Radical Commitment to Christ

George was 17 years old when he was dismissed from his dream job. His employer demanded that he work Friday nights, but George wasn’t willing to compromise Sabbath rest. Though devastated at the time, this young man could not have known that embracing such a decision would in time set him on a path that would lead closer to Christ and deeper into His will. It was a defining moment.

Years later, as George experienced a greater distinct call to discipleship, a sceptical friend in the Christian community quizzed him about his understanding of Matthew 6:33. It seemed to George that believers were to “seek first the Kingdom and His righteousness, and God will provide for all those physical needs” [my paraphrase].

“Get a job that pays well,” chided his friend, further quoting the national minimal wage. What he was saying, really, in his opinion, was that you can’t rely on a literal understanding of Jesus’ words that God would provide all our needs.

But George saw it differently. That’s what Jesus had said. Surely He meant it, especially in the light of His pre-incarnate words of, “Put me to the test and see if I will not bless you”. (Malachi 3:10) [my paraphrase].

God desires that we are generous with all our resources. This is particularly true with our increase, our time, talents and desires. Echoes of this generous giving appears in the book of Acts where faithful believers, wanting to step up in service to Christ, donated their land and valuables for the sake of the Kingdom. Those who feigned generosity, who lied to the Holy Spirit, paid the ultimate price.

God’s model for generosity begins at ten percent, but a willingness to give under the terms of the New Covenant knows no bounds. That’s where, for many people, the challenge exists in the words of Jesus as recorded in the gospel of Matthew. Do we trust God with our entire lives? Can we trust Him, for example, with a greater portion of our increase? That’s a radical reliance and an extraordinary step faith. For the sake and call of the Kingdom, these are important commitments to consider.

Most of our prayers are spoken in secret, so perhaps it’s reasonable that most of our alms ought also be done in secret. Have you ever considered putting aside, for example, seventy percent of your time and resources in deployment for Christ? Of course, make sure your heart is right – there’s no room for pretenders. Start a ministry. Join an existing ministry. (In his mid-thirties, that’s exactly what George did). Do what you’re naturally gifted with, and live every moment prayerfully. Let the Holy Spirit be your guide, counsel, comfort and help.

And don’t bother trying to do the maths, for such calculations would not have helped the widow with the abundant flow of olive oil from her one small jar during those days of trial and drought (2 Kings 4). Such small steps of faith begin to reveal a powerful truth in Jesus’ words. More than we can perhaps know or understand, this is our Father’s world. He calls us to trust Him.

George may have lost a promising job early in his career, but through the experience gained his life in Christ. His initial loss was, in reality, a divine calling-card that led to a radical reliance and trust in his Heavenly Father!

John Klassek

By John Klassek

IMC Meeting In Malaysia

We’ve just returned from an inspiring time with brothers and sisters in Christ at the inaugural International Ministerial Congress in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia.

Represented by leaders from Pakistan, India, Myanmar, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, Australia, USA and Mexico, we experienced four days of fellowship, learning, teamwork, prayer and planning amidst a great unity of Spirit and an inspiration for greater collaboration and sharing.

Take a sneak peak with this four minute YouTube synopsis (uploaded yesterday), or see our online gallery of photos:

Visual Gospel

We’ve just returned from the International Ministerial Congress meeting of the Church of God (Seventh Day) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It was a wonderfully inspiring time together with leaders from Myanmar, India, Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Australia, USA and Mexico.

Among the numerous presentations shared was one I titled “A Visual Culture Demands A Visual Gospel”. Our work for the past 17 years has been to share the gospel using media streaming, and I believe we’ve barely scratched the potential this has for introducing the gospel to millions and millions of people in South East Asia and beyond.

A missionary must understand the culture to which he or she is sent. To ignore the language, customs, religion and more if we’re to effectively convey and minister the gospel is to fail before we’ve started. Today’s culture is increasingly immersed in multimedia. The film industry and media generally are powerful influencers at every level of society, affecting attitudes and social mores.

IMC_Malaysia

The disciples of two millennia ago understood this. Matthew wrote his testimony with a Hebrew audience in mind. Paul preached to those in Athens, understanding the Greek culture of the day. What about us, today?

May we have ears to hear where God is sending us, eyes to see the harvest ripe, and a heart and hands to minister where God beckons.

(For additional photos of the IMC meeting, please visit our gallery).

ANZAC SONRISE

ANZACSONRISE

Today Australia celebrated the valiant young men of one hundred years ago. The ANZAC tradition of remembering the fallen in the words of “Lest We Forget” is truly an engraved part of our Australian identity. Those men and women were heroes, legends of their time, many of whom lost their lives in the quest for peace.

One hundred years on, with the largest crowds ever in attendance, it’s been a day of remembering and reflection; for some their memories are awash with tears, for others too young to understand the symbolism of a dawn service with its parades, speeches and ceremonies, it is nonetheless a time to optimistically look forward. The least we can do is to remember and cherish those who gave the supreme sacrifice, and hope for a better future.

While we pause to remember the terrible price paid in the loss of those young lives a century ago, conspicuous by its absence in today’s ceremony was any reference to the future of those young sons who lie silent in their graves. Can we expect to ever see them again? What about a faith that speaks of being reunited? Have we forgotten the promise of resurrection “at the last day”?

Human life is meaningless without hope. Science tells us that our only hope is to migrate to another solar system in another galaxy before our sun and earth disappear in a fiery blast. Jesus, on the other hand, taught that our lives on this earth is just the beginning, and that a day is coming when everyone who has ever lived, both good and bad, will be resurrected back to life.

The grief and sense of loss in remembering and celebrating the ANZAC tradition might also be better facilitated and educated to also include reference to the promise of the resurrection of all people. In the words of Jesus our Creator:

“Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.”
John 5:28-29 ESV

While the ANZAC spirit will surely live on in future generations, may those who remember also know and cherish that our fallen sons will one day rise again. It is a sure hope. It will happen as surely as the rising of tomorrow’s sun.

Please tell this hope to our children. Proclaim it in the streets. Our ANZACS will rise again! Oh, what consolation, what joy, and what hope!

John KlassekBy John Klassek

 

In Union With Christ

Is the hope for Jesus’ return close to your heart and mind as much as it was on those first century disciples who also believed that Jesus would return in their lifetime?

Living in this world, however, we also recognise the power of distraction that can so easily take away our focus from Jesus. The devil would love for Jesus’ followers to love Him less, to become lukewarm, to get distracted, or to get overly busy. After all, the devil is an expert in beguilement and deception. But, when we’re close to God, in intimate covenant relationship with Jesus, when Jesus is the focus of our waking thoughts, prayers, all our actions (spontaneous or premeditated) then there’s little threat for any serious distraction.

One of the hardest things for us to do is to openly proclaim our love for Jesus. It may have not been in our culture. It might not be in our “personality”. Excuses in that area are often aplenty. And that, in some ways, is a sad reflection. Thankfully, a faithful few have responded to their calling and continued growing in Christ despite perhaps the “lots of head knowledge” and little “love of Jesus” in their previous “non-church” experience. On that note we can be glad that the times are changing within our church fellowships and in our own personal lives; after all, Jesus is the good shepherd and we must not deny Him that honour. We can be glad that more people are coming to a knowledgeable faith in how Jesus works in our lives: that He knocks on the door of our world, but doesn’t push in. It is for us to reach for the handle and only when we swing open the door, does Jesus intimately come into our lives. And that is important to understand. We are called into a responsive relationship with Jesus – a covenant relationship that is bound by both expectation and responsibility. We’re discussing a relationship that becomes a deep, intimate and accountable friendship.

So although God the Father calls us, and Jesus knocks on the door of our lives, Jesus will not push in where He’s not invited. He did not perform any miracles in the towns where unbelief existed when He ministered in Judea some 2000 years ago. And so it is with us. God has given us freewill. We are to choose life. We are to bring our lives completely in surrender to Jesus, and only we can volunteer this. We are not puppets. The detail of our life’s journey is not completely foreordained. To Abraham, God said, “Now I know…” only after Abraham’s faith was displayed by his actions, tested to the very last moment. The future is changed and mountains are moved only by the fervent, effective prayers of the righteous.

For all the mistakes we’ve made in our lives, we can never blame God for them. For if we believed that our entire lives were preordained and that we had no choice in anything, then we could also easily pass the blame onto God for our sins. Not so. Jesus paid for my sins and your sins. God has entitled us to free will, beginning with the very choices he gave in the Garden of Eden. It is liberating to understand that we do have choice – a grace that stems from a God-ordained freedom – from which we don’t have to be clueless. We can ask for wisdom. Wisdom is something God eagerly awaits to grant to those who ask Him – so that we may be equipped to make better choices that reflect God’s righteousness.

“A man’s mind plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps”, is a scripture that seems to indicate that while we may dream and have aspirations, it is only when we willingly submit to God that these dreams begin to have any substance to them. That’s why we go to God in prayer multiple times each day. We invite God into our lives, in every passing moment, and in every desired outcome.

Today, in this age, our lives are being “tested”. God will never tempt anyone, but He will test us. This testing happens over a lifetime. The seed of the Holy Spirit is planted at baptism with the laying on of hands. As the years go by, the Holy Spirit grows and flows mightily, working with us and through us. When it comes to covenant relationship, baptism is the touchstone of all relationship standards, because it brings us into marriage communion with Jesus Christ Himself – sealed with the Holy Spirit. And to truly enter into the depths of that communion and covenantal relationship that will transcend and transform us into the very image of the Son of God, we, then, desire nothing that this world can offer, with our eyes exclusively fixed on Jesus and His Kingdom. Every other relationship, every other offer, and every temptation pales into insignificance. Even our immediate families, spouses, parents and children on this earth must come secondary to the relationship we have in Christ Jesus.

That is why as a collective community of believers, we have been given different gifts but the same Spirit. In union with Christ, in love with Jesus, His word, His faith, His Majesty, His righteousness, His will and purpose, His love and attention, His awe and Glory – to which nothing compares.

Thus, we find ourselves talking about Jesus all the time. He’s the head of every table. He is the Lord of our hearts. We openly confess our love for Him. His wisdom and presence adorns every grey hair – which the Father numbers. He is in our inner thoughts. His word, and will, moulds our days and shapes our lives. We approach His throne of Grace in all areas of our lives and our family’s lives, especially, for example, when it comes to matters of finding Godly spouses for our children, and praying for their spouses decades before they meet finally meet. We ask God for His help and guidance in all areas of our lives. Because of that covenantal relationship, we want Him from that moment onward to shape our destiny, and this is only achieved by willingly surrendering our will.

And each day, He wants us to innovatively look out and beyond to find ways that glorify Him. He wants us to be creative, to trust Him. He wants to bless the work of our hands. He wants us to live the surrendered life to Him. Many times God will answer our prayers when we’re totally out of any other options, when we’re “hemmed in by the Red Sea”, or watching the “setting sun” on some experience, or when we’ve struggled with a trial sometimes for decades – God wants us to confess our love for Him, our faith for Him, our trust in Him.

Those in the world who choose a different path become deluded and blinded, of course, by the god of this world. Those who have left the faith, who broke covenant with Jesus, made various choices – in a similar way perhaps to Judas. Did God cause them to leave the faith? No. God forbid! Their life’s path was formed by lots of little choices, day by day, moment by moment. Freedom and consequence walk hand-in-hand. The hosts of heaven cheer when one sinner repents. In one sense, we are indeed the centre of the universe’s attention, for what God is doing and how he is doing it – through us, inviting us into more than just a partnership, but inferring on us as joint heirs with Christ Jesus.

As the love of God grows in our lives, and we increasingly become the new creation, the new person in Christ, we become creatures of love. We’ll then tell all those around us how much we love them. Our actions will “speak” of love. That’s our testimony. Our children will “feel” loved as well as be loved. Our motives will be understood through the lens of love. Discipline will not be harsh, but loving, with kindly eye-to-eye contact. And people around us will feel and experience that love (and ultimately attribute it to God’s glory). We will truly be Jesus’ disciples when we love each other. Love has to grow for it to thrive. It has to come from God’s Holy Spirit. It has to be in everything we say. Even the truth must be spoken in love! And because of love we will listen intently to those in our families, our church and those in our communities. And those who oppose us, we will also kindly entreat them. We will also be wise to the devil’s ruses, the attractive distractions that can if momentarily confuse us – should we, God forbid, take our eyes off from Jesus. The fruits of our love in Christ, when tested, will unite families, and always bring people together who are also in Christ.

May our focus at this time, perhaps more than ever before, be open and transparent before Christ firstly, and then to each other. May we be accounted worthy, worthy to stand before Jesus. May there be no straw or chaff in our lives, but only grain – good fruit. May we be people of the Book, and use it wisely. Too many have manipulated the scriptures to suit their choices. May we be people quick to bless, quick to forgive, easy to entreat, eager to please. May the righteousness of God in us speak louder than the “rights” of this world’s life. May our lives, in every detail, reflect the union we have with and in Jesus Christ.

John Klassek

 

John Klassek

 

Luke warm fence-sitter

It’s surprising how many of us are mediocre when it comes to God. We’re just lukewarm, feeling quite safe on the fence.

Fence-sitting means we can allegedly have the best of both worlds. If God is true, then we’ll be on His side, but for the most part, we’re happy to go along with the crowd. Pity we forget just what Jesus says about being lukewarm!

These latest two short films challenges this indifference. It is our prayer that you’ll join us in responding to God’s love with all our heart and mind and soul and strength.

Part 2

Written and produced by John Klassek
(Elder, Film Producer, IT Support)

Ride Across Australia Photos

manwaringsfarmbikeride

It’s been surprising how many people followed our bike ride across Australia via social media. Thanks for all your kind and admiring comments.

You are invited to join us for a pictorial journey across this great country. Some photos, of course, may only be appreciated by motorcyclists, but I think we all have the spirit of adventure within us.  Enjoy this gallery of some 140 images.

www.message7.org/gallery/bikeride

The Rise of Islam

There’s no disputing it. Islam is on the rise. And the face we’re seeing, but trying not to believe, is an ugly one. One written in anger and in blood, in ominous moon and black flags, slavery and conquest.

So why now? What has held the forces of Islam in check – since four centuries ago, when they had advanced beyond the gates of Vienna and were beaten back – that their desire to conquer the world with their own brand of government, religion and ethics is finally gaining momentum?

It’s a good question, and one that probably has its roots in the strength and ethics of our formerly Christian-rooted societies. Our grandparents grew up in a West that was distinctly flavoured by the Bible. “Love thy neighbour” was an undisputed truism. But today, are we not, more proud of our “secular society” than of our heritage? And therein lies the heart of the issue.

Have we not lost our moral compass, evidenced by the social issues that are on the agenda today? For example, our grandparents would shudder to know how we’re bent on embracing homosexual marriage. They would weep over the shocking abortion statistics. And they would groan that we teach our children “evolutionary” garbage while conspicuously abandoning any reference to God and faith values.

So, where are we headed? In a year’s time from now, how will we see 2015? More bloodshed? Heightened terror alerts? Stronger Islamic aggression, near and far? Will our military efforts to stop Islamic extremism and expansion fail? Will indecisive foreign policy, in hindsight, have been grossly inadequate?

Democracy has the potential to collapse, the signs of which are already apparent in Europe, where large immigrant families (of Islamic origins) are outnumbering generally low western birth rates. So given enough time, Sharia law quite easily could be democratically voted in. And should that happen, Islam’s rise to world domination would be unstoppable.

Imagine seeing a strong and capable military leader emerge, and with him a powerful and charismatic religious imam – some call him the Mahdi. It’s not hard then to imagine the widespread and “legal” beheading of innocents – whose only sin is to deny the validity of Mohammed.

With eyes on the comparatively small state of Israel eventually becoming militarily overrun by its larger neighbours; when the missiles and rockets are let loose, it might be hard not to think that what is called Armageddon is upon us.

The irony is that we can’t say we weren’t warned.

Did you know that the Bible (the same book our grandparents read) warns about just that kind of scenario, a time of world domination by a ruthless and brutal world leader edged on by his “religious” counterpart? A time of intense solar activity leading to global warming? That a third of mankind is brutally killed? And, did you know that unless divine intervention occurred (that’s what Jesus taught), humanity would utterly destroy itself?

Jesus spoke about a coming conflagration on earth that has never happened before, nor He said will ever happen again. Jesus stated that He is coming again – this time on a rescue mission and this time claiming Kingship.

Of course, the incumbent leaders won’t go without a battle. Can you imagine that day?

Most people today hardly think about Jesus, let alone His coming. Do you? Do you believe that our only hope in this age, in any age for that matter, is the saving work of Jesus Christ?

It was Christian ethics and morality that has held Islam in check now for almost 1300 years (just read the annals of history). And it is Christ who will bring Islam to an end – there is no other way, for secularism is already falling prey to its terrible power.

John Klassek

Written by John Klassek

Ride Across Australia

We’re leaving early next Sunday morning to ride our bikes across this great country.  Pictured earlier this year is daughter Hannah and myself on the Avon Valley Black Dog Ride. Hannah is riding her Hyosung 650 and I’m on the Suzuki GSX-R1000.

BlackDogDadHannahNo, we’re not going “just for fun” (although it will certainly be fun). It will also be long, hot and tiring; having said that, it’s especially nice to sleep under the stars, far away from civilisation. It’s called TAWG. Google the acronym.

Mission: We’re taking as many copies of Hope of the Resurrection with us as we can carry, giving autographed copies to people we meet everywhere. We’ve even freighted a box of books to Adelaide, so we can restock!

So, log into this blog again, and see how we’re progressing! And if you’re really game, meet us on the road somewhere.

John Klassek

– John Klassek