Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Recycle Bin / Rubbish Bin


31 October 2007

We were driving along the Hume Highway the other day, returning from a wedding in Victoria. Being tuned to ABC Melbourne we happened on a conversation about the replacement of a ‘host person’ from a well known reality TV show. Such conversations can be witty but also unkind, and still be insightful.

“She’s out of the recycling bin and into the rubbish bin”, said one. (a comment about her career)

“Nah”, said the other, “she’s out of the rubbish bin and into the recycling bin!” (a comment about the show)

All sorts of themes are to be found here – not least the way words are used to demean or destroy, or to damn with feint praise. In the middle of an Australian election campaign we’re smothered by it. Another possible theme here is the way those phrases might help us understand how and where we are with the Almighty.

There are plenty who are willing to consign those they don’t like or agree with to God’s rubbish bin. And equally there are plenty who are sure they belong there because of their own past sins. What I love about God, perhaps most of all, is that his specialty, his strength if you like, is getting hold of those who have no future apart from the rubbish bin, and completely renovating them.

I’m reminded of an exchange between Zacchaeus and Jesus in the film “The Robe”. (Forgive me if I’ve mentioned this before). After Zacchaeus vows to repay all he stole and then some, and to give half of his goods to the poor, Jesus asks the little bloke “Why are you doing this Zacchaeus?” The answer is burnt into my mind and heart for the truth it is: “Because when I looked into your eyes I saw the person I was meant to be!”

Ah truth, truth truth! Holy, holy, holy! Jesus Christ is the prototype for us. “Because when I looked into your eyes I saw the person I was meant to be!” God takes us out of the rubbish bin, (‘I know that in me, that is, in my flesh there dwells no good thing!’ says Paul), and remakes us in the image of the Redeemer himself. All who call Jesus Christ “the Lord” from faith are a work in progress. The sign outside our heart says “Under Renovation”.

And another truth! Jesus Christ voluntarily allowed himself to be thrown out onto the world’s rubbish heap, (read Calvary), so this could happen. And that’s worth celebrating!

Be Blessed

Pastor Fred

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Lake Angel! (?)


24 October 2007

Few in Australia will have been untouched by the tragedy of a little 2 year old boy named Dean whose body was found, in a suitcase, in a pond at Ambervale – South West Sydney this week.

My instinct is that the ‘tragedy’ is not only about the death of Dean and the shocking disposal of his body. It embraces, also his parents, grandparents, wider family and the children and community where his body was found.

There is just one aspect of this I want to place before you. The SMH (October 24 2007) has a headline on page 5 “AMID GRIEF, FAMILY FLOATS A TRIBUTE TO LAKE ANGEL”. Inside the article there’s a note to say that Western Sydney residents are calling for donations to establish a ‘Lake Angel’ trust fund to honour Dean with a plaque by the pond.

Why did it catch my eye? Just a week or so ago there was an item in the local rag about a much loved mother who had died – and her two daughters spoke of her as “an angel watching over them from the nearest bright star”.

That theme, of declaring someone to have become some sort of guardian angel upon death has become frequent in a time of angelic spirituality. Especially so with babies and toddlers. It seems obvious that the death of a loved one often drives those left behind to think of the future of the departed one in a ‘good’ spiritual way! It must surely comfort people.

Nevertheless it troubles me – especially so when it is a christian or a christian family that that speaks this way. Why? Consider the two verses from scripture below:

“What are angels then? They are spirits who serve God and are sent by him to help those who are to receive salvation”. Hebrews 1: 14 (GNB)

“God’s Spirit joins himself to our spirits to declare that we are God’s children. Since we are his children, we will possess the blessings he keeps for his people, and we will also possess with Christ what God has kept for him…” Romans 8: 16-17 (GNB)

My issue? Simply this: God declares those who put their trust in his Son as Saviour and Lord to be his children! We don’t become angels – we already are children who share the inheritance! The Lord has all the angels he needs – and they exist to serve him and us.

Let’s not rob those who die in faith of the dignity and joy of their high status!

Be Blessed. Jesus is Lord – and he’s the big brother of all who trust the God of Calvary and Resurrection.

Pastor Fred


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Whipping us into shape


17 October 2007

Recently the Sydney based pastor’s of LCA NSW have worked their way through a study of the Seven Deadly Sins. Our material was largely based on a workbook put together by a chap called Maxie Dunnam and his (pastor) daughter Kimberly.

I guess you know those sins: Pride, envy, avarice, lust, sloth, anger and gluttony. It was pretty challenging stuff – quite confronting. Today I’d like to point you to a phrase from their chapter on anger. They talk about how there is place for a very right and necessary anger. And of course pointed us to Jesus walking into the Temple precincts and discovering that the space, sacredly set aside for the gentiles, was filled with marketeers. He made a whip and …

The Dunnam’s posed a question. “Jesus made a whip to deal with something that was entirely outrageous. For what purpose would you make a whip?”

Ouch. Nailed. Spoken to. Addressed. Convicted. What sort of thing / circumstance / situation / event would get me angry enough to take action. Sure there are things that get my dander up – get me ropeable etc etc – usually because I’m protecting my own interests. Especially in regard to family we get very protective and that’s good.

What I struggle with is the way that if it doesn’t affect me directly then I don’t care. And that’s exactly what sloth is. If lust is sinfully passionate, then sloth, “not caring”, is sinful apathy. “I can’t be bothered. It’s none of my business”.

I wonder what we’d look like if we had Jesus’ passion for people to be free of their burdens, guilt, sin and apprehension. It’s not just that people get ripped off – sometimes it’s the system that needs to be challenged because it’s the institution that does the ripping off. In our culture it’s the little people who are usually on the receiving end of trouble – those who can’t depend on themselves.

Similar things might be said about climate change, companies that promote asbestos (or some such) when they know it is deadly, allowing the building of pulp mills which destroy ecosystems through their input and output, governments which allow health systems to run down, governments which lie to us or set out to massage the truth to us – ah the list goes on.

But you know, Jesus the Christ reserved a very special anger for those who block the simple and the unlearned from knowing their forgiveness and freedom under God. Check it out. He reserved his deepest anger for the legalists and lawyers.

So there’s the question. Especially in regard to the Kingdom; “For what purpose would you make a whip?”


PS What would happen to you if you suddenly got bathed with the passion of the Holy Spirit of Jesus for the spiritual welfare of the people around you?

Most Christians have enough religion to feel guilty about their sins but not enough to enjoy life in the spirit. (Martin Luther)

Friday, October 05, 2007

Remembering a Covenant


5 October 2007

The progress of the Protestant Reformation in Scotland was not particularly easy. There was a fair bit of cut and thrust involved as first the Roman institution, and then later the Church of England, endeavoured to bring the Scots ‘under control’.

From around 1580 groups of those committed to the teachings of the Reformers began to make sacred agreements with each other to keep and maintain their faith. These people came to be known as “Covenanters’. Crucial to their understanding of their faith was that the “Temporal Monarch” , ie King / Queen of the day, was not Lord of the Church.

Tension abounded for decades as various kings and queens sought to impose their authority on this Kirk (church) of Scotland. Eventually in 1660 Charles 11 came to the throne. One of his early edicts (1161 I think), was to declare that those who subscribed to the Protestant Covenants were guilty of High Treason. Public Worship by covenanters was banned under threat of death. The covenanters were ruthlessly hunted down and savagely persecuted. But they kept their covenants! And continued to meet in the fields as and when they could. Even though to be caught was certain death.

And that leads me to a short, compelling story I was told in England:

One young woman was apprehended on the way to such a field meeting in the early hours of the morning. The soldier who apprehended her demanded to know her business. Here’s her reply:

“My older brother has died and I am on my way to the reading of the will and to claim my inheritance!”

Now that’s not a bad definition of being a follower of Jesus. It’s not a bad definition of faithful worship either.

Go on, read it again: “My older brother has died and I am on my way to the reading of the will and to claim my inheritance!”

May all our journeys be like that.

Bless your day, Bless your week!


This marks Cross Purposes Number 100! To be truthful I don’t always know the mark they make in any given week. The feedback is usually appreciative. And it is certainly appreciated. Hope that’s true for you. Maybe you might say a quiet prayer today thanking Jesus the Christ for touching lives through these simple words.

The gospel in one sentence?
“We’re all bastards but God loves us anyway” (Will Campbell)