Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Testing Prophecy

An African "Prophet" has recently and repeatedly "prophesied" that God is about destroy Hobart with an oceanic earthquake and subsequent Tsunami that would swamp Tasmania. Since I live in Tasmania and have an aversion to 30 metre walls of ocean moving in my direction faster than I can drive, this particular 'prophecy' caught my attention.

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonian believers that they should "not despise prophecy", but should instead- "hold fast to the truth, and test everything."
1Th. 5:20 Do not despise prophecies, 
1Th. 5:21 but test everything; hold fast what is good.

The same is true today. God can give prophetic words through people, but the church should not naively accept every prophecy without  'testing' it first. When I heard of this particular prophecy about Tasmania being destroyed by a tsunami, I wondered how many others would blindly accept this 'prophecy'? If they  tested this particular prophecy they might discover that several things don't quite add up. 


For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream
Jeremiah 29:8

"Do not let 'your prophets' deceive you..." declared the proven prophet Jeremiah. This demands that any prophetic claim be tested against the truth. Therefore, when an alleged prophet gives an alleged prophecy, the details of this prophetic claim should be tested for its truthfulness. Let's examine this particular alleged 'prophecy' to see if it corresponds with the truth.

Firstly, the 'prophet' identifies the target of the tsunami as being the "island of Hobart" (the video editor tries to correct this with a graphic of Tasmania showing that Hobart is the capital city). Secondly, he says that the earthquake will come from 'the ocean' between Australia and the Island of Hobart. There is no ocean between mainland Australia and the Island of Tasmania. Thirdly, for a Tsunami to come from Bass Strait  and swamp Hobart it would have to travel nearly 300 kilometres over land! (The 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami traveled, in places, just a few kilometres inland.)


when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.
 Deuteronomy 18:22 

Scripture gives a very simple and easily applicable test for any prophetic claim. If a prophet says something will happen and it doesn't happen, the prophecy is not from God. Therefore, this particular prophecy is very test based on the principle in Deuteronomy 18:22. If this prophecy does not come to pass, that is, if it does not correspond with reality, then it is not from God.

Even if none of these facts persuade the naive, there is of course the test of reality. In this case, the reality test is a simple one: the prophecy implies that this tsunami will hit Tasmania soon, if it doesn't, it fails the reality test. (This particular prophecy was first given in the third quarter of 2010.) All too often, so-called prophecies are so vague that their proponents then stretch their appeal to include historic details to validate their prophecy. But this claim is very specific. It is not a prophecy of a severe storm hitting Tasmania and destroying Hobart from Bass Strait - it is the claim that a Tsunami will come from Bass Strait overland to destroy Hobart.

There are other tests of a prophecy, like- Does it correspond with Scripture? Has the person giving the prophecy ever given another prophecy which has been undoubtedly fulfilled? The next time you hear of prophecy warning of some doom, or even of some coming "revival", you might like to apply these prophecy tests.

Andrew Corbett
28th December 2010

Thursday, 23 December 2010

The Little Things That Cause Angels To Be Euphoric

What on earth stops heaven and evokes celestial euphoria? Based on the newsletters of big ministries, mega-conferences, best-selling revival books, and the appeals of the world's most prominent tele-vangelists- who all claim to be "reaching nations" "impactng the globe" and "changing the world" - you would think that angels only get excited when nations turn to Christ. Meanwhile, the rest of us mere mortals, who will never preach to millions, never win an entire nation to Christ, or never impact the destiny of the human race, can only ever hope to achieve very little for God in comparison. Yet Jesus said that it was our "little" contributions to His Kingdom that moved angels to rejoicing applause.

Luke 15:7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance..
Angels rejoice over one sinner who repents. I'm sure they're ecstatic over cities or nations turning to God, but if this was all that excited them they wouldn't get many chances to rejoice!
But why are angels so happy to see just one sinner repent? Perhaps we are quizical about this because we don't get what angels know about the value ofone person. Angels know that each person was originally created with the image of God. They know what the Psalmist was struck by - mankind is the crown of God's creation (refer to Psalm 8). But angels also know that the image of God in man has been marred by sin. Even more tragically, they know that mankind is now estranged from God at birth. But angels don't understand is why God would have stooped to save mankind?
1Pet. 1:12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.
Angels, who can't fully comprehend God's salvation of mankind, can still see its affect! They recognise when a formerly divine image bearer has that image restored. They see the change in a person once spiritually dead who has now come to life. They watch the Holy Spirit at work in the life of a newly adopted royal heir. Angels know when one is saved!

Jesus told several stories to illustrate how valuable just one person was. It wascoins she was looking for. Remember the woman and her lost coin? It wasn'tsheep the shepherd was looking for. Remember the shepherd was looking for a lamb. The father, in Jesus' story of the wayward sons, had one prodigal and oneprig. Angels rejoice over one sinner who repents.

But what Christ taught about the value of just one person was best revealed in what He did. In the Gospel of John, Jesus describes John the Baptiser as one of a kind ("there is no one greater than John"); He meets with one member of the Sanhedrin (Nicodemus); He met with one Samaritan woman. Jesus often chose to be with one person.
Mother Teresa was once asked who was the most important person in the world? She replied, "The one I'm with." Mother Teresa knew the value of just one person. She understood what Christ meant when spoke of some people being "the least of these" (Matt. 25).

The story is told of a Grandfather and his grandson walking along a beach and seeing thousands of little shell-fish washed up onto the shore. The old man began picking up these little shell-fish and throwing them back into the sea. His Grandson asked what he was doing. "But Grandpa, there's so many of them! You can't possibly save them all!" As the Grandfather picked up another one and threw it back into the sea, he said, "That's true. But I can save that one."
And sometimes it's the little things that make a difference for just one person. This weekend we may have first-time visitors to our church. It may not be the "big" things that impress as much as the little things we do: a friendly smile, a interested conversation, an offer of a cup of tea, an introduction, an offer to open the door. Making one person feel special starts with the little things and nearly always ends up affecting the big things. In business, it's the little things that keep a customer and a return a customer. In marriages, it's the little things that keep the fires of passion burning.

This coming week, in the midst of your busyness, the crowds, the noise, can you value one person? A smile is a little thing. Picking up a piece of rubbish which someone else has thoughtlessly dropped is a little thing. Reading one chapter of your Bible before work is a little thing. But all these little things make a big difference to someone else. And what may seem like a little thing, living consistently for Christ in public where you are ready to give a reason for the hope that you have found (1Peter 3:15), may make a big impact on one other person. It may be that our lives only ever help one other person come to know Christ. If that is the case, then we have given reason for angels to rejoice!
Father, help us to be more caring. Help us to see people. Help us to truly understand where people are at. Lord, we sometimes long for the masses to repent and to come to know Christ, but Jesus help us to see the one. We all too often don't see the one we are with as the most important person in the world. Strengthen our hearts to reveal Your heart to the one. Amen.
Eph. 3:21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Ps. Andrew

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Charter of Rights of Responsibilities For Tasmania

Why Tasmania Does Not Need A Charter of Rights and Responsibilities

“We hold these truths to be self-evident 
that all men and women are created 
equal, that they are endowed by their 
Creator with certain inalienable rights, 
that among these are Life, Liberty, and 
the Pursuit of Happiness”
-American Declaration of Independence 

“A right is so because it is natural. It is not the arbitrary preference of the majority. It is a right because it is a right. It should never be confused with a privilege. Rights carry minimal responsibilities whereas privileges demand responsible stewardship.”

The Tasmanian Attorney General is to be congratulated for wanting to make our State a more respectful, inclusive, and fair State. But is A Charter of Human Rights & Responsibilities the way to ensure these positive outcomes?
The Case For
The case for a Charter of Rights seems to be-
  1. Specific Human Rights are currently not enshrined in Law within Tasmania
  2. A Charter of Rights is needed to provide the legislative framework for Parliamentary, Civic and Judicial decision making
  3. A Charter of Rights is necessary to serve as a Statement of Values for Tasmania
  4. It would prevent discrimination
  5. It would ensure fairness against inequality.
To support this case the Department of Justice’s Discussion Paper cited several international examples where a Charter, or Bill, of Human Rights was already enacted- namely South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. The Discussion Paper also cited United Nations’ Treaty and Declaration statements regarding Human Rights. It concludes with anecdotes of how the respective Charters of Rights have played out. 
The Model proposed lists 28 rights to be enshrined in the Tasmanian Charter based largely on the Victorian and ACT Charters (with two exceptions included in the Tasmanian Charter, but not both included each of the Victorian and the ACT Charters). 
The Discussion Paper argues a Charter of Rights would reduce litigation as Courts will no longer have to arbitrarily decide individual cases, as the proposed Charter will circumvent the need for litigation. 

An Examination of The Case For
There is no compelling argument presented for a Charter of Rights. There is some anecdotal references to people who were “indignant” to learn that they had no enshrined rights-
Again and agin the Institute’s consultation process discovered Tasmanians who strongly believed that our rights are protected and would quote  those rights, only to become indignant when it was explained that in fact the rights they understood were protected were diminished by the lack of law to provide that protection or the complexity of the process they would need to go through to assert those rights.
Discussion Paper, page 14 “Personal communication to project manager by Ms Terese Henning, TLRI Board
But this is not quite accurate. We do have rights now - without a Charter of Rights. Added to this, those rights, which we as a society have felt necessary to enshrine in legislation, have been. 
The Discussion Paper accurately refers to the history of Human Rights beginning around the 18th Century in Europe. Integral to its formulation was the concept of “Natural Law” which undergirded the American Declaration of Independence (“we hold these things to be and the Post-World War II Nuremberg Trials where Nazi SS Officers were charged with, “crimes against humanity” (which led to the establishment of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights). 
Secondly, of the 28 Rights listed seem to ‘invent’ certain rights. For example, Right #19, The rIght to the freedom of movement. There are some places where only certain people have a right to go and this is perfectly acceptable. This illustrates a point that will be made repeatedly: some things assumed to be “rights” are actually “privileges”. Do we have a right to travel within or leave Tasmania now? Absolutely! But it is within reason - after all, commercial airlines and sea-farers have a right to charge a fee for their services.
Thirdly, our society is ordered by (i) Legislation created by Parliaments, (ii) Courts which interpret that Legislation, and (iii) and Statutory Authorities which administer Regulations. Each of these societal orderings are framed with necessary human rights protected. To argue that a Charter of Rights will decrease litigation in society is not supported by the evidence in those countries which have introduced a Charter (or Bill) of Rights. Indeed, it might well be argued that the United States of America is actually the most litigious country in the world and deals with arrogate litigation continually. Introducing a Charter of Rights in Tasmania could actually take us down the same litigious pathway as the United States of America! 
In summary,
  • Necessary human rights are already enshrined in existing Law. (Where they are not, Laws reflecting those legitimate rights should be enacted.)
  • Natural Law and Common Law have undergirded existing legislation and have served well to currently protect human rights. A Charter of Human Rights would only add a further layer of unnecessary legal Bureaucracy to our governmental processes at each level of government.
  • A Charter of Rights may well serve as a Statement of Values, but it is not necessary to have A Charter of Rights to do so. A Statement of Values is better presented as a stand alone document.
  • A Charter of Rights will not prevent discrimination especially since some discrimination is reasonably necessary and those forms of unfair discrimination are already legislated for. The Discussion Paper never describes discrimination as either “fair” or “unfair”. It seems to commit the error of assuming that all discrimination is unfair. But we should discriminate in matters of societal good, for example, when it comes to - age (such as, drivers’ licences, voting, medical treatment instruction) qualifications (such as, medical doctors should be qualified, school teachers should be qualified, judges and lawyers should be qualified), citizenship (such as, those who hold Public Office should be citizens).
  • There is already mechanisms in place for countering unfairness without the need for a Charter of Rights.
The Case Against
There are two very troubling aspects to this proposal for a Charter of Rights and Responsibilities. Firstly, it hands governmental power away from elected officials to unelected appointed bureaucrats. Ironically, how people are governed is arguably a human right, and democracy seems to be the best form of how people prefer to be governed. Establishing a Charter of Rights gives pseudo-legislative power to unelected judges and commissioners.
Secondly, rather than articulating Natural Law, it seems likely based on both the ACT and the Victorian experiences, that certain privileges will be interpreted as rights
Thirdly, certain existing rights will almost certainly be removed under the guise of more liberal rights. For example, the right to life (#13) is interpreted in the Criminal Code to encompass the pre-born in the case of a pregnant mother being murdered resulting in the murderer being charged with two murders. Yet it is strongly suspected (since the ACT and Victorian Charters of RIghts are used for the Tasmanian Model) that the rights of the pre-born to life will be completely removed in favour of their rights commencing once they are in a post-birth stage and location. Again, there is great irony in this as Human Rights should not be attributed to a person based on their size or location, yet this is probably what the Tasmanian Charter would unreasonably enshrine.
Fourthly, the case for a Charter has not been made. The reasons given in the Discussion Paper are not persuasive or convincing. We already have adequate legislative scope with our Parliament to ensure that all fair and reasonable human rights are upheld.
Based on the experiences of the U.K., Canada, and the U.S.A., a Charter of Rights does not reduce litigation. In fact, it then opens the way for Judges to reinterpret the Charter of Rights which creates a new radical understanding of a right that was never intended and actually creates unfairness. 
Establishing a Tasmanian Charter of Rights and Responsibilities raises the question about non-Tasmanians rights while in Tasmania, or Tasmanians rights while outside of Tasmania. These two potentially dire problems are entirely avoided by relying upon legislation rather than a Charter of Rights.
Of particular concern is how this proposed Charter will interpret fair and reasonable human rights in an unfair and unreasonable manner. Right #20 pertains to the expression of religious beliefs. Yet the equivalent right in Canada, but also in the U.K., actually diminishes the right of certain religions to publicly express their convictions. This is very concerning.

It is recommended because of these avoidable difficulties that our State Government should not proceed with a Charter of Rights. Where fair and reasonable rights are not provided for, they can be through legislation. This would maintain that our State is governed democratically rather than tribunally.
Therefore, on behalf of my fellow constituents I ask that we do not proceed wit a Charter of Rights.

Dr. Andrew Corbett

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Get Emotional

Passion. Emotion. Feeling. Zeal. Determination. You can not live the Christ-adoring life without feeling! It begins with a feeling of conviction of sin. It develops as we feel a growing love for God. It intensifies as we are burdened with the heart of God for the lost. Our souls are nourished as we enjoy God's Word daily. We enrich our walk after the Crucified One when we love those in our local church. The tears we cry when one of our own hurts only serves to tender our spirits and broaden our hearts. In calling people to respond to Himself, God urges us not to 'harden our hearts' but to respond to Him with the appropriate sense of feeling. As rational as you might be, you are still supposed to be emotional.

Song 5:4 My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for him.
You may have heard it (you may have even repeated it)- Love is not a feeling it's an act of the will. This idea paints emotion as a rather cold exercise. It is of course true that loving is an act of the will, but it is obviously a feeling that can be developed. The highest expression of human love is between a husband and his wife. Within this context two people can be completely transparent with each other and come to know each other in a way better than anyone else could ever know them. Added to this they can express their love openly with their words and their bodies that is not for another. But this kind of deep emotional expression comes at a high price. While the highs of this emotional connection are very high, it causes the lows experienced from emotional pain (neglect, betrayal, offence, unkindness) to be all the more painful. This is why it is critical for married couples to continually work at their emotional connection maintenance. Emotional maintenance in a marriage requires Level 4 and 5 talking (Level 1= Cliches, Level 2= Facts, Level 3= Opinions, Level 4= Feelings, Level 5= Needs). It involves apologising, forgiving, enquiring, surrendering, volunteering, and much active listening. This kind of emotional interaction is not for the emotional pip-squeak. And it's worth remembering that a marriage relationship is actually a shadow of the real relationship that all people are called to: a relationship with God. Everything that a marriage involves is meant to point to the real relationship - thus, God is able to emotionally redeem single people into an emotional experience with Himself.

The Old English translations of the Bible talk about being moved in our kidneys or bowels. (Of course today being moved in your bowels means something quite different.) The old expression of being moved in my bowels conveyed the idea of deep-seated emotion. It seems that the Bible does not diminish the importance of our emotions. Indeed, the Psalms celebrate our relationship with God through the grid of human emotions. The Psalmists express ineffable joy at being in the presence of God. They pour out deep sorrow and sadness over injustice and a sense of God's inactivity. They express anger over betrayal. They feel longing. They sing about loneliness.
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
Matthew 22:37-40
When the Apostle Paul gave the Romans the basis for building a covenant community in Romans 12:9-21, he told them to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those rejoice. This is emotional language. Christians are meant to be emotional with each other. We should laugh, weep, rejoice, get angry, feel happy, feel sad, and learn which, when and how to express them.

If you want more friends, be more emotional! But before you express your emotions unwisely, learn what it means to show sympathy and empathy. Sympathy is feeling for a person. Empathy is feeling with a person. Sympathy says "Ouch" at someone else's pain. Empathy says, "Are you OK? You must be in pain." Both involve emotions. Both are necessary in relationship building. Many competent people who are well organised, gifted at their work, witty, able to make decisions, actually think they are emotionally strong and high in emotional-intelligence. But in reality what they have developed is their ability to sympathise rather than empathise. Sympathy is what we feel whereas empathy is what we feel someone else is experiencing.

If you want to be a better manager, leader, or coordinator of people, learn to empathise. Ask empathetic questions- "How are you?" "When that happened, how did it make you feel?" "I'd be a mess if that happened to me. How did you handle it?" However the person you are talking with responds, to seal the empathy exchange you must listen very carefully for the verbal and non-verbal messages given (look at the person as they talk with you, repeat key details back to them for clarification, invite them to share their emotions). Inviting someone to share their emotions is a powerful exercise.

Dr Henry Cloud, in his book- Integrity, tells of a CEO who was appointed to a newly merged company and brought in the Division managers to discuss the restructuring of the new company. Several of these managers shared how they had recruited team leaders from across the country and were concerned for their futures with the company. The CEO assured them that with the new direction of the company sales of the new product range should generate a better bottom-line enabling the company to actually grow. After the meeting the CEO said to Dr Cloud that he was pleased with how well the meeting went. But Dr Cloud diagreed. The CEO disagreed with Dr Cloud but asked him why he thought that? Dr Cloud told him that he although he had answered the managers correctly he had also dismissed their concerns. The CEO assured that Dr Cloud he did not dismiss them. Dr Cloud said, "Now you're even doing it to me!" In his book, Dr Cloud uses this story to illutrate the difference between just being right and being right and empathising. He goes on to write that the CEO continued this practice with his staff and was dismissed by the Board of Directors within 6 months. Being a leader who cannot empathise is a short-term gig.

The most powerful leaders are the most empathetic leaders. Empathetic leaders don't have to be right, best, or even strong. Their ability to connect emotionally with others is what makes them a greater leader. They not only show emotion, they share emotions. To be a Christian is to be an emotional leader. We feel. We feel for each other. We feel a heavy burden for a lost. We feel the heartbeat of God. We come to church because we feel like it. We worship God because we feel like it. We postpone time with our church-friends to welcome visitors because we feel glad that they have gone to the effort to visit our church. We reach out to the unchurched because we feel that heavy burden for their potentially Christ-less eternal destiny.

Of course, feelings can be created, developed or changed. One of the aspects of feelings not generally understood is how his happens. People sometimes tell their bewildered spouse- "My feelings for you have changed ... I now love someone else ... i have to go with my feelings ... I can't control how I feel ... " But creating, developing or changing your feelings is affected by what you do and what you think. In the marriage exercise, The Love Dare (featured in the movie Fireproof) a spouse who feels their love for their spouse has gone must complete a 40 day program of kindness toward their spouse. As they show kindness they find their feelings change. What you do affects what you think which affects how you feel. In another way, what you think affects what you do which then affects how you feel. Either way, feelings follow actions.

Feelings can be redeemed. Past hurts can be soothed and even healed. New joys can be found. Let God redeem your emotions. Do you feel it?
Father, help us to be more emotional in our devotion to you and our care for others. May we feel Your heartbeat. May we cry Your tears. May we laugh in Your joy. Heal our hurts mend our hearts. Help us to convey Your love and joy to others. Cause us to grow emotionally. Amen.
Eph. 3:21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Ps. Andrew

Thursday, 25 November 2010


"Safe?" spurted Mr Beaver, "Aslan, safe? No, he's not 'safe', but he is 'good'!" Lucy could have asked a supplementary question: "Is he kind?" To which Mr Beaver could have responded without hesitation- "Yes. Aslan is the kindest person in the world." Can you be 'kind' without being 'safe' or 'nice'? Absolutely! In fact, sometimes you have to not be nice in order to be kind! Arguably one of the stand-out hallmarks of the Christian is that they are kind. It is an essential fruit of the Spirit, one of the main attributes of the God we worship and one of the distinctives of Christianity under pressure compared to other religious systems. But kindness can be provocative.
Before our souls were regenerated and transformed, we snapped back at those who irritated us. If someone cut us off in traffic we would have yelled abuse at them. But then the Spirit of Christ came into our soul and we became kind. Rather than snap, we bless. Rather than lash, we love. Jesus has gripped out hearts with kindness. When someone doesn't give us the kind of customer service we want, we don't get ugly, we kindly ask- "Are you having a bad day?"
When we respond in kindness we catch most people off guard- they don't know how to react to unfair kindness. Put some coins randomly in somoene's expired parking meter. Go through through the McDonald's Drive-Through and pay for the next car's order. Get involved in a volunteer organisation. It causes them to wonder why you are kind. Show someone kindness and they'll wonder why.
¶ Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant
1Cor. 13:4
And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil,
2Tim. 2:24

It's called the Law of Roses. Do something kind for someone and you build a bridge to their heart. When a young man buys and gives a young lady a bunch of roses, he builds a bridge to her heart (the Law is also known as The Law of Roses & Chocolates). Successful businesses know that if they give away a generous sample of their product they will likely build a bridge to a potential customer. Growing churches have also found that when they encourage their people to do acts of kindness for their neighbours, they often see these people come to Christ.
Mow your neighbour's lawn. Bake a cake and take it over to your neighbour. Write a Christmas card to your member of Parliament and letting them know that you are praying for them. Offer to take the next door neighbour's children to Kids' Club or Sunday Kids Church. Kindness provokes curiousity about the God who inspired such kindness.
"...Your godly lives will speak to them better than any words. They will be won over by watching your pure, godly behavior."
1Pet. 3:1b-2
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Eph. 4:32
One of the main functions of the Church community is to inspire each other to acts of kindness. In Hebrews 10:24, the New Living Translation uses the expression, "outbursts of love and good deeds"-
Think of ways to encourage one another to outbursts of love and good deeds.
Hebrews 10:24
A few years ago we had a young single Mum join our church. Her husband had left her with a couple of young children to look after. She drove a bomb for a car. A few of the men in our church at the time got together and bought her a better car. It's moments like these that I'm proud to be the pastor of our church!
Meeting together each Sunday gives us each an opportunity to show kindness to one another, and to provoke kindness in each other ("Think of ways to encourage one another to outbursts of love and good deeds." Heb. 10:24). Some people who come to our church have little to no contact with anyone else through the week. Meeting people at church on Sunday is nearly the only contact with others they have. So when we have our handshake/hug time in our worship service this is the only time for some people in which they are touched by someone else! Looking someone in the eye, asking them how are they in their soul, demonstrating to them that you have heard them, and giving them a hug, could be an inspirational act of kindness that ends up touching many lives.
In the classic story, Les Miserables, the main character (Jean Valjean) experiences overwhelming kindness from a pastor. His life is entirely redirected from crime to civil service. Having experienced unearned kindness, he dedicated his life to also showing kindness to undeserving others. This story is a powerful illustration of how kindness can change a life.
If you're struggling to act kindly to your husband, wife, children, friends, family or customers, ask God to help you to be kinder. If you get angry easily, then ask God for forgiveness and the grace to be kind. By acting kindly toward people who have done nothing to deserve it, we positively provoke them to wonder. By showing kindness to others in your church family you are fulfilling Hebrews 10:24 and provoking positively.
So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
Gal. 6:10
Father, please help us to reflect You. When we feel like snapping at someone or saying something that cuts unnecessarily, please restrain us. When we feel self-pity because although we reach out in Christian love to our brothers and sisters it won't always be repaid. Forgive us for getting angry at others far too easily. Give us a frsh appreciation of Your great kindness towards us so that we can be kinder. May You love both the world and the Church through us. Cause us to be kind, inviting, welcoming and redeeming. In Jesus' Name, we pray. Amen.
Eph. 3:21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Ps. Andrew

Friday, 19 November 2010


Ever walked into a home and sensed a heavy atmosphere? How about a shop and as soon as you walk in the staff go immediately quiet and compose themselves trying vainly to disguise their interrupted heated argument? Maybe you've walked into a home where everybody is smiling and have obviously just been laughing? Perhaps you've walked into a shop and the smiling staff immediately treat you like their most valued customer? Whether it be a home, a school, a business, or a church, tone (atmosphere) is tangible. What tone are you setting?
In hay-days of King Solomon there was a tone of joy, peace and optomism throughout Israel. Solomon had recently completed the Temple. This new centre of culture became the epicentre of the tone being set in Israel-
and it was the duty of the trumpeters and singers to make themselves heard in unison in praise and thanksgiving to the LORD), and when the song was raised, with trumpets and cymbals and other musical instruments, in praise to the LORD,
“For he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever,”
the house, the house of the LORD, was filled with a cloud,.

2Chronicles 5:13
Over time, Solomon's heart was lured away from the Lord and the entire tone of Israel changed. Leaders settone. When you discover that your contribution to a group, a home, a school class room, a shop, or a church, contributes to the tone there, you are exercising leadership. This is why it's important in a church for dads to set a positive and happy tone in their home - especially on Sunday morning - because the tone your family brings to church contributes to the overall tone of the church. It's also why participating in the singing with ghusto is such a positive tone contributer, and why hanging around after the service to chat (especially with newcomers) is so critical to setting a vibrant life-giving tone in a church.
What is it that sets tone in a family, a home, a school, a business or a church?
1. Initial conversation - some psychologists think that the first four minutes from when a person of influence (a leader, a dad, a mum, a principal, a boss, or a pastor) enters a room determines the tone of the room for the next few hours. When a leader enters a room and greets those there with genuine delight, and ensures that the initial conversations are positive and caring, they contribute to a warm tone. This is why it's important for a Dad not to come home grumpy to become grumpy when he walks in the door of his family home. Dads, use the first 4 minutes of your arrival home to connect positively with each family member. Engage with them happily and show an interest in their day and watch how that tone creates a healthy atmosphere in the home.
2. Listening happens - people are encouraged to talk because the person of influence matters enquires and listens. Henry Cloud tells the story of a CEO who called a meeting of his district managers to explain to them the new merger their company was undertaking. Several managers asked questions about the impact of the merger upon their departments explaining that they had recruited team members from across the country who had relocated their families to new homes and schools. The CEO reasurred his District managers that they had nothing to worry about because their newly merged company would be streamlining its systems and introducing new product lines to raise the bottom line. He left that meeting and turned to Dr Henry Cloud and remarked that that meeting had gone well. Dr Cloud strongly disagreed. He told the CEO that he had not listened to his District managers, instead he had been dismissive of them. The CEO immediately disagreed with Dr Cloud. "See, you're doing it again!" replied Dr Cloud. "You didn't listen to what they were telling you and you're not listening to me now." Within 9 months this CEO was forced to leave the company. When a leader listens, a tone is set. When a leader doesn't listen, but instead dismisses what people tell them, they set a tone.
3. How mistakes are managed - innocent mistakes don't mark the end, sometimes they are laughed at, sometimes they result in learning. However a leader handles mistakes contributes to the tone of a family home, a school, a business or a church. There was once a businessman who had a manager make a costly (read multi-million dollar) mistake. At the next managers' meeting it was expected that the embarrassed manager would be humiliated. Instead, at the managers' meeting the costly mistake was not mentioned. Later the boss was asked whether he was going to sack the guilty manager. "Sack him?" replied the boss, "No way! I just spent millions training him!"
4. Appropriate touching - even a simple handshake can set a tone. Sometimes a hug sets a positive tone, sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes a pat on the back creates a tone that affirms and disarms. When Jesus extended His hand to the woman caught in the act of adultery (John 8) He set a tone that created a social tidal wave still lapping the shores of the 21st century.
When the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians, he wanted to change the tone of their church. They had become unkind, inconsiderate, carnal (unspiritual) and proud. He wrote to them and appealed for them to create a new tone in their church. Don't tolerate sin, but do show kindness to one another.
¶ Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant.
First Corinthians 13:4
In our church we can create a tone where people are loved, accepted, and forgiven. The tone of our church can be inviting and disarming for pre-Christians. By going out of our way to welcome and take an interest in our church visitors, we create a healthy tone in our church. By inviting people back for meal we are creating a healthy tone in our church. By encouraging someone who has a go, we create a positive tone in our church. By praying for your pastor who is praying for you, we create a tone in our church. We want the tone of our church to be warm, sincere, caring, considerate, kind, compassionate, spiritual, balancing fun with fervour, and faith with hope. We don't want to be the best church in our community but the best church for our community. We want the tone of our church to be highly sensitive to what God is doing in people's lives and to be used by God to help change lives for eternity.
Father, please help us to reflect You. When we feel like snapping at someone or saying something that cuts unnecessarily, please restrain us. When we feel self-pity because although we reach out in Christian love to our brothers and sisters it won't always be repaid. Forgive us for losing heart and not pursuing You with all of our heart. May You love both the world and the Church through us. Cause us to set a tone that is inviting, welcoming and redeeming. In Jesus' Name, we pray. Amen.
Eph. 3:21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Ps. Andrew

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

The Gay Marriage Agenda

News Polls, Talk-Back Radio, Parliaments, lunch rooms, and school class rooms are all being used to promote a push for "Gay" (Same-Gendered) 'Marriage'. The basic argument in favour of this push is that Marriage is discriminatory against same-gendered couples. Supporting this claim are words like: inclusion, tolerance, anti-discriminatory, compassionate, and progressive. These are all positive words (an important point to note). Those opposing Same-Gender 'Marriage' are portrayed as: bigots, intolerant, discriminatory, religious fundamentalists, homophobic, and mean. These are all negative words (again, an important point to note). One SMSer on Tim Cox's TasMornings Radio program asserted, "I have not heard any good reasons why  Gay Marriage should not be allowed..." And that comment sums up the frustration that compassionate, fair, reforming, inclusive Conservatives like myself feel when it comes to this issue.

In public relations words are powerful. Every good PR consultant knows that the right words can make a weak case sound strong. What then is this particular case actually about? Try this quiz-
    The push to legislate for Same-Gender Marriage is about: 
    (a) the definition of marriage 
    (b) social acceptance of morally unacceptable lifestyle 
    (c) removal of discrimination against same-sex couples
The Gay Lobby is pitching (c) 'removal of discrimination against same-sex couples' as the motive for the push for "Gay Marriage". Many who have been involved in this debate have discovered that main agenda is actually something related to (b) because many practicing homosexuals are extremely unhappy and deal with a sense of shame and guilt, they feel that if society's attitudes towards them could be changed to validation they would feel psychologically better. But the actual issue is: (a) 'the definition of marriage'.

Strip away that positive and negative language and consider the issue: What is marriage? It is the union of one man with one woman for life to the exclusion of all others with the potential of having and raising a family. Marriage, therefore is a privilege, not a right. Because it is a privilege it must be discriminating. But this discrimination is on the basis of fairness for all- that is, everyone is treated equally within the standards of discrimination. In the case of marriage, society recognises that those standards should encompass eligibility to marry on the basis of -
    1. Age - must have obtained the age of 18 
    2. Existing marital status - must not be already married 
    3. Gender difference - must marry a person of the opposite gender 
    4. Unrelatedness - must not marry a close relative (brother, sister, father or mother)
    5. Humanity - you can't marry your pet, or your car, or your football club.

There are certainly strong religious reasons for defending marriage as the union of one man with one woman for life to the exclusion of all others for the potential purpose of starting and raising a family. But there are equally good reasons for society to continue to uphold marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman. I have outlined these reasons previously and have provided some links to those articles at the end of this piece. However, if it can be shown that the existing Marriage Act is not unfairly discriminatory then there is no case to be sustained for "Gay" Marriage.

If the Gay Lobby succeeds in removing one of the standards for maintaining the definition of marriage ("3. Gender difference"), then it must logically follow that none of the other standards should be maintained either. This would open the way for legalised pedophilia, polygamy, incest, and bestiality.

Marriage has not always lived up to its ideal. Adultery, bigamy, divorce, polygamy, have all damaged it. To a lesser extent, abuse in its various forms has also tainted it. But even with all of these challenges, the average marriage in Australia is still around 45 years! And the majority of those who marry in Australia stay married for life. And the vast majority of those do so happily. Marriage is worth defending. The main argument of the Gay Lobby is a logical absurdity. But woe betide anyone who publicly says so. They can expect abusive insults from those who can not tolerate such intolerance.

Andrew Corbett

Friday, 12 November 2010

Has The Devil Retired?

C.S. Lewis famously said that there were two equal and opposite errors regarding the Devil. The first is to think too little of him and the second is to think too much of him. For some Christians who regard the Devil as very active today, fascination with his activity is an obsession. But there are some Christians who consider that the devil was removed from the spiritual landscape in the first century and is therefore not a player in today's spiritual battle.
¶ Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while.
Rev. 20:1-3
Depending on how you understand Revelation 20, you will either consider that the Devil has been bound and already thrown into a bottomless pit, or is frantically working at opposing God now - knowing that his demise to the bottomless pit is going to happen. There is another way of understanding this passage and therefore the role of the Devil and in a moment I will offer this view (which I consider to be Biblically faithful and experiencially verifiable). During the era of the early Church, the apostles were very aware of the Devil's attempts to withstand them and their mission.
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
First Peter 5:8
But the apostles were confident that Christians had nothing to fear from the Devil unless of course they weren't really converted-
Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.
First John 3:8
"Satan" means 'Adversary'
The Bible introduces the Devil in Genesis 3 who either took the form of or used a snake to deceive Eve and tempt Adam. The Old Testament gives fleeting references to Satan. Most notably, the Old Testament gives its clearest insights into the nature of Satan in the first two chapters of Job where he is seen to be completely under God's authority. He is referred to as the source of David's final public temptation and then finally as the one opposing Joshua the High Priest (in Zechariah 3).
It appears that the Devil was once a glorious angel, perhaps a cherub, or an Arch-AngelBased on passages in Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28, which both seem to refer to Satan while addressing earthly characters, Satan may well have tried to exalt himself above God. From these passages and Revelation 12, it would appear that the Devil conscripted a third of the angels to his cause. These newly fallen angels became known as "demons". It appears from Scripture and history that whenever and wherever God progressed His redemptive plan that there was demonic activity. Firstly, the Garden of Eden, where God commenced the earthly aspect of His redemptive plan. Then in the life of those who were particularly devoted to God (like, Job, David, Nehemiah, and Joshua the High Priest). Then there was the most demonic activity occurring at the time of the greatest redemptive act: the life - ministry - and death of Jesus Christ. Some one has noted this and continued to observe this phenomena throughout history. For example, when God moved in the early 1500s to reform the Church, several of the Reformers recorded their encounters with Satan and demonic opposition.
An etching of Martin Luther throwing ink at the DevilAlthough Martin Luther's reputation rests largely on his opposition to religious cant and superstition, he was no slouch when it came to these himself. In 1521, he claimed, he had a confrontation with Satan in which he threw an inkstand at the devil while he was staying in Wartburg Castle, where the ink stain is still to be seen on the wall. Or, so it is said.
Luther reported poltergeist experiences. Once he was brought a bag of hazelnuts; after Luther went to bed, the nuts jumped about in the sack and flew into the air. Later, though sleeping in a locked building, the great Protestant reformer heard a sound like a hundred barrels falling down stairs.
Others have noted in this vein that every time the Church has organised itself to surge forward in evangelism and mission there has come unprecedented distractions. For example, around the turn of the twentieth century there were several strategic missions conferences where plans were formulated to take the Gospel into territories previously unreached by the Gospel. Not long after this, World War 1 broke out and these missions plans were postponed. A similar thing happened through the 1930s. In particular, in Germany (a country I have a deep burden for) God was raising up a young man of God to shake the nation with the outrageous claims of Christ. Deitrich Bonhoeffer was regularly speaking to the people of Germany through Deutsche Welle Radio. People were coming to Christ. Then something dramatic happened that set Bonhoeffer's beloved Germany back spiritually: Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. History seems to confirm this redemptive pattern where God stirs and the Enemy opposes. By the way, history also reveals that God always triumphs and that this pattern is also revealed in the following manner: wherever there is demonic activity there is always a divine demonstration of godly power. (Therefore, wherever there is a lot of divine miracles happening there is probably simultaneously a lot of demonic activity occurring as well.)
I am proposing that Satan is bound. Since I've jumped ahead to one ahead of the conclusions I will make, I'll make another one:Satan is utterly defeated. To be "bound" is often thought of asbeing rendered completely inactive. But to be bound actually means to be restricted not necessarily to be rendered inactive. For example, you can be bound by illness (Luke 13:16), or you can bebound by an oath (Acts 23:12), or you can be bound by marriage (1Cor. 7:39). Each of these usages of the word "bound" conveys a sense of restriction not complete inactivity. Claiming that Satan is now bound is a claim the New Testament makes on the basis of Christ's atonement and the ending of the Old Covenant (with its elements being removed in 70AD with the destruction of Jerusalem). When Jesus died on the Cross and rose again from the dead, He defeated the Devil once and for all - "but he was defeated and there was no longer any place for them in heaven" (Rev. 12:8).
¶ Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil,
Hebrews 2:14
After the end of the Old Covenant Satan's access to heaven was removed. He used to stand before God and accuse God's people. He used to be able to deceive people and nations virtually unimpeded. But now he is bound. Since Christ died and rose again and then ended the Old Covenant the devil has been unable to freely function in the way he did under the Old Covenant. Added to this, since the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was poured out on all flesh the devil's power to work deceit and destruction has been phenomenally (literally) curbed.
But this should not be understood as saying that there is no devilish activity in the earth today. To be sure, the devil could probably leave mankind to our own evil hearts and the world would be plenty messed up and wicked. Yet we probably need to grasp a greater a appreciation for the work of the Holy Spirit through His people in countering evil, deceit, and hatred.

The main weapon of the Devil and his minions is: temptation to sin (see 1Corinthians 7:5 as an example). "Sin is anything", said Susanna Wesley to her son John, "which obscures your sense of God..."
¶ "Whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, takes off your relish for spiritual things, whatever increases the authority of the body over the mind, that thing is sin to you, however innocent it may seem in itself." 
Susanna Wesley
Most of the temptation we have to deal with is because of our own sin nature. But it is surely a little more than merely coincidence that whenever we make a concerted effort to reach out or go deeper in dedication to God that we are often confronted with temptations (distractions) we had not been, up until then, having to deal with. To a lesser extent it appears that Devil can inflict sickness, sadness, or tragedy. Jesus rebuked the attitude of His critics after He healed a woman whom He described as having been bound by Satan for all these years and Paul the apostle wrote of beingbuffeted by Satan. But there is a good case to be made that much of this Satanic ability ceased after the close of the Old Covenant in 70AD. This would help to explain Paul's statement to the Romans-
The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
Romans 16:20
Paul wrote to the Corinthians about being aware of the Devil's schemes to bring disunity and friction to a congregation (2Cor. 2:11). Note how often a church congregation makes a decision to reach out and evangelise their community, or call their church to special prayer - and then some fight/problem/crisis/moral failure suddenly prohibits that church from fulfilling its intention? Satan may be de-fanged but it appears that he can use his gums! He can still scheme, tempt, distract, incite, deceive, and lure away. Apparently a lion doesn't actually need teeth to roar!
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
First Peter 5:8
None of this may convince you that the Devil and his schemes are still a force to be reckoned with. But it is my hope that my recommendations will be seen as a wise by those on both sides of this debate.
1. The Enemy's main tactic is distraction therefore godly spiritual warfare calls for focus. It takes focus on our personal devotions; focus on guarding the unity of their church by overlooking offences; and focus on reaching out as a faithful witness to those who are not reconciled to God.
2. Church's should make intentional plans to reach out and expect spiritual opposition, therefore godly spiritual warfare calls for submission and cooperation.
3. The Enemy wants us to chase after him therefore godly spiritual warfare requires strong (focused) leadership which unites people in worship of God even in the midst of difficulties. This kind of worship is achieved through beholding the revelation of God in His Word.
4. The Enemy wants us to use his tactics to return fire therefore godly spiritual warfare calls forChrist-like behaviour which is marked by loving kindness and grace. When we are slandered and reviled we return fire by blessing our slanderers, wrote Peter (1Peter 3:9).
The Enemy wants to destroy lives, relationships, marriages, families, churches, and nations. God's response to the Devil's attacks is: His Spirit-filled Church. We need to be ever vigilant to be a united, worshiping, evangelistic, Word-devoted, Spirit-led, passionate church!
Oh God, rekindle our passion for You, Your Glory, and Your Cause. May our hearts pound with Your love for others. Ignite afresh the dreams we once held to make Your Name famous in our generation. Fill our spiritual vison with a picture of what we can achieve for You. Help us to be a church that changes this world by bringing people into Your Kingdom. Give us a deep love for others and help us to care like Christ for their welfare.
Eph. 3:21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Ps. Andrew