This is my last end-of-year Pastor’s Desk post. When the leader of our Live-stream ministry, Sari, asked me what I was thankful for this year, my immediate answer was obvious and predictable. But since then, I have considered that I also have eleven other things for which I am grateful to GOD for. In my last ever end-of-year Pastor’s Desk please indulge as I share my heartfelt thanks to God and for those God has used to bless me in my role as pastor of Legana Christian Church this year.
¶ I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart;
I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.
When David penned this psalm he was clearly under pressure. He and his nation were under constant attack from surrounding enemy nations. Added to this, he wrote he was also being afflicted and near “to the gates of death” (Ps. 9:13). Yet his psalmic song is a song of thanks to the Lord (Ps. 9:1) in which he expresses his “praise to Your name, O Most High” (Ps. 9:2) and “recounts all Your praises” (Ps. 9:14). Despite his personal and national adversities he wanted to thank the LORD with all of his heart! And so do I.
The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble.
And those who know your name put their trust in You,
for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek You.
In the midst of all that David was going through he knew that “the LORD sits enthroned forever” (Ps. 9:7). It was God who surrounded David with faithful and loyal friends who gave him the support that he needed when he most needed it. And I too can thank God that He gave me my best friend who cried with me, assured me that God was still in control (“enthroned”) and that He had not changed His plans for us, and that we would get through this trial! Indeed, Kim was a model of a godly woman. As David was also thankful to God for his colleagues, I too am so thankful to Pastor Phil Hills who prophesied to Kim what she had to do, and then on several occasions prophesied by phone and text messages to me in some of my darkest moments. In addition to this, I am extremely grateful to Bishop Richard Condie for his pastoral care and for taking the time to travel up from Hobart to lay hands on me and anoint me with healing oil. Tasmania is blessed to have such a godly bishop.
¶ Sing praises to the LORD, who sits enthroned in Zion!
Tell among the peoples his deeds!
I have only just recently been discharged as an outpatient of the Launceston General Hospital. I have but high praise for all of the staff of the LGH. The doctors, nurses, orderlies, radiological and neurological teams were brilliant. I am particularly thankful to Dasha in the Neurology Department who wrote down on a sticky-note superficial siderosis and then said it would be best if I went home and Googled it for myself, which Kim did and then read it out to me. I then realised why Dasha didn’t want to tell me what it was. And speaking of my gratitude for the LGH staff, when I was first admitted into the Emergency Department at the LGH it was Queen Karen Dickson who, while taking leave from her regnum mãternus to visit the provincial parts of her realm (E.D.) where I was a guest, who then took full advantage of my temporal suboptimal incapacity as I lay there with a dozen wires glued to my head and chest that Saturday morning, who regally told me that she was “preaching tomorrow.” To which I responded with the correction, “No no no, I’m being discharged later today and I’ll be able to preach tomorrow.” Karen H.R.H. then shot back,“For someone who is so smart, you can be really really stupid! Have you noticed where you are?” And I am deeply appreciative of Karen, and I was very proud of her for doing exactly what she said she was going to do the next day during church service when she delivered an outstanding sermon on the text of John 5.
There are many parallels between Christ and king David. The prophet Isaiah prophesied that the coming Christ would possess “the key of David” (Isa. 22:22). This “key” was the ability that David had to inspire others and bring the best out of them. Jesus told the leaders of the church at Philadelphia that He was the fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophecy:
¶ “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the Holy One, the True One, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens.”
My diminished capacity enabled Kim to do for our church what I have never been very good at – inspiring others and bringing the best out of them. Since my return on March 26th many people have commented to me how thrilled they have been to see so many of our young people used in our pulpit ministry — and I share their sentiments. King David had his “mighty men” (2Sam. 23:8) – but Legana is now blessed to have many (young) mighty men and women! Jared and Alexandra Nielsen have also made a significant contribution to this enhancement. This is another wondrous thing for which I am thankful to God for.
And it is not just from our pulpit that we now have mighty men and women, I am recounting my thanks to our ten elders and overseers who now share the pastoral burden of oversight for our church. I am particularly thankful to God for Dr. Ali Kidmas for his years of faithfulness as our senior elder. We now also have a team of seven deacons overseeing our various ministries and several intercessors committed to praying regularly for our church. (Our deacon responsible for our Worship Team, Thomas Ferguson, deserves much encouragement for his countless hours of dedication each week to prepare for our weekly Sunday worship services.) I cannot begin to express just how grateful to God I am for our Board who have been outstanding in their level of care for, vision for, and oversight of, our church and our resources. Also, I am overwhelmed by the many unseen volunteers who have laboured to make our grounds so presentable (Lydia, Alan, and Paul Chatwin) for whom I am ever thankful to God.
Finally, my twelfth thanksgiving prayer point is for those largely unknown to our church but ocassionally mentioned in our church’s prayer points. This group of people are comprised of my local ministerial colleagues:
particularly Noel and Beckie Eagling, Anson van Delden, Steve Fitzallen; and interstate, pastors including:
Chris Maynard (“Pastor Encouragement”), Sean Wood, Ted Pangilinan, Kevin Thomas, and Michael Ridley. Most of these precious people have prayed daily for me and been in contact with me weekly (or every other week) to see how I was going. In addition to these colleagues I have been so encouraged by Prof. Stuart Piggin who has been very gracious toward me in his encouragement and prayers. As no doubt king David would have experienced during the background to his writing of Psalm 9, I too have felt unusually and supernaturally strengthened by the prayers of God’s people.
As you can see from these twelve thanksgiving prayer points I, like king David in Psalm 9, have a lot to be thankful to God for. And I hope that you will join me in prayer for the future of our church as the mantle of leadership is transferred to a new senior pastor.
OUR SPIRITUAL WARFARE
Finally, many many people have raised with me their sense that what has happened to me (and our church) this year has been a spiritual attack by the evil one. I do not disagree with them. And this might surprise some people because I don’t talk about this very much. The reason is that I have an understanding of how the Bible says we should engage in spiritual warfare. I see king David employing this practice in Psalm 9. Rather than directing our attention at our enemy, the spiritual warfare encouraged and modelled in the Bible is to direct our attention and increased devotion to God! And this has been my practice and encouragement for others to do the same.
¶ Arise, O LORD! Let not man prevail;
let the nations be judged before You!
Put them in fear, O LORD!
Let the nations know that they are but men! Selah
Thank you for indulging me by reading about my twelve wondrous thanksgiving prayers for this past year.
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.
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