home > Pastor’s Desk > 2022 > JUNE 24> BUILDING A MOODY CHURCH

The three things that make the Christian life exciting and enthralling are the same three things that enable a believer to develop a closer relationship with God. The combination of these supernatural gifts gives the child of God an awareness that there is more, much more, to this world than we can see, touch, taste or feel. When the Christian’s faith is grounded and buttressed in God’s Word, godly prayer, and God’s house he or she flourishes. But there are forces at play that are determined to stop the believer from reaching their spiritual destiny. While we might think these enemy forces only use the fiery darts of doubt to hinder the believer’s journey to glory, there is something that they successfully use far more often: our mood. This is why, for any church to be successful, it must discover how to build a moody church.

¶ Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
Philippians 2:12-13

There are three things essential for any Christian to have in their spiritual foundation with Christ as their cornerstone <(Acts 4:11; Eph. 2:20). Firstly, a devotion to know, understand, and apply God’s Word. Secondly, a devotion to prayer – to know, obey, and love God. Thirdly, a devotion to a Christ-centred, Spirit-filled, Word-based, church. The enemy of our soul continually seeks to undermine each of these foundational sources of our spiritual strength. This undermining is nearly always done subtly and barely without the believer even noticing what is happening.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith.
First Peter 5:8-9a

THE ROLE OF FAITH FOR A CHRISTIAN

The Apostle Peter told the young Christians of Bithynia to “stand firm in your faith” (1Pet. 5:9a). Some critics of Christianity assert that faith is “believing things that are not true.” You either have facts or you must have faith, they claim. But this is not true. Faith, including the Christian faith, is not mere wishful or fanciful thinking. As if J.M. Barry’s famous line from Peter Pan – “I do believe in fairies” – could ever make the existence of fairies reasonable.
Faith is always grounded in reasonable evidence. Faith is trusting that evidence. Life is therefore not possible without faith. We have faith that the road we have driven over hundreds of times – or on the road we have never driven over but others have driven over hundreds of times – will not collapse under us as we drive over it. We have faith that when we sit on our favourite chair it will hold us. This functional faith is grounded in good reasons and so is Christian faith.
The Apostle Paul described Christian faith as being based on facts and good evidence – particularly for the physical resurrection of Jesus the Christ. If Christ was not raised from the dead then there is no salvation from sin for anyone. If this was the case, then life itself would be meaningless (“vain”). This is how he stated it:

But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.
First Corinthians 15:13-17

C.S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity, that if someone was not persuaded by the evidence for Christ and His resurrection, then they should not accept Christianity:

“Now just the same thing happens about Christianity. I am not asking anyone to accept Christianity if his best reasoning tells him that the weight of the evidence is against it. That is not the point at which Faith comes in.”
Mere Christianity 2017 (1942), pg. 140

Perhaps surprisingly, C.S. Lewis states that even the person who has become convinced by the evidence for the truthfulness of the Christian message is still susceptible to fall away if something separates them from the three essential faith-sustainers. You would be forgiven for thinking that he is referring to the devil. After all, Lewis was very aware of the devil and his schemes to undermine the believer’s faith because he wrote a book about it, The Screwtape Letters. But he is not talking about the devil’s direct attacks as the most dangerous peril to be faced. Rather, Lewis describes our moods as our greatest peril to being established and flourishing in our faith in Christ.

But supposing a man’s reason once decides that the weight of the evidence is for it. I can tell that man what is going to happen to him in the next few weeks. There will come a moment when there is bad news, or he is in trouble, or is living among a lot of other people who do not believe it, and all at once his emotions will rise up and carry out a sort of blitz on his belief. Or else there will come a moment when he wants a woman, or wants to tell a lie, or feels very pleased with himself, or sees a chance of making a little money in some way that is not perfectly fair: some moment, in fact, at which it would be very convenient if Christianity were not true.

Lewis was not dismissing the inevitable doubts that creep into a believer’s mind. He wrote, “Those have to be faced and that is a different matter. I am talking about moments when a mere mood rises up against it ” (140). He goes on to say that the way to tame our moods so that the enemy can not exploit them, is to tame them by disciplining them in the three essentials for the Christian journey: God’s Word, godly praying, and commitment to God’s House.

Now Faith, in the sense in which I am here using the word, is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted in spite of your changing moods. For moods will change, whatever view your reason takes…That is why Faith is such a necessary virtue unless you teach your moods ‘where they get off,’ you can never be either a sound Christian or even a sound atheist, but just a creature dithering to and fro, with its beliefs really dependent on the weather and the state of its digestion. Consequently one must train the habit of Faith.

This is why a commitment to attending church is essential for maintaining a vibrant faith in Christ. Is it necessary for a Christian to attend church? When we understand just how influential our moods are to our walk with Christ, we might phrase this question differently. How does neglecting church effect our mood to continue in the three essentials for Christian growth? Lewis states:

“The first step is to recognise the fact that your moods change. The next is to make sure that, if you have once accepted Christianity, then some of its main doctrines shall be deliberately held before your mind for some time every day. That is why daily prayers and religious readings and churchgoing are necessary parts of the Christian life.”
Pg. 141

For any church to grow and be healthy, it needs members who have learned to tame their moods, which Lewis describes as telling them “where to get off”! He states in very straightforward language why the believer needs to tell their mood to get used to the idea that they would now be going to church, rain, hail, or shine. “We have to be continually reminded of what we believe. Neither this belief nor any other will automatically remain alive in the mind. It must be fed” (141). 

 

A MOODY CHURCH

A church is comprised of those believers who have tamed their moods to delight in the things that Christ says are good for their souls. It is in the regular devotion to God’s Word that we are reminded of the truth. It is in regular devotion to praying that we are reminded of God’s presence. It is in regular devotion to church that we, encouraged by our worship, the ordinances of communion and baptism, and the ministry of God’s preached word that we are taught and encouraged in our understanding of and walk with Christ. This is what I mean by building a moody church. (And I apologise to all my brothers and sisters in Chicago who already attend “Moody Church” in honour of the great evangelist D.L. Moody.)

¶ Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Matthew 16:13-18

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

    Early this morning as I watched the news from overseas I couldn’t help being touched by a small group of people who prayed before they went out to rescue the vulnerable in the Ukraine. Its a miracle that the news media showed this action of dependability on the living God to go before them, which I might add He is doing for this group as they testified. As the news rolled around for the second time it again touched my soul in exactly the same way.
    Holding that thought of ‘no place to worship’, here as you clearly pointed out Andrew ‘moods’ are fickle. Emotions are unpredictable. But God’s Word, godly prayer and attending church as you wrote, are the basis of a believer’s faithfulness to their Saviour.
    If I marry both things together, the Pastor’s Desk and no where to worship, I could ask the question, “What on earth is the world, this country, this island, this city doing?” Does it take a war to activate the people to flocking the buildings of the churches to overflowing?
    Why should a two year plus, Covid experience, which is world rampant, stop folks all over the world from doing a retake on what it meant and means to attend church if they physically are able to? Meaning to worship together in a building.
    In Matthew as you rightly pointed out “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” This is true. On Jesus Christ, the Rock, His church was built and continues still to this day, because He conquered and rose again from the dead, otherwise Jesus would just have been another prophet.
    I really love this quote from you “A church is comprised of those believers who have tamed their moods to delight in the things that Christ says are good for their souls.”

    Reply
    • Wendy Williams

      Beautifully iterated Lydia. Thank you.

      Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

HOW TO BE A SUCCESSFUL INVESTOR (OF MORE THAN JUST MONEY)

The most basic form of investing was described by Christ in the parable of the talents where He described it as putting money with the money-lenders to earn interest. Albert Einstein stated that ‘compound interest’ is the eighth wonder of the world! When some people hear the word ‘investing’ they might think that it only involves money. Investing involves thinking about present action and the future consequences of those actions. And then acting in a way that sacrifices present income to invest in a richer future. Understood in a much broader sense, investing can and should mean thinking about much more than just money. It can involve investing time, effort, wisdom, training, and prayer. Investing done well results in increased wealth and riches which is not just limited to financial rewards. It is exemplified in the biblical promise, “You reap what you sow.” Each generation is responsible to steward the resources that are at its disposal. These resources are managed by individuals, families, communities, states, nations and the Church. Church leaders have a duty to invest well into the spiritual resources that shape culture to the glory of God so that a tree is planted for the next generations will be the ones who enjoy its shade.

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.

WHO DOES THIS EPHESIANS FELLA THINK HE IS?!

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...

5 INDISPENSABLE GUIDELINES FOR NEW PARENTS

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.