Good and Evil by Ps Michael Podhaczky
In the world today there appears to be an ongoing battle between good and evil.It may be said that there has been hostility against the good since the fall of the one known as Satan. However, we need to be careful not to fall into dualism. Dualism teaches that there are two opposite and equal forces, one good and the other evil. It states that there is balance between these forces, which could tilt humanity either way at any time. Sometimes evil is stronger, or at other times the good is the stronger.

The problem with the drift mindset of this worldview is that there is no way of knowing who is stronger at any given time. Consequently, there is no real direction or endpoint to the struggle. There is just an ongoing conflict between good and evil. This belief is even found within the church - but, is it true?

If we are honest, the matter of evil is a mystery, and we do not know where it originated. The only thing that we know is that evil came to life in the life of Satan; outside of this it is a mystery. So,
“Where God has shut His holy mouth, I should be afraid to open mine.”[1]
But, as far as goodness goes, we know that it originated from God as He is good, cf. Ps 107:1; Mk 10:18. The truth that God is good is an absolute reality. The evil one is no way equally balanced with God. The reason for this is that God is the creator and Satan (as Lucifer) was created and fell.

We need to remember that God’s understanding of things (like this one) is far outside ours. So we need to be careful that we do not fall prey to false worldviews like dualism when we have no answers. We just need to have faith in the truth that He is infinite and we are finite.
33“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and how inscrutable His ways! 34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been His counsellor?” (Rom 11:33-34 ESV).

Pause in His presence for a moment and think this over…

[1] Keller, Tim. “Tim Keller Answers: Where Did Evil Come From?” 21st October 2017).
Domestic and Family Violence (DFV): Part Three by Ps Michael Podhaczky
We all know that sometimes home life can be messy and stressful and even get out of hand or overwhelming. It can be in times like this (although not the only reason) that a spouse or parent may become violent. If we are aware of situations like this, then something needs to be put in place to deal with the violence.

No one should be exposed to violence, especially in the home, but too many times it can be swept under the carpet and everyone keeps silent. Sadly, the church is not immune to this and needs to lead the way in breaking the silence and dealing with the matter. No one should be emotionally, verbally, physically or spiritually abused by anyone, especially a family member. However, we all know that it is something that happens too regularly. So, what can we do to try to help in this matter?

Well, many of us know the logos, images and jingles that companies and organisations use. For example, there is the swish and “Just do it” of Niké, the golden arches of McDonald's, the various bank logos, the VW of Volkswagen, and the “Oh What a Feeling” of Toyota etc. Even our children know many of these logos, images and jingles.

But do we know what it is that Jesus Christ would enable people to recognise the church? It was not the cross, or the image of a dove, or even our words or songs. It would be safe to assume that many Christ-followers would not know what it is by the rate of domestic and family violence that occurs within Christ-followers’ homes. Jesus said,
By this,all people will know that you are My disciples if you have love for one another” (Jn 13:35 ESV).
If you have love for one another (family members included), this is the logo of the church. This notion of love is seeking the highest good of one another, regardless whether there is any return of that love or not. This is this kind of kingdom love that needs to be lived from a Christ-following husband to wife, wife to husband, and father or mother toward children. Therefore, should domestic and family violence factor into the life and home of Christ-followers, if we really live from this perspective? Of course not, but we know that sadly it does. Do you see the disconnect here? What do you intend to do about it?

Pause in His presence for a moment and think this over…

 Do you need support? The following Domestic and Family Violence support services are available:
·         1800 RESPECT National Helpline: 1800 737 732
·         Women’s Crisis Line: 1800 811 811

·         Men’s Referral Service: 1300 766 491
In my earlier years, I studied jazz and improvisation at university.  Whilst walking around the performing arts complex you were guaranteed to hear people practicing scales and technical exercises on their instrument of choice. So many hours were spent grinding over these technical challenges. We did this so it would help with our improvisation and spontaneity when soloing in the future. When our turn would come to solo in a performance, we would have a wealth of knowledge and experience to draw upon.

I often pondered if there was any such thing as improvising because all that we do as musicians is regurgitate a collection of other people’s previous ideas. I never felt as though I was truly improvising because I was subconsciously drawing from these previous influences that I had studied. I never felt as though I was truly coming up with something on the spot. I eventually developed my own style of playing after studying and trying to channel these old jazz drummers. I was able to voice my own ideas and build upon what they had beautifully created. If it wasn’t for the study of these older drummers and technical exercises, I wouldn’t be the musician that I am today and my knowledge would be very shallow and my playing would lack depth.

If I fast-forward my life 10 years, I find myself in a very similar situation in regards to my faith and prayer life. Over the past 12 months I have been drawn to older traditions of our faith and I’m seeing my generation of twenty-somethings grow more aware of God through things like liturgy, silent contemplation and the prayers of those who have come before us.

Along this journey I have found that liturgy is the ‘scales’ of prayer.  We can use these beautiful prayers that have stood the test of time to help us immensely in our own prayer life. Just like music, I am finding that tradition is the soil that spontaneity is birthed from. I am discovering that there is so much richness and depth to draw from that can help us expand our vocabulary and our thoughts towards our Father. I have also observed that through these prayers, I have found myself being more spontaneous in my everyday life as a natural response to what I have prayed.

This prayer from Saint Francis of Assisi is a great example.

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.

O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.

Liturgy might not be a new practice to you, but I ask the question – what ‘scales’ are you practicing to help you find spontaneity in your own life?

Aaron Sim 
Domestic and Family Violence (DFV): Part Two by Ps Michael Podhaczky
In the previous blog, we began looking at the issue of domestic and family violence. If we are honest, we all know that we live in a fallen and broken world where we can damage and hurt each other. Even Christ-followers can be guilty of domestic and family violence,especially behind our front door.

As Christ-followers, let’s explore the idea of living in a home without a front door. What this means is living life as a family the same way either side of the front door. If outside our home we are a loving, accepting person, showing empathy and having compassion, not living as an abuser of those we meet, willing to forgive and let the life of God’s Spirit overflow from within us, then we need to also live like this inside our home. That is, live like we have no front door and anyone can come in at any time and see the same behaviour and attitudes that they see outside of our home.

What this means in this context is that we need to choose to live constant lives as Christ-followers. That means, even at home we are constantly on the path of sanctification until we breathe our last breath. So, as Paul has said,
12“Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. 13 For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him” (Phil 2:12-13 NLT)

C.S. Lewis put it this way,
“Every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different than it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing into a heavenly creature or a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow creatures, and with itself.”[1]

Pause in His presence for a moment and think this over…

 Do you need support? The following Domestic and Family Violence support services are available:
·         1800 RESPECT National Helpline: 1800 737 732
·         Women’s Crisis Line: 1800 811 811
·         Men’s Referral Service: 1300 766 491

[1] Lewis, C. S. Mere Christianity. (New York, NY: Macmillan, 1960), 86-87
Domestic and Family Violence (DFV): Part One by Ps Michael Podhaczky
A person somewhere cringes in pain, in the aftermath of another incident of abuse. They cry out “Why do you treat me this way? What have I done to deserve this kind of treatment?” This kind of event is happening too often in homes around the world. You may know someone who suffers from DFV. Or you may have been a victim or are currently a victim.

So, in an attempt to raise the awareness of domestic and family violence it needs to be called for what it is - immoral and criminal. It needs to be exposed and opposed. Those involved need help, whether they are the victim or the perpetrator. Just because you attend church, do not think that you are exempt from being a victim or a perpetrator. This is the sad fact of the matter. Why? It is because people who attend church are people - that’s why. Yes, they may be a Christ-follower, but that does not mean that they are a finished work, as sanctification is an ongoing work.

Now that is no excuse for DFV, we all need to take responsibility for our actions. From a kingdom perspective, we need to physically and psychologically recognise that we have a problem and seek help. On a spiritual level, this is spiritual abuse so; we need to repent and STOP IT! The following are five ways that we as the church “might be partnering in the abuse:[1]
1.    We assume that our revulsion of violence and abuse guarantees its absence in our church.
2.    We love and respect and honour others who may in fact beabusers. And because of that, victims may feel that they have nowhere to turn.
3.    We may be co-opted – unwittingly – by the abuser to become a weapon.
4.    We are naïve about how the dynamics of domestic and family violence play out in church communities.
5.    We can be afraid of addressing domestic and family violence because we’re afraid of opening a can of worms.
We have an opportunity to be the kind of family God calls us to be. May God enable it to be so!”1

Jesus Christ has already told us how to treat each other,
34 “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. 35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are My disciples” (Jn 13:34-35 NLT).

Pause in His presence for a moment and think this over…

Do you need support? The following Domestic and Family Violence support services are available:

·         1800 RESPECT National Helpline: 1800 737 732

·         Women’s Crisis Line: 1800 811 811

·         Men’s Referral Service: 1300 766 491

·         Lifeline (24 hour crisis line): 131 114

[1] “Part 1: We all unwittingly partner in the violence.” September 2017).
Hang on Help is on the Way by Ps Michael Podhaczky
Have you ever gone through a time when things appear to be coming apart around at the seams? You know one of those times when you do not know where to turn, and it appears that no one cares. You are running around trying to find someone to help, but you cannot seem to find someone. Well, hang on help is on the way. In fact, help is closer than you think.

If you are a Christ-follower, help is right with you, yes, right now. You do not need to run back and forth trying to find help. You have the Helper right there with you. Yes, that’s right, He has been with you from the moment that you became a Christ-follower, and He is still with you.

Jesus told His followers that,
“The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you” (Jn 14:26).
So, when Jesus returned to the Father, the Helper did indeed come and has been here ever since. The upside of this is that if you are a Christ-follower, He is with you right now. Now either this is true, or it is all a useless lie, and Christ has lied to us on this matter.

But, let me reassure you that it is true, He is right there in the midst of your life, even when it appears your life is coming apart at the seams. He will not, leave you alone to struggle by yourself in the challenges of life, but will walk through them with you. So, be encouraged, you do actually, know where to turn, and someone does care. Why not stop right now and refocus. Not on the challenge, but on the one who is your Helper, and seek His advice and guidance?

Pause in His presence for a moment and think this over…