Friday, 31 January 2014

Remembering WHY Eden - Created To Add Value

Remembering Why Eden - The Divine Call To Value-Add

He turns a desert into pools of water,
a parched land into springs of water.
Psalm 107:35
The opening verses of the Bible introduce us to the God who always improves. From void to vegetated, the Invaluable One took an interest in an obscure spiral galaxy where a small solar system had just emerged. Three planets away from this unusually sized star was a recently cooled planet covered mostly by water. He then began to improve - added value to - and these improvements culminated in the divinely gardened area He named Eden. But Eden was supposed to be the place from which man was to leave. Instead, rather than leaving it, man was removed from it. And even though hundreds of thousands of generations have since been, the memory of Eden, though feint, is etched intuitively into each of our memories. The lessons from Eden had not been fully drawn down by our First Parents, yet the elementary principles they gained about what improving looks like - and have been genetically passed down to us. As feint as this memory of Eden is in each of us, it has still been sufficient for us, the descendents of Adam, to literally change the world...


Seas separated from landLand emerged. Seas formed. Oceans originated. The process of building the right conditions for life on this earth, due to its vast and necessarily varied deposits of water, enabled the creation of the smallest microbial life forms. These tiniest creatures would make possible the vast nutrient reserves in earth's soil and sea - so that vegetation could begin to flourish. Herbivores, carnivores, then mankind. An improving and necessary order. All created at the appropriate time. Each dependent upon each. A progression from inhospitable to inhabited.
¶ You visit the earth and water it;
you greatly enrich it;
the river of God is full of water;
you provide their grain,
for so you have prepared it.
Psalm 65:9
I said earlier that God 'began to improve', but more accurately it should be said that 'it appeared that God began to improve'- for even in the first creation event from which our planet eventually coalesced, He was improving. But we are forgiven for thinking that it was at this time that He began to improve, because the greatest addition of value took place after everything was created. God didn't create new atoms to form man. He took pre-existing material and formed it, shaped it, fashioned it, and breathed into it. He added nothing to the universe in order to create man - except value.
Beautiful GradensHe then took an interest in an undeveloped patch of ground a few dozen square miles in size and formed a well planned, magnificently beautiful garden called Eden. Even before an animal had been permitted to enter this sanctuary, God took Adam and led him into this garden. The Great Gardener then charged His representative with care for this great Garden. "Dress, till, and keep it." Improve it! Maintain it! And by maintaining it, you will be adding value to it. Everything you do to earh should be inspired by what I have modelled for you in Eden. Now, go, subdue the earth! There is a faint memory of Eden etched into the soul of every person. Many don't know it's there. But their propensity to Edenise everything they possess is instincive. Some supress this divinely implanted instinct. A rare few seem to let it flow freely, graciously, and gracefully.These are His people who add value to not only what they posses, but to their world- whether it be things, people, organisations, their field of interest or profession, and systems they use. They are value-adders. They leave a place better than they found it. They make a business more profitable. They train those who benefit from it. They leave a motel room tidy. They walk down the road and pick up rubbish. They leave the store having smiled at and thanked the sales assistants and cashier. These value-adding people are therefore valuable people.

Shawshank RedemptionWhat do you see in your world? Barreness, void, waste, distraction? In one of the greatest movies of all time, The Shawshank Redemption, Andy Dufresne, the wrongly convicted prisoner, doesn't see what everyone sees. Instead, because of what he can see, he helps establish a library, acquire new recreational equipment, gain special privileges for his fellow inmates, and eventually true justice and the opportunity to redeem himself.
The rapidly growing Sahara Desert
God has embedded onto our world almost invaluable potential. When the right value-adder realises and aspect of this potential-
# The Sahara Desert (currently growing a few kilometers a year), could be turned into lush forest. 
# Famine (one of the defining features of a 'Third World' country) could be permanently eradicated. 
# Cities beset with crime, violence, graffiti, and vandalism could become centres of innovation, creative arts, higher learning, and exquisite gardens. 
# The mega-cities of the world nearly all have rampant air, water and soil pollution, could enjoy: clean-air, fresh-water, lush and fertile garden cities, minimal crime, thriving economies, and social cohesion. 
# Schools that are trahed and truant, with the poorest educational outcomes, the least qualified teachers and the most disinterested students and parents could become hubs for their commnties, where the peer pressure from students would prevent graffiti, vandalism or littering; where parents enjoy volunteering, only the best teachers can work there, and educational outcomes are second to none.
sistersPeople who reflect Eden are not always grand visionaries. They don't always change the world, or even history. But they make the world a better place- and leave it all the better for having been in it.Yet I fear I may have just undersold the value of even the least value-adder. The mother who teaches her children to be polite and courteous, the sister who plays with her younger sibling and helps her to comprehend some of the enormous dangers of the vast world - such as the impact of asphalt on knees or how a second wipe can stop embarrassing itches - may well be (and indeed probably are) changing the world and making history!

Adam was created to leave Eden and subdue (add value) to the entire world. Instead, rather than leave Eden, he was removed from Eden. Rather than subdue the earth, the today's sons of Adam have largely been hoodwinked into not subduing because somehow 'Mother Nature' knows best. But the earth is not our 'Mother' and it has been designed to bring forth immearsurable value which can only happen if it is apprpriately subdued.

Adam's time in Eden was meant to be a launching place where he imbibed the heart of his Improving Creator. God has an unstoppable passion to improve! Surely you've noticed that when you spend time in prayer, Bible study, or Theological contemplation, that it is not too long afterwards that you get your best ideas and highest levels of motivation to improve yourself and your world.
 But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of Him everywhere.
Second Corinthians 2:14
Rose GardenIt was said of the squire that you could always tell when he had spent a deal of time in his rose garden. When he walked into a room, the fragrance of his roses filled the room and lingereg long after he left. The New Testament describes believers who have soaked themselves in Christ as bearing His fragrance wherever they go.
Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
John 12:3
I wonder if our church can be a source for adding value to our world? Can we make our world richer - because we recall Eden and it's original purpose. It's one of the reasons why I would love to see our grounds (and yet-to-be created gardens) become a cause of wonder and enjoyment for many. Because how we present our communal space is a sacramental display of how we respond to the God of Improvement to a world that desperately needs the right kind of improving.
He turns a desert into pools of water,
a parched land into springs of water.
Psalm 107:35
Yet more importantly, I wonder if we can each pool our value-adding abilities and enrich the lives of one aother so significantly that quite literally we change the world and the course of human historyand become a cause for many to realise how magnificent, how glorious, how wonderful and how beautiful our Jesus is? Consider how you can add value to your world - those you interact with, the space you utilise (even if you don't own it). Together we can remember Eden's message. And won't that be a gift of improvement to our Lord!
¶ Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
Revelation 22:1-2
Ps. Andrew

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Redeeming The Time

Dr F.W. Boreham at his writing deskI was marvelling recently about how much the 74 year old F.W. Boreham did. Not only did he preach at least twice a week, he wrote a weekly column for the Melbourne Age Newspaper, the Hobart Mercury, produced a book a year, was a regular contributor to at least six monthly journals or periodicals, read a book a week, and made pastoral house-calls four afternoons a week. I'm staggered at his output. But then again, I swim in a culture of 24/7 social-media, 16 Free-to-air television channels, several million YouTube videos, several billion webpages, and what seems like hundreds of (mostly trivial) emails everyday - which all seem to hinder me from using my time well. Even with all my technological "time-saving" devices, I doubt that I get a fraction done of what people a generation ago achieved. Nevertheless, even though I struggle, there is hope.
making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.
Ephesians 5:16


Buy a pony and stop praying for one!Leading up to Christmas, some dear folk asked me what I would like for Christmas. Under pressure to keep up with the demands on my time, the first thing that came to mind, but not past my lips, was, "More time!"  Knowing I will never get more time, I am left to pray what the Scriptures tell me to do - redeem the time. Some prayers are not meant to be prayed but this one is!

Time is the most precious gift we each have. It is so precious that it is virtually equated with our very lives. To give your life to someone is to give your time to them. When you think you've just told someone, "I love you" but then won't give them your time, you've actually told them something other than what you think they heard from you. It's why attending, weddings, birthdays, funerals and church is so important.
¶ Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time.
Colossians 4:5


HourglassHave you ever wasted time? Whether you have or haven't is determined by answering the should question. With the time that you have what should you be doing? If your answer is other than what you should be doing then your answer might be describing what wasting time looks like. And this is where I encounter many of my problems with time. When I should do something, but really really really don't want to, I find things that urgently require my attention. I find them. They are not all ignoble. But they successfully occupy my time when I should be doing something else.

Should not only guides my daily moments, it also my lifetime. However I answer the why, what, how and where questions that should asks, I know that the answer will involve my use of time. But to satisfy should my answer cannot merely involve the use of my time - it must involve the disciplined use of my time. But still should is not entirely satisfied with this painful answer. Then I realise why. It can not merely be the disciplined use of my time that will ensure I use my time to fulfil my purpose the way God has wired and called me to do in the place and time that He has called me to do it - it has to be the self-disciplined use of my time.

Sand Scuptures take time!From my observations of people who seem to manage pressure, and therefore time, well, I notice that they are able to withdraw from their time-bank when they need to. This of course means that they have made adequate deposits into it. In other words, they invest their time well. Reading a book, watching a movie, having a coffee with a colleague, going for a walk, throwing a ball with your son, taking your wife out to dinner, might seem like a waste of time, but they might also be investments of time. The Bible doesn't use the wordinvestment but it does use a three-letter word which means the same thing.


'Time heals all wounds'...'In time you'll get over it'...'Time to move on'... 'What happened in the past should be left in the past'... Myths like these are nearly always half-truths. Time does not heal all wounds - but time used wisely can help wounds to heal. In time you won't get over it unless you learn to grieve and forgive properly over time. When it's time to move on you will already have because you've aligned yourself with reality and surrendered to God's sovereignty. What happened in the past should not be left in the past if gross injustice is involved (such as a World War II Nazi war criminal should be brought to justice despite the decades that have passed). We could add to this list. A supplier may forget to invoice a client and when their oversight is discovered they invoice their client - who then claims that they have no right to expect payment because too much time has elapsed (another version of What happens in the past should be left in the past).

Considering the Master of Time, Jesus, who never wasted a second but perfectly used the time He was given, we see that He regarded those things which we usually regard as 'interruptions' as: 'Sovereign Appointments'. A few years ago I began to learn this. People are not always interruptions. Highly task driven people struggle to appreciate this. The next time you read through the Gospels, take note of how much of what Christ did was as a result of an interruption. Not all interruptions are a waste of time.


¶ The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.
Second Corinthians 9:6
I haven't discovered everything I need to know about how to best use my time. I'm aware that there are some people who have little choice in how their time is used (whether through physical injury/disability, consequences of unwise choices, or stage of life issues). But for those of us who have the gift of time and the privilege to manage it within the constraints of our responsibilities, there are five things you might find helpful about increasing the value of your time: Create To-Do lists; Carry time-redeemers with you (book, pen and notepad, etc); Get appropriate help; Establish routines; and: Learn to forgive (bitterness steals valuable time from you).

One of the biggest lessons I have learned about increasing the effectiveness of my time is to sow it into God. I said from the outset that because time is one of our most valuable gifts, when we give it to someone we are saying something to them about how valuable they are to us. When a husband agrees to spend time with his wife and her friends he is telling his wife that he loves her and values her judgment. 

When a follower of Christ spends time with those for whom Christ died and lives dearly they are telling Christ that they love Him. But mysteriously, it seems that such time is not merely spending time - it's sowingtime. I have committed my life to Christ and being in His House with His people every Sunday at both services - because I want to love Jesus by loving what He loves. The result of this time-sowing seems to be time-reaping. Thus, I may not be as self-disciplined with my time as I hope to become, but this time-sowing principle has least given me the opportunity to begin to redeem the time that God has given me. And one day, you and I will stand before God in real-time and give an account of how we used our most valuable gift from Him: our life. And it is my hope that we can experience the best our Creator has for us in eternity because we learned to value the right things in this life.

Ps. Andrew
(I recently did a radio interview on this topic. You can listen to it here.)

Friday, 17 January 2014

The Devil of Havoc

The Devil wreaks havoc. Jesus said the Devil came to steal, kill and destroy. The Apostle Paul said that there were occasions when his mission was hindered by the Devil. And the Apostle Peter warned believers to be on guard against the Devil who went about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. I guess these Scriptures give enough justification for some believers to blame the Devil whenever things go wrong in their lives - but I am wondering if the Devil is blamed for what seems to be quite avoidable havoc. As someone who has induced more than my fair share of havoc, I think I have grounds for my suspicions.
You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.
Second Corinthians 1:11


You don't always need the Devil's help to wreak havoc in your life or the lives of others! Acting unwisely, uncaringly, or inconsiderately, will almost certainly cause a havoc that the Devil would be proud to put his name to. The husband who ignores his wife; the mother who unfairly scolds her child in public; the boss who demands of his employees that they give up their lunch hour for the good of the company; the pastor who only ever dishes up guilt and condemnation on his key leaders; the person who lives on a diet of soda, chocolate and pizza, are all sowing the seeds of havoc.
Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.
For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
Galatians 6:7-8


When things go wrong in your life, it could be Devil, but it may also be the consequences of our own unwise choices or the sovereignty of God! Scripture teaches that our purpose is to live to give and for God's glory, thus if we sense that the Devil is attacking us, it is always with the aim of diminishing our ability to give God glory through our worship. I know. I have, in times past, been too easily distracted from worshiping God due to some devilish distraction. But if my havoc is the result of my own unwise choices or conduct, I know that Scripture teaches me to humble myself, repent, and be reconciled with a view to me worshiping God unobstructively. But if my world is in havoc becuase of the sovereignty of God, as Job's world was, then Scripture calls me to trust God in the midst of my pain and continue to worship Him. Either of the three havoc-causes is ultimately resolved through right worship.

I must stress that I do not get, and have not always got, this right. Maybe this qualifies me to recognise when others are blaming the Devil so that they don't have to accept responsibility for their own lack of wisdom or consideration. If you sow rudeness it won't be the Devil who delivers dischord with others! If you sow neglect into your marriage the arrival of relationship strain is the natural consequence not a Satanic ploy to destroy your marriage. For pastors who only ever preach condemnation to their dwindling congregation, it is too lazy to blame the Devil for dwindling the church (or even worse, claiming that 'God is clearing out the dead wood').


The English word, "Devil", is from the Greek word, diabolos, and means enemy. It is a virtual synonym for Satan, which means accuser, adversary. 'The Devil' is a title more than it is a name, but like many titles which become so acquainted with a particular person, it has, like the term the Christ, become identified as a name. The Scriptures give sufficient but not exhaustive information about the Devil - after all, the record of Scripture is not so that we can plumb the knowable depths about Satan! What we might ascertain from the Biblical account is that Satan was present on earth shortly after the creation of mankind's parents and either possessed a snake or took on its form. We might surmise that Satan was once an angel with some authority in heaven who rebelled. We read in Job chapters one and two an interesting (and ancient) exchange between the LORD and Satan. It seems difficult if not utterly unreasonable to deny the personhood of Satan and reduce this term to merely an impersonal opposition to the purposes of God (as some now teach). Satan personally sought to tempt Jesus at the beginning of Christ's incarnate ministry (recorded in Matthew 4). It is just not reasonable to assert that this was not a personal evil being doing the tempting. After the Christ crushed the head of Satan on the Cross and destroyed the works of the Devil (1Jn. 3:8), it appears that Satan was granted (in a rather "Job" like manner) a short time in which to wreak havoc on the fledgling Church (Rev. 12:12). The was a gloriously divine risk. If Satan could destroy the entire Christian witness, this period between the Ascension and the Parousia of Christ's judgment on Jerusalem in 70AD, was the only practical and possible time that it could be done! If all Christians could be killed or silenced, there would be no further  continuation of God's redemptive plan. But he failed! With the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD, the Temple was demolished; the levitical priesthood wiped out; and sacrifice and offering brought to a permanent end. When this happened, the Old Covenant officially ceased (note Hebrews 8:13 which foretold this) and Satan was then doomed to damnation which Revelation 20 metaphorically describes as being bound with a chain and was thrown into the abyss (Rev. 20:2-3, which the KJV renders as the bottomless pit). Thus, the time between the Ascension and Parousia is when Satan could roam about like "a roaring lion". While he is defeated and doomed, Revelation 20 tells us that he will be active near the time of Christ's return to culminate the plan of redemption. Understanding this makes it even more unreasonable to blame the devil and give Satan too much due for the various forms of havoc that happen in our lives.


The Scripture has good news for those acquainted with havoc: it can be redeemed. I have seen marriages on the brink of breaking-up healed and restored not because we "bound the Devil" but because the couple learned the rare art of apologizing and learning to communicate properly. I have see churches turned around and significantly grow because a pastor learned to love his people and lead them with great care and wisdom. I have seen parents and their children in relationship havoc brought together and restored because they learned to truly listen to each other. Havoc can be redeemed. Here's three things that I have found help to redeem havoc (even self-induced havoc).


The next time things go wrong in your world, before you think of the Devil too quickly, or too much - consider worshiping and adoring God. This is one of he main lessons from the story of Job.


One of my most frequent prayers in the midst of difficult and trying times is for God to teach me what I need to learn in the midst of my pain. The Psalms seem to state this over and over as well.


All too often I have sensed God saying to me to get my focus off myself (and my problems) and onto how I can be a blessing to others - particularly to those who might be going through what I am going through, and worship Him by pressing into His Word, singing more, and serving Him more sacrificially.

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
James 4:7
Havoc will come and go throughout your life. Sometimes it will be devilish, but generally it will not. Even when it is, worshiping, learning and blessing will thwart the Devil's schemes. More often than not, there is a tendency to blame others for inflicting havoc upon us. The neglectful husband blames his wife's hormones; the obese blame the fast-food stores for putting too much sugar in their food; the inconsiderate boss blames his lazy staff for his business failings. Of course, there is a lot of havoc that can be avoided - even in a world where the Devil seeks to steal, kill and destroy.

Ps. Andrew

Saturday, 11 January 2014


It's difficult to overstate just how profound the Bible is. Obscure texts within the sacred record have been regarded as mere poetry, or even superfluous information, only to take on pivotal significance when someone realises its importance. There was no greater period of this happening than when the New Testament was being written. Seemingly insignificant passages were suddenly revealed by the Holy Spirit to hold the most profound insights into God and His plan. Many of these Holy Spirit inspired revelations fall into the categories of "types". The study of Biblical 'types' is known as "typology".

Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.
Romans 5:14

Even the very first man, Adam, was a type. He was a type of Christ. When Adam sinned and the Lord slew animals to provide coverings for the first couple. These animal sacrifices were also a type of Christ who would one day become the covering for all sinners.

For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and one by a free woman. But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, while the son of the free woman was born through promise. Now this may be interpreted allegorically: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar.
Galatians 4:22-24
Abraham's wives are also to be regarded as types. Paul explains that Hagar represents the flesh (human efforts and desires) while Sarah represents the hope of the New Covenant ("the Promise") to be made possible through Christ. Some of the most profound typology occurs in some of the most - what appears to be boring, tedious, irrelevant - passages. Most especially are the feasts of Israel described in Leviticus 23 (how many people cite Leviticus as their favourite or 'goto' Biblical book?).
There are seven 'festivals' (some translations render these as 'feasts') referred to in Leviticus 23 (plus the weekly Sabbath). Consider that this set of instructions was given around fifteen hundred years before the first Christmas. Each of these festivals are a type of Christ and His work of salvation. Here's how -

The Sabbath (Lev. 23:3) - Christ is our Sabbath; in Him we rest; all the work of salvation has been done. 
1. The Passover (Lev. 23:5) - Christ is our Passover Lamb; in Him God passes over our sins; The Passover Lamb had to eaten quickly -  there is no time to waste in turning to the Lord. 
2. Unleavened Bread (Lev. 23:6) - Christ died for our sins and was buried (this was a time to eat unleavened bread and bitter herbs); in Him we have died to sin; our pilgrimage (journey with Christ in this life) will be a time of dying to self and frequent disappointments. 
3. Firstfruits (Lev. 23:10) - Christ rose from the dead - never to die again, and He is firstfruits of all who will one day be resurrected to eternal life; in Him we rest; all the work of salvation has been done. 
4. Pentecost (Lev. 23:16) - Christ is has poured out the latter rain to make the harvest possible; in Him we are baptised with the Holy Spirit so that we can bring in His harvest of souls (Acts 2:4ff). 
5. Trumpets (Lev. 23:24) - Christ will return with the blast of an Arch Angel's trumpet (1Cor. 15:52; 1Thess. 4:16); we are to live knowing that our time is short and our life could be over at any moment. 
6. Atonement (Lev. 23:27) - Christ bears our divine wrath before the Judgment Seat of God; one day we will all stand before the Righteous Judge and give an account of our lives - and only those who in Christ will be admitted the freedom to enjoy the full benefits of Christ and His Righteousness for eternity. 
7. Tabernacles (Lev. 23:34) - Christ will clothe His redeemed in His righteousness and we shall receive a resurrected body like His; this earth is not our home - this body is not our ultimate body! One day we shall all be resurrected to enjoy Christ all that Christ enjoys. This is our inheritance.

having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints
Ephesians 1:18
There are many more types in the Old Testament that point to the work of Christ. But recently, there has been some discussion about a field of typology that has been largely overlooked in much of Christian thought. It is the field of typology that illustrates the mission of the redeemed. In a day when some people are trying to 'tame' God (á la Rob Bell and co.) by claiming that God will actually redeem everyone and not send anyone to eternal damnation. But Biblical Typology throws down an enormous challenge to this cute idea. In fact, it's not a chivilrous glove-type-challenge being thrown down to rebut this very appealing idea, it's a mountain of granite-type-challenge! For example, consider the typology of Noah and his mission.
because they formerly did not obey, when God's patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water.
First Peter 3:20
The list goes on from the conquest of Canaan, the reign of the Judges, the message and ministry of the Prophets, God's preservation of the 'remnant' (Ezra 9:8; Isa. 28:5; Rom. 9:27), to name a few. Perhaps more importantly, this Old Testament Typology reveals a mission for the Redeemed that shows we are to witness, plead, preach, and live righteously in the processwith a tremendous sense of urgency. There is not one redemptive Old Testament type where the messenger's demeaner was one of 'take it or leave it', 'think it over', 'explore your options', 'you've got plenty of time to make a decision, no rush'. On the contrary! And this is a dire warning to God's people today to reprioritse their lives and witness and live for the mission of knowing Christ and making Him known. This is why we might also also regard certain types as types of time for eternity, because they reveal both the urgency and the consequences of our mission. 

As you read through the Bible, as I hope you do daily, take note of the urgency of those serving the Lord, and how eternally dire they understood their mission to be. And while you're at it, pray that God would give me a clearer of revelation of this well - and add to that prayer one of my most urgent needs: that I won't be duped by the mundane, the urgent trivialities of life, and the things that just don't matter.
The seeds that fell among the thorns represent those who hear the message, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares and riches and pleasures of this life. And so they never grow into maturity.
Luke 8:14
Ps. Andrew

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

I DOUBT The Nature of Doubt


By Andrew Corbett

I DOUBT. (Part 1) The Nature of Doubt

We all doubtThe fact that we all doubt to some extent suggests that each of us shares in the universal human craving to not be deceived and that we all intuitively want to know the truth. Even when it comes to Biblical spirituality, rather than seeing doubt as spiritually negative, it can actually be a positive. Doubt is not a bad thingAfter all, appropriate doubt can protect us from injury and even galvanise our worthy convictions.

Doubt is not incompatible with Christianity. Scripture encourages us to doubt, especially dubious claims. We are not to be nîave 'children' in our thinking (1Cor. 14:20). Neither are to simply accept any claim blindly - rather we are test all things.
but test everything; hold fast what is good.
First Thessalonians 5:21
Doubt is not incompatible with Christianity
¶ My dear friends, don't believe everything you hear. Carefully weigh and examine what people tell you. Not everyone who talks about God comes from God. There are a lot of lying preachers loose in the world.
First John 4:1
The main reason that doubt is compatible with Christianity is that it is grounded in reasons for believing. Thus, sceptics doubt because they won't believe an unverified claim. In this sense, all Christians should be genuine sceptics! All too often Christians believe things too easily. The best reason to believe any claim is because it is true! Naturally, the opposite is equally true - any claim that is demonstrably false should not be believed. This then might lead to the question: How can we test whether a claim is true or not?
The tests of truth
Down through the ages, philosophers have studied the nature of truth (this branch of Philosophy is calledEpistemology).  Certain tests were progressively developed to discern the difference between the truth from the false. For any claim to be reasonably considered as true, it needs to pass these tests-
  • Does it comport (agree) with reality?
    For example, the claim, "There was a time when lions and tigers were herbivores." This claim does not comport with reality because the digestive system of lions and tigers can not sufficiently process a vegetation-only diet.
  • Is it testable?
    For example, the claim, "There was a time when lions and tigers were herbivores." This claim can be tested by seeing whether the fossil remains of lions and tigers from this particular era provide any evidence for them being herbivores.
  • Is there consistent evidence supporting it?
    For example, the claim, "Anyone could win a Gold Medal in the Olympic 100 metres Men's sprint if they work hard enough." The consistent evidence demonstrates that there is usually only one winner of the Olympic Gold in the Men's 100 metres sprint (with often as many 7 other finalists and thousands who tried to qualify for it - despite their incredible hard work.
  • Could this claim be proven false? ("Falsifiability")
    For example, the claim, "There is a pink porcelain tea-cup and saucer orbiting Mars which disappears every time someone looks at it." This claim can not be tested and therefore cannot be proven false. With no supporting evidence for the claim, and no way to test it to prove it to be either true or false, a claim like this deserves our doubt.
There is a difference between a sceptic who exercises doubt until there is sufficient evidence to believe, and a cynic who refuses to believe despite reasonable evidence to adequately appease their doubts.
There is a difference between scepticism and cynicism
When it comes to beliefs, most people have not really taken the time to consider precisely what they believe or more importantly why they believe what they believe. The art of thinking is probably more scientific than most people realise. It's a shame that Philosophy is not generally taught in Primary/Elementary Schools so that students are helped to gain basic thinking skills. Instead, we have the vast majority of the population holding a belief because -
  • It's a popular view to hold (truth, however is not subject to a vote or democratic testing)
  • Some high-profile / intelligent person holds it (This is known as the "Professor's Ploy")
  • It is morally convenient for them (Moral truth is usually unpalatable to those who live immorally!)
  • They harbour some hurt which has shaped how they believe (Perhaps a priest sexually abused them and therefore they are now an atheist.)
  • They had a very subjective experience (such as a dream
None of these 'reasons' are particularly good reasons for believing a claim. Often what most people consider to be a 'reason' for their belief is little more than an opinion, or even, an assertion. Other beliefs fall into the category of a priori beliefs. These are beliefs which are assumed to be true before any evidence has been considered. Arguably, Darwinian Evolution falls into this category (Darwinian Evolution may be true, or it may be false, but it is fair to say that many people believe it to be true for some of the reasons given above and especially in an a priori fashion).
The Bible invites and welcomes doubters
The Bible welcomes the investigation of its claims. He is famously known as "Doubting" Thomas. He wasn't present when the resurrected Christ appeared to several of His apostolic colleagues. And when told about the post-crucifixion/resurrection appearance of Christ, he refused to believe it unless his demands for appropriate evidence were satisfied. Eight days later, Christ appeared to His disciples again - including Thomas. Jesus invited Thomas to fulfil his demands for evidence. Thomas's doubts were then allayed. Jesus never condemned Thomas for requiring evidence. Neither did the author penning the sacred inspired account.

Some well-meaning Christians claim that faith in God is not a matter of having sufficient evidence to do so. It seems that they have accepted the false notion that a belief is based on either faith orreason. Biblical faith is not unreasonable faith - on the contrary, it is faith which results from trustworthy evidence. Jesus' rebuke of Thomas was not brought about because of his demand for evidence, but that he actually did have sufficient evidence (the eye-witness testimony of at least seven reliable, credible, and trustworthy men). The prominent atheist of the first half of the twentieth century, Bertrand Russell, once famously said in response to a question about dying and discovering that he was wrong about there being no God, and then what would say to God- "You didn't give me enough evidence!" But, it will be shown over this series, no one can right state this. The Apostle John winds up his Gospel by saying the accounts that he recorded as an eye-witness, were written as evidence so that people would believe and thereby willingly receive the forgiveness and eternal life which God offers.
John 20:30
Josh McDowellThere are many examples of modern "Thomas's". Like him, they doubted. Like him, they required adequate evidence before they would believe in God, the Bible, and Christianity.  People like, Josh McDowell who was an aggressive atheist. He was then challenged to rebut the central claim of Christianity: the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He initially believed that this would be an easy conquest. But as he investigated the evidence for the resurrection of Christ he eventually conceded that it was indeed true. He became a Christian and wrote several books giving hundreds of reasons to believe in the God of the Bible.

If you are struggling with doubt - put your doubts to the test! Even a simple prayer, "God, if you are real, please reveal Yourself to me. Amen."

© January 5th 2014, Andrew Corbett, Legana, Tasmania, Australia

Friday, 3 January 2014


lush gardenDoes your mind wander at times? Come for a wander with me now into some unimaginably lush garden forests of reverie. In these forests, those who love to let their minds mull and wander are able to explore what most people fail to even notice. This is a forest of benedictions. Our Italian brothers could readily tell us that 'bene-diction' means good words. And as we venture into this inviting garden-forest we come across the grandest benediction. Eugene Peterson is already seated on the carpet of heath admiring it. He has drawn us a picture of this loveliest part of the reverie garden-
¶ The amazing grace of the Master, Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of God, the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit, be with all of you.
Second Corinthians 13:14 THE MESSAGE, by Eugene Peterson
John Newton wandered through this exquisite forest some time ago. He picked some of the generous blooms of this wordy garden, put them in a vase and let the world admire them.
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me....
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now, I see.
The Apostle Paul's closing words to the beleaguerd Corinthians were exactly what they needed. His epistle to them had been (at times) harsh and stern. Someone in their church had claimed it was not sin to be sexually involved with his step-mother. He claimed that the grace of Christ permitted him to sin freely. But by doing this, he had grossly distorted what God intended as 'love'. This disgraceful conduct and attitude had fractured the fellowship of their church.

Added to this were some who had misused the grace-gifts and used them in a very unloving manner. Their arrogant conduct threatened the now fragile fellowship of their church.

Into this barren wasteland of disarray, the apostle introduces God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He points them back to God the Father and reminds them of His dealings with Israel and how this revealed His great faithfulness. As he does, the dusty soil seems to change colour. He introduces a throne into the middle of the scene and vegetation begins to appear. In a glimmer of strange light it appears that Someone is seated on the throne. The apostle talks a lot about Him - His sacrifice, His redeeming work, His great passion. Then on-cue, a very light mist envelopes the garden and waters the plants which have gently appeared and the apostle speaks of the Holy Spirit - His empowering, His gifts, His power. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit work together in harmony and unison of purpose.
¶ The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
Second Corinthians 13:14
lush gardenPerhaps your life has become barren and desolate? Vitality, passion, and joy might seem to have gone from your life. Consider, muse, and ponder on what the Apostle Paul is telling the Corinthians: The Trinity of Grace, Love, and Fellowship can turn your dryness into lushness. These are "good words" from the Apostle. Perhaps you could use a dose of benediction in your life right now? It is hard to imagine a grander benediction than this.

Grace is any gift given freely and undeservedly. God's grace is even more than this because it is a gift given freely and undeservedly meeting our present need. Could you use the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ in your life now? I could. F.W. Boreham, in his classic book, On The Other Side of The Hill, tells us that the affect of receiving such a grace is that we become ourselves become gracious, loving, and friendly. The one touched deeply by the power of this benediction cannot help but pass it on to others. He tells us that it is the same as a person taking a leisurely walk through a thick garden of fragrant flowers and having the fragrance of the garden's flowers linger about them for days.
¶ But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.
Second Corinthians 2:14
Dr Boreham also points out that it's not just grace, love and fellowship, that these benedictory words bestow, it is the accompaniment of the Triune Bestower as well. Christians, dedicated followers of Christ, are given the grace of Jesus Christ because we have received Christ. We are given the love of God because we have yielded our lives to God and He has chosen to live in us. We given fellowship with the Holy Spirit because the Holy Spirit now dwells with and in us. Understanding the Trinity is not merely the domain of lofty Theologians. It should be the delight and refreshment of every follower of Christ. For in pondering the union of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we see what infinite grace has looked like for all eternity. We see what infinite love looks like in its most glorious fashion. And we see the original archetype of intimate fellowship. These musings cause us to be gracious toward the undeserving, loving toward the difficult, and open-heartedly friendly toward those we not yet or fully know. Eugene Peterson captures this benediction well when he describes this wonderful blessing available to all believers when he calls it- amazingextravagant, and intimate.

Mankind was originally placed in a garden. It was in this Garden of Eden that God would come down in the cool of the day and walk with Adam. As he experienced God's presence he was nourished to the core of his soul on grace, love and fellowship. He would have known unimaginable peace, joy, and satisfaction. Without God and His benediction spoken into our soul, people are left to their own inadequate devices and left wondering why they feel so empty and dry. In a world full of desolate words, couldn't you use an amazing, extravagant, and intimate benediction to fill your mind with renewing, refreshing, comfort? May you know the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit deep in your soul.


Thursday, 2 January 2014

Roman Catholicism Compared with Biblical Christianity

 Read the full article here
By Andrew Corbett, Part 1
Any discussion about religious wars, clergy violations, or child abuse, and it won't be long before the The Roman Catholic Church unfortuntely features. But I want to have a different discussion. And unlike most of the 'discussions' of this nature, I'm not on a mission to attack, ridicule, or mock anyone. Rather, I want to look at what the Roman Catholic Church officially teaches and asserts and compare it with the Bible's teaching.
I've been a denominational minister for over two decades, so I know that it is possible to be a part of an organisation with which you disagree on some points.  I understand that this is certainly the case with the Roman Catholic Church as there are many priests who do agree with all that their Church asserts. For the purposes of this discussion, I have chosen to take the official Catholic positions on the matters I am comparing with the Biblical data. It is my hope that my Roman Catholic audience will acknowledge that I have represented their views fairly - but it is also my hope that I can appropriately demonstrate how these core views compare with the Biblical prescriptions…[continue to the full article]