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
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.
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.
Dealing with depression can be a complex problem. It can have a organic foundation stemming from hormones, food or substance allergies, mold and other sickness. It can be situational caused by grief and trauma. It can have a demonic foundation as well.
Its important to note that 1/3 of the Bible is about grief, pain, lament, anger and depression. And that as such we need to be pastorally and biblically sensitive towards those who suffer such pain and brokenness.
Being depressed by itself is not a sin. Sometimes it can be a result of sin – either personal or inflicted upon us (BUT AND I SAY BUT) we need to ensure we are not playing God and taking on the role of the Holy Spirit and tell someone their depression is because of sin. God is very capable of doing that if that is the root cause.
Depression can make us very self centered. It incapacitates our thinking of others and at times renders us incapable of thinking of others – including God.
Its my personal experience and the psalmists who ask themselves – Why are you so downcast my soul, forget not the Lord and all his benefits. …cast all your anxieties onto the Lord who cares for you.
The second thing I do is pray. I move from praying for myself to deliberately praying for others. This includes speaking out loud forgiveness and a blessing over those who have harmed me.
Before long I have found I am no longer aware that I am depressed.
The other issue is to ensure you have sought wise counsel through doctors and shrinks if the depression is debilitating. Church people can be pastorally insensitive and unwise when it comes to any form of mental illness. Never tell someone to go off their meds. Never tell them to stop seeing their doctors. We would never do it to someone with a broken leg, or a broken body…so why do we do it to ourselves or to others when they have a broken mind / heart?.
Sometimes depression is caused by grief. It can be a natural part of the grieving process and one that we want to avoid and try to…but its healing and healthy for us to allow others and ourselves to fully grieve. If we try to bury it or ignore it somewhere down the track it will manifest as anger, depression or something else. The same goes with issues of forgiveness and bitterness. If we dont deal with those issues fully they will manifest in dark ways later on.
If you are suffering from depression I pray that the Lord reveals the foundation of your depression to you. May he strengthen you within to confront it face on. May he fill you with the joy of his salvation and cover over you with peace. May you know indeed that he is trustworthy and heal your broken heart. In Jesus name I pray.
I made this comment in a recent conversation about worship.
Reformation Resurgence / Young and Restless Reformed type groups have got themselves into a bit of a pickle when it comes to worship within a Church meeting through song and praise. Because they have emphasised that *true* worship is the way we live our lives – in many ways they have devalued (Perhaps in some cases belittled) the value and nature of singing, praise and thanksgiving as being valid forms of worship.
I don’t think its one or the other. It’s both. There is two types of knowledge about God. One is knowing about him – such as I know a bit about the Queen of England. And then there is knowing God – such as I personally know the Queen of England.
As born again Pentecostal Christians, we believe in knowing about God – but perhaps more importantly, we know God. The knowledge we then learn about God informs us more about the God we know, and we come to know him deeper and more intimately. The knowing of God, who he is, and our status with him, keeps us walking with him, allowing him to shape us, mold us, empower us, and we can’t but help sing praises to him, dance before him, bow our knees in his presence in awe and wonderment.
Isil has been making threats against our nation. They are threats we should not be casual about. But we don’t need to overly fear them either. As God’s people we are called to give him all our cares, fears and pray for ourselves, each other, and the world we live in. This is my prayer for today.
Father God. I thank you that you are an approachable God. The way has been made open to come to you through Jesus. To you we can talk to you about all our fears, needs, wants and confusion. From you we receive complete forgiveness of sins. From you we receive peace and empowerment to live.
Isil has made threats towards Australia. I ask that you will cover our nation with a blanket of peace. Hold back the demonic forces of fear which try to uproot our nation. I pray for every heart that is inclined to terrorism in this country to be confronted with the revelation of your love. That they will soundly convert to you. That those people will have their heart of hatred converted to a heart of goodness and love. I pray for the leaders of Isil throughout the world that you will convert their hearts of hatred to hearts of love. That they will bow the knee before you and confess that Jesus is Lord.
Thwart every demonic influence that would try and cause harm to our nation. Grant our leaders wisdom so that we can live out our lives in peace.
In Jesus name I pray.
T.C blogged about Aging to the Glory of God. He talks about how his body is telling him he isn’t as young as he used to be. I too am feeling his experience. A few short weeks ago I jumped on our scales and found to my horror I was pushing past 110kg. (Which is 220 pounds.) Most of my working life I had hovered between 68 and 72 kg.
Granted I have gone through a debilitating illness which knocked my fitness and abilities around somewhat in 2007 – which has resulted in a slower recovery then I thought. I also bulged a disc in my back last year trying to lay some turf in the back yard. But the reality of seeing how heavy I was kicked me into gear to shed some weight.
Yesterday I weighed myself and found I was down to 99 kg. I have lost around 14kg since I first weighed in. That is like carrying a child on your back 24 / 7 and then they have jumped off.
I have had to discipline myself to what I eat and don’t eat. I cut out all breads. No cake, no donuts, no lamingtons, no vanilla slices (which are my fav. Except one sat a few weeks back, while at a family birthday celebration, I indulged in cake, vanilla slice, KFC and other goodies) And instead have been eating lots of veges, soups, fruit etc. As well as some regular exercise down the local pool and helping a friend move some firewood. (15 tonne of it.)
Like T.C mentions in his blog post,
As I age, my perspective on life changes. It’s the truth of 1 Corinthians 13:11. Or as they say, the closer I get to the grave (in the perspective of aging), my mind tends to turn to more eternal matters.
I too have been using my reflection of self discipline of not eating fresh bread and butter – towards what are the other things that I need to let go of in my life. What are the eternal things I should be embracing more and more of. And in doing so, may I too age gracefully to the glory of God.
I was sharing with our young adults group last night that when we pray in Jesus name, we are not adding the name of Jesus to the prayer as if its some kind of lucky talisman.
Rather, the terminology is one of a king sending an emissary to another to make a request – when that person reads out the message, they are at that moment as if they were the king themselves. When we pray in Jesus name, we are standing before God, making a request of him, as if we were Jesus himself.
Martin Shields has written a brilliant article titled “Whats in a name.”
He is critiquing the following point Thomas R. Schreiner made at Moore Theological College on the topic of “What the Bible says about Women in Ministry.”
While briefly making reference to Genesis 1–3 he made a particular point that the man’s act of naming the animals and the woman is an exercise of authority on his part, and hence demonstrates his position of authority over the animals and the woman.
Martin argues the point well that naming is never an act of dominion.
The problem is that naming is not invariably a demonstration of authority. While it often does seem to express dominion over that which is named, there are some very clear examples where naming clearly does not express dominion.
The first is the most potent. In Gen 16:13 we read the following:
ותקרא שם יהוה הדבר אליה אתה אל ראי
Then [Hagar] named Yhwh who had spoken to her, “You are El-Roi…”
Here Hagar names Yhwh. If naming invariably expresses dominion, then Hagar would here be claiming dominion over Yhwh. The text, however, does not view Hagar’s actions negatively.1
I highly recommend you read his article.
I am firmly convinced that when we read Scripture, we have to read it within the context of the time and place its situated in. We need to understand the background, and the culture, and traditions its placed and speaking into. Scripture informs us that the Apostle Paul appointed Timothy to be the Bishop over the church in Ephesus and the surrounding area. We have two letters written to him, about establishing church order in the area.
The significant religious backdrop of Ephesus is the worship of Artemis. The Diana cult. It was a female led and dominated religion. One where the women were the priestesses and men were relegated as second class citizens. The only males who were allowed to serve in the temples and religious practices were those who were neutered. Men were not allowed to pray, to speak, or have any meaningful leadership role in the temple…rather were considered servants to do the priestesses bidding. They also had to walk and stand with their heads bent to the ground…they were forbidden to look up, or at the priestesses during their time of worship.
It’s against this backdrop we can now come to the books of Timothy and understand the pastoral implications of what Paul is saying. First of all, he is urging that men stand up, lift up holy hands, and pray for all in authority. Kings, governments etc without grumbling. He then says he doesn’t permit women to have authority over men. He is referring to the issue of female dominance as most of the converts in Ephesus were former idolaters and the women had been taught they were dominant over men. He then says that women are to learn in quietness.
Paul is not reversing the order and now saying that men are dominant over women. He is not now saying that men are to pray in the service and women be silent. He is saying…that now men, you too can pray in the church, and I encourage you to do so. Under the rules of the Dianna cult it was only women who could be taught – but now he is saying…hey women, learn quietly and if you have a question go and ask your husband. The issue here isn’t that now Paul is saying your husband is a higher authority over you…but rather, now, you are to treat your husband as an equal.
One of the continual overriding themes throughout the NT is where slaves and slave owners are told they are equals in Christ. Men and women are told they are equals in Christ. Jews and Gentiles are equals in Christ. And the authors of Scripture go to great lengths to continue to establish this status quo.