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CREATIVE CONTROL

Waves eroding a beach

One of the things that attracts many people to the coast is the the sight and sound of waves breaking on the shore, particularly after a period of bad weather. Ocean waves represent energy that has been transferred from air moving across the air/sea interface as wind blows. The longer and stronger the wind blows, the greater the energy transfer and the greater the size of the waves. Beginning as small wind waves, the waves grow and transform into swell that can travel thousands of nautical miles across ocean basins. On reaching the shallow water of a coastline the energy moving through the water transforms into steeper breaking waves that release this energy as they break on the shore. Having worked on ships, I have always found the formation processes and the way that waves move interesting. They obey physical laws. Their height and period and velocity can be predicted, based on the speed and duration of the wind. They can steal energy from nearby waves. They can change direction and bend around headlands. Waves, like people, can build and can destroy.

 

THE CREATOR IS IN CONTROL

The Gospel of Matthew describes an encounter that Jesus and His disciples had with waves in a small fishing boat that is well known by most Christians.

And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?”
Matthew 8:24-26

Wind waves in a storm field

In this case, the men in the boat, some of which were experienced fishermen, were justified in their concern. They knew their boat’s capabilities and would have held a healthy respect for the inland sea they were transiting. What they had not factored in was that Jesus was with them and that He would respond to their cry for help. The storm narrative shows us something about the sovereignty of God. Jesus calmed the waves. The waves disappeared and the sea became calm at His command. The reason for this is His sovereignty.  An important aspect of God’s sovereignty is His ability to exercise power over His creation. The opening passage in the Gospel of John tells us that Jesus was involved in the act of creation.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
John 1:1-2

Jesus, created physical laws, so it should not be surprising that He has control over the physics of waves. The book of Job and the Psalms also describe the control that the Creator has over His creation.

who alone stretched out the heavens
and trampled the waves of the sea;
Job 9:8

You rule the raging of the sea;
when its waves rise, you still them.
Ps. 89:9

It is easy for some people to disregard Jesus’ calming of the sea as it appears to contradict physical laws as we understand them. However, in the context of Jesus having created the physical laws He was controlling, this event should give us confidence in the sovereignty of our creator and His plan for anyone who acknowledges and follows Him.

RESPONDING TO CHALLENGES

Although God is sovereign, He has allowed us to freely make our own choices. As a result, we are free to exercise choice and make real decisions regarding both the good and bad events that affect our lives. This freedom allows us to make choices that can build our society and relationships or choices that can erode them like waves eroding a beach. When we make free choices that are pleasing to God, we reflect His character and bring Him glory.  This includes how we choose to respond to external factors.

Bulk carrier Trans Summer foundered in 15m waves generated by Typhoon Utor off Hong Kong

There are circumstances and actions that it is wise for us to avoid.  Sometimes a surfer or recreational sailor recognises that waves are too big and dangerous and will avoid the situation until conditions become safer. It is always better to be ashore than wish you were ashore! Seafarers, who cannot always avoid waves are trained to adjust the heading and speed of a vessel when the vessel is adversely affected by waves and develops dangerous interactions such as excessive rolling and pitching motions that if not controlled, can result in cargo shifting, loss of watertight integrity and foundering. Like seafarers, who cannot avoid the challenges, we may have to implement strategies that will help us to confront challenges. To do this we require wisdom.

SEEKING GUIDANCE

When we make sound decisions, the negative effect of factors that we cannot directly control can often avoided or be mitigated. When we are unsure and need guidance, we are invited to call out in prayer to someone who does have control. Wisdom is a gift that is available to followers of Jesus.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.
James 1:5-6

James’ comparison to a wave being driven and tossed by the elements is an image that most people can relate to and have sometimes experienced. Our desire to be free from the perceived restraint of the teaching of scripture can lead to poor choices and to sinful behaviours. Paul, writing to the church in Ephesus compares new Christians being deceived by false teaching as being tossed to and fro by waves.  

so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
Ephesians 4:14

In this case, the cause was people developing and spreading false doctrine amongst Christians who were not sure how to respond to this situation. This is something that Jude warned his audience of when he compared people pushing false doctrine to the foam generated by waves. He refers to them as:

wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame;
Jude 1:13a

This is an interesting comparison. Foam is short lived and scripture will always prevail.

When the relentlessness nature of life gets us down, it can seem like we are sometimes being hit by wave after wave of challenges. As followers of Jesus, we have access to basic principles that can help us to navigate our way through them in a way that should build rather than erode and destroy.

Zechariah reminds us that God is sovereign and that He is with us even when we think things are so bad that we feel that He has abandoned us.

He shall pass through the sea of troubles
and strike down the waves of the sea,
Zechariah 10:11a

God’s encouraging words to His afflicted people serve as a reminder that we have a loving Father who cares for us so much that He sent Jesus who willingly accepted the penalty for our sin and poor reactions so that we can be with Him forever. This enables us to become like waves that deposit and build as we show the transforming love of Christ to our communities.

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.

4 Comments

  1. Michael Dickson

    Good pastors desk Tony!

    Reply
  2. John Sands

    More waves than foam. Thank you Tony

    Reply
  3. Gladys Parry

    Good ( Wavemaker)

    Reply
  4. Vanessa

    Thank you Tony for penning those word of encouragement.

    Reply

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Follow Me AS I FOLLOW JESUS

We all walk a path in life that is set before us. We start with very little experience and knowledge about the purpose of our life and the world beyond us. All of humanity experiences joy, wisdom, strength, weakness, suffering and hardship, especially those who are “contending for the faith”. Knowing Jesus is a very special part of this life journey.

A CERTAIN GOD

We can be reasonably certain about many things. In fact, without this certainty about life, none of us could function. We can be certain that tonight the sun will ‘set’. Tomorrow the sun will ‘rise’. After the February 28th it will be February 29th. This year there will be international unrest and much political instability in many parts of the world. In the coming months global warming will be identified by politicians as the source of floods and wildfires. Several high profile international celebrities will die this year. Archaeologists will make a discovery that will require some aspects of history to be rewritten. And you will certainly have one of the most memorable moments in your life in the coming days. You see, there are clearly some things we can be quite certain about. However, there are some aspects about our future that we cannot be certain about, yet in those moments we can be certain about what we should do.

LOW COST LIVING

Turn on any TV or radio news lately and there’s bound to be a story about the current “cost of living crisis”. We all feel it. Initially most people accepted the widespread price-rises were caused by 2020-21 pandemic lockdowns. But whatever the reasons for the rapid price hikes over the past two years, every time we go to the supermarket we feel it again. While governments are striving to curb the impact of this cost of living crisis, there remains a way to enjoy low cost living. The key to this is recognising that the most valuable things in life are literally priceless. The path to enjoying low-cost living is to be found in Christ, and what He taught — and it begins with treasure.

How To Know Jesus Better

It’s a scary thought to realise that the Jesus we have been told about and worship may not really be known to us at all. We can ‘know’ about someone or something, but not really know them. In Christian circles it’s often referred to as head knowledge not heart knowledge.

Knowing Christ Better

As a church, this year’s theme is coming closer to Christ by getting to know Him better. I feel that I am “the least qualified person” to tell anyone how this is done — but someone else has already claimed this distinction – the apostle Paul. After decades of hearing directly from Christ, seeing extraordinary miracles, being taken to heaven temporarily, planting churches across the Roman Empire, he could still say I would give anything to really know Christ – even if it meant suffering like He did! (Phil. 3:7-10). Therefore, I could say: If you do this or that, you will then know Christ better – but in my view, it’s not as easy as that! How we develop our relationship with Christ is shaped by several factors including our personality, our life experiences, our physical health and fitness, and our relationships with others (especially our parents and particularly our father). In fact, I believe that there is a relationship between how we have learned to build relationships with others (and notably how we have learned to relate to those who are closest to us) and how we then proceed to have a relationship with God. Even though I have expressed my lack of qualifications in telling anyone how to have a closer relationship with Christ, I still can, like one hungry beggar to another hungry beggar, offer you a few of the morsels of food that I’ve been able to find.

SOME PEOPLE HAVE AMAZING BUTS

I know of several people with amazing buts. There’s Jo’, Mo’, Sam, Esther, Jerry, and others. Each of these people were gifted by God with an amazing but that changed there life and the course of human history. Sometimes these gifts came with a …then, or …God, or …the LORD. When it comes to the size of things, a but is a relatively small thing (in Greek it can be just two letters: de) but it can have huge implications and enormously great blessings for multitudes. I hope to show you how this was the case with each of the people I have chosen as samples, and then show you how God is your God of buts.

OPEN

What does the word ‘open’ mean to you? Like language itself, it is like any word in which the meaning only comes from the context in which it is used. I can think of at least 12 different understandings of this word, some of which I will point out, most I will not, and one that I focus on because it is prophetically important for where we are at as a church at this crucial time.

ONE THING I HAVE TO SAY

​I’m always amazed at the really cool events I’d organised for my kids to experience, so that they might have happy memories – but now they don’t remember it except the random comment someone made in the car trip on the way there or what snack was eaten. Conversely, if you make a mistake, well that one is remembered! Once I drove Andrew’s car and just lightly hit something so it ended up with an annoying 2cm scratch. The mistake is (still) there in full view to anyone who looks. Is Andrew going to remember this above the years of my devotion to him? (Not likely, but some people do remember the wrong for way too long!) If you had the choice, what one thing would you want to be remembered for? What one thing would you want your family to remember? It’s not often going to be the thing you have in mind.

‘Famous last words’ comes from the hope that you’ll be remembered for them. If you were given the privilege of being able to articulate as the important thing to say, to be remembered by all, what would it be? Would it be a reflection on your love toward someone? Would it be a directive on how to have the best life? Would it be that you wished you had done something? Someone once mused, ‘would your dying words be that you’d wished you’d spent just one more day in the office’? (Not likely.)

AT THE END OF THIS YEAR I WILL RECOUNT 12 WONDERFUL THINGS (An Explication of Psalm 9)

This is my last end-of-year Pastor’s Desk post. When the head of our Live-stream ministry, Sari, asked me what I was thankful for this year, my immediate answer was obvious and predictable. But since then, I have considered that I also have eleven other things for which I am grateful to GOD for. In this last ever end-of-year Pastor’s Desk please indulge as I share my heartfelt thanks to God and for those God has used to bless me this year.

HE WAS BORN A KING

The king who reigned over Judea when Jesus was born was Herod the Great. Herod had no legitimate claim to the throne of Israel. He was from an Idumean noble family who supported the Roman occupation of Palestine. As a reward he was appointed by the Roman Senate as the King of Judea. Despite his attempts to curry favour with the Jews, including several major public works programs (including completing the temple reconstruction) he was still largely unpopular among the Jews. Little wonder then that when the Magi arrived in Jerusalem with their large retinue and requested to view the birth of the prophesied King of the Jews, Herod was emotionally threatened by this revelation. Herod immediately ordered an enquiry from the chief priests and religious scribes.