Friday, 26 September 2014

Unworthy Is Not Worthless

Should we be surprised when increasing numbers of young people see themselves - and others - as fundamentally worthless, when materialists tell them that there is no God, no spiritual realm, no after-life, no ultimate justice? Is it any wonder then that the most basic ache of the human soul - to find true meaning and purpose through a vital connection with our infinitely powerful and limitlessly loving Maker - remains painfully unsatisfied? Might this explain why certain "extreme" groups today are so appealing to young people? #is #isis #isil #suicide
Freudian Slippers

Into a culture invaded by material-terrorists who poison the minds of the vulnerable with the heinous lie that we are all just the result of a random / spontaneous / uncaused / fluke vacuum fluctuation in gravity (#stephen_hawking) we now have a culture of rampant despair and disregard! For the past few weeks in one of my children's school classes, the government-funded educators have been telling their young students that morality is just a hang-over from the by-gone days of religious superstition. Neither your body nor your actions have any objective moral boundaries governing them. As my teen endured this government re-education training, she looked at many of class-mates and reflected on the connection between what they were yet again being told, and the tragic resultant scenarios being played out in their lives. Many (too many) of her fellow class-mates were now resorting to drugs to try and quell the persistant cry of the soul for a meaningful and significant existence in harmony with their Maker. Believing the destructive lies they are being told about their worth (that they are no more than a collection of molecules and that the notion that there is anything immaterial about them is just superstitious nonsense) these girls are often reduced to thinking and believing that they are essentially worthless unless they can be of some sexual worth to someone. Hence, many (too many) of these early-teen girls have lost something they can never get back and now no longer care that it's gone. #boysonlywantonething #ifeelworthless
¶ Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
First Thessalonians 5:23
I feel worthless and life is so dark right now but they seem to be having funThere is a (not-so) silent cry arising from the deep recesses of this generation. It's a soul-chilling shriek that says, "I must be worthless!" Social researchers are bewildered at this. They merely look at the symptom and oversimplify the diagnosis: we have rising rates of depression. #duh One Tasmanian academic in his book, Born Bad, even blames Christianity for our current malais! He argues that Christians teach that the world is fallen, every person is born corrupted by inherited sin, therefore we are conditoned to feel worthless. But this gross misdiagnosis distorts the hope that the teaching of Christ's Word brings. This academic's criticism o Christianity fails to distinguish between worthless, and, the vastly different concept of, unworthy. No person - irregardless of their size, location, environment, or development-stage (SLED), is worthless. On the contrary! Every person - irregardless of their abilities, intellect, achievements or potential - is of immeasurable worth and always has a divinely appointed purpose from their Maker!
For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 
First Corinthians 15:9
As rampant as the poisonous lies to our young people are here, we have not yet succumb to the lie (that we are merely material beings) to the extent as some other parts of the Western world. There are towns where this evil deception has run its logical course and resulted in the inevitable flagrant disregard for the lives of fellow human beings. #usaschoolshootings But now we are seeing something strange. Some young people are embracing another lie: that God is utterly whimsical and unpredictable (He "abbrogates"), uncaring (He cares nothing for "infidels"), and offers those who kill these infidels eternal sexual bliss! Bewilderingly, this is being described by those unaware of the elementary teachings of these ideas as 'extremist' and 'not a reflection of this great religion of peace'. But to many young people who are told that they are worthless, these ideas give them purpose, and seem to satisfy the excruciating universal ache of the human soul for a pleasing connection with their Maker. But this god is made! Anything made (including an idea) cannot be The Maker - since The Maker made all things that were made. 
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.
Colossians 1:16
Worthless is not the same as unworthy
When we meet Sunday by Sunday for worship we are acknowledging our unworthiness and our Maker's limitless worth. When we worship Him we displaying to the world a powerful story - a story so deeply intrinsic to every human soul that it is written into our DNA from conception. It is a story of our first ancestors. It is a story that says they were created perfectly suited (as distinct from being created perfect) to the world in which our Maker placed them. It is a story that says an alien invader corrupted the moral integrity our First-Father and First-Mother and brought enmity between them and The Maker. It is story that says that the Maker, who eternally dwells in infinite loving divine community ( #trinity ), reached out in love to a now rebellious mankind, and sacrificed His eternal co-equal Son in our place. It is a story that says The Maker now offers forgiveness to all mankind so that each one can now be restored to a loving, peace-filled, guided relationship with Him. #jesus . Thus, when we assemble to worship we are telling a powerful and reminiscent story. When we worship our Maker we are ascribing great worth to Him, the lives He has given us, our fellow man, and the world in which He has placed us. When we desclare His worth-ship ( #worshipisworthship ) we are surrendering afresh to Him and declaring that He is uniquely worthy. Singing to Him is an act of worship. And as Victoria Osteen tried to say, God doesn't need our worship, but we need to worship Him!
Worthy are You...
Revelation 5:9 

In a world increasingly filled with hopelessness and despair where more and more young people are beguiled by the lie that they are worthless and life is meaningless, we have an opportunity to shine a different story. A story that is utterly different to the materialist's. Our story could not be more different to the story of the ones who claim that our Maker is actually the Moon-God ( #notethesymbolontopoftheirhousesofworship ) who sometimes shows love and mercy. What our Maker requires of us is love for one another - even with those who disagree us, and for those who refuse to believe. And every time we make the effort to assemble for worship and instruction in the ways of God, we are declaring to both the Materialist and the Moon-god-worshiper that our Maker is most worthy of worship and we are most unworthy of His grace. But our unworthiness is not the same as being worthless! #jesuslovesus #themeaningoflifeisJesus #createdinhisimage #theoldtestamentandthekoranbearnoresemblance


Ps. Andrew

Friday, 19 September 2014


The casualisation of our society has become a serious concern. If this casualisation merely concerned fashion, you have every right to think of me as a pathetic stick in the mud. But right now we are facing some extremely serious challenges and it's time for us to get serious!
Freudian Slippers
The opposite of 'serious' I will call 'casual'. And when I use the word 'casual' I am using it as a catch-all word for, informaljokingnon-urgenttrivial. Of course, being casual is appropriate for the right ocassion. F.W. Boreham tells the story of his young girls asking him each weeknight whether it was going to be "slippers or shoes tonight?" If it was a "slippers night" his girls knew that their daddy would be home and available for them to sit on his knees in front of the fire and listen to him tell them stories. But that's not the only thing opposite to serious. Opposed to 'serious' are attitudes beyond being merely casual. These attitudes begin to venture into potentially life-threatening areas. When a parachutist doesn't take the need to check his parachute seriously before a jump, or when a motorcyclist doesn't think seriously about overtaking a truck around a bend, or when a Christian doesn't take his spiritual health seriously - the results can be anything but casual !
As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
Second Timothy 4:5
Serious doesn't have to mean dullboringbland. But here's the problem with saying that: I have to say it because our culture has been so casualised! That is, when you undertaking serious activities it maybe dull, boring or bland. Police doing night after night of surveillance is 99% dull, boring, bland - but it has meant that many heinous acts of criminal violence have been averted and countless numbers of people's lives have been spared. It is a statement of our youthified and casualised society that betrays our at times rampant immaturity that wants everything to be fun, exciting, and edgy. Fun has its place for those who take life seriously but it is not given the status of an idol to be conferred with before a course of action is taken. This must sound like Martian to those who find life itself so boring that they have to jump off a cliff with either a rubber rope attached to their ankles or a suit of wings zipped over their bodies in the pursuit of finding even greater fun and exciting thrills to fuel their need to be distracted from the serious matters of life. It takes a serious person to commit to one other person for the rest of their lives with a public vow to remain committed "for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, till we are parted by death". It takes a serious person to accept that sexual fidelity to that person they have committed their heart and soul to also includes their body and that such an act of intimacy is required to maintain sacred union, express the highest act of physical surrender to another person, and to produce the fruit of that union and love by conceiving new life together. Marriage is serious.
But there are preconditions: A leader must be well-thought-of, committed to his wife, cool and collected, accessible, and hospitable. He must know what he's talking about
First Timothy 3:2 THE MESSAGE
To be casual when seriousness is called for is to be flippant. To be flippant with your spiritual health is to risk peril - but not just for yourself but those vulnerable ones looking on.
¶ "Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea."
Mark 9:42
Winged suit base-jumpersToo many times as a pastor I have seen a parent not take their spiritual responsibilities seriously enough. When this happens there is an almost predictable peril that creeps in. Such other lesser, but none the less still, serious matters are also treated flippantly. They begin to neglect their spouse and thereby cease taking their marriage vows seriously enough. They begin to neglect coming to the house of God together as a family seriously enough (note Hebrews 10:25) and instead thereby teach their children that God isn't really that important and His Word shouldn't be taken so seriously (Deut. 6:7; 11:19). They begin to compromise in ways that causes them to turn to self-made idols for comfort and to calm their nerves and thereby negate their witness to their neighbours and broadcast to the world that everything they had previously told them about God being their Saviour and Lord was just a joke (2Cor. 3:2; 2Tim. 4:2).
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
First Peter 5:8
It's impossible not to be deeply moved at the moment by the plight of our brothers and sisters suffering serious attacks from ISIL ("IS", "ISIS"). It's bewildering to hear many of our political leaders displaying their ignorance about the religious fervour of those perpetrating these acts of evil as if their murderous rampage against Christians had nothing to do with their religion. But when I consider the extreme seriousness of these matters, I am disturbed to the core of my soul at the lack of required seriousness for those who claim that their lives have been bought by our Lord Christ Jesus. I'm disturbed that our Western Christianity is so comfortable, so easy, so casual, so compromised, that God in His mercy might choose a serious solution as we nearly saw in Sydney this week! As a student of Church History, I know the predictable pattern of God's response to a Church gone casual. And I for one take that history seriously!

Ps. Andrew

Friday, 12 September 2014


Nobody's perfectHave you ever beaten yourself up? You know, scolded yourself for being so far less than perfect? As a recovering auto-beater, I have a few tips for those who still practice self-beating. All of these tips are based on the words: do your best. The problem with this expression is that the perfectionist actually hears something unattainable which means they haven't heard it all!

Ten out of TenHave you ever been afraid to start something or even trysomething because you thought you wouldn't be good enough? Chances are you a closet-perfectionist. Perfectionists need to understand: There is a world of difference between being the best and doing your best. We can't all be "the best". But we can do our best. And sure, we could always do better than what we've just done, but doing your best involves elements such as- at this timewith what you have, and according to what you know at the time. At a different time, you might do the same thing differently and perhaps better. But when you did it, you didn't have a different time at your disposal (those who sit exams know what I'm talking about). Similarly, when you did what you did, you did it with what you had at your disposal (remember your first car?). And, perhaps you know more now than you did at the time you did what you did. But most of life's actions were done by people who were exercising what they knew at the time rather than what they were going to know! (You might have to talk with a seasoned parent to understand what I'm talking about here.)

Doing your best doesn't necessarily mean that you're doing the very best you possibly could, because: you have to do your best with the time you have, the resources presently at your disposal, and using the knowledge you currently have. Sure, given more time, better equipment and greater training, you could undoubtedly do better. But doing yourbest means you do the best you can using your available time, energy, resources and know-how at your disposal.

The Bible uses the expression, do your best, in this light.
making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.
Ephesians 5:16
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.
Second Timothy 2:15
Paul asked Timothy to do his best to come to him (2Tim. 4:9, 21) and asked Titus to do the same (Titus 3:12).
Do your best to speed Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way; see that they lack nothing.
Titus 3:13
I have to constantly remind myself that even the Bible doesn't make unreasonable perfectionist demands of me. It asks me to give my best. I am asked to make the best of my time (Col. 4:5). I am asked to do my best in the service of preaching and teaching God's Word (2Tim. 2:15). I am to do my best in showing hospitality to others (Titus 3:13). And I am to do my best as a parent. I now get to the end of my days with To-Do lists unfinished, phone-calls not returned, emails unanswered, ocassions not appreciated as they deserve to be, projects half-done, and think: well, that's the best I could do today.
Perfect dart score"He came to my desk with a quivering lip,
The lesson was done.
'Have you a new sheet for me, dear teacher?
I've spoiled this one.'
I took his sheet, all soiled and blotted,
And gave him a new one all unspotted,
And to his tired heart I cried.
'Do better now, my child.'
I went to the throne with a troubled heart,
The day was done.
'Have a new day for me, dear Master?
I've spoiled this one.'
He took my day, all soiled and blotted,
And gave a new one all unspotted.
And to my tired heart He cried,
'Do better now, my child.'"
Anon., "Do Better Now My Child"
Changing the way we think of "doing our best" should literally take the pressure off. We are no longer burdened by the expectations of others. We do what we do because we do it as unto the Lord. We then get to the end of our day with the knowledge that we practically could not have done any better, and we can sleep knowing, "That's all I can do."

Ps. Andrew

Thursday, 4 September 2014


Grumpy old muppet menIt's remarkable to survey the lives of outstanding people and notice how they finished their life-races. Some people live great lives and achieve great things but don't finish well (note King Hezekiah). Others, like the Apostle Paul, start off their race being legalistic and destructive. Despite Paul's Damascus Road experience it seems he was still a prickly character. He fell out with his mentor. He offended his travelling companions. His relationships with several ministry colleagues became so tense that wanted nothing further to do with and did all they could to slander him. Paul's return fire is recorded in the annuls of Scripture for all to read. But we observe something extremely unusual about this mysterious man. The older he became, the sweeter and softer he became. After beatings, betrayals, abondonments and slandering, he had every reason to be a grumpy old man.
Greatest of the grumpy old men
Theologians have noticed something else progressing throughout Paul's as well. In his earlier writings to the churches Paul refers to our Lord most often as "Jesus" or "Jesus Christ". Occasionally he adds "Lord" to these references.
For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.
Galatians 1:12
But in Paul's later writings, he is more inclined to refer to our Saviour as "Christ Jesus" and he ascribes to our Saviour - "Christ Jesus our Lord".
¶ I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service"
First Timothy 1:12
As Paul got older it seems that his reverence for Christ grew. But something else was happening in the heart of Paul. In the earlier stages of his ministry he describes himself as-
Indeed, I consider that I am not in the least inferior to these super-apostles.
Second Corinthians 11:5
But toward the end of his life he talks about himself in these terms-
The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.
First Timothy 1:15
Grumpy old muppetsFrom "Jesus" to "Christ Jesus our Lord". From "super-apostle to "foremost sinner"I can't help but think that these two trends are connected. The older Paul got the more he grew in his depth of relationship with Christ Jesus our Lord. As the depth of this relationship grew he invariably became increasingly aware of his true position before the One he would finally describe as King of kings and Lord of lords (1Tim. 6:15 - which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords).

But there's something else that might be lost on the casual reader of Paul's divinely inspired writings. Toward the end of Paul's life is more often than not in imprisoned because he had preached that Christ Jesus was Lord. In his much earlier epistle to the Corinthians he lists some of the trials and adversities he had been forced to endure.
beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger;
Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death.
Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea;

Second Corinthians 6:5; 11:23, 25
Yet writing from his unsanitised prison cell to his protegé Timothy, he makes just a fleeting reference to the horror of his current predicament without complaint -
¶ for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound!
Second Timothy 2:9
Something transformational has happened in the heart of Paul. His estimation of Christ has grown immeasurably. As you get older, is yours? Secondly, he estimation of himself became more accurate. To the spiritually unfamiliar, it might sound like he suffered from an increasing lack of self-esteem and was sorely in need of a boost. But to those familiar with descent of maturing discipleship, it is perfectly inline with what happens with all who grow in their surrender to the Lord of Glory. For Paul, his lowering estimation of himself was not a bad thing or even a thing to be corrected, it was a fruit of his commitment to lay his down and "decrease" so that Jesus would "increase" in his life (John 3:30).

One final thing to note about this not-so-grumpy-old-man. Increasingly toward the end of his life he looked for younger men to encourage and strengthen. At a stage of life when many embattled, heart-broken, older men are becoming bitter, withdrawn, overly nostalgic, and grumpy, Paul was becoming a clearer reflection of Christ to those starting out on their journeys with Christ Jesus our Lord. Paul finished his race well. And when we all near our finishing line, I hope that we too will have held the Lord of Glory and been transformed by His infinite beauty into people who reveal to the world, Christ Jesus our Lord.

Ps. Andrew

The 5 Must-Have Character Traits

Each week, on a Wednesday morning, I am the invited guest on our local radio station. Usually, I take a life issue and give some advice on how people can address it. This week I addressed an issue that is relevant to us all. And as I was thinking about each of our students around Australia I was struck by how relevant it might be for us all. 


Character is who we really are. A person’s character is not changed by adversity - it’s revealed by it! But how a person deals with success is as much a glimpse into their character as adversity is. Success can sometimes mean that a person is deprived of the advantage of daily struggles. And it is in those times when a person is not compelled to do anything that their true character is also often revealed. This might seem counter-intuitive because many of think that when we have plenty of time, talents and treasure we can become a better person. But our available time, talents, and treasure does not limit or grow our character. Yet, our character can limit or grow our time, talents and treasure! A person can change their character - to either improve or damage it.


#5 - Humility: 

Virtuous character starts with humility. It takes humility to admit your real needs, your mistakes, and to accept a realistic view of yourself.

#4 - Teachability: 

You can have the best teachers in the world, but not be teachable, and you won’t learn much. Conversely, if you are teachable it’s amazing what you can learn. How easy are you to correct?

#3 - Consideration: 

People who learn to be considerate of others make themselves very attractive. Considerate people invariably become thankful people. Thankful people can not avoid being happy people.

#2 - Preparation: 

It takes developed character strength to prepare well. For athletes this means early mornings pounding the pavement or hours of lonely times in the gym. For students this means making sacrifices to not be out with friends so that they can study. 

#1 - Perseverance: 

Virtuous character culminates in pleasant perseverance. Many people start things but only a few start and finish the same things. Whether it’s a book, a diet, an exercise regime, a marriage, or a course of study, perseverance is required. 

If you take steps to develop these five ‘must-have’ character traits you position yourself to maximise not only your happiness and sense of significance, but also your time, talents, and treasure.