Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Another year gone!

Another year gone and where are we?  That is the question we ask ourselves at the end of each year but often the answers give a resume of acts of accomplishments (or not) that have filled our days.  We think of the projects that have been completed, the successful business that has transpired or perhaps the amount of money we have made or debt we have piled up.  
Many of us think of who got married, who had a baby or how our family has grown or moved away.  Perhaps we think about the visitors that have passed our way and the friendships we have made.  Sadly for some there have been tragedy, heartaches and failures that we wish we could forget.  Of the events that have filled our year, some have already faded away but some have been imprinted indelibly on our minds and hearts.
Amongst all these things I would like to think that from each and every event something of worth has been added or a valuable lesson learned.  I hope that my character has grown in graciousness and more harsh edges chipped away.  How wonderful it would be if we could look back and see that our love has been a blessing to others.  
Most of all however I would like to know that my love for my God and saviour Jesus has grown to a place where I didn’t notice myself at all but saw only how much He loves me and those around me.
All too sadly though we find ourselves in the place of Paul the apostle who said, “Wretched man that I am!”  Why did he say this?  In context we see why.  He wrote, “I see in my members (that is in me, in my flesh) another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members (what “I” want to do) Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”  (Romans 7:23-25)
Some of our year's achievements
If we think along the lines of changing this situation by ourselves, by our will or knowledge or self effort we continue to fail, we continue to come up short.  Solomon tried and failed.  “Vanity of vanities” he said, “all is just chasing after the wind”.  We too cannot rectify our own situation. What is the answer to this dilemma?
The apostle gives us the answer, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.”  Paul learned that there is nothing of this life or in us that is capable of living the life the way we should.  None of this world’s solutions will lead us to love God and others so we can love ourselves. 
Only when we rest in the finished work of God through Jesus Christ and accept that He has paid the price for our imperfection can we have the Spirit of God in us.  Only then can we call on Him for the power to love, the wisdom to love and the motivation to love.
How about you?  Has your year been marked with God centred selfless giving and caring for those without love?  Can you look back and see those precious times where God has been able to touch someone else through you because you were given over to Him?  If not then it is time to stop trying and start letting.  As believers in Christ we must stop trying to make things work by ourselves, start letting God shine through us so that the right kind of momentous occasions will last into eternity.
If, however you are one who does not believe that Christ is God’s Son, that He alone was able and did pay the penalty for our sin (imperfect before God), then now is the time to change.  Be honest with yourself and with God, admit to Him that you are wretched (like Paul did) and trust that He has forgiven you.  I can empathise with you because I was once there and counted myself a failure but I thank God that His forgiveness is real and in Him my failure is forgiven.   Why make your next year as pointless for eternity as the last? 
If you are willing to admit that you truly cannot make it alone then put your trust in Jesus today, He will forgive you and the Father will accept you.  If you turn to Him then next year you will find peace through your trials and in the end have eternity with God.
Acts 4:11-13 (English Standard Version)
“This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone.  And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."

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Sunday, December 20, 2009

God's glory, not ours!

“Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:14)
I am reminded by this verse of the real reason our Saviour came from His heavenly place to be among us. Unfortunately this is one of the most abused verses in the New Testament as many think on it as something God owes to man, no matter what their attitude or actions, but this is not so.
In Matthew 5:3 Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” God’s requirement is a repentant, humble heart and though God’s good will is freely given, it cannot be presumed upon. I do not find any comfort at all in the hype that is leashed on us each "Christmas" season, it only heightens the level of alarm I feel that the world is becoming deadened beyond the point of repair and that the true message has almost been supplanted entirely.
At the danger of becoming a self righteous prig myself, I turn to Jesus' words to say that we on this earth do not think that Christ's real reason for coming matters any more. I fully realise that if it were not for God's grace in not putting to my account what I truly deserve for my selfish ways I would have no authority at all to mention this verse. “For I did not come to call the [self] righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” (Matthew 9:13)
I truly hope that as you do the traditional annual celebrating and partying and getting of goodies, that you will be halted in your thoughts to contemplate that it is really about celebrating God who came in the form of Jesus for one purpose and one purpose only, to eventually pay the price of our rejection of Him, or to be more precise, of God's standards and we can never reach those. The good news is that although we no longer can we also no longer have to reach that standard, but we must simply accept that God's Son, Jesus has already paid the penalty for falling short and believe on Him, that's all.
I trust then that you will believe this and place your trust in Christ who through the giving of Himself freely has set you free from the penalty of sin, as He has for me.
If you do believe you will truly have God’s peace this Christmas, not just because of how Jesus loved us by this His selfless act but also because of how we love the Saviour, Jesus Christ Immanuel (God with us) for diong it.
I say these things, not because of any good in myself but on the contrary, it is because of my saviour who gave His life for me. May Christ be the one glorified this Christmas,
Trevor Burns

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Friday, October 31, 2008

Splat

What a day! I had been busy all day sanding down windows and cabinets, had a bit of time to catch up with family on Skype and finally got down to the kitchen to prepare some dinner.


Mmmmm…what should I have? Out came the frozen trees (broccoli and cauliflower), the carrots and potatoes, ah! There is some topside steak, which will do. Into the microwave it goes to defrost and then on with the oven 180° C. How can I treat this steak? I know, I’ll marinate it a bit to get some of that sauce into the cuts and then into the oven to cook. Yum I can taste it now! Well…out came a few sauces and, ok, some tomato paste in one of those flip top type of bottles from the fridge, that will do it. Hold it over the dish so I don’t spill it …boom!!!


I was dazed for a few seconds. The cap flipped open and when I was able to clean the paste out of my eyes I slowly came to realize that the room suddenly had a new pattern on the walls, my newly painted walls. On further investigation there was not one surface in the room that didn’t have paste blotches on them, walls, ceiling, cupboards, venetians, canisters etc, floor, me and the doors, even the door in the

next room. What a mess!


Well what would you think at such a time? I had a few thoughts, the first one being aaaaah! Then, Oh man! I knew I only had a short time to wash it off before it set and for the next hour and a half I washed and wiped and rubbed until I was as wet with sweat as the walls I was washing.


What did I think? “God has a good sense of humor.” He has such interesting ways of reminding us that the things we own and the things we work for are so temporary. One moment the work is done the next, “splat”, it’s not. It just reminded me that there is nothing in this world that doesn’t start to corrupt the moment we think it is perfect. That is certainly true in this life, the only thing that lasts being those of eternal value, belief in Christ and trust in our heavenly Father. I’d rather put my trust there where it will be kept and actually I can have it now as well as receive it later.


Until next time.

Uroo,

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Into the Frey

Well what a blessing Keswick Convention has been all around the world, here too in Western Australia it has been established for about 60 years.

Last weekend I made my way the the Spring convention that they ran but felt rather tentative being there as there were so many people that new me. The trouble was that I usually forget who they are. If you have had the experience of taking meetings in many different places and then they meet you at Keswick after 4 years you will know what I mean, they remember you but you can't recall them out of a multitude of faces. :(

The speaker was Mr. Charles Price senior pastor of the Toronto Peoples Church, Canada. I had heard him speak 18 years ago at the same place when he was 2IC of Capenwray Bible College in England. He taught from Romans 1-7 dealing with man's depravity, God's glory the Law because it shows His character as holy or perfect and then showed how though we are wretched in our flesh we are made righteous by the propitiation. In other words God was righteous and gracious at the same time in Christ. He must meet the law's standard by judging law breakers (all of us) this pulls us down (like gravity) but He showed grace to us by pouring out that judgment on His Son and was satisfied. Therefore His grace was toward us through Christ the one who carried us (in our sinful state) setting us free from law's judgment, counteracting it (like the law of aero dynamics against gravity) one cancels out the other. Romans 8:12 I am so glad we don't have to worry about it ourselves!

It was a wonderful time of renewal and I was very blessed both in teaching and fellowship.

Until next time,
Uroo

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Saturday, October 04, 2008


Re-entry

Shocks, shocks, everywhere and what will happen next!!

It appears we are living in uncertain or exciting times, depending on how you view the world today. Coming home from a foreign country to learn to live again in an Australian environment certainly adds to that mix and we have certainly felt the brunt of the uncertainty that comes with that. Rising fuel prices, re-enrollment for taxation, gas and water bills, electricity connection, telephone and broadband for the internet let alone the council rates the garbage pick-ups and all that comes with assimilating into our home again. On top of this are the other things of family life and death which is enough to give anyone ulcers. (Not to mentioned Wall St.)


This is the “baggage” that one has to handle on what they call “Re-entry” after having lived in another culture for many years. Is it any wonder that one tends to become a bit of a recluse, trying not to venture too far away from known ground to that dark unknown of the unfamiliar?


This reminds me of what happened to Jonah in ancient times. He, it seems took the long road to where God wanted him to end up. On top of this he was supposed to be involved in preaching a message of warning to a group of “heathen” as he saw them and an undeserving lot at that. Yes he went through a
bunch of stuff including a one way trip the wrong way, a violent storm that nearly wrecked their cruse and he ended up having lunch with or should I say being the lunch of a great fish. It was just as well God was the one in control or he may never have reached Nineveh! Oh, hang on, was that a good thing? You might say he was in very unfamiliar territory.


Again we ask ourselves, “Well what is the right direction?” This unfamiliar territory can be quit frightening as it was for Jonah. For him it was foreign and seemed to go against everything he was raised to believe. After all these Ninevites were not God’s people were they? It went against everything he believed in, unfortunately in self righteousness! It does make me think of our own position and attitudes though.


What was God trying to get through to Jonah? After Jonah preached at Nineveh God ended up planting a rather quick growing bush behind him where he sat sulking. God give Jonah shade from the exceeding hot sun he found himself under. Well that was great; you could say that it means,
“… my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19) Trouble is the next day God sent a worm to eat up Jonah’s shade. Well you could surmise that “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21 - NKJV)


What Jonah was blind to was not God’s provision for his benefit, rather Jonah needed (and WE need) to simply recognize that everything is according to God’s will and NOT ours. God will do whatever He wishes and if we see that as unfair well let me say that there is no way we will be preaching to God or complaining when we stand before Him in eternity!! I think God will be the only one doing the talking, we will only be able to listen.


The bottom line, -- No matter what we do, no matter who we are and no matter what our situation, God alone is in control! In the book of James it reads,
“Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” (James 4:15)


Presently we are doing a whole lot of house renovations and just waiting, perhaps a little impatiently to see what ministry God has for us in future. It would be good to add to this some time soon and tell just how God has directed.
Until then,


Uroo.

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Sunday, May 06, 2007

Wars and Wounds

Don’t we live in a complex and sometimes fearful world? The question is a rhetorical one but even asking it seems absurd because the answer is that obvious. We read the news and it seems that crime is at our doorstep, society is hiding its head in a proverbial hole of moral ignorance; morality itself (to stand against the selfish acquisition of what we feel want to satisfy our lustful desires at the expense of others) has been flushed away as if it doesn’t matter any more (if it feels good, do it) and corrupt governments are wherever one looks.

Am I being paranoid about something that you take for granted? I hope so! Why then is this all happening?

We are also led to believe that with all the socioeconomic programs being put into place and our social bent to “political correctness” (at the expense of rightness and justice) and a sense of “fair play” that eventually, things will get better.

Jesus Christ, gave the words that are the world’s most fought over in its short history but contrary to what many believe, His message was not supposed to lead to peace as the world sees peace. He never used political correctness and fair play was not in His mind. At one time He said, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’ (Matthew 10:34-36)

Why would he say that? Did He mean for us to kill and hate as in some beliefs? Why would He do that? More importantly, what does he mean?

Rest easy, Jesus ways are never violent. To understand this you first must understand His mission. The Jews thought he was come to save them from the Romans who ruled them with an iron fist but they missed the point. Others hoped that He was there to heal them and patch up their sin induced sicknesses (some were not personally sin induced). Some were hoping for a king that would supply all their needs, or should I say wants (wants – usually at the expense of others) but none of the above were part of His agenda.

To understand His mission you need to trace the history of man right back to its inception where man was formed perfect. A time when man was glad to listen to his heavenly councilor, talk with Him, even walk with Him; accept the perfect instruction and things that came from the Creator’s hand, things that had been put in place for man’s benefit.

Those times and things no longer exist and there is a good reason for that. It would be hard to believe that a person so blessed as that man, would be so willing to choose to go it alone, throwing away all those “perfect” benefits. Who was that man? It was Adam, who was made perfect but chose the imperfect way and so we are.

So ask your self that question again. Why is the world so complex and fearful? I have just answered it, man chose to ignore God’s ‘best’ for what he decided on as ‘good’ and it was all down hill from there. If you were to be honest you would agree that we messed it up. But what does this mean for us and our society? Simply this; We have chosen and still choose to make life’s decisions based on what we think is right and best according to our own estimation. God calls our bluff and says, Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6) In other words trust Me and see!

So again, why did Jesus say he came to divide with the sword putting family against family? Simply this that He walked into this corrupt world took our place for payment of our rebellion and asks us to accept Him and his forgiveness. What causes the offences, wars and family divisions then is that some do not wish to accept Him or His forgiveness and it is an affront to them that this the new believer has accepted what they refuse, which leaves the obvious suggestion that they still walk in sin, still wishing to say they can do without Him. This is an offence to their pride and pride like a drug makes one think they are better than they really are. The next verse of Proverbs 3 says, “Do not be wise in your own eyes”.

The good news though is that it doesn’t have to be that way. Rest assured that if you feel conviction and a certain rebellion to that conviction that Christ was right, the best course of action is to let go and trust God for He is right and not your pride. Trust Him! His comments on division are there to make you think and choose Him and His payment for your sin; otherwise He would not have said it in the first place. The peace He talked about is from your knowledge and acceptance of forgiveness and not from a lack of war as the world sees it. That doesn’t mean He wants war of course, but His peace is an everlasting one which destroys everlasting fear – think on that.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Patches!

Well, where are we at? It is New Year’s Day 2007 and it seems that we have dropped off the radar for awhile but in reality what has really happened is “life”. What do I mean by that? Just that some of the normal things that happen in the natural course of living are not so wanted but they always make the twists and turns in our lives interesting to say the least and yes, whether we liked it or not we have certainly had our share of some biggies lately.

Everything was sailing along as usual, me in the publications office and my industrious wife busy with needle and thread lovingly sewing up a rather large quilt for our daughter’s bed. Before you could say “hang on” I was on a flight from Papua New Guinea back to my father’s funeral. Along with that there was my mother to help care for; visiting of old friends, Christmas, New Year and nursing mum back to health after her double pneumonia and all this before we could consider what our next move was to be.

Strangely enough after all that it is that quilt that brought a few things to my attention.

It wasn’t just any old quilt, it was one composed of many small squares of different colours, each one having a different picture, motif or theme. You see it was to be a patchwork of life’s little happenings and she had selected specific colours and designs in line with the various events in our daughter’s life from when she was young through to her marriage etc, their time in Africa and so on. Another feature was that it started with one corner having very dark cloth then as each square was added it became paler until it reached the final square in the opposite corner which was white.

Well this really caught my attention because you see this is something like many people’s path through life. All start with the dark square and this I liken to the fact that we are all born in the linage of Adam which is biased to the rejection of God’s control in our lives, the Bible calls this rejection sinfulness. If all people’s lives were a quilt some would be dark from corner to corner, others’ would have that graduation from dark to light but the reason for this graduation seems at first to be hidden. However, as with my daughter’s quilt, on closer inspection you discover hidden in the fabric is a ‘red’ square and it is from this point on that the shades start to become paler. It is the red that makes all the difference. That one red square represents blood, not just any blood but that of God in the form of Jesus of Nazareth, His Son. His blood was drained on a cruel cross as payment for crime, for the cross was an instrument of death for a criminal. Do not be mistaken, this payment could not have been for himself as He was sinless, rather it was for any and all who accept that payment (His blood loss) in their stead, in which case the debt of Adam is paid and the one that claims it is accepted by the perfect God.

If your life was a quilt, what colour would it be?

Until next time ................