Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Hello people,
Given that it’s coming up to Christmas I thought I’d send you the front page of our latest Newsletter as the CROSSPURPOSES for this week.

This will be our last effort for the year. Trust they have been helpful to you.

And have a Mirthful Christmas




SKIN :The Word became flesh, and dwelt amongst us. John 1:14

PAIN :Surely he has borne our griefs… Isaiah 53:4

SUFFERING :and carried our sorrows. Isaiah 53:4

TESTING :in every respect he has been tempted as we are. Hebrews 4:15

SIN :God made him to be sin… 2 Corinthians 5:21

FINISHED :A triumphant cry: “It is finished!” John 19:31

FORGIVING :Son, your sins are forgiven. Mark 2:5

HEALING :The sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in it’s wings.
Malachi 4:2

KING :Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one; I died,
and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of
death and hell. Revelations 1:17-18

KIN :…we are children of God, and if children, then heirs…
Romans 8:16-17

WIN :We are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
Romans 8:31

COME IN :Behold I stand at the door and knock; If anyone hears my
voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and eat with
him, and he with me. Revelations 3:20

INFINITE : How wide and long and high and deep is the love of
Christ…and to know this love which surpasses knowledge.
Ephesians 3:18-19

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

You’re invited to a treasure hunt! - CROSS PURPOSES 142

You’re invited to a treasure hunt!

Who has never had the dream of finding a treasure chest? As a kid the stories of pirates hiding their stuff fascinated me, mostly because we were as poor as church mice. Having once, as a 10 year old, read about the value of a 1930 Australian penny, I turned our whole house up and down, also in the ceiling, driven by the dream of finding such a coin.

Somewhere between Czechoslovakia and Germany, probably in the region of what was East Prussia, one day somebody is going to find a whole lot of buried silver, gold jewelry and other valuables. Can’t tell you exactly where except that it’s on a bend of a river. It happened in 1944-1945 when a family of the German nobility was fleeing before the advancing Russians. Over-laden with the family treasures and therefore slowed down, all they could do was to bury all that ‘treasure’ in the hope of one day going back there to reclaim it.

It never happened. The Iron Curtain descended. The Baron died. His only daughter, who told me this story while we lived in Canberra, has also died. Someday some lucky farmer is going to find that horde when his plough goes just a fraction deeper! If he doesn’t own the field he might get smart and arrange to buy it. That’s what Jesus advised!

"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.” Matthew 13:44

Of course Jesus wasn’t talking about earthly riches. His sentence starts with, “The kingdom of heaven is like…”

Most of us will have a fair idea of how things stand in ‘the kingdom of earth.’ I suspect we’re aware of our net worth and have a sort of a plan about how we’ll get by. Few of us will be unaware of the status of our shares, or of property values.

On the other hand, how is it with you as regards the Kingdom of God?
Are you hungry for the treasure?
Do you know what that treasure actually is?
Have you found the treasure yet?
Are you free to ‘sell everything’ to make sure you can get it for yourself.

Fred, Fred, questions questions questions. Nevertheless they are the most important questions you and I will ever ask.

Bless you guys.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Shack - Cross Purposes 141


My friends, CrossPurposes is a bit longer this week. It’s an excerpt from a book called ‘The Shack’. Its central character is a man called Mack who has experienced a great disaster in his life which has crippled his insides in all ways.

On a weekend alone at his cabin he encounters God the Father/Son/Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has a name in this story – Sarayu – and this excerpt is part of his encounter with Sarayu.

The Shack

“Of course you will make mistakes; everybody makes mistakes, but you will begin to better recognize my voice as we continue to grow our relationship.”
“I don’t want to make mistakes,” Mack grunted.
“Oh, Mackenzie,” responded Sarayu, “mistakes are a part of life, and Papa works his purpose in them, too.” She was amused and Mack couldn’t help but grin back. He could see her point well enough.
“This is so different from everything I’ve known, Sarayu. Don’t get me wrong – I love what you all have given me this weekend. But I have no idea how I go back to my life. Somehow it seemed easier to live with God when I thought of him as the demanding taskmaster, or even to cope with the loneliness of The Great Sadness.”
“You think so?” she asked. “Really?”
“At least then I seemed to have things under control.”
“Seemed is the right word. What did it get you? The Great Sadness and more pain than you could bear, pain that spilled over even on those you care for the most.”
“According to Papa that’s because I’m scared of emotions,” he disclosed.
Sarayu laughed out loud. “I thought that little interchange was hilarious.”
“I am afraid of emotions,” Mack admitted, a bit perturbed that she seemed to make light of it. “I don’t like how they feel. I’ve hurt others with them and I can’t trust them at all. Did you create all of them or only the good ones?”
“Mackenzie.” Sarayu seemed to rise up into the air. He still had a difficult time looking right at her, but with the late afternoon sun reflecting off the water, it was even worse. “Emotions are the colours of the soul; they are spectacular and incredible. When you don’t feel, the world becomes dull and colourless. Just think how The Great Sadness reduced the range of colour in your life down to monotones and flat grays and blacks.”
“So help me understand them,” pleaded Mack.
“Not much to understand, actually. They just are. They are neither bad nor good; they just exist. Here is something that will help you sort this out in your mind, Mackenzie. Paradigms power perception and perceptions power emotions. Most emotions are responses to perception – what you think is true about a given situation. If your perception is false, then your emotional response to it will be false too. So check your perceptions, and beyond that check the truthfulness of your paradigms – what you believe. Just because you believe something firmly doesn’t make it true. Be willing to reexamine what you believe. The more you live in the truth, the more your emotions will help you see clearly. But even then, you don’t want to trust them more than me.”
Mack allowed his oar to turn in his hands as he let it play in the water’s movements. “It feels like living out of relationship – you know, trusting and talking to you – is a bit more complicated than just following rules.”
“What rules are those, Mackenzie?”
“You know,” he answered sarcastically. “About doing good things and avoiding evil, being kind to the poor, reading your bible, praying, and going to church. Things like that.”
“I see. And how is that working for you?”
He laughed. “Well, I’ve never done it really well. I have moments that aren’t too bad, but there’s always something I’m struggling with, or feeling guilty about. I just figured I needed to try harder, but I find it difficult to sustain that motivation.”
“Mackenzie!” she chided, her words flowing with affection. “The Bible doesn’t teach you to follow rules. It is a picture of Jesus. While words may tell you what God is like and even what he may want from you, you cannot do any of it on your own. Life and living is in him and in no other. My goodness, you didn’t think you could live the righteousness of God on your own, did you?”
“Well, I thought so, sorta…” he said sheepishly. “But you gotta admit, rules and principles are simpler than relationships.”
“It is true that relationships are a whole lot messier than rules, but rules will never give you answers to the deep questions of the heart and they will never love you.”
Dipping his hand in the water, he played, watching that patterns his movements made. “I’m realizing how few answers I have…to anything. You know, you’ve turned me upside down or inside out or something.”
“Mackenzie, religion is about having the right answers, and some of their answers are right. But I am about the process that takes you to the living answer and once you get to him, he will change you from the inside. There are a lot of smart people who are able to say a lot of right things from their brain because they have been told what the right answers are, but they don’t know me at all. So really, how can their answers be right even if they are right, if you understand my drift?” She smiled at her pun. “So even thought they might be right, they are still wrong.”
“I understand what you’re saying. I did that for years after seminary. I had the right answers, sometimes, but I didn’t know you. This weekend, sharing my life with you has been far more illuminating than any of those answers.”

The Shack William P Young pg 196-198

(PS. The book is a great read. About $20 from Koorong or Australian Church Resources).

Bless You


Wednesday, November 05, 2008




In London’s Westminster Abbey there’s an area known as Poet’s Corner. It’s a place where memorial stones have been erected to honour the English Poets. Selwyn Hughes, writing about this in his bible notes – Every Day with Jesus – has a sharp observation about one of these stones.

“Not everything written there is admirable, and I confess a particular dislike for the memorial to John Milton, which reads thus:

“This bust of the author of Paradise Lost was placed here by William Benson Esquire, one of the two Auditors of the Imprest to his Majesty King George the Second, and the formerly Surveyor General of Works to his Majesty King George the First.””

Bit rich isn’t it? It’s not about John Milton the poet at all. It’s about the donor of the stone, about his not so hidden agenda to make a name for himself – to be noticed!

This is the exact thing Jesus was warning about in the Sermon on the Mount.

Matt 6:1-4
“Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
"So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honoured by men.
I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,
so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

Matt 6:5-6
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

Matt 6:16-18
When you fast, do not look sombre as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

I won’t speak for you but this business of putting myself in the centre of a story is something I do well.
- Casually let drop about some cause I’m involved with.
- Mentioning names or areas where I help.
- Referring to a sermon, inviting your comment…

I can give you lots of personal examples of blowing my own trumpet and big noting myself. Humility and humanity rarely sit well with each other. (My friends would say that humble and Dutch don’t mesh well ever!) I’m tarred with the brush that’s dipped in “Adam and Eve”. Just like when they rebelled, self kicks in – self-promotion, self-pity, self-effacing, self-protection, self-hatred, self-praise – and it’s ugly. Selfishness is ugly.

Anyway, check out this little text:

Philippians 2:5-11
“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Now there’s a model to aspire to! Here’s the one who says “Follow Me”… Love as I have loved… I have given you an example…

You’ve tried? You know you can’t keep it up? You don’t trust yourself to keep that vow to follow him? Good, good, good! A great point has arrived in your relationship with God. How come?

When you despair of doing this humble stuff, and “being humble in heart,” tell him so. He will fix you! He’s already lived your journey of failure on your behalf – without failing. As the coming, living, suffering, dying, dead, raised story becomes your story, his forgiveness is yours. BUT ALSO, his Holy Spirit power to keep it together is yours as well.

There’s hope see. But it’s not in you, or in the strength and determination of your vowing. It’s in HIM. It’s always about Him.

Bless You.