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GRIME DUST & US

Sometimes we can feel that things in our life are beginning to get to us. This could be attributed to a number of factors including the 24 hour news cycle constantly pumping out bad news from all over the world, or to the growing practice of ‘doom scrolling’ on our smart devices. This is the habit of continually scrolling down through news stories that relate to murders, domestic violence, assaults, road rage, floods, fires and disease.  Another issue that can reduce our resilience is the almost constant push to create laws that work against members of our society who are unable to protect themselves such as the elderly and the unborn. Little wonder we can feel overwhelmed.

 

ATMOSPHERIC DUST & SOLAR PANELS

 A recent break from almost constant rain showers that northern Tasmania has recently enjoyed provided me with the opportunity to undertake some regular maintenance around the house. One task I undertake twice a year, is cleaning the grime and dust that accumulates on our solar panel array. While doing this, I was surprised by the thickness of the layer of grime and dust that had been deposited on the panels over the previous six months. I had expected that the almost constant rain showers would have resulted in cleaner panels. This was not the case, the grime had resisted and required a good scrub with a soft broom to remove it.

As it turns out, dust is all around us. It consists of fine particles from soil, pollen, wood smoke, vehicle tyres, brake pads, engine exhaust, meteorites and volcanic eruptions. In domestic settings, dust contains additional components such as human skin, animal fur, mites, mould spores and particles from clothing and floor coverings.

There are two aspects that a worth considering with respect to grime, dust and solar panels. The first is that given the inevitable presence of dust in our atmosphere, dust will be deposited. This is a slow but relentless process. The second is that this deposit has a very small effect on the weight on my roof but a has large effect on the efficiency of the panels. I noted the output before and after cleaning the panels and was surprised to see that the efficiency increased by close to 25%.

 

WORLDLY GRIME DUST & US

By now we are all probably wondering what the connection is between grime, dust and us.  Just as a layer of grime and dust on a solar panel will have a negative effect on its output. I believe that that we, as Christians can have our effectiveness reduced by the cumulative effect of what I will refer to as ‘worldly grime and dust’. This ‘dust’ falls constantly from the culture we live in and  builds into layers of grime. This is a slow but relentless process. Although the rate of deposition has a minute effect on our physical weight, its presence can have massive effect on our emotional state and on the way we interact as Christians.  The fallen state of the world can put layer after layer of grime onto us. This accumulates so slowly that we can be unaware of the effects this may have on our lives until we begin to experience problems such as anxiety and feelings of hopelessness. This sometimes leads to behavioural changes in our lives that include a reduction in church attendance, seeking God less in prayer and in neglecting our Bible reading. These changes can have a similar effect on us as grime on a solar panel; reduced efficiency caused by the grime blocking the light. Jesus who is the light, had something to say about situations like this.

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?
Matthew 6:25-27

THE ULTIMATE DUST BUSTER

 Worldly grime and dust will be with us until Jesus returns in what will be the final outworking of God’s plan of redemption for His people. Jesus uses some very strong language when He refers to some of the elements that could be considered to be significant contributors to worldly grime and dust.

“Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.”
Revelation 22:15

While we wait for Jesus’s return, we are given some advice that should put the fallen world and the associated ‘dust’ problem into context so that we need not lose hope.

Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.
Revelation 22:11

Jesus reminds us that we can expect the world to have turned its back on God. However, we should continue to do what is right, including calling out evil and strive to be holy, while we continue to look forward to being in His presence forever.

“Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”
Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates.
Revelation 22:12-14

Jesus gives us a reason for hope that should transcend our daily circumstances. The cosmic battle between good and evil has been won and we have been tasked to let others know that this is the case. We are loved and we have hope because we are forgiven. This is a hope that we can, and should share with others.

Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”
John 14:21

Because of this love, worldly grime and dust is washed away and we do not need to be anxious. Instead, we need to resist the temptation to turn away from God and the support that is available through the love of our brothers and sisters in Christ when the layer of worldly grime and dust starts to get to us.

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Matthew 6:33-34

We also have the guidance of the Holy Spirit who although active under the Old Covenant, adopted a much more personal and active role in the lives of the followers of Jesus. We have the presence of the Holy Spirit as our counsellor and as our guide.

If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.
John 14:15-17

We can know the Holy Spirit. He illuminates scripture, convicts us of sin and helps us to pray when we are at a loss. All of this should give us a reason to help to share the good news of Jesus Christ to the people that we can influence through our both our words and our actions. So, if we are feeling out of touch with Jesus, let’s pray and ask Jesus to dissolve the worldly grime and dust so that we can connect more effectively with our creator. Then we can connect more effectively with those who have not yet experienced the saving grace of our LORD Jesus Christ.

Your Executive pastor,

Tony

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.

2 Comments

  1. Richard Brunning

    Praise God for the skills and insight he has given you to share. So real practical and instructive. Bless you.

    Reply
  2. LYDIA

    Thank you Tony. Your spiel is much appreciated!

    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.