Keep the End in Mind

Ever tried to write something and not really know where to begin? Some people suggest that the best way to write is with the end in mind. Map out your conclusion and then work toward the end. Jesus always had the end in mind and although tempted, never wavered from the goal. It was God’s plan that everything would culminate in Jerusalem – but his disciples had other plans. They had seen Jesus’ popularity rise and wane over three years and they wanted to force his hand, to make him use his power to be the type of Messiah that they wanted; someone who would defeat the Romans and give them their freedom – but that was never on Jesus’ agenda.

Have you ever been in a place where a crowd of people were cheering on someone to do something…like a sporting event or an encore after a concert? Often the accolades of the crowd lift the person to greater heights – to do more – to do better. But sometimes what the crowd wants may influence a person to do something that they had never intended. Crowds can have a life of their own…it’s so easy to get caught up and go along with the crowd. But then you wonder who started the chant…and what was their agenda?

The people chanted ‘Hosanna’, which is a word that is commonly used to express praise of joy. But originally it also had another meaning – ‘save us’! It was a cry for a saviour to come and rescue the people who needed deliverance. Who started the chant? It’s seems logical that some of Jesus’ enthusiastic followers called out ‘hosanna’, ‘blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord’ and ‘peace in heaven and glory in the highest’! They knew the scriptures and saw Jesus entry into Jerusalem as a peaceful coup…the Messiah – the King with God’s authority has arrived…and the people followed with the chant ‘save, save, save’ as if Jesus was entering into Jerusalem as a conquering war hero; but that was furthest from the truth.

The people didn’t realise that everything that Jesus did fulfilled what the prophets had said hundreds of years before – even riding on a donkey and the people shouting hosanna. God had a plan and Jesus was going to finish what he had started. How quickly a crowd can change! How quickly can your own supporters become your biggest critics when you do not meet their expectations. What Jesus’ disciples anticipated and what the crowds hoped for would soon become unfulfilled expectations…because they did not understand God’s big picture.

What the people saw as the fulfilment of Jesus’ messianic kingship was a temptation much like the one the devil gave him in the wilderness; to accept the accolades of the people and become their king – by power and force… but to do that was to step away from God’s ultimate plan – which wasn’t just political freedom for the down trodden Jews; but the eternal salvation of the whole of humanity. Now that is something worth celebrating! Jesus saves! Jesus saves! Jesus saves! Glory to God in the highest – who through his sacrifice has brought peace on earth to all who would accept him for who he is…God’s chosen one!

God Bless,

Tim Winslade

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Run the Race

The Sydney City to Surf is a 14.2km fun run that winds its way from the centre of the city to South Head and then back to Bondi Beach. It’s a cultural phenomenon every August that attracts over 75,000 participants each year; from the serious international runners, to mum’s pushing strollers and people in dress ups. The start is staggered into ranked groups, with the fastest runners starIng first and the walkers and partiers starIng in the last group. For those starIng in the middle of the pack the start is a huge crush of bodies shuffling for the first kilometre or two before you can actually stride out…along the way people stand and cheer; give out water; play music or just words of encouragement….because everyone starts with the same goal. To finish!

Two hours earlier in chill of the dawn light parIcipants congregate in their allocated areas, huddling against the cold or wet, sitting on the hard road to rest their legs…then in anticipation of the start people begin to strip off old clothing and discard it by the side (or in the trees)…and stretch. Then when the gun goes off there’s a shout of excitement as the mass begins to move, slowly at first…and then finally into a rhythm as they pound the pavement towards the finish.

For 6 kilometres you weave through the crowd, along undulating terrain to the bottom of a 3 kilometre hill dubbed ‘heart break hill’. For months you have diligently focused on training for this hill and stride confidently at first up the iniIal incline, surprised at every bend that conInues to rise relentlessly against the human tide. Gradually you notice that many people have slowed to a walk, apparently unprepared for the challenge looking defeated and distressed. But then, just as your lungs are screaming for air you reach the summit and are flooded with relief, only to realise that the race is far from finished.

How easy it is to focus all our attention on ‘heart break hill’ and forget about the ultimate goal – to reach the finish. The Apostle Paul wrote, “I press on to the goal to reach the prize for which God has called me heavenward”…his goal was to know Jesus and the power of his resurrecIon (v10). He knew that all that had happened up unIl now was only the preliminaries; all the successes, all the failures; all the trials, all the lessons; were only the beginning – because there was so much more to learn; so much more to know; so much more to experience!

Paul often used sporIng metaphors to encourage ChrisIans to keep the faith; to not get side tracked or lose focus; but to be focused on the end goal. Towards the end of his life he says in Acts 20:24 that his only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus Christ had given him – the task of testifying to the good news of the gospel of grace.

Like Paul we need to be reminded of the journey that we are on…a mass of humanity following in the footsteps of Christ. Like the City to Surf (like it says in Hebrews 12:1-3) are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses who are cheering us on. We too must make every effort to not allow ourselves to be weighed down by excess baggage….but to run with perseverance the race marked out before us – with our minds fixed on Jesus…to the finish!

God bless,

Tim Winslade

Lost and Found

Standing at the counter of McDonalds I was totally engrossed in the task of buying food for my hungry family… I looked around at my family and noticed that there was someone missing. My 3 year old son had disappeared… somehow my small son had steeped out through the open door and onto the footpath near a busy street. He was lost! Panic immediately set in…we quickly searched the shop and then onto the street…

Then in the distance I noticed a young woman holding the hand of a small child at a pedestrian crossing and I started to run, ignoring the puzzled looks of onlookers. As I got closer I was able to make out his clothes and his blonde hair and I knew that it was my son – so I ran faster to get to Benji’s side. He was unharmed and was wondering what the fuss was about, but I was so grateful to Benji’s rescuer and so thankful that he was safe I wanted to celebrate, my son had been lost, but now was found and had been returned to his family.

My story predates GPS – it’s amazing how much we rely on GPS now days to help us not get lost. I just saw a program that described a new type of watch that has been developed with GPS so that parents know where their children are all times. However, today, rather than relying on GPS (global positioning systems), I want to suggest that we need to rely on God’s Positioning System or God’s Plan of Salvation, that is spelled out for us in his word. God’s GPS helps us know the way home to the Father, no matter what circumstance we find ourselves in.

I’m pretty good at directions, so I find getting lost pretty hard to do – but for other’s it comes naturally…getting or feeling lost can be purely an accident, but for others it is a consequences of our choices. Luke 15:11b-32 tells us there was a certain wilfulness about the prodigal’s choices to reject the benefits of his home; to take his inheritance and to seek out his own fame and fortune in a land far removed from the place of his birth. It’s a well-known parable…the son spends his entire inheritance and is left with nothing…totally off the radar.

It’s at the bottom of the pit, plagued by hunger and despair that the young man has a revelation…the life of a servant in his father’s house is better than the ‘freedom’ he was experiencing and in that moment he turns on the GPS and begins the painful journey home, rehearsing his words of repentance with each step. Unbeknown to him, his father has been looking out for him every day – praying for his safe return; and when he sees him on the horizon, he puts aside decorum and runs out to embrace his smelly, rebellious son. In that moment of embrace all is forgiven and grace is extended…the son that was lost – is reunited with his father and reconnected with his destiny. The money spend was small price to pay for the transformation of the son…and the father throws a party.

The bible says that God throws a party every time a repentant sinner returns home. Every time we activate God’s GPS, God embraces us with joy, forgiveness and grace and treats as his daughters and sons. It’s a message that doesn’t get old – because it is central part of God’s Salvation Plan. My hope is that you will wake up and see what you are missing and start the journey home.

God bless,

Tim Winslade

A very human Saviour

How can Jesus be truly human if is really God? How can God’s transcendent spiritual being be contained in a human body?

How can God’s omnipotence be limited by our frail bodies?
How can God’s omniscience be limited to what can fit inside our head? How can God’s omnipresence be limited to one location?

It seems both contradictory and a mystery that God’s glory could somehow be contained in the person of Jesus. Yet, that is crucial to our faith. If Jesus wasn’t truly human, then he cheated the tests. If Jesus wasn’t fully human, then then it was easy for him to resist temptation and to follow the will of the God, even to the cross.

Some of the early Christians got caught up in Gnosticism. Which is all about having a special knowledge of God…but one characteristic of these Gnostics was that they did not believe that Jesus was really human… that wherever he walked he did not leave a footprint, because he was just a spirit. The problem with this is, if Jesus is not fully human, then he could not relate to our circumstances; and if he is not fully God, he cannot do anything about them!

Jesus had a human body, emotions, mind, and will. And this in no way compromised his deity. When the Word became flesh (John 1)—when the eternal Son of God took on full humanity—he did not merely become human in part. He fully became truly human.

Today we focus in our Jesus’ temptations (Luke4).

I have a good friend from my time back in Canberra who, when asked if he would like a piece of cake would say, “I can resist anything except temptation”….which sort of goes contrary to Bible, which says in James 4:7 to ‘resist the devil, and he will flee from you.’

The place of Jesus’ temptation was one of the most desolate places on Earth… the wilderness between the mountains of Judea and the Dead Sea. So terrible was the parched land that the Jews of the ancient world called it by the name YeShimon, “Place of Desolation.” Against the backdrop of the wilderness, isolated and remote, two figures would come to do battle….

The Greek word which is translated “tempted” in this passage can have two possible meanings: ‘To solicit sin…’or ‘to test…’The temptation of Jesus had one fundamental difference from any temptation that we have ever experienced. It was not a temptation from WITHIN. As human we get enticed to do something because of our own weakness and lusts…(James 1:1-15). The bible says, that Jesus had no sin (Hebrews 4:15), so when the temptations were thrown at Jesus, Satan could not find a single weak spot. This was not the end of the temptations of Jesus. But it was the end for a time. It has been said that peace is that brief moment when everyone stops to reload. Satan is like that. His attacks sometimes cease, but that is only because he is waiting for a more opportune time.

Jesus became man in full so that he might save us in full. Hallelujah! What a very human saviour, what a very mighty God!

God bless,

Tim Winslade

Behind the Veil

Last weekend I was down in Nowra, N.S.W. conduc6ng a wedding. The young couple met in our old youth group several years ago and have been an item ever since. The wedding was conducted at an historic chapel at Meroo Meadow that was built by Alexander Berry in the1870’s. The bride and groom had six aIendants each and the bridal party arrived in the biggest stretch Hummer that I have the bride became more and more radiant as the day unfolded.

I’ve been involved in a lot of weddings and very few brides have veils that cover their faces today. Traditionally the veil symbolised the bride’s virtue and by lifting it, the groom took possession of his new wife. In some cultures, lifting the veil was also be the first time the groom’s family saw the bride. In the Bible we are reminded of the story of Jacob who was deceived into marrying Leah before Rachel because she wore a thick veil that concealed her true identity.

So that brings the question. Who’s behind the veil?

Moses is said to have worn a veil over his face after coming down from Mt. Sinai (Exodus 34) when he realised that by being in the presence of God his face radiated with light and frightened the Israelites. The Apostle Paul took a different view of this event when he wrote that Moses deliberately covered his face to prevent them from seeing that the radiance of being in God’s presence was fading. The veil then became a form of deception that covered over the truth of the old covenant until Jesus came an instituted a new covenant and removed the veil from our hearts and minds so that we could see God in all his glory, revealed in Jesus Christ.

When Jesus’ glory was revealed to his disciples on the Mount during his transfiguration – the disciples had a fleeting glimpse of Jesus unveiled. They had not realised it yet, but the old covenant of the 10 commandments was being superseded by the glorious and unfading radiance of the new covenant. This new covenant, established in Christ, brings righteousness, hope and freedom. Paul wrote, ‘the Lord is Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom’ (2 Corinthians 3:17). This then is no veiled gospel that we proclaim, but the hope of glory in our heart radiating the joy of our salvation.

Many of us live out our faith behind a veil. Which poses the question, why?

Are you dulled to the truth – revealed in Jesus; and need to choose to step out and see Jesus for who he is?

Are you like Moses, concerned that people will realise that you haven’t been spending enough time in the presence of God and so put up a type of façade?

Or, do we allow Christ to remove the veil and take possession of his bride and see him for who he is; reflect on his glory and allow ourselves to be transformed into his likeness.

That’s the challenge. What’s behind the veil? One day all will be revealed…it’s beIer that it’s sooner than later.

God bless,

Tim Winslade