Thursday, 29 March 2012

The Centre

When I was saved it was an utter life-changing experience. The weeks leading up to my conversion had been a miserable time. Almost on a dare, I had been reading the Book of Romans and had become deeply aware of my sin and my eventual eternal fate. The time I came to the saving news in the Book of Romans resulted in me praying a profoundly heart-moving prayer pleading with God to save my soul and forgive me of my sins. Over the days that followed I felt my life being transformed. I experienced an almost insatiable hunger to know God's Word. I felt a debt of gratitude to Christ for what He had done. I wanted to tell everyone that without Jesus as Saviour and Lord they would face God's judgment without the Only qualified Advocate to defend them. I made one encompassing vow that has guided my life.
That vow was to make Christ the centre of my life. I vowed to live for Him. I saw others who had become Christians and had claimed to have made Christ the Lord of their life. But there was little evidence of it when times got comfortable. It seemed to me that Jesus was a segment of their lives, not the hub.
My vow meant that I made a commitment to what my Christ was committed to. I wanted to walk in the footsteps of my Saviour. I have since discovered that these footsteps are bloodstained and that following a Risen Saviour also means that I follow a Crucified Saviour. As I devoured around 20 chapters of the Bible everyday, I could not escape the most obvious commitment that Christ had made, and therefore as a Christ-centred, Saviour-footstep-following-follower, I had to make as well: Christ was committed to the Church.
Eph. 5:25 ¶ Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her
The Enemy has assaulted Christ's Church. He has railed against it with insult, ridicule, lies, and mockery. He has infiltrated some churches. If his external attacks make no dent, then his internal ones sometimes do (2Cor. 2:11). But the Church's faltering, Jesus still deeply loves His Church. During His earthly ministry He made it His "custom" to be in the pre-cursor to His Church, the Synagogue, every Sabbath. The Sabbath before Christ was crucified in Jerusalem, He was in a Synagogue worshipping His Father in the company of those had just lauded Him with cries of Hosanna but within just 5 days would be screaming for His crucifixion! Churches are not immune from betrayal, disappointment, and failures.
Luke 4:16 ¶ And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read.
As we move away from the moment of His Cross toward the moment of Christ's Culmination of His Father's Plan (1Cor. 15:28), His Church is still His central plan (Eph. 1:22). At times she looks awkward. At times she gaffs. At times she loses focus. At times she fears the opinions of men more than the approval of Her Master. But Christ's central plan is to redeem people into His Church where He has ordained that it assemble weekly, give itself to be a Witness as it Worships while it receives The Word (WWW). He has ordained that it be directed, disciplined and developed (DDD). He calls competent charismatic ("gifted") people to lead it (CCC). And it is when the local church assembles that Christ has ordained His presence to be manifested (Matt. 18:20) and for His people to receive a greater revelation of Him.
In addressing the idea that a person can live as a Christian without the Church, Chuck Colson calls this "a dangerous idea."

"Christ cannot be known apart from His Body, the Church."
Chuck Colson
"He who would find Christ must first find the Church."
Martin Luther
While the Enemy is at work sowing life-sucking thorn bushes and wheat-like tares (Matt. 13:25), I am still committed to the Cause of Christ: to redeem the world through the Church.
Heb. 10:25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the day of his coming back again is drawing near.
Making Christ the Centre of your life puts everything in perspective. With Christ as Centre, the world is at peace. With Christ as the Centre my needs are met. With Christ as Centre I have hope in the midst of life's storms. In fact, I have found that it is far easier to keep Christ the Centre of my life when life is stormy - because when life is comfortable Christ is too often neglected. Is Jesus the Centre of your life? See you in the Centre this Sunday.

Ps. Andrew

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Moral Naturalism?

Moral Naturalism - Is Natural, Morally Good?
by Dr. Andrew Corbett 23rd March 2012
The Global Environmental Movement has undoubtedly done some great good. Visit cities such as Los Angeles, New Delhi, Shanghai, and you'll soon realise that water and air pollution is a very serious matter. Anyone who has seen the devastation of massive unregenerated deforestation will readily acknowledge that managing trees in the ground is more critical than many must have realised. Yet, undergirding the Environmental Movement, and its ensuing social policies, is that: natural is best. Many people justly concerned about our ecology have started to notice a large wooden horse on wheels has been pushed into the town square by Environmentalists. And just like the fabled Trojan Horse, this neo-Trojan horse has smuggled something more powerful than an army into our culture: If It's Natural - It's Morally Right.
KONY YouTube Clip
The recent "Stop Kony" campaign YouTube video opens with the profound notion that the most powerful thing in the world is not actually a "thing" it is an idea. This was also the premise for the blockbuster movie: INCEPTION.


Ideas shape people, societies, and civilisations. Jesus Christ used an astounding term to describe the place where human thinking takes place: the heart (such as Matthew 9:4). To the ancient Hebrew, the heart was the core of a person. Jesus said that this was where ideas were processed- in the very core of a person. The heart is the place where we most naturally think of as being the engine room of our feelings. The is link between what we think and what we feel. Jesus said that some ideas in human hearts might be evil and that the result would be spiritual defiling (which is why God offers to cleanse the defiled but repentant sinner because of Jesus' death and resurrection)... [read full article]

Friday, 23 March 2012

The Extinction Of Sacrifice

I live in the One-Third World. Growing up, I heard constant references to the plight of the poor folk in the Third World. I've since discovered that these poor folk in the Third World actually make up two-thirds of the world's population and that poor here doesn't mean what poor means there. But not only do I live in the One-Third World, I also live at a time of unprecedented peace and prosperity. As one commentator on contemporary Western Culture described where and when we live by saying- Every day we wake up in Disney Land! With such affluenza all around us, the idea of sacrifice sounds...well...extinct.

Yet, it is because of someone's sacrifice, that I and others in Western Society enjoy (read: take for granted) what we have today. These sacrificing, enterprising, often pioneering individuals have frequently been labelled the 'Builder' Generation. They worked hard. They sacrificed. They endured hardship. They fought wars that had to be fought. They built what had to be built. They started what needed to be started. 

For many of these sacrificial souls, their sacrifice was barely regarded by them as a sacrifice. Rather, they saw it as their responsibility. Sacrifice and responsibility. Somber words. Hardly fitting in today's Western cultural landscape where fun, fashion, and facebook-friends are the key words. But this generation of sacrificers where motivated by a Grand Vision. They saw a Responsible Sacrificing Saviour who carried the weight of the world and sacrificed for the sake of the world so that Someone else would benefit. We now live in a world, the One-Third World, where this Grand Vision is not visible to most. And where the Grand Vision is invisible there is an Impostor Vision that takes its place.

Rom. 12:1 ¶ I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

The early Christians were noted for their many sacrifices of love toward each other, the poor, and the outcasts - especially lepers. Down through the centuries, many believers have been gripped by the Grand Vision of the Saviour-Sacrifice and given up houses, positions, wealth, and reputation, to serve others. Sacrifice for the sake of others is a particularly Christian trait.

Eph. 5:2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Believing on Christ today requires no less sacrifice. But believing on Christ in Disneyland takes some effort. Living in the One-Third World dupes you into thinking that you are entitled to more than you've already got. It kids you into thinking that if you do the least, give the minimum, turn up occasionally, then you already "sacrificing". I know. I battle with all of this. Yet my battle is being won by my devotion to the Sacrificed Saviour. He is increasingly becoming my Grand Vision. I see Him giving His all. I hear Him say that no man has left job, house, lands, families, that he should be repaid many times over in the life to come. This puts my meagre volunteer efforts into a totally different perspective.

Heb. 13:15 Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.

 The first believers got it. They did voluntarily give their all. These apostolic volunteers served Christ without any of the trappings of the One-Third World. They not only faced uncertain futures they looked forward to a certain future. Their sacrifices for the Sacrificed One were counted as a nothing compared to what they had received.  They gave, did, went, and stood without so much as a time-card to show for it. They took seriously their responsibility to know Christ and to make Him known. And the world has been the beneficiary - not just the On-Third World!

I pray that we might recapture what godly sacrifice looks like in our corner of 'Disneyland.'

Father, help me to live fully for You. Help me to pastor well. Help me to give, serve and care, with the heart and attitude of Christ. May You use me to inspire a generation to serve You in sacrificial service. Please Lord, use everyone in our church to sacrifice in a way that will bring You the most glory. In Jesus' Name. Amen.

Ps. Andrew Corbett
Legana, Tasmania, 23rd March 2012

Friday, 16 March 2012


No. I don't merely mean a favourite Bible verse. Is there a particular verse of the Bible that has helped you more than any other? I have one - though I didn't think that I did. F.W. Boreham wrote a short series of books about other people's. His "Texts That Changed History" series sold millions of copies. It seems we're all fascinated with other people's Life Verses.

"The just shall live by faith" was Martin Luther's. It became the text that birthed the Reformation and eventually changed the world. "Go into all the world and teach them" was David Livingstone's. Others have held particular Bible verses that would have to be considered their favourite by virtue of its singularly dominant power to shape the soul of that person. That's why these particular verses might best be described as Life Verses. Do you have a "Life Verse"?

I don't think I've got a favourite verse of the Bible. But I do have to admit that there are probably two competing verses in my soul vying for the title of Andrew's Life Verse. In some respect these verses are very similar but upon closer and more considered examination they are starkly different. On the one hand one of these verses emphasizes God's beneficent Sovereignty, and on the other is a verse that instructs me how to relish in God's beneficent Sovereignty.

As I reflect on the condition of my soul, one word resounds: peace. I feel peace. I am at peace. While all around me is at times calamitous it doesn't ruffle my soul. It used to. But that was before these two verses gripped me. Even when I make a mistake, sin, fall, lapse, I am comforted immeasurably simply by these two pillars of granite that have irreversibly shaped me. I see other walking through the same storms and stumbling while these two lanterns give me the light to get back up and keep going -  and not with a reluctant attitude, but with a joy for the privilege of being able to do so. The first verse is Romans 8:28, the second is like it, yet different: First Peter 5:7.

How can I choose between them? If I must I will. I'm drawn to the Romans verse over and over again. It is easy and delightful for me to be so drawn because it lies like a jewell in the midst of a very glorious treasure chest of of wonderful verses. Romans 8 is undoubtedly the most wonderful chapter of the Bible. This gives Romans 8:28 an almost unfair advantage for the title of Andrew's Life Verse.

First Peter 5:7 sits differently. Almost like a very precious gold coin tossed aside among seemingly uninteresting debris, it catches the reader off-guard. It is the rare and very precious gold coin that sits among what is mistaken for the common gems of Peter's wisdom to a suffering church. I can not count the times I have pulled this coin from my pocket and drawn comfort and strength from it. It's golden promise is more valuable to me than all of the gold in all of the world. If it wasn't for Romans 8:28, First Peter 5:7 would stand grandly as my Life Verse.

As it is, if I had to choose just one of my two contending Life Verses, I'm inclined to go with Romans 8:28.  It gives me the assurance that even when things are horrible - God still has a good plan being perfectly worked out in my life for His glory. It helps me to bounce back after I fail. It counsels me when I fail. It takes me from comparing myself with others and feeling like a loser to realising that God's plan for me is God's only plan for me. While I wear Romans 8:28 like a necklace so that it is ever close to my heart, I keep First Peter 5:7 in my pocket. But enough about me. What is your "Life Verse" and why?
Father, help me to live with all of Your Word in my heart and help me to trust You even when it's difficult to do so. Amen.
Ps. Andrew Corbett
Legana, Tasmania
16th March 2012 

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Ground Breaking Christianity

The sower went out to sow, Matthew Mark and Luke record. This week I was stunned to hear one of the world's leading evangelists say that he did not know what affected the different soil condition for such sowing. I wasn't the only one to marvel at this surprising comment. My colleague, Jim, was quicker than everyone else in the room to grab the ear of this acclaimed church leader and quiz him over what he had just told those of us in the room. But what transpired then when Jim spoke with him only led to us being even more flummoxed.

“Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow.
And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it.
Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil. And when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away.
Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain.
And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”
[Mark 4:3-8]

What has seemed increasingly obvious to many of us over the years about the soil in the Parable of the Sower, is that when it's rocks and weeds are removed it has a greater chance of being productive, or as the Text describes it, "good".

What the admirable evangelist hadn't grasped was that the soil represented not just people, but the things that connect people. After all, the Sower didn't sow his seed among "pot-plants", which the reader could well imagine as being the ideal symbolism for individuals. No, Jesus deliberately used a collective symbol: soil. In some of the soil there are "rocks". The rocks don't prevent the seed from being sown. They do however prevent it from taking a deep root in the soil.

Such rocks are often like the ideas that harden a mind to accepting all of the Gospel. To remove these rocks demands that we challenge the ideas that exalt themselves against God and His Word. Cultures are inevitably shaped by the ideas they hold. A culture which holds the idea that Life's story does not begin with "In the beginning God...", will by default believe that Life's story begins with, "In the beginning the particles..." This false idea in the ground into which our Gospel seed is to be sown is like a splattering of sterile rocks in this otherwise fertile ground. Hosea called the faithful of Israel to "break up the fallow ground" (remove the hardness of the ground and soften it for sowing).

The soil that does not produce a harvest for the Sower can also be weed infested. These weeds, Jesus said, are the cares and pleasures of this life. That is, they are the values a culture prizes. When sex is 'boundless' because it rejects the bounds of fidelity and purity, it is prizing the value of "self-gratification" over moral restraint. Like all cultural values, it will put this value in songs, art, films, literature, architecture, and even legislation. Into this soil the Gospel seed can only be received on the immediate and very false assumption that Jesus "tolerates" every value a culture holds. As the claims of Christ's Lordship begin to sprout and attempt to bloom, the prized weeds of self-deification begin to choke out, what is exposed as, the lesser value of knowing and surrendering to Christ.

City of Sydney, March 2012. Notice the Church Steeple?
This cultural value, from which many of our Cultural values derive, must be confronted by a Ground-Breaking Christian community. Over the past 20 centuries our spiritual forebears have been doing this. Arguably, up until the middle of the 20th Century it was the values of the Christian Gospel - kindness, fairness, respect, selflessness, servanthood, charity, and family unit, that shaped Western Culture for the better. All of this made the soil of Gospel receptivity freer of the weeds that would otherwise choke Gospel seed. The most graphic example of this is the impact of Christian Politician, William Wilberforce. His life-work was largely about changing the cultural values of the emerging British Empire. Despite being born in the Autumn of the Wesley/Whitefield Preaching Revival, Wilberforce arrived on the scene when it was becoming obvious that most the hundreds of thousands of Gospel seed recipients still embraced the cultural
values of cheating, rudeness, violence against women/children/blacks, and cruelty in the exploitation of animals. Wilberforce was not a preacher. Yet, an enduring revival of Good-Ground Gospel receptivity can be credited to his political efforts to conform culture to the values of the Gospel. During the preaching revival of Wesley / Whitefield, 1740-80, there was essentially no net growth in the churches of England - despite all their evangelistic efforts. Yet during Wilberforce's 40 year political career (ca.1790-1830), where he campaigned against child labour, animal abuse, and the slave trade and argued for public education, a fairer justice and prison system - the churches of England experienced collective growth of at least 500%. Wilberforce cleared many of the weeds from the ground of culture that ordinarily chokes out sprouting Gospel seeds.

The impact of his cultural agency was felt in England for the better part of the 1800s as well (until Charles Darwin put some new rocks in the ground that should have been immediately challenged with thoughtful scientifically credible responses. This new new intellectual rocking of culture gave rise to new unbridled weeds sprouting all over the Empire with the efforts of the Midnight Society and the Bloomsbury Group (Lytton Strachey, Thomas Hardy, and other poets, novelists and playwrights who promoted anti-Gospel values). Those of us who encounter cultural weeds when attempting to sow Gospel seeds understand that we are still, 140 years later, trying to weed out the ideas of these artists from Western society today.)

We are not just called to be sowers. We are called to be farmers - cultural ground-breakers. Every time we produce art that extols Gospel values of marriage, parenting, enterprise, gracious forgiveness, justice, God's Supremacy, we are in some measure 'weeding' the soil of culture.

Is it possible for us to take ground for our King without misrepresenting Him as rude, arrogant, unsympathetic, or hateful? Yes. Is it easy? No. Will we be ridiculed, maligned, and mocked for daring to attempt to remove the rocks of false ideas and replace them with the seeds of great ideas? Yes we are. And if you've ever done any weeding you'll know that even when wearing gloves you can still get thorns, splinters, and burs stick in your skin. This Gospel farming caper can be hard uncomfortable work. But for Christ's sake we must not only be Ground-Breaking Christians we must be Ground-taking Christians.

Ps. Andrew Corbett
8th March 2012, from Legana.

Thursday, 1 March 2012


   After this I looked, and behold,
      a door standing open in heaven!    
  At once I was in the Spirit,
     and behold, a throne stood in heaven,
   with one seated on the throne.--Rev. 4:1a-2 

There is a window. One of the greatest minds of the 20th century initially thought he was too clever for God or any spiritual things. As with many who posit intellectual objections to the God of the Bible, the source of his opposition toward God was silently sourced from an emotional reservoir of deep hurt (it's common for emotionally hurt people to masquerade as intellectually objectionable). But then it happened. The window.

One night, after attempting to deal a fatal intellectual blow to the notion of God, C.S. Lewis found what many before him had also discovered: when you punch a wall of granite with a bare fist you come off second best and the mountainous wall of granite doesn't feel a thing! It's the same phenomena when people  attempt to refute the granite-mountain-like truth of God's existence.  And for C.S. Lewis, the misery he experienced from the granite-pounding-induced pain became undeniable. His pain ended when he looked through a window. He described this moment as, 'In the Trinity term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God ... I was perhaps the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England.'  ("Surprised By Joy"). C.S. Lewis looked through a window and saw that he was not looking out but in

Our existence here seems so real and permanent. It tricks us into thinking that life after this existence is less real. Cloudy, heavenly, misty. Don't they all mean the same thing? Look through the window and you'll soon see that they most certainly do not! When C.S. Lewis looked through this window into the realm of eternity he discovered that that was more real than any of this. It became so obvious to Lewis that where God was, he would one day be, and compared to that heavenly reality, this world was merely a "shadowland".  

       But, as it is written,
 “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined,
 what God has prepared for those who love him”1Cor. 2:9

Look through the window from this darkened realm into the very well lit eternal realm and you'll see what Lewis saw. God's presence lights most of the eternal realm. You'll see no pain there. You'll see no sorrow there. You'll see no heart-aches there.

     He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, 
       and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, 
     nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”--Rev. 21:4

Most of the eternal realm basks in the radiant light of God's glory. Most. There is however an assigned zone of the eternal realm where God has decreed that His Life-giving Light should not shine.

     And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. 
       In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ --Matt. 25:30 

Some will spend eternity there. This is why looking through the window is done so reluctantly by those who don't want to see the truth. This is why the Adversary will do almost anything to keep people from looking through the Window and discovering an All-Merciful, All-Forgiving, All-Loving yet All-Just God. He would even transform himself into an Angel of Light (2Cor. 11:14) and invite people to worship him (or anything else other than the One they would see through the Window Eternal). In brazen breathless deception he arrogantly fools willing victims into denying that there even is a Window even though just like a building with no windows it is patently obvious to all that there is something beyond this world. In a cruel act of treachery this snake concedes to his prey that the world beyond is merely some spiritual energy force that can be harnessed through magical words, crystals, meditation or chants - and then he even orders his minions to perform pathetic tricks to almost support his claims. No wonder he doesn't want anyone to look through the Window!

The Apostle Paul said that those who know there is a window - yet refuse to look into it for fear of what they will realise are suppressing the truth about what is plainly known (Romans 1:18-19).

     For what can be known about God is plain to them, 
      because God has shown it to them. --Rom. 1:19

Yet many us have sought and found the window into the eternal realm where God's presence dwells richly. We have discovered what the Apostle meant when he wrote to keep your mind on heavenly things, not the things of earth (Colossians 3:2). We are gripped by this eternal vision. We see that the One Who is seated upon The Throne rules from and throughout eternity. In comparison, our lives here and now (as difficult and as painful as they might be, or even as lovely and delightful as they might be) are but fleeting shadows.

Through the Window of God's Word we see clearly. This Window not only helps us to see the eternal, but it's glass brings this existence into focus - even though at times our vision through it causes us to see our own reflection from it "dimly" (1Cor. 13:12). With this Window, seeing is not believing. Rather, believing is truly seeing. (Believing has more to do with doing than affirming.) Through this Window Eternal we come to realise that our present setbacks and difficulties are not seen that way by God. His perspective of what we call pain sounds more glory-preparation.

     For this light momentary affliction is preparing 
      for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison --2Cor. 4:17

This is why it seems He withholds supernatural power from the realm of eternity when He could simply intervene into our temporary existence and "fix it!" But He knows what's best. And in actuality, He has intervened. And He has "fixed it!" Look through the Window and you'll find that you're actually looking through the glaze of The Cross.

After C.S. Lewis opened his eyes and saw the real world through the Window Eternal he became a changed man. Many others like Lewis have done the same thing. Augustine of Hippo, North Africa, might be one of the most well-known ancient examples and Justin Bieber might be one of the more recent. There is a Window that you and I must look through as well. It is a Window contained in 66 books yet One Volume. It is a window that points to the One True God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It is a window that reveals this God is the Creator, Rescuer, Restorer and Source of all good and truth. After look through this window you'll want to worship Him - out loud - with others - demonstrably. After looking through this window you'll notice how many people are bumping around in the darkness ignoring the fact that they have made and drawn the curtains covering the Window of Light and Salvation. Look through the Window Eternal and you see the world a whole lot clearer, yourself a whole lot more accurately, and the Adversary for who he really is. Look through the Window Eternal and you will also experience what the once-exiled Apostle described as being "in the Spirit", and isn't that where you'd rather be now?

Ps Andrew Corbett
1st March 2012
Legana, Tasmania.