Thursday, 27 November 2014



Ken lived in the corporate world. Business meetings, interstate trips, spreadsheets, balance sheets, and long hours - very long hours. Ken's family though were paying a price for his high income. In the helter-skelter of his hectic lifestyle, Ken didn't quite make it to church with his family as often as he knew he should, until one surprising Sunday. It would be wrong to think that he got it right everytime from that day, he still had one more hard lesson to learn.
¶ "Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?"
Matthew 6:25 
Ken justified his high-powered work-life by telling himself, and his wife and children, that he was "doing it for them." Being a Christian, he even justified his spiritual irresponsibility to God with all the predictable excuses. But then that day came. It was a Sunday. Ken went with his family to church that Sunday. He used to take them to church before he rose up the dizzing heights of the corporate ladder. It wasn't what was said, taught, or preached that Sunday - but it was what Ken heard that wrought the change. 
And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?
Matthew 6:27
Ken was a corporate tax accountant. And he was good at it. He considered himself a sincere and committed Christian. Being in church on this particular Sunday, something in Ken's soul was being strangely stirred. He began to pray. He reconnected with God with some slight hesitation. His Bible was open on his lap at Matthew chapter 6 when he heard God speak softly to his soul. "Get your priorities right" he heard God say. "How?" his heart replied. "God first, family second, work third."
Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?'
Matthew 6:31
God first, Family second, and Work third. This became Ken's new mantra. He realised that to put God first he had to make an adjustment to his daily and Sunday priorities. He committed to read his Bible first thing everyday and attend church with his family every Sunday. This required a change in work patterns because he often brought work home and worked all weekend to get ready for important Monday morning meetings. But no more. Well, nearly no more as I'll explain shortly. 
¶ "Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.
Matthew 6:34 The Message
Ken's new mantra of priorities was soon tested. He had a client that had just been told they were going to receive a snap Tax Audit first thing Monday. They needed Ken to prepare the books which meant he would have to work this particular weekend. But he had already made a commitment to his young son that this Saturday morning he would take him to his T-ball game and watch him play. He tried to explain to his son why he couldn't go to his game. His disappointed son left for his uneventful match. Meanwhile, Ken tried to work on his client's books all that morning but couldn't make any significant progress. Sighing in frustration he heard, "God first, Family second, Work third." "God, are You saying that if I'd put my family before work and gone to my son's T-ball game, I would have this problem solved?" Ken knew the answer and left his work to try and catch the dying the minutes of his son's game. He then took his son out for a special father and son lunch. Later that day he rang his client on the other side of the country and apologised that he wouldn't be able to get their books done in time. They were extremely disappointed and threatened to take their business elsewhere. But Monday morning Ken received a call from the client. They told him that the Tax Office had just contacted them and told them their Tax Audit would be delayed by a week. They asked Ken to continue his work for them. After that call, Ken whispered yet another prayer to God, this time apologising and confessing his failure to get his priorities right. He remembered the verse from Matthew 6 that stood out to him that Sunday from his Bible on his lap-
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Matthew 6:33
Ken came to realise that time with his family in church as they worshipped together was one of the greatest ways he could lead his wife and children. Rather than keep him from getting things done either at work or at home, Ken found that God seemed to honour him for putting Him first and his family second.

Ken had learned some valuable lessons. He changed his priorities. He became involved in his local church. His fears that his new priorities would harm his business become unfounded. In fact, he told people that he now felt the blessing of God on his life and business and that time in church was time sown into God (and you always reap what you sow - which is good news for gardeners and those who feel they don't have enough time to maintain their homes). He began to receive invitations from other churches to share his story. He shared his simple list of priorities- God first, Family second, and Work third - and thousands of business people adopted his mantra and changed their priorities. He began receiving testimonies from people all over the world telling him that he had given them the courage to put God first, their Family second and their work third. 
Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.
Matthew 6:33 The Message
I was a teenager when I first heard Ken. His story was inspiring and impressive. His priority-mantra was contagious. I have tried to emulate it. To my shame, I have not always kept it. But it is my goal. 
I was stunned to hear some time ago that Ken had suddenly died. Even though he didn't know it, his life would soon be over. He lived out his last days putting God first, his Family second and his Work third. Life's brevity and lack of guarantees has a way of highlighting a person's poor priorities. But Ken was fortunate because it wasn't a health scare that shocked him into reorganising his priorities - it was the Word of God. And it is from the Word of God that we find that Ken's list of priorities didn't originate with him.
Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
Matthew 6:33 NLT
Ps. Andrew

Friday, 21 November 2014


Keith and Russell who remembering hearing Dr F.W. BorehamI've just returned from an interstate trip where I interviewed two elderly men for the upcoming FW Boreham Documentary. Both of these gentlemen were in their nineties and had been friends for over 70 years. After from sitting under the preaching of F.W. Boreham, they had many other things in common, but their one joint passion was for their local church and their Saviour. These men radiated the presence of Christ and such there was something peculiarly attractive about them. This was the same with the first followers of Christ as well.
¶ Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks.  So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, "Sir, we wish to see Jesus."
John 12:20-21 
Jesus chose to be represented by people. These representatives are called the Church. The genius of having people represent you, is that you reach more people. In this episode in John 12 where these Greeks say to the disciples, "We wish to see Jesus", there is something very profound going on. Over the years I've heard many preachers use this passage to say that people often get in the way of other people seeing Jesus. "The church should just get away of people wanting to see Jesus", they preach. But the problem with that conclusion from this text in John 12 illustrates the exact opposite point. Far from followers of Christ being a hindrance to people seeing Jesus, followers of Christ are the means by which people come to see Jesus. 

Jesus has called you to follow Him so that others might see Him. Keith and Russell, the two gentlemen in the nineties, had spent their lives helping others to see Jesus. There are some people that might not ever see Jesus because of me - but these same people may well see Jesus because of you! When these Greeks approached the disciples of Jesus, I guess they could have asked any of the disciples to introduce them to Christ. But they didn't ask Matthew, or Judas, or Thomas, or Simon, instead they went straight to Philip. Did you notice something in that list of names? Philip is a Greek name. These Greeks went to a disciple of Jesus with whom they felt they could relate. If we read on in this passage we see that Philip went to another of Christ's disciple's who also had a Greek name.
Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.
John 12:22
This week I was contacted by someone interstate who knew me primarily as a tennis player. (In my early life, tennis was my life.) They wrote to me reminiscing about watching me play tennis and knowing that I was a Christian. He then shared a small summary of his recent journey to Christ after having been delivered from alcohol and drugs. Tennis become the connecting point for our relationship. Yet other people connect with me because they hear me on radio. In fact, yesterday as I checked in for my flight, the stewardess asked, "Are you the Andrew Corbett on radio?" This became another connecting point for me to reach out. Jesus has strategically invested in you certain connecting points with others. Like the disciples, Philip and Andrew, it might be your ethnicity and family history. It could be the school you went to. It could be your sport, or sporting team. It could be your job or profession. It could be your love of craft. It could be your children or even your parents. It could be your choice of music. 

Far from the Church being in the way of people coming to know Christ, the Church is the greatest means by which people can! When these original Greeks approached these original disciples, they lived at a time when so much about life was uncertain. The Romans were swift in dealing with those who displeased them. And many people displeased them. Death and the after-life were extremely important issues to the people of the first century. Today, without the looming threat of a Roman sword, most people in the Western World (which includes much of Australia) do not ponder these deeper matters. Arguably, many people in these more affluent societies are blinded to their real need by the utter deception that they have no needs. It's into these peoples' lives that God sends a follower of Christ with a connecting point. They observe in this follower of Christ a deep peace that comes from having the deepest need met - a need thay they now begin to recognise because of this Christ follower. This is a need that a Mercedes cannot fill. It is a need that having the right address does not address. It is a need that a Mastercard cannot buy. And while there are many followers of Christ who have similar stations in life to these need-blind people, they see their wealth and possessions as resources at the King's disposal so that even more people can be healed of their blindness. It is followers of Christ which produces followers of Christ.
For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.
Revelation 3:17
These Greeks of John 12 knew where to find Jesus. Find His disciples and you'll find Him! The same is true today. Find His followers and you'll find Him. When Joseph and Mary wanted to find the twelve year old Jesus, they went to the House of God. The same is true today. When the family of Christ followers gather, Christ is in their midst (Matthew 18:20). When the Church gathers with Christ in her midst, everything she does is worship of Him. If anyone would find Jesus, they should look in church. If they also want to see Christ they should look at the One the Church is worshiping. 
so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another... ¶ For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.
Romans 12:5, First Corinthians 12:12
This Sunday we will have people join with us who have never been to church. These people are not interested in becoming religious. They are not coming to be controlled or duped. They have, however, been given a glimpse of their true need and painfully come to realise that stuff, although momentarily numbing, does not (because it can not) meet this need. They've discovered that what the world calls medicine is actually the very poison that made them terminally ill in the first place. They need to see Jesus. They have come to where He can be found. As the followers of Christ assemble to worship Jesus, people are drawn to Him. 

Keith and Russell watching a preview of the FW Boreham DocumentaryAfter I met with these two veteran followers of Christ to film them for the FWB documentary, they chatted about their church (Kew Baptist Church). Russell, who enjoyed better health than Keith, warmly invited Keith to come to their next Chat and Chew outreach morning. Russell then turned to his pastor, Nick, and told him how he had been encouraging his great-granddaughter to come along to church. There are some who have grown fed-up with the church. Through their immature response to some offense they have chosen to despise the flawed followers of Christ like you and me, and have instead justified their detachment from the Body of Christ as somehow being more spiritual, and even more Biblical. This is sad and unnecessary. When these Greeks wanted to see Jesus, they came to His flawed disciples. And Philip and Andrew then brought them to Jesus. In the next verse, Jesus announced that the hour had come for the Him to be glorified. When people are drawn to Jesus because of His followers, He is glorified. 
And Jesus answered them, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified."
John 12:23
And every time when the church assembles to worship God The Son through praise, giving, prayer, reflection on the Lord's Table, the ministry of the Word, and fellowship with one another, Jesus is most glorified. And when Jesus is most glorified we help more needy people to see the only One who can eternally meet their need.
to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Ephesians 3:21
Ps. Andrew

Friday, 7 November 2014


You Have Options...

When I grow up I want to be an astronautWhen I was growing up, we thought we had the option of three careers: fireman, policeman, or an astronaut. (I added the little-known fourth option, professional tennis player, to this list, even though I was "junior cop" for an embarrassing season.) While I was committed to the fourth option, many found a fifth. But that was then and this is now. Sometimes we face situations where we think we only have one or maybe two options. This is rarely, if ever, the truth of the matter. You have options.

When someone is particularly tired, it often feels like they have no options to the challenges before them. (And if you are tired and stressed it is difficult to see any options at all.) Understanding what your options are determines how what your level of stress is. It's not just the lack of apparent options which causes increased stress, multiple options can similarly result in increased stress for someone. In our technological age where it is often easier to communicate with someone on the other side of the planet than it is with our physical nextdoor-neighbour, people are now faced with more options than ever before - and not just regarding their employment opportunities. 
do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7 

The other day I was having breakfast with some other pastors in our city. We were discussing what the greatest needs of our city were. We noted that the Launceston City Mission was doing an outstanding job with in working with the city's poor and homeless. But we wondered whether there were any greater practical needs in our city that we as Christian leaders might need to be aware of and respond to. My colleague shared how he was now dealing with increasing numbers of distressed people. He said that this seemed to be indicative of our community's mental health becoming unhealthier. "We have solutions for homelessness. We have solutions for family-breakdowns. We have solutions for teen-pregnancies. But we are yet to adequately grapple with the deteriorating mental health of our community" he said. Shortly after this I had several medical doctors tell me that most of their patients now present them with significant mental health issues. One GP even told me that much of what he now does in his consulting rooms is actually clinical mental-health, rather than medicine. And Christians are not immune from this. Here's why. 

Some understand that the Bible teaches believers to seek God for every decision they have to make. Seeking God is indeed what the Bible teaches. But rather than seeking God for His decision on the options before us, we are told to seek God for the wisdom so that we can wisely decide between our options. For believers who do not understand this and expect God to make their decisions for them, this lack of certainty regarding what His decision for them is can even be an added source of increased stress! This is potentially very damaging to a person's mental health. Not only does the believer face the stress of selecting the best option before them, they often add to this stress by thinking that God has to reveal the right choice to them. This leads them to believe that hearing from God is supremely mysterious and tricky. When they struggle to hear from God it raises niggling doubts that maybe God doesn't love them, or hasn't fully forgiven them. They read the Scriptures, which talk about the peace of God, and the renewal of their mind, but their own experience of anxiety and confusion conflicts with what they see promised in the Bible. This shows us that mental health, even for Christians, is not a trivial matter and certainly does not have simplistic answers. But when Christians are given simplistic solutions (as distinct from Biblically "simple" solutions) is it any wonder then that more and more Christians are now experiencing mental anguish to the extent that they require prescribed medicating? I am not suggesting that Christians diagnosed with mental health challenges shouldn't take prescribed medication, but I am questioning whether it should be the first response and immediate course of action.
¶ I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Romans 12:1-2

Strangely, what is supposed to be a source of comfort and assurance for all believers has become a source of anguish for many. The confusion has come from those who taught that the Word of God is insufficient for a believer to discover the will of God for their life. If a believer was to simply read the Bible, they would read, learn and discover the will of God for their life - without the need for a particular extra-revelation from God. Of course, there are some individuals whom God graces with a very special commission - but even in Scripture we discover that this was extraordinary not normal! Therefore, every believer can walk in the will of God by reading, learning, and applying the Word of God to their life and simply blooming where they are planted. That is, rather than seeing and agonising over their various options as to how they should serve God, they see that Scripture generally describes God placing believers into situations and contexts with the right gifts, talents and abilities at just the time. In other words, the will of God for every believer is to be fully devoted to God, to be committed to, and serve in, Christ's local church, to shine the love of God through their witness and good deeds. I hope you can see why I say this should be a source of comfort and assurance for every believer rather than a cause of anguish. 
¶ Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 
Philippians 4:8

Peace with God is made possible by the grace of God. This grace is made effective in our souls from the moment that God in His grace reveals Himself and His offer of forgiveness for our sins through Christ to us. We do nothing to earn this revelation. We do nothing to qualify for this associated gift of repentance. We do nothing to regenerate our dead and dormant spirits to life and union with Christ. We do nothing to now be considered the adopted child of God. If we did anything to merit any of these benefits and components of salvation, our salvation would not be by grace! Therefore, once we have been made alive in Christ what can we do to "un-earn" something we never "earned" in the first place? If more Christians understood that the basis of God's love toward them is not whether they are good enough or not, but the righteousness of Christ bestowed graciously upon them, there would literally be more Christians enjoying God rather than trying to appease Him. Understanding God's grace does wonders for your mental health. 

The second dimension of God's grace toward the believer is His provision for our needs. If more Christians understood that God's answers to our prayers are expressions of His grace, not rewards for our spiritual earnestness, there would be far less anxiety over seemingly "unanswered" prayer. Can we recognise that healing, provision, blessing are acts of God's grace - and therefore, if we don't get what we want from God He is not being unkind or even ungracious toward us.

It was one of the other GPs who said that he also has to deal with more mental health patients than patients with a physical condition. He insightfully said, "People today have so many options and this stresses them and causes great anxiety." Sometimes we feel the stress of not having enough options to deal with the challenges before us. But there are other times when we feel stress because it seems like we have too many options before us. This is where I remind you that in these instances you need wisdom - not a revelation - from God. That is, God wants you to make an informed choice. Even if you choose an unwise option you can be assured from God's Word that He knows how to guard you, lead you, equip you, and use you, both because and despite of the choices you make. So quit being so worried about whether you will select the right option!  You have options and if you sincerely base your decisions in what you know God's Word instructs, your options become increasingly obvious and far less confusing.
Delight yourself in the LORD,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
¶ Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him, and he will act..

Psalm 37:4-5
Ps. Andrew