WHAT’S GOING ON, LORD – THOSE ‘SO…’ INCIDENTS

(May 14, 2019) Robert and Maureen McQuillan reflect on one of those unexpected ‘what’s going on’ times…

So… a fortnight ago we had such great interest in something we shared briefly on Facebook. As it links with articles we’ve posted recently about being bold and flowing with the Holy Spirit, we’re running it here too… but with some additional comments.

Really it begins as ‘a Robert incident’… as you’ll immediately realise (He may begin tongue-in-cheek as it were but do note that it’s an encouragement to rise above our circumstances, die to self, and bless others as we allow the Spirit to use us) –

So… For me that Wednesday was a case of ‘So…’ hospital incidents – ‘So…’ followed by other ‘so-es!’ How often people loosely use that little word ‘So…’ as they begin a tale! Actually it’s a word that has several applications – one, when used loosely as a sentence-initial to the words following, uniquely makes the connection more conceptual than grammatical.

‘So…’ conceive (imagine, vision) the following scenarios…

  • So… after much fiddling around, several phone calls, cancelations/reschedulings I finally get confirmation of a booking for a minor operation/biopsy – but I must be chauffeured!
  • So… my bro-in-law, Life4KidsKen Gardiner, kindly escorts me to a hospital some distance away, one I’ve never been to before.
  • So… the receptionist says, ‘So we’re running quite late, Robert. So you’ll be here for some six to eight hours.’ Duh! I think (but with a weak ‘Christian’ smile at the receptionist).
  • So… as Maureen is expecting me home earlier than that time frame, I ask Ken to phone her the latest.
  • So… Ken goes off to phone – and also to the local shopping precinct intending to chattily converse with strangers in his usual ever-so-affable way, finding openings of bringing Jesus into the conversation.
  • So… meantime back at the ranch (the waiting area) I relax with several others. But suddenly, unexpectedly, I begin to feel queasy with troubling chest palpitations and some pressure.

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THE COST AND THE CROWN OF DISCIPLESHIP

(May 16, 2019) Dr Jim McClure, straight shooting theologian, solemnly opens ups on a reality that many Christians tend to either ignore or are unaware of…

Around 67 AD the apostle Paul was in a Roman prison awaiting execution under the order of the Roman Emperor Nero who intensely hated Christians.

As he waited for the sentence to be carried out, he wrote to Timothy, ‘The time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing’ (2 Timothy 4:6-8).

About ten years earlier Paul had written in his letter to the Christians living in Rome, ‘I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world’ (Romans 1:8).

Personal witnessing
In his commentary The Epistle to the Romans the late theologian Karl Barth made the following comment on this Romans 1 verse: ‘The resurrection has proved its power; there are Christians – even in Rome.’ Barth was explaining that Paul was rejoicing and thanking God because the message of Christ crucified and resurrected had penetrated right to the heart of the Roman Empire, to Rome itself, where Christians were living and worshipping.

How amazing it is that within about 25 years from the resurrection of Jesus the good news of his redeeming love and gifts of forgiveness and eternal life had spread ‘all over the world.’ Without the help of mass evangelistic rallies and without the modern aids of radio, television and Facebook the Christian gospel spread like a fire through the simple and effective method of personal witnessing.

And so the Christian message continued of spread for the following centuries and in 311 AD the Roman emperor professed his Christian faith.

But …
1. The successful penetration of the Christian message throughout the world came at a cost!
First of all, the greatest cost of all, the suffering and death of Jesus. (more…)

DON’T LET FEAR DOMINATE YOUR LIFE!

(May 14, 2019) Carol Round encourages us to move on in life unafraid…

On April 29, I found myself huddled in a closet with my dog. Tornado sirens were blaring for the second time that evening. I took deep breaths, and then exhaled prayers for safety, not only for myself, but for everyone who was in the path of the storms relentlessly barrelling across several states that day.

According to the news, at least 18 tornadoes were sighted across Oklahoma this past Monday, leaving behind destruction and flooding with the torrential rains that also fell. Two people were killed and 22 injuries were reported. While there have been deadlier tornadoes and destruction, living in a state known as tornado alley can lead even the most fearless person to shelter when the sirens go off.

When fear governs your life
I’ve overcome most of the fears from my past – the ones holding me hostage, the ones keeping me from stepping outside of my comfort zone and the ones denying me a joy-filled life.

Before a tornado hit my previous house in Claremore in 2016, I never feared stormy weather. Growing up in Louisiana, I survived multiple hurricanes during my 16 years living there. I can’t recall being fearful. We always had plenty of advance warning to prepare or evacuate.

Although I know God watches over me, I can’t stop racing to my hidey-hole when I hear the warning sirens. Even though I prepare in advance with pillows and blankets piled on the floor of my closet, the sound of approaching danger rules my human heart, which threatens to jump out of my chest. (more…)

I HAVE SET BEFORE YOU BEFORE YOU AN OPEN DOOR

(May 14, 2019) Dr George Forbes, missionary statesman, encourages us to enter every fruitful door of gospel opportunity…

In Revelation 3:8 (MKJV) Jesus declared: ’I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it. For you have a little strength and have kept my word and have not denied my name.’

He know our works too!

Jesus knew the situation of the local church in Philadelphia, their faithfulness, their testimony to people where they worshipped and where they lived.

And he told them that he had set before them an open door that no one could shut. A door of opportunity, witness and fruitfulness. He did this because he knew their works; he had watched and seen their faith at work and knew they could achieve even more.

I feel it is appropriate to apply this challenging word of encouragement given by the Lord to that early church to every Christian today, to every church because…

  • He knows the works of every one of today’s churches.
  • He knows the works of every servant of God.
  • He rewards faith, hope and love.
  • He trusts those who trust him.

There are doors and there are doors
Some are basic, providing simple access to a room or place. Others are designed to be beautiful and even, magnificent. Others to secure valuables, treasures, money, gold ingots crown jewels and the like. (more…)

TAKE UP YOUR CROSS!

(April 23, 2019) Carol Round shares an after Easter reflection…

‘I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me’ wrote Paul in Galatians 2:20 (ESV).

Can you feel his pain? With eyes closed, can you imagine the sounds, sights and smells of that bleak Friday, when our Saviour and Lord was nailed to the cross, not for his transgressions, but for ours?

Have you ever sat quietly, considering what he did for you and become overwhelmed by the thoughts of his sacrifice? Did you ever ask why he willingly gave up his life for yours?

Not my will, but yours
‘And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Take this cup away from me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what you will”’ (Mark 14:36).

Jesus’ words, as well as his actions, the night before his crucifixion reveal a life of obedience. He knew the pain he would face, not just physically, but emotionally, mentally and spiritually. He accepted willingly the cross he would bear for all mankind.

What Paul understood
The apostle Paul understood the sacrifice made by his Saviour. However, it took a mighty act of God –being struck blind on the road to Damascus – to open the eyes of this persecutor of Christ’s followers.

After Paul’s life-changing experience on that dusty road, he was baptized and instructed in the Christian faith. The most determined of the apostles, Paul suffered brutal physical pain, persecution, and eventually martyrdom. What was Paul’s secret to enduring a lifetime of hardship for the sake of the gospel?

We can do all things
Paul’s secret can be ours, too. In Philippians 4:13TLB, he says, ‘. . . for I can do everything God asks me to with the help of Christ who gives me the strength and power.’ (more…)

DARE TO BELIEVE!

(April 23, 2019) Mike Shreve encourages us believe we are more than conquerors because of Jesus’ resurrection.

It matters little if you have had great failures or problems in your life! You are an heir of resurrection life – and that means coming back from the dead.

You may have gone through tough times spiritually, to the point where you almost felt dead mentally, emotionally, and even spiritually. But remember the bold statement Jesus made at the gravesite of Lazarus: ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, though he may die, he shall live’ (John 11:25). 

So, dare to believe! No matter what you have been through, reflect on what we’ve just celebrated over Easter and dare to say, ‘I believe…

  • In the cross;
  • In the blood;
  • The price that was paid;
  • That the stone rolled away by the power of God;
  • That Jesus arose victorious;
  • That he conquered death – and because he did…
  • I can be “more than a conqueror” by claiming the present-tense benefits of the One who arose victoriously for me.’

Grasp these present-day benefits of Jesus’ resurrection
Most believers view the resurrection of the Lord Jesus either through a historical or a prophetical lens!

They tend to look backward to Jesus’ victory over the grave or look forward to the resurrection of believers at the conclusion of this age.

But seldom do believers grasp present tense benefits that have come to us as a result of this spiritual conquest… here are some powerful ones: (more…)

THE DIVINE DRAMA

(April 12, 2019) Dr Jim McClure, straight shooting theologian, reflects on Easter – the church’s most important celebration …

The death of Jesus is set in the context of the unique relationship between Jesus and his Father and that relationship formed the background theme of John’s gospel.

At the heart of the Christian faith lies a very unusual fact – the One who repeatedly offered eternal life to people suffered at the hands of evil men and was put to death on a cross!

If we are going to remain faithful to the Christian message, we cannot soften this fact or ‘candy coat’ it in any way. The account of Jesus’ death by crucifixion is scandalous – but it is true! The apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 1:23, We preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.’ The Greek word for ‘stumbling block’ is skandalon.

Certainly the Jews were looking forward to a powerful and victorious Messiah before whom his enemies would quake – not one who would be disgracefully executed!

Was Jesus’ death a tragic mistake?
Were things supposed to end differently?  In his gospel John explained that everything happened to Jesus exactly as it was supposed to.

  • Jesus’ death on the cross was, in fact, the outworking of the divine design that God had planned before he created the world.
  • In Peter’s sermon on the Day of Pentecost he referred to this breathtaking truth: ‘This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men’ (Acts 2:23).
  • Jesus’ sacrifice was wholly voluntary and it was the means by which evil forces were conquered and mankind could be restored to intimacy with him.

John made a number of points such as the fact that Jesus’ death on the cross was foreknown and was a fulfilment of God’s purpose. (more…)

JESUS, THE RISEN LORD – THE HOPE OF THE WORLD!

(April 12, 2019) Missionary statesman Dr George Forbes reminds us what Easter really means for believers – and to pass on the great news of a risen Saviour…

Next weekend Christians worldwide will be celebrating that some two thousand years ago Jesus, the Son of God, died from our sins on Cavalry becoming the Saviour of the world – that the grave could not hold him and he rose victorious as our Saviour… the hope of the world!

Reminders
I think of those first disciples in Ephesus. Paul’s Ephesians 2:11 comment was a reminder that they were once ‘Gentiles by birth and called ‘uncircumcised.’ Then he adds to this in verse 12: ‘Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.’

But in the very next verse, Paul happily reminds them of their (and the world’s) great hope in Jesus through his shed blood on Calvary’s cross: ‘But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

Here is a wonderful declaration of the grace of God to not only those early Ephesian believers but to all peoples across our troubled world today! Paul was declaring that Jesus was and is the hope of the world – a reminder of John 3:16, ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but has eternal life.’

‘The hope of the world is Jesus!
I have heard this phrase, this truth, declared by preachers all around the world. I have also read these same words many times and have personally preached many times that ‘The Hope of the World is Jesus.’
(more…)

THE BLESSING OF THOSE UGLY ἧλος – THOSE GRUESOME HĒLOS!

(April 11, 2019) Robert and Maureen McQuillan reflect on Easter…

We were just recalling this morning that we’re now in our eighth month here – our new territory in the beautiful Doreen suburb Melbourne – where our new home is being built overlooking Plenty Gorge!

Eight is a good number… with its spiritual significance of ‘new beginning’ and ‘resurrection’ (Genesis 17:12; Exodus 22:30; Leviticus 14:10-23; Matthew 28:1; John 20:26; 1 Peter3:20).

Easter – an attention-grabbing reminder found
Thinking beyond our new beginnings, the significant word ‘resurrection’ naturally led us to remember that Easter Sunday, Resurrection Sunday, is next week… when Christians and churches will celebrate the historical fact that Jesus Christ did rise from the dead, that  ‘death could not hold him down.’ And what a blessing Jesus is as Saviour and Lord! We can all be so encouraged and move forward, following and serving him! (See George Forbes’ article about remembering the commission of Jesus, the Hope of the World).

But… back a moment while we explain the intriguing title of this article – ἧλος (hēlos) being a blessing.

So much has happened since we made our move to here, led by the Holy Spirit! So many new contacts, so many opportunities to pray with and bless people in the marketplace– especially those who haven’t yet discovered Jesus, share a word of knowledge that blows them away, to encourage… and more.

And among travels around picturesque parts of our local territory, there’s a shopping precinct we delight to visit, not only for groceries but for lunch served by great staff (good friends now too) and a wander through some interesting shopping precincts.

Easter – a reminder of helos
One store, our friend Maria’s Raging Earth, had some items we needed for our new home and as we were purchasing them, we noticed the most unusual cross that stood out among many other ‘general’ types. This particular one so grabbed our attention… reminding us of what Jesus suffered for us before and on Calvary’s hill, the racking pain caused through hanging on that ‘old wooden cross’ as he died for our sins, our shortcomings that offend a Holy God.

Check this pic! (Sorry…it’s not too clear). It’s the wooden cross with the centre display of – not Jesus, he’s risen, hallelujah! – but a cross comprised of… (more…)

IS JESUS THE ONLY WAY TO GOD?

(March 26, 2019) Dr Jim McClure, straight shooting theologian, challenges a undermining deceit…

Is it, as some claim, unloving and bigoted to claim that Jesus is the only way to God?

Today we are being bombarded by a range of views that have one thing in common – they seek to undermine the millennia old Christian principles on which many nations have been built.

One of the worldviews that is being more and more widely peddled and increasingly accepted in today’s rather confused world is called ‘Religious pluralism.’ This is part of the so-called ‘progressive’ agenda of those who seek to erase Western culture, conservative standards and, above all, biblical values.

‘Many’ ways to God?
Religious pluralism, which is usually promoted in the media as a wonderfully tolerant and progressive thing, may be defined as the belief that all religions are equally valid as there are many paths to God (or gods) and the idea that there is only one way to know the true God is objectionable and intolerant.

Susan Laemmle, Rabbi and former Dean of Religious Life at University of Southern California has made this comment that ‘… all spiritual paths are finally leading to the same sacred ground.’ In other words, she is stating that there are many ways to God. To such people the differences among various religions are superficial for ultimately they all are giving directions to God.

Regrettably there are many who claim to be Christians (even some church pastors!) who make the claim that there are more than one way to God!

The late, highly esteemed conservative theologian, John Stott defined religious pluralism as ‘an affirmation of the validity of every religion, and the refusal to choose between them, and the rejection of world evangelism …’

World evangelism is consequently immediately ruled out when the viewpoint of religious pluralism is embraced. So too is… (more…)