Most Christian leaders admit that post-ministry time is one of spiritual lows. For instance, a Pastor once told me that people should leave him alone on a Sunday night; it’s a dark time that he feels no need to share. I understand this to some degree: Biblically speaking, Satan loves to point out to God how sinful we Christians are (think: the book of Job)… lucky for us, God loves to point out to Satan how forgiven we are (think: Joshua in the book of Zechariah). Yet we, who minister, get caught up in the crossfire: the collateral damage, so to speak. If Satan shows my flaws to God (as if God didn’t know them anyway) he doesn’t get the reaction he wants. Unfortunately, when he shows my flaws to me, I react perfectly for him. I feel downtrodden… I get (to quote the Pastor) “dark.” This is why post-ministry time is best for him to strike: leaders are sinners, and we know it. Personally speaking, whenever I preach it is always from the Biblical standard, not mine. O, what a chance for the Devil! But what a chance for us too: if your life is lacking the standard you preach (which, if you’re a preacher of any worth, must be the Biblical standard) it ought to be resolved in two ways:
Recently the questions were posed to me: How did I come to believe Jesus and why do I still believe Him? In truth, I can whittle my answers right down:
How did I come to believe Jesus? The Holy Spirit (John 3:1-8)
Why do I still believe Jesus? Well… the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:28-30)
: But I believe God works these things out a little more practically. So if I were to exchange Him as my answer for something else I believe to be true I’d say this:
How did I come to believe Jesus? The Church (Romans 10:10-15)
Why do I still believe Jesus? Well... the Church (Hebrews 10:19-25)
: To state it simply, I grew up in the Church and it brought me the opportunity to believe Jesus. I would even go further than some and say that the Holy Spirit caused me to believe: all glory for my salvation goes to Him.
But the way He did so was through the Church.
The first question is not enough though. There are many people who have grown up in the Church, having had similar experiences to me, but are no longer around. So the second question becomes very important (plus it’s also Biblical!): why do I still believe Jesus? Alas, the answer is exactly the same: because of the Holy Spirit through the Church.
This answer, dear Christian, is also your answer. There’s nothing unique about my situation.
Each step she took
She takes one look
Left, right, to the world
Each eye she meets
The story she greets
Her mistakes, many
Every step the heart aches
Accusing eyes, she looks within
Accusing eyes cause for sin
To the Groom, no sway
Meet His eyes
She did step, she trusted Him
Who dare accuse the bride
Who is the Father’s pride
Of whom the Father gift the Son
To whom all things on earth belong
A strange arrangement
He calls her
No speech, she’s in His reach
A Friend walks the aisle
Comfort to glide
And, o, with joy
And the Groom can’t believe His eyes
In comparison to the utter, sheer joy that is Mother’s Day, Father’s Day can be somewhat similar to, I dunno… going to a funeral. Awkward and depressing.
This is always more obvious in a corporate setting (in my case, the church), as people from all walks of life gather together and we, the church, must be sensitive to the issue of fatherlessness. So this morning I kept running over my favourite question: Why?
Why is it like this? Why just for Father’s Day? Is it simply because men suck?
Well it can’t be just that. I grew up without the one father but can point to the many who filled his role of “godly man” in my life. For every one sucky father there are ten men doing their job, but we don't hear about them - that's boring. There has to be something more.
And then two passages came to mind:
“Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived, and fell into trespass.” – 1 Timothy 2:14
“The woman saw that the tree was good for food and delightful to look at, and that it was desirable for obtaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves. Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and they hid themselves from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. So the Lord God called out to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” – Genesis 3:6-9
Two things seem to be clear:
1) The woman was deceived.
2) It was the man’s fault.
My conclusion: when a man fails his God-designated role as the man it causes more damage than when a woman fails her God-designated role as the woman. Compare the collective gloom of Father's Day with the certainly more joyful Mother's Day - the difference is brutal.
In one sense, I’m a consistent feminist: men suck… and women suck too. Everyone sucks. In another sense, I’m a true feminist: with men… things just suck more.
Including father’s day.
What follows are notes from a talk I gave for my Church denomination’s annual conference. I’m including it on this site because it was the only time I gave my full testimony and vision for Indigenous ministry in Australia. Because of its length, it will be cut into four parts:
1) My background and calling
2) Vision for the Indigenous
3) Obstacles the Church Must Face
4) Can culture save the people?
: My hope for this is that as you hear my testimony, my personal calling to ministry, my beliefs about who God is, and the vision that Alice Springs CFC has for the Indigenous people, you will start to get an understanding of Indigenous people in general, and begin to see the vision of how you can minister to the Indigenous in your own area.
This is part 3.
Workers. We’ve got the harvest but the workers are few. This is not about Christians; there are plenty of Christians. But not many are willing to work like this (remotely... away from the glitz & glamour). This is where the Churches should step in to preach and pray for their people. Maybe people aren’t willing because they just don’t know. There needs to be a grand scheme of missions that people are aware of so they can step into it. And the leaders of the church need to be praying that people will get the call because, like I said before, my calling is the perseverance for ministry. It will be for others too. We can't just hope and pray for workers but also create a model so once the calling is made on people's lives they can have access straight away. Perhaps God is waiting for us to “be ready” in this area before he calls more workers?
Like Jesus, Alice Springs needs to be accessible and available for people to reach. In fact, Jesus himself is the great model of mission that should always be followed. Let’s look at the missions behind Philippians 2: the moment God the Son became Jesus of Nazareth, the deity of the Son, in a sense, became ineffectual (by His own decision of course). Not that He lost His power or that He ceased to exist, but that the Son literally emptied Himself of His rights as God. He did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped because He knew that obeying the Father and living by the Spirit was sufficient for His earthly ministry.
Because of this, I am kneeling down before the Father, the One who gives the name of ‘family’ to every family that there is, in heaven and on earth. My prayer is this: that He will lay out all the riches of His glory to give you strength and power, through His Spirit, in your inner being; that the King may make you His home in your hearts, through faith; that love may be your root, your firm foundation; and that you may be strong enough (with all God’s holy ones) to grasp the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the King’s love – though actually it’s so deep that nobody can really know it! So may God fill you with all His fullness.
This is a deep, rich prayer; this is what Paul wants God to do in the Christian life. We can bring it down to two things:
1) He wants God to lay out all the riches of His glory.
2) And he wants us to be full of God. To be filled with all the fullness of God.
: As I pondered these verses I realised that what Paul is describing here can be seen as the Christian life. The Christian life is one of Spirit, faith, and love, and all of these things are found in this passage. The Christian life starts and continues through to the end by one way only – the Holy Spirit. So first I want to look at this passage as the start of a Christian life.