Friday, 24 November 2017


I have just spent some time with a grieving father. It’s been seven years. But he still hurts. Sadder still, he is still being hurt by those innocently wishing him well. Of course, wishing wells come in three varieties. There’s the one where you toss a coin in to make a wish. The other one can either be done poorly or well. And then there’s how we convey support for someone (when we wish them well). I’m sure all three have their place, but I am particularly interested in the last two of the three, and am most particularly interested in the last variety because it affects people like my friend, the grieving father. If you want to truly comfort those grieving a tragic loss, then consider this advice on wishing well.  


Wishing is Biblical. The most common form of “wish” in the Bible (Greek word, ‘thelo’) means to will, desirewant. We use wish in this sense when we say things like, “I wish it would stop raining.” There are other uses of wish in the Bible which seem to go further than this and mean- to have a deep longing for. For example, the Apostle Paul had a deep longing and wish for his countrymen to come to know Christ and be saved from their sin.
¶ Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.
Romans 10:1
God’s wish and deep longing goes further and is toward all people to be saved –
The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
Second Peter 3:9
Thus, wishing has a spiritual element.


Even though we wish for certain things to be different or to be changed, there are some things which no amount of wishing could ever change, such as, changing the past – especially a past where there was the loss of a loved one. Wishing works best when focussed on the future.
Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,
Philippians 3:13


What should we say to someone who is grieving the loss of a loved one? I’m sure that most of us would want to wish them well. However, this intention sometimes fails in its delivery. For example, “You’ll get over this” might be true, but it can sound like a lack of compassion and sympathy (as if the life of the lost can easily be forgotten). “God has a reason“, can sound like God had just smitten a person with His wrath because they were particularly wicked. Well meaning people can say well meaning things that sound cruel to the griever and become unintentionally hurtful.   
There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts,
but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
Proverbs 12:18
How should we comfort those grieving the loss of a loved one who has taken their own life? Therapists call this kind of grief ‘complex grief’ because grief normally involves sadness and a measure of anger toward the cause of the death. This is made complex when the loved one is the cause. 
Counselors call this kind of grief a complicated grief or a complicated bereavement because grievers are actually dealing with two realities: grief and trauma. The grief of losing a loved one is normal and expected, but with suicide comes trauma. In processing a suicide, there is no easy path to peace and the grief journey cycles through all sorts of different feelings and emotions.
Christianity Today, October 20 2017
The kind of mental anguish that causes so much pain that it leads someone to take their own life is hard to understand. But I think that we as Christians should make every effort to try. Too many of us are too busy. It takes time and great patience to convey the kind of empathy the mentally ill could benefit from. In talking with my friend today, I asked him what was it that people said that really didn’t help? He gave me a list. Among that list were these things that he said should never be said to someone grieving the passing a loved one who has taken their own life.
“I know exactly what you’re going through.”
“How did they take their life?”
“How are you?”
It was difficult for my friend to share with me. He did said that the best thing anyone ever did in his grieving was to show their support by just being there but saying nothing. Don’t assume you can give someone a hug. They may not want anyone to touch them.
Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down,
but a good word makes him glad.
Proverbs 12:25
To be wishing well those who are in grief or anguish, we need not be afraid of the various helps available. 
The church should not be afraid of psychology or medicine. Sometimes Christians think, Oh, that’s unspiritual. If we just believe or pray more, then we’d be able to heal this. But, no, these are ways that the church can minister to one another. God gave us people who are researchers and understand medicine, brain chemistry, and neuroscience. The better we understand these things, the better we can help one another. Just as we would not think it unspiritual to medically heal somebody for cancer or leukemia, it’s okay to provide treatment for depression and mental illness.
Christianity Today, October 20 2017
By being sensitive to those in anguish and learning how to support them appropriately, we can be a safe, healing, hope-imparting church. Such a church is surely better than any wishing well.
Pastor Andrew Corbett

Thursday, 16 November 2017



Who is welcome to church? We could glibly answer, “Everyone!” But we all know that’s not true. There is a group of people who will never be welcome to our church! This group consists of perfect people. Our church will never be for perfect people! We already have people who have done things they are ashamed of. We have former thieves in our church. We have former liars in our church. We have men who have betrayed their wives. We have wives who have betrayed their husbands. We have young people who have lost their innocence. We have business people who have cheated. We have formerly religious people who have perpetrated the most vile hypocrisies. Each of these people have found redemption after they were warmly welcomed to our church.  
The kind of church Jesus described to His original disciples was made up of people who were either reluctant to come to church, or worst still, unaware of its existence. Yet when these reluctant souls did come in, Jesus foretold, they would find love, acceptance, and forgiveness. 
But he said to him, “A man once gave a great banquet and invited many. And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’
Luke 14:16-17


In this story, the Christ tells how those who might be described as ‘good’ or ‘nice’ were initially invited to the banquet. This is a picture of God the Father inviting people to His eternal heavenly banquet. But this lavishly generous invite met with an unappreciative response.
But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’
Luke 14:18-20
These were the invited guests who thought that the banquet was about food. The best banquets are never just about the food on offer. We see this same confusion today with those who think that the Father’s invite is an invitation to become religious. God does not invite people to become religious – He freely invites people to become to His heirs! C.S. Lewis once described this invite as being like someone who is offered a holiday at a beautiful beachside resort and upon arriving there they find the nearest mud puddle to plonk themselves down in and begin playing with the mud for the remainder of their holiday time, when just a few yards past the obscuring fence, is a beautiful beach to enjoy! The Father’s offer to enjoy eternal satisfaction is often rejected by those who think that nothing could be better than the mud-puddle they are sitting in presently!
The Host of the banquet then turns his attention to those who do not deserve his favour and instructs his servants to invite a different kind of people-
So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’ And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.’”
Luke 14:21-24


The poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame accepted the banquet invitation with gratitude. None of these people had to be convinced of their woeful condition. It takes humility to acknowledge when we are poor, crippled, blind or lame. The guests to this sumptuous banquet discovered not only delectable food, but that their host had the power to cancel their debts, open their eyes, restore their withered limbs, and enable them to enjoy a dignity they had previously had no hope of. As outstanding as all this was, their Host was to do something else for them that far outweighed these acts of grace. Each one of these unloved orphans was made a member of His family and given the full rights and privileges of now being made a member of the royal family! 
Each Sunday as we gather, we are ‘shadow banqueting’. Our church service faintly reflects the Royal Heavenly Banquet which awaits us. We have each received with gladness the offer to come to that Banquet. Thus, each Sunday, we hobble, limp, and stumble along to the shadow-banquet. Our church is not comprised of perfect people. And neither was the early church. The apostle Paul described the church at Corinth, in Greece, as being comprised of formerly –  ‘sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, men who practice homosexuality, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, swindlers’ (1Cor. 6:9-10). He then reminds them of their adoption into God’s Royal family and their new identities-
And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
First Corinthians 6:11
Who is welcome to come to our church? Imperfect, flawed, broken, hurting, lost, lonely, confused, people – that’s who! Help me this Sunday to extend a welcome to people who don’t know any better than playing in life’s mud puddles. As this welcome sign in the entrance of Coventry Cathedral states, these people may look like they have it all together, or they may look like their life has fallen apart. It doesn’t matter. As the servant reported back to the banquet host, “There is still room for more!

Pastor Andrew

Friday, 10 November 2017

My 5c Worth Of Leadership Advice

shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly;
First Peter 5:2
What makes a good leader? At our last monthly leadership training night we explored this question. The answer is more critical than ever for any church. While many churches are facing all kinds of problems, the solution to them is bound up in the answer to our question
We could summarise this answer with 5 C words.


Character is invisible but eventually evident to all. It is what constitutes a person. A person of refined character strength is someone who can handle criticism and correction sweetly and well. It enables a person to endure when the opposition is fierce but the cause is right. It motivates a person to do long hours of preparation in private what is necessary in order to be done in minutes in the public. 


Sincerity is a beautiful leadership trait, but sincere leaders can inadvertently hurt people. Sincerity alone is not enough. Good leaders must also be competent which means that they have undergone training, evaluation, correction, and have gained supervised experience appropriate for their duties.


Lone leaders are limited. For any leader to increase their leadership capacity they must be able to work with other leaders. This requires a certain chemistry. It takes good chemistry for a leader to know how to deal with another leader who may be irritable or under stress. It takes good leadership chemistry to work with a shy discouraged fragile leader.   


Someone has said that you can tell if someone is a leader if they have people following them. Conversely, if someone claims to be a leader and there is no one following them, they aren’t leading, they are just going for a walk! Good leaders build connection with those they are leading. They spend time with them. They grow to understand them. And importantly, they build trust with those they are responsible for. Good connection involves good communication. (This skill is critically important for any leader called upon to preach. While a preacher’s sermon content is important, it is all for nothing if the preacher has no connection with their hearers.)   


In churches, we often list calling first as the prime quality required for good leading. But being called by God is not the final stage in the making of a good leader. And while it may take place ‘before the foundation of the world’ in God’s sovereign scheme, it is often a sense which grows in the realisation of the called. Experience tells us that God often equips the called over many years with – trials and testsincredible problemspeople who irritate uspeople who stretch us and bring the best out of us.   
Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
Ephesians 4:15-16
Christ deserves the best we can offer Him. This includes how we look after His Church. Of course these leadership qualities also apply in other arenas of life such as parenting and business management. If you have surrendered yourself to God then chances are pretty good that He is already at work in your life to develop these 5 Cs.
Pastor Andrew

Friday, 3 November 2017

Pray And


¶ Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.
Colossians 4:2-4
paul-the-apostleWe are sometimes told, “All we can do in moments like these is pray.” I guess there are probably times when that might be true. There are certainly times when I feel that it’s true. But it rarely is. What could the imprisoned Apostle do locked up in his dingy prison cell? What could the Colossians do so far away from their beloved Apostle? And what on earth, in circumstances like these, did either of them have to be thankful for? Yet from the Apostle’s perspective, there was no time to waste! “Make the best use of your time!” (Col. 4:5) This epistle is testament to that. Rather than wallowing in despair and self-pity, he prayed. But praying wasn’t all he could do and neither was it all that he did. He prayed and.
 For all the Colossians who were battling heresies on several fronts (which is mainly why the Apostle wrote to them) there was much to do besides praying. Pray and.

ometimes life’s circumstances come at the most inconvenient times. They catch us off guard. It’s as if they wait for when we are least able to deal with them – when we are already caught up with other things – when we are emotionally drained, financially struggling, or spiritually faltering. It is in these times that we must pray. We should pray – for strength, God’s help, and for the mind of Christ.
paul_jailPrayer can be a dedicated daily routine.
Routine is our friend, especially spiritually.
Prayer can be spontaneous.
Pray now.
Prayer can be systematic.
Pray through a list.
Prayer can be our constant communion.
Pray as you work, travel, sit, or doing nothing.
Prayers can be spoken or silent.
God knows the desires of our heart.
Prayer can be solitary.
Pray alone.
Prayer can be corporate.
Pray together.
 Paul’s circumstances were depressing, but he was not depressed. Activity and worship have long been known remedies for such maladies of the soul. Paul was active while in his prison chains. He wroteseveral epistles. I wonder if he understood that his letters would be read by billions of people around the world over thousands of years? Having a perspective beyond your own four walls of time, locale, and circumstances helps prison chains to vanish.
prosthetic limbFWB-hospital-as-a-boy This is one of the things that I admire most about F.W. Boreham. At the age of 15 he was involved in an horrific accident involving a train where he teetered at death’s door for nine months and left him with just one leg. It was when doctors told his mother to prepare for the worst that she went to her church and prayed for God to spare her son. “If You will, I will give him to You!” she prayed and, within the hour news arrived that her son had just made a miraculous recovery. With just one leg, F.W. Boreham could no longer play his beloved cricket. But maintained a love for the game and when he moved to Tasmania he soon became President of the Hobart Cricket Club and upon moving to Melbourne he became a member of the Melbourne Cricket Ground. The pain that he would suffer throughout his life due to the primitive amputation techniques of the day would be made all the worse by the breaking of his partial leg another three times and the shattering of his nerve as a result. Yet, within a year or so of his life-changing tragedy he surrendered his life to Christ and would go on to do everything in his power to be the finest preacher he could be – which included honing his usage of words through writing. 
F.W. Boreham as a boy Boreham’s first pastorate was a small town just outside of Dunedin, New Zealand. He cut his teeth as preacher in Mosgiel. He loved to pray. But he had learned from the likes of Spurgeon that the best praying is added to. Pray and. Not a soul in that South Island ever knew that F.W. Boreham only had one leg. He never mentioned it, or the accident, in any of his sermons or articles. Instead, he began to focus on the immensities of God, the infinities of His wonder, and the eternity awaiting the redeemed to enjoy Him. This was increasingly reflected in his writings (for which he is best known today) and even more so during the last half of World War 1, and the entire Second World War. Instead, Boreham got busy writing and preaching about things much bigger than wars, and much grander in scale than the world of his day. For this he was sharply criticised. But the result today is that we have some of the most eloquent essays on topics that touch us all. These essays have now been, and continue to be, read by tens of millions of people from all across the globe, decades and decades after F.W. Boreham’s passing in 1959. Lifting your vision beyond your own painful circumstances makes even the chains of amputation vanish. FWB prayed and.
The Apostle firstly urged the Colossian believers to pray and to pray steadfastly. This is the kind of praying that keeps going when everybody else gives us. But the Colossians weren’t just urged to pray. They were to pray, and – give thanks. It’s too easy to let the weight of our chains deceive us into ingratitude. 
¶ Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples!
Psalm 105:1
 Pray, give thanks, and. “At the same time,” entreaty the Apostle, “pray also for us“. It’s too easy to let the chains of life’s circumstances blind us to the plight of others. ‘Pray steadfastly, give thanks, and pray for us.’  But how? Not for his release from prison! Not for his captors to have a change of heart and let them go! No! “Pray for us also.” But not for a change in circumstances. No! But “that God may open to us a door for the Word.” Pray that God might grant them an open door for the Gospel to be preached! When we pray and, we can certainly pray for our own needs, but “at the same time” we can pray for others and the cause of Christ to advance. We can steadfastly pray, and give thanks, and at the same time pray for others, and also pray that those who take the Gospel to others will be effective in doing so. Pray and.       
 What ails you? Pray and. If you’re troubled by the chains of your physical condition, pray and. Pray for God to give you the strength and determination to take a daily walk and take a daily walk. If you’re troubles by the chains of a relationship gone sour, pray and. Pray for God to give you the wisdom and humility to reconcile and restore and initiate contact with them. If you’re troubled by the chains of your financial predicament, pray and. Pray that God will increase your income and decrease your expenses and stop using credit cards. If you’re troubled by the chains of mental fog and anguish, pray and

¶ Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.
Colossians 4:2-4
Pastor Andrew