Practical and Pastoral – Ted Curnow
Pastoral and Devotional resources from the Reverend Ted (E.A.) Curnow member of the ACC Cranbourne Cluster (Victoria).
Jesus our Joshua Devotional Series
The Church in our time faces sweeping change and threatening new frontiers. The giants and walled cities of Canaan were always frightening while later in Jerusalem following the events of the cross the disciples met behind locked doors. This series of devotional reflections for personal or group use seeks to strengthen and encourage. Rev. Ted Curnow provides a series to encourage and stimulate Christian reflection at this time of change and challenge.
Jesus our Joshua Series Number 1 (Two page PDF): Discussion Questions below.
Within sight of the Promised Land, on their first approach the Israelites turned back and perished. (Numbers chapters 13 &14) ‘The people said, ‘Let us return to Egypt.’
They could have made eleven days of progress, but they chose forty extra years of wandering. (Duet. 2:14).
How do we as Christian’s respond to the challenges we face today?
Reflect on the options of ‘fight or flight’ and the following passages. Matt. 26:52-55, Acts 4: 10-12, 5: 27-31, 17:16-17, 1 Tim 2: 1-4, 1 Tim. 6: 11-14.
Jesus our Joshua Series Number 2 (Two page PDF): Discussion point below
Like the Israelites, Christians today face a new frontier, many threatening changes and an uncertain future. Recall and discuss Jesus final promise to his disciples ( Math 28; 18-20) and how we can take it to heart by practising his presence in the routine of our daily lives.
Jesus our Joshua Series Number 3 (Two page PDF): Discussion Questions below.
(1) Can you think of promises in the New Testament that invite us to ‘go in and possess’ the rich promises of Christ’s victory. Rest from the pressures of others, rest from an accusing conscience. Make a combined list of verses that are clear promises.
Claim them personally or as a group as the assurance of the new standing and the enduring relationship you share with our Father-God.
(2) While we are not to live in an unreal, make-believe world with our head in the clouds. How often do we claim the peace of Christ over the troubles that can easily beset us? Suggest helpful ways of doing this.
Jesus our Joshua Series Number 4 (Two page PDF): Discussion Question below.
As Joshua faced a seemingly daunting task leading the Israelites to the Promised Land. God gave reassurance multiple times. “I will never leave you nor forsake you”.
Be strong and very courageous.” “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” “Be strong and courageous.” “Only be strong and courageous.” Our faith can be just words until tested by action. These attributes don’t come from within. They come and can be claimed because the Maker of all things is in control of all things and is sustaining all things. This is why we are called to pray and in doing so to “cast all your anxiety on Him because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7)
Discuss Jesus final statement “I am with you always to end of the age.” (Matt 28:20.) How do we experience His presence?
Jesus our Joshua Series Number 5 (Two page PDF): Discussion Questions below.
(1) As a matter of interest, it is said 1400 years after Joshua that Jesus was baptised in the Jordan, at the same place where Joshua and Israel crossed. (Halley’s Bible Handbook) What might it mean for you and me now to think of Jesus as being our Joshua.?
(2) The early church faced extreme persecution. Nevertheless, like the Israelites, facing seemingly insurmountable odds, their testimony and suffering later resulted in the church rediscovering its identity. The historical cycle of repentance and reform offers tremendous hope and encouragement to faithful believers. Recall times of God’s intervention and Christian renewal movements through history.
Discuss the statement: “The flickering flame of the wayward church can burst into a flaming fire to rediscover its identity and to be the shaper of morality and godly living.”
Jesus our Joshua Series Number 6 (Two page PDF): Discussion Questions below.
(1) Christians can sometimes be stuck in a rut, routine or habit. Nicodemus was a Pharisee, a leader of the Jews. (John 3 v1) but when Jesus body was removed from the cross, he came “bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes.” (John 19:39). God often surprises us by using the unexpected. What does this mean for us?
((2) Poised and ready to enter the Promised Land, the distinction between wearing male and female clothing was to be preserved. (Duet. 22:5) It was a Canaanite practice for some men to dress and act as women—transvestitism (see also 1 Cor 6:9)
This was not so much a matter of whether women should wear men’s pants as much as God was calling the Israelites to be a distinct, a holy nation and not to adopt the practices of the Canaanites. Discuss distinctions between male and female role and kind.
(3) Discus the statement, “J.B. Phillips book, ‘Your God is too Small’ encourages Christians to think of God beyond labels or static constraints.”
Jesus our Joshua Series Number 7 (Two page PDF): Discussion Questions below.
(1) Divided loyalties were not an option for Israel (5:8 and 24:14-15) or for Jesus Luke 16:13). Today, what preparation does God require of the Church (the new Israel)? Is it a new methodology or a new heart? What might it mean for us today to relearn and yield to a radical obedience?
(2) Recount contemporary stories of God’s remarkable intervention. Biographies such as C.T. Studd, Norman Grubb. ‘Tortured for Christ,’ Richard Wurmbrand. ‘The Heavenly Man, Paul Hattaway. ‘The Case for Christ,’ Lee Strobel, ‘The Cross and Switchblade’ etc.
(3) There are times when we must be ready to learn. Joshua realised that ‘the commander’ was a divine person not just another man. What do these passages have in-common and what can we learn from them? Josh. 5:15, Exod. 3:5, Luke 5:8-11.
Jesus our Joshua Series Number 8 (Two page PDF): Discussion Questions below.
(1) The strongest and highest walls cannot hold out against Omnipotence: They did not need to fight and therefore needed not to fear, because God fought for them. (Deut. 20: 2-4).What does Jesus death and resurrection signify for you?
(2) The people were commanded to be silent (v10) that they may hear the sound of the trumpets which they were to recognise as the voice of God. (Zech 2:12-13).
Discuss: “As promised, deliverance must be expected in God’s way and it must be expected in his time.”
(3) The trumpets were a sign to the people that they should remember God in the day of battle. (Num. 19:9) God sounds the trumpet of the Gospel today which proclaims liberty and victory to encourage us as followers of Jesus Christ engaged in spiritual warfare. What does this say about the significance of our worship?
Jesus our Joshua Series Number 9 (Two page PDF): Discussion Questions below.
(1) Why does the church still become self-indulgent, tolerant, comfortable with sin ? Paul called the Corinthians to triumphant discipleship. ‘They had been---- idolaters, fornicators, etc --- ‘But you were washed,’ etc. There was transformation, a clear line of demarcation. Where is that line in our lives? How can we celebrate and remember who we are in Christ?
(2) In an age of hunger, the God revealed in Scripture is always at work seeking to ‘set at liberty those who are oppressed.’ Discuss: (Luke 4:18) ‘Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger,’ p31. Ronald J. Sider. Only if we are thoroughly grounded in the spiritual view of possessions, wealth and poverty will we adopt an obedient lifestyle!
(3) If Israel had a price to pay and a harvest to reap how much more will this be true of us? Our victory is the gift of God. It is not something we win, but something we receive as a gift from God. See 2 Peter 1:4. Discuss: “Being good followers of Jesus may not make us wealthy, but it brings us into the Lord’s treasury so that we own ‘the cattle on a thousand hills.’”
Jesus our Joshua Series Number 10 (Two page PDF): Discussion Questions below.
(1) To depend on Christ rather than our own efforts results in an inner rest from weariness, sorrow and sin. Like Canaan however this is only partial / a temporary rest.
How do we actually live in anticipation of the future eternal rest of the new creation? (Heb. 4: 8-11)
(2) Christians in Western society are increasingly accused of hate speech if they question the idea of gender fluidity and the 50-gender options people can choose.
In July 2017 General Synod of The Church of England passed a resolution in favour of creating specially designed ‘baptism–like’ liturgies to welcome those who had undergone gender transitioning under their new identity. Has the church fallen captive to the same sex LGBT activist agenda? ‘Death of Western Christianity, Patrick Sookhdeo, 2017, p110.
(3) Tempted to conform to the spirit of the age, Timothy was instructed to “Guard the truth that has been entrusted to you by the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.” (1 Tim 1:14) The NEB says, ‘the treasure put into your charge’—deposited for safe keeping within the church. According to the verse how might this be done? How do we walk in the Spirit? (Col 2: 6-8)
Jesus our Joshua Series Number 11 (Two page PDF): Discussion Questions below.
(1)“What matters is that we are constantly brought back in touch with the centre of the faith that Jesus, ‘gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of God our father.’” (Gal: 1:4). -- “And because it is not really our movement but the movement of the Lord who unites his people, it will continue to move.” Rev Dr Frank Engel.
(2)“Jesus frees us from the power of the “present evil age”, so that we can be part of God’s new age, his new creation, launched already when Jesus rose from the dead.-----The vital work was already done. We do not have to win that essential victory over again. What we have to do is to respond to the love poured out on the cross with love of our own, with love for the one who died, yes, but also with love for those around us.”“ The Day the Revolution Began,” N.T. Wright 2018, p365.
Jesus our Joshua Series Number 12 (Two page PDF): Discussion Questions below.
(1) In Roman 6 we are encouraged to ‘consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.’ In practical terms how do we claim and encourage growth in this new self understanding and identity?
(2) From the start, --“the Church’s mission was neither easy, nor military. Nor was it an ‘invasion’ for that matter. The whole point was that the Creator of the world was reclaiming his rightful possession from usurping powers. ---The victory was indeed won, the revolution was launched. Through the suffering of Jesus, it is now implemented, put into effective operation, by the suffering of his people.” (2 Cor. 6:4-10) ---
In Western churches “this message about the necessity of suffering has not been really understood---the revolution that began on the cross only works through the cross.” “The Day the Revolution Began,” N.T. Wright 2018, p367.
(3) Being renewed does not mean; ‘get busy and find some different or better method of Christian action.’ It means: ‘Expose yourself to the life-giving work of God.---the renewal of the Church does not begin with more or less solemn decisions of synods, conferences or committees, but with encounter between God and men, in which God takes hold of the situation and empowers them to serve as instruments of renewal. So, we must be continually on the watch for the initiatives which he will take.’
‘The Renewal of the Church’, W.A. Visser T. Hooft 1955, p 90.
Staying Hopeful in a Troubled World
Rev Ted Curnow shares some practical Christian insight relevant for this time in the context of the Uniting Church and its liberal theological decisions; providing a helpful reflection as during this critical time people may be considering their future even more.
Behold a New Thing
Some time ago it was the Sydney minister Rev Martin Robinson, who pointed out that vast historical changes are happening across the world on a scale that only happen every 300 to 400 years. He suggested that something similar to the collapse of the Medieval era and rise of the Modern world was occurring in our time. He pointed out that as the West drifts from its Christian heritage we are left with no basis for a shared common understanding of social boundaries. Psychiatrist Carl Yung has said the neurosis of the Western World in our time is ‘emptiness.’ The Prophet Isaiah watched the decline of Israel and brought a message of doom to Jerusalem but amid judgement God spoke into the chaos and declared, “Behold I am doing a new thing, now it springs forth.”
Rev Ted Curnow provides a word of encouragement at this time.
Bag of All Sorts # 14. Your useful Easter resources.
Connecting with the wider community starts with relationships. Family, friends, food and music. This is where we can start and continue to love our neighbour. Click here for more tips/suggestions to get you and your church started.
Rev. Ted Curnow provides some resources and material for Easter and the year.
Progressive or Regressive Christianity?
Rev Ted Curnow provides a personal reflection and account of the development and influence of 'progressive Christianity' in the context of the Uniting Church.
Available as a PDF(5 pages)
With the helpf of other Christian commentators, Rev Ted Curnow provides and overview of the current cultural context and issues that have left many Christians perplexed about what to do.
In the introduction John Stott provides to the sermons he preached on the Epistles to the Galatians, he wrote of how amazed he was that a short letter written in the first century could still be of vital importance. He was left more deeply convinced than ever of the divine inspiration and relevance of the Scriptures. Here we allow other Pastoral Epistles to speak into our world the 21st century.
A sermon from Rev Ted Curnow (January 2020)
Lord our God we come humbly
into your presence
at the beginning of a new year.
Our years come and go
but you remain and are always the same,
your dominion and your faithfulness,
your righteousness and mercy
have no beginning and no end.
You have always been there
going before us to prepare the way,
standing behind us, urging us
towards new hopes and a new creation.
Help us to walk quietly and thankfully
away from the old year.
Help us to see this New Year as you see it.
We confess our independence and pride.
We are sorry for our mistakes
and our failure to love as you love.
Lord grant us your forgiving grace.
Let us know your healing power.
We dare to believe that this is a new day
not a repeat of the year that’s gone.
In Christ we already have a new beginning.
Your presence is the promise of new life,
Your grace gives us courage,
so we come to worship and serve you today
and all the days of our lives.
Rev E.A. (Ted) Curnow.
When one member of the body is suffering, the whole body suffers with it, as we care for one another. We keep in our prayers the communities across Australia facing the heartbreak of unprecedented fires in New South Wales, South Australia, Victoria, Tasmania Western Australia and Queensland.
Loving God our prayers in this moment
are for those who have suffered trauma
through natural disaster or accident.
We pray especially for the victims of bushfires
in our district, State and across Australia.
We pray in particular for the safety
of those working on fire fronts
and for those who have lost loved ones.
Be with them in their grief and sorrow.
Comfort their torn hearts, heal their memories
and allow hope to visit then again.
We pray for those who have lost their homes or property.
As they grieve the loss of treasured personal possessions,
farm equipment, fences, live-stock, hay and feed,
help them know they are not alone.
Bring comfort and at this time restore their hope.
We pray for those who are helping others
to bring the pieces of life together again,
Councillors and helping agencies.
Give us grace to stand with one another
and to listen in a way that respects human dignity.
We pray for ourselves as we realize how vulnerable we all are.
Through the ashes and tears renew our awareness
of our need to look to you for wisdom, strength and guidance.
These prayers we pray through Jesus our Lord
who inspires our compassion, and through the Holy Spirit
who even now heals the broken hearted.
Rev E.A. (Ted) Curnow.
"Pray to your Father secretly, and your Father who knows your secrets will reward you.” Matthew 6:6
Rev. Ted Curnow provides a devotional guide and reflection for praying. (9 pages PDF)