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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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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.

TIME- YOU CAN’T CONTROL IT – BUT YOU CAN LEARN FROM IT

We live in a fast paced world. We expect things to happen quickly. None of us like to be kept waiting. Even when we order something online we expect it delivered straight away. Some of us having to work two or even three jobs just to be able to pay the bills. We describe ourselves as time-poor. Yet, we all get twenty-four-hours in a day. Sixty-minutes in an hour. And sixty-seconds in a minute. Most of us need to adjust how we see, understand, and treat our time. This will involve, what will be for some, adopting a foreign and largely unaccustomed view of time that involves worship, sabbath, and deepening relationships. From this biblical perspective we will come to see time as a gift from God, not a curse, or source of frustration. Within this gift of time God teaches us how to worship in those times when it is difficult to do so. Rather than thinking this divine gift of time is ours to do with what ever we want, God uses this gift to teach us that we should gift it back to Him beginning with (but not limited to) treating Sunday as a sabbath to come together to recommit our hearts, voices, minds, and presence with God’s people, back to God. God gives us passing time to learn to deepen relationships – especially with our kin, and our friends. Time is meant for relationship building. 

I AM WHO I AM BUT I AM NOT WHO I USED TO BE BUT I AM NOT YET WHO I WILL BE

One of the greatest lies that the would-be enemy of all our souls attempts to perpetuate is that we are what we are and we can never change. This lie is whispered into the ears of many people’s invisible ears so imperceptibly that they actually think it originated with them. “You were born this way – and you can never change”, “This is who you really are – and you can never change”, “There’s no hope of anything ever changing for better – so you might as well just kill yourself” and so on. But these sly alien voices inside the heads of the vulnerable are lies. People can change. People do change. Some circumstances were always going to be temporary and were always going to change. I know this is true because I am living proof. I am who I am but I am not who I used to be and I am not yet who I will be.

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It may well still be the best-selling book of all time – and continues year-by-year to be so – but certainly is not the best-read of our current times! If there was ever any doubt about this, the events this week in Hobart, at St. Mary’s (Catholic) College Girl’s School, should remove all doubt! A furore erupted over the news that the prescribed Scripture reading for the year-end graduation celebration, which incorporated a Mass, was “Wives submit to your husbands” taken from Ephesians. Callers into ABC radio’s breakfast program decried this assault against women – especially young, vulnerable girls. One caller, responding to the news that the text being used was a citation from Ephesians, denounced Ephesians and apparently demanded, “Just who does this Ephesians bloke think he is?!” Another caller stated, “Why are they quoting ancient Roman philosophers in the twenty-first century?!” And yet another caller somehow linked all religious wars to passages like this one in the Bible! He remarked, “I’m an atheist. All wars are started by those who are religious! No war was ever started by atheists!” (Perhaps he had never heard of Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot, Vladimir Putin, who were collectively responsible for the deaths of over 20,000,000?) This furore led to the Archbishop conceding that the Ephesians passage did not have to be used at the graduation ceremony. But this furore has highlighted just how unaware many Tasmanians are about what the Bible is, what is actually says, and why it says it. And I am now about to correct this deficiency.  

THE LORD IS MY ROCK

Of the many tributes paid to her majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, was the often noted reflection that during her reign the world underwent a series of rapid changes that were dramatic and unprecedented in human history. There were technological inventions that revolutionised the way people could access international travel options enabling them to be virtually anywhere in the world within a matter of hours. New forms of communication emerged with the development of a global satellite communications network enabling people to watch Neil Armstrong take his one giant leap Live on their black-and-white TV screens (as I did in the corridors of Corio Primary School in 1969). Space exploration, the stuff previously just in the realm of science fiction writers, became a reality with manned and unmanned voyages to the Moon, Mars, and beyond. But the past one hundred years have also been a time of great upheaval with empires crumbling, governments toppled, wars waged, genocides committed, pandemics raging, nations birthed, rulers assassinated, and massive refugee movements from oppressive Islamic and Communist regimes. Added to this has been the demise of professional journalism and the rise of internet-citizen-journalism where it is now common for TV News reports to feature footage taken from someone’s cell-phone which was posted on social media rather than the more expensive option of sending their own film crew there. And while we’re mentioning the internet, let’s not forget to mention – the internet. This alone has possibly been the most monumental change in the way people communicate, work, learn, and shop. But while it was noted that the Queen had witnessed all of these many changes, it was also noted that the Queen herself was an unchanging constant during all these upheavals who brought about a sense of stability, peace and reassurance. To millions of people around the world, she was their rock in a world of turmoil and change. Yet this was only possible because she herself had an immovable, dependable rock upon which she had built her life.

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