COVID19 – Fear or Faith?

Only a couple of weeks ago, we were all looking on with befuddled amusement at scenes of empty shelves in the supermarkets and shoppers fighting over the last few toilet rolls. “Have these people gone crazy?”, many of us wondered.

Because only a few weeks ago, what triggered the panic-buying was still something ‘out there,’ not really expected to bother us much.

But now, wow! It’s all become uncomfortably real for us. And so quickly! How can things change so much in such a short space of time?

Welcome, Coronavirus, to centre stage.

The sheer speed that change has come to the whole world has left many of us confused, uncertain, anxious even fearful.

And I’m sure it has left many people wondering whether there really is a God, and if there is, whether He really is in charge.

Or is the devil running rampant at the moment, and God can’t (or won’t) do anything about it? Continue reading

Beacons of Light in Dark Times

What strange times we find ourselves in. Only two weeks or so ago, it was business as usual here in Australia, even as we heard reports of COVID19 spreading overseas.

One week ago, it was church as usual, albeit with great care taken to sanitise surfaces and avoid the usual hugs and handshakes.

This week, wow! The bombshell has hit, and the floodgates have been blasted wide open.

We had already made the decision to cancel all church gatherings as a matter of prudence and safety for our people. Many churches tried to continue to meet, albeit with significantly reduced congregation sizes.

But as I write this, I hear reports that all church gatherings will be banned. Sunday worship, Connect groups, corporate prayer – all stopped until further notice.

One of the most important aspects of Christian life is the regular gathering together of the saints. Not only does Scripture insist on it (see Heb 10:25, for example), it is part of our growth to health and maturity as believers (see Eph 4:11-16).

How can we possibly fulfill these requirements if we are forbidden to meet together? How are we to grow as Christians if we can’t worship and hear the Word as one body regularly?

How indeed? Has the devil finally found a way to destroy the Church?

You know what my answer to that will be, of course…

Continue reading

He Must Increase

How do we measure successful Christian ministry? What are the indicators that God has blessed a preacher, a church, a ministry?

The most obvious sign is that they have lots of followers. John the Baptist certainly had lots of followers back in the day.

But then, so did Rev Jim Jones when he led nearly 1,000 of his followers to commit suicide in 1978. So sheer numbers may not be the best measure of success.

In fact, if we were to measure only numbers, then Jesus was an abject failure.

So, what is the best indicator of a successful ministry?

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Cockroaches! Yuk!

It’s a commonly held belief that cockroaches are the only creature that would survive a nuclear holocaust. Whether this is true or not, I don’t know. Maybe we’ll have to wait and see…

They are certainly one of the most unpopular creatures on earth. I don’t know anyone who is not disgusted by the thought of cockroaches in their house – and horrified at the prospect that friends might see cockroaches when they come to visit.

This reaction is prompted by the belief that cockroaches are filthy, disease-spreading animals that thrive on our mess. The presence of cockroaches, then, must be an indicator of poor hygiene.

No doubt, every home has many more cockroaches than there are ever seen. For they rarely come out into the light, preferring to stay hidden in dark corners, and scurrying back there when exposed.

Just like us humans when we sin…

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Holy Smoke!

There have been plenty of strange “manifestations of the Holy Spirit” in recent decades, associated with what is supposedly spiritual revival.

People barking like dogs, falling backwards in waves, laughing uncontrollably, dancing around an auditorium oblivious to their surroundings. The list could go on.

There is also the reasonably common manifestation, getting drunk in the Spirit, whilst others have “connected with the Spirit” by “toking the Ghost,” a supposedly spiritual version of getting stoned “in the Holy Ghost.”

These things, as strange as they might seem, are nothing new. Jonathan Edwards, the great preacher and theologian, was instrumental in revival breaking out in New England in the 18th century. And he witnessed many strange manifestations in the course of that great revival.

Edwards wrote on this subject, concluding that the strange manifestations said nothing about whether revival was – or was not – genuine. Importantly, he also concluded that there were some genuine signs. See the link at the end to see what Edwards decided.

What’s all this got to do with the holiness of God, the attribute of God that Mike talked to us about on Sunday?

Continue reading