Saturday, 30 January 2016

Spiritual Medicine

spiritual-medicineOf course, when I say “medicine” I’m not just thinking of the stuff that pharmacists supply in bottles of packs. The medicine I’m lauding is simply that which the unwell well. And with the greatest respect to all my doctor friends, the best medicine frequently consists not of carefully composited chemicals, but words.
He sent out his word and healed them,
and delivered them from their destruction.
Psalm 107:20
Yes, it’s true that Jesus healed many people with just a word (Matt. 8:16), but the medicine I’m testifying on behalf of is not the miraculous kind but it is still none the less therapeutic. And like many medicines, its taste is inversely proportional to its effectiveness. In other words, the stronger the medicine the worst it tastes! I guess this is the reason why so many people deny themselves the very cure this medicine would provide for their ills.
I know of pastors who won’t take their medicine. A colleague who cares offers them advice that requires them to learn a new skill or adjust the way they preach or train their leaders, but this medicine tastes strange and is difficult to swallow. I know husbands who won’t take their medicine and wonder why their wife has become withdrawn from them. I know of friends who have friends who are desperately lonely yet when they have offered the very medicine their friends are craving, it is refused.
As a pastor I try to dispense spiritual medicine each Sunday to those God has placed in my charge. But it’s not just Sunday when the spiritual medicine cabinet is thrown open. I dispense often more potent medicine in my office throughout the week to ones or twos whose spiritual pain is similarly more intense. Perhaps only another pastor might understand the heart-ache I have experienced when such life-saving spiritual medicine has not been received by a soul or a union of souls. It hurts to be a pastor in those instances when you see those you care for hurt longer than necessary. But I thank God that I have discovered His medicine cabinet in such times of pain.

he taught me and said to me,
“Let your heart hold fast my words;
keep my commandments, and live.”
Proverbs 4:4
Ravi Zacharias often says that despair does not result from adversity and hardship but more often from pleasure and ease. We in the West have enjoyed unprecedented levels of comforts, pleasures, and amusements over the past few decades. What we today find uncomfortable, difficult, or grievous reveals how far removed most of us now from genuine hardships. It would seem that Dr Zacharias’ assessment about the origin of despair has been vindicated over and over again when we look at how many of us in the West are afflicted with despair resulting in various kinds of mental anguish. But there is a medicine for this affliction. It is the worship of God.
I don’t mean the kind that gets called ‘worship’ and promises the believer that if they do it right they can coerce their Maker and Judge to give them whatever they ask. Rather, I mean that kind of worship that reminds the worshiper who the Saviour and Sovereign actually is and expresses deep gratitude that this is the case and deep gratitude to Him generally. After all, none of us deserves what we have and none of us has yet been been given what we truly deserve. This should cause every worshiper’s heart to gladly sing in gratitude in the midst of the congregation each Sunday. This is strongmedicine for any soul.
Gracious words are like a honeycomb,
sweetness to the soul and health to the body.
Proverbs 16:24
When we worship together in the House of God we are not just singing. We are worshiping with words that come from our hearts and minds. And I’m sure I’m not the only preacher who regards the preaching of God’s Word as an interactive act of worship as well. And this too is strong medicine for any soul.

God has designed the right medicine for your soul. There might be times when you are spiritually unwell. You may be blighted by discouragement and feeling unappreciated. The Great Physician has a medicine for your soul. But it is a medicine that must be delivered by a few not just a one. This is why Jesus gave the blueprint for His Church to consist of both the ‘Temple’ (the weekly assembling of the congregation) and ‘homes’ (the regular gathering of believers in each others homes). It is in the small group where a believer learns to trust a few brothers or sisters who can then be used by God to administer spiritual medicine in the form of encouragement, correction, advice or reminding. In these deeply therapeutic moments we are reminded by our brothers and sisters of how God has indeed previously used us to bless them and others. Their gentle reminders to focus on God rather than ourselves helps to heal our souls. It may initially hurt us to hear this but just as a knife can either wound or heal depending on who is using it and how and why it is used, it does us far more good than harm.
A knife in the hand of a surgeon can be an instrument of healing
But this kind of soul medicine is too frequently avoided by those who need it most. I know how reluctant I am to be around people – even those people whom God may use to bring healing to my soul – when I am down and discouraged. But I remember what the Scriptures say to my soul for just these moments-
¶ Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation
Psalm 42:5
Or as the writer to the Hebrews put the same idea-
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Hebrews 10:24-25

Legana 2016, Jan 17Have you ever considered that God wants to use you to administer His spiritual medicine to those who are spiritually unwell? Perhaps ask the Holy Spirit to use you to strengthen another believer. But maybe you’ve been spiritually unwell yourself. The natural tendency is to withdraw and isolate ourselves from the very thing that God has ordained to make us well again. Your words of worship can be medicine for your soul and the words of your brothers and sisters can be strong medicine for your soul. See you at the Medicine Cabinet this Sunday.
Ps. Andrew

Saturday, 23 January 2016


I’m busy. But despite my busyness there some things I just have to make time for. Watering is one of them. Even before I managed a plant nursery for a few years I had developed a love for a nicely landscaped garden. If you’ve been one of the many visitors to our home you will have noticed that in the eight years we have lived there we have transformed our barren patch of dirt to a nicely landscaped feature native garden with an ornamental feature weeping Silver Birch tree in the middle of a winding pathway which leads to our front door. On the other side of this pathway is my lawn. It is lush green with a minimal number of weeds. But recently I realised that I’d made a big mistake which has a powerful spiritual application.
¶ He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
Psalm 1:3
During what has been one of the hottest Summer’s that we’ve ever had, I have consistently watered this garden and lawn with a sprinkler on a timer system. But this is not our only garden feature. Just off my driveway we have a pond surrounded by my beloved man-ferns. Nearby our pond we have two plantings of Kim’s favourite tree, Japanese Maples (perhaps due to her time as an exchange student in Japan), and a large Rhododendron. This area hasn’t received the attention that my front lawn area has because Tasmania’s world-famous normal rainfall levels have been more than adequate for keeping these plants well watered. But last week I noticed that the grass around my pond area wasn’t very green – in fact, it wasn’t anything, except dead!  I then took a closer look at our prized miniature Japanese Maples and I noticed that they had dropped a lot of leaves and some of their small branches had now become dead-wood.
¶ O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
Psalm 63:1
corbett-s_parched_pond2Even before today’s water restrictions were enacted, I decided to begin hand-watering this parched area of my garden. But I noticed that the water wasn’t penetrating the ground. Because I had not kept up a consistent daily watering of this area two things happened: (i) plants and grass began to die of thirst, and (ii) the ground supporting these plants and grass had become resistant to the very thing it needed!
Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
John 4:13-14
Quite a few years ago we experienced the financial cost of not watering the grass and plants around our house. We had recently moved to Tasmania from Melbourne and had rented out our house there. We had entrusted our house to the management of a local real estate agent. Unfortunately for us, neither the real estate agent or the tenants gave any attention or care to watering the grass and plants around the house. The cost of this only became apparent to us the day the real estate agent rang us to say that one of our external walls had a major crack in it. The lack of watering had caused the ground to become unstable and undermined the foundations of the house. The cost of neglecting to water regularly was many many thousands of dollars!
that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word
Ephesians 5:26
A close-up of my parched ground around my pond. From a distance it looks like it has a tinge of green – but distant looks can be misleading.
Considering my side-garden in its present state and its now reluctance to absorb the water it so desperately needs, I considered the spiritual parallels. Perhaps some of us too have neglected to regularly water our souls with the water of God’s Word.
“For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their Shepherd,
and He will guide them to springs of living water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
Revelation 7:17
Our souls need watering. We are created to drink in the Living Water that God alone is able to give. Each day our soul craves the gentle showering of God’s refreshing living water.  Just like the soil around my small pond, even though we are close to water it does not mean that we are actually being watered. Without regular spiritual watering of our souls the surface of our souls becomes hardened and ironically resistant to living water! It is possible to be a follower of Christ who has become spiritually parched due to a lack of regular watering from God’s Word. The spiritually parched follower of Christ may appear to still have a green tinge, but upon closer examination, they are parched, dried out, and hardened. They have lost their thirst for God and His Living Water, which inevitably leads to a lack of desire to come to the Well (the assembling of their local church). Even when such a parched believer attempt to open their Word and find water for their soul, they are so parched and hardened by the distractions of life that Christ described in Matthew 13 (the cares and pleasures of life, the lusts of the flesh, the distractions of the world) that even this life-giving water which their soul craves cannot initially be absorbed in until they have done what every gardener knows needs doing.
Sow for yourselves righteousness;
reap steadfast love;
break up your fallow ground,
for it is the time to seek the LORD,
that He may come and rain righteousness upon you.
Hosea 10:12
 Despite my parched ground’s resistance to my watering with my trigger-nozzled hose, each night after dinner when I had returned from nightly walk with Poppy, I would shower my plants and ground. Night after night I persisted. Even after a week there was still not much to show for my efforts, but I knew that something was happening where it mattered most – beneath the surface. Sometimes when we are spiritually parched and dried-out we have to persist with our watering and keep doing what our soul needs even though it looks like the surface of our souls is showing very little benefit. Just like persistent watering of a parched lawn, the most important transformation and healing is taking place beneath the surface. In this case, the believer who has neglected the Word of God’s Living Water may read a chapter of Scripture and then intellectually wonder what benefit it was while all along their soul is beginning to reawaken.
And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.”
Revelation 21:6
The smoke haze encroaching into Launceston at the Cataract Gorge First Basin
Tasmania is currently in the grip of a dangerous drought. I suspect that this is a portend of where many who name the Name as their Saviour are at spiritually. Compromise, neglect, distraction, all lead to a spiritual drought. And as we are seeing now, when such conditions prevail the risk of destruction greatly increases. May we at this dangerous time take care to water our souls with the Living Water of God’s Word and soften the grounds of our hearts so that we bear fruit for our Betrothed. No matter how busy we are, let’s water our souls. See you at the Well this Sunday.
Ps. Andrew Corbett

Saturday, 16 January 2016

The Chapters Of My Life

Pastor's DeskFrom the Pastor’s Desk
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
Philippians 1:6
John Grisham - The TestamentGreat story-tellers all do one thing particularly well. Apart from an interesting plot, they introduce us to the story’s characters with just enough narration for us to be both fascinated and curious about them. I consider John Grisham a good example of a master-storyteller for this reason. In his book, The Testament, he paints the background picture of the plot-line by introducing us to the story’s characters. We pull up a chair alongside the narrator and see this story unfold in a way that only God does in reality. As the chapters of the story are laid bare before us the characters of the story become more familiar and fuller to us – particularly the lawyer who is left to find the sole beneficiary of the Estate of the now dead billionaire. Grisham, like all good story-tellers, doesn’t tell us too much too soon about each character. 
¶ Now these are the generations of Terah. Terah fathered Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran fathered Lot.
Genesis 11:27
If a storyteller reveals too much detail too early about a character it diminishes the romance, the mystery, the fascination of the story. (I think this is why the Great Narrator rarely reveals too much of our own story to us ahead of time.) This is why storytellers carefully use chapters to unfold their story. In this way, good storytellers reflect The Storyteller who also unfolds people’s lives through chapters.
And Abram and Nahor took wives. The name of Abram’s wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor’s wife, Milcah, the daughter of Haran the father of Milcah and Iscah. Now Sarai was barren; she had no child.
Genesis 11:29-30


Now that I am more than half-done in the story of my life I can recognise some of the various chapters in it. One such chapter chapter has just come to an end. Previously in my life I did all I could to keep my positive chapters from ending. I particularly feel this tendency every time I read an F. W. Boreham book. As I get near the end of an FWB book, and although I want to finish it, I am emotionally reluctant to do so because it feels like I saying a final farewell to my much beloved Grandfather. In life we also have certain chapters which come to an end that seem at the time like the end of our story. My nine year old Ruby recently faced this kind of dramatic chapter ending.
FPhil Hills-Ebony-Rubyor the first time in her life she’ll be in a class at Primary School (Grade 4) without any of her fellow students have being in a previous class with her. In fact, up until this year, Ruby has been in classes where many of her class-mates started off in Kinder’ with her and have mostly been in each of her classes each year since. I think this will be the first class that Ruby has had in which her childhood friend, Blair, has not been in her class. That’s a pretty big deal for a nine-year old girl who has spent more than half her life-span in school classes with at least one of her childhood friends. That’s why for Ruby it has felt like the end of her world!
I don’t know how many chapters are in the story of my life, but I strongly suspect that I am more than half-way through. Like any good story, the opening chapters of my life were full of promise, dreams, and potential. But like any character in a story, the my perspective has not been that of The Narrator. But unlike the characters in a literary story, my realisation of this happened a couple of chapters ago.
¶ Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.
Genesis 12:1-2


Legana Church campThe character in my story started out as a builder, a pioneer, a leader. But I was so embedded in my own story that I didn’t realise that some stories introduce their characters in forms that often resemble something but are actually something else. (Without The Narrator’s perspective it’s too easy to see yourself as “an ugly duckling” when in fact you are a pretty cute swan!) For a long time I tried to be like all the other pastor-ducks but I found myself thinking, acting, praying, dreaming, like something other. The many Conferences that I went to for becoming a better Pastor-Duck encouraged us to quack like CEOs and treat our congregations like corporations. I remember my regularly Sunday morning prayer-walks around Beach Road and Tanner Drive back to our Freshwater Point home where I cried out to God to make me a pastor after His heart. “Father, help me to love these people You’ve put in my charge. Help me to really care. Help me to really help them!”  These are not the prayers of a duckling. I was about to have my “I’m-a-swan-moment”.
¶ So Abram went, as the LORD had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people that they had acquired in Haran, and they set out to go to the land of Canaan. When they came to the land of Canaan,
Genesis 12:4-5


Ridge Road LeganaA new chapter in my life began unnoticed by most but very noticeable to me in early 2007. Ruby was not yet one year old. We had moved into our recently purchased home (which fulfilled a ‘vow’ that Kim had made about this very house in 1995 when we were naïvely deceived by a real estate agent, but that’s another story). No sooner had we moved in when the corner of the house significantly dropped and urgently required under-pinning. I didn’t have the money to afford an under-pinner but fortunately there was someone in our church whose uncle was an under-pinner who was kind enough to advise me how to repair this damage. But it required a lot of work to be done. I had to dig six holes underneath the damaged walls. Each hole had to be two metres deep, one metre wide and one metre long.
As I began to dig each of these holes by hand with my trusty $10 spade from the discount store, I began to complain to God about how unfair this was. “God, it seems like I’m always having to fix problems that other people create! I’m sick of it! We bought this house from people who said there were no problems with it! And now look at all this stupid work I have to do!” Then suddenly, about as clearly as I’ve ever heard from God, the voice of God pierced my dark heart – “I’ve called you to be a leader and particularly gifted you to solve problems, repair the damaged, and heal the broken! Now stop your whining and get on with it!” Perhaps only those familiar with the end of the movie, The Sixth Sense, can appreciate that in the aftermath of this stunning divine rebuke I saw the previous chapters of my life (many of which I had just bemoaned in prayer about to God) flash before my eyes as a “Sixth Sense” moment where I saw my previous efforts to solve, repair, and heal people, marriages, organisations, and churches – not as setbacks in my story, but as the raison dêtre of my story!
¶ After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.”  But Abram said, “O Lord GOD, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?”  And Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.”  And behold, the word of the LORD came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.”
Genesis 15:1-4
I suddenly realised that I was not a duck but was in fact a swan.


My childhood was a chapter. My teen years were a chapter. My twenties was a surprising chapter. My thirties (commencing at 32 to be precise), is better identified as: my Tasmanian Chapter, was the beginning of a delightful chapter. And at the age of 43, my Swan chapter commenced. Although it may look like each of my chapters are quite different, I can see now that they each form a progressive story-line which have all had a consistent theme, plot, and direction. My hunch is that yours has as well – because we both have the same Narrator.
And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”  And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.
Genesis 15:5-6
leganacc2015dec20020My own storyline has been about my love for The Narrator and His story. My part in His story has been to give myself to His Cause – the local church – not merely as a meeting on a Sunday, or venue, but as Bill Hybels says, the hope of the world. We live in world filled with problems which is incredibly damaged, and  painfully broken. Into this world the local church shines hope. We, the local church work together to solve society’s problems – that’s why we dare to speak up about issues of life, moral decency, marriage, and compassion for refugees. It’s why we have no choice but to be political – not as “the end” but as “the means” to the end of resolving, repairing, and healing our society. The local church is called to be salt and light (Matthew 5:13-14) and the upholder of truth and righteousness in society (1 Tim. 3:15). This is the central feature of The Narrator’s story and we are given a glimpse of how it ends in Revelation 7:9. The Narrator expects His people to make Him and His cause their highest priority – more important than our careers, leisure, families, or own pleasures! Each time we assemble on a Sunday or in homes on a Wednesday night as the local church we are not being reminded of The Story which should shape and inform our lives, we are also declaring to the world that The Narrator is seeking to save, heal and deliver, that He is our highest priority! (Matthew 6:33; Romans 12:1) It is just not possible to be fully committed to The Narrator and His Cause yet separated from the local church – the central feature of His Story announcing to a dying world the central Character of His Story as their Saviour. The Apostle Paul explains this as he draws the magnificent explanation of The Narrator’s Story to end in Romans 12:9-21. None of what he says in this passage about truly loving The Narrator is at all possible without a deep commitment to the local church. None.
¶ When Abram was ninety-nine years old the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless, that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly.”
Genesis 17:1-2
Each Sunday and Wednesday my story particularly intersects The Narrator’s as I do all I can to share, explain, and promote the 66 books of His marvellous redemption story. He has called me to be a pastor who leads by resolving the troubled, repairing the damaged, and healing the broken. But I strongly suspect, with good reason for doing so, that He has called to be a local church that helps make life in our community and beyond by also helping people to resolve problems they facing, repair the damage they have experienced, and bring healing love and grace to the broken. In this way our vision for the local church goes way beyond our four walls or even our attendance roll. We are each a part of a very grand story far bigger than many of us realise that deals to each of us interesting chapters that mysteriously and gloriously are woven into The Narrator’s story-plan for the whole world. See you Sunday for story-time.
Andrew Corbett

Friday, 8 January 2016


Pastor's Desk
¶ After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.”  He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”
Genesis 22:1-2
A little over a month ago my world nearly collapsed. I was sitting in the doctor’s surgery hearing him explain to me my immediate peril. I had just been diagnosed with a degenerative spine that could suffer permanent damage if I strained it too much. Not only was tennis out of the question, I was warned that even loading a dish-washer could be irreparably debilitating. I had one more tennis coaching commitment to fulfil which I did quite gingerly and left the court that afternoon thinking that this was my last time hitting a tennis ball on a tennis court. For something that had been a huge part of my life, it was a rather flat moment for me.
So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.
Genesis 22:3
From about the age of 11, tennis was my life. Even though I had been a regular church goer all my life I became a follower of Christ at the age of 15. It wasn’t long before I was convicted by the Holy Spirit to lay tennis down on the altar of surrender to God. Initially I didn’t. I played on, travelling around Victoria to the various tournaments on the circuit. But then strange things began to happen on the tennis court as I increasingly sensed God’s call on my life to be a preacher and similarly felt that tennis was an idol in my life. This culminated for me when playing in the Victorian Junior Open. Pat Cash was playing on a court behind me. My new Fischer racquet cracked in my hand mid-game. Fortunately, I had a second racquet. But within moments of this I felt a strange burning in my abdomen followed by sharp pain. I then began coughing blood. This was not a good tournament for me.
¶ “You shall have no other gods before me.”
Deuteronomy 5:7
That was my last elite tournament. I laid tennis down on the altar of full surrender to God.
Sixteen years later we arrived in Tasmania. That was nearly 21 years ago. It would be two years before I walked onto a tennis court after sensing God’s approval. But this time it wasn’t to play but to volunteer to coach children in the community. I have since coached hundreds of children. Some went on to represent Tasmania interstate. And a few weeks I once again laid this aspect of my life down in worshipful surrender of the God Who Knows Best.
Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.”
Genesis 22:5
Letting go of things has a certain grieving associated with it. 
When God told Abraham to lay down his only son Isaac on the altar of full surrender, he must have experienced at least a small measure of grieving. For some its a lifestyle change where they too must lay down something they love but which the Holy Spirit considers to be an idol. Sport, alcohol, computer games, types of food or an inappropriate relationship, can all be or become idols in our lives. Whatever our sacrifices are, once we lay them down, we can never go back to them. Altar fires make going back to past sources of comfort (idols) impossible. Whatever or whoever you turn to for comfort in times of discomfort reveals what or who you really worship. Our worship reveals our God.
When you lay something down on the altar of surrender to God, you cannot go back to it.
After I left the doctor’s surgery and then finishing up my tennis commitments, I began to feel even more fragile. I was aware that my deteriorated spine could give way any moment and I could collapse in agony and find myself embarrassed to be invalid again. Everything I do now takes a little more time. I cannot sit for as long as I used to. I don’t sleep so well anymore. Yet my worship of God has deepened.
¶ 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.
Romans 12:1
One of the greatest blessings in my life has become an even greater blessing throughout this episode. I love my church congregation. I love the way they embrace visitors, new attenders and our new members. I love how they love each other. And I love how they have loved me as their pastor and friend. Several men in my church, starting with Ronny Darby, asked to lay hands on me and pray for my healing. After four weeks of such prayers, I was sent to have an MRI before seeing the Specialist.
Whenever we let go of something in obedience to God, God always fills our lives with something far better! 
Throughout this episode of my life I have wondered what God was doing. I have never at any stage though doubted His goodness. In fact, apart from developing a greater compassion for people with chronic pain, several things have become clearer to me. Firstly, our physical well-being has a bearing on our spiritual well-being. Secondly, in times of physical inconvenience it is often required to be even more intentional about certain spiritual disciplines including Scripture reading, prayer, church attendance and personal witnessing. Thirdly, life’s circumstances sometimes, if not often, require of us that we lay down certain pleasures and loves. Abraham discovered this.
And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?”
Genesis 22:7
What we lay down reveals what we worship. Worship is adoration, devotion, surrender. It engages our heart, our mind, our effort. Abraham had longed for a son. God blessed him with Isaac. But it seems that Isaac might have been more to Abraham than just his son. God wanted to expose Abraham’s heart and called upon him to lay down his son on the altar of worship of God. Abraham did – and God intervened just in time to ensure Isaac was spared. Abraham was the beneficiary though. By submitting to God, even though he didn’t understand why, Abraham was obedient to God (obedience is the evidence of true God-worship). His willingness to sacrifice what he loved in devotion to God demonstrated his trust in God (the ignition of true worship). Because he worshiped God he received the blessing of God.
¶ When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.”
Genesis 22:9-12
My visit to Spinal Specialist was curious. He confirmed that my spine was degenerated. But, he said, much of what the CT scan had revealed was no longer evident in the MRI. I regard this as a documented answer to prayer. He also said that my spine will only get worse, but that the best thing I could do in the meantime was to build up my core strength to better support my spine. This would not only enable me to get back on a tennis court, getting back on a tennis court will actually help to strengthen the muscles which support my spine. While I may never be able to play competitively again, I can use whatever skills I have on a tennis court to help young children in our community to be active and hopefully be a light for the One who alone is worthy of worship.
My love for God has meant that I have been willing to lay down whatever was – or could be – an idol in my life. I have never lacked, never suffered loss, never been worse off, when I have obeyed God and laid down anything the Holy Spirit has shed His convicting light on. It is my hope that we can be the type of Christ-followers who worship God in Spirit and in truth and find our comfort in Him in our times of loneliness, distress, pain, or inconvenience so that the world can clearly see the difference that Christ makes in a person’s life.
¶ And the angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time from heaven and said, “By myself I have sworn, declares the LORD, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies
Genesis 22:15-17
Ps. Andrew.

Friday, 1 January 2016


Pastor's DeskFrom the Pastor’s Desk
The Capstone of the accounts of Jesus life, ministry, and redemptive work is John’s Gospel. It is quite possibly the most profound book in the Bible. It opens with the same three words that the entire Bible commences with, In the beginning. It’s opening chapter is a collage of the fulfilment of the most important Old Testament prophecies which are introduced in the opening three chapters of the Bible. The opening chapter of the Bible deals with light being distinguished from darkness and so does the Gospel of John. What is particularly striking about the Gospel of John is just how much planning God did in order to rescue us. As we end one year and begin another let us consider that we are created in the image of a God who delights in planning and encourages us to do the same.
Commit your work to the LORD,
and your plans will be established.
Proverbs 16:3
The other month I had planned to have four weeks leave so that I could sit a Biblical Greek exam and complete my F.W. Boreham documentary series. As you know, on the first of my leave I collapsed and was bed-ridden for the first week then relatively immobile for the other three. Plans sometimes suffer delays. Delays do not mean that plans do not help us achieve intended outcomes. Yet, many people experience delays just after they have planned and then abandon their plans as if planning does not work! I still plan to master Biblical Greek and I still plan to complete the Boreham documentary project – despite the delays I have experienced.
Dr. F.W. BorehamF.W. Boreham tells the story of a young man who excitedly brought his sweetheart to a patch of ground and declared that one day they would own it! “Our kitchen will go here“, he said pointing, “and our lounge-room will go here.” Escorting her to another spot a little distance away from the layout of the house he then said, “And this will be where our fruit trees will go. And this will be where our sun-dial will go. And this is where I will be buried.”  And as Mr Boreham explained, that’s exactly what this couple did after they married and bought this land. The detailed plans for their house and yard were completed precisely even up to the point of where these owners were buried in their old age. Dr. Boreham himself revealed his grand plans to the students of Pastors’ College where he had been studying, “And it is my hope, that in the course of the ministry I shall hold three pastorates, and then be free to travel in many lands preaching the everlasting Gospel among all denominations.” This also was precisely what he did, even though his journey had more twists and turns than he could possibly have foreseen. Plans give direction.
Many of us will be starting the New Year in Genesis 1 and John 1. Both of these Biblical Books are connected by God’s great plan. In Genesis, God begins to announce it. In John, God enacts and begins to fulfil it. It is central to God’s plan that He will have a Church made up from people of every tribe, nation and language (Rev. 7:9). God’s plan involves Him working through you to bring people to know Him!
“And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.”
John 10:16
When we read about the Jesus that John describes in his Gospel, we read about a Jesus who knew His Father had a plan. 

Jesus was confident that His Father would complete His plan. This was despite thousands of people walking away from Him in the closing stages of His ministry, His own disciples abandoning Him and one even betraying Him, and massive opposition toward Him from those in authority. Despite this, He served His Father with great zeal. Plans always always always stand a greater chance of fulfilment when zeal (passion) is maintained,
His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”
John 2:17
Do you have plans that will outlast you? 

Too many people give up their lives for small dreams, small visions, and small plans. Yet the God of the Universe who planned the placement of every molecule in the Universe calls and invites you to join His Grand Plan. You might have some natural plans – take a holiday, renovate you kitchen, buy a new car, which are commendable, but none of these will go on and outlive you for a hundred generations! Yet the Father’s plan of saving lost, broken, hurting, souls through your life and witness will outlive you for eternity! This is why I am so passionate about Christ’s Church! It’s why attending church is not optional for me – it is my participation in God’s Grand Plan!
¶ 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.
Romans 12:1
I have plans. I plan to do what I can to further God’s Grand Plan. As a church we have plans. We plan to do what we can to further God’s Grand Plan to rescue and redeem lost, broken and hurting people. We sense God’s plan for us to reach as many as we can as a church which is why we will need to extend our facilities, appoint new leaders, commence new programs, and take greater steps of faith for Him.
Whatever your plans, give Christ your best – not your leftovers. May we make it our aim to formulate plans for our lives, our families, and our church that are worthy of the price that Christ paid to redeem us!
God often puts things into our hearts that He wants us to draw out with a plan!
As you’re reading through John’s Gospel this January, note the subtle references to God’s plan. Observe how God planned to use a certain number of miracles. Listen as Christ delivers a certain number of messages according to God’s plan. Notice how Christ seemingly “wastes” His valuable time with certain individuals (John 3, 4 and so on). Consider that His involvement with His disciples was actually the unfolding of a plan and how this plan involves us today. There are hints within this Gospel about how we can make plans that attract the favour of God. We’ll see that plans are made and enacted prayerfully. They may experience delays. They may require detours. They nearly always incorporate what is, to us, unforeseen circumstances. And every plan must have a goal and the steps required to achieve that goal. After you’ve read the Gospel of John be sure to reflect how the Apostle himself used a plan to tell us his account and that he notes his Gospel leaves more out than it put in. And while there are some of us who have made trifling plans that keep us from God’s best for us, perhaps there are some of us who need to particularly note this last point as one of the biggest mistakes most people make with their plans is they lack focus and try to do too much. The best plans are simple. I finish with the Apostle Paul’s which involves us as well…
To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.
Ephesians 3:8-10