Thursday, 30 August 2018


Being-Human-Pt1-05Last Sunday I preached two-part message on Being Human. Since we each have some personal experience with this topic, you might think that dealing with this topic was completely unnecessary. But as I hope I was able to show last Sunday, being human is not as obvious as we might think. As I stated in Part 1 of the message, delivered in our morning service, how we understand this topic is not a matter of life or death – it’s a matter of how many lives will be lost and how many unnecessary deaths will occur! What may have surprised those there last Sunday was that the driving forces behind trying to answer the question What is a human being? is not the science – but two very different competing stories. What is so alarming is just how many followers of Christ are reading from the wrong script when it comes to understanding who we are and what life is really all about.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
Psalm 1239:14


Being-Human-Pt1-16We are not the random result of some uncaused cosmic accident. As obvious as this statement should be, it is the underlying foundation to the mythical story shaping our culture at the moment. The Material Naturalism Story says that there is nothing more to the universe than its material components which assembled accidentally in a completely unguided fashion. This story denies that any immaterial substance is even possible let alone exists in reality. Despite its appeal to science, this story is not grounded in science. This is born out by those in the biological sciences pointing out this story does not correspond to, or explain, reality. For example, Dr. Fazale Rana Ph.D., a biochemist, states the Material Naturalism’s evolutionary attempts to explain the universe and its diversity, fails to account for some crucially important pieces of life’s puzzle. He writes –
Currently, evolutionary biologists lack explanations for the key transitions in life’s history, including these-
  • origin of life,
  • origin of eukaryotic cells (see diagram below),
  • origin of sexual reproduction,
  • origin of body plans,
  • origin of consciousness,
  • and the origin of human exceptionalism.
To be certain, evolutionary biologists have proposed models to explain each of these transitions, but the models consistently fail to deliver, as a recent review article published by two prominent evolutionary biologists from the Hungarian Academy of Sciences illustrates.1
The Cell's Design, by Dr. Fazale Rana

If you take a close look at the inner workings of this diagram of a eukaryotic cell, even you are untrained biol-chemically, you will notice the incredible complexity and elegance within this microscopic human cell. I only mention this biochemistry to show that despite Material Naturalism’s appeal to science, reason, and rationality, it is nether scientific nor rational. As bad as its lack of scientific credibility as an explanation for how life works is, worse still is its influence on how Material-Naturalists view the world – and especially human beings. In their view, a human being is only of value if they can communicate, contribute, consider their own consciousness, and have the ability to live and interact independently. Only when they can do these things should they be considered a human-person and thereby entitled to the usual protections which come with human rights. This is why Material Naturalists have no qualms about prematurely ending the life of an unborn child, or an elderly patient in a nursing home. 
“Peter Singer insists that the severely mentally incapacitated are candidates for euthanasia because they ‘were once persons’ but no longer. ‘Their lives have no intrinsic value….They are biologically alive, but not biographically.'”
Nancy Pearcey, ‘Love Thy Body’, 2018, p. 92,  citing, ‘Practical Ethics’ by Prof. Peter Singer, 2nd Ed., Cambridge University Press New York, 1993, 192
Fortunately, there is another story which corresponds far more accurately to the actual world in which we live.


Neil Tyson deGrasseAmerican astrophysicist, Dr. Neil Tyson deGrasse, criticises Christianity because, in his mind, it seeks to make humans special. In his mind, human beings are no more special than any other collection of molecules in the universe. This Material-Naturalist view stands in stark contrast to the view of the world presented by the Bible. We should not write this sharp difference off to some ‘Science versus Religion’ misunderstanding. The Biblical worldview is not some weird and novel way of looking at the world. Rather, it is an accurate description of the way the world is, and a particularly accurate description of who human beings are and why we each share a common problem.
Being-Human-Pt1-37The Biblical worldview is in perfect concordance with science. This includes: the Universe had a beginning of all space, energy, time and matter; life appeared on earth over progressive stages; large-bodied life appeared suddenly and without transition (“Day 5”, “the Cambrian Explosion”); mankind appeared fairly recently in the Universe’s history (Creation Day 6). But only the Biblical worldview gives us an explanation for the human condition, and an explanation for why humans are capable of supererogatory acts (self-sacrificing for the weak), yet also the most heinous evil. This is because we are all created in the image of God, yet fallen into sin. 
Being-Human-Pt1-38Being created in the image of God gives every human being a very special status. As the founders of the American Constitution wrote, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal and are endowed with certain inalienable rights. This means that all human life – from the womb to the tomb – is sacred. Our humanity is not determined by our size, level of development, environment, or, dependency (S.L.E.D.). This is why it has been Christians, envisioned with a Biblical worldview, who have helped the most vulnerable in society by establishing hospitals and medical clinics, schools and universities, aid and relief agencies, orphanages, and hostels.
“In the ancient world, Christians were distinctive for their humanitarian efforts – taking care of babies and slaves, of widows and orphans, of the sick and elderly, of the unwanted and abandoned.”
Nancy Pearcey, ‘Love Thy Body', 2018, p. 81


In the Material-Naturalist worldview, some human beings are not ‘human persons’ and are therefore not deserving of human rights (which is a concept they borrow from the Biblical worldview story). In the Materialist’s worldview, personhood is an immaterial reality – even though the Materialist denies anything immaterial exists! This is why gender becomes very confusing for the Materialist. In the Biblical worldview, our Creator has designed a correspondence between our material biological sex and our gender. For Materialist, sexuality is nothing more than a physical encounter. For the Christian, sex is a sacred bonding between a man and a woman who have covenanted their lives together whereby they lovingly celebrate their union in a complementary physical union which has the potential to procreate life. Thus, sex involves emotional blending, intellectual merging, as well as the ultimate physical intimacy two people can experience.
This is why the Genesis account describes the sexual union of a man to his wife as becoming ‘one flesh’ (Gen. 2:24) and the Apostle Paul stated that when a man and a woman united sexually that they became ‘one body’ (1Cor. 6:16). We now know that our Creator has designed that when a man has sex, his body is designed to release a hormone called vasopressin which has a remarkable effect upon the male brain –
Love_Thy_Body-book_cover“The irony is that science is constantly uncovering new evidence of the profound interconnection between body and person. Pick up any recent book on sexuality and you will read about the role played by hormones such as oxytocin and vasopressin. Scientists first learned about oxytocin because of its role in childbirth and breastfeeding. The chemical is released when a mother nurses her baby, and it stimulates an instinct for caring and nurturing. It is often called the attachment hormone…
Consequently, the desire to attach to the other person when we have sex is not only an emotion but also part of our chemistry. Oxytocin has been shown to create a sense of trust…
The same is true for men. The main neurochemical responsible for the male response in intimate sexual contact is vasopressin. It is structurally similar to oxytocin and has a similar emotional effect. Scientists believe it stimulates bonding with a woman and with offspring. Vasopressin has been dubbed the monogamy molecule.”
Nancy Pearcey, “Love Thy Body“, 2018 p.127  
Once again, science confirms what God’s Word reveals: there is something sacred about our bodies and our sexuality. While Materialism pretends that there is nothing special, particularly intimate, or sacred about sexuality, the litter of hurt, broken, lonely, depressed lives can no longer endorse the pretence. Instead, these shattered souls bear testimony to the truth of God’s Word that we are indeed created to be uniquely close to someone – and ultimately this One is God Himself. 


Over the next few months we expect to see increasing numbers of ‘refugees’ – those people who have been hurt and broken by a culture gone mad – seek sanctuary with our church. I pray that you’ll join with me in welcoming these precious ones into our healing community.  

Pastor Andrew

Friday, 24 August 2018



 Who do we blame? You might think that the opening sentences of this brief article are missing. After all, what’s gone wrong? What’s happened? Who’s involved? But those details are less important. First, we need someone to blame.
 Somehow, we have, as a society, confused blame with solution. Some politicians blame and win electors’ votes. Some media commentators blame and increase their ratings/subscriptions/followers. Some sports coaches blame and get their contracts renewed. It seems we blame because it works – if by works we mean that we don’t have to accept any blame. 
 The blaming lifestyle is relatively easy to detect. It always has a pattern. That pattern looks something like this:
Person A enters into Context A and a Type 1 Problem results.
Person A enters into Context B and a Type 1 Problem results.
Person A enters into Context C and a Type 1 Problem results.
Person A enters into Context D and a Type 1 Problem results.
  What reason does Person A think caused a problem in each of the different Contexts? Before I point out the cause of the problem resulting in each scenario, there is only one thing that is consistent in each of these scenarios – and it’s not the different Contexts!
Sisyphus It can be an almost impossible task for a blamer to recognise such obvious patterns. This task becomes even more complicated when the various Contexts actually do share some small measure of blame for the recurring problem. But until a blamer recognises the repeating patterns in their life – and does the one thing that can break this cycle – they will, like Sisyphus, be doomed to repeat the very thing which causes their pain and frustration.
 What is this one thing that can break this cycle of pain and frustration? When our parental forebears, Eve and Adam, rebelled, God’s presence somehow exposed them as blamers. Adam now blamed Eve. Eve blamed the serpent. And the serpent didn’t have a leg to stand on. God ignored this blaming and took the responsibility for solving this catastrophe. Responsibility breaks the cycle of blaming which leads to pain and frustration.
 The most catastrophic problem we each face is the eternal guilt and shame resulting from our sinfulness and sin. A solution has been made available by Christ, The Burden-Bearer and Great Solution-Provider. The solution is offered freely to all but requires some responsibility from us: acknowledgment of our guilt, confession of our sin, an appeal to the Saviour. Our propensity to blame is so rooted in our natures’ that it takes initiating-responsibility from the Holy Spirit for its bondage to be broken so that we can exercise our responsibility to take this responsibility of being honest to God in order to receive His forgiveness and grace. This is not just a matter of our conversion event either. It is the ongoing means for us to be transformed from a hurt, pained, frustrated, blamer – into a healed, whole, fulfilled responsible spiritual adult.


 Some blamers go from church to church to church always being ‘hurt’. I hope that hundreds of these hurting and frustrated people will be drawn to our church and the pattern of their church experience will be broken as the Holy Spirit brings them to healing wholeness and fulfilment as they discover different strategies for dealing with difficult people and circumstances. Like any family, we will have times of disagreement and sharp reminders of our fallen-yet-redeemed human natures. But like any family which becomes stronger and closer by resolving such disagreements, we too can grow closer and stronger as we learn what the Gospel means when it commands God’s people to patiently bear with one another. This involves breaking those cyclic chains that come from blaming which causes us to run and once again repeat the very patterns which have led us to be hurt, pained, and frustrated.
Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.
First Corinthians 14:20
 Hurt, pain, and frustration can become a very comfortable set of clothes. It has many benefits after all (sympathy, attention, support, and so on) but it has one glaring disadvantage: it keeps us in bondage and denies us the blessing of becoming mature. I hope that our church becomes a place where the chains of blame are broken from off the lives of those seemingly forever wandering like immature Israel in the wilderness and that these formerly hurting broken lost and lonely souls can find their way across the Jordan and enter into the Promised Land of God’s blessing (a Land of giants, battles, toil, and hard-work – by the way). I pray that those who have only ever known the milk of God’s Word will begin to enjoy its milk and honey and meat.
For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
Hebrews 5:12-14
 Blame alone cannot provide solutions. It is my hope that we as a church will an agent of God’s solutions to people. By so doing we will fulfil our motto of helping to make life better.
Pastor Andrew

Thursday, 16 August 2018


 Fights can destroy a marriage. Fights can destroy a family. Fights can destroy a church. But not fighting can also destroy a marriage, a family, or a church. Thus, there are many things we shouldn’t fight about, but there are many things we should fight for!
Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
First Timothy 6:12
An essential part of my preparation of a couple for marriage is teaching them the difference between fighting and arguing. When I tell a couple that I want to teach them how to argue, they often laugh! But when I describe the difference between fighting and arguing they realise that it’s no laughing matter. The kind of fighting that many couples engage in has a very harmful objective – to hurt. I hate this kind of fighting. It hurts people, weakens marriages, and damages children. When a couple has been harmed by fighting, it’s time for them to fight for their marriage. This takes love, care, listening, repentance, reparation, and as I wrote in last week’s pastoral blog, forbearance. This highlights the difference between fighting about and fighting for. I wish more people fought for the right things
¶ For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
Colossians 1:3
The_Fight_FeaturedOver the past few weeks as I’ve spent time with various people, I’ve had several of them describe their struggles as a spiritual battle. Many of these folk have discerned that what they are dealing with is not a ‘flesh and blood’ fight but a demonic attack  (Eph. 6:12). They are often right. How we should fight under these circumstances is not as obvious as many have been led to believe though. Years ago I read a book by John Dawson who argued that the means in which Scripture taught believers to engage in spiritual warfare was not by focussing on demonic forces – not even talking to them – but by refocussing on Christ in worship and worshipful service of others. In summary, the kind of service of others which Dawson prescribed was an opposite spirit to how we sense the enemy might be attacking us. In an almost counter-intuitive reasoning, Dawson called for people to fight by giving away the very thing they wanted most! If the Enemy is discouraging you, fight by beginning to encourage others! If the Enemy is luring you into pride, fight by humbling yourself and promoting others!  
Blessed be the Lord, my rock,
who trains my hands for war,
and my fingers for battle;
He is my steadfast love and my fortress,
my stronghold and my deliverer,
my shield and He in whom I take refuge,
who subdues peoples under me
Psalm 144:1-2
How should you be fighting? How should we as a church be fighting? Certainly not with each other about things that don’t really matter! We should, like the Apostle Paul, learn to fight in prayer for each other, our community, and those who have not yet opened their hearts to Christ’s offer of love and forgiveness. 
The Apostle Paul urged his colleague Timothy to fight the good fight. The prize of this fight, Paul wrote, was to lay hold of eternal life. This informs us that the Christian life is a call to fight. We have to fight spiritual laziness with spiritual iscipline. We have to fight unfruitfulness with the cultivation of spiritual fruit mentioned in Galatians 5: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal 5:22-23). We don’t often think of ‘joy’ or ‘peace’ as something we have to fight for, but for those who have battled stress and anxiety while longing for joy and peace, the battle is real.
For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.
Second Corinthians 10:3-6
The toughest fight you’ll ever have will never be with another person. According to Second Corinthians 10:5, our greatest fight will take place in our minds. While our Enemy will mercilessly try to drag us into despair, depression, and darkness, our fight will always be to intentionally control our thoughts by focussing on whatever is true, honourable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praise-worthy. 
¶ Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Philippians 4:8
Our greatest fight is not with demons or devils. Rather, it is internal. We must fight to bear the kind of fruit the Holy Spirit produces with our cooperation – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-controlBut by developing the fruit of self-control we can commit our minds to not think about those things which darken our minds and choose to dwell on those things which fill our minds with wonder and praise for God.  
May God help us to fight for the right things in the right way – prayer, service, and acts of God’s love. 
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.Second Timothy 4:7
Keep up the good fight! 

Pastor Andrew

Thursday, 9 August 2018



Forbearance has nothing to do with with your forebears (although, come to think of it, it might). Forbearance has to do with patiently bearing disappointment with others. It is most commonly called for when we have occasion to be disappointed with someone because of their inconsideration and even rudeness. The New Testament describes it as a trait of the highest order which reports to the “love one another” passages of the New Covenant. It is thus a trait that only those truly serious about following Christ ever come close to attaining. The good news is for these few ardent disciples of the Christ, of which I hope we all aspire to be, it is one of the essential means for which we qualify for the fuller potential of our heavenly reward (1Tim. 4:8). To my shame though, it is sadly one of those difficult disciplines of which I too often neglect and fail to attend to its practice. As I read Scripture I can see that I wasn’t the only one either. The Apostle Paul begged the immature Corinthian believers to show him forbearance at one of those times when it is urgently called for: when we are being corrected.
¶ I wish you would bear with me in a little foolishness. Do bear with me!
Second Corinthians 11:1
You might point out to me though, that I have just provided an example of an appeal to ‘bear’ rather than to ‘forbear’. The reason for this is painful. Before any of us can begin to forbear, we must first develop the reflex of being able to bear with others (if you a part of a larger family, you have probable got a head-start on the rest of us). 
¶ I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,
Ephesians 4:1-2
I have found that most of us love love. We love receiving it. We love seeing it. We love hearing about it. But I think we are less interested in studying it with the aim of learning how to do it better(?). The God who saved us did so because of His unconditional love for us. We now worship Him in surrender and adoration in return. As we do, we are being transformed more and more into His likeness.
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
What does it mean for us to worship a God of unconditional love? It means transformation. It transforms not only our behaviour – especially toward others – it also transforms our motives for this behaviour. We don’t just act loving, we actually love! It involves us showing and feeling love toward those who injure us, slander us, despise us, because this is what God has done for us!
but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8
Consider this kind of love – not just in response to offensive behaviour – but in response to rude, demeaning, ridiculing, vicious behaviour! Therefore, if you, like I, want to fulfil the Great Commandment to love (Matt. 22:38-39) we must learn to love like the Great Lover Himself which is why commitment to the community of Church is our highest priority.
But by now you’re probably saying, “Yes, but what has this got to do with forbearing and what actually is forbearing?”
Before we respond (please note these two key words), we need to see forbearance in this little story.
Jayne is meeting her older sister Suzette this afternoon. When Jayne converted to Christianity her sister Suzette ridiculed her more harshly than she had become accustomed to. The constant ridicule, mockery, and belittling, was eased somewhat for Jayne by the support from her mid-week Bible study group. Over the past few months they had been studying Romans 12:9-21 together where Jayne had begun to learn what genuine love and authentic tolerance looked like. This had prepared her for her coffee date with Suzette. She had settled in her heart that despite Suzette’s inevitable attacks and mockery that was sure to come that afternoon, she had resolved that she was not going to take offence or harbour resentment. That afternoon Jayne and Suzette met for coffee. It didn’t take long before Suzette launched into her tirade. But Jayne was able to overlook the swearing, lies, slander, and defaming allegations that Suzette hurled at her. In the midst of these attacks, Jayne found herself praying for Suzette that God might open her eyes too, and bless her regardless. Jayne showed forbearance. Later that day someone asked Jayne how her time with Suzette went, to which she replied, “I had a nice time with my sister. She’s a very beautiful person. Thank you for asking.” Her answer was also an act of forbearance. 
By now you might realise that forbearing involves two key words: ‘before’ and ‘respond’. Before we are offended, hurt, or insulted, our hearts are prepared to forgive/let it go/refuse to dwell on it/ and to determine to: respond with kindness/grace/mercy/and generosity. Try it. Decide now in your heart that with God’s help and grace you are going to forgive, let go, and not dwell on the next insult or offence you receive. Prepare now to respond with kindness, grace, mercy, and generosity, rather than slander, rehearsing hurts to others, or malicious gossip. If you can, you are forbearing.

Pastor Andrew

Thursday, 2 August 2018



We currently have an overseas student from a non-English speaking country staying with us for a few months. There are now constant reminders about just how weird English is – particularly all those words in English which sound the same but have completely different meanings. It might take you a minute to find that minute speck of dust on your camera lens which could lead you to discover that it was actually a dust mite and not a piece of lead. Did you detect how many homophones I just used in that sentence? Might and mite should be easy to detect because this was the only pair which were not spelled the same. I do sometimes wonder whether most English speakers know when to use lead and when to use led when they actually used lead? The reason I think that this is important is because God has ordained the written language (including agreed spelling and grammar) to preserve and deliver the eternity-changing message of the Gospel to those who need it most.  
This morning I read someone’s post on Facebook which called for people to “Bare one anothers burdens”. I struggled to overlook the missing apostrophe – but I struggled even more with the fact that they had conveyed a message exactly the opposite of what I’m sure they intended! 
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
Galatians 6:2
To ‘bare’ another’s burden is to expose it – which may actually make it worse! To bare another’s burden may result in humiliationembarrassment or even shame. ‘Bare’ is one of those curious English words which has several meanings depending on how it is used –
  • the cupboard was bare (there was nothing in the cupboard)
  • he showed his bare bottom (there was nothing on his bottom)
  • he laid bare his heart to her (he exposed how he really felt) 
Whereas its homophone, ‘bear’, can have rather grizzly connotations, or even determine which way you should turn – but when the apostle Paul used it in Galatians 6:2 (βαστάζετε from bastadzo) he meant it to mean lift, carry a load, take up. This would involve helping someone to avoid being humiliated, or embarrassed or even ashamed. 


¶ Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.
Galatians 6:1
Perhaps more important than homophones, is the actual point of what Paul wrote to the Galatians about burdens and whoshould carry them. He is addressing two groups of people – the spiritual and the transgressing. If we were in a Bible Study group at this point, I would ask, “And which of these two groups does Paul say were burdened?” If you answered “The transgressing” you would be right. Believers who yield to temptation can easily become snared into a lifestyle of sin which can leave them burdened by their wretched double life. Those who are spiritual can reach out in loving kindness to those who are burdened by their transgressions and help them. This can begin by simply showing care, which conveys an important message of non-judgemental acceptance. Listening, praying, encouraging are important ways to alleviate a burden caused by transgression. But if you were to continue reading what Paul wrote about burden bearing you might respond to my question – “The spiritual”, and you too would be right.
For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbour. For each will have to bear his own load.
Galatians 6:3-5
The kind of burdens that Paul is instructing the spiritual to bear on behalf of the transgressing, do not appear to be general life burdens, but rather, those burdens which have resulted from being in the grip of sin. The kind of burdens that he instructs the spiritual to always bear are their own life burdens (Gal. 6:5). Supporting and caring for our families can be a burden. But it is a burden we must each carry and take responsibility for. Maintaining our possessions and property can be a burden. But it is a burden we must each carry and take responsibility for. Being punctual can be a burden. But it is a burden we must each carry and take responsibility for. Getting our work done well and efficiently can be a burden (especially with a difficult boss). But it is a burden we must each carry and take responsibility for. 
Janette I-hate-using-apostrophes BoyleWhile some of us don’t care about apostrophes or the appropriate homophone, there are some select people, such as myself, who do. It is to such people to whom it appears the burden of correcting everyone else’s poor grammar is a burden we must carry and bear responsibility for. But I’m not sure though that this is what the Apostle Paul had in mind. Perhaps we’ll never no!   
Pastor Andrew.