Friday, 20 December 2013

Life In The Sun

Jet LagI was discussing with some frequent flyers about the joys of jetlag. I mentioned to them that it has taken me about three weeks to have body realise what time-zone it was. They asked me what I did normally to combat jetlag. Apart from toughing it out, I told them, I was strategy-free when it came to overcoming jet-lag. Both of these travellers had clocked up hundreds of thousands of more air-miles than me, so I was curious as to whether they had learned a way to deal with jet-lag. "The sun!" they both independently said in unison. "When you arrive in a different time-zone, get as much sun as you can! Walk in it! Soak it in! Don't wear a hat! Get yourself into the sun!"
¶ I have also seen this example of wisdom under the sun, and it seemed great to me.
Eccl. 9:13
Circadian rhythm. All of us have it. It regulates our body's sleeping patterns - when we feel tired and when we feel it's time to get up. Our circadian rhythm is affected by the amount of vitamin D we have in our body and vitamin D is supplied from sunshine.
¶ Light is sweet, and it is pleasant for the eyes to see the sun.
Eccl. 11:7
Vitamin D from soaking up the sunWithout direct sunlight, our bodies cannot perform as optimally as they were designed. God has placed the Sun at the perfect distance from our planet to provide the perfect amount of sunlight and heat to our planet. This balance of light and heat is parallelled by another of God's perfect gifts- His Word. Good preachers know how to offer the light of God's Word. Good evangelists know how to offer the heat of God's Word. Great preachers and great evangelists know how to offer both the light and heat of God's Word! Followers of Christ need both.
For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
the LORD bestows favor and honor.
No good thing does he withhold
from those who walk uprightly.
Psalm 84:11
Without enough sunshine it is not possible to be as well as one could be. Health professionals tell us that the resultant lack of vitamin D and the associated constant tiredness contributes to depression and generall unwellness. Spiritually, without enough of the sunshine of God's Word, it is simply not possible to be as well as one could be. Of course, the sunshine which radiates from God's Word is in actuality only refracted from its Source. God Himself is the Sunshine for our soul! And a day will come when we bask in the His Sunshine without the need for a physical sun at all (Isa. 60:20; Rev. 21:23; 22:5).
¶ The sun shall be no more
your light by day,
nor for brightness shall the moon
give you light;
but the LORD will be your everlasting light,
and your God will be your glory.

Isaiah 60:19
But the follower of God's Only Son need not wait until the Resurrection to begin their life in the Sun. The very first Christmas Day marks the point in the Universe's history when the sunlight of God's utter and perfect radiance was revealed to mankind for the first time. The Prophet Malachi prophesied of the birth of Eternal Son of God that it was like the "sun of righteousness rising with healing in its wings" (Mal. 4:2). There is a healing for the human soul that can only be found in the sunshine of the presence of Jesus The Christ. Only by surrendering to Him, worshipping Him, serving Him, waiting on Him, are we living in the Sun-for-our-soul.
In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.
Revelation 1:6
There are so many 'spiritual shutters' in our lives that block out the True Sun from enlightening and warming our souls. Amusements, entertainment, frivolity, alcohol, gadgets, can all be spiritual-shutters which throw our souls out of rhythm. This Summer, consider basking in the real Sun - or to say the same thing differently: consider basking in the Son.

¶ Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
John 8:12

Ps. Andrew

Monday, 16 December 2013

Where Do We Find God?

One of the most universal truths known to man, yet injuriously denied by those with a vested interest in doing so, is that man can find God. Two thousand years ago a large kith of Zoroastrians arrived in Jerusalem to do just that and every Advent Season we remember them in a distorted fashion...
¶ Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem,
MATTHEW 2:1
These "wise men from the east" (Greek, 'Magoi', transliterated into English as Magi) would have held to the traditions established by 6th century BC mystic, Zoroaster. He claims that he experienced God who revealed to him that there was a Satan who opposed the purposes of God, but one day God would send forth His Son into the world to vanquish Satan and save mankind. For centuries the followers of Zoroaster's revelations were looking for any phenomenological signs that God was beginning to fulfil this prophecy. When they observed a strange star in the west, they suspected this might be it. A company of around 600 kith were assembled to follow this roving star from Persia. Eventually they arrived in Jerusalem.
saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”MATTHEW 2:2
The Magi understood that the Creator-God had revealed Himself through His creation. They knew how to read this 'book' - the Book of Nature. We now know that God has revealed Himself through three books. And the second of these 'Books' would be needed to complete their quest.
When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:
MATTHEW 2:3-5
"It is written", these chief priests were familiar with God's 'second Book'. The Magi weren't. By adding to their knowledge of God's book of Nature from the more authoritative book of Scripture, the Magi were able to find God and fulfil their commitment to "worship Him."
“‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’”MATTHEW 2:6
What is striking about this episode is that the Chief Priests knew from their study of Scripture where the Christ was to be born (Micah 5:2). But they would have (or at least should have) known about when He was to be born based on Daniel 9:25-27 which linked the appearing of the Messiah to the decree to rebuild Jerusalem's walls. Yet, despite this highly prized priestly knowledge they were not interested in seeking the Messiah! Unacceptably, it is often the so-called "religious" who are the least helpful in assisting people to find God! These Chief Priests had the knowledge of the most authoritative book, Scripture, but they did not have knowledge of God.
And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” MATTHEW 2:8
Neither are political authorities a reliable source of direction to finding God. King Herod was selfish, evil and deceitful. These are precisely the qualities that inhibit anyone from finding God. 
After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. MATTHEW 2:9-10
This 'star' led them to Christ. Sometimes God places 'stars' in people's life in order to lead them to His Son. These 'stars' may be a converted friend, or a strange set of circumstances that leads them to ponder to eternal things. When these wise men found Christ it was the occasion for exceeding joy. It always is. Even today. The Magi were about to discover that God has a third book, His Living Word, the Logos, the Word Made Flesh, His Son.

And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.MATTHEW 2:11
Their gifts reflect something profound about who this Christmas Child truly was. Gold, because He is a King. Frankincense, because He is the Priestly Mediator between God and Mankind. And Myrrh (the spice used for preparing dead bodies), because He is the Sacrifice for the sins of the world. They offered these gifts and we too are reminded that to find God we must approach Christ and acknowledge Him as our King, High Priest and God, and the Atonement for our sins.

Andrew Corbett



You Know Now, More Than The Apostle Peter Did!

Friday, 13 December 2013

BASKING WITHOUT A PRAYER

One of the downsides to extensive travel (such as the nearly 8 weeks away that we've just enjoyed) is when you forget you have left an indoor plant - indoors. We have karted around with us for over twenty years some indoor maiden-hair fern plants. This plant started off as one plant in a pot. It was then divided and put into two planters, where they have been for over a decade now. In that time we have had to replace the stale soil, fertilise them, and especially keep the water up to them. But 8 weeks away makes all of this difficult if you keep them inside - which we did. I began to wonder how our maidens were fairing while I was away and upon our return was delighted to discover that the one immediately near our entrance door was still alive and doing OK (not great, but OK). The other one, over near the window, was dried out, brown, and dead.
"O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water."
Psalm 63:1
Most people would prefer to bask in the glorious sunshine than freeze in gloom of a Winter's day. But basking comes at a price. If you have skin like mine, you need shade. You have to keep your fluids up. And you have to be careful about drowsiness becoming unproductive sleep. My poor maiden-hair fern had been basking without the necessary precautions. What was once lush, moist, and thriving was now dry, withered and dead.
And some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture.
Luke 8:6
The very thing it both needed and enjoyed (bright, warm, sunshine) had caused its demise. Of course, it wasn't just this, it wasthis combined with a lack of nutrients and especially water. There are times when we too long for the sun. We crave those moments when we can just bask in the sun and relax. But when we fail to add to this bask, appropriate shade and hydration, we risk my maiden-hair's fate. This is also the case spiritually.
Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
John 15:2
Every gardener knows what to do in these times. The plant must be immediately pruned hard and saturated. It seems cruel but it's the only thing that can possibly save the plant. All the dead parts of the plant must be cut off immediately. Then water must be applied copiously and often. This is what I did. Within a week, I saw two new growth shoots appear from where there was previously deadness.
For the LORD comforts Zion;
he comforts all her waste places
and makes her wilderness like Eden,
her desert like the garden of the LORD;
joy and gladness will be found in her,
thanksgiving and the voice of song.

Isaiah 51:3
It is possible to spiritually experience what my maiden-hair fern has just gone through. The bliss of not being accountable to anyone and basking in the warmth of the sunshine without the pesky responsibilities of having to always take on water. And like my maiden-hair fern, it is probable that such a lifestyle has resulted in spiritual dryness and near-spiritual-death. But also like my ferny friend, it is possible to find a solution that offers life-saving rescue. This requires the Gardener to prune our lives (some of our sun-basking pleasures may have to be cut out or at least back) and He will then want to saturate us in the water of His Word.

It's worth noting that my plant's rescue from its over-basking didn't come about because of prayer. It came about because of decisive action. Imagine the parents of a two-year child praying that their child would learn the alphabet and not seeing much progress. Then alternatively imagine other parents who aren't depending upon their prayers for their two-year old child to learn the alphabet, instead they patiently teach their child the alphabet. Spiritually, there are too many people that would rather talk about prayer being the solution, than actually implementing the solution.

When Moses brought Israel out of Egypt and led them up to the Red Sea, the Lord told him to lead them through that Sea. But Moses stalled and began to pray - and the Lord rebuked him for doing so.
¶ The LORD said to Moses, "Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward!"
Exodus 14:15
When things feel dried-out and dying, many people pray intensely and hope that their situation turns around - but it's actually the time to prune any life-stifling factors out of our lives and saturate ourselves in God's Word.
...Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
Ephesians 5:25b-27
Maybe God wants to use you as one of His gardeners? If so, by all means pray for those you see who are dry, but most especially take your spiritual pruners and watering can.

Ps. Andrew

Friday, 29 November 2013

WAIT

WAITING

I don't like waiting. Largely because I am convinced that my time is precious and I don't like to waste it. It's one of the reasons I nearly always travel with a book or two wherever I go so that in those unexpected moments of delay I can redeem the time. Yesterday I had to do a lot of waiting around. I was tagging along with Kim as she had some meetings with key people. At one point, after standing in a corridor for 20 minutes, I said, "I don't need to be here." To which she replied, "But you are here because you love me." She checkmated me. It seems there is a connection between waiting and love.
"But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience."
Romans 8:25
I suspect that I am not the only one who doesn't particularly like waiting. But Kim's statement was very insightful. Waiting is a sign of love. During World War 2, many sweethearts were separated as young men went off to the battlefront while their girlfriends (or fiancés) waited for them at home. We have had several couples in our church who went through World War 2 and had to wait up to six years to be reunited! True love waits.
Wait for the LORD;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the LORD!"
Psalm 27:14
Wait - Trust - LoveWait for the Lord, the Psalmist exhorts. Waiting requires trust. Authentic trust requires love. In reverse: if you love God you'll trust God and if you trust God you'll wait on Him. How do youwait on God? When you come to that time of your day when you still yourself and read God's Word, take a moment to pray a prayer of invitation. This prayer of invitation asks God to speak to you and to show you what you need to know. "Father, thank You for Your Word. I now ask You to speak to me. Help me to hear your voice and give me the courage to heed Your voice. I yield my life to You. Amen."
Lead me in your truth and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation;
for you I wait all the day long.
Psalm 25:5
To wait on the Lord requires something of the worshiper. It requires a change of priorities. It calls the follower of the Crucified Supreme Lord to seek God and His kingship first.
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Matthew 6:33
Life can be busy. Spiritual waiting all too often just has to wait. But God is calling His people to wait on Him. Be still. Reflect on His Word. Pray yielding prayers. Invite Him to speak to you, lead you, guide you, and use you. It will be worth the wait.

Ps. Andrew

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Travelogue

Ruby, Zoe, Kim and myself been away from home for month now. We are still away for more than another week. Our journey commenced by leaving Tasmania and heading for Queensland. While there, we attended and I spoke at the Acts 2 Alliance National Conference (held at Tweed Heads). This would have to have been the best Church conference I have ever been to. The Conference speakers were excellent. Their input was timely. They added value to those present. I spoke on the closing night of the Conference and committed one of the greatest mistakes any guest speaker can make. Not a day has gone by when the regret of that contribution has not grieved me. The day after the Conference sessions was a bus trip around northern NSW, including Byron Bay. It was a wonderful idea and enabled some closer connections with those attending the Conference to get to know each other in a different light. This bus trip culminated in a BBQ at a beautiful property which afforded the most exquisite sunset.

Unfortunately at the BBQ I picked something up which saw me take ill. We were due to fly out of Brisbane the next day to Los Angeles, and I was somewhat fearful I might not be able to board the plane. But thankfully, both my body's involuntary reactions and prayer, enabled me to be well enough to make the 13 hour VA007 flight on VirginAUSTRALIA.

LOS ANGELES

We arrived in Los Angeles and was collected by my very long-time friend and mentor, Dr Richard Winter. Richard pastors an Assemblies of God church in Huntington Beach (south of Los Angeles). I was privileged to speak at Richard's church, Pacific Coast Community Church, that Sunday and was very well received. Richard and his wife, Wendy, also hosted us for five days. We managed to also visit Saddleback Church, and The Church of God in Christ (Black Church) in West Angeles. On the Tuesday following my arrival, I was privileged to be the guest at the Latin American Bible Institute (LABI) which is an Assemblies of God training school offering up to Associate of Arts diplomas. I was able to introduce Apologetics to these students. Several of them enquired about coming to Tasmania to be an intern at our church.

At Disneyland
A trip to Los Angeles is never complete without visiting two places of interest. The first is Disneyland. The second is similar, the Trinity Broadcasting Network.
At TBN

REASONS TO BELIEVE
Richard and Wendy Winter blessed us incredibly with their extraordinary hospitality for which we are ever grateful. After we took leave from them we were collected by Amy Rana and were able to once again renew our friendship with Fuz and Amy in Glendora. I took up the position of Scholar In Residence at Reasons To Believe which included the perk of being accommodated in their condo for a week. I participated in several video interviews about the role of Apologetics in the local pastorate and how RTB can aid pastors in seeking to be apologetically informed. I also participated in two podcasts about the relationship between Pentecostal experience and Apologetics on Prof. Ken Samples program. I was able to video an interview with Dr. Hugh Ross about his upcoming trip to Australia.


Our week with Reasons to Believe was capped off with a trip to the world famous San Diego Zoo with Fuz and Amy. As the day was closing we ventured up to the highest peak of San Diego where they have a memorial to their veterans.

Fuz and Amy were tremendous hosts to us all as well. They drove us through the infamous LA morning traffic to drop us off at LAX for our flight to Toronto, Canada.

CANADA
We arrived in Toronto to be greeted at the airport by large signs welcoming us to the 'Queer' capital of the world and posters announcing a week long QLGBT celebration festival. When we checked into our motel we were confronted at every turn by a media storm about the Toronto Mayor, Rob Ford. Mayor Ford had just admitted to smoking crack cocaine. As the week rolled on, videos came to light of the Toronto Mayor getting drunk with known criminal gang leaders and then ranting about how he wanted just 15 minutes alone with a particular person to murder them. In what could only be considered a deeply shameful episode for the city of Toronto, the Mayor Ford situation continued to get worse as revelations about infidelity and frequenting prostitutes came to light which drew yet another on-camera verbal tirade from the face of Toronto (for which he apologised at a Media Conference the next day).
I couldn't help but think that just a few years ago there was an apparent move of God in this same city (referred to as "The Toronto Blessing"). Toronto stands as a dire warning to the Church everywhere: become insular and absorbed with your own 'blessing' and the world you are trying to reach may become darker and more hostile to Christ and His ways.

My main purpose for visiting Toronto was to go to McMaster University in Hamilton (south of Toronto) from whom the great F.W. Boreham received his Doctor of Divinity Degree in June 1928. I am deeply appreciative to Adam who works for the Canadian Baptist Archives, who found Dr Boreham's student card and other records for me. This research will form part of the background to the upcoming FW Boreham Story Documentary - NAVIGATING STRANGE SEAS.
We then acted like tourists went down to Niagara Falls on the USA border.

QUEBEC
We drove from Toronto to Granby Quebec (a six hour drive). What was immediately obvious to us was the stark lack of Canadian flags once we left Ontario and entered Quebec. Quebec (the eastern most province of Canada) is for all practical purposes another country. They speak French. They don't share the same English heritage as the rest of Canada.


But the folk that we interacted with in Granby were extremely warm to us - even though we didn’t speak French! 
I had previously made the acquaintance of M. Luc Gringras, but this was an opportunity to meet his very impressive wife, Natalie.

I conducted a weekend seminar at Luc Gingras’s church, La Place called- Get Closer (which dealt with relationships between friends, husbands and wives, families and within a church. It was very well received largely thanks to my translator, Yvonne (Natalie Gingras’s father). 

NEW YORK CITY 
We flew from from Toronto to New York City while Canada was still being shocked over new revelations of several of its politicians at various levels who had not lived up to the call of their high office. Again, it was very difficult for me not to see the connection between a church which had become shy and timid and a culture beset with corruption and rampant immorality.

Arriving in New York, I almost felt like I had come home. I felt safe. My time in Canada had taken a toll on me though. I was still struggling to overcome my original food poisoning and added to this I was suffering some slight exhaustion and the effects of a flu I picked up in Canada. I spent a day trying to recover while the girls went out sight-seeing. 
You could probably spend a month in New York City and still not see everything! But Kim did in one day what many would take a week to do. The result was that Zoë said she would love to live in NYC. 
We caught the AMTRAK from NYC to Washington DC. This is a great train ride and in many respects far better than catching a plane because the leg room is ginormous and there is free WiFi. We were collected by Pastor Shawn Holcomb at Union Station and driven to Prince Frederick in Calvert County. Shawn is a young pastor with a huge responsibility at Crossroad Christian Church. This church would easily have one of the best facilities of any church in the USA. It has a gymnasium where basketball can be played (it was the venue for the original auditorium of the church). The main auditorium could easily house a thousand worshipers. The lower level has plenty of rooms and meeting areas including a Daycare Centre for children.
Pastor Shawn Holcomb, Crossroad Church, St. Leonard.

Conducting an UNDERSTAND THE BOOK OF REVELATION Seminar at Crossroad.




Preaching Sunday Morning at Crossroad


At Crossroad, I conducted an UNDERSTAND THE BOOK OF REVELATION Seminar which was warmly received with some very encouraging feedback. On Sunday I preached a Word from God for the Church. Then Monday night I participated in a leaders' Q and A night. Ps Shawn and Michelle Holcomb are doing a fabulous job at Crossroad. Their church is big enough to make a difference yet small enough to care.

ANNAPOLIS
On Monday Kim and I spent the day with my old friend, Mike Berry. This was Kim and the girls first time around Annapolis. We had lunch with Mike, Andra and Olivia. Mike and I go back some 23 years.

SPRINGFIELD

The main reason we included Springfield on our itinerary was to meet with the leaders of Global University and communicate with them directly about where ICI College Australia is, where we want to take it and how we are going to get it there. Since resigning as an Assemblies of God pastor and becoming an Acts 2 Alliance pastor, we were in an usual situation representing what is essentially an Assemblies of God Theological College in Australia. Our meetings proved positive and fruitful. We have been shown wonderful hospitality by all the staff and faculty at Global University.

And now we have reached the end of our American tour. In just a few days we fly home. We look forward to our return to our much beloved Tasmania.

Andrew.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

WE HAVE A MAJOR THEOLOGICAL CRISIS!

"HOW CAN THERE BE A GOOD, LOVING POWERFUL GOD WHEN THIS HAS HAPPENED?!"

Where's God when it hurts?We have a major theological crisis. It's really bad. In the public square we hear it, read it, and are shaped by it. Most of the proponents of this bad theology make the most amazing statements about their 'god' and then make the outrageous assertion that they are describing our God. For those introduced to God, it is easy to detect this bad theology. Truthful theology presents God as the Sovereign, All-Wise, All-Knowing, All-Good God who demands, expects and deserves our utter devotion and submission. Deceptive theology presents its god as the one responsible for our happiness and existing to grant our requests. Even the youngest Christian with an elementary understanding of the Bible can spot the difference. And you can easily tell the difference for yourself between those who hold to Truthful Theology and those who hold to Deceptive theology: their response to tragedy.
For Herod had seized John and bound him and put him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife because John had been saying to him, "It is not lawful for you to have her."
Matthew 14:3-4
Suffering and TheologyTheology is the study of God and His ways, His Word, and His will. Deceptive theology does not do this. Rather, it fancifully imagines that God is like the god they have created. Truthful theology gives real knowledge of the true God and how He deals with people. Deceptive theology sets up an expectation of God as the god who exists to make people happy. Thus, when tragedy strikes the one who is beguiled by Deceptive theology they become angry with their god and assume that they are angry with God - and take out their anger on those who claim allegiance to God.
And though he wanted to put him to death, he feared the people, because they held him to be a prophet."
Matthew 14:5
Truthful Theology is grounded in the Scriptures. The Bible provides the knowledge of the truth about God. This is no mere "head knowedge". When dealing with truth, there is only knowledge - not head knowledge. When tragedy strikes those in love with Truthful Theology they are able to draw on their knowledge of the truth and experience a richer, sweeter, devotion to God.
Prompted by her mother, she said, "Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter."
Matthew 14:8
Jesus gave His highest accolades to one man. "No one is greater in the Kingdom", Jesus said of him. He loved John The Baptist deeply. When John was imprisoned, John doubted his faith in Christ. Doubt is not the same as unbelief. To doubt is to question. And that's exactly what John the Baptist did.
¶ Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, "Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?"
Matthew 11:2-3
momentary light afflictionI wonder if behind John's questioning of Christ there was a cry of confusion - a cry for help? After all, if we live for Christ aern't things supposed to go well for us? When we get into trouble isn't our God supposed to come and rescue us? Maybe John The Baptist thought so too? I wonder if Jesus similarly considered whether He should rescue John? What actually happened helps us to understand how real life - and God - works when tragedy happens. Too many people assume that when a disaster strikes them or someone they know/love that God is inactive. Our perspective of disaster is often that harm or even death is an indication of God's absence. But this story of the imprisonment of John The Baptist counters this idea. Christ knew where John The Baptist was. He knew what John was enduring. And He knew what John was about to face.
Prompted by her mother, she said, "Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter."
Matthew 14:8
What happened to John The Baptist and how Christ responded shows us how differently God views suffering and tragedy. We are so consumed with the here and now that we forget that whatcomes to pass comes to pass - and does not last in eternity!  The Bible calls our adverse circumstances, "light momentary affliction" (2Cor. 4:17). This does not lessen the ache and pain that such affliction causes, nor does it lessen the grief we feel when it affects those we care about. When the Son of God received word that John had been executed He was deeply moved and exhibited the immediate signs of human grief.
And his disciples came and took the body and buried it, and they went and told Jesus.
¶ Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns.

Matthew 14:12-13
Whenever we experience tragedy or loss, we follow in the blood-stained footprints of our Lord who experienced the worst tragedy and loss! He understands our grief. He understands our pain. He understands our heart and the pain that fills it during such times. How can there be a good loving all-powerful God when people experience tragedy? It's actually in times of tragedy that we need the good, loving, all-powerful God to help and comfort us.
¶ Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
Second Corinthians 1:3-4
Those holding Deceptive theology clench their fist at God in anger for the tragedy they are experiencing because their bad theology deludes them into thinking that God is like the god their dysfunctional theology has created. John The Baptist didn't. Jesus didn't. The apostles didn't - because they had good Theology. Rather, like the Psalmists, they lifted their open hands in worship of the One who knows, understands, and feels what we go through. Good Theology always produces good worship. When you offer up an open hand to God rather than a clenched fist, you are demonstrating that you have a sound theological understanding of God and His dealings with those He loves - yet who suffer. And in a world dogged by really bad theology, it's not how the follower of Christ argues about the goodness of God during times of tragedy - it's how they demonstrate it in their worship of Him.

Ps. Andrew

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Journey To Integrity


Integrity In Leadership
And David shepherded them with integrity of heart;
with skillful hands he led them.

Psalm 78:72
Aloha Flight 243On April 28th, 1988, Aloha Flight 243 set off from Hilo, Hawaii, bound for Honolulu. It never arrived. As it reached its cruising altitude of 24,000 feet, suddenly the left side of the roof near the front of the plane ruptured then exploded off from the plane tearing a huge gap in the roof and damaging the right wing. Miraculously the Captain was able to perform an emergency landing at Kahului Airport on Maui but not before one flight attendant had been instantly sucked out of the place to her death and 79 seriously injured.
Aloha Flight 243Air Crash Investigators concluded that the crash was "caused by a breach in the aircraft's integrity". Their official NTSB report noted that Gayle Yamamoto, a passenger, noticed a small crack in the fuselage when boarding the plane but did not tell anyone. Maintenance workers had failed to insert several pop-rivets near the left side passenger door which had placed this small section under extraordinary pressure.

This small breach in  Aloha 243, was no more than a few centimetres long, but it was the basis for a breach in integrity. There is a life application here.
The definition of integrity
Integrity comes from the word: integer, which is the word used in mathematics to describe 'a whole number' (as distinguished from a fraction or number with a fraction). Being a person of integrity involves being a person who is one. They have one identity which is aligned with reality (the truth about themselves and the world in which they live). It is this latter aspect which makes moral uprightness (character) integral to integrity. When most people use the word integrity they are most often referring to this latter aspect to describe a person who is honest, trustworthy, and reliable. But this is more to do with character than integrity - although good character (moral uprightness) is an essential quality of integrity - integrity also involves the absence of any breaches.
The Story of Man's Journey To Integrity
And when he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, 'I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.'
Acts 13:22
King David is described as 'shepherding Israel with integrity and skill' (Psalm 78:79). But this description applies to David toward the end of a long process of becoming a man of integrity. It seems that God saw David's potential to become an extraordinary man of integrity because his heart was soft before God. This was despite the Lord also seeing the existing breaches in David's integrity. But the qualities of David's heart, such as (i) humility, (ii) correctability, (iii) reverence for God, became the very qualities that enabled him to become whole - a man of integrity. These qualities are very close to God's own heart. Thus, integrity in a person's heart is, in one sense, the means by which a person can come close to God's heart. David became such a man and earned the most honoured description as a man after God's own heart - a description not given to any other man in the Scriptures. Here is an overview of David's journey to integrity. We begin with his battle against Goliath which reveals both his heart and his integrity breaches which would need to be exposed, confronted and dealt with for him to become a man of integrity.

King David's journey to integrityThe scene is set with the Philistine's champion, Goliath the Giant, challenging the nation of Israel to send a man to represent them to fight against him. No man is prepared to take up this challenge - not the least of all their king, King Saul. The young 16 year old shepherd-boy, David, is sent to the battle front to deliver supplies to his brothers. He hears that the king is offering riches, honour and his daughter to the man who will overcome Goliath. This piques David's interest. But it also sheds light on what would later become the obvious small breaches in his integrity.

It is no mere cliché that the downfall of many a man has been the girls, the gold, and/or the glory. In essence, King Saul's reward appealed to each of these human weaknesses. Yet, it was one of these rewards which particularly attracted David.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

WE DON'T WRESTLE BUT WE DO WRESTLE


We Don't Wrestle, But We Do Wrestle

In Narnia, Winter had had come to stay. In Middle Earth, the shadows of darkness were casting their evil doom over the lands. This shadowy evil, administered by Wormtongue, had already poisoned and possessed the King of Rohan, Theoden, and caused him to be weak and powerless both in mind and soul. In Tasmania, the real Wormtongue has continued this Middle-Earth-like strategy of stupification by weakening the minds and souls of those, like Theoden, are supposed to govern for the welfare of those they are responsible for and to. It would be utterly foolish of those who have any genuine spiritual insight to be fooled into thinking that this current Tasmanian State Political agenda was anything other than a devilish strategy to destroy the lives of the vulnerable.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Ephesians 6:12
This invisible Wormtongue has craftily tricked his minions into utter delusion. Those of us who understand the ancient spiritual art of discernment, stand aghast at the bold yet ridiculous claims that black is white, murder is compassion, a baby is not human, gender has nothing to do with marriage, and good morals is a purely religious concept that has no place in a secular society. Whenever those who practice the ancient arts of discernment and objective wisdom raise concerns about this deadly trickery, the Wormtongue whispers into the inner ears of his underlings and his whisper is given voice:'These Christians belong to ancient past that has no place that has no place in our modern era...' 'These Christians are being arrogant for trying to force their ancient morals onto the rest of society...' 'These Christians are largely comprised of grey-haired middle-aged men, therefore they should be ignored...'
¶ God-devotion makes a country strong;
God-avoidance leaves people weak.
Proverbs 14:34, THE MESSAGE
Those who hold to ancient (even eternal) truths and practise the other ancient of art of case-making are mocked, ridiculed, and maligned. Wormtongue knows that his agenda of death cannot be made to sound reasoned or reasonable unless he plays some sophisticated (literally) word games and delivers some fanciful stories. Thus, murder, which has always been universally regarded as an act of evil, is deliberately lost in the discussion as Wormtongue instead prefers to refer to it as compassion. Compassion?! The very word means to journey with someone in pain ('com'= with + 'passion'= pain) yet Wormtongue's other diabolical strategy of Schooling Rather Than Educating almost guarantees that most people can't detect his hideous ruse with the language.
¶ Then Satan stood against Israel and incited David to number Israel.
First Chronicles 21:1
Tasmania's worst educational outcomesTasmania is beset with several serious crises. Theses include: Australia's highest unemployment rate; the nation's worst educational outcomes (including the nation's worst literacy and numeracy standards); the lowest level of private sector investment; the nation's highest suicide rate of 15-24 year olds; the nation's lowest incomes (per capita); the nation's highest welfare dependency rates; the highest rates of personal indebtedness; the highest rates of family breakdown; and the nation's worst health outcomes. Any government faced with such urgent social and economic emergencies would be forgiven for doing all it could to focus its energies on solving them. But Wormtongue has somehow managed to dupe the agenda-makers into promoting the very cause of these despicable blights with yet another word-game - calling his grand agenda "socially progressive" (when it is in fact, extremely socially regressive!).
And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.
Second Corinthians 11:14
Wormtongue hates it when the Church stands up to him. He will ventriliquise his tired old mantras, 'Christians should say out of politics!' 'How does any of this hurt you!' through his puppets. And just to further distract everybody, he begins to tell exceptional stories. These are stories of people who are happy to be murdered, or happy to end the life of the babies, or happy offended that the rest of us will not accept that square are not round (since none us wants to 'offend' anyone). Meanwhile those who practice the ancient spiritual art of wisdom know full well that lies are being told and that exceptional stories do not form the basis of public policy for the greater good of all.
so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.
Second Corinthians 2:11
It may be Wormtongue's weakest and most pathetic reason for justifying his insidious agenda of non-life, but he still promotes it whenever he senses it will go unchallenged. It sounds like this- But how does it hurt you? (As if our individual pain is the basis for what makes for good legislation). Of course, abortion, euthanasia and calling same-gendered relationships: marriage, doeshurt/affect/impact us all. And it does so in at least three ways. To illustrate with some real stories, I offer the following.
New Mexico Court RulingThe New Mexico Civil Rights Commission found a Christian photographer guilty of sexual orientation discrimination for declining to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony. The photographer has been fined $6,637.94.
The state of New Jersey revoked the tax exemption status of a Methodist church for refusing to allow two lesbians to perform a civil union ceremony on its grounds (the site has hosted church and worship services for 139 years). The state agreed with lawyers who said the church is guilty of discrimination and "could no more refuse to accommodate the lesbians than a restaurant owner could refuse to serve a black man."
Two obstetricians in North County, San Diego declined to artificially inseminate an unmarried woman for religious reasons. Lambda Legal, a gay-only issues version of the ACLU, sued the two Christian doctors for religiously motivated discrimination because the woman was a lesbian. The case has been dragged through the California legal system for the last five years.
In Canada, where same-sex laws have been around, the assault on religious liberty is even greater. Because he wrote a letter to the editor of a newspaper opposing same-sex legislation, Pastor Stephen Boission was fined $5,000 and told to "cease publishing in newspapers, by email, on the radio, in public speeches, or on the internet, in future, disparaging remarks about gays and homosexuals." In other words, he is silenced from his free speech rights, forever. He can't even publish his own opinions on homosexuality on his website – they'll be removed.
Same-Sex Marriage: How It Will Affect YouAlan Shlemon
How will Wormtongue's socially regressive policies of non-life affect each of us? They affect us by -
(i) Our individual liberties; (ii) Our parental rights and liberties; and, (iii) Our religious liberties (as some of the stories above illustrate). Whenever legislators formulate any public policy into legislation, they must do the greatest good for the greatest number. None of the current non-life policy agendas satisfy this criteria. With so many pressing problems bearing down on our State, withstanding them is not merely an ancient Christian response (which it is), it is also a decent humanitarian response. Because Christians especially care for the whole person - not just their "soul" - but their physical, mental, social, AND spiritual well-being, we dare to withstand Wormtongue and his liegemen.
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.
First Peter 5:8-9
It's why we see teaching children to read, write, calculate, reason, and create as a vocation, not merely a profession. It's why we see tending the sick, frail, injured, or dependent, as a vocation, not merely a profession. It's why we see those who manufacture, produce, farm, mine, and create, as being in a vocation not merely a job. And it's why we see those in politics as removing the obstacles for people in these various vocations from fulfilling their callings. This is why we wrestle.

¶ "You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet.
¶ "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.
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.

Matthew 5:13-16

Our wrestling is not to be thought of as merely tackling Wormtongue's vassals on their turf - no, we wrestle Wormtongue in a different realm. This realm is not some fanciful Narnia or Middle-Earth, but where each of us live work and recreate. Yet the result of our wrestling prayers, prophetic utterances, preaching, teaching, witnessing, reasoning, and worship of the One True God, is that the Enemy's minions are thwarted in carrying out their Master's schemes. As we take our stand, our grander and truer mission of seeing the people we care about hear and receive the eternal message of God's redeeming love through Christ is all the more likely when the truth is more widely published. We wrestle not (against flesh and blood) but we do wrestle.
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil...praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel,
Ephesians 6:11, 18-19
Ps. Andrew

Thursday, 10 October 2013

The Art of Burden Bearing


OverwhelmedI don't want to burden you. If anything, I want to help you to become unburdened. Yet, there are some burdens you will not only have to bear, there are certain burdens that only you can bear - indeed, you need to bear them. And there are burdens still, that you will haveto share. In fact, being a follower of Christ will acquaint you with burdens like no other kind of life. As such, it will soon be discovered that, being a part of a Christian community will be your greatest chance of better bearing whatever burdens you are laden with.
Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
Galatians 6:2
Christians are students of the art and science of burdens. We learn to carry them, help others with theirs, and how to share ours. But we also learn when to let others share their burdens with us and when this is not reasonable.
For each will have to bear his own load.
Galatians 6:5
burden bearerAfter two decades of pastoring where I have had the privilege of trying to help people apply the Gospel and their commitment to the centrality of Christ in their lives in all things, there have been times when I have carried many people's burdens. This has been both my pleasure and my duty. This is an application of Galatians 6:2. But where it has not been my pleasure and beyond my reasonable realms of duty has been where I am the only one bearing any burden. This is a violation of Galatians 6:5. There have been occasional times when I have fought harder to save a marriage than those in a failing marriage. I have had to learn a thing or two about the art of burden bearing.
If any believing woman has relatives who are widows, let her care for them. Let the church not be burdened, so that it may care for those who are truly widows.
First Timothy 5:16
There are necessary burdens that we must each bear. We generally call these responsibilities. Your capacity to be responsible is will determine your maturity (not the other way around). Mature people are responsible people. Responsible people seek for ways to solve the burdens they are laden with. This is why marriage is so wonderful for a young man because it provides the means and motivation to increase his capacity to bear responsibilities. Marriage is a wonderful burden, but it is not the only means for becoming a responsible burden bearer. Work is also a divinely ordained means to fulfil our God-given potential. Work may be paid or voluntary. It may be in a workplace, or it may in the home. We are created to work. Work is a necessary burden. It's not that responsible people work, it's that when people work they become responsible. It's taking on responsibilities that makes us responsible - not the other way around. For the believer, many of these responsibilities are daunting. Work, family, friends, bills, life, health, are all varying burdens that we bear. But the believer has learned that God is the Ultimate Burden Bearer who invites us to be "yoked" to Him.
¶ Cast your burden on the LORD,
and He will sustain you;
He will never permit
the righteous to be moved.

Psalm 55:22
"Come to Me," Jesus invited, "all you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest - for My burden is light and My yoke is easy!" The believer never bears her burden alone. She is yoked to a strong Saviour. What burdens are you still carrying alone?
What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.
 
Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge, take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do your friends despise, forsake you? Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He'll take and shield you; you will find a solace there.

Joseph Scriven, 1855
There are burdens we are forced to bear. These are often unwelcome burdens. But the Father ordains and then sustains. Then there are burdens we share. A loved one is afflicted. A brother in Christ is overcome. A sister in the Lord is overcome.
¶ Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.
Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ
.
Galatians 6:1-2
In the Father's handAnd there are still burdens we look for. We are created to bear burdens. We may not agree or even like this truth. But we are burden-bearers. Those who go deeper into Christ discover the pain and pleasantness of sharing the Lord's burdens. Those who do only ever experience what I imagine is a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of the burden that the Creator Himself feels for His wayward children. There is a burden for the lost, the hurting, the rejected, and the abused that the fullness of which is only known to the Father. No human has the capacity to carry it. But each time we sit at the Father's feet we see it in His eyes, we sense it in His look, we hear it in His breath. We are deeply and profoundly moved by experiencing it. This glimpse of the Father's burden changes the way we look at people. It changes the way we view church. It also changes the way we view our other burdens.
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
Galatians 6:9
It has been said that when someone outside of the Kingdom goes through the burden of tragedy, the Father ordains the same tragedy for one of His children to show the world the difference. The world gets angry at its burdens. The world tries to drown its burdens. The world attempts to medicate, counsel, and shift its burdens. But the child of God carries - with the Father's help - those burdens He has ordained for us - and along the way we worship the One who Sustains, and seeks to reflect His greatness through, us. Rather than shirking your burdens, embrace them by giving them to Jesus who invites you to do so. Perhaps you have been carrying the burdens of others as well as your own? There comes a point when Galatians 6:5 must follow Galatians 6:1-2. But perhaps you have only ever experienced Galatians 6:5 and have never entered into Galatians 6:1-2? God has placed within His Church those whom He has graced to dispense His grace for those who are burdened.
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace
First Peter 4:10
Ps. Andrew