Friday, 26 April 2013

Are We In The End Times?

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, April 26th 2013
Could We Be In The Biblical End Times?
Wars, earthquakes, floods, and famines have long been considered the traits of what many believe to be the Biblical description of the "end times". Added to this is what many understand to be the predictions of increased apostasy, the rise in persecution, the deterioration of society's morals, and the increased compromise and lukewarmness of the Church. And surely, if these are the characteristics of what the Bible describes as the last days, we must be in the last days, right? But are we? And if we are, so what? And if we aren't, then what? But are we in what the Bible describes as the 'end times'?
¶ But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty."
Second Timothy 3:1


End TimesThe expression "end times" is used by Christians to describe a brief period immediately preceding the return of Christ to earth. The expression, however, does not actually occur in the Bible. Rather, expressions such as "the last days", "end of the age" are regarded as synonyms for "end times". The Bible presents a picture of our world as being subject to God's redemptive plan which climaxed in the coming to earth of the eternal Son of God as one of us and will culminate one day when He returns to judge the living and the dead (Rev. 20:12).
knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires.
Second Peter 3:3



The transforming work of the Holy Spirit impacts individuals by taking them from a life of sinful selfishness to a life where they are surrendered to Christ and led by the Holy Spirit. Martin Luther was striving to be right with God. He entered a monastery and became a monk. He underwent rigorous disciplines to live a holy life. He kept a whip over his bedroom door for flogging himself every time he sinned. Yet he kept sinning. He later said that if you had knocked at the door of his heart and it opened to you, there you would have found Martin Luther seated with his garment of hair, shaved crown of his head, and whip over his door. But after his conversion to Christ if you had knocked at the door of his heart and entered you would find none but Christ enthroned! How has Jesus Christ transformed your life?

The Holy Spirit transforms families. He elevates mothers and fathers to the sacred charge of caring for, leading, protecting, teaching and training their children so that they willingly volunteer themselves to be servants of Christ and His Church. 

There is tale told of an English country church in the 1800s that had grown cold. The author calls it, “The Wesley Church”. Sin had pervaded the small congregation in two of its most insidious forms: worldliness, and self-righteousness. It’s new minister was a 25 year old man wise beyond his years. He began to teach on Second Corinthians 4:1-7. As he taught about the light of God, he showed that this light exposed worldliness, but he also noted that this light was displayed in “earthen vessels”. Those who had the light of God’s salvation, were not the light, they were simply the lantern (earthen vessel) of that light. The effect of this ministry was that those trapped in worldliness (drunkenness, fornication in particular) made a public confession to the church and repented. Those in the death-grip of self-righteousness were empowered to confess publicly their hypocrisy and repent while asking the church for forgiveness. The tale goes on to tell that the entire village was deeply impacted. No longer did they sense that the congregation of Wesley Church were looking down at them. One of the repentants said that he previously scorned the village atheist, but he now looked at him with compassion and understanding. It wasn’t too long before that atheist was in the Wesley Church Sunday by Sunday worshiping the God he had vainly protested against.

Thursday, 25 April 2013



Christianity has a rich history that should inform us today about the scope of our Mission when it comes to striking a balance between saving souls and meeting the needs of our society. We have nearly 2,000 years of thought about how the teaching of Christ affects individuals and nations. This history includes disputes, disciplines, and reformations. It also reveals that Christianity has had golden patches where it has enjoyed tremendous public acceptance. But it also reveals that for most of its history (in most places it has entered) it has been despised and scorned. Interestingly, history reveals a connection between what Christianity taught and practiced and how it was received by its societies. If you know your Church History, you'll know we've been here before...



The earliest Christians were dogged in their efforts to reach their communities with the Gospel. They didn't see themselves as better, or superior to their neighbours. Rather, they accepted the teaching of Christ about the universal condition of all people being defiled by sin. Jesus taught that it was human sinfulness which would result in eternal damnation. And yet, Christ does not leave people without hope. He became sin in our place and bore the penalty of our sin (2Cor. 5:21). The earliest Christians passionately shared with their neighbourhoods that this pardon from sin is available to all who receive Christ and His grace.
"For if, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ."
Romans 5:17
The earliest Christians were not universalists (Universalists teach that everyone is saved whether they receive Christ or not). The early Christians regarded the preaching of the Gospel as absolutely necessary to a person receiving Christ and His salvation.
by hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles that they might be saved—so as always to fill up the measure of their sins. But wrath has come upon them at last!
First Thessalonians 2:16
While the earliest Christians pleaded with their neighbours to be saved through Christ, they also showed their communities tremendous acts of sacrificial love. They went into leper colonies and tended to those made outcasts by society. They gave food and provisions to the poor. They looked after widows and orphans. They ministered to the sick. Thus, hospitals, orphanages, clinics and charities all either find their heritage in the sacrificial service of Christians or in the teaching of Christ about being a neighbour to our fellow man. Eventually, and more recently, Christians would found schools, universities, colleges and offer scholarships to underprivileged students to enable them to gain an education. All the while those serving in these charitable organisations did so because of a profound love for Christ and a deep reverence for His commands to "teach them everything I have commanded" (Matthew 28:20).

When Christianity began, the world was ruled by a very young emperor named Nero. He was openly homosexual and took a particular liking to young boys. He oversaw a culture of mass cruelty. Rome was not able to sanitise its horrific abuse of children with medical instruments and tricky language - it simply called the disposal of unwanted children: "exposure". And the name indicates how it aborted its (birthed and living) babies by leaving them exposed in the town squares on a freezing cold night for the dogs or weather to finish them off. [Wikipedia]
The practice was prevalent in ancient Rome, as well. Philo was the first philosopher to speak out against it. A letter from a Roman citizen to his sister, dating from 1 BCE, demonstrates the casual nature with which infanticide was often viewed:
"I am still in Alexandria. ... I beg and plead with you to take care of our little child, and as soon as we receive wages, I will send them to you. In the meantime, if (good fortune to you!) you give birth, if it is a boy, let it live; if it is a girl, expose it."
Philo (1950). The Special Laws. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. III, XX.117, Volume VII, pp. 118, 551, 549.
Exposure of a female child. Oxyrhynchus, Egypt, 1 B.C. (Oxyrhynchus papyrus 744. G)"
Naphtali, Lewis, ed. (1985). "Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 744". Life in Egypt Under Roman Rule. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 54.
After Christianity became accepted by the State of Rome around 312 it still took another 60 years or so for Christians to change the culture of the Roman Empire to regard "exposure" as morally evil. Rome made it a capital offense in 374 AD. But for Christians to obtain this level of beneficial influence in society it had to preach faith, repentance and obedience to Christ - often at the risk of losing their lives, while it cared for the poor, the needy and the outcast.
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
James 1:27


When Christianity gained acceptance (and wealth and power) it nearly always forgot to preach and care. God always raises up prophets in the darkest hours of supposed light. He raised up Francis of Assissi as such a voice. He called the Church back to preaching and caring. He raised up Savonarola, Wycliffe, Hus, Zwingli, Calvin, Luther, Wesley, Wilberforce, Spurgeon, Boreham, and Piper to call the Church back to purity of doctrine, preaching and care.
For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
Second Timothy 4:3-5
Each of these men, these prophets, spoke to the Church, to the world, to political leaders. They didn't regard Christianity as being confined to the four walls of a stained-glass building. They didn't regard Christianity as only for the benefit of Christians. They were convinced that the teaching of Christ was the teaching of the Creator designed for the maximum well-being of person. They saw the Church as the pillar and buttress of the truth.
if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth.
First Timothy 3:15
When the Church strayed from the truth of God's Word by diminishing it, adding to it, relegating it below Church tradition, these prophets thundered. At one point, their thunderings were so dramatic it gave rise to an era known as "the Reformation" and those who joined their thunderous protests became known as "Protestants". They wanted the Church to believe the truth about Christ and saving grace, the depravity of man making us incapable of doing right before God, and the unique authority of Scripture. They wanted the Church to preach these truths in evangelism and pastoring. And they called the Church to care for the poor, the marginalised, and the oppressed.

Today, we seem to facing an increasingly hostile political environment and an unaccepting culture. We can draw lessons from the earliest Christians who served Christ at a time far worse than anything we are facing. When they preached and cared they grew. When they stopped, God sent persecution and opposition. In the midst of their persecution and opposition they preached Christ and cared in Jesus' name. And then they grew again. There seems to be an obvious lesson for us today. We each need to rededicate ourselves to Christ for Him to use us to proclaim through our life and words that Christ has died to pardon people from their sin because He loves them. Maybe God may use you to be a prophetic leader who can speak to the Church, to the world and to political leaders so that more people might hear the Gospel and experience the charitable care of Christ.
May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.
Second Thessalonians 3:5
Ps. Andrew

Thursday, 18 April 2013


He is acclaimed as one of the greatest men to have ever lived. His life has inspired thousands of young men to live daring lives. He was raised in a loving home. His mother taught him to read so that he was reading books by the age of 3. He raced through his schooling and stood head and shoulders above his peers for sheer intellect. His mother was delighted. His father was a Congregational Minister and taught his son the finer points of theology by the time he was in his early teens. But with great intellect at a young age often comes great arrogance and gullibility. He entered Providence College to undertake his university studies and soon fell in with bad company who championed atheism and mocked Christianity. He renounced Christianity and began to live accordingly. His mother's heart was shattered and his father was gutted.



Adoniram Judson, born in 1788, was blessed with intelligence and good looks. When he arrived at Providence College he soon came under the enchantment of "E___" (as he was later identified). "E___" led Adoniram into Deism (there could be a God, but He doesn't care about people or how they live) and then into Atheism (there is no God). During a College break Adoniram determined to go and seek his pleasure. He rode his horse to an inn where the inn keeper told him that only one room remained available - but it was adjacent to the room of a dying man. Adoniram assured the inn keeper that he wasn't phased by death and that he would take the available room.
"I'll take the room," said Judson. "Death has no terrors for me. You see, I'm an atheist."
Adoniram Judson
When he settled into the room he discovered that the walls were paper thin and he soon began to hear the agonizing cries of the dying man. It moved Adoniram Judson deeply to hear a man become delirious and cry out to God. He wondered whether the dying man had made peace with God? He wondered where this man's eternal destiny would be: heaven or hell? He wondered whether the man was previously religious? Adoniram Judson struggled to go to sleep that night and began to doubt to his newly embraced atheism. His biographer records this event -
"The poor fellow is evidently dying in terror. I suppose I should go to his assistance, but what could I say that would help him?" thought Judson to himself; and he shivered at the very thought of going into the presence of the dying man. He felt a blush of shame steal over him. What would his late unbelieving companions think if they knew of his weakness? Above all, what would witty, brilliant E___ say, if he knew? As he tried to compose himself, the dreadful cries from the next room continued. He pulled the blankets over his head but still he heard the awful sounds and shuddered! Finally, all became quiet in the next room.
In the morning he checked out with the memory of the agonizing cries for divine mercy coming from the next room still haunting him. "He died" said the inn keeper. "Who was he?" enquired Adoniram. "He was a student from Providence College named E___" informed the inn keeper! This was the turning point for the now 20 year old Adoniram Judson. He returned to his parents and apologised to them and became a member of his father's church.
"...surely the love of Christ, which had so marvelously banished the darkness from my own soul, was meant for all mankind."
Adoniram Judson
Adoniram JudsonHe quickly became a deep Christian - not merely because of his intellectual capacity, but because of his deep compassion for the lost. At the age of 20 he developed into a deep Bible reader, a young man of deep prayer, and of deep intensity to serve Christ. Around this time William Carey was achieving remarkable success for the Gospel in India. This and other things provoked Adoniram to ponder the spiritual plight of those on the Sub-Continent. He enquired with his father's denomination about going there as a missionary. But foreign missions was still a relatively new concept for them. As Adoniram spoke with his growing band of Christian friends about the urgency of this mission, money soon began to pour in and shortly enough funds were raised to advance the annual salaries of several young men. This would eventually lead to the formation of the American Baptist Missionary Union (after Adoniram saw that the Congregation practice of 'baptising' infants by sprinkling as unbiblical and adopted what he considered to be the Biblical practice of believer's baptism by immersion- causing him to lose his initial support base [quite a courageous move]).
"More than all else, I long to please Thee, my Lord. What wilt Thou have me to do?" As he prayed, he felt the presence of Jesus close beside him and heard His voice saying, "Go to the uttermost parts and preach the gospel of My love. I send you forth, like Paul, as a witness to distant nations."
From The Journal of Adoniram Judson


The now newly married Judson and his adventurous young bride set off for Calcutta by sea just days after they wed. When they arrived they were welcomed by William Carey but unwelcomed by the authorities who ordered them to leave. They were led by the Holy Spirit to go to Burma. Adoniram's towering mind enabled him to quickly master the Burmese language (considered one of the hardest second languages for an English speaker to learn and write). He and his bride were not permitted to live in the city and were tasked with making the best of the ramshackled hut nestled between the city's rubbish dump and communal letrine. They soon discovered to their horror that Rangoon was infected with cholera.
That night, said Judson in a letter written soon thereafter, "we have marked as the most gloomy and distressing we have ever passed."...But as they prayed through the long vigils of the night, the voice of the Lord comforted them, saying, "Fear not, for I am with thee; be not dismayed, for I am thy God."
Giants of the Missionary Trail, by Scripture Press, Book Division, [1954]. The book can be ordered from Fairfax Baptist Temple, 6401 Missionary Lane, Fairfax Station, VA 22039. Email
A Burmese idol statue of BuddhaAt this time they were the only known Christians in a land of millions. Idolatry and superstition was everywhere. "Death drums" were pounded at night to ward off evil spirits. The Judsons were isolated, alone, lonely, and a little spooked.Their support soon dried up (because he became a Baptist) but the enormity of their task only grew. They would labour for 6 years before seeing their first convert. As he applied himself to translating the Bible into Burmese the opposition to his work became heated from the local authorities. By this stage, he and his wife, Ann, now had a baby son. But Adoniram was arrested by local authorities as a British spy and imprisoned for 21 months. He was then sentenced to be executed. It is now regarded as one of the most passionate appeals ever made by a wife for her husband that saw a last minute reprieve for the life of her husband and his eventual release and has led to Ann being known asAnn of Ava (Ava was the then capital of Burma where Adoniram was imprisoned).
"A voice mightier than mine, a still small voice, will ere long sweep away every vestige of thy dominion. The churches of Jesus Christ will soon supplant these idolatrous monuments and the chanting devotees of Buddha will die away before the Christian's hymns of praise."
Adoniram Judson, ca. 1819
Upon his release the couple barely recognised each other. He was skin and bones and scarred from his repeated beatings. She was destitute, wearing rags, and obviously malnourished. The couple would soon bury another two infant children and all too soon Adoniram would bury his dear Ann. Yet despite this he could hold to the conviction that God was good to him. He felt the love of God sustaining him. He felt the love of God for the Burmese driving him on to continue his labour.
"If I had not felt certain that every additional trial was ordered by infinite love and mercy, I could not have survived my accumulated sufferings."
Adoniram Judson
Eight years later he remarried. His new bride was Sarah Boardman, a missionary's widow also labouring in Burma among the Ka'ren people. They were married 11 years before Sarah died and they had 8 children (although 3 of them died in infancy). He returned to America for his only furlough after 33 years of Gospel labour in Burma. While there he met and married Emily Chubbuck in 1846. They had two children but one died in infancy and their son was born shortly after his father died.
For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died;
Second Corinthians 5:14
Adoniram Judson was divinely gripped by the love of Christ. From that night in the Inn where he turned to Christ he was overwhelmed with the love of Christ for him. He soon discovered that the love of Christ was so vast that it was abundantly available to every person on the planet - if they could only be introduced to its Source.
so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,
Ephesians 3:17-18
Judson's love for the Burmese earned him the title, the Apostle of Love. From being such a heart-breaking disappointment to his mother, Adoniram Judson became her pride and joy. But not just her's. While returning from Burma after 38 years of labour there which resulted in the New Testament being gifted to the Burmese in their language and up to 100 converts, his health was failing. He took a sea voyage to return to America but never arrived for he although his body was committed to the sea his foot was set upon a heavenly shore to the welcoming words, "Well done."
Bagan Temple, Burma
Sometimes sons, especially those raised by Christian mothers, can break their mother's hearts. Some mothers give up all hope. But some mothers keep mothering by turning to the Father. Mrs Judson did. One hundred years later missiologists could count 270,000 Burmese people who professed Christ as a direct result of Adoniram Judson's labour. Thank God for mothers who know how to plead with the Father. If you are the believing mother of a wayward son, keep mothering!
And the son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.'
Luke 15:21
Ps. Andrew

Wednesday, 17 April 2013


Here's some ideas for advancing what is universally regarded as abhorrent-

1. Propose something utterly and obviously ridiculously immoral.

2. When your outrageous proposal is rightly denounced, portray yourself as the victim who is being unfairly treated.

3. Do all you can to camouflage your proposal with stories about how you "feel" like you're not getting an equal go and thus trick people into thinking that your proposal is really about "equality" and "rights".

4. Despite the predictable initial and just failure of your proposal, talk about how adopting your proposal will one day be "inevitable" and begin to talk of other jurisdictions that are about to introduce it there (even if there aren't any, make it up) which means we should introduce it here too.

5. Even though your proposal is patently bad, unhealthy, and immoral, re-label it as "progressive", "a right", "justice", and "what society generally wants now" (even if all the data conclusively shows they don't).

6. When decent, wise, courteous people point out why your proposal is bad, wrong, immoral, and unhealthy, quickly divert the public's attention from the actual issue by name-calling these sages as "middle-aged men", "grey haired", "intolerant", "bigots", "uncompassionate", "phobics" who "belong to a by-gone era."

7. Source people to tell legislators that their lives are agony because they feel a social stigma for doing bad, wrong, immoral and unhealthy things which can only change if legislators legislate for the law to allow for and even reward those who practice these things - and (although this might be pushing your luck) have legislators legislate penalties for anyone who publicly states the obvious badness, wrongness, immorality, and unhealthiness of your proposal.

8. Begin to steal the language of the sages and utterly redefine words like immoral, evil, sin, bad, wrong, to mean that the sages are bad, wrong, evil, immoral, for daring to speak up against your proposal.

Of course, the above mock plan would never work or be implemented because it's too obviously preposterous and an exercise in charlatanism.

Andrew Corbett

Friday, 12 April 2013


When The Solution Is Made To Feel Like The Problem


I've had a particularly blessed life. My wife and I are about to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. We are blessed with four incredible children. I have wonderful friends in my life. We are blessed beyond any reasonable measure by belonging to a wonderful church. I have lots of toys, and more shoes than I can wear. I have the world's best job. But, some aren't so blessed. They hurt. They feel stained, stigmatised, misunderstood, let down. We who are blessed are sometimes seen as contributing to this. One day, the most blessed man to have ever lived was tested over this very matter.
And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, "Lord, if you will, you can make me clean."
Matthew 8:2


Somehow Jesus managed to win most of the marginalised and upset most of the Establishment without compromising one verse of the Bible. When He came to earth that first Christmas as a zygote, he felt the ache, the pain, the hurt of everyone He came in contact with. And His heart broke for each of them. To the victim of prostitution, Jesus offered forgiveness, deep emotional cleansing, psychological healing. To the ethnically-challenged woman with the wrong accent and the wrong skin colour, He offered acceptance and grace. To the man bound by unwanted feelings and ostricised by society, Jesus offered wholesome touch, interested conversation, and a meaningful job. To the lonely public figure who didn't want to be seen with Jesus in daylight, Christ offered discretion, and one of the greatest spiritual insights ever revealed. Today, so many are wondering if the followers of Christ could share with them some of these same graces.
Jesus stood up and said to her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" She said, "No one, Lord."
And Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more."

John 8:10-11
bottle of pharmeceutical arsenicJesus didn't excuse her sin. On the contrary, He saw it as the source of her greatest problem. Sin is no one's friend and everyone's enemy. Sin is more deceitful than a lie because it blindsits victim - not by removing its victim's sight, but by convincing its victim that the obvious is not real. It takes a miracle to be awakened from such a Théoden-like stupor. Until then, a soul-blind person will always be deceived into thinking that the very thing which despises them most is the answer to the problem which it has actually caused. In the old days the alchemists prescribed a little arsenic for such things as head-aches, vomiting, diarrhea, and convulsions. The more arsenic their patients took, the worse these symptoms got. Sin is like arsenic for the soul. Like Jesus though, we don't wag our fingers and look down our noses at those who are poisoned by sin. Rather, we feel compassion for them and try to offer God's antedote - the very thing their soul aches for (even though they describe this ache with words like respect, acceptance, tolerance, love, dignity).
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
Matthew 9:36
But this offer of God's antedote is seen through the eyes of a sin-stained soul as a slap, a condemnation, a rejection, a denouncement. But it is not. It often results in anger, outrage, and hatred. The story is told of a pro-golfer who played a round of golf with Billy Graham, the preacher. After the 18 holes the pro-golfer stormed into the locker-room and threw his golf bag down against the wall in anger. Another golfer enquired as to whether he was alright? He said that Billy Graham didn't let up. At every hole he was preaching at him. By the 18th hole, he was so angry at Billy Graham for making him feel guilty and so aware of his sin. "Wow!" said his sympathetic locker-room buddy, He really gave it to you then?" "Actually, he didn't say a word" admitted the pro-golfer rather sheepishly. I've actually had many conversations like that one.
If I [Jesus] had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: 'They hated me without a cause.
John 15:24-25
Have you ever seen something white then realised that it was actually off-white when something whiter was placed against it? In a similar way it seems that the religious leaders of Jesus' day thought they were pretty holy - until Jesus came. His impeccably pure life contrasted with their tainted version of it. As the above verses quoting Jesus reveal, they quickly hated Jesus for making them feel unclean. For these religious leaders being unclean was the worst possible social stigma. They required lepers to call out "UNCLEAN, UNCLEAN" as they came near other people. Jesus was publicly stating that it wasn't just lepers who wereunclean-
¶ "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness.
Matthew 23:27
The ones who denied their uncleanness were the ones who hated Jesus and what He was about the most. The ones who knew they were unclean were the ones who came to Jesus for cleansing. This brings us back to our opening text in Matthew 8:2 where the unclean leper comes to Jesus and rather than protest that Jesus is making him feel unclean, he asks Jesus for help. But not merely help, he wants his soul as well as his body "cleansed". How many people today hate Jesus by hating His followers and don't really understand why they feel this way? This is one of the tricks that sin plays on its victims - it blame-shifts and makes the solution feel like the cause of the problem. The leper that came to Jesus had to swallow his pride, like anyone who wants to come to Jesus even today, and admit that the problem was the problem rather than trying to make the solution the problem. The result for the leper was that not only was his leprosy cleansed, but so was his heart and soul. How many people today who similarly feel stigmatised, marginalised, or despised have been tricked by the Enemy of their soul that this is the cause of their problems?

At our recent Easter meetings we heard from Annie who shared of her spiralling down into prostitution and drugs. She feltunclean. When she cried out to Jesus for cleansing her life was slowly but dramatically turned around and she was drawn to go to church - but she feared how these nice church people would look down at her. When she arrived in church that first Sunday she was overwhelmed with the love, acceptance and forgiveness she experienced. And Annie Lobert is not the only one to discover that what she thought was the problem was actually part of the solution!

The leper of Matthew 8 approached Jesus with a degree of uncertainty. He was really asking through his confusion and insecurity: "Jesus, are You willing to help me? Are you willing to heal me?"
And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, "I will; be clean." And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.
Matthew 8:3
You'll find the same response from Jesus today. He is willing to cleanse, heal, forgive, save, accept, all those who humbly come to Him. The uncomfortable and humbling truth of the matter is though, that He does this today through His followers, the Church. The Enemy hates Christ and therefore the Enemy hates the Church and does all in his vile underhandedness to make its sin-gripped soul-aching victims believe that Christians and their message of grace are the problem. Even still, Jesus is willing to offer hope, cleansing, healing, salvation and a fresh start. He now calls us to compassionately help those who ache to be set free. And, like Jesus, we will.
¶ So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, "If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
John 8:31-32
Ps. Andrew

Monday, 8 April 2013

If The Foundations Are Destroyed

"If the foundations are destroyed," the Royal Psalmist wrote, "what can the righteous do?" Foundations are rather integral not just for buildings, but for people, families, churches and societies. But it sounds like the Kingly minstrel regarded the "righteous" as integral to a society's foundations. 

King David wrote this in Psalm 11:3. But in keeping with the principle of context, we get a clue about what he was intending when we read the preceding two verses. In verse 1, David refers to God as his refuge and he describes the urge he battles with to be like a bird that flies away to the top of a mountain. I'm sure that David is not alone in wanting God to be their "refuge" or "hiding place" in times of intense pressure. The idea of being able to "fly away" is probably a very tempting option for those who are struggling to cope with strained relationships and the pressures of life. This is how David was feeling. The next verse gives the reader a clue as to why he was feeling this way.

In verse 2, David describes his present state. The wicked shoot arrows at the upright in the dark. It's hard to see arrows coming at you when they are fired in the dark! David was feeling like he was under attack by people he identified as "enemies". Spiritually, our Enemy also fires at us "in the dark". Sometimes the attacks of the Enemy are so intense that we too wish we could just fly away like a bird. But if the upright, those who know God as "LORD", should flee from the heat of the battle, then verse 3 results: the foundations are destroyed.


People need foundations. Families need foundations. Churches need foundations. Society needs foundations. What kind of foundations would King David consider as godly? Surely the foundations that David has in mind begins with -
1. The Truth About God
2. The Truth From God (His Word)
3. The Truth holding us to account

The Enemy attacks the upright with very little regard to any rules of fair-play. The Enemy seeks to wear down the godly (note Daniel 7:25). His constant attack against the foundations which underpin successful people, families, churches, and societies, require those who love the truth to take a stand for the truth.

In his book, MUD, SWEAT, AND TEARS, Bear Grylls describes the process he went through to enter the British SAS (elite forces). One hundred and eighty men applied. Four men, including BG, made it through the program. After Bear completed the SAS training, he tells of the moment that changed his life when a mysterious high ranking SAS veteran entered the room and spoke briefly with the four new SAS soldiers. The one statement that gripped BG was: You mean are extraordinary! And there is only one thing that separates the ordinary from the extraordinary, and that's the little word extra! You will find yourself getting to the point when everything in you wants to quit - but you won't! You have within you the capacity to do extra - more than what is expected!"

Spiritually, followers of Christ now have the capacity to do the extraordinary! Even though the heat of battle attempts to wears us down, God enables us to take a stand and to contribute to the maintaining of the foundations that secure the welfare of people, families, churches and society. We need more Christians to understand that they should be on "a war footing". In the Australian movie, TOMORROW, WHEN THE WAR BEGAN, we are introduced to group of ordinary Aussie teenagers who see life as a licence to have fun but are then thrust into a sudden war where their families have either been killed or imprisoned. The transformation of Homer from an irresponsible clown into a mature responsible soldier is breath-taking. But how many people realise that we are already in a war, a spiritual war which seeks to undermine our foundations.

David goes on to describe the foundations he is referring to. In verse 4, he tells us something about God, the LORD - He is enthroned in Heaven. God rules. He is Sovereign. God is in control. His eyes test all people. This is God, the truth of His Word, and accountability to the truth - the foundations that the Enemy continually seeks to destroy and what the righteous must continually defend.


Is A Green Banana Really A Banana If It's Not Yet A Fully Developed Banana?

Thursday, 4 April 2013


What is God saying to His Church today? Even this question is controversial. For the ultra conservatives, God does not speak because He has spoken through His Word. For the ultra-charismatic, God is continually speaking it's just that people can't hear Him unless they learn how to listen. Balance is not the goal here - truth is. What is God saying to His Church today? Not what do you reckon - but what is He saying?
But God speaks again and again, though people do not recognize it.
Job 33:14


The New Testament extols the gift of prophecy (Rom. 12:6; 1Cor. 12:10; 14:6; 1Tim 4:14). It is listed as a gift of the Spirit which should not be despised.
Do not despise prophecies
First Thessalonians 5:20
Utra-Conservative Christians may attempt to make this verse mean "Biblical" prophecies. But Paul's comments to Timothy about the prophecies made over him with the laying on of hands rule out such a narrow interpretation of Paul's use of the term.
¶ This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare...Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you.
First Timothy 1:18; 4:14
Many Conservatives argue that when God speaks it is undeniable and unmistakeable. This sounds reasonable. After all, if the Sovereign God determines to speak surely He will be sovereignly be heard? Many Charismatics, however, argue that God is speaking almost continually and most people don't listen therefore God's voice is not heard. Both camps can find Scriptures to support their views. It seems that the Conservatives have a point that God is not always speaking. There are times when God is "silent". The Psalmistfelt God's silence.
¶ To you, O LORD, I call;
my rock, be not deaf to me,
lest, if you be silent to me,
I become like those who go down to the pit.
Psalm 28:1
If you have struggled to hear God, the Conservative knows why. There are times when He is silent, they tell us. But the Charismatics challenge us not to become spiritually complacent. God may not be speaking all the time, but He is probably speaking to us more than we realise. Not everyone recognises God speaking to them.
"Father, glorify your name." Then a voice came from heaven: "I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again." The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, "An angel has spoken to him."  Jesus answered, "This voice has come for your sake, not mine.
John 12:28-30
God speaks again and again though people don't recognise it, we read in Job 33:14. What is God saying today? The Conservative is right when he says God is adding nothing to His written Word. That is, God is saying nothing today that He hasn't already said in His Word. But the Conservative is forgetting the Scripture's injunction to "earnestly seek to prophesy" (1Cor. 14:1) and to "not despise prophecy" (1Thess. 5:20). Despite their claims that God only ever spoke supernaturally through such human means as prophecy until the Canon of the New Testament was completed, history and human experience does not support their claims. The record of Church History is peppered with examples of God's people who heard God and declared not just Canonised Word but also His prophetic word.

The Conservative and the Charismatic should meet for coffee. It's not middle ground we're after. Rather, we want to discard false assumptions whether they be Conservative or Charismatic and conclude coffee by coming away with the truth that they both see. I think this might look coming away from that coffee break with a greater appreciation for the unique authority of God's written Word as the highest authority for faith and conduct. But I think we would also come away with an unclogged spiritual ear where we become open to hear the "whisper" of God.
Behold, these are but the outskirts of his ways,
and how small a whisper do we hear of him!
But the thunder of his power who can understand?"

Job 26:14
What is God saying to His Church today? As I listen for the voice of God in its manifold and various manifestations I hear God saying, "Brace yourself!" "Stand firm!" My mind races when I hear the Spirit speak this. I wonder if the Spirit is calling us to remain faithful to the Gospel once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3) because we are now facing cultural, commercial, and statutory pressure to abandon it? I wonder if its a call to stop a decline in love for the Lord - a call to return to a passionate "first love" commitment of absolute obedience to Christ?

We should be a people who are familiar with the voice of God by becoming familiar with the written Word of God where we hear His voice to us. But we should have ears that hear what the Spirit is saying to us. This Sunday as we gather could you offer yourself to the Spirit of God to be used as an instrument of His voice? When you pray about your contribution to our assembly this Sunday, could you please begin praying that God will give you ears to hear? If you have not been freshly filled with the Holy Spirit, can you seek God for a fresh filling so that the Spirit's audible gifts might be evident in your life? By doing this we have a better chance of answering the question, What is God saying to the church today?
'He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'
Rev. 2:29

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Tasmania's Reproductive Health Bill

Submission In Response To The Proposed

Prepared by Dr. Andrew Corbett

We have serious concerns about this proposed legislation, its process for public consideration, its wider implications and the motive for its promotion.

The discussion paper introduces its interpretation definitions for the language within the proposed Bill. Of immediate concern is the definition of the word “terminate”. The Draft Bill states - 
terminate   means to discontinue a woman’s pregnancy by – 
(a) using an instrument or a combination of instruments; or 
(b) using a drug or a combination of drugs; or 
(c) any other means; 

This is an unsatisfactory definition of the term “terminate” even in the context of this Draft Bill. What does the word “terminate” mean? This is a question that: “to discontinue a woman’s pregnancy” does not answer - because to discontinue a woman’s pregnancy answers a different question: What happens to a woman’s pregnancy when her in utero baby dies? Thus, the stated definition is answering what happens after a “termination” has occurred - not what a termination actually is. 

Access To Terminations
It was with a reasonable amount of surprise to read the proposals in this Draft Bill. This surprise resulted from hearing Ms. O’Byrne’s own media statements at the launch of this Draft Bill where she repeatedly stated that this proposed legislation was simply “tidying up” the current ‘out-dated’ pieces of legislation. But upon reading this Draft, we are immediately confronted with a proposal to terminate unborn babies that is radically different to anything currently being legally practised. 
4. Terminations by medical practitioner at not more than 24 weeks 
The pregnancy of a woman who is not more than 24 weeks pregnant may be terminated by a medical practitioner. 

This is not “tidying up”. This article from the Draft Bill is concerning for what it doesn’t say (and what the Draft Bill goes on to make clear). Under this proposed legislation a medical practitioner may not refuse to carry out a termination. Rather than tidying up a medical practitioner’s legal standing, this Draft Bill, if legislated, could create a mine-field of legal uncertainty for medical practitioners. Secondly, a medical practitioner may not refer a patient to counsellor who does counsels against getting a termination. This proposal is not a revision change, this is a regime change. 

Terminating an unborn baby “after 24 weeks” presumably means up to full term. Again, this is not a slight adjustment to any existing legislation. This is a radical proposal. 
5. Terminations by medical practitioner after 24 weeks 
(1) In this section – 
informed consent means consent given by a woman where a medical practitioner has provided her with counselling about the medical risk of termination of pregnancy and of carrying a pregnancy to term. 

The proposal to provide women enquiring about terminating the life of their unborn child with a list of the medical risks associated with such a procedure is long overdue - because the risks are numerous. These include-
  • Increased mortality rates for the mother
According to the best record based study of deaths following pregnancy and abortion, a 1997 government funded study in Finland, women who abort are approximately four times more likely to die in the following year than women who carry their pregnancies to term.
- Gissler, M., et. al., “Pregnancy-associated deaths in Finland 1987-1994 — definition problems and benefits of record linkage,” Acta Obsetricia et Gynecolgica Scandinavica 76:651-657 (1997).
  • Increased risk for the mother: ovarian, cervical, and liver cancer
Women with a history of one abortion face a 2.3 times higher risk of having cervical cancer, compared to women with no history of abortion.  Women with two or more abortions face a 4.92 relative risk. Similar elevated risks of subsequent ovarian and liver cancer have also been linked to single and multiple abortions. These increased cancer rates for post-aborted women may be linked to the unnatural disruption of the hormonal changes which accompany pregnancy and untreated cervical damage or to increased stress and the negative impact of stress on the immune system.
- M-G, Le, et al., “Oral Contraceptive Use and Breast or Cervical Cancer: Preliminary Results of a French Case- Control Study, Hormones and Sexual Factors in Human Cancer Etiology, ed. JP Wolff, et al., Excerpta Medica: New York (1984) pp.139-147; F. Parazzini, et al., “Reproductive Factors and the Risk of Invasive and Intraepithelial Cervical Neoplasia,” British Journal of Cancer, 59:805-809 (1989); H.L. Stewart, et al., “Epidemiology of Cancers of the Uterine Cervix and Corpus, Breast and Ovary in Israel and New York City,” Journal of the National Cancer Institute 37(1):1-96; I. Fujimoto, et al., “Epidemiologic Study of Carcinoma in Situ of the Cervix,” Journal of Reproductive Medicine 30(7):535 (July 1985); N. Weiss, “Events of Reproductive Life and the Incidence of Epithelial Ovarian Cancer,” Am. J. of Epidemiology, 117(2):128-139 (1983); V. Beral, et al., “Does Pregnancy Protect Against Ovarian Cancer,” The Lancet, May 20, 1978, pp. 1083-1087; C. LaVecchia, et al., “Reproductive Factors and the Risk of Hepatocellular Carcinoma in Women,” International Journal of Cancer, 52:351, 1992.

  • Increased risk of uterine perforation
The risk of uterine perforation is increased for women who have previously given birth and for those who receive general anesthesia at the time of the abortion. Uterine damage may result in complications in later pregnancies and may eventually evolve into problems which require a hysterectomy, which itself may result in a number of additional complications and injuries including osteoporosis.
- S. Kaali, et al., “The Frequency and Management of Uterine Perforations During First-Trimester Abortions,” Am. J. Obstetrics and Gynecology 161:406-408, August 1989; M. White, “A Case-Control Study of Uterine Perforations documented at Laparoscopy,” Am. J. Obstetrics and Gynecology 129:623 (1977)

  • Increased risk of cervical laceration
Significant cervical lacerations requiring sutures occur in at least one percent of first trimester abortions. Lesser lacerations, or micro fractures, which would normally not be treated may also result in long term reproductive damage. Latent post-abortion cervical damage may result in subsequent cervical incompetence, premature delivery, and complications of labor. The risk of cervical damage is greater for teenagers, for second trimester abortions, and when practitioners fail to use laminaria for dilation of the cervix.
- K. Schulz, et al., “Measures to Prevent Cervical Injuries During Suction Curettage Abortion,” The Lancet, May 28, 1983, pp 1182-1184; W. Cates, “The Risks Associated with Teenage Abortion,” New England Journal of Medicine, 309(11):612-624; R. Castadot, “Pregnancy Termination: Techniques, Risks, and Complications and Their Management,” Fertility and Sterility, 45(1):5-16 (1986).

  • Increased risk of placenta previa
Abortion increases the risk of placenta previa in later pregnancies (a life threatening condition for both the mother and her wanted pregnancy) by seven to fifteen fold. Abnormal development of the placenta due to uterine damage increases the risk of fetal malformation, perinatal death, and excessive bleeding during labor.
- Barrett, et al., “Induced Abortion: A Risk Factor for Placenta Previa”, American Journal of Ob&Gyn. 141:7 (1981).

  • Increased risk of subsequent miscarriage
Women who had one, two, or more previous induced abortions are, respectively, 1.89, 2.66, or 2.03 times more likely to have a subsequent pre-term delivery, compared to women who carry to term. Prior induced abortion not only increased the risk of premature delivery, it also increased the risk of delayed delivery. Women who had one, two, or more induced abortions are, respectively, 1.89, 2.61, and 2.23 times more likely to have a post-term delivery (over 42 weeks).
- Zhou, Weijin, et. al., “Induced Abortion and Subsequent Pregnancy Duration,” Obstetrics & Gynecology 94(6):948-953 (Dec. 1999).  Klemetti R, Gissler M, Niinimäki M, Hemminki E. Birth outcomes after induced abortion: a nationwide register-based study of first births in Finland. Hum Reprod 2012 Aug 29. [Epub ahead of print]. Rooney B, Calhoun BC. Induced Abortion and Risk of Later Premature Births. Journal American Physicians & Surgeons 2003;8(2):46-49 Bhattacharya S, Lowit A, Bhattacharya S, Raja EA. -et al. Reproductive outcomes following induced abortion: a national register-based study in Scotland. BMJ OPEN Summer 2012. Swingle HM, Colaizy TT, Zimmerman MB, et al Abortion and the risk of subsequent preterm birth: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Reproductive Med 2009;54:95-108.

  • Increased risk of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
PID is a potentially life threatening disease which can lead to an increased risk of ectopic pregnancy and reduced fertility. Of patients who have a chlamydia infection at the time of the abortion, 23% will develop PID within 4 weeks. Studies have found that 20 to 27% of patients seeking abortion have a chlamydia infection. Approximately 5% of patients who are not infected by chlamydia develop PID within 4 weeks after a first trimester abortion. It is therefore reasonable to expect that abortion providers should screen for and treat such infections prior to an abortion.
Endometritis is a post-abortion risk for all women, but especially for teenagers, who are 2.5 times more likely than women 20-29 to acquire endometritis following abortion.
- Burkman, et al., “Morbidity Risk Among Young Adolescents Undergoing Elective Abortion” Contraception, 30:99-105 (1984); “Post-Abortal Endometritis and Isolation of Chlamydia Trachomatis,” Obstetrics and Gynecology 68(5):668- 690, (1986)

  • Increased risk of immediate complications
Approximately 10% of women undergoing elective abortion will suffer immediate complications, of which approximately one-fifth (2%) are considered life threatening. The nine most common major complications which can occur at the time of an abortion are: infection, excessive bleeding, embolism, ripping or perforation of the uterus, anesthesia complications, convulsions, hemorrhage, cervical injury, and endotoxic shock. The most common “minor” complications include: infection, bleeding, fever, second degree burns, chronic abdominal pain, vomiting, gastro-intestinal disturbances, and Rh sensitization.
- Frank,, “Induced Abortion Operations and Their Early Sequelae”, Journal of the Royal College of General Practitioners (April 1985),35(73):175-180; Grimes DA, Cates W Jr.  Abortion:  Methods and complications.  In:  Hafez ESE, ed.  Human reproduction:  Conception and contraception  (2nd ed).  Hagerstown, Maryland:  Harper and Row, 1980:796‑813.; M.A. Freedman, “Comparison of complication rates in first trimester abortions performed by physician assistants and physicians,” Am. J. Public Health, 76(5):550- 554 (1986).
  • Increased risk of psychological and psychiatric disorders
A study of the medical records of 56,741 California medicaid patients revealed that women who had abortions were 160 percent more likely than delivering women to be hospitalized for psychiatric treatment in the first 90 days following abortion or delivery. Rates of psychiatric treatment remained significantly higher for at least four years.
- Badgley,,Report of the Committee on the Operation of the Abortion Law (Ottawa:Supply and Services, 1977) pp.313-321.

These are only some of the health risks for women directly related to terminating an unborn baby. Currently, there is no obligation for a medical practitioner to convey these risks to a woman enquiring about terminating her baby. What is confusing about the wording of this Draft is that the medical practitioner is required to warn an expectant mother of the risks of carrying to full term her baby!

The Draft Bill places an unfair, unjust, and unqualified burden on medical practitioners when it requires of them-
5. (3) In assessing the risk referred to in subsection (2)(a)(i), the medical practitioners must have regard to the woman’s current and future physical, psychological, economic and social circumstances. 

How on earth can a medical practitioner be expected to evaluate a judgment on a woman’s worthiness to become a mother on the basis of her economic and social circumstances?! 
The Bill proposes to give a medical practitioner who seconds another medical practitioner the legal power to abort a woman’s baby - even against her will.
5. (4) If it is impracticable for the woman to give informed consent, the two medical practitioners referred to in subsection (2)(a)(i) are to make a declaration in writing detailing the reasons why it was impracticable for the woman to give informed consent. 

This requires the reasonable section of the current Criminal Code to be amended to what even sounds unreasonable and unjust. This Draft Bill therefore requires Section 178E of the Criminal Code to be removed -
178E. Termination without woman’s consent 
(1) A person who intentionally or recklessly terminates the pregnancy of a woman without the woman’s consent, whether or not the woman suffers any other harm, is guilty of a crime. 

Medical practitioners who have a reasonable conscientious objection to the deliberate taking of a human life are prohibited from exercising their conscience in instances where a pregnant women is in physical danger (where it is deemed that the pregnancy contributes to her danger). This places these medical practitioners in an impossible situation. With the exception of ectopic pregnancies, pregnancy is rarely life-threatening (natural birthing might be, thus giving cause for the baby to be delivered by caesarian section). The Draft Bill similarly requires of nurses who also have a conscientious objection to terminating the life of the unborn without just cause in an impossible situation.
5. (4) Despite any conscientious objection to terminations, a nurse is under a duty to assist a medical practitioner in performing a termination in an emergency if a termination is necessary to save the life of a pregnant woman or to prevent her serious physical injury. 

Public Consideration
We are deeply concerned over the process for public consideration of this Draft Bill. It is our fear that even with the weight of submissions against the tenor, direction, and intention of this proposed legislation, that the sponsor of the Bill will proceed before there has been due process of analyzing the various submissions.

Wider Implications
The Draft Bill seeks to regulate far more than what its title suggests. We are deeply concerned that it places heavy financial penalties on medical practitioners who for reasons of oaths and consciences object to taking part in this contentious practice.
But the Draft Bill goes further and purposes to make free speech, a foundational democratic right, also the subject the hefty financial penalties for ordinary citizens. This sounds extraordinarily draconian.
What is most bizarre though, is that we now know that an “abortion” is not merely the terminating of a pregnancy - it is the deliberate ending of a human life. To justify this on “economic” or “social standing” grounds is deplorable! The only reason that such a proposal is generally countenanced is because there is an invisibleness to the unborn. This leads to a lack of emotional engagement for those involved. But today we can banish the invisibleness of the unborn with 3D and 4D ultra-sounds whereby we can observe a child in the womb at the early stages of a pregnancy acting very much like a child. What this Draft Bill seeks to legitimatise is the idea that the unborn is either: not a human being, or that they are a human being who does not deserve to live. There is no economic or social argument against someone’s most basic right: the right to live.

Reading through the Draft Bill it is difficult not to get the feel that there is some commercial interest behind it. It reads like a major abortion clinic provider would have heavily contributed to it. It is sophisticated (literally) in much of its language. If it plainly spelled out what it would actually result in, most people would be appalled. Far from being an exercise in “tidying up existing legislation” it will inevitably lead to partial-birth, post-natal and after-birth abortions of babies up to full term! That is, the Draft Bill removes from the Criminal Code prohibitions for the homicide committed by a “medical practitioner” of a birthed  healthy, functioning baby. One of the reasons this will inevitably happen if this Draft Bill is enacted is that it is physically safer for the mother to deliver her baby, and easier for the “medical practitioner” to then terminate the life of the baby.

With so many couples seeking to adopt - and the Tasmanian Government ironically seeking to broaden the criteria for who can adopt - it seems infinitely better economically, medically, socially, morally, ethically, to place the focus on adoption rather than infanticide. We strongly condemn this proposed Bill for the reasons herein. 

Prepared by Dr. Andrew Corbett