334. Why Jesus came at Christmas. The Unimaginable, Unappreciated Depths Of The Christ Of The Christmas Message.

It seemed to me, as I thought about another coming Christmas season when Christmas is being overlooked, or not being observed by many folk, and when Jesus [whose birth we celebrate at Christmas] is being ignored, that we should think a bit more deeply about why we celebrate Christmas at all.  After all, as a saying from decades ago put it, “HE IS THE REASON FOR THE SEASON.” If it is all about Him, then why is He [and Christmas] being ignored by so many?

This year, my thoughts went in this direction.

  • A shallow appreciation of the severity of the wrath of God comes from a
  • A shallow appreciation of the sinfulness of human sin in the sight of God, which leads to
  • A shallow appreciation of the grace of God which He showed in in sending Jesus to pay the penalty sinners should have paid for their sin, resulting in
  • A shallow appreciation of the person of Jesus, who came from heaven as the eternal Son of God, at that very first Christmas, to live as a human, that He might die as a human, for humans, and
  • A shallow appreciation of the ministry of Jesus who came not only to die for sinners but to give them forgiveness of sins, peace with God and eternal life in Himself.

Whoa?

Some might say, “Whoa! You mustn’t mention the wrath of God at Christmas! Christmas is all about love. It’s entirely inappropriate!“ But what is love? the apostle John answered that question when he wrote, “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins,” 1 John 4:10. We note the following about that verse,

  • True love is seen in God’s love for us when He sent His Son into the world at that very first Christmas. What a wonderful Christmas gift! We love Him because He first loved us.
  • Why was He sent into the world? That He might be “the propitiation for our sins.” The word is found only once more in the New Testament in 1 John 2:1-2, “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” The word means appeasing, appeasing the wrath of God. It is deeper than another translation often used for the word which is “expiation.” I read decades ago a simple explanation of the difference. We expiate a crime, but we propitiate a person. That is why Jesus can be our advocate because He stands before God on our behalf, by His very presence pleading His death on the cross for sinners, as satisfying the wrath of God.
  • Paul also wrote of the love of God in sending Jesus to die for sinners, when he described the latter in Eph 2:1-2 as “you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—3  among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” The behaviour coming from unregenerate human nature meant they deserved His wrath. BUT!!! Paul added the good news, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved.” God so loved! He sent His Son into the world! Those who trusted in Him would not perish. In fact they would have life! {Exactly what the most well-known verse in the Bible [John 3:16] says!}

Love! God’s love!

It’s not a love that smiles benignly at human sin or is indifferent to human suffering. It is a pure love that wants the best for every human individual ever born. It’s a love that is offended when people hurt one another in any way and when they don’t care about what they said or did.  It is a just love that demands that justice is done and injustice must be punished. It is a forgiving love that makes provision for sinners to escape their just punishment for not loving and not trusting as He has commanded them to do. It is a self-giving love that meant that Jesus had to be born at Christmas, to die on that first Good Friday, for sinners, because “there was no other good enough to pay the price of sin!” It is not a sickly, soppy, sentimental, syrupy, shallow, self-seeking love. Rather as the world’s most well-known Bible verse I mentioned above says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16. He saw humans perishing because of their sin and in love did something about it to meet their need and to satisfy His justice. That is why there HAD TO BE a first Christmas!

  • As one song puts it so well, “Oh the deep, deep love of Jesus -Spread His praise from shore to shore – How He came to pay our ransom- Through the saving cross He bore-How He watches o’er His loved ones-Those He died to make His own -How for them He’s interceding – Pleading now before the throne.”
  • God’s love then at the first Christmas! Seen in sending Jesus to live and die for us, as Paul wrote, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Rom 5:8.
  • God’s love now at this Christmas! Can be seen in the Spirit of His Son coming to live in and through us, to His glory, as we open our lives completely to Him.

Why There Is A Christmas!

Of course we shouldn’t emphasise the wrath of God at Christmas!  We would be foolish to do so when people have no understanding of what His wrath means! But we need to remember that it was the wrath of God needing to be satisfied, that made it necessary for there to be a Christmas!

Every Christmas is a celebration of His birth which led to His necessary death, for US!

Having ministered to hundreds of people individually since my conversion almost 61 years ago, I have become increasingly aware of the sinfulness of sin. Many of the things people shared with me have been horrific. I certainly won’t be sharing any of them in this Christmas season. Other things have been far less horrific in human terms but still had a deep effect on the person involved. One example that came to mind was ministering to a woman in her 90’s. She was a timid soul with no confidence at all. She shared with me what her mother had said to her about 90 years before. It had crippled her emotionally from that time. By the grace of God she learned to forgive her mother and we prayed that she might be set free from the power of those damaging words. Over 90 years of bondage came to an end and she began to blossom emotionally and spiritually from that time! We often fail to realise that a few ill-chosen words can lead to a lifetime of hurt and pain in those who hear them!

Inappropriate Words Can Cause Deep Damage

Words have power and inappropriate words can cause tremendous damage to individuals. It’s no wonder Jesus warned about the danger of careless words, “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak” Mat 12:36. [I found it interesting that the word for “careless” is ‘argon’, the opposite of ‘ergon’ meaning work. It could mean words that we haven’t ‘worked on’ before we said them.] It was the sort of thing Paul warned against when he wrote, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Eph 4:29. Suitable speech is that which builds people up or strengthens them, is appropriate for the occasion, not inappropriate, and is motivated to lead to positive outcomes in the lives of those who hear such speech.

Making This The Best Christmas Yet, For us And For Others

What a wonderful Christmas it would be for us and for others, if we could speak to one another in that positive way outlined in Eph 4:29. An encouraging word! The right words for the right occasion! Coming from the right motivation! To positively bless those who hear them!

What a wonderful Christmas it would be for us and for others, if we could allow God to remind us of hurtful or inappropriate words we have uttered to others that He knows brought hurt, pain or any damage to them, and if we asked Him for the grace and strength to say “SORRY! Please forgive me!” to those individuals. What a wonderful releasing healing gift it would be for someone we had hurt in any way, to hear our words this Christmas, ““SORRY! Please forgive me!” Unexpected Christmas “gifts” from “unexpected” people, at an unexpected time, are always a great blessing.

God’s Christmas gift to to the world was His Son whom He gave, so that we might have the gifts of forgiveness, peace with God and eternal life. My late wife Carole understood this. She knew that she had been died for, by Jesus. She chose beforehand a song to be sung at her Thanksgiving Service just over a month ago. We did indeed sing these words, which remind us that Jesus came at that first Christmas, to die, for us, so that we might live, [as she does now with Him]

“Amazing love, O what sacrifice-

The Son Of God given for me

My debt He pays and my death He dies

That I might live,

That I might live!”

May each one of you know the real joy and peace of Christmas as you remember that God sent Jesus to die for you, so that you might have life, in abundance, in Him!

Blog No.334. Posted on www.jimholbeck.blog on Friday 13th December 2019.

Posted in BIBLE PASSAGE OUTLINES, Bible verses. Comments, Christmas, Forgiveness, Healing, Judgement, Justification, Prayer, Real Life Stories, Salvation, Second coming of Jesus | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

333. Love Came Down At Christmas. Accepting That Love Personally Today! The Truth of Revelation 3:20.

The words “Love Came Down at Christmas” are from a Christmas poem attributed to Christina Rossetti. It is a great reminder that love is the message of Christmas, but we often lose sight of the person of the Christ of Christmas as He is forgotten or ignored among the competing attractions of presents and wrapping and tinsel and rich foods.

This article tries to look at who really is the Christ of Christmas and ends with a challenge to come to know Him personally for oneself. Each section contains sample verses that illustrate the truths being described rather than numerous texts.

1].        WHO IS THIS JESUS WHO CAME DOWN AT THE FIRST CHRISTMAS?

He Is The Eternal Son Of God

John 1:14. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

He Is The Creator [and Sustainer of the universe.]

John 1:3, “All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.”  

Heb 1:1-2, “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2  but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.

Col 1:16 “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17  And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”

He Is The Promised Redeemer

Eph 1:7, ”In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.”

He Is The Present Saviour

Acts 4:12, “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” 

He Is The Present Lord

Act 2:36, “Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

Php 2:9-11, “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

He Will Be The Future Judge

Jesus said of Himself. John 5:27 “And he [God the Father] has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. 28  Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29  and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.”

Act 17:31 “because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

2].        WHY DID HE COME TO EARTH?

To save people from their sins. “an angel of the Lord appeared to him [Joseph, betrothed to Mary] in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Mat 1:20-21.

Why did they need saving?

  • Everyone needs to be saved! All are sinners in the sight of God. “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Rom 3:23.
  • Everyone is perishing until they trust in Jesus, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” Jn 3:16.
  • Those who don’t trust in Jesus remain under His wrath. “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” John 3:36.
  • Everyone is dead in sin and remain under His wrath, until they trust in Jesus, “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” Eph 2:1-3
  • BUT trusting in Jesus brings salvation, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Eph 2:8-9.

3].        WHAT DID HIS COMING TO EARTH ACHIEVE?

The law of God was obeyed perfectly by a human [Jesus].

Mat 5:17-18.“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.”

Rom 10:4, “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”

The penalty for all the breakings of the law was paid in full by Jesus

Rom 5:19 “For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.”

Gal 3:13 ‘Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree.”’

 Forgiveness Of Sins, The gift of the Holy Spirit, Eternal Life, Peace With God and Reconciliation To God, are all available to us, in Him

Eph 1:7 “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.”

Eph 1:13” In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.”

1Jn 5:11-12,“And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.”

Rom 5:1 “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ”.

Rom 5:2 “Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God”.

2Cor 5:18  “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.”

 4].        WHAT CHALLENGE DOES THE CHRIST OF CHRISTMAS PRESENT TO YOU AND ME TODAY?

Jesus Christ is ALIVE! There is a wonderful part of the Holy Communion service in “A Prayer Book for Australia” which has these words to be spoken by all present. It summarises so much of the life and ministry of Christ in 3 simple phrases. It reads, “Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.”  It is a great reminder to all present that the Christ of Christmas cannot be ignored.

“Christ has died” reminds us that He came and died for sinners like you and me. I remember vividly Dr Leon Morris one of the great biblical scholars of the 20th Century, saying in a sermon in the Ridley Theological College Chapel, in Melbourne, Australia when I was a student there, these challenging words, “We Have Been Died For! And By None Other Than The Son Of God Himself!” It put things into perspective. You can’t ignore what He has done. You can’t undo it as an inconvenient truth. You have to take Him [and what He did] seriously.

“Christ is risen” emphasises the truth that death could not contain Him and that He rose from the dead, the victor over sin, death and the powers of darkness. He remains risen! He is alive today!

“Christ will come again.” He is coming back to gather His people to Himself. But the flip side of that is that He is coming to pass judgment on those who rebelled against Him and His teaching, on those who rejected Him and on those who simply ignored Him. You cannot ignore the IGNORABLE!

5].        HOW TO MEET THE CHALLENGE OF THE CHRIST OF CHRISTMAS

I faced a deep challenge as the year 1958 was about to turn into year 1959. It was 15 minutes to New Year’s Eve. I had walked through the crowded streets of Tweed Heads -Coolangatta on the Queensland- New South Wales border. I became aware that even in the midst of thousands of people in various stages of sobriety and inebriation that God’s eyes were on me and I could never hide from Him.

I had read many booklets given to me by my Christian sisters. I had just finished reading “Peace with God” a book written by the famous evangelist Billy Graham.  I had recently listened to teaching tapes of the late John Stott, once a Chaplain to the Queen and the famous Rector of All Souls Langham Place in London. I had begun to realise the truth that “Christ has died, Christ is risen. Christ will come again.” The words of the Risen Jesus in Revelation 3:20 became extremely real to me. He said He was standing at the door of individual human hearts wanting to enter, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”

Now was the time to act on all I had heard and read and to begin the New Year of 1959 as a believer. So I knelt down beside my bed in a flat in Boundary Street Coolangatta and prayed a prayer I had seen in one of John Stotts’ booklets. It was a simple prayer of commitment based on the letters A.B.C.D. It was opening the door of my heart to the Christ of Christmas. At almost New Year!

  1. I had to Admit I was a sinner in the sight of God. I knew I was not a perfect human being.
  2. I had to Believe that Christ had come and died for me as an individual.
  3. I had to Consider the Cost of becoming a believer. I realised that meant ‘boots and all,’ a total commitment of every area of my life to Him, for ever!
  4. I had to Do something about it. I had to invite Him into my life to be my Saviour and to enthrone Him as Lord of the remainder of my life.

I tell the story that as I finished the prayer, the bells rang out, the horns of cars were being honked and thousands of people were yelling out and rejoicing in the streets outside. Because the NEW YEAR had come in!  I was later to learn that at the same time there was rejoicing among the angels in heaven that another sinner had come home! “Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Lk 15:10. It’s nice to think that what happened that night made no difference to the joy in the surrounding streets, but it did have an impact in heaven!

You could have your own encounter with the Christ of Christmas [who is watching you read this article and is knocking on the door of your heart even now] by praying the same sort of prayer I prayed at that time, which has led to almost 61 years of indescribable blessing for me. I didn’t realise that night that the Lord would lead me to the most beautiful life partner one could ever wish for [almost 54 years of a joy-filled marriage ending just a month ago when my wife Carole succumbed to an incurable cancer] and to the blessing of children and grandchildren. I didn’t realise that He would enable me to have a fulltime ministry for over 38 years that would include 28 years of challenging ministry in Cathedrals, nor ministering overseas on about 10 occasions for at least a month at a time. Nor did I realise that He would take Carole and me through difficult times when we would discover greater depths of His love, comfort and power. He has His own plan for you as an individual. You can discover it, as you too, open the door to the Christ of Christmas.

Here is a suggested prayer you can pray, based on the ABCD prayer I prayed.

“Dear Lord, I admit that I am a sinner in Your sight, but I do believe that You Jesus died on the cross for me. I have considered the cost of becoming a Christian but when I realise what it cost You to give up Your life for me, then no sacrifice I could ever make, would be too much for me to make for You.

I choose now to open the door of my life to You and invite You in to be my Saviour from sin. Come and take control of every part of my life as my Lord and Master.

I thank You Jesus for coming into my life and for the good things You are going to do in me and through me as I keep yielding my life over to You. Accept my thanks in Your precious name of JESUS. AMEN!

 [If you felt it might be helpful to tell me that you have prayed the prayer, then you could let me know that wonderful news by emailing me on jimholbeck@gmail.com

I would consider it a privilege to keep on praying for you in the days ahead, that you might experience the Lord’s richest blessings.]

May you have a joyous and blessed Christmas in fellowship with the Christ of Christmas and by the grace of God, enter into the New Year as a grateful switched-on new creature in Him!

Blog No.333. posted on www.jimholbeck.blog on Sunday 8th December 2019

Posted in BIBLE PASSAGE OUTLINES, Bible verses. Comments, Christmas, Creation, Forgiveness, Judgement, Justification, Prayer, Real Life Stories, Salvation, spiritual warfare, Temptations | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

332. Ephesians 5:1-16. Walking In Love And In The Light. [In the series “Praying through Ephesians.”]

I began this series in August 2016 just after my wife Carole and I had been told [once again] that her particular cancer was incurable and death would soon follow. We were often reminded  in the following months that imminent death was not a case of “if” but rather a case of “when.”

Our response was to bring this to the Lord to see what He would do about the situation in His infinite love and power. It seemed appropriate to pray our way through Paul’s letter to the Ephesians as part of being open to His grace and love. Carole passed into the presence of the Lord just a month ago. However in the months leading to her death, she said she had come closer to the Lord than at any time in her life. She said that she was ready to keep living for the Lord, or to obey Him if He called her home. By the grace of God, she succeeded in doing both!

Grieving the loss of my best friend ever [as well as being my beloved wife] makes it harder at the moment to focus, so I have made use of some previous material [from 2011] to help formulate this look at Ephesians 5. Blog number 044 was an Outline of the Ephesians 5 passage and I will adapt some of its contents.

A SIMPLE PRAYER BASED ON EPHESIANS 5:1-16 INCORPORATING THE FOLLOWING TREATMENT OF THE PASSAGE

“Heavenly Father, we thank You for the privilege of being called children of God. Help us to have the same sort of love that Jesus showed in giving up His life so that we might live.

Enable us by Your Spirit to be pure as you are pure in all our relationships and to have a thankful heart towards You for the grace You give us to live for You.

May our Christian walk show that we have been brought from darkness into Your glorious light.

Help us to be wise and to live every moment for You.  We ask these things in Jesus’ name. AMEN”.  

WALKING IN LOVE AND IN THE LIGHT. EPHESIANS 5:1-16

Paul opens the section with an admonition to “walk” in love. He uses “walk” 6 times in this epistle to denote the manner of life needed to be lived by the believer.  (See Note 1 below). A new spiritual birth necessitated a new walk or a whole new manner of life for the one who had come to believe.

1).      WALKING IN LOVE AS AN IMITATION OF GOD’S LOVE. 5:1-4

What it involved.  Living in the family likeness of Father and Son. 

Paul had finished the previous chapter with these words, “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Eph 4:32. God Himself was to be the pattern for kindness, tender-heartedness and forgiveness. Paul continued on that same theme in chapter 5 as he wrote, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.”

  • God Himself formed the perfect pattern and the example of love they were to imitate.
  • Jesus also showed forth the sort of love they were to walk in. They were to love in the same self-giving, sacrificial way that Christ loved.  “And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” We note the following
    • The command was to “keep on walking in love’ for the verb is a present tense imperative or command.
    • The example of such love was seen in Jesus, “as Christ loved us.”
    • Such love was sacrificial for the “other”, “and [Jesus] gave himself up for us.” [Gave up” is from paradidōmi; παραδίδωμι] and was often used of Jesus being handed over or delivered to someone.  [NOTE 2} It is important to note that it was Jesus’ choice to give Himself up. It was not forced upon Him by the Father or by anyone else.
    • “a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Those who witnessed the crucifixion of Jesus and His subsequent death may have had differing attitudes to what happened. But God Himself was pleased with this sacrifice for it had a positive purpose, namely the fulfilling of His will, through the redemption of the world through Jesus’ sacrificial death.

 What it didn’t involveNo more living as they once did. Believers were to live new lives

  • The Old Life had to come to an end.  “But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.” 5:3. Such behaviour was not appropriate for the people of God. 
  • Negative, destructive words and actions had to cease. “ Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking which are out of place” (5:4). It is unusual to find these 3 Greek words placed together when none of them occur elsewhere in the New Testament.  Why should such language cease? Because it was “out of place” or not fitting.
  • The Contrast. The positive aspects of the New Life.  “but instead let there be thanksgiving” 5:4. Humans have a choice, to be positive and affirming or to be negative and destructive. The way to become the former, is through “thanksgiving.“ It is the word [eucharistia; εὐχαριστία] from which we get the English word “eucharist,” a service of thanksgiving. It is no wonder that Paul stressed the need for thanksgiving as he wrote in 1 Thess 5:18, “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”  The verb here is [eucharisteō; εὐχαριστέω] derived from eucharistia. Thanksgiving to God in every situation, is God’s will for His people, because He knows that when they are focussed on Him in praise, adoration and thanksgiving, they are living as He always meant His creatures to live.

2).       THE DANGER FOR THOSE WHO CONTINUE TO LIVE THE OLD LIFE. 5:5

  • They miss out on God’s inheritance. “For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.(5:5). We need to recognise that Paul is describing unrepented continuous or habitual activity where people have not turned to God in repentance for forgiveness, and for His help to be different.
  • They will suffer the wrath of God. “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.” Again we note that it is continuous unrepented sin that is being spoken of here. The wrath of God is a reality facing every person who does not honour the Son of God by accepting Him as Saviour and by subsequently obeying Him as Lord. [Because it is a major concept, it may need a separate article in the future. Suffice it to say, the reality of the wrath of God is far beyond human imagination, mainly because we have no idea of the sinfulness of sin in the eyes of a holy God.]

3).       THE RESPONSIBILITIES FOR THOSE LIVING THE NEW LIFE. 5:6-16

Walking in the light rather than in the former darkness. “Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.”5:7-10.  John wrote of Jesus as the light coming into the world to dispel the darkness, “And this is the judgment:  17 the light has come into the world, and 18 people loved the, darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.” John 1:16-20. Enlightened believers should no longer walk in the darkness from which they have been rescued by Christ.

Walking in the light to expose the darkness. “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” 5:11-14. John expressed the same truth in these words, “But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” Or as Paul put it in Phil 2:12-13, “Therefore, my beloved,  as you have always  obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13  for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” We need to work out in practice what God inwardly working in us, which gives Him pleasure and also shows “the light of the world” at work in, and through us, to His glory.

Before we leave this section we should note the significance of these words in verse 10, “and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.” The word “discern” [dokimazō; δοκιμάζω] seems to have been a favourite expression of St Paul’s. He used it 16 of the 21 times it is used in the New Testament. Perhaps its most well-known occurrence is in Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” The underlined phrase translates our one word [dokimazō]. It has those 2 meanings, to test and then to approve after testing. It is in setting out to actively do the will of God that we ourselves find His will, to be good, acceptable and perfect, AND far more importantly, pleasing to Him.

Walking carefully and wisely so as to not waste time.  “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” 5:15-16. Paul has been showing the necessity of walking in the will of God, but now he adds that they need to do so, carefully. Why would he need to add that provision? Fortunately, he gives us the answer. He recognised that it is possible for even believers to be unwise and waste their God-given time in an evil world.   As Paul wrote in the verse I quoted above, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Rom 12:2. It is all too easy for anyone living in this evil world to come under its influence. “Conformed” is from [syschēmatizō; συσχηματίζω].  It means to conform to a pattern or mould. It can mean thinking in a worldly way, or living no differently from the world around us or adopting the same attitudes as those who are still unregenerate.

The JB Phillips translation simply, but meaningfully, said, “Don’t let the world squeeze you into its mould.” The solution Paul gave was to be transformed by having a renewed mind, by the Spirit of God.  “Transformed” is from [metamorphoō; μεταμορφόω] from which we get our English word metamorphosis. It is used of the transfiguration of Jesus and also of our transformation into the likeness of God, from one degree of glory to another, in 2 Cor 3:18, where he adds, “For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”

How can this take place? By “making the best use of the time,” Paul writes, where the word used is [exagorazō; ἐξαγοράζω] which means to redeem or to buy back. In other words, making the best use of every God-given opportunity to do His will to His glory.

What a challenge this passage is to us, to live for the Lord, for every moment of our lives, to bring Him pleasure.

______________________________________________________________________________

NOTES

NOTE 1. “Walk.” In 2:10, it is to walk in the good works God has prepared for His people. In 4:1 the readers were encouraged to remember their calling and to walk worthily of that calling. In 4:17  it was a reminder that they should no longer walk in the way of the Gentiles.  In 5:2 it is to walk in love and also in 5:8 they were to walk as children of light. Finally in 5:15 they were to be careful to walk as wise rather than as unwise people.)

NOTE 2. The word “gave up” [paradidōmi; παραδίδωμι] is used of Jesus also in the following verses, in terms of being “handed over.” Praise God that the human handing over of Jesus to others was all part of His giving up Himself to achieve the will of God for Him.

  • The betrayal of Jesus by Judas Iscariot. Mk 14:10, “Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them.”
  • The chief priests delivering Jesus to Pilate. Mk 15:1 “And as soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. And they bound Jesus and led him away and delivered him over to Pilate.”
  • Pilate handing Jesus over to the chief priests and the crowds. Mk 15:15, ‘So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified”.  ALSO Lk 23:25, “He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, for whom they asked, but he delivered Jesus over to their will.”

Blog No.332. Ephesians 5:1-16. Walking In Love And In The Light. [In the series “Praying through Ephesians.”]. Posted on www.jimholbeck.blog on Monday 2nd December 2019.

 

 

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331. Ephesians 4:25-32. Encouragements To Live As A Christian. God’s Advice In How To Do It! [In The Series “Praying Through Ephesians.”]

In this final part of Ephesians 4 we find that God, through Paul, gave instructions designed to help believers to “love our neighbours as ourselves.” He reminds his readers that “we are members of one another” in the body of Christ! He also gives a number of prohibitive commandments to encourage them not to hurt other people. It contains some positive affirmations and commands showing how true Christian love can be expressed.

One can notice in the passage an emphasis on the need for correct speech towards others. It also warns about the damaging effects of out of control emotions. The passage concludes with an encouragement to be kind, tender-hearted and forgiving towards others. [Like God is to us.]

[A more detailed study at the end of the article will more meaning to different parts of the passage and give an added depth to our understanding of the grace of God towards His creatures.]

THE PASSAGE FROM EPHESIANS 4:25-32

[ESV] “Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbour, for we are members one of another. 26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil. 28 Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labour, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. 29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamour and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

A SIMPLE PRAYER BASED ON EPHESIANS 4:25-32

“Dear Lord, You have told us to be real in all our relationships with our fellow believers. We thank You that You give us the grace to overcome the temptations of the devil so that we can have victory over anger, covetousness and laziness. Help me to make a positive contribution to my fellow believers in what I do for them and in what I say to them and about them. Enable me by Your Spirit to be able to say the right thing, to the right person, at the right time, with the right motivation, in order to edify them and build them up spiritually.  

I thank You that You have sealed me with Your Holy Spirit for eternity and I pray that by Your Holy Spirit’s power I may put aside all negative emotions and negative speech. Empower me by Your Spirit to show forth kindness and tender heartedness whilst forgiving all others in the same way that Christ has forgiven me. I ask these things in Jesus’ name. AMEN”

A QUICK OVERALL VIEW OF EPHESIANS 4:25-32

1]. Be in control of your speaking. Eph 4:25 Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbour, for we are members one of another.

2]. Be in control of your emotions. Eph 4:26  Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,

3]. Be in control of yourself. Don’t let Satan control you! Eph 4:27  and give no opportunity to the devil.

4]. Be a giver, not a taker in relationships. Eph 4:28  Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labour, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.

5]. Be one who builds up other people, not one who destroys them. Eph 4:29  Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

6]. Be open to the Holy Spirit. Don’t grieve Him. Eph 4:30  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

7]. Be willing to remove all negativity [in attitudes, words and actions] from your life. Eph 4:31  Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.

8]. Be kind and forgiving, like God Himself. Eph 4:32  Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

A MORE DETAILED STUDY OF EPHESIANS 4:25-32

Eph 4:25 “Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbour, for we are members one of another.”

We have an obligation to one another to speak the truth to them, because we belong to the same body of Christ. It is assumed that we should put away falsehood [from pseudos; ψεῦδος] and should make it a habit to [keep on] speaking the truth with one another. [“Speak” is a present imperative verb denoting continuous or habitual activity.] Jesus spoke in very strong language of the danger of lying and falsehood as He accused His hearers of being of the devil and following him, ”You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” Jn 8:44. As verse 27 in this Eph 4 passage infers ,one can open the door to the devil by engaging in lying and falsehood.

Eph 4:26 “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger”

The word for “be angry” is [orgizō; ὀργίζω] and can mean to provoke to anger or be provoked.  One translation puts it, “In your anger do not sin.” It is probably true to say that that everyone gets angry or get angered at times, but they don’t have to give way to it. Instead of dwelling on the situation in which they are angry or angered, people can take their time reflecting on it, hopefully getting it into perspective and dealing with it in a positive way before sleep sets in.

Eph 4:27 “and give no opportunity to the devil”

Literally it reads, “give no place to the devil.” ‘Opportunity’ here is [topov; τόπον] meaning simply a place or a space. One is to allow no space for any interference or influence from the devil who is wanting to take advantage of one’s uncontrolled emotions.  We see in this passage that speaking  falsehood [telling lies] and losing control of one’s anger is making a space for the devil to bring undesirable influences to bear on a person.

Eph 4:28 “Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labour, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.”

Believers are to be givers not takers! They are to make positive contributions to those in genuine need and not simply be on the take for themselves.

 Eph 4:29 ”Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

Watching the mouth gate. The word for “corrupting” [sapros; σαπρός] can mean rotten or decaying or worthless. By contrast, speech is mean to be good or beneficial [agathos ἀγαθός] as well as good for building up [oikodomē; οἰκοδομή] where this latter word means strengthening or edifying. As I noted above, it means giving the right word, to the right person, at the right time, from the right motivation, for the purpose of bringing God’s grace to those who hear it.

Eph 4:30  “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”

The Holy Spirit is a person who indwells every believer and seals every believer with His presence.  ‘Sealed’ is from [sphragizō; σφραγίζω] denoting the process of sealing by the Holy Spirit as a mark of ownership and permanence.  The Holy Spirit as a person is able to be grieved. Grieved by inappropriate words, timings and motivations which may be contrary to the Spirit. The Spirit is grieved when apparently ‘right’ words are said but where the motivation behind them is to flatter, deceive or manipulate the conversation for one’s own personal advantage.

Eph 4:31 “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamour and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.” Negative emotions such as bitterness, wrath and anger give rise to negative speech such as clamour, slander and malice. They all have to be lifted up [the meaning of the verb airō; αἴρω], put away or removed. Paul recognised the danger of bitterness and what it could lead to in terms of words and actions. The writer of Psalm 73 had already written about bitterness, [Psa 73:21 “When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, 22 I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you.” Psalm 73:21-22. Bitterness destroys people’s sense of right and wrong. It twists their perception of reality. The sense of instability and explosiveness of bitterness can be seen in a modern adaption of the Greek NT word [pikria; πικρία]. As a former Government Industrial Chemist I came across a chemical called “picric acid.” It was known both for its “bitter” taste and especially its very high instability and its explosive nature [having been used as an explosive before the First World War.] A person deliberately harbouring bitterness can become emotionally unstable and often explosive in nature just like the acid itself.

Eph 4:32 “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” The positive steps to take.

  • ‘Be kind’ is from [chrēstos; χρηστός] meaning easy, good and gracious. It is used of God Himself in being kind “for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil” Lk 6:35 and in Romans 2:4, “not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?” 1Peter 2:3 declares, “now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.” God is good, and we are meant to draw upon His goodness as we ask Him to fill us with the presence of His Holy Spirit.
  • “Tender hearted’ [eusplagchnos; εὔσπλαγχνος] from [eu; εὖ] meaning good or well and [splagchnon; σπλάγχνον] meaning bowels, compassion or deepest feelings. It is the healthy emotion coming from one’s inmost being as one is filled with the presence of the Holy Spirit.
  • “Forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave you.” The word for “forgive” here is a very interesting word with a very deep concept behind it. The usual word for forgive is [aphiēmi; ἀφίημι ] meaning to loose or to free from. However the word here in verse 32 is [charizomai; χαρίζομαι based on charis; χάρις = grace] which has the meaning to act in grace towards someone, to bestow an unearned or an undeserved gift. God acted that way in forgiving us, so we are to act in the same way in forgiving our fellow humans. We gift them with something [our forgiveness] they could never deserve or earn.

That brings us then to the end of Chapter 4 of Ephesians. We have the text above, followed by a prayer based on that text. Then a brief overview of the passage before we engaged on some deeper truths found in the passage. I hope the above material may be helpful.

Blog No.331. Posted on www.jimholbeck.blog on Monday 25th November 2019.

 

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330. A FURTHER TRIBUTE TO MY BELOVED WIFE CAROLE ANN HOLBECK. 1943-2019

I wrote this the night before my late wife’s Thanksgiving service in Port Macquarie on Monday 11th November. Because there were massive fires throughout the state of NSW, it meant that a lot of folk who wanted to come to the service, could not do so. This article is to share with them some memories of Carole I would have wanted people to know. I wrote a Tribute to Carole not long after she passed on to be with the Lord. This is to be found on my blogsite www.jimholbeck.blog article number 329. This later article may fill in some of the gaps.

Seemingly insignificant incidents sometimes have great meaning and outcomes

When Carole first began to come to CMS [Church Missionary Society) League of Youth (nothing to do with Communism) meetings and camps I was delighted to see her there, as I had a lot of a lot of admiration for her known achievements for winning prizes in the big Ipswich eisteddfods of that era. There was also her formidable guiding and sporting achievements. At one camp held at the Gold Coast there was a BBQ on the beach. One had to join a queue to receive one’s bread and sausage. Strictly only one serving per person initially! There was a disadvantaged young fellow there, so I decided to collect mine and give it to him and then rejoin the queue. I did and as I arrived back with the meal to give to the young fella I found that Carole had had the very same thought and had beaten me to it! I remember thinking, “Wow! What a thoughtful classy young woman. She seems to put the needs of others above her own.”  I discovered that this was not one isolated event. She did self-effacing considerate things ALL the time. A little incident, but it had a major impact on me! I noticed what she had done! I also noticed just who had done it! ( I obviously REALLY noted who had done this act of kindness.) Small incident! Massive eternal outcomes!

Carole gave her life completely to the Lord at a youth camp in Toowoomba. I had been absent for the meeting because of another appointment. When I returned she was there to tell me the good news.  She told me much later that she felt she should tell me first because I was the Leader of the group and because I had been kind to her. That touched me more deeply than I realised it could possibly do. Could this intelligent, multi-talented, popular, beautiful young woman ever get to like someone ordinary like me?

At one of our Ipswich youth meetings I asked her to do the reading for the night, knowing it would be read beautifully with feeling.  She agreed to do so, even at very short notice. But her face paled a bit when she opened the Bible and found it was the story of the woman of Samaria, a reading of some 42 verses! I discovered that she would do anything for the Lord, even at very short notice! But later on, from time to time she would remind me of the incident with a smile which read, “Don’t you ever do that again!”

An incident in my own life impacted very much later on Carole’s as well. I had been invited to a Leaders in Renewal Conference in Canterbury UK. It was a significant conference. Some who had come to the previous conference had later been martyred for their faith. Some present at this conference had risked their lives in coming. Carole and I at the time were facing our own smaller challenge. We were moving from Armidale to Sydney diocese which had a reputation, in some quarters, for being unfriendly to outsiders coming into the diocese.

When we were asked at the end of the conference to consider what we felt the Lord had said to us during the conference, I thought something like this. GOD has commanded us to love each other with Christ’s love. That is my responsibility. The other person is meant to do the same. If I am faithful in seeking to love the other person with Christ’s love and they reject me, that is their problem, not mine. I am still to keep on reaching out in love to them. The accompanying thought was this, it is only “hurting people” who hurt others. If they were healed or whole, filled with the love of God, they would not hurt others.  In other words, when people hurt others, they do so from weakness rather than from strength! They are not to be feared but to be loved. They need help and healing! Carole said she found this liberating in her contact with the many people with whom she had to associate. It meant we had a common attitude and approach to those who were nasty, antagonistic or simply indifferent to us. We were to discover that it did work in practice!

Carole always had a great ability to work with volunteers and with old established groups like the Ladies Guild, even when she was a young clergy wife in her 20’s. At one Guild meeting a very prickly older member showed off some unbreakable cups she thought they should buy for the Guild. With a confident cry, “Look at this!” the woman cast one of the cups to the floor. The unbreakable cup showed its true colours! It shattered all over the floor! Carole contained herself until a couple of other members burst out laughing.  She could not control herself any longer as the whole group roared with laughter. Fortunately after a few seconds, the woman herself joined in. The prickly woman had noticed that Carole had not initially burst into laughter, but had exercised some restraint.  She was later to become a great admirer of Carole and a close friend.

Carole was always looking around to find someone in need to help. When she was in Royal Prince Alfred hospital in Sydney for a thyroid operation she was well enough to observe the care being given [or not given] to the other 5 patients in the ward. One of the patients was a Muslim woman who spoke no English. Because she couldn’t communicate with the nursing staff Carole would bring them up to date on the woman’s situation. It meant the woman recognised that Carole was responsible for getting the care she had previously missed out on. As the Muslim woman left the ward to go home, she came across to Carole, took both her hands and intimated that she would pray for her. Astonishingly when Carole was leaving the ward to go home some days later, the nursing staff came to say their goodbyes and to thank her for all the help she had been to them during her stay. Unusual I thought! But very understandable! [No nurse ever wants to be accused of neglect of patients even in frantically busy  wards.]

In her final days on earth Carole continued to live by her motto, not to use people for her own personal advantage. That applied to her time in hospital. Instead of contacting the nursing staff to help get her to the bathroom, she tried not to disturb them. That led to a number of falls. One wise nurse eventually managed to change Carole’s mind by saying it was their job to get her there and back, not hers, and she was actually making their job harder. Carole always knew the protocols and knew they were right. In humility, she capitulated.  She had after all taught OH&S for several years before her retirement.

In the last few days of her life Carole was barely able to communicate. After trying to talk to her without getting any sort of response, I would sit in silence beside her, waiting to see any movement or hear any word. Nothing happened! Suddenly a day or two before her death, she spoke clearly! One word, “Shuttlecock” [a form of badminton.] We had only played a few games together in our marriage, but it was a game she and her parents would play at her home in the late afternoons. It seemed to me that she had been recalling moments of her childhood. Of her beloved parents. Whom she knew she was soon to join!

I have always been filled with utter admiration for the woman she was, and later became. What an amazing woman! What an amazing faithful friend! What an amazing contribution she has made to the lives of all of us who knew her. What amazing contributions she made to the lives she touched, whom we may never meet! But they will be there, like us, to thank her when she greets us with Him in His presence!

The writer of Proverbs 31 asked the question, “A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.” I can answer the writer’s question with, “Halleluia, I found one! Praise the Lord that He brought us together for almost 54 years of marriage, and ultimately, for ever!” God is good! All the time!

Blog No.330. Posted on http://www.jimholbeck.blog on Monday 11th November 2019.

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329. A Tribute To A Wonderful Godly Woman. Carole Ann Holbeck. My Late Beloved Wife and Very Best Friend

Carole’s Early days

Carole was born Carole Ann Tapsell in Kharagpur in India in 1943. She was the daughter of Carl Tapsell the famous hockey player who had received Gold Medals for India in the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles and in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. He is acknowledged as being the world’s first penalty-corner goal-scoring specialist in the game. He was tipped to be the Captain for the Indian team for the London Olympics in 1948. Her mother was Eileen Slaney who had lived all her life in India as part of the British Raj. A forebear had been Lord Mayor of London but many of the family came in very early days to India in the Army and others came to help establish railway systems in India. What led her father to bring his family to Australia in 1947? It was the year of the partition of India into India and Pakistan. There was much unrest at the time. As he followed one of his teammates off the field at the end of a game, a young woman ran up to present this teammate with a bunch of flowers. But among the flowers was a knife which she plunged into his heart. He died in front of Carole’s father. It was time to leave.

Carole’s family came by ship and there was a foretaste of things to come. Twice Carole was found on the outside of the ship’s rails! An adventurous spirit even at four years of age! They eventually flew from Melbourne into the Brisbane airport at Archerfield.  Then to Ipswich where Carl worked for and later helped the famous Hancock’s sawmill’s hockey team to unprecedented victories. Carole in the meantime was not well and her mother was advised to let her go to a higher altitude in Toowoomba to board at the Glennie School for girls. She remembered not being bullied as the youngest girl in the school but rather being spoilt! She also remembered vividly her father at a later time, sitting at their kitchen table with young hockey players talking about game strategies. [One of those young players finished up not only playing for Australia but also becoming a successful coach for British and Australian Olympic Hockey teams.]

School years

She returned to schooling at the Ipswich Central School (she was disappointed recently to miss the 62ndanniversary of year 8 leavers.) Then later on to Ipswich Girls Grammar School. It was during this time that I first heard the name Carole Tapsell. Everyone in Ipswich had of course heard of her father Carl. But she had done art of speech and on Saturday mornings on the local radio station 4IP some selected students recited over the radio. I remember hearing this beautiful melodious voice from a girl named Carole Tapsell whom I assumed was Carl’s daughter. She had won numerous Eisteddfods.  Later I began to hear and read about her exploits as a Girl Guide and as a sportswoman in swimming, tennis, netball and athletics. I vividly recall seeing a photo in the local Qld Times Newspaper of her as the Sports Captain of the school leading a march past of IGGS athletes at an Athletics Carnival and thinking at the time,” What an attractive girl!” Her school blazer pocket listed some of her achievements. She also became a sprint champion at the Qld GPS Athletic championships in Brisbane. unnamed

When Carole left school, she went to Kelvin Grove Teacher’s College where she became the female student rep on the College Council. She also received a scholarship to do a Diploma in Phys Ed at the University of Qld. It was about this time that I entered the Tapsell scene. Her parents had been encouraged by their Rector to go by a bus he hired, to the Billy Graham Crusade. It was packed. So, he hired 2 buses the next night and dozens of parishioners gave their lives to the Lord including Carole’s mother. She became the main parish organist and taught Sunday School. I had just become a believer months before and began to go to the same parish. I finished up teaching at the same Sunday School and began to go to Carole’s parent’s home to talk about Sunday School etc. I was impressed with the daughter! She impressed me as a dedicated sportsperson and for her strong but lovely personality. She told me many years later that I had seen her in her school uniform at that time and had called her “licorice legs” because of the black stockings!  She got her own back in the end! Marriage!

Carole became an inspiring leader in GFS [a youth group for girls.] She later joined the CMS League of Youth young people’s group that I had been asked to lead. At a youth camp at Shannon Park in Toowoomba she gave her life fully to the Lord, under the ministry of Lance Shilton of Holy Trinity Adelaide. [So did about 90 plus other young people.] Because many did not have transport I would pick up many young folk to take to the meetings. Because she lived closest to the church she was the last to be picked up and the first one dropped off. But as the months wore on, something changed. She became the last to be dropped off!

Carole’s Teaching career

Carole graduated as a teacher and as a Physical Education specialist. She began to teach swimming in the Summer months at many Primary schools around Ipswich and Brisbane. She would have taught literally hundreds of children to swim over those years. In the winter months she moved into High Schools, again in the same Ipswich-Brisbane circuit. At the [Ipswich] Brassall High as it was then called, she trained a sprint relay team to break the State athletic age group record. At another High School in another very challenging part of Brisbane she was always invited into the Headmaster’s Office on Monday mornings to “discuss her programme”. It was a challenging time for Carole as he always looked her up and down in disturbing ways, so she learned to keep the desk between him and herself. When someone suggested she should complain to the Teachers Union, they discovered he was one of its leaders!

She also taught hockey which came to her naturally [she had not played at school but soon became a member of the University of Queensland A Grade hockey team when she began to play. She later became the coach and also selector for the Queensland Schoolgirls state hockey team.  [The last time I saw her play hockey was in Melbourne when she was playing in a lower grade competition in a team that had the barest allowable players on that day. It could have been 8 in her team to 11 in the opposing team. In 20 minutes, the score was 4 to nil. All goals scored by Carole as she weaved her way at high speed through the competition. From that point she was swamped with defenders and the final score was 5 to 4 in favour of the opposing side. [She was always tenacious in the face of opposition.]

Holbeck – Tapsell relationship

I mentioned before that Carole became the last person to be dropped off when I drove people home from our meetings. I realised I was besotted with her. She was very attractive. She was funny, meaning having a great sense of humour. She was fully committed to any task she faced. She loved people and wanted the best for everyone. She was someone whom I admired immensely. She had become a great friend whom I knew I could always trust. But how to tell her that I loved her? I didn’t ever want to hurt or disappoint her in any way. I always only wanted the best for her as she wanted the best for everyone. It happened one night after we had been to evening church together. Plucking up all my reserves of courage I said these passionate words of great love, “Carole, I think I’m beginning to like you!” Hardly the sort of passionate outburst that makes it into romantic novels! But I only wanted the very best for her. I didn’t want to spoil her life by loading her with a second or third best! She told me later that when we first kissed, she saw stars! I think I was shocked to discover that this wonderful person could love someone like me.

I went in 1964 to Ridley College in Melbourne to study theology. It was about 1700 km away from Ipswich, but Carole would visit my parents several times a week to encourage them. She also wrote many letters to me keeping me up to date on my parents as well as adding other local and church news. I returned home in August for a break between terms. We travelled together to Monto to visit my sister and brother in law who was the Rector there. As we returned to Ipswich I pulled up outside a little town called Esk. It was the 22ndAugust. There I proposed! Carole accepted!  We drove home to her place where her parents were delighted with the news. Her mother had always had a soft spot for me as a fellow teacher in Sunday school. Her father had known of me over the years from the newspapers as an Ipswich A Grade Rugby League player. He knew I had now come a believer and was pleased that I seemed to be “good” for his beloved daughter.

My father became ill soon after and died within days of a brain tumour. Carole [as well as other members of our family] was a great comfort to me in those very sad days. We eventually married months later on 22nd January 1966 just after she had finished her bond with the Qld Education Department. Then it was immediately off to Melbourne where we moved into a gracious old home which belonged to the College on The Avenue at Parkville. It was an experience in community living as we shared the house with 4 other married couples, two female Indonesian students who barely spoke English and a single fellow who occupied a tiny room that was once a maid’s room. One bathroom. One toilet. One electric stove. One coke [formerly heated coal] heater for heating water which we had to be on a roster to stoke up every day, some fellas being more reliable than others! But it was a great time and it helped prepare us for challenging times ahead. Carole began to teach as Sports Mistress at Lakeside High School at Reservoir on the northern outskirts of Melbourne. Because every child in Victoria becomes addicted to Australian Rules Football [AFL] from an early age, she had to encourage the boys to learn to kick a football which they did in every break. After her school day was over, we would go across the road to a large park where we would practise how to drop punt a football, do torpedo punts, drop kicks and pass AFL style. Then she would teach the boys at school, most of whom did not need much coaching.

It was pleasing that Carole commanded the respect of the almost entirely male student body in the college. She was the most gracious and helpful person you could ever find, but she stood no nonsense from anyone. When the house was eventually pulled down to be replaced by a modern building we moved to the garage at the back of the property. By garage I mean a single car garage. It had been big enough originally for one car, and had a little workbench that became our kitchen and then was cleared to become my study. The garage was enclosed at the front with a door and a window.   A wardrobe separated the front of the garage from what became our bedroom at the back. The only water available was to be found in a shared outside bathroom about 15 metres away.  For some reason the door had been cut so that the bottom of the door was about 2 feet from the ground and the top of the door was about my shoulder height. Not an ideal setup in a climate like Melbourne’s four seasons in one day climate! Our bed was a door mounted on bricks and a borrowed mattress completed our furniture arrangements. But Carole never complained one iota. She actually saw all this stuff as “fun!”

The Mt Gravatt, Brisbane connection

When I graduated from College we were invited to join the staff at a church in Gunnedah, NSW, and also the famous church at Holy Trinity, Adelaide. But because our surviving parents were aging we returned to Brisbane Diocese where we served at Coorparoo parish for 4 years before I was appointed as Rector of Mt Gravatt parish, where it seemed nobody wanted to go to. This too was a challenge. The Rectory was tiny. It had had only 2 bedrooms and was perched on a high bank on the crest of a hill above the main Brisbane to Sydney highway at that time. Noise and dust became our constant enemies!

The editor of Australia’s largest church newspaper paper came to interview us. He was clearly bothered by the noise and later wrote in the paper that the Rectory was the worst he had seen on the east coast of Australia and that he admired Carole’s tenacity in being willing to live there with 2 young children to care for! There was no church, just a hall that had to be set up every Saturday night! By the Rector and his wife! So, we would wheel our kids over to the hall in their prams, sweep the floor, set up the pews, and clean the toilets. Carole was amazing! She said one night with a smile as we were cleaning the toilets, ”Did we get our degrees just to clean toilets?”  Her attitude was that if it was all part of serving the Lord, then no hardship mattered. She was just grateful to be serving the Lord, no matter what! I don’t know if any other woman could have kept on rejoicing and being thankful to the Lord in the challenges she faced. With good humour!

Carole was faithful to the Lord but faithful too was the Lord! In the 6 plus years we were there, we saw the Lord at work in an amazing way. There was a small faithful band of praying women in Mothers Union. They were soon joined with Carole’s encouragement by a Young Members Department of Mothers Union which grew from a few to about 70 young women between the ages roughly 18 to 45. The Sunday School that Carole eventually led, grew to become one of the largest in the diocese. By the grace of God and with the help of believers from other churches, a new brick church was built and following that a brand-new brick Rectory as well.

The Armidale NSW connection

It was a different situation when I accepted the invitation to become the Dean of St Peter’s Cathedral in Armidale.  It was sad to leave what God was doing at Mt Gravatt, but we knew there was a wonderful young minister who would be able to replace us. So, we left with sad hearts saying Goodbye to all the friends we had made at Mt Gravatt.  Yet Carole believed that we should accept the invitation in spite of the wrench she would personally feel, as she would frequently say, “There is no blessing for anyone in being disobedient to God.”

The Deanery in Armidale was comfortable and ready to be lived in. It was a lovely Horbury Hunt designed building finished in 1891. We formed many wonderful friendships in Armidale which still persist although two of Carole’s closest Armidale friends passed away within the last couple of months. We saw another demonstration of the power of God as many folk were converted to Christ and filled with His Holy Spirit. A women’s luncheon organised by Carole during a John Smith God Squad Mission in Armidale drew over 700 women with others on a waiting list. Armidale was a wonderful city for our family in which to grow up over those 10 years in the parish. It was here in our later days in the parish that Carole began to teach part-time in TAFE in Child Studies.

The Sydney connection

We received an invitation to be interviewed for me to become the Rector of the parish of St Matthew’s Manly in Sydney. We were told later by one nominator that we had been accepted by the parish nominators and that the then Archbishop of Sydney had approved of their decision. But Diocesan Nominators also have a decision. They disapproved for whatever reason. Carole wasn’t disappointed or bitter. We were grateful to be able to remain in Armidale.  However, it was not long after that we received a request from the Healing Ministry at St Andrew’s Cathedral in Sydney to consider being a replacement for Canon Jim Glennon after his impending retirement. Carole said she didn’t mind me being approached because having been knocked back for a Sydney parish she thought it would be unlikely for us to be considered for a place on the staff of the Cathedral of the Diocese. To our surprise we were accepted and though Carole did not look forward to any separation from our kids, we felt it right to leave our two oldest kids at Boarding schools in Armidale and move to a Cathedral house at Cheltenham. It was gut wrenching for Carole because not only were our older two separated from us, but we had to find alternate accommodation for Carole’s mother who had been living with us in Armidale. The Cheltenham house on a steep slope could not accommodate Gran’s frailties. Fortunately, we were able to obtain accommodation for her at the Anglican Retirement Mowll Village where she had a real ministry in music and encouraging conversations with other residents.

I saw another depth to Carole’s resilience and patience when we discovered the house was not as prepared for us as it might have been. Mould beneath painted-over wallpaper was a health challenge. A window frame and window fell out because of rot, probably because the house appeared to be built over a water-course.  But she coped. She was offered a job in TAFE but only if she worked full-time. On her very first day she went by train and I got a call from her in the late afternoon to say she had dozed off on the train and had woken up some stations further on. It was a challenging time for her, but she was grateful for her job which she thoroughly enjoyed. After some months we were told that the Cathedral needed to sell the house and we needed to move elsewhere quickly.  Carole and I both thought that was rather unusual but again she coped, and we decided to move into the upper floor of the Healing Ministry Centre at Newtown. It was not an ideal situation, but it meant that Carole could have a more hands-on ministry among people she loved. It did mean about 39 steps up narrow staircases with the groceries, but so what! For Carole, people mattered more than personal difficulties.

I have mentioned some of the difficulties [not all] that Carole had to face because she never complained about them. I felt it right to mention them because failing to do so diminishes the grace of God she had to draw upon to cope as she did.  Carole would work all day and then come home to mingle with the Staff and guests at the Centre before having tea. Many guests who stayed at the Centre have written to say what Carole’s time with them meant to them personally.

Carole moved from serving as an Acting Head Teacher in Child Studies in TAFE NSW to becoming a Senior Head Teacher in the newly formed Health and Recreation unit at Loftus campus near Sutherland in the Sydney Institute of TAFE. During her time there, with the support of gifted teachers, the unit expanded to become the biggest of its kind in the nation and someone once suggested, possibly the biggest of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere.  Whether that is true or not, I don’t know. What I do know is that she received many awards for her leadership of her section and was once a runner-up for the Premier’s Award for all divisions of the Public Service, for her contribution to Vocational Education in New South Wales.

When she retired from TAFE in 2006 the farewell was the biggest they had ever had in the Section, such was the regard people had for her.  I found it personally interesting that the boss of that section in NSW personally came to the Farewell and said something like these words, “I have never come across someone who could network so well. She could network with the hierarchy above. She could network with her peers and she could network with her students.“  That was true but there was an answer. It is called Christian [agape] love. She wanted to seek the best interests of everyone, which is what Christian agape love is all about. She wanted her bosses to look good and not make problems for them. She wanted her teachers to be the best by encouraging them to do all the courses they wanted to do and by arranging the best timetable for them personally. She wanted her students to receive the best education they could possibly obtain through her section. That meant going to TAFE to supervise a final examination during a Teachers’ strike. For that she was black-listed by the Union with her name and photo displayed on the main College notice board with adverse comments! But she knew the students would have been severely disadvantaged by not completing their exams on that date. Care for students overrode any concern for criticism she might receive!

Her love for people showed itself in every area. A baker in the busy shopping centre of Newtown was touched that she came back next day to thank her for the beautiful bread rolls they had baked for a BBQ at our Healing Ministry Centre. Whenever she went into that shop from that time on, she was greeted warmly, and was offered free food which she almost always declined to take. Her motto was, “Don’t ever use people for your own benefit!” Across the street was the biggest Hot Chicken vendor in the region. Whenever the owner saw Carole in the busy shop, he would come out from behind the counter to greet her personally and to give her a big hug. I never saw him do it to any of his other customers!

When we both retired in 2006, there was a special farewell to Carole from an unexpected group. It was in Sydney Park, a massive park near Newtown where Carole used to walk our dog Geordie in the late afternoons and at weekends. They knew she was the wife of a minister at the Cathedral, but she had endeared herself to them by taking a genuine interest in them and by getting to know the names of all their dogs. Some 70 folk with numerous more dogs turned up to wish her well.  There were people there from all levels of society and their love and admiration for her was tangible. I was amazed that in a very short time she had touched their hearts so deeply. Then I remembered how she had touched my heart so deeply. Suddenly it all made sense. Here was an embodiment of Christlike love that I had enjoyed for decades.  In Carole! Through Carole!  For them as well!

Well this has been a very emotional time writing this less than 48 hours after Carole departed this life for a better place, to be in the presence of Christ her Saviour and Lord.   This is only part of her story. There are so many other things about her I could have written. But I am so grateful to God for having met her and for every remembrance of her. As Job wrote in Job 1:21 ”The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” Or as I might say, “Blessed are You Lord for creating such a woman as Carole and for allowing me to love her and to receive her love for all these 54 plus precious years. Praise and thanksgiving be to You, Oh Lord!”

Blog No. 329 Posted on www.jimholbeck.blog on Sunday 3rd November 2019

Posted in Faithfulness, Forgiveness, Glorification, Healing, Prayer, Real Life Stories, Salvation, SPORT, Tributes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

328. Solving Some Of Rugby Union’s Problems. For Future Rugby World Cups and International Tests

In a recent blog I made suggestions for simplifying the rules for when a ball-carrying player is injured by a defender of the opposing team in the game of Rugby Union. [This is an amendment of that article No 322.] Having watched some of the 2019 Rugby World Cup games in Japan, I think my suggestions have merit.

In the previous article I commented, “Does Rugby Union have a problem? Yes, it has one that comes from their attempt to make the game safer for its players. But perhaps inadvertently it has made the situation worse.”

I saw two problems that needed to be addressed.

The First Problem Was The One To Do With Crowd Support. [Duty Of Care For The Supporters.]

I thought of many games when players were sent off for ten minute periods for yellow card offences, and for the rest of the game for more serious red card offences. Games in which this happens, lose their purpose and meaning.

The purpose of a test match between two nations is to have a competition where the best players of each nation seek to have a victory over the same number of players of the other nation by using superior skill-sets, better kicking, attacking and defending skills and often a more clever use of power.

The fans are best served by having full number of players on the field throughout the match. Otherwise it becomes an uneven and ultimately disappointing contest for the fans. If these send-offs are to continue to happen, then the support base for the game could seriously diminish. It could ultimately result in a loss of interest for young people in playing the game, and crippling financial losses as well.

The Second Problem Has To Deal With The Safety Of The Players. [Duty Of Care For The Players.]

Teams are chosen to represent the best team to overcome and defeat the opposition. That means there must be an equal number of players on the field at all times. Not only that, but the safety of the players must be paramount. That is why in world Rugby there has been a determined attempt to prevent or minimise head injuries of attacking players in tackles made by defending players. There are in place difficult criteria that seek to determine whether the tackle was lawful or unlawful and also whether the alleged illegal tackle was intentional or not. Those details are virtually impossible to ascertain in the moments following the tackle. And how can you determine the intention of any tackler anyway? There must be a better way.

Here are some of my suggestions to help save Rugby as a sporting and safer spectacle.

 A]. Intention cannot be proven. So scrap that part of the equation in determining the penalty for a perceived illegal tackle during a game. Consider these alternatives!

When a tackler makes what appears to be a shoulder charge and/or contact with the head [or above the shoulders] of the ballcarrier, then the following procedures should be put in place.

  1. Both the tackler and the person tackled should be forced to leave the field of play and the latter be examined for any symptoms of head injury. Reserves are brought on immediately to replace these 2 players to maintain a 15 a side contest. When that is done, a scrum should be formed and the attacking team at the time of the incident, should feed the resulting scrum.
  2. If the tackled player is deemed to be free of any head injury and is medically allowed to return to the field of play then that can happen. However the alleged illegal tackler has to remain on the reserve bench and can only be used as the final replacement later in the game if that is necessary.
  3. If the person who was tackled is unable to return to the field of play because a head injury is deemed to have occurred, then the tackler can play no further part in the game. If through a tackle someone is taken out of the game [regardless of whether it is deemed to be accidental or deliberate] then it is fair that the one who caused that to happen [the tackler] should also be taken out of the game.
  4. Reviews of the incident can be assessed more seriously and more leisurely following the game and any further penalties can be brought to bear if necessary, on the alleged illegal tackler.

B]. Advantages of the above process

  1. It maintains an even contest between two 15 a side teams for the entire match.
  2. It avoids the danger that come from having undermanned teams physically putting themselves at risk in seeking to overcome their deficit in player strength and numbers.
  3. It avoids the needless stoppages in play as endless replays of such incidents are played on the ground big screens. Fans come to see action football, not several replays of the same incident.
  4. It prevents the disadvantage of players cooling down waiting for some decision to be made as to the legality or otherwise of a tackle.
  5. It avoids the increasing anger of supporters when they begin to realise [or imagine] the severity and danger of a disputed tackle after watching several replays.
  6. It obviates the need to form a fair judgment during the duration of a match, on the intentionality or otherwise of any tackler.
  7. It allows longer periods of time to conduct reviews of disputed tackles. This should result in fairer outcomes for both the tackler and the player who was tackled.
  8. It avoids the difficulty for referees in having to make-on-the spot decisions regarding the intentionality of the tackler, the severity of the tackle and the appropriate penalty to be applied.
  9. It protects referees and other match officials from being unjustly accused of showing bias towards a certain team or player because they would now be seen to be applying a blanket rule that applies to both teams.
  10. It also helps ensure the continuing contribution to the game of Rugby, of quality referees because they are not having to make rapid value judgments and impose penalties in such incidents. It would show duty of care to referees if the responsibility of decision making on suspected illegal tackles was taken by a group of people who could assess such incidents in a more considered manner.

So there is my contribution to saving Rugby Union as a sport. The rules are simple and could be applied almost immediately.

  • It offers a real duty of care for the team supporters, so they get value for the money they have spent in following their team to often distant lands.
  • It offers duty of care for players in having evenly numbered teams contesting for success. It offers a fairer assessment of intentionality [if that is ever possible] and an easier way of ensuring players are immediately protected in disputed tackles.
  • It offers duty of care for referees and other match officials when contentious situations occur, to have such situations handled later by a group rather than by an individual.
  • It should also help reduce the number of illegal tackles in games as selectors would be hesitant to select players who infringe regularly when they play.

At a time when many former players of contact sports such as Rugby Union, Rugby League and American Football have been diagnosed as suffering from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy [CTE] from repeated head injuries, these suggestions above could make a difference. There is nothing more excruciating than seeing a player who had received an obvious blow to the head in a tackle get up, shake his head, stagger a bit and then keep on playing. Such an incident occurred in a recent Rugby League match and questions were raised as to why the player was not immediately examined for a Head Injury Assessment. Duty of care for players, demands it should be mandatory to do so.

Real duty of care demands that any blow to the head should be taken seriously and immediate assessment for damage take place. My humble suggestions above, attempt to go some distance in making that provision.

Blog No. 328. Posted by Jim Holbeck on www.jimholbeck.blog on Monday 30th September 2019.

 

 

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