Saturday, 30 July 2016


Apostles Andrew and PeterPeter and Andrew were small-businessmen. Along with their father, they ran their family business and had to work long hours just to make ends meet. But this all changed one day when The Messiah came along uninvited and uttered the words: Follow Me. There must have been a moment of dilemma for these hardened sea-farers. “Now?” perhaps they wondered, “It’s hardly a good time now!” But follow they did. Yes, to follow Jesus is to live a life of inconvenience. It really does seem that Jesus often – if not usually – interrupts a person’s life when it is most inconvenient! It’s not just that it seems inconvenient to walk through life with Jesus – it is! There is a cost to honouring Christ and it is counted in the currency of convenience.
¶ While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
Matthew 4:18-19
And as inconvenient as Jesus is, no-one was ever more inconvenienced than He! He came from eternal and infinite bliss and laid aside His divine privileges and inconveniently became a human.
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 
Philippians 2:5-8
jesus-praying-all-nightEven though He was on a mission to redeem all mankind by His sacrificial death on the Cross, He was repeatedly interrupted with the most inconvenient requests. “Heal my daughter“, “Raise my son back to life“, “Cast the demon out of him“, “Open my eyes” “Give me back my legs“, “Let me just touch You“, were not the cries of patients who had made an appointment! These people came from seemingly nowhere and inconveniently intersected Christ as He continually strove toward the Cross. In addition to this, Christ’s days were often so full that the only time He could find to commune with His Father was when His own weary body would have screamed for sleep and despite how inconvenient it was, He chose to spend the night instead talking with His Father.
 In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God.
Luke 6:12
Bartolome-Esteban-Murillo-The-Martyrdom-of-St-Andrew-Each of His disciples went on to live very inconvenient lives. They had to be away from familiarity of their families, jobs, communities, and go where it would have been most inconvenient for them to go. Peter eventually went to Rome where he was crucified upside down in 64AD for preaching the Gospel. Andrew went to Patras, Greece, and crucified diagonally by the Roman Governor there in 70AD for preaching to, and converting the Governor’s wife to, Christianity. Thomas went to India and preached the Gospel there with signs and wonders following and met with violent opposition and was eventually publicly skinned (“flayed”) then crucified for doing so. The Apostle Paul was inconvenienced throughout his preaching ministry when he was repeatedly imprisoned for up to two years at a time as he travelled across Europe. The early followers of Christ gladly embraced inconvenience in order to serve and follow Christ, and two millennia later, we are the eternal beneficiaries!
And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.
Matthew 19:29
Australian-Olympic-Swimming-trainingIn a couple of weeks from now the 2016 Rio Olympic Games will commence. This extravaganza will showcase the world’s best sporting and athletic prowess. Undoubtedly, each of these athletes has been inconvenienced to even make it to the Olympics and it’s probably safe to say that every Gold Medalist could tell their heart-rending story of the inconvenience they and their family had endured to be the best in the world. The greatest delights and pleasures of this world are exchanged for those prepared to be the most inconvenienced. For Olympic swimmers it means 3AM get ups and 4AMs in the pool and twenty kilometres of laps later, they’re ready for school! 
 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
Matthew 16:24
The case can be made in the spiritual realm as well. The closer you want to get to Christ, the more inconvenient it will be. It too will mean sacrifice. It too will mean getting out of bed rather than staying in it. It will mean hanging in there even though everything within you wants to quit. It will mean being misunderstood. It will mean more times alone when it would be nicer to be with others. It will mean reading your Bible for just a few minutes more than usual when you could be enjoying browsing Facebook or Instagram instead. It will be inconvenient to get closer to Christ and, without doubt, the more people you want to reach for Christ, the more you will be inconvenienced! 

Christian leadership involves carrying a cross of inconvenience. This means that a leader will turn up even though they are tired and busy. A local church team leader knows that their presence – not just their attendance – will often be inconvenient for them because of the sacrifices involved, but the blessing it generates is felt by more than they might ever know. This is how you can tell the difference between close-Christ-following leaders, and leaders. Jesus categorised these two groups of leaders as either: shepherdsor hirelings. He offered Himself as the preeminent Shepherd-leader. Shepherd-leaders, unlike hirelings (who are only there when it is convenient and they are paid) more often than not, do not even consider the inconveniences they face due to their genuine delight in serving Christ and His people – 
¶ I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me,
John 10:11-14
Dr. FW. Boreham, 1921Christ’s comparison between shepherds and hirelings might well be the comparison between those who embrace inconvenience (shepherds) and those who don’t (hirelings). No church can possibly reach it’s Christ-honouring potential if its leadership is comprised of hirelings. No barrier can stifle a church comprised of leaders who each gladly carry a cross of inconvenience. This is why the greatly inconvenienced Dr. F.W. Boreham said in his last sermon, “The Church does not ordain men to be preachers – it ordains men because they are preachers!” To put it another way, “A church does not make someone a leader then hope they will (lead). Rather, the church appoints proven (shepherd-)leaders (ones who have overcome the inconveniences to following and serving Christ within a local church) to official positions of leadership.”
Will you join me in striving to be a church of shepherd-leaders? Will join me in praying that we can minister to broken, damaged, lost, hurting, confused, people, even when it’s inconvenient for us to do so?
Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead.”
Luke 10:30
Preaching at The Rock Christian Church, Capalaba, QueenslandLast Sunday I preached in a church in Brisbane about the Good Samaritan. The man robbed and beaten and lying on the side of the side is like the broken of the world. The busy priests and Levites who were too busy to tend to the hurting man are like many of us today – not prepared to be inconvenienced by the needs of others. And the Samaritan is like Jesus who despite the inconvenience takes the time to clean the half-dead man’s wounds and bandage them. He then transports the beaten man to an inn where he cares for him overnight. In the morning he gives the inn-keeper two denarii (2 day’s wages).
And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’
Luke 10:35
The inn is like the church where still today Jesus wants to bring in the broken, damaged, hurting, lost and abandoned, that He finds scattered along life’s byways. But the only way this can happen is if we, His Church, joins Him in embracing our own crosses of inconvenience. And as we do, we may discover that the very things we were depriving ourselves of to follow Christ, may well be the very thing which Christ provides anyway! 
And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.”
Luke 5:4, 9-10


Thursday, 21 July 2016


Everything is going wrong!“Everything’s going wrong at the moment!” “Things just couldn’t get worse!” are often sighed by people when they are under pressure. If you find yourself frequently using these expressions, then I want to show you three tools for dramatically changing this.
None of us see the world in which we live. What we actually see comes to us through a series of filters which we all use. These filters include our previous experience, what we know, and our emotional health at the time. Combined, these three factors form our perspective. Our perspective is just like our eyes – we mostly look through them rather than at them. And while we have access to things like mirrors and cameras to look at our eyes, our perspective has no immediate way to be viewed. 
Rather than view our perspective as either right or wrong, it is better to consider our perspective as either helpful or unhelpful
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
First Corinthians 13:12


Everything's going wrongI know how it feels when “Everything is going wrong”. It’s in these times that we all see our circumstances as the the problem. To make things seem worse, the rise of filmic entertainment and social media, has given the perception that everyone else’s life is far better than our own. That is, no-one else has the problems that I have because their lives are all full of celebrations and holidays by the beach! Their kids are perfectly behaved! They are loved and have someone to love! They have loads of money and no debt issues! While they’re swimming by the beach, I’m drowning in a sea of problems! Thus, our perspective has a direct bearing on our perception of the circumstances we are in.
but man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward.
Job 5:7
The perspective of a teddy-bear
Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you. 
First Peter 5:7 NLT

Our perspective is shaped by –
(i) our previous experience
(ii) what we know
(iii) our emotional health at the time.  
Consider then how you might face all of your current problems if you had experienced similar problems before to these and actually come through them unscathed. If you did have this prior experience, how might it affect your current perspective? This insight is the first key to successfully dealing with our overwhelming problems: draw on your past experiences of successfully coming through problems – or if you can’t, then find someone who has and learn from them! This is why younger people are more at risk of feeling overwhelmed by their problems than those who have a little more life-experience. Imagine if you could go back in time when you were facing another difficult season in your life and talk to yourself. What would you say? Could your talk with yourself have changed your perspective at that time?
Due to recent cutbacks, the light at the end of the tunnel has been turned offMaybe you have not experienced anything like the difficulties you are facing now. But what if you had been shown by someone how to solve these difficulties, would that change your perspective? What if you had read about someone else who had gone through something similar and responded in a way that worked to solve the problem. Would that change your perspective for whatever you are facing now?
A few years ago I was asked to take on the management of a struggling not-for-profit organisation. This organisation was insolvent (which meant it couldn’t pay its bills or debts). Several people had previously tried to turn it around but had been unable. There are lots and lots of things that I have no clue on how to solve, but I do know a few things about how the business of not-for-profit ministry organisations needs to work. Within a few months, after implementing what I already knew, things began to turn around. As I met challenges I had never met before, I set out to learn what I needed to know. Because of what I knew, and some past experiences in not-for-profit organisational turn-arounds, the solutions to the vexing problems which this organisation faced seemed obvious to me. Perhaps you now face problems with confidence and ease which once overwhelmed you? If you are currently facing problems which are overwhelming you, you need to apply this second key by finding someone or something that can help you learn how to deal with it.
Emotional well-beingWhen I am emotionally drained it seems that my problems are multiplied and magnified. Some of my biggest problems have actually been solved by a good night sleep! Our physical well-being has a bearing on our emotional well-being. Our emotions are formed by chemicals which are released into our blood system. These chemicals can be released involuntarily (such as in a time of shock), as a result of our diet (such as when you only eat a high carbohydrate and high sugar diet which increases the likelihood of depression), and, a lack aerobic exercise deprives the body of healthy endorphins which the brain and body needs to experience happiness. Therefore, if you want to reduce the number and intensity of your problems, get more sleep and less screen-time, cut right down on sugar and carbs, and do something that will get your heart pumping and you gasping for air!
¶ You hold my eyelids open; 
I am so troubled that I cannot speak.
Psalm 77:4

Troubles and difficulties can sometimes be overwhelmingBy drawing on your own or someone else’s experience to give you the confidence that you get through your difficulties, discovering strategies for better dealing with your problems (one of the best pieces of advice I was ever given was to “Tell your problems to take a number and get in line!” That is, deal with your biggest problems first and deal with them one at a time), and improving your diet and fitness, you’ll be amazed at what that can for your perspective of your problems. What you’ll find is that as your perspective shifts from the forest to the trees, you’ll discover that things aren’t nearly as bad as you had been thinking they were.
By using these three powerful keys you’ll find that even though your circumstances don’t change, your perception and perspective will. The Apostle Paul wrote to a church beginning to experience tremendous difficulties and hardship. Rather than telling them to pray that God might change their circumstances he encouraged them to look at their world differently: through the eyes of faith.
for we walk by faith, not by sight.
Second Corinthians 5:7
ChalmersAnd it was the Apostle John whom God used to bequeath to the Church The Revelation. This closing book of the Bible is all about changing perspectives. While massive and brutal persecution was ruthlessly being waged against Christians around the time that The Revelation was written (65 AD), the Apostle gave his beleaguered audience a glimpse into the eternal realm where Christ was triumphant over all. Rather than getting all worked up about some of the nonsense which has been promoted as the interpretation of The Revelation, it is very safe to interpret this book as reminding believers to have a different perspective on life’s difficulties. Perhaps this is why so many first century believers rejoiced to lay down their lives for their risen Saviour and to be so bold in their witness.
¶ After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.”
Revelation 4:1

Friday, 15 July 2016


SAM_2442Great wealth comes from mining. Australia has benefited greatly from its recent mining boom, making us one of the wealthiest nations on earth. Many of Australia’s cities and towns exist because of mining and many of supportive communities have grown as a result. We saw this dramatically a few years ago when the ‘Beaconsfield Mine Disaster’ happened just a few minutes up the road from where our church is and how it affected our community. Of course, without mining, we could not have our precious technology which depend upon the silicon, copper, bauxite, neodymium, gold, and silver being mined. The world owes a lot to mining. Mining is a primary industry. So is farming. But farming has one massive advantage over mining. And curiously enough, I’ve noticed that the farming versus mining disparity not only applies to primary industries but even more aptly to our relationships.  
Legana Apple OrchardWhen I was growing up, nearly all of my uncles (with the exception of just one of the six), was a farmer. Dairy, beef, crops, sheep, and bees were their livelihoods. The thing about farmers is that they are dependent on sustaining their livelihoods. Miners, on the other hand, cannot sustain their supply of what they mine. Once it’s mined, it’s gone
If you drive around Tasmania you’ll see what appear to be roadside forests. But upon closer inspection, there’s something a little odd about these roadside forests: all the trees are in straight rows. As any local can tell you, there’s a reason for that. These aren’t really forests. They’re plantations. Many of them were planted ten or fifteen years ago, some even sooner. Some harvests in life take that long.
Let me jump straight to my concluding point. If we ‘mine’ those around us – especially those closest to us – we are treating them as if they are expendable, something to be tossed aside when we’re finished with them. But if we farm our relationships, we grow them and they are not only enlarged they are sustained. This means: the one who loves best loves the most for the longest. The husband who treats his wife as an object is not farming. He is mining. And because of his neglect he is the one who is depriving himself of some of the richest blessings this life offers.
¶ The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.
Genesis 2:15
The very first wedding took place in a garden. The symbolism is rich. The original picture takes place in an environment where there has been planning, planting, cultivation, tending, watering and feeding. Marriage began in a garden and, in many respects, is a garden. In the Song of Solomon the love between a husband and his wife is described as being like the relationship between a gardener and a garden
On the Tasmanian Overland Track¶ Awake, O north wind,
and come, O south wind!
Blow upon my garden,
let its spices flow.
Let my beloved come to his garden,
and eat its choicest fruits.
Song of Solomon 4:16

Farming involves tending, sowing, nurturing, watering, and feeding. To reap a harvest of intimacy you must sow trust and fertilise it with consistency and mulch it with understanding and transparency. This type of farming produces bountiful harvests. This is the essence of being faithful in marriage. The boy who learns to go off partying with his mates looking to ‘pick up’ a girl for a cheap thrill is learning to treat women as objects to be be ‘mined’. No woman deserves to be treated like this! This is why pornography is so insidiously evil and grossly unjust! But the boy who is taught that women are a treasure to be prized, guarded, and respected is learning how to farm for the day when his future love is in his life so that he will reap a life-time-together harvest. This is why “dating” (where there is no realistic expectation that it will lead to marriage) is not really a Biblical concept. Rather, the Biblical prescription seems to be friendship within community leading to a courtship with the permission of relevant authorities within that community (particularly parental approval). Parents play a key role in helping their children to relationally ‘farm’ their love for another.

Walking the Freycinet TrackOur relationship with God though, has parallels with both mining and farming. Some people inflect a deprived spiritual childhood upon themselves by only ever raking the surface of a relationship with God. If only they would dig like a miner! The treasures they would find! Raking, at best, can summon leaves, twigs, and dirt. But digging can be the means by which one discovers gold, gems, precious metals, and even life-sustaining water. 
¶ My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you…if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures,
Proverb 2:1, 4
The only difference between natural and supernatural mining is that the metals and gems of earth are finite and limited, where as the treasures to found in a relationship with Christ are unlimited and infinite or to use the language of The Mine, they are unsearchable
¶ Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
Romans 11:33
to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,
Ephesians 3:8b
And our relationship with God is also a farming one. He is the Gardener who plans, plants, tends, prunes, waters, feeds and harvests. 
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 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 15:1-2
The Milky Way clearly visible over my house from my backyard
The Milky Way clearly visible over my house from my backyard. This is yet another example of the incredible riches that are often ours for the taking but yet go unnoticed and ignored.
But God is also a limitlessly fertile field into whom we can sow our time, talent and treasure. 
Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
Galatians 6:7-8
In one sense, our devotion to God by Scripture reading, study, and memorisation, is mining our relationship with God while our good deeds including prayer, worship, witnessing, serving the Body of Christ, is farming our relationship with God. Australia’s wealth has been based on farming and mining. Even with all the high-tech advances in the global economy, people are always going to what mining and farming give us. While ‘mining’ has no place in our relationships with each other, especially for those who are married, it can and should share the basis of our relationship with God along with ‘farming’. After you finish reading these few brief thoughts, I invite you to begin ‘mining’ your relationship with God through the reading of Scripture and to make a commitment to spiritually ‘farm’ your relationship with God as well by sowing good deeds in the Name of Christ.
¶ The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully …  ¶ He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.
Second Corinthians 9:6, 10
Your spiritual mining-rights entitlements and harvest awaits.

Saturday, 9 July 2016

Why You Need Seasoning

Port Davey Track view of Macquarie HarbourI pity those who do not have the privilege of living in Tasmania. Unlike other parts of Australia (and many other parts of the world), here in Tasmania we enjoy four distinct, and relatively mild, seasons. Of course, if you had been to our island haven paradise in the last couple of years you may not have thought so. Cataract Gorge covered in smoke hazeVenturing here just six months ago, you would have thought our Island State to be a parched dry unforgiving land. Our water reserves had got well below the critical reserve levels of 21% (falling to as low as 6%) and our normally lush green pastures were colourless. At one point, bushfires ringed and threatened our central city of Launceston and filled our air with an ugly haze. Launceston's Cataract Gorge in flood, June 2016Yet, if you had been here just six weeks ago, you would have seen our flood levies tested to their limits! Many people tell me that they love my state, but alas, I feel they are not qualified to make such a statement until they have experienced this exotic island haven paradise in all its seasonal extremes.   And I think this applies in other claims of love as well – unless you’ve been with, or observed, someone in the various ‘seasons’ of life, you are not qualified to claim that you love someone. For any relationship to be strong, it must go through seasons.
Surfers Paradise, Gold CoastNearly each year, for the past twenty-five years or so, our family has spent at least some time of the year on Queensland’s Gold Coast. Before I met Kim, she and her family had long made the same Gold Coast their annual getaway of choice. Perhaps this is why Kim’s father purchased an apartment there overlooking Surfers Paradise, which Kim’s widowed mother now permanently resides. And while it may be an exaggeration to claim that the Gold Coast is like a second home to us, outside of Tasmania, it is probably the place we know next best. While we do enjoy our occasional stays there, it does lack the distinct advantage that Tasmania has. And because any loving relationship requires this advantage, we feel qualified to say: we love Tasmania.
¶ Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant
First Corinthians 13:4
Surfers Paradise by night, shot taken from Southport
Life has its seasons. In one respect, life’s stages are like seasons. Childhood and youth is like Spring-time. Adulthood is like Summer. Senior years are like Autumn. Our final days are like Winter. But in another sense, life has seasons which ignores our stage of life. We can experience Life’s seasons of joy and happiness. We can experience Life’s seasons of heart-ache and disappointment. We can experience Life’s seasons of trial, struggle, and adversity. We can experience Life’s seasons of loneliness, misunderstanding, and betrayal. One of the biggest mistakes that I have seen two people make is to rush into a marriage before they have seen each other in Life’s various seasons. 
or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
First Corinthians 13:5
Cavell Avenue, Surfers Paradise by night

I have counselled too many people whose marriages have sadly come to an end when the one they married seemingly ‘changed’. In reality, they hadn’t really changed at all. It’s just that they had not been exposed to enough of a variety of Life’s seasons for their true colours to be made clear. But it’s not just marriages where observing people in Life’s seasons is critically important. 
  • The same is true in business where a boss prematurely promotes a relatively new employee without seeing how their character handles Life’s seasons. 
  • The same is true in politics when a nation only ever sees the carefully stage-managed public appearances before awaiting TV cameras of a candidate for political office, rather than seeing them in Life’s seasons where they have to negotiate a conflict with their spouse or children.
  • The same is true in churches when people who make a good impression on a pastor are appointed to be elders without ever having gone through any of Life’s seasonal fires to see how they treat others when they themselves are under pressure 
The smoke haze encroaching into Launceston at the Cataract Gorge First Basin
Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, nor take part in the sins of others; keep yourself pure.
First Timothy 5:22
I enjoy Tasmania’s summers. This past summer, Kim, Ruby, and I took advantage of the world’s finest Gorge amenities each weekday and enjoyed an early morning walk and a swim. To give Kim a head-start in how many laps she did, I would take some time to sit on the overlooking concrete steps and read my Greek New Testament as I occasionally pulled my camera out and took a few snaps of the Gorge’s breathtaking scenery.
I marvel at what Autumn does to Tasmania. The colours of the leaves on the trees, the last of the apple harvests, the stunning sun rises over Mount Barrow and Ben Lomond, the birdlife that sings throughout the day.
Initially, I was no fan of Tasmania’s winters. But then I became increasingly aware of just how important they are. Orchardists must have winters to kill off certain unwelcome fruit-tree diseases and prune their near-dormant trees ready for the upcoming harvest season. Ben Lomond comes alive in the middle of winter. Tobogganing, cross-country skiing, snow-ball fights, and hot drinks by the lodge fire can only happen if there’s a winter in Tasmania. 
And then there’s Spring! New life! Flowers! Baby birds! Lambs! Green fields!
It’s worth remembering that when you’re going through a season of difficulty, it’s a season. It won’t last. And if you’re rushing into love, it’s also worth considering whether this love has been ‘seasoned’? 
Holidaying on the Gold Coast in summer is quite misleading. Tourists do things there and then they wouldn’t dream of doing back home. People are often more relaxed. People are often happier. People often eat out more. People spend more. If you only knew someone from experiencing them while holidaying on the Gold Coast, you would have a very distorted impression of them indeed. It would be better to see them back in suburbia rushing to work after dropping their kids off at school after negotiating the morning rush-hour traffic to get to a job they don’t enjoy before they come to a spouse they have an unresolved conflict with! 
The sluggard does not plow in the autumn; he will seek at harvest and have nothing.
Proverbs 20:4
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
First Corinthians 13:7
Pastor Andrew CorbettAs pastor of our church, where I have now been for nearly 21 years, I am so grateful to the many people who, despite having seen me often struggle in Life’s various seasons, have been patient with me and forgiven me for my many shortcomings. It is a privilege to be allowed each week to input God’s Word into people’s lives so that they too can navigate Life’s seasons. And it is my hope that over the next few years of seasons we will continue to navigate our seasons together and as a result our church will move into a season of Springtime and harvest.   
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

Ps. Andrew

Friday, 1 July 2016


Just after Jesus had offended the religious elite in Jerusalem, He secretly went to the Gentile region of Tyre and Sidon. While in the region we today call Lebanon, Jesus had one of the most unusual and offensive conversations of His ministry. Anyone listening in on the initial part of Christ’s conversation with this heathen Gentile may well have been stunned at His offensive language!
Imagine you were facing a dire situation and you were desperately wanting to meet with God. Imagine you go to those who He has appointed to represent Him and they do all they can to prevent you from meeting Him. Then imagine that even though God turned up in your neighbourhood, He refused to meet with you. To make matters worse, imagine you are the woman who has had to climb through a window and then God in the flesh won’t even look at you! Just when you think it can’t get any worse, Immanuel tells you to get lost and calls you a “dog”!
But, as hard as this is to imagine, this ‘heathen’ woman did persist in her attempts to get Christ’s attention and gain from Him her petition, despite these unimaginable obstacles to meeting with Him. 
And from there he arose and went away to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And he entered a house and did not want anyone to know, yet He could not be hidden. But immediately a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit heard of him and came and fell down at his feet. Now the woman was a Gentile, a Syrophoenician by birth. And she begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. And he said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” But she answered him, “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” And he said to her, “For this statement you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter.” And she went home and found the child lying in bed and the demon gone.Mark 7:24-30
Tyre-from-LebanonCan we imagine the desperation that this Syrophoenician woman was feeling? Perhaps she was a single mother? Perhaps she was scorned by her community because he daughter was, well, “odd”? Somehow she found out that Jesus was in her neighbourhood. Despite the attempts to keep it a secret, this desperate woman found out where to meet with Jesus. I wonder if this is like many people’s experience today? We live in a very desperate world with more broken, hurting, damaged people than we realise. Like this woman, many of these people are hurting for those they love. They have often looked for help and found none. Some have heard that Jesus can help. They have heard the stories of others who have met with Jesus and found healing, help, and hope. No doubt this Syrophoenician woman had heard the stories of how Jesus had cast out demons from the children of other desperate parents.
And when they came to the crowd, a man came up to him and, kneeling before him, said, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly. For often he falls into the fire, and often into the water. And I brought him to your disciples, and they could not heal him.” And Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him here to me.” And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was healed instantly.
Matthew 17:14-18
 Yet this Gentile woman had overcome some great offences in order to have her needs met. It seems that Jesus tests people’s desperation and sincerity to meet with Him by seeing how they deal with offences. 
“And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”
Matthew 11:6
¶ When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, “Does this offend you?”
John 6:61 
To get closer to Jesus requires pressing on despite offences. Too many churches miss God’s best for them because someone responds poorly to an offence. In this moment, Jesus was in a Gentile territory where this woman lived. Ironically, many churches are located in the midst of a neighbourhood, community, or city where there is tremendous pain, yet, just like this moment, they keep Jesus away from these desperately hurting people. Just like this moment, too many churches seem to keep Jesus to themselves – as if they too want to keep Him a secret. But the problem for any church that wants to truly love, follow and serve Christ and yet wants to keep Jesus away from those who need Him most is that Jesus just cannot be hidden! He will always attract those who are humble enough to know they need Him. 
SAMSUNG CSCLast Sunday we farewelled Rhys and Jodi to the Mission Field of North-West Western Australia. They reminded us that six years ago their lives were falling apart. Alcoholism, relationship tensions, and other problems were taking a heavy toll on them both. Rhys shared just how dark his world has become. He cried out to God for help and said that he received an overwhelming urge compelling him to go to church. Without an invitation or even a connection of any kind, they turned up one Sunday morning in church. Jodi said it was the hardest thing she had ever done. On that first Sunday in church, Jodi said, “I thought I was going to die! I couldn’t get out fast enough! But for some reason we stayed.” Jodi had some offences to overcome, just like this Syrophoenician woman. Rhys and Jodi kept coming to church and as they did Christ touched them, and healed them. 
As a church, we don’t want to be like Christ’s Tyre hosts who tried to keep Him to themselves. We don’t people to have to endure the obstacles that this woman had to overcome simply to meet with Christ. I hope our door-greeters know just how important they are to removing some of the first obstacles that a seeker encounters. This poor Syrophoenician woman would have initially encountered Christ’s disciples who had some very ingrained attitudes about women let alone Gentile (“Heathen”) women at that! How are we going to respond to a Muslim man walking through the doors of our church on a Sunday with his four wives in tow? How are we going to respond to the two men who walk through our doors for the first time holding hands?
It seems to me that when Christ spoke roughly with this Gentile woman, in front of His disciples, He was parroting the standard way women – Gentile women in particular – were spoken to by Jewish men. But this exchange led to Christ yet again showing His disciples how he not only felt about women, but how He also felt about people – irregardless of their nationality. Can we as a church reveal Christ’s heart to our community? He still loves women. He still loves people who feel despised. He still loves and heals hurting people. And He still calls His disciples today, the church, to not only let all people come to Him, but to go out and show them His love and grace and invite them in.       
Ps. Andrew Corbett