Friday, 26 August 2011


Why Jesus Was Radical...
What Jesus taught about developing godly spirituality- the kind of spirituality where a soul is connected intimately with God - sounds counter-intuitive. Jesus taught that authentic spirituality didn't "look" spiritual! In fact, He warned against spiritual parading. To be spiritual, Jesus taught, is to do some very practical things, like provide your parents, help out strangers, love your wife, be a part of a church community, demonstrate consideration for others, and bring all your needs to Father God in prayer each day.
This almost counter-intuitive spirituality continues when Jesus teaches those who would follow Him that they must relegate what they want by helping others with what they want. "If someone asks you to go one mile, go two..." "Give to him who asks for a loan and do not expect any return..." It's as if Jesus is saying, whatever you want, give it away. Want love? Show love. Want attention? Give someone your attention. Want company? Give someone your companionship.
This is surely counter-intuitive. I wonder if we could be a counter-intuitive church? Instead of church being about "me", I wonder if I could make it about "you". Instead of church being about "you" and if we could make it about "us". Perhaps this doesn't start here, but at least it can start here, when we come together this Sunday, instead of waiting for someone to come to you, could you go to someone - especially someone attending for a first, second or third time? Perhaps go beyond striking up a conversation and offer to have them back for lunch. I know that some will respond with, "Why should I?! No one's ever invited me or my family for lunch!"
First John 3:11 ¶ For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.
The problem with this type of thinking is that it is not just non-Gospel it is anti-Gospel! It is spiritually toxic! To think of others and do something that shows we care is at the very heart of the Gospel. Consider this:
Q: What is in the centre of "SIN"?
A: I.
And this one-
Q: What is in the centre of "CHURCH"?
A: You Are (UR).
Eph. 5:32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.
I want to be a counter-intuitive Christian. I want to respond to the Christ who taught that if I want my life I have to let it go. This is the same Christ who taught if I want to find my life I have to lose it. The safest road, Jesus taught, was not the broadest road, rather it was the narrow road.
Living as Christ taught nearly always demands a counter-intuitive response. Our wife hurts us and we instinctively wait for them to apologise. But Christ's instruction to the offended is counter-intuitive! He instructs the offended to initiate forgiveness! (Matthew 18:15) When we are deeply betrayed the most natural thing to do is to rehearse over and over again the hurtful event. But in a shockingly counter-intuitive manner, the New Testament instructs us not to dwell on these events but to rather dwell on virtuous and excellent things (Phil. 4:8).

Bill Hybels constantly reminds us that the local church is the hope of the world. We get hope by giving hope. I know. That's counter-intuitive. This Sunday do something counter-intuitive, then do it again on Monday.
Father, I want my life to be more about You and less about me. I want to be a blessing to others especially when I'm desperate for blessing in my life. Help me to minister to others with what I have. Everything I have is Yours. Everything I do is for You. Everything I am is for You. I know that I am not yet what I will be. So Father, please change me and make me a fully devoted follower of Christ. Change the way I think, the way I speak, the way I act and the way I feel, so I can see others how You see them. May my heart be Your heart, in Jesus' Name, 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, 18 August 2011

The Resignation of an Older-Brother Society Member

Of The Three Characters...
It's probably the most famous of Christ's stories. The story of the Prodigal Son. There are three obvious characters within this story: the father, the younger son and the older son.
Jesus no doubt told this story to tell us something truly beautiful about His Father: God is our Heavenly Father who graciously forgives the repentant. No doubt Jesus told this story also to show that there is always hope for the wayward. But less obviously, the story tells us something about those who have not drifted away. It speaks to those who have remained dutiful and loyal. Jesus lovingly rebukes the older brother types for being like the older brother who refused to show grace to the very undeserving younger brother.

As a paid-up member of the Older Brother Society, Jesus' story cuts me deep. It is actually quite scandalous what Christ is asking of me! He is asking me to welcome in to the community of our Heavenly Father's house the worst kind of sinners! He is charging me to not merely welcome such sinners back into the community of faith, but to celebrate their return! What?!
Luke 15:24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.' And they began to celebrate.
As all Older-Brother Society members know, younger brothers can be irritating! The very thought of having to not only welcome them into our house, but to celebrate their return is simply outrageous! In fact, it's downright annoying! It can make any dues-paying Older-Brother angry!
Luke 15:28 But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him,
But if I am going to love the Father as Jesus is entreating me to, I'm afraid I have an announcement to make to the Society colleagues: I can no longer remain an Older Brother. I'm afraid to say that I can no longer just be dutiful to our Father - I must delight myself in what brings delight to our Father. And it seems that He takes great delight in not only welcoming home repentant sinners, but He actually wants such occasions celebrated!
To be a Father-delighting church we have to join our Heavenly Father on the verandah and look for returning younger brothers. Not only do we have to look, we have to overlook certain things about what our younger brothers have done. We also have to celebrate the lost being found! There will be times when we do things together as a church that are entirely focussed on reaching out to returning younger brothers.
Luke 15:20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.
Younger brothers might swear. Younger brothers might smoke. Younger brothers might be promiscuous. Younger brothers might be wasteful. Younger brothers might be downright stupid! But the Father sees them "a long way off" and feels "compassion" for them.
Luke 15:29 but he answered his father, 'Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends.
Profoundly, this most famous of Christ's stories does not have a conclusion. It just hangs. We read at the opening of Luke 15 that there were two groups who gathered to hear Jesus. The first were Tax-Collectors and sinners. Hmmm, sounds like the "younger brother" in this story. The other group that gathered were the Scribes and Pharisees. Hmmmmmmm, sounds like the "older brother" in this story. It's now pretty clear to me that Christ wants us as a church to be neither the younger nor the older brother - but to be like the father who has compassion on both younger brothers and older brothers.
Father, we wnat to be like You. We want to look for the wayward. We want to welcome them back in to our Father's House. Lord, help us to celebrate the return of younger brothers. Give us Your grace to forgive our 'younger brothers' who offend us. Help us to delight ourselves in You and Your cause. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Eph. 3:21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Ps. Andrew

Monday, 15 August 2011


Revelation Can Not Be A Revelation If Doesn't Clearly Reveal Something!
Written by Dr Andrew Corbett, President of ICI Theological College Australia, and author of the popular commentary on the Book of Revelation- The Most Embarrassing Book In The Bible, August 15th 2011
Revelation is only a revelation if its a revelation
I was dining with a theologian recently who had lectured on the Book of Revelation for years. He had even been to Patmos to conduct a teaching tour of the Apocalypse. But like some theologians, he felt that Revelation was a complete enigma. He was adamant that there was not any particular method to understand everything in the Book of Revelation. His claim is believed by many. He cited Deuteronomy 29:29 to justify his belief that it was impossible to understand the Book of Revelation, claiming that The Apocalypse was a divine secret. But there is one immediate and gargantuen problem with this idea: for Revelation to be a revelation it has to be a revelation. If it can not be understood, then it can never be a revelation!
The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John,
Revelation 1:1
The Book of RevelationThere is a certain hang-over from Post-Modernism that makes the idea of the Book of Revelation being divinely vague very appealing. Post-Modernism relishes in the idea that nothing can be known for certain. It despises the notion of being 'right' and extols the notion of uncertainty. In presenting a case for how the Book of Revelation can be understood, Post-Modernist Theologians will protest that this is just one of the many ways that it can be interpretted. This dismissal fits their larger idea about how the Bible can be interpretted in a singular fashion. It promotes the concept that a Biblical text can be validly interpretted a number of diverse ways simultaneously. To hold a contrary view to this Post-Modern approach is to be accused with the worst name-calling a Post-Modernist can employ to belittle their objectors: narrow-minded and dogmatic. (Which ironically seems like a rather narrow-minded and dogmatic objection.)

The Deuteronomy 29:29 is hardly a Biblical justification for the Post-Modernist to substantiate their claim that the Book of Revelation cannot be interpretted accurately and singularly.
"The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.
Deuteronomy 29:29
If Deuteronomy 29:29 can be appealed to by anyone in regards to the Book of Revelation, it is surely the one who claims that God has revealed something to His people - which He intends to be understood - since it says that the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law. Just because there has been a diverse range of alleged interpretations of the Book of Revelation does not mean that they are each equally valid or that one of them in particular may be the singularly and exclusively correct.

There are generally considered to be 4 Schools of Interpretation when it comes to the Book of Revelation. (There are actually many more, and even many many more when we consider variants of each major School of Interpretation.) But the Post-Modernist who finds words like: "wrong", "incorrect" and "false", too harsh to employ when assessing any idea, is averse to describing any School of Interpretation with these terms. But this Hermeneutical-Relativism is both unnecessary and illogical. Each interpretative idea should have its claims assessed and evaluated. Where should this assessment begin?
The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John,
Revelation 1:1
There are general principles for interpreting Scripture that should equally apply to the Book of Revelation. These principles are based on the following foundation-

1. God intends to convey something to His people which can be understood (otherwise it is notconveying anything).

2. What God intended to communicate is discovered by interpretation of the text based on familiarity with the penman, audience, circumstances, vocabulary, literary style, and occassion. This is called Exegesis and is the first step in Hermeneutics.
3. While there can only be one correct interpretation of a text, there can be several reasonableapplications of a text.
4. Where Scripture states an interpretation of its own text, we need not disagree with it and look for additional interpretations. This especially applies to Biblical prophecy where a prophecy is given and recorded as being fulfilled. For example, Isaiah's prophecy that a virgin would conceive a child is stated by Matthew to have been fulfilled when Mary gave birth to Jesus. It seems unecessary to think that this prophecy might have multiple fulfilments - even into the future.
In addition to this, there are general principles of Bible Interpretation that include...[read the full article]

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Living With A Margin

The Art of Margining...
Have you noticed that nearly all books have margins? Why is it that publishers don't print books with the text right up to the edge of the page? It's because margins enhance text. Have a look at really effective billboards. They are as much about margins of space as they are about the message. In fact, the margin forms an integral part of the message. The margins of your life are not wasted space. They help to define you.

Accountants advise their clients to build margins into their business. Financial advisors help people to see the need to live with a margin through savings and wise investments. Physical trainers develop their athletes with a margin of physical conditioning. Margins are healthy.
Margins are times of quiet. Margins are free spaces. Margins are reserves. Margins are moments of retreat. Margins are times of rest.

The more important something is, the greater the margin required. Every publisher employs this principle in their books. Highly important books have wider margins. Each new chapter in a book commences with a much larger top margin. Every title page of a book has the largest margins.
Psalm 46:10 Be still, and know that I am God...
The world calls its foot-soldiers to "live on the edge". We are constantly being bombarded with noise, materialistic idolatry, rubbish that is marketed as "news" on tap 24 hours a day, portable distraction units that ironically get marketed with the prefix "i".
John 6:15 ¶ Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.
Living with a margin means saying "no". Margin living people do a few things. On the edge people fill their page. Thinking about how Jesus chose to live out His incarnation, we see that He often withdrew (Matt. 4:12; 12:15; 14:13; 15:21; Luke 9:10; 22:41). Fancy that! The One who would capture the attention of the world did not make the attention of the world His aim. We also remember Jesus resting, sleeping even, when those around Him were distressed. We see Jesus living with a great margin. Of course, it is the margin of Christ's life that makes His life message all the more sublime and singularly outstanding.

For some people, their life is just a margin with no text. But this kind of margin is no margin at all. It is a blank page. For some people, God has blessed them with a large page. It may appear that there is a lot of text on the page of their life, but the grandness of their life's text is enhanced by an appropriately elegant margin that many other large pagers consider to be a waste.
Matthew 11:28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Being a part of a God-worshiping, God-adoring, God-honouring, Word-enriched, faith-community is a part of building a margin into our lives. Attending congregational worship on Sundays is building a margin around our lives. It might look like a waste of time to the world. It may even seem like an unimportant priority when compared to kids' soccer games, AFL matches, car races, which coincide with it. But it is a necessary margin for the believer. No wonder the god of this world wants to keep the people of God from weekly re-establishing this vital margin.
Col. 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
Families need margins. The evening dinner table is a wonderful margin-builder for families. Marriages need margins. Sometimes another person trespasses into a marriage margin which is an indication that someone in the marriage didn't understand that marriage margins are not just about space but are also about boundaries. Margins help to heal marriages because breaches of trust and the pain that comes from being reminded of them are put on the other side of the margin where the hurt spouse refuses to allow the memory of the hurt past the margin. Business people need margins to know when work and business stops. We all need margins to build reserves of strength, resources, wisdom, and fellowship.
Father, help us to build healthy margins around and in our lives. Help us to build practical margins of fitness, finances, and faith. Help us to build spiritual margins of prayer, study, fellowship. Help us to build marriage margins where we set space for each other and boundaries to protect each other. Help us as a church to build margins of praise, silence, reflection, and prayerfulness. May these margins make our lives clearer; our souls stronger; our marriages more fulfilling; and our church more relevant. In Jesus' Name, 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, 5 August 2011

A Hebrews Call To Discernment

The Epistle To The Hebrews warns its readers that certain ideas are incredibly spiritually destructive. The language of Hebrews is bold and strong. At times it is offensive to those who have the idea that Christianity is not about holy living ("Legalism!" they protest) or devotion to Biblical teaching. Offensive? Indeed! The unnamed writer to the Hebrews scolds his countrymen for being too easily swayed by false teaching. He pastorally urges them to use discernment which comes from correct understanding of Scripture, rejection of false ideas about Scripture and the application of Scripture leading to holy living.
Hebrews 5:13...But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
The Epistle to the Hebrews is set against the backdrop of false teaching about Christ which had been gaining an increasing foot-hold among Jewish Christians. The writer to the Hebrews puts first things first:correctly understand Who Jesus is and What He has done. Get these two aspects wrong and your soul is in peril because it inevitably leads to unholy living (sin) and forsaking the truth.
Heb. 10:26 ¶ For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins
The need for discernment by Christians is critical. The Epistle to the Hebrews stresses this. There are so many false teachers with growing platforms that reiterate the spiritually toxic venom of the Edenic Serpent- "Has God said...?" - undermining the Word of God and its teaching; and, "You shall not die!" - making a mockery of the consequences of unholy living and calling immorality "outdated". The writer to the Hebrews has some stern and strong words to say about this type of attack on sound Biblical teaching. But it takes discernment to sometimes hear the error behind sometimes seemingly plausible sounding "Christian" teaching. Asking the questions- "Where does the Bible say that?" and "Is that how the original audience of this Text would have understood it?" Just these two questions can help modern followers of Christ increase their discernment skills.

Not only did the Serpent of Eden challenge God's Word, God's character, and God's Holiness in dealing with sin, but he was also striving to breach the bonds of fellowship that God had ordained. And the writer to the Hebrews warns his readers about this same devilish plot.
Heb. 10:25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
The local church is God's ordained plan for Christian community. "...not neglecting to meet together..." the simple act of meeting together to worship in singing, communion, and prayer, while giving heed to the preaching of God's Word, is designed by God to advance the growth of believers and to extend His Kingdom.
Col. 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
Heb. 13:7 ¶ Remember your leaders who taught you the word of God. Think of all the good that has come from their lives, and follow the example of their faith.
The simplicity of what Christ has ordered for His Church- worship / Word / witness - is glorious. For some it's not enough. For some who have failed to discern that pursuing "signs" and "wonders" was never instructed, encouraged, or promoted in the Biblical record of the earliest Church, it is all too easy to become disillusioned with the elegant simplicity of participating in worship, heeding the preached Word, and being mobilised together as a witness for Christ, they fall for another Gospel of "me" "my" "I" and place the value of a church meeting on how much they "feel His presence", "experience God", or "receive" from the Lord. To be sure, we can feel, experience and receive - but these things are not the measure of a Church or its meetings. The writer to the Hebrews calls his readers to discern that Church is about Christ and our devotion to Him and His Word. He wants his readers to discern that this has immediate ramifications for how they eat, drink, socialise, and even express themselves sexually.
Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.
Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you.".
Hebrews 13:4-5
The Enemy sows discord. Discord between the believer and God. Discord between the believer and a fellow believer. Discerning the schemes of the Enemy and clinging to the Word of God, the House of God, and Ways of God, helps to guard against such discord. This is why the next time you hear a teaching that unsettles you, ask the Lord to help you discern it. Ask God to protect your mind, your soul and your closeness to Christ. When you hear a teaching that claims that teaching is wrong, discern the irony of such a claim and consult the Word of God to see if it lines up. Anytime anyone teaches the Bible, ask the two primary discerning questions- "Where does it say that" And, "Is that what this text in context really says?"

You don't gold dust falling from the ceiling to know that God's Spirit is in the room. You don't need droplets of oil appearing on your hands to know that God's Spirit is in you. You don't need every sickness or illness healed instantly to know that God loves you and is present. You don't need to shake, fall-down, tremble uncontrollably and even laugh out loud. These things might happen, but you don't need them to happen in order for the church to be considered blessed with God's presence.

But you do need to worship in the House of God. You do need to participate in this worship through singing and prayer. You do need the Word of God preached to nourish your soul. You do need the strength of your brothers and sisters as they help you to collectively witness to those God has called you to shine before. Discern the source of the voices which claim you don't need these things!
1Corinthians 2:12 ¶ Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.
Father, help us to be nourished by You. May we discern well. Give us an understanding mind to hear more closely the difference between truth and error. Surround us with truth-tellers. Help us to worship well, heed Your Word, and to witness together as Your church, In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Eph. 3:21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Ps. Andrew