Remember me

Statue of Queen Victoria by Joseph Edgar Boehm in 1879. Now located in Queen's Square, Sydney, Australia.People want to be remembered. We build monuments and make plaques to remember people. And we name streets and boats after people.

We take photos and make videos to help us remember loved ones. It is so easy to forget. A friend from overseas sent us a photo recently that they had of our family when our sons were 10 and 12. It reminded me of some pleasant experiences we had at that time that we are very thankful for. We were able to remember this experience because of the photos. And Facebook uses photos to remind us of anniversaries.

In the Bible we read about certain characters who were in need and called out for help. They wanted to be remembered by others or by God.

Joseph: “But when all goes well with you, remember me and show me kindness; mention me to Pharaoh and get me out of this prison” (Gen. 40:14).

Samson: Then Samson prayed to the Lord, “Sovereign Lord, remember me. Please, God, strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes” (Jud. 16:28).

Hannah: And she made a vow, saying, “Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head” (1 Sam. 1:11)

Nehemiah:Remember me with favor, my God, for all I have done for these people [He helped the poor]” (Neh. 5:19). And,Then I commanded the Levites to purify themselves and go and guard the gates in order to keep the Sabbath day holy. Remember me for this also, my God, and show mercy to me according to your great love” (Neh. 13:22).

David: “Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you, Lord, are good” (Ps. 25:7).

A Criminal: Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Lk. 23:42-43),

All these bible characters cried out for help.

And the Lord Jesus asks us to remember Him. He told His disciples to participate in the Lord’s Supper “in remembrance of me” (1 Cor. 11:24-25).

But when the Lord says “remember me” He’s not crying out for help. He’s crying out for worship. He’s crying out for praise. He’s crying out for a heart that will follow Him and praise Him in response to what He has done for us.

We have someone who created us, who loves us, who cares for us, who will never forget us. God described Jerusalem in metaphorical language, “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands” (Isa. 49:15-16).

In particular, we are to remember:

  • That the Lord Jesus came to save people from their sins.
  • That He came to heal the sick, make the lame to walk, heal the blind, raise the dead, and set the captives free.
  • That He gave His life so that we might have eternal life. Let’s remember that the purpose of His suffering, His death and His resurrection was to bring us life, eternal life, abundant life, that we might worship Him.

Then finally God says to us, “Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me” (Isa. 46:9).

Paul Mylonas

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Essential Christmas!

December-19_EssentialChristmas_JPG 400pxRacing car drivers and procrastinators want the same drug. It comes from that contradictory cocktail of excitement and terror. Whilst drivers push the physics envelope, procrastinators push the limits of time. As fear of the impending deadline looms, finally adrenaline seeps sweetly into the system.

Let me illustrate. The greatest rush in the world is not the French 24 Hours of Le Mans Endurance Race… it’s the Westfield Christmas Pressie Dash: 27 presents in 8 shopping hours. Every year, on Christmas Eve, men who should never have been licensed as fathers, take part. And I’m here to tell you it can be done because I’ve done it more than once. But there’s absolutely no room for failure.

You absolutely cannot stop moving throughout the day. And that’s because you cannot – you absolutely cannot – face your children, or brother, or sisters or nieces and nephews or your parents… without a present. ESPECIALLY YOUR CHILDREN! You cannot tell them you fell down the escalator… yesterday! That’s not an acceptable explanation!

So, at Christmas, some things are essential. For many families, that means presents. But there’s an ancient reason for giving each other presents at Christmas. It’s in honour of a gift God gave to the whole world a long time ago. It was the gift of God’s own son, Jesus Christ. It is essential to our survival. And now Christmas is that time of year when we remember His arrival, when angels appeared to shepherds on a hillside and told them,

“Don’t be afraid! I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Saviour—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!”

Jesus is the essential part of Christmas. He’s the ‘reason for the season’. His title, ‘Christ’ is right there at the beginning of ‘Christmas’. But although He’s essential, Jesus isn’t always invited. In our distracted, adrenaline charged world, perhaps you’ve always wondered just how Jesus fits but you’ve put off finding answers.

If that’s you, then don’t put Jesus off any longer. Take the time this Christmas to read the Bible and meet Him. You can do this for free online at lots of places (like By typing in Isaiah 9:2, 6-7 you can read a prophecy given nearly 800 years before Jesus came. To read about the Virgin Mary becoming pregnant with Jesus, type in Luke 1:26-38. Then you could read about Jesus’s birth by typing in Luke 2.

It may not get the adrenaline going like a bungee jump does, but it’s genuinely exciting news.

Prayer: Dear God, thank you for sending Jesus your precious son Jesus, as a saviour for all mankind.

Bible verse: Luke 2:10-11 “Don’t be afraid! I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Saviour—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!“

Acknowledgement: This article was sourced from Outreach Media, Sydney, Australia.
Images and text © Outreach Media 2019

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Start life again

So keen was Nicodemus to meet Jesus that he was willing to risk being seen. But he had reason to be afraid. The religious sect known as Pharisees that he belonged to were committed to killing Jesus. Such was their intense jealousy over Jesus’s popularity. It was almost certainly for this reason that Nicodemus came at night (John 3:1-16).

He began by addressing Jesus with respect.

“Master” he said, “We know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him”.

His statement – or was it a question – seemed to be something like, “I think you’re from God … but who are you?” But, instead of credentials, Jesus offered Nicodemus a challenge. He said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God”. Clearly Nicodemus wanted to move closer to God. But how does one get ‘Born again’?

These days people use the metaphor of ‘new birth’ quite a lot. Cars get ‘rebirthed’ in shady workshops. Commentators speak of the rebirth of a city or sport or a fashion style. But was a ‘makeover’ all Jesus was getting at… or something more? Confused, Nicodemus replied.

“How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”

And so Jesus explained to Nicodemus that being ‘born again’ meant having God’s Holy Spirit come to live inside you to help you live your life for God. Jesus then offered these famous words,

“God loved the people of this world so much that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who has faith in Him will have eternal life and never really die”.

Jesus was teaching Nicodemus that to begin life again and receive eternal life, a person must put their trust in Him.

These days, however, commitment’s on the nose. Social researcher, Hugh Mackay calls Generation X (born between 1965 and 1979) the ‘options generation’. It’s the ‘wait-and-see’ generation, so committed to flexibility and openness that they struggle to commit. But then social theorist Rebecca Huntley also describes Millennials (1980 –1996) as the ‘options generation’.

In truth, the problem with our generation is that we’re ‘post God’ and cynical. How can we take seriously the idea of being ‘born again’? Surely it’s a religious scam! But if, like Nicodemus, you’re secretly yearning to start life again with God at the centre, then don’t think you need to sneak furtively into the night. You can put your trust in Jesus right now and listen to His words in the Bible.

Prayer: Dear God, please give me strength and courage to begin life again by trusting in your son Jesus.

Bible verse: John 3:7 “You  must be born again

Acknowledgement: This article was sourced from Outreach Media, Sydney, Australia.
Images and text © Outreach Media 2019

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Until Jesus comes again

We believe that the most important event in the world’s history is the death of Jesus Christ. At the Lord’s supper we remember why Christ did what He did.

In 1 Corinthians Paul describes what happened at the last supper where Jesus told His disciples to eat the bead and drink from the cup in remembrance of Him (1 Cor. 11:23-25). Then Paul says,

“For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes” (1 Cor. 11:26NIV).

“For” shows a reason we repeat the Lord’s Supper on a regular basis. This is new revelation beyond the Gospels. The reason is to “proclaim the Lord’s death”. The Greek verb “kataggello” (Strongs #2605) means to proclaim, announce, or declare. It’s in the present active indicative showing that the declaring is an ongoing process. It’s a proclamation of a physical death that provides forgiveness. It took the physical death of the body of Christ to save our souls. Participation in the Lord’s Supper is like a visible sermon where we proclaim the Lord’s death to one another.

“Whenever” shows we repeat the Lord’s Supper on a regular basis.  The Greek adverb “hosakis” (Strongs #3740) means as often as, as many times as or whenever. It seems clear from Paul’s visit to Troas in Acts 20:7 that the practice of the early church was to meet on the first day of the week to remember the Lord. But this was not just for the early church as the church is said to do it until Jesus Christ returns. That’s what we do it each Sunday morning. It’s a good way to start the week.

“You eat this bread and drink this cup”, describes the two visual aids used in the Lord’s Supper to “proclaim the Lord’s death”. The bread symbolizes His body and the cup of wine symbolizes His blood (death). The bread represents the person of Christ, and the blood the work of Christ.

“Until He comes” says how long we are to repeat the Lord’s Supper on a regular basis. The Lord’s Supper is more than a memorial celebration of Christ’s body and blood (death); it’s an anticipation of seeing Him again. We are to do it until He comes again to take us to heaven. In the meantime we repeat the Lord’s Supper on a regular basis and wait for Christ’s return.

When we take the bread and wine we are declaring the importance of Christ’s death. It’s important because God saves people only by means of Christ’s death (1 Cor. 1:18). We are proclaiming that Christ’s sacrificial death provides forgiveness and peace with God. We recall His suffering and death and the blessings and benefits which come from His death and resurrection. And we offer thanks and praise for all that God has done for us through Jesus Christ.

George Hawke

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Heaven’s even better

The Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland has 37,000 gigantic, geometrically perfect polygon columns. Have you been there? They’re extraordinary. But back before photographs, television and the Internet, it was hard to believe in and imagine far off places. “Surely you’re exaggerating about those columns?” “Surely they were made from concrete moulds?” Or else, “They don’t really exist and you’re making it all up!”

It’s a bit like that with heaven. Because we haven’t been there we’re tempted to doubt it’s goodness or wonder if it even exists. Think of the most beautiful place you’ve ever seen. It might be a place in the mountains or at the beach. Maybe you’ve been to some exotic location like a tropical island. It could be something you’ve seen while snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef. Maybe it’s a magnificent forest or a field of flowers. You may have visited the Grand Canyon or the Alps. Imagine the difficulty of describing this to someone without the aid of photographs or video footage. You want them to feel what you felt and see what you saw but you just can’t come up with words that do an adequate job. It would be frustrating for you and for the person trying to understand what you experienced. But heaven is even more wonderful and more indescribable than these places.

So, the right response to wonderful things in this world is to see them as pointers to even greater things in the next. The great missionary of the Bible, Paul, wrote about this in a letter to Christians in the city of Corinth. He said, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).

But if you’re a Christian, then you’ve already seen this. When we had no hope, God sent Jesus to give us the hope of friendship with Him and forgiveness of our sins. Who of us could have predicted that through Jesus Christ, God would draw us so close that He would call us sons and daughters?

Further on in that same letter, Paul encouraged the Corinthians to focus on the most exciting prospect of heaven – being in the very presence of God Himself.
Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely” (1 Cor. 13:12).

In heaven, the Bible says, there will be even be ‘no more death or sorrow’ (Revelation 2:4). These are exciting promises. Now it’s hard to wait!

Prayer: Dear God, thank you that the wonders of this creation point to even greater things in the age to come.

Bible verse: 1 Corinthians 2:9 “Things that no eye has seen, or ear heard, or mind imagined, are the things God has prepared for those who love Him

Acknowledgement: This article was sourced from Outreach Media, Sydney, Australia.
Images and text © Outreach Media 2019

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Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves

The media in Australia and other community gatekeepers treat abortion as a settled question. As a consequence, that’s how most Australians view the issue. We’re encouraged to think that, in the past, an important victory was won for women. And now, instead of being bullied to bear and care for children they never wanted, women have the right to make decisions about their own bodies – because, ultimately, abortion is a woman’s issue.

But abortion is not and never will be a settled question.

Firstly, it is not just a women’s issue. It’s fundamentally a community issue. When you live in a community you belong to that community – whether you’re a man, a woman or a child. So mothers aren’t allowed to kill their children after they’re born on the basis that they came from their body. The community would rightly punish that. And the argument that a woman has ‘a right to decide what happens with her body’ is scientifically flawed. At conception, a new body with its own, unique DNA is formed. Why doesn’t that special, growing human have its own rights?

Secondly, abortion is dehumanising. We don’t think twice about describing an unwanted pregnancy as an, ‘accident’ (a consequence of devaluing and ‘casualising’ sex). Then, to deal with the ‘accident’, babies that would be viable and treasured outside the womb are depersonalized with terms and phrases like ‘foetus’, ‘products of conception (POC), ‘clump of tissue’ or ‘uterine debris’. When the medical community are asked (or required) to perform abortions they’re placed in a terrible bind. Since ancient times doctors have pledged to ‘do no harm’. Now they must harden themselves in order to dismember beautiful, growing, living, precious beings. Afterwards, countless women are left with feelings of guilt and regret. Many spend the rest of their lives asking, “What if…?”

Thirdly, abortion is at odds with Australia’s egalitarian spirit and our defence of the underdog. Every day our media encourages us to feel compassion for the oppressed or those with no voice or those denied rights. Regularly, we’re asked to feel sympathy for the poorly treated in nursing homes or the cause of asylum seekers, or endangered animals. Yet, our media has nothing to say in defence of the unborn human. Instead, we’re offered expedient justifications. We’re told young mothers shouldn’t pay a life-long price for an early mistake. But since when have ‘two wrongs made a right’? And why should the child suffer for the poor choices of the parents? We’re told the community must not be burdened by deformity. But who are we to say that a child with a birth defect would prefer not to live? Or, that such a life has no value? Or, that the community won’t find great joy in this new life?

The statistics are staggering and so desperately sad. If data provided by Right To Life Australia is correct, there are in Australia, 80-90,000 abortions each year… or 250 per day… or 1 for every 2.8 live births… which translates to 1 in 3 Australian women having an abortion at some point in their life.

Unfortunately, many Australian Christians seem to have joined the settled majority. Perhaps bearing the media’s stigma of ‘hard right’ or ‘religious fanatic’ is too uncomfortable? Why is it that the most vocal critic of abortion in this country is a secular organisation? (Right To Life Australia) What’s stopping us from speaking loudly and vigorously? Is it just too easy to get on with the joy of living our own lives? After all, a foetus has no name or face.

Yes, we must be compassionate and sensitive towards women who’ve had abortions. But if sensitivity stops us from speaking out then, ironically, we’ll never see a decrease in sad, regretful women or abortions. Meanwhile, every year, nearly an entire Melbourne Cricket ground’s worth of Australians citizens are killed.

Have we Christians forgotten our heritage? In ancient Rome we spoke up against infanticide until it was outlawed. Why? … because the Bible challenges us to speak. Here’s what it says, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves” (Proverbs 31:8).

Prayer: Dear God, please give me the courage to be both bold and gracious as I speak against abortion in Australia and elsewhere.

Bible verse: Proverbs 31:8 “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves“.

Acknowledgement: This article was sourced from Outreach Media, Sydney, Australia.
Images and text © Outreach Media 2019

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What stops you being with God forever?

Here’s a challenge from Outreach Media.

I used to smoke a lot of marijuana. But the first time I got stoned after becoming a Christian I felt embarrassed in God’s presence. I discovered that dope made it hard for me to control silly thoughts and treat God with reverence. It was awkward and I felt ashamed. So I stopped smoking marijuana and haven’t touched it since. That was thirty-five years ago.

When I stopped smoking dope I gave up something from this world so I could be sure of having life in the age to come. You might think it was no loss. And besides, Christians should obey the law anyway. Well, to that I say, ‘Yes, we should obey the law’ (and I would have acted on that I’m sure), but as for ‘no loss’? Well, that’s simplistic. People smoke dope because they have interesting experiences. I certainly felt a sense of loss in giving it up.

I think I was living out what Jesus meant when He said, “what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?”

This world offers all kinds of experiences. Many of them are connected to wealth and power. So was Jesus speaking against money and power? Was He saying only the destitute and feeble can ever know God and win eternal life? No. It’s not wrong to own money or possessions nor have power over others. History records many emperors, kings, politicians and public servants who have been devoted to God.

Jesus’s point is that there’s nothing in this life worth having … if the having of it… means you can’t worship God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind. I couldn’t do that smoking dope.

This experience of choosing God over something in the world has continued. In the early years of my working life there were situations where I could have cheated and deceived people for financial gain. Indeed, my stubborn refusal was a frustration to an early employer.

As the years have rolled on, the challenges have changed. These days they’re more likely to be internal. For example, with a particular decision I need to make sure I’m not putting personal pleasure ahead of the needs of others.

So how is Jesus challenging you? Are you being honest with yourself… and God? Have you prayed? Is there something you need to give up so that you can have God for all eternity? If there is, then take action.

Prayer: Dear God, give me a fierce honesty to make sure nothing in this world keeps me from being with you forever.

Bible verse: Mark 8:36 Jesus: “what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?“.

Acknowledgement: This article was sourced from Outreach Media, Sydney, Australia.
Images and text © Outreach Media 2019

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Jesus gives life to the full

There are so many wonderful things in life. The joy of love, family, satisfaction in hard work, the thrill of the race, or the game, admiring the astonishing beauty of nature, the prospect of a new adventure. It is truly a remarkable world.

Yet in all of these things, there’s always a blemish. And the blemish lies in us and in each thing we experience. For example our own cynicism and doubts prevent us properly enjoying goodness in love and work and family. And, as for the objects of our joy and desire – they always let us down in some measure. So, families fracture and fall out. Children forget their parents and live selfish lives. We chase a project with all our energy only to find it wasn’t worth the chasing.

In every part of life there’s always dissatisfaction. Any number of things can intervene to undermine success… from accidents, to mismanagement, to petty politics, injustice, corruption… even our own boredom, or doubts, or distractions.

The greatest enemy to fulfillment in this life is the knowledge that death awaits. It means that whatever we pursue is futile. Nothing can escape it… even the material universe. Everything must pass away.

If only there were a thread of hope dangling down for us from eternity. In the song, ‘Into my arms’, Nick Cave, the Australian songwriter, speaks of an, ‘interventionist God’ who might prevent his beloved from being harmed. Yet he can’t bring himself to believe that such a good God might exist.

But such a good God does exist and the Bible describes His character and ‘interventions’ in human history in great detail. As creator of the world He made us so that we might relate to Him closely. But since creation we’ve resisted this purpose. Yet no matter how hard we resist, He still loves us and wants us to be with Him. The Bible says that God has ‘planted eternity in the human heart’ (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Clearly, He meant us to spend it with Him.

When our purpose is eternity with God. How did we ever think we could find it in movies or architecture or holidays or skin cream? Whatever we do apart from God is doomed and destined for disgruntlement.

So give way. Give yourself to God’s ambassador, Jesus Christ, whose mighty intervention on your behalf at the cross means you can have life with God forever. Accept Jesus and the immortal words He offers all people.

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.  

Prayer: Dear God, I pray that I may have life to the full with You through Jesus.

Bible verse: John 10:10 Jesus: “I have come that they may have life and have it to the full“.

Acknowledgement: This article was sourced from Outreach Media, Sydney, Australia.
Images and text © Outreach Media 2019

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Northern beaches coastal walk

barrenjoey-2 800px

Saturday 10 August 2019

Explore the headlands from Newport to Barrenjoey. Coastal landscape – cliffs and beaches. Transport (mini bus) available from North Ryde (8.45am) and Chatswood (9.00am). Return by 4pm.

Leader : George Hawke 0422 659 589

Grade : Medium (8 km)

Sydney Christian Bushwalkers

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Regular praise and thanksgiving

Kids Camp starts in the Blue Mountains next Sunday. One of the stories that will be told there is the healing of Namaan in 2 Kings 5. Namaan was a commander in the Syrian army who was healed of an incurable skin disease like leprosy when he followed instructions given by the prophet Elisha. It’s an illustration of the gospel (good news about Jesus). The disease is like sin (our main problem). The healing is like having one’s sin forgiven and peace with God. Namaan received God’s blessing even though he was a Gentile and not an Israelite. He changed from being an enemy of Israel to worshipping their God. The good news about Jesus is that sinners can have their sins forgiven and live forever with God.

It’s interesting to see Namaan’s response to being healed. The Bible says,
Then Naaman and all his attendants went back to the man of God [Elisha]. He stood before him and said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel. So please accept a gift from your servant” (2 Sam. 5:15NIV).

Namaan acknowledged the one true God. And offered Elisha a gift that he refuses.
Elisha didn’t want to accept payment for what God had done. Also, it illustrates that salvation is free. Then Namaan asked for some soil from Israel that he could take back to Syria to use when he sacrificed to the God of Israel. In ancient times each nation had their own gods and maybe it was thought that a deity could be worshipped only on the soil of the nation to which it was bound. Or maybe the soil was used to make an earthen altar as the Israelites were commanded (Ex. 20:24). Anyhow, it showed his allegiance to the God of Israel.

After he was healed, Naaman changed from worshipping idols to worshipping the true God. He offered thanks and praise to the God who delivered him from a major problem.
Namaan was grateful and thankful. Do we as believers regularly thank and praise God for delivering us from the penalty of our sin?

There are other examples in the New Testament of Gentiles (non-Jews) praising God. When Jesus healed ten lepers, one returned “praising God on a loud voice” (Lk. 17:15-16). He was a Samaritan. And Cornelius and his family praised God after they believed in Peter’s message about the forgiveness of sin through Christ’s death and resurrection (Acts 10:34-46).

Like Namaan’s sacrifices to the God of Israel, believers are to offer thanks and praise for all that God has done for them through Jesus Christ. The Bible says, “Through Jesus, therefore, let us [believers] continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips [words] that openly profess His name” (Heb. 13:15). And believers are to be “always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph. 5:20) and “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Th. 5:18). Do we praise God regularly, or only occasionally? It’s a personal sacrifice to praise God in difficult times. Paul and Silas praised God when they were imprisoned (Acts 16:23-25). Their praise wasn’t limited by their circumstances. Do we praise God when we don’t feel like praising Him?

George Hawke

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