Thursday, 29 May 2014

Witnessing Within Your Comfort Zone

Jesus will make us comfortable with that with which we might not currently be comfortable.  

As long as we're part of that process, it's okay to say that we will witness in a way with which we are comfortable - because God is able to make us comfortable.

If He hasn't made us comfortable yet, then stay in the process. 

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Worship Leaders, Song-Writers, Senior Pastors

Worship leaders. Song writers. 

When I'm with a group of Christians who already started going to church 25+ years ago, or when I'm with my Christian aboriginal friends, or friends from the Philippines, Samoa, Papua New Guinea or some such country - we can enjoy singing and praising together, harmonizing for hours on end - we could go all night if we wanted to - singing spontaneously, without needing to look at the words. It's great!

But try singing spontaneously with a group of Christians who have known only the contemporary Australian Church, in a setting where you're away from the rehearsed band on the stage and away from the PowerPoint words projected onto the big screens. You can't do it!

It seems no-one knows more than a few lines of the lyrics of most of the contemporary worship songs.

Recent converts don't know many of the old easy flowing songs that we're blessed to know - so they can't easily sing along with you.

Result: spontaneous singing is no longer much a part of the Christian experience of the contemporary Australian Christian. Not much at all.

Does it really matter?

I think they're missing out! Big time. We're all missing out.

I should probably address this to pastors as well as to music directors, seeing music directors are really only doing what their pastors are expecting them to do.

It seems we've come full circle. Some years ago during the Charismatic Renewal the Holy Spirit gave the Church new praise and worship songs with easy lyrics and nice melodies that enabled us to easily flow with one another and with the Holy Spirit without needing to hold a hymn book in our hands.

It was really anointed! Remember how much you looked forward to the praise and worship in those days?

Now we've come full circle, only this time it's not the hymn book that we can't do without - it's the PowerPoint projection on the screen that we can't do without.

So once again there is a need today to introduce songs that are easy to sing and remember.

Songs that let the congregation close their eyes and get caught up in worship without needing to look at the words.

The type of song you can still remember the words to when you get to your home meeting on Wednesday night.

Songs that have a touching, sweet melody line.

The type of song you wake up in the morning singing. And I don't mean just singing a few lines and then you have to hum the rest of it because you can't remember the words. I mean singing it all the way through, then over and over again, because it blesses you so much!

These are the types of songs you can sing spontaneously one after another in a group, expressing the Holy Spirit's work in you, without anyone needing to look at the words.

In a home meeting. Down the beach. On the mountaintop. Out bush. In the car. On your own. In a group. Away from a flow sheet. Easily flowing with the Holy Spirit.

Being able to sing together is something we can benefit from doing, not just on Sundays where we've got the big screen but also in smaller informal groups, and when we're by ourselves with the Lord.

I'd love to grab a guitar and go down the beach with you sometimes and be able to sing spontaneously to the Lord together.

Or in the car on the way to a meeting. Someone starts singing. We all join in and keep singing all the way to the meeting - and we all know all the words to every song. That used to be normal.

But nowadays even if we play a CD or plug in someone's iTunes playlist, people still can't really sing along. No-one knows the lyrics to contemporary songs well enough.

Even many of the worship-leaders themselves don't know the words off by heart. So what hope have the congregation got.

Sure we can soak in the Spirit without really knowing the words while a CD is playing contemporary music in the background. I'm all for having extended times where we aren't singing and instead receive from the ministry of the Holy Spirit. All for it!

But being able to sing the words of a song is something that also helps you to " filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord" (Eph.5:17,18).

Singing together in a group helps us to "let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord" (Col.3:16). 

And it's nice to be able to get that uplift not only on Sunday but also during the week, in settings where it isn't possible to look at the words. It's nice to be able to be spontaneous about it.

But to be able to do that requires that you know songs off my heart.

See, our role as singers and songwriters is not just to showcase the full range of our own creative abilities. Of course there's a time and place for that in our meetings too. I love it just as much as anyone does when a band lets loose on occasion or someone sings with their full vocal range!

But part of the role of a church music director is to equip the congregation with songs they can sing easily - not only at church but also during the week when they're by themselves or in small group meetings.

It's not just about what the trained full-time songwriter is capable of performing on the stage - it's also about what the congregation can sing when they're away from the band, away from the PowerPoint projector, away from the stage lights, the smoke machine, the backing CD, the DVD with lyrics, or the leader's iTunes playlist.

It's about equipping new converts with songs they can easily sing spontaneously without having to look at the words, in their own prayer time and in small groups.

If you are someone who can sing spontaneously because you know lots of older songs off by heart - then you could hardly imagine what it must be like for recent converts who haven't been equipped with the capability to do that.

Similarly many of today's new converts who don't know many songs off by heart wouldn't know what they've been missing out on either, unless they experience it.

Since so many of our church-friends these days don't know many songs without looking at the words, we just don't go there any more. Spontaneous communal singing has therefore pretty much become a thing of the past, for all of us in contemporary-style churches unfortunately.

Perhaps you feel contemporary congregations generally are really getting into the worship quite full-on. Well you should have seen what the level of congregational participation was like during praise and worship in the Charismatic Renewal days!

I must confess that some modern popular songs give me a bit of a fail-to-launch feeling in worship. I feel very little to no anointing on some songs. It just doesn't do it for me. Often I stand there trying to overlook what I'm feeling - or rather what I'm not feeling - and just try to launch into worship anyway despite the song. Looking around at the congregation I think others might be having the same trouble.

In comparison to the Charismatic Renewal days, the level of congregational participation in a lot of today's praise and worship sessions reminds me more of an audience waiting for what's coming next on the program. The congregations don't look all that engaged. It's like they're being sung to from the loud band on the stage more so than they're being heard singing audibly themselves.

Have you ever noticed that when the Holy Spirit moves in a special way during a meeting and the pastor or evangelist takes over from the song leader and begins to lead with an unscripted song - the pastor seldom chooses a contemporary song at such moments. He almost always goes with one of the old simple anointed songs he knows.

Yet look what happens. The volume of the congregational singing crescendos. Hands start going up everywhere. Eyes are closed. Faces are uplifted. For a change you can actually hear the congregation singing above the volume of the band, as a wave seems to sweep over the crowd.

Why is that? Well a little while ago I got together with some friends in their lounge room. I picked up a guitar and began to sing. A worship leader from a contemporary church was there, and afterwards she made a comment which I felt was quite telling, and I'll finish this Post with her words. She said:

"It's so easy to worship with the songs you sing".

I better add this. This doesn't mean I don't like any contemporary songs at all. It's not to say we should stop singing contemporary songs altogether. It's not to say we should have stayed locked into a single music style.

When the Holy Spirit gave us new songs to sing during the Charismatic Renewal, it didn't mean we completely stopped singing hymns. We mostly sung the new songs, but we also still sang the old ones sometimes too.

So it doesn't mean we need to stop performing all contemporary-style songs just because we can see benefits in once again introducing some simpler songs. There is good in almost any style - and we can enjoy it all.

Just because I'm asking for chocolate topping on my ice-cream doesn't mean I'm against the ice-cream. I just want to make it taste even better!

It's just that I think we've reached the place where there is something to be gained now by once again introducing some anointed, melodic, simple songs to the church.

Songs like:

Lord You Are More Precious Than Silver: and

As the Deer Panteth for the Water,

have a melody and lyrics that are almost timeless. They can still be made to sound quite okay in a contemporary setting. And they're really anointed!

So singing some of those old songs again - it's not like you'd be singing something so nerdy that you'd loath it.

Some brand new songs with similarly simple words and pleasant melody lines could be written too.

Written by songwriters who are living right.

Who would rather choose not to do something that they might consider permissible than offend another believers' conscience.

Songs birthed out of an anointed moment where the writer's focus was God-ward, rather than sitting around a table trying to meet a producer's deadline - not that there's anything wrong with that either.

Time to add some new, anointed, nice melodies with easy words into the mix. Without necessarily throwing out anything good that we already have.

For "...the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old" (Matthew 13:52).

I wonder if anyone else out there feels the same way I do about it?

(Original version published as a Facebook Status in October 2013)

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Richard Dawkins Quote

“...if you don’t have the supernatural, it’s not clear to me why you would call yourself a minister..." - Richard Dawkins (Source)

Monday, 26 May 2014

Laughing in the Spirit is Prayer/Warfare

A bunch of young people were on the floor laughing in the spirit for a long time.

I remarked to a friend, "This is prayer".

Another friend of mine shared a similar understanding he had about a similar incident. The incident took place at a time when it seemed many in the church were in a bad mood - "under attack" as he called it. So they called a prayer meeting.

Before praying they decided to put on a worship CD and play two or three songs. As soon as they did so the Holy Spirit fell. Many began laughing in the spirit. They never did get to 'praying' - they just laughed the night away or enjoyed the Holy Spirit. Yet afterwards many of their problems seemed pretty-much solved.

My friend told me that God said to him, "This is warfare".

Laughter in the spirit is prayer. It's warfare.

Warfare doesn't necessarily mean we always attack the enemy, because the victory is in fact already won - warfare often means we simply stand our ground in faith. And what better way to express faith than to laugh? Therefore laughing in the spirit is warfare, it's prayer, it's an expression of victory.

Include receiving from the Holy Spirit, into your prayer meetings. God didn't save us by grace rather than by works only to expect us to pray as work rather than with grace!

There are many types of prayer. Soaking in the Holy Spirit - interacting with the Holy Spirit - expressing the Holy Spirit - are in fact forms of prayer. He knows the best blend of receiving-prayer, prophetic-prayer and petitioning-prayer. Some things can be solved with soaking in the Holy Spirit quicker than by petitioning-prayer alone.

So let's make the Holy Spirit part of our prayer meetings, on purpose.

It's more refreshing!

Sunday, 25 May 2014


John Edwards


+61 410 728 740

Fermi Paradox

What amazes me about lists of solutions to the Fermi Paradox is that no list that I have seen mentions God.

God is only the most widely-believed solution, yet it's not mentioned in any list that I have seen - not in lists of serious solutions, nor even in lists of the weirdest solutions.

No mention at all. To mention God would be too nerdy. It would spoil the intrigue.

Almost no solution at all is considered too wacky to mention. Except…God.

So I'll state the solution here:

In the beginning God made the universe and the earth, and created life on earth, on purpose.  

Gospel v Kingdom

The Gospel is not merely an interim plan for Gentiles while we await God's Kingdom-plan for Israel. Rather, the Gospel is the very plan that God promised to Abraham for all nations.

Friday, 23 May 2014

God Loves Israel

God is just as much interested in Israel as He ever was.

Jesus Christ is just as much interested in Israel as He ever was.

Israelis are every bit as beloved for the fathers' sakes as ever they were. 

God is still interested in them individually. He's still interested in them ethnically. He's still interested in them nationally and politically. He's still interested in them having a homeland. He's still interested in their houses and in their economy. 

He's still interested in giving them the Kingdom of God.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ didn't diminish God's interest in Israel - it summarises God's interest in Israel.

The Gospel is the fulfilment of the promise to Abraham.

It's the fulfilment of the Law.

It's the fulfilment of the Prophets.

It's God's best program for Israelis. 

The Gospel is the best hope God has ever had for Israelis and it's the best hope He will ever offer them.

It can't get any better than this! The glorious Gospel.

The Gospel isn't Plan B.

There won't be a better plan to follow.

The Gospel is the prime. The zenith. The apex. 

It's the glory that excels.

Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Jesus is coming!

And God is no less interested in Gentiles than He is or ever was in Jews.

In Christ there is neither Jew nor Gentile. 

He is just as much interested in one believer's welfare - in every sense, eternal and temporal - as He is interested in another's - without making a distinction. 

His plans don't and won't involve a return to shadows - a return to the Law - a return to ancient symbolic Jewish feasts.

God's promised plan was, and now is, and always shall be nothing other than Jesus Christ - for all.

Christ is all and in all. 

Must We Keep the Feasts?

Back when I was at high school, we had school rules which required students to attend certain programs at specific locations in the campus at specific times during the school calendar. Today all of the buildings of my former high school have been demolished and the entire lot on the corner of Blackstone and Grange Roads is currently vacant.

To ask the question, "Must we keep Moses' Law?" (such as the ancient Jewish Feast of Passover) is like asking, "Do I still have to attend assembly every Monday in the school hall?" 

The answer is not only, No - because I've graduated; (or perhaps in your case, No - because you were never a student at that school); but it's also No - because even if we want to, we can't - because the hall doesn't exist any more - it's a vacant lot.

It's impossible to keep the Feast of Passover in Australia, because part of the requirement of the Feast of Passover was that it had to be kept exclusively at Jerusalem, in Spring, in the month Nisan, at the altar in the tabernacle or Temple, with Levite priests officiating, and the priests had to be able to prove their descent from Levi by written genealogy, and it was required that a blood sacrifice be offered. None of these stipulations was optional, yet it's a logistical impossibility to keep those points today especially in the southern hemisphere but even by Jews in Jerusalem.

But even though the answer is No, that doesn't mean I'm not living the citizen-life which my high school lessons had been designed to prepare me for. Similarly, in Christ we experience all the spiritual realities, and live all the moral ethics which the Law had merely modelled. 

The question was highly relevant during Paul's day, because the school hall still stood, so to speak. The Temple complete with its Levitcal priesthood still stood. But even then, the answer was already No. Believers weren't required to observe the Law (such as the Jewish feasts).

After the destruction of the Temple, the issue pretty-much ceased. But since the creation of the modern State of Israel last century, the issue about keeping the Law (such as the Feasts) has again arisen in the minds of some believers. But the answer is still No - for the following reasons:

1. Because, if you are a Gentile, you were never required to;

2. Because, even if you are a Jew, the requirement changed; and

3. Because, no matter who you are, you can't - even if you wish to.

In Christ there is neither Jew nor Gentile - we all are heirs of the promise to Abraham. And that's what God planned from the beginning before the Jews' Law was ever temporarily inserted.

Welfare v Tax Breaks

‘‘I still hold to the philosophical view that they [family tax benefits] aren’t welfare payments but, rather, they are tax breaks for the cost of having children" - former Prime Minister John Howard

Read more:

Helping the Vulnerable

"...the greatest thing you can do for the vulnerable in the community is keep control of the nation’s finances” - former Prime Minister John Howard

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Speak English

Laughter in the Spirit

“…the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost" (Acts 13:52).
I’ve learned that when a believer laughs in the spirit, there’s often more going on than meets the eye.
Some years ago I visited a church and quickly observed that many of its members had some real problems. Some were going outside halfway through the service to light-up a cigarette. Others I heard were selling drugs to pay their way through college. And other worse behaviours were going on toobehaviours which I don’t even wish to mention.
So I decided that if I had the opportunity to preach in that church, I would preach against sin.
But God said to me, “I want them to experience the joy of the Lord”.
To be honest, I wasn’t sure whether some of those people deserved to experience the joy of the Lord yet!
But then I recalled the Scripture where it says, “… the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).
Many of us are familiar with that verse, but perhaps fewer are familiar with its context. Ezra had just finished publicly reading the book of the Law, and all the people wept when they heard the words of the Law.
We would think that’s a good thing, wouldn’t we? Sinners weeping when they heard the words of the Law.
But instead Nehemiah told them, “… mourn not, nor weep… neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength” (verses 9,10).
Even though the people were convicted of sin, Nehemiah didn’t want them to mournhe wanted them to rejoice. That’s opposite to what we would think, isn’t it!
So when the time came when I was invited to the platform to minister, I said to the congregation, “God wants to fill you with joy”.
We proceeded to sing a rousing songbut I still felt God had something more in mind, even though I didn’t quite know how to go about it.
So I stepped off the platform, laid my hand on one of the women in the congregation and said, “Receive the joy of the Lord”. Straightaway she started laughing and ended-up rolling around on the floor.
I thought to myself, “I guess that’s the joy of the Lord.”
I pointed someone else out and said, “You too”and that person started laughing.
“That worked,” I thought to myself.
So I pointed to someone else, and simply said, “You’re next”and he got filled with joy.
The laughter spread almost to the whole congregation. After 40-minutes my allotted time as a guest-speaker was up, so I handed the meeting back to the chairperson.
The chairperson immediately invited people forward to share testimonies. What they shared showed me that laughing in the spirit was only the outward, visible part of a deeper, unseen work that God was doing.
For example, one lady testified that she got healed of a physical ailment while laughing.
Another lady shared that she’d come to the meeting depressed, “…but it’s hard to feel depressed when you’re laughing….” she exclaimed.
In subsequent meetings the joy of the Lord continued to spread in the church, first with the youth and the women, then to the children and the men. After several weeks an innumerable number of people had laughed, cried, repented, been delivered of demons, forgiven one another and been reconciled to one another, been filled with the Holy Spirit, spoken in tongues, interpreted tongues, seen visions or prophesied.
The revival then spread to other churches in the city, and to schools and universitiesthen to other cities. Souls were saved. Young people began volunteering themselves for full-time Bible college with a view to future ministry. Giving in the churches also multiplied.
All of this came to pass simply as a result of the people experiencing the joy of the Lordeven without any direct preaching against specific sins.
There’s more to laughter in the spirit than meets the eye!
Laughter in the spirit is both an outward expression of a deeper, inner work of the Spirit (“…the fruit of the Spirit is…joy…”Galatians 5:22)and because rejoicing is an expression of faith, laughter also seems to lead to further inworkings and to additional manifestations of the Holy Spirit (“…the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost”Acts 13:52). Joy is both an effect and a catalyst of the Spirit’s work.
Perhaps you are feeling convicted of sin; or perhaps you are facing some present challenge to your faith. You might be involved with helping others; or you might lead a meeting of some kind… let the people experience the joy of the Lord, if the Lord wills. You are a minister of the Spirit!

In your own heart, receive the joy of the Lord right now. There it is.

Monday, 19 May 2014

How to Remain Heavenly Minded

When I woke up in prayer this morning, I was thinking about how the Bible says that God has raised us up together and has made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. And I thought about how to stay in that frame of mind; how to continually feed on it in my heart so that my heart can remain assured of it - and so the river can flow out of my belly out from that revelation and reality.

I pictured a helium or hot-air balloon. It rises above the surface of the earth. I can keep my mind stayed on heavenly places. 

Then later I went for a walk - and I saw this ballon in the sky. I saw the flame heating the air.

If I stay fervent in spirit, I'll stay heavenly minded. 

Abiding in Jesus and letting His thoughts live in us lets us float up above the world and drift off in a way that's impossible to the natural mind.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Quote from Peter Edwards

"Prayer and the Word works" - Peter Edwards

Makes Your Day Easier

One morning I was thinking about whether or not I should go to Mapleton to attend a friend's mother's funeral. While I thought about it I saw a vision of a small trickling stream.

In those days I didn't have my own car, because I was away a lot - so when I was at home my dad was so kind to let me use his car. But on this occasion I felt in my spirit that I was not to drive the car, but was to ride the train.

Right at the end of the funeral I saw a small trickling stream, just like what I'd been shown in my spirit at home. This let me know that my steps had been ordered by the Lord.

Soon after I got home, I was informed that dad's car had broken down. Had I attempted to drive it to Mapleton instead of taking the train, it might have broken down further away from home, or on the highway - or I might even have been blamed for the breakdown.

Being led by the Spirit is designed to make our days easier, even if at first it seems to add to our inconvenience.

Seeing the small trickling stream also let me know that when God shows me something, it doesn't always mean I'm meant to strive to make it come to pass. It doesn't even mean I'm always meant to understand it straightaway. Rather, God brings it to pass Himself, even without our understanding and manipulation. Rest.

Thanks God!

One morning I had a sense about eating a hotdog.

Later that morning my childhood friends Mark and Phillip phoned to ask if I'd like to go for a drive with them and have lunch.

So I went with them, all the way to Cleveland. I hadn't told them about the hotdog, but they told me there was a takeaway place there that sold the best hotdogs. And they wished to go there for lunch.

The hotdogs were more than a foot long! It was the best hotdog I've ever had.

Thanks God!

The Lord's Restaurant Guide

One year on my birthday, when I was living at my parents' former house at Raceview, my brother and his wife came to pick me up to take me for a drive to Warwick for a meal, for my birthday.

When we arrived in Warwick, we started looking around for a restaurant, but we didn't see anything we liked. I desired Italian food.

So I looked to the Holy Spirit for guidance, and immediately I sensed that we would find a small bridge on the other end of the city, and that there would be a restaurant just after the bridge, on the right hand side of the road.

So we drove to the other end of the city, and we did find a small bridge. We drove over it, and kept looking for a restaurant on the right hand side of the road, but couldn't find anything except houses.

So we drove back into town, and my sister-in-law wound down the window and asked a man on the footpath if he can recommend a good restaurant.

He said, "Just past town, on the right hand side - but you won't know it's a restaurant - it just looks like a house".

So we did a u-turn and went back and straightaway recognised the house which was a restaurant on the right side of the road. It happened to be an Italian restaurant. I got to eat the very type of food I had imagined in my spirit. It was delicious. Really good quality.

I told the restaurant staff how the Lord had recommended their restaurant.

What a nice time we had!

Don't Go Today

While I was staying with my brother and his family in Parramatta, my mother came to visit, bringing my nephew Michael with her.

One day mum wished to take the children into the city riding the Parramatta Ferry, and she desired me to go with them to help look after the kids.

I enjoy the River Cat trip down the Parramatta River to Sydney Harbour, but on this occasion I just didn't feel right in my spirit about it. So I told mum.

Mum said something about how difficult it would be for her to look after the kids by herself; and something about how I should be willing to co-operate and be helpful. But I still could not feel right about it. And mum wouldn't let go of the idea.

So I said, "Okay, but I want to go on record as having said that I don't think we should be doing this today."

Then we began the two-kilometre walk to the Ferry pier.

As we got close to the pier, it looked unusually quiet. When we arrived there was a sign up apologising for any inconvenience - the ferry service was closed for that day only. So we - and the children - walked all the way home again.

But still my mother did not concede that the source of my reluctance had been the Holy Spirit. It seems she thought I was just being uncooperative, unhelpful, even selfish, and that the fact that the ferry service was closed that day was only a coincidence.

But being led by the Spirit is something separate from ourself. We feel His leading in our spirit, but that's not necessarily the same as what we desire or think in our soul. It's what you feel in the real you - in your spirit - by the witness of the Spirit in your spirit.

Learn to recognise that. Learn to distinguish spirit from soul. And be led by the Spirit. Even in small things.

God's Street Directory

One day while at work I had to drive to a certain company to pick up some documents, but I couldn't find it.

So I asked the Lord to lead me to it. If I felt like He told me to turn left, I turned left. If He told me to turn right, I turned right. If straight-ahead, I went straight-ahead. But still I couldn't see the office.

So feeling a little frustrated, I decided to pull over and consult the Street Directory. I managed to find a car park on the side of the busy street. I studied theDirectory, and realised I'd ended-up very near to where I had to go.

In fact, I looked up from the Directory, and right beside me, on my side of the street, I saw a sign above a door with the name of the very business I was looking for written on it. The Lord led me not only to the right street, but to a car park right in front of the very business I was looking for.

Driving Directions

One day while at work I was driving through Brisbane City on my run towards the airport.

Instead of turning right at the usual intersection, I felt led to go straight ahead and turn right at the next street instead.

There I saw a friend whom I hadn't seen for quite some time, walking along the footpath. So I stopped and talked to him.

And he told me it was good I'd seen him, because he was on his way to the bridge (Brisbane's Storey Bridge) to jump off (and commit suicide) he said.

It made him feel better to have someone to talk to.

God Knows

One time I went to a takeaway with a large group of friends. We'd just come from a night-meeting where I'd ministered, and were on our way home. 

I'd been given an honorarium at the meeting, so I decided to let all my friends order whatever they wanted and then I'd pay for it. 

I was thinking of ordering a milkshake for myself, but felt led not to, but to order a bottle of soft drink instead. 

When the bill was talleyed up, the total came to the exact amount of the honorarium I'd been given. Had I ordered a milkshake for myself instead of the bottle of softdrink, I wouldn't have had enough to pay cash for the bill.

The inner witness of the Spirit is something you feel in your spirit, distinct from what you think in your head or feel with your emotions - and it can help you with the most practical of things. 

Thursday, 8 May 2014

A Family for Christ

Up until a certain time in my life, I'd only ever led individuals to the Lord, but never a whole family. So I remember praying and fasting, requesting that I would lead a whole family to the Lord that year.

My workmate Paul was the first to get saved. At first his mother was not at all impressed that I had taken her son away from the Catholic church, so she thought. She was most unhappy when he got baptised.

She often went to the Coles cafeteria in Queen Street mall at lunchtime. Paul and I also often spent our lunch time together in the mall. One day Paul and I were sitting in a narrow walkway where she needed to walk. It annoyed her that she couldn't avoid been seen by me. But she said to herself, "If he talks to me I'm going to hit him over the head with my umbrella."

She did eventually end up agreeing to have us sit with her in the cafeteria, and I witnessed to her. I felt the anointing to heal the broken-hearted.

One day I visited them in their home. Paul's dad went to his room when I turned up. Or he sat there with the newspaper in front of his face, reading the races - and hardly could show his face or make eye contact. I could really feel how bound up they were. I felt compassion.

One day I gave Paul's mum a Christian booklet, and wrote some nice words in the cover. She tore the contents of the book out and threw it away, but kept the cover because of the loving words I'd written.

She was full of hurt. One day she decided to visit our church, but her husband didn't let her go. I felt so stirred that she was stopped from coming. I went to the Lord, saying, "She's got to be saved." The verse in the Bible was highlighted to me where it says, "I will give them shepherds which shall feed them, and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the Lord." So I felt an assurance that she would be saved.

The next Sunday, she made it to church. That night our Pastor was preaching about things about Jesus that have not changed - like His compassion. She was in tears the whole time. She was wiping her tears with the bottom of her long dress.

And that very first Sunday she went straight out and gave her life to Jesus.

She immediately began reading the Bible and hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit. She became a regular at church. She's never been the same since.

Her daughter got saved and started going to church.

We were still praying for Paul's father. We claimed that he would be saved by the end of the year.

One day Paul and I went out to the railway track behind my parents' house in Raceview, to pray as we often did. It was the last day of the year. An unusual spirit of prayer came on us both. We prayed in tongues for at least an hour. And then it lifted.

That night we went out to our new years' eve celebrations. And we were home in the kitchen very late, after midnight. And the phone rang, even though it was so late. I answered it, and it was Paul's mum. She phoned to say that Paul's dad went with her to a new years' eve meeting at Reach Out For Christ, and Steve Ryder gave an altar call, and Paul's dad gave his heart to the Lord. On the last day of the year. God answered our prayer to saved him by the end of the year. That's probably who we were praying for when we got that unusual spirit of prayer to pray in tongues earlier in the day.

My workmate's brother didn't become a regular at church. But years later when he was speaking at his dear dad's funeral, he made reference to our shared beliefs in God.

God brought a family to Christ in answer to my request.

A Friend

One of the most difficult places to witness to Christ, I found, was in the office at work. Witnessing at school, or at lunchtime, or in the shopping mall, or in the streets, or in other offices and job sites I visited, or in home meetings, youth groups, churches or crusades was quite a bit easier. But the staid atmosphere of the office made it feel awkward. I had a Christian boss, but I was the only Christian in our open-section of the office, and I was the youngest person there.

So one day I told the Lord how I was finding it hard to witness at work, and I prayed, "Lord, please give me a friend who can spur me on - and whom I can also spur on."

Very soon after that, our receptionist came hurriedly out of the boss's office in tears, picked up her bag and left - and never came back again. So our company had to advertise for a new receptionist.

Amongst all the females who applied, one male turned-up for an interview. I thought that was amusing. And our bosses decide to give him the job, thinking if they gave the job to a male, it might cut down on some of the talking that went on amongst the women in the office.

But he turned-out to be a real joker. One day he phoned my desk pretending to be a warehouse clerk informing me that they had a package I needed to come and pick up. So I picked up my keys, and on my way out, on my way past our receptionists' desk, I told him where I had to go. I saw a grin on his face, which let me know it was only him.

He wanted to have lunch with me, but I didn't want friendship with a non-Christian to get in the way of my commitment to going witnessing in Queen Street mall during my lunch break. But he said, "Oh you're boring!" So I decided if I have lunch with him, I might be able to witness to him.

One Sunday he came to church. He arrived just as the offering was being taken up. And he walked out and left soon afterwards. The next day at work he said, "I've seen that guy on TV. All they want is your money!" I felt quite discouraged.

But the next week, he came to our house, then came to church again. This time he stayed the whole service. But he didn't become a Christian.

He was really impressed with our family-life. One day at lunch time at work, a Christian friend from my high school days came and had lunch with us both in the mall, and he bought my workmate a drink of orange juice. My workmate was surprised by this act of kindness.

One day we walked into an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, not knowing what it was. I heard each person introduce themselves, saying, "My name is _____, and I am an alcoholic. But I haven't had a drink for _____ years." Everyone had the same introduction.

The leader asked if anyone else wanted to speak. So I stood up and said, "My name is John, and I've never been an alcoholic. I've never been drunk in my life. As I've been listening to each of you today, I've heard each of you say, "I am an alcoholic..." Alcoholism is caused by a demon. When you ask Jesus into your life, the demon of alcoholism will leave, and then you'll be able to say, "My name is _____, and I was an alcoholic."

My workmate was thrilled with my boldness.

I remember sitting down with him at lunchtime, sharing the word of God. I happened to mention that I'd been praying for him. It impressed him profoundly to hear I'd been praying for him. He told me, "One day I didn't come home until really late, and when I got home, I found that my mother and friends had been worried about me and had been ringing up trying to find me. I felt touched that they cared. And now I'm getting the same feeling."

My pastor at the time asked me, "Do you think Paul will crack?"

The third Sunday he came to church again. It was our pastor's last Sunday before going overseas as a missionary. And my workmate went forward and accepted Jesus!

The next day at work, he had a different glow on his face.

He came on a men's camp, and got baptised with the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues, and someone nearby got healed.

He got baptised in water.

He started helping with the youth group, and children's church.

Whatever I did, Paul was there to help.

And the friendship continues to this day.

Paul's side of the story is that when he finished high school, he actually prayed, not just for a job, but the right job. He was Catholic.

Then he went to what was then called the CES office (Commonwealth Employment Service) to look for a job. He looked on the board where clerical positions were advertised, but found nothing suitable. Then for some reason he had a feeling that he should look on the other side of the board, where clerical jobs were not usually posted. And there he found our company's advertisement, which must have been in the wrong place. He applied for the job, and got it.

Living Water at Work

While I was at high school, I was continuously witnessing. I went witnessing at lunchtime every Monday and Tuesday. On Wednesday I had band practice. On Thursdays I ran our Christian outreach meeting. Then on Fridays I'd follow-up the people who'd come to the meeting the day before, lay hands  on them to be baptised with the Holy Spirit, get their address to pick them up for church on Sunday, or went witnessing again.

So when my time at high school was drawing to a close, and I started thinking about having a job in the future, I put my desire before the Lord that no matter what I did, it would be something where I would still always have the opportunity to be a witness.

Then the verse in the Bible was highlighted to me, "Thy gates shall be open continually."  It was an assurance to me that I would always have the opportunity to serve the Lord as a witness, no matter what.

Soon after I left school, I was kneeling by my bed, praying about my immediate future. The scenery of my bedroom seemed to disappear, and in its place I saw a dry, parched land. It was so dry and cracked, and waterless.

I saw a single metal pipe coming out of the ground, and occasional drops of water dripped out of it onto the ground. As I watched, the drips became a light flow. A puddle began to form. Then the light flow became a full flow. Eventually water was pouring out of it. And the dry parched land became drenched - flooded - with the life-giving water. I knew straightaway that the vision meant I would continue to be a witness wherever I went: on the train, in the office, around the city.

The job God opened-up for me certainly gave me that opportunity. I witnessed to people on the train. I witnessed to people from our office. I went witnessing in Queen Street Mall at lunchtime. I witnessed to people in offices I visited. And at the airport. To a whole variety of people.

One person who got saved in those became a best friend, and is still serving the Lord all these years later.

Another person led many of his own friends to the Lord.

Someone asked prayer for healing.

One time I was witnessing in the Mall, and must have given my address to someone. Because some months later I received a letter in the mail from someone who'd acquired my address, encouraging me to keep up my witnessing in the Mall.

Trust God

God is able to make our way perfect.

A Job Chosen By God

When I was still a student in high school, I knew I was called to become a full-time missionary - but I also knew I would have to work for some years first.

In those days we often went to the international airport to drop someone off or pick them up from a mission trip. I longed for the day when it would be my turn.

On one of those occasions I saw a door in the terminal, and I saw a man open it and go in. I didn't know what it was. But it looked official - it didn't look like it was for the everyday public.

I said to God, "I know I'm going to have to work for a few years when I leave school before I go into full time ministry. I don't know what that door is for, but whatever it's for, when I leave school, I want to get a job where I get to go through those doors."

When I finally graduated from high school, I stated working full-time in a job which I'd been doing part-time during my last year at school. But I knew it wasn't something I was meant to do permanently, so at the same time I was applying for other jobs. 

Sometimes I would be short-listed for an interview, one time I even ended-up being called back as their second choice, but I wasn't quite landing a job. All of the time I never really felt quite right about the job in my spirit anyway. So I decided to fast for two days.

At the end of the second day, I got a number of phone calls and a number of job offers - and none of them were jobs I'd actually applied for. So then I had a new problem - which job to choose!

This gave me better work, but still I didn't feel quite right about the career-direction it would have taken me.

Then one day the assistant pastor in my church in Ipswich told me that he'd received a phone call from a member of our church in Brisbane, asking if there was a suitable young man in our church who might be available for a job.

So I went for the interview, and the boss said, "Start tomorrow."

The next morning I was shown around my duties. And it involved going through those very doors at the international terminal twice every day! 

Speaking is Having

One of the first times I stepped out in faith for provision, was when I was a student at High School.

I'd decided to show the movie, "The Cross and the Switchblade" at lunchtime. I still didn't have the movie, but I decided to stand up on Assembly in front of the whole school and invite everyone to come.

I knew it wouldn't be good if I did that, and then wasn't able to get the movie. But I dug-in in faith, and decided that I would the movie on time no matter what. And I acted my faith by speaking in front of the whole school.

That afternoon, I think it was, I got the train all the way to Brisbane city after school and was able to get the movie.

I showed it to the school over two successive lunch hours. Approximately 100 students turned up both days. Even the teacher in charge of the audio-visual room of the library was surprised so many people turned up.

At the end there was barely any time left before class was to start, but I gave a salvation altar call, and six students came forward, whom I led in prayer to accept Christ.

What we speak, we have.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

"Oakhurst" - by Ivy Reid

'Oakhurst' - Oil on Board, 25x35cm, Ivy Reid, 1995

One day when a friend and I were driving to Muli Muli, NSW, I said, "I'm going to buy a painting on this trip." I'd never bought a painting before.

We went into a shop in Woodenbong, NSW, and I saw this painting, by a local artist. The shopkeeper phoned the artist, who came and met me, and gave me a special price.

The painting is a reminder to me of the wonderful ways in which God has made it possible for me to regularly go to Muli Muli, and the wonderful times He has always given me there.


I informed a friend of mine that with the exception of fish, there wasn't any kosher meat available to indigenous Australians at all on the entire continent, prior to the arrival of Europeans.

My friend replied with something like, "That means Australia was always for uber-grace"!

Dave Martin Quote

"The world is changed by your example, not by your opinion" - Dave Martin

Oil Painting by B. Doomernik

Oil on Board - by B. Doomernik

One day I saw a painting in a shop. I desired to buy it. But I felt led not to. I obeyed.

Only a couple of days later I was visiting a friend, and he gave me the above painting.

So every time I see the painting, it's a reminder to me that when we relinquish something out of obedience to the Holy Spirit, He sees our heart and He is able to give us our desire freely. 

Matthew's Gospel and the Law

Some Christians today imagine that they should be keeping Moses' Law, based on statements made by Jesus, as recorded in Matthew's Gospel.

For example, Jesus said that He didn't come to destroy the Law but to fulfil it.

He said anyone who did and taught the Law would be called great in the kingdom of heaven; and anyone who broke and taught men to break even the least point of the Law would be called least in the kingdom of heaven.

He said that not one jot nor tittle of the Law would pass away until all was fulfilled.

Some Christians today take these statements to mean that Christians should be keeping the Law.

But take notice that Jesus also made statements which indicated that the Law was about to be superseded.

For example, while speaking to the woman at the well, He insisted that Jerusalem was, at that time, the place where men ought to worship. That statement upheld the Law. But then He predicted an hour coming when the true worshipers would no longer be required to worship in Jerusalem. That statement shows that the Law was about to be superseded.

Then after His resurrection, Jesus commissioned the apostles to go into all the world and teach all nations all things that He had commanded them. Prior to His crucifixion, Jesus stated that He was not sent but for the lost sheep of the house of Israel. When He sent the twelve out, He had told them, "Enter not into any city of the Gentiles." But the inclusion of the Gentiles in God's program after His resurrection showed that the Law, which had excluded the Gentiles, was now being superseded.

At the last Passover, Jesus took the cup and stated, "This is the new testament in my blood which is shed for many". He morphed the Old Covenant feast into something new, and included the Gentiles in its scope. What Jesus was instituting was not a new way of keeping the Passover, but something new - the Lord's table - which the Gentile churches observed weekly - "as often as they drank it", as Jesus said - not exclusively in the month of Nisan, when the Passover had been celebrated.

So we see that Jesus on one hand obeyed, taught and fulfilled the Law and the Prophets and explained that His ministry at that time was exclusively to the Jews; and on the other hand Jesus also stated that the Law would be superseded by a New Covenant which would include the Gentiles. Both aspects comprise the full package of what Jesus commanded His disciples.

Seeing the apostles were commissioned to teach all nations all things that Jesus had commanded them, it follows that they had to include Jesus' inferences about the Law being superseded - otherwise they wouldn't be teaching all things that Jesus commanded.

Why did Matthew's and John's Gospels emphasise different aspects of Jesus' ministry and doctrine? It's because of their target audience.

Matthew was writing His Gospel for Jews. He showed that Jesus perfectly kept the Law, and taught the true meaning of the Law, and that He xpected the Jews who were still under the Law to keep it at that time.

And Matthew shows how Jesus transformed the Old Covenant and its Law into a New Covenant seamlessly, without ever breaking the requirement of the Law in the process. Instead, Jesus obeyed it literally, fulfilled all of its symbolism, and fulfilled the prophecy contained in the Law of the Law's own replacement by a New Covenant.

The Jews could never have become convinced that Jesus was their Messiah unless they were satisfied that Jesus' had upheld the Law and the Prophets.

John's Gospel didn't make the same attempt to emphasise how Jesus obeyed the Law. This is because John was writing to Gentiles who didn't need to know how Jesus kept the Law in order to be convinced of Jesus' credentials.

John had to repeatedly mention that the Feasts were feasts of the Jews. If the Apostles had been teaching that the churches were to keep the Feasts, John would hardly have had to explain in His Gospel what the feasts were. And he wouldn't have called it a Feast of the Jews, if the feats had already been taught as feasts of the churches too.

Matthew makes little mention of the Gospel being for all nations until near the end. John mentions it from the start, and all the way through.

Matthew repeatedly shows how Jesus kept, taught and fulfilled the Law and the Prophets. John repeatedly shows how Jesus came into conflict with the Jewish leaders.

Both records were true of Jesus. He obeyed, taught and fulfilled the Law and Prophets - which included morphing it into a New Covenant which superseded it. This is the whole package of what Jesus modelled and commanded His disciples. And this is the message which they were to teach all nations.

Many Jewish Christians continued keeping the Law for a while, especially in the church in Jerusalem. Some of the Christians who had been converted from a Pharisee background began insisting that the Gentiles keep the Law. But the Apostles stated that they had not authorised them to make any such demand. The Apostles and Elders responded by categorically stating that the Gentiles were not required to keep the Law. Paul taught that the Law had been replaced by a new and better covenant, and stated that it was vanishing away. It did end abruptly when the Temple and city were destroyed in approximately AD70. From then onwards it became forever impossible to comply with the requirements of the Law.

We are under a New Covenant, which happened to have been inaugurated not through a process of breaking the Law, but through the process of Jesus perfectly obeying and fulfilling it.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Solemn Feasts

Nahum 1:15 exhorted Jews, still under the Old Covenant, to keep their solemn feasts.

The motivation was said to be two-fold:

1. Because the Gospel was surely coming; and

2. Because in the mean time Israel was to enjoy seasons of relative peace.

The injunction to "keep thy solemn feasts" isn't a present-day requirement of Jews, because it can't be said that the enemy has not passed through their land. But there was a time when the enemy wasn't passing through their land, in comparison to the Babylonian captivity, and in comparison to what was to transpire later on - and that was the period of time from when they returned from captivity until approximately when Shiloh (the Messiah) came. Israel kept the feasts during that time-period.

Then the enemy again destroyed the city and Temple (in approximately AD70) and it forever ceased to be a requirement and even a possibility to keep the Feasts. But by that time their Messiah had come and given them a New Covenant. 

Kingdom Restored to Israel

Jesus Christ shall restore again the kingdom to Israel - at His second coming, which will be at a time which only the Father knows, and only believers (both Jews and Gentiles) shall participate in it. 

Why I Believe in Jesus Christ

We were taught in Physics that mass is a constant.

That means original mass could not have come into existence from nothing and by nothing. Mass could only have come into existence from and by the agency of another dimension.

The very existence of the dimension of time and space in which mass exists requires that another dimension acted as agent - because it could not have begun by means of itself.

Belonging to a different dimension outside the dimension of time and space where mass exists, by very definition, means that the actor in that other dimension needed no beginning nor end - needed no creator.

What or Who was the actor in that other dimension? The implication is necessarily theistic or spiritual.

So which god or spirit was it? Examining all of the philosophies and religions of the world reveals only one that offers an explanation for the creation of the dimension of time and space through the agency of a dimension outside of itself.

Only one describes the beginning of life, a habitable earth, the cosmos, and original matter with detail and in an order which doesn't contradict observable principles of physics.

Only one possesses a collection of documents written by numerous individuals who didn't all know each other, over a long period of time, in different locations, all confirming the other through observable and falsifiable prophecies and historical fulfilment.

It's the faith to which the oldest written documents in the world happen to belong.

It's the faith from which the highest good in society happens to have sprung.

It's the faith which best defines and models true love and working ethics in society.

There is no other philosophy which produces similar peace, joy and hope for the future.

It's the only faith where the claims of its founder were verified through the eye-witnessed flesh-and-blood resurrection of its founder from the dead.

It's the only faith where miracles experienced by multitudes in the name of its founder continue as evidential exhibits.

It's the only faith where victory is observably demonstrated over evil spirits (demons) which are also impacting this world from another parallel dimension.

It's the only faith which offers the promise of future victory over death, and has the physically demonstrated resurrection of its founder from the dead to back up that promise.

It's the only faith where all of those things were prophesied, fulfilled, witnessed, documented and experienced in an observable and falsifiable way.

Above all, it's the faith about Whose founder we are taught, and to Whom we are drawn, by the Father in heaven.

It's the one faith wherein prayers are answered.

It's the one philosophy, religion, or faith where all of the above come together and its followers actually really experience the One in Whom they believe.

And that one faith is the faith of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

That's why I believe there is a God; and that's why I believe in the Gospel of our only Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

And all who believe in Him have eternal life.

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16)

"If you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord', and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved" (Romans 10).

God's Plan for Israel and the Nations

God isn't waiting to get the Gospel over so He can get on with His plan for Israel. The Gospel is His plan for Israel - and for the whole world. This is it. This is the very thing He was talking to Abraham about. 

The Feast of Tabernacles

The Church isn't just an interim thing while we wait for God to get back to His real program for Israel. It was Moses' Law that was the interim thing - it's the Gospel and the Church that are God's originally promised program.

The nations trekking up to Jerusalem to observe the Feast of Tabernacles is not God's ultimate program for the future. God's ultimate program for the future was that God Himself shall tabernacle with His people. The Feast of Tabernacles was a symbol of things that were to come. John saw that when the time came for the symbol to be fulfilled, the fulfilment didn't involve carrying out the symbol, but rather experiencing the real thing. God dwelling with His people, not in physical Jerusalem, but in the new, heavenly Jerusalem - the bride of the Lamb. God isn't into taking us back to shadows after the substance is already come.