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…)

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…)

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…)

VALUE OF MISSIONS FOUNDED ON THE WORD, FOCUSED ON THE WORLD!

(March 22, 2019) Missionary statesman Dr George Forbes reminds us as we approach and embrace the celebration of Easter next month, to also embrace and activate our Saviour’s very clear great after Easter command…

In Matthew 28:18-20 Jesus gave very clear direction to his followers: ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’

  • Mark (in Mark 16:15-16) also wrote of Jesus’ direction – ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.’
  • But Matthew’s gospel records the command of Christ in more detail than Mark by adding the authority of this command as well as the task of making disciples for Christ.
  • All true missions’ work is founded on the word and focused on the world because that is what the command of Christ embraces. It is a result of Christians believing and obeying the word of God.

God’s word is very clear
I believe that the word of God is our ultimate authority and it is so clear – our Lord Jesus commissioned his disciples to go and make disciples of all nations. That he would be with them to the ends of the earth. That the power and presence of the Holy Spirit would provide supernatural support to their testimony and ministry. (more…)

VALUE OF A CENT

(March 22, 2019) Robert and Maureen McQuillan share personally from the heart on some experiences re honesty…

Value of a cent? Unusual title this month! Carol Round writes passionately about the value of a dear friend this month… a great little article Value. George Forbes writes of the value of focused missions.

‘Value’ is a word indicating worth. Among other meanings is importance and beneficial. Our article relates to benefiting – and more, such as the importance of being honest and thankful, challenging others, blessings others… and delighting God. Here’s the background, beginning with a mere cent …

I (Robert) delight to find Salvo type stores where I can go hunting for old DVDs. A couple of weeks back we went to one about an hour away in a suburb we hadn’t been to before.

By coincidence there was a great carpet store next door and as we passed by Maureen, a top decorator, noticed the most unusual rug in the open doorway entrance and instantly knew it would look magnificent in the foyer of our new home. We had never been to this store before but found the owner very friendly, pleasant and helpful.

 

Tale of a cent
His price for this newly arrived rug was good but as we didn’t need it immediately (our new home won’t be finished for some months yet) we simply said we’d bear it in mind. But back home we decided we should get it and on googling the item found it in another store $50 cheaper. However as we had really liked the gentleman we had first chatted to, we phoned and mentioned this Google ad. A family business storekeeper, he had no hesitation in immediately agreeing to reduce his price and on Monday past we popped back to purchase.

The owner greeted us with news that another rug, same as we wanted and still in its plastic wrapping, had come in and as he had got it at a better foreign exchange rate he was quite happy to sell at the lower price. But as we were about to pay I (Robert) added that I’d omitted to say that the cheaper price I’d found was actually one cent dearer that I’d first told him, and that we wanted to pay in full ie plus a cent. (more…)

THE VALUE OF A FRIENDSHIP

(March 21, 2019) Carol Round reflects on the great value of having a friend…

I still think of my friend Sonya throughout my day, relishing the memories we made through our common bonds as well as adversity. Proverbs 17:17 (ESV) says, ‘A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity’ – that’s the value of a friendship!

We bonded over our love of animals, landscaping our yards and fried chicken livers. But, our friendship grew through adversity.

Sonya, 12 years my senior, moved into my neighbourhood in 2010. After leaving Georgia, she purchased the house next door to me. I welcomed this tiny woman as my neighbour but, as so many of us are apt to do; I judged her first by her appearance.

Quickly connecting
In her late 60s at the time, Sonya dressed more like a teeny bopper, even when doing yard work. However, as I grew to know this precious woman, my spirit couldn’t help but connect through our mutual love of Jesus. (more…)

YOU FIND WHAT YOU SEEK!

(February 15, 2019) Carol Round reflects on the need to know God intimately

While cleaning house recently, I tuned my TV to a local news broadcast. My attention wasn’t completely focused on the interview of a woman who writes book reviews.

I heard bits and pieces of her remarks as I dusted the furniture. It seems I don’t multi-task as well as I used to.

The following statement, which ended the segment, did grab my attention: ‘You find what you are looking for.’

Several scriptures came to mind, including Jeremiah 29:13, ‘You will see me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Seeking God wholeheartedly
In Jeremiah 29, the prophet sends a letter to the Jewish exiles in Babylon. His words to those who had been taken captive by the Babylonians were meant to comfort, to encourage and reveal God’s plans for his people if they wholeheartedly sought the Lord and fulfilled his purposes.

I thought about the times I’d drifted away from the Lord’s plans for me. (more…)