Thursday, 24 March 2016


NZ_Sheep_farmerA New Zealand sheep farmer faced a dilemma one lambing season. One of his ewes had died while lambing. He now had an orphaned lamb which urgently needed to be fed. That same night another ewe was pining the death of her newborn lamb. The solution seemed simple. The farmer took the orphan lamb to the pining ewe. But the moment she smelled this lamb she rejected it. This was the farmer’s dilemma. Then he had an idea.
ewe-with-dead-lambTaking the lifeless lamb, he removed its skin and covered the orphaned lamb with it and brought the lamb back to the ewe. As soon as she smelled this motherless lamb she recognised it as her own and immediately began to mother it. At the risk of commercial insensitivity, this story has far more to do with the true meaning of Easter than imaginary bunnies and chocolate eggs.
to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things?
Second Corinthians 2:16
In describing the first Easter the ancient documents of the New Testament have used language such as, “the lamb of God”, “substitute”, “covering”. On the first Easter, Jesus, the Lamb of God, died as our Substitute and, in symbolic language, anyone who accepts this and seeks the forgiveness He now offers is covered by His death. But unlike our Kiwi story where there was no hope for the dead lamb, The Lamb of God who died then rose from the dead three days later. The Bible calls this the ultimate victory.
¶ The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
John 1:29
2015LECF - 28This Easter many people will come to realise that the ache in their soul is solved by the Lamb of God who died as their Substitute and rose again to offer them life now and beyond the grave. You too can discover this at Legana on Good Friday and Easter Sunday at 10:30AM, or at the Albert Hall, on Good Friday 7PM.
¶ And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.
Revelation 5:6
Dr. Andrew Corbett

Friday, 18 March 2016

Be The Who

Who Could Be Bothered
While it may be true that most marathons are won by the fittest, strongest, healthiest runner, it is also no doubt true that they are nearly always actually won by the tiredest, weariest, most exhausted runner! In fact, most of life’s greatest achievements are achievements are accomplished by very tired, weary and exhausted people. As we consider the days leading up to the First Easter we see Jesus who was during this week often talking all day with His disciples then up all night talking with His Father. By the night of the Last Supper He would have been very very weary. His subsequent achievements that First Easter must be regarded as the greatest achievement ever wrought in the Universe - and was done by the tiredest, weariest, most exhausted Man of all time who could be bothered. 
¶ The words of Agur son of Jakeh. The oracle.
The man declares, I am weary, O God;
I am weary, O God, and worn out.
Proverbs 30:1

AC/DC told the world that it was a long way to the top if you want to rock and roll. In times past it used to take ten to twenty years for an artist or a band to become an overnight success. Today with “reality” TV, YouTube and TV Talent shows, the illusion is created that it no longer takes work, effort, diligence, adversity, rejection, failure, or relentless practice, like our forebears believed, to achieve success. Added to this illusion are the TV detective shows where a crime is committed and solved in just under an hour, or the weight-loss TV series where contestants lose two-thirds of their body weight in just ten episodes. Little wonder too few people could be bothered when today it seems that success is available for free.
But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.
First Corinthians 15:10

There are so many aspects to life which can only work if its participants can bothered to put the necessary effort into it. For example, marriage requires bothering. When a husband or a wife can no longer be bothered to give their spouse time, consideration, or attention, it should not be a surprise when they begin to feel distance from each other. 
In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
Ephesians 5:28
It’s easy for parents to stop bothering. Defiance, lack of appreciation, and downright rebellion all take their toll on parents - when they can no longer be bothered. It takes resolve, effort, determination - and a lot of bothering for parents to raise their children to be caring, considerate respectful and polite. Whenever you see children who possess these qualities you can be sure they had parents who were very bothered.
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
Ephesians 6:4

If good marriages, families, jobs, or businesses don’t just happen but instead require that someone be bothered to put in the time, hours, effort, and sweat, then chances are that other endeavours also require bothering. I have come to know this to be true of my walk with the Lord.
The preparations for this Easter have been pretty intense for me. Many times I’ve been up at 5AM getting my day off to an unavoidably early start to make it to a Committee breakfast meeting in town by 7:30AM. The early start allows me to read the Bible, be quiet (thankfully there are not too many interruptions at that hour), think, reflect, and pray. But this takes effort. There are some mornings when I’d rather stay in bed. These are not the only spiritual disciplines that require bothering - church attendance, home-group Bible studies, mentoring, attending other Christian functions all require sacrifice and exertion. But I’ve learned that bothering has its rewards.
¶ The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.
Second Corinthians 9:6
Show me someone who bothers and I’ll show you a leader. Leaders bother. They keep going when those who couldn’t be bothered stop. Leaders turn up when others stay home. Leaders come in earlier than others and stay back later than others. If you’re a husband, you’re a leader. If you’re a parent, you’re a leader. And if you haven’t been, it’s time to start bothering
And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”
Mark 9:35

Is it worth it? When children grow up to be contributing, caring, considerate adults, yes it is. When churches become well attended, evangelistic, passionate in its worship and discipleship, with well-trained leaders, yes, it’s worth it. Ultimately, these temporal rewards pale compared to the eternal rewards awaiting those who bother faithfully.
His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’
Matthew 25:21
Be bothered. You may not win the applause of others, or even immediately inspire them to be bothered, but it’ll be well worth hearing the words from the One we worship, “Well done.” Be the ‘who’ in the statement, who could be bothered.

Ps. Andrew

18th March 2016

Friday, 11 March 2016

Empty Or Full?

The Believer’s Relationship To Church
by Dr. Andrew Corbett

There are some places where it is good to turn up empty and leave full. If you’re a customer, this includes the supermarket, the gas station, or a restaurant. There are other places where it is good to turn up full and leave empty. If you’re an athlete, a competitor, or a performer, this includes the arena, the court, or the stage. But which should it be if you’re a believer going to church?

I may be a lone voice on this issue, and I am certainly going against the general direction of culture when it comes to this issue, but it is my conviction that it is better to turn up to church on Sunday full and to leave empty, than it is to turn up empty and expect to be filled. In fact, if any believer takes their walk with Christ and their preparation for eternity seriously, they will be denying themselves one of the greatest blessings they could ever receive if they turn up to church empty and hope to be filled.
If God hadn’t called me to full-time pastoral ministry from a young age, I would have chosen to have become a professional athlete. From an even younger age I had an aptitude for tennis. I was playing in the senior club events when I was still a young teenager. It was my dream to be a professional tennis player. But God had other ideas. 
I think about the similarities between playing sport and doing life. Apart from tennis, I take a keen interest in AFL football, particular the team of which I am a member, Geelong. At any particular AFL game where Geelong is playing, there are people who turn up somewhat empty and leave somewhat full. These people are called the spectators. There are also about forty people though who turn up full and leave utterly empty. These are the players. 
Church is not meant to be a spectator sport. This idea has nothing to do with the size of the church even though it seems that more people might attend mega-churches because they prefer spectating than participating, as there are many mega-churches that work hard at not simply being a great Sunday show. In fact, I have seen relatively small churches that have succumbed to the idea that “church” is about empty people leaving their services as full people and have dismissed one of their potential advantages (for greater participation from its congregation) and try to make their church service into a spectacle that fills rather than providing worshipers the opportunity to empty
To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
First Corinthians 12:7

Does Worship Empty or Fill Us?
Believers have their devotion to Christ informed by the Scriptures which has the testament of two covenants - the Old Covenant, and the New Covenant. The New Testament (the record of the New Covenant) reveals that what was written in the Old Testament was written to instruct, inspire and give encouragement to followers of Christ.
For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
Romans 15:4
Jesus declared that the New Covenant was not less than the Old Covenant, but was actually the raising of the bar (not the lowering of it). Thus, while we are not saved by works of the Law (Rom. 3:20), the New Covenant reiterates all of the Ten Commandments (with the exception of the Sabbath, see Hebrews 4). In fact, Jesus actually said that the New Covenant goes further and higher than the Old Covenant.
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.
Matthew 5:21-22
The Covenant that Christ established does not lower the standards or the requirements of the Old Covenant, on the contrary, the New Covenant fulfils and therefore raises the standards established in the Old Covenant. Note Christ’s, “You have heard that it was said …” statements in the beatitudes. The New Covenant not only raises the moral standards, it also raises the standard of devotion to God, that is: worship (Rom. 12:1), and in particular, corporate worship (as distinct from private or individual worship). And one of the most significant advantages of the New Covenant over the Old is that the true follower of Christ has been given the Holy Spirit to enable them live a fully devoted life to God. 
The essence of Old Covenant worship was the sacrifice. To worship in the Old Covenant times was to sacrifice. This act of worship looked forward to the establishment of the New Covenant where the Ultimate Sacrifice would be paid by the Ultimate Worshiper. In the Old Covenant, worshipers turned up to the Temple full and left empty and, according to the Psalms, they were glad to do so. 
¶ I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD!”
Psalm 122:1
If it is correct that the New Covenant raises rather than lowers each of the standards of the Old Covenant, then what does the New Covenant worship of God now require? The inescapable answer is: greater devotion to God, not less. Therefore, New Covenant corporate (believers together in church) worship of God is meant to empty us, not fill us - it is meant to be where we primarily give rather than where we receive. It is pagan rather than Christian to go to Church with the sole motive of getting what you want, rather than sacrificially rendering to God what He deserves: our devotion. The person who claims to be a believer and says, “I don’t go to church because I don’t get anything out of it!” is neither thinking or speaking Biblically. 
you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
First Peter 2:5
Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.
Hebrew 13:15

Discovering Fulness While Emptying
I am appealing to every believer to come to church on Sunday (or whenever your local church meets). I am continuing this appeal by urging believers to come to church full. This requires - 
  1. An attitude of a participant, a contributor, a giver., rather than as a spectator or consumer. Turn up early or at least on time. Join in the singing. Bring your Bible and your notebook and pen. Don’t allow yourself to be distracted by your connected devices.
  2. Prayerful preparation irregardless of how you contribute. Don’t just go to church if you are rostered on for some duty! Even if all you are going to be doing this Sunday is attending as a worshiper - come full by praying for those serving on the worship team, the pulpit team, the children’s ministry, the ushers team, the hospitality team, the audio/visual team. Pray that God might use you to bless someone else and be open to how God might use you to answer your own prayer. If you are serving in one or another of the above mentioned ministries then come prayerfully prepared and full.
  3. Come financially prepared to contribute. Jesus said, “Where your treasure is there your heart will be also.” How we use money is a great indication of where our heart really is. No matter what your financial circumstances, you can adopt an attitude of a cheerful giver, and give something that reflects your heart’s devotion to Christ. When there is a special offering for a mission’s cause, don’t simply reallocate your current giving, fill up a bit more and come prepared to more fully give. Remember, God gives seed to the sower not the stower (2Cor. 9:10).
The key words for being full as a believer are preparation and delight. There are two other significant ways to be a full believer. The first is to be a believer whose hands and feet are washed, so to speak, by their daily devotions to God’s Word (Jn. 13:6-8).
¶ And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
Acts 2:42
To be a full believer is to be filled with the Holy Spirit afresh (Rom. 14:17; Gal. 5:25; Eph. 5:18). Seek God through the busyness of your week to be filled afresh with the Holy Spirit.
praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,
Ephesians 6:18
The delightful mystery of coming to church full with the intention of sacrificially emptying ourselves of what God has given us is that it is only in our emptying that we can be made full again. This delight is multiplied when we discover that as we empty ourselves in devotion to Christ and His Church we are in the midst of other believers who are similarly emptying themselves in worship of God and what they present often becomes God’s means of filling us! 
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
First Peter 4:10-11
I pray that you will make this delightful discovery. The church you attend is the place where Christ beckons you to come full and leave empty. In doing so, you discover what the basket holding the fish and the loaves on the day Jesus fed 5,000 might have realised - our emptying is Christ’s means of filling others and ourselves!

Pastor Andrew Corbett, 11th March 2016
Pastor of Legana Christian Church, Tasmania

Friday, 4 March 2016

When It Comes To Same-Sex Marriage, We Are Not Your Enemy

We Are Not Your Enemy
Christians Want For You What You Want
by Dr. Andrew Corbett

We all need acceptance, love and respect. We all have a right to be treated with equality. This is why I totally get why so many people are in favour of same-sex marriage. It’s why so many people who identify themselves as part of the same-sex attracted communities are fighting so passionately for the laws in Australia to be changed to provide for same-sex marriage. As a Christian, I want for these people what they want - because I think everybody needs acceptance, love and respect, and equality. But I don’t think that same-sex marriage is the way to get it and it seems that 90% of the LGBTQ communities agree.

The Brooklyn psychologist, Professor Abraham Maslow (1908 - 1970), wrote the book Motivation And Personality (1954) in which he argues that all psychologically healthy human beings have a ‘hierarchy of needs’.  

Maslow made an astute observation that people generally need to feel - physically well, safe, accepted (“Love/belonging”), valued (“Esteem”), and dignity (“Self-actualization”). This is why I understand why people feel so strongly about the need to introduce same-sex marriage into Australia. As several Irish respondents told the media after Ireland changed its laws in May 2015 to introduce same-sex marriage, “Now we will be accepted for who we are!” Acceptance is a critical human need
Yet despite the vigorous appeals by the LGBTQ communities for same-sex marriage - built on the very persuasive arguments that the introduction of same-sex marriage will alleviate the alarming suicide rates of young men who identify as homosexual compared with similar aged men in the general population, the abnormally high rates of depression among the members of the LGBTQ communities, and the generally poorer physical health conditions of this sector of society - the largely untold (unnoticed?) fact is that where same-sex marriage has been introduced 90% of those who identify as being in a same-sex relationship show no interest in same-sex marriage. 
This is the case in both New Zealand and Ireland - two of the most recent examples of where these arguments were used and the laws consequently changed to provide for it. In fact, one of the first states in the USA to introduce same-sex marriage was Massachusetts - which did so largely on the basis of these arguments (high rates of very poor mental health, abnormally high rates of suicide). Yet, after introducing same-sex marriage there, which had an initially higher than average take-up by same-sex couples, there was no alleviation of these factors - and according to some analysts, may have actually worsened. And this seems to be repeated elsewhere also. Despite the appeals and claims to the contrary, same-sex marriage is not a boon for the LGBTQ communities and may even be a disappointing bane.
Christians are not the enemy of the LGBTQ communities. Most Christians want what the most vocal representatives of these communities are calling for: acceptance, tolerance, and respect. But the facts seem to speak for themselves: that same-sex marriage does not deliver this, and may indeed make achieving this utterly allusive. Despite the vitriolic claims that Christian are ‘bigots’ for opposing same-sex marriage, it could actually be an act of great compassion on the part of the Christian community toward the LGBTQ communities to explain why changing the Marriage Act will not, and indeed, cannot deliver what they expect. And based on the numbers of same-sex couples in Canada, USA, New Zealand, Europe and Ireland who have not taken up same-sex marriage, it seems that around 90% of the LGBTQ communities agree: same-sex marriage is not the answer they are looking for.

When Premises Are Wrong
One of the reasons why same-sex marriage has failed so completely to address the deeply concerning issues of abnormally high depression and suicide rates among their communities, is that the premise of same-sex marriage is enormously mistaken. (A premise is the foundational notion upon which a conclusion is arrived.) In this instance the premise is that a person’s worth and value is measured and determined by the relationship they have with another person. But this is entirely false and even quite a cruel way to regard human worth. 
Marriage does not add worth or intrinsic value to a man or a woman when they marry each other. Marriage does not even mean that a person has now become acceptable. And marriage certainly does not make someone equal with any other human being. Worth, value, acceptance and equality are all grounded in the inherent and God-given uniqueness of all human beings which the American founding fathers stated when they wrote, “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.” Christians sometimes refer to this truth as the imago dei (“the image of God”).
Christians don’t just ground their understanding of human worth and value in the imago dei to oppose same-sex marriage - or even homosexuality per se - it is also the basis for saying to a young teenage girl that your worth and value is not found in having a boyfriend. It’s found in whose image you bear. It is on this premise that we understand that love can be given, received, felt, without ever having to sexualise it. A young person should not be hoodwinked into thinking that it is another human being who determines whether they are acceptable, lovable, of any worth or even equal. The Christian boldly declares, often to their own hurt, that a human being is uniquely created in the image of God and is therefore infinitely valuable and supremely loved. Acceptance by God is one of the deepest cravings of every human heart and is found not in marriage, but in our relationship to our Maker.

What Jesus Taught
It is well known that Jesus Christ was one of the greatest men to have walked the earth. His greatness is seen most beautifully in the way He loved others. He is also the greatest example of the truth that love does not mean anything goes. On the contrary, the way Jesus loved was the supreme mix of compassion with care-filled truth. In John 8 Jesus is presented with the woman caught in the act of adultery (one of the six forms of sexual immorality forbidden in the Bible, Leviticus 18:20). In a remarkable display of the highest compassion for the woman who had been dragged out into the dusty streetscape by the religious authorities, Jesus shows that true love does not tolerate anything when He offers forgiveness to the woman and then with great tenderness tells her-
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
“Go and sin no more” Jesus told her. He didn’t trivialise or tolerate the sin in which this woman was caught. And in marked contrast to those in our day who consider that sexualising a relationship with another person has no moral implications, Jesus Christ reinforced what He had inspired the Biblical authors to write: that sexuality and morality are intrinsically linked. In fact, He emphatically stated that if sexuality was trivialised into acts of immorality it would put a person’s soul in eternal peril (Matthew 15:19-20). But He went further and reinforced what the Scriptures had already declared about the sanctity of marriage - its candidates, its purpose, and its requirements, when He said-
He answered, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
Matthew 19:4-6
This is the only definition of marriage that Jesus gave - not merely for His followers, but for all people whom He created. When Christians endorse Christ’s statement about marriage and sexuality, we are not being the enemy, we are showing fidelity to Christ and compassion for all people - all people. As I have spoken with my non-Christian friends who have disagreed with me about same-sex marriage, we have soon found ourselves looking at Christ’s view on sexuality and marriage which has surprised them because they had been led to believe that Jesus was all about unconditional acceptance (commonly confused as being ‘love’) and that He actually said nothing about marriage. When they discover that neither is the case they also find that the motive of most Christians is not intolerance, bigotry, or phobia, but genuine care.

Pain And Brokenness
When a person has experienced the opposite of what Professor Maslow described as the basic needs of every human - wellness, safety, acceptance, and love - they experience deep pain and brokenness. Some wounds are obvious but some of the most painful are not. Many of these wounds result in brokenness, particularly sexual brokenness. This leads to the very misguided notion that safety, wellness, acceptance and love can only, or even ultimately, result through sexualisation. This is broken thinking. Some of the most hurt and lonely people in the world are those who have sexualised their pursuit of these basic human needs rather than discovering how to truly have these needs met.
I have been somewhat careful to state that no other human being can directly or ultimately satisfy our basic human needs. This is because we are all designed and created for these needs to be met in our relationship with God. Yet our first forebears skewed our capacity for our needs to be met in this relationship with our Creator when their rebellion embedded into our ‘spiritual DNA’ the seeds of human brokenness that necessitated the Creator becoming our Law Giver to protect us against ourselves. This is why God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to the world as The Atonement for all human beings who turn to Him and receive His Lordship and forgiveness. 
Many sexually broken people (those who have pursued the practice of sexualising their relationships in the hope of having their needs met) have come to the end of themselves, and from the darkness of their sadness, loneliness, and rejection, have turned to Jesus and begun to find the wellness, security, acceptance and love that they had always craved. For most of these people the consequences of their brokenness has meant that they will then struggle for the rest of their lives with inappropriate sexual desires (this is not restricted simply to those with same-sex attraction of course). Acclaimed Christians, like Henri Nouwen (1932-1996, pictured right), lived with this struggle for all of their lives. It is an extremely important distinction to make that attraction and action are not the same and do not have to follow.
Struggle is often the fight we fight to do what’s right. When it comes to matters like these, not struggling in the guise of being who I really am has simply not worked for many broken people. Despite the aspirations that many advocates have held for same-sex marriage legislation alleviating the pain of those who are several hundred percent more likely to suffer from depression and its consequences, the data is pretty overwhelming: it hasn’t
To those in the LGBTQ communities, we, the Church, are not your enemies. We want for you what you want to the core of your soul - to be well body/mind/soul, to experience acceptance, to know love, and to discover true meaning for your life. We are not being bigots when we also say that same-sex marriage will not deliver you these needs. It has not. It can not. But there is Someone who can.

Pastor Andrew Corbett, 4th March 2016

Pastor of Legana Christian Church, Tasmania