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.
God desires a man’s physical strength to be harnessed for the good and welfare of others — especially women. A man is not to use his strength for evil purposes such as for the malicious violence toward others. Therefore, while most men are physically stronger than most women, a man’s true strength is displayed when he harnesses that strength for the good of others. This requires self-discipline which is also a measure of man’s strength as evidenced by King David’s charge to his son Solomon as prepared to succeed his father (1Kings 2:2-3). As a man ages he is to learn that true strength is not merely determined by physical capacity but is also exercised by increased wisdom (Prov. 20:29). God has perfectly designed the female body and made it beautiful. It might be true that a woman is attracted to a strong man (especially one strong enough to make her feel secure), but it is definitely true that a man is attracted to a beautiful woman. And it seems that most women really appreciate a man’s admiration of her beauty. And God has also perfectly designed a woman’s body to nurture. This means that her skeletal structure is designed to support adequate muscle mass to nurture, and there are aspects to her design that make her quite distinct from a man’s body. But there is an insidious evil that seeks to particularly attack a woman and distort her appreciation for how the Creator has made her. This insidiousness is promoted in many of the recent crop of female heroines (super-heroines excepted for the moment) portrayed in Hollywood movies where a one hundred fifty three centre-metre, forty-five kilo, underwear model is seen fighting off a one hundred and ninety three centre-metre, one hundred and thirty kilo ex-Navy Seal by punching him across a room. This kind of nonsense sends a terrible message to a woman about her inadequacy to be equal to a man when it comes to physical strength.
It’s only in the last few years that we have felt the Lord lead us to adopt a theme for the year. Last year, before many of us went into lockdown in our homes, we had felt the Lord put on our hearts the theme, Welcome home. This year, we have felt the Lord lead us to focus on the theme, grow. The word grow conjures up different emotions in me. There was a time, quite early in my pastoral ministry, when it was recommended to me that I engage a ministry coach. It was my desire to do all I could to see our little church at Legana grow. The ministry coach agreed that this should be my focus. It just so happened that at this time I was in the throes of my doctoral studies.