Thursday, 16 November 2017

NOT WELCOME AT OUR CHURCH!

NOT WELCOME HERE

Who is welcome to church? We could glibly answer, “Everyone!” But we all know that’s not true. There is a group of people who will never be welcome to our church! This group consists of perfect people. Our church will never be for perfect people! We already have people who have done things they are ashamed of. We have former thieves in our church. We have former liars in our church. We have men who have betrayed their wives. We have wives who have betrayed their husbands. We have young people who have lost their innocence. We have business people who have cheated. We have formerly religious people who have perpetrated the most vile hypocrisies. Each of these people have found redemption after they were warmly welcomed to our church.  
The kind of church Jesus described to His original disciples was made up of people who were either reluctant to come to church, or worst still, unaware of its existence. Yet when these reluctant souls did come in, Jesus foretold, they would find love, acceptance, and forgiveness. 
But he said to him, “A man once gave a great banquet and invited many. And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’
Luke 14:16-17

JESUS NEVER DESCRIBED HIS CHURCH AS ‘NICE’

In this story, the Christ tells how those who might be described as ‘good’ or ‘nice’ were initially invited to the banquet. This is a picture of God the Father inviting people to His eternal heavenly banquet. But this lavishly generous invite met with an unappreciative response.
But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’
Luke 14:18-20
These were the invited guests who thought that the banquet was about food. The best banquets are never just about the food on offer. We see this same confusion today with those who think that the Father’s invite is an invitation to become religious. God does not invite people to become religious – He freely invites people to become to His heirs! C.S. Lewis once described this invite as being like someone who is offered a holiday at a beautiful beachside resort and upon arriving there they find the nearest mud puddle to plonk themselves down in and begin playing with the mud for the remainder of their holiday time, when just a few yards past the obscuring fence, is a beautiful beach to enjoy! The Father’s offer to enjoy eternal satisfaction is often rejected by those who think that nothing could be better than the mud-puddle they are sitting in presently!
The Host of the banquet then turns his attention to those who do not deserve his favour and instructs his servants to invite a different kind of people-
So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’ And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.’”
Luke 14:21-24

JESUS DESCRIBED HIS CHURCH AS ONCE ‘BLIND & CRIPPLED’

The poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame accepted the banquet invitation with gratitude. None of these people had to be convinced of their woeful condition. It takes humility to acknowledge when we are poor, crippled, blind or lame. The guests to this sumptuous banquet discovered not only delectable food, but that their host had the power to cancel their debts, open their eyes, restore their withered limbs, and enable them to enjoy a dignity they had previously had no hope of. As outstanding as all this was, their Host was to do something else for them that far outweighed these acts of grace. Each one of these unloved orphans was made a member of His family and given the full rights and privileges of now being made a member of the royal family! 
Each Sunday as we gather, we are ‘shadow banqueting’. Our church service faintly reflects the Royal Heavenly Banquet which awaits us. We have each received with gladness the offer to come to that Banquet. Thus, each Sunday, we hobble, limp, and stumble along to the shadow-banquet. Our church is not comprised of perfect people. And neither was the early church. The apostle Paul described the church at Corinth, in Greece, as being comprised of formerly –  ‘sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, men who practice homosexuality, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, swindlers’ (1Cor. 6:9-10). He then reminds them of their adoption into God’s Royal family and their new identities-
And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
First Corinthians 6:11
Who is welcome to come to our church? Imperfect, flawed, broken, hurting, lost, lonely, confused, people – that’s who! Help me this Sunday to extend a welcome to people who don’t know any better than playing in life’s mud puddles. As this welcome sign in the entrance of Coventry Cathedral states, these people may look like they have it all together, or they may look like their life has fallen apart. It doesn’t matter. As the servant reported back to the banquet host, “There is still room for more!
Cathedral_Welcome

Pastor Andrew

Friday, 10 November 2017

My 5c Worth Of Leadership Advice

shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly;
First Peter 5:2
What makes a good leader? At our last monthly leadership training night we explored this question. The answer is more critical than ever for any church. While many churches are facing all kinds of problems, the solution to them is bound up in the answer to our question
We could summarise this answer with 5 C words.

Character

Character is invisible but eventually evident to all. It is what constitutes a person. A person of refined character strength is someone who can handle criticism and correction sweetly and well. It enables a person to endure when the opposition is fierce but the cause is right. It motivates a person to do long hours of preparation in private what is necessary in order to be done in minutes in the public. 

Competence

Sincerity is a beautiful leadership trait, but sincere leaders can inadvertently hurt people. Sincerity alone is not enough. Good leaders must also be competent which means that they have undergone training, evaluation, correction, and have gained supervised experience appropriate for their duties.

Chemistry

Lone leaders are limited. For any leader to increase their leadership capacity they must be able to work with other leaders. This requires a certain chemistry. It takes good chemistry for a leader to know how to deal with another leader who may be irritable or under stress. It takes good leadership chemistry to work with a shy discouraged fragile leader.   

Connection

Someone has said that you can tell if someone is a leader if they have people following them. Conversely, if someone claims to be a leader and there is no one following them, they aren’t leading, they are just going for a walk! Good leaders build connection with those they are leading. They spend time with them. They grow to understand them. And importantly, they build trust with those they are responsible for. Good connection involves good communication. (This skill is critically important for any leader called upon to preach. While a preacher’s sermon content is important, it is all for nothing if the preacher has no connection with their hearers.)   

Calling

In churches, we often list calling first as the prime quality required for good leading. But being called by God is not the final stage in the making of a good leader. And while it may take place ‘before the foundation of the world’ in God’s sovereign scheme, it is often a sense which grows in the realisation of the called. Experience tells us that God often equips the called over many years with – trials and testsincredible problemspeople who irritate uspeople who stretch us and bring the best out of us.   
Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
Ephesians 4:15-16
Christ deserves the best we can offer Him. This includes how we look after His Church. Of course these leadership qualities also apply in other arenas of life such as parenting and business management. If you have surrendered yourself to God then chances are pretty good that He is already at work in your life to develop these 5 Cs.
Pastor Andrew

Friday, 3 November 2017

Pray And

pray-and 

¶ Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.
Colossians 4:2-4
paul-the-apostleWe are sometimes told, “All we can do in moments like these is pray.” I guess there are probably times when that might be true. There are certainly times when I feel that it’s true. But it rarely is. What could the imprisoned Apostle do locked up in his dingy prison cell? What could the Colossians do so far away from their beloved Apostle? And what on earth, in circumstances like these, did either of them have to be thankful for? Yet from the Apostle’s perspective, there was no time to waste! “Make the best use of your time!” (Col. 4:5) This epistle is testament to that. Rather than wallowing in despair and self-pity, he prayed. But praying wasn’t all he could do and neither was it all that he did. He prayed and.
 For all the Colossians who were battling heresies on several fronts (which is mainly why the Apostle wrote to them) there was much to do besides praying. Pray and.

 S
ometimes life’s circumstances come at the most inconvenient times. They catch us off guard. It’s as if they wait for when we are least able to deal with them – when we are already caught up with other things – when we are emotionally drained, financially struggling, or spiritually faltering. It is in these times that we must pray. We should pray – for strength, God’s help, and for the mind of Christ.
paul_jailPrayer can be a dedicated daily routine.
Routine is our friend, especially spiritually.
Prayer can be spontaneous.
Pray now.
Prayer can be systematic.
Pray through a list.
Prayer can be our constant communion.
Pray as you work, travel, sit, or doing nothing.
Prayers can be spoken or silent.
God knows the desires of our heart.
Prayer can be solitary.
Pray alone.
Prayer can be corporate.
Pray together.
 Paul’s circumstances were depressing, but he was not depressed. Activity and worship have long been known remedies for such maladies of the soul. Paul was active while in his prison chains. He wroteseveral epistles. I wonder if he understood that his letters would be read by billions of people around the world over thousands of years? Having a perspective beyond your own four walls of time, locale, and circumstances helps prison chains to vanish.
prosthetic limbFWB-hospital-as-a-boy This is one of the things that I admire most about F.W. Boreham. At the age of 15 he was involved in an horrific accident involving a train where he teetered at death’s door for nine months and left him with just one leg. It was when doctors told his mother to prepare for the worst that she went to her church and prayed for God to spare her son. “If You will, I will give him to You!” she prayed and, within the hour news arrived that her son had just made a miraculous recovery. With just one leg, F.W. Boreham could no longer play his beloved cricket. But maintained a love for the game and when he moved to Tasmania he soon became President of the Hobart Cricket Club and upon moving to Melbourne he became a member of the Melbourne Cricket Ground. The pain that he would suffer throughout his life due to the primitive amputation techniques of the day would be made all the worse by the breaking of his partial leg another three times and the shattering of his nerve as a result. Yet, within a year or so of his life-changing tragedy he surrendered his life to Christ and would go on to do everything in his power to be the finest preacher he could be – which included honing his usage of words through writing. 
F.W. Boreham as a boy Boreham’s first pastorate was a small town just outside of Dunedin, New Zealand. He cut his teeth as preacher in Mosgiel. He loved to pray. But he had learned from the likes of Spurgeon that the best praying is added to. Pray and. Not a soul in that South Island ever knew that F.W. Boreham only had one leg. He never mentioned it, or the accident, in any of his sermons or articles. Instead, he began to focus on the immensities of God, the infinities of His wonder, and the eternity awaiting the redeemed to enjoy Him. This was increasingly reflected in his writings (for which he is best known today) and even more so during the last half of World War 1, and the entire Second World War. Instead, Boreham got busy writing and preaching about things much bigger than wars, and much grander in scale than the world of his day. For this he was sharply criticised. But the result today is that we have some of the most eloquent essays on topics that touch us all. These essays have now been, and continue to be, read by tens of millions of people from all across the globe, decades and decades after F.W. Boreham’s passing in 1959. Lifting your vision beyond your own painful circumstances makes even the chains of amputation vanish. FWB prayed and.
The Apostle firstly urged the Colossian believers to pray and to pray steadfastly. This is the kind of praying that keeps going when everybody else gives us. But the Colossians weren’t just urged to pray. They were to pray, and – give thanks. It’s too easy to let the weight of our chains deceive us into ingratitude. 
¶ Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples!
Psalm 105:1
 Pray, give thanks, and. “At the same time,” entreaty the Apostle, “pray also for us“. It’s too easy to let the chains of life’s circumstances blind us to the plight of others. ‘Pray steadfastly, give thanks, and pray for us.’  But how? Not for his release from prison! Not for his captors to have a change of heart and let them go! No! “Pray for us also.” But not for a change in circumstances. No! But “that God may open to us a door for the Word.” Pray that God might grant them an open door for the Gospel to be preached! When we pray and, we can certainly pray for our own needs, but “at the same time” we can pray for others and the cause of Christ to advance. We can steadfastly pray, and give thanks, and at the same time pray for others, and also pray that those who take the Gospel to others will be effective in doing so. Pray and.       
 What ails you? Pray and. If you’re troubled by the chains of your physical condition, pray and. Pray for God to give you the strength and determination to take a daily walk and take a daily walk. If you’re troubles by the chains of a relationship gone sour, pray and. Pray for God to give you the wisdom and humility to reconcile and restore and initiate contact with them. If you’re troubled by the chains of your financial predicament, pray and. Pray that God will increase your income and decrease your expenses and stop using credit cards. If you’re troubled by the chains of mental fog and anguish, pray and

¶ Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.
Colossians 4:2-4
Amen.
Pastor Andrew

Friday, 27 October 2017

The 500th Anniversary Of The Reformation

LUTHER’S LEGACY

October 31st is Reformation Day. This year’s Reformation Day is doubly significant for those who identify themselves as ‘Evangelical’ because it marks the 500th anniversary of what was to become the moment when the Reformation began. This was when a German monk and Professor of Theology, Martin Luther, nailed 95 objections (called ‘Theses’) to the door of the University of Wittenberg in the customary manner for commencing an academic dialogue. But that nail into the door of Wittenberg’s academy did much more than start a debate among academics and priests. It was quite literally the moment that changed the world.  
The first of many biographical sermons which F.W. Boreham preached in his 126 sermon series (and later published in the five volume series Texts That Made History), was on the life of Martin Luther and the text of Scripture which changed his soul. He notes-
Carlyle has a stirring and dramatic chapter in which he shows that every nation under heaven stood or fell according to the attitude that it assumed towards Martin Luther, ‘I call this Luther a true Great Man,’ he exclaims. ‘He is great in intellect, great in courage, great in affection and integrity; one of our most lovable and gracious men. He is great, not as a hewn obelisk is great, but as an Alpine mountain is great ; so simple, honest, spontaneous; not setting himself up to be great, but there for quite another purpose than the purpose of being great!’ ‘A mighty man,’ he says again; what were all emperors, popes and potentates in comparison? His light was to flame as a beacon over long centuries and epochs of the world ; the whole world and its history was waiting for this man !’
F.W. Boreham, ‘Martin Luther’s Text‘, “A BUNCH OF EVERLASTINGS“, Epworth Press, 1920 
Martin Luther preaching
Martin Luther preaching against the false teaching that salvation could be bought with money and that salvation was only attainable by faith in Christ and His finished work on the Cross.
Martin Luther became aware that the Roman Catholic Church was teaching something about salvation which directly and violently contradicted the Scriptures. He objected to the superstitious and unbiblical practice of Roman Catholic priests selling ‘indulgences’ to deliver dead family members out of ‘Purgatory’ (a place where dead souls went to be purged from their sins and thereby become fit for heaven). Indulgences were certificates issued by the Catholic Church granting release from Purgatory. In reality, these certificates were a pathetic attempt by the Pope to elicit vast sums of money, largely from those least able to afford it and least in a position to know otherwise! Luther confronted the central teaching of the Roman Catholic Church head on – that salvation from sin is only available through the ministrations of the Roman Catholic Church, with the Biblical truth – that salvation from sin is only available through faith in Christ and His substitutionary and atoning death on the Cross
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
Galatians 2:20
Martin Luther objected to this obscene notion of Purgatory and the sale of Indulgences. He taught what the Scriptures taught about the sufficiency of Christ and His work for our salvation. 
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Ephesians 2:8-9
Martin LutherLittle wonder those inspired by Luther became known as ‘Protestants’. Martin Luther had protested against the teaching of the Roman Church that salvation could be merited by adoration of relics (supposed artefacts of dead holy people). In fact, Luther protested against any teaching which taught that salvation could be derived from any means other than Christ and Christ alone. Later, those supportive of Luther would coin the ‘Five Solas’ (the Reformation’s foundational statements of belief), with Sola Fidé – ‘Faith Alone’, Sola Scriptura – ‘Scripture alone’, Solus Christus  – ‘Christ alone’, Sola Gratia – ‘Grace alone’, Soli Deo Gloria – ‘Glory to God alone’.
Martin LutherOriginally, Luther and the original Protestants became known as ‘Gospellers’ or Evangelicals (the Greek word for ‘Gospel’ is transliterated into English as, evangel). His attempt to reform the Church failed, but the result of his efforts was a newly formed church, or a re-formed church. This movement of churches would be founded on the Five Solas. It would soon give rise to several gifted Protestant leaders who led Protestants from all over Europe into various communities of Christians which would become known as denominations – which perhaps in the wisdom of God has prevented a repeat of the abuses of another ‘Universal’ Church. These Reformers helped to organise and structure the church communities they led in different ways. But each were committed to the Biblical revelation that Christ is the Head – not any man appointed by men – and the only ‘Vicar’ (vicar means ‘substitute’) of the true Catholic (“universal”) Church. 
Thus, to be a ‘Reformed’ church is to be a church of Christ-followers committed to the Gospel of Christ which declares that God alone saves sinners by the merit of Christ alone. This Reformation Day, a day when some are pre-occupied with tricking or treating, spare a thought for Martin Luther and his legacy – a legacy which we are a part of.  
Pastor Andrew

Friday, 20 October 2017

That Jesus Doesn't Sound Like Jesus

spin-the-wheel-Jesus
I love technology. Sort of. But I don’t love everything it has done to us. Far from always making our lives better, the evidence seems to show that it has in many instances made us lazy. Its negative physical effects are well known, even its intellectual effects have been noted (largely by those who have cause to criticise bloggers for their unsubstantiated claims). But what is not talked about as much is its increasingly negative spiritual effect. This should specifically concern Christ followers.  

THE HEART OF CHRISTIANITY       

BibleChristianity has one outstanding characteristic. It has been said that other religions have also have outstanding characteristics. Hinduism’s outstanding characteristic is that it is diverse. Islam’s outstanding characteristic is that it is muscular. Buddhism’s outstanding characteristic is that it is peaceful. And Christianity’s outstanding characteristic is that it is true.
Followers of Christ worship the God of Truth.
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
John 14:6
The God of Christianity declared Himself to be the embodiment of truth (John 14:6). When accused of claiming to be The Son of God (Prov. 30:4Matt. 26:63John 19:7) and thereby co-equal with The Father God, He stood before Pontius Pilate as the Truth
Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” ¶ After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, “I find no guilt in him.”
John 18:38
When Jesus was charged with wrong-doing, He challenged His accusers to find Him guilty of any sin, which they could not do.
Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me?
John 8:46
Thus, the heart of Christianity – its centre-piece – is Jesus Christ and His identity (the eternal, divinely co-equal Son of God), His nature (born as a human without sin and lived without ever sinning), and His atoning/redeeming work through the Cross and His resurrection. This centre-piece of Christianity is without negotiation. No Christ: no Christianity!
¶ For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.
First Corinthians 15:3-5

THERE IS NO OTHER JESUS   

Despite the Bible being so clear about the place of this, and only this, understanding of who Jesus is, to Christianity, there are some Church leaders who are now teaching another Jesus than the One presented in the Bible. Rather than Christ being the eternally begotten (uncreated, yet always been the) Son of God, who was conceived in a virgin, lived a sinless life, died an atoning death, and rose from the dead three days later, they teach that Christ was born a sinful human, who sinned just like us, and was eventually put to death. For example, “Dr. Karen Oliveto, the first openly lesbian bishop in the United Methodist Church, recently offered this message to her flock:
Karen_Oliveto-about_Jesus“Too many folks want to box Jesus in,” she wrote, “carve him in stone, create an idol out of him. [But] the wonderful counselor, mighty God, everlasting one, prince of peace, was as human as you and me. Like you and me, he didn’t have his life figured out.” Jesus had “bigotries and prejudices,” she added, even sins which He had to learn to overcome.
BreakPoint
jesus-praying-all-nightThis is an appalling distortion of who Christ is. As disgraceful as this is, it is becoming an increasingly popular view. One confused talk-back caller called into an apologist to ask, “Did Jesus ever sin?” He went on to say that his daughter told him that  while he was in ‘big’ church, and she was in Sunday School, she was taught that since Jesus had contact with the dead (when raised several of them from the dead) He had ‘broken the Law of Moses’ and thereby, “sinned”. The caller’s daughter was quite confused by this and questioned her father about it. She went on to tell her father that the Sunday School teacher told her that Jesus was right to sin because He loved people more than He loved the Law of God. 
This girl, and her father, had every right to be confused. Jesus did not break any law of Moses let alone sin! And He certainly did not regard it justified to break the Law of God if He thought it was ‘unloving’. In fact, it was Jesus who prescribed every law in the Law of Moses!
¶ “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets;
I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.
Matthew 5:17
I can understand someone in Dr. Oliveto’s position needing Jesus to be a ‘sinner’ who was blighted by ‘bigotries and prejudices‘. But Jesus does not bend to our sinful proclivities. He will not be shaped into our image. A Jesus who says ‘sin is OK’, or had ‘prejudices’ is a Jesus different from the One who walked the shores of Galilee, or the One who was nailed to the Cross of Atonement! This makes Pope Francis’s statement about Jesus needing to “beg forgiveness from his parents” just as bewildering!

Even in the days of the Apostle Paul, there were people misrepresenting Jesus.
For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.
Second Corinthians 11:4
And the Apostle’s response to those who were distorting who Jesus was, was to re-assert the truth about Jesus. (He particularly did so in his epistle to the Colossians.) If we would like to avoid the eternally perilous misrepresenting of Jesus, we would be well advised to learn from the Bereans, who are referred to Acts 17, who listened to the Apostle Paul then sought the Scriptures to see if what he said was true. If this same practice was applied to Dr. Oliveto’s statement about Jesus, or that Sunday School teacher, or even Pope Francis’s statement about Jesus, we would be prevented from believing lies about Jesus and in the process come to discover that the truth about Jesus is more beautiful than most realise.
Dr Andrew Corbett
Pastor Andrew

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Do Your Best

Do Your Best
It’s almost unbelievable who Christ entrusted with His mission to save the world! This motley bunch of original disciples were the most unlikely candidates for being the founding agents of global redemption. Yet they did it! And along the way, they stumbled, faltered, and probably let Christ down. But they did it! And this should give us, who stumble and falter, great hope, that Christ knows what He’s doing when He chose us
There are some churches around the world that are world’s best practice. Their music is world-class. Their ‘customer’ service is second to none. Their preachers are more inspirational than the best TED talkers. Their facilities are better than the best Westfield shopping centre. They hold international conferences which attract thousands of delegates. As far as churches go, these are the best. But they only comprise less than 1% of all churches around the world. For the rest of us in the 99% of churches around the world, we may not be among the best, but we are generally comprised of those who are doing their best. And it seems that Jesus is still entrusting His mission to people like us – people who stumble and falter.
At Legana we are blessed. We recently opened our new worship centre. Many people have told us that it is among the best in our State. It is a beautiful centre with plenty of room for growth. But it can cause us confuse being the best with doing our best. And this is one of the greatest dangers any church can face because it can lead to an overwhelming sense failure and even despair.

Paul’s Last Letter

The last letter the Apostle Paul wrote, that we know of, was his Second Epistle to Timothy. In it, he uses the expression “do your best” three times to his young protégé.
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.
Second Timothy 2:15
Being the best requires making comparisonsDoing your best simply means working with your availability, abilities, training, experience, and use of available resources. Sometimes each of these qualifiers (time, talent, training, experience, and resources) are limited. In the 99% of local churches scattered around the world, there are usually 20% of the people doing 80% of the work. I wonder if this is because the 80% who sit back don’t feel good enough to be able to serve? Paul’s injunction to young Timothy was to do your best to present yourself to God as a pastor of God’s people whose primary task was teach the Word of God to his congregation. When we do our best, we have need to be ashamed
Shortly after I began pastoring Legana I was nearly overcome with a sense of inadequacy as a preacher. Each Sunday morning before I went to church I would go on a prayer walk and cry out to God for His help. I asked and asked and asked that He might use me more effectively to teach His Word. I begged Him to make me into the kind of preacher who cared deeply for those I ministered to. I pleaded with Him to mould me into a persuasive preacher to rescue those who were wrestling with doubts and to enable me to deliver the antidote to doubt – the truth – in the power of the Holy Spirit. I sought Him for the insight to be able to convince the hardest sceptics and cynics to turn to Christ based on the evidence for the God of the Bible (shortly after this praying I was to discover F.W. Boreham). I have continued to surrender to Him prayerfully asking that He would help me to grow as a pastor, a preacher and a teacher – and I would value your occasional prayer for this as well. I have tried to do my best.
“That’s all any of us can do – our best.”
We may never be the best at anything, but we can do our best in everything. This is why, must to the surprise of many, I’m relatively relaxed about how we are doing as a church. We have an extraordinary percentage of our church who serve and give support. I am deeply grateful for everyone who volunteers to help in the various things that need doing in our church. I am grateful for you who offer yourselves to the Lord and prayerfully ask God to help you to do your best in however you serve. I have noticed that many of our young people have been doing this and have volunteered to help out in various roles. What I am also noticing is that there must be people asking God to help them to do their best. Because, when I began to earnestly seek God those few years back to help me to do my best as a preacher I became hungrier to learn and to grow. My openness to instruction and training increased. And I am seeing a similar thing happen among many in our church.
¶ Do your best to come to me soon.
Second Timothy 4:9 (Also see v.21)

The Best Is Sometimes Just Being There

Paul’s plea for Timothy to come to him (in prison) soon is heart-warming. Paul goes on in this epistle to reveal that he knew he was about to die soon. Indeed, he would. Toward the end of 64AD, shortly after the Apostle Peter was crucified by order of Caesar Nero, the Apostle Paul would be beheaded by order of the same tyrant who executed Peter. His plea to Timothy reminds us that while we can each do our best, sometimes we can be the difference in someone’s life. At this lonely time for Paul, he longed to see Timothy, his son in the faith (1Tim. 1:2). None of us should dismiss the encouragement we are by just being there. Paul longed for Timothy to just be there with him in this trying hour. Coming to worship on Sundays, even if you don’t serve as a volunteer, is being an encouragement to others. Do your best to come to worship on Sundays.

Give Christ Your Best Shot

The beautiful thing about Church is that it is comprised mostly of people who are not the best and we know it. But with the help of the Holy Spirit we are each learning to improve and to spur one another on to even greater effectiveness for Christ. So don’t worry if you’re not as good as someone else, or that many others are better than you at whatever, just keep giving Christ your best shot. And somehow, I suspect, that just as He established the church with faltering, frail, and stumbling servants, He will probably culminate His church’s closing efforts with similarly weak and faltering servants like you and me.
    
Pastor Andrew.

Friday, 6 October 2017

Let's Do The Twist With The English Language

Let's do the twist
Spare a thought for our lexicographers at the moment. They have had to work an enormous amount of overtime lately. Lexicographers are those dear people who fuss about words and their meanings. They are the ones responsible for compiling our dictionaries. Generally they get to work at a leisurely pace and update our dictionaries every decade or so with the addition of those new words which have been adopted into our vocabularies. Of late, this has included such words as, “Google” which was originally added to our dictionaries as the name of a website (a proper noun) and then had to have another entry under it when it became a verb (‘I’ll Google it!”).
But in the last few years, these poor lexicographers have had to work their fingers to the bone trying to keep up. Their overtime hasn’t been devoted to the addition of a few new novel words such as ‘hashtag’ or ‘tweet’, but by overhauling of long-held definitions. Words which have universally been understood and thereby ensured the undemanding workload of lexicographers, have now come to mean something quite different from what they actually mean. This makes the lexicographer’s job very difficult as they flounder to make sense of it all as words now no longer mean what they mean. 
twisted-words
Here’s some examples that have now got lexicographers in a tizz.
WordLexicographical MeaningAttempted Twisted Meaning
hate
verb: feel intense dislike for
noun: feelings of hate and revenge
verb: when someone disagrees with you
noun: differing point of view
discriminationnoun: the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sexnoun: the suggestion that distinctions can be made on the basis of capacity, capability, or biology.
logicaladjective: of or according to the rules of logic or formal argument;  characterized by or capable of clear, sound reasoningadjective: it agrees with my opinion
unfairadjective: not based on or behaving according to the principles of equality and justiceadjective: when I don’t get what I want
gendernoun: either of the two sexes (male and female)
noun: whatever a person identifies as; this identity can be fluid and can include –
homosexual male, lesbian female, bi-sexual male or female, transgendered male or female, man-boy attracted, to name a few. 
marriagenoun:  the legally or formally recognized union of a man and woman voluntarily entered into for life to the exclusion of all othersnoun: the legal union of any two people
gender-dysphorianoun: the psychological disorder of feeling one’s emotional and psychological identity as male or female to be opposite to one’s biological sex. noun: the feeling of being trapped in a body which does not correspond to the gender one wishes to identify with.
racismnoun: prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superiornoun: the unfair prejudicial treatment of a person based on their lifestyle choices
rainbownoun: an arch of colours visible in the sky, caused by the refraction and dispersion of the sun’s light by rain or other water droplets in the atmosphere. The colours of the rainbow are generally said to be red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. Identified in the Bible as a promise from God that He would never again flood the world of man.noun: representing sexual attraction diversity 
love
noun: a strong feeling of affection, a great interest and pleasure in something
verb [with object]: to show deep affection, unwavering commitment to for another’s highest good
noun: a strong feeling of sexual attraction for someone
verb: to act on feelings of sexual attraction, to eroticise 
sexual-orientation
noun: a mid-twentieth century concept used to describe sexual attraction and grounded in one’s natural gender
noun: something which defines a person’s identity with which they are involuntarily assigned from birth. A key concept developed in the tactical book, After The Ball, where the authors proposed that if they could persuade society that there was such a thing, it would make same-sex attraction appear to be normal and natural.
Of course, these are just samples of some of the key words which have been distorted so severely that their recent usage is virtually the exact opposite of their actual meaning. Unfortunately, this propensity for twisting words into novel meanings is not just confined to our street-vocabulary. It is now increasingly occurring in how people understand the Bible.
twisting-bible-words
Pivotal Bible words such as ‘sin’, ‘love’, ‘Jesus’, ‘God’, ‘Scriptures’, and ‘Hell’, have all been twisted beyond recognition from their actual meanings. Sin means to miss the mark of the acceptable standard (Rom. 3:1023). Yet, word-twisters would have us believe that it means acting contrary to our true feelings. This is despite the Bible declaring that our feelings are subject to corrupted inclinations which – if left untamed – will result in our harm and ultimate demise (Gen. 4:7Gal. 5:16).
For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.
Romans 7:18
The word ‘God‘ has similarly been twisted from its actual meaning – the all-powerful, self-existent, omni-present, omniscient, unchanging, triune, creator of the universe, and final Judge of all mankind; to – a celestial-type being or force whose supreme existence is to ensure my happiness

WORDS HAVE POWER

It has been said that, “He who defines the words used in a debate has already won the debate!” Words have power. I remember when my father in-law died suddenly. I was devastated. I was asked to take the funeral. I wondered how on earth I could say anything to bring any measure of comfort. I found myself saying, “No words can make any difference” to which I felt the sharp and instantaneous rebuke of the Holy Spirit. “Never say that words can never make a difference! Words can heal. Words can comfort. Words can strengthen!” This is why it is so distressing to me to have to endure the butchering of language at the moment. Too many people are going unchallenged with their word twisting. For example, last Saturday night the ABC 7PM TV News reported that a lesbian Uniting Church minister from Goodwood Road, Adelaide, was displaying a rainbow flag with a “YES” across it. They reported that the minister was receiving much “hate mail” as a result. Of the two examples they presented (which had respondents pointing out that such a position was contrary to Scripture) neither expressed any hate whatsoever. But it seems under the twisted words regime being thrust upon us, their disagreement with the lady in question was deemed to be ‘hatred’. How bizarre.  
Little wonder then that the general public who are generally unaware of how language is meant to work has been lured into the trap of accepting that disagreement is hate. The other day, Karen Dickson announced on her Facebook Page that she had just voted “No” in the Same-Sex Marriage Postal survey. One her FB Friends commented on that post that they could no longer be her friend because of Karen’s differing views! How bizarre.
KD-FB-disagreement
The current practice of word twisting is making any possibility of having a sensible debate virtually impossible. When logic, normally grounded in research and reason, is twisted to mean nice feelings, resulting in the acceptance of the nonsensical slogans such as “Love is love” we are in peril as a society. This is so concerning to those of us who understand that words which once meant something have now been kidnapped and held to ransom by word-twisters because this makes the unsuspecting general public susceptible to being willingly persuaded that black is white and night is day. Quite frankly, it’s enough to send any lexicographer around the twist!
I conclude with a comment from James Parker who knows a thing or two about words and their power:
Pastor Andrew