Saturday, 31 July 2010

Christianity's Most Important Doctrines

Some people are very passionate about their particular view of End Times ("Eschatology") while on the other hand, some people are very indifferent about it. Some Evangelical Denominations have very narrow views about what constitutesacceptable views about Eschatology. In some of these denominations they actually make agreement with their End Times position an essential requirement for ordination. Many people find the topic so difficult that they's rather not even attempt it. One prominent Seattle preacher recently said that discussing aspects of Eschatology was as important as discussing "wookies" (from the Star Wars movie series)! In one respect he is right, in that, there are several Biblical doctrines which are far more important than Eschatology. But...
It's critical know what the "most important" Christian doctrines are, before you can assert that or agree with the statement that Eschatology is not among the most important Christian Doctrines. Here are the top 4 most important-
  1. Theology Proper - The Person, identity, nature, attributes, prerogatives and acts of God.
  2. Christology - The Person, identity, attributes, incarnation, ministry, resurrection and glorification of Christ.
  3. Anthropology - Creation, fall, nature, affects of sin, and destiny of mankind.
  4. Soteriology - salvation of mankind from sin, redemption, adoption, reconciliation, regeneration, sanctification, resurrection, judgment, eternal destiny.
These are the most important doctrines of Christianity. They are also referred to as "Primary Doctrines." This is why many believers do not consider eschatology to be a doctrine that Christians should divide over. Eschatology, they argue, is a doctrine of "Secondary Importance." After all, speculating about what the Bible says regarding the future is just that: speculation. How then can anyone make a system of speculation the basis for Christian orthodoxy? There is however some hesitation for pressing this point too far. Let me explain why...[read full article]

Friday, 30 July 2010

No Condemnation

There was once a lady who felt the emptiness of the life she was leading. This emptiness felt deeply painful. In her soul-pain she cried out to a God she wasn't even sure existed. In her quest for peace from the shame of her promiscuity, she went to a church. Sitting in a church for the first time in her life, she didn't know what to expect. She felt guilty. She felt ashamed. She felt dirty. She craved peace, forgiveness, cleansing and acceptance.
Fortunately, there are many people like this lady who have lived an empty life of sexual promiscuity, or drug abuse, or alcohol indulgence, and venture into a church looking for just what this lady was after, and thankfully find it. But unfortunately, this particular lady didn't. The congregation acted toward her disgracefully (literally, they showed her no grace). Whether intentionally or otherwise, the pastor decided that Sunday service to preach against immorality. He thundered from the pulpit, "What's the difference between a loose woman and a harlot? At least the harlot has the good sense to get paid for her immorality!" Added to everything this woman was feeling, she was now feeling even worse. This pastor had told her that she was worse than a harlot. Perhaps the pastor justified his tirade as the conviction of the Holy Spirit. But this was not conviction. This was condemnation.
Romans 8:1 ¶ There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Perhaps we might have a lady like this lady in our own church this Sunday. Will we treat her with grace? Will we condemn her?

Depite society's obsession with self-esteem over the past 30 years, there has never been more people afflicted with depression. For those with a developed spiritual sensitivity, there is conviction of sin: an awareness of wrong-doing and a recognition of a person's need to be made right with God. Church is God's means for delivering the remedy to these people. The Church proclaims forgiveness through Christ and dispenses the grace of God to the hurting. If you're feeling guilty - get yourself to Church this Sunday and experience this grace. If you feel the weight of shame for not having lived up to the standards that God requires for moral purity - get yourself to Church this Sunday. If you are aching in your soul and don't know why - get yourself to Church this Sunday and experience the healing of God's love ministered through song, prayers, and the preaching of God's Word of Life. If you have overstepped the boundaries of sexual wholeness and are looking for forgiveness, cleansing, love and acceptance, you'll find it in church this Sunday. If you feel ashamed because of your divorce, failure, addiction or abortion, there is cleansing to be found in Church this Sunday. But sometimes the very thing we need is the very thing we are afraid of. And sometimes the ones responsible for dispensing God's forgiving grace are the very ones who commit the error of condemnation.
Matthew 12:7 And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless.
May God help us to be a Church which loves, accepts and forgives. Condemning those who have failed is easy. Loving, accepting, and forgiving, though, can be harder to do and therefore requires God's enabling grace. So when we meet ladies or gentlemen like the one condemned by the pastor's tirade I hope they see God in us. I hope they experience the very grace of healing, salvation, deliverance which we have all experienced.


Thursday, 29 July 2010

Marriage Is Sacred

If you want to increase your chances of being happy, wealthy, and healthy, get married! This is not some random wishful sentiment. The evidence is clear- people who are married are far more likely to enjoy these blessings than either single people, or co-habiting (de-facto) couples, but especially more so than divorced people.

Marriage is the formal union of a man and a woman for life. It is far more than a social contract (the result of society’s pressure to conform). Marriage exists in every culture, every era, and every religion. In this sense it can be shown that marriage is both original (from the very beginning of human existence) and natural (it has always been). Recent sociological studies into marriage have shown that it produces quite different and definite social and health outcomes to the alternatives of being single or co-habiting - and markedly different health outcomes to that of being divorced.

The list of measurable benefits to those who are married compared to those who cohabit or divorce include-
  • less domestic violence,
  • longer life spans,
  • physically healthier children,
  • increased earning capacity,
  • improved wealth accumulation,
  • decreased likelihood of relationship cheating,
  • mentally healthier, happier, stronger parent-child bonds, and
  • a more fulfilling sex life.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

FW Boreham on Lazarus

F.W. Boreham is considered by many to be the best Christian essayist of all time. His books have sold in the millions and his essays have been enjoyed by millions more. I am privileged to own nearly all of his known books and many of his booklets and pamphlets.  I even have the rare privilege of having many of his actual source books which inspired many of his essays. I was reminded just the other night why F.W. Boreham is such an influential Christian author when I read his essay on Lazarus.

In his book, The Uttermost Star, he writes around the theme that the sky is often obscured by the very thing enables to see it: the Sun. He reflects that the Sun may not actually be the brightest star in the sky, since the distant stars could be brighter, but since they are farther away they are not noticeably brighter. These unnoticed stars are like so much in our everyday life - we pay attention to the seemingly big and bright things - and rightly so, but we often fail to notice the equally bright things that are distant and in the background of our lives. This also applies to the things we read in the Bible, as Boreham illustrates.

The Uttermost Star was first published in 1919. Nearly 100 years later, the essays still shed light. In his essay on the town of Bethany he discusses its brightest star: the raising of Lazarus. But he wonders what the uttermost star might look like in this episode. He ponders the words of Christ- "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep." He reflects on each of those words. "Our", Lazarus is not lost, he is still "Our" friend. "Friend", we are still connected to him. "Lazarus", he is still Lazarus even though he is dead. "Asleep", death is not the end of a person.

Jesus wept. But why? Boreham scours over 15 centuries of Christian scholarship to provide one of the most ancient and fitting answers. His inspiration is Theodosius (347-395) who was asked this question. He wrote to his enquirer that Christ wept not because He missed His friend Lazarus, but because He was about to bring him back to this life and thereby take him away from his bliss.

Boreham discusses how we often view death as the end, or as the point at which someone ceases to exist. But Boreham shows from Scripture that this is most certainly not the case. To illustrate this he refers the reader to the story of Job.

There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil. There were born to him seven sons and three daughters. He possessed 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, and 500 female donkeys, and very many servants, so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the east.
(Job 1:1-3)

Boreham skips ahead to the end of Job's story where we see that the Lord restored twice as much to Job-
And the LORD blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning. And he had 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 yoke of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys. He had also seven sons and three daughters. 
(Job 42:12-13)
Job received back twice what he had lost. But it seems that this did not apply to his children. In thoughtful pastoral insight, Dr Boreham points out what nearly everybody misses in this story. Job did receive twice back of everything he had taken from him, including his children. Linking the stories of Job and Lazarus he shows his readers that those who have died do not cease to exist. In this way, when Job was still grieving for his dead seven sons and three daughters, God added to his family a further seven sons and three daughters, taking the total number of Job's children to 14 sons and 6 daughters.

FW Boreham masterfully pastors his readers who may also be grieving. All too often the grieving refer to those they have "lost". But they are not lost! And if they are in Christ, and the reader is in Christ, one day they shall again be reunited. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

Andrew Corbett

Jeremiah, The Weeping Prophet, Part 3

Jeremiah, The Weeping Prophet, Part 3 from Andrew Corbett on Vimeo.

Friday, 23 July 2010

How The Easiest Religion Is The Hardest

What makes Christianity unique is also what makes it too difficult for people to accept. In all other religions, without exception, a person's own efforts are essential. But in Christianity, being reconciled to and finding peace with God (salvation) is entirely by grace. Ephesians 2:8-9 plainly states the essence of Christian conversion- "For by grace you have been saved..." But it is precisely this truth that makes Christianity the hardest of all religions because even as hard (read: "impossible") as it is to work for your salvation, is it even harder still to accept that we can do nothing to merit it!

Amazing! This was John Newton's one word response to his miraculous realisation. Amazing Grace! He wrote. And indeed it was when John Newton accepted that God had done it all for him, that he finally understood what God's Word meant when it described salvation as being by "grace".

It was during the fifth century A.D. that a British monk named Pelagius visited Rome and saw the people living in decadence. He denounced their loose living and scorned their appeal to being saved by grace. He over-reacted to what he saw and taught that God would never freely give salvation to people who lived such sinful lives. They must, he insisted, prove their worthiness for God's salvation by working hard for it. This teaching, while perhaps being well-intentioned, was rebutted by one of the greatest Christian thinkers of all time, who interestingly, didn't live in Rome, but rather resided in North Africa. Augustine of Hippo demolished Pelagius's idea of 'salvation by works' by showing from the Scriptures that salvation was by grace not works."Pelagianism", as it became known, was roundly condemned by The Council of Carthage in 418AD.

The idea that we can do nothing to earn or merit our salvation is what makes Christianity so hard because we are conditioned to work for what we get. And rightly so, but when it comes to being made right with God, salvation, only His grace is able to save us. So what should we do with our works? The Bible is so emphatic that our works cannot save us that we are commanded to repent of these "dead" works (Hebrews 6:1 and 9:14). The context of these Hebrew passages is that these "dead works" are not acts of evil, rather they are religious acts of piety. That is, even the best we can offer God - no matter how religious we make it look - is a "dead work" that must be repented of.

This is what makes Christianity so hard. We are not in control. Rather we must submit to God's control. We can not set the terms for how we are reconciled to God. Rather we must accept God's terms of salvation- total surrender to Him, an acknolwedgement of our guilt, calling upon Him for forgiveness and salvation. At this point, even some Christians think this is when God's grace is activated. But the Scriptures reveals that not even any of these responses to God are possible without God's grace. For by grace you are saved through faith, this is not of is the gift of God. We can't even claim to have done something to have even activated the grace of God. This is what makes Christianity so hard!

We read on in Ephesians 2, and we see that the role of grace continues after we have accepted Christ's offer of salvation. For we are created in Christ Jesus for good works...
they had been commended to the grace of God for the work that they had fulfilled. (Acts 14:26)
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. (1Cor. 15:10)
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. (2Cor. 9:8)
We are saved by God's grace. This is what makes Christianity so hard. But living for Christ (read: working for Christ) is enabled by God's grace. This is what makes Christianity so easy.
Matthew 11:30 ¶ "For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Jesus Christ)
Oh God, thank You for saving me, cleansing me from my sin, redeeming me from the Enemy of my soul, healing my blindness and adopting me into Your royal family.
Help me now to live for You, to trust You, to remain faithful to You, no matter what my circumstances, or my feelings, or my objections. I need Your empowering grace to live for You and to make You and Your love known.
By Your grace I can do for You what I could never do for You on my own.
I need You.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

You Need Motivation

Would you like to get more done? Would you like to be able look back over a twenty year period and recognise that you had achieved 125 of your 150 Life Goals? Could you do with a boost in your overall energy levels? If you answer "Yes" to these questions then I know just what we need.
Imagine you have just walked through a forest on a hot day and sat down against a tree to rest your weary legs. You say to yourself, "I can't walk another step!" Just then you notice a deadly black snake slithering its way toward your bare calves only a handbreadth away! Instantly you leap to your feet and run for your life. But what has just happened? How did you go from having "no energy" to being "full of energy"? The answer is known to all super-acheivers. It's: motivation. With motivation you can achieve your wildest dreams. With motivation you can see your big dreams fulfilled. With motivation you can turn goals into achievements.
Alice Springs, the centre of the worldWe only do what we are motivated in some way to do. The more we are motivated, the more we do. Of course, without being motivated, nothing in our world would be done and eventually even our society would grind to a halt without it. The difference between a person succeeding and not succeeding often comes down to the amount of their motivation levels. Motivation has become such a precious commodity that the successful will pay dearly for it, since they know that the price of success is miniscule compared to the prize of success. So how is it that some people always seem to be motivated and others struggle with it?
The Apostle Paul could say that he pressed on toward the prize (Phil. 3:12). He was motivated. In fact, despite his many setbacks, he seems to have been motivated all the time. In another place he urged his readers to follow his example. If as Christians we were to become more motivated, what would we have to do? And, how could we maintain our new levels of motivation? What lessons can we learn from the Apostle Paul about becoming and maintaining motivation?
From the life of the Apostle Paul, we observe the following ingredients to his consistently high levels of motivation-
  1. He had a deep sense that he was contributing to history.
  2. He felt commissioned by God.
  3. He felt free to set goals.
  4. He fellowshiped with others of a like mind.
  5. He renewed his commitment to Christ continually.
We can be more motivated to live for God by asking God to keep us motivated for His service. Pray that God gives you the desire and strength you need to do what He wants you to do (Phil. 2:13-14). We too should indeed feel that God has sovereignly called us into our station in life and live in it contently but confidently. Not enough of us realise the integral role our participation is in the overall will of God to bring redeeming grace to the world. When you sit down at your family dinner table for an evening meal with a guest who does not yet know Christ, your seemingly trivial banter among your family is making a huge impression on your guest. Your table-talk is real, wholesome, uplifting, and edifying. It can make a huge impression on your guest. You do your job with care and diligence. You start a little early and continue a little longer. Your fellow employees who do not yet know Christ certainly notice the difference that Christ has made to your life. But you do what you do with such effort because you know that God has called you to do what are doing at this time. This knowledge motivates you.

While our work is an important God-ordained purpose for lives which is designed to give us a sense of meaning, we are also divinely designed to play. We are created to laugh, sing, muse, exercise, compete, cooperate, train, explore, rest, and investigate. I recently heard of a young man who had scrape with death in his youth in the 1800s. He realised that he must be alive for a purpose and counted his life as a privilege to explore this wonderful God-given gift. As a teenager he wrote down 150 Life Goals. This included getting married, having children, climbing the world's five highest mountains, travelling to every continent, building his dream house, reading each book in a list of 100 classic books, starting a business, amassing a certain fortune to leave to his children and much more. By the age of 44 he had achieved 100 of his 150 Life Goals! Without exception, all highly motivated people set goals.

The Book of Proverbs provides some healthy universal ways to be motivated.

If you want to be (more/continually) motivated, then revisit your written goals (often)!

Motivated people pick their friends very carefully. While they build acquaintanceships with a diverse range of people who may add little to their lives, look for those like-minded people who are also motivated. This is why for the believer, Sunday Church and Mid-Week House Church become vital. All motivated believers, that is those motivated to be Christ-like and stronger followers of Christ, are without exception committed to fellowshiping with their church family. Similarly, if you want to be a more motivated salesman you should hang out with, listen to, read up on, other motivated salesmen. If you want to be one of the world's leading button collectors, apart from getting a life, you should hang out with other passionate button collectors. Increased motivation in any field of endeavour comes from deliberate fellowshiping with those who already motivated in that arena.
2Corinthians 9:2 for I know your readiness, of which I boast about you to the people of Macedonia, saying that Achaia has been ready since last year. And your zeal has stirred up most of them.
We have a wood heater. Many times when I go to it early in morning to see if I can salvage its heat and rekindle it back into a warming blaze, I have to take the rapidly cooling embers and push them together. I often think this is what a church service does. It takes lightly glowing spiritual embers, connects them with other lightly glowing spiritual embers and resets them ablaze. When we worship together we are heaping more wood onto the flames. When we pray together we fan our flames even brighter (see 2Tim. 1:6). When we give attention to the preached Word it builds up the amount of fresh wood on our fire (see Jeremiah 5:14). To be a motivated Christian you need to be a part of a motivated church. I think Legana is such a church.
Psalm 69:9 ¶ Passion for your house burns within me,
so those who insult you are also insulting me.
But if all we did was to simply attend church we would not be as spiritually motivated as we would be if we attended church AND continually renewed our commitment to Christ. Do you let Christ do a spiritual stocktake on your life? Have you got the Lord's approval on your choices, attitude, relationships, stewardship, dreams and things? In Psalm 32 David expresses the insurpassable joy of knowing sins forgiven and coming into a restored relationship with God through confession, repentance, and renewal. This is what I want for my life. As Paul the Apostle continually renewed his relationship with Christ through prayerful surrender he remained highly motivated to serve and live for the Lord.
1Corinthians 15:58 ¶ Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
I love being around motivated people. They are usually big dreamers. Sure, they fail a lot, but they are usually the types who attempt a lot - learn from their mistakes - and therefore end up still getting a lot done. Motivation doesn't just happen. It must be actively created and maintained through reading history and getting a perspective on how our actions can affect generations to come; having a sense of serving the Lord in whatever we do; set plenty of diverse goals; keep in fellowship with like-minded people; and continually renew our devotion to Christ. This is the recipe for staying passionate about life and the things of God.
Dear God, help me to be on fire and passionate for You and Your Cause.
Help me not to be deterred by setbacks, offences, or obstrepolous people.
Bring me into fellowship with people more passionate, excited, determined and committed than I am.
Fill me with Your joy and strength. Renew in me a love for Your Word, Your People, and Your presence.
Lead me. Grow me. Fill me. Use me.
I need You.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Dinner With An Atheist Prime Minister

Christians down through the centuries have long had to learn to exist in the midst of often hostile regimes. During these times the Church has not only survived, but frequently thrived. Recently, our newly appointed Prime Minister made media headlines by stating emphatically that she was an Atheist. Them thar were fightin' words to the ears of many Christians. 

To them, the cultural battle lines were drawn. But is this the best outlook for the Church to take? I wondered what I would say to the PM about Christianity if I was invited to a private dinner with her?  
The Statesman Psalmist wrote, "I will speak to kings about Your decrees, I will not be ashamed." (Psalm 119:46) But what would you say to your President, Governor, or Prime Minister, if you were invited to a private dinner with them? Jesus told His disciples that they would be called to appear before kings and governors for His sake to "bear witness before them" (Matthew 10:18) The apostle Paul was also told (by the prophet Ananias) that he would stand before kings and Gentile rulers (Acts 9:15). And he did. I'll conclude by noting how he handled one of these encounters.

If I was invited to a private dinner with the Prime Minister to share with her about Christianity, there would be a few things that I would like to ensure. Firstly, like any of my meetings with any other politician, I would want this meeting to be discreet. No Twitter tweets. No Facebook Status Updates. Discretion.
Secondly, my discussion goal would be simple and would involve creating my best chance for having another dinner meeting with her. To this end I would inform that I pray daily for her to have God's wisdom and direction, and that I pastor a church that does the same.

My first dinner meeting with her would be to clear away her misapprehensions, and perhaps even misconceptions, about Christianity. This would involve pointing out that -

  1. The Separation of Church and State is about interference, not holding each other accountable. The State has a right to hold the Church accountable, but vice versa is also true. 
  2. People Are Equal, Ideas Are Not. Truth is testable, verifiable, and falsifiable. Christianity's truth claims are able to pass these criteria like no other religion. The teachings of Christ are unique among the religious founders of history and form the best framework for a civil, fair, just, equitable, and prosperous society.
  3. Faith Is Not The Opposite of Reason. Faith is grounded in reasonable evidence. Christianity is the most reasonable of all the world's religions. It's Sacred Book, the Bible, invites investigation like no other Holy Book. But faith in God and His Word proceeds investigation and results in reasonable confirmation of its content.

I would then invite questions from her and, provided these were within my scope of expertise, attempt to answer them accurately. I would then ask for the opportunity to be consulted on matters of moral, ethical, or religious contention. I wouldn't assume to be the only voice on these matters, but would at least value the opportunity to have my opinion considered.

When the Apostle Paul was before Governor Felix, he spoke right into the ruler's soul.
After some days Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, and he sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus.  And as he reasoned about righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment, Felix was alarmed and said, “Go away for the present. When I get an opportunity I will summon you.” (Acts 24:24-25)

I hope that I could do the same. I would want the moral authority and the opportunity to speak from my heart about faith in Christ, the radical difference this makes for the better in a person's life, and why it is eternally imperative to accept it. I would reason about these things, just like Paul did. Righteousness, Self-Control and coming Judgment. None of us are righteous before God without the merit of Christ. None of us always chooses the good and denies our sinful flesh its cravings. The result for the one who rejects Christ's forgiveness and offer to be reconciled with God is: coming Judgment. Not even Prime Ministers are exempt from having to repent and seek God's grace and forgiveness. And in my limited experience with politicians they of all people are often racked by loneliness, emptiness, and heart-ache. And like many people who seek answers in all the wrong places, they have become proud and unreasonably resistant to the very Answer their soul longs for.

If you were to be invited to speak about Christianity with your Prime Minister or President, what would you want to say to them?

Friday, 2 July 2010

Transitioning Through Life

All living things must transition. A transition is a journey of change. While there are some predictable phases of change in the different types of transitions we all go through, there are just some things that life throws at you that are unpredictable. How we handle these unforeseeable changes depends upon our character and those unchangeable things we build our lives on.

"When I was young" wrote the Psalmist. He wrote this Psalm as an old man to look back over the years of transitions his life had undergone. Growing older is a series of transitions that are somewhat predictable. "Now I am old", the same Psalmist wrote. He could look back over the years and reminisce about how had changed, but he notes what did not change throughout all the years of his own transitioning: For the Lord upholds his...He never forsakes them...The Lord will not abandon...The Lord helps ...(Psalm 37). Throughout the Royal Psalmist's life of continual and dramatic changes, he knew that God was unchanging.

It seems that not only is God there in the midst and moment of change, He is ultimately the Change-Agent. He knows what events, people, circumstances, responsibilities, trials, losses, wins, comforts, or distresses, will affect the most glorious chnages in us. We may not respond immediately to these factors in the most God-glorifying fashion (God only knows how many people He has bestowed success upon as a heart-trial) but we know that most unlike us, this Unchanging God is genuinely patient. Looking back over his life, the warrior-psalmist could wisely advise, "Be patient..." As parents we pray for wayward children who are not handling the transition from childhood to adulthood well. Be patient in prayer and love. As friends we pray for those who once loved and served God and delighted in being a regular worshiper among His Bride, the church, but have had unsurrendered rooms in the house of their cluttered hearts exposed through God's maturing trials. We patiently pray and wait.

As a church we have been through some transitions. I am the third pastor of our church since its birth in 1987. Today, our church has transitioned from a gathering of friends and family to a gathering of people previously unknown to each other. We have transitioned from what my esteemed colleague, Bob McKay, calls "a family model" of church (where everybody knows everybody) to "a pastoral model" (where everybody doesn't know everybody else in the church but they probably do know the pastor). There is of course a couple of foreseeable transitions ahead for our church. As the Lord continues to be pleased to add to our church, we will have to transition from "a pastoral model" to "a leadership model" where the care for those in our church is shared among a variety of leaders. This of course is already beginning to happen. Several times this week I had contact with people in our church who said that they had already had another leader in our church drop in to see them or give them a call. Mark and Wendy are excelling in their new role of Pastoral Team coordinators. Our Home Group leaders are similarly coordinating the care of those in their groups. In particular, Lynne has undertaken a number of initiatives with her group that are bearing much fruit. Geoff and Carolyn are holding regular lunches to help build fellowship and introduce new comers to their group. These are signs of a transitioning church.

Transitioning is not the only change though. Our walk with Christ does not begin with a transition, rather it begins with a translation. We are translated (a sudden and immediate change) from death into life, from darkness into light. This translation is followed by a journey of transitions. It is often easier to identify whether a person has experienced a spiritual translation because their life is obviously undergoing spiritual transitions. We have seen this over and over in our church. People come for the first time. Something keeps them coming back. God does a work in their life. They realise they need a Saviour. Their heart calls out to the God they now know is calling out to them. An Ephesians 2 Translation takes place. God's grace to grow is mediated to them through the preaching of God's Word in the midst of the assembled church. Bad habits begin to drop off. Coarse language is replaced with careful language. Bitterness is replaced by forgiveness. Doubts are exchanged for faith. Selfishness is diminished as care for others strangely softens their hearts. Money becomes a means a worship. Yelling becomes singing. Things unspoken become things confessed. Relationships strained become marriages strengthened. These are some of the ways that God's grace caused the translated believer to transition into greater Christlikeness.

"Delight yourself in the Lord..." promised the Shepherd Psalmist, throughout a life of transitions, is the one way that guarantees the best kind of transitioning a person or church can make. While our circumstances, bodies, relationships and situations may change, if we delight ourselves in the LordHe will give us the desires of our heart (Psalm 37:4). By doing this, David reminds us, that God takes a personal interest in ordering our steps ("The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, when he delights in his way..."Psalm 37:23). No matter what situation you find yourself in now, you can invite Christ to help you transition into a "delightful" life. This may mean forgetting about your past mistakes and failures and hurts and disappointments and recognising that God can order your steps - by transitioning - your life into what will give Him the most glory and you the most satisfaction.
Dear God, help me to let go of the past.
Give me the grace to change.
I want to transition well.
May I be a part of the kind of transition that You want for our church.
Lead me. Grow me. Fill me. Use me.
I need You.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Are Biblical Abominations Still Abominable?

In an open email response to Dr Laura Schlessinger, Professor Kauffman has ridiculed her assertion that homosexuality is "an abomination" because "the Bible says so". He builds his case on the premise that other Biblical "abominations" are still "abominable". I examine some of his claims from a Biblical perspective...

Response To Prof. Kauffman - Is Biblical Morality Outdated? from Andrew Corbett on Vimeo.

I have written more about this topic [here].