home > Pastor’s Desk > 2022 > May 27th > HOW TO OPEN LIFE’S LOCKED DOORS (EASILY)


When I turned 50, I decided to do something really difficult. I enrolled in a university course to learn Biblical Greek. And, trust me when I say, this in no way is a brag – because I struggled through it and took far far longer than the average Biblical Greek student ordinarily takes to complete this course. I had to do twenty translation tests and then two major translations exams of the New Testament’s Greek text into English. I scraped through the course and somehow managed to pass it. I can testify that learning another language later in life is really hard! This is why I have the utmost respect for non-English-speaking migrants who come to our country and manage to learn English. Learning languages is not the only thing I find difficult. I envy those people who do the things easily that I find difficult to do or understand (like quadratic mathematic equations for example). Over the years I have pondered why it is that different people doing the same task can result in a person finding it incredibly easy who then gets it done quickly, and why another other person finds it next-to-impossible and as a result gives up trying to do it. I have discovered the answer to this conundrum lies in the “mat” principle.  

I was pushed hard, so that I was falling,
but the LORD helped me.
Psalm 118:13

THE MAT PRINCIPLE

Imagine coming to an impressive holiday home that someone has lent you for your holiday. It has a large imposing door with a very sophisticated locking system. The owner of the holiday house has told you that when you arrive, you can just unlock the door and go on in and make yourself at home. Somehow in this conversation you forgot to ask for a key and the owner never mentioned it. You arrive. You turn the handle on the front door but it is clearly locked. You remember what the owner said and try all sorts of ways to open the locked door. You punch in a set of random numbers into the keypad, your press your hand on the finger-print sensor, you look into the retinal scanner – but the locked door remains unlocked even after hours of trying everything conceivable to open it. Eventually the owner turns up to see how you have settled in to his holiday home. Before you can retell him about all your vain efforts to unlock the door (and he is assuming that you have only just arrived), he walks up the door, lifts the door mat, picks up the key, hands it to you, you put it in the lock and without even turning it your hear each of the locking mechanisms of door undo their bolts and the door opens!

The ‘mat principle’ of accomplishing difficult things is simply this: it’s easy when you know how. Without knowing how to do something, doing that something is very difficult! A few months ago Kim and I had to go to Victoria. I had booked a car with my usual rent-a-car business. When I walked into their office the lady asked me, “Would you like an up-grade?” I excitedly allowed them to upgrade us into a brand new X5 Hybrid BMW SUV. I was given a thingy and told where I would find the car. As long as I had the thingy, the car would start and would be able to drive it they assured me. I got the car, wiped the drool from the corners of my mouth and sat in the car. It had 27kms on the odometer! I pushed what I thought was the start button, dash lights turned on but the car didn’t start! Maybe you have to push it twice I thought. So I pushed the start button again and dash lights turned off. Oh, maybe this is just the dash lights start button? But where’s the engine start button. Unable to see any other start button, I pushed the one and only start button again. This procedure went on for some time as Kim and I sat in the undercover airport rental car park. Then a thought occurred to me: Hybrid. What if the car had actually started each time I have pressed the start button. This time, after pressing the start button I eased my foot of the brake pedal to see what would happen. The car moved! But it moved absolutely silently. It was a hybrid car and it was running on its electric motors rather than its petrol motor! I wish I had known this before I got in this new car. It’s amazing how easy things are when you have been shown how to do it or to understand it. 

¶ “For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off.
Deuteronomy 30:11

THE MOST DIFFICULT THING NOW MADE EASY

The most impossibly difficult thing that any person could do is to make themselves sinless and therefore righteous in the eyes of God. In ancient times men like Job pondered this question (Job 9:2). These ancients were aware of how holy, just, good, and righteous God was. They also knew that compared with God they were unclean, sinful, selfish, sinners. Even though God instigated the temporary practice of animal sacrifices to remind these ancients of their true spiritual condition before Him, these bloody sacrifices never cleansed anyone’s consciences of the guilt and shame brought about by their sins (Heb. 9:9). This problem remained unsolved until God Himself took on human flesh and became one of us. He lived a sinless life and then laid down His life as the perfect sacrifice for sins of all mankind who turn to Him and receive His pardon. His sacrifice of His life now cleanses the repentant human heart from the guilt and shame of our sins (Heb. 9:14). The key to unlock this previously unlockable door — that so many people have tried to open with religion, good works, church attendance, better education, or Eastern mysticism, but have failed — is found “under the mat” and is called faith. It is our faith (our trust) in what Christ has done for us that opens the most important of Life’s Doors: the door that leads to eternal life in God’s presence. This is why Christ said that He was the Door.

¶ So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.
I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.
John 10:7, 9

Under the mat God has put “the key” to unlock the previously unlockable door: even this is a gift from God: faith.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing;
it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Ephesians 2:8-9

Even finding the key under the mat is the result of us crying out to God for mercy and forgiveness. These kinds of prayers often sound like, “God help me!” “God, please forgive me.” “God, I need You.”

“God, I acknowledge that I am a sinner. I thank You that You have sent Your Son to be my sacrifice for my sins. Please cleanse me from my sin. I receive Your offer of forgiveness and I want to live a new life with Your help. Amen.”

Amen indeed. I hope that each of us can help someone ‘find the key under the mat’ that can open the door to peace with God which results in them finding the purpose for their life and the meaning behind every setback in life. The principle of God enabling us to do previously difficult things also carries over into many of things that He will enable us to do once we have opened the Door of Salvation. This is the testimony of every person who came to faith in Christ and then helped to change the world in some amazing way. As you walk with Christ and He leads you to a locked door, you might want to start your quest to unlock it by checking to see if there’s a mat at the foot of the door and whether God has placed the next key of faith there for you.

Your Pastor,

Andrew

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. LYDIA

    Pastor Andrew this is a very beautiful and insightful message.
    Thank you and Amen.

    Reply
    • Gladys PArry

      Thank you for this message. I must read your book.

      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.

WHO BUILDS A CITY ON A HILL?

home > Pastor's Desk > 2022 > October 7th > Who Builds A City On A HillFor those who don’t know, I was born in Geelong, and have always been fan of the Geelong Football Club. But I’m not just a fan, I’m a paid-up member of the Club. In fact, I’m a student...

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This is not for everyone. If you are already a parent, this is not for you. Instead of reading this I suggest you read one of my other more abstract Pastor’s Desk articles. If you are not a parent and have no intention of ever being a parent, this is not for you. Instead of reading this I suggest you read one of my more weighty articles on FindingTruthMatters.org. If you are not yet a parent and one day hope to become a parent, this is for you. Find a quiet place, take the next six minutes thirteen seconds and use the reading of this article as an investment into your future parenting strategies. I did not invent these guidelines. Like many parents who have also discovered the value of these guidelines, once discovered, they seem obvious. These successful parents probably grew up with own parents who inculcated these guidelines almost intuitively. However, my suspicion is that this is becoming increasingly rarer. As with all true guidelines they are adaptable, flexible, and are not a guarantee of parental success — but if ignored they become the point in the mathematical problem solving where you can see you made an error in your working out. In other words, while these guidelines may not guarantee success, if ignored their neglect almost certainly leads to frustration and disappointment. Here are five indispensable guidelines for every prospective new parent.

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I’ve been praying for Penn Jillette for some time now. It began when I first heard him ridicule the Bible and Christianity. My fascination with Penn (and Teller), and other world-class magicians, has been due to my pursuit to develop my craft of preaching. There are a lot of similarities between preachers and magicians (just as there is also a lot similarities between solo musicians and preachers). I seek to learn from magicians about how to keep an audience’s attention, how to tell a story, and how to make a point by employing the element of surprise. But there are some significant differences between what magicians do and what preachers do though. A magician is deliberately deceptive. A preacher is striving to uphold truth in an honest way.