series in which the first instalment was entitled, On Turning Forty. He wrote the second instalment when he turned 50. He wrote the third when he turned 60. He wrote the fourth when he turned 70, and he wrote his last when he turned 80. As he got older he increased his reflections on some of his regrets. Even though he was one of the world’s most acclaimed preachers and Christian authors – whose books have possibly led thousands to Christ – he said that he had one big regret toward the end of his life and career as a preacher. “I did not preach enough about God!” he lamented. To be sure, he had preached about God’s deeds and acts, the attributes of God’s grace and love, and other peripheral topics associated with the doctrine of God, but he felt great sorrow that he had not preached more about God himself! If only, he said, if only I had presented God for who He truly is then surely more people would have come to see Him as the most beautiful being in the universe whose magnificence and wonderfulness would melt the hardest heart and soften the most resistant. His regret spurs me on to make sure that I know who God truly is and love Him for who He truly is and serve Him because He is who He is. And I daren’t waste a moment in this holy quest because life is short.

¶ A voice says, “Cry!”
And I said, “What shall I cry?”
All flesh is grass,
and all its beauty is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades
when the breath of the LORD blows on it;
surely the people are grass.
Isaiah 40:6-7

 

IN THE END

As F.W. Boreham approached the end of his life, he longed to know God more richly and deeply. This was also the quest of the apostle Paul as he approached his end. He wrote to the Philippians from a jail cell. Even though it appears that he held out hope for an early release from his imprisonment after he was to be brought before Caesar, this hope was not realised.

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and may share His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death.
Philippians 3:8-10

“That I may know Him!” Fancy that! The apostle who was struck from his horse by the radiant glory of Christ while on the Persecutor’s Road to Damascus; the apostle whom the resurrected Christ appeared to in a vision and spoke directly to him (Acts 18:9-10); the apostle whom Christ used to raise people from the dead and to heal many people miraculously; and, the apostle who testifies that he was caught up to heaven and saw things too wonderful to reveal — this apostle gets toward the end of his life and states that he doesn’t yet know Christ the way he should! This apostle, the apostle Paul, toward the end of his life begins to see his life and his troubles in the light of eternity. And I am thus assured that in this light many of the problems that we face today will fade from our gaze and vanish as we fix our eyes on the Source of eternity’s Light.

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?
Matthew 16:26

 

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.

3 Comments

  1. thomas nielsen

    Thanks Pastor Andrew for a brilliant and encouraging article regarding ,In The Light of Eternity, it is always good to view life from an eternal perspective.

    Reply
  2. Therese Stepanovic

    Thank you Ps Andrew, for once again putting things into perspective, no matter what we are going through in our life we need to look to Jesus, who is the only one who can help us get through.

    Reply

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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.

THE TOOLS OF REMEMBERING

I like to think I have a pretty good memory.  I like to think I’m organised.  Generally, I am – I don’t double book appointments, I keep track of what I’m doing and when, I mostly turn up on time. But, on reflection, I’m not so sure this means I have a good memory.

TRUTH vs SOMETHING BIG AND HAIRY

“You were lying in your bed, you were feeling kind of sleepy.
But you couldn’t close your eyes because the room was getting creepy.
Were those eyeballs in the closet? Was that Godzilla in the hall?
There was something big and hairy casting shadows on the wall.
Now your heart is beating like a drum, your skin is getting clammy.
There’s a hundred tiny monsters jumping right into your jammies”!

These are lyrics from a song on the very first Veggie Tales video every made. The title of the song?  “God is bigger than the Boogie Man”. Junior Asparagus was lying in bed frightened, and Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber appeared to tell him that he doesn’t have to be scared of the imaginary monsters because, “God is the bigger.” My childhood night-time fears weren’t so much about big and hairy monsters, aka boogie men, or Godzilla in the hall. My fears were house fires – our home burning down, and “burglars” or “robbers”. But I certainly identify with lying in bed, my heart beating like a drum, my skin getting clammy, my imagination in overdrive.

CLOSING THE DEAL

In 1871, the American evangelist, Dwight (“DL”) Moody was preaching to huge crowds each night in Chicago. At the end of each message he would give an appeal for people to either respond immediately to the gospel message he had just presented, or at least go home and consider it. But on Sunday October 8th, 1871, a huge fire broke out in Chicago. It burned through the city for days and became known as The Great Chicago Fire. Around 10,000 people were homeless as a result, and hundreds of people lost their lives. Moody was heart-broken when he realised that many of the people who had died were the people who had attended that Sunday night meeting where he had urged them to consider accepting Christ. His deep grief over this tragedy led him to make a vow that he would never again merely urge people to simply consider accepting Christ. From now on, he vowed, he would plead with all those he preached to – to immediately turn away from their sins and turn to the Saviour. DL Moody committed his life and ministry as an evangelist to be someone who would always strive to close the deal because he was now aware—more than ever—that people’s eternal destinies were in jeopardy! 

BUILDING A MOODY CHURCH

The three things that make the Christian life exciting and enthralling are the same three things that enable a believer to develop a closer relationship with God. The combination of these supernatural gifts gives the child of God an awareness that there is more, much more, to this world than we can see, touch, taste or feel. When the Christian’s faith is grounded and buttressed in God’s Word, godly prayer, and God’s house he or she flourishes. But there are forces at play that are determined to stop the believer from reaching their spiritual destiny. While we might think these enemy forces only use the fiery darts of doubt to hinder the believer’s journey to glory, there is something that they successfully use far more often: our mood. This is why, for any church to be successful, it must discover how to build moody church.

PRAYING PRAYERS

The amazing thing about prayer, is that nearly everyone does it – but hardly anyone thinks they do it well. If you visit any Christian bookstore you will notice that the largest display of books is about prayer. And it’s not just Christian bookstores where you’ll find books on prayer. Regular bookstores also sell a wide range of books on prayer (even if they do classify them as books on ‘meditation’!). One of the most frequently searched questions on Google is, “How to pray” (which then points enquirers to over 2.3 billion web pages answering their question). But in all of human history – and two thousand years before anyone but one had ever heard of Google – there was just One person who was supremely qualified to answer this question. And fortunately for those of us who really want to know the answer to this question (without having to peruse more than 2.3 billion web pages!) He gave us the answer.

WHY SOME BELIEVE

Why is it that two people can look at exactly the same evidence and can come to completely different conclusions about it? Even more puzzling is how two equally qualified scientific experts can look at the same data and utterly disagree about what it means. This happens many times in court cases where the prosecution will call their “expert witness” to give his or her professional opinion to verify that the defendant is guilty only to have the defence to present their “expert witness” who gives his or her professional opinion as to why the prosecution’s expert witness was wrong and to prove that defendant is innocent! This at least illustrates why it is not always the quality of the evidence that leads a person to accept or reject a claim. This especially apply to the claims that Jesus Christ made. Of the four accounts in the New Testament written about His life, three of them were written by eye-witnesses and the other one (Luke’s) was written by someone who interviewed many eye-witnesses. It is with interest that we turn to the last one to be John’s Gospel, where he describes dramatic proofs that Jesus was who He claimed to be. Yet despite these otherwise inexplicable proofs that at times thousands of people witnessed, many still wouldn’t believe. But it seems among those who did believe they all had one thing in common.

UNPACKING CHRISTIANITY

home > Pastor's Desk > 2022 > JUNE 3rd > UNPACKING CHRISTIANITY UNPACKING CHRISTIANITY I have a thing for bags. Not shopping bags or lady’s handbags, but manly bags - functional bags. A few years back I became fed-up with the number of bags I was...