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YOUR PLACE IN THE NATION – 3 JULY 2016 AM banner_PRAY4AUS_web_1200x628_1605

Today we begin a series on prayer through July 2016. I would like to open by reading Winston Churchill’s speech from the Second World War. Winston Churchill’s speech ‘we shall fight them on the beaches’ is one of the defining speeches during the second world war. It uses the technique of repetition to very good effect.

Winston Churchill – 4 June 1940

“I have, myself, full confidence that if all do their duty, if nothing is neglected, and if the best arrangements are made, as they are being made, we shall prove ourselves once again able to defend our Island home, to ride out the storm of war, and to outlive the menace of tyranny, if necessary for years, if necessary alone.

At any rate, that is what we are going to try to do. That is the resolve of His Majesty’s Government-every man of them. That is the will of Parliament and the nation.

The British Empire and the French Republic, linked together in their cause and in their need, will defend to the death their native soil, aiding each other like good comrades to the utmost of their strength.

Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail.

We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France,

we shall fight on the seas and oceans,

we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be,

we shall fight on the beaches,

we shall fight on the landing grounds,

we shall fight in the fields and in the streets,

we shall fight in the hills;

we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.”

The context was war. The threat is very real and very serious. This is how we as Christians here in Australia must perceive and understand the situation within our own nation. Think about the spiritual condition of the nation. We are at war with satan, with spiritual forces that want to remove the gospel and the power of God from the nation and reduce Christianity to a powerless religion. Is that what you want? If not then this is a rallying cry for all of us and for anyone who will hear.

The result of this speech of Winston Churchill was to unite the people of Great Britain to call them to action and to give them a belief that the victory as achievable.

There is no complaining in this time of focus, no focus on the small things that seem inconvenient. The focus is now on the main thing that really matters. They understood the threat, they knew their job, and they chose to never give up.

There is a spirit realm, and we live in it we are surrounded by it. It is always active and always talking to us. We must not be ignorant of the devil’s devices. Many Christian’s live their daily lives oblivious to the activity of the spirit realm around them. Powerless to recognise it, and powerless to shift it or change situations and circumstances affected by it. Instead God calls us to rule and reign with Him in it! We are people of authority! Do you wield that authority?

Ephes 6:12 AMP

12 For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere.

Luke 10:19 AMP

Behold! I have given you authority and power to trample upon serpents and scorpions, and [physical and mental strength and ability] over all the power that the enemy [possesses]; and nothing shall in any way harm you.

There is an enemy. A decline in the power and effectiveness of Christianity in Australia shows that the enemy has won some victories. The church needs a renewal, a boost to revive the life and power of the church. Godlessness abounds through the efforts of some to redefine marriage, promote the extremely ungodly Safe Schools Program and understanding that in Victoria we have the worst Abortion laws in the western world.

Your job or role is to influence the spirit realm not to let it influence you. HOW?

We must pray! Never feel that your prayers are powerless or worthless. You can move mountains when you pray. What convinces you? Satan’s message that prayer is boring, irrelevant and powerless OR God’s prompting of the Holy Spirit in your life saying, “All men aught always to pray and not give up!”  God calls us to pray.

2 Chron 7:14 AMP

If My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves, pray, seek, crave, and require of necessity My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.

ONE Thing I want you to know – YOU HAVE THE POWER TO CHANGE THINGS

Through Worship – Remember the story of Jehoshaphat. Through declaration – Say to this mountain – Mark 11:23 AMP

Think about your family today, is it where it should be?  If not do not despair, it can change. It’s time to pray, and to pray with a real belief that you can make a difference and things will change. This month we will be seeking to inspire you the ray and to discover the power that you have in prayer.

Think about your church. It’s time to pray for revival. To pray for souls, miracles and money. To have a passion for the church as a whole and your church here at Plenty Valley. What we long to see is many people coming to Christ. Pray for the people you know and are close to. Pray for this local area.

Think about your nation. Pray for the rise of the church. That Christianity will be leading and influencing in this land. That we will experience righteousness in the land.

ONE thing that I believe we can do as a result of this message is – PRAY – In your world – Make time – For example think how you would make time if you had a kid sick in Hospital. Pray with others   –  Get together in UC Groups, at Church Mon-Fri 6-7am, at Church – Sunday 31st 12.30 – 1 hour.

Listen to the words of Jesus today, “Will you not watch (pray) with me one hour?

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. Describe your prayer practice in an average week.
  2. Why do we feel inadequate in prayer sometimes?
  3. What can we do to overcome the reluctance to pray?
  4. Work out a positive plan to pray in the UC group each time you meet.
  5. What goal can you set to pray in your own personal time between now and next time you meet at UC group?

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TWO WORDS TO TAKE HOME. Matt & Jacqui with Craig

I do a lot of weddings. As I stand at the top of the aisle, looking at the bride and groom, I see that real sparkle in each eye, I see the smile on her face as she thinks about the protection this man will give her over the next few decades. She dreams of growing old together, she thinks about the children they will have, she remembers the feel of his strong arms wrapped around her to comfort her. He is gobsmacked with her beauty. She reminds him of some movie star. He thinks about the love making tonight and right through the honeymoon. He sees something magical in that sparkle in her eye. He knows she can be a handful at times but he loves the challenge of working through the issues and coming out with answers.

Fast forward any amount of time you like, six months, two years, ten years. Now she feels unprotected from his hurtful words, she’s not sure she wants to grow old with him, the kids just drain all her energy, she wonders if he has any arms. At this time he still thinks she’s gorgeous but seems like she’s off limits a lot! That sparkle has turned into “the look”, he feels like when they talk they never seem to resolve anything and right now the bills, the mortgage and the conflict at work feel like they are crushing him.

What happened?

Unmet expectations! Is this your marriage? Don’t despair. I can help you. This picture can turn around. Things will be better. I just want you to remember two words from today’s message – Cherish and Respect. Can you write those down somewhere?

I have counselled a lot of marriages, I have been to a ton of marriage seminars. I have taught on marriage and most importantly I have been married for 37 years! The couples who make it long term in marriage have learned how to work at it and work through it. There are two words that when applied will really help you build your marriage stronger. Are you ready?

CHERISH – THE WORD FOR THE GUYS.

OK guys don’t tune out right now. This is the moment to tune in big time! Just think right now… I’m going to tell you who will win the grand final this year, how to make a million dollars in one month and how to look buff while eating anything you want…. Are you listening?

Imagine you are the father of a little girl, she’s about say 5 years old and she is about to be attacked by a stranger. Your precious little princess is in danger, she is so innocent, so vulnerable, so unprotected, so what do you do? You spring into warrior mode! You’re going to protect her at all costs! You’re going to save, protect, rescue, comfort, hold secure, and kiss away the tears until that little girl feels safe once more.

HOLD THAT THOUGHT!!

That’s how to treat your wife every day. The number one need our wives have is security. Listen, they may come across tough, they may have a few choice things to say about those other tuckshop mothers. They may be able to bite the head off a klutz that cuts them off in traffic, BUT, to you she is your little ewe lamb! She wants to held, to be understood, to be embraced, to be comforted, to be protected every day. Ask your wife to give you a photo of her as a little girl. Keep it in your wallet.  I guarantee she will find one for you in ten minutes flat when you get home. Girls if you ask your hubby to find a photo of you for his wallet it may take about 15 years!!

Listen to this story about the ewe lamb.

2 Sam 12:1-7 (ESV)

12 And the Lord sent Nathan to David. He came to him and said to him, “There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. 2 The rich man had very many flocks and herds, 3 but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. And he brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children. It used to eat of his morsel and drink from his cup and lie in his arms, and it was like a daughter to him. 4 Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the guest who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.” 5 Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves to die, 6 and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.” 7 Nathan said to David, “You are the man!

Guys, if you can get this, it will really help your marriage. Underneath the surface of every great woman who can hold her own in any argument, rage at unrighteousness, terrify the kids, and build a global corporation there is a little girl who will only be vulnerable to you and only if you become that warrior protector.

IT’S CALLED CHERISH.

Ephes 5:25-30 ESV

25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body.

How to Cherish.

See her as that little girl that needs your protection. Hold her. Look into her eyes and be amazed, tell her that you love her at least once every day. Bring home flowers to surprise her. Write a note and hide it in the kitchen somewhere expressing you devotion. Plan a honeymoon weekend once a year. Ring up from work with no other agenda than to say, “I was thinking about you.” Listen when she talks, look into her eyes when she’s talking to you. Write a list of ten things you love about her, leave it lying around the house. When you’re in bed at night hold her tight just for the embrace of intimacy, not every hug will end in sex. Intimacy is more about adoring and cherishing. Don’t worry, you’ll get plenty! It’s a generalisation but women endure sex to obtain intimacy, men endure intimacy to obtain sex.

NOW IT’S THE GIRL’S TURN.

Respect your man. You will never be able to fathom the fact that your man at times feels truly inadequate. The toughest of us, and we will never show it, even to our wives, but we often feel like a failure. We often feel like we should have done better. We often feel that we have let ourselves down and didn’t become what we should have become. Unless we are one of the very few sporting heroes or multimillionaire overachievers we won’t be entirely satisfied with life. We will often carry deep regrets of how we could have made better decisions. It feels like not very many people really look up to us and really respect us. So when we come home, it’s supposed to be a safe place, but if we are disrespected there, it’s crushing.  But we will never show it even to those closest to us. We will either tune out to the pain by watching the footy, or we will get mad and go ape about little things. Some guys drink, some guys do porn, some become workaholics, and some just give up and go missing.

Watch this great video – https://youtu.be/J7FNn_FuT6Q

Maybe you feel like telling us to grow up, get some guts; but it doesn’t help, we’ve been trying that for years. Just like you, very deep down inside of us is that little boy who has very big dreams and just needs someone to believe in them. Who will do it if you don’t? With all our faults and failings, we still really want to succeed and sometimes we just don’t know how. The responsibility is on us to lead and provide and be the strong one, and if that isn’t happening we can find it very tough, but we will never tell you!

How to respect your man.

Just simply say, “I believe in you honey” Pray for your man. Tell someone else how amazing he is for something he did, not just because he has great buns or guns. Tell your kids they have the best dad ever. When there’s trouble at work, financial pressure, or any kind of struggle for him, let him know you have confidence in him to overcome. You know he can do it! We all need a little help from time to time but if we live with criticism we will become broken down or we will leave. You didn’t marry Mr.  perfect, you married “Mr. right for you.” Every time you build him up he becomes the better man you always wanted. Listen to what Jesus says to you.

Colossians 3:18(AMP)

18 Wives, be subject to your husbands [out of respect for their position as protector, and their accountability to God], as is proper and fitting in the Lord.

Ephes 5:33b AMP

and the wife [must see to it] that she respects and delights in her husband [that she notices him and prefers him and treats him with loving concern, treasuring him, honoring him, and holding him dear].

Press the reset button.

Learn to press the reset button

Building great relationships is a task for courageous people. Great relationships are built on love. Love is often accompanied by wonderful feelings of joy, life, and energy. But love is not always practiced in a time of positive feelings.

Love is kind and patient. Sometimes I don’t feel kind and patient! Sometimes I feel like telling someone off or I feel like walking away because I’m sick of waiting. When I have chosen love, I remember what love is, and I choose to practice love at a time when my feelings are not positive.  If I don’t feel loving – it’s not that I don’t love, it’s that my feelings are telling me one thing and my values are telling me something different.

Love is the value and the commitment we have to do the highest good for this person. Whether I feel like it or not I choose kindness, patience and trust. Love is choosing to act the best way, no matter how I feel in my emotions.

Of course there are times when we fail and let one another down. A courageous person says sorry. A courageous partner says I forgive, and we press the reset button. Start over with a fresh motivation to continue in love.

Today I pray you both choose love and be courageous in saying sorry and forgiving one another. I believe then you will build a strong marriage.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. How much do you think your childhood and upbringing have an effect on the way you do relationships?
  2. Have you ever thought deeply about what your partner may have lived through on the journey to adulthood?
  3. How can two broken people do life together?
  4. Husbands, when was the last time you felt really loved and admired by your wife? Share with her.
  5. Wives when was the time you most felt cherished and adored by your husband? Share with him.

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A Mother’s Day Message for Men.

Building Great families – May 2016great families

Violence has always been with us. Has there been more or less violence now than in the past? It’s impossible to tell, however from the earliest history we know that war took millions of lives and the same thing is taking place all over the world today. Violence is ugly, it’s repugnant, but we can’t get away from it as part of the nature of man. Here’s what God says about man in the days leading up to the flood of Noah. Gen 6:5-6 AMP  The Lord saw that the wickedness (depravity) of man was great on the earth, and that every imagination or intent of the thoughts of his heart were only evil continually. 6 The Lord regretted that He had made mankind on the earth, and He was [deeply] grieved in His heart. Things haven’t changed much since then. We say we live a civilised society, yet we see even in this land of peace and safety, acts of terrorism, gang violence and family violence such that one woman is killed on average every week through current or former partner violence.

Some would say that God is pretty violent Himself because throughout the Old Testament, God instructs Israel to wipe out nations, killing millions of people including women and children. These commands were always to execute judgement. God is a righteous and just God and His sixth commandment is Ex 20:13 AMP  “You shall not commit murder (unjustified, deliberate homicide).”

However God is a capital punishment advocate who deals out the death penalty for a number of crimes including cursing your parents. In the events of the Old Testament God uses Israel to execute His justice upon the heathen nations of Canaan who were extremely violent themselves. Their own practice of sacrificing their children in the fire to their gods was specifically mentioned by God as one reason for this judgement. Deut 12:29-31 ESV “When the LORD your God cuts off before you the nations whom you go in to dispossess, and you dispossess them and dwell in their land, 30take care that you be not ensnared to follow them, after they have been destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire about their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods?—that I also may do the same.’ 31You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way, for every abominable thing that the LORD hates they have done for their gods, for they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods.” The Old Testament shows the judgement of God against sin to be unavoidable. However we see this, the clear message of the Old Testament is that God is a holy God who judges all manner of sin and His justice is without compromise. Even Israel received this judgement when they too also strayed into idolatry and evil practices.

War has continued throughout the centuries with World War I being the “war to end all wars” yet sadly it was not so. World War II and subsequent wars like the Vietnam War and the war of Desert Storm in Iraq have continued unabated. We have seen genocide committed over and over again in examples like Pol Pot’s regime where millions died in Cambodia; such as the genocide in Rwanda and the Congo where still today life is cheap. In a short digression often non-Christian critic will say that religious wars have killed more people than any other wars. But this is a complete myth.

In our Australian culture of egalitarianism and giving everyone a fair go, still we have a great deal of violence. The statistics for family violence have risen steadily for many years. This is due to increased reporting as well as increase in prevalence. Christian or not Christian, the community view has begun to change in the way that we see violence as being unacceptable especially in the home. Yet as much as we dislike it and protest about it, we see it continues relentlessly. Violence is perpetrated mostly by men. Men from every ethnic background and every socioeconomic background. So men need to be part of the answer.

There’s a job to do for all of us men here today. – Ensure the next generation does not make violence their choice in resolving conflict. We have a responsibility to raise our families without violence and to work for an end to violence in our community.

The culture that men carry either implicit or explicit is that women are somehow less than men. This ingrained cultural norm stems not just from the woman being the weaker sex physically, but from the traditional roles men play in terms of being driven by achievement and women by nurture.

The underlying foundation of violence against women is gender inequity.

Gender equity is a very important concept and is supported by the bible view that men and women are of equal value but have different roles. The White Ribbon Organisation in Australia is an organisation of men who believe that violence against women is wrong and they want to do something about it. I am a White Ribbon Ambassador which means that I am authorised to speak on behalf of White Ribbon and for the cause of ending violence against women. This local church has held four annual White Ribbon Dinners over the last four years and sought to bring awareness and resources to the community around us to work on the prevention aspect of this important initiative.  Also I serve on a non-church committee to organise the empowering of White Ribbon Ambassadors across the State. IMG_4331

Violence in this community.

This Whittlesea Local Government region each year has the worst or second worst statistics for family violence in the State of Victoria. My role as Police Chaplain has given me a deeper understanding of this issue as I seek to care for the Police members in this local area. It may surprise you to know that around 50% of our local police effort goes into addressing family violence. We want to be part of the answer and we want to impact our own local community so that over time we see a reduction in this type of crime. If we are going to make a difference, here’s how you and I can make a difference.

  1. Review your past. How has violence characterised your behaviour? Did you grow up in a violent home? Were you a victim of violence? For some men who were victims of violence they learn from an early age that the way to deal with conflict is to hit out physically. This is how you get your own way. Violence is not only physical – it is verbal, sexual, economic, emotional, and more. Recognise what your past has taught you in terms of your values. Do you use any form of violence to get your own way? Do you hit, yell, withhold finances, denigrate, or in any way hurt your partner or children or anyone else? How does one change? Face yourself and your past. Ask forgiveness. Seek counsel and help from supportive people.
  2. Submit your life to Christ. It’s hard to change your habits especially if they are long standing from childhood. Yet in Christ we have a life changing power of handing our life over to God. The power of Christianity is not just forgiveness but power over sin because God gives a repentant sinner a new heart. Jesus was not violent, but He absorbed violence. Think about the cross, and how He endured violence against Himself. Jesus view of violence was simple: Matthew 26:52 (AMP) Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back in its place; for all those who habitually draw the sword will die by the sword. Change in an individual’s life is extremely difficult unless God gives you a new heart, so make it your determined purpose to surrender your life to Christ and become a new man.
  3. Review your values. Do you see women as less in any way? From an early age we say to a little girl, “How beautiful she is.” And to a little boy, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” By this we build into women the value judgement of appearance and to men the value judgement of achievement. As children grow we must be so careful about our language. Do we use statements like, “crying like a girl, or hitting like a girl.” to chastise a boy and reinforce the stereotype that girls are weak or inferior?
  4. Raise your kids without violence. Children must see mother and father loving each other and resolving conflict without violence, because they will learn from watching. It is not acceptable for any woman or child to feel fear from an angry man. Smacking is an important subject and is promoted in the scriptures. Smacking is an important tool for a wise parent to bring about a small amount of pain to a child to avoid a life time of far greater pain. Smacking is effective in very young children who are not able to reason yet. Smacking must never be done in anger and must be balanced with loving and accepting touch when a child is sorry or behaves well. Video games in particular are often violent and program a child’s mind to see violence as a strategy to gain power or pleasure. Be careful about what your children watch on games, television and movies.
  5. Champion gender equity. Men and women are of equal value. They have different roles, women are not all the same. Men are not all the same. Some women are properly suited to career and leadership, others for nurture and motherhood. No one gender stereotype is of greater value than another. Men who choose homemaking roles are less numerous but not less important or valuable. Think about how women are treated in your home, your family group. Get rid of sexist jokes, put downs based on gender.
  6. In your associations speak up for gender equity and respect for women. In your church, your workplace, your sporting club, are women treated with respect? In a committee meeting do women get an equal share of the time when asked to speak? Remember that even in 2016 in Australia women are paid 18% less than men for the same jobs. This is an example of gender inequity.

Conclusions

As godly men in this local community we can make a difference. It’s important that we become aware of the issue and review our inner core belief systems about how we think about women. You may not be violent but do you promote the unhealthy stereotypes of thinking and behaviour that are so prevalent in Australia? Let’s speak up for respect and equity. Lets’ take the pledge at White Ribbon.

I will stand up, speak out and act to prevent men’s violence against women.

Go to http://www.whiteribbon.org.au/myoath-popup

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. What family environment did you grow up in? was there violence?
  2. How did this affect you?
  3. What values do you want your kids to hold regarding violence?
  4. How will you influence them?
  5. How can you influence your workplace for gender equity?

 

 

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Value 1 – Build honour into your family. (Sunday 1st May 2016 AM)great families

This month our theme is building great families. Your family is precious and valuable in this church. This month we will be ministering and praying for families so that each family is strengthened and blessed so that it lasts and provides a foundation for effective Christian lives and community building. Building a great atmosphere of love and joy and contentment in your family home is vital. Would you like me to share with you how to create that culture in your home?

This morning I want to draw your attention to a huge issue that is wrecking families and wrecking our Australian community. – No honour! The one thing I want you to know this morning is the power of honour.

There’s something wrong with how we do life here in Australia. No respect, no honour. In our schools, students give no respect or honour to teachers.  I would not like to be a teacher in the State system these days. Apart from the lack of respect, there is actually danger of physical violence for many teachers. Not just from students but from their parents also. Police are treated as the enemy. We see gang warfare growing in our streets of the kind we saw at Moomba. The culture of most Australians is to sling off at and vilify all politicians. The old fashioned values of respect and honour for those in authority are disappearing.

Honour is a value taught at home. If there is no honour in the home, then the family will be weakened. As husband and wife we must honour one another. If not children grow up disrespectful and prideful acting like brats right through into adulthood. We must teach our children to honour their mother and father. This value is pretty high up in God’s agenda as the fifth commandment and the first commandment with promise. Here’s a question for you, how well did you honour your parents? If your response is to tell me how bad they were, then you’ve missed the whole point of the commandment. Honour is about recognising the order of things that God has set in place. When we fail to honour we are standing against God.

I have watched my sons discipline their children. They are very strict about the way the children treat their mother. If a rude word is spoken, or if a request is disobeyed they take the youngster aside and talk straight to them and if there’s a repeat then a smack soon brings them back into line. Teaching children to honour their parents is something we must begin at an early age and if it’s not there by age 7, there will be a tough road ahead. Husbands, how you speak to your wife will show your children how to behave. There’s no room for disrespect. Wives, honour your husbands and speak well of them, show your kids how to honour with your words.

We are part of a Kingdom. Jesus our King is building His kingdom on earth, and we are living with Kingdom values. Jesus asked us to pray; your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.(Matt 6:10 AMP) One of the values operating in the Kingdom is Honour. So what is Honour? Honour means to value, to give weight, to esteem, to count as precious, to give worth and recognition to. The Kingdom runs on Honour. Without honour there is a big blockage in the flow of life and blessings in the kingdom. The one thing I want you to know this morning is the power of honour!

To contrast to that, dishonour means to be familiar, to take for granted, to count as being worth less, to ignore and to be rude. In our Ausssie culture sometimes dishonour is an art form. “Hey Morrie, you’re late for the BBQ, where have ya been ya dirty bludger?” This is not kingdom stuff.

God calls us to give honour where honour is due (Rom 13:7 AMP) So where is honour due?

Honour is due to the godly appointed people who have purpose in the kingdom. We give honour to those in authority, to one another, and God honours us when we walk in humility and love. Sometimes it becomes very common for all of us to have attitude toward one another. We snipe and backbite and complain about each other. The reason is fear stress and anxiety. We are not coping with pressure and we neglect the virtues we know are important. When we lose respect, and choose dishonour we reduce the power of God to bless.

Firstly see how Jesus honours the Father; Jesus answered, I am not possessed by a demon. On the contrary, I honour and reverence My Father and you dishonour (despise, vilify, and scorn) Me.(John 8:49)

The Father Honours the Son; For when He was invested with honour and glory from God the Father and a voice was borne to Him by the [splendid] Majestic Glory [in the bright cloud that overshadowed Him, saying], This is My beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased and delight, (2 Peter 1:17)

Holy Spirit Honours Jesus; He will honour and glorify Me, because He will take of (receive, draw upon) what is Mine and will reveal (declare, disclose, transmit) it to you. (John 16:14)

Honour in the church and the home works up, down and sideways.

Honour your father and mother Ephesians 6:2 AMP Honour [esteem, value as precious] your father and your mother [and be respectful to them]—this is the first commandment with a promise—

Honour wife and husbandEphesians 5:33 AMP –  3 However, each man among you [without exception] is to love his wife as his very own self [with behaviour worthy of respect and esteem, always seeking the best for her with an attitude of lovingkindness], and the wife [must see to it] that she respects and delights in her husband [that she notices him and prefers him and treats him with loving concern, treasuring him, honouring him, and holding him dear].

We are to honour those over us in the Lord. Let the elders who perform the duties of their office well be considered doubly worthy of honour [and of adequate [a]financial support], especially those who labour faithfully in preaching and teaching.(1Tim 5:17)

We honour one another; Show respect for all men [treat them honourably]. Love the brotherhood (the Christian fraternity of which Christ is the Head). Reverence God. Honour the emperor.(1 Peter 2:17)

As leaders we honour those under us; I warn and counsel the elders among you (the pastors and spiritual guides of the church) as a fellow elder and as an eyewitness [called to testify] of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a sharer in the glory (the honour and splendour) that is to be revealed (disclosed, unfolded):

Tend (nurture, guard, guide, and fold) the flock of God that is [your responsibility], not by coercion or constraint, but willingly; not dishonourably motivated by the advantages and profits [belonging to the office], but eagerly and cheerfully;

Not domineering [as arrogant, dictatorial, and overbearing persons] over those in your charge, but being examples (patterns and models of Christian living) to the flock (the congregation).

And [then] when the Chief Shepherd is revealed, you will win the [a]conqueror’s crown of glory.(1 Peter 5:1-4)

 

Be careful not to give dishonour to one another and to leaders; because when we do we shut down God’s flow of favour and blessings.

And coming to His own country [Nazareth], He taught in their synagogue so that they were amazed with bewildered wonder, and said, Where did this [u]Man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?

55 Is not this the carpenter’s Son? Is not His mother called Mary? And are not His brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas?

56 And do not all His sisters live here among us? Where then did this Man get all this?

57 And they took offense at Him [they were repelled and hindered from acknowledging His authority, and caused to stumble]. But Jesus said to them, A prophet is not without honour except in his own country and in his own house.

58 And He did not do many works of power there, because of their unbelief (their lack of faith [v]in the divine mission of Jesus).(Matt 13:54-58)

Let’s take note here, no honour – no favour – no miracles.

Respect is earned but honour is given and is not about the person as an individual but is about who they represent.

Here’s the one thing I would love you to do following this message: Build a culture of honour in your home.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. What kind of things do we sometimes say in the home to each other that are giving honour
  2. What kind of things do we sometimes say in the home to each other that are giving dishonour?
  3. How do you feel when someone honours you?
  4. How do you feel when someone dishonours you?
  5. How can you change the practice of honour in your home in a positive direction?

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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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LOVE INVESTS #4PMJim_Elliot

This month we have been preaching on Love Invests. It’s about making provision for the future so that others may live. Your money is your life. When you give financially you are giving part of your life. When someone loses faith and starts to move away from church, the very first thing that stops is their giving.

In our church 53 % of our congregation are tithers. That is, they give 10% or more of their finance to God through the church. In the Late Service only 23% of the congregation are tithers. Some more revelation needed there.

The greatest investment of all – you own life.

Matt 16:24-26  Then Jesus said to His disciples, If anyone desires to be My disciple, let him deny himself [disregard, lose sight of, and forget himself and his own interests] and take up his cross and follow Me [[p]cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying, also].

25 For whoever is bent on saving his [temporal] life [his comfort and security here] shall lose it [eternal life]; and whoever loses his life [his comfort and security here] for My sake shall find it [life everlasting].

26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life [his blessed [q]life in the kingdom of God]? Or what would a man give as an exchange for his [blessed] [r]life [in the kingdom of God]? (AMP)

Matt 16:24-26 Then Jesus went to work on his disciples. “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?(MESS)

The Jim Elliott Story

Jim” Elliot (October 8, 1927 – January 8, 1956) was an evangelical Christian who was one of five missionaries killed while participating in Operation Auca, an attempt to evangelize the Huaorani people of Ecuador.  The Elliot’s parents encouraged their children to be adventurous, and encouraged them to “live for Christ”.[4] While at Camp Wycliffe, The missionaries told him of the Huaorani – also called the “Auca”, the Quichua word for “savage” – a group of Ecuadorian indigenous people considered violent and dangerous to outsiders. Elliot remained unsure about whether to go to Ecuador or India until July. His parents and friends wondered if he might instead be more effective in youth ministry in the United States, but considering the home church “well-fed”, he felt that international missions should take precedence.[12]

Elliot and Fleming arrived in Ecuador on February 21, 1952, with the purpose of evangelizing Ecuador’s Quechua Indians. They first stayed in Quito, and then moved to the jungle. They took up residence at the Shandia mission station. On October 8, 1953, he married fellow Wheaton alumna and missionary Elisabeth Howard. Their only child, Valerie, was born February 27, 1955. While working with Quechua Indians, Elliot began preparing to reach the Huaorani.

Elliot and four other missionaries – Ed McCullyRoger YouderianPete Fleming, and their pilot, Nate Saint – made contact from their airplane with the Huaorani using a loudspeaker and a basket to pass down gifts. After several months, the men decided to build a base a short distance from the Indian village, along the Curaray River. There they were approached one time by a small group of Huaorani and even gave an airplane ride to one curious Huaorani whom they called “George” (his real name was Naenkiwi). Encouraged by these friendly encounters, they began plans to visit the Huaorani, without knowing that Naenkiwi had lied to the others about the missionaries’ intentions.[1] Their plans were preempted by the arrival of a larger group of about 10 Huaorani warriors, who killed Elliot and his four companions on January 8, 1956. Elliot’s body was found downstream, along with those of the other men, except that of Ed McCully which was found even farther downstream.

His journal entry for October 28, 1949, expresses his belief that work dedicated to Jesus was more important than his life (see Luke 9:24 in the Bible). “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” This is the quote that is most often attributed to Elliot.

You can Go to church, you can pray to Jesus and ask forgiveness of your sins, but Jesus is looking for true disciples who will lay down their life for Him. Some in death, others in life long service. What will it be for you?

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depositphotos_26593123-Gender-equality-sex-justice-3D-scales

In this nation of Australia, many would say that we are working on gender equality. Even many men would think it’s an ongoing process to give women the equality that should be part of a modern nation. Maybe we pride ourselves in thinking we are better than some other nations where women are treated as second rate citizens or worse. Yet in Australia gender inequality is probably more ingrained than we think.

Without even going to the inequalities that exist in rates of pay in most industries, we have the “in your face” evidence of Violence Against Women. How can we begin to think that we have some form of gender equality when one in five women suffer some form of violence from men? No good pointing the finger at those men who perpetrate Violence Against Women. This is my problem, this is a problem for all of us men. We must take ownership of this culture that allows, condones, or looks the other way when women are treated poorly.

Perhaps it isn’t as clear as it should be for some men. Violence Against Women (VAW) is fuelled by gender inequality. When violence Against Women takes place, it speaks loudly that the men who initiate violence see women as less valuable. They think that it’s OK to intimidate or control or let loose on them. This isn’t a case of rising violence in general. This is a unique and unhealthy pattern in our Aussie culture. The stats are bad enough to bring us to our senses. In Victoria last financial year we had 65,000 family incidents a rise of 8% in just one year. (see http://www.police.vic.gov.au/content.asp?a=internetBridgingPage&Media_ID=72176 ) Even worse, many authorities say that VAW is under reported by as much as five to one.

Just what goes on in the minds of some men when it comes to how they treat women? Is it that some men feel superior? Is it that they think a woman has less worth? Is it that they are insecure or threatened or believe women should be put in their place? How do we so easily forget that every woman is someone’s mother, or someone’s daughter? How would a man feel if another man degraded and devalued his daughter in the same way they do to their partner or any woman? Sexist remarks are not OK. Not recognising a woman’s contribution to a discussion simply because she is a woman is pathetic. What kind of environment are we building? Can we choose to empower and respect men and women alike as we work with them and associate with them?

Perhaps it begins in the school playground when a boy is called to “Stop acting like a girl.” This statement speaks about less than acceptable behaviour. These statements train a boy up to think that being a girl is less than acceptable. Are men violent just because they can? Being bigger or stronger most of the time is a pretty poor reason to exercise gratuitous violence. Why isn’t there a sense of wanting to protect someone who is physically more vulnerable?

Don’t misunderstand me, I am sure many women show amazing strength and have it all over the guys in endurance or tenacity and courage; but when walking down a dark street at night – does any woman feel safe? This should not be so! If we are so evolved, how can we fall back into “might is right”, or “I’ll take what I want” mentality. If we look at the worst cases of VAW, most of us are repulsed. But stop right there, all cases are fuelled by this ingrained streak that runs through Aussie society – we don’t value women as equal to men. Face it!

VAW is not just physical violence. VAW is defined as any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life.’ – United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women

Domestic violence refers to acts of violence that occur between people who have, or have had, an intimate relationship. While there is no single definition, the central element of domestic violence is an ongoing pattern of behaviour aimed at controlling a partner through fear, for example by using behaviour which is violent and threatening. In most cases, the violent behaviour is part of a range of tactics to exercise power and control over women and their children, and can be both criminal and non-criminal.

Domestic violence includes physical, sexual, emotional and psychological abuse.

Physical violence can include slaps, shoves, hits, punches, pushes, being thrown down stairs or across the room, kicking, twisting of arms, choking, and being burnt or stabbed. Sexual assault or sexual violence can include rape, sexual assault with implements, being forced to watch or engage in pornography, enforced prostitution, and being made to have sex with friends of the perpetrator.

Psychological and emotional abuse can include a range of controlling behaviours such as control of finances, isolation from family and friends, continual humiliation, threats against children or being threatened with injury or death. (See http://www.dss.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/08_2014/national_plan1.pdf)

I’m a man. What can I do about it? Be respectful of all women. If a woman is badly behaved – I have no right to commit a crime against her. Recognise that every person has value. Choose a mindset that gives value and worth to women just as I would to men. Work towards recognising aspects of inequality in the workplace, family environment, sporting club etc. Have a discussion with other men and stand up for the idea of equality. It’s a long road but we must make headway and change the culture of this great nation of Australia. I want to be proud of our nation and see it rise to its proper place as a nation where women are treated fairly and with respect. It’s for your mum, your partner and your daughter too!

 

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SLIDING ATTENDANCES

Going to church certainly looks different now compared to what it used to be years ago! Here’s the latest outlook for Australian church going at the moment.

From the McCrindle Research team – The proportion of Australians identifying Christianity as their religion has been declining over the last century – from 96% in 1911 to 61.1% in the 2011 Census. Over the last decade, Christianity in Australia has declined from 68% to 61.1%.  And while the latest Census (2011) results show that Christianity is the religion with which most Australians identify (61.1%), well above the second most popular religion in Australia, Buddhism (2.5%), less than one in seven of the Australians who ticked “Christianity” on their census form regularly attend a church. Australia has more churches (13,000) than schools (9,500), but only 8% of Australians attend a church service each week. Although Easter is a time of the year when church attendance increases, we see that many who say that they are Christians do not attend church.[4] Therefore for every Australian who nominates Christianity as their religious identity, just 1 in 8 (12.5%) of these participate in attendance activity (that’s monthly or more). The reasons are outlined in this graphic.[5]

Graph 1 Sliding Attendances

The decline in church attendance that has occurred in Australia over the past few decades is explained in the following chart which tracks the religious journeys of Australians. While around 1 in 4 were not raised as religious and still are not, and just over 1 in 4 were raised in a religious household and still are, the largest group of all (29%) are the “not now religious” category who were shaped in a religious household but are themselves not religious.

Graph 2 Sliding Attendances

CHURCH ATTENDANCE DECLINING BUT STILL SIGNIFICANT:

National Church Life Survey (NCLS) data shows that over the last four decades the proportion of Australians attending church at least once per month has more than halved from 36% (1972) to 13% currently. However this is still a significant proportion of the Australian population and indeed twice as many Australians attend church at least once per month (3.495m) as attend all AFL, NRL, A League and Super Rugby games combined per month (1.684m) during the football season.[1]

A survey of 1718 Australians, conducted by the Christian Research Association at the end of 2009, found that 16 per cent attended a religious service at least once a month, compared with 23 per cent in 1993.[2]

In 2014 Roy Morgan Research announced that they had surveyed 4840 Australians between October and December 2013 to poll religious affiliation, and found that 52.6% of Australians were Christian, while 37.6% had no religion.[3]

From NCLS research:

Graph 3 - Sliding Attendances

THE OTHER TREND

The other trend in attendances is that regular attenders are coming less regularly. For example the percentage who attend weekly is dropping and the percentage who attend fornightly or once every three or four weeks is rising. This trend has shown up continuously over the lat 15 years. No doubt the busyness of people’s lifestyles and activity has led to “committed Christians” being part of a church but only coming once, twice or three times a month instead of weekly or even twice a week which might have been the norm in the 70’s and 80’s.

FROM MY CHRISTIAN DAILY [7]

Quote. “It’s not that fewer total members attend church. They just don’t attend as often,” explained an associate pastor of a church where attendance has dipped.

This phenomenon reflects a change in what Christians mean when they say they’re “regular” church attenders. Not long ago, that meant attending church three or four times a month, and certainly half the time. Now, it can mean showing up once a month or even once every six weeks. This poses multiple challenges for churches.

The deepest is spiritual growth. That’s not to say a Christians cannot mature spiritually on her own. But as with other disciplines, Christians excel in the company of others. When church members skip small group and worship, they miss out on opportunities to be challenged and inspired – and mutually encouraged.

The writer of Hebrews provides wise counsel:

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another …” (10:23-25).

Other challenges are practical: Many Christians do not give when they do not attend, so budgets suffer when folks skip church. This can have a big impact on how the local church can provide staff and services and cover building costs.

Also, churches run on volunteers, and when members don’t attend, operating vital programs and ministries is difficult, if not impossible. And don’t forget morale. Empty pews are depressing.

Members miss church for myriad reasons. You know them. They range from kids’ sports, to work, to aging parents’ health, to the lure of leisure. But the bottom line is assembling together at church isn’t the priority it once was.

So, what do we do?

Guilting people back into the pews won’t work. In fact, it’s more likely to drive them further away.

Entertaining them isn’t the answer, either. If attendance depends upon entertainment, then it will slide faster. Churches shouldn’t even see themselves as competing with big media presentation or Hollywood or major sporting events, however consumers are used to a high level of impact in the visual sensory media.

Several approaches come to mind:

  • Help parents to think about the example they set for their own children. Let’s face it, our kids will end up living the life we set by example for them. We communicate values to them, not by what we say, but by what we do. As our children are growing up if we are only in church monthly due to sport, visiting, grandma, doing the yard, a day at the beach etc. etc. then what we are communicating to them is that God’s House and worshipping with God’s people is less important than all those other things that you as a family do on the weekends. Later when they grow to become teenagers they will more than likely make a choice not to attend church at all because they see no value in it. The tragic results of this poor choice of values is that our kids may not make it to heaven because we did not live out the values we once held to.  It’s true that following Jesus is more than attending church, however, it’s all about who you associate with. If you hang out at children’s ministry, then church youth group, then young adult’s ministry; you’re probably going to form friendships and alliances with people who have godly values and aspirations. Or would you rather all your kids form strong friendship groups with non-Christian secular and humanistic groups and learn their values?
  • Make the links for members high value. Coming to a service might be the obvious connection, but so is attending a small group, or being part of a regular business breakfast etc. Whatever connection a person makes, endeavour to facilitate discipleship within that context so that the member keeps growing in their walk with Christ. If giving is not normally a part of that connection then be intentional about helping them to see that value and give either on line or through an app or donation page so that their faith in giving is following a growth pattern also. If families are working Sunday and are time poor then other ways of connecting can be provided and valued.
  • Feed aspirations. The reason many people say they attend church more often than they actually do is because they want to attend more often. (See the first part of this article) Affirm that aspiration. Call people to a higher spiritual level – not because you want them there, but because God has placed that desire in their hearts. Help them see their longing is God’s way of loving them, drawing them close.
  • Think outside the (Sunday morning) box. Provide other options for “being” church besides parking in the same lot and converging on the same building for one or two hours every Sunday. Create and bless other times and places and opportunities for church members to assemble to study the Bible, pray, fellowship, worship and minister.
  • Harness technology. Chances are, practically every member of your church age 13 and older carries a personal connector with them wherever they go. It’s a smart phone, and it can provide bountiful spiritual applications. Brad Russell, senior editor of Baptist Standard Publishing’s FaithVillage.com, has written a fascinating paper “tracing the trends and issues that inform how the church can leverage new technology.”[6] Unquote. (Words in italics are the blog authors writing)

Our heart for this nation of Australia to experience God’s love and His salvation through faith in Christ is always going to lead us to prayer and also to a strong confidence that God has His plan for this nation. My observation is that church leaders are working harder than ever before, and showing  a high level of innovation to bring the message of the gospel to this new world that is ever changing. Let there be a renewed vision for prayer, a bigger challenge made to church members to lead in ways that show Australians that we have the answer in Jesus Christ; and also deepen our love for the church and remember it will become His bride without spot or wrinkle. The trend of sliding attendances may be a trend that’s hard to arrest but let’s be innovative about making church relevant to this generation and also renew the call for deeper commitment to the great commission. – Pastor Craig Anderson, a pastor within INC with 34 years of fulltime ministry experience.

[1] http://www.mccrindle.com.au/the-mccrindle-blog/a-demographic-snapshot-of-christianity-and-church-attenders-in-australia

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irreligion_in_Australia

[3] “Christians in Australia nearing minority status as religious affiliation declines sharply since 2011”

[4] http://blog.mccrindle.com.au/the-mccrindle-blog/church_attendance_in_australia_infographic

[5] http://mccrindle.com.au/the-mccrindle-blog/calendar/2013/3/

[6] http://abpnews.com/opinion/commentaries/item/28852-how-do-we-respond-to-slumping-church-attendance

[7] http://www.mychristiandaily.com/index.php/feature/10974-how-do-we-respond-to-slumping-church-attendance#sthash.fbEcWjoe.dpuf

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LOVE HONOURS #2AM – MOTHER’S DAYLove Honours A

A WORD TO THE WISE – GUYS

Who do we celebrate? The hall of famers we celebrate as guys is often the sports heroes that have distinguished themselves with amazing achievements and courage to persevere.

Just think who we talk about the most – who we honour as our legends…

Maybe golfer Adam Scott who could possibly be world no. 1 within weeks.

What about The Don, Don Bradman, with a monster Test average of 99.94, more than 50% better than the closest retired batsman Graeme Pollock’s 60.97.

And even though he retired in 1948, Don Bradman is still the only Australian batsman to pass 100 first-class centuries with 117, the closest Justin Langer with 86, Darren Lehmann 82, Mark Waugh 81, Steve Waugh 79, Matt Hayden 79, and Stuart Law 79.

Maybe Marjorie Jackson who in the 1952 Olympics created history as the first Australian woman to win the sprint double – the 100 and 200.

Or in 1956 Olympics when Betty Cuthbert went one better with the 100, 200, and relay and eight years later added a fourth gold with victory in the inaugural 400.

Rome 1960 and the magnificent 1500 run by Herb Elliott. And Sydney 2000, when Cathy Freeman stopped the nation with her 400 gold.

Heather McKay who won 16 successive British squash Opens from 1962 to 1977.

Rod Laver won two Grand Slams, 1962 as an amateur, and 1969 as a pro, the only two-timer, Margaret Court won her Grand Slam in 1970.

Kay Cottee was the first women to sail single-handedly and non-stop around the world, it took her 189 days in 1988 and was named Australian of the Year.

Cadel Evans’ 2011 Tour de France win is right up there, with thanks to Phil Anderson for hanging in there in the early days to give Australia some recognition.

Jimmy Carruthers in boxing, The Americas Cup win in 1983, for John Bertrand, Queensland’s seven-year State of Origin domination from 2006 deserves special mention, so too the 1991 and 1999 Rugby World Cup victories.

I could go on!

But for most of us there’s someone right here at home we need to honour as a person of real courage and perseverance. – Your mother and /or your wife!

Let’s face it who could put up with you for this long without bringing out the knives or turning into a blubbering mess with sheer frustration?

A couple of weeks ago our guest speaker Marcus Ardern mentioned how his friend Ray Comfort when he had his first child, was struggling with sleepless nights and frustrating times and wrote to his mother and said thanks for not drowning me in a bucket when I was a baby!

Three times in the gospel story Jesus refers to the commandment that we are to honour our father and mother, making it a high priority in the journey of pleasing God. Ephesians calls it the first commandment with promise, saying Honour your Father and mother that your days may be long in the earth. I haven’t figured out yet if your days are longer because your father and mother didn’t kill you or if there’s a blessing of God that comes upon an honouring child that gives them long life!

Today being mother’s day throws the spotlight on the importance of honouring our mothers and just as importantly helping our kids to honour their mothers. Men, is there honour in your home? To put perspective on this subject of honour, what we are teaching this month is that Love Honours. That means that we see a tremendous importance of honour as a kingdom value and that value flows across the church and the home. Where there is honour, there is the blessing and favour of God; hence the reference to longer lives when we honour father and mother.

Let’s take a look at this scene from that famous Australian movie called “The Castle” The movie is meant to be a comedy and quintessentially Australian culture or perhaps we should say Bogan culture. (The scene is about the dinner table conversation where Darryl Kernigan, the dad, is appreciative of mums cooking and the kids see a great example of valuing the mum’s effort)

Sadly such a scene might seem make believe in many homes around the nation in recent times where getting everyone together at the dinner table seems like a lost art. I love this scene because Dad leads the way in valuing mums effort as simple as it may seem. This is honour and it comes from love. Let’s rehearse again what honour is: Honour means to value, to give weight, to esteem, to count as precious, to give worth and recognition to. In contrast to that, dishonour means to be familiar, to take for granted, to count as being worth less, to ignore and to be rude.

Where is the put down in your home? Is there a culture in your home of devaluing words directed at mum? In so many homes around the nation, not only do we see hurtful and harmful words spoken to wives and mothers but we see open violence perpetrated on an increasing scale. The definition of family violence includes verbal abuse, – “Family and domestic violence is any violent, threatening, coercive or controlling behaviour that occurs in current or past family, domestic or intimate relationships. This includes not only physical injury but direct or indirect threats, sexual assault, emotional and psychological torment, economic control, damage to property, social isolation and any behaviour which causes a person to live in fear.” – DHS Victoria. http://www.dhs.vic.gov.au/for-individuals/children,-families-and-young-people/family-violence/what-is-family-violence

Is there dishonour in your home? Guys, do not tolerate it. Do you treat your wife with honour? Do your children and teens treat their mother with honour?

Romans 12:10 Love one another with brotherly affection [as members of one family], giving precedence and showing honour to one another.

MY STORY – Growing up I had no dad, and so I had an attitude that I needed to help my mother because it was hard for her. Nevertheless I dishonoured her a few times, like when the police brought me home one day for riding a motorbike on the road unlicensed at 14 years of age. In my home I have watched over the conversations so that my four sons kept their words honourable towards their mother.

Ephes 5:33 However, let each man of you [without exception] love his wife as [being in a sense] his very own self; and let the wife see that she respects and reverences her husband.

1 Pet 3:7 In the same way you married men should live considerately with [your wives], with an intelligent recognition [of the marriage relation], honouring the woman as [physically] the weaker, but [realizing that you] are joint heirs of the grace (God’s unmerited favor) of life, in order that your prayers may not be hindered and cut off. [Otherwise you cannot pray effectively.]

THE JESUS STORY

Of course we would expect Jesus to honour His own mother, but where would we see hat example? Perhaps in the story at the cross.

John 19:25-27 But by the cross of Jesus stood His mother, His mother’s sister, Mary the [wife] of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.

26 So Jesus, seeing His mother there, and the disciple whom He loved standing near, said to His mother, [[b]Dear] woman, See, [here is] your son!

27 Then He said to the disciple, See, [here is] your mother! And from that hour, the disciple took her into his own [keeping, own home].

 

WHY WE MUST LOVE AND HONOUR OUR WIVES AND MOTHERS

A study on women’s work responsibilities in May 2103 showed they put in a huge effort! http://tinyurl.com/leblfoo

Wondering why you’re tired all the time? It could be that you’re overworked. Not necessarily by your employer, but by both the paid and unpaid hours you’re putting in to get stuff done at home and in the office.

Australian women are still spending around twice as many hours on child care and household duties than men, even once women increase their time in paid employment.

A fact sheet prepared by the Australian Institute of Families Studies for the National Families Week conference this week breaks down the gender differences between mothers and fathers when it comes to paid and unpaid work.

It found these differences are particularly obvious during the childbearing years, with the biggest divide in the average time spent on paid work, parenting and household tasks occurring between mothers and fathers of children under five.

Mums working full-time with a youngest child under five were found to be spending an additional 3.6 hours on child care and 2.4 hours on housework a day. For part-time mums, the figure extended to 4.9 hours on child care and 3.5 hours on housework, while those not in paid employment were spending 5.7 hours on child care and 4.5 hours on housework.

So for those mums working an eight hour day in paid employment, factor in the child care and household work and she’s working a 14 hour day. That’s not including commuting time, and the extra unpaid overtime she may be putting in at the office. All up, that means she’s working a 70 hour week – also not factoring in any additional duties completed over the weekend.

Unsurprisingly, the report found working mothers were more likely than any other group to feel pressed for time, with 62% of such women declaring they’re almost always, or often, rushed or pressed for time. Just 6% of employed women with children reported they’re rarely or never rushed for time.

Dads step up only slightly when mums are in full-time work, spending 2.6 hours on child care and 1.8 hours a day on housework compared to the 2.1 hours on childcare and 1.3 they spend when mums were not working.

In households with a mother, father and children under 12, Dads were found to rarely be undertaking the child care tasks alone – with mums staying home more often when their kids were ill, while dads were getting involved during more-shared tasks, such as getting the children ready for bed.

Still, despite feeling pressed for time, Australian employees are generally satisfied with employment flexibility, according to comments made by AIFS’ Senior Researcher Dr Jennifer Baxter in the report.

“Employed men and women reported quite high levels of satisfaction with the flexibility they had to balance work and non-work commitments,” she said.

“Around six in ten employed men and women reported being very satisfied about their job flexibility. The most satisfied were those who said they could access flexible start and finish times.”

 

DISHONOUR IN YOUR HOME?

What does a put down look like?  Sometimes we don’t realise what power our words have. We may use words that devalue the gift that God has given us.

See if any of these statements have filled the air in your home, whether from your lips or your kids.

“Oh that’s rubbish! Where did you get that from? You’re an idiot!”

“You spent how much? What do you think I’m made of money? #Expletive#”

“Come on, hurry up. I’ve been waiting for hours! We are going to be late. If you’re not ready in five, I’m going without you.”

“I hate spaghetti bolognaise, do I have to eat it? We have it nearly every night”

“No I’m not watching that #expletive# If you want to watch that go and find yourself another TV set.”

“No I don’t want to go and see your mother this weekend. It’s so boring there I nearly died last time, make up some excuse.”

Guys, you’re the head of the home. You’re in charge of the culture that is set there. Even if your home has been broken through separation, don’t bow to common culture but keep honour there. Bring value to your mother, and your wife and help your kids to bring honour to their own mother. In the next two weeks we are going to look at how we would bring honour where father or mother has been unworthy of it.

1. Is there Honour in your home?

2. Instead of thinking “My home is doing OK” Let’s think of ways we can improve the Honour in our homes.

3. What conversations need to change in your home so that people honour one another and especially children honour parents?

4. What example do we set to our children as we practice Honour for those in authority like police, politicians, and teachers?

5. How does honour look in your home when discussing church leaders?

 

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LOVE ANOTHER  5PMonline dating

LOVE ONLINE

FINDING LOVE

Proverbs 18:22 The Message (MSG) – Find a good spouse, you find a good life —
and even more: the favour of God!

Dating websites abound. Figures released last week from Fairfax-owned RSVP’s annual Date of the Nation report show Australians have reached a tipping point – 51 per cent of us have tried finding love online or would consider it a viable match-making option. While not a direct comparison, the same report in 2010 showed that just 25 per cent of Australians had used online dating. Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/life/online-dating-the-marriage-maker-20130709-2pmv0.html#ixzz2xPlp7MAu

What is the reason? People find it hard to find a friend because they don’t know who’s looking and they hate rejection. Perhaps the stigma attached to it has largely gone, with the surge due to our increasingly time-poor, technology-driven lives and the fact online dating is now an accepted part of popular culture. Now we are over the 50 per cent mark, it’s really suggesting it’s becoming commonplace.

The upside. Quality websites that have a good reputation do personality matching. You have a much higher chance of meeting someone that firstly wants a relationship and secondly is more suited to you. American survey released last month of 19,000 people, which showed those who met their partners online were happier and less likely to divorce.

The downside. It’s only works if the person has been honest. You can meet someone who takes you down. If you’re easily influenced then it’s dangerous for you. When you go online with your personal details, there is only a 1 in 6 chance a man will respond to a woman’s message regardless of her age. [44]; however the average man has only a 1 in 25 chance a woman will respond to his message on a dating site. [44]; and 54% of dating site users have found someone who has misrepresented themselves in their dating profile. [49]

Long distance relationships. What if Mr. Right lives in Bolivia? If Miss Right lives in California?

It can be very expensive.

The stats are on your side if you use a reputable website and you are prepared to stick at it and meet a few people.

DANGEROUS LOVE

Love is dangerous on the net when:

  1. You are looking for relationship and you meet a predator.  Recently a world-wide porn ring was busted and some victims were Australia teens. http://www.echo.net.au/2014/03/aust-victims-massive-us-child-porn-ring/
  2. Pornography gets a grip on you. The stats for porn use among teens and adults in Australia is high and rising. Strangely the porn use addiction is much worse among Christians than among non Christians. The Christian psychologist and internationally known speaker Robi Sonderegger reports that studies on the human brain show that addictions are harder to break when the victim suffers shame and guilt. The non- Christian may actually believe there’s nothing wrong with watching porn as long they keep it under control. However very authentic Christian believer knows the word of God has string warnings against un cleanses and sexual immorality. This means that once the Christian crosses the line in temptation,the guilt and shame that kicks in almost guarantees that the victim will go back to those prohibited images. http://phot-o-live.livejournal.com/83819.html
  3. Bullying takes away love. When your communications on line are not building you up – take decisive action. The bully hides behind a made up identity or they may be a real person but they hide behind a remote screen where they think what they says is funny or makes them feel bigger. When you get bullied, do this…
    1. Tell someone, show someone the comment. Never walk through this alone.
    2. Record the comment.
    3. Warn the bully, it’s not appropriate, if it continues you will take action.
    4. If it continues, unfriend, block, and remove the link in what ever way you can.
    5. If they continue someway, call the local police and report the bullying and show the recordings you have (screenshots etc)

 

SHARING LOVE

When sharing love the best way to get a read on someone is face to face, then phone call, then written. What you see written online has potential to be misread. A text or Facebook comment does not contain facial expression, body language, or tone of voice. That means that when you share your love and friendship online it needs to be very clear.

Dont just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. (Romans 12:9, 10 NLT)

If you’re going to vent, never make it personal. You can say you’re ticked with the MYKI system but not with an individual.   Why are people sometimes so rude online? The Wall Street Journal shows some research about it here: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10000872396390444592404578030351784405148

We’re less inhibited online because we don’t have to see the reaction of the person we’re addressing, says Sherry Turkle, psychologist and Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor of the social studies of science and technology. Because it’s harder to see and focus on what we have in common, we tend to dehumanize each other, she says.

Astoundingly, Dr. Turkle says, many people still forget that they’re speaking out loud when they communicate online.

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