Thursday, 25 December 2008
For less than 1% of the cost of implementing Kyoto the entire world could have clean drinking water.
Wednesday, 24 December 2008
From Christmas we know that God-
God is a Father who does what fathers do- protects, provides, plays with, and prays for His Child.
We can continue to make our Valley a better place by giving our community children who know how to respect public property, each other, the vulnerable, and the less well-off. Good parenting is extremely hard work but it pays dividends like no other investment.
God gave away what He wanted most: love. By doing this He extolled love as the highest virtue.
We can continue to make our community a better place by giving away what we ourselves want. This might involve volunteering – in fact, the real wealth of a community is not measured in dollars, but in its care for each other and this is generally gauged by the level of volunteering within a community. Thank God, not just for the Salvos, but for the Fireys, School Canteen staff, St John’s Ambulance, the soccer coaches, the local tennis coach, Neighbourhood Watch and our church groups that all could not function without volunteers.
God has a plan of action. He saw a problem and took action. No matter what problem you are facing, with God’s help you can deal with it.
We can continue to make our Valley a better place by getting involved and all taking action: run for Council, join Neighbourhood Watch, support tree planting, clean-up days, working bees, keeping our properties fire-safe and well maintained.
God works in community. His plan involved a young virgin girl, a kind hearted carpenter, shepherds, wise-men, Herod and an Inn Keeper.
We can continue to make our Valley a better place by working in community and being community-minded. Don’t automatically think of your neighbour as “nosey” when they are simply showing care and concern for you. Christmas and New Year is a great time to get to know your neighbours over a backyard BBQ.
Everybody matters to God. Whether you are rich or poor, important or insignificant, yellow black or white, healthy or unwell, you matter to God.
We can continue to make our Valley a better place by ensuring that everybody is looked after, treated fairly and welcomed irregardless of our differences with them.
Happy New Year,
Dr Andrew Corbett
Friday, 19 December 2008
Apathy is sometimes the disguise this generation wears to hide the almost continual sense of rejection they have either experienced or fear. But this approach to life can't successfully be Christinised. God's Word reveals that the victorious Christian life is lived out of the heart of the believer. And just to add emphasis, the Word of Life reveals that we should seek God, love God, and obey God, with all our heart.
Deuteronomy 4:29 But from there you will seek the LORD your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul..”
Deut. 6:5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
Deut. 10:12 ¶ “And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul,
One of the defining characteristics of a Christian is that they have been given a new a heart from which they now seek, love and obey God. Ezekiel, the Old Testament prophet, predicted the outstanding result of the New Covenant when he prophesied-
Ezekiel 36:26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
While the emerging generation appears to apathetic toward so much of life and its future, appearances can be misleading. Nearly everyday the Media presents this generation passionately protesting what they consider to be environmental vandalism. There's definitely no "whatever" apathy here! All this confirms that even the whatever-generation can approach those things in life they feel are important with great passion- or, with all their heart.
But the things that these young people get passionate about (like, "Global Warming" and carbon emission levels) are less than insignificant compared to the things that God wants us to be passionate about: our right standing with God, our eternal destiny, loving our neighbour, caring for the less fortunate, building families that love God, the fate of those who have not yet heard the Gospel, and the fellowship of believers.
The Bible student who studies the way the Bible uses words like, mind, think, believe, will soon discover that these words are directly associated with our hearts, not our "brains". The heart is not only the source of our feelings, but our thoughts, according to the Word of Life. Indeed, Scripture says that our life flows out of our hearts (Proverbs 4:23; John 7:38).
Let us not attempt to Christianise a 'whatever' approach to life. Instead, let's worship God with all our heart-
Eph. 5:19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart,
Over the coming months, the world is going to try and win even believers to become more passionate about its causes (Global Warming, Sexual Preferences, Disarmament, Carbon Emission Trading, Two Thirds World Debt, Environmentalism). While we can feel strongly about these things with a Christian mind, there are probably over 100 things more important and urgent according to the Bible. But this won't stop secular humanists hijacking Christian language to hoodwink believers into becoming half-hearted Christians and whole-hearted secularists.
There has never been a more urgent time for believers to be whole hearted God adorers who live out our devotion to Christ the Lord with all our heart.
Father, help us to be most passionate about You and Your Cause. Lord, as the world seeks to squeeze us into a different way of thinking and force us to accept their values about what is important, may we keep our devotion to You, our love for our family, our charity toward our neighbours, our care for the poor, our burden for the lost and the ignorant, our compassion for the oppressed, and our care for the unborn. Continue to renew our hearts so that they are completely Godward. Help us to give You our heartfelt best.
Thursday, 11 December 2008
Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.
Yet Paul certainly did encounter Christ. His first encounter with Jesus was while he was on the road to Damascus. His next encounter was at perhaps the lowest point in his life, when everything seemed to be going wrong-
Acts 18:9-10 And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.”
To be sure, Paul had other spiritual experiences that involved visions, dreams, and out-of-body experiences. But his spirituality wasn't based on these experiences. His spirituality was based on provable hitorical facts. Paul makes a big deal about the facts of Christianity and in particular the greatest and most important historical fact: the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. He says that many of the people who had witnessed the Resurrected Jesus were still alive and that he had personally met them and verified these events with them.
Secondly, Paul's spirituality was grounded in Christ being the fulfilment of the Old Testament message. To Paul, the birth, life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Christ was all foretold in the Old Testament and uniquely fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ. This could not have been a series of mere coincidences to Paul. It could only have been orchestrated by God.
Thirdly, Paul's spirituality was grounded in God's creation. To Paul, creation screamed of a Creator. This led Paul to wonder in awe about, and worship, this Creator who he said was Jesus Christ (Col. 1:17-18).
The issues that Paul faced in being a Christian and keeping his faith in Christ are the same issues that Christians have faced down through the ages and perhaps we face today. But for the same reasons that Paul was able to keep going in his walk with Christ- the facts, fulfilled prophecy, and the wonders of creation- are also good reasons for us to be spiritual and follow Christ.
Father, help us to develop the gift of faith that you have given us. Help us to know and make known the historic facts for faith in Christ . Lead us in our reading and study of your Word so that we might marvel at Your unfolding plan fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Lord, give us eyes to see the wonders of Your handy-work in Your creation. May our lives increasingly reflect Your transforming glory.
Thursday, 4 December 2008
The rapid pace of technological change affects how we relate with each other as a church and reach out to a desperately lonely and confused world. While the world becomes increasingly educated and more affluent, we should (continue to) live like Daniel in Babylon - studious, dlligent, disciplined and connected.
Daniel 1:4 youths without blemish, of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding learning, and competent to stand in the king’s palace, and to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans.
If Daniel lived today, he wouldn't be daunted by all the technology - he would learn to use it and use it. I think this is how we should approach the rapid technology changes ahead. And it begins by embracing change.
Father, help us to keep up with all this change and not be afraid of change. Help us not to be overwhelmed by it. Help us as a church to be dependent upon You, but able to change so that we can be relevant to our world. Help us to use technology and digital media to share the truth of God's Word without being absorbed by these toys. May we walk into the future looking to be a part of shaping it rather than just being shaped by it.
Wednesday, 3 December 2008
We should pray. Prayer is simple. It is talking with God. The Bible encourages us to pray in different ways. We can "petition" God in prayer by bringing Him our requests. When we do, we are depending upon Him and He is glorified as our Provider.
We can also "praise" God in prayer.
But most importantly we should pray for God's will to be done- especially in our own lives. But before you do, I need to share a warning with you. This warning is not merely theoretical or just something I read about in a book. I am a firsthand spokesman for this warning. When you pray for God to have His way in your life He will take your prayer very seriously. As a result things will happen and circumstances will change in a way that it becomes obvious what the will of God is.
Father, please have your way in my life. Help me to do Your will, even when I don't understand it. Please work in my heart and mind to want to do Your will and obey Your Word. Help me to live and to love. Help me to be a blessing to others. Help me to listen. Help me to notice. Help me to care.
Thursday, 20 November 2008
How would you like to be cared for? Some of us, like me, are beset with fierce independence. We struggle to let others in too close. We struggle to truly open up and let others see just where we are struggling. While independence is a necessary virtue for responsibility-bearers it can be an unfortunate handicap as well in this instance of allowing others to care for us. Then there are those who are responsibility-shunners and feel so dependent upon others that they are easily disappointed with others- despite how much care they are shown. How would you like to be cared for?
Of all the words that can compliment a church- strong, influential, genuine, Biblical, Spirit-led, there is in my opinion none nicer to hear than: caring. While we want to be worthy of all those compliments, I especially want our church to be caring.
1Cor. 12:25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.
The opportunities to "care for one another" (1Cor. 12:25) in our church family are growing. One of the most practical ways for this to take place is in our Bible Study Groups. Our Bible study Groups are led by very caring leaders and I often hear stories of how group members have met together for a meal or social gathering and shown care for each other. In some instances, Bible Study Group members have taken meals around to one another when they sensed that this would be appropriate. In other instances within our church I have heard of some men getting together to do some handyman maintenance on a single mother's house. In yet another instance some time ago, a Bible Study Group organised to purchase a car for a struggling single mum. And just recently, one group helped with the costs of getting someone in our church family to an interstate funeral of a family member. This is caring.
Luke 6:38 talks about giving and not being being worse off for doing so. It seems that the more we care, the more we are cared for. The Bible is not just about information that makes us wonder in aweful amazement, it is also a handbook for how we should and can care for each other given to us by the most caring Person in the universe. Even when we think that no-one else cares, God always does.
Thursday, 13 November 2008
Many years ago, a fallen husband sat in my office and defended his failure. He told me that he had developed feelings for someone else and that while he still loved his wife, he also loved this other woman. "I can't control my feelings" he said, "I must be true to my heart." Neither of these statements are Biblical. In fact, they are Satanic. The Bible teaches us that we have direct control over our emotional feelings and that our hearts must be guarded, regularly cleansed, and rarely trusted.
Jeremiah 17:9 ¶ The heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately sick; who can understand it?
King David who had often left his heart unguarded pleaded with the Lord-
Psalm 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
What Solomon should have known, and what the ignorant husband that day in my office didn't know, was that feelings follow actions and actions follow decisions and decisions follow thoughts. To dwell on something too long is a choice. This choice leads to a decision. This decision produces an action. This action produces a feeling. Another way of saying guard your heart is:
Of course understanding how our emotions work can help us to understand how we can better love someone, forgive someone, and achieve Christ-likeness. It starts with our thinking. Consider Philippians 4:8-9. It starts with our minds and what we choose to put into them. May God help us to reject wrong thoughts and replace them with good thoughts. May God help us to make right choices based on good thoughts. May God help us to guard our hearts! May God help us to guard our hearts and build stronger, more godly lives and families. As a result, may God help us to build the kind of church where we have our hearts in His Presence, His Word and His House.
Wednesday, 29 October 2008
Stewardship is a word to describe the management of someone else's property. We are all stewards - since everything (including our lives) belongs to God. Good stewards not only preserve other people's property, they add value to it. This was the point of Christ's Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25. He commended the steward who multiplied his master's talents (a talent is a measurement of gold which equates to about 25kg).
We steward many things on God's behalf: our minds, our bodies, our family and relationships, our resources, our finances, our abilities and our opportunities. The goal of this stewardship is to glorify God. Therefore, it is incumbant upon us to ask God for His help in how we manage these various God-given blessings. It is my hope and prayer that we a can be the best stewards of God's resources that we can be. I hope this can increasingly happen on a personal level (that we enjoy what God has given, 1Timothy 6:17, share what God has given, 1Timothy 6:18, multiply what God has given and use what God has given for His glory, Revelation 4:11), and as a church.
As a pastor I want to help equip people and make room for them to use their gifts. And this has got me thinking. Gifts. I want people to realise, accept, and use their God given gifts. But even though this is what I want, I don't think I've achieved this very well in our church. Over the years I have tried to encourage those who I have observed having one of the gifts mentioned in Romans 12. Except for one of those gifts. This was reinforced to me last week when I had a regular lunch with a Christian businessman. He said to me that doing business was a gift from God. Unwittingly, he provoked in me thoughts of my own ministerial failure in omitting to encourage all the gifts mentioned in Romans 12. But before I make full confession, I need to preamble some more...
"Stewardship" to many Christians simply means the church asking for a bigger donation. Some preachers have even turned this into a prominent international money spinner. These preachers are called "Prosperity Preachers". They preach "The Prosperity Gospel". I deal with this false Gospel in a little more detail on our Finding Truth Matters site. Needless to say, that the Prosperity Preachers appeal to miraculous-quick-fix-formulas to solve their problems and grant their wishes. And this formula is usually very simple: give to this ministry and you will prosper. Giving to get is not the Biblical motive for giving.
And this brings me to my confession. Of all the motivational gifts mentioned in Romans 12:6-8 (like: teaching, prophecy, leading, encouraging, serving, or mercy) there is one that I have omitted. Of these six motivational gifts, they are easy to identify, celebrate and encourage. But the spiritual gift which I have omitted, giving, has always seemed to be a different type of gift to the others. After all, Jesus said that giving should be done quietly and secretly (Matthew 6:2). This seems to put the ministry of giving in a different category. But upon closer examination I'm not sure that what Jesus said in Matthew 6:2 doesn't apply to each of the spiritual gifts- not just giving. Either way, I have not given due consideration to how I encourage those with the spiritual gift of giving. My recent interactions with Mr Peter Daniels, whom I have long admired, have added to my realisation that I have not been very good at equipping those with this gift. With Mr Daniels' upcoming visit to Tasmania, I am planning to learn how to rectify this personal ministry shortfall. I would especially encourage other pastors to attend the luncheon on Monday 10th November where Mr Daniels will address this issue and show how churches can more wisely fund their missions.
One of the most precious stewarding opportunities we each have is to care for each for other. Our love, our fellowship, our friendship for each other is something we all must give and steward. As we meet on Sundays and through the week in our small groups, I pray that we can all reflect on the wonderful gift of Christian fellowship that God has given us all by connecting us together. Over the coming weeks as we welcome Mr Peter Daniels (who is an expert in stewardship) and Mike Berry, perhaps we can deepen our ability to be better stewards of all that God has given us. And hopefully I can grow in my ability to steward my gifts by learning how to better encourage and equip people with any of the spiritual gifts.
Wednesday, 15 October 2008
But when was the last time you were led by the Holy Spirit? How often do you ask the Holy Spirit to lead you? Do you know what the Holy Spirit is saying to you?
Paul told the Romans that the mark of a true believer was that they were led by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:14, "For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God."). To the Galatians he said that true Christians did not live under the Law, but rather they were led by the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:18). But listening to and being led by the Holy Spirit is frought with hazards: How do we know it is the Holy Spirit speaking to us and not just ourselves? How can we be sure of what the Holy Spirit is saying to us?
For some Christians the answers to these hazards is to simply avoid the issue all-together or simply reject the idea of any ongoing activity of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. They appeal to the need to only live by the Word of God (the Bible) and there is no need to seek any further leading or guidance. This phenomenally timid approach to Christianity can look highly religious, very dignified, and very respectful. But could these descriptors be applied to the first Christians?
Hardly! These first century Christians were deeply spiritual and more importantly: Spirit-led. To be sure, they produced the fruit of the Holy Spirit, but they clearly exercised supernatural, spiritual gifts that were literally phenomenal (prophecy, speaking in tongues, interpretation of tongues, casting out demons). They were led by the Holy Spirit to go out into remote areas to meet with foreign diplomats to share the Gospel with them at just the right time. They were inhibitted by the Holy Spirit from entering certain territories. They were given dreams, visions, and revelations from the Holy Spirit which served to build up the local church and extend the Kingdom of God. Did this "charismatic" ("Spirit gifted") phenomena cause problems in the early Church? Absolutely! But the apostles didn't then prohibit believers from being Spirit-led, rather they issued instructions that such activity be carried out wisely, maturely, and "in order".
How could Paul prescribe wisdom, maturity and orderliness with Spiritual phenomena? He could do this because of his understanding of "authority". He did not place such gifts or leadings on the same level of authority as the Bible. Neither did he regard such things as equal in authority to Old Testament prophecies (which are from God and without error). He seems to regard the gifts described in the New Testament as being of a different kind of authority. As such, he assumes that it is possible for believers to miss, misunderstand, or misinterpret the leading of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, he says that when someone exercises a gift they feel that the Holy Spirit has led them to share, other Spirit-led believers should evaluate and discern whether this believer has missed, misunderstood, or misinterpreted that leading.
1Corinthians 14:29 ¶ Let two or three prophesy, and let the others evaluate what is said.
Paul the apostle would not have stood for the absurd rubbish that is sometimes offered by immature believers who say: "I couldn't control myself- the Holy Spirit just me took over" or "I had to prophesy - I had no choice!" To this, he responded-
1Corinthians 14:32 Remember that people who prophesy are in control of their spirit and can wait their turn.
Knowing the hazards of being "Spirit-led", I still want to be a Spirit-led believer! I want to hear/sense/feel the voice/impression/prompting of the Holy Spirit. I want to pastor a church that is Spirit-led where we want to hear, sense, feel the leading of the Holy Spirit as a church and respond appropriately- as well as produce the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
Romans 8:14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.
Wednesday, 1 October 2008
Last Sunday morning I mentioned an interesting man who left a great legacy and inspired multitudes to surrender to Christ. Frank C. Laubach determined that he would utterly commit his life to Christ. He wrote to his father from the missions field in Philippines that he was going to demonstrate a greater commitment to Christ than his Muslim audience demonstrated to Mohammed. To do this he told his father, he would take one second out of every minute and pray to God for help to do the will of God in that minute.
Frank Laubach had a distinguished career as a missionary and served with great effectiveness. He returned to the United States and was soon recruited as an advisor to the Whitehouse on US Foreign Policy and education reform. His incredibly sharp mind and public prominence may have caused many in power and the public arena to miss the true source of Laubach's inspiration and effective life: his utter devotion to the will of God, minute by minute.
Rather than being daunted by the idea of minute by minute surrender to God, when we view our walk with Christ as something that the grace of God enables us to practice, we realise that it is this same grace that forgives us, empowers us, and sustains us to go on even when we fail. That is the nature of "practice".
1Timothy 4:15 Practice these things, devote yourself to them, so that all may see your progress.
Hebrews 5:14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
May God help us to practice living in His presence.
Monday, 15 September 2008
Almost without exception, preachers promote the idea that the Song of Solomon is loaded with sexually erotic symbolism and allegory that extols the joys of monogamous marriage. If this be true then it is completely out of step with the overall revelation of God's story of redemption!
The story goes, according to some preachers, that Solomon sees a girl, falls in love, takes her, has his way with her and she is entirely complicit with this erotic liaison. The language of the Song of Solmon, these preachers argue, is allegorical so as to show some decorum about what is usually not often talked about: the act of sex between a husband and his bride. I would like to debunk this myth and propose a different story that not only fits perfectly with the text but also the overall message of Scripture...[more]
Thursday, 11 September 2008
Convinced that the human soul lives on after departing this dimension of space and time, he set out on a course to find peace for his soul. He walked out of the church and went across to Victoria Park and sat under a tree. He soon discovered what Jesus promised, and what he sought, he found. He came to know Jesus not just as The Saviour, but as his Saviour.
And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
This newfound peace through his conversion to Christ transformed the way this man saw other people. Having found that Christ had found him, he wondered why so many had not found that they were lost. For him, it wasn't religion that people needed. They needed a Saviour and the only Saviour was Jesus of Nazareth.
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.
Frustrated that he wasn't eloquent enough to convey all of the implications of the Gospel, he thought he would provoke people in the same way he was provoked to consider the condition of his soul. Stace told his pastor, Rev. Lisle M. Thompson of the Burton Street Baptist Church, that after his conversion to Christianity, he heard a sermon in which the evangelist John G Ridley said "Eternity! Eternity! Oh, that this word could be emblazoned across the streets of Sydney!" So he set about on a life quest to get people to consider where they would spend eternity. He did this with a piece of chalk.
His hand-written E t e r n i t y was seen all over Sydney and only eternity will reveal just how many were provoked into a Christ surrendered eternity. In the meantime, the City of Sydney honoured this mysterious mystic by taking his message and emblazing it across Australia's largest coat-hanger for the opening of the 2000 Olympic Games. However many people were moved by this man's chalk may well have paled into insignifance once it was illuminated across the Habour Bridge.
Today, this man's humble effort to provoke people has been made into a major motion picture and bumper stickers. Thus, proving again, what we sometimes start in our lifetimes as a small, simple, humble effort can grow into something that becomes global in its impact perhaps years after we've gone.
Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore,
Wednesday, 27 August 2008
But he [Jesus] would often withdraw to desolate places and pray.
Jesus wasn't merely praying as an example. His praying was Him entering into time and space and making a difference. His praying actually resulted in Him, at times, being strengthened (Luke 22:41-43). He told His disciples that it was a result of His praying that they would be able to continue in their relationship with God -
...but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.
There is so much detail of the life of Christ that we don't have. But we do have the repeated record that He was a man who prayed. We know what He prayed, how He prayed, when He prayed and that He prayed. But we are less clear on why He prayed.
Some teach that He prayed because He was just a man. Others teach that He prayed because, although He was God, He had relinquished His deity and was not able to use His rights as God. But neither of these positions is Biblical. While Christ became man, He never ceased being God. He as God in the flesh.
The fact that He prayed at all is very striking. The fact that He prayed as a lifestyle is even more striking. At the very least we should be motivated to pray as a lifestyle. This means praying purposefully (setting aside time to pray, even if its only a few minutes), praying silently (while about our daily routines and activities), praying through a list of requests, praying the principles of the Lord's Prayer and making the prayers of the Bible our own.
pray without ceasing,
Tuesday, 26 August 2008
Recently a Australian university banned the display of a poster on their campus which pictured an 8 week old unborn baby ("human embryo") and only had the caption- "An 8 Week Old Embryo".
Abortion is probably now the greatest social injustice in the world today. Its legacy is the trauma that thousands of women who have had an abortion (even decades ago) are now experiencing. This is one reason why we launched Hope For Women - to help some of those women who are experiencing Post-Abortion Trauma. The unborn are not the only casualties of abortion.
This Sunday in our church we will have an urgent petition regarding Medicare funding for abortion which I urge you to sign.
Senator Guy Barnett will be presenting a Bill in the Senate to withdraw Medicare funding for abortion. In an interview on ABC radio this morning, Senator Barnett noted that in up to 20% of current abortions in Australia, the child in the womb is older than 20 weeks and is actually birthed alive and left to die. "I find this galling" said Senator Barnett to ABC radio's Tim Cox.
And so should we.
If you wish to download the Petition yourself, then visit-
I commend this petition to you.
Dr. Andrew Corbett
Thursday, 21 August 2008
To be skeptical is to be slow to believe. This slowness has to do with processing the proof. Any proof offered for a claim must be tested to determine whether it is sustainable (1Thess. 5:21). While Christians are commended to believe all things (1Cor. 13:7) this does not mean we should be naive in our thinking (1Cor. 14:20). It is reasonable for a Christian to wait for (testable) evidence before they believe a claim such gold-dust falling out of thin air during a worship service, dramatic healings, resurrections, or prophetic messages given supposedly by angels.
In this sense, skepticism in a Christian sense is not being "closed-minded" but rather: "open-minded". That is, the Christian is not "closed" to the idea that what is presented by some sincere (but naive) believers as "from God" may have some quite natural explanation. A Biblically grounded Christian is open-minded to both natural and supernatural answers to certain phenomena.
Yet, despite even the best attempts by mature, Biblically-literate Christians, deception is still possible. It is even more possible when the one deceiving has some credibility. For example, when the son of a highly regarded pastor dupes thousands into believing that he is dying from cancer, it is expected that his claims have been substantiated. This makes his duplicity all the more painful. It is painful for the cause of Christ. It is painful for his family, especially his dad (who deserves to be highly regarded). It is painful for the wider Body of Christ.
Unfortunately, this most recent deception may cause some Christians to move from naiveté to cynicism (refusing to believe despite the evidence) rather than to skepticism (which the Bible encourages). If any Christian feels tempted to become cynical because they have realised their naiveté, they firstly need to be commended for having applied the first part of 1Corinthians 13:7. They now need to apply the last part of 1Corinthians 13:7 which encourages us to endure all things which surely includes the failings of men.
This deception is going to cause a severe loss of credibility for many people who had applied 1Corinthians 13:7 to "believe all things". This is especially so for his family, and perhaps due to his high public profile, his father (who is a genuinely great bloke). One small consolation in all this is the relatively swift and transparent conduct of the ACC Executive. They are to be commended for this.
Skepticism should help us to keep our eyes on Christ and not on the shortcomings of others. This is because we have every reason to trust and believe in Jesus of Nazareth. His claims of peace and true joy through the salvation He offers can be tested and be shown to be trustworthy and reliable. For the person who has come to realise the truthfulness of Jesus Christ yet still doubts, there is an offer from God who loves to help skeptics with their doubts.
Mark 9:24 ¶ Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
"Faith" to overcome doubts is described in the New Testament as a gift from God that can help transform not just skeptics, but even cynics.
Ephesians 2:8 ~ "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God"
If you are skeptical that this gift of faith from God is for you, then test this claim for yourself and ask God for it.
Saturday, 16 August 2008
Dr McGowen went on to explain that the difference between a Christian and a non-Christian was the condition of their mind.
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.
To be a Christ-follower is to receive and develop a different mind. In Hebrew 8:10 it says that the believer has received the Laws of God written into their minds. And Titus 3:5 implies that our minds are washed and regenerated when we become believers.
What we do with our minds reflects what God has done with our minds.
Dr McGowen said that the mind of an unbeliever can only be opened to the truth by a work of the Holy Spirit. It is only then that they can receive the Gospel as "the word of truth".
because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel,
Until this happens the unbeliever regards the Gospel as foolishness even though Romans 1 says they intuitively know that the Gospel is the truth. Despite this intuitive knowledge, the unbeliever "suppresses" this knowledge of the truth -
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.
Dr McGowen then urged us to acknowledge that it is only by the power of the Holy Spirit at work through the witnessing believer and in the mind of the unbeliever that the word of truth can be received. This, he said, should encourage us to pray. We should pray that our witness is effective-
and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ.
And pray that the minds of those being witnessed to would have their minds opened to the truth-
The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
Without prayer, Prof McGowen said, our evangelism is powerless and bound to be unproductive. God has ordained prayer as the ministry aid of the Church's witness. It is our praying that opens our minds to the work of the Holy Spirit so that we can be taught the Word of Truth, and it is our praying that opens the minds of unbelievers to similarly receive the Word of Truth: the Gospel.
As we consider some of our church's outreaches, let's pray. Without prayer inviting the Holy Spirit to intervene in our church's outreaches, it will be powerless. Please pray.
Friday, 8 August 2008
There are so many things that demand our attention and cause us to lose focus. We have urgent lists to complete, repairs to be made, tasks to be done, people to see, children to drop-off and pick up, deadlines to meet, and places to be. In fact, in recent times I have found the pressure to keep up with all these urgent things quite immense. As a leader I know that leadership means carrying extra responsibility which means a higher price has to be paid by a leader. Nehemiah is a fantastic example of this. He led with such diligence that when his people slept, he continued to work. When Nehemiah's people were becoming intimidated by their antagonistic neighbours, he stepped up and gave clear leadership by re-focussing them on God and His mission for them.
Last Sunday night I shared with the church some of the ways I am representing our church and advancing our vision to be a dynamic growing church for all the family reaching our community and beyond. Some of these things include managing 12 websites, managing the Finding Truth Matters teaching ministry, leading LeganaMEDIA, producing radio-ready 1-minute biographies of great Christian leaders, serving as President of ICI Theological College, lobbying politicians on family and moral issues, lecturing for Tabor College, contributing to an upcoming abortion-recovery information campaign (Hope For Women), pioneering an eBay outreach ministry, running a YouTube evangelism and apologetic ministry, setting up and chairing a round table forum of community, business, and church leaders to pool resources and talents to achieve the Great Commission in Tasmania, called Believe In Tasmania and in recent times have been invited to become an executive member of the Australian Christian Churches in Tasmania. Added to this is my involvement in the community as a volunteer junior tennis coach at the Legana Tennis Club where I have been building bridges with many families. With all of these to keep me busy I have learned that it is easy to lose focus if the urgent becomes prioritised over the important.
Added to these "beyond" responsibilies of leadership on behalf of our church are the ongoing responsibilities of pastoring our church family through teaching, writing and preaching. My pastoral goal is to help equip everyone in our church to be a Biblically-literate ambassador for Christ, ready to give an answer for the hope we have within us. The only way I can keep up with this is to constantly try to ensure that the important is not swamped by the urgent.
I pray that we as a church we will ever keep the important before the urgent. For us as a church we to prioritise our daily devotion and quiet time with the Lord in prayer and His Word. Together we need to prioritise our worship together, our devotion to the teaching of God's Word together (Heb. 10:24-25), and our commitment to our families as our primary witness (1Tim 5:8).
While Winter is always a frustrating time for trying to get the whole church together (sickness, holidays, darkness) it is also a great time for us as a church to re-focus on the important. It is important for us to be prayerful for our church and our witness. Please pray that we will be a good witness for the Lord in our community, neighbourhood and Valley. Please pray that God will show you how you can serve Him within our church and to give you the strength to do it. Please commit to discipleship- being a disciple and discipling. If everyone in our church had a goal -to reach one ~ teach one- we would become increasingly focussed on the important commission that Christ has given us (Matt. 28:18-19).
I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven.”
PHILIPPIANS 3:14 NLT
Saturday, 2 August 2008
When Christ comes into your heart He changes everything! Two Theologians were recently debating in a public forum what it meant to be saved. One Theologian was arguing for an Arminian view and the other from the Reformed view. The Aminian Theologian said that salvation was like a chair that God was offering people to sit in. He went on to say that people must choose to sit in the chair - because if they don't they'll be damned for eternity.
The other Theologian picked up on the chair analogy and said that God provides a chair that most people cannot see because the room is pitch dark. Even if they wanted to sit in it they couldn't - but the reality is they don't have any desire to sit in the chair because they don't even know it's there. He went on to say that God then turns the light on the room and the person becomes aware of several things. Firstly, they see themselves as tired and worn-out. Secondly they realise that it is not safe to sit anywhere- and then they see the most magnificent sight they have ever seen! They see an infinitely beautiful chair! It is gorgeous! They are drawn to its beauty and then ponder how perfectly comfortable it looks. The chair almost seems to be inviting them to sit in it and rest. Before they know it they are seated in the chair. This Theologian said, the saved don't sit in the chair because they fear being damned if they don't, they sit in the chair because they've seen their true condition in the light of God and seen their only solution as sitting in the chair which has become to them the most beautiful, magnificent, attractive person they could ever see.
When this Theologian, John Piper, sat down, his colleague (RC Sproul) leaned across to whisper to him- I believe the chair is beautiful John!
The Chair is beautiful. The Chair is Jesus.
"I'm asking GOD for one thing,
only one thing:
To live with him in his house
my whole life long.
I'll contemplate his beauty;
I'll study at his feet.
Psalm 27:4 THE MESSAGE
Being a "witness" means that we are sitting in the Chair. When people ask us why? are we sitting in this Chair, we know how to answer. This is what a witness does. A witness is called upon for their testimony. Our testimony is Christ-saturated. Our witness becomes the light of God in a dark and dying world. We don't coerce people to sit in the Chair. We don't drag people to the Chair. We simply witness.
Being a witness is our mission - converting sinners to the Chair is God's business. I pray that as a Church we will be a good witness, both individually and together.
Dr. Andrew Corbett
Monday, 28 July 2008
But Evangelicalism has come to mean that a person (i) Believes that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, (ii) That Jesus Christ is divine, and (iii) There is salvation through no-one or thing, other than Jesus Christ. Dallas Willard says that this would be OK- if the Church was Evangelical AND Evangelistic. He lists the Church's general lack of applying the three traits of original Evangelicalism (conviction of sin, conversion to Christ by the Spirit, and testifying of God's work) as one of the great omissions of modern Christianity. He briefly surveys the history of Evangelicalism and makes the point that when the Church's preaching focussed on these three traits it often experienced what we now call "revival" or "awakening".
He cites the Evangelistic ministry of Mordecai Ham who influenced Billy Graham to become a Christian. Mordecai would often preach for weeks in a town before ever inviting people to accept Christ. He wanted to make sure that the town understood what sin was and that they felt deep conviction about it. Willard adds to this point by referring to John Wesley's method of preaching the Law first. "I must preach the Law first, then grace" said Wesley. He did this for same reason as Mordecai Ham. He wanted people to know that the Gospel was a solution- not merely an assessment of the problem.
¶ "What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.”
Willard laments that there are too many preachers who have made the Gospel about God meeting "needs" rather than about God. Our greatest need, he writes, is not to have what we want in order to be happy, but to be forgiven of sin so that we can have fellowship with God. This forgiveness of sin can only happen through regeneration by the Holy Spirit (this is what we call being born-again). When this happens, born-again (forgiven and transformed) believers testify to the world about God's work in their hearts. This is what Dallas Willard says is the essence of being an Evangelical Christian. This then becomes the launching pad for Evangelicals to transform society with their testimony. A vibrant Christian testimony will always transform a society.
"Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.
In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven."
I pray that we will be an Evangelical church that preaches the true Gospel which proclaims our true, raw, condition before God; but boldly declares His forgiveness through the work of His Son- Jesus Christ; and upon receiving this eternally good news, we will testify to all who ask for the reason of our hope.
But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,
Dr. Andrew Corbett
Monday, 21 July 2008
But these changes, while commencing immediately, do not fully bloom immediately. They are seeds that must be watered, fed, nurtured and exposed to sunlight and wind in order to reach maturity. This process is guided by the Holy Spirit as He ministers the Word of God through the Body of Christ to the believer. In this sense, our growth in spiritual maturity is a work of grace.
"The process of conformation to Christ," as might more appropriately call it, is constantly supported by grace and otherwise would be impossible. But it is not therefore passive. Grace is opposed to earning, not to effort. In fact, nothing inspires and enhances effort like the experience of grace."
Dallas Willard, "The Great Omission", page 80
In First Timothy 4:7 we are told to "train yourself for godliness". Dallas Willard suggests that the process of God's grace working in our lives is most often achieved through a training process.
"For example, if I find, as most do, that I cannot by direct effort succeed in 'blessing those who curse me' or 'praying without ceasing,' in putting anger aside or not indulging the covetous or lustful eye, then it is my responsibility to find out how I can train myself (always under grace and divine guidance, we must never forget) so that I will be able to do what I cannot do just by trying in the moment of need."
Dallas Willard, "The Great Omission", page 114
Grace empowers work. This is achieved through practice and training. Do you want to be able to forgive others? Train yourself and practice forgiving. Do you want to have more friends? Train yourself to be a friend and practice friendship (not just friendliness). Do you want to be more generous? Train yourself and practice. Do you want to pray more? Train and practice. If it all seems too hard, remember that your ability to train and practice is made possible by the grace of God.
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,
The Bible says that only those Christians who have laboured, trained, and practiced godliness can enjoy the solid food reserved for the spiritually mature-
But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
The goal of Christ for us is to make us like Him. For this goal to be achieved He gives us His grace which enables us to practice those things that will make us more like Jesus. This requires work and training. But its work and training made possible only by the grace of God. As a church being shaped by the grace of God we can expect that our workload will increase- but we can ask God to train us and help us to carry out this work.
For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Discover What The Book of Revelation Means!
Saturday, 5 July 2008
1Peter 5:8 ¶ Be careful! Watch out for attacks from the Devil, your great enemy. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for some victim to devour.
Peter tells us that we can expect our spiritual enemy to try and attack us. He warns believers to be careful, or, on their guard. This means that it is not inevitable that we will be victims of the Devil. We can guard ourselves against his attacks. As our churches grow we can expect that the Devil will try to find some victim candidates from among our number. But we shouldn't assume that every difficulty we face will be a direct attack of the Devil. Churches face difficulties because-
We could perhaps apply Peter's fatherly warning to the church in each of these three areas. The enemy can distract us from Jesus on the Throne by whispering into our ears that all the affects of the fallen world, which we are all ocassionally afflicted by, is his doing- as if he, the Devil, has some ability to random afflict people. As we grow we can expect more injuries, sickness, pain and suffering- because this is the world in which we live! It is not necessarily the Devil's doing. We should never abandon God just because these inevitable things happen. Neither should we give up on God's ability to heal. But some churches who begin to experience growth become distracted by the affects of the fallen world. May God help us to keep our gaze on Him in the midst of afflictions.
Peter tells us to be on guard; to be careful. Consider each of these areas where difficulties can arise for a church and ponder how our church will experience these things as we grow. For some people, any growth that brings more difficulties is just not worth it. But God thinks it is. He wants us to grow. He wants us to "overcome" difficulties. Would you please pray for our churches to be growing, overcoming, churches? Would you please pray that when we experience difficulties we will have the grace to hold onto Christ? Would you please pray that we will do all we need to in order to minimise or even prevent the consequences of living in a fallen world? Would you please pray that we will have caring and understanding partners in our churches who will patiently help any new or young Christian in their walk with Christ? And, would you pray that we will grow in our knowledge and competence to help and care for people so that they grow in the walk with Christ?
Finally, would you pray that we continue to grow the Kingdom of Christ and that we are not easily disuaded from serving the Lord in the churches that He has placed us in?
Friday, 13 June 2008
Boreham was mildly surprised at the champion's response. Far from being daunted by the handicap the champion actually relished the opportunity to compete both with the field of competitors and himself. Himself? Boreham was intrigued. The champion explained that it was only when he truly felt challenged to go beyond where he had previously been that he could be satisfied that he had given his best.
Handicaps don't daunt champions.
It was some time after this when Boreham attended a Missions Conference where the speaker appealed to his audience to give like they'd never given before so that the Gospel could be taken to the four corners of the world. This speaker shared how he had as a young man longed to go himself to the Missions field but was denied by his denominational leaders due to his physical short-comings. This was a major setback for this aspiring missionary. He was somewhat handicapped physically. But he was not daunted by his handicap. He applied his mind to understand commerce and business. In this arena he proved himself a champion. As a result, he told the Conference, he was able to do more for missions by enabling more missionaries to serve than he could if he had gone himself. He had dealt with his handicap like a champion!
But then Boreham laments that in his church experience up until 1915, he had found too few men within the church with a champion spirit. Instead, he had found too many men who were too easily daunted by even the slightest handicap. They were too busy to serve, too financially committed to give, too nervous to lead or too tired to share. What the church needs, sighs the great pastor, is men with a champion spirit.
I have just finished reading the autobiography of Peter J. Daniels. It's hard not to imagine that what F.W. Boreham lamented around 1915 would have delighted him around 1985 if he had someone like Peter Daniels in his church. Mr Daniels, who I have invited to Launceston in November this year, at one point served on several international MIssions boards based in Singapore and L.A., and several Australian Missions Boards (including Youth For Christ) while he ran several business enterprises. At this point in his life, Mr Daniels says he was "stretched". Now in his late 70s, he is still going strong. He serves the Lord with a passion. He speaks in more churches across Australia and the USA than any other speaker on the planet. He gives more to the work of missions than perhaps anyone in history. But perhaps most impressively, is positioning his life for maximum impact for hundreds of years after his life on earth expires. Mr Boreham might well describe Mr Daniels as a man who was never daunted by his handicaps, but like any other champion learned to overcome them.
May God give us more such champions within the church.
Friday, 6 June 2008
There is probably no clearer and more succinct edition of Paul's Gospel than the first twelve verses of First Corinthians 15. Have a read of it. If put on the spot to share the Gospel, read it and explain it. The Gospel. It must be received, held fast.
1Cor. 15:1 ¶ Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand,
The Gospel saves and keeps on saving us
1Cor. 15:2 and by which you are being saved,
The Gospel preserves the genuinely saved-
if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—
But the Gospel discriminates between those who have believed unto salvation and those who have believed in vain-
unless you believed in vain.
The Gospel affects everything- it becomes the thing of "first importance" to those who are saved by it-
1Cor. 15:3 ¶ For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures,
And at the core of the Gospel of first importance is the preeminent announcement: Christ died for our sins! The Gospel is about Jesus dying for us because of our sins. The Gospel is Jesus! Jesus is the Good News!
that Christ died for our sins
And this Gospel is the Scriptures. The Bible is the Gospel!
in accordance with the Scriptures
The Gospel declares that Jesus Christ is Lord! He is Lord because He died and rose again.
1Cor. 15:4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,
The Gospel provides proof. Our commitment to Christ is not based on unsupported faith. Our faith is grounded in its proofs. The Gospel is a proven Gospel-
1Cor. 15:5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.
1Cor. 15:6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.
1Cor. 15:7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.
The Gospel transforms the least and the worst and humbles the mighty. The Gospel can transform anyone! No one is beyond hope! No one's situation is hopeless! The Gospel is hope!
1Cor. 15:8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.
1Cor. 15:9 For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
The Gospel is a Gospel of Grace. Grace is opposed to earning. There is nothing anyone can do to earn God's favour or blessing. God's favour and blessing are based on God's grace. Grace is opposed to earning, but it is not opposed to effort. In fact, God's grace empowers effort! By God's grace we can
1Cor. 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.
The Gospel is not copyrighted! Anyone is allowed to use it. It is bigger and grander than any one person. You are invited by God Almighty to share the Gospel.
Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.
This week I was contacted by someone who has attended our church a few times. They had realised that while they had occasionally attended churches throughout their life, there was something missing. We made a time to meet together. Kim and I then shared the Gospel with them. They then received the Gospel and made a commitment to Christ. Just yesterday I was contacted by a well known local sporting identity who said that something strange was happening to him. I had previously met with this person a few times over the past two years. They said, "I keep getting this thought in my head that I need to go to church, so you might see me there soon." This person had just shared how their life had fallen apart and everyhing they held dear had been taken away from them. "There must be more to life" they said. This person was experiencing the affect of the Gospel seeded in their life years earlier. The Gospel is a seed. Let's keep sowing.
Is. 55:11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
Want a cause for your hobbies? Baptise your hobbies in the Gospel! Want a cause for your employment? Baptise your empoyment in the Gospel! Want a cause to which you can commit your entire life? Baptise your life in the Gospel!
1Cor. 9:23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.
Suffering and pain. My pain is temporary. But not for some. Although, my pain grew as the week went on. Not only did my ankle become more painful as the week went on, but then my Laptop became sick and had to be taken to the Mac Shop. So in effect, at the start of my week I had lost the use of my right foot, then my right arm! But my week continued to get worse! As I fumbled for my mobile phone today on my bedside I dropped it into my coffee and spilt the blessed juice of the holy bean all over the collector's Wimbledon Tshirt I was wearing! My mobile phone suffered a coronary and had to rushed by Sonata to the ICU ward of the Mobile Phone Shop. Eeek. My suffering and pain continues...
But I have been consoled by the sovereignty of God. That is, I rest in the knowledge that what happened to me did not catch God by surprise. Added to this I rest in the knowledge that Christ would not let anything happen to me that was not for my good-
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
So as my week has continued to get seemingly worse I have not reacted with my usual frustration that I have up until recently defaulted to, instead I have enjoyed the peace of Christ knowing that He is good and only does good, even when I don't like or understand what's happening to me. God's purposes are always good. Even still, I hope you've all had a better week than me.
Thursday, 29 May 2008
I want to see more of the power of God in our church! I pray that God will manifest His power in healing, deliverance, provision, and refreshing. I long for the spectacular aspects of God's presence to convince the sceptical of their need for a Saviour. If you're interested in reading about the recent history of God's power in Australia, there is a very inspirational book in our foyer called "The C.L. Greenwood Story". While we can all be open for God to do the spectacular and pray for God to manifest His miraculous power, there is an even more powerful manifestation of the power of God that we should be craving....
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
If you have the luxury of having some advanced Bible software, you could check out the following statement: The New Testament epistles use the expression "the power of God" in quite a different way than how I have described it above.
For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God..
First Corinthians 1:18
For he was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but in dealing with you we will live with him by the power of God.
Second Corinthians 13:4
Wednesday, 14 May 2008
Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few.
To say something with only a few words is a very rare ability. To write something in only a few words is less rare thanks to the luxury of re-writing and refining the vocabularly used. This is why the best speakers are often also really good writers (because they've laboured hard as wordsmiths to make their writing concise and persuasive).
Before Ernest Hemingway's tragic end, he had attained literary-legend status within his own lifetime. He received the Pulitzer Prize in 1953 for The Old Man and the Sea, and the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954. He was renowned for being a concise writer. Like G.K. Chesterton before him, he could say a lot with just a few words. This ability was challenged when he was asked if he could write an entire story in just six words!
When I heard of Hemingway's 6-word story I was struck by its immense simplicity and power. It then got me thinking about Jesus of Nazareth and how little he spoke, and how scant our record of what He spoke actually is. But consider the impact of what we do have. His statements fill our language and most non-Christians probably wouldn't even realise it! "Go the extra mile...Turn the other cheek...Ask and you shall receive..." Jesus spoke with more profound simplicity than even the great Ernest Hemingway.
And the disciples were amazed at his words.
After I heard Hemingway's 6-word story I couldn't shake it from my head for the rest of the day. I pondered it. I admired it. I felt it.
Contrary to Eastern Meditation, where the practitioner is required to empty their mind, Biblical meditation is filling the mind. I had been meditating on Hemingway's 6-word story. The Bible instructs us to meditate on its contents. That is, we should ponder a Bible verse. Memorise a Bible verse. Dwell on a Bible verse. Admire a Bible verse. And feel a Bible verse. This is the essence of Biblical meditation.
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
When Ernest Hemingway was asked to tell a story in just six words, here's how he responded-
For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.
Wow. Apparently those who first heard it were stunned and some even began to cry. But here's something even more concise and even more moving-
For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.
Monday, 12 May 2008
The church is made up of people who are gifted to get things moving. There are others who are able to keep things moving: servant-hearted people who know what “hard work” means. They serve as deacons, ushers, hosts, follow-up counsellors, visitation helpers, cleaners, gardeners, or door-greeters. Then there are those who are like “wingers”. They play near the side boundary with an aim to get the ball into the middle of the field toward their goal. In the church there are evangelists who are like wingers. They roam the boundaries looking for lost souls to bring into the centre of God’s Kingdom. They are bold. They gossip the Gospel. They scheme salvation of souls. They pray for sinners to be converted. They don’t care for the limelight but they long for the light of the Lord to shine in the darkness of people’s minds and souls. When the ball gets near the goal, the player with the ball is often “shepherded” by his team-mates. In the church, we each shepherd each other by protecting each other with prayer, encouragement, and practical provisions. The church that is functioning as a well-organised and co-operative team is more likely to be a growing, healthy church.
Monday, 5 May 2008
This newest avalanche of persecution is dressed up as rationalism and intellectual superiority- all for the public good. The initial battleground for the New Atheists was the science-lab. The New Atheists felt they were in a safe place. But then Intelligent Design became the worst nightmare of the New Atheists and their scientific arguments. So the battle has now bewilderingly shifted to the library, where theologians and philosophers have been camped. This is great news for western Christianity!
These latest developments remind me of Ghandi's statement- First they ignore us. Then they ridicule us. Then they attack us. Then we win.
One example of the type of New Atheist attack in this battlefield highlights the desperate measures now resorted to. This particular website takes typical (and dare we say- classical) atheist "proof-texts" from the Bible and proceeds to distort their meaning and convince its readers that the God of the Bible, which it pejoratively calls "biblegod", is a mean, cruel, bloodthirsty, hypocritical deity. Its citations are generally those texts which describe God commanding capital punishment under the Old Covenant. These capital punishment proof texts are somehow supposed to prove that God doesn't exist(?).
These kinds of arguments are illogical. But they have the potential to rock the faith of the casual Bible reader. What the average Bible reader may not discern is that the God of the Bible who ordered acts of capital punishment was not being unfair with the guilty- they had willfully slandered His character and defiantly rebelled against his commands. Clearly, the overall presentation of God in the Bible is one of love, compassion, mercy, kindness- but also someone who does not tolerate wickedness, evil, or sin. It is this same God that is spoken of in John 3:16 who so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son into the world to save the world. These type of arguments from atheists are not new. Marcion expressed them as well.
This particular website concludes with the startling assertion-
"CHRISTIANS ARE ANTI-ABORTION ???"
"The people of Samaria must bear their guilt, because they have rebelled against their God. They will fall by the sword; their little ones will be dashed to the ground, their pregnant women ripped open."
Read Hosea and you will see that this is not a prescription for what God's people should do to Samaritans, but a prophetic description of what would be done to them by invading pagan nations. So in effect, citing this verse by atheists backfires horribly since it highlights the extent of wickedness that people who rebel against God will go to!
The premise of the New Atheists' attack is that "Bible-god" will send people to Hell for not believing right. But this is not the Gospel. The God of the Bible condemns no-one merely for what they believe. People will be condemned to Hell for sinful rebellion- no matter what their religious beliefs. This equally applies to those who "believe" the Bible but live in rebellion to God.
The God of the Bible is not a cruel, maniacal, megalomaniac. He is kind, loving, compassionate and full of mercy. There is no greater demonstration of this than when He became man and lived among us. He suffered more than any other person for doing this. He suffered the greatest humiliation. He was executed justly for claiming to be God while obviously a man. But this He did for us. Some people get it and "see the light". They understand the Gospel because God has opened their spiritual eyes. But another group, which at times seems to be the majority, still choose to rebel and defy their Crucified Maker. The former read the Old Covenant passages of divine capital punishment for rebellion and sense the broken heart of the Great Broken Heart. But like CS Lewis's Uncle Andrew, from the Chronicles of Narnia, all the latter group hear when they read the same passages, is an angry, mangy, lion arrogantly roaring while the children in Narnia hear the most delightful song being sung by a glorious lion.