home > Pastor’s Desk > 2021 > 17th December > The Art of Comfort


Pastors come in different varieties which is why the term pastoral conjures different ideas in the minds of different people. A pastor is like the hand that is placed in the glove of a ministry position which then leads to that glove taking a certain shape of the pastor’s strengths, abilities, and spiritual gifts. Over time, if the partnership between a pastor and a congregation endures, that pastor will also be shaped by the needs and demands of those whom God has called them to shepherd. And if both that pastor and that congregation are particularly blessed by God, the breadth of the needs and demands of a growing congregation will be attended to by pastors rather than the unrealistic expectation of them being met be a pastor. But there are times when a pastor is called upon by the broader community to care for that broader community in those times of severe adversity resulting from some tragedy. Floods, bush-fires, transport disasters (air/sea/road), military incidents, famine, are just some broader community demands for pastoring that come to mind as examples. More often than not, the type of person that God equips to enter these tragedies is one who has been shaped by God through having to deal with their own tragedies. In these instances the pastoral glove takes the shape of a chaplain. A chaplain’s principal function is comfort. In writing to the Corinthians after a particularly painful series of events, the tragedy-seasoned apostle Paul was able to comfort those he was ministering to because he himself had been the beneficiary of comfort from God through others. Notice how many times he refers to comfort in just five verses of the opening chapter of Second Corinthians- 

¶ Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,
who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction,
with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings,
so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation;
and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure
the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you
share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.
Second Corinthians 1:3-7



Chaplains generally minister outside of their church community yet on behalf of their church community. They minister the love and comfort of God through Christ to those who are grappling with the early stages of sudden grief. They become a listening ear, a hand to be held, the bearer of immediate aid, and a conduit for other practical services. They represent the God who has suffered and entered into our world of suffering, loss, and pain (as Paul stated to the Corinthians 2Cor. 1:3-7). The most effective chaplains are those who have earned the trust of those they are called upon to comfort. This is why they can be found in football clubs, schools, and certain workplaces. (It is my hope that as our church continues to develop we will have numbers of representatives from our church serving as chaplains in these various community hubs who can offer hope and comfort in times of tragedy being experienced within these clubs/schools/workplaces.)

But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus,
and not only by his coming but also by the comfort with which he was comforted by you,
as he told us of your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced still more.
Second Corinthians 7:6-7



Unlike animal life, all of the aspects of human life are not instinctive. We humans have a lot to teach each other about being a fully-formed human being who is capable of love, bearing responsibility, living sacrificially for others, developing spiritual intimacy with God, worshiping, interacting courteously and respectfully with others especially those different from us, and parenting as a father or mother the next generation. Along the way of life’s path as we each learn these skills, there will be the inevitable need to also learn how to process loss. This will involve the loss of something precious, a loved one, a dream, a love. Dealing with such losses involves grieving. Ministers of comfort help those grieving to grieve well. They patiently listen as the grieving one expresses their disbelief at their loss, then their anger at someone (anyone will do) who should be or could be blamed, their regrets, then their overwhelming sadness. The minister of comfort shows the grieving that tears and sadness at their loss is both normal and healthy. They introduce them to the concept of their new normal and help them to understand that things will never be same again, and that feeling sad whenever they think of their loss is a part of their new normal. Without this shepherding, a griever’s remaining relationships can be strained beyond acceptable limits, and their use of food/alcohol/seclusion can become unhealthy for them physically/emotionally/spiritually. This is why chaplains are so valuable today. Chaplains are guides of good grief.

¶ So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Philippians 2:1-4



In the times of our deepest anguish, God is “the God of all comfort” (2Cor. 1:3). He is the One who understands our pain, our loss, our sadness. He is the One gives meaning to each of these. It is this God who not only promises to comfort all those who turn to Him in worshipful surrender, but He is the One who heals wounded souls so that they can be used by Him as agents of His soul-healing comfort to others. I am aware that there are many in our church who have experienced soul-healing comfort from God and that their tears of sadness in the process are more often than not good for our souls. Most of these ministers of comfort will never be seen on our stage or behind our pulpit, but I can also assure you that those who are regularly ministering from our pulpit are indeed recipients of the God of all comfort’s soul-healing comfort.

¶ Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and God our Father,
who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, 
comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.
Second Thessalonians 2:16-17


Your pastor,


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.


  1. Alan

    Excellent thoughts, Andrew, especially in the light of the Devonport tragedy two days ago. Most of us need help in knowing how best to reach out and show God’s love to grieving neighbours and friends.

  2. LYDIA

    Yes Andrew and Alan.
    The God of all comfort.
    So many things go thru my mind. Like, the gift and ability to walk next to a person and comfort those in need, in pain, in distress who feel like their soul is being ripped apart and – even those who are waiting so eagerly to be with their Lord. Sometimes you come across a person, ‘God ordained’ who has that ‘gift’ of listening and giving comfort, bringing peace to those in distress. True you can find some in the hospitals, in churches, chaplains and pastors – and – others ‘just along the road of life’.
    It made me think of the words that you really never know another person until you have walked in their shoes awhile, which can stop us from getting sidetracked. To understand another’s pain while you look on, can only be guided by the Spirit, the Comforter who has come to stay. It is He who can stop us from being unwise in our reactions and words – on occasions where we know we have failed because we are at a loss for words at the time. We truly need Him!
    If I look back and we all can, to various happenings and experiences in our lifetime, I can only say that the Lord holds us by our hand and leads us thru it all. In this way we can comfort those who we meet who are in need…as He is the God of all comfort and healing…


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The early Christians were sensitive to the voice of God. Ananias, who prayed for the newly converted Saul of Tarsus, was told by the Spirit where to find Saul, what to say to him, and why it was important for him to do so (Acts 9:10-18). Sometimes followers of Christ are misled to believe that they need to “learn” how to hear the voice of God. There is no example of this need anywhere in Scripture. But there are, however, injunctions to seek the Lord (Deut. 4:29; 1Chron. 16:11; Ps. 34:10; 105:3-4; Isa. 51:1; 55:6; Matt. 6:33; 7:7). 

It was John Calvin who wrote in his commentary on Ephesians that the reasons believers today do not experience the divinely supernatural, as it seems the early Christians did, was the lack of desire. This is what I now want to both remind you of and encourage you to do: seek God. Seek Him. Be open to Him. Pray that you might pray effectively. Ask God to confirm His Word in the hearts of those who need a supernatural encounter with God that might lead to their conversion. And then, be still (Ps. 46:10).


I don’t normally share like this so please excuse me for being a bit more personal than I am normally in these Pastor’s Desks. Last Sunday morning I awoke with a strong sense that I needed to incorporate the vision of Ezekiel’s Temple as a framework for us to think about our year ahead in my sermon for that day. I had to re-jig my presentation (which as you might be aware involves a bit more work than they way most other preachers do their slides). This is why I arrived at church a little later than I normally comfortable in doing. I was particularly gripped by this divine vision given to Ezekiel of the Holy Spirit’s outpouring in the New Covenant with Christ Himself being the Temple-Source (John 2:19-21). While I was preaching to our church community (in-person and online) I was also preaching to myself. As a result, Kim and I continued  in prayer and fasting for the rest of our Sunday. I now want to invite you to consider again Ezekiel’s picture of the Spirit-filled Christian life as the map for going deeper with God.


home > Pastor's Desk > 2022 > January 7 > THINKTHINK The Lord declared through the prophet Isaiah that His thoughts were not like our thoughts and that God’s thoughts were infinitely higher than ours (Isa. 55:8-9). This tells us two profoundly important...


The grace and the truth expressed in the classic Christmas Carols brings great joy to this preacher who strives to produce biblically and theologically informed followers of Christ. It’s one the reasons why this preacher also serves as a gate-keeper over the songs that use at Legana because I know that most of my sermons are long forgotten soon after they are preached yet what we sing on a Sunday rings in our hearts for years to come. This is no doubt why singing, music, hymns, has always been integral to Christian worship (Eph. 5:19). The consolation that us forgettable preachers have though is that most good song-writers were, and are, biblically/theologically informed by faithful preachers. May the magnitude of what we sing this Advent grip our hearts, enlighten our souls and fill us each with joy inexpressible. Merry Christmas.


home > Pastor's Desk > 2022 > December 10 > IS THERE ANYTHING DIFFERENT ABOUT BEING UNIQUE?IS THERE ANYTHING DIFFERENT ABOUT BEING UNIQUE? We live on a unique planet which is part of a unique solar system which is part of a unique galaxy which is part of a...


home > Pastor's Desk > 2021 > December 3rd > WHO CARES?WHO CARES? The world into which the Saviour of mankind entered as a baby was a very harsh place. Life was cheap. Might was right. The oppressed were abused and often mistreated by the Roman conquerors....


God has made humans to engage their hearts, minds, and souls with music. Bach discovered this; but, Cobain did not. It is why music has played a central role in Christianity — in its discipleship of believers, and in its facility to bring God’s people together in worship each Lord’s Day. Musical songs teach biblical truth and theologically educate believers about the God. Sacred music stirs and lifts the soul and not just for the fleeting moment, but in a way that actually nourishes the soul by filling it with a lingering sense of God’s presence. This is why bring, joyful, upbeat Christian worship songs are so important for the discipleship and sustenance of the believer. As a preacher I am deeply appreciative of the complementary role that our musical worship plays in promoting the truth of God’s Word, and I hope you are too. 

It’s Complicated

home > Pastor's Desk > 2021 > November 19th > It's Complicated Sometimes the obvious is little difficult to recognise. That’s why you might not have recognised that over the last few decades we have been transitioning out of our old world into the new...


¶ But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself.  And God gave Daniel favour and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs
Daniel 1:8-9
Daniel’s world had been turned upside down. As a young well-to-do Jewish boy who grew up in a highly regarded family with parents who took their devotion to Yahweh seriously, he too would have expected that all of his training would have led him to follow in his father’s and Grandfather’s footsteps in the service of the King’s royal court. Even as a young man in his early teenage years he would have expected to one day take a wife and pass the baton of his knowledge and privilege to his son too. But then his world began to be shaken. The early stages of the disruption began when he was not yet a teen and a very upset and tearful young man from Anathoth, not too much older than himself, stood on the temple steps and denounced the wickedness of the King of Judah. Daniel would have remembered hearing this teenage prophet call the King and the people of Judah to repentance before the Lord’s wrath came upon them. This virgin prophet warned of the destruction of the temple and the invasion of the world’s most vile people — the Babylonians. The disruptions from this highly emotional priest-prophet continued until he was barred from entering the city, but undaunted, he wrote his prophecies out and his secretary, Baruch, deliver them in his stead. Despite the scorn, mocking, and eventual imprisonment, Daniel witnessed the tenacity of the one who came to be known as “ the Weeping Prophet” and some seventy years after Jerusalem was indeed destroyed by Babylonian forces (just as the prophet had foretold), Daniel referred to his copy of the now late prophet’s words and turned them into a …


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.