home > Pastor’s Desk > 2021 > July > THEY SAID IT COULDN’T BE DONE!

But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Matthew 19:26

Christianity is a religion of impossibilities! Consider the following impossibilities. God did the impossible when He –

◊ created the universe from nothing (Gen. 1:1; Psalm 33:6; Jn. 1:3);

◊ created life from none-life (Gen. 2:7; Job 33:4; Jn. 1:4);

◊ enabled an elderly barren woman to conceive and bear a son (Gen. 18:14; 21:1-2);

◊ revealed the future in verifiable and specific detail through His prophets (Jer. 25:13; 29:19; Amos 3:7; Acts 3:18);

◊ sent His eternal Son into the world by being born of a young virgin girl (Isa. 7:14; Mtt. 1:23; Lk. 1:23; Rev. 12:5);

◊ empowered the Christ to perform miracles of healing (Mtt. 4:23), resurrections (Mtt. 9:25; 11:5), food-provision (Mtt. 15:36);

◊ raised the Christ from the dead (Mtt. 28:7; 1Cor. 15:4);

◊ translated (ascended) the resurrected Christ back into the dimension of eternity (“Heaven”) (Jn. 20:17; Acts 1:9)

◊ sent the Holy Spirit into the earth to spiritually regenerate, gift, and empower those who surrender/ed to the Christ (Acts 1:8; 2:4; Eph. 5:18; 1Cor. 12:7);

◊ enabled the apostles of Christ to perform miracles similar to the Christ (Acts 6:3; 19:11);

◊ despite virulent and brutal attempts to destroy both the Church and the Scriptures, He has miraculously preserved both (Acts 6:7; Psalm 119:89).

He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed,
you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”
Matthew 17:20

 

FOR THOSE WHO DARE TO DREAM

One of the first mobile phones in the 1990s was soon likened to carrying a brick around

One of the first mobile phones in the 1990s was soon likened to carrying ‘a brick’ around!

What was once thought of as impossible by one generation has frequently become common-place to the next generation because someone dared to dream and ask, “Why not?” In the mid-1990s, a young Bill Gates wrote a book entitled, The Road Ahead at a time when powerful computers filled entire rooms and personal computers were a novelty used for playing Space Invaders by those who didn’t have a book to read. In his book, Gates predicted that computing would soon be able to be done on a small hand-held device that could easily fit into your pocket and would be connected wirelessly to an invisible storage-“cloud” enabling users to access and retrieve enormous amounts of information instantly. He predicted that these hand-held computers would be integrated into mobile phones and would also enable identification (even national passports) and financial transactions to buy things without the need to carry credit-cards or cash. “Impossible!” Computer experts of the day scoffed at his brash and daring predictions. While Gates leveraged the resources of Microsoft to try and make it happen, and eventually developed a disappointing prototype, he was never able to achieve what he had forecasted in his book –

but that didn’t mean it was “impossible”! While Gates himself failed to fulfil his vision of what would later become known as a ‘smart phone’, another brash young computer engineer (Steve Jobs) took Gates’ vision and began to dream of a totally different way to merge the internet, a mobile phone, a music-player (“iPod”) and a computer, and thus, in 2007, the iPhone was introduced to the world — and what was once thought impossible has now become common-place. 

 

‘THE PASSING OF THE IMPOSSIBLE’ BY F.W. BOREHAM

In 1914 F.W. Boreham marvelled at what was once thought impossible was now considered common-place. In writing in his weekly Hobart Mercury column (and later published by Epworth Press in a collection of essays called, Mountains In The Mist) he declared to his secular readers the position that Christians held about what constitutes the impossible – 

Of course we know, being the Christians that we are, that there is no such thing as an impossibility in the world or out of it. An impossibility is an impossibility. Impossibilities belong to the realm of mythology. They inhabit the same weird world as the brownies and the elves, the fairies and the ghouls. As serious and scientific and practical and believing men, we must frankly confess to ourselves that the very notion of an impossibility is, on the face of it, a ludicrous absurdity.
F.W. Boreham, The Passing of The Impossible, ‘Mountains In The Mist’, 1914, p. 38

When we consider the pace of change over the past one hundred years, it becomes apparent that what was considered impossible soon became common-place to the next generation. This applies not just to innovations such as the recent emergence of the iPhone, but also to previously ‘impossible’ human achievements including – the scaling of Mount Everest by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, breaking the four-minute mile by Roger Bannister, sending a manned spacecraft to the moon where Neil Armstrong and Buz Aldrin were able walk on the lunar surface, and while in 1910 the Men’s 50m freestyle world record was 86 seconds – in 2009, Brazilian, Caesar Cielo swam it in 20.91 seconds! And after Bjorn Borg had won 6 Roland Garros crowns (1974-1981), everyone thought it would be impossible for anyone to match that record, but last year (2020), Rafael Nadal won his 13th Roland Garros crown making him GOAT of clay court tennis after completing what most thought could never be done!

 

IMPOSSIBLE CHRISTIANITY!

It is assumed by many that modern Australia was first settled by the irreligious riff-raff of Britain’s over-crowded prisons. This is often the explanation given for how unChristian and unChurched Australians are why it would be impossible for Christianity to gain any traction in Australia. Added to this is the perception that the early Christian missionaries oppressed Aboriginal Australians who have then largely rejected Christianity. But consider the following challenges to these perceptions. In 1959, a young evangelist from the backwaters of North Carolina came to Australia to preach the gospel. When he arrived in Sydney, ten thousand people came out to hear him!

Aerial view of the Sydney Showgrounds on April 12th 1959 where 10,000 people came out to hear Billy Graham

Aerial view of the Sydney Showgrounds on April 12th 1959 where 10,000 people came out to hear Billy Graham

Even at night thousands of Sydney-siders braved the chill to come out to hear Billy Graham preach in the Sydney showgrounds on April 13th 1959

Even at night thousands of Sydney-siders braved the chill to come out to hear Billy Graham preach in the Sydney show-grounds on April 13th 1959

But it was when he came to Melbourne that something truly impossible happened! One hundred and thirty thousand people came to hear Billy Graham preach at the MCG!

Geoff Gawler was 10 when he saw Billy Graham at the MCG and says it changed his life.(ABC News: Jess Longbottom)

Geoff Gawler was 10 when he saw Billy Graham at the MCG and says it changed his life.(ABC News: Jess Longbottom)

If Australians consider themselves irreligious, Tasmanians are a whole other level of irreligious. Take a tour of the Port Arthur historical site and you’ll gain an understanding why. But when Billy Graham came in York Park in April 1959, impossible as it was thought to be,17,000 people filled the stadium to hear the evangelist and, per-capita, more people than anywhere else in the world made a first-time commitment to Christ! 

“But that was then!” I hear you say? Consider then, that from this point churches around Australia began to experience extraordinary growth. A young returning missionary and his wife to Australia, Andrew and Lorraine Evans, took on a small church in Klemzig, Adelaide. Pastor Evans dared to believe that impossible is impossible and began praying for his church to grow extraordinarily. The church changed its name to Paradise Community Church (and is now called Influencers Church) and grew to be one of the first churches have a regular attendance of 2,000 people! But it kept growing and had a regular attendance of 6,000 before it established extra campuses around Adelaide to accommodate its growth. Meanwhile, around the same time, a young evangelist and his family moved to the pastorate of a church in Richmond, Victoria. This modest sized church of 150 attenders quickly grew to be a church of over 2,000 under the leadership of Pastor Phil Hills and planted around 200 churches around the perimeter of Melbourne! Today, “Richmond Temple” as it was known and today is known as Neuma Church has over 6,000 weekly attendees! Meanwhile, in Sydney, a young Brian Houston, planted a church in the Hills district of suburban Sydney and today that Sydney church has — what many people had always considered to be impossible — over 25,000 regular weekly attendees! In fact, I could mention churches in nearly each Australian capital city that now have attendances of over 10,000 people per week! Christianity impossible in Australia?  Think again. And time prevents me from documenting the many revivals and outpourings of the Holy Spirit on the Aboriginal communities of Australia resulting in an incredibly vibrant Christian Church among our First Nations peoples!

Now, there is one text among the great sayings of Jesus that I confess I never understood until very lately: ‘Verily, I say unto you, if ye have faith as a grain of mustard-seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove ; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.’ Now, I was so incredulous about the possibility of removing mountains that I had to see it done before I really and truly believed. I am writing in Tasmania. And here in Tasmania we have a mountain — Mount Lyell. And gradually a strange faith stole into the hearts of men. They believed that underneath Mount Lyell there was an abundance of copper. They suspected it. They investigated it. They believed it ! And when they really believed it, they actually said unto the mountain, ‘Remove hence into yonder place!’ They believed; they moved the mountain; and nothing was impossible to them. The men who drove the spectral impossibilities from the shadows of our civilization were great believers, all of them. Columbus did not believe in the new world because he discovered it; he discovered it because he first of all believed it…[And] The history of missions is one continuous story of the invasion of the impossible.
F.W. Boreham, The Passing of The Impossible, ‘Mountains In The Mist’, 1914, p. 44-45

 

THE GOD OF THE IMPOSSIBLE!

What often looks impossible today in the realms of technology, travel, power generation, medicine, and even church, often becomes common-place tomorrow. But it takes those who are prepared to dream and dare — despite their critics. I’m looking for people who are prepared to dream and dare with me. Our city of Launceston has many fine churches but it is yet to see what the God of the Impossible can do with a church that is prepared to dream and dare. When I read the closing book of the Bible I am captivated by the ‘dream’ of God to see people redeemed from every tribe, nation, and tongue that will eventually comprise a number so vast that no-one could possibly count them! (Rev. 7:9). This is God’s grand dare for the Church and I’m in on the dare! Perhaps we too could dream of a church made up of people from an many nations, tribes, and languages as possible! Perhaps we could dare to dream of a church so significant that hundreds come each Sunday just to find out for themselves what God is doing! And when the day comes — and the day will come — that such a church exists in our city of Launceston, Tasmania, we will remember that there many who said “It couldn’t be done!”

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.

8 Comments

  1. Gordon Williams

    I remember when I became a Christian in my late 40’s many people said it was totally impossible that a lifetime smug atheist like me could turn to Christ. Some actually said they now believed in miracles and the impossible if someone like me could become a Christian!

    Reply
  2. John sands

    Read this in Ulverstone and greatly encouraged yet again which is great when one was not discouraged in the first place. Will be thinking of you all on Sunday and do a catch-up on Forgiveness 2 on return.

    Reply
    • legana

      Thank you Dr. John!

      Reply
  3. Archibald Norman Macdonald

    Have proved on countless occasions that the same Jesus who was around nigh 2000 years ago is still around today , the same yesterday today and forever both in small and great things .

    Reply
    • legana

      Thank you Norm!

      Reply
  4. LYDIA

    Twila Paris – God Is In Control – YouTube
    https://www.youtube.com › watch
    Its a song I have sung often quite some years ago. I love it! It came to my memory this week. Then reading this week’s Pastor’s Desk spiel…thank you Andrew!… that also brought me back a little in time to a beautiful indigenous couple who tour the East Coast of the mainland and bring the Gospel to their people in song and deed and Art. Glenny Naden. https://www.commongrace.org.au/christian_artists
    I love these folks!
    That brought me to another happening some weeks back where the thought was put to me by a Christian that “Oh…ooo…not sure of that will really work”… Will Graham’s coming over. And I thought then, as I read NOW that…faith, one needs only faith as small as a mustard seed and ANYTHING can happen!
    When I was a young girl back in Adelaide and attended the Leighton Ford Crusade many came forward and one young boy I know of, about 11 or 12 at the time, was not allowed to do that from his dad, go forward and give his life to Christ. Just imagine if he had…his life would have been so different.
    So according to Scripture ALL things right across the broad spectrum of life are possible with God.

    Reply
    • legana

      Thank you Lydia!

      Reply
  5. LYDIA

    Thank you Andrew with God ALL things are possible.

    Reply

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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.

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.