Live, Laugh, Love

Before moving up to the Gold Coast, Sandra and I lived down in Canberra. ANZAC day is very important in Canberra; because it is the time of the year everyone turns on their ducted gas heating! Most Canberra homes are well heated and so, even when the temperatures drop to sub-zero outside, inside they can be warm and inviting. Being outside in the cold can be quite uncomfortable, without warm clothes or places of shelter. We often take for granted how good our lives are, in comparison to others who don’t have the access to food, shelter or support systems that we do. Our need for relationships that are supportive are well documented. Trying to survive without the warmth and connection of others can be very damaging to our health and well-being.

God has made as for relationships! Even though many of us can be quite independent – we are designed to be interdependent; to interact with others – to cooperate and collaborate to make and shape communities, with the individual gifts and experiences that we all possess. We need each other. We need to be able to love and be loved – regardless of our failings….we need to able to express our emotions in positive and constructive ways. We need to able to laugh together, cry together and help each other grow closer to God – because that is the real goal of Christian relationships.

However, sometimes our selfishness gets in the road…especially when we are usurped of the being the most important (demanding) person in a home – a good example of this is when little children come along. We learn that the world does not revolve around our needs – but functions best when we compromise and work together for shared goals. But how do we succeed at life when no everyone is playing by the same set of rules?

In John 13:31-34 Jesus gave a final command to his disciples – he said ‘love each other as much as I love you!’ In the last few weeks we have talked about agápē love as the highest form of love…that is shown in the love of God for us; sacrificial; totally committed; generous giving love….love without boundaries! Jesus modelled this type of love by willingly dying in our place – so that we might have a second chance at life.

This time of the year we often reflect on the sacrifices of others who gave their lives so that their families and friends might continue to experience the freedoms that our society has to offer. But the greatest example of love is Jesus…and in following his example is the ultimate goal of his followers and the best advertising to the wider community.

We are made in God’s image; we can experience a whole range of emotions; we can think, chose and exercise our will. But to really succeed in life – to experience the joy of knowing Jesus – we are invited to hand over that control to him – to become his followers and to love the way that he showed us.

Finding the joy of knowing Jesus and following in him is the way that leads to a fulfilled life – both now and in the future. I hope that that is the path that you are on!

God bless,

Tim Winslade

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Zero to Hero

Second chances. We all need them. Often I think that if I only I had a time machine, I could go back and right the wrong choices that I made in my past. Sadly, we cannot go back, but we can go forward and learn from our mistakes; making wiser choices with the opportuni:es that life brings our way. Last week we reflected on the Apostle Peter’s struggles with his failures and how Jesus pushed him to be 100% committed to the future that God had laid before him.

Simon had been nicknamed ‘petros’ (Greek for Peter) which means ‘rock’ or ‘stone’. Jesus called his friend ‘rocky’ or ‘the rock’, but when his strength of character and his bravado failed him, Peter felt like more like a tiny pebble than the leader on which Jesus would build his church. The experience of humiliation and then restoration had made a big impact on Peter’s life. Where he had felt worthless and useless he discovered the transforming power of Jesus mercy and compassion that set his life back on the path that would lead him to follow in his Lord’s footsteps for the rest of his days.

Peter had gone from a zero in his own opinion to a hero of the faith…small steps at first – but in the power of the Holy Spirit he would become bold and fearless. Jesus said, ‘My sheep hear my voice, they know me and they follow’ (John 10:27). That’s what he did; he listened and followed and was often challenged to do things that were way outside his comfort zone. Like today’s story from Act 9:36-43, where Peter was asked to come and pray for a believer by the name of Tabitha who had died. Without hesita:on Peter went. Peter had seen Jesus bring people back from the dead before and he also had heard Jesus say that those who would follow him would not only do what he had done, but do even greater things (John 14:12).

I imagine that Peter would have felt somewhat daunted by the request, but he was confident that Jesus could do it through him and that’s all that mattered. So he prayed and God acted, because Peter was acting according to God’s will. Tabitha was restored to life and the everyone in Joppa heard about and the good news about Jesus. Peter would have been hailed a hero; but deep down he knew that it was not him…he knew the power of Jesus love to change lives – to restore purpose and direction, to bring fulfilment and ignite hope.

Like Peter, we can all follow in the footsteps of Jesus. We can leave our past failures behind and do what Jesus did – bring the message of the ‘good news’ to all who will accept it. Knowing how much Jesus has done for you is often the catalyst for us to be willing to accept all that Jesus has in store. Yes, we fail when we do things in our own strength…but we succeed when we do things God’s way!

In that we can be confident.

God bless,
Tim Winslade

Rough Diamonds

What do you do to relieve stress? Do you have a default activity that makes you feel better? Maybe you like going to movies or the gym or shopping; maybe your activity is gardening or reading or just spending time with friends. Having read todays reading (John 21:1-19) I am pretty sure that the Apostle Peter’s was fishing! When everything that Peter had been working towards came unstuck; when he had denied his master and let down his friends; when the brashness of his words were shown up and his character flaws and imperfections were exposed…Peter went fishing!

Peter – that rough diamond – went back to his old life BC (before Christ)! He went back to the things he knew well…to pick up the pieces. But Jesus had not finished with him…he came to him again to remind him that the call that he had on his life was not effected by his failings; but in acknowledging his failings and humbling himself before Jesus – God promises to lift us up and show his strength in us, despite our weaknesses. But humility does not come easily. Many of us are proud like Peter and struggle to admit our weaknesses. However, without humility Peter’s pride would have remained a barrier to him really discovering the joy of being fully committed to Jesus.

Imagine the scene…a boat full of disciples…some fishermen and others not – enjoying to night air and relative freedom of being away from Jerusalem. But there is Peter, brooding in the stern; wrestling with a range of emotions as he relived the events of the last two weeks. How he must have struggled with the inner turmoil as he relieved his words of denial…outside the High Priests house while Jesus was on trial. The mixture of joy and humiliation to see Jesus alive, but to have misunderstood his intention from the beginning. And there he was again…on the beach…the large catch of fish…everyone knew it was Jesus – and they rushed to see him, but Peter hung back, embarrassed to let anyone know what he really was thinking.

But Jesus did not let Peter hide behind his mood…he had seen Peter at his best and worst…he knew him and he loved him, despite his imperfections. But he needed Peter to commit to what was about to come…so he asked him Peter, “do you love me?” Each time Jesus used the word “agape” (faithfulness; commitment; sacrificial love) and in response Peter said ‘philos’ (like a brother) …So Jesus was saying, ‘do you love me enough to be 100% committed’….and Peter said…’I love like a brother’…but brothers have their differences.

Jesus persistence pushed Peter to finally give in and say, ‘yes, I will be 100% committed’, and at that point Jesus restores Peter to the role of leader of the Apostles. Peter had to give up his pride; he had to humble himself before Jesus…just like we all have to acknowledge our need for Jesus, before we can discover the joys of following him. Like Peter, Jesus knows us better than we know ourselves and sees the potential that can only be realised through faithfulness, commitment and in the power of the Holy Spirit.

We are all diamonds in the rough – but in the hands of the master designer – we have the capacity to reflect the light and love of Christ in both incredible and unique ways.

God bless,

Tim Winslade

Believe and Receive

How many people do you know that you would trust their word, 100% without any doubts? The trouble is that we are taught from an early age to investigate the facts – to test everything, to not take anything on face value, but to only believe the things that can be tested scientifically. Now, the empirical approach is a good one…but it is based on the assumption that everything worth believing can be put in a test tube or deduced from a survey.

After Jesus’ resurrection something about his appearance was different – his resurrected body was like his physical body – but somehow different. He was not confined to the restrictions of time and space; he could walk through walls and even his closest friends had to be convinced that he was really Jesus. The evidence of his resurrection was in the marks on his hands and side. The same hands that healed the blind – reached out to the leper – fed the hungry and embraced the children – were permanently marked by cruel nails. The blood that flowed to the ground from the hole in his side bought forgiveness for the world that had rejected him.

At the time the disciples had no idea that this had always been the BIG picture – God mission plan from the beginning; and now, he was inviting them to be part of that plan. He said, ‘as the father sent me; so I send you’ …. He breathed on them to receive the Holy Spirit and gave them the authority to do what he did, in his name. It took a little convincing that he was really alive – he ate some food; showed them his scars and after a while they were convinced…and gradually it began to make sense. All the teaching; talking; serving; healing; helping; praying and confronting… with the help of the Holy Spirit and the benefit of hindsight, everything began to make sense.

Can you imagine the conversation when Jesus had left the building…?

There must have been a mix of excitement and wonder as they repeated his words and pondered what it all meant and then came Thomas. Poor old Thomas gets a bad name for his unbelief, yet he just missed the proof that everyone else had received. His statement that he would not believe unless he saw Jesus himself has become the central to the call of Christ on all of our lives. Like Thomas we too have to make a choice to believe, without seeing, but unlike Thomas most of us never get to see Jesus in person…but we see the results of the living Christ in his followers; the people who, like Thomas have declared him, their Lord and their God.

Becoming a believer sets us on a course that follows the footsteps of Christ across human history and interacts with our needy world outside our door and across the world. To believe that Jesus is Lord, sets him on a par with God and challenges us to follow his commands to love; forgive and to give. We cannot fulfil God’s mission in our own strength, but with the gift of the Holy Spirit we can achieve all the things he desires.

God bless,

Tim Winslade

A new beginning

I was watching a drama on TV when someone was asked in the middle of a tragic situation what they needed – to that question, they replied “a time machine”; so they could go back and have the time all over again and do something differently. How often we resonate with that sentiment? I wish I could have my time over again…I wouldn’t make the same mistake twice! Hindsight is a powerful thing if we take advantage of what we learn – but many of us need more than a second chance – we need a whole bag full of chances, because somethings we do are so entrenched in our behaviour that we continue to repeat our failings, even though, deep down, we know beIer!

What I have described is something that we all have in common…it’s part of our nature to repeat patterns of behaviour that become comfortable to us –even when the consequences of our choices can be devastating to us and those around us. Some of our patterns of behaviour have positive outcomes, but much of what we do, say or think comes at a cost and breaks down our relationship with others and, most importantly God.

This predisposition to selfish behaviour is what the Bible describes as ‘sin’ and we are all susceptible to it. Let’s face it. From the beginning of time, no one has been blameless in this regard – except for Jesus – who, although he was tempted like the rest of us; never sinned. Not even once! And because of his sinlessness and because of his sacrificial love, death could not hold onto Jesus…so he was able to dismantle the barrier between us and God that humanity had constructed…so that we now have the opportunity to be free.

The trouble is many of us hear the message and still choose live in bondage, we reject the opportunity to have a fresh start and a new beginning. Jesus came to set the captives free… but like a caged bird who is comfortable with the safety of environment, we would rather stay captive to our sin, than be free to experience the exhilaration and risk of setting off on a new journey guided by the Holy Spirit.

Easter reminds us of new beginnings; a fresh start; where we leave the past behind and embrace the opportunities that faith in Christ allows. But to be renewed in Christ you must risk letting go of the past and embrace the changes that are the consequences of giving our allegiances over to Christ. For most of us, change is something that is disconcerting; it’s uncomfortable and at times confronting. But change is what happened to the resurrected Jesus…and change is what we should expect if we allow the same resurrection power of our living Christ to permeate through our being.

So as always, it a choice. If we truly celebrate and apply the message of the risen Christ to our daily lives – then new life in Christ and new beginnings is what we should expect and what we should strive for – anything less would under value what Christ has done on our behalf.

Happy Easter.

Tim Winslade