Book Sale

Wednesday 31 May 2023

Ridiculous Foolishness


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One of the problems with how a lot of Christians today think about the Bible is that they believe they can just write off the Old Testament. Some preachers will even say you can ignore the Old Testament and just read the New Testament. Considering how hard it is to get people to read the Bible, I understand why they say this. But it is terrible advice if that is what you are seeking to achieve. Most of the best stories are in the Old Testament. The New Testament is great and filled with wonderful events of course. But reading the Old Testament is like having a window into an ancient world so alien to our own modern times, yet relatable to our own world in so many ways.

Tales of wars, and conquests, defeats and victories, love and betrayal, slaying of dragons and the shaking of nations, scorned lovers and licentious affairs, and faithfully devoted wives and husbands, the rise and fall of kingdoms and dynasties, heroes and villains and heroes turned villains and villains turned heroes. The Old Testament is far more interesting than most people realise and it presents its message in a way that at times causes some Christians to blush. If the Old Testament was a T.V. show most Christians wouldn’t watch it, but almost everyone else would. Rejecting the Old Testament is like cutting the handle off the sword of the God. Ridiculous foolishness.

Tuesday 30 May 2023

Art Not Science


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Preparing a sermon is not a science, it is an art. And art takes time, space, preparation, contemplation, creativity, care, passion, hard work, and a measure of the artists personality as well, all reliant on Scripture and the Spirit's guidance.

I don't fear the rise of AI produced sermons, because AI cannot really produce art, it can only mimic it. It can only mix and match the work done by others. This will most definitely replace the preachers whose works are not their own thoughts, work or creation, but are just simulacrums of other's work based on best selling books, or other preachers preprepared sermon series and other peoples notes. It will replace the mass-produced sermons of the mega-church preachers, that preach according to a set plan and the rhythm of the events on the calendar (mother's day, father's day, valentines day, etc, etc). 

But it will not be able to replace the work of the Spirit through gifted individuals who treat their sermon preparation time as preparing a piece of truthful art to bring the word of God alive. This takes soul, and AI has no soul.

Monday 29 May 2023

Satan’s Lie To The Woman


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Satan convinced the woman in the garden that God was holding her back, and therefore it was good to override the Lord's word, to reach her full potential...

...and nothing has changed since that day, has it?

There is more going on, and there is a lot which can be said about the man too. But don't skip over that observation, because it has great explanatory power for much of the issues in our society today. Much of the drive against the scriptures and for equality, and for women to overcome all the spaces and roles of men in society comes from the very same drive that Eve gave into in the garden: she resented that there was something she could not be, and so she reached out to break the glass ceiling.

The Bible does not show us just what happened. But what always happens. It shows us also the devil has no new tricks, but he doesn't need them, because the old ones still work. 

Sunday 28 May 2023

But You Have To Allow Immigration, Don’t You?


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Much of modern Christianity has been overcome by an anti-nationalist progressivism that denies the right of sovereignty to nations, denies the validity of borders, and says that it is evil to deny people the right to move where they want in the world. It has been thoroughly overcome by this globalist thinking, a traditionally leftist perspective. Various passages are used to support this idea. Here is a good example of one of those passages,

“8 And the word of the Lord came to Zechariah, saying, 9 “Thus says the Lord of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, 10 do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart” (Zech. 7:8-10).

The key word here is “sojourner”, which you will hear modern preachers say is akin to a refugee or an immigrant. You cannot oppress the sojourner, therefore you need to open your doors of your nation to the refugee or the immigrant. A passage like this, and similar passages, would be used as a kind of smoking gun for this progressive view. But does it really support such a position in an ironclad way?  

Well, the answer is clearly no. Just stop and think about it for a minute.

Is this passage about immigration or refugee programs? No, it is not. It is about a nation’s magistrates and governors making sure that they enact true and merciful justice in their own land. The whole chapter makes it clear that God is addressing the Israelites, who have failed to properly enact the law in their own nation. So, this passage is not talking about foreign relations at all. It is talking about domestic law enforcement.

Consider also this important fact: magistrates and governors of any given nation hold no inherent right to rule or authority over foreign peoples outside their borders or national sovereignty. Empires ignore this principle, by seeking to rule over many peoples, but then God judges them for this and many other inherently evil imperial acts. So, arguing the magistrates of one nation, have the right to enact laws for the benefit of people of other nations is to confuse their proper role and function. The governors of one nation are supposed to govern their own nation, no one else’s. So, utilizing a passage like this to support things like immigration or refugee programs, goes both well beyond the text, and well beyond the function of the roles of magistrates and governors.

But consider this also: the role of a judge or a ruler is to enact just or righteous judgements. True justice. Justice speaks to what someone is owed by the right of the law, or what the law says is right. And no one has a right to the land or possessions of those of another nation. No one has this right, any more than anyone has the right to take possession of another person’s house. God defines the boundaries and habitations of man (Act 17:26-27), and he commands nations not to transgress the land of other nations,

“4 and command the people, “You are about to pass through the territory of your brothers, the people of Esau, who live in Seir; and they will be afraid of you. So be very careful. 5 Do not contend with them, for I will not give you any of their land, no, not so much as for the sole of the foot to tread on, because I have given Mount Seir to Esau as a possession” (Deut. 2:4-5).

This is just one example of many in the Scriptures. The person who moves a boundary marker according to God is wicked. So, one cannot reasonably argue that “true justice” or “true judgements” give the right to the foreigner to come in and take possession of part of your land. This is a twisting of what justice means.

Consider also this: how is it just to take the best and the brightest from poorer nations and fill your own nation with their efforts and skills. Of course, not all refugees or immigrants come from the crème de la crème of other countries, but one of the arguments for immigration is that we should take the best skilled workers we can get from overseas to strengthen our own workforce and skills base here. But this is not just, it is just another version of wealthy nations pillaging poorer nations. If you strip poorer nations of either a) their brightest and most skilled, or b) their wealthiest and best resourced people who can afford to emigrate, then you will ensure that nation has a harder time of seeking to build itself up. You ensure that nation stays at a lower level of development. How is this just? How is this “true judgements”?

So, from multiple different angles it is easy to knock down arguments for a passage like this being used to defend modern mass immigration or refugee intakes. What you will end up doing with such policies is dispossess some of your own people, who now have to compete with a larger work force, for less jobs and higher prices for assets like houses and businesses, which they need to survive. How can we say that a governor or magistrate who serves foreign peoples like this, is administering true justice for his own people? Of course, what bolsters this is that we never see ancient Israel practicing either large immigration intakes (though they did take in small numbers of people, like Obed-Edom, Ruth, Rahab and the like) or engaging in refugee programs. It was hard enough to get the people and the ruling elite to share their resources with each other, let alone solve the issues of foreign nations.

So, then are we rejecting this verse? Of course not. Then how should it be applied? Simply read what it says, “…10 do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.” Do not oppress the foreigner who is in your midst. Don’t treat him poorly because he is from another nation, be a good host. Don’t be like the wicked men who seek to attack the stranger, but give him shelter while he is a guest, and make sure he leaves your nation with a good report. This teaching is based on the situation of Israel in Egypt, where the issue was not that Egypt would not let them in, but that Egypt would not let them out, “Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt (Deut. 10:19). Be good to the guest, because you know what it is like to be treated very poorly by your hosts.

This is not a passage about immigration or refugee intakes, it is talking about not using your power as natives to abuse the situation of the foreigner in your midst. Which is actually a common result of modern immigration programs, because they are used by some to undercut the wages of citizens, hire poorer people for less pay, and give working conditions to sojourners that citizens would not accept; among many other forms of exploitation. It is not a coincidence that sex trafficking and human trafficking networks make large use of the relatively free movement of peoples that exists in the world today. Because the wicked find it easy to exploit the foreigner when they can bring them to a country where they know not the language or their rights and when they can easily move people across the world.

So, don’t be frightened by passages like this one, being used to say that your views of low immigrations and of not supporting refugee intakes are not Christian. This could not be further from the truth. Being kind to the foreigner is many steps away from saying: come and take our land. These are not the same thing. Indeed, as we have demonstrated, the wholesale support of the large movement of people is used by the wicked in many ways to bring evils on both foreigners and nationals alike in many nations. The businessman who wants to use immigration to suppress wages and the politician who wants to use immigration to pad the budget figures even though his neighbours will find it harder to buy a home, do not have this verse to stand on. It actually does the opposite, it stands in condemnation of their policies. Very clearly. Because such policies are unjust. 

Saturday 27 May 2023

Passive Man, Wicked Woman


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This is a recent men’s talk that I gave, you can listen to the audio here.


Abusive men are bad, they are evil really. A man who hits a woman in anger is not worthy to be called a man. I have encountered abusive and violent men in my days, and we should have no tolerance for that kind of behaviour. We should also help men who struggle with anger and self-control issues. But we should not tolerate such behaviour. If you struggle with this, sort it out, before it destroys you and your family.

That being said, we are not here today to talk about that, we are here today to talk about the passive man, and the wicked woman. Now, not every passive man is coupled with a wicked woman, but more often than not he is. It is my experience that passive men are far more common than abusive men. Far more common. It is like a plague in our society today. So today, I want us to look at a passive man, Ahab, and see what we can learn about him, and from him, and why we should not be like him.  

The context (vv. 1-4) –

“21 Now Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard in Jezreel, beside the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. 2 And after this Ahab said to Naboth, “Give me your vineyard, that I may have it for a vegetable garden, because it is near my house, and I will give you a better vineyard for it; or, if it seems good to you, I will give you its value in money.” 3 But Naboth said to Ahab, “The Lord forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers.” 4 And Ahab went into his house vexed and sullen because of what Naboth the Jezreelite had said to him, for he had said, “I will not give you the inheritance of my fathers.” And he lay down on his bed and turned away his face and would eat no food.”

The context of this situation is very simple. Naboth has a vineyard that Ahab wants, and Naboth won’t give it to him.

For those of you not familiar with who Ahab is, he is one of the most wicked kings of Samaria, the northern Kingdom of Israel. But he was also very successful and very powerful, leading Israel to many good victories in battle. He is also the king who caused the most trouble for Elijah. He did great wickedness in the sight of the Lord, and many abominations. In fact, this same passage tells us, 1 Kings 21:25-26, “25 (There was none who sold himself to do what was evil in the sight of the Lord like Ahab, whom Jezebel his wife incited. 26 He acted very abominably in going after idols, as the Amorites had done, whom the Lord cast out before the people of Israel.).”

So, we know that Ahab is not a good man, therefore, we can expect that he will not do the right thing in this passage. Which is exactly what happens.

But this passage also makes clear that not only is Ahab a bad man, he is a very weak man. Look at this, “4 And Ahab went into his house vexed and sullen because of what Naboth the Jezreelite had said to him, for he had said, “I will not give you the inheritance of my fathers.” And he lay down on his bed and turned away his face and would eat no food.” What a pansy.

Naboth refused to sell his family’s inheritance to this wicked man, who should not have even asked him to. In ancient Israel families had their allotted land, and the righteous men made sure they handed it to the next generation. The unrighteous men might sell it, trade it, or lose it because of bad investments, or lack of diligence.

This rejection sends this man, who is also the king of his people, into depression mode. He is broken by this refusal. This is a weak man with some really serious issues. So, what happens?

The Man of the House (vv.5-7) – What happens next is the man of the house comes in and takes control of the situation,

“5 But Jezebel his wife came to him and said to him, “Why is your spirit so vexed that you eat no food?” 6 And he said to her, “Because I spoke to Naboth the Jezreelite and said to him, ‘Give me your vineyard for money, or else, if it please you, I will give you another vineyard for it.’ And he answered, ‘I will not give you my vineyard.’” 7 And Jezebel his wife said to him, “Do you now govern Israel? Arise and eat bread and let your heart be cheerful; I will give you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.”

The man of the house takes the leadership role. The man of the house takes charge. The man of the house makes sure to provide. The man of Ahab’s house was the woman, Jezebel. Ahab’s wife.

So, who was Jezebel? She was a Phoenician princess, a priestess of the Baals and Asherah’s. We read about her in 1 Kings 16:31-33,

“31 And as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, he took for his wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and went and served Baal and worshiped him. 32 He erected an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he built in Samaria. 33 And Ahab made an Asherah. Ahab did more to provoke the Lord, the God of Israel, to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him.”

We know it was Jezebel who led Ahab to commit these sins, because as we read before, it was Jezebel who incited him to these sins. But also, this was her job as the high priestess of her people.

Ahab is considered one of the most wicked men in the Bible, a truly evil man, and as we noted, the arch enemy of Elijah, the righteous prophet. But everything you read about Ahab shows that if he lived today, he would be a progressive, modern man, who was adept at reflecting the culture of his day and very successful in the eyes of many. 

- He was religiously progressive, his wife led the teaching of Israel, and she was in charge of the prophets. He followed the religious practices of the ancient peoples around them. He was a multicultural man. 

- He was also politically progressive, he had conformed his nation to the image of one the wealthiest nations in the region, Tyre and Sidon.

- He was militarily successful, his wife was probably beautiful, he would have looked the part of the man’s man, a leader among men. The kind of man every other man wants to follow.   

But in reality, Jezebel led Ahab. Jezebel had taken the spiritual and practical leadership of the home. This is what Jezebel did, this is what a Jezebel does.  

We read about another woman just like this later on in the Bible, in Revelation 2:21-22,

“20 But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. 21 I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality.”

Again we see this woman, this Jezebel, taking the lead in religious matters, seeking to dominate this church that she is in.

Many people have called the spirit behind this, the Jezebel Spirit. But I call it the Asherah Spirit. Here is why: Jezebel was a high priestess in the religion of the Canaanites. The Canaanites worshipped the Baals and Asherah’s. Asherah, was the chief goddess, and she had been the wife of the original high God of the Canaanites, called El, which means, God. According to the Canaanites, she had undermined El, weakened his reign, and then she replaced El with Baal. And we know that Baal is the devil; Beelzebub (Baalzebub).   

In other words, Jezebel was a priestess of the Asherah spirit. Whose religion was all about women undermining men, to bring them into servitude to the devil. To put it more plainly, Asherah was the “smash the patriarchy” mascot of this ancient time. We call this religion today, feminism. It is inspired by the same demonic Spirit that was behind Jezebel.

The Asherah spirit specializes in turning men, even powerful men, into weak, pusillanimous and passive men, over which the devil can easily rule.

Disaster (vv.8-14) – When this feminist spirit is unleashed on men, especially powerful men, it creates disaster all around, because it unleashes evil,

“8 So she wrote letters in Ahab's name and sealed them with his seal, and she sent the letters to the elders and the leaders who lived with Naboth in his city. 9 And she wrote in the letters, “Proclaim a fast, and set Naboth at the head of the people. 10 And set two worthless men opposite him, and let them bring a charge against him, saying, ‘You have cursed God and the king.’ Then take him out and stone him to death.” 11 And the men of his city, the elders and the leaders who lived in his city, did as Jezebel had sent word to them. As it was written in the letters that she had sent to them, 12 they proclaimed a fast and set Naboth at the head of the people. 13 And the two worthless men came in and sat opposite him. And the worthless men brought a charge against Naboth in the presence of the people, saying, “Naboth cursed God and the king.” So they took him outside the city and stoned him to death with stones. 14 Then they sent to Jezebel, saying, “Naboth has been stoned; he is dead.”

Because Jezebel was a wicked woman, she took full advantage of her husband’s weakness and all the power of his household and kingdom, and used it to destroy this innocent man.

-        Passive men attract such evil women.

-        Sexually immoral men, also attract such evil women. Ahab was sexually immoral, because he married a forbidden woman, one of the Canaanite priestesses of Baal and Asherah. This was just as sexually immoral, as if he had gone to a whore.

-        We also know he was sexually immoral, because Asherah worship was much akin to what happens in brothels and strip clubs. In fact, the priestesses of Asherah would dance around the Asherah pole provocatively, just like a stripper would today, and this religion was full of sex rituals.

Men like Ahab, weak, passive and overcome by sexual sin, will create opportunities for Jezebel’s to run wild. This is why we have so many such women in our society today. Because so many men are like this, weak, passive and overcome by sexual sin.

If a good woman marries one of these passive men, who does not know how to lead, she will likely try to improve her man. She may try hard to inspire him to leadership, and this might work. But it could also bring the worst out in her. She might find herself having to be the man of the house, and this will diminish her ability to be the woman God intended her to be.

Because in the very act of trying to lead her man to be a better man, she has to lead him, which is not God’s intention for marriage. So, not every Ahab is married to a Jezebel, but every passive man will do damage.

If a couple like this has sons, it will do great damage to those boys, and if they have daughters, it will likely create potential Jezebels for the future. It will multiply damage across generations.  

The demon Asherah creates great disaster for mankind, is empowered by things like feminism, and revels in child sacrifice, which we today call abortion.    

Ahab’s Struggle (vv.27-29) – What happens next in 1 Kings 21, is that Ahab gets the property, then God sends Elijah to come down and condemn him, and tell him that he is going to be severely punished. And guess what. Ahab listens, 1 Kings 21:27-29,

“27 And when Ahab heard those words, he tore his clothes and put sackcloth on his flesh and fasted and lay in sackcloth and went about dejectedly. 28 And the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, 29 “Have you seen how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself before me, I will not bring the disaster in his days; but in his son's days I will bring the disaster upon his house.”

This is quite remarkable, because this is seemingly out of character for Ahab, but he actually repents.

We know this is not a true and lasting repentance, because Ahab proves in the next passage he has not fully changed. In fact, he will end up dying under the judgement of God. But still he does actually repent here.

I think this shows us something interesting about an Ahab. A man like this will often be cognizant of his evil, will feel guilty about his passiveness, and will struggle with it. I don’t think very many men like being ruled by the women in their lives, whether their mother or wife. They more often feel trapped when living in this way of life.

But, because they are weak minded, they are easily driven to guilt, as much as they are driven to sin. Their emotional state is probably all over the place sometimes. They may even seem genuinely repentant for a time.

But at the end of the day, their lack of courage and manliness will betray them again. Ahab dies in the next chapter, after having placed himself under his wife’s false prophets for the last time. He didn't learn.  

Application – So what do we learn from a weak man like Ahab?

-        A failure to live for righteousness in your life, can make you vulnerable to a dangerous woman like Jezebel. The Asherah spirit preys on weak men, who are easily dominated, who are given to sexual immorality, and who don’t stand up for what is right.

-        Porn, sexual immorality, fornication, promiscuity, all of this will diminish your ability to lead as a man. How can you raise holy hands to the Lord, when your hands are otherwise engaged in sin?

-        Not all the wives of passive men are bad women, some are just unfortunate and good women who married a weak man. But a passive man will bring the worst out in even a good woman. So, make sure you are not a passive man.

-        When you lead, don’t lead like a tyrant. Lead like a gentle and compassionate man, who is willing to die for his wife, and who is willing to oppose evil with everything in you.

-        Only true and genuine repentance will be of any profit to you on the final day. And only this kind of repentance can protect your family from your sin. Repent before Jesus genuinely, if you fall into these patterns of sin.

-        This last point of application comes from my wife, who had this insight:

“From a woman's perspective the men need to know the wife they married is battling the curse to rule her husband and he needs to help her defeat this desire by him ruling the home and leading her. If he neglects this spiritual role to lead by being passive he is disobeying God. Nature abhors a vacuum so if he leaves a space for ruling she will do it. Encourage them to talk openly in their homes about the spiritual battle and the fact that women both want to be led by her husband (it creates security to have a man in charge and how God designed the male female relationship to be) and also wants to rule her husband (this is the curse). If women seem contrary at times it's because her desires within are conflicted. Pray for her, talk to her about it and lead well. Just a thought.” 

I thought this was a good insight, so I thought I would share this too.

Conclusion – Passive men and wicked women are the dominant kind right now in society. We call them progressive egalitarian men and empowered women. But the Bible calls them Ahab and Jezebel. As a man, you have the responsibility to not let the Spirit of Asherah rule in your home, because the Spirit of Asherah will create a throne for Baal, which is the devil. If you know you are too passive, then repent, turn to the Lord, and ask him to help you lead better. If you need help, ask a man you respect to help you out. Let’s pray.

Friday 26 May 2023

One of the Worst


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One of the worst men in all of the Old Testament, and a king about which the Bible says he provoked God to more anger than any other king before him, was also a man who was utterly and completely dominated by his wife. He was a passive man.

This was Ahab, who was married to Jezebel.

Everything you read about Ahab shows that if he lived today, he would be a progressive, modern man, who was adept at reflecting the culture of his day and very successful in the eyes of many. 

But his wife ruled him, and this led to great evil.

Many men today are just like Ahab.

Take note of this men, do not be like Ahab. You have a responsibility to lead, gently but with strength and wisdom, in your home. Either you will, in the power of God, or the devil will.

Thursday 25 May 2023

Well Spoken, Boomer


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Now act on this.

A reader writes into the news outfit Crikey and admits some important truths,

“Back in the ’60s and ’70s my wife and I were able to pay off our house in 10 years on only my modest salary as a teacher. We had no help from rich parents or any inheritance. We simply saved and bought a modest but very pleasant house in the outer suburbs of Melbourne. How totally unfair that my grandchildren have no chance of doing the same thing.

We pretend that somehow we have “advanced”, and yet one of the most important aspects of our lives, the ability to house ourselves, has gone well and truly backwards. One of my grandchildren with his partner has now bought a house, but recent interest rate increases have meant that basically all they can do now is pay the interest. They will be lucky if they can pay off the mortgage by the time they retire. On the other hand, because we could pay off our house in 10 years, my wife and I are now totally self-sufficient with a modest superannuation fund that should see us though. We will (hopefully) not need any support from the government. But what is going to happen when all these (now) young people reach retirement with nothing behind them?

The fact that the average politician has at least one “investment property”, and many have more, means that there is little incentive for government to do anything serious about the issue. We of the older generations have created a dastardly problem for young people and we must take responsibility for fixing it. We owe it to them. If that means we have to give up our tax perks and deal with rent caps, and more, then so be it.”[i]

It is rare, but refreshing to hear this admission, “We of the older generations have created a dastardly problem for young people and we must take responsibility for fixing it. We owe it to them.” This is just a simple truth. I am old enough to remember how cheap my parents homes were in the 90’s and I also remember seeing the beginnings of the investor boom back then as well. Suddenly, those who were in their 30’s to 50’s in the 90’s were recognizing that this whole new, largely untapped market was ripe for financialization. And the rest is history, now most people I know who are younger than me cannot buy a house, or if they do, it is very small, over-priced and they did it with double or more[ii] incomes.

The older generations have bled the government for welfare and benefits and they have also driven homes out of the reach of their children. Seeing someone of that generation recognizing this is a good sign. I pray that this would increase.

I suggest a few practical things:

1)     Invest, financially and practically in your children’s and grandchildren’s lives, don’t make them go it alone socially or financially, give them a leg up. Every time you watch the kids so they can work, or rest, or whatever, you build strength into the family. Whenever you lower the weight of their cost of living by replacing childcare, or helping them pay of their home, or something else, you invest in their ability to provide for their children and grandchildren in the future.

2)     Use your great financial influence and political power to pressure governments for debt forgiveness, getting rid of negative gearing and other things. Boomers were so powerful, for two years they shut down the economy and society over fears from covid. I spoke to someone recently who noted that the older people in a certain church caused it to stay closed for longer, because they were afraid of the virus. This story is true in a thousand ways in other contexts. Turn this influence to good. Use your influence to advocate for policies that financially benefit your children, like drastically decreasing immigration so your children don’t have to compete with foreigners for jobs, or tax breaks for homes with 2 or more kids, and higher tax breaks the more kids there are, and other forward family thinking policies.

3)     Change your expectations in retirement from constant holidays and resort style living, and travelling the world, to basing your life as much around your family and your church as you can. A lot of younger people feel like orphans. If you have to work, through no fault of your own, we get it, such is life. But if you can work less, or live with family to work less, or do less caravanning to be around more, you will make a massive difference to people’s lives.

Let me leave you with what this other reader writes,

“For years the media have trumpeted real estate price rises as a positive sign for the economy, as a good thing for us all. The sad reality is that it’s a good thing for the wealthy and for foreign investors and developers but it’s a terrible thing for the middle and lower classes. I wish someone would stand up for what is ethical rather than for what is profitable.”

If you agree with the boomer above, you can be one of those who stands up for what is ethical, rather than what is just profitable, because what is ethical will be more profitable for your children and future generations anyway.  


[i]“ The crisis that’s hit home: Australians pay the price for the housing debacle”

Story by Crikey Readers, Crikey.

[ii] The way you get more is by parents or friends chipping in, to partially own the home.

Wednesday 24 May 2023

The Brutal and Hopeful Book


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There is no book in the world which is more pessimistic about humanity and human nature than the Bible.

And there is also no book in the world that is more hopeful for the destiny of humanity, by virtue of what Jesus Christ has done for us.

The Bible is honest in its brutal takedown of human nature. And if you trust in its words, it will also fill you with a hope that nothing else can, and nothing else can take away.

God sees us in our sinfulness, and he makes a way for us to be made pure in his sight, to such a degree that the devil has no ground to accuse us any longer. Look at how the book of Zechariah addresses this very issue:

“1 Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. 2 And the Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, O Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?” 3 Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. 4 And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.” 5 And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the Lord was standing by.

6 And the angel of the Lord solemnly assured Joshua, 7 “Thus says the Lord of hosts: If you will walk in my ways and keep my charge, then you shall rule my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you the right of access among those who are standing here. 8 Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, you and your friends who sit before you, for they are men who are a sign: behold, I will bring my servant the Branch. 9 For behold, on the stone that I have set before Joshua, on a single stone with seven eyes, I will engrave its inscription, declares the Lord of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of this land in a single day. 10 In that day, declares the Lord of hosts, every one of you will invite his neighbor to come under his vine and under his fig tree” (Zech 3:1-10).

Zechariah was made clean, by virtue of the grace and work of the Lord.

Praise the Lord we have such a God. Who is honest with us about our floors and gracious to us if we trust in him.

Tuesday 23 May 2023

Sermon 7: Pastor and Teacher?


Image: Unsplash

You can watch the video of this sermon here.


Last week we looked at the important role of the evangelist. The three things we really focused on last week was first that we need to get the evangelist role right. Evangelists are not pastors and they are not teachers, even though they may be good at preaching and teaching they are not pastors or teachers. Second, their heart is to find every opportunity to reach people. They have an exceeding desire to reach people that inspires others around them. Third, we also saw that we should not leave all of the evangelizing to the evangelists. In fact, if you know an evangelist I encourage you to take the opportunity to go out evangelizing with them, you will be blessed.

Out of all of these points the one which we spent the most time on is the first one, getting the evangelist role right. This is vitally important. A lot of Churches don’t know what to do with the evangelist. This is a role that is not very well understood. This has happened partially because the church places a lot of emphasis on another role, the pastor/teacher role. But does the Church get this as right as it thinks? Well today we will see.

What does the Bible say about the Pastor teacher role? Is the pastor and the teacher the same role, or two different roles? Do Christians understand what the Shepherd’s role is? Let’s examine this biblically. There is so much that we could say on these two gifts, but we are going to examine them together, because the Church often places them together. Let’s see what the Bible says.

Are they the same role? Pastors and teachers have become pretty much synonymous in the Church over the years, and this tradition goes back into the ancient early Church. Some would argue that Apostles and prophets have ceased, and evangelists, pastors and teachers are the remaining offices of leadership for the church. We don’t see it that way, but still most of the Church would just call their leaders pastors, and those pastors are expected to teach. So, what is the Biblical understanding?

Ephesians 4:11-12 says this, “11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,…” Many people observe that in both English and Greek the words “shepherd and teacher” are linked together by the word “and” (Greek kai), whereas the other roles, Apostles, prophets, and evangelists are all separate.

I am not going to go into any technical Greek examination of this position from this perspective, because I don’t want to bore you to tears. Though if you are struggling to sleep you can look it up later in a technical commentary.

I will say this, this is a weak foundation to stand on to make any conclusion, so what does the rest of the Bible say?

What is a Shepherd? I think the answer to the question “are they the same role” is found in answering this question: what is a shepherd? We translate the word ‘poiemas’ often as pastor and use the word pastor. Pastor is just a Latin word for ‘shepherd’. And when you ask what does the Bible say about shepherds, then a whole bunch of biblical imagery and thinking comes to your mind.

The Lord is our Shepherd - (Psalm 23), he gathers his flocks, Psalm 23:1-3 – “1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. 3 He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.”

Shepherds lead God’s people - David, the shepherd was a man after God’s own heart, and his role was to lead God’s people, “14 But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought out a man after his own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you” (1 Samuel 13:14).

God Holds Them To Account - God continually counted the leaders of Israel, their priests, their kings and prophets and other leaders as shepherds of Israel, and he judged them according to the standards that any chief shepherd should judge his shepherds,

“1 The word of the Lord came to me: 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, Thus says the Lord God: Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep?” (Ezekiel 34:1-2).

The imagery of the shepherd is deep and strong in the Bible, and it is continually applied to the leaders of the people of God, the priests, kings, prophets and more. So, we can say for certain that those who lead the people of God should be called shepherds. But what about the idea of teaching how does this interact with the pastoral role?

Peter helps us here, because Jesus told him this, John 21:15-19 –

“15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.”

Here we get to the heart of what the shepherd’s role is: the role of the shepherd is to love the Lord and feed the sheep, to lead the sheep to greener pastures, to nourish the sheep, to tend to the sheep.

What is this food that the shepherd is to feed to the sheep? The knowledge of God, the word of God, the commands of God. As we read in Psalm 19:7-11 –

“7 The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; 8 the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; 9 the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. 10 More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. 11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.”

Our souls need the word of the Lord to flourish. Jesus is asking Peter to feed his sheep the word of God, the wisdom of the Lord, which is why Peter later says in 1 Peter 2:2-3 – “2 Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.”

The spiritual milk we need is the law and teachings of God, otherwise we cannot grow as the people of the Lord.

So, we see that a shepherd leads God’s people, he leads them to where the green pastures are, he cares for the flock like the Lords himself does, he is to even be willing to lay down his life for the flock to face down a bear, a wolf, or persecution of some kind, and he is to feed the sheep the word of God. Which means a pastor has to be a teacher, in some capacity at least.

The shepherd role then overlaps with the teaching role, we don’t just rely on a technicality in Ephesians 4:11 to support this position, there is a rich and deep theology of pastors leading God’s people to his word.

Teaching role The teaching role is so important in the bible we see it emphasized again and again, 1 Corinthians 12:28, “And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues.” In Corinthians Paul lists it as the third most important gift, in Ephesians he lists it as 5th, but pastors, and evangelists all teach in their own way. And pastors really are the teachers of the church. Again and again the importance of this gift is emphasized.  

Teachers should teach, Romans 12.6-7 – “6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching;”

Teachers should be honoured, Galatians 6:6 – “6 Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches.”

Teaching needs to be part of the honoured life-blood of the church and regular and consistent, 2 Timothy 4:1-4 –

“I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”

There needs to be a sense of urgency to preach the word of God, whether it is wanted or not, because the judge is one day coming.

You can see a direct correlation between the state of teaching in the church today and the level of apostasy. The church decided people did not need teaching, they just needed an inspiring pick me up devotion, and now people are starving for the word.

So, we can now answer our question: are shepherds and teachers the same role, should they be brought together? Absolutely, there may be pastors who lean more towards gathering people and pastoral care, and there may be pastors who are keener on doctrine and teaching. But pastoral care must have a teaching and exhortation element, and teaching must be done with a pastoral heart.

Pastoring is not just about leading people where you want. It is about leading them where the Lord wants, to greener pastures of his word.  

Teaching is not just about conveying information. It is about feeding the flock of God the spiritual food they need to grow. It is about taking the word of God and helping people apply it to their lives.

There is so much we can look at regarding pastor teachers in the Bible, but I want to focus on two main passages, one that reflects the shepherd’s heart, and the other that emphasizes the teachers responsibility.  

Follow The Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:1-5) – Peter, the rock, gives some important advice to shepherds,

“1 So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: 2 shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; 3 not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. 5 Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

We can draw a few practical principles from this passage:

“Exercising oversight” - The shepherd needs to exercise oversight. Look out among the flock and observe issues that may need dealing with. The shepherd who watches the sheep on a hill needs to be watching, looking for wolves, bears and threats internal and external to the flock.

He does not need to be an investigator, or nosey, just watchful and observant.  

“Not under compulsion” – This needs to be a willing role. Something that you want to do. There is no use pushing people into this role who don’t want to be there. If someone does not desire to be a shepherd that is fine.

This also means that if it is not done “under compulsion” it is a from a free choice, which means it is ok to desire the role “he who desires to be an overseer, desires a noble task.”

“Not for shameful gain” – You cannot be in it for personal profit. Pastors get paid a decent wage, and they should, those who teach well are worthy of double honour. But if you are abusing the generosity of the church to live like a king you are living in a shameful way. There is too much of that in the modern church. It is despicable.

But “not for shameful gain” should be contrasted with “honourable gain”. If it is shameful for a pastor to gain too much, it is shameful for a church to allow their pastor to struggle.

“Not domineering over the flock” - The pastor is not to bully or push people in the way that they want them to go, he needs to lead with a gentle and kind touch, and lead more by example than command.

Some pastors bully. They bully those close to them, or their staff, or use spiritual guilt to shame people into obedience, this is wrong. This is not pastoring it is manipulation, and it is shameful.

Pastors can do this from bad motives, but also from a sense of thinking they are more responsible than they are. Pastors should not forget that we are not responsible for people’s actions if we have taught the whole counsel of God. If we have told people the truth, that’s where the pastors responsibility begins and ends. The rest is on you.

You might notice that I will preach a hard word about gender roles, or this or that or the other thing, but when I talk to you in person I don’t hassle you about it. Because it’s not a pastor’s job to corral people, it is our job to light the way, and let you make your own choices.

We all see as though through a mirror darkly anyway. So, charity with each other is a must.

Peter helps us to see some important aspects of the heart that should guide pastoral ministry, but I want us to look at what James says to round this all off.  

Not all of you should be teachers James 3:1-5 – We cannot talk about the gift of teaching, without addressing what James says,

“3 Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. 2 For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. 3 If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. 4 Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. 5 So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!”

This is a powerful passage, and it has a word of warning for all of us. It teaches some important things.

Not many of you should be teachers – Just because you are out-going, extroverted, verbal, moderately intelligent, and like to teach does not mean that you should become a teacher in the Church. It’s not just about talent or ability, but gifting, responsibility and diligence. One of my pet bug bears as a pastor is seeing how many guys I know in this role, who are quite verbally capable, that they think they are smarter and wiser than they actually are. But having the gift of the gab does not equal wisdom and being a gifted teacher, it can actually be the sign of the opposite in many people. It’s more important to be able to control your tongue than being able to use it. Being able to respond quickly does not equal wisdom.

Judged more strictly - this is especially true as those “who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” There is no disputing this verse, and no one should dispute it, if you wish to teach read this passage with fear and trembling and with a humble heart. But we should also ask this: who is doing the judging here? People or God?

The most common way I hear this passage used is to say that we should hold those who teach to a higher judgement. Now, I think there are passages which teach this. For example, judge a prophet aka teacher by their fruit not just their words, etc, so that principle is not at dispute, the question is does this passage teach this?

Maybe, but I don’t think so, and here is why. Let’s examine how James uses this word in his argument in this letter.

Throughout the book of James, James is challenging the Christians he is writing to about how they judge others. They have become evil judges that judge according to wealth (2:4), then in 2:12-13 he warns them that they need to be careful in judging, because mercy will not be given to those who are not merciful, “12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. 13 For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.”

So, there is a clear theme in James of him warning these people about being judgemental, and then in chapter 3:1 he warns them they will too be judged.

Then in chapter 4 he reminds them about this,

“11 Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. 12 There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbour?”

Just like in chapter 2 James is again warning them that they will face The Judge, the Lord Jesus Christ. He does this consistently in this little letter.

Then his final use of the word is this, James 5:8-9, “8 You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door.”

James is very clearly and consistently warning us that we will face THE Judge, the Lord, and therefore, we need to be fearful and be merciful. Therefore, in James 3 he is warning people that they will face the judge of judges, the Lord Jesus Christ, so be prepared for this.

Does this mean that people won’t judge you more strictly if you seek to teach? Of course they will. It is unavoidable. A poll was taken many years ago, and it found that people’s greatest fear was public speaking, and their second greatest fear was dying. This means, that at their funeral most people would rather be in the casket than doing the eulogy.

Yes, that is a Jerry Seinfeld joke, one of his best. But it based on a reality that people fear the judgement of others above many things. Because they know that anyone who stands before others will experience this judgement.

Does this mean that we should not judge one another? Of course we should, in certain contexts and we should make sure we are careful and use a lot of grace and mercy, because with the measure we use, so will it be measured to us. But we cannot escape having to make judgements.

But what James is doing here is similar to what Paul is saying in Galatians 1:10, “10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

I believe both Paul and James are warning teachers to take into account the highest judge, because he stands at the door.

Who should you fear more, man or God? God is the ultimate judge so fear him more. Let this settle into your heart if you want to be a teacher really at any level, but especially a pastor. The tongue is a raging fire, which can cause great damage, especially if you deliberately deceive people with your words.

And remember this, if you hold others to a very high standard God and others will apply that same standard to you. Everyone, especially teachers needs to remember this.

Application – So How Should We Apply This? I think we need to consider a few things while applying this sermon:

-        Not everyone should aspire to be a pastor or teacher. Modern egalitarians complain that its unfair that women cannot be pastors and men can be, but the truth is only a very few select man can be anyway.

-        This is a high calling and a serious calling. You will face God for what you teach and how you conduct yourself, don’t forget it. 

-        Not all pastors and teachers will be the same. Some will be more gifted towards pastoral care, others towards teaching, but being able to teach and care for people is a part of the role for all shepherds.

-        Men if you believe this is an area where you would like to explore, maybe by going to Bible college, or exploring your pastoral gifting in the church, come and talk to me.

-        Don’t try to win any popularity contests in this role (2 Tim. 4:2-  “2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.”

Conclusion – The Church needs shepherds, this is part of how God has made his church. Pray that God will raise up more shepherds like himself. Let’s pray.