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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FIXEDLY FIXED

A number of years ago (back in the day!), I was offered the opportunity to do the Myers Briggs Personality test at my place of work. I was keen to do it! I always like understanding more about myself so I can grow. It was an interesting process, and I loved reading the final summary. One thing it suggested is that I’m generally easy going, but under extreme stress I tend to catastrophise.

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Now I turn my attention to an oft neglected aspect of our spiritual well-being: resting. As a disclaimer, I am one of the least qualified to discuss this topic—but, embarrassing, any lessons I have learned about the value of rest have come negatively from not resting as I should have and then enduring the inevitable consequences.

3 EXERCISES THAT WILL MAKE YOU HEALTHIER, FITTER, & STRONGER, Part 2

A healthy lifestyle involves regular vigorous exercise (aerobic exercise) – such as long brisk walk, a competitive game of tennis, or a 30-minute jog – and, eating a healthy diet. In Part 1, I drew the parallel to how we maintain our physical health with how we can contribute to our spiritual health. In particular I pointed out that just as doing aerobic exercise delivered more oxygen into our blood stream, so too does developing our times of prayer add spiritual oxygen into our soul. In this instalment, I am going to draw parallels with maintaining a healthy diet of eating fresh fruit and vegetables, cutting down on sugared and processed foods, and how our spiritual diet. Too many Christians have poor diets. I hope to encourage you not to be one of them. 

3 EXERCISES THAT WILL MAKE YOU HEALTHIER, FITTER, & STRONGER, Part 1

Every physical fitness coach will tell you that daily exercise which causes you sweat and puff is the kind of exercise that is doing you long-term good. Vigorous physical exercise such as running will cause you to need more air in your lungs which will cause you to puff. Puffing, the act of heavy breathing to replenish your need oxygen helps your respiratory and cardio-vascular systems to become healthier. Interestingly, breathing is the word that the Bible uses to describe how God created the First man. As a result of the lack of spiritual exercise, too many people do not have spiritual reserves, and consequently lack spiritual strength, capacity, confidence, psychological contentment, or the emotional happiness that they would otherwise have had. Yet, this is so unnecessary considering that there are three very simple spiritual exercises that everyone whose spirit has been regenerated can do to remedy this malady. 

AS MOSES LIFTED UP THE SERPENT

It might seem an odd thing to write about just two days before Christmas, but the story of God plaguing the Israelites with poisonous snakes and then commanding Moses to construct a bronze serpent and attach it to a cross-beamed pole has baffled even the best minds for centuries. Some people have regarded this story as yet another reason for them to reject God and the Bible and consider both to be nonsense. An ever-so-slightly-less-cynical approach that some, who seem to really want both God and the Bible to be true, have taken is to regard the story as a fictional myth with mysterious allegorical meaning. I think this is how Dr. Jordan Peterson recently interpretted it in his discussion with Mr. John Anderson on their Youtube discussion last week. The high profile psychologist Dr. Peterson seems to have been on an interesting spiritual journey of late and he is obviously delving into the Bible and coming up with what appear to be some roadblocks to his complete acceptance of the claims of Christ largely due to these obscure passages in the Bible such as this account in Number 21. “No one has ever been able to explain it to me!” he told Mr. Anderson. I wish he had asked me, because if he had, this is what I would have explained to him.

THUS SAITH THE LORD

Within the sixty-six books of Scriptures we have a unified and coherent revelation from God about His identity as the Creator, the Law-giver, the Redeemer, the Saviour, and the Final Judge. Its sixty-six books tell one story – God’s plan of redemption and conquest over and ultimate vanquishing of evil. Within the Scripture is the revelation of how to be reconciled to God by having our sins forgiven through Christ. It is the Scriptures which assure us that we have one mediator between us and God the Father – Jesus the Christ (1 Tim. 2:5; Heb. 9:15; 12:24) through whom we can directly appeal. It is within the Scriptures that we find the commands of God for how we are to live, conduct our lives, order our affairs, treat others, and prioritise our worship of God. Thus, we are not permitted to just be “hearers” of God’s Word, we are to accept its authority and be compliant with its commands and imperatives (Rom. 2:13; 1 Tim. 4:16; James 1:22-23) – because it is the Word of God.

HOW TO BE A SUCCESSFUL INVESTOR (OF MORE THAN JUST MONEY)

The most basic form of investing was described by Christ in the parable of the talents where He described it as putting money with the money-lenders to earn interest. Albert Einstein stated that ‘compound interest’ is the eighth wonder of the world! When some people hear the word ‘investing’ they might think that it only involves money. Investing involves thinking about present action and the future consequences of those actions. And then acting in a way that sacrifices present income to invest in a richer future. Understood in a much broader sense, investing can and should mean thinking about much more than just money. It can involve investing time, effort, wisdom, training, and prayer. Investing done well results in increased wealth and riches which is not just limited to financial rewards. It is exemplified in the biblical promise, “You reap what you sow.” Each generation is responsible to steward the resources that are at its disposal. These resources are managed by individuals, families, communities, states, nations and the Church. Church leaders have a duty to invest well into the spiritual resources that shape culture to the glory of God so that a tree is planted for the next generations will be the ones who enjoy its shade.

AMAZING ACCESS

Anyone who has attended a large event such as the recent Will Graham Outreach event that was held at the Launceston Silverdome would be familiar with the varying levels of access that are provided to staff and volunteers associated with this type of event. The security system used included identification in the form of different coloured shirts, prayer volunteer cards, and all access cards that permitted access to the entire venue with no questions asked by security personnel. This is like the access level that God has to our lives. Being omnipresent, He has unhindered access to every aspect of our lives. He knows our innermost thoughts, sees all that we do, hears all that we say. God has the ultimate ‘all access’ card.

WHY FINDING TRUTH MATTERS

How can we determine whether a claim is true or false? Some people think there are different kinds of truth — my truth, their truth, and your truth. But how do they know that their assessment of truth is true? After all, their assessment – that there is my/their/your truth might just be based on their truth rather than the truth. Truth has certain qualities that distinguishes it from what is false-
 Truth corresponds to reality.
 Truth is verifiable (that is, if it is true, it can be evidentially shown to be so).
 Truth is falsifiable (that is, if it is false, it can be evidentially shown to be so).
 Truth is sometimes testable (that is, claims that are experiential can be tested by experience – including scientific claims, historic claims, and existential claims).
We have good reasons for the believing that the Bible is true because it is the divinely inspired, reliable and authoritative Word of God which has been superintendedly preserved by the Holy Spirit (read more about this).

THE 5 MOST IMPORTANT YEARS OF ANYONE’S LIFE

Parents, Kids Church leaders, and Christian school teachers should be intentional about shaping children to be fully devoted followers of Christ who have reasons for believing Christianity is true – which shapes them into virtuous contributors to society and to find their role in God’s Kingdom. This will be one of the necessary and indispensable means for the Church to fulfil the Great Commission of Christ.