Saturday, 25 April 2015


You choose your ship. If you choose the MV More you will sail life's journey through the Siren sounding Sea of Discontent. If you choose the HMS Content you will be sailing through the Sea of Satisfaction. One of first differences you'll notice if you change ships mid-voyage is that the HMS Content doesn't have many of the same trappings that the MV More has - but it does have bigger windows. Through these windows passengers can see the wonders and beauty that those on the MV More sail blithely past.
But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.First Timothy 6:6-8 
The most dangerous person in the world is usually considered to be the desperate person. It's hard to argue with this. But I wonder if we have underestimated the content person? This person is motivated by noble causes - causes that benefit others. They can't be bought. They can't be bribed. They can't be deterred. The enticements of this world are not what motivates them. This kind of person can be dangerously good. On the other hand, the person is discontent because they entertain coveting is far less dangerous. This is because they can be easily enticed, lured, ensnared. This means that they can be easily controlled. To want is not a bad thing. But it can be. Two of the Ten Commandments are directed against its dark side. The first forbids stealing, the second commands against coveting(Deut. 5). This is striking considering that murder gets one prohibitive command and coveting gets two. Coveting is wanting what is not yours to have. It is eternally perilous to the human soul. Jesus lists it among the deadliest sins-
For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person."Mark 7:21-23 
The content person is a thankful person. I suspect that thankfulness is the means to achieving contentment. Thankfulness helps the content person to rest. This restfulness is a position despite the circumstances. The content person is positioned to think, I am thankful for what I have. If I have only this, I am thankful for it. If I achieve no more than what I have done, I am at rest. This week, in the Bible Study Group meeting that I lead, one of our African members said wistfully,"If African young people from my country had the opportunities that Tasmanian young people are ignoring they would transform not only their lives but the entire nation!" This highlights the irony of discontentedness: Even what a discontent person has, they don't appreciate or even use. I would love to see the world, but there are still parts of my own State, that despite living here for the past twenty years I have not yet discovered. As a pastor I would like to see our church grow and become bigger with expanded facilities and exquisitely landscaped gardens and sealed carpark - but I am deeply grateful for what God has already given us (both people and facilities). I am becoming content.
But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.
First Timothy 6:9
Are you grateful? "Count your blessings. Name them one by one. Count your blessings. See what God has done!" Johnson Oatman Jr wrote.
Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the Cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, everydoubt will fly,
And you will keep singing as the days go by.

When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings - money cannot buy
Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high. 
COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS, Johnson Oatman Jr., 1897
Francis of Assissi who forsook his family's fortune to serve Christ among the poor of Italy, was once asked by a fellow monk, "What would you do if you knew your life was going to end in a few moments?" Francis is reported to have answered, "I would finish weeding this vegetable garden." Francis had learned the art of contentment. What many people see as mundane and perhaps pointless, Francis viewed as sacred. Contentment has spiritual implications. Things that are seemingless insignificant, when done by the spiritually content, become acts of worship. Jesus gives this principle in Matthew 25.
Then he will answer them, saying, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.'Matthew 25:45
When you weed your garden, attend your child's Parent-Teacher night, hand out Communion, or serve someone a cup of coffee, and you do it gladly, thankfully, you are learning the art of contentment. And in this world where most people are sailing on the Merchant Vessel More, your passage on His Majesty's Content will cause people to realise there is another way to sail life's ocean.
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.
Philippians 4:11
Ps. Andrew

Saturday, 18 April 2015


5 Reasons For The Church Still Being AroundIt's actually remarkable. Considering the virulent, persistent, aggressive attacks on the Church over the past 1,985 years, it's remarkable that not only has the Church survived, but it has flourished and spread around the world. The fact that you attend a church today, in the twenty-first century, is due to five profound reasons that should lead the reader to wonder.
...I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.JESUS OF NAZARETH (later of Capernaum) Matthew 16:18b 
The Church has survived through to the present day because it has been an agent of good and progress in the world. From its outset, the Church began to care for those the world deemed outcasts. This included, widows, orphans, lepers, and the aged.
"Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world."James 1:27 
This became the foundation for the establishment of hospitals, welfare agencies, and schools. The Christian worldview values each human being as bearing the image of God (imago dei) and therefore possessing inherent dignity. This means that a person who is newborn or even preborn is worthy of our care and support, as is a person with a highly contagious incurable disease, or a person at the end of their life.
"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another."
John 13:34
An atheist was once decrying the missionary activity of Christians among Pacific Islanders - in particular, how Christians had "destroyed the existing native culture of the islanders." As chance would have it, there happened to be a person at that public meeting who was a native of one of the islands which the atheist had referred to. During the Q&A he asked the Professor whether he realised that his native ancestors had been cannibals? His question to the atheist professor continued, "Do you know what my ancestors would have done to you if you had arrived on our island before the Gospel came?" The audience instantly recognised that the Pacific Islander had shown the atheist's case to be ill-informed. Ravi Zacharias makes a similar point to atheists when he asks them how they might feel, if on a dark late night inner city street four pierced and tattooed large black men came out of a dimly lit alley carrying objects in their hands and were approaching you - if it would make any difference to how you felt if you learned that they were Christians who were just leaving their weekly BIble Sudy meeting? Yes, the Church has been a positive agent for good and progress in the world.
And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.
Second Timothy 2:24-26 
The Church has given expression to mankind's most natural purpose: To Worship God through poety, music, art, drama, literatureThe Church has given expression for mankind's most natural purpose: to worship God through singing, poetry, music, art, drama, and literature. The question for any person is never Do you worship? But, What or Who do you worship? Every person worships. Just as ducks are designed and created to paddle across water, fly closer toward the Equator in Winter, quack, and waddle - so every human being is designed and created to meet with other humans and worship the Creator who is the Kings of Kings and Lord of Lords.
All the earth worships you
and sings praises to you;
they sing praises to your name." Selah.
Psalm 66:4
Jesus said that if people didn't declare the praises of God, "the stones would cry out" (Luke 19:40). It should be every person's priority to be in the House of God with other worshipers worshiping The Lord of The Universe. Wise Christian parents know that their children learn more about devotion to God by what they see their parents do than what they hear their parents tell them they should do.

#3- The Church's Ministers have been agents of comfort, consolation, reconciliation, and guidance to people - often in their darkest days.The Church's ministers have been agents of comfort, consolation, reconciliation, and guidance to people - often in their darkest days. Jesus described Himself as the "Good Shepherd' (John 10)and all who minister on His behalf follow in His blood-stained footprints and are to be His underShepherds. They are called to care, lead, guide, feed, tend to, watch over, the community given to them by Christ. Down through the past two millennia, literallly hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of men and women have done just that. Most of these ministers have gone unnoticed by the world, unknown to those outside of their charge, and often unappreciated by most in their charge - yet they have gladly laid down their lives for their community because of the deep love of Christ for God in their lives. 

In my own city of Launceston, ministers of The Christ played a tremendously important role in the establishment and ongoing welfare of our city. I think of Pastor John West, a Congregational Minister, who worked to abolish the convict colony and promote free speech by establishing The Examiner Newspaper. We could also reminisce about some of the more well now ministers of the Gospel who worked as agents of peace and inspiration - not just to their churches, but to their communities and nation. I think of Pastor Charles Simeon who served as the Pastor of Kings Church, Cambridge England for 53 years and contributed not just to the religious life of Cambridge, but its educational and social life as well. In the United States we think fondly of Pastor Martin Luther King Jnr and the amazing impact he led for the cause of Civil Rights there. In Australia, ministers such as F.W. Boreham and Gordon Moyes have contributed to the welfare of our nation and played a positive role in sport, business and politics.

The Church's existence is assured by the decree of Christ and His Sacred WordThe Church's establishment, spread, and sustainance is due to the decree of Jesus Christ and His abiding Word. Jesus Christ is the omnipotent (all-powerful), omnipresent (all-present), omniscient (all-knowing), eternal, risen Lord. The Church is His "Plan A". He not only decreed that it should it be established (Matthew 16:18), He has decreed that it should spread throughout the world - 
And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."
Matthew 28:18-20
Jesus Christ not only sustains the Church "unto the end of the age", He sustains every molecule in the cosmos!
For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
Colossians 1:16-17 
The Church is the visible expression of the Kingdom of Christ now and a portend of its ultimate expression after all evil is vanquished from the Universe. It is a majestic sign and wonder to the limitless power and majesty of The Christ. It was prophesied of in Daniel 2:44 as a stone that struck the feet of Nebuchadnezzar's statue and then grew into a great mountain which filled the earth (Dan. 2:34-35). This speaks of Christ and His Body - the Church

The Church's existence has been enabled by the presence of the Holy Spirit Who has empowered Christ's followers as well as filling them Christ's presence and gifts, and has led and guided the Church througout the ages and world. The Church was conceived in the heart of Christ and born on the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was poured out. The Church is comprised of Spirit regenerated, Spirit empowered, Spirit filled, Spirit baptised, Spirit enabled, Spirit led, followers of Christ. He is the "oil" in our "lamps" (Matthew 25) and He is the One that the Apostle Paul exhorted all believers should continually seek and be filled with (Eph. 4). 

The Church is no accident. The Church is no mere institutional legacy. The Church is not merely an organisation - it is an organism - the living body of Christ on earth. If you are a believer, you have the utter privilege of being a part of the Church of Jesus Christ! Sundays now are not for homework, time-to-yourself, time-with-the-family, but a day we dedicate to the One who declared - I am building!
to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever.

Ephesians 3:21

See you Sunday.

Ps. Andrew

Saturday, 11 April 2015


5 Reasons Why God Wants You In A ChurchWhen I first arrived in our city I was told two things about the existing Church here. Firstly, there were lots of them. In a city of 70,000 there were some 80 churches. Secondly, the biggest church in town was the Absent Church (the second biggest was the Roamin' Church). Over the past twenty years there has been little evidence to challenge this assessment. To have any chance of leading a church which could have its best chance of representing Christ and His Building Project to our city, I knew that I would have to commit for a lifetime and weather all storms. Over this time, my conviction about what God's Word says about the local church and my love for it has only grown. And although I am sympathetic to those who call themselves Christians yet absent themselves from a local church due to some bad experiences, I have little capacity that their vexation should be directed at Christ Himself.
...I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.Matthew 16:18b 
It requires a good deal of foreign toughness for a pastor to weather church storms. I say 'foreign' toughness because it doesn't come naturally to most pastors, especially this one. Most real pastors are long-term pastors. They heed The Great Shepherd's words in John 10 to not flee when wolves ('adversity') come along. They stand and endure. They do this because they inherently love people. They think about people. They care for people. They carry people. They pray for people. They spend a deal of regular time seeking to grow in God's Word and grace so they can help others to do the same. But along the way people get upset and take offence. In leaving the pastor's congregation they seek to injure while claiming that they have been injured. In my younger days as a pastor this confused me and hurt a lot. 
While we pastors don't always live up to people's expectations of care and attention, I have discovered that this same sort of thing happened in the Bible to the best pastors it describes. For example, Moses was a great pastor. He met with God face to face. Yet he had complainterisers and opponents from within his own congregation. Most of this arose when he did the right thing. In life you too may discover (especially if you are a parent) that those you care for may push back hardest when you've done the necessary thing! All leaders soon discover that not doing the right thing at the right time is nearly always the easiest thing. Moses had to become 'tough' and do the right and necessary thing even when it was difficult to do so. As if his example is not enough, my mind often thinks about Jesus as a pastor. He preached a sermon one afternoon that led to 15,000 or so people turn away from following Him! (John 6) He then received numerous complaints and allegations of being "offensive". Added to this, of the 12 specially appointed disciples, one betrayed Him and another disowned Him! 
Then the disciples came and said to him, "Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?"Matthew 15:12 
I have also discovered as a pastor, when you do the right thing, such as bring correction, some followers of Christ in your charge have not been sufficiently discipled to understand that correction is a Biblically necessary thing and that it is the means of God's grace for them to grow. It takes humility and a soft heart to be corrected. If we understand that the original sin wasn't so much about eating forbidden fruit as it was about the pride and arrogance to think that we (represented by Adam and Eve) could do so and get away with it! Thus, pride is our greatest obstacle to fellowship with God and attaining the beauty of Christlikeness, not the Devil, not temptations, not even acts of sin.
But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble."
James 4:6
If you are in a church whose leaders have never been instruments of God's correction in your life - either from the public preaching or from private counsel - chances are you are rarely (if ever) offended. But greater still are the chances that your are not in a Biblically healthy church! 
And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.
Second Timothy 2:24-26 
I love being a pastor. It is the most rewarding job in the world (next to being a husband and father). It is a privilege of the highest magnitude. And I similarly love being a member of a local church. The local church is God's means of grace to strengthen His children for the battles we each face in life. Simply by being together as a congregation of committed believers gathered under the ordinances of worship, partaking of the Lord's Table together, offering our prayers gifts and time, being instructed together from God's Word, and interacting with each other in fellowship (where our goal is the strengthening of our mutual relationship with God) - we are strengthened in our souls. It is a divine imperative - not a divine option - to do this weekly.
not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.Hebrews 10:25
God is not done with the Church. On the contrary. God has ordained the Church to be salt and light (Matt. 5:13-14), the pillar of truth (1Tim. 3:15), and the vessel of His grace (1Peter 4:10). God has ordained for you to follow Christ by being committed to a local body of believers constituted as a 'church'. Together then we serve God's 5 purposes for the Church. These include binge a community of believers who-

1. Worship God together.

2. Witness to the world about the truth and the nature / identity / character of God, His ways, His will and His Word.

3. Provide welfare to the needy.

4. Help people to attain wellness in body mind and soul.

5. Educate people about God and His creation, teaching people to read, write and reason to the glory of God.
God wants you to be in a church for the following reasons-

1. He has ordained the local church as the means of His grace for you (1Peter 4:10).

2. It is only through the local church that you can obey the imperatives for following Christ as listed in Romans 12:9-21.

3. By serving in the local church God is able to fashion you into the likeness of His Servant-Son (Matt. 20:28)

4. It is only through the local church that God has decreed for you to be equipped for works of leadership (Eph. 4:11-13).

5. By you prioritising your fellowship to be in Sunday worship with your local church you are part of a glorious witness that God is using to reveal Himself to the world (Eph. 3:10).
to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever.

Ephesians 3:21
See you Sunday.

Ps. Andrew

Thursday, 2 April 2015


You smell and you smell. You do both. It seems we nearly all prefer pleasant fragrances. This preference was demonstrated when each of my three daughters were young. On an excursion into town, they always wanted to detour into Myer making a bee-line for the Perfume section. Newly fragranced, they would tell me, "Just like the models Daddy!" 
¶ But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.2Cor. 2:14 
I say "nearly all" prefer pleasant fragrances because I'm not sure about some teenage boys. They've even coined a word to celebrate their mutual gagging: "getawiffofthis".
to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things?2Cor. 2:16 
A scented GardenGod has created us to see, hear, express, touch and smell. Great artists have painted portrayals of God's works and glory. Great musicians have written songs that have melodiously captured God's heart in lyrics. Great sculpturers and architects have given us objects and buildings to touch which salute God's grandeur. But I cannot think of one Christian Perfumer. Strange. Especially considering the detail of how God Himself wanted to be portrayed to the world. Each of the Old Testament aspects of the Tabernacle and its ceremonies reflect the visual beauty, the tactile grace, the audible magnificence and the 'sweet smelling aromas' associated with thoughts of God and His works.
And Aaron shall burn fragrant incense on it. Every morning when he dresses the lamps he shall burn it, and when Aaron sets up the lamps at twilight, he shall burn it, a regular incense offering before the LORD throughout your generations.
Exodus 30:7-8
Each of us apparently has a detectable smell. Search and Rescue dogs use this for our advantage. God has designed us to emit a visual, audible, tactile, and fragrant impression. Our desire to smell pleasant is a testimony to this deep seated reminder of our first parents' Eden experience within each of us. When we think of Eden we might be preoccupied with the sights of the magnificent garden, animals, and pollution-free skies - or the sounds of friendly and tame animals, birds, insects. But how many of us wonder about how it would have smelt?
And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Ephesians 5:2 
There was once a man in a small town who loved his glass-house roses. Locals always knew he had just been with someone or in their home. His scent lingered. Long after he was gone the smell of rose would cause a local to fondly remember. 
his shoots shall spread out;
his beauty shall be like the olive,
and his fragrance like Lebanon.
Hosea 14:6 
Christ has a fragrance. Those who spend time with Him end up smelling of His fragrance. This aroma is spiritually detectable. Even though people spiritually smell Christ's fragrance on us, to some it is what the Apostle Paul called "the aroma of death" because Christ smells so opposite to the fragrance of the sin which they love. Yet to some who seek to be delivered from their sin and its eternal penalty, it is "the aroma of life"
For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things?
Second Corinthians 2:15-16
Some people, after they've gone, leave a fragrance behind that lasts for years - sometimes decades. Their life was lived with such dignity and service to others that their fragrance still freshens our world even after centuries have passed. Their generosity leaves a legacy that is fragrant for centuries and in the case of the Philippian believers - for millennia!
I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.
Philippians 4:18
I don't like to take out of Scripture what was never put there in the first place, so I beg your forgiveness for what I am about to do. If we were to understand the Song of Solomon to be a picture of Christ and His Church (which it is not, but indulge me for a moment), it is a tender moment when the two lovers in this song describe each other as much by the fragrances as they do by their appearances. Who you are on the inside, emits a 'fragrance'. The repentant, prayerful, follower of Christ emits a fragrance every time they pray that only Heaven can smell. These prayers fill Heaven with a delightful scent described metaphorically as, "incense". 
And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.
Revelation 5:8
Easter has such a fragrance. You can smell it. Don't confuse the smell of Easter eggs and hot-cross buns with the real smell of Easter. Breath in the ancient-but-still-fresh fragrance of Easter and you'll detect the finest fragrance the world has ever hosted. It's the fragrance of unconditional love and undeserved forgiveness. It's the smell of Jesus of Nazareth - the One who gave His life to offer the world this love and forgiveness. If you experience Him, you smell different - both what you can smell and what you smell of. I hope you smell this Easter.
¶ Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came up to him with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head as he reclined at table.
Matthew 26:6-7
The irony of the Passion Week culminating in the Cross is that the One who was saturated in expensive perfume was the same One who was spat at, punched repeated so that His features were marred, and His back ripped to shreds. He would be spiked to a rough, blood-stained, cross as a bloodied, putrid, near-butchered barely recognisable man. Yet. After the stenchifying work of sin had done its best at transforming the Sinless One into its complete embodiment, His true fragrance was soon smelt again but this time surprisingly it had grown sweeter. This is the fragrance of Easter. It's the fragrance of lives transformed. It's the fragrance of the guilty being acquitted. It's the fragrance of the hopeless being granted undeserved hope. And every time a sinner is found by the Saviour, the fragrance grows sweeter still. You can smell it.

Ps. Andrew