Sunday, 24 May 2015


to your welcoming embrace
of outstretched branches
you and I, my friend have grown
gnarled by passing winters
twisted with the onslaught
of savage gales,
lined with the weariness of years
You, who have borne
green leaves of many summers,
standing firm before I came to be,
will stand in centuries
beyond my passing
and I wait in the coolness
of your branches
scribbling words
to seal us both together
for this moment

Bunya Mountains May 2015

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Enslaved by desire

"Freedom is not "doing what you want". That idea is absurd. We think we know what we want, but we don't. We only know urges and hungers, the pull of illusions. A drug addict "wants" a fix. His "want" is slavery. A murderer "wants" to kill. He is both victim and victimizer. Drug addicts and murderers may be accountable for their actions but, paradoxically, they are far from being free. Do what you like and you will discover your are the slave and the victim of what you hate.
No, freedom is doing what you were designed to do, doing it with power and joy. As a creature formed by God you were designed to serve, love, enjoy and glorify God eternally. In being what you are designed to be you will find joy and freedom." - "Church discipline that heals" John White and Ken Blue InterVarsity Press 1985 p.78

The following are some useful YouTube broadcasts which will assist anyone struggling in the area of sexual temptation:

Sex, Soul Tie,s and Pornography by John-Michael Becker (2/9/2014)
Paul Washer Sexual Sin End Time Sermons
Avoiding Sexual Immorality by Shane Idleman and Steve Gallagher

Monday, 18 May 2015

An extended Lord's prayer

Our  Father, You invite us to unity, and community - to think of ourselves as “us” not “me”

Father – You are the most wonderful Father – all that a Father should encompass – leadership, protection, teaching, the One who gives us life and cares for us throughout our lives, who only desires good for us

Who art in heaven – You reign and rules on high forevermore

Hallowed be Your name – You are altogether Holy and set apart. You alone are worthy of the highest praises, blessed Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We worship You and lift Your name high. Be exalted O God.

May Your kingdom come – may the kingdom of God be established throughout the peoples of this earth. We wait with eager anticipation of the time when Jesus Christ will return to this earth, when God will reign throughout the world and all things will be made new.

And Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Father we see the wickedness of this world and grieve, for it is not what You created it to be. We long to see Your  holiness growing in the hearts and minds of people and nations until You come again to this earth. We yearn for heaven, where all are joyfully worshiping You. Help us to do your will until that time. Heaven for us begins here on earth.  

Give us this day our daily bread – Jesus, you are the bread of life. Feed us with Your dear presence we pray. Feed us with your word. Thank you also for the food we have for our physical bodies as well as so many other blessings, more than we ever need. Make us mindful of all those in the world who are hungry and in want we pray.

Forgive us our sins – I acknowledge that I am sinful. I fall short in so many ways. I have not loved You wholeheartedly. I have not loved others as I should. I cling to old habits and excuse myself daily. I am blind to my own faults and quick to judge and criticise others. Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me Father. I long to grow in Christ and become more like Him, that His loving Spirit would be manifest in my life and would draw others to faith in God.

As we forgive those who sin against us – help me Father to forgive when I am not forgiving, when I am angry and bitter and indignant. Make me mindful that You will only forgive me as much as I forgive others. Help me to give over all things to You. Thank You that all things work together for those who love You. Thank You that You have made some of the worst experiences of my life to be those which have grown and deepened my faith and walk with You and have witnessed for You to others. For the fruits borne, please forgive.

Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil – Father, we know that the evil one desires to destroy our Christian witness and our relationship with You, even our very lives. May we cling to You and follow Your guiding Holy Spirit in all that we do. We walk so closely to the wide, easy road that leads to hell. May we never veer from the narrow path that you have called us to walk upon. Help us to keep our hearts, minds, and eyes firmly fixed on Your glory.

For Yours is the kingdom – the realm of heaven and earth in which the Trinity forever reigns and Christians, angels (not fallen ones) and heavenly beings live eternally.

the power – Father, Your power is already established. Satan is forever defeated by the cross, and has no power over Jesus Christ and those who call upon the name of Jesus.

and the glory – the unsurpassable majesty of God which shines brighter than the sun

forever and ever– eternally. You reign forever, Father. Thank You that we are born into eternal life with You, through Your dear Son Jesus Christ.

Amen -  which means certainly, truly, I agree or uphold, affirmation, so be it.

What we know as the “Lord’s prayer” is found in Matthew’s gospel, chapter 6, verses 9-13. Modern translations e.g. NIV generally conclude the translation with the line “deliver us from evil”, or in some translations “the evil one”. The final two lines are an expression of praise to God which was appeared in former translations such as Tyndale’s translation, also the King James Bible. Those of us with Anglo-Saxon heritage are very familiar with the traditional version, however it is becoming more common to hear the use of shortened or slightly modified versions.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

James and thoughts on suffering - 1

The book of James begins with a challenge:

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete.” (James 1: 2-4)

Do we consider it pure joy when we receive a cancer diagnosis? Do we rejoice when our spouse loses his or her job? No, this is not what the writer intends. It would be cruel indeed to suggest that the people of Nepal should rejoice over losing their loved ones and homes in the recent devastating earthquakes. God directs His people to “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and mourn with those who mourn.” (Romans 12:15) A characteristic of the indwelling Holy Spirit is that He gives us greater empathy for others. We love our neighbours and care for them.  Those of us who minister within the caring realm rely greatly on what the Holy Spirit prompts us to say in relation to suffering, otherwise great harm can ensue.

What then is this pure joy that we are to embrace in the face of suffering? As James notes in the above verses, your faith is going to be tested.  A minor annoyance is not really going to test your faith. I’d be a very shallow Christian indeed if I went back to the store to buy those shoes I saw yesterday, found that stocks had run out and cried out to God “ Lord, why did this happen to me?” No, the things which test your faith are major life-changing events such as the loss of a loved one, the breakdown of a marriage, significant health problems, abuse, financial problems, or lack of employment, to name a few.

We do not rejoice because of significant problems, but we as Christians rejoice despite them. We rejoice because we know the presence of our Heavenly Father is with us as we experience them. Never imagine that God is the author of suffering. He created a perfect world in which we were to dwell. It was man’s sinful rebellion which caused our fallen nature, in which sin exists. God Himself paid the penalty for sin through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God’s Son. He gave us the Holy Spirit to be our earthy Counsellor and guide throughout this life when we turn to Him in repentance and faith. This is the Christian gospel.

Christians suffer in this world in which all creation suffers. Every living thing dies. Some suffering is caused by the actions and decisions of others. Some suffering is caused by natural events – floods, bushfires, tornadoes, for example. Some suffering is demonic in origin. Satan was a rebellious, fallen angel whom God banished from heaven and who, the Bible tells us roams throughout the earth with his demonic followers, seeking to tempt and torment humans, to prevent or destroy their relationship with God and to ultimately destroy their lives.

As Christians we need not fear the devil. He is a real spiritual entity, as are demons, but those of us who are Christs dwell in the presence of the Lord and are protected by His Holy Spirit. Satan has no dominion at all over Jesus and His holy angels. If you ever feel threatened by demonic powers you have only to call upon the name of Jesus Christ. We are instructed not to boast in this power however, but to be thankful of our relationship with God (Luke 10:20).

James reminds us that being tested with suffering develops our relationship with God. We persevere. The word persevere comes from the Latin root “per” meaning “thoroughly” and “severe” the word we still use today meaning “strict”, hence the implication of abiding with something tenaciously, no matter what. This is what God requires of us, that we have faith that doesn’t waver, in good times or bad. As the apostle Paul writes in Philippians "I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14).

Our faith was never meant to be a static thing. Christianity is at its most interesting when our relationship with God deepens and becomes more meaningful. James tells us that perseverance will do a work in us. We will become more deeply dependent on the things of God. We will re-examine our own values and our trust in earthy relationships and pursuits. Our Christian witness may well become more effective, particularly as we reach out to others who experience similar trials. We will have a wisdom and depth of maturity in Christ which we may never have had otherwise. As the author Margaret Clarkson wrote:
“Pain is pain and sorrow is sorrow. It hurts. It limits. It works devastation deep within personality. It circumscribes in a thousand different ways. There is nothing good about it. But the gifts God can give with it are the richest the human spirit can know.” 

The Bible reminds us that the things of this world will pass away, even our earthly lives. If we persevere we will be able to say with the apostle Paul “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7). We can look forward with joy to an eternal life with Christ in Heaven where our Heavenly Father reigns and where:

 “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)

What a wonderful promise! Praise God!