Thursday, 30 April 2009


When Kim and I arrived in 1995 because of a word from God to go to Tasmania, Legana AOG (as it was then) was just 17 members. Of those members, only a few actually lived in this community. And of the remaining members, none were particularly involved in the areas where they lived. I had come from a city of 3 million to a town of 1,500 people. Knowing that God had clearly called us to Legana Tasmania with a word that He was going to do a significant thing in an insignificant place. I felt from God that our church would achieve three significant milestones. The first would be 300 people. The second would be 300 adults. The third would be 300 men. But I also felt from God that this would require a long-term commitment and community involvement.

Over the past few years Kim and I have worked at being involved in our community. I am the local tennis club coach. Kim is the Neighbourhood Watch Coordinator. I have written articles on issues affecting our Valley which has drawn some attention. Added to our efforts, others from our church have also been getting involved in our community. Janette Boyle recently represented the church at a Council future planning meeting. Others in our church are volunteer fire-fighters with the local brigade. Each month, a few of us go into the local Nursing Home and sing hymns and share an uplifting message of hope from Scripture. Andrew Jones represents our church as the chaplain to our two Colleges. Stephen Hill, an elder in our church, works for CityMISSION and represents us to many people who are struggling in our Valley. And many of us are working in and around our city as ambassadors for Christ and representatives of our church.

The other major thing I felt God put on my heart that would build bridges between us and our community was to be proactive in getting our message outside of our four walls. This is why we keep our websites up to date. This is why we advertise on commercial radio. This is why we advertise on commercial TV. This is why we broadcast on WAYfm. This is why we YouTube. This is why we Tangle. This is why we Podcast. And this is why we are about to Vodcast.
Romans 10:14 ¶ But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?

For us to achieve all that God intends for our church will continue to require that we build bridges with people in our community. We really want to serve our community of the Tamar Valley. Rather than being focussed entirely on building our church perhaps we should be more focussed on bridging our church (to the community). In many respects this is already happening. We have several of our young people now working in and around our community who are serving Christ by serving their employers and representing Christ and His church to a watching and waiting world. We have several people in our church who are in business in our Valley. They employ people. They help our Valley to prosper. They give people dignity, purpose, and meaningful activity. We have several school teachers in our church family. They pass the baton of knowledge onto the next generations with hands that hold the hand of Jesus. They help children to join the seemingly random dots of this world in an otherwise incoherent world so that these dots make a picture of the Cross and of Christ who conquered the world from there. We have Mums in the church who are dedicated to raising their children and creating a positive home-life for their families. They teach their children how to love Christ and help in an unequalled fashion to further the Great Commission of Christ so that the legacy of devotion to Jesus carries on for further generations long after they are gone. We have retirees in our church who quietly serve in our communities as volunteers. They also continue this volunteering into our church doing many of the things that must be done through the week or on a Sunday.
Colossians 3:23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,

You may not think that what you do - at home with your family or on your own - is of that much significance, but it is. A few years ago when we used to live in a suburb of our city, a lady across and down the road came out and over to me as I was putting my girls in our car. She asked for help. Then she made a comment about my fathering and my family. "I've seen you with your children..." Fortunately what she had seen left a positive impression on her. Curiously though, it had not been my intention to put a show on for our neighbours. We were just being "us" all the time. I drove home to me at the time and for months afterwards that we are all continually on display to our community.

It is my prayer that we can continue to get involved in serving our community. Whether it be as parent-help at our schools, volunteer sports team coaches, making meals for newcomers to our community, Neighbourhood Watch, local business or importantly building strong homes. These are just some of the bridges that we are currently building between us as a church and our local community. It is just one way that we earn the right to share with some people about the love of Christ and the meaning He can give to an otherwise meaningless existence. And then it is also my prayer that what we do as a church together (meeting to worship on Sunday, Carols By Candle Light, etc.) will also impact our community to the glory of God.
Philemon 6 and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ.


Wednesday, 22 April 2009

God and Suffering

Today I had a man come and see me. He was a good man. He had been a faithful husband for the 50 years of his marriage. He had raised several well balanced children. As a child he had been a choir boy and was made to attend Sunday school every Sunday. Even after getting married he had attended church regularly. But then things began to unravel for him. He had a crisis of faith.

He saw someone die unexpectantly. He then saw the poverty of the Third World. He served in the military and saw several war zones where the madness of human brutality was unrestrained. And finally, his wife of five decades suddenly deteriorated to death with an incurable disease. So despite his religious upbringing, he came to a point where he felt that God had become an irrational concept. But then this began to change.

This man is like many people who have been religious but have never become a Christian. There is a world of difference between a religious person and a Christian. The religious person is merely concerned with appearances. Christianity on the other hand is concerned with Christ. Religion starts with routine. Christianity starts with trust. Thus, when God does what God does, the religious person is offended (see Matthew 15:12). But the Christian continues to trust (Romans 8:28). This is especially the case during suffering.

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,
- Romans 5:3 

I shared with this man in my office today the difference between being religious compared to  being a Christian. I emphasised that religion is about "do" while Christianity is about "done". I drew a pie on my whiteboard and divvied it up into various size pieces. On each piece of my whiteboard pie I wrote an aspect of life (family, work, liesure, hobbies, church). I then drew another pie without divvying it up. In the middle of this pie I wrote "Jesus". This is the difference between the life of a religious person and a Christian. The religious person makes room for religious things, like his church attendance. The Christian just lives their entire life for Jesus - not compartmentally - but so that everything they do is for Christ (1Cor. 10:31; Col. 3:23).

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,
 - Colossians 3:23 

When suffering is observed by the Christian they are primarily moved by compassion not disillusionment. When suffering is experienced by the Christian they don't abandon God, they draw nearer to Him.

that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death
Philippians 3:10

I continued to share with the man in my office. I invited him to turn to Christ in trust through prayer. He left my office saying that he had been "deeply affected" by what we talked about it. I'll be praying for him to be converted from being religious to being a Christian. Please join with me.

and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ. 
 - Philemon 6 


The John Anderson Story

Thursday, 16 April 2009


Dr Andrew Corbett saying something yet again profoundWe are in a war. There is a spiritual battle that we are all engaged in. While the Devil is bound (which means he is severely restricted and his fate is doomed, Revelation 20:2) he is still able to torment, harass, deceive and tempt the child of God. I don't usually talk about the Devil or even spiritual warfare. This is largely because it is just too easy for believers to get carried away with the extremes of some Charismatic ideas about spiritual warfare and demons. Put simply, I want to help people focus on God - not the Devil. But I can't ignore that the Bible itself teaches about spiritual warfare and has some stern warnings for believers to be on their guard in the midst of this spiritual battle.
Ephesians 6:11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.

Ps Bruce HillsThe Occult. Of course there's a lot of quackery, superstition, and ignorance promoted by members of the occult. But, there are some inexplicable things that many returning Christian missionaries have seen first-hand. These inexplicable things include the pronouncement of curses by the village medicine man, voodoo healing practitioners who heal without even seeing their "patient", and so on. Added to this, many missionaries have gone into third-world countries and been afflicted by tormenting dreams, mysterious sicknesses, family breakdown, and serious depression. It might be naive to simply regard this merely as bad luck or coincidence. In the Third World (or more accurately, the "Two Thirds World") the spiritual realm is not some mere theory. It is very real and an active interplay with everyday life.
Ephesians 4:27 and give no opportunity to the devil.

Even as I write this I feel within me a deep concern that someone will misuse what I have said and justify either their own sin or foolishness which has brought them into some dire situation. So before those of you who are mature and gifted with some foresight point out to me that I could be fuelling irresponsibility and leading others into self-justification and blame-shifting . . . I know and I share your concern.
James 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

Sonia Bowen singingWhen Christ died on the Cross He defeated the Devil (1John 3:8). The Devil is ultimately a defeated foe. His doom is certain. Unlike some Christians who promote a concept called "Middle Knowledge" (that God only knows the future rather than directs the future), the Scriptures do not paint spiritual warfare with a view to God needing our help to defeat the Devil and his minions. Instead, God's knowledge should be regarded as "Sovereign Knowledge" (God knows the future because He determines the future) and despite the fate of the Devil and demons being eternal damnation in the Lake of Fire, we still face his harassing, tempting, and doubting tentacles in this life. And what's even more annoying, there are times when God ordains that this be the case in order for us to toughen up and grow up!

Paul the apostle knew what it was to be engaged in spiritual battle. He described this battle taking place in his mind-
2Corinthians 10:3-5 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ

It appears that the Devil can sow thoughts into our minds which are contrary to the Word of God, against the Will of God and defiant to the Ways of God. The way we counter such attacks is familiarity with the Word of God. To become familiar with the Word of God we saturate our minds in it and strive to order our lives by it. There are times when the believer has to apply 2Corinthians 10:5 and bring certain thoughts captive to Christ. The Enemy can seek to bring doubt into our minds but we fight to fill our minds with the Word of Faith. The Enemy can lure us to think that God is unfaithful and therefore unreliable but we fight to remind ourselves of the Lord's previous provision and blessing. The Enemy seeks to sow discord into our minds but we fill our minds with the words of Christ to love, forgive, and serve others. This is how we fight. It is a different strategy to that of Charismatics who ironically get distracted by the Enemy by taking their attack directly to him. I say ironically because this is the very goal of the Enemy's attack: to distract us.
Revelation 2:10 Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.

Dr Andrew Corbett saying something else profoundLast Sunday night I sensed something foreign in our meeting. I don't usually. But I did then. I leant across to my two older daughters and said be very careful right now to stay focused on the Lord because the Enemy's presence is also in this place and he will attempt to distract us. No sooner had I finished saying this when my youngest daughter began screaming. I simply looked at my two older daughters and said See. Any attack of our Enemy is to distract us from loving God. He prowls like a lion, Peter tells us -
1Peter 5:8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

He is, of course, toothless (thanks to Christ). But he still looks intimidating. He is the consequences of yielded temptation that stares at you on your fridge everyday. He is the one who ensured that you never found the time to apologise and reconcile with the one who offended you. He lies. He cheats. He shortcuts. He gets at you in your weakest moments. He keeps you from your life source (time in congregational worship, time alone in prayer and study, and time being taught the Word of God) by ensuring that something more urgent will be on when church is on. And also seeks to make you so busy that you will feel worn out-
Daniel 7:25 He shall speak words against the Most High,

and shall wear out the saints of the Most High,

and shall think to change the times and the law . .

Legana Christian Church ChoirHow do combat the schemes of Satan? It will be difficult. It will require rare humility. It will require being teachable, submitted, and open to change. It will demand concentration and commitment. For, the Enemy will make our way seem right to us (Proverbs 14:12; 16:25). He will ensure that we take offence and because resentful and thus unable to be instructed. He will cue you on how to be self-justified when it comes to demanding and getting your own way. He will twist the words of God and superimpose his own words onto them.

Therefore, we must be people of the Word who hear and heed it together. This is one major reason why we all (together at the same time) going through the same passage of Scripture quickened to us by the Holy Spirit in our Kids Church, Bible Study Groups, and Sunday night meetings. This passage of Scripture, by the way, is a spiritual warfare passage - Romans 12:9-21 - that helps to not only define the spiritual hedge of protection, but to build it as well. I can guarantee you that the Devil does not want us to either apprehend or comprehend this powerful passage of Scripture. But if we can allow the eyes of our understanding to be opened then we will experience breakthrough like never before as a church. Undoubtedly, the Enemy will do all he can to keep us from studying and living out this passage of Scripture. (If you are not in a Bible Study Group which is studying Romans 12:9-21, then I urge you to join one.)

We must not be distracted from being fully devoted to Christ, His Church and His Cause. This is how we fight. For some time now I have been teaching that worship is much more than singing in church on Sunday. It is. But I am afraid that I have not fully presented the heart of God or His Word on this matter. I have come in recent weeks to understand that worshiping God through singing in church is one of the most powerful acts of worship I can offer. I apologise for diminishing is importance. We enter into offensive spiritual warfare when we sing our worship together to God-
Psalm 149:6 Let the high praises of God be in their throats and two-edged swords in their hands,

And finally, we engage in spiritual warfare when despite our situation we reach out with the Gospel to others. We may reach out like Saint Andrew who simply invited his brother to hear Jesus (John 1:40-41). We too can invite people to church to hear the Gospel. This is warfare. We can share God's plan of salvation with someone. Do this, and you'll be engaged in spiritual warfare. Refuse to be distracted, deterred, or discouraged, and you'll be fighting a good fight of faith (1Tim. 6:12). Fill your mind with the Word of God, refresh your heart by worshiping in congregational singing, ignite your soul with passionate prayer to God (rather than against Satan), and you'll be fighting a good fight in his spiritual battle.

Make no mistake about it. We are at war. There is a lot at stake. We are not just playing church. We are engaged in an intensely important enterprise that demands we be on guard. Let us commit ourselves to stand together against the schemes of the Devil and to advance the cause of Christ by seeing our church grow with new converts won out of the Devil's domain into the Kingdom of Christ!

Philemon 6 and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ.


Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Why Is Good Friday Good?

Why do we call it “Good Friday” if we’re remembering how a man was brutally executed? Truth is, if enough people really understood what happened that particular Friday there would be protests and street marches to every parliament of the world demanding that it be changed from “Good” Friday to “Best” Friday!

Imagine you had a crippling credit card debt, a largess personal loan, and a mortgage that’s out of control. You have just been told by the Dentist that your kids need braces – or to put it another way- $5000 for each child! Each day you are overwhelmed by the enormity of your worsening financial predicament. You can’t sleep. You’re snappy. You’re depressed. You do the maths and you get more depressed! Then you get an unexpected phone call.

It’s the bank. They’ve rung to discuss your financial situation.

Gulp. They’ve reviewed your accounts and decided to forgive all your debts and make an unimaginably large deposit into your savings account! Would this be a “good” day?

If you get what actually happened at the original Easter, then you understand that what actually happened was 10,000,000,000,000,000 (plus more) times better than that imagined day! It was the day the Creator of the Universe cleared the spiritual and moral debt of those who are reconciled to Him. Is this worth celebrating every year by attending Church and saying thanks? Or, perhaps you still don’t “get it”? Then this weekend is the best time of the year for you to come and see what all the fuss is about! It’s not just “good” news- it’s the best news!

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Is the Bible tomorrow's Newspaper?

Is the Bible Tomorrow's Newspaper?
The Bible is uniquely prophetic. No other religious or holy book makes predictions of the future like the Bible does. This phenomenon has led some Bible teachers to over-emphasise the Bible's ability to predict the future. The rise in claims of the Bible's prophetic detail coincided with its increased availability. When medieval scribes increased production of Bible copies the number of prophetic speculations also increased. When the Gutenberg Bible revolutionised the way Bibles were produced from the 1500s, there was similarly a marked increase in the number and variety of prophetic speculations.

This reached a new zenith in the 20th century, when Bibles largely dedicated to emphasizing and interpreting Bible prophecy, were published. This included the Scofield Reference Bible, The Ryrie Study Bible, and the Dake's Annotated Bible. Not only did these Bibles make some absurd prophetic speculations (like a secret rapture, a yet to come Antichrist, a one-world government, a cashless society and a rebuilt temple in Jerusalem), but they spawned some of the most popular books in Christian publishing history such as the now totally discredited The Late Great Planet Earth and more recent exercise in Christian fantasy and gullibility: The Left Behind Series. These "study" Bibles and paperback books on Bible Prophecy have conditioned today's Bible students to regard the Bible as more accurate than tomorrow's newspaper...

This expression (about the Bible being more accurate than tomorrow's newspaper) is a common statement made by some dispensational evangelists). As a boy growing up in a dispensational church I would hear this kind of statement from every "Prophecy Teacher" who came through. For example, one Bible College website puts this belief this way-