The Bread That Lasts Forever

Finally! After 37 weeks separated by the ‘Rona, we were able to meet face-to-face. Or should I say, mask-to-mask?

Still, it was a delight to see (nearly) everyone in person. Christians are ‘social creatures,’ designed by God to connect, and connect regularly, with each other. That’s one of the reasons why the book of Hebrews warns us to not neglect meeting together [see Heb 10:23-25]. It’s just not good for our (spiritual) health.

It was a joy to join together with precious brothers and sisters-in-Christ to sing the praises of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Few things in this life can beat the sound of voices – and hearts – raised to exalt Him.

We finished off the meeting with Communion, which we also haven’t celebrated together since March. John – in an excellent presentation – reminded us of the ‘once-for-all’ nature of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ; an offering never to be repeated, because it never needs to be repeated. Christ’s offering is sufficient and effective for all who would receive it, for all time.

It was fitting to end with the bread and the cup, because our text for the day was the one in John 6 where Jesus talks about the necessity of “eating His flesh and drinking His blood.”

Strange language, graphic and gruesome language. This language was the reason the early Christians were sometimes accused of cannibalism.

What in the world would move Jesus to use such disturbing language?

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The Ministry of Reconciliation

It’s not often that Elvis Presley comes to your church. Even less often does Elvis share the gospel with you.

But that was our rare privilege on Sunday. Well, not really Elvis. Everyone knows Elvis has left the building. But we did have Elvis-impersonator Mark Borg join us with his wife Gina by Zoom. It may be nearly as rare to have an Elvis-impersonator share the gospel with you.

What a strange job for anyone outside of Las Vegas or the cabaret circuit. But Mark and Gina lead a church in Malta. Elvis is just Mark’s side job.

As they shared their testimonies and the word of God with us, it became clear that Mark’s unusual career choice also provides a unique opening into Malta. For the Maltese are – apparently – obsessed with Elvis, almost to the point of worship.

Which reminds me of something the apostle Paul once wrote…

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First World Problems

What a frustrating and disappointing weekend. Many hours were spent planning and preparing for our first face-to-face church meeting in several months.

Since we are in between venues, we decided to hold the first one in our home. Connor spent some hours working out the audio-visual setup so that we could both Zoom the meeting for those who might be unable to attend in person, and also ensure we had whatever sound and video requirements necessary for those meeting in our home.

All systems “Go” to meet together and still comply with government regulations, it would seem. And enthusiasm all round.

Or so we thought…

Buried there in the fine-print of the regulations was a phrase that made clear that ‘religious gatherings’ in a private home were restricted to 2 visitors. Strike 1!

So, with Harley and Teash’s help, we scoped out a suitable outdoor location to meet. Given the weather forecast was warm and sunny, this seemed safe.

Until 9.30 Sunday morning, when the rain set in. Strike 2!

So, back to Plan A, and Zoom the meeting as we’ve been doing for several months.

Disappointing for all who were excited about finally catching up with friends and family.

But we need to keep our disappointment in perspective…

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The Emptiness Within

“There’s a God-shaped hole in all of us.” I’m sure you’ve all heard that idea. Maybe you’ve even used it in your evangelism to explain the deep emptiness that resides within every human being.

Is it a biblical concept, though? I wonder. I’ve heard arguments both ways. For one thing, how is it possible that the God who fills the universe could fit into a hole somewhere inside a human body?

Possibly the first to express the idea clearly is Blaise Pascal, 17th century mathematician, philosopher and theologian.

He said, “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of each man which cannot be satisfied by any created thing but only by God the Creator, made know through Jesus Christ.”

I’m sure there are problems with the idea that the more theologically astute could explain. But in fact, it’s not that far removed from what Jesus told the crowd that followed Him to Capernaum in John 6:22-29.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal” [John 6:6-27].

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Christian, Watch Your Mouth!

As the US Presidential election looms, we’ve witnessed an escalation of venom and fury from both camps. To hear some speak, Donald Trump is the Anti-Christ, and all who vote for him should be arrested – or worse.

To listen to others, Joe Biden will be the last nail in the coffin of a civilised Christian nation. To vote for him is to vote for evil to rule the land.

To their supporters, however, it seems they can do no wrong and speak no wrong. Their supporters seem to imagine that the only hope of bringing about a utopian society is for their preferred candidate to win the election.

The divide has become so bitter that there have been reports of an armed insurrection should Biden win, or rioting in the streets, and looting of shops, and burning of buildings should Trump be re-elected.

How has a civilised, educated, wealthy and advanced society descended to this? At what point did any imagine that either Trump or Biden are the Messiah, sent to bring in that utopian paradise on earth that we all long for?

I’ve got news for you, voters of America; neither man will be your Saviour. Neither man will usher in ‘peace on earth and goodwill to all men.’

And neither man is the Anti-Christ either, although you wouldn’t think so to listen to their opponents speak. Rather, they are both fallen men, attempting to lead fallen people, in a fallen world. Neither will be able to undo the Fall.

So it beggars belief that their supporters could ever imagine otherwise. When did humans lose all sense of perspective and rational thought?

But as disturbing as it is to witness the vitriolic polarisation from the general population, it is far more disturbing to hear it spew out of the mouths of those who call themselves followers of Christ.

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How to Handle Storms

2020 has been a year like no other in living memory.

Oh, there have been plenty of years of turmoil, unrest and danger throughout history.

But the events of those years tend to be localised to one region, one country, or at most, a couple of countries at war.

You could be forgiven for succumbing to fear, depression, frustration, anxiety, and any number of other unhealthy responses.

But it doesn’t need to be that way…

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Abundant Supply

“What is man that you are mindful of him? The son of man that you care for him?” So asks the Bible in several places.

Indeed, what is man that God should spare him a second thought? Is man a miniature version of God, with all the qualities and all the abilities of God Himself – just at a reduced level?

After all, the Bible does say that God made man in His image. So, are we all ‘mini-gods?’

Or is humanity so vastly different to God that it is hard to find any point of similarity between the two? For the Bible also says that God is not a man that He should lie, or a son of man that he should change is mind.

The reality is that there is a vast, immeasurable gulf between us and God. If we could picture it, it would be like comparing a grain of sand to Mt Everest.

Except that you could quantify the difference between a grain of sand and Mt Everest. You can’t quantify the infinite difference between God and man.

And yet, God chooses to do His work through us weak, foolish, and flawed human beings.

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Christ is Superior to Moses

Moses was a great man. No doubt about it. In the Bible story, Moses was one of the greatest.

After a difficult start (read Exo 2:1-10), he grew up surrounded by the enormous wealth and power of Egypt. But it seems he never forgot his Hebrew roots, for he came to the aid of one of his own people by killing an Egyptian who was beating one of his people.

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Finding Jesus is on Every Page of the Bible

Jesus was pretty critical of the Pharisees for their inability to get beyond debates about the Law of Moses to see what the Scriptures were really all about.

He told them over and over again that they were missing the point. “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me,” He told them [John 5:39]. And “… For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me” [John 5:46].

We can look down our collective noses at the Pharisees for their stubborn ignorance. But, of course, we have the benefit of the New Testament to help us understand what the Old Testament was all about.

And still we get it wrong so often…

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What Are You Hoping to Find When You Read the Bible?

“He can’t see the forest for the trees.” So goes the old saying. For those unfamiliar with it, it means that a person has become so absorbed with the minute details that he has lost sight of the big picture. None of us are immune to this problem.

It’s an accusation that Jesus levels at the Pharisees at the end of John 5. “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life” [John 5:39-40] and “… if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me” [John 5:46].

Pretty serious accusations considering that the Pharisees revered the Scriptures. They treasured them, committing huge swathes of their Bible (our Old Testament) to memory.

It would be fair to say that they knew the Scriptures inside-out, upside-down, and every other which-way. It was their favourite point of discussion, debate, learning, writing, and study.

“Not good enough!” Jesus tells them. “You’ve missed the point.” And so can we…

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