home > Pastor’s Desk > 2021 > December 3rd > WHO CARES?

WHO CARES?

During the time of Caesar Nero (54 - 68 AD) he would use Christians as living night torches by impaling them then dousing them in pitch then lighting them 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. Those expected to speak up for, and defend, the voiceless vulnerable — their religious leaders of the day — had become too easily corrupted in their pathetic attempts to win a crumb of their conqueror’s power. This corruption in the pursuit of financial gain and political leverage had blinded these supposed-to-be-shepherds to the true plight of those they should have served as guardians. Why on earth would God send His Son into our world at such a dark time?

¶ But when the time arrived that was set by God the Father, God sent His Son, born among us of a woman, born under the conditions of the law so that He might redeem those of us who have been kidnapped by the law.
Galatians 4:4 THE MESSAGE

WHERE IS THE GOD WHO CARES?

A depiction of Christian about to be martyred in the ColosseumIn what would have to be the greatest reply to the oft asked question – what has the all-powerful, all-good God done about evil and suffering in the world? – God the Eternal Father sent His Eternal Son into this world of evil and suffering as a zygote (the earliest stage of human development) as His answer. In one of Dr. F.W. Boreham’s essays on this topic he pointed out how often it has been throughout history that just at the darkest hours in human history, a baby has been sovereignly born who would grow into a courageous leader who would be a further divine reply to the question about what has done about evil and suffering in the world. The greatest example of this of course is the Christmas Child. At just the precise time of one of earth’s darkest hours, the Christ was born. Little wonder then that Dr. Boreham could say that God’s answer to the world’s problems is always a baby. And the baby that God the Father sent to the world was the One who created it and everything in it (Col. 1:17-18). Did He come reluctantly? Did He come in the same way that the mythological Greco-Roman members of the pantheon of gods would come feeling rather indifferent to the injustices besetting the world? Let the written Word of God be our answer-

When He saw the crowds, He had compassion for them,
because they were harassed and helpless,
like sheep without a shepherd.
Matthew 9:36

DOES JESUS?

Christ was moved with compassion for people. He felt their pain and saw their suffering. Did Jesus care? Asking this question sound utterly ridiculous even before I get the question mark! There is no doubt that Jesus cared. He demonstrated care for outcasts — such as lepers who shunned by society — but He didn’t care for them because they were a marginalised group or even because they were lepers. He cared for them because they were people created in the image of God. Jesus cared for the poor – but not because they were poor – but because they were people created in the image of God. Jesus cared for women – but not because they were women – but because they were people created in the image of God. And the same can be said of His care for those people with a different skin colour to His (which almost certainly was not ‘white’), or for those people of different ethnicity who could barely speak the language of the Hebrews without a tell-tale accent that brought scorn and even hatred among Israelites. He cared for these people despite these things because they too were created in the image of God. This reveals that Christ treated all people as sharing a common and unique bond: all people are created in the image of God and this common bond and shared privilege binds us each together as the ‘human race’ thus making all alternate adjectives of the word “race” superfluous and counter-productive to a biblical understanding of what it means to be human. Our initial question, who cares? is now forced to be adjusted to: Who should care? And the answer is immediately obvious. We should because we are the family of the divine image bearers. We are family.

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”
has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge
of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
Second Corinthians 4:6

 

BUT WHO CARES?

Those who know Christ! To worship is to adore, to behold, to praise, to reflect upon and reflect. Thus, we become like whatever we worship. When we reflect on Christ we marvel at His care for each individual in a crowd where each one probably thought that no-one saw them in the midst of a sea of faces – but Jesus did. They may have thought that when Jesus looked at the crowd He couldn’t have noticed them but He did. As they blended into the masses of people that often flocked to Christ they may have felt that non-one cared for them – but Jesus did. Consider how often Jesus spent time with one person: the woman at the well (John 4); Nicodemus the Scribe (John 3); the man at the Pool of Bethesda (John 5); the women condemned as an adulteress (John 8); the man born blind (John 9); Lazarus (John 11); and Pilate (John 19).  

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord,
are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.
For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
Second Corinthians 3:18`

Time and time again throughout the gospels we see Jesus taking time out for the individual – a woman with the issue of blood, the Syrophoenician woman with a demonise daughter, a blind man on the side of the road. Jesus’ care for people is a remarkable insight into the Father’s care for each member of His earthly family of divine image bearers. And just as Jesus conveyed the Father’s heart of care for each person, we too are called to also convey it (Luke 10:25-37).
 

 

Your pastor,

Andrew

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SUPER NATURAL CHRISTIANITY

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).

DEEPER SPIRITUALITY

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.

THINK

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...

WHAT CHILD IS THIS?

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.

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.

IS THERE ANYTHING DIFFERENT ABOUT BEING UNIQUE?

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...

WHAT FILLS YOUR HEART, MIND, AND SOUL?

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...

WHEN CULTURE BEGINS TO ZIG IT MAY BE TIME FOR CHRISTIANS TO ZAG

LESSONS FROM THE LIFE OF DANIEL
¶ 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 …

CREATIVE CONTROL

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.