Friday, 29 September 2017

What Noah Webster Did Not Know!

Do you want to get more done? Would you like to achieve more in your day? Would you like to finish each day with a deep sense of fulfilment for your day’s efforts? I would! If you do as well, then we will both have to face one of the biggest challenges many of us will ever face. This challenge is often difficult to confront because it is so cleverly disguised. The biggest challenge that many of us will face (and embarrassingly, I speak from personal experience and five decades of observation) is how we can confront and overcome this. One of the reasons this is so difficult to deal with is due to its tricky use of disguises. It more often than not disguises itself as busyness. I am referring to laziness.
And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.
Matthew 5:41
Some of the busiest people I know are also the laziest. Laziness is often confused with idleness. Of course, it can be. But from my perspective, this is its rarest form. The laziness I am blighted with masquerades itself as highly active busyness. And although this will probably upset my fellow lazyites, one of the reasons we lazyites are so prone to laziness is that we rarely do nothing. Naturally, this revelation will confuse those outsiders who presume that laziness always means doing nothing. This is why some of the laziest people I’ve ever known have also been some of the busiest.
¶ Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time.
Colossians 4:5
Dictionaries are wonderful for learning how to spell words, but they are not always similarly helpful for defining words. Websters’ Dictionary defines “lazy” as:  
unwilling to work or use energy; characterized by lack of effort or activity.
Noah Webster mastered 26 ancient languages before writing his famous American-English dictionary
Noah Webster mastered 26 ancient languages before writing his famous American-English dictionary
But (and maybe it was because Noah Webster was one of the hardest working and most diligent men who have ever lived) his definition of lazy only encompassed the above definition. If Dr. Noah Webster had ever met me, he would have had to add to his definition the following:
Laziness is not doing what should be done. 
I have found that when I have to do something that I don’t want to do, I yield too easily to the temptation to doing those things that really could wait but make me look too busy to do the very thing I should have been doing. 
This is why the most effective people are often those who have come to know they are extremely susceptible to laziness and have come to resist the temptation to regard busyness as an excuse for it. Thus, diligence is acting on a commitment to do what should be done – even when we don’t want to do it or even feel like doing it. And here’s the good news for people like me, and all my fellow lazyites- 
for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
Philippians 2:13
Sometimes I’m afraid to do what I should do. Sometimes I feel inadequate to do what I should do. Sometimes I don’t like to admit that I don’t know how to do what I should do. But as I behold Christ I see the answer (2Cor. 3:18). Jesus calls me to take up my cross and follow Him (Matt. 16:24). He calls me to do what I should do and promises to give me the strength and assistance to do it (1Peter 4:10-11). As I have prayed for God’s help in these moments of facing up to the should, I have noticed that God’s answer to my cry for help is to send people whom He has gifted and anointed to fill my lack – just as He uses me to fill up their lack in different ways.
You should commit to the House of God every Sunday. Don’t let busyness tell you otherwise. You should commit to loving those God places in your life. Don’t let busyness keep you from spending time with those you love. You should strive to grow as a follower of Christ by deepening your understanding of God’s Word, enriching your prayer time, and strengthening your fellowship with your brothers and sisters in Christ. You shouldn’t rush off all the time. 
For all Noah Webster’s brilliance and his unparalleled command of language, I’m both amazed and not surprised that he didn’t really have a good understanding of just how cunning laziness can be. But fortunately for me and lazyite comrades, Jesus Christ most certainly does understand it and offers the power to overcome it. In fact, His entire mission is dependent upon it.   

Pastor Andrew

Friday, 22 September 2017



 BibleA ‘hard’ Scripture is a Biblical imperative that seems impossibly outdated, belonging to a by-gone and less-sophisticated era. These are the Scriptures which regulate gender roles, fashion, sexual expression, and respect for authority. 
After explaining the Gospel, the Apostle Paul begins its application in Romans 12. 
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Romans 12:1-3
BibleThe Scriptures present the believer with a culture. We might call this, the Kingdom Culture. It is grounded in the teaching of Christ. It governs how we spend our time, use our money, apply our abilities, contribute, and relate to others. It directs us to live as a community of believers where we are taught, led, guarded, and cared for – and even commands us not to neglect this regular time together. It warns us not to be conformed into the thinking or ways of the world. And while I’m proud of our local church for how much we have improved in these Kingdom principles, I’m afraid that the big picture reveals we might be losing ground. 
..our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.
Second 3:15b-16
Disney_promoting_LGBT_to_preschoolersThe pressure from the world to conform to its godless standards is relentless. They target the lambs of the Kingdom first. Sometimes those who should be well-grounded in God’s Word and mature in Christ are only so by appearances. Those who succumb to this subtle pressure usually begin their compromising with the world by relegating the Scriptures down the list of their daily priorities. This becomes especially obvious when a Christian makes claims about what the Bible says – which even a novice Bible reader would know is not right. The Apostle Peter described this happening in his day and described it happening by people who were “ignorant and unstable” who were ‘twisting‘ the Scriptures ‘to their own destruction‘. I wonder what he would say today if he heard that some Christian ministers are advocating for what God expressly forbad? I wonder what he would say if he heard some Christians argue that Christ’s commands were only ever intended for Christians and do not apply to non-Christians?
For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,
Second Timothy 4:3


LGBT_militantsThe Bible is not an alternate view of reality, rather, it is a clear view of it. It reveals the hard truth about the human condition: that we are rebellious toward our Maker and treacherously self-deifing. This makes our fascination with God quite tense. On the one hand, we each want to know the answers to the great mysteries of life (How did the universe begin? How did we get here? Who am I? What is God like? What happens to me after I die?), while simultaneously objecting to any notion that God can demand our exclusive worship and thereby our utter obedience.
And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.
John 3:19
The Scriptures which will increasing seem ‘hard’ for those believers who have not embraced the culture of Christ’s Kingdom pertain to sexual conduct, gender roles, authority, and the role of the church. 
The culture of the world is that sexual conduct is a recreational activity. Any resultant unwanted pregnancies should be medically terminated. Any moral boundaries attributed to sexual conduct are purely artificially constructed by a prudish society.
bride-weddingThe culture of the Kingdom upholds marriage between a man and a woman as the only legitimate basis for sexual intimacy. God designed for the maximum sexual fulfilment for anyone to only be found in a loving, covenant of exclusive union with someone of the opposite sex. Sexual activity without this exclusive covenant is identified as fornication, and sexual activity beyond marriage is identified as adultery.
Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.
Hebrews 13:4
The culture of the world is that gender roles are not actually assigned and that biology plays no role in a person’s gender. In recent times, attempts have been made to invent novel gender identities along the lines of sexual attraction. This has led to the notion of ‘gender fluidity’ where a person’s perception of their gender (not restricted to either male or female) becomes the standard for how they are to be gender identified.
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Couple-ReconcileThe culture of Christ’s Kingdom maintains that men and women are equal in worth, value, and divine access, but distinct in their roles. Men and women are different. They are at least physically (biologically) different. Men are called, and enabled by God, to assume certain roles within society, and especially their family, of protector, provider, and pastor. While many women often show greater competence than many men in these and other areas, women are generally called and enabled by God to nurture, support and administer. 
¶ Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.
First Peter 3:7

The culture of the world is that any authority a person has is bestowed upon them by society. This authority is often bestowed on the basis of popularity rather than competence. Therefore it is often legitimate, according to the culture of the world, to be cynical toward those in authority and show them very little respect.
The culture of the Kingdom is that God appoints people to authority and their position should be respected. The introduction to divinely appointed authority is the home. In Kingdom culture, authority is not about power as it is about responsibility. God has ordained parents, pastors, politicians, and police. This is why it is doubly egregious when someone in such a position betrays the trust shown in them by those they are responsible for. 
¶ Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.
Hebrews 13:17

Being-a-Safe-Church23The culture of the world regards the church as irrelevant. Its views are inadmissible in the public square due to the principle of ‘separation of church and state’. While it may do some good in providing some social welfare administration, it generally financially extorts people, and often preys upon the vulnerable.
The culture of the Kingdom is that Church is called by God to be the salt and light (Matt. 5:13-14) of society as well the pillar and ground of truth for society (1Tim. 3:15). The Church is called by God to be a prophetic voice to the world (Matt. 28:18-19). It is designed by Christ to reveal His glory to the world. As such, all believers are called to make the weekly assembling together as the church for worship and attention to God’s Word, their highest priority (Heb. 10:24-25).
¶ Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Ephesians 3:20-21


Bible-Read_MeIf you want to live in the Kingdom of Christ, then start by adopting its culture. This can only be done as you become familiar with God’s Word. Read it daily to be spiritually renewed. Study it regularly to better behold Christ, its Author (2Cor. 3:18). Worship God with it in the midst of your assembled local church by paying heed to the preached Word. Teach it to others to promote it. Take courses from qualified Bible teachers to enrich your understanding of it. And seek God prayerfully for the power to live it out. By doing this, you will be softening your heart and discovering that rather than the Scriptures being ‘hard’, they are in fact the gentle instrument of your strengthening in the midst of a world that strives to weary us of God and His ways.

Pastor Andrew.

Friday, 15 September 2017

The Uncomfortable Christ


Jesus is still the most attractive man who has ever walked our planet. He is still, by a long way, the most Googled person on the internet. More books have been written about Him than any other person, and those who have followed Him, including the Apostle Paul, Augustine, and Martin Luther, have only achieved universal and time-less fame ranking books about them in the top most read biographies, because they followed Him and ended up bearing His resemblance.

¶ Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.
John 21:25

Jesus-artist-impressionIn His days on earth, He was the object of fascination by ordinary folk, military commanders, religious leaders, and royalty. Thousands of people flocked to hear Him. Women and children longed to be with Him and were usually granted unusual access to Him. Despite Him being on the gravest mission of all time, He took time to play with children and publicly sit with women.

¶ Then children were brought to Him that He might lay His hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”
Matthew 19:13-14

But Jesus also had some people who didn't like Him! Mostly, these were people who were threatened by them because He condemned their abuse of others. 

¶ Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.”
John 11:45-50

 At one stage, Jesus declared these religious hypocrites to be "whitewashed walls" (broken down walls rendered over to hide their true condition). 

¶ “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness.
Matthew 23:27

Little wonder these people didn't like Jesus! He exposed them and called them to repent. Ultimately, these people whom Jesus condemned would conspire to have Him executed. Despite knowing this (Mark 8:31), Jesus continued fearlessly to declare the truth. Perhaps this is one of the most admirable traits about Christ: He feared no-one. Of those who were closest to Him, His disciples, He continually shocked them with how high His standards were. 

You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Matthew 5:48

We read in the Gospels that Jesus was just like a caring doctor who had the best interests of his patients at heart. Rather than telling them what they wanted to hear, He always told them what they needed to hear, when they could hear it. The same is true today. As you come closer to Christ, the more uncomfortable you will feel. As a patient comes into the surgeon's rooms to be told their test results, there is great apprehension. The surgeon could lie to them because he fears that they would be distressed by the truth of their actual condition. But a caring surgeon who wants to see his patient healed will always tell his patient the truth. Being confronted by the truth is often uncomfortable. Christ uses His Word, His servants, and even His world to minister His truth to us - and it can be quite uncomfortable to be confronted with our true condition. Those who claim that Jesus never confronts and challenges those He loves to repent and forsake sin are promoting nonsense and a false Jesus. Those who have come to know Jesus and accepted His correction have found that they are beneficiaries. And to their delight, each one has found that Christ not only beckons us to come, He gives us the power to do so.  

for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
Philippians 2:13

Pastor Andrew.

Friday, 8 September 2017



¶ Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant
First Corinthians 13:4
The God we worship can be described with many adjectives such as, holy, beautiful, glorious, and loving. Perhaps one of the least celebrated attributes of God is that He is kind.
The LORD is righteous in all His ways
 and kind in all His works.
Psalm 145:17


Legana Southern Gospel ChoirAs we worship God and we “behold” His attributes, we are conformed closer to them. When a believer worships the God of the Bible (who is loving, faithful, generous, gracious, holy, and kind) they will increasingly develop these characteristics in their life. The same principle of worship applies to those who have a wrong God or wrong view of God. Those who see God as a War-Mongering Sheik, they will tend to display the fruit of terror toward others. For those who are beholding the God of the Bible, the fruit in their lives will be that their character is transformed into being more merciful, loving, patient, caring, tender-hearted, and kind.
And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord,are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
Second Corinthians 3:18


Being ‘kind’ is being friendlygenerous, and considerate. Kindness may be shown when there is an expectation that the kindness may be returned. This might happen when a work colleague gives another colleague a lift to work without seeking any payment, except the possibility that the favour may one day be returned. There is another kind of kindness which is more concerned with how others see it. A husband, who rarely (if ever), opens a door for his wife when no-one is looking, but shows door-opening kindness toward his wife when he takes her to a work dinner. And there is a rarer, Christ-inspired, kindness which is very generous, very costly, and given without any expectation of it being returned or viewed. 
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Galatians 5:22-23
Kindness is a preeminent trait of the Christ follower. There was once a husband and father who was also a soldier. He was sent to war which meant being away from his wife and children. During his time away, he wrote regularly to his family. As the conflict went on, the letters slowed, then stopped. Obviously concerned, his wife hoped and prayed that her husband was safe. Then the tragic letter arrived. It was from her husband. He told his wife that he would not be returning to her and the children because he had met and fallen in love with a local girl who had given birth to their son. His wife was devastated. She cried and cried out to God for answers. The years went by and life was a struggle for her and her children. Then, to her surprise, she receive a letter with a request from her ex-husband by mail. In that letter he told her that he had been diagnosed with cancer and only had a short time left to live. This would mean that his new wife and child would have no means of support. He was arranging for them to migrate to live as citizens in the country where his ex-wife was. His request? He asked his former wife if she would take them in and look after them. At first, his ex-wife was staggered at the request but after prayer she felt that despite her own meagre situation she should show kindness to this woman and her child. When they arrived, she welcomed them into their home and for the next few years gave them free board and lodgings. This was kind of that man’s first wife.  


But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.
First Peter 4:13-14
The early Christians were noted for their kindness. One First Century Roman historian wrote about these odd Christians loving each other and those who were ordinarily despised. Historian Prof. Rodney Stark has stated –
“…what Christians did was take care of each other. Christians loved one another, and when they got sick they took care of each other. Someone brought you soup. You can do an enormous amount to relieve those miseries if you look after each other…
Abortion was a huge killer of women in this period, but Christian women were spared that…We’ve unearthed sewers clogged with the bones of newborn girls. But Christians prohibited this…Christian women also had “tremendous advantages compared to the women next door,” he said, adding that non-Christian girls could be married as young as 11, but Christian girls could wait until the age of 18.”
(Interview with Christianity Today, 2000)
“To cities filled with homeless and the impoverished, Christianity offered charity as well as hope. To cities filled with newcomers and strangers, Christianity offered an immediate basis for attachments. To cities filled with orphans and widows, Christianity provided a new and expanded sense of family. To cities torn by violent ethnic strife, Christianity offered a new basis for social solidarity. And to cities faced with epidemics, fires and earthquakes, Christianity offered effective nursing services.”
 Rodney Stark, The Rise of Christianity: How the Obscure, Marginal, Jesus Movement Became the Dominant Religious Force
To worship Christ is to increasingly become kind toward others. We could do it because we may have the kindness returned. We could do it because our kindness is on display. But we should do it because we worship a kind Saviour who when He was mistreated did not return the mistreatment, but instead, showed kindness. I suspect that in the days to come this aspect of our devotion to Christ may well be put to the test.
Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.
First Peter 3:9
Ps. Andrew