Saturday, 20 May 2017

Pastoring Fully Devoted

Pastoring-fully-devoted
Every believer is a disciple. Therefore, every believer needs to be discipled. Christ’s commissioning last command was to make disciples. This involves making believers then shaping believers into the likeness of Christ as He wants to be seen through them. Believers are taught to practice the disciplines of a Christ-like life – Scripture familiarisation, prayer, worship, witnessing, and spiritual gift development. Every believer is a disciple and benefits from people who care enough to disciple them. But every believer also needs pastoring. Pastoring involves protecting, nourishing, healing, restoring, tending, feeding, loving. The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians as both a discipler and a pastor. Sometimes it’s difficult to decide which of the two important roles the great apostle fulfils – especially when he uses words like euparedron

euparedron-1
The Greek word, euparedron only occurs once in the New Testament. It is only used by the Apostle Paul. It is only written to the Corinthians. It involves a believer being both discipled and pastored. The Corinthians had already felt the discipline of the apostle Paul in the first six chapters of his epistle to them. But in chapter 7 of First Corinthians, he changes gears. The topic changes. His focus shifts from dealing with the two big problems within their church (disunity and immorality) to marriage. In some of his other epistles he deals with the theology of marriage. But to the Corinthians, he speaks to them about marriage as a pastor. He tends to them as a shepherd. He stands at the gate of the sheepfold and protects from being ravaged by false teachers, the prevailing culture, and their own flesh. 
I am saying this for your own benefit” he tells them. This is the heart of every true shepherd. They lay down their lives for the lives of their sheep. A shepherd’s life is for the benefit of his sheep. He goes on to say that he is not trying to deprive or restrain them by giving them burdensome commands. “I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you.” This is what every true shepherd wants for their sheep: their joy and fulfilment. ‘I want you to be safe and secure’ he tells them. Again, this is pastoral language – “but to promote good order and to secure” he puts it. He then concludes verse 35 as a loving pastor – but this time with the tone of a discipler – 
I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.
First Corinthians 7:35
Paul’s pastoral aim for his flock is the same as his discipling aim for them. He wants them to be – “fully devoted” to the Lord. The kind of devotion to Christ that he wants for them is undivided devotion to the Lord. ‘Devotion’ is the Greek word, eupa-redron. This is any pastor’s mission. It is my motive in writing this. It is my motive when I preach. It is my motive when I visit. It is my motive when I counsel.
Perhaps God has called you to help shepherd people within our church? If so, perhaps you could make euparedron your mission for those you are caring for? Maybe your heart lies in other areas of Christ’s ministry to each other. Irregardless, we should all strive together to make euparedron (“undivided devotion to the Lord”) our mission for each other.

Ps. Andrew

Saturday, 13 May 2017

THE GOSPEL IN PASSENGERS


Passengers-header

I am mused, rather than amused, by movies. Recently I was mused by the Hollywood blockbuster, Passengers. Initially it appears to be a Sci-Fi movie. But in reality it an exposition of what it means to be human. It opens with the space-ship Avalon hurtling through space with 5,000 passengers and 258 crew leaving earth to colonise an earth-like planet, Homestead II. These passengers are looking for a fresh start. The voyage on the Avalon is calculated to take around 120 years. In order to survive the journey, the passengers and crew undergo induced hibernation in special pods. But thirty years into the journey the unforeseen happens.
And I say, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove!
  I would fly away and be at rest;
Psalm 55:6
Passengers, the movie, soundtrack
The flight-path of the Avalon has been calculated allowing for where meteor showers are to be expected. Its journey to the outer reaches of the galaxy has been designed to be able to withstand all meteor showers. But, what was not factored on was an asteroid collision which is later revealed to be catastrophic – but for most of the movie we do not know this. Inexplicably, one of the passengers, Jim Preston, is awoken from his hibernation. Jim, we soon learn, has a knack for figuring out how complex, computerised, machinery works. We learn that Jim is a mechanic. He seeks to find out why – out of all the 5,000 souls aboard – he is the only one who is awoken from hibernation. But there is no apparent reason why. It seems he has been chosen
Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.
Second Timothy 2:10
michael-sheen-passengers-600x400
Jim has all that the space-ship has to offer at his disposal. Unlimited alcohol. Unlimited food. Unlimited indoor recreation. Unlimited entertainment. But something is desperately missing. With ninety years still to go, he realises he will die before reaching flight’s end. After a year of no interaction with anyone except an android bartender, by the name of Arthur, who has been programmed with a degree of artificial intelligence, his loneliness gets the better of him and he can take it no longer. 
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
Romans 12:10
He wanders the hibernation deck to look at all the sleeping people and is drawn to the hibernation pod of a beautiful young lady. She fascinates him. He searches through the passenger records to learn more about this young lady. As he watches the application videos of Aurora Lane explaining why she wanted to travel to Homestead II, he experiences a strange stirring in his heart. The more he looked through her archives, the closer he felt that he had known her all his life. He became convinced that she was his perfect match. Jim discovered how to awaken her from her hibernation. But he assures himself, and Arthur, that he would never actually do such a thing – because that would be wrong
For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.
Romans 7:18-19
passengers1

At this point, Jim Preston has gone a year without any human contact. He is teetering on insanity and comes within a whisker of taking his own life. After all, God has not designed for anyone to live isolated from others. 
¶ Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”
Genesis 2:18
Even in the distant corners of the galaxy the human soul is still subject to its conscience and the conviction of sin. Jim Preston had become a conflicted man. It is then, after subsequent months of internally battling with the morality of waking Aurora from her hibernation, that he does what he said he would never do. The awakened Aurora is told by Jim that the Avalon is glitching. This is why, he tells her, that only their hibernation pods have malfunctioned. Their time together exploring the Avalon brings them closer together. Jim was indeed right. They were indeed a perfect-match. But the Avalon seems to be breaking down. Things are no longer working quite right. Then another hibernation pod malfunctions, this time in the crew section, when the Chief Deck Officer, Gus, is awakened.
Passengers-Fishburne 
By this time, Arthur the bartender has let slip that Jim intentionally awoke Aurora from her hibernation and she is furious! She tells Gus that what Jim has done is essentially to “murder” her. Gus somewhat mediates between them and attempts to discover why the Avalon is breaking down. But Gus is not well. He goes to the crew’s medical repair pod and discovers that he has major, irreparable internal organ failure. The repair pod is unable to repair his damage. In a short while Gus is dead. Before he dies he has left Jim and Aurora with his crew access tag. 
What we discover toward the end of the movie is that space-ship is also dying. Jim and Aurora discover that the Avalon has suffered catastrophic asteroid damage which has devastated the ship’s nuclear reactor which has burnt out one of Avalon’s main computer processors. Jim devises a strategy to repair the ship. But it is extremely risky and has a low chance of his own survival. Aurora begins to realise that Jim is actually quite a noble guy for being to do this. She also realises that what she thought was grossly unfair, and akin to “murder”, was actually the very thing that has given her any chance of survival – and ultimately the survival of the lives of all 5000 passengers and the 257 surviving crew members.

HOW PASSENGERS REVEALS THE TRUTH OF THE GOSPEL

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28
  1. Even tragedy and disaster are used by God for the greater good.
  2. The most natural emotional response in times of hurt from set-back is anger, depression, self-pity and withdrawal.
  3. It’s not that time heals all wounds. It’s only time used wisely which does.
  4. Circumstances often leave clues that God has gone before us.
Passengers shows that human beings cannot live in isolation. We are created to live in community – especially small communities such as families. We are also created to love. But ultimately, the subtle message behind the movie, Passengers, is that God is the unseen Guide and Conductor of every atom in the Universe. As such, everyone who watches Passengers should leave the movie theatre with a heart full of worship for our Sovereign and Creator.
And he said with a loud voice, “Fear God and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come, and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.”
Revelation 14:7
Of course, we are all actually hurtling through space on a ship called earth. We are all passengers. In some respects, our ship is broken. Just as the Avalon experienced the invisible hand of the Sovereign God, so too our earth is riddled with the tell-tale signs of God’s redemptive intervention. And God invites all people everywhere to experience for themselves His intervention in their lives if they would just ask. You are not a million miles from God – you are just one prayer away!
Ps. Andrew

Friday, 5 May 2017

WHAT A WELCOMING CHURCH SMELLS LIKE

WHAT A WELCOMING CHURCH SMELLS LIKE

roast-dinnerCertain things trigger happy memories. A special song which was current during a particularly happy event. A date (such as 2007, when the Geelong Cats dominated the world of football and has ever gone down in history as the greatest team ever). And an aroma which reminds us of a happy place and time. Yesterday I was playing tennis near a home which was obviously cooking a lamb roast for their evening dinner. This highly distracting fragrance wafted over our tennis court and virtually invited us to join them for dinner.  That’s what pleasant fragrances do. They attract. They invite. And I hope that our church is “smelt” by many who feel they have no home, no family, no hope. 
I was listening to Wayne Cordiero’s Monday night teaching program on radio this week when he told the story of a YWAM evangelist who went to the local Red-Light district of Honolulu to reach out to the ladies there. As he shared the Gospel of God’s true love with them, many of them received Christ. The evangelist encouraged these ladies to go to church – for, as Wayne Cordiero said, evangelism is not truly evangelism if there is no church to disciple the evangelised. But they asked the evangelist if he could start a church for them. He responded by saying that there was no need for this as Honolulu had plenty of churches in the area. The girls responded with – “Look at us! What church would welcome us?!” This stumped the evangelist. When Wayne Cordiero, who pastors a church in Honolulu, heard the evangelist tell him this story, he immediately prayed, “Lord, may we be a church that would welcome all people – especially people like this.”  And when I heard Wayne re-tell this story, I also prayed the same prayer for our church!
He brought me to the banqueting house,
and his banner over me was love.
Song of Songs 2:4
A banqueting tableEvery Sunday we put on a banquet. We serve up an entrĂ©e of music that whets our appetites for God’s presence. We serve a delicious pre-dinner Communion which helps us to remember Christ and His finished work of rescuing us. We receive an offering which detoxes our souls of self-centredness. We serve up a bountiful feast of God’s Word as the sermon delivers a carefully constructed recipe of soul-nourishing, mind-stimulating, and spirit-refreshing insight and truth fresh out of the oven. We then enjoy the dessert of fellowship together as we look into each other’s souls with the care of Christ. All of these aspects of our weekly banquet combine to produce an aroma that attractive, appealing, and inviting. 
the-empty-chairThe banquet we put on each Sunday doesn’t require formal attire. Anyone can come as they are. Neither is it for “perfect” people. None of us are. It’s a family dinner table made up of orphans like you and me who have been adopted by God and made into a family. When we come together before the Father, we feel His great love for us and no matter how many people are added to our number at the Table, we feel no less loved by the Father! Yet, each Sunday we have vacant chairs at our banqueting table. The Father longs for His children to meet together with Him and to welcome in new family members – and these empty chairs remind us of the Father’s heart for His lost children.
And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled.
Luke 14:23
F.W. Boreham tells the story of a man who grew roses. All day every day he worked in a hot-house with the fragrance of roses all around him. Whenever he visited someone or dropped into a local shop, everyone knew immediately who it was even he was sighted or heard. As you probably suspected, this was because they could smell the sweet rose aroma which he inadvertently carried with him. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians and gave them a vision of what it meant to spend all day every day with Christ. It was, he wrote, the fragrance of the knowledge of Christ – the fragrance of life
¶ But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere…a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things?
Second Corinthians 2:1416b
I think we have a sense that there are thousands of people in our city who right now can only smell death. Their parents have mercifully yet sadly split. Their friends ignore them. Their marriages have turned bitter. Their childhoods have been robbed. Their teen years have been destroyed by poor decisions. Their finances have all gone and now all they have is debt. Like their fridges, their hearts are empty. And no matter how hard they try, they just can’t seem to escape the fact their lives stink. These are the ones whom our Father longs to see sitting our “Sunday Table”. 
Bruce-Beresford-Susan-McMartin-Britt-Robertson-Lee-Nelson-1200x801I am currently sitting in Melbourne Airport writing these few thoughts. One of the blessings of air travel is that I get to watch a new release movie in flight. This morning I was thrilled to watch a movie I’ve wanted to see for a while – Hidden Figures. I’m halfway through, but already I’m angry. Not at the quality of the movie, but at the fact that this is a true story of how unwelcome these Negro women who worked for NASA were made to feel. Just a few weeks ago I got to watch the outstanding Bruce Beresford film, Mr Church. This film also explores what it means to deal with being made unwelcome. It’s one of the best movies I’ve ever seen and the next time I see Mr Beresford I’ll let him know that (as well as complain to him that he made me cry on the plane like a girl!). 
mr-church-header

Watching both of these movies causes my heart to cry out to God that we can be a church that welcomes. May we exude a fragrance that invites, appeals, and woos people to Christ. May those who think their lives stink come to us and enjoy a different aroma – an aroma of life, the fragrance of Christ. And may all this happen despite what they’ve done, how they look, how they’ve treated us, and or how they’ve been living. Let’s smell like Christ and welcome whosoever!  
Ps. Andrew

Friday, 28 April 2017

How To Strengthen Others

INCREASE YOUR STRENGTH
¶ We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.
Romans 15:1-2
Ever been weary? I have. Weariness comes in different varieties. There’s physical weariness. There’s emotional weariness. There’s intellectual weariness. And there’s spiritual weariness. I’m pretty sure from personal experience that all four are interconnected. Two football teams can play off in the Grand Final and exert exactly the same amount of physical energy. At the end of the game one of these teams will feel energised while the other team will feel exhausted! Emotional weariness has a bearing on our level of physical strength. Would you like to know how to increase your four-fold strengths quickly and easily?
Awesome is God from his sanctuary; the God of Israel—He is the one who gives power and strength to his people. Blessed be God!
Psalm 68:35
After you’ve been married a while you experience times when you’re down and your spouse is up. Or, put another way: there are times when you’re weak, and your spouse is strong. In a marriage, these roles change back and forth. Strength is imparted between a husband and a wife with words, forgiveness, and a touch. Sometimes these strengthening touches look like your husband or wife taking you by the hand and saying, “Come on. Let’s go for a walk.” But the strengthening power of a word, forgiveness (and acceptance), and a touch don’t just work with husbands and wives to strengthen each other. It can also bring strength between family members, friends, work colleagues, team mates, and church members.
¶ Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.
First Corinthians 16:13

Rich_Froning2SOURCES OF STRENGTH

You could exercise. I probably should exercise more. What do they say? “No pain, no pain!” Or something like that? There is of course a proportional amount of gain to achieved from the pain that comes from the self-discipline of taking the time and effort to exercise. Whenever I see someone who is obviously well toned and quite fit, I have to conclude that they are a highly self-disciplined person. But physical exercise is not the only source of strength.
¶ Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.
Ephesians 6:10
Rich Froning, Four Times in a row crowned the world's fittest man
I watched a documentary on the world’s fittest man, Rich Froning, and was amazed that during a five day fittest tournament he ate pizza and drank soda! Although Rich looks like a body builder, his muscles aren’t for show – they’re for work! Each day during his physical tests of strength and endurance, he would burn the equivalent energy of several large pizzas! As I write this, Kim has just handed me a large chocolate cookie with white choc chips. According to the ABC3 For Kids Operation Ouch Doctors the other night, it takes the equivalent amount of exertion involved in running a marathon to burn off the amount of ‘energy’ found in this delicious cookie which I just devoured. That reminds me, food(if we can stoop to call anything chocolate to be “food”) is also a source of strength. 
Each of the four categories of strength has its equivalent forms of exercise and food. It’s an intellectual exercise to learn a foreign language. It’s intellectual food to be taught by someone else has to speak and read that same foreign language. it’s emotional exercise to keep loving  someone who is being unkind to you, while it is emotionally nourishing to be shown love by someone.  

A STRENGTH THAT COMES FROM GOD

¶ I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service,
First Timothy 1:12
The Scriptures describe and discuss a mysterious strength that comes from God. This insight helps us to see that strength might be prioritised in its interconnected order as-
1. Spiritual > 2. Intellectual > 3. Emotional > 4. Physical

Many people feel tired and run down and immediately assume that the cause is entirely physical. They may go to the gym or their GP for remedies. But sometimes all the gym or a doctor can do is treat the symptoms. The underlying cause goes untreated. Oddly, this became evident to Rich Froning, the world’s fittest man! He bombed out terribly in a fittest tournament that he was expected to win easily and this made him realise a truth he had been avoiding. Rich had worked hard to be able to tick boxes 4, 3, and 2, but realised that his spiritual life was lifeless and that it was having a dramatic effect on his intellectual, emotional, and physical well-being. He sought God and soon found the missing strength he longed for. He wanted to declare to the world his new-found faith in Christ and his commitment to Him. You’ll notice how he did this down his right side –
Rich_Froning3

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:  whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To Him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
First Peter 4:10-11
If you need strength – and need it quickly – then the above two verses are gold! God gives strength to His people through His people!!!! If you think of God’s strength as being like magnetism. The more a paper-clip of screw-driver hangs out with a magnet, the more likely it is to become magnetised! The more you hang out with strong believers the more their strength is imparted to you! God’s design for His people to fellowship with each other is not just about accountability, it’s about imparting strength to the weary. I think our Enemy knows this. This is why he seeks to isolate believers because by doing this he can cut them off from their means of receiving God’s strength. 
If you’re feeling a bit weary and the Enemy whispers slyly into your soul’s ears that it’s time to have a break from Christian community – HE’S LYING TO YOU! 
Strength from God comes from asking Him for it and most commonly it comes from the strength He places within your Christian brothers and sisters who love you. You should spiritually exercise. You should spiritually eat. But in the meantime, you can spiritually be refreshed by following God’s ordained means for imparting his Grace-Strength to you through the fellowship of believers – especially strong ones. These believers can be identified in a few not so obvious ways. They don’t always look very religious. But they love God. Their love God is like the love that two people in love have. Just as people in love want to spend time with each other, the fully devoted follower of Christ wants to spend time with God. They don’t pray because they should or have to, they pray because it means they can talk with the One they love. They don’t just occasionally read the Bible. They prioritise time in God’s Word each day because it means they can read God’s love letters to them and learn His language. When they are around people they take an interest in them. Almost involuntarily, they find themselves praying for these people. No matter difficulties they are dealing with, they always seem to make you feel like your problems are their greatest concern. When you hang out with people like this, you can’t help but feel stronger yourself! 
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Hebrews 10:24-25
Be strong!
Amen.
Ps. Andrew Corbett

Friday, 21 April 2017

Every Great Church Has These Three

Kimmys-next-car

THREE CHEERS FOR THESE THREE

I’m not sure why car wheels need balancing after their tyres are fitted, but without those little balancing weights strategically placed around the rim of the wheel, a car’s steering would vibrate and the car would veer one way or the other. These little counter-weights serve an invaluable role and deserve some credit. But counter-weights or “make-weights” don’t just occur on car wheels – they can be found in churches! In fact, every pastor whom God has used to lead a church to growth has never been able to do so with without those in their congregation who were counter-weights! 
wheel-balancing1

PERSONALITIES, PORNOGRAPHY & PRIDE

The Corinthian Church was plagued with problems. It had suffered several church splits. There were people openly committing sexual immorality. Their church services had become known for occasions of debauchery and gluttony. And, worst of all, arrogance had set in – especially among those claiming to be the most spiritual. Yet the church was graced with three noble counter-weights: 
I rejoice at the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus, because they have made up for your absence, for they refreshed my spirit as well as yours. Give recognition to such people.
First Corinthians 16:17-18
yellow-ferrariStephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus were counter (or, as they used to be called, “make”) weights. Despite all the ungraciousness happening in their church, they were gracious and made up for its lack. The Apostle said that such people should be given due recognition. But they rarely are. They the hardy souls who make churches sweet and positive. They always lend a hand where they can. Nothing is too hard. F.W. Borehamsays of them-
It still happens that Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus make up that which is lacking in our churches. But how do they do it? Never by negative methods. It is always done by something positive in their behaviour. They do not criticize or find fault or stress the weaknesses of the church to which they have attached themselves. They do not shout from the housetops that the church is cold and inhospitable; that nobody ever speaks to them; that the prayer-meeting is poorly attended and that few of the congregation read their Bibles. No, no; Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus adopt a more excellent way.F.W. Boreham, “MAKEWEIGHTS”, ‘Cliffs of Opal’, 1948, p. 66
Just like the little counter-weights on a car’s wheels, there are always some people in every church who seem to add joy and grace to that congregation. No pastor can succeed without such people! The challenge for such blessing-founts is that they rarely receive what the Apostle exhorted the rest of the church to give them: recognition. But the beauty of such people is that rarely look for it, and actually seem to shun it. 
yellow-ferrari2If a car is rendered almost undriveable without these little balancing weights strategically placed around each wheel’s rim, it could be that many other facets of life are also unworkable without the “little” contributions that so many unrecognised people gladly make. I know that this is true of churches. In fact, I have come to believe that this is one of the greatest indicators of a church’s depth and maturity. While people may look at a church’s facilities, or judge it by the popularity of its preacher, or rate it by the breadth of its programs for youth and children, or even its music, I think most people evaluate a church by its tone and temperature. This is where our modern day Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus play their part. Without such grace-drenched souls in a church its tone is harsh and unforgiving and its temperature is always too cold.
But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. ¶ The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty
First Corinthians 12:18-23
IMG_7821As I have watched Geoffrey construct our new auditorium with wood, hammers and nails, I wonder how many of us will look up in our newly completely house of worship at one of those nails in the ceiling and thank God for that nail? Probably none of us. It’s no different in a spiritual house. Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus just keep serving, encouraging, listening and caring, mostly without any attention or recognition at all. They are always making up for that which is lacking.
Dr. Boreham goes on to say about these noble servants of Christ that although Christ’s redemptive work was finished on the Cross, it wasn’t completed
‘It is finished!’ the Saviour exclaimed. It was the triumphant cry of the workman who had brought His masterpiece to absolute perfection with that finishing touch.
But think again! If Jesus, the Son of God, had died His bitter death on Calvary’s tree, and left it at that, would 
that have saved the world? Of course not. The world at large would never have heard of it. The tragic incident would have passed into oblivion within a year or two. Just another political execution in a Roman province! In order that the redeeming sacrifice might be made effective, and the world saved by means of it, it was necessary for the Apostles to suffer and to die in proclaiming it, for the martyrs to lay down their lives in defending it, and for missionaries like Xavier and Livingstone and Petteson and Williams and Chalmers to seal with their blood their testimony to its virtue.F.W. Boreham, “MAKEWEIGHTS”, ‘Cliffs of Opal’, 1948, p. 68
Thus, I would like to propose three cheers. One for our Stephanases. One for our Fortunatuses. And one for our Achaicuses! May God bless each one of them, for they are greatly needed by the Lord in every church as any pastor can tell you.

Pastor Andrew.

Friday, 14 April 2017

The Urge To Quit Always Comes Just Before Your Greatest Triumph

IF YOU’RE GOING TO GIVE-IN, AT LEAST DO IT PROPERLY!
What has God put you on this planet for? Chances are you don’t have to stress too much about discovering it. You have probably already found that God has placed within you certain abilities, certain passions, which cause you to continually see the same need. Chances are also that when you apply yourself to meeting those needs you have gained a tremendous sense of satisfaction and fulfilment in the process. Yet, despite this, there will occasionally be times of discouragement when all you want to do is give-up. But it’s at these times when you must especially be careful to do it properly!
Joseph was given a dream from God that he would one day become a powerful governor. After spending more than ten years in an Egyptian prison, we would have forgiven him for giving up and for thinking that God had abandoned him. But if he had, he would have missed his moment! Joseph remained faithful to God, day in, and day out. 
Moses was called to be the deliverer of Israel from Egypt. But he made a mistake and failed. This led him to flee into the desert. I wonder if he thought that God would rescue him from his woes in a short time. But he didn’t hear from God again for another 40 years! He never completely gave-up!
It seems to me that the most successful people are those who have learned to hang-in when the temptation to give-in is nearly overwhelming. They are prepared to give to take one more step, have one more go, knock on one more door, write one more song, play one more tournament, do one more day. 
I recently spoke with a successful businessman who had gone four months without making a dollar in his new business. He had exhausted his reserves and had lay off each of his staff. Despondent but not despairing he gave it one more shot. “I was ready to throw it all in and stack shelves in a supermarket” he said. “But then God gave me a break. I met someone I could help. That led to another person I could help, and then another who referred me to another. In the first three months of this year I’ve done $17,000,000 worth of transactions and am on track to generate over a million dollars in profits this year!” 
Not all of us are in business, but we should all be in God’s business of helping others in Jesus’ Name. Yet when you’re trying to do good by others and help them, it can get quite discouraging when they don’t appreciate it or are even rude in return. I recently heard Jossy Chacko tell his story of having a Christian Grandmother who prayed fervently for young Jossy to come to know Christ. Jossy ridiculed such praying. He told his ageing Grandmother not to waste her time on him. But she kept going – month after month, year after year. She died never seeing the answer to her prayers for her Grandson. Today though, Jossy is an in-demand preacher and conference speaker who heads up the Empart Church Planting organisation which helps to facilitate over 9,000 churches across northern India.
We should not easily lose heart in our pursuit of doing the will of God.
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
Galatians 6:9
This admonition not only applies to each of us, it also especially applies to us as a church. Too many churches are set back because someone gives up after taking offence at something someone said or did (or didn’t say or didn’t do). It’s too easy to give up on each other or those who are trying to reach. The cousin of not giving up is patience. There will be some people we will reach who will take years and years to see won to the Lover Of Their Soul. Whenever I get frustrated with some of the things that our non-Christian politicians say, I have to remind myself to pray for their salvation and be patient. When the story of our church is told to generations to come – long after you and I have gone onto our true Home – I trust we will be remembered for our faithful prayer and proclamation to our generation and that we didn’t give up. The proper way to give-up is to at least give it one more shot.  

Pastor Andrew Corbett

Friday, 7 April 2017

Watch Out For Those Churches Missing Their Outer Doorhandles!

OUR WORSHIP IS A WINDOW
Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.” For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
Revelation 19:10
One of the predominant themes of the majestic Book of Revelation is that Christ is the exclusively worship-worthy Saviour and Lord. Revelation 19:10 demolishes the idea that any worship shown to Jesus recorded in the New Testament was merely, as Jehovah’s Witnesses vainly claim, reverential respect. In Revelation 19:10 we see that even the act of worship, that is, bowing in surrender to anyone other than Christ was and is strictly forbidden. The angel who is relaying Christ’s revelation to John expressly and immediately forbids John from showing any form of worship to him. “Worship God!” the Angel admonishes the apostle. What, who, and how a church and its congregants worships, is a window into that church. And in a surprising link, it also determines what their front door looks like as well… 
While worship is the primary purpose of the believer whereby they give praise and glory to God, it is also a witness to the world. This worshipful witness becomes a summons to the world challenging them lay down their lives and surrender to Christ. The worship of Christ by the Church calls people to repent. Our heartfelt, passionate, Spirit-led worship of the Lamb aligns our hearts with His. It makes us hungry for His Word and increases the burden we feel for the lost. The worshipful believer is thus committed to declaring the Gospel of the Saviour and declaring the truth about Jesus, which, according to Revelation 19:10, is prophesying (even though it looks like what most people call, evangelism).  

LUKEWARM CHURCHES WORSHIP THE WRONG THING

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.
Revelation 3:20
William-Holman-Hunt-Light_of_the_worldIn the famous painting depicting Christ from Revelation 3:20 (“behold I stand at the door and knock“), called “The Light of the World“, William Holman Hunt shows Jesus knocking at a door in an overgrown orchard at night. Christ is holding a lit lantern. But this glowing lantern seems unnecessary because of the brilliant moonlight which enables the viewer to clearly make out the scene. F.W. Boreham was in London in 1924 and visited Mr Hunt’s famous painting at St. Paul’s Cathedral. He understood that the artist meant to show that there was no door-handle on the outside of the door. He understood that the overgrown vegetation over the door meant to show that the inhabitants rarely ventured outside. But the lantern? There was no need for it. 
Yet Boreham knew that Mr Hunt wasted nothing in his allegorical art. He remarked to his wife that this was a mystery to him. A kindly older gentlemen standing just behind Dr. Boreham interrupted with an apology for eaves-dropping. He excused himself by pointing out that he was no further away than Mr Boreham’s elbow when he revealed this mystery. “I knew Mr Hunt well” he said. “If you would permit me, I can enlighten you with what Mr Hunt himself told me about the lantern.” F.W. Boreham welcomed the offer. The artist’s friend explained that Mr Hunt wanted to convey that Christ was knocking on the door of a lukewarm church. Because there is no handle on the outside, the occupants must open up to Christ and invite Him in. But this church is located on the edge of the orchard adjacent to the wild woods. While Christ wanted entry to the church, it wasn’t to be for too long because He really wanted to lead the occupants out of their dwelling and to journey with Him into the darkness of the wild woods – hence His lantern was lit and trimmed. The church becomes lukewarm when it ceases to venture out into the darkness with the light of Christ. 
Christ is still knocking and He still bears a lit lantern to guide His Church into the darkness to rescue a lost world.
While we thrill at the progress of the construction of our new auditorium, we must continue to passionately, whole-heartedly, and sacrificially worship Christ and align our hearts with His. Used wisely, our new building will help us to do just that. But we must ensure that our door handles are on both sides of our church doors so that those who see the Saviour as we worship will want to come in and meet Him. 
He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
and put their trust in the LORD.
Psalm 40:3
Aerial view of Legana Christian Church's new auditorium being constructed
Let us open up our hearts to Christ and enjoy our times with Him and recognise that He bids us to not just come into worship, and not just to “go” but to “go with Him“. I’m sure you will join in prayer asking that God will send some of us out to clear the “thistles” and “thorn-bushes”, or to prune the fruit-trees, or to sow seed, or to water seeds, or for some to even harvest and gather. And while this will be the fruit of worshipful church, the root is always passionate devotion of Christ, making Him and His House our priority.

Ps. Andrew