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Archive for July, 2015

 

SigningThe decision of the Supreme Court of the United States on June 26th 2015 that all states must allow Same Sex Marriage has triggered another round of pressure from the Gay lobby in Australia to coerce the federal politicians in Canberra to follow suit.

The Christian church has always affirmed human sexuality as being between a man and woman in marriage while viewing all other sorts of sexuality as immoral and against the will of God. However, not all churches and Christians see this issue the same way. In pursuing love and an answer of grace some churches, denominations and individual church leaders have come out in favour of the right of two people of the same sex people to get married.

For me, this local church – Plenty Valley Church, and our own denomination – International Network of churches, we are opposed to the granting of the right to marry for people who are of the same sex. I don’t expect the Gay Lobby to agree with me or even validate my right to hold an alternate view, but if people want to know where I stand and where my church and denomination stands then here is the position we take.

The thinking of the few churches and Christians who favour the granting of Same Sex Marriage (SSM) rights is based on the idea that love is the basis for marriage and discrimination against any section of the community is wrong. They see that no harm can come of granting this right.

The churches and Christians who oppose the granting of this right are doing so because they believe it is giving credibility and recognition to the lifestyle that is clearly condemned in the scripture. Furthermore they feel that there is solid evidence that children raised in a home with a mother and father fair better in many ways than those who are raised in same sex parent households. They feel that the push from the Gay Lobby for the right to marry is a way to bring legitimacy to a lifestyle that is sinful, harmful and should not be promoted. They feel that the granting of this right will lead to a flow on effect of further demands and rights for LGBTI people that will curtail freedoms for those who hold such opposing views. In a bizarre case in Oregon a Christian Bakery was fined $135,000 for refusing to bake a wedding cake for a Gay couple, while 13 Gay bakery owners who refused to bake a cake with an opposing view of marriage on it were ignored without penalty.

The right to marry, based on the fact that two people regardless of gender, love each other is not really the only basis for marriage. As Pastor Peter Pilt of INC said, “The biggest danger homosexual civil marriage presents is the enshrining into law the notion that sexual love, separate from its potential to procreate, is the sole criterion for marriage. If the state must recognize a marriage of two men simply because they love one another, upon what basis can it deny marital recognition to a group of two men and three women, for example, or a sterile brother and sister who claim to love each other? Homosexual activists protest that they only want all couples treated equally. But why is sexual love between two people more worthy of state sanction than love between three, or five? When the purpose of marriage is procreation, the answer is obvious. If sexual love becomes the primary purpose, the restriction of marriage to couples loses its logical basis, leading to marital chaos.”  Throughout history marriage has been the basis for the formation of families that raise and care for children.

At present in Australia gay couples can have a civil union recognized with a ceremony and have the same legal advantages and protections as a married couple. Then why do they want the right to marry? It is because being given that right legitimizes their relationship and gives it the same status as a man-woman union. The normalization of the homosexual lifestyle is the aim of the world wide Gay lobby to the extent that it would be promoted and championed as a viable and right choice for anyone.

The reason some churches and Christians have accommodated the Gay agenda by advocating the change to the marriage act is that some Christians have misunderstood their view of love and acceptance. Loving and accepting a sinner does not require the acceptance of their sin. Also Christians must stand for righteousness. If churches and Christians do not hold a view that the bible is divinely inspired then they are vulnerable to the notion that sexual orientation is something you’re born with. Now concerning the rightness of homosexual behavior, if one holds to the view that the bible is divinely inspired then there is no argument; homosexual behavior is sinful. If one believes that the bible is a religious book and written by men then its values are not timeless and should be taken as historical record and not for today. This is the heart of the matter for Christians.

Most Christians choose to accept the individual homosexual person and welcome them into church, participate in church activities and create relationship with them, in other words to show unconditional love. We would treat them no differently to an adulterer who is also clearly condemned in scripture or a thief, or a tax evader. Any and all of us are sinners at the outset, so our first entry in to the church is one of discovery and then hopefully, repentance and change.  Just how long that takes is not of great concern. The normal approach for most churches and Christian leaders is to allow the Holy Spirit to lead an individual through to a change in thinking, values and behavior and if that isn’t happening after some time to initiate a conversation about values and what God may be saying to the individual. The task of change for the homosexual to change their orientation can be easier for some than others and no one is denying that it is a hugely difficult task for some, and may not be accomplished. To give these individuals support, encouragement, a lack of judgement and acceptance is important for churches and Christians. It is my view that an unrepentant sinner is not ready yet for a serving or leadership role in the church. The idea that love only, not condemnation, is how any church deals with homosexuals (or any sinners) is also missing half the biblical message. The simple truth is, lost sinners are condemned already by a righteous and holy God. They can only be delivered from the existing sentence of divine condemnation they are under by faith and repentance in Christ. Sure we love them, but we do so by telling the truth of their condition, including the truth that they are condemned to a lost eternity unless they repent and turn to Christ.

The homosexual person may have no desire to connect with God or church but if they do the big dilemma is that they often feel that their same sex attraction is so much a part of their essential being that it doesn’t make sense to call it sin. Their identity is as a gay person. They describe it as being born gay or having an inherent same sex attraction that is in their genes. My view is that the science doesn’t bear this out. Reviewing the articles that claim there is no “Gay Gene” here, here, and here, bring a clear argument. If the bible makes the case that homosexuality is a choice (Rom 1:24-27 ) then science would be likely to back that up notwithstanding that one can interpret findings in different ways.

As one may expect, there are conscientious objectors on the LGBTI side as well. These Gay men are opposed to the granting of SSM rights. Interestingly, the big shout of victory arising from the Irish referendum on SSM failed to disclose that the non-compulsory voting system in Ireland resulted in only 34% of the population voting in favour of SSM the balance being against or didn’t vote.

To accommodate the wishes of what is essentially a very small minority to the detriment of many (Children for example) is not helpful. Various sources say that homosexuality is as prevalent as 1-2% in Australia, other sources say 2-4% in the USA, still other sources say 1.2% of Australians. Still smaller is the percentage of Gay couples which is 0.47% of all couples in Australia.

The fact that the media is almost universally behind SSM makes it hard to make ground with any other argument. However the media doesn’t report fairly either.

As Senator Eric Abetz said recently that the Pitcairn Islands, Ireland and the US Supreme Court decision were all same-sex marriage stories we’ve heard about in the past couple of weeks.

Senator Abetz, leader of the government in the Senate, asked where the media voices were when more than 300,000 protested against same-sex marriage in Italy, the Austrian parliament voted down change by a margin of 110 to 26, and 31 US States voted by democratic referendum to put man/woman marriage in their constitutions before being overruled by courts.

In his Sydney Morning Herald Article and ABC AM interview, he questions why Pitcairn Islands, with a population of 48 and no gay couples, was the leading story over Austria and Italy. He also questions the democratic process in the US Supreme Court’s ruling on same sex marriage, and confirms his stand with the Liberal party position that marriage is between a man and woman.

For those wishing to know the stance we have as a local church in relation to homosexual people who visit or are members of our church you can read about it here. The denomination of which we are a part (INC) recently signed a letter together with 27 other Australian Denominations to the Prime Minister regarding the push for SSM. Here is a copy of that Letter. The Statement made by our own denomination concerning Same Sex Marriage can also be found here.

AS Christians, it is our responsibility to lead sinners to Christ and to stand for righteousness in our nation. This requires courage and persistence. Our belief in the inerrant word of God must be our guide and our encouragement.

Craig Anderson.

Senior Pastor Plenty Valley Church

South Morang, Melbourne.

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Mission Impossible #2amMission Impossible 1

To say that God is a miracle working God is pretty obvious right? After all He created the heavens and the earth. That’s about the biggest miracle of them all. The question that we are most interested in is; will God provide a miracle for me? Our own need of a miracle is maybe a little lower of the scale of impossible compared with creating the heavens and the earth but nevertheless it’s still impossible for us to achieve on our own and so we need God’s help.

I remember the first miracle I ever saw was when as a brand new Christian I was about 20 years of age and while doing my own car repairs I was really frustrated, which happened a lot to me!!! I was fixing my brakes on the car and having taken off a brake line with attached nut I had made the mistake of cross threading the nut and ruining the thread. Thus meant buying a whole new brake line and nut, expensive, hard to find and delaying. So after a few expletives I “told God” to fix it if He was so powerful!! Well He did! And after washing the nut in petrol and looking again there was a fresh new thread on the nut. I was amazed and humbled and quickly apologized to God for my impatient outburst.

Once you have seen a real unexplainable miracle, you’re spoiled for life. You can’t go back to normal living anymore. You are now in the realm of expecting a lifetime of miracles from your amazing heavenly Father. Now I can tell you about lots I miracles that I didn’t receive as well as many that I did receive. The exciting thing is that as with everything in God, there is not secret formula for getting prayer answered, it’s about faith. It’s about getting faith and maintaining faith.

My first big failure in asking for a miracle was as a Youth Pastor in Brisbane, we had planned a massive outdoor concert in the King George square in the middle of Brisbane city one Saturday. It was to be an outdoor concert to use music and testimonies to preach the gospel and see many souls won for Christ. The weather forecast was not good and we started to pray early, a few days out. The more we prayed the more the clouds came and the more the rain set in. On the day “in faith” we even set up all the staging and sound equipment in the rain in expectation of a miracle that the weather would clear and we could miraculously go ahead. It never happened. Right up until the start time it was literally bucketing down rain and we had to dismantle the stage and remove all the equipment in the pouring rain. I was deeply disappointed because we had lost an opportunity to preach to lost people, we had seemingly not received from God a miracle that was obviously in tune with His will and purpose and we had worked hard in the pouring rain in difficult circumstances for no gain. I informed all our youth that we would meet at church that night instead and have the concert there. It’s funny how God has a different idea of what we need and that afternoon despite being deeply disappointed I prepared a new message to preach at the concert that night at church. Some of the singers and people sharing made awkward comments about the disappointing morning we had witnessed; but God had a plan and God really helped me turn it around into a big challenge for our youth people to press into God no matter what the outcome or experience that we faced.

The biggest miracles I have ever seen are salvation miracles, where lives are changed by the grace of God and people’s lives are turned around by God. Some of those miracles are sitting here today. This month our theme is Mission Impossible. It’s a focus on how to receive a miracle from God. To receive a miracle you need miracle faith. It’s having that audacious faith that against all odds you believe that God has a miracle for you. You never stop to think whether you deserve it; you never try and figure out if you have enough faith, you just charge the gates of heaven for a massive miracle that you demand from God!

Here’s a great example of that kind of faith from God’s word. The background of this story is that the people of Israel had crossed over the Jordan River and now are beginning to invade the land of Canaan. They have had one defeat at Ai and many victories like Jericho. The next big city to fall was Gibeon. These mighty warriors knew what was good for them and decided to surrender rather than die and became Israel’s slaves. The surrounding Canaanite kings weren’t very impressed with that and decided to attack Gibeon and teach them a lesson.

Joshua 10:1-15(NLT)

1Adoni-zedek, king of Jerusalem, heard that Joshua had captured and completely destroyed Ai and killed its king, just as he had destroyed the town of Jericho and killed its king. He also learned that the Gibeonites had made peace with Israel and were now their allies. 2 He and his people became very afraid when they heard all this because Gibeon was a large town—as large as the royal cities and larger than Ai. And the Gibeonite men were strong warriors.

3 So King Adoni-zedek of Jerusalem sent messengers to several other kings: Hoham of Hebron, Piram of Jarmuth, Japhia of Lachish, and Debir of Eglon. 4 “Come and help me destroy Gibeon,” he urged them, “for they have made peace with Joshua and the people of Israel.” 5 So these five Amorite kings combined their armies for a united attack. They moved all their troops into place and attacked Gibeon.

6 The men of Gibeon quickly sent messengers to Joshua at his camp in Gilgal. “Don’t abandon your servants now!” they pleaded. “Come at once! Save us! Help us! For all the Amorite kings who live in the hill country have joined forces to attack us.”

7 So Joshua and his entire army, including his best warriors, left Gilgal and set out for Gibeon. 8 “Do not be afraid of them,” the Lord said to Joshua, “for I have given you victory over them. Not a single one of them will be able to stand up to you.”

9 Joshua traveled all night from Gilgal and took the Amorite armies by surprise. 10 The Lord threw them into a panic, and the Israelites slaughtered great numbers of them at Gibeon. Then the Israelites chased the enemy along the road to Beth-horon, killing them all along the way to Azekah and Makkedah. 11 As the Amorites retreated down the road from Beth-horon, the Lord destroyed them with a terrible hailstorm from heaven that continued until they reached Azekah. The hail killed more of the enemy than the Israelites killed with the sword.

12 On the day the Lord gave the Israelites victory over the Amorites, Joshua prayed to the Lord in front of all the people of Israel. He said,

“Let the sun stand still over Gibeon,

and the moon over the valley of Aijalon.”

13 So the sun stood still and the moon stayed in place until the nation of Israel had defeated its enemies.

Is this event not recorded in The Book of Jashar? The sun stayed in the middle of the sky, and it did not set as on a normal day. 14 There has never been a day like this one before or since, when the Lord answered such a prayer. Surely the Lord fought for Israel that day!

15 Then Joshua and the Israelite army returned to their camp at Gilgal.

Lessons from Joshua’s miracle.

  1. Joshua was going about the task of completing God’s will and purpose when the need for this miracle arose. He didn’t need a miracle to defend the Gibeonites. He set out to defend them as a natural course of action that continued the Israelite journey to conquer the land of Canaan and take over all the cities. It wasn’t until the middle of the battle that he realized he need more daylight hours to complete the task. Let’s be about God’s business. What has He asked of you? What is your calling and the task He has given you in this vineyard? When you are about the Father’s business there’s a bigger expectation that you can call upon the Father’s resources.
  2. Joshua heard from God straight away. God said “Go up I have given them into your hand.” Hearing from God is so helpful in moving forward. Be in His word and listening in prayer, He will be speaking to you as God is always speaking, we just need to make the time to be still and know that He is God and hear the instructions we need from Him.
  3. Joshua was passionate. He and his army left one afternoon and travelled all night to reach Gibeon and then began the fight. You can be tired but if you have passion then your energy comes and you can do amazing things. You will be amazed at what you can achieve when you have passion. Laziness, apathy and “she’ll be right” attitude will rob you of energy and determination to see great things take place for you and your family.
  4. The first miracle showed God was with them. As they gave chase to the enemy, God rained down hailstones upon them and God killed more of the enemy with hailstones than Joshua did with the sword. When you are believing for a miracle God will show you He is at work around you. Look for the evidences no matter how small that God is working for you. Let an attitude of thankfulness surround your thinking.
  5. You’ve received one miracle keep going and believe for another. The hailstones were a huge miracle for Joshua and a great victory was obtained by them. Joshua could have been content with that and waited until the next day to continue the battle. After all they were already been awake 36 hours in this battle, so a night’s sleep would not have been out of the question. However this is where Joshua shines as a great leader. He lifts his vision for something much greater when any other leader would have settled for less and he asks for the biggest miracle since creation. Moon stand still and Sun stand still. It’s time to stretch that 36 hours into 60 hours for victory! Don’t stop at victory when you’re believing God, you’re on a roll keep on going and ask really big. Ask God for an even bigger miracle, now is the time when your faith is the biggest it has ever been.

What is the miracle you need today? Determine that you are going after it. It may take a moment or it may take a long time. No matter, God delights in showing Himself strong on your behalf. Read this story through and gain encouragement from it. Realise that God is on your side and He will be working for you.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

1. Can anyone in your Urban Connect group share about miracles that have happened to them?

2. What about sharing also about miracles that didn’t happen.

3. What kind of lessons do we learn when the miracles don’t happen?

4. What kind of lessons do we learn when the miracles do happen?

5. List all the miracles needed in your group, write them down, begin to pray and thank God for these miracles. Remember to tell everyone when prayer is answered. tick them off one buy one.

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