Friday, 31 July 2015

You Wouldn't Think THIS Would Be In The Bible! (Part 1)

You Wouldn't Think THIS would be in the Bible!
For those who are novices to how life works, it nearly always comes as a moment of astonishment when they are confronted with the harsh reality that: even when you do what's right, things can still go wrong. And even though we all generally abide by the unspoken universal  agreement not to talk about this '800lb elephant in the room', the Bible breaks ranks and brazenly describes the elephant! Judges 19-21 is the most embarrassing example of this.
So I took hold of my concubine and cut her in pieces and sent her throughout all the country of the inheritance of Israel, for they have committed abomination and outrage in Israel. Judges 20:6
I find the last few chapters of the Book of Judges infuriating, uncomfortable and embarrassing. It always makes me angry when I read of a people who profess to know and serve God yet they are practicing idolatry, abuse of women, sexual depravity, violence, kidnapping, and rash-vowing. And just when it seems to take a righteous turn, it gets worse still.
So all the men of Israel gathered against the city, united as one man.
¶ And the tribes of Israel sent men through all the tribe of Benjamin, saying, "What evil is this that has taken place among you? 

Judges 20:11-12
The reader is forgiven for their bewilderment when reading the last few chapters of the Book of Judges. Who hasn't read these uncomfortable chapters and wondered how these chapters could possibly be divinely inspired and find a home in the pages of the Sacred Writ? And this is one of the lesser appreciated facets of what Divine Inspiration of the Bible necessarily involves: God has ordained that certain events which He did not sanction are inerrantly recorded in Scripture. The last few chapters of Judges is perhaps the most graphic example of this. 
Israel's battle with the Benjaminites
Now therefore give up the men, the worthless fellows in Gibeah, that we may put them to death and purge evil from Israel." But the Benjaminites would not listen to the voice of their brothers, the people of Israel.Judges 20:13
The believer's devotion to the God of the BIble is further tested when they are told in the New Testament that everything in the Old Testament was written for the follower of Christ's encouragement, instruction, and edification.
For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
Romans 15:4
Instruction? What possible instruction could the believer draw from these ugly and gruesome chapters of the Bible? We notice that the downward spiral began when Israel neglected the Word of God. The men of Dan tolerated idolatry and this led to a chain events that resulted in the gross bloodshed of civil war. Wherever there is idolatry there is inevitably sexual perversion. We see that entire towns in Benjamin had sunk to giving into their basest desires. As the Epistle to the Romans describes the same downward spiral from idolatry to shameful misconduct-
because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
¶ For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

Romans 1:25-27 

In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
Judges 17:6 
Perhaps the believer can be instructed from this dramatic episode in the Scriptures by taking note that calamities often start with very small, seemingly inconsequential compromises. The act of kidnapping then appointing a Levite who was an idolatrous priest may have seemed benign but it soon beckoned barberous brutality when tens of thousands of people were slaughtered. The invitation to a Levite by Micah the Ephraimite to be the priest of his household idol should have met with immediate and swift rejection. But it didn't. This Levite compromised both his divinely appointed function (to help the Aaronic priests in the service of the Tabernacle) and the Law of God against idolatry. It seems that the Levite was enticed by the offer of full board and "ten pieces of silver" each year. He sold his soul for 10 pieces of silver (by the time of Christ incarnate it appears that inflation had driven the price up to 30 pieces of silver! Zech. 11:12; Matt. 26:15)
And Micah said to him, "Stay with me, and be to me a father and a priest, and I will give you ten pieces of silver a year and a suit of clothes and your living." And the Levite went in.  And the Levite was content to dwell with the man, and the young man became to him like one of his sons. And Micah ordained the Levite, and the young man became his priest, and was in the house of Micah. Then Micah said, "Now I know that the LORD will prosper me, because I have a Levite as priest."
Judges 17:10-13
Just when you think this story can't get any worse, a band of soldiers from the Tribe of Dan arrive and in a rather thuggish manner forcibly remove Micah's idol and take his Levite-Priest with them. From there they go marauding and slaughter an entire village of people - despite the Law of God instructing them to do otherwise (Deut. 20:10). 
Now the 600 men of the Danites, armed with their weapons of war, stood by the entrance of the gate. And the five men who had gone to scout out the land went up and entered and took the carved image, the ephod, the household gods, and the metal image, while the priest stood by the entrance of the gate with the 600 men armed with weapons of war. And when these went into Micah's house and took the carved image, the ephod, the household gods, and the metal image, the priest said to them, "What are you doing?" And they said to him, "Keep quiet; put your hand on your mouth and come with us and be to us a father and a priest. Is it better for you to be priest to the house of one man, or to be priest to a tribe and clan in Israel?"
Judges 18:16-19
The book of Judges increasingly tells the reader that "there was no king in Israel during those days and everyone did what was right in their own eyes." The follower of Christ is aware from the New Testament that God has ordained three great institutions to curb human sinfulness: (i) The Family - founded by a husband and a wife in a God-honouring, loving marriage; (ii) The Family of God - in the Old Testament this was Israel and in the New Covenant this is the Church; (iii) The State - God has ordained the various levels of Governments (local, State, and Federal) to restrain evil, promote the good, and provide civil services. The breakdown of each of these three arms of Divinely ordained institutions is graphically portrayed in the closing chapters of Judges. This will become even more evident in Part 2 of this article when we will witness what is arguably the most depraved conduct described in the Bible. 

The saddest aspect of this tragic Biblical episode is that we are again witnessing the same seeds of civil destruction. Marriage was debased in Judges 19-21. Marriage is at risk of being debased today. The Family of God which was meant to be courageously led by those God had called into leadership had become corrupt, cold, ungodly, and idolatrous. Can you think of one uncompromising courageous church leader who speaks prophetically to the nation about the Word, ways and will of God who has withstood the tests of time, trial and testing and demonstrated proven integrity? And in the closing days of the Judges there were no civil leaders who served both God and their people selflessly. Today, it seems that everyday a new story breaks from either the Royal Commission into Corruption about how one of of national political leaders has broken, or at best- bent, the rules regarding use of Tax Payer Funds or political "donations". In Part 2 of this article I have some comments to make about the incredibly disturbing closing episode in Judges and the even more disturbing similarities that are facing today. What I hope to achieve is that we will have even greater confidence in the Divine inspiration of Scripture and its inerrancy - and that we will understand the urgency of the hour in which we live and why our commitment to God's Word now matters more than ever. 

Ps. Andrew

Friday, 24 July 2015


The most socially helpful people are those who who value solitude. The most socially destructive people are those who prize isolation. There is a world of difference between the two in much the same way as there is a world of difference between being alone and being lonely. Reading through the Gospel accounts of the life of Jesus of Nazareth and we are unavoidably confronted with Love Incarnate who habitually sort solitude so that He could effectively minister socially. This is contrasted by Judas who isolated himself from Christ and the other apostles and inevitably became socially destructive. As God redeems people He takes them from being weakened by isolation to being strengthened through integration into the community of the faithful and the fellowship with the Holy Spirit in solitude. It's not only the first followers of Christ who hear Him say, "Come away and be alone with Me for a while."
And he said to them, "Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while." For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. Mark 6:31
There is something in the human soul that is designed to be enriched by being connected to others. The One who designed us said of our First Father, "It is not good for man to be alone." (Gen. 2:18). God did not  (and does not) want anyone to be lonely due to their isolation. He has created mankind to be connected with others. Of the several things that make a person truly rich, friends and family are among their greatest treasures. When we are disconnected from others through isolation caused by offence, hurt, unforgiveness, breaches of trust, or grievances, we are especially vulnerable to loneliness. The child who grows up with a sense that one of their parents rejected or abandoned them, is very prone to forming dysfunctional relationships. For example, the daughter who feels betrayed by her father because he left his family to pursue a relationship with another woman and to start a new family is highly likely to crave male attention - but often in a controlling way (because although she craves the attention of a man, she doesn't want to be hurt again by a man). Despite seeking, and usually getting male attention, such a girl can feel cheated, deprived, and hard done by. This attitude is extremely socially isolating. People, especially those close to them, are made to feel guilty for not doing enough for them or giving them enough attention. This inevitably leads to a critical, judgmental, negative outlook that makes it even more difficult for them to connect with others or maintain existing relationships.
A brother offended is more unyielding than a strong city,
and quarreling is like the bars of a castle. 

Proverbs 18:19
Alone doesn't have to mean lonely. But when you're hurt and unforgiving it rarely means anything else. Alone can mean restoring solitude. My favorite superhero is Superman. There's a host of uncanny parallels between Clarke Kent and Jesus of Nazareth. Here's one that often gets overlooked. Q. Where did Superman go to be renewed - where he could affirm his own identity - and commune with his very distant father? A. The Fortress of Solitude. Where did Jesus go to be renewed?
¶ Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns.Matthew 14:13
¶ Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.John 6:15
Jesus would often withdraw from the crowds (and even His disciples) to be Himself, to be transparent in His own identity.
And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, "This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!" And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen.
Luke 9:35-36
Jesus would often spend time alone to be 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
Some people are left to endure aloneness due to the unwelcome circumstances of life. In a very real sense though, the child of God is never alone. Jesus teaches us to see aloneness not necessarily as leading to loneliness, but as a door to solitude - where we might be renewedreminded, and restored. From my observation, people enduring loneliness don't immediately discover the door of solitude. There is often an uncomfortable transitional journey from longing for what isn't to accepting what is - and then realising the contentment that follows. The content person is a socially attractive person, a safe person. The discontent person is a socially difficult person. The content person has found simple joy in being interested in others and great joy in resting in God. The discontented person doesn't even realise their condition inhibits them from such simple delights of cordial social interaction. The discontented has learned how to justify their lack of attentiveness for others by appealing to their own past relationship injuries and garnering sympathy.
¶ Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire;
he breaks out against all sound judgment.

Proverbs 18:1 
In the meantime they are susceptible to isolating themselves from the source that God has ordained to heal, strengthen and bless us: our brothers and sisters in Christ
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 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 10:24-25
Isolation from this source of wholeness, strength and blessing is caused by pride. Not until the discontented discover that they are never truly alone can they begin to be healed. And with the dawn of this revelation they will also discover that they actually are loved beyond imaginable limits by the One Whom they are often alone with.
A person who has friends may be harmed by them,
but there is a Friend who sticks closer than a brother. 

Proverbs 18:24 NET
Ps. Andrew

Friday, 17 July 2015

The Interstellar Fifth Dimension

Matthew McConaughy stars as Cooper in InterstellarIn the 2014 Hollywood blockbuster movie, Interstellar, touches on some deeply profound themes about what it means to be human. Set in the not too distant future, the earth's soil is fast becoming sterile and the ability to produce sufficient quantities of food is drastically and dangerously reduced. Dust storms now sweep across the earth creating respiratory disorders which is compounded by a fungal disease known as blight is fast consuming all the oxygen in the atmosphere. NASA has been commissioned to investigate evacuating Earth. What transpires in the movie appears to be a showcase of the best Sci-fi Hollywood can deliver - but these initial appearances can distract the viewer from the powerful messages about God, human uniqueness, and the nature of family. These themes coalesce when we are taken into "the Fifth Dimension." 
¶ Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant First Corinthians 13:4
The Fifth Dimension transcends time and distance. When the NASA crew discover it, it becomes another piece of evidence for the invisible guiding hand of the Supreme Being whom the NASA scientists tamely refer to as "they". When Captain Cooper, played by Matthew McConaughey, asks who "they" are, he is told that the evidence shows that it is an intelligent personal being. Perhaps they mean what Astrophysicist, Professor Brian Green, identified as the Grand Organising Designer or G.O.D. for short. At each stage of their mission, just when they needed it, something phenomenal would occur or appear that saved them. "They must have put it there" they conclude. And when Captain Cooper enters the Fifth Dimension he enters a realm that transcends natural physical limits, distance and time and discovers that he has a connection with his daughter on Earth when in this dimension. "Love!" he declares. "Love is the bond!" he discovers. 
(Love is not) rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth."
First Corinthians 13:5-6
Murphy and Cooper
In a world of robots with artificial intelligence and personality-programs, the movie explores what it means to be humanHumans thrive best when connected in families is one of the powerful themes of the movie. This theme is highlighted several times throughout Interstellar. From the outset we are introduced to a family. Initially it appears that we are intruding on three generations of the one family living together, but by the time we get to the end of the Movie we realise that we were introduced to at least four generations of this family (this is not at all obvious when first watching the movie). Multi-generational families living harmoniously together is not Hollywood's usual depiction of "family"! The bond between Joseph Cooper ('Cooper') and his daughter, Murphyis very strong. Cooper knows his children, Tom and Murph. He treats them differently (boys and girls are different). When Cooper arrives in a distant galaxy where Dr. Mann (played by Matt Damon) has already scouted as possible earth-like substitute, the contrast between a man who cares for his family (Cooper) and a man who has desired no family ties is painfully stark. It is after this disastrous rendezvous that Dr Brand was vindicated in her choice of going to her friend on a different planet rather than going to Dr Mann, despite how irrational her choice was. Love made sense after all. 
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.First Corinthians 13:7
Cooper and MurphyAfter several years in far flung space, Captain Cooper's desire to be reunited with his children is as intense as ever. In a world which seems treat the institution family as "an oppressive, patriarchal institution designed to suppress women", the strong family themes of Interstellar are almost counter-cultural. Not that they should be. But when countries like the U.S.A. and most of Western Europe campaigned against last week's UN Human Rights Council resolution, The Protection of the Family, which called for support of the family unit comprising of Dad, Mum and their kids, you have to wonder if the 'blight' of Interstellar might have been more accurately depicted as an orchestrated attack on the family unit? Eric Metaxas writes-
The resolution, approved by a vote of 27 to 14, urges member states to adopt laws and policies that support the family—yes, the family—definite article. It calls the family, "the natural environment for the growth and well-being of all its members and particularly children."
It goes on to insist that while governments have a place in protecting the human rights of all, "the family has primary responsibility for the nurturing and protection of children."
While our country was splashing rainbows on government buildings to celebrate our un-defining of marriage and family, the global community was reaffirming God's created definition. It's an important moment that shows why, in the long run, federal judges cannot change the truth.
Murphy CooperFrom the very beginning of human history some 60,000 years ago, our Creator established the human beings should flourish best in families (Genesis 2). The foundation of a family was also established by God when He provided Adam with a bride. Marriage, as designed by our Creator, is the foundation for human flourishing, the only legitimate context for sexual intimacy, the ideal for a family nucleus, and the profound analogy for the identity, nature, and character of God Himself. This is why marriage and family should not be trifled with. It is also why the Enemy knows that if our understanding of marriage and family can be perverted, our understanding of God, our identity, and right and wrong, will also be perverted. Despite the disproportionate mainstream media support in favour of those who seek to dismantle what family means and the stigmatising of those who defend what marriage and family actually is, the social research data continues to show that the vast majority of Australians believe that marriage is uniquely between a man and a woman, and that children always fair best when raised in a loving household by their married parents. This was yet again borne out by research conducted by Melbourne University of 17,000 people which showed that people who are married are far more likely to be happy - especially men.
Men get more of a kick if you like to their happiness from being married, and they also tend to be more satisfied with their partner than women do, which is not to say that women get nothing out of relationships, but certainly not as much as men it seems. Also, in terms of their health too; there's quite a significant health benefit it seems in marriage for men but not women.
But alarmingly for some the research also showed that the saddest people in our society are those who identify as Gay, Lesbian or Bisexual.
(Prof.) Roger Wilkins says the survey shows that people who identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual on average have poorer health and are less happy. "It's a very concerning finding because there's no reason to think that one's sexuality identity should have any implications directly for your health and wellbeing, and it does suggest that there are social forces at work here that are responsible for that." 
Household, Income, Labour, Dynamics, Survey (HILDA) Melbourne University, July 15th 2015
The response from the LGBTQ Lobby is the usual one: blame society's attitudes. Even those in the media once sympathetic to this 'explanation' now have to admit that despite the continual concessions made to the LGBTQ Lobby have not had the predicted outcomes of their proponents - in fact, there is growing evidence to show that it is making matters worse (physical health, mental health, psychological well-being, happiness levels, and suicide rates). Journalists like Paul Kelly have largely been sympathetic to this appeal from the LGBTQ that if they can get legislative endorsement for their lifestyles and relationships their overall health outcomes will readily improve. Yet as the social data disproving this theory keeps mounting (verifying that anything other than God's design for sexuality and family deprives people of their potential flourishing) journalists such as Paul Kelly are waking up to the fact that something else is actually going on. 
The omens are not good. As the years advance there has been ­virtually no debate about the real issues surrounding same-sex ­marriage. The campaign for change is strong and tactically brilliant based on the ideological slogan "marriage equality", one of the most effective slogans in many decades....Yet the majority media reaction to this situation — "let's get on with the change" — is ignorant and irresponsible. The real debate is probably just starting. It poses an unprecedented challenge for our law-makers. There has never been an issue like this, as the US ­Supreme Court decision made clear.
Paul Kelly, The Australian, July 11th 2015
Cooper distressedThe movie, Interstellar, also makes continual reference to Darwinian Evolution and how humanity has largely failed to adapt to the Darwinian model for human evolution. Family structures and irrational emotions of 'love', 'family bonds', 'guilt' need to give way to the more important goal of Darwinian Evolution. But time and again throughout the movie the characters are confronted with the reality of their world that does not comport to this view of human origins, identity, or destiny.
¶ Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.First Corinthians 13:8-10
Murphy and her Dad, Cooper, discuss howeven time cannot separate them or their love for each other.A final word about the Fifth Dimension to all the men. The happiness research referred to earlier showed that while men deeply appreciate being married, many women did not. It also showed that the longer a marriage lasted, the more likely this disparity grows. As followers and representatives of Christ, men need to pick up their game as husbands and fathers. It is a disgraceful thing for a man who claims to be a Christian to be sexually active before or outside of marriage. As a Roman Catholic priest once said, "Any man who sleep with his fiancĂ© before they are married is teaching her that being sexually intimate with a man you are not married to is perfectly OK!" This has dangerous and very detrimental effects later on in a marriage. I wonder how many men realise that Jesus gave the strongest possible warnings against formication (sex without marriage) in Matthew 15:19, which was later re-declared by His apostles in Acts 15:20, Romans 13:13; First Corinthians 6:18; 10:8; Galatians 5:19; and Colossians 3:5. This is not a trivial matter. Men who claim to follow Christ need to rise up and getting down on their knees and repenting. We men need to be strong guardians of our women and children. We need to treat our wives as people worthy of our our attention, devotion, and respect. We need to treat our children as gifts and treasures from God who deserve not to be the centre of our lives (otherwise they will be devilishly fooled into thinking that they are the centre of the Universe) but to be shown how to adore the One who is the Centre of the Universe. This is living in the Fifth Dimension. It is the Dimension where God dwells. It is the Dimension where love is the currency. It the Dimension where marriage is the foundation of human flourishing and children are the fruit of that flourishing. It is the Dimension that the Church operates in and we each dial into when we enter into our appointed places each Sunday when we assemble together. It is a realm, the Bible declares, where principalities and powers marvel at how the Church can display and be re-energised by the love of God (Eph. 3:10). This is why the Enemy does all he can to destroy in the minds of the watching world what marriage and family really is and why we all need to assemble together each Sunday for the ordinances of the Worship, the Word, and the Lord's Table. Welcome to the Fifth Dimension. Faith in God and the love He shows us and we share with each other ... it really is interstellar.

Ps. Andrew

Friday, 10 July 2015

Not Many Do This Well

There's something that we humans do regularly, but rarely do any of us do it well. And even though Jesus now shares our humanity, He never did it - yet remains the world's greatest authority on how to do it well. And in age where success is applauded, craved, prized, taught, and studied, this is one thing isn't - but we would do well to do well.
¶ "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers." Luke 22:31-32
Since we're all going to fail we may as well learn to do it well. Jesus knew that Peter would fail Him. But He gave Him instructions on how to do it well. And this is the key to failing well. It's not that Jesus wants anyone to fail. It's that when we do, we know what to do next rather than making our failure greater by adding to it. 
"For the righteous falls seven times and rises again,
but the wicked stumble in times of calamity."

Proverbs 24:16
When failure was introduced into the world it was immediately made worse when Adam and Eve attempted to hide from the God Who Sees All. Since then it seems that this reflex response to having our failings exposed is now ingrained in our DNA. Running, avoidance, withdrawal, sulking, pity-parties - call it what you will - it's all a form of hiding. Hiding from others when we fail only adds to our failure. Instead of running and hiding after failure, Jesus calls us to "turn" back. 'Turning back' can involve confession of our failure; repentance of our wrongdoing; restitutionof loss caused; and apologising for the injury caused
The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke. One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table at Jesus' side, so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So that disciple, leaning back against Jesus, said to him, "Lord, who is it?"John 13:22-25
Most of us fail poorly. We not only run, hide, or avoid, we also deny. Failing well cannot happen if we deny our failure. When Adam was found by God after he had failed, he used a variation of denial called blame. "It's not my fault!" Adam protested in defense of his failure, "It was the woman You gave me!" I used to think that Adam was blaming Eve. And he may have been. She was close, compliant, and somewhat complicit. People who don't fail well nearly always look for someone 'soft' nearby to blame. But upon closer examination of what Adam said to God, it seems that he did what many people still do: he blamed God - "the woman You gave me!" Have you ever met someone who is angry at God? Are you angry at God? 

Charles AtlasJesus told Peter that after he had failed, he was to turn and strengthen his brothers. Those who have failed have a painful advantage over those who haven't. Failure can actually be a catalyst for strength. Everyone's heard of the poor eleven year old boy who was so weak and skinny while playing at the beach that the local bully saw him as an easy target and kicked sand in his face. He wasn't able to defend himself or fight back and one day soon after while at the Brooklyn Zoo he noticed how strong the lions were. He realised that lions never went to a gym or lifted weights. All they had, he reasoned, was their own muscles which they could stretch and work against each other. He used these principles to develop his own muscles and vowed that no-one would ever kick sand in his face again. Other notable failings include Winston Churchill's disastrous contribution to the start of World War One, and the strength those failings helped to produce in Winston Churchill's contribution throughout World War Two. And the strength that the failed Apostle Peter, who had shamefuly denied Christ publicly three times, demonstrated on the Day of Pentecost. If you have failed well, you may have a reserve of strength that you didn't know you had that will enable you to face potential failure head-on and overcome it.

Failing well gives a person an authority to speak to others who are facing failure poorly. The young woman who failed and now looks everyday into the young eyes of the consequences of that failure. When she speaks to other younger girls about guarding their moral virtue, she has an authority to speak and a right to be heard.
¶ The steps of a man are established by the LORD, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the LORD upholds his hand.
Psalm 37:23-24
I fail. I don't always fail well. Sometimes (more times than I care to disclose) I fail poorly. When my failures hurt people or strain my relationships with others, I may not have necessarily failed poorly. But if I avoid attempting to repair this breach by not apologising or clarifying or explaining myself more clearly, then I have failed poorly. If I fail and then sulkily withdraw and allow my pride to prevent me from learning from my failure and trying again with these newly gained lessons, then I have failed very poorly. If I fail and look for someone to blame, then I have failed poorly. If I refuse to be strengthened from my failure, then I have failed poorly. I hope to encourage you to fail well. But it would be remiss of me if I failed to mention one more aspect about the art of failing.

We might call this final aspect of failing, false failing. This is where we think we have failed. Joseph may have thought he had failed when he shared his dreams with his envious brothers (Genesis 37). When he was thrown into the pit his feelings of failure may have been confirmed. When he was sold into slavery in Egypt his sense of having failed may have become a conviction. But as it eventually transpired, Joseph hadn't failed. Perhaps you can look back over your life and identify false failings? In one sense the Cross of Christ is the greatest example of a false failing. It appeared that Christ had failed when He was crucified - indeed, this is what His remaining disciples assumed. But this was false. And it highlights one of the greatest possibiities about how to fail well :  God redeems (makes good come from bad).
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.Romans 8:28
We all do it, so might as well do it well. If you have lost hope, confidence, or belief because you have failed, it's not too late to redeem your failures and do well. If you have stopped doing what you know you should be doing (feeding yourself spiritually through God's Word, praying your heart to God, repenting, maintaining fellowship with your church family). Your true Enemy wants you to fail poorly - after all, Jesus warned us that the Devil seeks to steal, kill and destroy you (John 10:10). But at the same time and in the same verse, Jesus declares a profound principle for failing well that involves turning to Him. Jesus can help you to fail well and God can redeem your failures with just one starting prayer of turning to God. Let's fail well.

Ps. Andrew

Wednesday, 1 July 2015



If you were in the upper room with Christ on the night He was about to be betrayed, what would you have been doing? What could you have been feeling? How should you have been thinking on that auspicious night? How we might answer these questions may be an indication of how we treat the sacred moments with Christ that we perhaps unknowingly participate in regularly.
"One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table at Jesus' side,"  
John 13:23
John, known as "the Beloved Disciple" had grown closest to Jesus. He, above all of the other disciples, had grown to recognise that Jesus was God in the flesh. All Twelve disciples were with Jesus in the upper room on the night Christ instituted the New Covenant meal. Initially they did not understand that this would be their last moments with Jesus before He was executed. Most of them had become distracted by two relatively infantile issues at this "last" dinner. 
¶ "A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest."
Luke 22:24
Jesus washing feet
These disciples had just spent at least three years following Jesus. They had heard Him speak like none other. They had witnessed Him perform the most extraordinary miracles. They had seen Him under the immeasurable pressure from critics and persecutors. They had seen the way He treated women and children with respect, dignity, and gentleness. They had marvelled at how the weather and its elements obeyed His command. They heard Peter declare under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that He was the Messiah. And they even heard from Christ's own lips that He was God in the flesh when He invoked the names and titles of God for Himself. How should one respond when sitting down at a table for a meal with such a person as this? It would include: awe, adoration, adulation, undivided attention, reverence, respect, devotion, service, worship. Although this is what they could have done, they were, instead, preoccupied with two incidental issues. The first one was the utterly irrelevant question of which of them was the greatest! (Lk. 22:24) The second question was nearly as irrelevant as the first when they wondered which of them was the worst.
The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke. One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table at Jesus' side, so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So that disciple, leaning back against Jesus, said to him, "Lord, who is it?" 
John 13:22-25

By this stage of their walk with Christ they should have grown besotted with Jesus and sat in awe of everything He said and did. They should have marvelled at His wisdom, stood astonished at His prophetic insight, gloried in His miraculous power, and felt their hearts swell at the acts of His compassion. This night, of all nights, should have been a night where they worshiped Him and perhaps unbeknown to them, strengthened His hand for the infinitely horrible task ahead. But I can't throw stones at them. As I reflect on this one night, I ponder that I get to meet with Christ in the midst of my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ each Sunday where I too should demonstrate what should be my increased besotted with Christ, and sit awe of everything He said and did, while marvelling at His wisdom, standing astonished at His prophetic insight, glorifying God for His miraculous power, feeling my heart swell with admiration for Him for how He loves and cares for people the world writes-off, as I worship Him. But all too often I don't. Shame on me. I could do something about it - I should do something about it.

How we display our devotion to Christ says as much about Jesus as it does our level of devotion. A few years ago I was blessed in a way that I am rarely blessed when I heard that one of the young teen ladies in our church, Brooke Hill, told her girlfriends that she could not participate in a sleep-over on Saturday night, because it would mean that she could not give God her best on Sunday morning in church if she was tired (as she undoubtedly would be). We should all seek to give God our best energy, our best time, our best talents, our best treasure, our best devotion. Yet sometimes, when we're primed for distraction by our Enemy we miss out on the wonderful ecstasy of fulfilling our deepest longing (to worship our Creator) because we choose to worship (have attention drawn to) that which puerilely distracts us, such as the sound not being mixed to our preference or the service time running a few minutes longer than we allow. When such Satanic schemes are successful we should surrender afresh to our God and repent.

Family Dinner Table
Jesus chose a meal to pour out the most intimate things of His heart. Many people still do. Christ reminds us that meals are not so much about eating and tables are not so much about settings as meals are about conversation and tables become consecrated altars of confession, forgiveness, and healing. More families today should eat at their family dinner table without the distractions of screens and allow each family member an opportunity to talk and be heard. As a pastor, it is my hope, goal, and desire that each Sunday we might gather together as a church-family and the consecrated table of the Lord and together enjoy a meal with Him. It is my intention that we each leave this Spiritual Dining Room not only well fed but also in the knowledge that we have both been heard and heard. We would increase the depth and frequency of this happening if we could approach our time together on Sundays as if we were going to meet with Christ. We should approach our time together to meet Christ in a posture of awe, reverence, respect, adoration and undivided attention.
¶ Oh come, let us sing to the LORD;
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
For the LORD is a great God,
and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth;
the heights of the mountains are his also.
The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land.
¶ Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!"

Psalm 95:1-6
How we would regard Jesus and approach Him depends on whether we have truly seen Him and come to know who He really is. How we could regard and approach Jesus depends upon the extent to which we are distracted by things that in comparison don't matter. How we should approach and regard Jesus both privately, publicly, and collectively is with awe, deep reverence, humility, adoration, surrender and worship. And perhaps we should regard our dinner tables as the altars upon which it happens.

Ps. Andrew