The Student’s Desk

That we may know Christ

Conflict Resolution God ‘s Way – Psalm 51

All of us experience conflict at some point – whether it be with a spouse, family member, friend, colleague, or acquaintance. Conflict isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In a sense, conflict is simply looking at the same thing from a different perspective as someone else. Conflict can even be a good thing, even beneficial, especially when solving problems. But when conflict isn’t handled well, we can easily offend, or be offended by, another person and hurt emerges. In a way, we should expect this to happen. The Bible tells us that we all fall short of what God intended us to be (Rom 3:23b). So, when there is offence we apologise, and where there is hurt, we forgive.

Yet, no matter how much we apologise it doesn’t undo our offense. No matter how much we forgive, hurt can remain. While we may go through the process of apologising and forgiving, we can be left with the sense that the issue remains unresolved, and we feel insecure in our relationship with the other person. So, we really need to have a way where we can deal with this type of hurt that leaves us feeling secure in our relationship with the other person that we have offended or have been offended by.

The good news is, there is such a way! We see it when there is a conflict between God and his people, and God is the one who is offended. When it comes to differences in perspective, it’s not possible to have a greater conflict than between a holy God whose judgements are always right (Ps 19:7–8) and a sinner who is constantly deceived by their heart and mind (Jer 17:9). Yet, God’s approach to conflict resolution means his people can be absolutely secure in their relationship with him.

We see this in Psalm 51 with David, who was chosen by God to be king over God’s people, and yet comes into sharp conflict with God and offends him. So, it’s worth having a look to see how God does conflict resolution and apply his approach when resolving our conflicts. To do this, we’ll look at:

  1. David’s offence.
  2. David’s apology.
  3. God’s forgiveness.
  4. Moving forward.

Then we’ll see how God’s way of conflict resolution can be applied to how we apologise and forgive where offences need to be addressed.

1. David’s Offence

The background to this Psalm comes from 2 Sam 11 where we read about David’s dealings with Bathsheba and her husband, Uriah. There’s a lot going on in that narrative. In summary, David makes Bathsheba pregnant, then arranges to have Uriah killed as a casualty of war. Even in a permissive culture such as ours, the severity of the offence is readily appreciated. David knows he has done wrong.

2. David’s Apology

David’s first response is to appeal to God’s character. He doesn’t presume that this is something he can fix or undo. Uriah is dead! There is no “undo” for that. Bathsheba is pregnant. There is no “undo” for that – at least not a moral one! All David can do is ask God to treat him according to God’s character – his steadfast love and abundant mercy – and not according to what David has done (Ps 51:1–2). Neither is David trying to minimise his offence. He’s not saying, “Opps, I didn’t mean to make Bathsheba pregnant … I didn’t mean to kill Uriah … I was just, you know, wanting some fun and got a little carried away.” David was very intentional in his actions toward Bathsheba, and his attempts to cover up his dealings with her. Now David had to deal with the consequences. You can imagine every time he looked at Bathsheba, who he took as his wife, or looked at his son, who Bathsheba bore to him, he would be haunted by the memory of what he had done. In a very real sense, his sin was always before him (v. 3). In apologising, David cannot promise to fix what he has done.

Secondly, David must reckon with his own character. His confession of only having sinned against God seems strange (Ps 51:4). Obviously, David has sinned against Bathsheba by making her pregnant, and he’s sinned against Uriah by arranging him to be killed. The reference to only sinning against God may be because of the secrecy in which David committed this offence. Uriah isn’t going to hold David accountable – he’s dead! Bathsheba isn’t going to hold him accountable – she’s pregnant and widowed! No one else is going to hold David accountable – he’s the king! David has got away with his sin!! In fact, he may even go down in history as the king who uses his power and wealth to save pregnant war widows from a destitute life. What a guy! Except, God knew what he’d done, and he sends his prophet Nathan to tell David all about it (2 Sam 12:1–16). What a guy, indeed!

Neither is David promising that he will never do anything like this again. The fact of the matter is, David’s character and being is defined by sin (v. 5), and this contrasts with God’s character and being who delights in truth and the inner being. There is a fundamental difference between God and David that will be an ongoing threat to their relationship. David can’t fix it, neither can he stop it. Even though David has committed the offence, it’s actually God who needs to do something about this situation.

3. God’s Forgiveness

For the relationship between God and David to continue, God needs to forgive David. God needs to regard David as though he had not offended (vv. 7, 9). God needs to remove the impact of the offence from David. Remember, David can’t fix it. God needs to allow David to rejoice in him again (v. 8). David can’t make up for what he did. God needs to allow David to come into his presence. God needs to keep giving David his Holy Spirit (v. 11). God needs to give David the joy of his salvation and allow David to delight in him (v. 12).

But notice at no point does God say that what David did doesn’t matter. At no point does God say to David, “There, there, David. I know you didn’t mean to make Bathsheba pregnant, or to have Uriah killed. It’s alright. Let’s pretend that never happened. Let’s pretend there was no real intent in what you did.” There are significant issues that need to be addressed for the relationship to continue. Part of forgiveness is developing a way forward. But, before a way forward can be developed, forgiveness must come first. There must be a commitment to continue the relationship as it has been before issues can start to be addressed.

4. The Way Forward

Forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting. The way forward in this Psalm is for God to create a clean heart in David (v. 10). To give him a new understanding and to empower him to remain consistent in his relationship with God. This will enable David to teach others about God’s ways (v. 13), sing about God’s righteousness (v. 14), declare God’s praises (v. 15), and for David to remain humble and contrite before God rather than trying to cover up his sin (vv. 16– 17). As for God, he will delight again and his people (vv. 18–19). To have a way forward means putting a structure in place so the relationship can continue as it should.

Applying God’s Way of Conflict Resolution to Us

Apologising and forgiving can leave us feeling that the issue hasn’t been resolved and feeling insecure in our relationships. This may well be because we haven’t understood what apologising and forgiving do, and we expect them to do something that they are not intended to do. As children, when we’ve done something wrong, we taught to say “sorry”, then the offended party gives some kind of pardon, then we move on by pretending that the offence never happened. What we see in Psalm 51 is something very different.

An apology is not a means of righting a wrong. It’s not an “undo” button as we might find on a computer or electronic device. When we have committed an offence, we can’t fix it, or make it go away. It may be appropriate at times to make restitution or pay some kind of compensation. But that does not erase the offence. Neither is an apology a promise that nothing like that offence will ever happen again.

An apology is, firstly, an acknowledgment that there has been wrongdoing. It’s an acknowledgment that something has been done that is inappropriate and has caused hurt. Secondly, an apology is a petition to the offended person not to treat the offender according to the offence that has been committed. Instead, it’s a petition to the offended person to continue the relationship as it has been. The offender cannot do anything more than that. At which point, the offender is totally dependent on the offended person to forgive. Which is why it’s important to understand what forgiveness is.

Forgiveness is not forgetting. Neither is forgiveness pretending that no offence had ever occurred. Forgiveness cannot be based on a feeling or a promise that the offence won’t happen again. Forgiveness is a decision to treat the offending person as a whole even though you have been hurt, and not to define the person by their offence. At no point is forgiveness saying that the offence doesn’t matter, or the hurt has disappeared. All hurts take time to heal, and this is quite apart from the act of forgiveness. But healing starts with forgiveness.

Once forgiveness has been granted, and only when forgiveness has been granted, structures can be put in place to continue the relationship. In other words, what are you going to do next time there’s a risk of the offence reoccurring? As horrible and painful as being offended can be, there can also be a positive aspect to all this. That is, both the forgiven and the forgiver have an opportunity to learn about each other’s needs. It may be for the forgiven to ask about the needs of the forgiver, and for the forgiver to gently explain what their needs are. It may also be for the forgiver to learn what the needs of the forgiven are to support them and lessen the chances of the offence reoccurring. It could be that there’s a lot that can be done to support them (either as the forgiver or forgiven), or there may small amount. Whatever level of support, it’s going to communicate a lot to the other person that you love and care for them as they are.

At this point, you may protest saying that you can’t forgive what the other person has done. It’s too much and I’m too hurt! Granted, there are things incredibly difficult to forgive. Occasionally, it may be necessary to break relationships and establish boundaries as a way of moving forward. Even Jesus cites a reason for forgiveness not to be given (Luke 12:10). Yet, our capacity to forgive does not come from ourselves with some people having more capacity to forgive than others. It may be hard due to life experiences, but the capacity to forgive is the same for all believers. This is because our capacity to forgive comes from Jesus. Let me explain.

We have a massive debt of worship that we owe to God. John had a vision of heaven where God is being worshipped. While the worship is happening, a song rings out, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created” (Rev 4:11). As the vision continues, the worship is so intense and so abundant that heaven is filled with praise and thanks that it spills over onto the earth where believers are caught up in this heavenly worship (5:13). It’s incredible to think that believers on earth here today are caught up in the worship that’s happening right now in heaven. God has given you everything that you own, has fulfilled your every need, and sustains your very life, so that you may thank and worship him.

So, here’s a test: before you go to bed tonight, stop and think how many times you were thankful to God today, either by your words or actions. Even if you make it to double figures, dare I say triple, compared to the all-encompassing, all enveloping worship that is happening in heaven, it simply does not rate! The fact that we don’t thank and praise God the way he rightfully deserves offends God and hurts him. This is an offence on an eternal scale.

Yet, God does not treat us as according to our offence (Ps 103:10; Eph 2:4–7). Instead, God has put a structure in place so that he can forgive us, move on, and enjoy being in relationship with his people. That in the crucifixion of Jesus, the penalty for sin has been paid, and in his resurrection certain hope of eternal life has been given. He has done this so we can be absolutely secure in our relationship with him with no condemnation to fear (Rom 8:1). This is what we remember at Easter. When we begin to understand just how much we have offended God simply by holding back worship that rightfully belongs to him, and the cost that was involved to forgive us, then any offence we need to forgive pales in comparison. In Jesus we have an incredible capacity to forgive. All we are doing is passing on the grace and forgiveness that God has given us in Jesus. It’s not from ourselves.

If we’re struggling with ideas of apologising and forgiving, maybe it’s because we really haven’t understood their function. An apology is simply an acknowledgement that something inappropriate has happened, and a petition to the offended person to continue the relationship. It doesn’t make the offence disappear. Forgiveness is a commitment to continue the relationship. It doesn’t take the hurt away, but it’s a start to healing. We put structures in place to support the other person in their need. Then we take the time to enjoy the relationship. This is God’s way of conflict resolution.

April 6, 2023 Posted by | Articles, Bible, Bible Exposition, Biblical Theology, Devotionals, King David, Religious, Sermons, Talks | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What does it mean to grieve the Spirit?

In recent months, I have seen the “grieving of the Holy Spirit” to mean the denial of the spiritual gifts, or resistance to intimacy with the Holy Spirit by being “too intellectually” or “intellectually proud”. But is this the correct understanding? How does the Bible present the grieving of the Holy Spirit? To be sure, the only reference to grieving the Holy Spirit is Eph 4:30. However, there are other offences that are made against the Holy Spirit (Matt 12:32 and 1 Thess 5:19). So, it’s worth considering these alongside Eph 4:30.

Ephesians 4:30

The command not to grieve the Holy Spirit comes in the context of personal conduct (4:25–5:2), which in turn comes from character – a central concern in the New Testament. Here, there are instructions to put away falsehood (v. 25), not to sin in anger (v. 26), refrain from stealing (v. 28), and not engage in corrupt talk (v. 29). To engage in such conduct is to act contrary to reconciliation in the gospel, of which the Holy Spirit is an agent. Not only are believers to put away conduct that is contrary to reconciliation, but they are to put away the conditions that that give rise to that conduct – bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and slander along with all evil (v. 31). Instead, believers are to speak the truth to one another (v. 25), work honestly (v. 28), look to build up others with their speech (v. 29), be kind, compassionate, and forgiving as they imitate God’s forgiveness (v. 32). In sum, therefore, to grieve the Holy Spirit is to adopt an ungodly character. The concern, then, is for believers to adopt a godly character.

1 Thessalonians 5:19

This verse is probably the closest to how the phrase “grieving the Holy Spirit” has been used. Here, believers are instructed not to “quench the Spirit”. For in the next verse believers are instructed not to despise prophecy (v. 20). This would very much sound like a denial of a spiritual gift. It’s understandable where spiritual gifts have been misused or abused some may seek its disuse. Such an approach to spiritual gifts is wrong. Leaving aside the nature of prophecy, however, the acceptance of prophecy is not without qualification. For believers are to test everything (v. 21). There clearly were some false prophecies doing the rounds concerning the day of the Lord (2 Thess 2:2). For this reason, they were to holdfast to the traditions they were taught by the Apostles (v. 15). This means that believers were to engage in an intellectual process comparing what they were hearing as prophecy with what they already knew from the Apostles. So, while it may “quench the Spirit” by denying spiritual gifts, in this case prophecy, it is most certainly not to grieve the Spirit to critique that prophecy. Anyone who uses the charge “grieving the Spirit” to silence criticism is to be regarded to be outside the instruction of God’s word. Neither does the presence of a spiritual gift demand its use. Instead, the benefit of the church is to be sought (1 Cor 15:26–33a).

Matthew 12:32 [//Mark 3:29; Luke 12:10]

The third verse to consider is Matthew 12:32 [//Mark 3:29; Luke 12:10]. Because the Matthew reference comes within the context which combines the teaching of Mark and Luke, the Matthew reference will be addressed last. Here, Jesus teaches that anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. So, what does it mean to blaspheme against the Holy Spirit?

In Mark’s account, the teaching comes when the Jewish scribes come down from Jerusalem to investigate Jesus’ activity. Now, Jesus had been casting out demons from people, and Mark depicts Jesus as being driven by the Spirit (1:10, 12; 2:8). Therefore, the activities of Jesus are also the activities of the Holy Spirit. Yet, instead of recognising Jesus activity in the casting out of demons to be the activity of the Holy Spirit, the Jewish scribes attribute the activity to Beelzebul, the prince of demons (3:22), which, as Jesus points out, is nonsensical (vv. 23–26). In other words, they are attributing the activity of the Holy Spirit to demons. Given that Jesus is the sole agent of salvation and forgiveness, there can be no forgiveness for those who continue to attribute the work of the Holy Spirit in Jesus to demons.

In Luke’s account, the meaning of “blasphemy against the Holy Spirit” isn’t clear. Howard I. Marshall in his commentary surveys several possibilities before settling on the meaning of apostasy.[1] This accords with the context which refers to “acknowledging the Son of Man [Jesus] before men” (Luke 12:8), and “being brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities” (v. 11). For this to be true, for a believer to deny Jesus is to deny the work of the Holy Spirit which teaches the believer what to say at those times (v. 12). Yet, if this is correct, then on what grounds is Peter forgiven after he denies knowing Jesus (Matt. 26:69–75 [// Mark 14:66–72; Luke 22:55–62; John 18:16–18, 25–27)? Notice that the verb to blaspheme (βλασφημέω) appears in the participle form, which may suggest that in view here is not one who merely blasphemes but is identified as a blasphemer and shows no remorse for their actions. This accords with the usage of simple verbs to refer to the one who speaks against the Son of Man (12:10). While Peter denied knowing Jesus, he did not have those actions as part of his identity. Instead, Peter “wept bitterly” over his actions (22:62 [// Matt 26:75).

In Matthew’s account, both perspectives from Mark and Luke are combined into the one teaching. However, the Pharisee’s opposition to Jesus’ ministry is explicit and made all the more vivid by their pre-conceived conclusion which was in contrast to the crowd’s amazement (Matt 12:23–24). In other words, the Pharisees are not even open to the possibility that Jesus’ ministry is being driven by the Holy Spirit. Instead, inasmuch the Pharisees recognise the supernatural character of Jesus’ ministry, they are simply out to oppose him, attributing the work of the Holy Spirit in Jesus’ ministry to demonic forces. Ultimately, by opposing Jesus’ ministry, they are opposing the purposes of God. This, then, forms the basis for Jesus’ warning (vv. 31–32).

In conclusion, then, to grieve the Holy Spirit (and by extension, to quench and to blaspheme against) is a very serious charge indeed. It is not a charge to be wielded about lightly. The New Testament uses this charge in specific circumstances. As we have seen, the charge is made in relation to conduct and character that is contrary to godly living, in relation to the denial of prophecy (though this not to forbid testing of that prophecy), and in relation to attributing the work of the Holy Spirit to demonic forces and the denial of Christ. To charge a person or group of persons with grieving the Holy Spirit because they refuse to adhere to the words of a person who believes that they are led by the Spirit is to go beyond the authority of Scripture. If such a person is led by the Spirit, and considers themselves in a position to offer encouragement, rebuking, and correction to God’s people, then let them acknowledge the work of the Holy Spirit among God’s people. Let them acknowledge the authority of Scripture that the same Spirit inspired and breathed into being, and let them not deny the careful, yet humble, inquiry into it.

[1] Marshall, I. Howard. The Gospel of Luke: A Commentary on the Greek Text, NIGTC, (Exeter: Paternoster Press, 1978), 517–519.

July 3, 2021 Posted by | Bible, Bible Exposition, Religious | , | Leave a comment

A Virtual Tour Around Corinth: Understanding Paul’s Correspondence as a Whole and its Application

The Apostle Paul wrote to the church in the city of Corinth – a busy metropolitan cross road in the Roman Empire on the modern-day Greek peninsula. In his correspondence, he gave all sorts of encouragements, exhortations, rebukes and corrections. But the verse I find most amazing in all of Paul’s correspondence with the believers at Corinth is 1 Cor 1:10. Actually, it’s really only one word I find amazing – “brothers” (inclusive of women, please remember). This is not a mere formality, as a title may be used at the start of a letter. Paul refers to this group of believers as “brothers” another 20 times in his correspondence.[1] Paul is identifying himself with the believers in Corinth as sharing the same faith. By referring to the Corinthians as “brothers”, Paul is effectively saying, “Hey, I’m one of you guys!”. To understand why this was so amazing for Paul to refer to these believers in Corinth as brothers, we need to take a “virtual tour” of Corinth, and survey all that’s going on according to Paul’s correspondence. Perhaps you’ve seen some of these things before. But it also could be that you haven’t seen all of these scenes in one go before. So, buckle up. This is going to be quite a ride! 

At our first stop, we can see the vigorous competition of the popularity contest where various Christian leaders would be pitched against each other by their followers in a bid for social supremacy (1 Cor 3:4). The problem here is these divisions gave the impression that messages about the Gospel were distinct and there was no commonality between them.

At our next stop, we find sexual immorality going on. In fact, one man is said to be having sex with his father’s wife (5:1). The exact issue isn’t clear – whether it’s his mother or his father has remarried due to divorce or death. In any event, such relations were forbidden in both Jewish and Pagan traditions. Others had trouble controlling their sexual urges (7:9), while at the other end of the spectrum some took an ascetic approach and were avoiding sex (vv. 2–6).

At our next stop, we find believers suing the pants off each other in law courts (6:1–8). This was little more than one-upmanship. A way of gaining social status just as following different leaders was. The problem was, this hardly reflected the sanctification and justification they had received from Jesus (v. 11).

At our next stop, a non-believer has been inviting believers around for a BBQ (8:1–13). This was fine, until it was discovered that the BBQ meat had been part of a pagan sacrifice. Some believers were uncomfortable about this (v. 7). They didn’t want to give any validation to pagan beliefs, so from their own conscious, they refrained from eating the meat. Other believers were quite happy to eat the meat. They knew that pagan deities were nothing more than a fairytale (v. 5). What was the harm (v.8)? But for these people, their knowledge was more important than the impact that the actions had on others. So, they were actually causing the others to go against their conscious and stumble. In fact, some were even partaking in the sacrifice itself (10:14–22). This kind of thing just confuses God with demons (vv. 19–22) rather seeing him glorified in all things (v. 31).

At our next stop, there is some issue around the length of hair and head coverings (11:2–16). It’s not quite clear, but the best suggestions would seem to revolve around the flouting of conventional distinctions between men and women in terms of dress. While Paul teaches against conforming to the world (Romans 12:2), he is not interested in causing unnecessary offence by departing from social conventions.

At our next stop, there’s a celebration of the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor 11:17–33). That sacramental meal that calls to remembrance and proclaims the death and resurrection of Jesus for the forgiveness of sin, and on that basis a new community of grace would be formed. I need to tell you that this is what they are celebrating because you would never know from their behaviour. You see, some are stuffing their face with bread while others go hungry, and others are getting plastered on the wine while others go without. I know it’s hard for us moderns to imagine how someone can stuff their face with a solitary crouton and become drunk on a thimble of grape juice. But we need to remember that this was a full meal with real alcoholic wine. It would seem they were clambering over each other as the more “spiritual” members helped themselves to the bread and wine leaving the “not so spiritual” members in their wake. So much for being a community of grace! No wonder Paul said, “When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat.” (v. 20). What a mess! 

At our next stop, we come to the main event – the “Spiritual Olympics” (12:1–30)! Well, that’s what we might as well call it. All of them are trying to outdo each other in the spiritual gifts department. The disturbing thing is their exercising of spiritual gifts is more akin to non-believers than anything reflecting the gospel (v. 2). It would appear that some are identifying with their gift more than the giver. That they are deriving their worth from their giftedness rather than the love of God vividly expressed in Jesus’ blood. It’s all fun and games until someone is left out. That’s right, the highly gifted believers thought they could actually do without some of the less gifted believers. For these highly gifted believers, exercising their gifts is never about service or helping those who were less gifted. It’s all about showing off and climbing the “spiritual ladder”. It’s just a shame no one realises that first place is also a booby prize.

At our final stop, we find that some people were denying the resurrection of the dead. I know, it’s difficult for us modern believers to know how anyone can deny the resurrection. It’s so foundational to our hope. But with the manifestations of the spirit: wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, great works, prophecy, speaking other languages – even angelic languages – it’s understandable why some of them begun to think that they had already arrived! In fact, Paul taunts them earlier in his letter, “Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! Without us you have become kings! And would that you did reign, so that we might share the rule with you!” (4:8). The reality is that the Christian hope is far bigger, and far more glorious than the here and now in this life.

So, let’s have a recap of our virtual tour of Corinth. In the church at Corinth, we have factions around church leaders in a popularity contest, sexual immorality, the flexing of legal muscle, disregard for the conscious of other believers, the flouting of cultural norms, the disregard for other believers at the Lord’s Supper, the misuse and abuse of spiritual gifts, and finally the denial of the resurrection of the dead. If there was a church today that did half of these things, I’d steer clear of it. I’d be telling all my friends to do the same, and anyone in that church to leave. I would completely write them off as a church. I would conclude that they were on about something else other than the gospel. This is why I find Paul’s reference to them as “brothers” to be so amazing. That in all the mess, in all the chaos, in all the anti-gospel behaviour, he recognises that the grace of God given to the church at Corinth is the same grace that has been given to him. Instead of writing them off, he identifies with them as a subject of God’s grace.

That Paul identifies with them does not mean that Paul is indifferent to their conduct. These are big issues that need big resolutions. One by one, Paul addresses each issue, and grounds his response in the person of Jesus.

Concerning the rivalry and factions in the church, Paul reminds the Corinthians that Jesus is the foundation of the Christian community upon which everyone else must build (3:10–11). In other words, it is Jesus who gives the church its existence, coherence and identity.[2] To derive these from any other foundation – whether it be theological tradition, experience, praxis or rationality – is to build on a foundation that will not last (v. 14). This is not to deny a variety of denominations who are characterised by different theological traditions, experiences, praxes and rationalities. Indeed, there are different churches with their particular characteristics and their own issues in the New Testament. John writes to the seven churches giving each one a different evaluation (Revelation 1:4, 2:1–3:22). The Church (universal) is large enough to have disagreements (Acts 15:36–41), and to have different traditions (Romans 2:12–14; 14:1–2; 13–14 – the Jew with the Old Testament law and the Gentiles without the Old Testament law). However, should any of these characteristics be considered foundational, the defining factor of a church, including what church leader one follows, then that characteristic becomes a distraction from the church’s true foundation which is Jesus. Such a church forfeits its glory in being the temple of God by the indwelling of God’s Spirit (v. 16). So, Jesus remains foundational to the church, and no theological tradition, experience, praxis or rationality can substitute this (vv. 18–22). 

Concerning sexual immorality, Paul’s point is to say that Jesus’ death and resurrection has given believers a new beginning. This is referred to as Christ, our Passover Lamb, who has been sacrificed (5:7). To reach back into the past and bring old habits and practices into the new way of life is simply inappropriate. The idea being built upon here is one of leavened bread (vv. 6–7). Leavened bread consisted of using reserved dough which was made the previous week in the current batch of dough. This was done as a substitute for yeast. The week-old dough would then be fermenting. When the week-old dough was introduced to the new dough, it would cause the new dough to become fermented and rise in the heat. As useful as this practice was, it wasn’t hygienic as dirt and disease could be passed on from week to week.[3] This was possibly one of the reasons for God commanding his people to throw out any leaven from their homes once a year and to observe the feast of unleavened bread (Exo 12:14–20). By introducing the old ways of sexual immorality to the new life in Christ, this too would become an unhealthy mix. Therefore, Paul picks up this image of leaven again, and tells the Corinthians to throw out (or purge) the evil person from among them so as to avoid an unhealthy mix (1 Cor 5:13). 

The same point is made concerning suing the pants off each other. Paul reminds them of their status before God – that they have been washed, sanctified and justified (6:11). This means that they have made a clean break with their former way of life and had now been set aside for God’s purposes. This was made possible by what was revealed in Jesus – namely, the forgiveness of sins through his death and resurrection which is applied to the believer through the work of God’s Spirit. It simply does not make sense to flex one’s legal muscle against your adversaries and go up a few runs on the social pecking order when you have been set aside for God’s purposes. 

Concerning eating meat that’s been sacrificed to idols, in a sense, Paul seems to agree with those who take such liberties (8:4, 8). But the question is not what’s wrong or right. The question is what is helpful? For some at Corinth, seeing their fellow believers eating meat that had been sacrificed to idols was a real point of contention. It caused these believers to stumble and have their faith destroyed. This was the real issue. Paul recognised that those believers had a weak conscious, and these were people for whom Christ died (v. 11). So, to insist on rights over responsibility, to consider eating more important than the spiritual well-being of a fellow believer, is actually sin. It’s sinning against your fellow believer, and it’s sinning against Jesus who died for the fellow believer (v. 12).

Concerning the Lord’s Supper, Paul has to remind them, incredibly, what they are celebrating – Jesus’ death (12:26). As has been seen, Jesus’ death has been central to Paul’s correspondence with the Corinthians. Using the Lord’s Supper to celebrate anything else was actually to eat and drink judgement on themselves. Instead, Jesus’ death for the forgiveness of sins was best reflected by how they treated the apparently lesser members of their church community and not turning the event into an opportunity to gorge themselves.

Concerning spiritual gifts, rather than seeing them as a sign that they are a cut above the “average Christian” (as though there could be anything average about being a Christian!), Paul tells the Corinthians something shocking. Spiritual gifts are temporal (13:8)! They don’t belong to the eschatological age – the time when Jesus will return and God will establish his kingdom. Spiritual gifts are for this present life, and this present life only. As spectacular and impressive as spiritual gifts are, they are of limited use. Instead, Paul tells them of a more superior way of showing their spiritual credentials, and it has nothing to do with doing (12:29). But it has everything to do with being – their character. If they want to show off their spiritual credentials, they need to show who they are in Jesus. Paul writes to them and says, “And I will show you a still more excellent way.” Then he goes on to talk about the priority of love – agapē love, familial love, describing it as patient and kind, not being envious or boastful, not arrogant or rude, not or insistent or irritable, not rejoicing in wrongdoing. Instead, love rejoices with the truth, and it bears, believes, hopes, and endures everything, and it never fails (13:8–12). Love is the cure-all for every issue that Paul has raised with the Corinthians. Little wonder Paul refers to love as the superior way.

But, Paul’s description of love is even more radical than this. Paul writes, “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (13:13). Where spiritual gifts will cease, love, along with faith and hope will remain. Faith, hope and love will continue to exist. Whereas spiritual gifts are the stuff of this present life, love is the stuff of the eschaton. Love is a defining feature of the Kingdom of God. Love is the future Kingdom of God brought forward into the present. Paul grounds this in the reality of the resurrection of Jesus (ch. 15), which some of them were denying. He says, “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.” (v. 19). In other words, if your greatest hope as a Christian is to speak in tongues, or prophesy, or acquire knowledge, or become detached from physical desires, or climb up the social pecking order, or to stuff your face and get drunk at the Lord’s Supper, then you have missed the point and should be pitied more than anyone else. We may add some of modern trappings. If our greatest hope as Christians is to have a comfortable life, to become rich, acquire possessions, never get sick, then we really have missed the point, and we are to be pitied more than anyone else. But… the resurrection of Jesus changes all that. For Paul, the resurrection of Jesus is never far from his mind since this is what his apostleship is based on (vv. 3–9). It’s also the basis for the forgiveness of sins which leads to a new life (v. 17). As glorious as this life is along with our bodies, as much as we may rejoice in the temporal things of this present life, this is not the same glory that will be in the resurrection. Paul explains what is now perishable, dishonoured, weak, and natural will be raised is imperishable, glorious, powerful, and spiritual (vv. 42–44). In other words, the resurrected life will be so much more than the joys and glories of this present life.

None of this means that spiritual gifts are not without value in the meantime. Paul obviously thought that spiritual gifts, and in particular tongues and prophecy, were of value for the church at Corinth, and he spent a considerable time explaining their proper use (ch. 14). What, precisely, these spiritual gifts were and how these practices apply to the church today are the subject of considerable discussion. However, two things remain quite clear: firstly, spiritual gifts, in whatever form,[4] are for the building up of the church – they are for the benefit of the community (12:7;14:6, 12). Secondly, spiritual gifts can be abused, and be counterproductive for the task they are given (13:1–3). Spiritual gifts can only be fully appreciated when they are grounded in the reality of the death and resurrection of Jesus where they are understood as part of a temporal glory which will pass away with the coming of the resurrection. 

As can be seen, the Gospel of the death and resurrection of Jesus remains central to Paul’s thinking, and foundational to addressing the issues among the believers at Corinth. Paul does not look to “special knowledge” or “ecstatic experiences” or “gifts” as a solution to the issues. As has been seen throughout the letter, time and time again, Paul returns to the gospel. All the believers needed was a better acquaintance with what they have been taught. To understand how the Gospel applied to their situation.

So, what does all this mean for us?

Firstly, it means that the practices that were in place at Corinth are not necessarily to be replicated in the modern church. A lot of what was being practiced at Corinth was being practiced in error. If there was a church today that denied the resurrection, seldom would its practices be upheld as a model for other churches to follow. Yet when it comes to the church at Corinth, a resurrection-denying, little guy crushing, social status obsessed church, there are those who desire to replicate the practices of Corinth in the name of intimacy with the Spirit. To those who want to replicate these practices, I implore you, do not become obsessed with the Corinthian experience and practice. Instead, understand why Paul was raising these issues and why he responded the way he did. Understand that, without diminishing them as fellow-believers, Paul was pointing the believers at Corinth to a fuller, richer, deeper, higher, more profound spirituality than the one they professed. This was a spirituality based on love and expressed in relationships with each other.

Secondly, to those who profess to have knowledge, or experiences, or gifts: these are not without value. However, these are not markers of your salvation, or your maturity in Christ. It is easy for those with knowledge, or experiences, or gifts to look down at those who lack them. To even condemn them. This was precisely the Corinthian error! It was precisely for this reason that Paul had to defend his apostleship against the believers at Corinth (2 Cor 3) – the same one who brought the gospel to them in the first place (1 Cor 4:15)! It was inconceivable to the believers at Corinth that anyone who had been given the Spirit, anyone who had truly arrived, should suffer. That they should be beaten and struck, going about hungry, naked, and in danger. Yet, it wasn’t as though Paul was without the manifestations of the Spirit that believers at Corinth would recognise. Paul claimed that he spoke in tongues more than any of them, and he thanked God for it (14:18)! He also claimed to have had heavenly visions (2 Cor in 9:12). But he doesn’t use these gifts and experiences to certify his apostleship. If anything, he’s playing them down. Concerning his ability to speak in tongues Paul says, “I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue” (1 Cor 14:19). Concerning his visions, he refers to himself in the third person so as not to draw attention to himself (2 Cor 12:2). When he does draw attention to himself, it is in reference to his weakness – his low social status (2 Cor 12:5). Instead, Paul’s certification as an Apostle is the believers in Corinth themselves in the way they responded to the gospel (3:2). As to suffering and weakness, rather than being antithetical to the spiritual life, Paul argues that they are integral to the spiritual life (2 Cor 1:3–11), and they are the means by which God’s grace is manifest (2 Cor 12:9). This is something that needs to be emphasised: Instead of celebrating his ability to speak in tongues and the experience he’s had, Paul celebrates weakness. Paul celebrates insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities (v. 10). In contrast to what the Corinthians believed, these are the means by which God’s grace is manifest.

What is to be replicated is the fuller, richer, deeper, higher, more profound spirituality that Paul was encouraging the believers toward. A spirituality that Paul calls the “superior way” (1 Cor 12:31). A way that is founded on love which expresses itself in patience and kindness; is absent in envy, boastfulness, arrogance, self-importance, irritability, resentfulness. Love that does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth, and that bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things (1 Cor 13:4–7). It should be observed that all these attributes relate to a person’s character. Therefore, the manifestation of the Spirit is not found primarily in what a person can do. Rather, the primary manifestation of the Spirit is found in who a person is. Particularly in relation to other people – hence fellowship is vitally important for all believers, even the for the ones who are “seemingly weaker”. Of such believers Paul says that they are “indispensable” (1 Cor 12:22).

This emphasis on character is entirely consistent with Paul’s theology, and is not limited to his correspondence with the church at Corinth. To the church at Galatia he writes, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” (Gal 5:22). Again, all related to a person’s character. To the church at Colossae, Paul instructs them to put on the new self which is being renewed in the knowledge of the image of God. This putting on of the new self is then paralleled and equated with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness (or gentleness), patience, forbearance, forgiveness, and above all, love (Col 3:10, 12–14). Again, all related to a person’s character. To the church at Ephesus, Paul tells them to walk in a manner worthy of their calling by being humble, gentle, patient, forbearing, and unified in the Spirit (Eph 4:1-3). A person’s character features more predominantly in Paul’s teaching much more than spiritual gifts or abilities.

Therefore, while spiritual gifts, experiences, knowledge and theological traditions are of some importance, a person’s character and how they relate to others, even those of whom they have strong disagreement with – is of all surpassing importance. Character which is being generated by the work of the Holy Spirit that was availed through the death and resurrection of Jesus. For this is how God manifests his presence, his Spirit, and his grace. It is out of this character that’s being renewed that believers exercise their gifts to build God’s church on the foundation that Jesus laid. This is the lesson that believers at Corinth needed to learn. This is the lesson that believers today need to learn.

[1] 1 Corinthians 1:26; 2:1; 3:1; 7:24, 29; 10:1; 11:33; 12:1; 14:6, 20, 26, 39; 15:1, 50, 58, 16:15; 2 Corinthians 1:8; 8:1; 13:11.

[2] Thiselton, 310.

[3] Thiselton, 400. Fee, 216.

[4] Note that spiritual gifts are listed in Paul’s correspondence to the church at Rome (Rom 12:6–8). Within the Corinthian correspondence, the list of spiritual gifts also varies slightly (1 Cor 12:7–10. Cf. v. 28). This suggests that the list of spiritual gifts are not exhaustive.

July 3, 2021 Posted by | Bible, Bible Exposition, Religious | , , | Leave a comment

Newsletter 2020

Well, wasn’t that an interesting year, to say the least! If having a disastrous bushfire season in eastern Australia wasn’t enough, it’s been topped off with a global pandemic. Yet, for all the disruptions, I had an exceptionally busy year.

The year began for me in southeast Queensland holidaying with friends from church in the Gold Coast hinterland. This provided an opportunity to enjoy numerous bushwalks in dense rainforests. A highlight of the week was riding the eMonster up to Springbrook from the bottom of the mountain. This involved climbing 900m in 20km in the middle of the Queensland summer. Others thought I was mad, but this had been established long before! Although, I would not have attempted this without electric assistance. I certainly enjoyed the ride, especially the run back down the mountain, even if speeding down mountain roads isn’t the eMonster’s forte.

This time last year, I was still waiting on the final verdict on my Master’s thesis. I was notified in March that my thesis had been accepted, and I was to graduate on the 18th – which just happened to be the day we all went into lockdown due to the pandemic, hours before the ceremony. I am still yet to graduate, and still very much looking forward to marking the occasion with friends and family.

I was looking forward to resuming my paid duties, visiting churches and Presbyteries promoting the work of disability inclusion, and having a long break from the intensity of writing and research. Well, the pandemic put an end to those aspirations, and my role at Jericho Road quickly changed and I was doing much more pastoral work. I was asked to write pieces to encourage others in what was a very unsettling time, which some have you have read. This was a massive privilege and a blessing. I wanted to take a deep dive into Scripture my own spiritual welfare, so, I was extremely pleased and thankful that I was able to do this and to take others with me on the journey. This lead to a series on Genesis 1–11 looking at who God is, and how we are to respond to him in the context of this current crisis. When the situation began to “normalise” (using that word very loosely), I began a second series on the corporate Psalms of lament looking at how we can adjust well to this current season. This time also included numerous online conferences discussing the current issues which also prompted my thinking. So, I’ve spent a good part of my work thinking about the current social and political movements from a philosophical perspective, how to connect with people who have disabilities digitally, and what it means to bear the image of God. I also have briefly researched the millennium debate (that is, the circumstances around Jesus’ return), and taken a deep dive into 1 Corinthians. The all have been very interesting to research, and has led to some profound insights.

The pandemic has also impacted other ministries. After visiting the Cerebral Palsy Alliance in February and March, the lockdown brought a premature end to this ministry. I expect most, if not all, of the residents have been relocated into their group homes dispersed throughout the community. Neither has there been any of the adult Christian disability camps that I have been a part of in previous years. At the present time, it’s not possible to say if or when these camps will resume.

As would be expected, the pandemic has had an impact on me personally. From March through to December I hadn’t been attending church, even when in-person services resumed. So, that gave an importance of meeting with others whenever and however I could. This was usually over a bike ride or a walk. Limiting my movements has also meant not going on the monthly social rides with the recumbent club – even when it was permitted. It was also frustrating having a nice new camper van in the drive and not being able to use it. But I was happy to see the Queensland border reopen so I could make my winter escape in July – a week before the border closed again! A highlight was riding the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail from Linville up to Blackbutt and back. 45km of car-free cycling, all of it on dirt. Linville allows camping at the old train station with a pub across the road where patrons can get a hot shower with a meal order. This sounded like a deal to me!

I snuck another trip in during September out to the Pilliga. This was for an organised 50km Tour de Gorge bike ride by National Parks. Unfortunately, my derailleur was ripped off by a stick after just 5km, and the eMonster made an unceremonious exit from the bush on the back of a ute. I’m still dealing with the mechanical consequences of that little misadventure. But, I expect I’ll be back next year.

With all the trips I have done, the van has served me well. While there are still some minor adjustments that need to be made, I’m happy to say that the overall concept is working, and life on the road is very comfortable – perhaps too comfortable!

I have no idea what the new year will entail – as none of us do. A week after returning to church, there was another outbreak on the Northern Beaches forcing tighter restrictions. This has been a reminder of how volatile the current situation is. Still, I am looking forward to having a road-going electrically assisted trike (one of my older trikes is having an electric assist conversion done). So, I’m looking forward to doing some shorter trips in the van and riding some quiet country back roads and mountains. Apart from that, I look to serve in whatever way I can. For the most part, that’s going to be on the computer researching and writing as this seems to be the main medium to teach and encourage others.

Thanks for your support and prayers. Remember, wherever the new year goes, we go in God’s grace.

January 30, 2021 Posted by | Newsletters | Leave a comment

Newsletter 2019

2019 was an exceptionally busy year with the completion of my master’s thesis, countless other projects large and small, ministry, and maintaining my health and fitness. The year has left me feeling somewhat tired, which is why my news is coming out a little later than usual.

The focus of the year was on my thesis addressing the topic of how Jesus’ healing ministry fulfils the prophecies in Isaiah. Despite working on it for 3 years, I was well into this year when I still hadn’t come up with an answer. With the deadline fast approaching, thankfully I was able to find some resources to form a methodology and scratch some bits of evidence together to form an answer. I was able to submit it with a month to spare. Now, I’m waiting to hear back from the examiners, which should be at the end of February. Plenty of time to chew nails! Jokes aside, I expect to graduate in March, and will send details when I have certainty.

With so much time and energy spent on my thesis, I haven’t done as much with Jericho Road this year. In fact, most of my annual leave that I had accumulated since starting work was spent on my thesis. Thankfully I still have some left for a bit of a holiday with church friends in January. Still, for work, I was able to attend a conference and present a paper, and do plenty of reading and writing, some of which was an extension of my thesis work. How I loved it when that happened!! I am so thankful for the support I have received from work in allowing me the time to focus on my thesis.

Ministry at Allambie Heights continued with church services going through the healing miracles of Jesus. This was not a coincidence! I was able to use what I had learned in my research to teach about what Jesus was doing. I also learned this year that this ministry in its present form will be coming to an end. The Cerebral Palsy Alliance will be closing down Venee Burgees House and moving the residents into group homes out in the community. I was surprised given the age of the residents, but of the ones I spoke to, they were largely positive about the change. At this stage, I can only pray that God will send people to their new homes to look after them spiritually. The plan was to have all the residents move out by the end of 2019. But as with any building project, there are always delays. So, we’ve been able to have one last Carols service, and I will continue services next year until the centre is finally closed.

Aside from my master’s (have I mentioned that yet??), the other big project was the building of my camper van. That also entailed a lot more than what I had expected. I took delivery of my new van in April and had a builder lined up to do the conversion. It would seem I was given the right guy as he did what I asked him to do, and not what he wanted to do – a crucial point for me. The conversion would take the next 6 months, and I’d often be on my computer designing different bits and pieces, and solving problems – of which there seemed to be no end! In the end, I got pretty much what I had in mind. Given this was the first time I designed a camper van and the space I had to work with, I did OK. In just 8 square meters I’ve managed to cram in a bike shed, bedroom, wardrobe, kitchen, dining room, toilet, and more storage than what I need. So, naturally one can expect some compromises! But all the functionality is there, and it just needs a little more tweaking. Oh, and the name of this vehicle? Considering that it’s a “Renault Master”, and that I will have my master’s degree, and it’s my home away from home, it seemed appropriate to dub the van the “Master’s Quarters”. Quite dignified, don’t you think?

It’s already had its maiden voyages (yes, plural). A week after submitting my thesis (that just keeps popping up!), I took the van out for a shakedown. I  decided to head south to get away from the threat of bushfires only to find myself in the middle of a “catastrophic fire danger zone” at Kangaroo Valley. So, I spent a few days running away from bushfires – just what one needs after 5 years of intensc study! But it was good to catch up with friends at Kiama. I had a better time of it a month later when I went to Holbrook for a recumbent rally.

Through all the business, I have been able to stay on my bike to maintain my fitness. I’ve enjoyed a number of rides throughout the year. I continue to meet with a recumbent group in Sydney for a ride around once a month. I now know how to navigate most of my way around Sydney by bike safely, and finding it an enjoyable place to ride. Having an electric assistance motor on the Monster (my off-road trike) has made a huge difference and has opened up a lot of opportunities not enjoyed before. In May I did the Oaks Trail with friends – a bush ride through Blue Mountains National Park from Woodford to Glenbrook. Last time I did this ride was over 20 years ago. Having the Monster with the motor meant I could easily cover the 25km without ending up exhausted. In fact, instead of getting into a car at Glenbrook like last time, I turned around and rode back up the highway to Woodford where my old truck was – another 25km. I had two others with me which was good. As mentioned, I went to Holbrook for a recumbent rally which involved a ride covering 70km in just over 3 hours riding time. I was really glad to have the motor for that one! I’ve also been able to explore bush tracks around my home which has also been enjoyable. The Monster has done 2,000km with the motor, and apart from some initial teething problems, it’s been 100% reliable. The rest of the trike is wearing out, and possibly even its owner, but the battery and motor are fine! I’ve been so impressed with the ebike concept, I’ll be electrifying one of my other trikes for the road early in 2020. I expect this will open up a whole lot of other possibilities that I haven’t been able to enjoy – or at least not without completely wrecking myself! But I will keep one trike non-powered to keep me honest. I’ll use this on shorter rides and training runs.

I also started walking at the end of 2018 as part of my exercise regime to maintain that skill. I also found it to be a good counter to cycling. Where cycling tightens up my muscles, walking actually loosens them. So, the day after a long ride, I make sure to go for a walk to work out any cramps. It’s amazing how effective this is! I usually walk 1.5km every second day for 25mins.

Next year I hope will be a little quieter so I recover from my latest, shall we say, “academic experience”. I intend to enjoy some bike riding and camper-vanning, and returning to my book writing as part of my work.

Thanks again for all your prayers and support, it’s awesome! I’m very much aware that what I’m doing is not a solo effort. So, I give thanks and praise to our God and Saviour for the support I do receive. Thanks to you all.JASON

December 27, 2019 Posted by | Newsletters, Site News | Leave a comment

Assuming the Experience of Disability: A Critique of the Netflix Film “Bird Box”

bird_box_(film)As someone living with a disability, one of the things that frustrates me is people without disabilities assuming what it’s like to live with a disability. While there may be some truth in their assumptions, these assumptions can also be very wrong.

Take blindness, for example. Most people have played some game where they have needed to be blindfolded. Therefore, being blind must be like wearing a blindfold all the time. Right?

This seems to be the assumption behind the Netflix film “Bird Box”. I wasn’t going to watch it, but when I saw a headline suggesting that the movie had inspired someone to drive while blindfolded which inevitably caused an accident (if that’s the right word –…/driver-who-crashed-while-blindf…/… ), I was curious to know what fresh madness this was. So I watch it. Seeing how this movie is current, it’s well worth a comment. It wasn’t my kind of movie. It was more of a horror movie. To say I’m about to spoil the film would be overestimating its quality as you wont be missing much. But I’ll only spoil the relevant details.

The earth’s population is set upon by mysterious invisible creatures who make people see their worst fears. As a result, people either commit suicide or turn into a zombie-like state who in turn force others to look at these creatures who then suicide or turn into zombies. You get the picture. Lot’s of bodies. Lot’s of blood. Lot’s of mayhem. It’s hardly a celebration of the sanctity of human life. The only way to avoid being affected is not to make eye contact with these creatures. So you have our heroes in the movie running around wearing blindfolds, and driving a 4wd with the windows blocked out. Now, I’m sure they’ll be people who will watch the movie just to see how silly this is!

Now here’s why I’m raising the issue. In the movie, there is a group of people who remain unaffected by these mysterious creatures – people who are blind. So a refuge is set up in a school for the blind. Now, if you think blindness is like wearing a blindfold, it all makes sense. But if you know a bit about blindness, the movie looses all credibility – assuming it has any left by the time it gets to the school for the blind. While there is a form of blindness where there’s no light penetration at all (what may be assumed by most people), this is very rare. There are other types of blindness where people have some form residual sight, even if they can’t identify objects or people by sight. Other forms of blindness may allow a person to identify objects and people, yet their blindness can still pose a danger. This may explain the somewhat bizarre instruction by Jesus to a man born blind to “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (John 9:4). How can a man “Go” if he’s blind? It could very well be he had sufficient residual sight to navigate safely, yet unable to work or assume a productive position in the community. Yet it’s still right to consider him “blind”, and none of this doesn’t detract front the miracle of Jesus giving a man sight who had been blind since birth.

So, knowing this, I couldn’t help but wonder, how blind does someone need to be for someone to be immune to these mysterious creatures in the film? Would having advance cataracts have the same effect? It was yet another one of many loose ends left hanging by the film.

While I applaud the idea of one of the most vulnerable people in the community being framed positively as a “saviour”, I am again concerned that what is being portrayed is an abled-bodied person’s idea of having a disability. Ultimately, this is unhelpful for everyone. While people with disabilities may have commonalities, it remains to be appreciated that every disability is unique, and every experience of disability is unique. So we must treat portrayals of disability in the media with caution, and not use them to assume the experience of disability as we seek to connect with individuals.


First published on Jericho Road’s Disability Advocacy Facebook page,


January 16, 2019 Posted by | Articles, Disability | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Newsletter – 2018

2018 has been a very full year where I really haven’t stopped. This has been taxing on my energy levels, and I’m thankful God had sustained me through it all. 

DSC04858The year began with a week’s holiday at Mansfield in the foothills of Victoria’s high country. The highlight of the week was going 4WDing. With the prospect of changing vehicles, I decided to take the opportunity to do one more trip in the Delica with a mate driving his Prado. This was also  an opportunity get any last desires to go 4WDing out of my system. It was certainly a trip to finish my 4WDing aspirations with. The trip involved going over Mt. Stirling then on to Craig’s hut – which I found out was built only as a prop for the movie “The Man From Snowy River”. However, the views were worthwhile. It was the hardest bit of driving I’ve done with my truck getting on some very interesting angles as pictured. So, this quelled any desire to do this kind of thing again. I much rather do this kind of thing on the Monster (my off road trike). That’s not so expensive to fix when I break it, and much easier to recover when stuck!

I’ve had an extended time of leave from work this year to focus on my masters thesis looking at the relationship between Jesus’ healing ministry and the prophecies in Isaiah. This has been a much more difficult project than what I had anticipated. But, I’ve come this far, so I’m not about to quit now. I was able to get most of the work done, so the task remains to piece all my research together and figure out an answer – any answer right now would be great! My thesis is due at the end of 2019. I also rejoice I have a job that provides me the flexibility to study. 

Given the amount of time I have spent on study, I haven’t done as much in my role in my role as Disability Advocate as I would like. However I have managed to some book reviews, write articles, and post comments online. I also a went to some conferences on theology, the church and disability, which meant stepping outside my own theological tradition. This prompts me to do some critical thinking, which is always a good thing. One conference involved hanging out with Seventh Day Adventists for a few days. That was quite an experience for this conservative. A lot of thinking happened that week! Lately, I’ve been preparing a conference paper on a biblical model of human flourishing applied to people with intellectual disabilities which I will present early next year. This paper has led to some very interesting research which I’m enjoying.

Church services at Allambie Heights have continued this year, and at times, this has been difficult. But I’m very grateful for those who accompany me, and for the opportunity to share the gospel with these people. It is also with sadness I have to announce in 2019, after 18 years, this ministry in its present form will be discontinued. The government is no longer funding large hostel styled accommodation, and the residents will be moving into group homes out in the community, up to 5 to a home. As much as I think this is the better option, I had hoped the current arrangements would continue given the age of the people. I expect this will be a massive change for them. If a ministry is to continue, I’m unsure what form it will take. So this is a matter for prayer. 

D85_168311-280181110Revolve12+12_1225x817_2749176Despite the business, I’ve been determined to keep cycling as I see health and fitness being key to being able to do everything I do. There have been a number of highlights on the bike this year. One was seeing the end of knee pain. I’ve experienced severe knee pain on the bike for years after a couple of hours riding. I just took it as part of cycling with cerebral palsy. However, under the NDIS, I’ve been having regular physiotherapy, during which, the cause of the knee pain was  discovered. I subsequently had adjustments made to my pedals, and haven’t had knee pain since. I’ve been able to pedal more comfortably, more efficiently and further, which has allowed me to enjoy more cycling. Another highlight was competing in an 80km race at Eastern Creek Raceway. I had doubts l would complete the full 80km. But the way I saw it I had 3 hours without cars, pedestrians, dogs, or kids on scooters, to ride as hard and fast as I wanted. That was worth spending money on! Eastern Creek Raceway is much more undulating than what it appears on TV. But I managed to go the full 3 hours nonstop covering 60km. I was happy with that effort. More impressive still, I was back on the bike just 3 days later. It would have been 2 but… time management! Another highlight has been FINALLY getting the Monster back. It’s been having an electric assistance motor fitted which was a fight all the way to the end. But it’s now working and meeting expectations. With 6hrs+ run time from the battery, all-day adventure rides are a definite possibility. I am very much enjoying climbing  hills with friends these days. Although my friends don’t seem to share my enthusiasm. 

IMG_0065The return of the Monster forced my hand to do something about a new van, which I expect it would. The motor and battery added at least 10kg to the Monster which is now too heavy for me to lift into the Delica. The second time I lifted the Monster into the Delica I hurt my back. So it was off to the car yards to find a van with a nice low floor. There’s plenty of nice offerings in the commercial van market, so it wasn’t an easy choice. Vans have come a long way since I was growing up! I finally settled on a Renault Master (demo model pictured), and I expect to take delivery late February or early March. A lot of the decision making came down to which manufacture was going to give the most cooperation, of which one manufacturer completely failed! After the initial running in period, the next task will be to fit the van out as a camper. This will be the major project for 2019 (aside from my masters). In some ways, this is the culmination of a project that’s been going on for just over 20 years. I began with pack-biking and over the years have progressed through different vehicles with different camp setups. Having been campervanning in NZ a couple of times (I won’t mention the US!), I know this is something that works for me, and I’m now looking forward to having my own campervan. Then I’ll be able to visit churches in the far flung corners of the state in comfort, and with my thesis done, attend some recumbent events in NSW and Victoria. 

This month also marks 20 years since I moved out of my parents home. For most people, this is hardly anything to mark. But for me, I was still very dependent and didn’t know if living on my own was going to work. On one hand, it’s remarkable that time has gone by so fast. On the other hand, so much has happen in that time, it seems much longer than 20 years! I’m pleased to have my health and fitness after all that time, and I have much to give thanks for.

So, next year I can look forward to winding up as I finish my masters, and sadly a ministry; and winding down as I enjoy camping with the new van.

Giving thanks for your support and prayers.



December 21, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Newsletter – Christmas 2017

Is it Christmas already? What just happened? If 2016 was the year of the project, 2017 was the year of the revolving door (metaphorically speaking). It has been a constant cycle of work, study, and cycling. It’s been tempting to put cycling on the back burner, but I know what happened last time I did that, and I’m not going there again!

Work has involved research in the disability studies area, which may seem strange – why would a person with a disability need to read up about disabilities? Alas, I’ve had to, which I’ve found quite challenging. I’ve uncovered some hard truths which I would have been happy to remain blissfully ignorant of. Much of it has to do with the way disability is perceived by “expert” figures. At the same time it’s been good to find out why I’m so frustrated these days. All of this is relevant for developing a pastoral approach towards people with disabilities, which I’m still working on.

Work has also meant traveling. In April I met with Central Tablelands Presbytery at Bathurst to promote my work. This also provided an opportunity to having a weekend off camping at Mt. Canobolas, Orange; catching up with friends at Dubbo – including a lap around the zoo on my trike. I’m not sure which was the bigger attraction – the animals or my Monster trike! I also spent two nights at the Warrumbungles. After gaining special permission to take my trike onto the trails (mountain biking is not permitted), I managed to destroy one tube by trying to inflate it, and my spare had a hole in it. So I didn’t get to go cycling! It was nice to get away for the weekend, nonetheless. I’ll have to go back there and finish what I started.

In June, I had a quick dash to Albury to run a workshop, and there’s nothing quick about a dash to Albury! This was well received. I also had 5 mins to speak at their Sunday service about sharing the gospel with people who have intellectual disabilities. This had a positive impact in ways that I was not expecting. A variation of what I shared is in this month’s Presbyterian Pulse magazine.

In August it was another quick dash, this time up to Northern NSW visiting the Presbyteries of Northern Rivers at Alstonville and the North West at Inverell (I know, Inverell isn’t really northwest!).  Again, what I shared was well received. By this time, one of my trikes had managed to find its way back out of the shop and onto the road reconfigured for the road. So I took this one with me and went for a ride at Iluka. It was here I really found out narrow tires really don’t work on coarse road surfaces. There was also provided an opportunity to catch up with a college buddy who’s about as crazy as I am, just in different ways. In all, I covered around 1,500km in 4 days. I knew about that afterwards!

In December I flew to Melbourne for a Luke14 co-ordinators gathering (Luke14 being the training program I use at work for including people with disabilities). It was nice to be in Melbourne again, catching up with acquaintances and seeing how we can continue to advance this work. I also had the honour in November of being on a Q&A panel at a conference in Parramatta discussing where scholarship is on the topic of theology and disability. It was interesting being on a panel with one person coming from a medical perspective, another from a Pentecostal perspective, and me with a conservative perspective all with first hand experience living with disability. It was also interesting having just read a doctoral thesis on the image of God in people with cognitive disabilities which promised so much but delivered so very little! So I had some things to say on that. My oh my, there’s work to be done!

One big thing to happen this year was the acceptance of my proposal for my research masters thesis, which I spent over 6 months trying to figure out what I wanted to write about. In fact I still wasn’t completely sure when I submitted it. I had a broad idea, but some of the particulars hadn’t been worked out. My topic is looking at the relationship between Jesus’ healing ministry and the prophecies in Isaiah. Anyway, I’ve been given the green light, and I’ve been going flat out trying to get my head around Isaiah – which I’ve been told is not possible. But, I’m not very good at listening, so I’m trying regardless. Am I going to get my head around Isaiah? Probably not! But I dare say I’ll have a better understanding then most. At least I’ll know enough not to impose modern concepts of disability onto an ancient text just because I, as the reader, detect a parallel with some mentioned conditions. Discussion to be continued.

Last time I mentioned a number of trike projects, so an update is probably in order. The tandem is still in the shop in the non-functioning state I dropped it off in. As mentioned, my road trike is back on the road, and that’s been an interesting (and expensive!) lesson in what does and doesn’t make a trike fast. The Monster has been in the shop for a number of months having the electric assistance motor fitted. It’s been a nightmare of a job having to fabricate and modify parts to get things to fit, and ensure it can all take a beating – it will need to! But, progress is being made. In terms of rides, while holidaying at Elizabeth Beach (south of Forster) in December, I had my road trike and took the opportunity to ride part of the Wootton Way between Bulahdelah and Wootton. It use to be part of the Pacific Hwy and was a notorious section of road, infamous for motor vehicle accidents and major delays. Since the motorway has been completed, it’s become a forgotten ribbon of bitchumen winding across two mountain ranges. It made for and awesome ride. Hard, but awesome!

Nothing more has happened on the camper van project apart from looking into which vehicle to go for. I’ve been waiting to get the Monster back so I can throw it in the back of some vans and get an idea of how everything is going to fit. This could throw all my thinking out again and I could need to rethink my whole approach. I hope not. While holidaying at Elizabeth Beach, I began to notice my truck is really getting old. It still pulls like a train, but peripheral issues are starting to occur more often. So, I think I’m going to have to do something about a new van in 2018.

Another big thing this year was getting on to the NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme). Initially I was knocked back because I was too “high functioning.” All my life I’ve been encouraged not to worry about what I can’t do, just focus on what I could do. For all its propaganda, the NDIS does not share this focus. What ensued was a 2,700 word document detailing all the ways having cerebral palsy impacts my life – or in less politically correct terms, how my disability makes me a victim! As strange as this may sound, it’s something I really hadn’t thought about. I’ve always just worked out what I wanted to do and went looking for a way to do it – always with a bit of help to get things set up to start with. But, as I’ve learned, such an attitude goes unappreciated by the “experts.” Apparently, there’s an expectation for me to sit back and have everything done for me. Well, I don’t operate that way! The NDIS doesn’t understand this. So now my diary has appointments to help “manage” my “problematic” life. On the whole, I feel the NDIS has taken away some of my independence rather then enhanced it. But, it’s what I have for now, so I’ll just make best of it until I’m in a position where I can set things up the way I want. Having said that, it is nice to have regularly physiotherapy to iron out all the spasms in my back. That does make a difference which I’m very thankful for.

Church services at Allambie Heights continue once a month. It’s been several years since we had gone through the story of Joseph in the Old Testament. So we’ve been revisiting the accounts  seeing how God can bring about his purposes through very difficult circumstances. This is something we all need to remember. It’s been interesting for me to go through these accounts while studying Isaiah. There seems to be a number of typological connections to the life of the nation of ancient Israel. Not that I went into such detail with the people there. The focus was on trusting God no matter what. Some new people have started to come along regularly which has been a huge encouragement. They are very intentional about following Jesus, and are interact with what I’m saying.

That pretty much sums up my year. It’s been a very full year, and I’m not expecting 2018 to be much different. The pressure will be on to get my thesis done, so I just need a keep chipping away as much as I can.

Thank you for all you prayers and support.

December 24, 2017 Posted by | Newsletters, Sermons, Site News | , | Leave a comment

Enough with the Rainbow-fart: A plea for compassion

caballito 1
This image of a unicorn passing a rainbow-fart pretty much depicts  what I think of the quality of debate around same sex marriage (SSM) from both sides. I believe the biblical term is σκύβαλα (skybala). The word is found in Philippians 3:8, and its meaning is much stronger then the NIV’s translation of ‘rubbish’. It’s a debate that really hasn’t benefited anyone.

My summary of the debate thus far is to say peace-loving progressives are being militant, while the well-considered conservatives are just being stupid and insensitive.

From progressives we have seen reports of people being denied employment for opposing SSM, calls for other public figures to be denied employment, and opponents of SSM being verbally abused. Progressives and SSM proponents have been assuring the public that SSM will have no impact on freedom of speech, religion, and education, while the experience of nations that have passed SSM demonstrates these areas are impacted.

Meanwhile, conservatives are putting forward arguments which, in all honesty, can’t really be sustained. Lachlan McFarlane wrote a blog explaining that though he’s a conservative Christian, he intends to vote ‘yes’ to SSM ( While I disagree with his conclusion and find his view of marriage lacking, his criticisms of many of the arguments put forward by conservatives are worth considering. It’s concerning that some conservatives have also resorted to violence.

Then there’s the suggestion that LGTBI+ people are just confused. My view is that LGTBI+ people have already been through massive amounts of confusion, and have had to work through a lot of issues. To reduce their complex experience down to a one sentence explanation, or a platitude, or to say they’re just confused is insulting, and does them a disservice.

No matter what the outcome of the SSM survey on November 15, there will not be any winners. Only losers. Don’t think the announcement of the outcome will put an end to the matter either.

The question I want to raise here is, after all the damage has been done, who is going to pick up the pieces? Where are people on both sides of the debate going to find healing, now and many years into the future as the debate continues and the great rainbow-fart keeps being contributed to? As the debate continues well after November 15, more people will struggle as they come to terms with their own sexuality, and sexuality in general.

My concern is the church should be the place where people can find reconciliation and healing. However, for those people who struggle to conform to the biblical ideal for sexuality, the church can be a very difficult and threatening place. Phil Campbell explains in his article, Somewhere Over the Rainbow (, that, “Most Christians have had a poor understanding of the LGBTIQA community.” I want to state that more strongly and suggest most Christians don’t have a clue about alternate forms of sexuality and sexual expression. Sexuality is rarely discussed in Christian forums or from the pulpit. Sadly, the rare thing that is said about sexuality fails to address the issues that some people are having to struggle with. It should scandalise us Christians when those with sexual struggles are finding solace in a pseudo-maxist postmodern philosophy rather then find healing in the gospel. That is, to find the final resolve to our struggles in the resurrection of Jesus – new life for eternity. Instead, the rejection of the gospel often provokes us Christians to be judgemental, which is all the more tragic.

It’s not only same sex attracted people who struggle with sexually. It’s also people who are single for one reason or another. Those who struggle with a “different” form of sexual expression. My concern is that anyone who’s sexuality does not conform to what is expected of sexual expression in the Christian culture, they are feeling the effects of the debate more than others. It also seems to me that the church needs to develop an understanding and an appreciation of the diversity of sexual expressions that exist with in the community.

It may be said that Christian’s shouldn’t struggle with sexuality. That somehow they are to embark on a Platonic ascent, rising above their carnal desires, and thereby resolving their sexual struggle. Such ascents are mere fantasy. If you are a Christian and you do not struggle with anything, I’m compelled to ask you, where have you compromised? If life isn’t difficult, what fantasy world have you constructed for yourself that affords you the luxury of pretending that you have your life together? Nowhere in the Bible does God command his people to embark on a Platonic ascent. Christians struggle, and fantasy worlds come crashing down. That’s life!! Christians struggle with relationships, finance, addiction, greed, materialism, disability, sickness, mental health issues, and so on. The area of sexuality is no different. Instead, Christians are called to persevere in their struggle. Christians are to persevere in furnishing their faith with virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection and love (2 Peter 1:5-7), and part of this is being reminded of the grace God has given us (vv3-4). Perhaps another part of this is having God’s grace spoken directly into the areas where people are struggling, and being grace to them.

The impact of having grace spoken directly into a persons struggles can be dramatic. I know of two different men who struggled with their alternate sexuality for many years. The first man never felt there was the opportunity for him to talk about his struggle. As a result, he never received the pastoral care he needed. He didn’t hear God’s grace applied to his circumstances, and stopped persevering as he had been, which also impacted negatively on those around him. The second man was able to find a listening ear. He did receive pastoral support, and has been able to explore how God’s grace applies to his circumstance. He has been able to persevere, grow in faith, and continues to serve the Christian community in many ways. He still struggles greatly, and the Christian culture can be very difficult for him at times. But he knows that he is supported. Taking a cue from Rachel Gilson, in discussing her struggle with lesbianism, she explains, “Heterosexuality is not the end goal; faithfulness to God, and the joy that comes from relationship with him, is what we run for.” ( While the struggle is different in all three cases, the point to be pursued is the same – faithfulness to God. The importance of pastoral support cannot be overstated for those who struggle with sexuality and alternate sexual expression.

So I want to make an impassioned plea for compassion – Christ’s compassion. I’m not asking people to endorse lifestyles and behaviours that don’t conform to the Bible. But I am asking Christians to stop contributing to the rainbow-fart. To start appreciating the fact that people are struggling. Seriously struggling! James Parker, a former gay activist, explains when he began to take an interest in Jesus and the Bible, no one confronted him about his homosexuality. No one told him, “You can’t be doing that.” Instead, they accepted James as he was, and focused on establishing a solid relationship with Jesus. As he grew in his faith, he began to realise what he was doing was inconsistent with the Bible, so he turned from his homosexual practice. Same-sex attraction is still an issue for him, but having come to understand what it means to be the man that God created him to be, and out of his love and faithfulness towards Jesus, he does not engage in those practices. Establishing people in a relationship with Jesus, and encouraging them in their Christian faith, and reminding them of God’s grace in relation to their sexuality needs to remain the focus.

It’s not just LGBTI+ people who struggle. It’s also straight people. It’s people with disabilities. It’s people who are divorced. It’s people who have buried their spouse. It’s people who may never marry. As this debate continues, more and more people are going to struggle. So we as Christians better figure out how to start loving them, and how to speak God’s grace into their lives.

I don’t know all the ins and outs of how to do that. But a constructive conversation must start with appreciating that people are struggling. That’s a conversation I’m keen to see started.

© The Student’s Desk

October 27, 2017 Posted by | Bible, Religious | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Newsletter – Christmas 2016

2016 has been the year of the project, or more accurately, the projects! I’ve always had one project or another going, and I’m not happy unless I have a project to work on. But this year there’s been more projects than what I’d like.

Working with Jericho Road has seen many projects, from trying to get my head around the NDIS, to reviewing policies, to becoming aware of issues people with disabilities face. A large portion of the year has been spent reviewing the Commonwealth Government’s Senate Committee Report on violence, abuse and neglect against people with disability in institutional and residential settings, including the gender and age related dimensions, and the particular situation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability, and culturally and linguistically diverse people with disability. There’s a title if there ever was one! Strangely, even though I grew up in the “disabled world” the report revealed a side to Australia I was blissfully unaware of, and one which I found very disturbing. The day I wrote this newsletter, I read yet another report of a school student with a disability being sexually harassed by another student, and others left on a school bus and neglected. Yet, reflecting back on my experiences, in the final analysis, none of this really surprises me. I have now finished summarising my summary of the summary of the enquiry which still summarising! It’s a big issue, to make an understatement. Nonetheless, the greater task at hand is to work out how, as a denomination, we can begin to the respond to these issues. If Christ reached down to the depths of human depravity in order to redeem it, then so must his church! But to achieve that, we’re going to need a bigger think tank that comprises of more than just my head!

Other projects have been in the transport department. I had been spoilt by my last trip to New Zealand 2 years ago. Even though the camper I rented was a bucket of rusty bolts (the one’s that were still there!) and was horrible to drive, everything on the camping side of things was usable and made for the best holiday I’ve had. So I began to think seriously about converting my truck into a camper. Then the head gasket blew – big dollars there! So, I’ve spent a fair amount of time thinking about what sort of camping setup do I want, should I be changing vehicles, and if so what vehicle, and how I would want it set up? In the end, I was reluctant to spend the money converting a vehicle that is now 20 years old. It’s at the stage where something will go wrong with it. The question is what? This doesn’t bother me unless I’m a long way from home. So, I’ve made the decision to change vehicles in the next few years, and find someone who will fit out the new vehicle the way I want – not someone who thinks he thinks he knows what I think I need… I think. It’s not an urgent project, but it’s simmering away in the background.

Trikes, trikes, and more trikes. How many trike projects can one person have going on at once? 3, apparently! It’s now been over a year since my fastest trike has come out of the shop. A critical component failed in 2015, which is no longer made. The part was shipped off to the manufacturer, and after 3 months, the manufacturer decided they couldn’t repair it! Since then, I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with it. It hasn’t helped that I keep changing my mind every 5 minutes! I had intentions of buying another trike with full suspension, and build it for the road – I do like suspension! But, with a new van in the pipeline, I decided this probably wasn’t wise, and made the decision to make my existing trike as fast as possible. Some may find this a scary prospect!
While this was going on, I was given a tandem recumbent trike, complete with a trailer that the occupant can peddle. I didn’t want it, but I feared it would end up on the scrap heap if I didn’t take it. A machine like this should not be on the scrap heap! It should be out on the road being enjoyed. I looked at the trike the morning after it was dropped off and decided it was a strip down and rebuild job. My bike mechanic agreed. So, I took it upon myself to have it restored. Hopefully I can find a buyer who can appreciate its value and use it.
Then there’s the never-ending story of the Monster (my offroad trike). I picked up a friend’s mountain bike and realised I was never going to compete with that – at least not going up hill. The decision was made to fit an electric assistance motor – which is still sitting on my living room floor. It’s a decision I’ve been resisting. I like competing with friends, even though my trike twice the weight of their bikes. A motor would take all that away. But, the way I was going up the steepest hills, I was either going to break the trike, or break myself, or possibly both! Besides, I’m hoping the motor will give the trike more versatility, and open up other opportunities.
Meanwhile, my touring trike is the only vehicle that hasn’t needed major repairs! It’s done 2,500km between since its last service, which is astonishing – although it needs a service now. This has allowed me to build on my fitness. With everything going on, I’ve changed to shorter, more intense rides less often. This seems to have had an impact. Even though this isn’t my fastest trike, I’m matching some of my fastest times. Some may wonder why I put so much prominence on cycling. As I found out a few years ago, it’s quite simple – if I’m not fit, I don’t function. So, I remain thankful that I can get out on my trike.

However, the biggest project started this year has been my research master’s of theology. I had to begin by completing a research methods subject. To be honest, I thought this was a bit rich. After 10+ years of study, I’d expected I would know how to put a paper together! It turned out I didn’t, and found the subject quite useful. Studying at this level is a whole other ball game. I realised a research master’s is pretty much a baby doctorate. It’s just shorter, and not quite as intense. But my supervisor keeps assuring me I can do it. No doubt I can!
At this stage, I’m preparing a proposal for my topic to present to the academy. This is a big enough project in itself, which involves a lot of study. The more I know what my paper will contain, the better I can present the proposal. I’ve never read so much in my life! It’s almost like I need to come up with an answer, then get permission to submit my answer. Not quite, but almost! There is flexibility to make changes after approval. So far, I’ve narrowed my topic down to, “How does Jesus’ healing ministry to people with disabilities fulfil the prophecies in Isaiah?” There’s three big topics right there – the development of perceptions of disability, the gospel of Luke, and Isaiah. To put the question simply, “Why did Jesus heal people?” I’m really am responding to liberal theologians who see the healing by Jesus to be metaphorical, and conservative theologians who see disability as being a direct consequence of the Fall, thus Jesus’ healing ministry is part of reversing the effects of the Fall. Neither position I agree with. That is, I agree Jesus came to reverse the effects of the Fall, but I don’t think the elimination of disability was part of that reversal. Hence my question. So far, I’ve been very much enjoying it, and I praise God for the support I’m receiving from Christ College. I’m being looked after very well. I’m also thankful for my work who allow me to manage my time as I need I expect to graduate in 2019 – mark the date!

I did manage some travelling this year. Though, for once in the past four years, I managed to stay in the country. I had four days in the ACT when I went to visit the Presbytery for work in late February. That made for a nice short break taking in some of the sights of Canberra, included the War Memorial, which was quite an experience! I had another week in the ACT in June working with Gungahlin Presbyterian Church as part of my advocacy work. That was a non-stop week. I even managed to get a 30km mountain bike ride in with one of the members, which I really regretted the next day when I had to preach! But it was a lot of fun. It reminded me a lot of mission trips with college, except the mission team this time consisted of one – me! I managed to do a quick 10 day trip to Victoria, taking in a conference on Spirituality and Disability as part of my work – I didn’t present (probably a good thing given the theologically liberal nature of the conference). This also gave me the opportunity to catch up with friends around Victoria. Later on in the year, I enjoyed a couple of camping weekends with friends from church at Belbora and Newnes. Happily, the Monster came out both times, and had I some enjoyable rides.

The ministry at the Allambie Heights Cerebral Palsy Alliance continues. By now, I was hoping to have offloaded some of the work. But no one has stepped up. Services are now once a month, and if I’m away, or sick, that makes for a big gap between service. Yet, the regulars remain eager to come, and occasionally, one or two extras join us. We had our Christmas service at the start of December and a number of people came along who aren’t regulars. This was exciting to see, and I pray something of the gospel caught their attention. I’m also thankful for the many people who help me with this ministry.

2017 is shaping up to be another big year. Some how, I need to keep cycling, so I can keep working, so I can keep studying, so I can know God’s word and apply it all the more. The trick will be to manage all this without becoming overworked. So, as always, I appreciate your prayers and support as we all enter the new year by God’s grace.

December 27, 2016 Posted by | Newsletters, Site News | , , | Leave a comment