Friday, 31 October 2014

Behind Closed Doors

In the years to come, our society is going to face an alarming crisis. This crisis will impact how nations are governed, business is done, and families are constituted. And the cause of this crisis is happening right now behind closed doors...

I've been helping people now for several decades. In that time I have never met a completely functional person! Initially this somewhat surprised me. After listening to the stories of a few thousand people, I've come to realise that we are all dysfunctional to varying degrees. People who appear competent, relaxed, confident, care-free, rarely are. And increasingly over the last few years I've been noticing a concerning trend. Things that used to constitute 'personal problems' seem to have become somewhat normalised and a whole new set of problems now constitute the issues that too many people are now facing. And for the most part these very complex issues are being endured in silence, behind closed doors.

The family home should be the safest place on earth. It should be the place where we associate words like, security, laughter, fond-memories, healing, and rest. The family home is where mum and dad model love, communication, conflict-resolution, planning, dreaming, and romancing. Mums help make a home. Dads help build a home. Together, a Mum and a Dad indispensably contribute what is necessary to make the difference between a house and a home. Ask any single Mum and she'll tell that you that being a solo parent is an extremely tough gig. Ask any wife how hard it is parenting her children when her husband and father of her children won't step up and accept his responsibility to build character, discipline, and life-skills in their home. And I could go one step further and invite you to talk with the wife of an unworthy husband - who abuses both her and her children. I could go this extra step, but I can't. The reason is, such women are difficult to find - not because there's not plenty of them - but because these women and children generally suffer behind closed doors.

What goes on behind closed doors is more than just a physical matter. It involves the intimidation. It involves deep embarrassment and shame. It involves guilt. Abuse takes on different degrees and forms behind closed doors.

The home is where children ought learn to: serve sacrificially, love lavishly, socialise sensibly, laugh lots, and lead courageously. And the growing dire lack of the fulfilment of this ought has given rise to our looming crisis. We now have children growing up not merely in broken homes, but highly dysfunctional homes where they are subject to emotional, physical, social, spiritual, and, sexual, abuse. We Tasmanians went from stunned shock to appalled disgust when we discovered behind the closed doors of one of our own, the mother of a twelve year old girl had been prostituting her own daughter for the past few years to hundreds of men - including men in Public Office, actually charged with upholding justice! The biggest problem with this case is that it is almost certainly not isolated! There is deep pain being felt and inflicted in many Tasmanian homes behind closed doors.

As the children from these abusive homes become adults and take their place in our society as celebrities, business people, politicians, academics, sports champions, they bring with them more than the pain of their abuse. Unwittingly they also bring to positions of influence a highly dysfunctional concept of normality. They attempt to numb their pain, quiet their pain, deny their pain, distract their pain, amuse their pain, but, all to no avail. And what's worse, a good number of them will perpetuate this generational cycle of abuse behind closed doors.
Jesus stood up and said to her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"
She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more."

John 8:10-11
The next time you see someone who deliberately looks different - whether it's their heavy mascara, tattoos, piercings, or Gothic fashion, it might worth considering what kind of home they came from. When you hear someone campaigning for something that would have disgusted a previous generation, consider what pain they might be desperately trying to justify. We shouldn't judge too quickly until we know what happened behind closed doors.

All of this is going to contribute to a crisis that should alarm us. Without homes from which leaders can be born to a Mum and a Dad who can then together distil into them how to love, how to care, how to share, how to learn, how to be courageous, how to be honest (even when it hurts), how to work (even though laziness is way cooler), and how to resolve conflict and get along with hard-to-get-along-with people, we are going to have to deal a social tsunami of the most broken, dysfunctional, narcissistic people in human history. This will impact how the next emerging generation views volunteering for not-for-profits (in addition to their day-jobs), giving to charities, serving within a church, donating their time to help run a board of a community organisation, or becoming a self-funded missionary. Increasingly churches who used to 'disciple' new Christians on a pathway to leadership within their church are going to have to disciple pre-Christians and new-Christians to acquire functional life-skills before embarking on discipling them into becoming leaders. These functional skills will have to include how to be sociable (with real live human beings), how to parent, manage finances, appropriate sexuality, diet, and how to read a book. All the while, we will have to teach, model, and train what a life-giving home is so that the next generation has nothing to fear behind closed doors.
Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.
Titus 2:3-5
And here's my appeal. Open your doors. By 'doors' I don't just mean that thing at the front of your house, I also mean your heart. We have a few young children from broken homes occasionally come and spend a night with us. For just a brief moment they experience an alternate view of 'normal'. While this happens occasionally in our family home, it also happens every week in our church. We welcome it! Please don't be surprised if you meet new people in your church each Sunday whom you soon discover live in very dysfunctional homes. Please don't just welcome them, expect them. And don't just expect them, pray for the Lord to bring them in! When you see a struggling single mum battling with her crying baby, don't be judgmental - instead take a glimpse behind their closed door and reach out to them - let's open our doors to them. 

The Church was originally founded on multitudes of dysfunctional people coming to Christ and being made whole. One of the most compelling statements of this is found in First Corinthians where the Apostle lists the types of broken people who had ventured into the healing community of the church and been made whole. I finish with the Apostle's celebration of broken people - those who had previously suffered behind closed doors - who had now been made whole, in the hope that we too can see the broken, despairing, abused, lonely, hurting, dysfunctional people of our community come to Christ's healing community of the church - a church not behind closed doors!
¶ 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
Ps. Andrew

Friday, 24 October 2014



Most leaders have learned a secret. It's a kind of secret where knowing it is easier than implementing it. The most difficult component to this secret is acting on it. And after several seasons of various leadership roles, I have come to realise that the difference between someone who claims to be a leader (and may even have a title to prove they are a leader) and, an actual leader, is whether they know and utilise the power of this secret. Similarly, the difference between a good leader and a great leader is the extent to which they implement this secret. Great leaders are not limited to those extraordinary fields of endeavour that people later writes books about - great leadership is needed in marriages, homes, classrooms, and small-groups. I now want to share this secret with you.

I admire great leaders. My kids thought that we got Foxtel so that they could watch Disney Channel. Kim thought we got it so that we could watch Duck Dynasty on A&E. But when it became apparent that I accepted their trial offer so that I could watch Discovery and History Channels, Kim demanded that stop wasting our precious money and cancel our subscription. The reason for my tryst into cable was to watch documentaries - particularly military and war documentaries. When it comes to leadership, it is rare to find any greater than on a battlefield. Without exception, every great military leader achieved their greatness with the help of their knowledge of this vintage secret.
Great leaders are also found on non-military battle-grounds called fields, pitches, arenas, or courts - usually encased in a stadium. 

My curiosity about great leaders is one of the reasons why I am fascinated by AFL Football. Most people who watch AFL just see the match on game-day. I see the coaches assembled the day after the match with their team down at the beach wading in and out of the icy water to develop their leg-lifts and breakdown any remaining lactic acid. I see the coach and his assistants gathered early Monday morning in front of twelve video screen each giving a synchronised replay of their team's match performance. I see the Tuesday training session where the specialist coaches take their particular players and hone their skills and run them through their customised drills. I see the Coach on a Wednesday meeting with his team of nutritionists and dietitions and running through their individualised player regimes and measuring their effectiveness. I see the coach meeting with team manager and the admin staff to discuss recruitment, follow up, marketing, media-relations, sponsor-relations. Every great coach is a great leader - a great leader who knows and implements the secret.

Leadership is no greater than when the secret has been most obviously implemented. These are the moments when the war seems lost and the game seems to be all but over ... yet ... great leaders draw down on the secret and seemingly miraculously find a way to turn the tide of the war and snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Without knowledge of the secret this just simply could never happen.

Perhaps it's because I'm a pastor, but it seems that this secret has been best kept within the church. That is, even though some have come to discover the power of the secret they have not chosen to share it with those who need to know it or would benefit from it. My suspicion is that if they did, there would not be anywhere near the drop-out rate of small-group leaders, department leaders, elders and pastors within most churches. If this key-secret is indeed known, it really doesn't appear to be shared very widely! It urgently needs to be known now. It is the secret to breakthrough.

The Apostle Paul shared this secret with his protegĂ©, Timothy, when he told him - 
¶ I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.
Second Timothy 4:1-2
'Be ready in season and out of season', involves -
    • preparing yourself through reading widely (2Tim. 4:13)
    • sharing your gifts, talents, or abilities, when you feel like it and when you don't 
    • having to share God's grace even when circumstances are adverse
    • doing what needs to be done in the midst of opposition, persecution, trials and slander
Paul has disclosed this potent secret to Timothy. If you can apprehend this secret you have taken the first step toward succeeding as a leader in your home, school, work-place, community, business, sporting field, battle-ground, or church. The Apostle Peter also shared the secret with a group of Bithynian elders when he put it this way - 
¶ Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. ¶ So I exhort the elders among you
First Peter 4:19 - 5:1a
What Peter has said here is a secret that every emerging leader needs to know: even when you are going through your private hell keep working to rescue others from theirs! 'Your private hell' ("...let those who suffer...") is not a reason for you to not to fulfil your mission ("...while doing good..."). Peter, who should know, tells these elders to keep focussed, keep moving forward, keep caring - especially when times are most trying and difficult - never, never, never, give up! Keep believing! Keep trying! Keep fighting! Keep playing! Keep battling! This is the most potent leadership secret you can ever learn. 

What God has called you to do - and enabled you to do - may never (and probably will never) find the perfect moment for its delivery! In fact, what we read in Second Timothy and First Peter is that it is to be expected that a leader will (not might) face opposition, persecution, or trials. A key element to the break-through secret that great leaders discover is that most great feats of leadership always occur during adverse and very trying circumstances. 

Mothers learn this secret. Little girls grow up dreaming that one day they will hold their own baby in their arms and experience the wonderfully fulfilling delight of nurturing that baby to maturity. This introduction to leadership commences in pain, but that pain is soon forgotten for the joy that outweighs it. And this introduction to leadership sets the template for every leadership moment a mother is grown by: through pain comes triumph and joy. Mothers thus learn the secret of great leadership when despite the temptation to give into their persistently defiant child, they stand their ground. This barrage of defiance only grows as the child grows - but so does the determination of great leader-mothers who take a stand to truly love their child out of their defiance. Mothers employ this secret when they themselves have had a shocker of a day yet still take the time to ask their child just home from their day at school how their day was. Mothers utilise this secret when they withstand the temptation to procrastinate and take action despite their exhaustion. 

Peter quietly shared the secret within the thoughts expressed in First Peter 4:19. Even when you're going through the most adverse circumstances, keep reaching out to others! When I see people doing this (and I see it regularly), I recognise that within these leaders are the seeds of greatness. Despite their own problems they help others. Despite how trying and difficult it is to achieve something for the benefit of our community, they persist. Despite, despite, despite - leaders still lead. This is how you can tell whether someone is really a leader. And now it's no longer a secret.

Ps. Andrew

Friday, 17 October 2014

The Salvation Of The Elect

Salvation is presented in Scripture as having a past, present, and future aspect. Here's some brief notes highlighting how this is so.

1. Salvation is presented in Scripture as -

 + a concluded legal matter (Eph. 2:8-9 "saved"), 

 + a present unfolding experience (Phil. 2:12 "work out your salvation"; 1Cor. 1:18 ¶ "For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God."), and 

 + a future hope (Acts 15:11 "But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus"; Rom. 10:13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”).

2. Salvation encompasses -

+ the regeneration of a human spirit (present)

+ the guarantee of a glorified resurrected body (future) 

3. Salvation ensures - 

+ Adoption by God (past and future)

+ Justification by and before God (past)

+ Sanctification (present and future)

+ Translation into God’s presence for eternity (future)

4. Salvation is effectual by - 

+ The finished work of Christ’s atonement (past)

+ The election of the Father (past)

+ The agency of the Holy Spirit’s regenerating the elect as a gracious gift (past)

+ The perseverance of the saints by the sustaining of the Holy Spirit (present)

+ The glorification of the elect in the Resurrection by the Father, Son and Spirit (future)

5. Salvation is not the result of - 

 + The believer’s instigation

 + The believer’s natural will

 + The decision of the unregenerate to believe

 + Any acts of moral virtue done by the redeemed

  - because if any of #5. was true then salvation cannot be by grace.

Thus, salvation is a past, present, and future act of God. Because man is constituted as a “soul” (body + spirit) he must remain so for eternity - which makes the resurrection necessary. Therefore, while the believer’s spirit is saved through regeneration, the believer’s soul cannot have salvation completed until their glorification in the Resurrection. In the meantime, the Holy Spirit empowers the believer "to work” (Eph. 2:10) and to strive toward resembling their legal position of justification (Phil. 2:12). It is not this work which saves the believer - it is this work which confirms a person is a believer. This is the distinction between ‘root’ (God’s grace through Christ) and ‘fruit’ (our offering of works to God for His glory).

Andrew Corbett

Under Pressure Yet In Control

Reading John 13 this morning, I am deeply moved by two outstanding yet subtle observations. Firstly, Jesus knew exactly what was about to happen. Secondly, the one non-Galillean disciple did not know that Jesus knew what had been going on - or what was about to happen! I see Jesus at this point in a totally new light. Just as in friendship (and especially in courting the idea of whether to marry a person) you never really get to know someone until you see them up close and under pressure! In fact, the more pressure they are under, the clearer the picture you'll have of who they truly are. In John 13, The Christ is under pressure. He is minutes away from being grievously betrayed. And it is at this point that we see an even clearer picture of the most exquisitely unique being who has ever been among us.
During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him,  Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
John 13:2-5
Someone in Christ's innermost circle of trusted leaders has been working behind the scenes to undermine Him. Added to this, he has been stealing from the group's treasury for his own personal expenses. And in addition to these crimes, he has now all but sealed the deal to have his Master brutally tortured and executed. All this has been done in secret. Or so he thought. Just minutes before he cashed in on his wicked scheme, the One he was about to demise, now half-naked so that the ordour and grime didn't spray onto his clean garments, took his betrayer's aching, tired, dusty, smelly feet, and began to caress them with a warm, wet sponge, then dry them with a towell. It was a scene that only an outside observer could have fully appreciated for the betrayer didn't even notice it happening! Why? He was too engrossed in a heated discussion about why he would be the greatest in the Kingdom to come-
¶ A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest.
Luke 22:24
As Jesus removed the animal manure from the festy feet of Judas, He knew full well what His betrayer was about to do. Upon reflection of this profound moment, John opens this chapter with an introductory statement about what we are about to read.
¶ Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
John 13:1
Later, as his betrayer was securing his blood-money, Jesus would leave that dining room for a garden aptly named, The Press. It was in the midst of an olive grove and it was where the harvested olives would be pressed to produce an oil used for medicinal purposes. In their tongue, it was referred to as Gethsemane. Shortly, Jesus too would be harvested and His life would also be pressed, and He too would then produce a healing oil (that it is still flowing today). The thought of what was about to happen to Him, being orchestrated by Judas Iscariot as He knelt there in prayer, caused His capillaries to dillate and exude blood through His sweat glands. Jesus was under the most intense and literally unimagineable pressure. Yet He remained composed. He breathed His prayer of renewal of dedication to His Father and entrusted His soul to the One who was worthy of it. To His disciples, seeing Judas leave the room and the door closing behind him, He began to speak sweetly and softly in a manner they had not previously heard. John carefully takes the next three chapters to retell these words. When you read John 14, 15, 16, read them quietly and softly - the way Christ tenderly uttered them. They begin with these startling words that only made sense two months after they were uttered.
So, after receiving the morsel of bread, he (Judas) immediately went out. And it was night.
¶ When he had gone out, Jesus said, "Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. 

John 13:30-31
Jesus in Gethsemane
After Judas left, Christ declared that His disciples would now see Him begin to be glorified. Jesus had an utterly different perspective from others! He spoke intimately with them about waiting for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. He was concerned about them. Truly strong men, when under pressure, keep caring for others - especially those they are responsible for. Weak men, when under pressure, blame others and lash out at those they should care for!
"By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."
John 13:35
No matter what dark hour you are facing - no matter what kind of pressure you are under - Jesus understands. No matter how lonely you feel, the One who begged those whom He considered His closest friends - yet was let down by them in His hour of greatest need for them - knows what you're going through. Even when it feels like no-one understands at all, Jesus "knowing all things" knows what you are going through. You can experience His comfort, His care, His friendship, because He - more than anyone else - knows how much you truly need it. When He looks you in the eye through the mist of your tears and tells you, "Trust My Father", He alone is qualified to say it - and He knows what He's talking about. Far from being under pressure and feeling out of control, because He trusted His Father, He was both under pressure and enjoying the peace that comes from knowing that God is in control.
"Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me."
John 14:1 
Ps. Andrew

Friday, 10 October 2014


Misunderstood Jesus

I'm currently doing some of my daily Bible reading in Greek. After all, I just spent a year studying it and sat 5 exams to verify that I'd done it, so it would be a shame to let it lapse. This morning I read from John 6. This is one of the most difficult episodes in Christ's ministry. This is the point where thousands of formerly adoring followers abandon Him and His closest followers are left bewildered. It really doesn't matter which language you read this story in, Greek or English or whatever, the content of what Jesus said at that time sounds bizarre. And that's the problem with trying to say something with words!
I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh."
¶ The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.

John 6:51-54
Words are only a part of our means of communication. This is one of the primary things that I endeavour to teach a couple preparing for marriage (and one of the first things I have to address when I'm dealing with a couple in crisis). As we journey through life and interact with other we learn that communication also involves-
tone ("You dag!" could an affectionate compliment or demeaning put-down, depending on the tone with which it is said.)  
facial expression and body language (some things are better heard when said with a smile on your face. People talk to us differently when our body language invites them to open up and share with us.) 
timing (If you have something to say that starts with, "Now probably isn't the best time to say this, but..." you've probably picked a bad time and thus ensured that what you have to say won't be heard properly.) 
emotion (When you ask someone how they are going and they hesitate before answering and then say, "Fine thanks." You may confuse the words they've just used and miss the emotion in their voice and thus what they are really telling you.) 
actions (When someone says, "I really love you" but doesn't want to spend any time alone with you or you and your friends, their actions communicate something louder than their words.) 
Learning Biblical GreekAdded to this brief, non-exhaustive, list of communicators, is the depth of connection we have with the person we are communicating with. As we get to know someone, we begin to understand them better because we learn their "language". An individual's language is not just the words, tone, expression, timing, emotion, and actions they use, but their meaning that they assign to their words, expressions, and metaphors. Husbands must attempt to learn the language of their wives. (When a wife asks her husband what he is thinking it is not so much an information gathering question as it is an request to engage in conversation with her.) Wives must attempt to learn the language of their husbands. (When a husband is silent and alone it is not that he is emotionally withdrawing, it is that he is emotionally recharging.) This highlights the problem with words.

All of this means that words are rarely unequivocal ('one meaning in all instances'). Words take on the meaning of their context. My Biblical Greek studies introduced me to a confusing little Greek word: epi. I say confusing because the word has around a dozen very different meanings depending on its context! Context is not just derived from their surrounding words. Context also comes from a person. Take the word, hospital. To one person this word means a place of hope and healing. It is where a loved one was cured. It conjures fond memories. But the same word to another person can create fear, terror, and great anxiety. For them, the childhood memory of going to the hospital and being seated on a hard hallway chair in a white sterile corridor just before being told by the nurse who was just about to clock-off, "Your mother has just died" gives the word hospital an entirely different meaning to this person. The same kind of thing might be said for the words, "Father God" depending on the context a person places around these words. 
Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
Colossians 4:6
The words of Jesus in John 6 highlight the problem with words. The words He used meant something. The words His audience heard meant something else. Christ was often misunderstood. What might surprise the modern reader of Christ's words is just why Jesus didn't publicly attempt to clear up these misunderstandings. John 6 is a classic case in point. After all, this particular misunderstanding cost Christ thousands of followers. He could have clarified, re-worded, or appealed for His hearers not to be so 'literal'. But He didn't. We are left to conclude that Jesus very deliberately, very intentionally, and very precisely chose His words, and we, His hearers, must learn His language. And even though God has ordained to communicate the indispensible means of eternal life through the words of Scripture, He considers the potential benefits to innumerable numbers of people compared with the risk of misunderstanding infinitely worth it. God does not have a problem with words! The record of Christ's words in John 6 confirm this.
Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God's way.  Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us. 
Second Timothy 3:16-17 The Message
We now have the benefit of Christ's words having been collected into the Gospels. We understand that Christ often used word pictures and parables to make profound points. He has inspired and ordained not only the Gospel writers to write, but to also write what they did (which included strategic omissions - see John 21:25). This collection of Christ's words are sufficient for us to sufficiently understand Him and His language. The entire Bible has Christ as its theme. Therefore, all the Scriptures give us a deeper understanding of who Jesus is, what He taught, and what He has achieved. This brings me back to one of opening observations about communicating. To truly understand someone you have to learn their language by getting to know them - their past, their heart, their vocabulary, their priorities, their achievements. Even after walking with and serving Christ for decades, the Apostle Paul could write -
that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death
Philippians 3:10
Even though the Gospels give us sufficient knowledge of Christ and all the Scriptures give us plenty of further insights about Him, we can still not exhaust the full wonders and infinite pleasures of knowing Christ! 

Those who are married understand the problem of words. You marry someone you think you know only to discover that you barely did! Because you love them, you want to learn their language. To do this, you have to spend time with them. You have to ask questions about the moments and events which have defined them. You observe what they do with their time. You learn how secure they are by how they celebrate or criticise the achievements of others. You begin to learn their language - despite their words. Those who are not seasoned in genuine love (due to their lack of having enough trials or adversities together) can not possibly appreciate what I am trying to say. Until you've walked long enough, through many dangers, toils and snares, with another person, you cannot possibly know their true language. Oh, and one last word. A person is more likely to let someone learn their language when another person demonstrates their willingness to learn it. This is why none of us have ever exhausted the treasures of the language of God's Word. To do this, it requires an intimacy with Christ that is best described as eating His flesh and drinking His blood. And each week He invites into such an intimacy with Him.
¶ And as they were eating, he took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them, and said, "Take; this is my body." And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. And he said to them, "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.
Mark 14:22-24 
Ps. Andrew

Thursday, 2 October 2014


Two soldiersF.W. Boreham writes in The Drums Of Dawn of two soldiers both offered inducements to betray their country. The first one considers the bribe then concludes that it is not worth it. His sense of duty toward his country prevailed. The second soldier is offered the same bribe and doesn't even consider it. His loyalty to his country is not founded merely on a sense of duty - but on a love for his beloved homeland. He delighted in his nation and was therefore unhesitatingly dutiful. Jesus also told stories contrasting how we can relate to the Father with either a cold sense of duty or a flaming sense of delight. Why do you go to church when you do?

A dutiful puppy awaits its master"In the thirteenth chapter of his Ecce Homo, Sir J. R. Seeley draws a striking contrast between two men. Both are patriots; but one is passionate, while the other is merely a languid, patriot. Each is offered a bribe to betray his country. Both eventually decline it. The languid patriot refuses the bribe after a terrible inward struggle, his fingers itching to grasp the proffered gold. But, in the case of the passionate patriot, there is no struggle at all. He feels that the offer is an insult: he rejects it instantly and with scorn. The difference between the two men, Sir J. R. Seeley points out, is that, whilst the languid patriot is incapable of crime, the passionate patriot is incapable of temptation." (F.W. Boreham, "The Drums of Dawn", 'Remember Lot's Wife', page 205)

Did Jesus fulfil His mission out of duty or delight? The Psalmist foresaw Christ's mission and prophesied of Him-
"I delight to do your will, O my God;
your law is within my heart."

Psalm 40:8
The difference between duty and delight is largely one of motive. Christ's motive for His mission was not primarily about those He was redeeming - it was based on His utter love and devotion for His Father. In one respect, Jesus has never heard the Father command Him to do anything - even though the Father sent Him to redeem the world. What Jesus heard was an opportunity to delight His Father! 

The contrast between duty and delight features in several of Christ's stories. The best known of these is the story of the Prodigal's son in Luke 15. We are presented with two brothers. The younger brother refuses to continue to be dutiful. He demands his share of the inheritance from his father and takes off. He is neither dutiful nor delightful toward his father. Meanwhile, his dutiful older brother is still carrying on his work. When his younger brother returns from squandering his inheritance and the father throws a feast to celebrate, the older son is outraged. He bases his outrage on duty.
But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, 'Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends.
Luke 15:28-29
If we were to sum up how the father replied to his dutiful older son we might say that he revealed his desire for his son to delight in being with and serving him - not merely serving him out of a sense of gain or duty. I wonder how many people the Father longs to reveal this same truth to today? The Apostle Paul told the Romans to do church with delight not just mere duty when he wrote in Romans 12:11 ~ Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. He said the same thing to the Ephesians with different words -
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 4:16
When we consider how the Lord might want us to reach out to others and see our church grow, we will soon realise that it will involve us showing our delight for our Lord by applying the Apostle Paul's injunctions to show fervour, zeal, and love - not because we are like dutiful older brothers, nay, but because we are glad, reinstated, children of our limitless powerful and infinitely lovely Heavenly Father and we want to bring Him pleasure. 
And let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful.
Titus 3:14
I have seen delight. My family and I had been traipsing across the USA and Canada throughout November 2013. After 30 speaking engagements in churches, seminars, and think-tanks, we had the privilege of just attending a church for our final Sunday in the USA. When we pulled into James River Church in Springfield Missouri it was minus 10 degrees centigrade. But as we did so we were greeted by a young lady serving as a car park director. She was smiling, waving enthusiastically to incoming drivers, and dancing. Dancing! As she directed incoming cars she smiled, waved and danced - and not just when people were looking. She was delighted to be serving the Lord in the car park!
As we walked across the car park to the church sanctuary I walked to this young lady and admiringly said, "You look like you're enjoying yourself!" She responded, "Oh, I am!" That day, despite being told that  Pastor John Lindell was a great preacher (and I'm sure he probably is), he had been supremely trumped by this young lady's exposition of the Biblical word: delight!

Of course, the power of delight is not just a principle for being a fully devoted mature follower of Christ, it is the key ingredient to success in any field. It is variously called, passionenjoymententhusiasmdrive. But it is especially true for any church to grow! When we don't delight in our God and yet serve Him, we do so out of duty. Duty has a lot to say for it, but when delight enters the room which duty occupies, it is duty that is excused to leave the room. And when it does, no one notices because they are preoccupied with delight. This Sunday, may we delight in God by delighting in what He delights in and serve Him delightfully.
¶ ... as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her
Ephesians 5:25 
Not because we have to, but because we want to. That's delight compared with duty. That's the deal church.

Ps. Andrew