home > Pastor’s Desk > 2022 > September 16 > THINK ABOUT THIS

In Australia, it’s football finals time and in the U.S. the last Grand Slam event for the year has just concluded. I find a lot of life lessons from observing elite athletes — including and especially those who play football and those who play tennis. Most people might consider football to be a team sport and tennis to be individual sport. But the distinction is not so clear these days. Often times footballers are individually coached by “position coaches” and a tennis player is often just who the public sees of a team of people responsible for the performance of that player. At the time of writing, there are four remaining Australian Rules Football (AFL) teams about to play off in the Preliminary Finals (including my beloved Geelong Cats). Last weekend, Carlos Alcaraz of Spain defeated Casper Ruud of Norway. Both players have intriguing stories which I will mention shortly. In the AFL, after a disastrous last season, the Collingwood Magpies appointed a new coach for this season, Craig McRae. Even though they got off to a slow start this season, under McRae’s oversight they ended up having an 11-straight winning streak toward the end of the season and now look like genuine  Premiership contenders. What do Carlos Alcaraz, Casper Ruud, Craig McRae, and the Collingwood football team, all have in common? All the players at the elite level of their sport make an enormous commitment to train, practice, sleep, hydrate, and eat a regulated diet. Yet at the very highest levels in their respective sporting codes the difference between the elite and the extra-elite is no longer a matter of skill or fitness. In fact, the difference between them is so applicable to everyday life that it may be the most relevant and do-able thing you hear for a long time. So, think about this

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature,
because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees:
man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.”
First Samuel 16:7

God wanted the prophet Samuel to think differently about the type of person who was ‘king material’. As each of Jesse’s sons, tall, strong, handsome, appeared before Samuel, each of them looked like would be God’s choice for king. But God was thinking differently about what the ideal king looked like (1Sam. 16:7).

For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways My ways, declares the LORD.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are My ways higher than your ways
and My thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:8-9

 

HOW YOU THINK DETERMINES WHAT YOU BELIEVE

How you think determines what you think. How to think well begins by learning to ask good questions and seeking good reasons for accepting a claim as true. For example, this atheist meme has been doing the rounds on the internet:

This atheist claim asserts that Jesus was just one of many religious leaders who were born on December 25th, born of a virgin, had 12 travelling followers, were executed and then raised from the dead 3 days later. This atheist meme attempts to claim that the person and story of Jesus Christ are just a myth. The only problem with this assertion though is that it is entirely and utterly false false! If you’re interested in the reasons why—and the reasons for Jesus Christ being unique among religious leaders—consult former Cold-Case homicide detective, J. Warner Wallace’s book, Person of Interest – Why Jesus Still Matters in a World That Rejects the Bible.

What you think determines what you believe. And this is where there are lessons to be learned from Carlos Alcaraz, Casper Ruud, Craig McRae, and the Magpies AFL team. Casper Ruud (this year’s US Open men’s finalist) took up tennis at a very young age because of his father, Christian Ruud, who was also a professional tennis player. Christian was born in Oslo Norway and had a career high ATP ranking of 39, in 1995 at the age of 23.

Why didn’t you make Number 1 in the world Dad?” his young son asked.

Because son” his father replied, “I am Norwegian. It was just not possible for a Norwegian tennis player to ever become Number 1 in world.”

Why not?” enquired his son.

Because no Norwegian has ever done it.”

I will.” Casper told his father.

Carlos Alcaraz playing Casper Ruud

Carlos Alcaraz playing Casper Ruud in the 2022 US Open

Last weekend, the young Casper, now 23 years old, reached Number 2 on the ATP world rankings and was within one match reaching world Number 1. He still determined to get there – and believes he will. His journey began when he began to think differently.

¶ Brothers, do not be children in your thinking.
Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.
First Corinthians 14:20

Carlos Alcaraz, who was crowned ATP World Number 1 a few days ago after defeating Casper Ruud in the US Men’s Open, began to think differently about how the way tennis was played. The 20-year-old Spaniard has now introduced a new to think about moving on a tennis court which enables him to return balls from his opponents that were previously thought unreturnable. What was once thought impossible, has now been proved possible by the young Alcaraz. Like Ruud, Alcaraz challenged the way people thought about the artificial limits people often place on other people. And like Ruud, he has also proved them wrong.

LIFE’S IMPOSSIBILITIES ARE OFTEN AN INVITATION TO FIND NEW POSSIBILITIES

Craig McRae took on the Collingwood Magpies when they were at their lowest point for many years. Many people thought the rookie senior coach had no chance to turn the fortunes of this football team around. But McRae thought differently. As a player, McRae had already played in a ‘turn-around’ team under the Brisbane Lions’ coach Leigh Matthews (“the coach of the century”) who turned the Lions into the “most successful team of the 20th century”. McRae ended up playing in four AFL Grand Finals and winning three. He had already learned that what many people thought was impossible could become possible if you learned how to think and as a result what to think, which then determined the contents of your beliefs. As a result, the team that no-one thought had a chance of playing in the Finals this year has done what McRae believed they always could.

But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Matthew 19:26

If you are a Christian, you already think differently. When you became a Christian you did so because you received a touch of the Holy Spirit in your soul that enabled you to discover how to think. This led you to know what to think about your true condition (as a sinner needing a Saviour) and to accept that Jesus was the Saviour. Thus, you are already used to thinking differently. Your life as a Spirit-filled follower of Christ involves continually being renewed (Rom. 12:3), in your thinking –

¶ Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable,
whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely,
whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence,
if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—
practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
Philippians 4:8-9

From my reading of God’s Word, I think that we are called to think and to think well. This involves thinking about how we can glorify God in the so-called mundane choices we have to make daily; and, whenever we are confronted with impossible situations. How we think when we know God changes what we think about seemingly impossible situations. As we ponder the greatness of God, we think great thoughts – and believe that great things are possible and then, to paraphrase William Carey, we are prepared to attempt great things for God!

Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.
Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel
Second Timothy 2:7-8

No matter what you’re facing, or what challenges might be overwhelming you, or how many people are telling you there’s no possibility of things improving, remember that we are invited to cast all our cares onto Christ (1Peter 5:7) and to take Christ’s burden-bearing ‘yoke’ upon ourselves (Matt. 11:28-29). This is worth thinking about!

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.

1 Comment

  1. LYDIA

    That card! I had till now NO idea they printed an ‘atheistic’ card … a card especially for atheists … a Christmas card … with four lies of various gods who never resurrected and one truth of Jesus who did, being true God and true man Andrew. This card can also be a testament to the Truth, Jesus being the Way the Truth and the Life even though at first glance it might not appear to be so at all. It gives the buyer a choice. Its not that I could ever contemplate the idea of buying such a card, yet nothing is impossible with God who could touch a human heart to seek the one and only True God of heaven and earth Who not only resurrected but Ascended.

    This card as well as the aim to succeed, which can be proven by a very determined tennis player Carlos Alcaraz that there is much truth amidst the lies of the climate of the day.

    Quote: “No matter what you’re facing, or what challenges might be overwhelming you, or how many people are telling you there’s no possibility of things improving, remember that we are invited to cast all our cares onto Christ (1Peter 5:7) and to take Christ’s burden-bearing ‘yoke’ upon ourselves (Matt. 11:28-29). This is worth thinking about!”
    Amen to that Andrew.

    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.

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.

WHAT WOULD IT TAKE FOR ATHEIST & MAGICIAN PENN JILLETTE TO BECOME A CHRISTIAN?

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.