Category Archives: Spiritual Thoughts

Father Hunger

It does not matter how old a man gets. He is still a son.

Every man I have ever met has been defined in many ways by their relationship with their father.

I was speaking to a person who trains tradies. Blokey young men. Many of them have had absent fathers. The fathers that are present have told them how useless they are. That they can’t do basic tasks. Things that a tradie finds necessary. My friend has to father them before he can train them.

It seems to me this generation has in many ways not learnt from the previous one. There are many great fathers. But there are many young men with absent, abusive, emotionally void and uncaring dads.

It felt like this generation would be different. But so many dads have never grown up themself. They spend time, money and attention on games. Games of all types. From video games to four wheel drive accessories. Pure selfishness.

Afraid to join

 But no one else dared to join them, even though all the people had high regard for them” (Acts 5.13)

During the early stages of the church it was obvious the love and supernatural power that the church had.  The Early Church spoke out against the injustice of the day. It helped the poor and sick.

Imagine being a church where we were known for Gods power and love flowing through us in such abundance that the culture and world around us saw and recognised God was at work. We were well regarded. Even if they are to afraid to join.

Be who you are, everyone else is taken

All of us play the comparison game at some point. This is no less true of Pastors and Church Leaders. How often do I find myself checking out the website of another church to see what they are up to. If it fits my paradigm, if their style is on point, their music is relevant, their carpark is full.

It would not be hard for the carpark at my church to be full. Its not that large!

But in another way and perhaps more seriously, I sometimes find myself comparing myself to other leaders, particularly in the area of what they have achieved in a certain amount of time. Recent events with some high profile church Pastors remind me that quick spectacular success is not as appealing as what it appears. The dysfunction seemingly required in some ministries is a price I am not willing to pay.

My mentor reminded me that I need to lead out of the storehouse God has given me. I might put it that I need to lead with what God has placed in my hand. I like to think I can speak well. I like to think I lead with compassion and understanding. I wish I was more focused and strategic. Sometimes it seems I have led by accident, based on a  ‘gut feel’ of what God is saying rather than a ten year carefully formulated plan.

Then there is the intangibles. God’s favour. Blind luck. A perfect storm of circumstances. These things provide growth and favour which cannot be manufactured.

Who am I? What do I lead out of? Well I love the gathering. I sense the atmosphere with some sense of accuracy. I know what works. What ignites my joy is seeing people engaged with God, hearing His voice and responding to the Spirit. I am confident in my ability to discern people. All these things are not necessarily or exclusively human. They are gifting from God.

I am not someone else. I am me. Out of this I seek to lead. This does not excuse me from needing to surround myself strategically with others who can resource what I can’t. I pray I am thankful for who I am, thankful for who others are, and faithful and fruitful with the time I have. 

Chronos vs Kairos

Chronos: Passing of time

Kairos: Divine moments

There is a sense that the older a Christian is the more mature they have become. Not necessarily. Time does not mean someone will become more Godly. Phillipians 1.6 says God has begun a good in work in you and will continue that….But that wont just happen.

Some of the most ungoldly people, selfish, unyielding people you can meet are those who call themselves Christian and have been for decades. Some of the most godly mature and wise Christians are those who have had God begin a good work in them in recent times.

What does make us more like Christ? Kairos moments, moments when the divine breaks into the earthly and we encounter Jesus. The Spirit speaks, challenges, inspires and refines. Chronos, the mere passing of time, means little without the Kairos.

Imagine though if you have many moments of Kairos. Many moments of God encounters. Daily moments of hearing from, being inspired by and refined by the Spirit. Such a luxury may only be afforded to you by the Chronos that God allows you. That sort of person may indeed be the most blessed. Becoming more like Jesus, every day, as we wait for the day of Salvation.

Hope for holy citizens in a foreign land

When the people spoken to by the prophet Jeremiah were taken off in exile it would have been easy for them to have two attitudes.

To wait for their salvation from the land. To focus purely on their return to Israel. To view it, the land they were exiled to, and the people that surrounded them, as foreign, irredeemable.

To set themself up in ghettos, fortresses, to make it clear to those around them that they  would have nothing to do with them. To make it clear that the people whose land they were in were not going to be a part of their story. Their culture was not going to be something they embraced.

Perhaps God saw this happening with the exiles. Maybe this is why He instructed the prophet Jeremiah to say this in chapter 29, ““Build homes, and plan to stay. Plant gardens, and eat the food they produce. Marry and have children. Then find spouses for them so that you may have many grandchildren. Multiply! Do not dwindle away! And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.”

They were to find hope for their present life, for their family, while in exile. While holy citizens in a foreign land. Did God say to them the foreigners were holy? No. But does he indicate they should marry, plant, be a part of their community?  A resounding yes.

And so if we are going to use the exile analogy for us today, and the church in a culture which is foreign, perhaps we need to review the biblical analogy from an Old Testament time. Perhaps the answer for the church is not to retreat. Nor put all our hope for today in a coming salvation. Instead. To be a part of our culture. To plant, to have homes, to marry, to have hope in the One who is with us now, and has allowed us to be where we are for a reason.

Perhaps waiting only for a future salvation of this world might lead us to neglect the salvation of this world today.

Changing culture, advancing the Kingdom

Jesus asked that we pray, ‘Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven’.

Is the focus and application of this prayer purely eschatological? To actually take place at a future time when Jesus returns? If that is the case what are we to do now? If we take such a view to extreme it can lead to a fortress mentality. A church which hides itself away, protecting itself from a world quickly degenerating, staying holy for the moment when the judge will return. Other consequences may include a view of the earth and its beauty as simply a sponge to be squeezed dry. At its best mission is done because we want people to be rescued and ready for eternity in paradise.

Is the focus and application of this prayer for now? Is the church is to truly become the centre of the social, political and cultural change which sees heaven on earth. Perhaps some see echoes of John Calvins attempt to moralise Geneva. Bible readings with beer anyone? The extreme of this view may be the moralising right with the church wielding its social might to influence politics. We have seen the negative effects of this particular in US elections.

If we reject the notion that Church is to influence culture and cities for Jesus, how to deal with Pauls assertion in Ephesians that the Church is at the centre, the very centre of all things. “The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church.” (Eph 1.23 Msg) It seems to me this verse is both an assertion and an encouragement.

In times when so many assert the church has lost its political and moral voice, this theme of the New Testament should encourage us to keep going. In a winsome and loving way, promote a better way. Not from a position of moral authority, but an attractive and loving example. I am absolutely convinced that at no other time in history has the church had more opportunity for love, mission and good news. Wherever I look I see churches active in arts, music, design and innovation. At no other time has information, music, vision, been so readily available and distributed. With this so many churches are distributing their sacrifices of praise, relevant teaching and art.

From the local church podcasting to the mega church having their worship leaders performing on prime time morning TV. Jesus is everywhere.

Can we, the church, through the power of the Spirit, make the world a better place before Jesus returns? Absolutely. As I pray that prayer I see Jesus working through churches to answer it.

As we wait for Jesus to return in glory.