God’s H.E.A.R.T

Gods-own-heart

Thom Rainer (a US pastor and writer) prays evangelistically using the simple acronym, “GOD’S HEART”. I think it’s excellent. Maybe this pattern will help you as you pray evangelistically too:

G = Pray that believers (beginning with yourself) will appreciate God’s grace. When we really appreciate what God has done for us, we naturally want to tell others about Him.

O = Pray for believers (beginning with yourself) to live in obedience to God. If we’re not walking in obedience to God, our disobedience hinders our prayers (Isa. 59:1-2). Remaining in Christ really does matter when we pray (John 15:7).

D = Pray that believers (beginning with yourself) will decide to tell others. Evangelism doesn’t just happen. Telling the story of Jesus is a choice… an action…a decision. We often know we should do evangelism, but decide not to do it. Pray that won’t happen.

S = Pray that believers (beginning with yourself) will speak the gospel fearlessly and clearly. In fact, that’s the way Paul taught us to pray in Ephesians 6:19-20 and Colossians 4:2-4.

H = Pray for your non-believing friend or loved one to have a receptive heart to the gospel. Apart from Christ, people are dead in their sin (Eph. 2:1), held under the devil’s sway (Acts 26:18). Only God can make our hearts open to the good news.

E = Pray that their spiritual eyes will be opened. Our non-believing friends or loved ones are blinded to the truth of the gospel (2 Cor. 4:3-4), and the “god of this age” does all he can to keep them in darkness.

A = Pray that they will have God’s attitude toward sin. Understanding God’s remedy for sin begins with understanding our sickness. We’re all sinners (Rom. 3:23), and we must see our sin as God sees it – as wrong against a holy God.

R = Pray that your non-believing friend or lovedwill repent and believe. The message of Christ is clear: we must turn from our sin and trust Christ for salvation (Mark 1:15). God gets the glory as He frees nonbelievers from the domain of darkness (Col. 1:13).

T =  Pray their lives will be transformed. When God does that, the non-believing world takes note.

Who is praying for you to speak the gospel boldly and clearly? Are you praying for other believers to be evangelistic? Are you praying for non-believers? Are you asking God to save and transform a specific person? Even if you’ve been praying for someone for many years, don’t give up. God still responds to the prayers of His people. That’s His heart!  

Long Dry Patches

I don’t know about you but for me I go through pretty long dry patches where I don’t get to read my Bible all that much.

norfolk-bowls

God does not tell us that we need to read the Bible everyday. What he does say is much more fascinating. In Psalm 1 and Joshua 1 God says that we ought to “meditate on the scriptures day and night”.

This actually makes getting into our Bibles even more important. It’s not just something we read, it’s something we think about. Constantly.

In Matthew 4:4, Jesus said that we can’t live by bread alone but by every word of God. It’s like a light unto our path, a two-edged sword, a fire, and a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces.

I want to be clear that our relationship with God doesn’t rise or fall on our reading habits. Instead, when we realise that God speaks to us through his Word, we should want to read it more!

Having trouble reading the Bible?

I don’t know about you but for me I go through pretty long dry patches where I don’t get to read my Bible all that much. If that’s you too –  here’s two practical tips.

1. On your mark. Get set. Go! (read it)
2. Pray it

1. Read the word

If you don’t know where to start reading, then start reading Mark. In fact, it’s a great place to restart – even if you restart a thousand times.

It contains the stories of Jesus’ life and tells them very quickly. No long genealogies and no drawn out narratives. In fact, one of the words you’re going to see a lot in the book of Mark is “immediately”. It’s a fast-paced book but with plenty of depth. It’s the sort of book where you can start at any chapter and read a section. You’ll get a story from the life of Jesus and you’ll be refreshed by the reminder of his greatness.

2. Pray The Word.

Pray in response to the verses you read
Pray in response to the verses you remember
Don’t close your Bible when you pray, but let the priorities of the Bible shape your priorities in prayer.

Thanks A lot!

To the community of Norfolk Island,

Words cannot fully express our gratitude to all of you for making the 2015 Spring Fair an unqualified success. The worth of an event like this isn’t just measured in dollar signs, it’s measured in the level of community involvement, with people coming together and celebrating our community as a whole! Our volunteer team was enlarged instantly on the day by community members willing to dive in and help wherever they were needed. The generosity and initiative of our island community meant that the first Spring Fair in a number of years went off without a hitch.

The Church of England would like to thank all those who prepared for and worked so hard to set up the activities, as well as those who helped to get the grounds ready in the weeks leading up to the weekend. Thank-you to those who made the most delectable baked goods, who contributed their precious white elephants, who brought along pot plants and cuttings, and those who spent their time and talents to fashion fine handmade crafts (including soaps and jewelry). Your creativity and generosity made the fair a unique and fun experience for everyone.

Our great appreciation also goes to the following area businesses and organisations for their generous involvement (Lions, Wa’a Outrigger Club, Banyan Park, Police and Rescue Team, NICYM, NICS, Sweet Pea Cakery, and the Uniting Church Op Shop). We certainly hope you raised some money for your own organiszations, and we thank you for way that each of you love and serve Norfolk Island in your different areas. At our end, we saw the fruit of our labour last weekend at Bomboras where “UNIT Youth” held their first youth camp. Currently the churches in Norfolk Island are blessed to have Mitchell Mahaffey organising the Youth Ministry, offering guidance, leadership and fun to many youth on Norfolk Island. The Church of England proceeds from this Spring Fair were dedicated to this ministry.

We look forward to seeing you all at Spring Fair 2016!

With Sincere Thanks,

Rev. David Fell, Terence Grube and Lorraine Boudain

Spring Fair 2015 Coordinators

Police Remembrance Day Service

Each year, the 29th September holds a special significance for Police throughout Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and the Solomon Islands. It is a day for police to pause to honour officers whose lives have been cut short while performing their duty as a police officer. Here on Norfolk Island a Service of Remembrance was held at All Saints Kingston on Tuesday morning, and those who gathered we’re encouraged to remember with thanksgiving those whose lives have been lost in the line of duty, to pray for those who experience their loss most deeply, and to give thanks for those who continue to face danger to ensure the safety of us all.

WP_20150929_11_24_55_ProChurch of England Chaplain, Rev. David Fell reminded the congregation that “these officers were not simply Police: they were also someone’s partner, spouse, parent, child or friend. None of those who have died left home on their final day on earth knowing it would be their last. It is difficult to imagine the grief of those left behind, which will be deeply felt on important family occasions such as birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries. Our hearts go out to those who have been bereaved and we will remember them in our prayers. He then said, “Police officers face risks and dangers in their daily responsibilities in order to ensure the safety of others. We all benefit from their courage, discipline and training and we offer our thanks, especially for those who have lost their lives. Their sacrifices also push us to reflect on our own lives, how we serve and what legacy we would like to leave behind”.

After singing “O Valiant Hearts”, Detective Senior Constable Matt Lee prayed the Police prayer. Sergeant Catherine Tye, Officer-in-Charge, Norfolk Island Police Force then read Psalm 46 and the second hymn “O God, Our Help in Ages Past” was sung. An Occasional Address was then given by His Honour, Gary Hardgrave, Administrator for Norfolk Island before Sergeant Tye read the Honour Roll. The service ended with the Police Ode read by Constable Cheryl Snell, of the Norfolk Island Police Force and an anonymous Police Poem titled “I am” (Remembrance)

read by Mr George Smith AM, former Minister for Police.

Life is Short. Have An Affair

Ashley. Madison. 

Two words. Millions of men and women in a state of panic. Computer hackers are in the news. People are being blackmailed. Spouses and children of married couples are about to have their lives ruined.

Why?

Because almost 39 million people are anonymous members of the “Ashley Madison” website that allows affairs to be “easy” and “risk-free”. And that website was hacked, which has left millions exposed. As one article says:

THE slogan of Ashley Madison, a website that arranges extramarital liaisons, is “Life is short. Have an affair.” Its home page shows a woman holding a finger to her lips. So much for promising to keep secrets. Last month a group of hackers called Impact Team stole the site’s user database and transaction history going back to 2007, and this week they released it online: more than 30million users’ names, addresses and personal details, along with GPS co-ordinates and sexual preferences.

But what if it were me, and my secrets were hacked?

I hope I’m not alone in acknowledging that if the very worst of my thoughts were captured, catalogued, and released online, that I would be scared WITLESS. Most of our relationships – at least the ones built on the assumption of honesty rather than love, grace, mercy and forgiveness – would be destroyed if that ever happened.

Now, I don’t want to give the people on that website a free pass. Signing up for a terrible website offering a terrible product is a terrible thing to do. I don’t want to excuse them, but I don’t want to excuse myself either. Not because I have an Ashley Madison account, but because the account that I do have, in terms of my desires and thoughts, is not clean.

Jesus has something to say about adultery that should put all of us on notice, and remind us to not be too quick to judge. Jesus says the life of the inner person counts. The things that we think are private, and secret, aren’t. And they will be exposed.

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. — Matthew 5:27-28

In another passage, Jesus warns against hypocrisy because nothing “hidden” stays hidden.

There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs. — Luke 12:2-3

When it comes to God, I don’t have secrecy. But I do have grace, love and forgiveness.

I might try to keep the worst of my thoughts and desires from the people around me (this desire for secrecy and darkness to get away with stuff is fundamental to our humanity – it’s exactly what Adam and Eve do when they hide from God in the garden, and its what people do over an over again in the Bible) but I should be able to trust the people who love me, and trust their ability to love and forgive me, just like God does. Often its a desire not to hurt others that rightly prevents us from oversharing the depths of our brokenness, but ultimately, I know and have a promise from the one who intimately and completely knows the “inner me” that the disgusting stuff has been seen, but the record, the account, is clean – because Jesus took on the cost of my disgust, the shame, the humiliation, and the punishment, for himself. He wore it. He owned it. He took it.

That’s good news for me, and it might be good news for the millions of Ashley Madison account holders, facing an uncertain future this week. Your account can be wiped. You can start again. The invitation you’re extended, by Jesus, is to step out of darkness and secrecy, and to come into the light. You have nothing to fear when it comes to being exposed if you’re absolutely prepared to come to Jesus, the one who wears, owns and takes our sins…

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God. John 3:19-20

Dream Big!

It’s October 2028. The world’s greatest sporting event is upon us. It’s the NRL Grand Final. The St. George Dragons and the South Sydney Rabbitohs are playing to win the Provan-Summons trophy. The two best teams of 2028 are locked at 12 all with time fast running out.
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With thirty seconds left Souths have the ball, and with the referee eyeing the clock they desperately make one last attempt to break the dead-lock and avoid “Golden Point Extra Time”. After some terrific lead up play the speedy South Sydney winger receives the ball and makes an incisive run into the Dragons half. He’s scored several great “trys” already this finals series. This run is just as good as the rest and he looks every bit like scoring in the corner. But just as he attempts to ground the ball Dragons full back Ernie Fell, with a Superman-like dive, punches the ball loose …but he doesn’t just punch it away, he miraculously catches it and holds on. With only seconds left he quickly shifts the ball infield to his teammate, Wendell Fell, who runs back down the the field, puts up an incredibly precise chip right to the middle of the in-goal area where he shoulders away three defenders and grounds the ball for the win.

The referee blows his whistle! Game over! St. George wins the Grand Final, to the sheer joy of their father sitting in the front row.
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What is your greatest desire for your loved ones?

If you talk to many parents their answer will be ‘I just want my kids to be happy ’ but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that what they are actually saying is that they want their kids to make them happy.

Maybe you want them to be a doctor, an engineer, or a stockbroker. Perhaps to experience earthly happiness derived from physical security or family not plagued by problems or divorce. A big family of their own full of healthy children; a long life exited by peaceful old age.

What do you want more than anything for your loved ones?

That they live a happy healthy long life? That they change the course of human history somehow? That they invent a new technology or even cure cancer?

Earlier this year we learnt from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians that we should dream bigger. Much bigger.

In the first chapter of Ephesians, verses 3-14 are devoted by the apostle Paul, to describe all of the immeasurable blessings that are given by God to his children. He talks about election; predestination, adoption, redemption, forgiveness and ultimately, He gave the Holy Spirit as a sign of the inheritance that will be coming our way for eternity.

Twelve of the most glorious verses we have in all of scripture.

In verses 15-17 Paul tells us what kind of response is produced by a heart that has grasped the meaning of the previous twelve verses. Paul says, “For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him.”

In Acts chapter 20 we find out that Paul went house to house in Ephesus preaching the Gospel to people with many tears. Here we have the greatest evangelist begging people to salvation and yet people remained stone faced in their love for their sin and hate for the Lord. Fast forward a few years and Paul in a Roman jail receives word that many of those whom he had spent time with for three years pleading with them to forsake their sin and believe in the Lord, have finally given their lives to the Lord, and have a great love for their fellow believers. Men and women, who hated the Gospel, now sit in the front row on Sunday mornings, in love with God’s word and God’s people.

And Paul says that this news is bringing him unspeakable joy and that he hasn’t stopped giving thanks to God for their salvation.

Why so happy? Very simple, you cannot read verses 3-14 and walk away bored about such promises. Not only would a sensible person crave these blessings for themselves, but they would dream, that any loved would be able to experience these blessings as well. And Paul’s greatest concern in life was that as many people as possible would join Him in worshiping Christ forever. When he heard that people he had invested time into and even shed tears over, had believed the Gospel, his joy (despite being in a Roman cell to face Caesar) was unending.

I need to ask you a question I’ve been asking myself lately; What is your deepest concern for the people God has surrounded you with?

Is it their health? That they live a trial free life? That they win a meaningless footy game?
What we are called to is to take Paul’s example and desire above all else for our loved ones that they would be saved, and would join us in giving our Savior the praise he deserves.

We all dream about things for our loved ones. Let’s dream big!

A year of Protest on Norfolk Island

It has been a year of protest on Norfolk Island. This has raised for me a challenging and pressing question: as Christians, should we protest and picket the government? 

After all, human government is deeply biblical. Look back to Genesis 1:28, where God commanded Adam and Eve, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it.” Authority, by nature, reflects God’s authority. Romans 13 echoes this foundational biblical theology, “for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God” (Rom. 13:1).
 

Traditionally, although there have been protests organised by Christians (think Martin Luther King), Christians have been mostly negative about protesting. The recommended response to injustice has been to go to God in prayer and leave the matter with Him. In 2 Timothy 2:1-2, Paul urges that ‘petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness’. One of the effective means by which Christians live out their godliness is through prayer for the king to the King of Kings.

Despite this, we still need to remember how our modern governments work. Ancient governments did not claim to represent individuals in the way our modern Western democracies do, so protests made little impact (and publicly protesting against the policies of Rome or Assyria was fairly pointless unless you wanted an immediate, public and brief encounter with the lions in the amphitheatre).

I think there is probably a case for Christian protesting today. More importantly, I think today’s governments actually expect some measure of protest. Increasingly it seems they create and announce policies with little thought and even less consultation and then – fingers crossed – impose them on the public. If they are met with strong objections, then the policies or laws are hastily withdrawn, redrafted and resubmitted. In a culture where only those who shout are heard, any failure to protest may be presumed consent or approval.

Perhaps you’ve heard of “Just War Theory”? It’s one of the ways Christians have responded to armed conflict. I think there are some similar principles, which can probably be proposed for a political protest – a “Just Protest Theory” if you will. After all, both war and protest are powerful forces that can easily tempt us to do wrong things – anger and hatred; grumbling and complaining; gossip and slander; insubordination and rebellion; anxiety and worry – these are just some of the wrong responses that can arise whenever the conversation takes a political turn. It’s even easier to get carried away when you are surrounded by the sound of marching feet, waving banners and the shouts of solidarity.
 
LET ME CAUTIOUSLY SUGGEST FIVE PRINCIPLES FOR PROTEST:

  1. We should protest on behalf of others rather than ourselves. Our duty to love our neighbour may involve us in protesting for them.
  2. All other means of influencing the governing powers should have been exhausted. Protest should always be a last resort.
  3. We must be assured that our protest will do more good than harm.
  4. There must be a clearly defined and widely understood aim for our protest (it’s all too easy for things to degenerate into anger and dislike).
  5. The limits of any protest must be set beforehand. Christians can have nothing to do with words of hatred or – even worse – acts of violence.

Moreover, in all that we do, we should try to bring Jesus into our protest. There is a widespread suspicion that the Christian church is no different from all those other community groups that exist only for their own benefit. Protests are an opportunity to show that actually we do care for others. Perhaps you can already think of ways our protesting can be pro-testimony and pro-Jesus?

Finally, Christians should pray for the salvation of our leaders. Paul writes, “This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people…Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing.” (1 Tim. 2:3–6).

Praying for the salvation of our leaders is good in the sight of God. The salvation of souls is in keeping with God’s gracious nature and His sovereign purposes; it is the reason Christ died on the cross. When we pray for our island, we must not limit our prayers to the latest policy decisions and other temporal issues. We must also pray for the souls of those in government and civil service, that by God’s grace they might be saved through faith in Christ!

Questions for reflection…

Here are some terrific questions for reflection / your time with the Lord this week.

How real has God been to your heart this week?

How clear and vivid is your assurance and certainty of God’s forgiveness and fatherly love? To what degree is that real to you right now?

Are you having any particular seasons of delight in God? Do you really sense his presence in your life, sense him giving you his love?

Have you been finding Scripture to be alive and active? Instead of just being a book, do you feel like Scripture is coming after you?

Are you finding certain biblical promises extremely precious and encouraging? Which ones?

Good Days and Bad Days

Mother’s Day is one of the most celebrated days of the year for the simple reason that no one got here without a mother. Nevertheless, it’s a difficult day for many. There was a time in our own life when it represented a very painful day.  Before we fell pregnant with Wendell, we lived through miscarriage, infertility and IVF. At church, it sometimes seemed as if it was the “real” women who were honoured, while the infertile women (and their husbands) grieved in the shadows. Not only is it a hard day on those who are infertile, but also for those who have lost a child, or are alienated from one. When we are experiencing a prodigal child, it’s extremely painful to sit in a service and hear the virtues of motherhood extolled when we may feel like we have failed God in our parenting.   The key to all of this is grace. Through God’s church, we minister to each other during the good days and the hard days, and so whether you’re celebrating or suffering this year, I pray God’s grace for you. I pray you will be strengthened in the grace that strengthens and is strengthening all of us: “And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you” (1 Peter 5:10).

Here’s a beautiful prayer I read on the internet this week:   

To those who lost a child this year – we mourn with you  

To those who are in the trenches with little ones every day and wear the badge of food stains – we appreciate you  

To those who experienced loss through miscarriage, failed adoptions, or running away – we mourn with you  

To those who walk the hard path of infertility, fraught with tears and disappointment – we walk with you. Forgive us when we say thoughtless things. We don’t mean to make this harder than it is.  

To those who are foster mums, mentor mums, and spiritual mums – we need you   To those who have warm and close relationships with your children – we celebrate with you  

To those who have disappointment, heartache, and distance with your children – we sit with you  

To those who lost their mothers this year – we grieve with you  

To those who experienced abuse at the hands of your own mother – we acknowledge your experience  

To those who lived through driving tests, medical tests, and the overall testing of motherhood – we are better for having you in our midst  

To those who are single and long to be married and mothering your own children – we mourn that life has not turned out the way you longed for it to be  

To those who step-parent – we walk with you on these complex paths  

To those who envisioned lavishing love on grandchildren – yet that dream is not to be, we grieve with you  

To those who will have emptier nests in the upcoming year – we grieve and rejoice with you  

This Mother’s Day, we walk with you.  

We pray these things to you as our Father, who loved us before the world began, and will love us forevermore.  

In Jesus’ name,   Amen.

Lest I forget Gethsemane

we nawa gwen forget dem 

ANZAC Day 2015 marked 100 years since the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War. Norfolk Island’s own contribution to both world wars was, per capita, the largest in the Commonwealth, which is proudly remembered by all islanders. This year the dawn service was held, not at the Cenotaph, but at the location of the first service in 1917, Emily Bay.

The fact that we remember the Gallipoli campaign as a great national day must be odd to people of other countries. The Americans have Independence Day, the French have Bastille, the British have Waterloo and Trafalgar, but ANZAC Day centres on an ignominious defeat in a side show theatre of the Great War. It sounds like foolishness, but of course we understand that this defeat symbolised something far greater.

The Bible speaks of a far greater defeat that stands at the epicentre of human history. A defeat which seems like foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved is the very power of God (1 Cor 1:18). The foolishness is of course the death of Jesus the Christ, which is still a stumbling block to so many in all their ‘wisdom’.

Last Saturday we will rightly say ‘lest we forget’, as we remembered the great sacrifice of others for out mortal bodies, but last Sunday we remembered the immeasurably greater sacrifice of Jesus for our immortal souls.

Lest I forget Gethsemane,
Lest I forget Thine agony;
Lest I forget Thy love for me,
Lead me to Calvary.

David Fell is the Chaplain of the Church of England on Norfolk Island, an Anglican Church that loves Jesus, loves each other and loves Norfolk Island.