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Bag of All Sorts No.11

17th May 2019

Sites worth commending.

How Christianity can stay strong in the West? People in the USA can’t put the book “The Benedict Option” by Rod Dreher down. A strategy for Christians in a post-Christian nation. For a helpful overview with Morgan Lee visit, http://www.eternitynews.com.au/staystrong

Family Cast. This site has something for the entire family. High values based content by authors such as Focus on the Family. You can start a Free Trial by visiting, http://www.familycast.com.au

A Quotation worth pondering

“The purpose of sex is pro-creative as God uses it to create life and to fulfil the first commandment. Gen 1:28. It unites us as its enjoyment and intimacy culminate in the union of husband and wife. Genesis 2:23-24.

Its primary concern therefore is not outward attractiveness or selfish satisfaction but internal connectedness. –Yet as important as sex is, it is not all important. Jesus proclaimed marriage to be part of God’s good design for creation and yet said some are called to renounce it for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven.Matthew.19: 1-12. In the good life of the gospel, sex is an incredible gift from God but faithfulness to the giver remains primary.” “Everyday Theology,” Edited Kevin. Vanhoozer. Baker Academic.

Learning Scripture

A new Bible memorisation programme is helping Christian people to learn Scripture by heart and to apply it to daily life. The guide provides step by step instructions for starting and leading small groups dedicated to mastering Bible verses.

See http://www.biblememory.com

Positive Affirmations

Repeating and meditating on the promises of God’s Word can be healing and life changing. We know that God’s Word is reliable, trust worthy and true because it is consistent with the very character and nature of God. Trusted and taken to heart the Word of God can impact our lives in a dynamic practical way. The law of suggestion first came into prominence in the 19th century when it was used by a chemist Emile Couie. He was one of the pioneers of the power of positive affirmation.

Guide lines include the following:

(1) To be effective the affirmation must be positive.

(2) The more times it is repeated either mentally or verbally each day, the better.

(3) The most effective time to get the affirmation into the subconscious mind is immediately before going to sleep at night . This allows the subconscious to work on them while you sleep. Also as soon as you awake in the morning.

(4) Sometimes it takes only a few days , but usually several weeks may be needed before the affirmation starts to impact the person.

It is known that the subconscious part of the mind is open to suggestion but it cannot reason or interpret. It can however help to heal faulty or undesirable emotions. For instance to say “I am a forgiven so I am a forgiving person” can be helpful.

(5) Research has shown that the suggestion given to the subconscious mind must be repeated at least five times just before going to sleep, five times on waking and at intervals during the day.

Where a condition causing distress appears in general nature such as anxiety, fear, depression etc then an affirmation diet of biblical texts can be healing and beneficial.

An excellent affirmation. “By the Word of the Lord I am an over-comer, I am made whole, strong, loving, harmonious, and happy.” Adult Christian Education Foundation.

Using your work to interface with Culture

The theme of the Life@Work conference 2019 was “Distinctive: The power of an attractive life in the workplace.” Mr Eddie Woo, a maths teacher at a Technology High School in Sydney mentioned three passages in his presentation. Jeremiah 29, Colossians 3:23 and 1 Corinthians 9.

An inspiring young man, Eddie Woo has been awarded, “Australia’s most famous teacher” and “Local Hero of the year Award” yet Woo has stated that the type of public success and recognition he has experienced should not be a goal for a Christian. He says secular people may work hard but they’re going to be doing it for their own self-gratification or for money. Christians aim to serve the people around them, not to make a name for themselves. Working in the Government education system—where proselytising of students is banned, Woo has his own challenges in dealing with the secular world. Eddie Woo spoke about the ways we can serve God by means of our day-to-day profession and also how to do that in a way which is not just diligent but also commends God in the way we conduct ourselves. “ Christ clearly calls us to radical service and it is one of the primary distinguishing factors between us and the rest of the world.”

Jeremiah 29.

This chapter addresses the seeming paradox of God’s people being called to be “set apart and holy” while at the same time being called to be “apart of the culture”.

“Jeremiah warns his people to ignore the false prophets who are telling them to stay outside the city, but instead tells them to do exactly the opposite-to seek the welfare of the city in which they live, even a secular one. In that city’s welfare we find our own,”---“There’s a call for engaging with the culture- not just working hard and remaining separate from it.” We can use our work to get on the front foot and interface with the culture rather than being isolationist about it.

Colossians 3:23

This urged the slaves of the Roman Empire to submit to their masters and work at their jobs “with all your heart, as working for the Lord not for men” While modern day workers are not slaves, “it’s very important that we restore that idea of living a quiet and gentle life. We are not here to rebel against the authority placed over us. Woo said, “A lot of slaves in Paul’s day might have been thinking well, can we just ignore our earthly masters and Paul’s answer was very violent no, by no means.”

1 Corinthians 9

Here the Apostle describes how he could have asked the churches to support him, but instead chose to work. The passage is also important in the way that Paul views his work. “He’s a tentmaker, so that he can support his ministry through that. He didn’t have to do that.” Like Daniel who was a faithful Jew while serving at a high level in the aggressively pagan Babylonian regime “We are called in the same way to work in an environment which might be hostile to what we believe but to conduct ourselves in a way that still maintains integrity” Woo said.

“When you’re a teacher you cannot help but put your personality and your character and your values on display.. Being a Christian did not mean being soft on misbehaviour. “I’m there to demonstrate to them that their behaviour is important and that it matters, I’ll clearly show them there’s a right and a wrong way to behave in this situation. “Human beings have dignity in the classroom, and so I’m really talking about being made in God’s image there in so many words.”

Woo’s devotion to the ideal of Christian service even extended to his choice of teaching subject. Amazingly, despite arguably being Australia’s best known maths teacher, his preferred choice of topic was English or history. He chose maths because of the shortage of maths teachers. “I follow someone who didn’t come to be served but to serve. That’s part of who I am. So to me that makes perfect sense even though to the world it doesn’t.

Adapted from 2019 “The Melbourne Anglican” See lifeatwork.org.au/conference

The Deceit of Self Neglect.

One of the most common causes of breakdown in ministry towards others is the sin of self-neglect. The inability to be objective and to rest from the stress of having to  earning others approval.

Ministers must learn that the level of need will always exceed the time available to work. It has been said , “The needs of the people of God are insatiable and they will kill you!!!!” If we wait for a break to take time off, we will never take any time off.. Does it seem impossible to leave your responsibilities? The Lord Himself occasionally got away to Bethany and spent time apart from the pressures of ministry and leadership. Every person serving others must keep a Planner Diary to mark in the priority of a holiday with their family. Also take an occasional weekend off. Your family also needs to be together and apart from the demands that the ministry indirectly puts on them. It has been said that if your responsibilities cannot function without you for two weeks, then you are not properly delegating to those in your care.

Then there is the matter of enjoyment. Is it hard to find genuine joy and refreshment in spending time with your family? Our family should be enjoyable, a place that brings us life and healing. The atmosphere in a Christian home is a reflection of the father’s or parents condition. A parent can be physically present but absent as a person.

Is it difficult for you to do something just for the fun of it? False asceticism and unnatural devotion to the call of ministry makes us feel guilty for wasting time if we take a few hours out doing something just for fun. Every person should find a diversion which can periodically be used as an escape and time of rest and refreshment. Diversion may be group or individual oriented. Whatever it is, break away from the bondage of pointing every activity towards an immediate ministry goal. Recognise that diversion itself can serve a spiritual purpose. To be a good steward of your own life you must spend a little time and effort maintaining, mental and physical well-being.

Every leader in the Body of Christ should know the integrity and rest that will keep him/ her healthy and strong and able to fulfil their calling. With the Apostle Paul we are able to know and affirm an incredible goodness operating on our behalf. Together we are able to claim---“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us” Eph 2:20.

Does Suffering mean there’s no God?

This simple outline is provided as a useful pastoral aid

Terrible things happen in this world and no one can pretend to really understand why (Ecclesiastes 8:14-17).Yet while suffering makes faith in God difficult for many people it need not force us to the conclusion that there is no God or that God is not good. However this is what we do know and can be certain about.

The Bible teaches that:

1.  Suffering shows something has gone wrong with the world. At the most basic level, the Bible insists that suffering is a part of life because the human race has turned away from God- -the one who gives life and health and safety. Sadly the result of our rebellion (living independently from God) is that everything in our world is out of alignment and nothing works properly any more—our relationships fail, our bodies fail, our children die and our world groans and deteriorates.

2.  God knows what it’s like. Our predicament is desperate and hopeless, yet God has not abandoned us. Instead He sent His own Son into the world as a person to share our life and experience our suffering. Through Jesus, who was abused and died on a

Roman cross, God knows human grief and loss first hand. In Jesus death God understands and shares in our pain and suffering

3.  God has done something in history and time. In Jesus’ cross, God has acted to end the cause of human suffering. On the cross Jesus took on himself all the consequences of our rebellion against God and made it possible for us to be forgiven and made God’s friends (read.. Isaiah 53:5-6)

4.  There is an end in sight. Because Jesus paid the price it is now possible to know peace. God now holds out a future free from hopelessness to all who will accept his offer of forgiveness and who will surrender themselves to Him. There will come a day when God will renew the world and all those who have come to trust him Those who follow Jesus now live life knowing that they share the gift of His life. They will rise to a new life and that the best is yet to come. (1Cor.15, Rev. 21)

“In Him there is No Lie!”

Irenaeus of Lyons (c130--c200) chief literary work was a treatise “Against all Heresies”—a defence of Christianity against Gnosticism.

Describing the resurgence of Gnosticism in the church of our time Mark Sayers writes,

“Gnostic understanding of the world turns Genesis upside down—whatever order seems to exist in the world is flawed and must be escaped or reshaped by human hands.—Gnostics wished to escape their bodies and to move beyond being defined by gender.--- Gnostic spirituality then is not one of obedience and faith but rather of breaking boundaries, rejecting definitions, and transgressing limits.( like marriage)—The reduced neo-Gnosticism of our day wishes to escape the world of the mundane for the world of the awesome, the simulating, and the pleasurable.” “Disappearing Church,” Mark Sayers, Moody Publishers, 2016. p61.

The following selections below from Irenaeus have been drawn from different translations of the Greek and appeared in ‘Decision’, June 1970.

We have learned the plan of our salvation from no one except those through whom the Gospel has come down to us. They are men who at one time proclaimed the message of Christ in public and at a later period, by the will of God, handed it down to us in the Scriptures to be the ground and pillar of our faith. After our Lord rose from the dead, the apostles were clothed with power from on high when the Holy Spirit came upon them. They went out to the ends of the earth, preaching the good things that came to us from God, and proclaiming peace from heaven to men, all and each of the apostles being equally in possession of the Gospel of God.

So Matthew among the Hebrews issued a writing of the Gospel in their own tongue, while Peter and Paul were preaching the Gospel and laying the foundations of the church. After their decease Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, also handed down to us in writing what Peter had preached. Then Luke, the follower of Paul, recorded in a book the Gospel as it was preached by Paul. Afterward John, the disciple of the Lord who had leaned upon his breast, himself published the Gospel while he was residing at Ephesus in Asia. All of these declared to us that there is one God, maker of heaven and earth, proclaimed by the law and the prophets, and one Christ the Son of God. If anyone does not agree with these truths, he despises the companions of the Lord, and Christ the Lord himself. He even despises the Father , and stands self-condemned.

For there was no way we could have learned the things of God unless our Teacher, being the Word, had become man. No one could declare to us the things of the Father except his Word. “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counsellor?”(Romans 11:34). We could have learned in no way other than by seeing our Teacher, so that we might become imitators of his works and doers of his words, and so have communion with him, receiving our increase from him who is perfect and before all creation. He gave himself a ransom for us who had been led into captivity, redeeming us by his blood in accordance with his reasonable (spiritual) nature.

The church, although scattered over the whole civilized world, received from the apostles and their disciples its faith in one God, the Father Almighty, who made the heaven and the earth and the seas; and in Christ Jesus, the Son of God, who was made flesh for our Salvation; and in the Holy Spirit, through the prophets proclaimed the divine ordering of the affairs of the universe.

So the apostolic tradition is preserved in the church and has come down to us. Let us turn, then, to the demonstration from the Scriptures of those apostles who recorded the Gospel. In their writings they set forth their convictions regarding God, declaring that our Lord Jesus Christ is the truth, and that in him is no lie. For a lie has no fellowship with the truth, any more than light with darkness. The disciples did not name any being as God, or call anyone Lord, except him who is the true God and Lord of all.

This can be shown by the recorded words of the Lord. He revealed himself as the Messiah predicted by the prophets, the Son of God, to those of the circumcision (the Jewish people). He showed himself to be the One who restored freedom to men and gave them the heritage of eternal life. In their turn, the apostles taught the Gentiles that they should give up idolising sticks and stones to worship the true God who had created and established the whole human family, and who by his ordaining power nourished, increased, strength and preserved them, and gave them their being. The apostles taught also that the Gentiles were to look for God’s Son, Jesus Christ, who redeemed us from apostasy with his own blood so that we might be made a holy people. They declared that this same Jesus will come down from heaven in the power of the Father, to execute judgment upon all and to give the good things of God freely to those who have kept his commandments.

The Scriptures relate that the Lord Jesus Christ showed himself most plainly to the disciples, and revealed his Father also, so that they might not seek after another god besides the One who formed man and gave him the breath of life. When the Lord encountered a man who had been blind from birth, his disciples asked him why the man had been born in such a condition. He replied, “That the works of God should be made manifest in him” (John 9:3)

Now the work of God is the fashioning of man. Thus the Old Testament says, “The Lord took clay from the earth, and formed man” (Genesis 2:7) In the same way the Lord in this case spat on the ground and made clay and smeared it on the man’s eyes. He manifested the hand of God to those who could understand. For that which the Artificer, the Word, had omitted to form in the womb (the blind man’s eyes) the Lord Jesus now supplied publicly, that the works of God might be revealed in him. He did it in order that we might not try to seek some other hand by which man might have been fashioned.

In such ways the Lord showed that the hand of God which formed us at the beginning, and which also formed us in the womb, has in these last times sought out us who were lost, winning back his own, taking up the lost sheep upon his shoulders and with joy restoring it to the fold of life. For the Creator of the world is truly the Word of God; and this is our Lord, who was made man, who existed in this world, and who in an invisible manner contains all things created and is inherent in the entire creation, since the Word of God governs and arranges all things. He came to his own in a visible manner, and was made flesh, and hung upon the tree, that he might sum up all things in himself.

Thus man, who had been led captive in the past, was rescued from the grasp of his possessor (Satan) according to the tender mercy of God the Father, who had compassion on his own handiwork and gave to it salvation, restoring it by means of the Word---that is, by Christ---in order that man might learn by actual proof that he receives eternal life not of himself, but by the free gift of God.

This is the faith that we have received and seek to preserve as something that is always renewing its youth by the Spirit of God. This is the gift of God that has been entrusted to the church as breath was to the first created man. Where the church is, there is the Spirit of God; and where the Spirit of God is, there is the church, and every kind of Grace; for the Spirit is truth.

Rev E.A. (Ted) Curnow


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