Wednesday, 24 December 2014


Dr. F. W. Boreham at Hobart BaptistToward the end of his life, Dr. Boreham made it his aim to preach and write in such a way that "people could catch a vision of the Saviour." Boreham felt that if people could only but see Jesus for who He really is, "they would have no alternative but to lay their devotion at His feet." (Crago, p. 237) He made it his end-of-life aim to reveal the irresistible beauty of Jesus. He hoped that this would lead more Australians to devote themselves to Christ, rather than be merely more religious.

If a person has never 'seen' Jesus the best they can possibly do is to be religious. Any appeal for devotion to Christ sounds like a call to be more religious. And the last thing most Australians want to be is: more religious. Jesus calls people to not just follow Him, but to be exclusively devoted to Him.
¶ "No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
Matthew 6:24
To discuss the virtues of a devoted life to Christ without a glimpse of the irresistible beauty of Jesus, is like trying to describe the colour red to a person born blind. Devotion to Christ must start with a revelation vision of Christ. I've been pastoring for over two decades. I've learned the difference between formally religious folk (those who have "made a decision", "given their heart", "prayed the prayer") and those who have actually met The Christ (those whose hearts have been gloriously conquered by the radiant warmth of the light of Christ's face).
For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
Second Corinthians 4:6
Summon the devoted to greater devotion and their hearts are stirred and they worship (Romans 12:1-3). Summon the religious to greater devotion and their hearts close and they groan (Heb. 13:7). When Jesus began building His Church, this was the immediate result -
All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.
¶ And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers..

Acts 1:14, 2:42
They devoted themselves to prayer, teaching, fellowship, and worship. And followers of Christ still do and delight to do so. This is why church is not merely a noun it is a verb. This Christmas we are reminded that the God who deserves devotion gave his Best. Surely this is the essence of devotion? It is the inescapable fruit of the true worshiper because, as we know, a worshiper always becomes like what they worship. 

Devotion not religion please.

Ps. Andrew

Friday, 19 December 2014


I have so many problemsYou may think you have problems, but the more I get to know some people, the more I realise how deeply wounded some people are with problems that are beyond them. I have problems, but after spending time with some people whose problems are so deep, so complex, so painful, my own problems pale by comparison. 
Even though I have my own problems, I deal with others' problems. The Apostle Paul told the Corinthians, "[God] who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too." ( 2Cor. 1:4-5) In other words, in the midst of our own problems (which was jail and possible execution) God's enabling comfort has meant that we can comfort others. In God's economy, you always give away what you want.

He has problemsGod has given me a small measure of grace to be able to help people with their problems. It is this same grace that has kept me from being overwhelmed by these problems. And it is only by God's grace that my heart has been enlarged sufficiently so that I care about the people whose problems I try to play a small role in helping. In fact, I know that God has called me to help people with problems. This call effects the way I pray (note Philippians 2:14). I continually ask God to help me to help others. And the more people present me with their sacred spaces by openning more of their hearts to me, the more I become dependent on God for His grace and wisdom to try and help. 
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Hebrews 4:16
Masking PainSometimes a person's problem is so painful and complex they don't even know where to begin. But sometimes it is even worse than this. This happens when not only does a person feel the constant reminder of their problem, but they are uncertain as to what it actually is. For those who have seen our Bouncing Back DVD, you'll know that we tell the stories of seven people. One of them, appeared to have their life in perfect order. They had what most thought of as a good home with loving parents, a great education, friends, and even a loving church community in which they could worship God. But, things were not as they appeared to be. It was not a good home. Their home was anything but a safe place. Instead of being protected by their parents, they were abused by them in the worse fashion. So painful were the daily scars inflicted into them that they now live without any memory of their life before the age of 11. The sexual abuse they endured caused them to go numb in several ways. Nearly forty years later and despite a loving marriage and the blessing of children, the numbness is still there. They can never get back what the sexual, physical, emotional, and spiritual abuse robbed them of. And like so many innocent victims of such abuse, they ache and don't fully understand why.
For I wrote to you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you.
Second Corinthians 2:4
I have problemsWhat possible help is available to someone experiencing such intolerable invisible pain? Firstly, a revelation from God of His love and acceptance of them. This limitless love is grounded in God's limitless knowledge of them and everything they've gone through. It was the prayer of the Apostle Paul for the Ephesians who had largely been caught up in cultic worship of the idol-goddess, Artemis, that he asked the Lord that the eyes of their understanding might be opened (Eph. 1:18). It is the understanding of God's pure limitless love that gives a person healing-hope. And based on the great Apostle's prayer for the Ephesians, this kind of understanding can only after prayerful seeking of it. Anyone who scoffs at the power of the love of God to transform the broken into wholeness - is confessing their own lack of inexperience of God's love. 
and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Ephesians 3:19
Secondarily, inner healing grace from God comes from a demonstration of His love, acceptance, and understanding through His people (1Peter 4:10). This kind of grace most powerfully comes from those who have gone through similar experiences and then experiences God's healing love - wherein we were comforted, we comfort others

God is loveThere are some problems that are so painful, so deep, so complex, that no pill can make the ache go away, no counsel can talk it away, no distraction can forget it, and no drink can drown it. Yet, because many of these problems are invisible, and therefore intensely frustrating, it often causes people to take drastic action - such as defacing themselves with permanent ink or razor blades so that others can begin to get a glimpse of their pain. All of this is not just a cry for help - it is a soul screeching cry for help that often gets confused for rebellion, depression, moodiness, or unfriendliness. The cause of such intense anguish and ache is often a serious violation. For a world that is drunk on the lie that sex is just fun and recreation (unlike the Biblically-informed Christian view that sex is about intimacy grounded in trust, commitment, covenant, and sacrificial love, for the purpose of unique union and fruitfulness with one other person) the fruit of their stupor is often broken and shattered little girls who are almost irrepairably damaged for multiple decades to come, and little boys who not only bear the physical scars of what inevitably happens when their bodies are subjected to unnatural acts, but also the deep sense of betrayal that causes them to perpetually angry (either in rage or depression) and distrustful of all. At the root of problems like this is the confusion over love. The predator tells his victim that this is "love". The child grows up with the distorted belief that the only way they can relate to men is by being sexual - because this is "love". But this is wrong°. Thus, when they hear the sincerely intended news that "God loves you!", we can only imagine how hollow this must sound to them! 

What they need is often what they shun. They crave love. For a season they are intoxicated enough on the lie of the world that love=sex to pursue it. But it only deepens their ache. The Apostle Paul prayed for the Ephesian believers to be able to comprehend the love of God. God's love is like no other love. It is pure, unselfish, considerate, sacrificial, extravagant, persistent, unconditional.
may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Ephesians 3:18-19
Not many begin to comprehend God's love for them. The rare times when someone in the Bible got a glimpse of God's love for them it universally resulted in them being physically and emotionally overcome. The pain that causes problems for many people is almost instantly resolved when the betrayal, violation, deception, and abuse they received is countered by God's infinite trustworthiness, guardian protection, truthfulness and tender care. This is why divine limitless love heals.

Not everyone's problems are the result of violations. There are of course financial problems that we get ourselves into - or are placed into. There are relationship problems that confound us. There are health problems that frustrate us. There are problems that are caused by us. There are problems that we didn't invite. Here's what I've learned about problems.
1. All problems are relatively solveable. (There may not be a perfect solution, but there is a workable solution.)
2. Problems nearly always take humility to solve. (The size of the problem is proportional to the humilty required to solve it.)
3. Denial only makes the problems get worse. (True healing always requires truthfulness.)
4. God can always redeem our problems. (If you yield to God, He can make you a stronger better person because of your problem.)
5. Even in the midst of our problems, we can always help others with their problems. (Don't let your problems define who you are!)
What's your problem? We've all got problems (if you haven't got problems then you've got a problem)! God provides His love, His grace, and His comfort, so we can face our problems. He has ordained that His love, His grace, and His comfort be imparted to you through the Body of believers in Christ (1Peter 4:10). The Apostle Paul, writing to the highly problematic Corinthians, left them with this reminder, and I follow suit-
¶ The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the comfort of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
Second Corinthians 13:14
Ps. Andrew

Friday, 12 December 2014


Stuff happens. We find ourselves in circumstances that we didn't create or invite. As Spirit-filled followers of Christ we know what to do. We use prayer. We pray. We request others to pray. These prayers petition heaven for our circumstances to change. Our circumstances tend to dominate our prayers. But our prayers is not all that our circumstances seek to rule over.

Some people have learned that they can get the attention of others if they sulk and make demands of others through emotional blackmail. Circumstances are nearly always like these self-centred people. Before we go anywhere, do anything, make a decision, spend time with someone, or make plans, our circumstances want the final say. At the risk of offending your circumstances by calling it for what it often becomes: idolatrous, I want to give some shepherd's wisdom for dealing with your circumstances, and how you might adjust your prayer-life. 
give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
First Thessalonians 5:18
Too many people honour God when circumstances permit. The attention-starved teenage girl who has gone to church most of her life now finds her circumstances have changed. When she was younger, her Daddy seemed to give her more tender attention. Now that she is older, Daddy doesn't seem to listen or even understand. She meets a crowd of similarly confused teens who seem to give her the attention she craves - on the condition that she conforms to their standards - standards that she knows are not God-honouring. But under these circumstances, it seems like attractive. Perhaps the young man who has graduated and landed a job for a company where corners are continually being cut, and the truth is often halved. Under the circumstances, his career demands that he skip church so that he can put in the extra hours his bosses say will be good for his career. Maybe circumstances help the neglected wife to justify her growing liaison with someone from work who seems to better understand her. In these instances, like a slow-growing noxious weed that chokes out all other plant life, circumstances withdraws its permission for the child of God to act like one. Christians do not honour and obey just when circumstances permit!
In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;
Ephesians 6:16
The follower of Jesus is committed to following, serving, honouring Christ despite - not because of - whatever circumstances they might be facing. Marriage is a reflection of the ultimate loving commitment shared between God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. No matter what the circumstances, God is love and He dwells in an eternal community of limitless love. When a couple marries, their marriage vows are a shadow of the commitment that the God of love enjoys and these vows usually contain the appropriate wording, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer. That is, no matter what the circumstances, no matter how difficult, no matter what the obstacle, there is an unshakeable commitment to love. The most important things in life, your peace with God, your relationship with our soul-mate, your privilege of pastoring your children, your commitment to your local community of faith, your level of workplace productivity, should all be acted on despite our circumstances. 
I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.
Philippians 4:12
Nick Vujicic was born with no arms and no legs. Despite this, he has overcome his circumstances to establish a corporation, travel the world, marry, and become a father. Little over a century ago, at just 19 months old, Helen Keller contracted what was suspected to be Scarlet Fever which left her deaf and blind. Through the patience of her teacher Annie Sullivan, Helen learned to read and write. In 1904 she went on to become the first deaf and blind person to earn a Bachelor's Degree in Arts. Despite her circumstances, Helen Keller went on to achieve what can only be considered outstanding success. In 1964, President L. B. Johnson awarded her The Presidential Medal of Freedom. Neither Nick nor Helen allowed their circumstances to be the thing that determined what they could or couldn't do, and, who they could or couldn't be.
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
Romans 12:12
How should we pray when our circumstances become intolerable? A brief study of the New Testament reveals that when circumstances were unfavourable for those characters in the New Testament they prayed. But what stands out about the way they prayed is that they prayed for the strength to deal with their circumstances - not for their circumstances to change! We could look at our Saviour heading to the Cross and see Him under adverse circumstances praying for the will of God to be done. We could look at the Apostle Paul in prison for preaching the Gospel. Instead of complaining in his Epistles about his "chains" and begging for believers to partner with him in prayer that he might be released, he seems to ask them to continue to pray that God might use him wherever he is!
for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.
Ephesians 6:20
for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound!
Second Timothy 2:9
Most of Paul's Epistles to believers were actually written while he was in prison. Rather than let these circumstances dominate his prayer-life or limit his ability to be used by God, he chose to bloom where he was planted. Have you let your circumstances - your health, your finances, your work, your relationships - be at the forefront of your prayers? Have your circumstances been the defining agent of what you can or can't achieve? Do your circumstances tell you that change in your life is not possible? It's time to stop living "under the circumstances" and to start living the kind of life where you draw on God's grace to not only get you through, but to help you to be fruitful in the midst of it. Bloom where you are planted - despite your circumstances!

Ps. Andrew