Friday, 16 February 2018

WHEN NOT TO ASK, Becoming An Experienced Carer




when-not-to-ask2
IT’s always done with the best of intentions. We see someone, we feel a measure of compassion for them. We approach them. We reach out to them. Then the fateful words come out of our mouth and all our good intentions are undone. I’ve been on both sides of these conversations. Lately, I’ve been on a side I never thought I’d spend too much time on. Before I explain myself, I need to tell you a weird story. 
When He went ashore He saw a great crowd, and He had compassion on them and healed their sick.
Matthew 14:14
BEFORE I talk about Stephen King’s, The Green Mile, I need to disclose a journey I’ve been on secretly for the past fifteen years or so. Some of us are born with gifts and natural abilities. My journey began because I was frustrated that I wasn’t naturally what I knew I needed to be for the call Christ had on my life. People would tell me that I had a gifts to teach and lead. Many pastors would be content with this. I wasn’t. I began a habit each Sunday morning before I went to church. I didn’t tell anyone. I would go for a walk and pray. I asked God to change my heart, to give me compassion for others, to help me to hear people, to help me to see people, to help me to help people. I prayed to God that people would be healed as they heard the Word preached.                                                                                                                          
And when the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.”
Luke 7:13
compassionate-hands2After a few years, my heart had been softened toward others in answer to these pleading prayers. There was an embarrassing downside to this answer to my prayers though – and it has nearly jeopardised Kim’s willingness to accompany me to the movies! I now cry easily at anything remotely moving in a movie. Several times on an interstate flight while watching a movie Kim has jabbed me and told me to “Stop it!” The sobbing I thought I am concealing in a very mild manly manner is apparently not that manly or concealed!
But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children.
First Thessalonians 2:7
This prayer for supernatural compassion has continued all these years later. And here’s where it now gets nearly too weird for Stephen King. I mentioned from the pulpit the other Sunday that as I have been praying that God would help me to be a faithful pastor. But something strange has been happening. I prayed for someone with a ‘kink’ inside their neck causing them headaches. Shortly after this I was diagnosed a kink inside my neck (after an MRI exam) causing me to have headaches. I prayed for someone with painfully irritated tongue. I began to have an irritated tongue. I prayed for someone with what sounded like a bulging spinal disc causing them back-pain and someone else unable to come to church due to their back-pain. I then began to experience excruciating back-pain and was diagnosed by another MRI with two bulging spinal discs. I prayed for someone with an infected toe. Soon after this I walked bare-footed onto my lush lawn to water it and was suddenly bitten on my toe by a ‘Jack Jumper’ (think, ‘Fire Ant‘) which overnight turned into an infected toe. And then I received a prayer request from a dear friend in Missouri, Pastor Ted Heaston, asking me to pray for his left ankle to recover. This week I was discharged from hospital (for the second time in two weeks) with a severely infected left ankle! 
Ted-Heaston's-ankle 
On the day that I hear that Pastor Ted is now in the clear with his ankle, I too have just come from my doctor and heard that my infection is now subsiding. There are other examples of this sort of thing, but these samples give you the idea of what’s been happening in my world over the past few months in particular. This has given me a new insight into the world of those who are unwell, injured, in pain, or sick. Armed with this insight, and now having to endure my own chronic conditions which I won’t bore you with, I can tell you there are things you shouldn’t ask a person who is having their own health battles, especially, How are you?
For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.
Second Corinthians 5:2-4

EXPERIENCED CARERS LEARN THE LANGUAGE OF CARE

Genuinely caring people can have the best of intentions but be unhelpful in either their comments or questions. On the other side these conversations, I can say that it is nice to know that someone cares when you hurt. One of the reasons a question like, How are you? can hurt so much is that it can show a lack of consideration and thoughtfulness. Similarly, those in pain can also feel a bit exasperated when someone says to them,’You’re looking well. I guess you’re now better.‘ And probably the worst thing to say is, “I know exactly what you’re going through!
¶ Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,
Second Corinthians 1:3
People who are not well can get tired answering the question, “So how are you?” (Especially when it should be obvious that they are not well – or worst still, there is some evidence that this is their new reality.) Instead, try this, “Can I get you a cup of tea?” “Would you like me to get you a chair?” “Can I carry that for you?” Experienced carers who have a relationship with the one who is hurting can get away with things like, “How can I best pray for you?” Often times this invites the hurting one to share  what they feel comfortable sharing. The problem with always being asked, “How are you?” is that after a while you feel you’re invalid who just whinges all the time! During one of my recent stints in hospital, I appreciated being asked by nurses and doctors, “Are you in pain at the moment?” Or, “Can I get you something for your pain?” 
The next time you meet a grieving parent, a chronically ill person, someone physically disabled, or someone battling depression, you’ll now know what to ask and what not to ask. And if you ask me to pray for your rare exotic medical condition, forgive me if I hesitate for a moment before I pray for you, but at least now you’ll know why! 
Pastor Andrew

Saturday, 10 February 2018

QUICKER THAN KARMA

SOWING AND REAPING
– QUICKER THAN KARMA!

Eastern mysticism, or Eastern spirituality (which includes varieties of Hinduism and Buddhism among others) is very appealing because it claims to offer its practitioners power and control. (And who doesn’t want power and control?) This stands in stark contrast to Christianity which summons its devotees to surrender and submission to the One True God who is All-Powerful and Sovereign (in total control). Even though the difference between Christianity and Eastern mysticism could not be greater, there is, much to my complete bewilderment, Christians who consider Eastern mysticism, along with Christianity, to be one of the several paths up the mountain to God. And when Eastern mystics claim that even the Bible teaches their scurrilous  doctrines such things as reincarnation or karma, and Christians ignorantly accept it, you know we have a problem!
claim-that-reincarnation-is-biblical
Over the past few years I have met good intentioned Christians who have been misled into believing that Christianity is compatible with the teachings of Eastern mysticism, and in particular reincarnation. The writer to the Hebrews lists 6 Christian doctrines which he regarded as ‘basic’ and ‘elementary’ which form the foundation of Christian faith and practice. The last two of these six are particularly needful for believers to be grounded in.
¶ Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.
Hebrew 6:1-2
The writer to the Hebrews links these last two foundational Christian doctrines into one clear statement about the destiny of every human being which clearly states how many lives each person will have and what happens after that life ends.
And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment
Hebrews 9:27
Two of the essential, foundational, defining, distinctive, doctrines of Christianity – that (i) each person lives and dies only once and (ii) their eternal destiny is determined by the judgment of Christ – makes the Eastern concept of cyclic rebirth (reincarnation) completely incompatible with Christianity. It also makes Christianity, in the words of Blaise Pascal, the safest bet when it comes to each person’s eternal destiny. If a person ignores the claims of Christ, which includes God’s offer to eternally forgive them, because they believe they will be reincarnated, rather than judged, and their faith in reincarnation is proven to be false, they have lost everything for eternity! But if a person, as Blaise Pascal nearly wagered, put their trust in Christ and His Gospel which, upon their death was proven to be false and reincarnation was right after all, they have lost nothing!

WHEN CHRISTIANS BLEND EASTERN MYSTICISM WITH FAITH IN CHRIST

Chinese-Gold-Cat-good-luckEastern mysticism seeks to control. It promises a pathway to material blessing and prosperity. Have you wondered why your local Chinese restaurant has a gold cat, with its paw raised, sitting on their counter? This cat, the Maneki Neko, is believed to bring blessing and prosperity. It is depicted as being made of gold which represents wealth. How can Christianity possibly compete with the Eastern mysticism’s offer of prosperity? The answer: By distorting the Scriptures to develop an entirely new theology called the Prosperity Gospel. This novel theology required an entirely new way of interpretting the Bible. Its proponents include, T.D. Jakes, Joyce Meyer, Kenneth Copeland, Joel Osteen, Creflo Dollar, and Jesse Duplantis. Take great care when exposed to their teaching.
If you would like to more about the dangers of the Prosperity Gospel, click here
We should not ‘give to get’ when we take up our offering each Sunday. Rather, our giving should be a reflection of our heart toward God as worshipers. 

DON’T CONFUSE VALID BIBLICAL PRINCIPLES WITH ABERRANT EASTERN MYSTICISM

PlantingOne of the simple and safe principles for interpreting Scripture is never interpret a Scripture to contradict the overall message of Scripture. This is why we can condemn the Prosperity Gospel, but see validity in such Biblical principles as sowing and reaping. Our goal in reading the Scriptures is to exegete it. This means, that we only take out of it what God put into it. For example,

As I preach each Sunday my aim involves helping you to think clearly about God’s Word. This is why exegesis and discernment is so important for us to develop within our church. 
Let me give a practical example to conclude with. One of the Scriptures that I often refer to to remind us of God’s faithfulness is Luke 6:38
Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
Luke 6:38
One of the first principles of Bible interpretation is context. If we read the verse before this text, Luke 6:37, it commands that we are to, “Judge not, and you will not be judged.” This has led some bloggers who rightly have a problem with Prosperity Gospel preachers’ usage of Luke 6:38 to think that Jesus wasn’t speaking of being generous, but of ‘giving judgment’. One of arguments used to support this interpretation is that in a couple of English Bibles (including the ESV which I endorse) verse 37 finishes with a comma not a full-stop. But this is actually not the context of Luke 6:38. This context begins in Luke 6:27.
¶ “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.
Luke 6:27-28
wheat-bagThe context of the passage is about being gracious which involves being generous. The startling thing about what Christ taught is the scope of this graciousness. This passage commands that Christ’s followers show grace and generosity to our enemies (Lk. 6:27), those who hate us, those who curse us, and those who abuse us (Lk. 6:28)! This whole passage is a contrast that goes back and forth between a Christ-less person and the attitude and resultant actions of a Christ follower. When we come to Luke 6:38, the language is commercial, not legal. The depiction of receiving “a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, put into your lap” was precisely the practice of honourable grain sellers in the market-place.
To interpret this verse as Christ saying that if you judge someone with strict judgment, you yourself would be judged with even stricter judgment, violates the sound principle of Biblical interpretation stated earlier – Never interpret a verse of Scripture so that it disagrees with the overall message of Scripture. There is not a verse in the Bible that is rightly interpreted as meaning that if we judge someone we will be judged more harshly. If so, Judge Rosemarie Aquilina of Lansing Michigan who just sentenced Larry Nassar to 175 years in prison might be in trouble. But I think Judge Aquilina should be commended not condemned for her clear administration of justice!  
The other translation I recommend, the New English Translation, punctuates the end of Luke 6:37 with a full-stop because verse 37 actually completes its sentence. Luke 6:38, taken in contrast, continues extoll graciousness and generosity for Christ-followers with it scope encompassing those who don’t deserve it. 
All this reminds us that we must be vigilant against the error both from without and within.
Pastor Andrew.

Friday, 2 February 2018

COMPASSION COMES IN CHAPTERS

Changing-chapters
Opening of the 2018 Legal Year
The Governor of Tasmania, The Hon. Prof. Kate Warner, participating in the Opening of the Legal Year in St. David’s Cathedral
Today I participated in yet another Opening of the Legal Year ceremony in St. David’s Cathedral, Hobart. The Chief Justice of Tasmania, each of Tasmania’s judges, magistrates, barristers, the Head of UTas Law School, graduating law students, police, various members of the Parliament, and the Governor of Tasmania, present themselves. In addition to this honour role of eminents are various church leaders providing their prayerful participation, which is why I was present. This annual event marks the beginning of the Legal Year in our State but in many respects it marks the beginning of the church year as well. It is thus both a time to reflect back and gaze ahead.
St David's CathedralOpening of the Legal Year
Justice, and only justice, you shall follow, that you may live and inherit the land that the LORD your God is giving you.
Deuteronomy 16:20
Looking-backThis year will mark my twenty-third year in the privileged position as pastor of Legana. There has been a lot of prayer and work sown into the church and community over these years. In many respects we are now seeing answers to many of these prayers. People are joining our church. People are coming to Christ. Those redeemed are professing their faith in Christ through the waters of baptism. People have given wonderfully to make our new facilities a reality. As I reflect upon these things, I am full of thanks to God. 

gazing-ahead

This year will mark a significant new chapter in our church. F.W. Boreham said that a pastor can never reach the peak of his effectiveness until there are those in his congregation who have never known any other pastor and cannot conceive of there ever being another. Perhaps, about now, this is true for some at Legana. Perhaps this is why there is a strong sense of synergy now between pastor and people in our church. During my recent incapacitation, I was touched by how many in our church expressed their prayers and sympathy about my difficulties. As I explained the other Sunday, perhaps this has something to do with the Lord answering my years of praying for my role as pastor that I might have greater compassion for people. The new chapter we are entering is exciting for several reasons. 
To Him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear His voice, and He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out.
John 10:3
Any church stands or falls on its leadership. Any shortcomings our church has had over the years, and there have been many, can be attributable to my lack of leadership capacity. But this year we are adding capacity to our church through our restructure and new staff appointments (we’ll talk more about this on Vision2020 Sunday on February 11th). As we heard back in January from Bob McKay, a church transition consultant, if we keep doing things the way we have been doing them, we will only ever be a good church. Many churches are content to be good. But there are some churches that God calls to be more

I understand why some churches are content to remain good. There is some pain associated with the needed changes to grow in depth and effectiveness. It means leaders have to uncomfortably grow. It means that the level of service has to grow. It means more sacrifice. It means more confronting issues rather than avoiding them. It means that we have to let go of certain things and cheer others on as they pick them. And as we heard from Bob that January night, the one who will bear the most pain will be me because it will involve me being 'uncorked' in so many different ways so that I cannot be a bottleneck to what God wants to do. This will be painful and difficult for me – but this is what it means to follow a crucified Saviour.
Opening-of-Legal-Year01_n
It was my privilege to be asked to pray for our State to be more compassionate. This included praying for the poor, the homeless, the refugee, the imprisoned, the orphaned, and the broken. Our new chapter is already taking shape in a way that is enabling us to be more compassionate to those often not shown any. As I prayed this prayer today in front of the Chief Justice, the Governor, members of Parliament, and those in the legal profession, I reflect that many of these people are at the wrong end of what it takes to build a compassionate society and that the local church is at the front end. Yet, we need both ends of the compassion spectrum covered. Dr. John Dickson gave an excellent case for why this should be so in his address to those present. He showed that just prior to the Christ coming it was accepted by culture that not all people are equal. Women were worth less than men. In Roman times, Dr. Dickson told us, the able were more valuable than the disabled. Yet the Christian proclamation and demonstration that all people are created with the imago dei (the image of God) means despite your status, role, function, or parents, we are all equal in worth, value, and standing. The early Christians would rescue the discarded unwanted baby girls who were left outside on the rubbish dumps to be exposed to die. For this they endured the mockery and ridicule of their culture but simultaneously created a cultural shift so that by the late fourth century the Emperor decreed that infanticide was now prohibited.

Dr. John Dickson

In light of how Christ had changed the way the world viewed people, He had made the world a more just and compassionate place. At the end of the ceremonial proceedings, Rev. Alistair Bain, of St. John's Presbyterian Church Hobart, who was formerly practicing as a lawyer, invited members of the police and legal profession to stand and "rededicate yourselves to the ideals and principles of your profession, to preserve and maintain the integrity of your role and to uphold justice in society." This invited a formal affirmation which those present declared, "We dedicate ourselves anew to live and act with truth, justice and integrity and honour for the common good of all.

I have the highest admiration for those in the legal and justice system. My own daughter is training to be a lawyer (2nd year ACU). But it is the Church that is at the front end of compassion and justice in a society. If those at the back-end of compassion and justice see the need to "rededicate" and "dedicate anew" to the ideals necessary for this profession to deliver this, how much more do we at the front-end need to? Our next chapter as a church is going to be one of increased effectiveness in showing and ministering this compassion to our our society which is increasingly hurting, lonely, confused, and broken. I invite you, at the start of this new church year to join with me in dedicating ourselves to being Christ's hands and feet in a broken, hurting, unjust, world. It takes more than just being good to be effective in delivering this level of compassion. It takes a church of dedicated Christ-followers who are prepared to follow the blood-stained footprints of our Master. 

Pastor Andrew.

Friday, 26 January 2018

You Don't Need Wings Or Red Bull To Fly

You-Don't-Need-Wings-or-Red-Bull-To-Fly
Home Group BBQ DinnerLast night at our Home Group BBQ, it just so happened that down the end of the table where I happened to be sitting there was a vigorous discussion happening about alternate realities. This, at times fiery, discussion debated whether the Bourne Trilogy (Bourne Identity, Bourne Ultimatum, Bourne Supremacy) was a docu-drama based on reality (my contention) or just sheer fantasy based on an alternate reality (everyone else’s contention). Things got particularly heated when we began discussing whether Narniareally existed or was, again, an alternate reality. I can only wonder what sparks would have flown if we had gone into the centuries long debate which has pitted philosopher against philosopher whether Clark Kent (A.K.A. Kal-El) belonged to this reality or some alternate reality. If there’s anything we learn from the story of Kal-El, it’s that you don’t need wings or Red Bull to fly – as long as you continually renew your strength.
And I say, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove!
 I would fly away and be at rest;
Psalm 55:6
Home Group discussions about alternate realitiesWhen Lois Lane was asked what she knew about Superman (Kal-El) she stated that he was from the planet Krypton, that he could fly, and he renewed his strength from the Sun. In the docu-drama, Superman Returns, we see Kal-El taking time out from saving people and averting disasters by flying out of earth’s atmosphere and basking in sunlight to renew his strength.
but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.
Isaiah 40:31
We each have different categories of strengths. Each of these strengths need renewing. For example, our physical strength needs hydrating, nourishing, and rest. Our mental strength needs stimulating, instructing, and musing. Our spiritual strength needs to worship, to pray, to meditate on God and His Word. 
¶ So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.
Second Corinthians 4:16
Home Group BBQ2018Legana21Jan24After discovering that my spine was severely degenerated, I learned that spines need renewing. Sports scientists now teach elite sports people how to care for and renew their spines through proper hydration, active warm-ups, warm-downs, proper stretching, and use of a back roll. I’ve just spent 4 days on my back, largely unable to move, because I have spent too many years ignoring these elements of renewal. 
There is of course a more valuable spiritual application in all this talk about alternate realities and back care. Our souls need to be continually renewed. As Kim reminded us all last Sunday, this requires maintenance. But spiritual maintenance, Kim said, was different to regular maintenance – for each time we do spiritual maintenance we grow.
and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its Creator.
Colossians 3:10

ONE OF THOSE BEAUTIFUL THINGS

One of the beautiful things about what Christ does in a believer is allowing us to see the world the way it actually is (Eph. 1:18). The Scriptures declare that those outside of Christ are blind (2Cor. 4:4). They cannot see the real world – they are virtually living in an alternate reality. While our Home Group BBQ discussed alternate realities last night, we also reflected on the reality that life is short and death is certain, yet so few people prepare for it. While we can get our finances in order, our health care plan in order, too few people take the time to get their souls in order by the daily renewing of their hearts and minds in Christ.
¶ I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Romans 12:1-2
Even Superman has to take regular time out and renew his strength in the glory of the Sun. Even the True Superman took time out from the demands of a needy world to renew His strength by coming aside to be with His Father (Matthew 14:23). How much more then do we need renewing? While Kal-El renewed his strength from the radiance of the Sun, we renew ours from the radiance of the Son. Like the dripping wet and weary Peter meeting the resurrected Christ for an impromptu fish breakfast on the shores of the Galilee having just unsuccessfully fished all night, his strength was supernaturally renewed by the presence, words, and radiance of Christ. When the ten other disciples struggled to haul their spontaneous catch of fish to shore, it was Peter who then got up renewed from having been with Jesus and at the word of Christ he single-handedly dragged the net of 153 large fish onto the shore.  
Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn.
John 21:10-11
The journey of following Christ is a journey of continual renewal and growth. This is why our goal is not just simply to get people savedbut to help people to grow in Christlikeness. In reflecting on these things this week, I read something yesterday that challenged me. “There has never been an easier time to get people saved and yet there has never been a more difficult time to disciple people into committed growing followers of Christ.” This Sunday we will meet together to be renewed. It could be the day when some people realise for the first time that they have been blind and living in a delusion as Christ opens their eyes. And, it should be the day when for those of us whose eyes have already been opened we will see the world a little more clearly because we will, like those seekers from Bethsaida, see Christ a little more clearly.
So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”
John 12:21

Pastor Andrew

Saturday, 20 January 2018

THREE THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT GOD (AND YOU NEED TO)

THREE THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT GOD
(AND YOU NEED TO)
One day I’m going to publish a book called “5 Proofs For The Existence Of God“. As with each of my other books, I generally publish them online first as a webpage, and get readers’ feedback before publishing. My article, which bears the name of my proposed book title, has recently had a flurry of comments from some who object to someone like me claiming that God’s existence can be ‘proved’. One of the frustrating things about some of these commentators is that they are denying the existence of a god that I too would deny! But because they do not know God, they imagine Him to be something other – an ugly, horrible, mean, other. There’s three simple things I wish these people would know about God.

CAN GOD REALLY BE KNOWN?

How do we know anything? You might say that we know things by observation. While this can be true, two things are worth noting about observation. I can illustrate the first one by confessing my fascination with good magicians. Ruby and I will regularly watch YouTube clips of very talented magicians. Ruby’s constant question to me is, “How did they do that?” (I won’t admit my usual answer – but you can probably guess it). The reason she asks this question is because what she just observed doesn’t make sense. (Like what Steven Brundage can do with a Rubiks Cube!) That is, what Ruby and I thought we observed was not what actually happened. Observation can be a reliable source of knowledge – but not always
Thus, observation is generally reliable, but not always. Even when Jesus of Nazareth performed some of the most outstanding miracles – which was directly observed by His opponents – such as when He raised back to life a man who had been dead and entombed for 4 days, they still denied the reality of what they had observed.
So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
John 11:41-44
The other drawback with relying only on observation to gain knowledge or certainty is that there are many things which observation alone cannot tell us. We can not observe events in the ancient past for example, yet we can be certain of historical events for different reasons such as reliable witness accounts.

HOW GOD BE KNOWN

There are other ways of knowing things. Humans have the capacity for knowing through-
  • Argumentation
  • Intuition 
  • Experiences
  • Instruction
  • Enquiry 
polaroid-blaise-pascalBy these, thinkers such as Socrates concluded that the ancient Greek concept of godswas false and that logic demanded that there was only One God. (Socrates was then found guilty of ‘heresy’ and ordered to be put to death by poisoning for displeasing the ‘gods’.) 
It is, then, true that everything teaches man his condition, but he must understand this well. For it is not true that all reveals God, and it is not true that all conceals God. But it is at the same time true that He hides Himself from those who tempt Him, and that He reveals Himself to those who seek Him, because men are both unworthy and capable of God; unworthy by their corruption, capable by their original nature.
Blaise Pascal, Pensees, 557

THREE THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT GOD

One of the most common objections to thee being a God is referred to as the problem of evil. If God is all-loving and all-powerful, then why is there evil in the world? Surely if He was all-loving He would not want people to experience evil – but maybe He can’t prevent it after all because He is not actually all-powerful? Therefore, because there is evil in this world, God does not exist, it is claimed.

#1. GOD IS BENEFICENT  

I wish more people knew that God is beneficent. If they did, they would not see evil as an argument against the existence of God. This problem of evil can only be a problem for the existence of God because we intuitively know that God is beneficent – “very good” – yet there is evil. But, we can only consider something to be ‘evil’ because we have an absolute standard of good. God is the only One qualified to meet this standard of absolute goodness.
¶ Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Psalm 34:8
In this instance, our intuitions are right. God is not only good, He’s very good. Could it be that since we intuitively know that God is good, He always has good reasons for allowing what we perceive to be evil? I have experienced pain, loss, and disappointment. Rather than becoming disillusioned with God in these times, I have found Him to be my source of comfort and strength. In fact, in some of my most painful experiences, I have received my greatest blessings. I have come to know that God is not ‘good’ like Santa Claus, but is pure goodness.
I wish people knew how good God was.

#2. GOD IS BIG, REALLY BIG  

I wish more people knew how big God is. I think some people think that God is just a bit bigger than them. Let’s think for a moment about how big God must be.
Cause>Effect Principle
Firstly, God must be the ‘Uncaused First-Cause’. 
The Uncaused First-Cause Principle
The Universe consisting of space, time, energy, and matter, could not have caused itself. It must have been caused by an uncausedfirst-cause. To begin to appreciate just how big/powerful/intelligent this this uncaused first-cause must be, we need to consider its effect. We know that no effect can be greater than its cause. Now consider how phenomenally big the universe is. Our earth appears as a “pale blue dot” from outer space. It is part of a seemingly insignificant solar system, which is part of a modest sized galaxy known as the Milky Way, which is part of a cluster of smaller galaxies known as The Local Group, which belongs to a super-cluster of other galaxy clusters known as The Local Supercluster. Our Universe is at least 13.7 billion light years in width. Now consider how big God must be! 
¶ The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Psalm 19:1
crazy big universe
The word ‘big’ seems so inadequate to describe God. The ancients who realised just how big God must be in power, intelligence, wisdom, knowledge, kindness, grace, compassion, chose to use a word to capture the bigness of God which in English is: majestic.
¶ “Who is like You, O LORD, among the gods?
Who is like You, majestic in holiness,
awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?
Exodus 15:11

#3. GOD IS BEAUTIFUL  

Your righteousness, O God,
reaches the high heavens.
You who have done great things,
O God, who is like you?
Psalm 71:19
I wish more people knew that God is the epitome of beauty. I’m married to a very beautiful woman. When I look at her, I admire her beauty. Her beauty is not dependent on her choice of fashion or make-up, because her beauty is natural. Then imagine the most naturally beautiful being in the universe – God. It’s not just that God is beautiful, it’s that He radiates a beauty. This is known as glory. His beauty is deeper than appearance because it intrinsically involves who He is. Everything He does is beautiful. Everything He says is beautiful. All that He decrees is beautiful.  
¶ There is none like you, O LORD;
You are great, and Your name is great in might.
Jeremiah 10:6
We all crave beauty because we were made by a beautiful God to appreciate beauty.  
¶ One thing have I asked of the LORD,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to inquire in his temple.
Psalm 27:4
 I wish more people realised that God is beautiful

THREE THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT KNOWING GOD

worshipOne of the things that makes human beings unique is our need to worship. We long for a connection with our Maker which drives us to worship. We are created to worship God, the Uncaused First-Cause, the Supremely Beneficent, Majestic, Glorious One. Little wonder then that when people have encountered this God they have been overwhelmed with their own inadequacy to be in His presence. Their only option is to surrender. This is why people lift their hands up in worship of God as a display of heart-felt surrender. To know God more intimately involves-
  1. Surrendering to Him in worship
  2. Learning about Him, His ways, and His will, through being instructed in His Word
  3. Submission to a fellowship of other believers whereby the grace of God is imparted to you.
remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might
Ephesians 1:16-19

Pastor Andrew.