Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Testing Prophecy

An African "Prophet" has recently and repeatedly "prophesied" that God is about destroy Hobart with an oceanic earthquake and subsequent Tsunami that would swamp Tasmania. Since I live in Tasmania and have an aversion to 30 metre walls of ocean moving in my direction faster than I can drive, this particular 'prophecy' caught my attention.

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonian believers that they should "not despise prophecy", but should instead- "hold fast to the truth, and test everything."
1Th. 5:20 Do not despise prophecies, 
1Th. 5:21 but test everything; hold fast what is good.

The same is true today. God can give prophetic words through people, but the church should not naively accept every prophecy without  'testing' it first. When I heard of this particular prophecy about Tasmania being destroyed by a tsunami, I wondered how many others would blindly accept this 'prophecy'? If they  tested this particular prophecy they might discover that several things don't quite add up. 


For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream
Jeremiah 29:8

"Do not let 'your prophets' deceive you..." declared the proven prophet Jeremiah. This demands that any prophetic claim be tested against the truth. Therefore, when an alleged prophet gives an alleged prophecy, the details of this prophetic claim should be tested for its truthfulness. Let's examine this particular alleged 'prophecy' to see if it corresponds with the truth.

Firstly, the 'prophet' identifies the target of the tsunami as being the "island of Hobart" (the video editor tries to correct this with a graphic of Tasmania showing that Hobart is the capital city). Secondly, he says that the earthquake will come from 'the ocean' between Australia and the Island of Hobart. There is no ocean between mainland Australia and the Island of Tasmania. Thirdly, for a Tsunami to come from Bass Strait  and swamp Hobart it would have to travel nearly 300 kilometres over land! (The 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami traveled, in places, just a few kilometres inland.)


when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.
 Deuteronomy 18:22 

Scripture gives a very simple and easily applicable test for any prophetic claim. If a prophet says something will happen and it doesn't happen, the prophecy is not from God. Therefore, this particular prophecy is very test based on the principle in Deuteronomy 18:22. If this prophecy does not come to pass, that is, if it does not correspond with reality, then it is not from God.

Even if none of these facts persuade the naive, there is of course the test of reality. In this case, the reality test is a simple one: the prophecy implies that this tsunami will hit Tasmania soon, if it doesn't, it fails the reality test. (This particular prophecy was first given in the third quarter of 2010.) All too often, so-called prophecies are so vague that their proponents then stretch their appeal to include historic details to validate their prophecy. But this claim is very specific. It is not a prophecy of a severe storm hitting Tasmania and destroying Hobart from Bass Strait - it is the claim that a Tsunami will come from Bass Strait overland to destroy Hobart.

There are other tests of a prophecy, like- Does it correspond with Scripture? Has the person giving the prophecy ever given another prophecy which has been undoubtedly fulfilled? The next time you hear of prophecy warning of some doom, or even of some coming "revival", you might like to apply these prophecy tests.

Andrew Corbett
28th December 2010

Thursday, 23 December 2010

The Little Things That Cause Angels To Be Euphoric

What on earth stops heaven and evokes celestial euphoria? Based on the newsletters of big ministries, mega-conferences, best-selling revival books, and the appeals of the world's most prominent tele-vangelists- who all claim to be "reaching nations" "impactng the globe" and "changing the world" - you would think that angels only get excited when nations turn to Christ. Meanwhile, the rest of us mere mortals, who will never preach to millions, never win an entire nation to Christ, or never impact the destiny of the human race, can only ever hope to achieve very little for God in comparison. Yet Jesus said that it was our "little" contributions to His Kingdom that moved angels to rejoicing applause.

Luke 15:7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance..
Angels rejoice over one sinner who repents. I'm sure they're ecstatic over cities or nations turning to God, but if this was all that excited them they wouldn't get many chances to rejoice!
But why are angels so happy to see just one sinner repent? Perhaps we are quizical about this because we don't get what angels know about the value ofone person. Angels know that each person was originally created with the image of God. They know what the Psalmist was struck by - mankind is the crown of God's creation (refer to Psalm 8). But angels also know that the image of God in man has been marred by sin. Even more tragically, they know that mankind is now estranged from God at birth. But angels don't understand is why God would have stooped to save mankind?
1Pet. 1:12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.
Angels, who can't fully comprehend God's salvation of mankind, can still see its affect! They recognise when a formerly divine image bearer has that image restored. They see the change in a person once spiritually dead who has now come to life. They watch the Holy Spirit at work in the life of a newly adopted royal heir. Angels know when one is saved!

Jesus told several stories to illustrate how valuable just one person was. It wascoins she was looking for. Remember the woman and her lost coin? It wasn'tsheep the shepherd was looking for. Remember the shepherd was looking for a lamb. The father, in Jesus' story of the wayward sons, had one prodigal and oneprig. Angels rejoice over one sinner who repents.

But what Christ taught about the value of just one person was best revealed in what He did. In the Gospel of John, Jesus describes John the Baptiser as one of a kind ("there is no one greater than John"); He meets with one member of the Sanhedrin (Nicodemus); He met with one Samaritan woman. Jesus often chose to be with one person.
Mother Teresa was once asked who was the most important person in the world? She replied, "The one I'm with." Mother Teresa knew the value of just one person. She understood what Christ meant when spoke of some people being "the least of these" (Matt. 25).

The story is told of a Grandfather and his grandson walking along a beach and seeing thousands of little shell-fish washed up onto the shore. The old man began picking up these little shell-fish and throwing them back into the sea. His Grandson asked what he was doing. "But Grandpa, there's so many of them! You can't possibly save them all!" As the Grandfather picked up another one and threw it back into the sea, he said, "That's true. But I can save that one."
And sometimes it's the little things that make a difference for just one person. This weekend we may have first-time visitors to our church. It may not be the "big" things that impress as much as the little things we do: a friendly smile, a interested conversation, an offer of a cup of tea, an introduction, an offer to open the door. Making one person feel special starts with the little things and nearly always ends up affecting the big things. In business, it's the little things that keep a customer and a return a customer. In marriages, it's the little things that keep the fires of passion burning.

This coming week, in the midst of your busyness, the crowds, the noise, can you value one person? A smile is a little thing. Picking up a piece of rubbish which someone else has thoughtlessly dropped is a little thing. Reading one chapter of your Bible before work is a little thing. But all these little things make a big difference to someone else. And what may seem like a little thing, living consistently for Christ in public where you are ready to give a reason for the hope that you have found (1Peter 3:15), may make a big impact on one other person. It may be that our lives only ever help one other person come to know Christ. If that is the case, then we have given reason for angels to rejoice!
Father, help us to be more caring. Help us to see people. Help us to truly understand where people are at. Lord, we sometimes long for the masses to repent and to come to know Christ, but Jesus help us to see the one. We all too often don't see the one we are with as the most important person in the world. Strengthen our hearts to reveal Your heart to the one. Amen.
Eph. 3:21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Ps. Andrew

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Charter of Rights of Responsibilities For Tasmania

Why Tasmania Does Not Need A Charter of Rights and Responsibilities

“We hold these truths to be self-evident 
that all men and women are created 
equal, that they are endowed by their 
Creator with certain inalienable rights, 
that among these are Life, Liberty, and 
the Pursuit of Happiness”
-American Declaration of Independence 

“A right is so because it is natural. It is not the arbitrary preference of the majority. It is a right because it is a right. It should never be confused with a privilege. Rights carry minimal responsibilities whereas privileges demand responsible stewardship.”

The Tasmanian Attorney General is to be congratulated for wanting to make our State a more respectful, inclusive, and fair State. But is A Charter of Human Rights & Responsibilities the way to ensure these positive outcomes?
The Case For
The case for a Charter of Rights seems to be-
  1. Specific Human Rights are currently not enshrined in Law within Tasmania
  2. A Charter of Rights is needed to provide the legislative framework for Parliamentary, Civic and Judicial decision making
  3. A Charter of Rights is necessary to serve as a Statement of Values for Tasmania
  4. It would prevent discrimination
  5. It would ensure fairness against inequality.
To support this case the Department of Justice’s Discussion Paper cited several international examples where a Charter, or Bill, of Human Rights was already enacted- namely South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. The Discussion Paper also cited United Nations’ Treaty and Declaration statements regarding Human Rights. It concludes with anecdotes of how the respective Charters of Rights have played out. 
The Model proposed lists 28 rights to be enshrined in the Tasmanian Charter based largely on the Victorian and ACT Charters (with two exceptions included in the Tasmanian Charter, but not both included each of the Victorian and the ACT Charters). 
The Discussion Paper argues a Charter of Rights would reduce litigation as Courts will no longer have to arbitrarily decide individual cases, as the proposed Charter will circumvent the need for litigation. 

An Examination of The Case For
There is no compelling argument presented for a Charter of Rights. There is some anecdotal references to people who were “indignant” to learn that they had no enshrined rights-
Again and agin the Institute’s consultation process discovered Tasmanians who strongly believed that our rights are protected and would quote  those rights, only to become indignant when it was explained that in fact the rights they understood were protected were diminished by the lack of law to provide that protection or the complexity of the process they would need to go through to assert those rights.
Discussion Paper, page 14 “Personal communication to project manager by Ms Terese Henning, TLRI Board
But this is not quite accurate. We do have rights now - without a Charter of Rights. Added to this, those rights, which we as a society have felt necessary to enshrine in legislation, have been. 
The Discussion Paper accurately refers to the history of Human Rights beginning around the 18th Century in Europe. Integral to its formulation was the concept of “Natural Law” which undergirded the American Declaration of Independence (“we hold these things to be and the Post-World War II Nuremberg Trials where Nazi SS Officers were charged with, “crimes against humanity” (which led to the establishment of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights). 
Secondly, of the 28 Rights listed seem to ‘invent’ certain rights. For example, Right #19, The rIght to the freedom of movement. There are some places where only certain people have a right to go and this is perfectly acceptable. This illustrates a point that will be made repeatedly: some things assumed to be “rights” are actually “privileges”. Do we have a right to travel within or leave Tasmania now? Absolutely! But it is within reason - after all, commercial airlines and sea-farers have a right to charge a fee for their services.
Thirdly, our society is ordered by (i) Legislation created by Parliaments, (ii) Courts which interpret that Legislation, and (iii) and Statutory Authorities which administer Regulations. Each of these societal orderings are framed with necessary human rights protected. To argue that a Charter of Rights will decrease litigation in society is not supported by the evidence in those countries which have introduced a Charter (or Bill) of Rights. Indeed, it might well be argued that the United States of America is actually the most litigious country in the world and deals with arrogate litigation continually. Introducing a Charter of Rights in Tasmania could actually take us down the same litigious pathway as the United States of America! 
In summary,
  • Necessary human rights are already enshrined in existing Law. (Where they are not, Laws reflecting those legitimate rights should be enacted.)
  • Natural Law and Common Law have undergirded existing legislation and have served well to currently protect human rights. A Charter of Human Rights would only add a further layer of unnecessary legal Bureaucracy to our governmental processes at each level of government.
  • A Charter of Rights may well serve as a Statement of Values, but it is not necessary to have A Charter of Rights to do so. A Statement of Values is better presented as a stand alone document.
  • A Charter of Rights will not prevent discrimination especially since some discrimination is reasonably necessary and those forms of unfair discrimination are already legislated for. The Discussion Paper never describes discrimination as either “fair” or “unfair”. It seems to commit the error of assuming that all discrimination is unfair. But we should discriminate in matters of societal good, for example, when it comes to - age (such as, drivers’ licences, voting, medical treatment instruction) qualifications (such as, medical doctors should be qualified, school teachers should be qualified, judges and lawyers should be qualified), citizenship (such as, those who hold Public Office should be citizens).
  • There is already mechanisms in place for countering unfairness without the need for a Charter of Rights.
The Case Against
There are two very troubling aspects to this proposal for a Charter of Rights and Responsibilities. Firstly, it hands governmental power away from elected officials to unelected appointed bureaucrats. Ironically, how people are governed is arguably a human right, and democracy seems to be the best form of how people prefer to be governed. Establishing a Charter of Rights gives pseudo-legislative power to unelected judges and commissioners.
Secondly, rather than articulating Natural Law, it seems likely based on both the ACT and the Victorian experiences, that certain privileges will be interpreted as rights
Thirdly, certain existing rights will almost certainly be removed under the guise of more liberal rights. For example, the right to life (#13) is interpreted in the Criminal Code to encompass the pre-born in the case of a pregnant mother being murdered resulting in the murderer being charged with two murders. Yet it is strongly suspected (since the ACT and Victorian Charters of RIghts are used for the Tasmanian Model) that the rights of the pre-born to life will be completely removed in favour of their rights commencing once they are in a post-birth stage and location. Again, there is great irony in this as Human Rights should not be attributed to a person based on their size or location, yet this is probably what the Tasmanian Charter would unreasonably enshrine.
Fourthly, the case for a Charter has not been made. The reasons given in the Discussion Paper are not persuasive or convincing. We already have adequate legislative scope with our Parliament to ensure that all fair and reasonable human rights are upheld.
Based on the experiences of the U.K., Canada, and the U.S.A., a Charter of Rights does not reduce litigation. In fact, it then opens the way for Judges to reinterpret the Charter of Rights which creates a new radical understanding of a right that was never intended and actually creates unfairness. 
Establishing a Tasmanian Charter of Rights and Responsibilities raises the question about non-Tasmanians rights while in Tasmania, or Tasmanians rights while outside of Tasmania. These two potentially dire problems are entirely avoided by relying upon legislation rather than a Charter of Rights.
Of particular concern is how this proposed Charter will interpret fair and reasonable human rights in an unfair and unreasonable manner. Right #20 pertains to the expression of religious beliefs. Yet the equivalent right in Canada, but also in the U.K., actually diminishes the right of certain religions to publicly express their convictions. This is very concerning.

It is recommended because of these avoidable difficulties that our State Government should not proceed with a Charter of Rights. Where fair and reasonable rights are not provided for, they can be through legislation. This would maintain that our State is governed democratically rather than tribunally.
Therefore, on behalf of my fellow constituents I ask that we do not proceed wit a Charter of Rights.

Dr. Andrew Corbett

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Get Emotional

Passion. Emotion. Feeling. Zeal. Determination. You can not live the Christ-adoring life without feeling! It begins with a feeling of conviction of sin. It develops as we feel a growing love for God. It intensifies as we are burdened with the heart of God for the lost. Our souls are nourished as we enjoy God's Word daily. We enrich our walk after the Crucified One when we love those in our local church. The tears we cry when one of our own hurts only serves to tender our spirits and broaden our hearts. In calling people to respond to Himself, God urges us not to 'harden our hearts' but to respond to Him with the appropriate sense of feeling. As rational as you might be, you are still supposed to be emotional.

Song 5:4 My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for him.
You may have heard it (you may have even repeated it)- Love is not a feeling it's an act of the will. This idea paints emotion as a rather cold exercise. It is of course true that loving is an act of the will, but it is obviously a feeling that can be developed. The highest expression of human love is between a husband and his wife. Within this context two people can be completely transparent with each other and come to know each other in a way better than anyone else could ever know them. Added to this they can express their love openly with their words and their bodies that is not for another. But this kind of deep emotional expression comes at a high price. While the highs of this emotional connection are very high, it causes the lows experienced from emotional pain (neglect, betrayal, offence, unkindness) to be all the more painful. This is why it is critical for married couples to continually work at their emotional connection maintenance. Emotional maintenance in a marriage requires Level 4 and 5 talking (Level 1= Cliches, Level 2= Facts, Level 3= Opinions, Level 4= Feelings, Level 5= Needs). It involves apologising, forgiving, enquiring, surrendering, volunteering, and much active listening. This kind of emotional interaction is not for the emotional pip-squeak. And it's worth remembering that a marriage relationship is actually a shadow of the real relationship that all people are called to: a relationship with God. Everything that a marriage involves is meant to point to the real relationship - thus, God is able to emotionally redeem single people into an emotional experience with Himself.

The Old English translations of the Bible talk about being moved in our kidneys or bowels. (Of course today being moved in your bowels means something quite different.) The old expression of being moved in my bowels conveyed the idea of deep-seated emotion. It seems that the Bible does not diminish the importance of our emotions. Indeed, the Psalms celebrate our relationship with God through the grid of human emotions. The Psalmists express ineffable joy at being in the presence of God. They pour out deep sorrow and sadness over injustice and a sense of God's inactivity. They express anger over betrayal. They feel longing. They sing about loneliness.
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
Matthew 22:37-40
When the Apostle Paul gave the Romans the basis for building a covenant community in Romans 12:9-21, he told them to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those rejoice. This is emotional language. Christians are meant to be emotional with each other. We should laugh, weep, rejoice, get angry, feel happy, feel sad, and learn which, when and how to express them.

If you want more friends, be more emotional! But before you express your emotions unwisely, learn what it means to show sympathy and empathy. Sympathy is feeling for a person. Empathy is feeling with a person. Sympathy says "Ouch" at someone else's pain. Empathy says, "Are you OK? You must be in pain." Both involve emotions. Both are necessary in relationship building. Many competent people who are well organised, gifted at their work, witty, able to make decisions, actually think they are emotionally strong and high in emotional-intelligence. But in reality what they have developed is their ability to sympathise rather than empathise. Sympathy is what we feel whereas empathy is what we feel someone else is experiencing.

If you want to be a better manager, leader, or coordinator of people, learn to empathise. Ask empathetic questions- "How are you?" "When that happened, how did it make you feel?" "I'd be a mess if that happened to me. How did you handle it?" However the person you are talking with responds, to seal the empathy exchange you must listen very carefully for the verbal and non-verbal messages given (look at the person as they talk with you, repeat key details back to them for clarification, invite them to share their emotions). Inviting someone to share their emotions is a powerful exercise.

Dr Henry Cloud, in his book- Integrity, tells of a CEO who was appointed to a newly merged company and brought in the Division managers to discuss the restructuring of the new company. Several of these managers shared how they had recruited team leaders from across the country and were concerned for their futures with the company. The CEO assured them that with the new direction of the company sales of the new product range should generate a better bottom-line enabling the company to actually grow. After the meeting the CEO said to Dr Cloud that he was pleased with how well the meeting went. But Dr Cloud diagreed. The CEO disagreed with Dr Cloud but asked him why he thought that? Dr Cloud told him that he although he had answered the managers correctly he had also dismissed their concerns. The CEO assured that Dr Cloud he did not dismiss them. Dr Cloud said, "Now you're even doing it to me!" In his book, Dr Cloud uses this story to illutrate the difference between just being right and being right and empathising. He goes on to write that the CEO continued this practice with his staff and was dismissed by the Board of Directors within 6 months. Being a leader who cannot empathise is a short-term gig.

The most powerful leaders are the most empathetic leaders. Empathetic leaders don't have to be right, best, or even strong. Their ability to connect emotionally with others is what makes them a greater leader. They not only show emotion, they share emotions. To be a Christian is to be an emotional leader. We feel. We feel for each other. We feel a heavy burden for a lost. We feel the heartbeat of God. We come to church because we feel like it. We worship God because we feel like it. We postpone time with our church-friends to welcome visitors because we feel glad that they have gone to the effort to visit our church. We reach out to the unchurched because we feel that heavy burden for their potentially Christ-less eternal destiny.

Of course, feelings can be created, developed or changed. One of the aspects of feelings not generally understood is how his happens. People sometimes tell their bewildered spouse- "My feelings for you have changed ... I now love someone else ... i have to go with my feelings ... I can't control how I feel ... " But creating, developing or changing your feelings is affected by what you do and what you think. In the marriage exercise, The Love Dare (featured in the movie Fireproof) a spouse who feels their love for their spouse has gone must complete a 40 day program of kindness toward their spouse. As they show kindness they find their feelings change. What you do affects what you think which affects how you feel. In another way, what you think affects what you do which then affects how you feel. Either way, feelings follow actions.

Feelings can be redeemed. Past hurts can be soothed and even healed. New joys can be found. Let God redeem your emotions. Do you feel it?
Father, help us to be more emotional in our devotion to you and our care for others. May we feel Your heartbeat. May we cry Your tears. May we laugh in Your joy. Heal our hurts mend our hearts. Help us to convey Your love and joy to others. Cause us to grow emotionally. Amen.
Eph. 3:21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Ps. Andrew