Sunday, December 4, 2011

We were warned.

The Australian Labor Party, which is in government in Australia at present, has just changed its policy on same-sex marriage. It now supports it. Soon there will be a vote in the Australian Federal Parliament on whether or not to legalizes it.
This has been a controversy for a while now, with some states in other Western countries legalizing it, some nations in Europe recognizing same-sex marriage. Much of the opposition to the idea has come from members of the monotheistic faiths, Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Whatever their disagreements about other things, they concur on this: homosexuality is not just an individual variation like left or right handednes. It offends God.
Some practitioners of the faiths, calling themselves 'progressive', support homosexual marriage. All the arguments about minorities' rights, equality at law, love being the most important thing, have been voiced in support of homosexual rights. It raises the point here: God does not change to suit human fashion, God's Word does not alter to suit changing social views. God's Word in eternal and unchanging, and that is the reliability of it. We can know it now and always. If people believe that saying "This is the Twenty First Century" proves that everything has changed, they might learn the hard way that "there is nothing new under the sun." The Bible warns, and some secular history shows, that societies can become too self-satisfied with their own power and sophistication, become corrupt and implode from their own rottenness.
We might find that turning from God's Word does not usher in a new dawn of human well-being and joy. We have turned from God, scorned His guidance and sovereignty, and His blessing will pass from us. It would be shocking to see, but just as so many great empires and civilizations have fallen before, the modern world as we know it may collapse because human arrogance and blindness has become a trap for us and we led ourselves right into it. We thought we knew more than we did, and found out how little we knew. There may be a cataclysm into which we fall, or we may simply see a turning of the tide and a return to more Godly living, after some bitter lessons. That has happened before. Only God knows what He will do. One Christian friend remarked that she thinks this society is under judgement now.
Come again, Lord Jesus.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Sometimes the world has to admit that God knows what He's talking about when He gives guidance about how to live. I'll bet they hate it, too: the Christians being proved right. But it's happened again. Yesterday in Australia a major researcher, Professor of Law at Sydney University, announced that a decline in marriage is to blame for increasing neglect of, and suffering among, young people. One of the subtitles read: "Growing rates of abuse are rooted in the rise of one-parent families." In essence, the assertion is made that 'the well-being of Australian children and young people has declined alarmingly in the past decade, and plunging marriage rates are partly to blame.' I kept the article as a collectible. It's overdue news. Child abuse, neglect, self-harm including hospital admissions are caused by the increase in numbers of one-parent families, de facto couples. violent and unstable relationships and divorce. A critical number of young people have lived without both parents and/or been through family divorce by the time they're fifteen years old and it's hurting them. The researcher has national standing, and can't be dismissed by people who don't want to accept the findings. Patrick Parkinson calls for a review of government policies, to ensure marriage is not undermined - which I reckon it has been by the increasing economic and social pressure for both parents to work, and the general attituded that marriage in only a middle class convention rather than a thing that exists out of human need. The quote is made, "Governments cannot ignore the reality that two parents tend to provide better outcomes for children than one,and the most stable, safe and nurturing environment for childre is when their parents are, and remain, married to one another."
So who thought they could reinvent it all? Who were the social pioneers who thought women could and should be single parents, or same-sex couples could do the same thing as naturan heterosexual couples? Who thought divorce was perfectly okay,and families could exist in all sorts of patterns? I've heard the remark made that in Australia families get less government support than they do in some European nations. Political correctness and left-wing social pioneering attacked conventional marriage and tried to reinvent it all, and the result was hurt and damaged children and youth.
Of course marriage has to work, and for that to happen, people need to get away from the idea that their personal fulfillment comes first, they are the centre of their own universe. Have we lost the sense of living for others, and made life all about our own preferences? It takes a certain amount of unselfishness to make a relationship work, and people are busy complaining that life is not what they want. They aren't getting things their own way enough.Then because people can't get a relationship work on their own terms they end it, and insist they're doing nothing wrong.Jesus said, Whoever loves their life will lose it, but whoever gives their life up for His sake will find it. Life is best lived for others, not purely for oneself, and if you're going to have children accept that you can't have your own way all the time. I have had to remember that myself, as a parent of five, who had to make a conscious effort not to be selfish sometimes.
Returning to the point, God set things up to work a certain way. Man and Woman together make children and raise them together.
One single female parent I heard said she didn't want to share the parenting of children with a partner so she set out to be a single parent. Dare anyone call that selfish? We're supposed to applaud her for bravery, or something. But it turns out she's not clever, and we're seeing the results of that departure from God's way.
Come again, Lord Jesus.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

What have you forgotten?

The shocking events in England show what happens when a people forget their God. The riots, with burning and looting and now some deaths happen when people forget or do not know who they are and what they will answer for. True it may be that the rioters may be poor and desperate. But there are ways of dealing with that apart from engaging in spite and cruelty.
It's not only the rioters and trouble makers themselves. Britain's people have been set a shocking example by some of their leaders. The gap between wealthiest and poorest is partly a measure of who will work and who will not, but partly a result of greed. Failed bankers still got their huge bonuses. Those who can gain do so by any means they can, including dishonest use of parliamentary entitlements. Greed and self aggrandisment drive the accumulation of massive riches, and some of the rich would deny those below them all they can. So those in power, some not all, are seeing what happens when they don't care about others, and they insult God by thinking themselves allowed to show such contempt for other of His human creatures. But to blame them only is too easy. The communist explanation that poverty is the sole cause shows disrespect for the people rioting and looting. It implies that they can't take any responsibility for their actions. Some of the victims of those riots are claiming of the young hoods, "They've got no respect". And that's been said for years. People who do not know God are not reminded of their duty to treat other people properly. They lack respect for themselves, but they lack respect for others also. If they turned to Him, He would do what His perfect wisdom knows could be done to alleviate the wretchedness of life. But they would scorn such things. So who are these people who sought to drive Christianity out of schools and public life? Who are they who cut off the thing the human spirit most needs? Who said humans do not need God, their own wisdom and goodness are enough? How do they explain how a society without Christian influence falls apart like that?
Jesus said of them, If they stand between anyone and knowledge of God, it would be better if they had a huge stone tied around their neck and were thrown into the sea.
I'm praying for Britain, the lands of most of my forebears, that she will undergo a revival, a huge coming back to Jesus Christ. I can't listen to social commentators and politicians claiming they have the answer in their own paltry human wisdom. God be with you, Britain and all your peoples.

What have you forgotten?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

You can't reinvent it.

Some time ago we heard about a couple in Canada who have a new baby and they are NOT announcing which sex the baby was born. The theory is, the child will choose their own identity, and decide for themselves which gender they are. Supposedly, we aren't born a particular sex, we're socialized into it, and to be free to decide who we are we should not be treated according to a gender type.
It sounds 'try-hard' to me.
Just for one thing, people have the physical characterisics of one gender or the other. We don't have either ovaries or testes because of the way we're raised, we're born with them.
Still, some people insist, we only learn to act "male" or "female" because we're treasted like one or the other.
That theory was discredited by the case in which Dr John Money surgically reconstructed a boy as a girl, thinking he would just grow up feeling like one. But he did not, and eventually had to be surgically reconstructed over again, as a boy.
If someone knows I'm wrong, please tell me. But I thought behaviour was in part influenced by hormones, and hormones depend on which gender we are cast from conception, whether we're XX or XY. In other words, we are set to be one or the other right from birth. So it is not an environmental thing, it is inborn.
This is the same mistake the marxists made, thinking they could reinvent human nature.
Tell me if I'm wrong. But I recall the Word of God saying, "male and female He made them" and we are meant to be one or the other from birth, society doesn't make us into it. God intends us to be.
We need to stop trying to reinvent what God has made, because we only make a bigger and bigger mess. God's design is sacred, human intelligence can't even properly understand it. Humans can't make other humans, they can only carry out the process of fertilization and gestation that God set up. We are getting above ourselves thinking we know better and we can improve on it. Where will it end?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Think what you're saying.

Watching a T.V. comedy the other night, I heard one of the characters say, "It's just sex!" I'm thinking, did you know what you just said? How about saying "It's just a tsunami!"
They don't seem to get it. Sex is how new people get brought into the world. People forget that and treat it like recreation, of no big consequence at all. But that is what cause new life and every time a new baby is born, history changes. They might never be famous, or recorded in history,or have a wide impact on others, but the human race has changed, because one more being created in the image of God has come into it; and sometimes things will be shaken up in a big way.
That could be good or bad. Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin and Jack the Ripper, whoever he was, each made a big impact - not a good one. Mother Theresa, Florence Nightingale, Abraham Lincoln and WIlliam Wilberforce each made a big impact - a very good one. And it started when two humans engaged in intimate contact and a new life was conceived. Hardly a small thing.
Jesus once said that you don't take the childrens' bread and throw it to the dogs. There is a certain respect due to certain things. The importance of them needs to be properly remembered and appreciated. You are changing history when you cause the birth of a child, whether the fact is widely remembered or not. The momentous life ever lived on Earth, interestingly, is an exception: Jesus Christ was born of a virgin woman and no human sexual contact was involved. People try and call that an unimportant detail, but it's actually a very important one. It shows the unique and miraculous nature of Jesus. Any other human being was born because of that contact between a a man and a woman, and we'd do well to think what we're doing.
Of course some people find ways of separating sex from birth. A married loving relationship may well involve physical intimacy without wanting to have a child every year, too, but who dares stop a life once started from running its intended course?
Think what you're saying, characters and scriptwriters. "Just sex" is like saying "Just an earthquake". Sex causes birth, and once a person is born the world has changed. It may be a huge blessing, too. That depends on whether or not it is given to God properly. Some people just don't know what they're messing with! We all need to think what we're saying.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Be safe. Be Still, and know that He is God.

It's bad news about the tornadoes ripping through parts of the U.S. We've had some calamities in Australia too, with major floods, and a shocking flash flood that made an inland tsunami ripping down a mountain side through a valley and killing several people in the city of Toowoomba and more in villages down the range from it. It was the sort of thing no-one expected, and it took several lives. It is too easy to say this when I wasn't caught in it, but if someone askes "Where was God?" the answer might be "Right where He should be, and if you asked Him He will be with you. Did you ask?" I hope I'm never in the middle of a major bush fire, flood, wind storm, shipwreck or any of these things. They serve to remind us that we have not got the world under control. We have not made ourselves so powerful that we are immortal. It is still a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God. And once in a while we may see just how much at the mercy of the natural world we are. So we need to remember who to turn to. God help us all. And all of us remember God.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Something overlooked.

There are some fabulous films about the life of Jesus, which show the crucifiction, and his resurrection. They often render the Gospel fairly accurately, as far as I can see. "The suffering of the Christ" was one of the best ever, I reckon.
But none of them has ever shown one particular thing which would make awesome viewing if it was done properly.
In Matthew's Gospel, we hear the following, from Chapter 27 verses 51 to 53.
My emphasis added.
I've never seen that part of the account included in any film made of the events. And if a film director ever did, can you imagine the effect? It would need to be done properly, so that it didn't look like a zombie flick or a take on 'The mummy walks,' but so that it made the point properly. The dead shall rise, not like a horror show but in the final conquest of death.
Imagine being there. You knew someone who died, you saw them dead, you knew there was no mistake. They were no longer living in the body.
Then you saw them, walking around, leaving footprints, with a pulse, and they spoke to you and greeted you. You received your dead back.
That was part of what it is all about. Jesus came back to like, having been provably deceased, and was seen. He shared food, spoke to people, and invited Thomas to touch Him and prove that He was real.
Come to that, remember what happened to Mary and Martha. They lost their brother Lazarus, and before he actually died they kept begging Jesus to come and heal him.
When Jesus finally arrived, Lazarus was in the tomb. Jesus called on them to open the tomb and the sisters said, "Don't, Lord. He's been dead four days and there will be a stink." Jesus insisted, and when they opened up the grave, Lazarus answered Jesus when He said, "Lazarus, come forward."
It could make the hair on the back of your neck stand up; or it could leave you right off the ground with exultation.
The dead are no longer dead. It is a stage, not a final condition. The grave is not the end.
Every human that ever lived will rise again, even if they've been dead so many centuries that their physical bodies have turned back to dust, been recycled through plants that grew, animals that ate it and whateve happens in the natural cycles. They will stand there, alive again. And then if they believed Jesus, they will be free from the limits and sufferings of the flesh for ever and ever.
Jesus started it, when He was abominably tortured to death, descended to Hell, and broke open its gates because the evil one could not keep Him there. And the escape route, the breakout from Satan's vile kingdom, passed to us all. We will rise, and we will see God face to face, 'Death, THOU shalt die'. (John Donne).
Donne wrote as a Christian in penning that line. And the Godpel showed it, centuries before.
The Resurrection will come. The Second Coming will be. Come again, Lord Jesus.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Are we due for another Tower of Babel?

Actually, have we had several repeats of the same things since the original event? If I understand it right, the original event happened because human beings were getting an exhalted view of themselves. They thought they could be as mighty as God, and their tower was the way of showing it. So for their own good God cut them down to size by altering their languages. Then they could not collude together in a way that could bring trouble on them. The trouble is, ever since then people have still being building towers that collapse on them because they don't know enough or have the power to do what only God can do, and things which should be left to God. For a few examples, look at the sad case of the "Titanic." It was claimed that 'even God cannot sink this ship', and it turned out that without God's protecting hand, a block of ice could sink that ship. It was a horribly sad event, but it shows what can happen when mere human beings think they've outgrown God or risen to the stage where they can challenge Him. Back further in history, the Roman Empire grew to a state quite awesome by human standards, then Roman emperors thought they could call themselves gods. The end of the human empire was catastrophic. As Jesus said about the house built on sand, 'the wreck of that house was complete'. The Roman Empire was built on human vanity, not wise knowledge of the Almighty.
Just recently, a transplant surgeon claimed that head or brain transplants might be the next stage of medical progress. Knowing some Christians who have had organ transplants, I think it's wonderful when lives can be saved that way, but this has got its limits. How far do we go before we're into Dr Frankenstein? God made humans and there are major limits on what humans can do with what is not their design, not something within their understanding?
Have we already had several towers built on ourselves? Look around you and see what happens when humans use knowledge without wise conscience controlling it. The internal combustion engine is a great thing if it powers an ambulance that can get the sick to hospital fast, or even make travel easier and more wide ranging. But reckless use of it causes a pollution problem that could choke a city. The antibiotic saves millions of lives, but used for convenience it can lose its effect and allow the breeding of anti biotic resistant super-bugs, which are deadly.
So knowledge can be used to achieve great things, or it can be used to gratify human pride to to indulge themselves, and cause more misery than it saves.
The contraceptive pill could allow married people to have their physical relationship without ending up with more pregnancies than the mother could withstand. It was not meant to allow indulgent behaviour and turn God's gift into casual recreation.
The rifle can save life protecting people from dangerous animals, or it can become a means of intimidating and abusing others. It can be a way of procuring food, or a way of committing robbery or murder.
The modern western world can do things that people in the past would find unbelievable. But the knowledge we have can rebound on us, we can use it for indulgence rather than good, and find it is a two-sided gift.
A plastic surgeon remarked on the difference between healing plastic surgery that repairs damaged bodies, fixes disorders like a cleft palate, and cosmetic plastic surgery that indulges human egos. Any knowledge reveals part of God's handiwork and genius, but used the wrong way it can become a tower that falls on us and should tell us that we are always beholden to God.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

God has no grandchildren

We've been hearing about Amy Chua, who wrote "Battle Hymn Of The Tiger Mother", and before that 'Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior'. Ms Chua describes how she taught her children to be successful by driving them to it. She admits to things like throwing the home-made birthday card her daughter gave her, back at her and telling her it was not good enough. Ms Chua may not have realized quite how some parents from a Judao-Christian heritage would react to that suggestion, or she might not have come out and said it.
I'm not attacking or critisising Chinese people as such. My issue is with the idea that a parent should treat a child that way.
She claims she is doing what is best because she cares enough to be hard on her children. Some westerners go so far as to accuse her of child abuse.
Things Amy Chua include as methods of parenting are: no sleepovers, no play dates, never being in a school play, no T.V. or computer games,no choice of their own extracurricular activities, never get a grade less than an A, never be anything except the best student in any subject except gym or drama and never play any instrument except the piano or the violin. True, some western parents may let their children get away with too much and make too little effort to guide and restrain them, but the Chua approach sounds to me like an abomination. I'm thankful I never was treated that way.
It can backfire, too. One young man of Chinese birth now living in Australia stated for the press that he has lost his sense of attachment to his mother because he saw her as nothing but a taskmaster. Now living in Australia he feels he can be his own person.
Ms Chua also talks about threatening to give her daughter's dolls away if she did not practice her piano music.
She also admits, unless misquoted by the press,of threatening her daughter with no lunch, no dinner, no Christmas and no birthday parties if she did not perfect this piano piece.
Underlying this approach is the belief in some cultures that the child is an extension of the parent - and this is where I believe Chua's approach is wrong.
Children are not just part of their parents. They are individuals in their own right, each of them made by God. Apart from Adam and Eve, every child is conceived and gestated in a woman's womb, and the mother feels it and possibly suffers by it. You can understand why she feels she has some claim on the child. Fathers too, unless they are wretchedly negligent, feel intensely for and about their children. I can talk. I'm a father, and I saw all five of ours being born.
But those children, all children, are intended to grow to adulthood and have their own lives. And they have their own connection to God. God has no grandchildren, only children. In the sight of God, ultimately our kids are our brothers and sisters in the Lord. We cease to hold authority over them and they seek God themselves without going through us. We must teach them, but then it is up to them, and they relate to God without us being involved. They are not just part of us, even if they look and sound like us, (which not all kids do!).
This is where I believe the Amy Chua approach is wrong, because it is exceeding the right and authority of a mere human being, even if they are a parent. The time comes when children do not answer to mothers or fathers, and do not exist to gratify the parent or do what the parent wants. They are separate, with their own need to find God and communicate with Him directly, not via their parents. And they must each seek GOD'S will for their life. It may not be the same as their parents' plans!
Recall that when Jesus called some to follow Him, one said 'first, let me bury my own father'. It sounds a bit harsh, but Jesus replied, "let the dead bury their own dead." The point here is, if you have to choose between your family and God, choose God. If your family would be a barrier between you and God, choose God. Your family cannot grant you Salvation.
And your family are only mere human beings. They cannot claim to know all God's plans for your life.
Not only Amy Chua but any human parent needs to know this. Bob Dylan was not a Christian when he wrote and sang, 'Your children are not your children', but what he said was in a sense quite true. Once they leave the nest as adults your offspring must live their own lives, and they best thing they can do is seek the guidance of the Almight in doing this. Human parents cannot always know what is best because they are only human. In childhood and youth, they should give guidance, but only with the proviso that they are only human and their understanding has its limits. We parents do not have lifelong ownership of children, and can't know the future, or what God only can see is best.
Another commentator, responding to Chua, pointed out that success does not guarantee happiness. Quite true. More to the point, success does not give you everlasting life, it won't even ensure that you live a long time on this earth.
I've been told that Japanese culture is also very success orientated and involves great authority by parents over children.
Japan is a society whose population is falling, not because the law requires it but because fewer Japanese want to have children, or even marry. That shows a loss of faith in the future or the worth of begetting new life.
I prayed for Amy Chua and her family, that they find Christ as Saviour. Anything else will finally be revealed as futility. Some humans who had collossal success and fame in this world are still dead. Statues, mentions in history, things and places named after them do not change the fact that their voices are stilled and their bodies turned to dust. Only their souls matter then. And where are they? Did William Shakespeare or Virginia Woolf get to Heaven by being famous? If they get there at all, it will not be because any other human being remembers their names. It will only be because God finds their names written in His Book Of Life.
No amount of talent or achievement in this world will cause that name to be written there. And parents cannot make the name be written there. They should clearly teach their children where the truth lies, but the children must live it themselves.
God has no grandchilden, only children. Success and achievement do not bring us close to God. Only following the words and one who in life was a carpenter, can do that.
Yes, that's right. In His human incarnation, Jesus was a carpenter, not a musical prodigy or champion sportsman, not a great financial success or anything else that the mere world reveres. But He is God. And He alone knows the way.