Thursday, 25 July 2013


I want you to fail. Not all the time. Hardly at all actually. But unless you're trying, stretching, striving, and seeking to reach your fullest potential, you're almost certainly not failing enough! The path to success is paved with failures! And in Tasmania, we are surrounded by a culture that hates to fail. Ironically, this guarantees that we rarely succeed like we should! Fear. Fear of change. Fear of failure. Fear of hard work. Fear of facing challenges. If you want to be a success you must overcome these fears and occasionally fail!

As a believer you should be used to failing - because you are striving to be all God wants you to be beyond where you are currently. Yet, as you've experienced, you are not yet who you will fully be. Along God's journey for your life your sense of who God has made you to be grows. This sense of identity is honed by our failures. I think I am something but after continual repeated miserable failures I realise I am not. On the hand, I become curious about another pursuit, try it, fail, learn from it, grow my curiousity about it, keep trying and eventually succeed. Without a preparedness to fail you can never succeed.
For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.
First Timothy 4:10
One of the people I've been coaching was presented to me when she was 5 (she is now 12). At just 5 years of age her potential as a champion tennis player was obvious. But she had some obstacles to overcome. She had a number of dietary restrictions (dairy, nuts, gluten) which has meant that we have had figure out how best to fuel and build her. But by far her biggest disadvantage, and her severest handicap, is her perfectionism. Nothing has come close to causing the damage that this wretched disease has done to her. Two weeks ago, durng the school holidays, we trained together two hours a day. (We had previously only ever done one hour sessions a couple of times a week.) She was training for the try-outs to represent Tasmania - only the best of best girls would be chosen - and she was determined to be one of them. But she had tried-out last year and failed.

This year she was determined. When failure comes knocking, send Determination to answer the door! She knew that in order to reach her potential she had reach. Our training session were brutal. One earlier morning our court was covered in black ice and the temperature was still around 1ºC  then it started raining. But she continued to train. The day before the lead-up tournament to the try-outs, we trained even harder and did so under match conditions. While I felt like a bully, I beat her to 'love' in three of the five sets we played and only conceded three games. She got in her Mum's car after our session and cried. She had once again tasted failure on the eve of everything she had been working so hard for. But the next day, she brought her door-greeter with her (Determination) and dished out a few lessons of her own. Then in the try-outs she earned her place onto the State Team to represent Tasmania in Brisbane in October. Without facing failure she could never have succeeded. After her try-outs I told her that she played an almost perfect game. "But I made so many mistakes!" I then explained that under match-conditions she was always going to make mistakes. Whenever you are trying to succeed there will always be failures along the way.
"Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able."
Lke 13:24
Tasmania desperately needs people to strive toward fulfilling their potential. They are created by God to do so. There are Tasmanians whose destinies involve learning what's necessary to find cures for 'incurable' diseases. There are Tasmanians who have a destined purpose to produce art, music, literature that will literature mold a generation and change the course of history. There are Tasmanians who have a destiny to start businesses that provide cost effective solutions to those in need. There are Tasmanians who are called by their Creator to be in Government and positions of civic responsibility that will ensure that our State can prosper and flourish. There are Tasmanians whom God is calling to be a vital part of a local church that will grow bigger than anything the culture currently says is possible - not merely a church of dozens, or even hundreds.
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. 
Second Corinthians 9:8
Will you fail? Will you be who God has called you to be? Will you answer your fears' door-knocking by sending Determination to answer the door? Will you give your life so fully to Christ that you are prepared to humbly take your position in the picture that Christ is presenting to the world? Today, pictures are generally made up of small dots called 'pixels'. The bigger and more detailed the picture, the smaller and the greater the number of pixels required. One of the problems we have in Tasmania is that too many pixels want to be the picture - not make up the picture. Jesus is the 'Picture'. Not us. 

Because we don't want the picture of our lives visible to the world to look bad, we refuse to join the other pixels who are striving to form the grandest picture they can of Christ. This fear of failure then impacts directly on our spiritual health. But just as John The Baptist said, I must decrease and He must increase (John 3:30). Please fail more. Please. Tasmania urgently needs Christians who have tasted, learned from, and overcome failures - who understand that life is not about them and their needs. In other words, it's not that we want or need you fail as if that is the end of the story. Failure for winners is never the end of the story. Failure for winners is the schooling, strength, and strategy for success. And Tasmania must have you succeed beyond anything you've ever enjoyed thus far. Your success is our success. But wait, I hear a knock at our door. Shall we answer it? Or shall we send our Door-greeter?

Ps. Andrew

Wednesday, 24 July 2013


The Gospel of Jesus Christ has revolutionised how women are treated. Jesus Christ was a radical in the way He treated women. He honoured women. He gave them respect. Women's sense of worth took on new bounds of pure dignity. Rather than being relegated to menial tasks to serve unappreciative men, Jesus Christ shocked everyone by entrusting His mission to women as well as to men. Indeed, the first people to witness then proclaim His resurrection were women. So deep has the Gospel permeated the Western World, that we now take it for granted the inherent dignity that women deserve. And above all, the Gospel of Jesus Christ has dramatically reinstated God's intention for marriage for women

At the time of Christ's earthly mission, women were treated, excuse me, mistreated, as little more than objects. They were frequently physically, sexually, and financially abused. They were generally not equal partners in marriage. Outside of Israel, women entered marriage for various reasons but rarely for anything noble. In fact, study Roman history around the time of Caesar Tiberius and you'll be horrified to discover that women were  "subservientem" (utterly subordinate ones). This is why Christ's statements about marriage in Matthew 19, for example, were utterly shocking to His original audience. We sometimes think that marriage today has become a relatively disposable commodity, but back in the First Century, divorce was rife! 

Matt. 19:3 ¶ And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” 
Matt. 19:4 He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female,
Matt. 19:5 and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?
Matt. 19:6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

Marriage from the beginning, said Jesus, was designed by God to be between a male and a female (Mat. 19:4) so that a woman would be "held" (provided for, protected, cherished, and loved) "fast" (permanently close) by her husband (Mat. 19:5). When Jesus declared that God had joined a man and a woman together, He was making a powerful statement about the abuse of women through unjustifiable divorce.

This Gospel teaching about the indispensable role of women and the purpose of marriage to ensure that  they can flourish is expounded by Christ's apostles in their epistles. The concept of love in a marriage (which we now take for granted) is taught by Paul in Ephesians 5. He charges husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the Church. If husbands do nothing more than strive to fulfil this charge, they will  go a long way to ensuring that their wife reaches her potential happiness! The Apostle Peter similarly charges husbands to honour their wives, strive to understand them, and treat them with gentleness - so that their prayers may not be hindered! (1Peter 3:7). So highly does God consider His female image bearers that He warns husbands about spiritual barrenness if they don't honour (to treat and value as most important) their wives.

This elevation of womanhood by Christ and His Gospel doesn't start with the redemption of marriage though. It goes back to how a woman is to be treated before she's married. A very important part of nearly every wedding vow is to live together after the holy ordinance of marriage. That is, before marriage a man is not to treat the woman he will marry as if they are married. In fact, the Apostle commands men to treat women they are not married to as either their mother or their sister!

1Tim. 5:1 ¶ Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers,
 older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity.

Young men, just because you're engaged to a young lady doesn't mean you can treat her as if she is your wife! You are commanded by the Gospel of Jesus Christ to treat her as a "sister". Until you marry, your fiancé is your sister not your wife! Don't do anything with her that you wouldn't do with your sister. This level of man to woman respect is desperately needed today and sorely lacking. Every time a man sleeps with his fiancé he is teaching her that it's OK to sleep with someone you're not married to! 

The Gospel instructs for women to be with tenderness, respect, honour and dignity. Showing common courtesies such as opening doors, stepping aside, assisting with arduous physical tasks is not old fashioned - rather, if more men understand the Gospel in this matter, it should be fashionable.

Andrew Corbett

Wednesday, 17 July 2013


I'm a functional kinda guy. If I don't see a purpose, I don't buy in. Just after Kim and I were married, we went to the Shepparton Show. At Kim's behest I demurely agreed to "do the big zipper". As my lanky frame origamied into the cage with which it restrained its victims, I looked across at Kim's extremely excited face. "This is going to be such fun!" was written across her Song-of-Solomon-4:7-face. As the "Big Zipper" began to move, I wondered, "Why I am doing this?" As we passed Mach3 I wasn't able to wonder anything because breakfast was mostly on my mind (ordinarily bacon and eggs on thick toast with a side of baked beans only brings up fond memories). Some how between Mach4 jerkings from this retired Soviet torture device I miraculously managed to ask: What's the purpose of this? To which the only jocular person in our cage said- Because it's fun!

For me there was a huge disconnect between the theory of fun and reality! This week, as I prepared a Bible Study on Romans 5 for our Small Groups, I was struck by the opening verse and its life-changing implications.
¶ Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Romans 5:1
"Therefore" constitutes, what is for many, four chapters of pure theoryon the doctrine of salvation just presented by Paul. This is a tragic view of Romans 5:1. The first four chapters of Romans not only declare us guilty-then-forgiven before an infinitely holy God, they also reveal that we have been reconciled to God. We are no longer enemies of God. We are able to approach God. Wow! Paul's statement that the believer now has "peace with God" is earth-shaking.

Have you ever experienced a lack of peace? I don't mean mereuneasiness. I mean, deep anguish mingled with mortifying fear. Imagine if this kind of lack of peace was produced by the presence of one particular person. This is more or less how Paul has described everyone before God. He has explained how Jesus Christ has borne our deep anguish and mortifying fear (the result of our sin-induced estrangement from God). We experience the forgiveness of our sins by placing our trust in Christ as our Substitute. Therefore...we have peace with God. For some, this is just a doctrine. But not for me. I'm a functional guy. This is no mere theory for me.

Peace with God is not simply sins forgiven and forgotten. Peace with God involves sweet fellowship with God as a beloved adopted child of God! Parents who adopt choose their child. An adopted child is a wanted child. We have peace with God - we have been adopted by God!
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!"
Romans 8:15
The "Therefore" of Romans 5:1 is not the only therefore of the Epistle. In fact, chapter 5 contains three therefore's. It is a profoundly functional chapter. But these are not the only therefores of the Epistle. There is another 11! This Epistle may sound like lofty theological theory - but it is richly functional. Within it are the secrets to inner peace, mental health, spiritual well-being, social cohesion, and societal harmony, and political stability! It is far more than a theory!
¶ There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 
Romans 8:1
Confessing your sin to God is not to be reduced to a tidy tick on a Doctrine Questionaire. Experiencing peace with our Creator is not to be treated like the right answer in a Bible "Trivia" contest. Don't read Romans quickly! Your soul deserves to be treated far better than a mere theory. The peace, ease, healing, and joy you are craving are found in sweet fellowship with God and this is more than a theory!

Ps. Andrew

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Misreading The Value Of Gap Years


The stories of other people's lives are told using their highlights. The biographies in the Bible are no different. We read the stories of great people in their highs and lows and swept along with the pace of their lives. That's how good story-telling works. But it's not how life works. 'Moments' shape our lives but the gaps between the moments determine how we will be shaped.
¶ So Abram went, as the LORD had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.Gen. 12:4
What you do when you're doing nothing will have a large bearing on what you do when you have to do something. These 'life-gaps', those parts of our stories that are too uneventful to include in the telling of our stories, are perhaps the most important parts of our lives. These are the moments when we are in routine mode. They're not spectacular. They would bore our readers if we wrote their details down. And we often refer to them as "nothing" (Q: What did you do today? A: "Nothing"). Oh how wrong we are!
Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to Abram.
¶ When Abram was ninety-nine years old the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, "I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless"

Genesis 16:16; 17:1
It's easy to live for the big moments and feel that life is empty when "nothing" is happening. Moments are exciting. Even crisis moments provide a certain kind of attention that we occasionally revel in. But 'everyday', 'mundane', 'ordinary' and 'usual' are considered to be of little to no value in the overall story. Abram was seventy-five, then eighty-six, then he was ninety-nine. Three significant moments happened at each of those ages. But what happened in between?

What are your moments? Perhaps for Winston Churchill it was April 25th 1915? His disastrous handling of the Allied War effort in the First World War saw him demoted and devastated. He then reemerges in 1939. From the ending of World War I in 1918 to his appointment as Prime Minister at the commencement of World War II, is an 'Abrahamic' eleven year gap. When war with Germany breaks out though, those eleven 'gap' years have transformed the beleaguered former Minister Of War into the victorious Commander in Chief of the Allied Forces. 'Gap years' may look as if nothing is happening. As we descend into the depth of one of the coldest Winters Tasmania has ever experieced, we are again lulled into thinking that Winters are like Gap years. But we would be mistaken. What is necessary for a fruitful Spring and a lush Summer, happens in Winter. What is necessary for you to handle life's 'moments' happens in the gap years of your life.
¶ Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days.
Galatians 1:18
Leadership guru, John Maxwell, famously says that he could tell what a person will be like in a decade by just spending a day with them. He says that it's the little daily habits, decisions, priorities, use of time, which reveal where a person is going with their life, and ultimately where they will be in a decade. I'm not as adept as Mr Maxwell, but I have noticed that people who are in their gap years who are "Waiting for the time to..." rarely find such bonus time. Whereas I have noticed that people who understand that gap years are golden years, talk about "Making time for..." I have learned much from people who view gap-years as golden years.
¶ Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. 
Galatians 2:1
Have you ever considered the gaps in the story of Jesus' life? We are introduced to Him at birth. We see Him again briefly when He is twelve. Then we get to know Him from the age of thirty. There's two big gaps in the story of Christ's life. But those gap years must have been important because God doesn't waste anything. God ordained that His Son's thirty-three years of incarnation required thirty (gap) years to maximise His three years of ministry! Time spent alone is not wasted time. Time spent in prayer is not wasted time. Time spent reading God's Word is not wasted time. Serving others is not wasted time.

Gap years can be golden years. Time spent in these routine, mundane, everyday non-moments help to shape our character and resource us to deal with the big moments that are not always welcomed. Mike and Julie were interrupted a few months ago with a moment of bad news. I spoke recently with Mike about a course in Apologetics he had commenced with Biola just prior to receiving their news of Julie's cancer. We marvelled together how much of the course had intellectually and emotionally helped him to handle this most difficult moment. Last week I spoke briefly with Craig and Louise about their same news. Their gap years, where they sowed the Word of God into their lives, planted themselves in a church, and served others, is going to pay dividends at this difficult moment.

You might be dealing with a 'moment' now. However, you are probably in a 'gap' year. I guarantee you - what you do now in this season of uneventfulness will determine how well you deal with your 'moments'. Today, I dealt with someone who went to church for all their life without ever managing their 'gap' years at all well (they hadn't been discipled, they hadn't learned to seek God in prayer and Scripture). They were then rocked by a series of moments: his marriage failed; his parents' marriage failed and his father remarried some objectionable woman; his employee made him redundant - and he clenched his fist toward the sky and shook his fist at God for letting him down so severely. After hearing his story, I am again stirred that some people waste their gap years. This is why each Sunday I preach to improve people's gaps. It's why each week I write this pastoral gap-filler. It's why I use my gap time to produce teaching videos, and small-group Bible studies for download. I hope you recognise these days ofyour gap years and began to make time for what's important so that unwelcomed moments don't cause you to shake your empty fist at God. Rather, when horrible or joyous moments inevitably come your way, your open hand lifts in worship and thankfulness to God.


Thursday, 4 July 2013

The Importance of Looking

The First Look

Before my accident, I had already participated in two advanced rider training courses. One of the things that was stressed by our experienced professional trainers, was the importance of looking. They made us go through some drills where we had to suddenly dodge some obscured obstacles with one simple instruction: look where you need to go - not what's stopping you from getting there. My unfortunate accident didn't provide me with the opportunity to employ this new skill (because I was blindsided from behind). But this principle of looking is not limited to advanced motorcycle riding. It's also a life-skill.

A potential road accident provides several distractions. On a motorcycle your best chance of minimising harm is to look at where you have to go rather than the potential collision ahead demanding your attention. Even at the time, I pondered how profound the Advance Rider Trainer's words were. So many harmful things in life are caused by a lack of focus on the right things. I think the most common harmful distraction is the Urgent. We should always keep the Important as a higher priority. Yet urgent things jump out at us on the road of life and scream for our attention.
Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?
Matthew 6:31
Not all distractions are themselves harmful. Our family has just had two weeks of delightful distractions. In the midst of times like this it is too easy to forget what Jesus taught about what should be our focus. At a time when the Romans had recently come through and massacred Galileans, Jesus gathers the survivors and nearby residents on a hillside and begins to tell them how they can have a blessed life by forgiving, serving underservedly, and being kind to their enemies! Sure, most people were still reeling from the recent Roman atrocities, but their most common distractions were far more urgent: What are we are going to eat or wear? In the midst of such horrific and mundane distractions, Jesus teaches the supreme instruction about priorities andlooking.
¶ "No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
Matthew 6:24
"Seek first", Jesus said. This tells us clearly that He regards what He is about to say as the priority for His followers. The fact that we have to be told to put this "first" indicates just how difficult this will be for us because we have so many other things vying for our attention (especially urgent things). But Jesus isn't giving us a merely urgent imperative. He is giving His followers the most important imperative. When it comes to priorities, this is "first", says Jesus.

We are told not just to make this our first priority, we are told how to do it. We are to seek. Last week, Kim lost her iPhone. We rushed back to the motel to seek it (to no avail). Compared to what Jesus is about to tell us to seek, an iPhone (despite costing $1200) is worthless! Christ tells us to seek. I guess the fact that we spent so much time and effort looking for a gadget indicates how Christ wants us to enact this supreme priority. He told the story of a woman who relentlessly searched high and low for a single coin lost in her house as a model for how we are to seek and the extraordinary effort required to obey Him in this.
¶ "Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.'
Luke 15:8-9
"Seek first the Kingdom of God" Jesus said. Seek. First. The Kingdom of God. To His original audience, the Kingdom of Rome was all encompassing. It impacted every area of their lives. Jesus says, don't look to Rome. Don't seek Roman approval. Seek the Kingdom of God - first - where My Father is King.
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Matthew 6:33
This is done through prayer and faith. Prayer, that surrenders our heart to God and acknowledges that He is King of our life. Faith, that takes up the Word of God and communes with our King each day. Prayer, that we might better know and represent our King. Faith, that we might obey our King even when so many distractions hinder us from doing so. Prayer, that increasingly sounds like worship. Faith, that increasingly acts like we love our King.

The next time you are distracted, either pleasantly or sadly, remember to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness(Matthew 6:33). Is Christ and His Kingdom "first" in your life? The New Testament lists three firsts for the follower of Christ: 1. Seek First the Kingdom of God; 2. Treat the Gospel as of First Importance (1Cor. 15:1-4); 3. Return to your First Love (Rev. 2:1-7). Be a person who puts first things first. Resolve to be a person of deep prayer and deep faith. When you do, quietness becomes your aid and your Bible your companion. This will rarely be urgent, but it will always be important.

Ps. Andrew