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Please welcome our campus pastor from Reedy Creek, Pastor Sean Casey. Jess and I are originally from Mount Isa. We grew up there for a few decades and that definitely did feel like a few decades but we love the Isa. Has anyone been to the Isa before? Yes, you are blessed beyond all measure. May the red dirt just come off your shoes as you come home.

Anyway, we lived there. I got into a church there. I eventually went to Hillsong College in Sydney for a couple of years and felt the call to come back to Mount Isa and be the youth pastor there. And so I did that for about five years. Then was the associate pastor. And we felt like in Mount Isa we’d reached the limit of all we could do there at that time. And thankfully God had some ideas in place and he kind of drew us over to Mackay.

We kind of went without a job. We knew that there was a pastor there who needed someone to help him like a 2IC and he said to us, listen, we need you but we can’t pay you. W can’t really we haven’t got anything in the budget. So, if you come, you just need to be aware of that and Jess and I said yes to that, that exciting proposition. But we knew God was calling us to Mackay.

So, we moved over there and on the second day, I was there, I think my boss was like, hey, we figured it out. We’ve got something for you and that was a relief. So, Jess and I are used to operating by faith and we did it again at the beginning of the year when we felt that God was calling us to move on because across that time in Mackay we planted a church in the northern beaches of Mackay and we’re running that church and I became the Whitsunday regional leader for the Australian Christian Churches across that time.

But we felt like the season was drawing to a close and we really wrestled with it because we liked Mackay. My parents literally had retired in Mackay the year before. So I felt very bad kind of saying to him, okay, great to see you here. Now, we’re going, you know, and so, we eventually said yes to God and I think it was a week later after we said yes to God that we got a call from your senior pastor saying, I’d love for you to come and we’ve loved being a part of this church even for the short period of time.

We’ve been here. We think there’s something really special about King’s Church in all of our locations. so, I really want to encourage you. Let’s value what we’ve got here. Let’s really appreciate what we’ve got here and not take it for granted. Even you are online watching us too.

But we also have three little munchkins in our family. We have our daughter Riley who’s eight years old. Maya is seven years old and then little Cooper who you’ve heard about is 3 years old. He’s a delight. He is a delight. Anyway. Jess and I have been married for almost 13 years and with it comes its ups and downs and the little quirks about your marriage right?

So I remember at the beginning we decided to go on a holiday to Yeppoon. We thought it would be an amazing time away just relaxing. And so when it was the day we were going to drive out to go to Yeppoon I just decided to look at our bank account and see what was in there. And I looked and our account said a dollar forty-five.

I thought that’s a bit weird. Like I feel like there should be way more money in there than that in that account. So I was looking through the charges and I saw things like Harvey Norman, EB Games, Myer, and I’m just thinking either Jess has got a surprise for me and I’m super stoked for it. Or someone’s taken out like credit card details or our key card details and they’ve gone wild.

And unfortunately, it was the latter. So, I had to call up the bank and cancel our card. Let that be a lesson for any of you who find yourself in those circumstances. Call up your bank. Cancel the card. That meant we were down one of our key cards. And so it was a couple of weeks later. I was still waiting for the replacement card to come. I needed to go grocery shopping because Jess doesn’t really like grocery shopping. I don’t mind it.

Who’s a big grocery shopper in this place? Like you don’t mind going. Yes, I see those hands. So, I went there and I said, oh, can I borrow your card, Jess? Because I obviously don’t have my own and she’s like, yes, here you go. So, I do the shop. I get to the register. Jess is at home, right? Just clarifying Jess is at home. It’s just me at the shops and I’m standing and ready to pay for it and I have this moment thought of I don’t actually know Jess’s pin number.

So, I think to myself, oh, it’s probably this and I punch in the details, hit okay, and it declines. I hit another number in and it declines and I think, okay, I gotta call Jess because the cashier’s starting to get a bit nervous now like, what is happening here? So, I call up Jess and I say, hey, Jess. I’m at the register. I’ve got your card. I don’t know your pin number. What’s your pin number? And she says to me, I don’t know. and so I’m like, what do you, what do you mean you don’t know? What what, you know, and she says, oh, I don’t know my pin. I have to be in front of the pad in order to do it. I just do it by memory or something. I don’t know and I was like, how does my wife buy anything? Like, what, how, anyway, so, I go, okay, you know, could you take a guess what the pin would be? And she says, maybe it’s this and I’m like, great.

Thank you so much and I hang up the phone. I punch in the pin. It declines and so I call her and so we’re having this like back and forth where she’s saying, what about this number? What about this number? What about this one? And it’s declined, declined, declined. And so I’m standing there and there’s a line forming behind me of people with their groceries and the cashier is getting very like antsy now and probably wondering, have I stolen this card? Like, what’s going on here?

So, I had this lightbulb moment of we have a credit card. We have a credit card that we don’t really use and I know that it’s in Jess’s wallet. I say to Jess, Jess, can you bring me the credit card? And she says, no, I really don’t want to do that. Because our kids have been whining and complaining all day that they’re bored and finally at home, they’re playing with Lego and they’re settled and Jess just does not want to disrupt that. So she’s like, could you just come home and get it? I’m like, oh. Okay, fine.

And I’m just thinking, I just wanted to do the grocery shop and I just wanted to get home. All I wanted to do is get home but now, I’m going home but I have to come back and so, I drove all the way home and get in the door and I say, Jess, where’s your wallet? Where’s the credit card? And she says to me, oh, it’s in the glove compartment of the car. and I’m I say to her. Do you mean the car that I drove in that car and she says, yes. Very quietly. And I don’t, I don’t even say anything. I just shoot her a look like… And then I just walk out that door. And then I paid for my groceries and I got home. Amen. Praise God. Now besides that moment, okay, Jess, Jess is pretty bad with all that kind of stuff and I’ve come to appreciate and love that about her across the 13 years. Love with a deep abiding love of Christ, okay?

But we all have those moments where we’re held up somewhere and we just want to get to our destination and I was held up unfortunately by a key card that just wouldn’t work for me and I think we’re going to read now in Genesis 11, the story of Terah in the Bible who was unfortunately in a situation where he was on his way somewhere and he got held up.

Genesis 11:27-32 NKJV

This is the genealogy of Terah: Terah begot Abram, Nahor, and Haran. Haran begot Lot. And Haran died before his father Terah in his native land, in Ur of the Chaldeans. Then Abram and Nahor took wives: the name of Abram’s wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor’s wife, Milcah, the daughter of Haran the father of Milcah and the father of Iscah. But Sarai was barren; she had no child. And Terah took his son Abram and his grandson Lot, the son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, his son Abram’s wife, and they went out with them from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to the land of Canaan; and they came to Haran and dwelt there. So the days of Terah were two hundred and five years, and Terah died in Haran.

It’s funny because it feels like these verses almost positioned Terah to be some great name of the Bible. It’s like you’ve got David, you’ve got Moses, you’ve got Noah, and then you have Terah. You’ve got the big guns of the Bible and so he’s like Bible verses about him are sitting on the back of your toilet door or something. You know, you’ve got bookmarks with verses about him sitting in your books. That’s the kind of person that’s setting him up to be.

And then five verses later, he died living an unremarkable life. The interesting thing is the passage is we think that he’s going to make it to Canaan. But getting to Canaan was actually no small feat. See moving these days is easy, right? Like we just, well, not easy. It’s not fun.

They say, two of the most stressful things in life are death, like funerals and moving but it’s easy for us these days because you get removalists who come. You can even hire people who will pack the boxes for you and then, you might decide, oh, we’re going to fly to our new home our new town, our new city, or we’re just going to drive down.

For them, it was a huge undertaking because you would have to take your family, your servants, your livestock, and your possessions, and they say that it would the trip from where they were to where they needed to get to would have been over 900 kilometres long. So, it actually would have taken them a few months to complete it which is crazy but they didn’t get to their destination. They settled in Haran and then he died in Haran.

And it seems to really underline that as if that’s important. We really need to know that bit of information Usually when someone passes on we don’t ask where did they die? So if someone calls you and says hey Uncle Bob has passed away. I’m so sorry. We usually don’t say where did he die? Did he die on the toilet? Did he die in the backyard? Did he die in the front yard? Did he die? I don’t know at the local RSL. We don’t really care about that.

We usually care about how they died. How they passed. If it was unexpected right? I don’t know about you if you’re weird like that and you really are fixated on location, we can talk about that later. The reason it’s significant for the early readers of the Bible is for the Israelites liberated from Egypt for them in their mind, life and hope is found in Canaan.

The way they see it is if you have the chance to go to Canaan, you get to Canaan. You don’t stop short because actually to step stop short or stand outside of Canaan is to invite death. That’s how they saw it. Then, we move on to next chapter and we see God calling his son Abraham to leave his country and go to the land he’ll send him and show him and he makes a covenant agreement with him to give his family the promised land of Canaan but could the entire Old Testament story completely be flipped on its head if he made it to Canaan you think for such an insignificant passage where it says he settled in Canaan and he died in not Canaan he settled into in Haran and died in Haran for something so insignificant and small.

It actually had a humongous impact on the rest of the Bible. It’s because he settled and we know that the name Abraham means father of many nations or father of many multitudes but do you know what Terah’s name actually means? It actually means delay. And Haran actually means parched or barren. Or another translation puts it as a crossroads.

So by delay. He ended up in a parched or barren land. He ended up at a crossroads and he settled there. And there was no fruit from that. This morning I want to speak on get to Canaan. Get to Canaan. That’s good You know, some of us are actually living on borrowed time. Some of us have actually sat at the crossroads of our life where we know we need to move on or maybe we don’t actually have the full revelation that it’s time to move on and we’re sitting in a parched or barren land.

You know, what if there is a conversation that needs to be happening with someone you know and we’ve been putting it off? What if there’s a faith step that God is calling you to and moving you towards but we’ve plunked ourselves down. What if there is a call of God on your life? And it’s like we’ve been responding to God saying one day, one day. I’ll get to it one day. Uh, it’s coming up. I promise you God one day I’m going to get around to doing it. And it’s like we’ve stopped in a parched or barren crossroad. And God is saying to us the time for delay is over. It’s time to get to Canaan.

Yeah? So the first thing is. I’m going to ask two questions and these are questions we can reflect on that maybe helps us consider whether we are in a patched or barren land or also if we know how to get out of parched or barren land. It’s two questions.

Question 1 – What’s Your Reference?

And the first one is what’s your reference? What’s your reference?

Mark 8:22-25 NKJV

Then He came to Bethsaida; and they brought a blind man to Him, and begged Him to touch him. So He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the town. And when He had spit on his eyes and put His hands on him, He asked him if he saw anything. And he looked up and said, “I see men like trees, walking.” Then He put His hands on his eyes again and made him look up. And he was restored and saw everyone clearly.

Once again, the story could have been completely different if the blind man after first being asked, do you see anything? Just said, yes. Yeah and left it at that because what reference did he have? If he had been blind since birth that he’d been blind a long period of time, then maybe he’s lost all reference for what humans actually look like. So, when he says, I see people and they’re walking around and they just look like tall trees.

If he said that to someone else other than Jesus, maybe the person would have said to him, oh yeah, I guess, I guess we kind of look like tall trees like if you’ve never seen us before, this is what you think, this is how this works. Wives or girlfriends? How many times has your husband or partner gotten up and they’ve dressed themselves and they come out and you say, you are not going out like that. Where they oh I see a lot of smiles in this place. Maybe too many.

Where they think they think to themselves I look good. They put on their shirts, they put on all their pants, they come out, and they’re ready to go and you’re like, no, no, you need to go and pick something else out or I’m going to go and I’m going to pick something else out for you and then you pick something for them and it’s all good. When I talk to Jess saying this was something I was going to mention he said, ah, yes. She said, your old shirts, your gross jumpers, like she started listing off things. I’m like, whoa, settle down, okay? She loves telling me what to wear. But she’s actually a good reference point.

And I believe we find ourselves sometimes settled in parched or barren lands because we lose our reference points. We lose that person that we should be bouncing off of. In the story of Terah, they left the Canaan and that trip was massive and long, took months, and I’m sure, over the period of time, he would have lost his reference point. The person who says, no, no, this is not we’re stopping. We’re getting up and we’re continuing onward.

Have you known God was pressing you on something that you needed to do and it’s almost like God has a volume button and we just love to kind of turn him down. Because if we really stood in the presence of God and talked to him about something that is in our world. It’s like we know we’ll be convicted to do something about it. Or we’ll know we’ll be moved to keep moving on. Can anyone relate to that?

You know I’ve had a couple of times where I’ve prayed for people on the altar and I don’t know why but like I tend to just have imagery when I’m praying for people so they’ll come up and I’ll have some kind of specific word to share with them.

And I remember this one woman came up and stood on the front during prayer time and she said to me you know oh I’m here for prayer and I was like what do you need prayer for? And she says I don’t know. I was in my seat and God told me to come up the front and you would have a word for me. And I’m like great, no pressure at all. Gotta just pull one out of the bag and have a good word.

Anyway, so I’m standing there and I’m praying for her. And I just get this image in my mind of her sitting on a riverbank. she’s leaning against a tree and she’s just kind of putting her fingers through the water like this. And as I get that image I’m thinking what is that? Like what is that? That’s so weird. It’s not even like God’s calling you to do this or you’re going to do that. It’s it’s you sitting by a riverbank sticking your fingers in the water.

I’m like I don’t know if I want to say this. I don’t know if I want to share this. And I’ve had another moment with that where a lady who came up for prayer and she’s standing there and I get this picture of in my mind of just a sink and a plug. And I’m thinking oh all the things you come up to pray for. I don’t really want to I’m going to be like I see a sink and a plug.

Do you like dishes or something? Doing dishes? I don’t know. Like that’s so cliche. In my mind I had this wrestle of do I even say this? Because to me, this sounds ridiculous. To me, I don’t understand it. I can’t make sense of it. Do I even share it? And so I remember with the woman who I saw the sink. I decided, okay I’m just going to say it. And maybe they’ll just shoot me back a weird look.

And then I say you know what? I believe that’s a word but it’s not a word for now. It’s going to make sense in the future. Have you ever had one of those before? That’s probably the pastor like piking out you know. Trying to explain it away. So I said to her listen or I see a picture and it’s of a plug going into a sink and she says to me, I’ve been sitting in the service all morning and I just have been praying to God and saying, I feel so drained. I feel like everything has just gone out of me. Like, I have nothing left and so she said, she was just so encouraged and started crying because she saw the image of the plug going in the sink as confirmation that God was restoring her and with the one who came up and said, you know, you’ve got a word for me.

I said, I see you by the riverbank just strumming your fingers in the water leaning against the tree and she said, when I was younger when I was a young woman I would actually spend my time by going to this local river and I would lean against the tree and I would put my fingers in the water. And that’s how I experienced the presence of God. And I think God is calling me back into his presence once more.

And I thought oh thank the Lord. I didn’t use myself as a reference point. And there are so many times when we turn things back on ourselves. And by our estimation and by our intelligence and by our experiences we think no. But then when we throw it back on God when we refer to him something happens. Are you with me church? This can be that when we become the reference point, we diminish God.

And actually, the Bible speaks to us a little and it does it quite strongly. It says in second Corinthians ten verse five. 

2 Corinthians 10:5 NKJV

casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,

Can I encourage us? We don’t want to set ourselves up against the knowledge of God. We want to work in tandem with the knowledge of God and how we do that is we refer to him. We throw things back to him. We put the ball in his court. Because sometimes our knowledge is set up against his knowledge. And what he wants to achieve. And when we lose our reference point don’t be surprised if we end up at a crossroads and we think how did I even get here?

You know even the blind man he could have talked to anyone else but he referred to Jesus. He threw it back on Jesus. There’s even a story in first Samuel sixteen when Samuel was anointing the next king. And he turned up at Jesse’s house and he found Eliab and he’s like perfect, tall, handsome. He’s the guy. He’s the guy. This is the one and God says, no, no, no. You look at the outward appearance. I look at the inward appearance.

Actually, there’s someone else and he goes down the line and down the line and down the line until he ends up at David. The guy who was out there with the sheep and the goats. God had a different plan. For us in this room, I want to encourage you. Use God as your reference point. He is your anchor. He is the person who will get you through those crossroads moments. Amen?

Question 2 – What’s In Your Tank?

The second thing is if we’re going to get to Canaan, the next question is, what is in your tank? What’s in your tank? I want to share with you one of the most significant moments or seasons in Jess and I’s life. and it happened about nine years ago. Who knows when you get married? Uh immediately after you get married. Everyone kind of comes at you being like when are you going to have a baby? When’s the baby coming? We’re excited for the baby. You come back from the honeymoon and they’re like honeymoon baby? Hey? Is it, oh, you Oh, Jess, it’s, yeah, oh, is there, is there something there? And she’s like, no, no. I just put on weight from the holiday, you know?

Uh, and anyway, all our friends were saying, you can’t just wait until you have a kid. It’s the best thing ever. You’re going to love it. And so we fell pregnant and we were so excited and I went away to an emerging leaders camp, which is something the Australian Christian churches does in our denomination. And Pastor Ben has been running one last week and has doing another one this week. And what they do at these is they get all the young up and coming leaders together and it’s like a boot camp.

And one of the things they did was they kind of separated everyone into groups. Just small groups and said we want you to put one person in the middle at a time and we want all of you to have a word from God to speak and to share with them. And so I was hearing in my group everyone having these words for people like you’re going to be a world changer. God’s going to use you. Your youth ministry is going to explode. All these good good words.

Then it gets to my turn to be kind of the piggy in the middle you know and suddenly the words got really really dark. And it really really uncomfortable and I just thought oh you poor things. You don’t realise how bad you are at this. Like you’re supposed to say encouraging words. That’s how this is supposed to work.

Anyway so finally one of them says to me and I still remember her word and it was something that really got us through an incredible season. Was she through all the scares and all the hardships in your pregnancy, God’s got this. You need to remember, God’s got this. And it was one of those things where I’m like, okay, I’ll file that at the back of my mind.

It’s a, you know, I don’t even think this is going to come to fruition. Hardships, we haven’t had any hardships. It’s been smooth sailing. It’s been so easy. And we get to our 20-week scan where they’re scanning the, you know, the length of the baby and you discover, if it’s a boy or if it’s a girl, and I was just so excited to get there and be like, is it a girl? Is it a boy?

And so she was really chatty for the longest time and then suddenly she just went deathly quiet and stopped talking to us. And then she pulled in her supervisor. And so they’re scanning and they’re looking and they’re starting to ask us if we have any history, medical history in our family that’s unusual. And post that appointment. We went and sat down with the doctor and he said words that I’d literally never heard before in my life. Which was congenital heart defect. Or to be more specific double inlet left ventricle heart.

So to explain that is if you don’t know what that is our daughter was missing like a whole chamber of her heart. She had half a heart. And they told us originally listen there are surgeries they do. There’s an open heart surgery that we will give her at 3 days old. And then at three months old and then at 4 years old. And might I say the three-day-old surgery is the most complex surgery there is.

So you can understand that we were very blindsided by this and taken aback. Especially because the first doctor who we talked to said there is a 70% chance that won’t have a good quality of life. That she’ll just pass away. Or that she’ll struggle and pass away when she’s really young. And even we had one doctor who was very forceful with us to have an abortion. And so we were in a very tough scenario. And we were heading into that season just going oh gosh what do we do?

And so we packed up and we moved our lives to Brisbane. And we had to stay in a hospital for 6 months. And I remember so many people talking to us saying I don’t know how you’re getting through this. If I was in your situation, I’d be falling apart. Oh, this is so, this must be so hard for you but the funny thing is, when I look back on that season, Jess and I, we remember so many good things.

We remember that God did so many incredible things across that time. In fact, one of the great things that happened was, Riley was supposed to really, really struggle and they said there’s going to be all these complications you can just expect it but it didn’t happen and actually when we moved up to the ward finally after coming out of the intensive care ward, the doctors, when they do the rounds in the morning, where they say what’s going to happen with your child, they kind of refer to Riley as an all-star patient and they didn’t even talk to us about medical stuff.

They’d come around and just say, hey, how’s your day? What did you do? Did you go to Southbank? Because there was nothing to do with her after we got through that season. God was incredibly faithful and even when we got home, they were like, you can expect that she’s going to have trouble feeding. You can expect there’s going to be delays. You can expect all these things to happen. Literally, none of them happened. And I praised God for that.

But I can tell you that there was a hard season when we were on the intensive care ward. Where we were surrounded by people who were going through tremendous hardship. And it would have been easy for us to sit at a crossroad, give up, and feel like we’re in a barren or parched land. But the interesting thing was I think it revealed to us our convictions with God. It revealed to us the hope and faith we have in God.

Sometimes we feel like, oh, God’s bringing this challenge to me and God’s going to grow my faith but you know what I think it does more? It reveals your faith. It reveals the faith that you have in the tank. It reveals where you’re really at with God. You know, what we discovered was we had a resilience that we didn’t know was there and I thank God for the times when I was in my room privately just praying to God behind closed doors.

I thank God that I turned up to church every single week even when I didn’t like it. Yes, sometimes pastors don’t feel like coming to church. They would like to sleep in too but you know what? We turn up because we know God’s turning up, you know? I praise God that I was in my word, reading it every day. I praise God that I cultivated a trust and a relationship with God because Lord knows I needed it when it came time and for some of us, we might be sitting in a really comfortable season and we think, I’ve got half a tank. I got like three-quarters of a tank and that’s enough. That’s all I need right now. You never know you going to need until you need it. Amen?

So, my encouragement to everyone in this room is that we need to be people who operate out of a full tank. Are you with me? Yeah.

James 1:2-4 NKJV

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

Nobody likes trials. I don’t think I’ve had anyone come up for prayer and say, I really need you to pray that I get afflicted with something. I haven’t been afflicted with something for so long and I just want God to produce that perseverance in my life. Oh, you know, nobody does that because we don’t enjoy it, do we?

But the biblical commentator I was reading the other week said, you know, that faith is tested through trials not produced through trials. Trials reveal what faith we do have. Terah did not have enough in the tank to progress any further than Haran. And I think that we discovered what was in our tank and it produced so much joy in us. Because you know what? I look back on that season and I know God was with me.

And I know God did a mighty work in myself and Jess’s life. And we stood strong through the hardest of trials. And actually I don’t look back on that season like oh it was this worst period of my life. Actually I grew closer to God. And I knew him in a way that was incredible. Are you with me but the verse basically says, consider it pure joy that you were going to face challenges because guess what? You’re going to know where you’re at really. You know, pure joy seems like a stretch but it’s true.

In Isaiah 55 verse six, it says, 

Isaiah 55:6 NKJV

Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near.

God is near this morning. So, let’s seek him while he may be found. Let’s not wait to fill up our tank when we’re running on empty. Let’s do it now. You know is near, he can be found. Let’s not find him some other time. Let’s fill our tank now. And can I speak to us as a church? As Reedy Creek. As I was preparing this message I was really feeling like God is moving us into a new season.

He’s moving us to Canaan. We want everyone to feel like they’re moving into this fresh season of what God’s doing. And maybe you’ve had a season of hardship. Maybe you’ve had a season of weariness maybe you have a season of sitting on the sidelines and being a spectator but I believe the word for us right now is get to Canaan. That season was fine. That season was good. Maybe.

But there is great ahead of us. There is greatness ahead of us. And we don’t want to leave anyone behind. Are you with me? It’s like God’s breathing fresh new life into the church. He’s speaking and saying you had your time in your spot. You sat at your crossroad. You sat in the barren or parched land. Maybe that was a decision you made. Maybe there was a decision that was made for you but now it’s time to rise up and we’re going to walk. I wonder if it’s time for us to fill our tanks. I wonder if it’s time to start bouncing off of God and allowing him to actually convict us, allowing him to challenge us into where we’re heading.

Ps Sean Casey

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