Friday, 27 April 2018



crowd-with-umbrella-with-1-unique-colorOdd people are the ones who follow Christ. ‘Odd’ in this sense means, strange, differentuncommonabnormal. If you weren’t already odd when you became a Christian, you have certainly become odd since following Him! But there was a time when being a Christian wasn’t that odd. People used to refer to their first name as their Christian name because this was the name given to them at their christening. Biblical expressions like, ‘turn the cheek’, ‘go the extra-mile’, ‘seek and you will find’, were part of everyday conversations, not just Sunday conversations. When a man and a woman co-habited without getting married, they acknowledged, in common parlance, that they were ‘living in sin’. Associated with this was that nearly all weddings, even of non-church goers, happened inside a church, because it was understood that marriage necessarily involved standing before God and seeking His blessing. But in the last few years, Christians have become increasingly faced with the choice to either ‘shut-up and go with the flow’, or become increasingly odd
¶ But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
First Peter 2:9
Christianity had a very odd beginning. It was birthed at a time when the prevailing world power, the Romans, ruled the known world with an iron-fist. The law of the land, with some minor exceptions, was that all people had to worship Caesar and the Roman gods. Christians refused to do this. They were odd. The Roman world prized might and power. Christians prized meekness and serving others. They were odd. Romans treated women like second-class citizens – certainly not on an equal footing with men. Christians regarded women as worthy of respect and dignity and men as bearing the greater responsibility to protect them. They were odd. Romans gathered together for celebrations of debauchery and indecency. Christians gathered together for a celebration of their love for the Christ. 
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
John 13:34-35
 I think we must be odd! I am not primarily describing us – I am challenging us! We must become odder 
“Too many of our churches function as secular entertainment centers with religious morals slapped on top, when they should be functioning as the living, breathing Body of Christ. Too many churches have succumbed to modernity, rejecting the wisdom of past ages, treating worship as a consumer activity, and allowing parishioners to function as unaccountable, atomized (disconnected particles) members. The sad truth is, when the world sees us, it often fails to see anything different from nonbelievers.”
Rod Dreher, THE BENEDICT OPTION, 2017, Sentinel Publishers (Penguin Random House), New York, page 102
stand-out-from-the-crowd3I sometimes hear Christians refer to the ‘real world’ as if they are describing a reality outside of the one that Christ has gifted us, His Church, to see and be. But how many of us realise that living as a Christian in the community of a church is the real world? We present a grand vision of reality to a world who thinks we are quite odd. Our vision is one of the enthroned Christ as the One who laughs at the schemes of the silly people who think they could de-throne The Seated One with their silly redefinitions! All the while, these silly people continue to ache and hurt, and blame The Lamb for their pain. The very thing they need for their healing – a loving community of brothers and sisters who are bound by love for Christ and His healing Word – is the very thing they think they have to despise and destroy. How odd.
“Christians often talk about ‘reaching the culture’ without realizing that, having no distinct Christian culture of their own, they have been co-opted by the secular culture they wish to evangelize. Without a substantial Christian culture, it’s no wonder that our children are forgetting what it means to be Christian, and no surprise that we are not bringing in new converts.”
Rod Dreher, THE BENEDICT OPTION, 2017, Sentinel Publishers (Penguin Random House), New York, page 102
Umbrella-in-the-crowd2We should be an odd church. We can be a church that is different to how people are normally treated. We can be a church where our critics enter and something odd happens to them. We can be a refuge from a world where people hurt and ache. Not only do we not want to be like the world, those who have come out of the world do not want us to be like the world either!
I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.
John 17:15

As we prepare for our Month of Care, consider how you might show an odd act of kindness for a brother or sister in Christ. A cup of coffee. A chat. An evening meal. A breakfast. A lunch. These are things of oddness that make a church community so unusual, so different, so strange, so odd. 
¶ Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Hebrews 13:1-5

Your odd Pastor,

Saturday, 21 April 2018



The Boathouse Launceston Flood memorialIn a matter of weeks Kim and I will celebrate another wedding anniversary. But this will not just be another another wedding anniversary for us. This one will be special. After months of contemplating our options, this morning we bought each other our mementos to be exchanged in mid-June. These mementos are precious. Like all things precious such as these mementos and our upcoming anniversary, they take a long time to prepare. That long time is needed in order to make the regular investments of time and effort. Our mementos have each had dozens of people in their chains of custody including miners, drivers, dealers, buyers, jewellers, sales people. So has our marriage. Our parents, our families, our friends, our pastors, our teachers, our mentors, our children, have all made an investment in our marriage - most without even realising it. All precious things require patience. But patience alone can not make anything precious, including who you are.

  then the Almighty will be your gold
and your precious silver.
 For then you will delight yourself in the Almighty
and lift up your face to God.
Job 22:25-26

The flood levee in LauncestonPATIENCE

¶ Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord.
See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth,
being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains.
James 5:7

I ponder these things today as I consider the momento I will give Kim. It is a precious momento apt for a precious occasion. Its components, according to Wikipedia, took tens of millions of years to form. That's patience. There are some things in life that can only be attained or achieved by being patient. Patience is one of the hallmarks of the Spirit-filled life.

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

Patience is sometimes God's means of making us into who He has called us to be. Patience is always God's test of who we will trust and whether He can entrust us. Patience is a necessary step in the process of something being made precious

so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
First Peter 1:7

I have had a keen interest in the progress of someone whom I felt from the earliest days showed remarkable potential at virtually anything they put their hand to. They seemed to be gifted academically, on the sporting field, with music, and a few other interests they developed. However, as I observed them, I noticed a pattern emerge in their life. They always seemed to be in a hurry. Perhaps it was due to their natural giftedness that they felt that they didn't need to study/train/practice like everyone else. Such patient preparation seemed to them as if it was a waste of time. As they aged I noticed that their impatience and reluctance to do what boxers call their "work in the dark" (all of the early morning distance running and before dawn gym work) left them behind in the areas in which they once excelled. That was when that dreadful character flaw of excuse-making/blaming-others became so virulent within them. To this day, although they love God and are faithful in their church, they are still blighted - and dare I say - their soul has been retarded, because they are so impatient and so upset with everyone and quick to blame someone else for their failings. They have gone from job to job never being able to get along with their boss. Hopefully one day they will learn that being still is markedly different from doing nothing.

to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, He will give eternal life;
Romans 2:7

But patience alone will never transform the ordinary into the extraordinarily precious. People say, "Time heals all wounds." But it doesn't. It needs something else.  


The Apostle Peter stated that our relationship with God, which he called our faith, was more precious than gold - but that this precious faith would be made so by the fire of testing. The process of making something or someone precious requires patience and intense heat

so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
First Peter 1:7

the-refiner-of silverHeat is used in metallurgy to refine a metal such as gold or silver. As the metal becomes molten and is then poured into a casting, the impurities (dross) are drawn to the surface. While the precious metal is still in its molten state this dross is scraped off. The prophet Malachi, writing at the time when the prophets declaration of Israel being restored to their land was fulfilled after their return from the Exile, stated that God wanted to further refine His people as a silversmith refines silver.

He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the LORD. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD as in the days of old and as in former years.
Malachi 3:3-4

Silver refining is tedious. Unlike gold, if the silver is exposed to too much heat for too long it can turn to a gas. The silver refiner must patiently heat the precious metal, then patiently wait for the dross to surface. As he removes the dross this process is repeated until all the dross has been removed. The refiner must continually bring the molten silver out of the furnace and look straight into it during this process. Only when their own face is perfectly reflected back to them has the process been completed. In a similar way, God puts those He wants to transform into the heat or refining. His eye is ever on them during this process and He always removes them before it harms them. And with each stage of His refining in their life, His likeness is becoming clearer to all.

And I will put this third into the fire,
and refine them as one refines silver,
and test them as gold is tested.
They will call upon my name,
and I will answer them.
I will say, ‘They are my people’;
and they will say, ‘The LORD is my God.’”
Zechariah 13:9

Patience and heat are essential for the process of precious-making. But there is one more ingredient or step in the process which must be fused along with them.


A beautiful sparkling diamond on a light reflective surface. 3d image. Isolated white background.More precious than the most precious metal, are diamonds. These highly prized jewels are among the hardest substances known to man. When cut by a skilled jeweller diamonds can display the spectrum of light's colours. A diamond was once a piece of organic matter (carbon) that over several million years of heat and great pressure (from being buried way beneath the earth's crust) was eventually transformed into coal which several tens of millions of years later after more heat and pressure, was then spewed out in various volcanic explosions having been transformed into diamonds, to await the day when a miner would unearth them, a jeweller would beautify them, and a radiant bride would wear it as a momento to her thirtieth wedding anniversary

This process of taking a piece of carbon and putting it through a long process of enormous heat and pressure is a metaphor for how God transforms an ordinary lost soul into a precious child of God whom He adopts and grants full and equal inheritance rights to. When the one who has trusted God through this transformation process finally breathes their last, He calls their transition into their real home - precious.  

¶ Precious in the sight of the LORDis the death of his saints.
Psalm 116:15


Gold and silver are repeatedly refined in order to be purified and made precious. Diamonds are the result of millions of years of pressure, and heat. They are then sought after. When found, they are not yet what they will be. A Master Jeweller takes them, cuts them, and then features them within clasps of gold. The precious jewel and the precious metal form a lifelong partnership. The seller then presents them in a showcase with appropriate spotlights directed at them. Then the day arrives when the one destined to take up the precious metal and jewel combination walks into the showroom and is connected with their memento.

God is the orchestrator of a like process when it comes to making His children precious. The next time you feel that things aren't happening quick enough for you, or that life is really hard at the moment, or that you're under a lot of pressure, or that you're copping a lot of heat, or that it feels like there are parts of your life being cut away, or that spotlight is being turned on you - remember that this is probably God's precious process at work in your life.

Since you are precious and special in my sight,
  and I love you,
I will hand over people in place of you,
  nations in place of your life.
Isaiah 43:4 NET

Pastor Andrew

Monday, 9 April 2018


Part 1

overwhelmed03It’s a horrible feeling to feel out of control. There are many things in life in which we each get a say and can directly effect the outcome. But there are just as many things – and for those who feel as if they have lost all control – even more things, in which we have no say, get no vote, and can do nothing to change the outcome. It is in these times that a person feels overwhelmed. To use an aviation analogy, it’s like flying at night in overcast and foggy conditions when you have little idea where you are or what’s in front of you. This sense of feeling overwhelmed is a burden too great for some. It clouds a person’s judgment. It robs a person of confidence. Yet some people have learned the secret to overcoming the sense of being overwhelmed. After watching some of them closely, this is what I’ve noticed.
¶ Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.
First Peter 5:6-7


The shock that comes from losing someone close can be debilitating. Therapists generally talk about the six stages of grief that every human experiences at varying rates and degrees. When it comes to grief there is no ‘one size fits all’, yet we will all pass through these six stages. The early stages of grief include shock, denial, anger, depression. Grief doesn’t come with a schedule but does come with a sequence. For some the initial stages of grief linger for years and years. This is especially so when there is no warning – such as a road fatality, or cold-blooded criminality. It is most especially so when it is suicide (which therapists describe as ‘complicated grief’). Such tragedies cause grievers to suffer trauma which is where the grief keeps the memory of the tragedy at the forefront of the griever’s mind. For those of us who have never suffered this kind of trauma it can be difficult to understand why a traumatised griever doesn’t just “move on”.  
¶ Then David took hold of his clothes and tore them, and so did all the men who were with him. And they mourned and wept and fasted until evening for Saul and for Jonathan his son and for the people of the LORD and for the house of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword.
Second Samuel 1:11-12
It takes those traumatised by grief longer to process their grief. The final stages of any grief includes acceptance of reality and appropriate compassion for others. Because trauma distorts reality, it is often very difficult for a sufferer to process their grief through to grief’s final stages without some assistance. This kind of overwhelming grief can generally only be overcome by the griever teaching their heart to ‘file past memories’. Trauma keeps a tragic memory fresh. Trauma constantly battles reality with shock and denial. This is why writing the sequence of events with as much expression as possible is so therapeutic because retrains the mind to take the memory of the tragedy and file it away in the appropriate collection of memories as a past event that really occurred. Skilled counsellors can guide a traumatised griever through this process so that they are no longer overwhelmed by the memory of the tragedy and all of the associated feelings of guilt (one of the stages of grief). In this healthy grieving process, ‘moving on’ looks like living with a degree of sorrow for what has happened and has now been lost, and, being able to feel empathy and sympathy for others who may also begin to grieve without it causing the recovered griever to retreat from these grieving people. ‘Moving on’ does not mean forgetting or never feeling sad about the loss. 


The other night I was watching one of late-night investigative crime-reporting shows produced by Vanity Fair where they featured an extremely intelligent young lady, Sandra Boss, who was a corporate lawyer earning nearly two million dollars a year, fell victim to a con-artist. At a dinner party held by friends she met a charming man named Clarke Rockefeller, who shared that he was a member of the Rockefeller dynasty. She fell in love with him and they married and eventually had a daughter. Their marriage turned sour and this led to an awkward custody arrangement with Clarke, who was identified in court as Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter. After kidnapping his daughter and being tracked down by Police, ‘Clarke’ was identified as the chief suspect in a double homicide which had happened several years earlier. 
“There is a difference between intellectual intelligence and emotional intelligence,” Boss said in a firm voice, as the lawyer for the man authorities say is really Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter asked how such an accomplished woman could have been fooled.
“I’m not saying I made a very good choice of husband,” Boss said. “It’s pretty obvious that I had a blind spot. All I’m saying is that it’s possible that one can be brilliant and amazing in one area of one’s life and pretty stupid in another.”
THE BOSTON GLOBE, June 3rd 2009
Consider Ms. Boss’s words, “It’s possible that one can be brilliant and amazing in one area of one’s life and pretty stupid in another.” 
She said she believed his claim that he was a Rockefeller and was involved in the Trilateral Commission, or “the Group,” as he called it. The commission is a private organization whose aim is to generate closer cooperation between the United States, Europe, and Japan.
And Boss accepted numerous other fantastic stories, including that his mother was a former child movie star and that he was mute as a child, regaining his speech only after spotting a dog and blurting out his first word in seven years: “woofness.”
Being highly intelligent in one area of life can make a person feel all the more overwhelmed when it comes to navigating relationships. “There is a difference between intellectual intelligence and emotional intelligence”, Sandra Boss admitted. This shouldn’t be surprising. Professionals work tirelessly to pass increasingly difficult exams over five or more years. They then often have to work as interns for another year or two where they are supervised and scrutinised while being subjected to criticism and humiliation. Yet, when it comes to relationships, even the brightest and most professional people do little to nothing to develop their emotional skills needed to get along with others. This is why a lawyer can be an amazing lawyer but a terrible boss, or a doctor can have an amazing bedside manner but be riddled by isolation and loneliness.
Hannah was speaking in her heart; only her lips moved, and her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli took her to be a drunken woman.
First Samuel 1:13
compassionate-hands2Learning how to emotionally connect with another requires developing the three levels of listening. It is governed by the goal of understanding before being understood. When someone feels that another person understands them, they are involuntarily drawn closer to that person. This is achieved by learning to practice reactive listening where the listener reacts in such a way that they disarm and invite the one they are listening to speak freely. It is complemented by active listening which combines empathy with clarification questions. It is completed with responsive listening where the listener demonstrates that they have heard what has been told to them or asked of them. This also requires the skill of learning that when someone shares their heart, they are not merely sharing facts. They are sharing how they feel using words that are interpretted as wooden-literal facts by those trained to pass exams involving precise language.

Thursday, 5 April 2018

The Secret To Handling Overwhelming Burdens, Part 2

Part 2

Pilots are trained to be able to fly at night in thick cloud over mountainous terrains. If they ignore their training and become overwhelmed they run the risk of losing their bearings and their life. But if they can remain composed and rely on their training, they will trust their cock-pit instruments and be able to navigate their plane through these treacherous conditions. Despite their lack of visibility, their instruments will tell them their altitude, their location, their attitude, their speed, and other vital information. This is great metaphor for managing what would ordinarily be an overwhelming situation in life where God's Word acts as our flight instruments.

Flying in such conditions often leads to a pilot having to fly counter-intuitively. If you've ever watched an episode of Air Flight Investigation, you will seen instances of where a pilot thought their instruments were broken because their senses were deceiving them. When we are prone to being overwhelmed, our senses often tell us to flee. But if we would trust our instruments, as revealed in Scripture, we might avoid making matters worse and thereby lessen our annoying pattern of always being overwhelmed whenever this trigger appears.

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
Second Timothy 1:6-7

“Take My yoke upon you!” summoned the Christ. Perhaps in the First Century A.D. this sounded appealing. But in the 21st Century A.D. the last thing many of us want is not another weight on our shoulders! We are each at times weighed down by the complexities of our modern fast-paced, highly demanding, relationship straining, lonely, debt-festering, burdens. We get tired. We feel unwell. We fail to meet our own expectations let alone those of others. These multiple burdens can genuinely feel overwhelming. But there is a secret way to navigate these overwhelming demands and it’s easier to do than you might think.
Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.”
Matthew 11:29-30

When I feel overwhelmed and I sleep too little, exercise too minimally, fret too much, I employ the secret. Rather than adding to my intolerable burdens, Christ’s yoke is not in addition to what is weighing upon my mind and draining my strength. No, it is instead of. For when I heed Christ’s summons to be yoked to Him, He takes the weight of my burdens from off my shoulders, puts them on His own, and replaces them with yoke designed to be worn by two beasts of burden. It’s not a fair deal though. God’s grace is never fair. Typical of how the ancient Orientals introduced a novice oxen to the task of jointly pulling a plow, when I am yoked to Christ I am yoked to the One who does the bulk of the heavy lifting. Christ unfairly takes my share of the yoke’s burden upon His own shoulders. It reminds me of the story of the toddler who wanted shoot baskets with his uncle the basketballer. There was no way the visiting nephew could even get the ball the nine feet in the air required to shoot a basket. To avoid the disappointment, his uncle lifted him and the ball up above his shoulders where all the wee one had to do was drop the ball into the hoop. He went up and the ball went down through the hoop. “I did it!” he exclaimed, “I did it – all by myself! I did it!” And his uncle just smiled and celebrated with him. Christ has been like an uncle to me many times and I have been like a self-absorbed wee one to Him too many times. But He still bears my burdens.
O Lord my God, when I, in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds Thy hand hath made
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder
Thy pow’are throughout the universe displayed
And when I think that God, His Son not sparing
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in
That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing
He bled and died to take away my sin
When Christ shall come, with shouts of acclamation
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart
Then I shall bow in humble adoration
And there proclaim, “My God, how great You are!”
How Great Thou Art,  Stuart K. Hine, 1949

No matter how overwhelmed you may feel at the moment, He will gladly bear your burdens. He invites us to depend upon Him as the Source of all our needs, and to continue to cast all our burdens onto Him.

¶ Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
First Peter 5:6-7

Pastor Andrew