Thursday, 30 May 2013


"Pair up!" When you pair well with someone, there is mutual benefit. Your partner can add strength to you when you are weak. Your partner can give you an insight that you hadn't considered. Your partner can share their experiences, knowledge and resources with you to turn what is challenging you into what was challenging you. We were created to be paired. Adam and Eve. Noah's animals. Moses and Aaron. Christ's disciples. When we are not paired we feel it. Sometimes this unpairing happens before we realise it. And when it does it is then that we need repairing.

It's only in recent times though that word pair has come to mean two. It originated from the Old French word paire which came from the Latin paria which both meant "equal". To make equal. The Gospel pairs people. A Monarch becomes paired with the beggar when they both receive the Gospel that leads them to accept Christ. An elderly woman in the Autumn of her life becomes paired with a young man in the Summer of his life when they are both baptised into the Body of Christ. An African girl is paired with an elderly white European man when they stand before the same altar and worship the same Saviour. The Gospel pairs people.
For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
First Corinthians 12:13
Pastors are paired with their congregation. Equal. Equal access to God. Equal standing before God. Equal inheritance from God. Yet paired in such a way that their differences add, not diminish, their pairing. A pastor contributes his gifts and abilities through the filter of his experiences while a congregation contributes their differing gifts and abilities through the filter of their personalities and experiences. Pairing is one of the most beautiful aspects of the mystical union that believers share with each other.
¶ After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go.
Luke 10:1
Unpairing happens when we withdraw and isolate ourselves. From the beginning, God condescended to be paired with Adam and Eve. A sad day came when Adam and Eve unpaired themselves. When God came down in the cool of the day the result of this unpairing became immediately apparent: Adam and Eve hid from God. When we have afflicted aloneness on ourselves we move into the most unnatural state of being unpaired. The unpaired soul will seek to hide from God and His presence. Of course Adam had ready 'reasons' why he was hiding - most people do. "They hurt me at that church, so I'm just taking time out from church"..."They don't really care about me in that church, so I'm not going there anymore"..."They're so judgmental in that church which is why I want nothing to do with church anymore"..."They offended me when they pried into my personal life, so I'm looking for a more loving church to attend instead." The vocabularly of an unpaired soul.
¶ With promises like this to pull us on, dear friends, let's make a clean break with everything that defiles or distracts us, both within and without. Let's make our entire lives fit and holy temples for the worship of God.
Second Corinthians 7:1
Do you know someone who is unpaired? If you do, you might be able to help them to pair again, or repair.

I'm a repaired soul. God took my offence and bitterness and repaired my heart with His Spirit. Perhaps it's time for some repairing to happen in the hearts and souls of the many unpaired once-close-followers of Christ who are peppered across our City? This is one of God's main purposes for us as a church - to be a place of pairing and repairing. It's a challenging purpose because there is so much at work against us. Our Enemy wants to isolate and damage people. But our God wants to pair and repair people. The original script of the Enemy still forms the dialogue that he uses to trick people into thinking that church is unncessary, unimportant, unhelpful, and unwarranted. "Has God said...?" Today, we need people who love Jesus and love what Jesus loves who can repair His Church and strengthen it.
So those who were engaged in the work labored, and the repairing went forward in their hands, and they restored the house of God to its proper condition and strengthened it.
Second Chronicles 24:13
Being unpaired damages people. We are all designed to be paired with God. For those who enjoy being paired with God there is the infinite pleasure of being a "partner with Christ" (Heb. 3:14 - For we have become partners with Christ, if in fact we hold our initial confidence firm until the end) and being granted access to approach God as our Heavenly Father!
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Hebrews 4:16 .
When you are repaired by Christ your wounded soul becomes whole. The wounds that are denied, yet obvious to all around you, are no longer denied, but acknowledged and salved by Christ's sweet balm. God's repairing of your soul involves being paired to Christ. The Shepherd Psalm describes this as having your soul restored. The repaired soul experiences renewed love for Jesus and what He loves. Watch any lovers who pair up together and note how they take on an interest in the things that delight their partner. In a similar way, pair up with Christ and note how your soul is repaired into love for those things that Christ delights in. You'll read the Scriptures, which Christ authored as well as inspired, with a repaired vigour to discover what He loves so that the work of repairing your soul is brought to its fulness. Have you been repaired by Christ? Is your soul free from the damage of bitterness and unforgiveness? Are you harbouring offence that has unpaired you and left you needing to be repaired? The Gospel lovingly summons you to be healed, set free, forgiven and repaired. God only knows how desperately this world needs repairing.

Ps. Andrew

Wednesday, 22 May 2013


It amuses me somewhat that in a culture that ridicules spiritual things, especially Christian things, but most especially the notion of an all-knowing/all-powerful God, that the idea that history is heading along aninevitable course, is so widely used as the reason for social change. It strikes me thatinevitability and destiny are distinctly Theistic (Christian) concepts. After all, in an atheistic worldview, there is no God guiding history - therefore nothing is inevitable! Yet this word, inevitable, is being used with such regularity, it may be inevitable that it will one day dawn on those who use it that (because they are using it) their social agenda is actually not what the Sovereign Law Giver has decreed at all. But what really makes something inevitable?

Some of us are old enough to remember people who claimed that their right to rule the world was inevitable. In the 1930s there was a man who claimed that it was inevitable that his empire would conquer the world and last a thousand years! Fortunately he was wrong! I believe in inevitability - because I am a follower of Christ. Inevitability can be positive (change for the better) ornegative (change for the worse). The Bible teaches this. In Romans 1, for example, it says that when people "supress the truth" it is inevitable that people's thinking "becomes darkened" and that eventually it will inevitably lead to grossly immoral behaviour-
¶ For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
Romans 1:26-27
Because I am a follower of Christ and believe the Bible to be God's Word to all of mankind, I think it is inevitable that if the Church wisely and boldy proclaims the love and forgiveness of God, more people will be converted to becoming followers of Christ and society's morals and laws will increasingly reflect respect for our Maker. It is also inevitable for a church to be healthy and blessed when it courageously carries out the Great Commission of our adorable Saviour-
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."
Matthew 28:19-20
Yet Romans 1 also pronounces a solemn warning that God's great displeasure will come upon those who not only practice such things as listed in Romans 1:29-31, but upon those who do nothing about it and thereby lend their approval to such vile conduct.
Though they know God's righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.
Romans 1:32
It is of course inevitable that when followers of the Christmas Child point out to a society that their behaviour is sin, that they will be ridiculed. Ridicule, of course, is not an argument - yet some who are desperately attempting to supress the truth have no real justification for their sin, so they are forced to ridicule and name-call. I listened intently for the particular argument that swayed a former Australian Prime Minister into announcing a nonsensical backflip on a previously sound position. "My daughters thought I was a dinosaur for still believing that marriage was only between a man and a woman." That was it. No swaying argument. No new evidence. No real reason. Just a capitulation to ridicule. When people are swayed more by the opinions of others it is inevitable that they will relinquish common sense and adopt foolishness. This former PM went on to say that Same-Sex Marriage was "inevitable". Romans 1 agrees with him if you appreciate the "if" underlying Romans 1.
¶ And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.
Romans 1:28-31
But what if the conditions of Romans 1's "if" are not met? That is, the truth is not supressed. Rather than people becoming darkened in their thinking, they become enlightened in their thinking? Rather than people refusing to acknowledge God or give Him thanks, they begin to honour Him and thank Him? Rather than people worshiping creation (the "environment") they worship the Creator? Then Romans 1 presents us with an entirely different inevitability. This can only happen when a church, prayerfully, earnestly and boldly proclaims the Gospel of God's power to save (Romans 1:16). It is this message of the light of God's love that not only shines on darkness and exposes it (see Eph. 5:11) it also dispels darkness! And unlike any other form of darkness, this is a darkness of the human soul that is felt in the heart.
Today there are so many people who gripped by darkness. It clouds their thinking. It hurts their conscience. It nags at them. When Jesus Christ was executed on the Cross He experienced the eternal weight of guilt's darkness and conquered it! It is now only through Jesus that people can find forgiveness of their sins, freedom from their fears, and cleansing from their guilt. If you surrender your life to Christ, it is inevitable that He will not only forgive and cleanse you, He will reassign you into a live of meaning and purpose. It's inevitable.
¶ Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
First Corinthians 6:9-11
I suspect that our Maker considers it inevitable that when His image bearers attempt to declare their own version of inevitability by resorting to (re)defining for themselves the Laws that govern life and matter (Laws which we can only best describe not redefine) they will discover to their shame and hurt that such attempts are utterly foolish (and arrogant). We may not like gravity. We may even consider that gravity is rather intolerant. We may even declare, because of such sentiments, it is inevitable that gravity will have to be redefined in order to keep up with the times. We may even encounter reasonable and caring people who point out to us that we can only describe gravity and not redefine it. Never mind these dinosaurs! They simply belong to a by-gone era where truth was once objective and people thought that we were all created by a God who also established the Laws that govern people and matter. Dinosaurs!

You may feel that your life is heading an inevitable direction - which you realise is not in your best interests. Jesus Christ has demonstrated in countless millions of lives that He does not share the view that your doom is inevitable. He has radically redeemed the course of many lives seemingly headed toward an inevitable demise who turned to Him and were graced with His favour. In the Bible we think of Joseph, Moses, Daniel, and others who faced inevitable doom but discovered that the One who rules what He has made has His own version of inevitability. If you feel empty, or guilty, or like your life is doomed, there is hope. You may have had a negative experience in your childhood. You don't have to end up like your father, mother, or even continue your family history. It's not inevitable! But what is inevitable is that if you seek (God's best for your life) you will find it. If you knock (on the door of God's redeeming grace and forgiveness), it will be opened to you. You are one prayer away from changing what was inevitable if you do nothing about it.

Ps. Andrew

Thursday, 16 May 2013

The Facts About Angels

Do not neglect hospitality, because through it some have entertained angels without knowing it.
Hebrews 13:2
angel statueBefore there was a planet, a person, or a problem, there were angels. Unlike us humans who can trace our ancestry back back to one man and one woman, angels are not a race, they are a company (they do not reproduce themselves). They can travel at the speed of light. They can alter their appearance and even 'appear' invisible. This enables them to interact with us humans in ways that we might not always recognise.

The author of Hebrews states this rather too a-matter-of-fact-ly. I would have welcomed him to have explained what he meant in Hebrews 13:2 that some believers had hosted angels without realising it. He stated in the previous chapter that the Church had a direct heavenly link to "innumerable angels". I would have liked that one explained a bit further as well. It seems that the early church experienced the company of angels of an all-too-frequent basis. When things got tough for the Church, it was often angels who rescued them. Just because something or someone is invisible doesn't mean they are imaginery. Angels could transform their supra-reality into the less-real physicality of human beings. We see them singing over the birth of Jesus. We see them in the desert ministering sustanance to Jesus. We see them outside the tomb of Jesus presumably having just thrown a several tonne boulder away from the mouth of the entombing cave. We see them at the ascension of Jesus. We see them busting open prisons to free near-despairing apostles. We hear reports of them apparently giving strange doctrines to wandering preachers which caused the Apostle Paul to warn against such false teaching - but not against the idea that angels appear to believers! Then we are overwhelmed when we are given just a sneak peak into Revelation's Heaven where we are awed by 100 trillion mighty angels in one sector of heaven who apparently form a sampling of their total number!

Angel is diapers (nappies)The majestic creatures we call angels are not the pathetically cute little flying babies we often see wearing nappies and having wings on their backs. Neither are they erotic catwalk models - in fact, there is no hint that there are any female angels (sorry Google). These splendid creatures are described in the Bible as tall, strong, and no-nonsense. On nearly ever occasion they appear to people in the Bible, they induce great fear. "Fear not", is usually the first thing they have to say to those they appear to (eg. Daniel 10:12). Sometimes they are described as having wings, but generally not. They are ordered into different varieties with different aspects of the divine mission. We observe in Scripture messenger-angels, guardian-angels, military-angels, worship-leading angels, and executive angels. These created beings exist to serve (the Bible word for serve is 'minister') their Creator. He commissions them to intervene in the affairs of man so that His plan of redemption is sovereignly stewarded.
¶ Of the angels he says,
"He makes his angels winds,
and his ministers a flame of fire."
Hebrews 1:7
You may never know how often God has used angels to rescue, instruct, or correct you. Chances are that everytime you pray both your prayer and its answer have something to do with the involvement of angels. We don't have to pray or talk directly to angels - and indeed we shouldn't - because we have the privilege that angels can't understand, of being invited to pray directly to God through Christ.
It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.
First Peter 1:12
Your praying is not in vain. Your enduring faith is not in vain. Your love for Christ's Church is not in vain. Your devotion to the Scriptures is not in vain. In each of these spiritual exercises there are often angels actively involved.


Messenger Angels are counted in the "myriads" (billions of trillions). They carry out God's mission of spreading His glory through divinely authorised interventions in the affairs of mankind. Despite the cute airbrushed artwork, there is no Biblical record of angels having wings and there is only two references of messenger angels "flying" in Scripture (Rev. 14:6; 19:17). They can change their appearance to appear human (Gen. 19:1). They can communicate with humans without "speaking", that is, by telepathy - especially via dreams (Matt. 1:20). The word 'angel' actually means messenger.
¶ Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him."
Matthew 2:13
Archangel depictionArchangels (Greek, arkhos which means "chief") are military angels who lead hosts of messenger angels into battle (Rev. 12). Jewish legend states that there are 7 archangels although the Bible only names two of them, Michael (Jude 9) and Gabriel (Luke 1:26). Archangels are greater in power than messenger angels. Archangels are described as flying and presumably appear to humans as if they have wings. They also appear with a brandished sword to humans (and animals, note Numbers 22:23). When the very last battle begins, it will be announced by an archangel (note the rules of war includes the sounding of a warning trumpet to alert the enemy, Num. 10:9). According to one of them, Gabriel, they stand at attention in the presence of God awaiting to be sent to carry out His redemptive mission.
For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.
First Thessalonians 4:16
And the angel answered him, "I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news."
Luke 1:19
Cherubs (or, "cherubim" - the Hebrew language adds 'im' where English ordinarily adds 's') are the most powerful angels. They are fierce, incredibly terrifying, and undefeated. Revelation 4 describes tells us that there are four of these creatures. Revelation and Ezekiel tell us that they have the characteristics of a lion, a bull, an eagle, and a man. They have the ability to move wherever they need to go without turning. They are super large. God described as having His throne borne by cherubim (Ps. 99:1). Wherever God goes, cherubim surround Him (Ps. 18:10). They have four wings each and when they fly the size of their wings produce a sound louder than a 747 jumbo jet.
As for the likeness of their faces, each had a human face. The four had the face of a lion on the right side, the four had the face of an ox on the left side, and the four had the face of an eagle.
Ezekiel 1:10
And the sound of the wings of the cherubim was heard as far as the outer court, like the voice of God Almighty when he speaks.
Ezekiel 10:5
When Adam plunged the human race into certain damnation by falling for the lie of Satan (a fallen angel) that He could make up his own rules for how to live, God banished Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden and placed cherubim at the entrance to keep man from entering and partaking of the Tree of Life (Gen. 3:24). Thankfully today we can take up God's offer of avoiding eternal damnation and eat freely of the Tree of Life by surrendering our lives to Him and trusting Christ as our Saviour who has borne our eternal damnation and overcome it.

Seraphim are the most majestic of God's heavenly beings. The hover above God's throne and lead heaven in worship. They are described as having 6 wings where two of these wings are used to cover their faces from beholding God's unfiltered glory. These two awesome beings can be seen from anywhere in heaven. They are a reminder to anyone who seeks to know God that the closer you want to come to God the more you will be drawn into worship of God and the more you will crave His glory and not your own will.
Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said:
"Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!"
¶ And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke.

Isaiah 6:2-4
As powerful as angels are, there are certain things that bewilder them. Why would the Omnipotent One condescend to became a weakling? Why would GOD offer to elevate these rebellious weaklings to adoption as sons of God? Why would the Creator invite weaklings to approach Him anytime after they have received His Spirit of sonship? But most bewilderingly, if the Maker is offering an escape from certain eternal damnation for the treason of self-deification, why don't more weaklings accept this "can't-lose" offer? Have you? Angels are watching. the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.
First Peter 1:12
Ps. Andrew

Thursday, 9 May 2013



William Carey, the Father of modern missions, knew a thing or two about what we should expect. Jesus knew a thing or two about what we should expect. The Apostle Paul knew a thing or two about what churches should expect. Our children think they know a thing or two about they should expect. Work colleagues know what they should expect from a Christian work colleague. Expectations abound. Missionaries expect. God expects. Preachers expect. Churches expect. Families expect. What you expect has a large bearing on how you handle what life throws your way. It is also one of the single biggest factors in determining your level of zeal for Jesus today...
This week has not been what I expected. I've been surprised everyday by the unexpected. I've been unexpectedly blessed; I've been unexpectedly attacked; I had anunexpected conversation with an influential leader; I unexpectedly received an encouraging email from someone outside of our church; I was unexpectedlydiscouraged; and then I received an unexpected phone call from a young man looking for the truth about God. But through all these unexpected moments there has been one underlying expectation that has enabled me to keep going.

How do you handle the unexpected? What has unexpectedly happened to you, that in hindsight, you could have reasonably prepared for? Do you find that people generally don't measure up to your expectations? As a believer, what expectations do you have of God? What expectations do you have of your church? What expectations do you have of your family? Your expectations determine your level of satisfaction with your key relationships including your relationship with God. Too many people are settling for a cold, stale, distant relationship with Jesus because they have lost the hope of having their expectations met. When your expectations are grounded in the loving truth of God's Word, you can never be disappointed with your relationship with Jesus.

A large part of what I do is to filter and guard what comes our way as a church. The Bible refers to the one God calls to lead a local church as an "overseer" (Acts 20:28; Titus 1:7). Being called to oversight places a pastor in a vantage point that is both a blessing and a burden. To be a full-time pastor is a blessing incomparable with any other. It affords a man the privilege of devoting his energies to the work of God in His Word and among His people. It grants him an open door into many homes that would otherwise be shut to him. It allows him to read, study, pray, reflect, so that he can better minister God's Word as spiritual food for hungering souls. There is great honour in doing this well (as the Holy Spirit tells us in First Timothy).
¶ Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.
First Timothy 5:17
But it is also a burden. Not merely because of the responsibility to care, lead, and feed, but because of the expectations of others. Quite frankly, I didn't expect the burden to be so great. Neither did I expect that it would be so difficult to explain it to others. "Over" -sight gives a certain vantage point. Over the past decade in particular, the Holy Spirit has led me increasingly into a deeper appreciation for history. As He has fed my heart and soul with understanding of why things are the way they arebecause of what has happened, I have been divinely led to realise that certain things will be because of certain things that are. That is, we can expect that history will unfold in a certain direction because certain decisions and actions have been made and taken today. A "Mars a day helps you work, rest, and play" is only half what you should reasonably expect. If you eat a "Mars a day" you should expect the day when it won't be so easy to "work rest and play" (or fit in your airplane seat). Pastoral oversight sometimes means that the person serving the Body of Christ see things from a broader vantage point (in the sense of time, location, people affected, how it impacts the future) that others don't see. Oversight helps to prepare for the unexpected and reduce its ability to catch you off-guard. I would urge everyone to seek God for the ability to take greater oversight over your own soul and then watch how He strengthens your faith, stretches your capacity, and schools your soul.

God's gift of oversight to me subjected me to experience all three of these this week. Last night I was at a business dinner of very committed Christian businessmen and their wives. The speaker shared how their faith vision was to raise $700,000,000 this year to be able to give away Bibles to the peoples of the world who couldn't afford a Bible. (Last year they raised over $600,000,000 toward the same goal!) My faith was strengthened as I heard how they are helping countries like Mali (North Africa) which is 98% Muslim and 1% Christian. Only 4% of Mali is arable land, yet it has to supply the food for 80% of Mali. The average income per-capita is just $1.25 a day. A Bible costs around $7. In one week, they were able to give away 50,000 Bibles to people who had never of either Jesus, or the Bible. As I heard of the plight in Mali (now racked by famine, civil war, national bankruptcy, and a military coup) it lifted my vision off my various unexpected trials and challenges and up to a bigger vision of what God is doing and had my expectation of God re-calibrated.
"A crisis doesn't make a man - a crisis reveals a man."
As I've mentioned in our Sunday services over the past few weeks, the Australian church is largely struggling to attract Aussies. We praise God for what He is doing around the world and how immigrants from these revival-blessed nations are now trickling into Australian churches, but by-and-large Australians are becoming increasingly unreached. The desperate phone call I received from one young man this week was both unexpected and very welcomed.

He shared how he was now in crisis. He desperately wanted to believe the Bible but felt that the arguments for atheism were too persuasive. He shared how had been attending a contemporary church in Launceston where everything about the church and its message told him to ignore his doubts and settle for a feeling or experience of God. But when he raised questions from the Bible, he said, he was continually surprised to find that the pastors and leaders he spoke with were unfamiliar with these Bible references. He didn't expect that.

I don't know why he rang us (he said that he saw our website) especially since he has now moved to Hobart (presumably to do Uni). As we talked, he spoke of the deep irrelevance that church had been to him in trying to find meaningful and reasonable answers to the questions he had about life, God and the Bible. (Did any of us expect that when we started telling our young people 10-20 years ago to "not use your head but trust with your heart" that this would not be the result?) After a 90 minute phone call with the young man, I had only addressed a fraction of his questions (he had to go). I've invited him to call again. What was even more unexpected about the timing of this phone call was that earlier in the day I was doing some training with Josh and raised each of the issues (and how Christians should address them) that this young man was struggling with. This phone call drove home to me that we have literally thousands of such stories around Launceston and tens of thousands of these stories around Tasmania who have tried church and found it unsatifying - not because it lacked socially (most churches are filled with loving, caring people who readily get along well with people), not because it lacked programs, not because it lacked a good music, but because it was not a true reflection of the God they claimed to be serving and worshiping. Church should be the place where people can meet with God on a heart (strength from fellowship), soul (strength from prayer, reflection, and worship) andmind (strength from God's Word taught and explained) - where each strength complements each other.

We need to have right expectations of God, the Bible, and even our church. It is right to expect that God will honour His Word. Some people have been disappointed with God because He has not met their expectations of how they were hoping He would help or answer their prayers. This dashed expectation of God is partly created by some 'preacher-isms' that sound like they're in the Bible, but actually they aren't. For example, "God only ever rises to the level of our expectation." Therefore, they preach, "we need to lift our expectation of God so that He can do more." Bible verses like Psalm 78:41, that almost sound like they support this notion, are cited -
Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel.
Psalm 78:41 KJV
Abusing Scripture like this only adds to the problem of believers having a wrong expectation of how God responds to His children. What the King James (and New King James) versions render as "limited" is translated, "provoked", "vexed", "offended" by all other translations. And certainly it wasn't Israel's lack of expectation of what God would do which "limited" Him. The idea that we command or even give God permission to do anything, is counter-Biblical. Anyone who bases their relationship with God on this notion is bound to be disappointed, because it's a false expectation.
¶ 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.Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Romans 12:1-2
Some believers have misplaced expectations of what it means to follow Jesus. A believer should expect that Christ expects we will trust Him. We should expect that Christ expects we will follow Him. We should expect that Christ expects us to come to Him when we sin, fail, make a mistake, hurt or are hurting. We should expect that Christ expects His followers will love what He loves - His Church. Trust, follow, confess. We can expect God's best when we trust, follow and confess. We can expect that we might not always understand what God's best is when we are having to endure and persevere. Loss doesn't look like God's best. Cancer doesn't look like God's best. Correction doesn't look like God's best. Loss, cancer, correction, while trusting, following, and confessing.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28
Right expectations of God come from His Scriptures. But this requires a right expectation of the Scriptures. We can not develop intimacy with God apart from (i) His Word and then (ii) prayer. We can expect to meet with God when we are in His Word. I'm currently reading through Leviticus in my devotions. I'm reminded again that each of the priestly rituals point to a work of Christ in a believer's life and that each of the sacrifices are a type or shadow of an aspect of Christ's ultimate sacrifice. We should expect that God intends to say something to us through His Word, rather than think He expects us to make it mean something to us. Yesterday I had someone tell that the Word of God can be interpretted in many ways. In one sense, they are right. The Word of God can be interpretted in many ways. But this understanding seems to confuse 'interpretation' with 'application' and fuels a disappointing expectation about God's Word. Because God has something intended to say in His Word, there should be only one interpretation of the Scriptures - yet we can each apply a Scripture differently.
I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords
First Timothy 6:13-15
I opened these thoughts by honouring the memory of the great William Carey. He was a pioneer missionary to India at a time when missionaries were despised. Before he left England in the late 1700s, he famously said, "Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God." This was a man who expected great things from God and suffered while he waited for it. His first wife died of madness after they had buried at least two of their children in the first few years after their arrival there. He battled depression and repeated setbacks. Sent to India on a mission to convert the Indians, he saw no converts for his first 7 years of ministry! Yet he continued to expect great things from God! He was convinced that God was great. He was convinced that Jesus Christ was as Paul described Him - King of Kings / Lord of Lords / the only Sovereign. William Carey let this knowledge shape his expectations of God and His Word. He would go on to be responsible for leading thousands of Indians to Christ who would be responsible for literally leading millions of Indians to Christ! Expect great things from God! Get your great expectations from God's great Word! But don't expect that it's your expectations of God that will change God! But do expect that God will shapeyou and your expectations.
as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.
Philippians 1:20
Andrew Corbett

Monday, 6 May 2013


How Christianity Is Different From Religions
By Dr. Andrew Corbett, President of ICI College Australia, and Pastor of Legana Christian Church, 5th May 2013
Experts in Religious Studies will tell you that there are 11 "living" religions. Of these, there are 5 global religions including: Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and Judaism. Of these 5 global religions, 4 of them are missionary religions (Judaism is exception). This article is in an introduction to how Christianity is different from these three other "missionary" religions.


It is estimated that there are 2.1 billion people who identify themselves as Christian. (Source: "Major Religions of the World Ranked by Number of Adherents". 2005. Retrieved 19 Jun 2010.)

The Spread of Christianity around the world

It is estimated that there are 1.5 billion Muslims in the world.

It is estimated that there are around 400 million Buddhists around the world.

It is estimated that there are 1 billion Hindus around the world.


Religion is generally considered to be (1) a system of worship which has a set of beliefs and rules expressed in certain rituals with varying degrees of devotion ranging from nominalism to devotee. Most usually, religion involves (2) worship of God and a set of beliefs about God and His will for mankind. It provides (3) a way of looking at life, mankind's condition, God's relationship to His creation, the appropriate way to respond to God, and how people should treat each other. This is called "worldview".
According to the CIA's Factbook, published July 2012, the world's population (7,021,836,029) by religious affiliation is -
31.39%Christian(Roman Catholic 18.85%, Protestant 8.15%, Orthodox 4.96%, Anglican 1.26%)
Interestingly, despite Atheism's claims against "religion" it goes about its quest in a very religious fashion. It makes claims about God, mankind, the after-life, and the identity of Jesus Christ. This ironically makes it quite religious. Added to this, Buddhism is fundamentally atheistic and it universally considered a religion.


We hear this all the time, that all religions are basically the same. It is variously expressed with glaikit expressions such as, All religions worship the same God ... All religions promote the same values ... Any religion will get you to Heaven. These opinions are at best uninformed, they are at least insulting to each of these religions, and at worst dangerous. To show why, we will consider the four major claims of each religion and then compare them with each other...[read the full article]

Thursday, 2 May 2013

He Makes The Impossible Possible


Chinese juggler spinning plates on polesGod has called me to work with others in simultaneously running three enterprises that are notoriously difficult to run. I don't think I would ever willingly choose to do this. At times it feels like trying to keep multiple porcelain plates spinning on top of bamboo poles the way those Chinese acrobats performing in circuses do. The only distortion to this parallel is that these Chinese acrobats get to work with really thick poles and specially molded plates. A church, a Bible College, and a Christian Radio Station are individually tricky enterprises to manage. If you ever need your faith in God boosted, I recommend trying to manage just one of these particular enterprises. If you could do with a little faith-boosting right now, you might want to read on.

I deeply admire Pastor Bill Hybels. He has built a great church and a history-changing organisation. His gift of faith is obvious. I love the way he communicates pastorally and intimately with his church about what they are doing and the faith steps they are taking. He very frequently uses the expression, "Only God!" Time and time again I have seen these particular enterprises I help to run struggling for the necessary resources to do what they are called to do, and yet time and time again I have seen "only God!" come through.
And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
Phillippians 4:19
When God called Kim and me to Legana in 1995, we had no idea what we were coming to. We discovered a church of 17 members that hadn't been able to pay its pastor for several months. In the previous 12 months, two people had committed suicide. It was meeting in a dusty, cold, War Memorial building with really poor acoustics. Added to this, it was thousands of dollars in debt to trade creditors. Just before we arrived they were in discussions about how they could close the church! We are now in our 18th year of pastoring Legana. Over that time the church has grown, acquired buildings and equipment, established ministries beyond its four walls, and funds a missions program that supports missionaries and agencies around the world. And is totally debt-free. We now have a dedicated team of staff and volunteers that ensure that we continue toward fulfilling our mission as a church. Only God!

In 2003, I was asked to manage ICI College Australia. Despite being one of the world's best Distance Education providers of Theological, Biblical, Ministry, and Missions, training, it had not been run well. Student numbers had dropped off considerably. Cash reserves had been fully expended and debts accrued. Unfortunately this is an all too common story when it comes to Bible Colleges. But with the help of a very special lady, Mrs Sari Kuronen, we were able to re-establish ICI College and turn it around. Sari finished up around 2009, and eventually Kim stepped in to become the administrator of the College. Today, ICI College has students in every state of Australia from many denominational backgrounds and affiliations. It was audited by the international accrediting agency, the D.E.T.C. back in 2006, and granted DETC accreditation along with 4 other Australia Distance Education tertiary providers (one of which was Melbourne University). It now has no debt and a modest reserve.
¶ He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.
Second Corinthians 9:10
Then in 2011, I was approached with a request to take over the management of Launceston's 105.3 WayFM. It had amassed huge debts and become nearly insolvent. Again with a small band of helpers we set about to save this valuable radio station. Within 18 months we were able to clear its outstanding debts and trim back its costs. We are now in the thros of getting into a sustainable postive cashflow. It is constant work. It is constant praying. It is constantly seeking God's help and trusting Him. And time and time again God comes through just in time. Only God.

Each of these three enterprises might sound disconnected from each other. Indeed, they each require a different skill-set to keep them focussed on their mission. They each seem to be doing totally different things. A church is a community for the Word to shape, a Witness to bear, and for Worship to be offered. A Bible College is a provider of education, training and equipping for more effective service for Christ and His world. A Christian Radio Station broadcasts messages of hope, truth and inspiration through music and messages. Three different "whats". Even the "hows" are different. A church is led by a pastor whose main job is not to do the ministry, but to equip others for the work of ministry (so that the church is not "pastor dependent") and to help fascilitate the pooling of gifts within the church community. This is why our church relies not just on the pastor doing "everything", but on everybody contributing their gifts, ministry, abilities and talents in order to function.
¶ For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.
First Cor. 12:12
A Bible College's "how" looks quite different to a church's "how". A Bible College provides qualified teachers to teach, train and instruct students through the use of written material and recorded lectures. This teaching is then tested and examined (which I don't think a church could do and continue to exist!). And a radio station's "how" simplistically described as broadcasting. But in order for its broadcast to be a broadcast, it has to attract listeners, keep listeners, attract sponsors and donors, recruit suitably qualified staff and volunteers to serve as announcers and a support team.
All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation;
Second Corinthians 5:18
The "whats" are different. The "hows" are different. But the "why" is the same. In fact, a casual read through our church's 20+ year old Constitution, and you'll actually read it (prophetically) accommodates each of these three enterprises! It could do this because the "why" is shared by all three.
Over ten years ago, Pastor Phil Hills prophesied over our church in a Sunday night meeting that God was going to give us a voice beyond our building. Who could have imagined how profoundly fulfilled this prophecy was to be fulfilled? Only God.

We certainly rejoice at these three wonderful opportunities to spread the Gospel and bring glory to God. For me though, the "why" of these three enterprises causes me to view them as one mission. Our Great mission is informed by the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. As a church we are frontline means for fulfilling this "why". Our church is a community of believers who pool our gifts and abilities to care for each other, love and worship God, to reach out with the Gospel, and to teach and train believers to know and grow in their walk with and service for Christ. It is in this community of believers that I am able to contribute my meagre gifts of preaching and teaching and others are able to contribute their gifts of giving, mercy, music, administration, and leadership.
Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
Ephesians 4:15-16
The fact that our church can carry out our mission where we continue to help people find purpose and meaning, help to strengthen marriages, help to support families, and bring hope to people who feel that life is cruel, is due to one fact: only God.
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
John 15:5
Because our church's mission includes teaching and training, and because ICI College is one of the best Biblical teaching and ministry training providers, it makes pefect sense that the two enterprises complement each other. In fact, one of our young men, Rhys, who gave his life to Christ in our church, has completed the ICI College course- The Christian Life Program (which is 18 subjects). He is now completing - The Christian Service Program. I am extremely proud of the hard work that Rhys has done and know that God has His hand on Rhys for a powerful future. Rhys is not the only one either. But neither is our church the only only church with such students. How did this happen? Only God.

As we press on into our future answering the "why" with zealous service of our Saviour, we could be fooled into thinking that we are not making progress. Afterall, followers of Christ are now being mocked and ridiculed in the mainstream media, the Parliaments of the land, and the lecture halls of our accademies. How shall continue to answer the "why" of our existence? Only God? How shall we continue to seek to persuade people of their need for The Saviour and encourage them to repent and trust Him? Only God. How shall we continue to help people to be taught and trained for Christ? Only God. How shall we continue to broadcast hope and truth and raise the monthly funds needed to do so? Only God. How shall you become the strong, secure, mature person God wants you to grow into? Only God. How will you find the finances to pay your mortgage, your car, your electricity, while trying to raise a family, finish your education, and save for your retirement? Only God. How will you prepare your soul for eternity while most of your attention is on the now? Only God. Churches need God. Bible Colleges need God. Christian broadcasters need God. Only God. You need God, only God.
And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
John 17:3