Friday, 5 August 2016

ALL IN ALL, A THEOLOGY FOR SCHOOL TEACHERS

ALL IN ALL, A THEOLOGY FOR SCHOOL TEACHERS
Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the LORD. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the LORD.
Jeremiah 23:24
church-religiousWhen it comes to things that concern God we might think that all He really only cares about our religious devotion like church attendance, Bible reading and prayer-times. We rarely think that God is interested in such earthy and tedious things like cooking, travelling, shopping, our mundane work, or even school-work. After all, what interest would God have in such things as algebra, cartesian graphs, geometry, integers, wood-work, biology, chemistry, statistics, probability, recipes, grammar, history or geography? Well, as it turns out, each of these very secular matters are vitally important to God because each of them reveals an aspect of His character and a window into His glory! Although it has largely been forgotten by the Academy, it is why Theology was long considered the "Queen of the Sciences".

MATHEMATICS AND GOD'S GLORY
Physicists like Professor Paul Davies, who is not a believer, have long marvelled at the universe in which we live because it is highly and precisely mathematically ordered. Philosophers take this pondering one step further and wonder why is it that we live in a universe where mathematics actually works at all? These philosophers are quick to point out that we also live in a world where we take for granted the reality of numbers. But would numbers exist if there was nothing to count? The answer to this philosophical question regarding the foundation of mathematics reveals an amazing truth about God including- not every reality is material. Mathematics works because there is a God who has ordered the universe He has created. And like mathematics, He has made the universe to be understandable
¶ Thus says the LORD, who gives the sun for light by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar—the LORD of hosts is his name:
Jeremiah 31:35
1 x 8 + 1 = 9
12 x 8 + 2 = 98
123 x 8 + 3 = 987
1234 x 8 + 4 = 9876
12345 x 8 + 5 = 987 65
123456 x 8 + 6 = 987654
1234567 x 8 + 7 = 9876543
12345678 x 8 + 8 = 98765432
123456789 x 8 + 9 = 987654321
1 x 9 + 2 = 11
12 x 9 + 3 = 111
123 x 9 + 4 = 1111
1234 x 9 + 5 = 11111
12345 x 9 + 6 = 111111
123456 x 9 + 7 = 1111111
1234567 x 9 + 8 = 11111111
12345678 x 9 + 9 = 111111111
123456789 x 9 +10= 1111111111
"Do I not fill heaven and earth?" (Jer. 23:34). There is no part of this universe that God does not fill. This includes the material (made of molecules) and the conceptual (such as morality, numbers, memories, emotions) aspects of the universe. Every bit of this universe is God's!  Every academic subject that can be studied was authored by God and is available to us so that we can explore His glory! Jesus Christ is not just a great Saviour, He's a great Mathematician.
 “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!”" Abraham Kuyper
Mathematics is made up of immaterial concepts such as numbers, but even these immaterial concepts can be thought of in other even more highly symbolic concepts: letters (x+5=9, x must therefore be 4). Thus, every time someone does an algebraic equation they are validating the Biblical revelation that: (i) the universe is comprised of both material and immaterial realities, (ii) mankind is uniquely created in the image of a God who communicates in symbols (words, numbers, text, objects) and He has created mankind in His image as the only species who shares this trait, (iii) the universe is largely comprised of objective realities (objectively, 2 + 2 = 4, this is not subject to opinion, preference, or change).

Maths is an insight into the heart and mind of our CreatorThus, to study mathematics is to delve into an aspect of the mind and heart of God. Consider that we use mathematics to (generally) solve problems. Mathematics reveals a grand Theological truth about God: He has designed a Universe where redemption is possible. Not only is redemption (solving a problem) possible in this world, the Saviour of all mankind has solved the greatest problem in the universe - a problem so great, mankind was unable to solve it by ourselves. Jesus Christ not resolved the problem of mankind's universal arrogance, guilt and shame caused by sin (which not only blinds and deceives all people to see our true condition) it eternally separates us from God, He also redeemed mankind to become sons and daughters of God by adoption, if they will turn to Him. Every time you do a math' problem, you should remember this.


GRAMMAR AND GOD'S GLORY 
God uses human language to convey eternal truth. Our ability to decipher, translate, and interpret symbols into rational ideas and messages culminates in the written language. God has ordained that eternal destiny of every human soul depends upon this ability. He has enabled mankind to develop meaningful language and convey that language in a precise written form. If we have the privilege of being taught how to read, we are so graced by God that we might explore His glory in His Word, His ways and His will. This is why the elements of language really matter - because they Sovereignly ordained by God as a primary means for communicating with mankind. The elements of written language include vocabulary and grammar.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
John 1:1

Grammar-Matters-were_godsThe wonder of God's Word is that it can be translated into any language and still be irreducibly the divinely-inspired, inerrant, Word of God. But it is also why translators go to great pains to ensure that they translate the sacred text with grammatical precision. Thus, when we study English (in our instance) and gain an appreciation for vocabulary precision (being able to use the right word for the right occasion) and grammatical nuances (such as when and where to use a comma or an apostrophe), we are opening up our minds, and therefore our hearts, to be able to develop a greater understanding of who God is and the wonders of His ineffable glory. God indeed fills every part of the universe - including the English teacher's whiteboard! He has ordained that mankind can read and write in order that people might be saved from eternal damnation and brought into the freedom that can only come from knowing Him. God has chosen to reveal Himself as The Word by The Word

And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.
Second Peter 3:15-16


SOLI DEO GLORIA
Andrew Corbett teaching at Launceston CollegeThe prophets foretold of a time when God's glory would cover the earth as the waters cover the seas (Hab. 2:14). In that day, everything shall be seen as revealing the glory of God (Zech. 14:20-21). Even mundane pots and pans will declare, "Holy to the Lord", they declared.  If you are a school teacher, you are fulfilling a very high calling in the eyes of God. You are not merely "baby-sitting", or, "child-minding", or "keeping kids off the streets" - you are cultivating young hearts and minds to encounter the glory of God! 

When I am teaching kids to play tennis, I introduce them to basic skills, stroke technique, scoring, and rules of the game. After they understand these seemingly mundane things I will often point out the parallels between playing tennis and successfully living life (the need for rules, the blessing of boundaries, the value of competition, and so on). When I watch a movie I often see a worldview dependent on God's existence for it to make any sense - truth, justice, fairness, love, sacrifice for others - only make sense in a world created and ruled by God. Every subject a teacher must teach is only teachable because it is made possible by God and therefore reveals an aspect of His glory. Otherwise teachers would not be able to implement First Corinthians 10:31!

¶ So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
First Corinthians 10:31

Yes, God most certainly does fill heaven and earth!
Amen.

Saturday, 30 July 2016

THE TRUTH ABOUT INCONVENIENT

WHEN JESUS IS INCONVENIENT!
Apostles Andrew and PeterPeter and Andrew were small-businessmen. Along with their father, they ran their family business and had to work long hours just to make ends meet. But this all changed one day when The Messiah came along uninvited and uttered the words: Follow Me. There must have been a moment of dilemma for these hardened sea-farers. “Now?” perhaps they wondered, “It’s hardly a good time now!” But follow they did. Yes, to follow Jesus is to live a life of inconvenience. It really does seem that Jesus often – if not usually – interrupts a person’s life when it is most inconvenient! It’s not just that it seems inconvenient to walk through life with Jesus – it is! There is a cost to honouring Christ and it is counted in the currency of convenience.
¶ While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
Matthew 4:18-19
And as inconvenient as Jesus is, no-one was ever more inconvenienced than He! He came from eternal and infinite bliss and laid aside His divine privileges and inconveniently became a human.
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 
Philippians 2:5-8
jesus-praying-all-nightEven though He was on a mission to redeem all mankind by His sacrificial death on the Cross, He was repeatedly interrupted with the most inconvenient requests. “Heal my daughter“, “Raise my son back to life“, “Cast the demon out of him“, “Open my eyes” “Give me back my legs“, “Let me just touch You“, were not the cries of patients who had made an appointment! These people came from seemingly nowhere and inconveniently intersected Christ as He continually strove toward the Cross. In addition to this, Christ’s days were often so full that the only time He could find to commune with His Father was when His own weary body would have screamed for sleep and despite how inconvenient it was, He chose to spend the night instead talking with His Father.
 In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God.
Luke 6:12
Bartolome-Esteban-Murillo-The-Martyrdom-of-St-Andrew-Each of His disciples went on to live very inconvenient lives. They had to be away from familiarity of their families, jobs, communities, and go where it would have been most inconvenient for them to go. Peter eventually went to Rome where he was crucified upside down in 64AD for preaching the Gospel. Andrew went to Patras, Greece, and crucified diagonally by the Roman Governor there in 70AD for preaching to, and converting the Governor’s wife to, Christianity. Thomas went to India and preached the Gospel there with signs and wonders following and met with violent opposition and was eventually publicly skinned (“flayed”) then crucified for doing so. The Apostle Paul was inconvenienced throughout his preaching ministry when he was repeatedly imprisoned for up to two years at a time as he travelled across Europe. The early followers of Christ gladly embraced inconvenience in order to serve and follow Christ, and two millennia later, we are the eternal beneficiaries!
And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.
Matthew 19:29
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INCONVENIENT CLOSENESS
Australian-Olympic-Swimming-trainingIn a couple of weeks from now the 2016 Rio Olympic Games will commence. This extravaganza will showcase the world’s best sporting and athletic prowess. Undoubtedly, each of these athletes has been inconvenienced to even make it to the Olympics and it’s probably safe to say that every Gold Medalist could tell their heart-rending story of the inconvenience they and their family had endured to be the best in the world. The greatest delights and pleasures of this world are exchanged for those prepared to be the most inconvenienced. For Olympic swimmers it means 3AM get ups and 4AMs in the pool and twenty kilometres of laps later, they’re ready for school! 
 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
Matthew 16:24
The case can be made in the spiritual realm as well. The closer you want to get to Christ, the more inconvenient it will be. It too will mean sacrifice. It too will mean getting out of bed rather than staying in it. It will mean hanging in there even though everything within you wants to quit. It will mean being misunderstood. It will mean more times alone when it would be nicer to be with others. It will mean reading your Bible for just a few minutes more than usual when you could be enjoying browsing Facebook or Instagram instead. It will be inconvenient to get closer to Christ and, without doubt, the more people you want to reach for Christ, the more you will be inconvenienced! 

INCONVENIENT LEADERSHIP
Christian leadership involves carrying a cross of inconvenience. This means that a leader will turn up even though they are tired and busy. A local church team leader knows that their presence – not just their attendance – will often be inconvenient for them because of the sacrifices involved, but the blessing it generates is felt by more than they might ever know. This is how you can tell the difference between close-Christ-following leaders, and leaders. Jesus categorised these two groups of leaders as either: shepherdsor hirelings. He offered Himself as the preeminent Shepherd-leader. Shepherd-leaders, unlike hirelings (who are only there when it is convenient and they are paid) more often than not, do not even consider the inconveniences they face due to their genuine delight in serving Christ and His people – 
¶ I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me,
John 10:11-14
Dr. FW. Boreham, 1921Christ’s comparison between shepherds and hirelings might well be the comparison between those who embrace inconvenience (shepherds) and those who don’t (hirelings). No church can possibly reach it’s Christ-honouring potential if its leadership is comprised of hirelings. No barrier can stifle a church comprised of leaders who each gladly carry a cross of inconvenience. This is why the greatly inconvenienced Dr. F.W. Boreham said in his last sermon, “The Church does not ordain men to be preachers – it ordains men because they are preachers!” To put it another way, “A church does not make someone a leader then hope they will (lead). Rather, the church appoints proven (shepherd-)leaders (ones who have overcome the inconveniences to following and serving Christ within a local church) to official positions of leadership.”
Will you join me in striving to be a church of shepherd-leaders? Will join me in praying that we can minister to broken, damaged, lost, hurting, confused, people, even when it’s inconvenient for us to do so?
Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead.”
Luke 10:30
Preaching at The Rock Christian Church, Capalaba, QueenslandLast Sunday I preached in a church in Brisbane about the Good Samaritan. The man robbed and beaten and lying on the side of the side is like the broken of the world. The busy priests and Levites who were too busy to tend to the hurting man are like many of us today – not prepared to be inconvenienced by the needs of others. And the Samaritan is like Jesus who despite the inconvenience takes the time to clean the half-dead man’s wounds and bandage them. He then transports the beaten man to an inn where he cares for him overnight. In the morning he gives the inn-keeper two denarii (2 day’s wages).
And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’
Luke 10:35
The inn is like the church where still today Jesus wants to bring in the broken, damaged, hurting, lost and abandoned, that He finds scattered along life’s byways. But the only way this can happen is if we, His Church, joins Him in embracing our own crosses of inconvenience. And as we do, we may discover that the very things we were depriving ourselves of to follow Christ, may well be the very thing which Christ provides anyway! 
And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.”
Luke 5:4, 9-10

Amen.  

Thursday, 21 July 2016

THREE KEYS FOR HANDLING OVERWHELMING DIFFICULTIES

WHEN EVERYTHING SEEMS TO BE GOING WRONG
Everything is going wrong!“Everything’s going wrong at the moment!” “Things just couldn’t get worse!” are often sighed by people when they are under pressure. If you find yourself frequently using these expressions, then I want to show you three tools for dramatically changing this.
None of us see the world in which we live. What we actually see comes to us through a series of filters which we all use. These filters include our previous experience, what we know, and our emotional health at the time. Combined, these three factors form our perspective. Our perspective is just like our eyes – we mostly look through them rather than at them. And while we have access to things like mirrors and cameras to look at our eyes, our perspective has no immediate way to be viewed. 
Rather than view our perspective as either right or wrong, it is better to consider our perspective as either helpful or unhelpful
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
First Corinthians 13:12
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PERCEPTION AND PERSPECTIVE

Everything's going wrongI know how it feels when “Everything is going wrong”. It’s in these times that we all see our circumstances as the the problem. To make things seem worse, the rise of filmic entertainment and social media, has given the perception that everyone else’s life is far better than our own. That is, no-one else has the problems that I have because their lives are all full of celebrations and holidays by the beach! Their kids are perfectly behaved! They are loved and have someone to love! They have loads of money and no debt issues! While they’re swimming by the beach, I’m drowning in a sea of problems! Thus, our perspective has a direct bearing on our perception of the circumstances we are in.
but man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward.
Job 5:7
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THE THREE KEYS SOLUTION
The perspective of a teddy-bear
Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you. 
First Peter 5:7 NLT

Our perspective is shaped by –
(i) our previous experience
(ii) what we know
(iii) our emotional health at the time.  
1. USE EXPERIENCE TO YOUR ADVANTAGE
Consider then how you might face all of your current problems if you had experienced similar problems before to these and actually come through them unscathed. If you did have this prior experience, how might it affect your current perspective? This insight is the first key to successfully dealing with our overwhelming problems: draw on your past experiences of successfully coming through problems – or if you can’t, then find someone who has and learn from them! This is why younger people are more at risk of feeling overwhelmed by their problems than those who have a little more life-experience. Imagine if you could go back in time when you were facing another difficult season in your life and talk to yourself. What would you say? Could your talk with yourself have changed your perspective at that time?
2. LEARN WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Due to recent cutbacks, the light at the end of the tunnel has been turned offMaybe you have not experienced anything like the difficulties you are facing now. But what if you had been shown by someone how to solve these difficulties, would that change your perspective? What if you had read about someone else who had gone through something similar and responded in a way that worked to solve the problem. Would that change your perspective for whatever you are facing now?
A few years ago I was asked to take on the management of a struggling not-for-profit organisation. This organisation was insolvent (which meant it couldn’t pay its bills or debts). Several people had previously tried to turn it around but had been unable. There are lots and lots of things that I have no clue on how to solve, but I do know a few things about how the business of not-for-profit ministry organisations needs to work. Within a few months, after implementing what I already knew, things began to turn around. As I met challenges I had never met before, I set out to learn what I needed to know. Because of what I knew, and some past experiences in not-for-profit organisational turn-arounds, the solutions to the vexing problems which this organisation faced seemed obvious to me. Perhaps you now face problems with confidence and ease which once overwhelmed you? If you are currently facing problems which are overwhelming you, you need to apply this second key by finding someone or something that can help you learn how to deal with it.
3. EMOTIONAL WELL-BEING
Emotional well-beingWhen I am emotionally drained it seems that my problems are multiplied and magnified. Some of my biggest problems have actually been solved by a good night sleep! Our physical well-being has a bearing on our emotional well-being. Our emotions are formed by chemicals which are released into our blood system. These chemicals can be released involuntarily (such as in a time of shock), as a result of our diet (such as when you only eat a high carbohydrate and high sugar diet which increases the likelihood of depression), and, a lack aerobic exercise deprives the body of healthy endorphins which the brain and body needs to experience happiness. Therefore, if you want to reduce the number and intensity of your problems, get more sleep and less screen-time, cut right down on sugar and carbs, and do something that will get your heart pumping and you gasping for air!
¶ You hold my eyelids open; 
I am so troubled that I cannot speak.
Psalm 77:4

TELL ‘EM TO TAKE A NUMBER!
Troubles and difficulties can sometimes be overwhelmingBy drawing on your own or someone else’s experience to give you the confidence that you get through your difficulties, discovering strategies for better dealing with your problems (one of the best pieces of advice I was ever given was to “Tell your problems to take a number and get in line!” That is, deal with your biggest problems first and deal with them one at a time), and improving your diet and fitness, you’ll be amazed at what that can for your perspective of your problems. What you’ll find is that as your perspective shifts from the forest to the trees, you’ll discover that things aren’t nearly as bad as you had been thinking they were.
By using these three powerful keys you’ll find that even though your circumstances don’t change, your perception and perspective will. The Apostle Paul wrote to a church beginning to experience tremendous difficulties and hardship. Rather than telling them to pray that God might change their circumstances he encouraged them to look at their world differently: through the eyes of faith.
for we walk by faith, not by sight.
Second Corinthians 5:7
ChalmersAnd it was the Apostle John whom God used to bequeath to the Church The Revelation. This closing book of the Bible is all about changing perspectives. While massive and brutal persecution was ruthlessly being waged against Christians around the time that The Revelation was written (65 AD), the Apostle gave his beleaguered audience a glimpse into the eternal realm where Christ was triumphant over all. Rather than getting all worked up about some of the nonsense which has been promoted as the interpretation of The Revelation, it is very safe to interpret this book as reminding believers to have a different perspective on life’s difficulties. Perhaps this is why so many first century believers rejoiced to lay down their lives for their risen Saviour and to be so bold in their witness.
¶ After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.”
Revelation 4:1
Amen.

Friday, 15 July 2016

WHERE TO MINE IF YOU WANT TRUE RICHES

WHERE TO MINE IF YOU WANT TRUE RICHES 
SAM_2442Great wealth comes from mining. Australia has benefited greatly from its recent mining boom, making us one of the wealthiest nations on earth. Many of Australia’s cities and towns exist because of mining and many of supportive communities have grown as a result. We saw this dramatically a few years ago when the ‘Beaconsfield Mine Disaster’ happened just a few minutes up the road from where our church is and how it affected our community. Of course, without mining, we could not have our precious technology which depend upon the silicon, copper, bauxite, neodymium, gold, and silver being mined. The world owes a lot to mining. Mining is a primary industry. So is farming. But farming has one massive advantage over mining. And curiously enough, I’ve noticed that the farming versus mining disparity not only applies to primary industries but even more aptly to our relationships.  
Legana Apple OrchardWhen I was growing up, nearly all of my uncles (with the exception of just one of the six), was a farmer. Dairy, beef, crops, sheep, and bees were their livelihoods. The thing about farmers is that they are dependent on sustaining their livelihoods. Miners, on the other hand, cannot sustain their supply of what they mine. Once it’s mined, it’s gone
If you drive around Tasmania you’ll see what appear to be roadside forests. But upon closer inspection, there’s something a little odd about these roadside forests: all the trees are in straight rows. As any local can tell you, there’s a reason for that. These aren’t really forests. They’re plantations. Many of them were planted ten or fifteen years ago, some even sooner. Some harvests in life take that long.
Let me jump straight to my concluding point. If we ‘mine’ those around us – especially those closest to us – we are treating them as if they are expendable, something to be tossed aside when we’re finished with them. But if we farm our relationships, we grow them and they are not only enlarged they are sustained. This means: the one who loves best loves the most for the longest. The husband who treats his wife as an object is not farming. He is mining. And because of his neglect he is the one who is depriving himself of some of the richest blessings this life offers.
¶ The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.
Genesis 2:15
The very first wedding took place in a garden. The symbolism is rich. The original picture takes place in an environment where there has been planning, planting, cultivation, tending, watering and feeding. Marriage began in a garden and, in many respects, is a garden. In the Song of Solomon the love between a husband and his wife is described as being like the relationship between a gardener and a garden
On the Tasmanian Overland Track¶ Awake, O north wind,
and come, O south wind!
Blow upon my garden,
let its spices flow.
Let my beloved come to his garden,
and eat its choicest fruits.
Song of Solomon 4:16

Farming involves tending, sowing, nurturing, watering, and feeding. To reap a harvest of intimacy you must sow trust and fertilise it with consistency and mulch it with understanding and transparency. This type of farming produces bountiful harvests. This is the essence of being faithful in marriage. The boy who learns to go off partying with his mates looking to ‘pick up’ a girl for a cheap thrill is learning to treat women as objects to be be ‘mined’. No woman deserves to be treated like this! This is why pornography is so insidiously evil and grossly unjust! But the boy who is taught that women are a treasure to be prized, guarded, and respected is learning how to farm for the day when his future love is in his life so that he will reap a life-time-together harvest. This is why “dating” (where there is no realistic expectation that it will lead to marriage) is not really a Biblical concept. Rather, the Biblical prescription seems to be friendship within community leading to a courtship with the permission of relevant authorities within that community (particularly parental approval). Parents play a key role in helping their children to relationally ‘farm’ their love for another.

OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD
Walking the Freycinet TrackOur relationship with God though, has parallels with both mining and farming. Some people inflect a deprived spiritual childhood upon themselves by only ever raking the surface of a relationship with God. If only they would dig like a miner! The treasures they would find! Raking, at best, can summon leaves, twigs, and dirt. But digging can be the means by which one discovers gold, gems, precious metals, and even life-sustaining water. 
¶ My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you…if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures,
Proverb 2:1, 4
The only difference between natural and supernatural mining is that the metals and gems of earth are finite and limited, where as the treasures to found in a relationship with Christ are unlimited and infinite or to use the language of The Mine, they are unsearchable
¶ Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
Romans 11:33
to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,
Ephesians 3:8b
And our relationship with God is also a farming one. He is the Gardener who plans, plants, tends, prunes, waters, feeds and harvests. 
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”
John 15:1-2
The Milky Way clearly visible over my house from my backyard
The Milky Way clearly visible over my house from my backyard. This is yet another example of the incredible riches that are often ours for the taking but yet go unnoticed and ignored.
But God is also a limitlessly fertile field into whom we can sow our time, talent and treasure. 
Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
Galatians 6:7-8
In one sense, our devotion to God by Scripture reading, study, and memorisation, is mining our relationship with God while our good deeds including prayer, worship, witnessing, serving the Body of Christ, is farming our relationship with God. Australia’s wealth has been based on farming and mining. Even with all the high-tech advances in the global economy, people are always going to what mining and farming give us. While ‘mining’ has no place in our relationships with each other, especially for those who are married, it can and should share the basis of our relationship with God along with ‘farming’. After you finish reading these few brief thoughts, I invite you to begin ‘mining’ your relationship with God through the reading of Scripture and to make a commitment to spiritually ‘farm’ your relationship with God as well by sowing good deeds in the Name of Christ.
¶ The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully …  ¶ He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.
Second Corinthians 9:6, 10
Your spiritual mining-rights entitlements and harvest awaits.
Amen.

Saturday, 9 July 2016

Why You Need Seasoning

WHY YOU NEED SEASONING
Port Davey Track view of Macquarie HarbourI pity those who do not have the privilege of living in Tasmania. Unlike other parts of Australia (and many other parts of the world), here in Tasmania we enjoy four distinct, and relatively mild, seasons. Of course, if you had been to our island haven paradise in the last couple of years you may not have thought so. Cataract Gorge covered in smoke hazeVenturing here just six months ago, you would have thought our Island State to be a parched dry unforgiving land. Our water reserves had got well below the critical reserve levels of 21% (falling to as low as 6%) and our normally lush green pastures were colourless. At one point, bushfires ringed and threatened our central city of Launceston and filled our air with an ugly haze. Launceston's Cataract Gorge in flood, June 2016Yet, if you had been here just six weeks ago, you would have seen our flood levies tested to their limits! Many people tell me that they love my state, but alas, I feel they are not qualified to make such a statement until they have experienced this exotic island haven paradise in all its seasonal extremes.   And I think this applies in other claims of love as well – unless you’ve been with, or observed, someone in the various ‘seasons’ of life, you are not qualified to claim that you love someone. For any relationship to be strong, it must go through seasons.
Surfers Paradise, Gold CoastNearly each year, for the past twenty-five years or so, our family has spent at least some time of the year on Queensland’s Gold Coast. Before I met Kim, she and her family had long made the same Gold Coast their annual getaway of choice. Perhaps this is why Kim’s father purchased an apartment there overlooking Surfers Paradise, which Kim’s widowed mother now permanently resides. And while it may be an exaggeration to claim that the Gold Coast is like a second home to us, outside of Tasmania, it is probably the place we know next best. While we do enjoy our occasional stays there, it does lack the distinct advantage that Tasmania has. And because any loving relationship requires this advantage, we feel qualified to say: we love Tasmania.
¶ Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant
First Corinthians 13:4
Surfers Paradise by night, shot taken from Southport
Life has its seasons. In one respect, life’s stages are like seasons. Childhood and youth is like Spring-time. Adulthood is like Summer. Senior years are like Autumn. Our final days are like Winter. But in another sense, life has seasons which ignores our stage of life. We can experience Life’s seasons of joy and happiness. We can experience Life’s seasons of heart-ache and disappointment. We can experience Life’s seasons of trial, struggle, and adversity. We can experience Life’s seasons of loneliness, misunderstanding, and betrayal. One of the biggest mistakes that I have seen two people make is to rush into a marriage before they have seen each other in Life’s various seasons. 
or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
First Corinthians 13:5
Cavell Avenue, Surfers Paradise by night

I have counselled too many people whose marriages have sadly come to an end when the one they married seemingly ‘changed’. In reality, they hadn’t really changed at all. It’s just that they had not been exposed to enough of a variety of Life’s seasons for their true colours to be made clear. But it’s not just marriages where observing people in Life’s seasons is critically important. 
  • The same is true in business where a boss prematurely promotes a relatively new employee without seeing how their character handles Life’s seasons. 
  • The same is true in politics when a nation only ever sees the carefully stage-managed public appearances before awaiting TV cameras of a candidate for political office, rather than seeing them in Life’s seasons where they have to negotiate a conflict with their spouse or children.
  • The same is true in churches when people who make a good impression on a pastor are appointed to be elders without ever having gone through any of Life’s seasonal fires to see how they treat others when they themselves are under pressure 
The smoke haze encroaching into Launceston at the Cataract Gorge First Basin
Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, nor take part in the sins of others; keep yourself pure.
First Timothy 5:22
I enjoy Tasmania’s summers. This past summer, Kim, Ruby, and I took advantage of the world’s finest Gorge amenities each weekday and enjoyed an early morning walk and a swim. To give Kim a head-start in how many laps she did, I would take some time to sit on the overlooking concrete steps and read my Greek New Testament as I occasionally pulled my camera out and took a few snaps of the Gorge’s breathtaking scenery.
I marvel at what Autumn does to Tasmania. The colours of the leaves on the trees, the last of the apple harvests, the stunning sun rises over Mount Barrow and Ben Lomond, the birdlife that sings throughout the day.
Initially, I was no fan of Tasmania’s winters. But then I became increasingly aware of just how important they are. Orchardists must have winters to kill off certain unwelcome fruit-tree diseases and prune their near-dormant trees ready for the upcoming harvest season. Ben Lomond comes alive in the middle of winter. Tobogganing, cross-country skiing, snow-ball fights, and hot drinks by the lodge fire can only happen if there’s a winter in Tasmania. 
And then there’s Spring! New life! Flowers! Baby birds! Lambs! Green fields!
It’s worth remembering that when you’re going through a season of difficulty, it’s a season. It won’t last. And if you’re rushing into love, it’s also worth considering whether this love has been ‘seasoned’? 
Holidaying on the Gold Coast in summer is quite misleading. Tourists do things there and then they wouldn’t dream of doing back home. People are often more relaxed. People are often happier. People often eat out more. People spend more. If you only knew someone from experiencing them while holidaying on the Gold Coast, you would have a very distorted impression of them indeed. It would be better to see them back in suburbia rushing to work after dropping their kids off at school after negotiating the morning rush-hour traffic to get to a job they don’t enjoy before they come to a spouse they have an unresolved conflict with! 
The sluggard does not plow in the autumn; he will seek at harvest and have nothing.
Proverbs 20:4
CHURCHES HAVE SEASONS TOO
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
First Corinthians 13:7
Pastor Andrew CorbettAs pastor of our church, where I have now been for nearly 21 years, I am so grateful to the many people who, despite having seen me often struggle in Life’s various seasons, have been patient with me and forgiven me for my many shortcomings. It is a privilege to be allowed each week to input God’s Word into people’s lives so that they too can navigate Life’s seasons. And it is my hope that over the next few years of seasons we will continue to navigate our seasons together and as a result our church will move into a season of Springtime and harvest.   
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
Galatians 6:9
Amen.

Ps. Andrew