Not only the power to forgive; its the power to restore.

There is a tendency among Christians to think we have blown it: It could be we get into an argument. It may be that we don’t do what we said we would do. It could be that we fail our own, or others expectations and disillusionment sets in. It could be that we really sinned, or for some reason, we are condemned for an imaginary sin.

Often we take communion wondering if we really are forgiven and restored. There are two great stories of someone failing big time in the New Testament. They had been at the table during what is known as the last supper. He partook in the bread and the wine, which Jesus shared among them this is my body, this is my blood given for you.

One said he would never betray Jesus. But he did. The other had already planned to betray Jesus and he did. And Jesus knew that both Peter and Judas would betray him. He told Judas to go and do what he had to do. And he told Peter, before the night is over, you will betray me not just once… but three times.

Both men after they realized the ramifications of their betrayal grieved deeply. They were both racked by guilt and shame. One went back to his old ways and old trade and went fishing. The other, went and hung himself.

Jesus came to the shoreline after his resurrection and spoke to Peter and the others as they fished. He told them to throw the nets on the other side, which they did and caught a boat load of fish. They recognized it was Jesus.

Jesus spoke with Peter, Peter, and asked him three times, do you really love me. In many ways, this is a really bizarre question to ask someone who betrayed you. Look buster, you betrayed me three times in a row – do you really love me.

Each time Peter replied, yes, I do love you. And each time, Jesus told him to go and feed his sheep. To look after his flock. To go and care for his people.

I believe that if Judas hadn’t have hung himself, Jesus would have also reconciled Judas back to himself. Such is the power of his dealing and forgiveness of sin. BUT Judas allowed guilt and shame to destroy him from any chance of such reconciliation.

While the last supper points to the crucifixion, forgiveness, and the resurrection. This story of reconciliation of restoration of ministry and purpose of Peter is one that puts wheels on the story of forgiveness and calling in ministry. It shows the reality of the centrality of the Gospel message – in that Jesus came, lived, died and rose to life again, to forgive-and restore sinners.

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The power of prayer

I don’t often share this story. I see so many Christians getting up in arms and nearly hysterical about the issue of same sex marriage in this country.

Many years ago – the night before John Howard declared in Parliament that marriage was between man and a women, three men at 2am in the morning, were praying in the chapel at parliament house. One had a vision of pure light streaming down from heaven, hitting the spike above parliament house with the light streaming down through all the corridors of parliament house.

The day that there was a conference at parliament house and thousands came for his meeting regarding same sex marriage, 2 men and one woman was praying in back room behind the meeting.

Its the prayer of the faithful that will see this won. It’s been done before, and it can be done again. I know this to be true, because I was one of those men in the prayer closet at both of those events.

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Continual Provision.

I love the way the Lord provides. I needed a 19mm drill bit for a job I need to do today – but, its outside our budget for this week. Just received in the mail a $20 Bunning’s card – which Optus sent as a birthday gift.

I have consistently found year after year after year of being a Christian, that we are always provided for. We may not have much – but, we never go without.

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Today I turn 50.

I have been very quiet on my blog lately. Simply because I lost the zeal and enjoyment of writing. I have continued to read along, and comment on a few blogs that continue to encourage, and spur me on in life and faith.

Today I turn 50. I have batted 1/2 a century. Last Sunday I celebrated my 50th with family and friends at the local bowling club – though the bare foot lawn bowls was canceled because of the extreme heat. So we reverted to plan b and went with the flow.

When I turned 40, I did not want to turn 40. I tried to hide from it and sweep it under the carpet – by saying lets celebrate my 42nd instead, as it will be my 2nd 21st. But the 42nd celebration never eventuated as planned as I was recovering from an extremely debilitating sickness caused by viral encephalitis. Fast forward now – I have to admit I don’t really like turning 50. How different it was to when I was younger – couldn’t wait to grow older. But 50 I am. And I am ready to embrace my age. I can’t do anything about it.

BUT because I have been doing a lot of regular swimming at the local pool, my beard and hair went white. My beard went Colonel Sanders white. And so I shaved it off. And have been told I look 20 years younger. Again, it is only an illusion.

The book of Isaiah says

He will be the sure foundation for your times,
    a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge;
    the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure.[a]

I am glad that my trust is not in the fleetingness of the age. Or my age. That instead Jesus is the foundation of my life. In him I find a rich store of salvation. Wisdom. And knowledge. And the key to it, is fearing him, loving him, entrusting him.

The last 10 years have not been easy. There have been many knock downs. Knock backs. Heart ache. Pain. Much disillusionment in regards to where I thought life was heading – to how it actually panned out. Mixed in that, there was joy. Strength. Healing. Hope.Good friendships. Great church family.  A strengthening of the knowledge of my true foundation in life. That God is with me. For me. And never against me.

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Merry Christmas.

Today we celebrate the birth of Christ. We celebrate the coming of the king. God immanuel. The God who is not distant from us – but he who became one of us. The God, one true God, the creator of all that is seen and unseen. Who identifies with us. Who was born as one of us. And who died as one of us. Who reconciled all who trusts in him with the greatest love of all. Himself. We have security in God being God for the work of Christ is finished and we can rest securely in his rest.

Merry Christmas, and may the good news and presence of the Lord bless you throughout 2017

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Striving ahead, lagging behind, or walking beside. Pastoral leadership.

Pastoral leaders and carers must resist the urge when someone is in pain, going through trials, tribulations, and grief of saying or implying to individuals or their congregation that if they follow them, you will lead you away from their situation.

Pastoral leaders and carers will also resist the urging and demands of those going through pain, trials, tribulations and grief that you lead them from and rescue them from their situation.

Instead, pastoral leaders and carers will instead know, and say lets journey through this together. Let me pray with you and invite the Lord to move in, over, and through the situation that you are in.

There is only one who calls us to follow. And that is Jesus. And he said that he will never leave us, nor forsake us. But instead will journey through life with us.

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Voddie Baucham asks is Jeremiah 29:11 a promise for us today? I liked his message and the overall thrust of where he was going with is.

I think he missed an important point though. God was speaking to to the prophet Jeremiah – who was having a lament and pity party about being in the septic tank in which he was thrown after proclaiming God’s word. I know my plans for you (and therefore my people) Jeremiah…”This is very similar to the Apostles experience. Paul says I was beaten, shipwrecked, faced the gladiators, was flogged, and shackled all for being faithful and obedient to the Gospel.

God asks the devil, have you considered my servant Job – and the devil says your hand of protection is over him. God grants him permission to sift Job with boundaries put in place as to the limit he can go. Jesus said to Peter, the devil has been given permission to sift you. Paul says God has permitted a thorn of satan to be in his side -but, the grace of Christ is sufficient for him.

The tension of the Christian walk is one where we ask ourselves, are our circumstances a result of personal sin, or sin of others against us. A corporate sin / communal sin, where God’s presence leaves the church. Or are our circumstances one of being faithful to God, and his ways?

Many Godly people over the years, and throughout Scripture have asked.. “Why do the wicked prosper and the righteous go without?” A question which Scripture is strangely silent and refuses to give a straight answer to.

The question to ask is are we striving to seek God’s blessings. Or are we content, and know that we are already blessed and accept those blessings in Christ Jesus.

 

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