Thursday, 29 September 2011


A person's character capacity is measured by what ruffles or overwhelms them. If you're being stretched, God is entrusting you with a greater role in His mission. All good leaders are "stretched" leaders. All great leaders are greatly stretched leaders. Whom God stretches God strengthens...
2Cor. 9:8 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.
This has been a stretching year so far for me. I know that many of you have also been stretched this year as well. Stretching means two immediate things: change and sacrifice.


Stretching necessarily changes the shape of its host. But once strtched, its almost impossiblefor the one stretched to return to its original shape. What I do these days, I could not do ten years ago. Some people occasionally note that I have more on my plate than many, and ask how I fit it all in. I rarely confess my nagging sense of inadequacy, or my doggard burden of guilt at not being able to do better at any one of the things I do. And almost never do I do confess my pathetically (in the archaic sense, not the modern sense) repititious prayer for God's help to be able to do what I have to do.
Being stretched has taught me -

1. The necessitity of making To-Do lists.
2. The need to prioritize by distinguishing between the urgent and the important. (Don't let the urgent override the important.)
3. Work from rest, rather than rest from work.
4. Make time to do enjoyable things (I really enjoy playing tennis, riding my motorbike and reading).
2Cor. 12:9 But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Because stretching involves changing, it will always be uncomfortable. My most natural response to change is nostalgia - a longing for way things were. The best way I have found to maximise the blessing of change in my life is to embrace it. Of course this was very difficult at first especially since much of the change I was dealing with was the result of my own mistakes and failures! As my theology grew to integrate my freely chosen mistakes with God's fore-ordained sovereign will I have been able to see that God is the Driver of change in my life. Today, I read a very insightful comment from Bishop N.T. Wright about this relationship between my freely chosen mistakes and the work of God's Spirit in my life. He observed that the more the Holy Spirit sanctifies us and empowers us to life holy lives for God, the more freedom we have not to! That is, what makes the power of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives all the more amazing is that as we grow by the power of the Holy Spirit we also seem to have to make more careful choices and take more intentional steps to respond obediently to God.


"How do you get so much done?" I could be blunt in responding to this oft asked question, but I know it would sound rude and perhaps even arrogant. So I won't say this to anyone who asks: There is a lot I don't do. What I mean by this is, there are many other things I would rather be doing sometimes than fulfilling my responsibilities, but I understand that I must make certain sacrifices in carrying these responsibilities. Every caring parent understands this because the entire first stage of parenting involves constant sacrifice. But as parents know, sacrifice is often a season and it is alwasys a season of sowing.

Psa. 126:5 Those who sow in tears
shall reap with shouts of joy!
So if you are being stretched at the moment you'll readily identify with what I have written. Stretching brings change which is always uncomfortable - that is, it takes us out of our comfort-zone and takes us on an uncharted trail called: faith. Stretching also requiressacrifice. But the stretching process invokes God's grace. This means that as we stretch God helps us to cope. But, as N.T. Wright points out, it's going to feel like we are the ones exerting the effort. And, stretching involves sacrifice. You have to sacrifice idleness, T.V., sleeping in (or just sleep generally), privacy, and whims. But the "up" side of being stretched, and it's a huge (read: humungous) up side: you will be a larger blessing to many more people than you would in your unstretched state. Potentially this could mean that precious souls are found by Christ who might never have come to know the Eternal Lover of their soul. And, it will also have an eternal bearing on how we are rewarded in Eternity. So, stretching, while uncomfortable, is actually glorious both for God and in the end for us.
Father, help us to stretch. Help us to keep going even when it's uncomfortable and even when it hurts. Help us to work from rest so that we live a lifestyle of being continually refreshed in Your presence, Your grace, and Your strength. Give us the ability to balance our responsibilities with those things that we enjoy and refuel our emotional well-being. Grant it, oh God, that we can willingly sacrifice for Your glory. And Father, we pray, that in all we do we might be privileged to see people come to Christ as their Saviour, in Jesus' Name, Amen.
Eph. 3:21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Ps. Andrew

Monday, 26 September 2011

The Lion And The Lamb Will Lay Down Together, Explained

What does the Bible mean by the expression the lion and lamb shall lay down together?!
Written by Dr Andrew Corbett, President of ICI Theological College Australia, and author of the popular commentary on the Book of Revelation- The Most Embarrassing Book In The Bible, September 24th 2011
The Lion and the Lamb shall lay down together
The "lion and the lamb shall lay down together" is often cited a prophecy speaking of a literal utopia on earth to come - a Golden Age - referred to as 'The Millennium'. It is argued that since so many of the prophecies regarding The Christ's first appearing were fulfilled literally, surely such prophecies of a Golden Age will also be fulfilled literally. This yet-to-come Golden Age ("The Millennium") is spoken of as "Paradise Restored" - an age of Paradise on earth where there will be no death, sorrow, pain or sickness. The prophets described this era with the expression, "the lion and the lamb shall lay down together..." But there is a slight, ever so slight, problem with this: the expression, the lion and lamb shall lay down together does not occur in the Bible! The closest we can get to it Isaiah 11:6.
¶ The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together;
and a little child shall lead them.

Isaiah 11:6
I was with a group of pastors recently in Sydney where one of them quizzed me about the prophecy in the Old Testament referring to the lion and lamb laying down together. I gently pointed out that this expression doesn't appear in the Bible. They immediately challenged my assertion. I quoted Isaiah 11:6 and pointed out that it refers to the wolf and the lamb not the lionand the lamb. I pointed out the significance of this prophecy and its most probable interpretation. They said that they would check this out when they returned home to their computer and I presume correct me if they could prove me wrong. I haven't heard from them.

It's interesting how many things are cited as if they are in the Bible. Like, one shall put a thousand to flight and two shall put ten thousand to flight is often quoted by leadership teachers about the power of an individual or a duo. But how many realise this citation refers to what Israel's enemies could do to them if they broke Covenant with God (not what they would do to their enemies)? (Deut. 32:30)

The particular almost-biblical-expression in question is used to promote "Pre-Millennialism" which is the idea that Christ will return and set up a Golden Age on earth for a thousand years where even normally carnivorous animals will become vegetarian. This idea has gained much popular paperback-theology endorsement. But I am proposing a quite different view for your consideration.
the lion and the lamb shall lay down together, is not in the Bible
In Tom Wright's book, "Justification", the master exegete and Biblical scholar describes the difficulty in challenging a view of Scripture which is almost universally accepted and taken for granted, in the same way that it must have been difficult for Copernicus to convince the world that the Sun did not revolve around the earth - but rather, that the earth rotated around the Sun. "Look" Copernicus's objectors and scoffers might have contested, "each morning the Sun comes up then each evening it goes down. There you have it! The proof! The Sun goes around the earth." But despite the objective data presented by Copernicus, the general perception continued and his objectors preserved the status quo, at least for a while.
Perhaps in a similar way, what I am proposing might meet with similar Copernican objectors...[read this article]

Friday, 23 September 2011


All women want 5 things...
Psychologists have concluded that women generally need 5 things, not because they are women, but because they are human. Wise husbands will listen closely. Wise parents will read closely. Wise leaders will take careful note of these 5 most basic human psychological needs.

Firstly, to be accepted. This is a powerful insight. If you feel accepted by those in your world, you will feel at ease. If you want people to be attracted to you, be an accepting person. If, however, you are a highly picky and confrontational person, you will be seen as an unattractive person. Whether we accept someone or not is tested when they fail and let us down. Because we crave acceptance it makes rejection all the more painful.
2Cor. 11:16 ¶ I repeat, let no one think me foolish. But even if you do, accept me as a fool, so that I too may boast a little.
Phil. 2:29 So receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honor such men,
Secondly, to be loved. If there is a condition to being loved, it is not really love, it is a transaction. We crave to be not just accepted, but accepted for who we are and loved despite it! When we are loved it feels like someone is taking an interest in us. It feels like someone has our best interests at heart. When we say, "I love you" (something that a wise husband will say regularly to his wife) we are saying that we accept them, are interested in them, and desire their best interests. In the Hebrew worldview, this is best "said" by what you do. This is why Jesus never said to anyone "I love you" but actually never stopped saying it by what He did. Wise parents will never "disown" their children, or make their love for them conditional.

Thirdly, to be affirmed. This involves what a person does. Their performance. Their productivity. The artist is affirmed by the viewer appreciating their art. The musician is affirmed when their audience applauds. The wife is affirmed when her husband thanks her for the evening meal, the washing being done, the house being kept. The husband is affirmed when his wife thanks him for providing. The child is affirmed when they present their finger painting to their parent and hear what a clever, creative artist they are. Wise leaders know that the will get the most out of their team when they affirm them. When a work colleague tells another colleague that they have done a great job, it doesn't carry the same weight as when the boss says it. In a church, when a pastor affirms someone it carries great weight and fosters loyalty.
1Thess. 1:2-3 ¶ We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Fourthly, to love. We are nourished as human beings when we love. This is one reason why we have pets. We are created to love. We need to love. Generosity is an act of love. When we give of our time, talent or treasure, we are loving. Of all the things that will be done in Heaven, only loving the way we can here on earth will not be possible. That is, in Heaven we will sing our worship for eternity - thus our time on earth now is a training ground for us to practice our worship of God. In Heaven we will learn from and about God - thus our time on earth now is a training ground for us to practice learning. But in Heaven we will not be able to show love to those without a covenant with God - the unsaved - rather, only now on Earth can we show such love to sinners by sharing with them the Gospel and giving financially to the church to enable the reaching out to these lost, hell-bound-for-eternity, sinners.
1Cor. 16:14 Let all that you do be done in love.
Eph. 5:2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Fifthly, to feel secure. Wise husbands never threaten to leave their wife. Wise leaders never talk of quitting on those they lead. Wise parents never threaten to disown their children. We all crave to feel secure. Security gives a person a sense of ease and even a sense of control. The wise leader who leads his people to feel secure will avoid or minimise surprises. They will pre-empt certain decisions and actions so that those around them can securely feel comfortable in the knowledge that they know what is happening. Women are generally less secure than men. Rather than ridicule the women in your life for their insecurity, instead take steps to provide the security they need. This is done by being consistent, reliable, dependable, and practicing the above 4 needs.

When Kim and I arrived at Legana some 16 years ago (we celebrate our 16th year of Pastoral Ministry at Legana this Sunday) we felt strongly that we were to sow our lives into this work. Despite letting people know this, after two years of pastoring Legana many people asked us if we would be "moving on" now? We assured them that we were here to stay unless the Lord clearly said otherwise. People don't ask this of us any more. And we hope that our actions speak for us and that this provides people at Legana with security. When leaders endure and don't bail or quit, they cultivate security.
2Peter 1:10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.
Of course, it's not just women who want these things. We all need these 5 things as well. The more these things are demonstrated in our homes and in our church, the greater the likelihood we have of seeing the Kingdom of God extended in our community of Northern Tasmania.
Father, I need Your help. I want to preach so that people are moved an inch closer to Christ. Help me to lead the kind of life that increases this being able to happen. Lord, when I fail and let Your down, help me to be quick to repent. Give me partners who know that their service is making an eternal impact on the lives of others. And Father, we pray, that in all we do we might be privileged to see people come to Christ as their Saviour, in Jesus' Name, Amen.

Eph. 3:21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Ps. Andrew

Friday, 16 September 2011


The world has been blessed by God with some great preachers, who have been able to move people over land and sea to come to Christ. I'm not one of them. My preaching tends to move people by inches...

After two decades of professional preaching, I have become convinced that successful preaching is always a partnership between the preacher and his congregation. The preacher prepares. So do the congregation. The preacher prays for the Word to be effective. So do the congregation. The preacher connects with the unconvinced. The congregation connects with the unconvinced. The ideal partnership is for a "one mile" preacher to partner with a "one mile" congregation. That is, if a preacher can move people one mile closer to Christ, they will partner best with a congregation who connects with people "one mile" away. I would love to be a "one mile" preacher, but the truth is I am a "one inch" preacher. Therefore, I need people to partner with me who can help me move people "one inch".

Here's how we can do it. Whatever you do in the church, do it to move someone else "an inch". If you are preparing Communion, prepare Communion for "an inch". There may be someone who comes to our church service who needs to stop, reflect on Christ's atonement, and receive Christ's forgiveness afresh. Their marriage tension, or their business stresses, or their failing health, may have moved them "an inch" away from Jesus. But as they take the Communion Cup and the unleavened bread, which someone has prepared, they are moved "an inch" closer back to Christ. Your Communion preparation is an act of partnership with the preacher. If you are welcoming people as they enter our building, your smile and warmth of heart can help move them "an inch" closer to Jesus. You may never know what kind of horrible week some people might have had who walk through our doors. Your genuine welcome is an act of partnership with the preacher.

For me to move people an inch as a preacher, I have to work harder than most, because most other preachers can at least move people a foot. But for me to move people an inch, I have to read a lot. I have to study a lot. I have to ponder a lot. I have to pray a lot. I have to write a lot. Because I am also a member of the congregation that I am pastoring, I also try to cultivate the inch I am preaching for before I preach. How I conduct myself throughout the week. How I treat my wife and children. How I treat those I work with. How I treat those outside of a church throughout the week. All of these acts of service factor into determining whether this preacher will move these people "an inch".

But moving people, even "an inch", is not an easy thing. In fact, there are many things which move people away an inch - a thoughtless remark / an inconsiderate look / a forgotten birthday / a lapse in Christian consistency / an inappropriate FaceBook comment / flaunting road laws / excessive drinking or gluttony / slothfulness / passionless spirituality, and so on. I am ever mindful that I have, through dropping my guard, moved people "an inch" - but in the wrong direction!
Hebrews 7:25 ¶ Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermostthose who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. .
We want to move people "an inch" closer to Christ. Will you help me? You can. Take a minute each day for the preaching to be more effective and you are partnering in our efforts to move people an inch. If you wipe chairs or tables before a service, don't do it with your hands, instead do it with your heart. It's your passionate service of Christ in contributing to helping us conduct a worship service that moves people an inch. Be an under-shepherd after our services to someone by getting to know them and making them feel welcome. By doing this you help to move someone an inch.
Even though it looks like the preacher is moving people "an inch", truth be told, it's all of us playing our part together.
Philippians 1:5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.
Father, I need Your help. I want to preach so that people are moved an inch closer to Christ. Help me to lead the kind of life that increases this being able to happen. Lord, when I fail and let Your down, help me to be quick to repent. Give me partners who know that their service is making an eternal impact on the lives of others. And Father, we pray, that in all we do we might be privileged to see people come to Christ as their Saviour, in Jesus' Name, Amen.
Eph. 3:21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Ps. Andrew

Friday, 9 September 2011


The Word of God is living...
Do you want to hear from God? We believe God speaks. And there are things to do if you really want to hear from God...

I get really annoyed when I hear people twisting Scripture. I have spent the last two decades learning how to better interpret God's Word by delving into ancient history, the Roman Empire, the classical Greek language, and contextual commentaries. As a result I read Scripture differently. Rather than reading a verse of the Bible in isolation, I now try to read the verse in its context - within the passage, the book, the covenant, and its culture. I follow the Interpreter's Maxim that Scripture interprets Scripture. If a particular verse of the Bible is unclear, then there are probably other verses and passages that complement it and make it clearer. When reading what appears to be a promise in the Bible, rather than immediately "claim it" I first ask, "Whose promise is this?" Some of the promises that God made in the Old Testament were made to Abraham or Israel or David or Solomon, but not to me.

This type of Bible reading is called "exegetical" (ex="out", exegetical means to get out of the text). It is the safest way to read the Bible. But it's not the only legitiamte way to read the Bible. There is a way to read the Bible so that you are "hearing" from God. It involves prayerfully approaching your Bible reading with God-seeking questions.

I'm reading the highly acclaimed biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, by Eric Metaxas. It is truly remarkable how often Bonhoeffer approached the Bible with the prayerful desire to hear God's voice and was clearly guided or comforted by what he read in the Scriptures. What he acheived in his all-too-brief 39 years is staggering. Not many people can lay claim to being an international statesman who changed the course of human history - but Bonhoeffer would easily qualify. Reading his biography, it is very apparent that he knew God, loved God, and spoke for God in what we now realise was predictiveprophecy. Bonhoeffer once scolded a conference of his colleagues for not listening to God. He rebuked them for treating the Bible as a dead book rather than a living one. And Bonhoeffer practiced what he preached.
Hebrews 4:12 ¶ For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
At Bonhoeffer's darkest hours he found the Word of God not merely to be the inerrant, infallible Word of God, but the living Word of God which not just spoke - but spoke to him! Eric Metaxas gives numerous examples of this. These examples provoked me to ponder the numerous ocassions this has happened and still happens in my own reading of Scripture.

If you need to, or are desiring to, hear from God, approach your systematic reading of the Bible with prayerful questions and requests to hear from God.
First Peter 1:23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;
Father, speak to us as we read Your Word. We want to hear from You. We want Your guidance. Help us to not only hear Your Word but to heed Your Word. Help us to read Your Word exegetically and devotionally so that we are both informed and inspired - developed and directed. May we know You, the Lord of Peace, in Jesus' Name, Amen.
Eph. 3:21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Ps. Andrew

Thursday, 1 September 2011


Would You Like To Experience Greater Peace?...
No God? Better Worry!Well, would you? God is actually described as "the Lord of Peace" (2Thess. 3:16). Someone should tell Richard Dawkins, because he recently spent a lot of money advertising on buses that faith in God causes people to "worry".

But Richard Dawkins has it exactly wrong! If there was no God there would be great cause for worry! Because life without God means that the universe is random, chaotic, without purpose, and unable to offer any hope to the despairing. That is, if there was no God there could be no real peace!

Peace is an inner rest - an inner quiet, a sense of wellness. These are apt words to describe the difference that God makes to a person's life. Do you want more peace in your life? I do.
2Th. 3:16 ¶ Now may ithe Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.
City Park LauncestonBut when is peace most needed? Paul told the Thessalonians that the Lord of Peace could give peace at all times in every way. Taking a skim over his two Epistles to the Thessalonians, and it becomes apparent that they were in distress and turmoil. But isn't peace only really prized when it is needed? If you are praying for more peace you might be surprised how God might answer your prayer.

The peace of God is not conjured. You don't have to chant, contemplate, or abuse yourself to find God's lasting peace. You don't understand this kind of God-peace you say? Paul has something to say about this as well-
Philippians 4:7 And uthe peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
I want this incomprehensible peace from God! I want the world to see in me what it could never give me.
John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
A whale in City Park LauncestonThere was once an art competition where contestants were invited to portray peace. Artists painted graceful landscapes, and wonderful sunsets. But none of these masterpieces won the Peace Prize. It was an artist's depiction of a severe storm with crashing waves pounding against a cliff where the artist depicted a gull enjoying sanctuary in a small cleft of the cliff while the elements raged. If you're praying for more peace you may find the storms of life raging more furiously.

If you are being harranged, harrassed, or hindered, you may be experiencing distress, anxiety, or worry. It's in these times that you need the peace of God. On the frequent occasions that I have received the peace of God, I have experienced a supernatural calmness. It has enabled me to stop fretting, stop snapping at others, and to sleep. When under intense pressure where the deadlines loom larger, the demands are unrelenting, and the expectations of the wanting are rising, the peace of God has enabled me to do more than cope.

The key to experiencing the peace of the Lord is to follow with the Lord of Peace. The Apostle Paul told the Philippians that the God of Peace walks with those who walk with Him through learningreceiving,hearing, and most importantly: practicing.
Phil. 4:9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
Living in the peace of God will set you apart. People will notice that you don't retaliate when others insult you or let you down. They will see you keep your Kingdom priorities even when the most natural thing to do is skip church, drop Bible reading, and cease praying. Live in the peace of God by learning, receiving, hearing and practicing the Word of the Lord of Peace.
Father, fill us with Your peace when we especially need it. May we know You, the Lord of Peace, in Jesus' Name, Amen.
Eph. 3:21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Ps. Andrew