finding truth matters

What More People Could Do With More Of!

by | Oct 9, 2016 | Pastoral | 0 comments

WHAT MORE PEOPLE COULD DO WITH MORE OF!

barkley-marathons-horror-movieKim and I watched a horror movie last night called, The Barkley Marathon. I might be the only one who considers this documentary about a race through Tennessee’s Frozen Head State Park a “horror” movie. But consider things from my point of view: Only 40 contestants each year are accepted into this 200km foot race, which includes 5 laps of a National Park with each lap being different. It involves ascending and descending over mountainous terrain. All the while, each contestant is wearing a backpack – as each lap takes between 10 to 15 hours to complete. Runners stop between laps for just a few minutes for napping and calorie refuelling. To put things in perspective, this race is the equivalent of running the Overland Track from Dove Lake to Lake St. Clair and then running back again, and then turning around at Dove Lake and running to Mount Ossa (with the allowance for the fact that Mt. Ossa is only one third of the ascent of Frozen Head State Park)! Only 14 people have ever completed the Barkley Marathon! And as we were watching this horror movie, one of the contestants said something truly stunning to the Documentary maker!

barkley-marathon-course-washington-postAs I watched these contestants jogging up mountains, through forests, along creeks, via drains, and heard them talk about the discomfort (and eventual agony) they have to deal with, I recalled each of my 5-day-plus hikes and the gruelling pain I experienced doing each of them. But then the horror of these contestants’ feats grew as I realised these people were doing the equivalent 18 days of normal-person mountainous-bush-walking in under two and half days! As the contestants progress through the race, they battle cuts, abrasions, bruises, exhaustion, and the breaking of their wills. Curiously, most of the people who compete in this race, and even more curiously, the only people who ever completed the race are those with advanced Graduate College Degrees (Engineers, Chemists, Physicists and the like). I wasn’t surprised to hear this, and probably neither would anyone with a higher degree. The little known reason for this is that higher degrees aren’t so much about intelligence as they are about endurance.
The Barkley MarathonThe Documentary gave opportunity for those surviving contestants to share their stories. This was when I was a little stunned by what one of them said. He shared the story of how his father had worked hard all his life and saved for his retirement which was to commence with the trip of a life-time. But then, one year before his father was to embark, he suddenly died. This caused his son to reassess his own priorities. He had previously been a keen jogger. One of his jogging buddies mentioned that he had just run his first marathon. He wondered if he was capable of running a marathon. He gave it a go. After completing several marathons, then ultra-marathons, he heard about the Barkley Marathon (considered one of the world’s most difficult ultra-marathons). As he shared his story, it turned out that the loss of his father was not the only pain he had experienced. He had become accustomed to pain – not just the physical affliction type. Somehow, this gave him the mental strength to be able to endure these gruelling running races. As he was talking, the documentary showed him during this Barkley Marathon – cut up, blistered, dehydrated, running in the dark with a small head-lamp, as he trudged up a hill covered in briars. Then he said it.
“Most people could do with more pain in their lives – seriously!”
He went onto say, “Most people don’t know what they’re capable of. Only pain can reveal it to them!” By testing himself with these ultra-marathons, even with all the pain that they caused, he was discovering who he really was and what he was really made of. To get through the pain he had to endure. By enduring, he was becoming a stronger person.
When I heard him say this, I was initially stunned. I didn’t like hearing it. But he said it in such a thoughtful, matter-of-fact way, that it then made me ponder on it the next day. You see, the past year I have lived with pain. Spinal degeneration and a touch of Trigeminal Neuralgia will do that. Everything I have to do now happens a little slower. I have had to learn to endure. Toward the end, completing the F.W. Boreham Documentary became not so much about documentary film-making as it did endurance. I have now completed 7 out of 10 Biblical Greek exams. I’m a year overdue from completing it. When I do, it will not be a measure of my commitment to Biblical scholarship, as much as it will be about endurance. Preaching through the Book of Jeremiah over the past six or so years has not been easy. It has required doggêd endurance. I can’t run, let alone do an ultra-marathon, and you might share my confession, but we all have to endure something in order to become who we are meant to be.
In the TV sci-fi series, Heroes, Claire does not feel pain. Initially, she thinks this is a wonderful gift. But then she grows to despise it. She no longer feels human. To be human is to experience pain.
For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
Romans 8:22-23
Life requires endurance. Marriage requires endurance. Parenting requires endurance. Business requires endurance. Pastoring requires endurance. In fact, it seems that the formula for achievement reveals that the greater the objective the greater the endurance required to achieve it!
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
First Corinthians 10:13 
barkley1-videoLarge-v2As I think about how we can win our community to Christ and see Christ’s church in Legana grow with the fruit of this quest, I know that this greatest of all quests will require extraordinary endurance. Together, we must endure in prayer, endure in our witness, endure in our observance of the Sunday-Sabbath, endure in our private devotions of Bible reading and prayerful reflection, endure in our sacrificial giving, endure in our prophetic stand for righteousness. And if this formula for achieving great things is correct, we will have to endure through adversity, discomfort and pain. The winner of the Barkley Marathon wins nothing other than the glory, but compared to the cost of our marathon to win lost souls from our community to Christ, the Barkley Marathon is a walk in the park in comparison!
Ps. Andrew.

A Theology of Sexuality

Gender and Sexuality are uncontroversially linked. The contribution that a man and a woman made to sexuality had always been straight-forward. Yet, of late, a very odd controversy has arisen around the novel idea that people are born with a sexuality beyond the designation of either male or female. It is asserted that there are now at least seven gender options with corresponding varieties of sexuality.

Initially, those defending what the Bible teaches about sexuality were ridiculed as “out of date”, “out of touch”, “prudish”, or even “fundamentalist”. But lately, the criticisms toward those who still promote an understanding of Biblical sexuality are coming from those who identify themselves as ‘Christians’. I’m not the first one to point out that the discussion regarding sexuality from the Biblical perspective has thus often been an exchange of vitriolic name-calling. The adage, “Ridicule is not an argument” seems to be pertinent. There are people on both sides of this debate who seem more interested in shouting than listening – let alone giving reasoned cases. This article in no way seeks to vilify anyone and does not endorse any acts of hatred.

The 5 Pillars Of Christianity

Many Church denominations are generally waning in this “post-modern” era. Along with the rise of non-denominationally aligned churches has been a growing doctrinal vacuum as preachers become life-coaches and the emphasis is on making the Bible a “How to…” book. A casual reading of some of these churches doctrinal statements reveals some glaring departures with historic Christianity, which should cause us to wonder how or why they differ so much with the 5 Pillars of Biblical Christianity…

Is Tithing For Today?

The vast majority of Evangelical churches encourage the practise of “tithing” and claim to do so because the New Testament teaches it. But does it? What are the believer’s obligations when it comes to endorsing or challenging tithing? What are the local church’s obligations when it comes to teaching, receiving, or addressing tithing for today? How we answer these questions has a huge impact on how believers and churches function as stewards of both finance and God’s Word!

There seems to be a growing challenge to the teaching of “the New Testament tithe”. There are entire internet sites dedicated to the issue. There are chatrooms where believers can discuss it. There are new books being written about it. In our local regional newspaper someone obviously feels so strongly about it that they have taken out provocative advertisements in the Church Notices section condemning any church that endorses tithing as being “a part of the Harlot church of Babylon”. This has become a heated issue…

I Doubt, Part 2

We are divinely designed to doubt! Doubt should be a normal healthy human response to an unsubstantiated claim. Doubt says, I won’t believe this unless I have good reasons to. When it comes to belief in God, more and more people have moved from doubt to cynicism largely because they believe there are no reasons or evidences for the existence of the God of the Bible. All too often those who do believe in God promote the incorrect idea that belief in God is a solely a matter of faith – without any need for rational evidence. Little wonder then many doubters in God have become convinced there is no God. There are some good reasons to doubt God’s existence, but some even better reasons to doubt these doubts!

I Doubt, Part 1

The fact that we all doubt to some extent suggests that each of us shares in the universal human craving to not be deceived and that we all intuitively want to know the truth. Even when it comes to Biblical spirituality, rather than seeing doubt as spiritually negative, it can actually be a positive. After all, appropriate doubt can protect us from injury and even galvanise our worthy convictions. Doubt is not incompatible with Christianity.

Solving Our 5 Biggest Global Problems

The world is increasingly becoming a global village. We now have entire media networks dedicated to potentially delivering news as it happens from anywhere in the world. Sadly, those of us in the more affluent parts of the world usually don’t get the most important news offered to us. Instead, we often get dished a diet of celebrity appearances, entertainment updates, political scandals, media commentary and sporting match results. To quote Neil Postman, despite the potential of our News media to inform us and even call us to action, we are “amusing ourselves to death.”

How Should We Think About Same-Sex Marriage

How should we think about “Same-Sex” Marriage? This public debate is as much about the role of language as it is about marriage. The emotionalism involved from both sides of the argument is intense which often leads to the actual issues being lost in the jungle of irrational verbiage. How we settle this issue as a society says a lot about what kind of society we are. Confucius is reported to have said- “When words lose their meaning, people lose their freedom.”

What Makes Racial Discrimination Unique

Those supportive of a “Gay” lifestyle like to argue that their case is the same kind of unfair discrimination experienced by African Americans up until the 1960s. By doing this, they make their case sound ‘obviously’ unfair. It’s worth noting that this has outraged many in the Black community who can immediately and clearly see that there is just no comparison between the two issues.

Racial discrimination is insidious! It demeans a human being on the basis of their ethnicity, skin colour, or even nationality by considering them less than human. Demeaning another human as being less than human – on the basis of gender, race, status, professional, ability, is intolerable! Christians were at the forefront of confronting this in England during the campaign of William Wilberforce M.P., and the American Civil Rights Movement of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. But for the LGBT (Lesbian / Gay / Bi-Sexual / Trans-gendered) activists to claim that their campaign is exactly same “human rights” “discrimination” violation as that which the Rev. Dr Martin Luther King was involved in confronting is going too far and has caused many to realise that the LGBT’s campaign for “sexual-anarchy” has nothing to do with the Civil Rights movement.

Circling Around The Marriage Square

Critiquing the arguments for “Same Sex” “marriage” feels like arguing against square-circles. Yet this is what we are being asked to do. This can be done in three ways. Firstly, we can reiterate why marriage is between a man and a woman. This is like being asked to defend the roundness of circles. Secondly, we can argue from nature that marriage is naturally between a man and a woman. This is like arguing that round things are circular. Thirdly, we can argue that two people of the same gender cannot ever be considered “married”. This is like arguing that even though a square claims to be a circle its claims are hampered because it has four sides.

We Are Not Your Enemies

We all need acceptance, love and respect. We all have a right to be treated with equality. This is why I totally get why so many people are in favour of same-sex marriage. It’s why so many people who identify themselves as part of the same-sex attracted communities are fighting so passionately for the laws in Australia to be changed to provide for same-sex marriage. As a Christian, I want for these people what they want – because I think everybody needs acceptance, love and respect, and equality. But I don’t think that same-sex marriage is the way to get it and it seems that 90% of the LGBTQ communities agree.

The Brooklyn psychologist, Professor Abraham Maslow (1908 – 1970), wrote the book Motivation And Personality (1954) in which he argues that all psychologically healthy human beings have a ‘hierarchy of needs’.

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