Friday, 21 April 2017

Three Cheers For Counter Weights!

Kimmys-next-car

THREE CHEERS FOR THESE THREE

I’m not sure why car wheels need balancing after their tyres are fitted, but without those little balancing weights strategically placed around the rim of the wheel, a car’s steering would vibrate and the car would veer one way or the other. These little counter-weights serve an invaluable role and deserve some credit. But counter-weights or “make-weights” don’t just occur on car wheels – they can be found in churches! In fact, every pastor whom God has used to lead a church to growth has never been able to do so with without those in their congregation who were counter-weights! 
wheel-balancing1

PERSONALITIES, PORNOGRAPHY & PRIDE

The Corinthian Church was plagued with problems. It had suffered several church splits. There were people openly committing sexual immorality. Their church services had become known for occasions of debauchery and gluttony. And, worst of all, arrogance had set in – especially among those claiming to be the most spiritual. Yet the church was graced with three noble counter-weights: 
I rejoice at the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus, because they have made up for your absence, for they refreshed my spirit as well as yours. Give recognition to such people.
First Corinthians 16:17-18
yellow-ferrariStephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus were counter (or, as they used to be called, “make”) weights. Despite all the ungraciousness happening in their church, they were gracious and made up for its lack. The Apostle said that such people should be given due recognition. But they rarely are. They the hardy souls who make churches sweet and positive. They always lend a hand where they can. Nothing is too hard. F.W. Borehamsays of them-
It still happens that Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus make up that which is lacking in our churches. But how do they do it? Never by negative methods. It is always done by something positive in their behaviour. They do not criticize or find fault or stress the weaknesses of the church to which they have attached themselves. They do not shout from the housetops that the church is cold and inhospitable; that nobody ever speaks to them; that the prayer-meeting is poorly attended and that few of the congregation read their Bibles. No, no; Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus adopt a more excellent way.F.W. Boreham, “MAKEWEIGHTS”, ‘Cliffs of Opal’, 1948, p. 66
Just like the little counter-weights on a car’s wheels, there are always some people in every church who seem to add joy and grace to that congregation. No pastor can succeed without such people! The challenge for such blessing-founts is that they rarely receive what the Apostle exhorted the rest of the church to give them: recognition. But the beauty of such people is that rarely look for it, and actually seem to shun it. 
yellow-ferrari2If a car is rendered almost undriveable without these little balancing weights strategically placed around each wheel’s rim, it could be that many other facets of life are also unworkable without the “little” contributions that so many unrecognised people gladly make. I know that this is true of churches. In fact, I have come to believe that this is one of the greatest indicators of a church’s depth and maturity. While people may look at a church’s facilities, or judge it by the popularity of its preacher, or rate it by the breadth of its programs for youth and children, or even its music, I think most people evaluate a church by its tone and temperature. This is where our modern day Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus play their part. Without such grace-drenched souls in a church its tone is harsh and unforgiving and its temperature is always too cold.
But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. ¶ The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty
First Corinthians 12:18-23
IMG_7821As I have watched Geoffrey construct our new auditorium with wood, hammers and nails, I wonder how many of us will look up in our newly completely house of worship at one of those nails in the ceiling and thank God for that nail? Probably none of us. It’s no different in a spiritual house. Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus just keep serving, encouraging, listening and caring, mostly without any attention or recognition at all. They are always making up for that which is lacking.
Dr. Boreham goes on to say about these noble servants of Christ that although Christ’s redemptive work was finished on the Cross, it wasn’t completed
‘It is finished!’ the Saviour exclaimed. It was the triumphant cry of the workman who had brought His masterpiece to absolute perfection with that finishing touch.
But think again! If Jesus, the Son of God, had died His bitter death on Calvary’s tree, and left it at that, would 
that have saved the world? Of course not. The world at large would never have heard of it. The tragic incident would have passed into oblivion within a year or two. Just another political execution in a Roman province! In order that the redeeming sacrifice might be made effective, and the world saved by means of it, it was necessary for the Apostles to suffer and to die in proclaiming it, for the martyrs to lay down their lives in defending it, and for missionaries like Xavier and Livingstone and Petteson and Williams and Chalmers to seal with their blood their testimony to its virtue.F.W. Boreham, “MAKEWEIGHTS”, ‘Cliffs of Opal’, 1948, p. 68
Thus, I would like to propose three cheers. One for our Stephanases. One for our Fortunatuses. And one for our Achaicuses! May God bless each one of them, for they are greatly needed by the Lord in every church as any pastor can tell you.

Pastor Andrew.

Friday, 14 April 2017

The Urge To Quit Always Comes Just Before Your Greatest Triumph

IF YOU’RE GOING TO GIVE-IN, AT LEAST DO IT PROPERLY!
What has God put you on this planet for? Chances are you don’t have to stress too much about discovering it. You have probably already found that God has placed within you certain abilities, certain passions, which cause you to continually see the same need. Chances are also that when you apply yourself to meeting those needs you have gained a tremendous sense of satisfaction and fulfilment in the process. Yet, despite this, there will occasionally be times of discouragement when all you want to do is give-up. But it’s at these times when you must especially be careful to do it properly!
Joseph was given a dream from God that he would one day become a powerful governor. After spending more than ten years in an Egyptian prison, we would have forgiven him for giving up and for thinking that God had abandoned him. But if he had, he would have missed his moment! Joseph remained faithful to God, day in, and day out. 
Moses was called to be the deliverer of Israel from Egypt. But he made a mistake and failed. This led him to flee into the desert. I wonder if he thought that God would rescue him from his woes in a short time. But he didn’t hear from God again for another 40 years! He never completely gave-up!
It seems to me that the most successful people are those who have learned to hang-in when the temptation to give-in is nearly overwhelming. They are prepared to give to take one more step, have one more go, knock on one more door, write one more song, play one more tournament, do one more day. 
I recently spoke with a successful businessman who had gone four months without making a dollar in his new business. He had exhausted his reserves and had lay off each of his staff. Despondent but not despairing he gave it one more shot. “I was ready to throw it all in and stack shelves in a supermarket” he said. “But then God gave me a break. I met someone I could help. That led to another person I could help, and then another who referred me to another. In the first three months of this year I’ve done $17,000,000 worth of transactions and am on track to generate over a million dollars in profits this year!” 
Not all of us are in business, but we should all be in God’s business of helping others in Jesus’ Name. Yet when you’re trying to do good by others and help them, it can get quite discouraging when they don’t appreciate it or are even rude in return. I recently heard Jossy Chacko tell his story of having a Christian Grandmother who prayed fervently for young Jossy to come to know Christ. Jossy ridiculed such praying. He told his ageing Grandmother not to waste her time on him. But she kept going – month after month, year after year. She died never seeing the answer to her prayers for her Grandson. Today though, Jossy is an in-demand preacher and conference speaker who heads up the Empart Church Planting organisation which helps to facilitate over 9,000 churches across northern India.
We should not easily lose heart in our pursuit of doing the will of God.
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
This admonition not only applies to each of us, it also especially applies to us as a church. Too many churches are set back because someone gives up after taking offence at something someone said or did (or didn’t say or didn’t do). It’s too easy to give up on each other or those who are trying to reach. The cousin of not giving up is patience. There will be some people we will reach who will take years and years to see won to the Lover Of Their Soul. Whenever I get frustrated with some of the things that our non-Christian politicians say, I have to remind myself to pray for their salvation and be patient. When the story of our church is told to generations to come – long after you and I have gone onto our true Home – I trust we will be remembered for our faithful prayer and proclamation to our generation and that we didn’t give up. The proper way to give-up is to at least give it one more shot.  

Pastor Andrew Corbett

Friday, 7 April 2017

Watch Out For Those Churches Missing Their Outer Doorhandles!

OUR WORSHIP IS A WINDOW
Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.” For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
Revelation 19:10
One of the predominant themes of the majestic Book of Revelation is that Christ is the exclusively worship-worthy Saviour and Lord. Revelation 19:10 demolishes the idea that any worship shown to Jesus recorded in the New Testament was merely, as Jehovah’s Witnesses vainly claim, reverential respect. In Revelation 19:10 we see that even the act of worship, that is, bowing in surrender to anyone other than Christ was and is strictly forbidden. The angel who is relaying Christ’s revelation to John expressly and immediately forbids John from showing any form of worship to him. “Worship God!” the Angel admonishes the apostle. What, who, and how a church and its congregants worships, is a window into that church. And in a surprising link, it also determines what their front door looks like as well… 
While worship is the primary purpose of the believer whereby they give praise and glory to God, it is also a witness to the world. This worshipful witness becomes a summons to the world challenging them lay down their lives and surrender to Christ. The worship of Christ by the Church calls people to repent. Our heartfelt, passionate, Spirit-led worship of the Lamb aligns our hearts with His. It makes us hungry for His Word and increases the burden we feel for the lost. The worshipful believer is thus committed to declaring the Gospel of the Saviour and declaring the truth about Jesus, which, according to Revelation 19:10, is prophesying (even though it looks like what most people call, evangelism).  

LUKEWARM CHURCHES WORSHIP THE WRONG THING

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.
Revelation 3:20
William-Holman-Hunt-Light_of_the_worldIn the famous painting depicting Christ from Revelation 3:20 (“behold I stand at the door and knock“), called “The Light of the World“, William Holman Hunt shows Jesus knocking at a door in an overgrown orchard at night. Christ is holding a lit lantern. But this glowing lantern seems unnecessary because of the brilliant moonlight which enables the viewer to clearly make out the scene. F.W. Boreham was in London in 1924 and visited Mr Hunt’s famous painting at St. Paul’s Cathedral. He understood that the artist meant to show that there was no door-handle on the outside of the door. He understood that the overgrown vegetation over the door meant to show that the inhabitants rarely ventured outside. But the lantern? There was no need for it. 
Yet Boreham knew that Mr Hunt wasted nothing in his allegorical art. He remarked to his wife that this was a mystery to him. A kindly older gentlemen standing just behind Dr. Boreham interrupted with an apology for eaves-dropping. He excused himself by pointing out that he was no further away than Mr Boreham’s elbow when he revealed this mystery. “I knew Mr Hunt well” he said. “If you would permit me, I can enlighten you with what Mr Hunt himself told me about the lantern.” F.W. Boreham welcomed the offer. The artist’s friend explained that Mr Hunt wanted to convey that Christ was knocking on the door of a lukewarm church. Because there is no handle on the outside, the occupants must open up to Christ and invite Him in. But this church is located on the edge of the orchard adjacent to the wild woods. While Christ wanted entry to the church, it wasn’t to be for too long because He really wanted to lead the occupants out of their dwelling and to journey with Him into the darkness of the wild woods – hence His lantern was lit and trimmed. The church becomes lukewarm when it ceases to venture out into the darkness with the light of Christ. 
Christ is still knocking and He still bears a lit lantern to guide His Church into the darkness to rescue a lost world.
While we thrill at the progress of the construction of our new auditorium, we must continue to passionately, whole-heartedly, and sacrificially worship Christ and align our hearts with His. Used wisely, our new building will help us to do just that. But we must ensure that our door handles are on both sides of our church doors so that those who see the Saviour as we worship will want to come in and meet Him. 
He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
and put their trust in the LORD.
Psalm 40:3
Aerial view of Legana Christian Church's new auditorium being constructed
Let us open up our hearts to Christ and enjoy our times with Him and recognise that He bids us to not just come into worship, and not just to “go” but to “go with Him“. I’m sure you will join in prayer asking that God will send some of us out to clear the “thistles” and “thorn-bushes”, or to prune the fruit-trees, or to sow seed, or to water seeds, or for some to even harvest and gather. And while this will be the fruit of worshipful church, the root is always passionate devotion of Christ, making Him and His House our priority.

Ps. Andrew

Saturday, 1 April 2017

It's A Dark Day, When You're Out In A Snow Storm, Down A Deep Pit, and Fighting A Lion

WHEN THINGS LOOK DARK

¶ And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was a valiant man of Kabzeel, a doer of great deeds. He struck down two heroes of Moab. He also went down and struck down a lion in a pit on a day when snow had fallen.
First Chronicles 11:22
Benaiah was having a bad day. After all, it’s bad enough just being outside when it’s really cold and snowing and you’re not dressed appropriately. That’s not fun. But that wasn’t all he faced. Not only was it snowing, Benaiah was in a deep pit. I’m not an authority on being thrown down a pit by my enemies, but I can only imagine being in a deep pit, possibly for days, is not fun, but being in a deep pit on a snowy day ill-dressed is really not fun. But that wasn’t all Benaiah faced. He was stuck outside on a snowy day, down a deep pit, and sharing it with a man-eating lion! I’m no authority on being outside in the snow down a deep pit with a ferocious lion, but I’m guessing that it’s really really not fun! If things had ever looked dark for Benaiah, I think it was this day! But Benaiah discovered what I have also found: that when things look dark they never stay that way.
reepicheep-w-aslanBenaiah reminds me of Reepicheep (the warrior mouse), the hero of the Chronicles of Narnia series. Despite all the odds stacked against him, despite everyone around him looking glum and bleak, despite being with a lion, he always sees the positive in the dark situation he’s facing and then a way through it! It’s as if his confidence, that everything will turn out alright, becomes a light to brighten up these kind of dark days.

THE KEY TO HANDLING DARK DAYS

A snowy day. 
In a pit. 
With a lion. 
Moments later. 
A dead lion. 
Out of the pit. 
Walking home through the snow.
Benaiah knew that attitude was everything when it comes to navigating dark days. Attitude is that inner disposition which shapes how we approach life, tasks, people, and difficult circumstances. The more virtuous qualities of attitude include courage, persistence, endurance, hopefulness, forgiveness, faithfulness and tolerance. These can never be developed in times of comfort and ease. In fact, it’s in times of distress and darkness that we can truly grow for it is then that these positive virtues are called for. And even though God is light, surprisingly, He is often found in darkness
The people stood far off, while Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was.
Exodus 20:21
Dark times come to all people. Dark times make us feel as if God has abandoned us. Dark times summon our most natural (which are also our most negative) responses: despair, gloom, despondency, and introspection. But God has ordained for darkness to also challenge us to step up, rise up, lace up, and to look up! We read in the Old Testament that God seemed to have left the young nation of Israel in the dark. The Scriptures reveal that God had left some of Israel’s enemies in the Promised Land for Israel to conquer in order that they might learn to fight. Dark times are God’s times for His people to learn to fight!
He did this to teach warfare to generations of Israelites who had no experience in battle.
Judges 3:2 NLT
Benaiah would have been in the darkness for sometime. But his attitude was that of a victor not a victim. Our Dark Times can be brought on by pain and sickness, debts, unemployment, relationship drama, the mistakes of our past. 
No trial has overtaken you that is not faced by others. And God is faithful: He will not let you be tried beyond what you are able to bear, but with the trial will also provide a way out so that you may be able to endure it.
First Corinthians 10:13 NET

THE MEANS OF HANDLING PITS

Benaiah managed to get out of his deep pit. Sometimes we find ourselves down a pit. Benaiah must have initially tried to climb out of his pit. The worst kind of pit to be in is the one you think you can’t climb out of! Every parent hates to see their children suffer or get frustrated with difficulty. It is our most natural urge to step in and simply do for our child what they are struggling to do for themselves. But every parent knows that if we do that we are depriving our child of the necessary grit to solve life’s small problems so that their problem-solving muscles can continue to develop to the level of one day being able to handle life’s more serious problems.
It reminds me of the young boy watching caterpillars emerge from their cocoons as butterflies. After watching with fascination the first cocoon in his backyard begin to wiggle, then shake, then repeated deny the young butterfly its escape, eventually after what seemed like forever, the cocoon eventually gave way and the exhausted butterfly emerged through the tears in the now discarded cocoon. As it poked its wings out, then rested, as its wings spread like a sunflower to the sky, its tiny head then legs and body appeared as it stood on the edge of its now torn cocoon. The marvelling boy watched on. Then with a herculean first flutter, the butterfly took off for its first flight. Still marvelling at what he had just seen in his backyard hour of wonder, he noticed another cocoon beginning to tremble. Unable to bear to again watch the suffering and trial he had just witnessed, his young and tender heart moved him to help the helpless butterfly. As the cocoon began to shake, he ran inside to the kitchen and brought back his mother’s sharp paring knife. He carefully cut the cocoon where he had seen the other one rip and soon he saw the butterfly begin to emerge. But this butterfly was not panting with exhaustion. Feeling quite proud of himself and quite chuffed that he had been able to assist this newborn creature, he looked on expectantly almost hoping for the relieved butterfly to make its immediate flight path to his nose and whisper its thanks. Instead, the butterfly emerged from the cocoon, spread its wings and then fell to its death. Despite his best intentions motivated by compassion, he had denied this second butterfly what the first butterfly had benefitted from. In its desperate struggles to be free from cocoon, the first butterfly was growing in strength with each attempt to the point that by the time it emerged from cocoon after having struggled for so long, it had now developed its muscles sufficiently to be able to flutter its huge wings. Your pit may actually be your cocoon.
Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God.
Colossians 4:12

THE WAY TO HANDLE SNOWY DAYS

Roald Amundsen's four companions at the South Pole in 1911The best way to handle snowy days when your clothing is ill-prepared is to keep moving. Stay still in the snow and you’re in trouble! If you’ve ever read the story of Captain Scott and his team of explorers racing to be the first ones to reach the South Pole and bring further glory to British Empire, you’ll know that he and his team were pipped by the Norwegian adventurer, Roald Amundsen, and his four companions. Amundsen used dogs to move through the snow and ice. Captain Scott travelled by foot. Having discovered that they had been beaten, Scott and weary team began to trek back to base. But they made a fatal mistake – they stopped moving. All of them died as a result.
If your world seems cold and loveless at the moment, keep moving, keep reaching out, fight the urge to withdraw and feel sorry for yourself!

THE SECRET TO HANDLING LIONS

Again, I’m no expert on being attacked by a lion. But according to the Smithsonian Institute, the one thing you must never do is run away!
what-to-do-if-attacked-by-a-lion
The Bible says that our enemy goes about like a lion seeking those he can devour by his lies, temptations, and intimidation designed to induce fear and rob the believer of hope.
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
First Peter 5:8
what-to-do-if-attacked-by-a-lion1
dealing-with-a-mountain-lion
Being outside too long on a snowy day, down a deep pit, with a lion, would be a dark day for anyone. But Benaiah got through it. It meant he had to: (i) keep moving forward, (ii)  try, (iii) stand up to his enemy. You may be in a dark time (or about to have one). I know what this is like and what I am saying to you is not just a theory for me. Keep moving forward by taking up God’s Word each day and prayerfully reading it. No matter how hopeless things look and despite how deep the hole you’re in looks, keep doing what you can to get out of it. And when it feels like the enemy of your soul is about to tear you shreds, surprise him by showing him just how big and big-hearted you are as you reach out to others and help them despite your own woes. And remember, God is often in the darkness not hidden by it.

Pastor Andrew