The Gospel Heals Families

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The ABC has been making misleading reports about how evangelical men are the most likely to abuse their wives. It’s simply not true. The report actually said that men who occasionally attend an evangelical church are more likely to engage in violence than men who don’t attend church- that’s a whole different bunch of information. But the ABC  never lets the facts stand in the way of a good opportunity to bash christians.

Here is a different view from movemenets.net

Recently the (Australian) ABC reported that the men most likely to beat their wives were evangelicals. It’s not true, they made it up. There is no evidence. What evidence exists points to the transforming power of the gospel.

In the US, Conservative Protestant men who attend church regularly are found to be the least likely group to engage in domestic violence.

Marxist feminist Elizabeth Brusco set out to study the impact of evangelical conversion on family life in Columbia. Here’s what she discovered by careful research:

The asceticism required of evangelicals brings about change in the behavior of male converts, particularly in relation to the machismo complex in Latin America. Drinking, smoking, and extramarital sexual relations are forbidden. By redirecting into the household the resources spent on these things, such changes have the effect of raising the standard of living of women and children who are in varying degrees dependent on the income of these men.

My data on Colombian evangelical households support the conclusion reached by virtually every other analyst of Latin American Pentecostalism, that is, that conversion of both a woman and her husband improves the material circumstances of the household. Quite simply, no longer is 20 to 40 percent of the household budget consumed by the husband in the form of alcohol. Ascetic codes block many of the other extra-household forms of consumption that characterize masculine behavior in Colombia: in addition to drinking, smoking, gambling, and visiting prostitutes are no longer permitted.

Furthermore, an emphasis on male as well as female fidelity within marriage prohibits a man from keeping a woman other than his wife, and so a man’s limited resources are no longer split among two or more households dependent on his wage.

In re-forming male values to be more consistent with female ones (i.e., oriented toward the family rather than toward individualistic consumption) the movement provides a “strategic” challenge to the prevailing form of sexual subordination in Colombia. [pp 5-6]

Bruscho concludes:

The tangible changes and improvement in the standard of living of women and children in dependent households is only a symptom or an indicator of something much more remarkable that is happening.

With conversion, machismo is replaced by evangelical belief as the main determinant of husband-wife relations. The machismo role and the male role defined by evangelicalism are almost diametrical opposites . Aggression, violence, pride, self-indulgence, and an individualistic orientation in the public sphere are replaced by peace seeking, humility, self-restraint, and a collective orientation and identity with the church and the home. [p 139]

Read the article here

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Economics 101

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Maybe I’m turning into that Grumpy Old Man that nobody likes, but I am so frustrated by so-called experts who spout absolute nonsense in the media, and nobody even bats an eyelid much less call them to account.

This morning on “AM” there was a piece about unemployment remaining stubbornly high and people taking cuts to wages. Those who do have work (full time or casual) are feeling insecure about their work situation.

The obvious problem affecting employment is that the cost of employing people is higher than the extra returns businesses get by employing more people. If it costs more to employ someone that you get in return, you will either employ fewer people or reduce their wages. That is why cutting penalty rates for weekend work is a good idea and may actually lead to more people getting weekend work and in the longer term wages going up.

The reverse situation is that if you can see that employing an extra person will generate more profit than the cost of employing them, of course you will put on more workers.

So what did the “expert” give as the solution? Get out and spend! If you feel worried about your job security get out there and boost the economy.

To see how stupid that idea is, just consider that if that were an anxious employee a thing you could do would be to support your employer. If you spend all your pay at your boss’s shop that should help him to pay you more, right? Well not exactly. The wages the employer pays come out of the profit margin not out of the total price. I spend $100 in the shop the employer might only have $20 extra to put back into employing someone, or into paying me more.  The other $80 goes into buying the products, electricity, insurance, taxes, rent etc.

The correct answer to increasing employment is that we all need to save more, not spend more. Put the money in the bank, invest in shares, whatever. When you do that it provides money for the most efficient enterprises to invest in their business and make employees more productive and allow them to employ more people.

Running an economy on the sugar hit of consumption spending just gives it a bit of a sugar hit but makes it slow and flabby in the long run. Increasing savings is like the high fibre diet that we know will make us healthier in the long term, but seems no fun at the beginning.

Oh and the other good thing the government could do for the economy is cut its spending way back so that it  no longer runs at a loss every year, then cut taxes so that people are free to spend or save the way they see fit. Yes there would be an increase in unemployment in the short term, but business would quickly take up the slack and increase productivity and employment.

It’s not going to happen any time soon. Not as long as people think you spend your way to prosperity.

Networking For Cell Leaders

Here is a post I have written for Joel Comiskey’s blog.

 

Cell Networking

I pastor a non-denominational church in a small town that is a long way from a large city. Of the nine congregations in my town, ours is the only one consciously using the cell church model. It has been many years since I was able to attend a cell church conference.

There are many reasons why it would be easy to just remain isolated and try to do my own thing. But to stop getting into the wrong habits I need to keep checking that I am on the right track by interacting with other people.

Modern technology makes it easier to connect even when we are separated geographically. It’s not quite the same as meeting face to face, but it does help me when I read what other people around the world are doing in their cell ministries.

I love this blog at joelcomiskeygroup.com and I regularly read the posts by Joel Comiskey and his team. The web-site at smallgroupchurches.com is a treasure trove of resources for group leaders.

On facebook I administer a cell churches group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/cellchurches/) which was started to help cell church leaders share with one another and encourage one another. With over 300 members from around the world it has a wealth of knowledge and experience. While it has been a little slow lately, this group does have great discussions from time to time.

I love reading books by people like Joel Comiskey, Ralph Neighbour, Scott Boren and others. They help to remind me of the goal of our groups (to make disciples who love God, love people and make disciples) They also throw up ideas that I have not thought of before.

Sometimes just meeting with our own cell leaders or visiting different cell groups gives me insight into the various ways that other leaders run with the overall vision of cell ministry. A few weeks ago we dedicated our cell leaders meeting to prayer. I was blown away by the enthusiasm and bold praying of this group of ten people and encouraged in my own prayer life.

Of these different sources of encouragement and connection, what works best for you?

Understanding Muslim Obsession With Israel

If you have ever wondered why the Arab world is obsessed with destroying Israel, even at the expense of its own people, this article by Melanie Phillips will turn on the lights for you. It is all driven by honour and shame, and in particular the role the Jews had in being suitable victims of shame to enhance the honour of Arabs. She quotes at length an article by Professor Richard Landes. A long article but worth reading.

Fatah, headed by Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas, has called for a “day of rage” tomorrow.

This is ostensibly to protest against the metal detectors which the Israeli government has installed at Temple Mount in Jerusalem. That was in response to last Sunday’s attack there by two Israeli Arabs. Already armed, they burst from the compound and murdered two Israeli Druze police officers, leaving a third officer injured.

Dozens have already been hurt overnight in violent demonstrations against the police in both the Temple Mount area and in east Jerusalem, with Arab youths throwing stones at officers and setting dumpsters on fire. According to Jerusalem’s police commissioner Yoram Halevi, many of those who took part in the rioting were encouraged to do so by the provocative statements being made by the Palestinian leadership.

You don’t say.

It’s the usual story. Arabs are incited to attack Jews by mendacious claims (made by Abbas, amongst others) that the Jews are attacking Muslim holy site; Arabs launch murderous attack on Israelis from said Muslim holy site; Israelis take security measures around said Muslim holy site to defend against further such attacks; Arabs claim these defensive security measure are further attack on Muslim holy site; Arabs incite further attacks on Israelis in protest at presumed attack on holy site; and on and on.

The Israelis’ real crime, in the Arabs’ eyes, is to assert control of any kind on Temple Mount. The Arabs have threatened to unleash world war if Jews were ever to have free access to it or in any way alter the status quo. That status quo means Jews have their access to Temple Mount heavily restricted and are not even allowed to pray on it.

This despite the fact that, as the site of the original Jewish Temple, it is the holiest place of all for religious Jews. The Arab and Muslim belligerency over Temple Mount is not just an attack on Israel but on Judaism itself.

Read the full article here

Reflection on Genesis 28:10-19

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Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+28.10-19

Scripture

Jacob woke from his sleep and said, “Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.”

Observation

Jacob comes to a certain place and lies down for the night. He dreams of a ladder reaching from earth to heaven and angels ascending and descending on it.

The Lord appears to Jacob and repeats His promises to Abraham and Isaac. These are promises of land, offspring and blessing.

Jacob wakes from his sleep and says, “Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place and I did not know it. This place is the house of God.” He anoints the stone he slept on and names the place Bethel, that is house of God.

Application

We christians have the Holy Spirit in us, and so every place we go is Bethel, for we are each one the house of God.

There are times when the Lord surprises us, perhaps speaking to us or acting for us in ways we did not expect.

The presence of God becomes obvious to us in these moments. Every day in all that we do, we should try to be aware of God. He is with us in all the moments of all our days.

Many years ago a monk known as Brother Lawrence wrote a book called “Practising the Presence of God.” The title itself is a clue- we need to practise listening and discerning God’s presence with us in the minutiae of daily life.

We can learn to take the opportunities to seek out the Lord in our daily routines. I know of one lady who assigns a prayer point to each household task. Others take a minute each hour to stop and ask “Lord what are you saying to me right now?”

It is so easy to miss appointments with God when we lose ourselves in the world. We need to seek out God in the unlikely places of our lives and declare with Jacob, “Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place.”

Prayer

Father in heaven, help me to seek you in everything I do. Please reveal yourself to me in my daily life. Amen.

The Slippery Slope of Doctor Who

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They’ve been hinting it for 6 months, and last night the BBC announced that the next actor to play Doctor Who will be a woman, Jodie Whittaker.

And once again the show slides down the ramp of political commentary until enough viewers stop watching it and it gets canned.

We are already going there with Season 10 with the explicitly lesbian companion Bill Potts and anti-capitalist episodes such as “Oxygen”. When any TV show stops telling stories and turns into some sort of leftist political soap opera it becomes boring and people turn off.

You only have to go back to the reasons why the original Doctor Who creaked to a halt. It was the same political bent that killed it in the 1980’s.  Then it was the  anti-capitalist, anti-Thatcher propaganda that produced boring story lines.

I am sure that Jodie Whittaker is a great actress. She might even turn into a great Doctor Who. If casting a female Doctor Who is about seeing how far they can stretch the character, that’s great. But if the producers  are following an “agenda” instead of making great drama the end is near.