Thursday, August 28, 2008



August 28 2008


Hi Guys. I came across this little piece in my sermon prep recently. It stirred something in me, perhaps a little different than the underlined passage. Read on.

“My father suffered a debilitating stroke earlier this year, and I’ve followed him from the medical wards to Christchurch Public, through the assessment unit at Princess Margaret Hospital, and now to a private hospital. I’ve observed the health system at close quarters. And while the doctors have their place…believe me, it’s the nurses who care for the patients.

In the small hours, it’s the nurses and the nurse aides who change the soiled linen – for the umpteenth time that day. It’s the nurses and the nurse aides who turn the dying every four hours, who empty the bedpans, who spoon-feed and wipe up, who wrestle with the demented, and try to sooth their anxious souls. We entrust to them the care of our most precious people – the sick and the elderly. Much of it is work that would turn your stomach. And they do it for minimal return.

For the record, a nurse aide gets $8.50 an hour, and a registered nurse around $13 or $14. Compare that with $150…no, $200 an hour who represents us in a legal wrangle over the siting of a boundary fence. (1995 figures. Fred.)

But doesn’t it strike you as odd that, as a society, we should value so highly those jobs involving the manipulation of money and property, and yet pay so little to those who fetch and carry for our sick ones? Isn’t it rather strange that, in our most frail and vulnerable moments, we should expect the epitome of devotion from complete strangers – for little more than minimum adult wage?

For me, it points up to the fact that the kingdom which Jesus heralded – that commonwealth of compassionate endeavor, where human dignity and well-being are the highest values…all that is peculiarity at odds with the ways of our materialistic world.”

Brian Thomas in “On the Side of the Angels,”
Cathedral Publications, 1995 (As quoted in the Pulpit Resource, August 25, 2002)

Brian Thomas is right that as a culture we have our values twisted, distorted and inverted. But his piece had me thinking about how we as Christians get comfort from the God of all comfort (2 Cor 1), from our Shepherd (PS 23 & John 10) and from the Holy Spirit – the COMFORTER .

I guess I tend think in terms of a ‘voice from heaven,’ as Jesus himself heard. That’s godly, pious, holy, and suitably supernatural. And Jesus did say “My sheep hear my voice”! However I reckon that God usually clothes his comfort in ordinary human voices and arms and legs. The Spirit does a lot of his “comforting work” through nudging Jesus’ own people to be there, stay there, listen, speak gently, speak wisely, and sometimes say nothing at all, as the rivers of grief flow.

It takes time, effort, and courage to be a comforter. The first two are obvious. The third maybe not. You need courage because walking with someone into their darkness is usually to walk into your own!

And one other thing. You can usually pick the comforters by the fact that there’s a box of tissues near at hand.

Have a good week.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008



August 13th 2008


Under the cover of the Olympic focus on Beijing, Russian troops have occupied the Georgian province of South Ossetia and made deep incursions into Georgia itself. The propaganda claims on both sides, allegations and representations alike, make it impossible to know who or what is right/wrong true/false.

One thing struck me about this above all others. I know these figures are not correct but they do give a true picture of the balance between these nations.

MISSILES 10,000 50
TANKS 7850 22
TROOPS 7,960,000 23,000

A bit one-sided eh? If Georgia picked this fight, for whatever reasons, its leaders were not thinking of Jesus’ advice in Luke 14:31-32.

"Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace."

There is a message for us Christians here too. We are quite accustomed to being told by our teacher/preachers that we are engaged in warfare as followers of Jesus Christ. If this is our situation against satan and his minions then we can apparently do so with great hope. Consider:

4 Romans 8:37-39 “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

4 Colossians 2:14-15 “having cancelled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”

4 Ephesians 1:19-21 “and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.”

4 Romans 8:31 “What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?”

There are hundreds of other such great passages and verses in scripture, especially in the New Testament. When God in Christ is with us-when we are “in Christ”, then we can’t be rolled, as surely as Jesus Christ can’t be rolled.

Look again at Luke 14:31 and 32 – and this time I’ve added verse 33.

"Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.”

Why does Jesus add that? And what does it mean? And how can I know?

Time for more thinking and prayer Fred!

Bless You


Wednesday, August 13, 2008



17 August 2008


Hi Guys,

Big word for you. I wonder if you have ever heard it? DEFENESTRATION. It means “the act of throwing out of a window”. Usually associated with a person being thrown out the window!

The Sydney Morning Herald has had a humorous look at this word for the last couple of weeks. ‘Defenestration’ comes up in murder mystery novels as a ‘cause of death’. There are plenty of stories too about prisoners ‘jumping out of windows on the 10th floor’ of Security Service (Secret Police) buildings in various countries. And more than one or two troublesome royals in Europe have had lives ended by being turfed out of an upper window.

Did you know that God himself has been into some form of this “throwing out’? I was astonished how often in the OT the eternal God was warning that if his people would not repent they would be ‘cast out’. He did it too – the whole nation, first Israel and then Judah – went into exile and captivity.

Have you ever thought that God continued this practice in the days of Jesus?

In God’s New Testament economy it happens differently. The Father shoves the Son into this world, and the Son allows it to happen. Later the Son then gets cast out into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit to confront the devil. Jesus returns to his ministry full of the Holy Spirit. And what should be a ‘welcome tour’ among his own people becomes something macabre as the Son is declared unworthy and unwelcome. He experiences defenestration as he gets thrown out of his own world, by the people he called and created. They can’t stomach him so they effectively vomit him out. Calvary stinks.

But here’s the miracle, he gets cast out, he lets himself get cast out, and he’s the only human who doesn’t deserve to get cast out. Why? So that we can get thrown in! He pays a debt he didn’t owe because we owed a debt we couldn’t pay.

LISTEN TO JESUS. “The person who comes to me I will not cast out.” John 6:37


Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Mum, its like I have to remember to breathe! - CROSS PURPOSES 128


August 10 2008

Mum, its like I have to remember to breathe!

Hi Guys,

Recently a mum was telling me about the medical journey of her daughter. It hasn’t been easy. It hasn’t been without its indignities. And certainly not without pain.

At one point, to ease the debilitating effects of the illness the Doctors increased her morphine intake. Which seemed to be perfectly OK until the patient said “Mum, it’s like I have to remember to breathe!”

That got a response from the medical people. Made me think too. I take for granted every moment of every day that I am breathing. It is built-in to my whole being that I draw breath every second or two. It’s true if I’m running, (not so much these days), it’s true if I’m walking, sitting, doing nothing. I live in this extraordinary world by virtue of my breathing. Without air I’m dead as a doornail. And I’ve never once had to think about the next breath. I’ve assumed it will be there.

In the holy tale called scripture there’s a fair bit about breath too!
4 At creation the Spirit of God hovered over the waters. (Genesis)
4 God breathed into Adam the breath of life. (Gen 2)
4 God breathed into the reassembled bones in the wilderness. (Ezekiel 37)

When the story moves onto Jesus:
4 the breath gets back into dead kids and adults and it gets back into Lazarus.
4 It gets out of Jesus as ‘he breathed his last,’ and it is back in him when raised from death.
4 Then when he meets the disciples he breathes on them and says “Receive the Holy Spirit”.

And forever after the breath of the Spirit has been the breath of the kingdom. We sing it in the classic hymn, “Breath on me breath of God”. And we sing of it when we have that contemporary song, “You are the air I breathe…”

But a strange thing. A very strange thing indeed. In eternity, such breathing of the Spirit of God will not be a thing we need to remember to do. But here, in the kingdom, still in this world, it’s not automatic. Here we need to access the air. We still have to access the air of Christ’s Kingdom. We breathe the Spirit as gift but also task. We can do it – that’s grace. But the breath of the Spirit blows over us as we swim in the things of the Spirit of God. It’s about letting the grace of Jesus blow over us and into us. It’s about immersion in the gospel. It’s about worship and fellowship, about prayer and Holy Communion. It’s about living in a vital relationship with God – about engaging with him with all our fears and hopes. We are loved by the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. We are enabled to love the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. To do so is to breathe.

So there. Remember to breathe.

Bless Ya