Wednesday, October 29, 2008



Hi Guys Fred here,

This story from the US was sent to me recently. I’ve learned to be sceptical of stories that arrive on my computer unsolicited. But one of my members sent it so I thought I’d check out its origins and lo and behold, its true! So I’m giving it to you this week as CROSSPURPOSES.
Enjoy it!


For those of you who do not know Beth Moore, she is an outstanding Bibleteacher, writer of Bible studies, and is a married mother of two daughters. This is one of her experiences: April 20, 2005, at the Airport in Knoxville , TN waiting to board theplane, I had the Bible on my lap and was very intent upon what I wasdoing. I'd had a marvellous morning with the Lord. I say this because Iwant to tell you it is a scary thing to have the Spirit of God reallyworking in you. You could end up doing some things you never would have done otherwise. Life in the Spirit can be dangerous for a thousand reasons not the least of which is your ego. I tried to keep from staring, but he was such a strange sight. Humpedover in a wheelchair, he was skin and bones, dressed in clothes thatobviously fit when he was at least twenty pounds heavier His kneesprotruded from his trousers, and his shoulders looked like the coathanger was still in his shirt. His hands looked like tangled masses ofveins and bones.The strangest part of him was his hair and nails. Stringy, gray hairhung well over his shoulders and down part of his back. His fingernailswere long , clean but strangely out of place on an old man. I looked down at my Bible as fast as I could, discomfort burning myface. As I tried to imagine what his story might have been, I foundmyself wondering if I'd just had a Howard Hughes sighting. Then, Iremembered that he was dead. So this man in the airport... animpersonator maybe? Was a camera on us somewhere? There I sat; trying to concentrate on the Word to keep from being concerned about a thin slice of humanity served up on a wheelchair only a few seats from me. All the while, my heart was growing more and more overwhelmed with a feeling for him. Let's admit it. Curiosity is a heap more comfortable than true concern,and suddenly I was awash with aching emotion for this bizarre-lookingold man. I had walked with God long enough to see the handwriting on the wall.I've learned that when I begin to feel what God feels, something socontrary to my natural feelings, some thing dramatic is bound to happen. And it may be embarrassing. I immediately began to resist because I could feel God working on myspirit and I started arguing with God in my mind. 'Oh, no, God, please,no .' I looked up at the ceiling as if I could stare straight through itinto heaven and said, 'Don't make me witness to this man. Not right hereand now. Please. I'll do anything. Put me on the same plane, but don'tmake me get up here and witness to this man in front of this gawking audience. Please, Lord!' There I sat in the blue vinyl chair begging His Highness, 'Please don'tmake me witness to this man. Not now. I'll do it on the plane.' Then Iheard it...'I don't want you to witness to him. I want you to brush his hair.' The words were so clear, my heart leap into my throat, and my thoughtsspun like a top. Do I witness to the man or brush his hair? No-brainier.I looked straight back up at the ceiling and said, 'Go d, as I live andbreathe, I want you to know I am ready to witness to this man. I'm onthis Lord. I'm your girl! You've never seen a woman witness to a manfaster in your life. What difference does it make if his hair is a mess if he is not redeemed? I am going to witness to this man' Again as clearly asI've ever heard an audible word, God seemed to write this statementacross the wall of my mind. 'That is not what I said, Beth. I don't want you to witness to him. I want you to go brush his hair.' I looked up at God and quipped, 'I don't have a hairbrush. It's in my suitcase on the plane. How am I supposed to brush his hair without a hairbrush?' God was so insistent that I almost involuntarily began towalk toward him as these thoughts came to me from God's word: 'I willthoroughly furnish you unto all good works.' (2 Timothy 3:17) I stumbled over to the wheelchair thinking I could use one myself. Evenas I retell this story, my pulse quickens and I feel those samebutterflies. I knelt down in front of the man and asked as demurely aspossible, 'Sir, may I have the pleasure of brushing your hair?' He looked back at me and said, 'What did you say?' 'May I have the pleasure of brushing your hair?' To which he responded in volume ten, 'Little lady, if you expect me tohear you, you're going to have to talk louder than that.' At this point, I took a deep breath and blurted out , 'SIR, MAY I HAVETHE PLEASURE OF BRUSHING YOUR HAIR?' At which point every eye in the place darted right at me. I was the only thing in the room looking more peculiar than old Mr. Long Locks. Face crimson and forehead breaking out in a sweat, I watched him look up at me with absolute shock on his face, and say, 'If you really want to.' Are you kidding? Of course I didn't want to. But God didn't seem interested in my personal preference right about then. He pressed on my heart until I could utter the words, 'Yes, sir, I would be pleased. But I have one little problem. I don't have a hairbrush.' 'I have one in my bag,' he responded.I went around to the back of that wheelchair, and I got on my hands andknees and unzipped the stranger's old carry-on, hardly believing what Iwas doing. I stood up and started brushing the old man's hair. It wasperfectly clean, but it was tangled and matted. I don't do many thingswell, but must admit I've had notable experience untangling knotted hairmothering two little girls. Like I'd done with either Amanda or Melissain such a condition, I began brushing at the very bottom of the strands,remembering to take my time not to pull. A miraculous thing happened to me as I started brushing that old man's hair. Everybody else in the room disappeared. There was no one alive for those moments except that old man and me. I brushed and I brushed and I brushed until every tangle was out of that hair. I know this sounds so strange, but I've never felt that kind of love for another soul in my entire life. I believe with all my heart, I - for that few minutes -felt a portion of the very love of God. That He had overtaken my heart for a little while like someone renting a room and making Himself at home for a short while. The emotions were so strong and so pure t hat I knew they had to beGod's. His hair was finally as soft and smooth as an infant's. I slipped the brush back in the bag and went around the chair to facehim. I got back down on my knees, put my hands on his knees and said,'Sir, do you know my Jesus?' He said, 'Yes, I do' Well, that figures, I thought. He explained, 'I'veknown Him since I married my bride. She wouldn't marry me until I got to know the Savior.' He said, 'You see, the problem is, Ihaven't seen my bride in months. I've had open-heart surgery, and she'sbeen too ill to come see me. I was sitting here thinking to myself, whata mess I must be for my bride.' Only God knows how often He allows us to be part of a divine moment when we're completely unaware of the significance. This, on the other hand, was one of those rare encounters when I knew God had intervened in details only He could have known. It was a God moment, and I'll never forget it. Our time came to board, and we were not on the same plane. I was deeply ashamed of how I'd acted earlier and would have been so proud to have accompanied him on that aircraft. I still had a few minutes, and as I gathered my things to board, the airline hostess returned from the corridor, tears streaming down hercheeks. She said, 'That old man's sitting on the plane, sobbing. Why didyou do that? What made you do that?' I said, 'Do you know Jesus? He can be the bossiest thing!' And we got to share. I learned something about God that day. He knows if you're exhausted,you're hungry, you're serving in the wrong place or it is time to moveon but you feel too responsible to budge. He knows if you're hurting orfeeling rejected. He knows if you're sick or drowning under a wave of temptation. Or He knows if you just need your hair brushed. He sees youas an individual. Tell Him your need! I got on my own flight, sobs choking my throat, wondering how manyopportunities just like that one had I missed along the way . . allbecause I didn't want people to think I was strange. God didn't send meto that old man. He sent that old man to me.. John 1:14 'The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth' Life shouldn't be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather, to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly shouting,'Wow! What a ride! Thank You, Lord!' If your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light........ Mt. 6:22 By God's grace I am what I am..... 1 Corinthians 15:10

Wednesday, October 22, 2008




A few months ago I was driving back from town and mostly thinking about the things we had been discussing at a meeting I had attended that morning. I was driving behind a taxi and vaguely aware of the advertising panel on the boot of the car, which some taxis have fitted. After about ten minutes of driving and pulling up behind this taxi at the traffic lights my attention turned towards the advertisement it was carrying.

The advertisement showed a music stave drawn in a sort of sweeping motion with a treble clef and few notes scattered along its length. It was advertising radio station FM102.5 and had a caption Music for the heart, except that “heart” was written as hEARt.

Very clever, I thought – and very true. Music has that effect on us. We hear it with our ears but it touches our heart. It soothes and consoles; it inspires and stirs. We hear it initially through the ears of our head, but relate and respond to it through the “ear” within our heart.

So it is with the Word of God. When Jesus talks about those who hear but do not listen, He is talking about those who do not take His Word to heart. In the Parable of the Sower the seed – God’s Word – is sown in four different soil types – namely, hearts that receive or respond to the Word in four different ways. The hard heart, the rocky heart, and the thorny heart hear only with the ears of the head and so the heart does not receive the Word. The heart represented by the good soil hears with the “ear” within the heart and it resonates with the message of salvation Jesus wants to sow in every heart.

When Jesus says, “Let anyone with ears to hear listen!” (Mark 4:23), He is calling us to listen with a discerning spirit, a humble spirit, a receptive spirit, a trusting spirit. He is calling us to listen with the “ear” within our heart, not the ear of our head, which so often listens only to what the “gods” of a sinful self tell it.

Scripture is full of references to the heart that sees; the heart that speaks; the heart that cries out. God has also given us a heart with which to hear. “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5). Through His Word and Holy Spirit, God makes it possible for us to receive His call through the “ear” of our heart.

In Jeremiah 24:7 God tells us, “I will give them a new hEARt to know me, that I am the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their hEARt.”

The Word of God is music for the hEARt, indeed!

René van den Tol

16 September 2008

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

What Jesus Freaks Know! - CROSS PURPOSES 138

What Jesus Freaks Know!

I’ve been reading a book by C J Hill called “Enjoying God”. It’s a reasonable read. In his last chapter he writes about hunger in the spirit for God, and his holiness and love. He includes the following:

“In the introduction to the book Jesus Freak, Tom White, director the Voice of the Martyrs, writes, “The greatest pressure on the freak who stands up for Jesus is the thought that they are all alone – the only one. That is a lie. When I was on trial in Cuba for the Gospel, with a machine gun behind me, the prosecutor made fun of me. I told him about Hebrews 12:1, which mentions the cloud of witnesses around us. He was upset when I mentioned the saints and angels around me. Before trial I had been placed in special, cold cells with no furniture, no blanket, and no light. Cold air was blowing in above the door. Everything was taken from me. I began singing hymns and praise choruses. The guards got angry and pounded on the steel door with their fists. I was not destitute and alone. Second Corinthians 6:10 states that we can have nothing, yet possess everything. I fellowshipped with the Creator of everything.”

Hill then makes a very simple, urgent and valid point. If in your current circumstances you have nothing, or face losing what you do have, or are disillusioned by everything, yet have Jesus Christ, then you have all things, because all things, all in all, are found in Jesus Christ.

On the other hand, if you have all things - material and social, financial and academic – all things, but do not have and know Jesus the Christ as Saviour and Lord, then you have nothing – zip – nothing at all.

Jesus claims to be “the way, the truth and the life – no one comes to the Father except trough me.” ( John 14:6) Little secret here. He is not only the way, ie the door, the narrow gate, the entry point. He is also the life. Know Him, know what life is. Not know him, not know what life is. Or as the old Warrambui staff T-shirt it had:


That’s why Tom White, and thousands of those who have suffered for Jesus’ name and kingdom experienced such pure, unadulterated joy in prison and under torture. Jesus Christ was all they had. In that place it was all they needed.

Guess where you are called to focus your hope? Freakish, isn’t it?

Have a good week.


By the way: For those of you in Sydney on October 26 we will have August Fricke – Asia Focus Man – As the preacher for Reformation Celebration.
You are all welcome – St Pauls 10:30am.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008



I recently read a sermon by a chap called Roger Lovette. He begins this sermon (Pulpit Resource September 14, 2008) by recounting an experience in a Scottish church.

“I remembered something that happened to me in Stirling, Scotland several years ago. Stirling is northeast of Edinburgh and is the gateway to the Scottish highlands. This is where Robert the Bruce fought to gain Scotland’s independence in 1314. The movie Braveheart told that story. It is a beautiful city dominated by a wonderful castle high on a hill overlooking the whole city. Near the castle is the Church of the Holy Rude. In case you’re wondering Holy Rude was a medieval term for the Cross of Christ’s crucifixion. This church dates back to the 12th century. The present building was constructed in the 15th century. Mary Queen of Scots was crowned there in 1543. Prince Henry was christened in this church in 1594. James VI was crowned king in that room. As we stood in the sanctuary the guide said: “Do you see the brick line in there?” He pointed to a line from floor to ceiling right down the middle sides of the church. “This was one our most painful stories. During the turbulent 17th century when there were so many religious and political troubles, the congregation was split into factions. An extreme and bigoted Presbyterian pastor, James Guthrie, refused to accept his more moderate colleague. After trying to resolve the conflict for a long time, the town council finally solved the problem by building a wall across the church between the west pillars of the crossing. They did this in 1656. One church became two separate churches, the east and the west. They worshipped back to back from 1656 until 1936. One altar was at one end of the church and a second altar at the other end. In 1936 the wall was removed and the church was reunited. But for 280 years they worshipped in a divided manner.”

Sad, sad, sad tale! Lovette goes on the apply it to the church at large in its human words and ways, its pettiness and its worldliness. And that is entirely appropriate. I’ve another application too.


Psalm 86:11 has a great insight into the human heart.

“Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart to revere your name.”

That verse was written by someone who knew what it was to have a divided heart. On the one side seek to glorify God, on the other to glorify self. A wall where there should not be a wall at all. Rebellion in one part, worship in the other. Integrity on one side, dishonesty in the other. Truth celebrated here and lies propounded there! A whining little boy here and a champion for Christ there. A scheming little girl sometimes and a gracious adult woman at others. The two exist side by side, walled off from each other. This is the human dilemma, the human reality, sharpened to the point of pain by guilt and shame by the coming of Jesus Christ into our hearts and lives. We’re not stuck with this, thank God. In the blood of Christ all walls come down. (Eph 2:14) Or as Paul says so beautifully about Jesus Christ in Colossians, “He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his beloved Son, (1:13)… and in him all things hold together, (1:17)!

There’s the miracle you know. It is only in Christ that the prayer of David, prayed for all humanity, finds its answer. Jesus the Messiah lived before the Father with an undivided heart, refusing to be diverted by satan in the wilderness, by aggressive/defensive threatened Jewish leaders, by thick disciples, by suffering in the garden, or at any point in-between. He goes to the place of sacrifice “whole-heartedly”.

And through the victory of the resurrection his undivided heart is given to you and me.

And the walls come tumbling down.

Be Blessed


Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Set free from the witches hats - CROSS PURPOSES 136

Set free from the witches hats

These days whenever I observe something or experience different situations I tend to ask myself, “Is there a Gospel message in this?” Sometimes there is and they become useful anecdotes or illustrations for sermons or school Scripture lessons.

A few months ago I drove out of Brookvale Primary School onto Old Pittwater Road and joined the traffic facing west up the hill towards the intersection with Beacon Hill Road. I was about tenth in line from the lights but had a very good view of the intersection further up the hill.

A road maintenance crew was busy working at the intersection. The work required the lane next to the kerb going east down to Pittwater Road to be cordoned off. A young woman member of the crew dutifully set about placing witches hats along the dotted line to reduce access on the eastbound lanes to a single lane.

As I sat in my car watching her I was impressed with the care and precision she exercised in her work. Being a surveyor, I have a deep appreciation for precision, accuracy, symmetry and the like, and I couldn’t help but admire the way she carefully paced out the distance between each witches hat, placed them all very accurately on the line and then looked back to check her work to ensure all was in order.

No sooner had she finished her work the lights changed. The first three vehicles through the intersection were cars and had no difficulty negotiating the right hand turn into the single lane that was now available to them.

Then came a semi-trailer. Half-way through the intersection it was clear the driver had no possibility of negotiating the tighter turn. He took one look at the witches hats, looked at the maintenance crew, probably saw that the lights were about to change, and with an expression of, “Sorry guys, but I ain’t stoppin’ for no-one,” kept going, and in the process took out the complete line of witches hats. Not only that, as he came down the hill towards me I noticed the witches hats were being caught under his front axle, and so he didn’t just bowl them over, he took them with him all the way to Pittwater Rd at the bottom of the hill.

The look of horror on the young woman’s face was palpable. All her good work was undone in an instant. I really felt for her, but couldn’t help having a good laugh either. Of course, I said to myself, there has to be a Gospel message in this!

Indeed, it reminded me of how Satan – the prosecutor – stands before God always wanting to accuse us. He sets out our sins before God with the same precision and diligence the woman at the intersection exercised in setting out the witches hats. Satan sets out to prosecute our sins one after the other – a whole line of them – each one carefully, completely and comprehensively articulated so that no one can be in any doubt that we have failed miserably in meeting what God’s Law demands. Satan does have a point. We have sinned and we do sin, and do so often.

With Satan having set out the case for the prosecution, things look bad for the defendant. But then Jesus presents the case for the defence and things take a dramatic turn. He addresses our heavenly Father and asks, “Sins? What sins?”

“Oh, you mean the sins of the world – the sins that I as the Lamb of God took away when I shed my blood and gave my life on Calvary? You mean the sins which I forgive and absolve when the sinner comes to me in repentance and confesses me as Lord and Saviour? You mean the sins with which this devious prosecutor here on my left continually tries to burden the conscience by setting them out as reminders like bright red witches hats at a road maintenance site? You mean those sins?”

Yes those sins!

Well, Father, through your plan of salvation, fulfilled in my death and resurrection:
· You forgave the iniquity of your people and covered all their sins (Psalm 85:2).
· I bore the sin of many and made (and continue to make) intercession for the transgressors (Isaiah 53:12).
· You forgive their iniquity and remember their sin no more (Jeremiah 31:34).
· You bless those, Father, who confess me as Lord and Saviour, and do not reckon their sin against them (Romans 4:8).
· Through the righteousness You grant believers for my sake, they have been set free from sin (Romans 6:18).
· You made me, who knew no sin, to be sin for them, so that in me they might become Your righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21).

And the list goes on. Every time Satan tries to accuse you with a long line of witches hats to remind you of your sin, just remember that our defender, our intercessor, our Saviour Jesus Christ has done the best maintenance job for you, on you, and in you that you could ever hope for. He cleans up witches hats like no semi-trailer driver ever could, although the fellow on Old Pittwater Road did give me a good insight on how well Jesus does it.

Be blessed

René van den Tol