It’s Anzac Day. –

So many fathers, so many husbands, so many sons, so many brothers, so many cousins, so many uncles, so many grandfathers and grandsons and so many friends – never returned from war. For many, those who did, never returned the same.

We had sons fighting other sons. Fathers fighting other fathers. Husbands fighting other husbands. Brothers fighting those who were brothers. Uncles fighting uncles. And so the list goes on.

Grief, pain and shame came and shattered families, communities and nations. Today, I don’t celebrate war. I commemorate it. I commemorate the courage shown in the framework of evil. I grieve that so many lives around the world were lost. Women, children and men – lost to war.

WW1 was supposed to be the ‘Great’ war, to end all wars. But, we know that was not true. The only peace maker for all of humanity is Jesus Christ – who reconciled all to God and to each other. In him, there is no race, gender or social class distinction. Today, ask yourself, am I at war with God – or have I accepted his peace and am reconciled to him – for forgiveness of all sin, and the life he gives me.

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Resurrection theme.

We had a distinctively resurrection theme at church today.

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He opens our eyes. He is risen.

I have the privilege to give the communion message tomorrow at church. I can’t think of a better day, than Easter Sunday. This is the gist of what I am sharing.

Imagine what it would be like to be the disciples of Jesus. They are in shock, trauma and tremendous pain. Their grief was immense on a number of fronts. The guy they thought was the messiah, had been brutally tortured and then executed. The reality is, the guy they thought was the messiah, was the messiah – but, their expectations of the messiah – were vastly different to the real purpose of the messiah. A purpose they were soon to encounter. An encounter, which was to eternally change their lives.

The era in which Jesus was executed, had no electricity, the only ice they may have encountered was from snow. The only way they could stop death bodies from stinking to high heaven, was to cover them in herbs and spices. Some scholars say they used up to 30kg of spice matter to cover the bodies with.

A group of women go to the tomb to prepare and tend to his body properly – Imagine their grief. Their pain. And then imagine their heart ache and confusion when they discover the tombstone had been rolled away, and the graveclothes sitting on the tomb floor.  Luke records that an angel appears to them telling them Jesus is alive. Other gospel accounts tell us that Jesus appeared and spoke with them. With great joy, they ran to the others and told them the news. But, apart from Peter who ran to the tombs to see for himself, the others scolded the women with disbelief.

For some reason, a couple of the disciples decided to take off and walk to Emmaus. A town some 7 miles away. During their walk, an apparent stranger came up to them and walked along with them. He was asking them questions to which they told him the story of the birth, ministry and death of Jesus. To make matters worse, they continued, some silly, very silly women, came and told us a story about how they had seen angels who said Jesus is alive. We don’t know what to make of it all.

The stranger starts to talk to them, rebuking them for being foolish, explaining that the law and prophets foretold this very thing. They continued their conversation, and entered the village. They invited the man to stay with them, as it seemed he was going to move on.

During the meal, the stranger took the bread and he gave thanks. He broke it, and began to give it to them. And it was here, during the receiving of the broken bread, their eyes were opened.  They recognised him, and Jesus disappeared before their eyes. They got up and hurried back to Jerusalem, found the others and told them the news. Jesus is alive. He is risen. We have seen him ourselves. And they continued to tell them the news of what had happened.

While they were talking, Jesus appeared in their midst. I’m not a ghost, touch my hands and my feet. Give me something to eat. And then once again, opened their mind to the Scriptures which told of his birth, ministry, death and resurrection. That repentance and forgiveness of sin for all nations will be preached in his name.

There was tremendous power when Jesus broke the bread with his disciples. When Jesus broke bread with the disciples in Emmaus, their eyes were open, and they saw Jesus as he really was. There is tremendous power when we also break bread, and drink from the cup with each other, when we celebrate not only the death of Christ – but his resurrection.

And just as those disciples eyes were opened to know the fullness of Christ in their midst as they took the bread – let us continue to remember Jesus through the breaking the bread and drinking from the cup, so that our own eyes – both our natural and our spiritual eyes, that they will continually be opened to recognise Christ and all he has done.

Jesus took the bread and broke it. Saying this is my body, given to you, eat this in remembrance of me. In the same way, he took the cup, and shared it, saying, drink, this is my blood of the new covenant. Drink this in remembrance of me.

Before we praise God for all he has done, I would like to pray the prayer that the Apostle Paul prayed for the Ephesians.

18 I pray that the eyes of our hearts may be enlightened in order that we may know the hope to which he has called us, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

Come Holy Spirit, we pray. Come.

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What a day.

What a day. God is good. All the time. I was up and about early this morning, as Jo eagerly made a beeline out the door to look after her grandson. While checking my emails, I received one from one of our church pastors, who runs his own business, some pics of some pallets and cable drums, which he was offering me. “I’m always on the scrounge for suitable pallets to burn and do wood work with. So I was off and out and got them, all before 8am. To my delight, all the pallets were marked HT, meaning heat treated, and not treated with chemicals. Upon getting home, I unloaded them, started to make some breakfast, and the rains came bucketing down.  Thank you Lord, I missed getting wet.

I cooked up a feed of bacon, eggs, and baked beans and leisurely sat down to eat it, with a cup of tea in hand. Phone in hand, I turned it on, and checked out the variety of texts and messages on it. Till I found an interesting one.

It was a death threat. But, it was more than a death threat – the threat was against my wife, my kids, myself.  And it wasn’t just one threat. There were eight of them recorded on my phone. Sigh! Groan! I know the man who was making them. He was pissed of his rocker. He was cheesed off with me, because he asked me on Sunday if I would do something for him, and I told him I wasn’t able to, with an explanation of why. In other words, I was placing a few boundaries at the time.

So I rang a few people, including the police. And I made a status on my facebook page, naming him for the threats he had made. The police came out, they listened to the voice mails and said they would go and chat with him.

Now, I have to say, I was filled with peace. God’s peace saturated my soul. I don’t think he was serious. BUT, at the same time, this guy is known for his bullying, manipulation and bullying behavior in the local area, and I wasn’t going to put up with it. And 8 verbal threats, which included getting biker gangs involved, the burning down of our home etc…had to be taken with some element of seriousness. I was glad that my wife was out of the home at the time, and she didn’t hear them. I didn’t tell her about them till late this afternoon when she came back home.

So what does one do when he receives some threats. It was raining outside, so I decided to clean the oven. (As one does, when he receives death threats.) I had heard about a nifty idea about wrapping the oven racks in foil, and soaking them in hot water and detergent, till the water cools. When unwrapped, the grease and grime just slays off. I cheated on cleaning the oven…and turned it on high and allowed it to bake the stuff left, until the oven stopped smoking. I have to say the oven is much better. The racks fairly sparkling clean.

But, I left a huge grease ring around the bathtub. And nothing seemed to work to clean it down. Until, I spied the Armour Car Wash, and used that, and it worked. We have a sparkling clean bathtub.

I have faced death a number of times and from a number of directions over the years. I have had guns pointed at me when called to help a suicidal man. I have had a number of near death experiences through anaphylaxis  and viral encephalitis. I have been threatened to be stabbed a couple of times, and had a few close calls with snakes on the farm.

The truth is, all of us face death. Death is not a threat- its a certainty. It’s going to happen. Scripture tells us that it was while we were dead in sin, that we become alive in Christ. And the gift of Christ is life. Eternal life. Forgiven life. I am not intimidated by the threat of death. That is for myself; though, naturally enough, I am not going to go looking for it. And when someone threatens my family, that is another topic all together.

I am blessed to follow the God who is for us, and not against us. I walk in the security that he offers me. Sadly, the man who threatened me, doesn’t. He rejects the hope of the gospel and so sadly he walks the ways of the world. And the ways of the evil one.

Join me in prayer for this man and his family. For he needs a revelation and a heart change. And only God can do that.

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I’m tempted to go argggggghhhh – but, instead I will celebrate.

I was talking to a friend last week who is studying Greek. This person has taken to it like a fish in water. Her comments to me on the subject was that she was is able to easily remember the case endings without too much trouble. I have another friend who, with her husband live as missionaries overseas, and translate the Bible into that native language. She too has a natural affinity with languages and is able to think and even dream in a variety of languages.

I’m tempted to go arrrrggggghhhhhh when I hear stories about people picking up languages like this. For I struggle and struggle with it…and my noggin just won’t remember. But, I won’t go argggghhhh with jealousy. Instead, I celebrate the gifts, talents, and abilities that God has granted my friends to do the study they do.

Every Christian has the same God, but a different calling. The same God, but a different vocation. The same God, but a different ministry. The same God, but a different outworking of empowering grace. The same God, but a different ability. For each one of us, are gifted, empowered, called and set apart to do the work of him. who works so powerfully within us, through us, over us.

No matter our differences in calling, vocation, outworking, and gifting – we are all called to be men and women of prayer. Prayer is the great equalizer. For together, we bow down, as equals, before our mighty God – seeking his face, that we may live, breathe and do the work that he has set us to do. Both as an ongoing community that needs God’s breathe of life to sustain us and for the world, who needs to experience the living God for themselves – through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the ongoing presence of the Holy Spirit.

Father God. I thank you for the diversity of gifts you grant your people. I thank you for the diversity of vocations, callings, abilities that you have given us. I thank you for my own uniqueness. I celebrate the uniqueness of those around me. May you grant us the ability together to make Christ known to a spiritually bankrupt world. May you continue to show us, empower us, help us to understand our own callings and abilities and to walk confidently the pathways you have set before us. Knowing that you don’t abandon us – but, walk those pathways with us, helping us along the way. In Jesus name I pray.

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The Importance of Experience.

Henry and Thomas have a fantastic discussion about Scripture and experience. I highly recommend this discussion to you. It’s probably not what you expect. Then again, it may be. Btw, congrats to them both, for the hard work they have been doing in publishing. For what its worth, I believe that we must be born again, and the born again experience is a truly experiential encounter with the living God.

The question I like to ask in these type of discussions is if the born again experience recorded in Scripture was recorded by those experiencing this encounter, and recorded so we too can experience that very same encounter with God – or was it only recorded so we can read about it; without any expectation of encountering God and the born again experience for ourselves?

Have a listen to it, I was greatly blessed by the winsomeness and the wisdom within this conversation.

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We Need More Than The Word of God – We Need God!

When I was younger and fitter, I used to do a fair amount of overnight hiking. I was a member of Boy’s Brigade and the leaders taught me how to read a map and use a compass. I learnt many bush skills and how to constantly take my bearings in the bush, so I wouldn’t get lost.
My love for getting lost in the bush expanded somewhat when I got my drivers licence. I was able to go further distances to explore. In fact, I kept a large tool box packed with camp oven, cooking and eating utensils, basic seasonings etc, so all I had to do, was throw it into the back of my truck, load up some food and away I would go.
My map reading skills crossed over into skills to read a street directory. I knew how to follow the signs to where I was going. With a little preparation, I could easily go interstate, and along the back blocks and by ways to places I had never been before.

But, the maps, the signs, the street names, were markers along the way. They were the pointers to where I was going. They helped me to enjoy my journey. They helped me get to my intended destination. I could have decided to go my own way. I could have said, “Nahh, I’m not following these directions!” And in doing so, become lost along the way, or ending up somewhere in the opposite direction to where I was intending to get to.

The Bible in many ways is the same as the street signs, The map we are to follow. The instructions and directions about the way we should go. But, the Bible its self is not our destination.  It points to God. It tells us about God. It tells us about those who went before us – those who followed God, followed Christ and accepted his great salvation. And it tells us about those who didn’t. The Scriptures tell us about the God who came and lived among us. Who walked and talked, breathed and ate with us. And the Scriptures tell us about the God, who took upon himself the sins of the world.

Our destination is God. Our pursuit is God. We are to aim to have a relationship with God. While he is the God of the Bible, we don’t have a relationship with the Bible. For the throne of God, is not the Bible. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not contained in the Bible. I love reading the Scriptures. I love finding out more about the God who saves us. I need the Bible to do this. The more I read the Scriptures, the more I learn about his great love for us.

But, I am in relationship with the God of the Bible. I experience the communion of God through the presence of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit continually draws me to the Father. Continually points me to Christ. Causes the word of God to be a reality in my life. The word of God encourages me to seek the God of the Bible. And so I pray to the God of the Bible and seek his face. The word of God tells me to eagerly seek the Holy Spirit and his gifts – especially prophesy. So I seek God, and seek the ongoing empowerment of the Holy Spirit, and his gifts, especially that I may prophesy.

Friends. Let us be informed by the Scriptures. But, let us always be a people who seek the face of God, and seek his ways, and not our own.

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