Reflection on Matthew 16:21-27

matthew-16

Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=book+ch.vs

Scripture

Get behind me Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”

Observation

Jesus begins to talk seriously about His suffering and crucifixion. Peter takes Him aside and says, “This must not happen to you Lord.” But Jesus responds with, “Get behind me Satan!”

Jesus then tells the disciples that in order to follow Him, they must take up their own cross and die to themselves. To seek to save our own life is to lose it, but to lose our life for His sake is to gain life.

Application

Peter thought he had it all worked out. Jesus was the Messiah, and He would usher in a new kingdom of prosperity in Israel. When Jesus started talking about being crucified, Peter was appalled and started to rebuke Jesus.

Peter could not see that God’s plan was different and far greater than he could imagine. He was seeing from man’s perspective rather than God’s.

We find it hard to break out of our mental strongholds to see our life from God’s perspective. We are surrounded by a culture that is focused on the here and now and which often denies God’s purpose completely.

The thought of dying to ourselves to follow God is nice in theory. In practice we want one foot in the Kingdom and the other in the world. Like Peter, we are always hoping that Jesus will avoid the cross this time.

I need to learn to die to my plans and ambitions, my dreams and visions. Instead I need to follow Jesus day by day, step by step. I need to do this without trying to impose my agenda on Him.

Being totally subservient to the Lord’s plans is a tough walk in an age of self-promotion. This is the path we are called to walk.

Prayer

Lord please show me the parts of my life that are filled with the plans of men rather than the plans of God. Give me grace to walk in your ways. Amen.

Reflection on Romans 12:9-21

romans12

Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans+12.9-21

Scripture

Outdo one another in showing honour.

Observation

This machine-gun list of commands come down to the practicalities of living the christian life each day.

We should hate what is evil and love what is good. We should love other christians and contribute to their needs,

We are to extend that love to those who persecute or curse us. We must bless them and not curse. We must not seek revenge, but leave that to the Lord. If our enemies are hungry we must feed them; if they are thirsty give them something to drink.

Application

We must be people who not only live honourable lives, but also excel in giving honour to one another.

We live in an age where honour is conditional and limited. We honour sports champions as long as they keep winning. We honour political leaders as long as they are on our side.

Many people spend a life-time quietly and humbly serving their community, but are ignored or taken for granted.

Even churches are loathe to honour leaders and servants. Pastors are criticised rather than lifted up. Other churches and denominations easily receive criticism.

This week the city of Houston in the United States is being pummelled by a hurricane and the subsequent flooding. Some people were quick to criticise Joel Osteen for not opening his church building as a refuge. It turns out that they offered their facility to the city as a last resort because it was feared that it could become subject to flooding also. We can be so eager to assume bad motives to other people.

Outdo one another in showing honour.” This must start with me. How can I express honour to the people around me, especially the one I don’t get along with?

Prayer

Lord may I become a person who builds up not criticises others. Show me how to honour my brothers and sisters, even my enemies. Amen.

The Truth About Same Sex “Marriage”

The Spectator comes up with some unspoken truths about Same Sex “Marriage”

But it’s all about equality, right?

31 August 2017

7:28 AM

We are in the middle of a storm of misinformation as the plebiscite on same-sex marriage draws near. Who do we believe?

George Brandis, who tells us everything will be fine and that those who have religious objections have nothing to worry about? The Greens, who say that the majority of Aussies want to redefine marriage but don’t want us to vote in a plebiscite because they’re afraid that we the people will say something different to the social media Twitterati, or Bill Shorten, who claims that any disagreement with same-sex marriage would only unleash hate, vilification and bigotry?

Along with a huge proportion of the mainstream media, the leader of the opposition has been caught out in ‘stretching the truth’ with their inaccurate reporting of having personally witnessed homophobic posters that were supposed to have been plastered all over the streets of Melbourne recently. Network Ten, in particular, were exposed by the ABC’s Media Watch for, by their own admission, a “creative” presentation of the facts by intentionally doctoring images made to look like they were being prominently placed on bus stop shelters.

To be honest, I don’t believe any of them. However, there is one person I believe. And, interestingly, she comes from the Marriage Equality side: Marsha Gessen, a lesbian political activist.

Gessen really let the genie of deliberate public deception out of the bottle all the way back in 2012 when she told the Sydney Writer’s Festival:

Fighting for gay marriage generally involves lying about what we are going to do with marriage when we get there. Because we lie that the institution of marriage is not going to change. And that is a lie.

We should have woken up to the alarm bell then but here we are, five years later, and the campaign for marriage ‘equality’ is lying more than ever in at least three different ways.

First, they want to redefine what marriage is. Everyone assumes that they just want to get married like the rest of us. But for many homosexual people, lifelong sexual fidelity is neither a reality nor an ideal. For instance, the psychiatrist and physicist Jeffrey Satinover writes: “One of the most carefully researched studies of the most stable homosexual pairs, The Male Couple, was researched and written by two people who are themselves a homosexual couple – a psychiatrist and a psychologist. Its investigators found that of the 156 couples studied, only seven had maintained sexual fidelity; of the hundred couples that had been together for more than five years, none had been able to maintain sexual fidelity.”

Why not be honest then and admit that what the LGBTIQ community mean by the term ‘marriage’ is not what everyone else does? Why mess with a proven and trusted social institution and turn it into something else? So, if you want to vote “yes” in the upcoming plebiscite then just know that you’re not voting for an exclusive sexual commitment of ‘love’ as most people assume, but something altogether different to what marriage historically means.

Second, they lie about what redefining marriage means for the rest of society. For example, approximately 12 months after the referendum on same-sex marriage in Ireland religious exemptions that had previously been promised were suddenly withdrawn.

In the U.S. state of Massachusetts gay marriage has been legal since 2004. Almost fifteen years on and the effects are being felt in every sphere of the community; schools, businesses, the legal system, politics, adoption agencies, hospitals and churches. Not a single area of society is left untouched. But just take the example of adoption agencies for instance. Not only are 50 per cent of all adoptions in Massachusetts now to gay couples, but if you disagree with the LGBTIQ juggernaut then you are ruled ineligible and, as such, Christian adoption agencies have been forced to close.

What this means practically is not just the abolition of free thought but a 50 per cent increase in same-sex behaviour amongst children, invasive medical procedures for people to reshape their genitals and the transgender affirmative action of boys being able to use girl’s bathrooms as well as to participate on their sporting teams. But it’s all still about ‘equality’, right?

Just this past week across the pond, the New Zealand-based family organisation, Family First NZ, was served a notice by the national Charities Registration Board that it intends to deregister the organisation. The board says Family First’s promotion of its views about marriage and the traditional family “cannot be determined to be for the public benefit in a way previously accepted as charitable”.

What’s more, contrary to what the Australian Medical Association recently claimed (based on a single study, from a single clinic, in a single city in the U.S. 14 years ago), that redefining marriage improves “overall health outcomes among LGBTIQ populations” the reality is that this is patently false. For example, in an ultra-tolerant country like Sweden, the rate of suicide among same-sex married men, which is three times greater than heterosexual married men, remains unchanged even after the redefinition of marriage.

Finally, the “yes” campaign is lying most egregiously about whom marriage really affects. The biggest lie of all is that children will be unaffected. On the one hand, according to the UN it’s a child’s right to know and be raised by their biological father and mother, so any talk of discrimination has to first of all address this. That’s because having a child is not like getting a puppy! It’s a life-long commitment that affects the well-being of not just you and your spouse, but the little ones being raised in your home. This is something that people like Katy Faust and Millie Fontana who have been raised in same-sex households know all too well.

Closely connected to this is the whole issue of surrogacy, or what Aldous Huxley envisioned in Brave New World as The Department of Hatchery and Conditioning. We’re not as scientifically advanced or impersonal as Huxley suggested, but he was right in one thing – reproduction is now being separated from relationship. And the “yes” campaign is once again lying about what those consequences will be. As Caroline Norma, herself a lesbian, wrote just last year, “Whether or not the campaign is ultimately about advancing the cause of easier access to surrogacy and expanded types of reproductive technologies is a question the equality movement leaves unanswered.”

Politicians such as Christopher Pyne and Penny Wong are assuring us that nothing at all will change if we redefine marriage: “The sun will still rise, and children will still eat more ice cream than is good for them.” But that’s just another ‘pork pie.’ Redefining marriage changes everything. The evidence from overseas unequivocally proves it.

What really stinks is that there are people on both sides of parliament who know it, but are lying to our faces.

Mark Powell is the Associate Pastor of Cornerstone Presbyterian Church, Strathfield. 

How’s Venezuela Working Out?

AS Margaret Thatcher wryly observed three decades ago. “The trouble with socialism is that you always run out of other people’s money.” Hugo Chavez was idolised by leftists everywhere when he first became President of Venezuela, but he basically took over a vibrant economy and ran it to the ground- standard operating procedure for all left-wing politicians.

Reflection on Exodus 3:1-15

moses

Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Exodus+3.1-15

Scripture

Then he said, “Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”

Observation

Moses is out in the wilderness, tending his father-in-law’s sheep. He comes across a burning bush from which the Lord speaks to him.

The Lord tells Moses that He has seen the misery of His people and is going to set them free and take them to their own land. Moses is to go to Pharaoh and set God’s people free.

Moses then asks the question, “Who are you?” and the Lord says, “I am who I am. This is my covenant name for ever.”

Application

Moses turns aside to see a sign from God and he has a life-changing encounter with Him. The Lord says “This ground is holy.”

That particular patch of ground was holy because God’s presence was there in that moment. It hadn’t been holy the hour before, and as far as we know, it wasn’t holy after the meeting between Moses and Yahweh.

God’s presence makes all the difference to a place. In that moment of encounter, that place is sanctified, set apart for God.

We don’t have “burning bush” moments every day. But we do have the opportunity for God encounters. Another shepherd might have been too intent on watching his sheep, or, in our day and age, his facebook feed. But Moses took time to step away from his path to go and look and listen to God.

God moments and God encounters are waiting for us every day if only we will stop, look and listen.

We don’t need a flaming bush in the wilderness. God is with us everywhere we go.

Prayer

Lord, what special moment do you have for me today? Help me to listen to your voice among the clamour of my life. Amen.

Another Brazen Lie By The Media About Same Sex “Marriage”

There used to be an expectation that the media were there to provide information. But in the post-truth era there is no such expectation as the media just keep on pushing their favourite causes.

Bill Muehlenberg writes:

Marriage Wars: Truth Tellers vs MSM Deception
Aug 28, 2017
This is a tale of two groups – those who value truth and facts as they defend the institution of marriage, and those who merrily push falsehoods, lies and deception as they promote their radical agenda to destroy marriage. And as is so often the case, it is a David vs Goliath struggle.

In this case we have one or two folks daring to discover the truth and speak the truth vs all the money and manpower of the mainstream media and the organised left. Just one man seeking truth can help topple the lies of many, and in this case I am proud to say I know well the individuals involved in this case of truth telling vs entrenched falsehoods.

And this is a story that keeps on giving – every day new revelations emerge about just how immoral, deceptive and careless with the truth the secular left and its media allies are. And all because one brave soul first decided not to buy the propaganda of the MSM, but do a little bit of digging for himself.

Read the full article, including the role of Ten in providing their extra fake news, here

Reflection on Matthew 16:13-20

who-jesus

Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+16.13-20

Scripture

You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.”

Observation

Jesus asks His disciples who people say He is. They reply, “Some say John the Baptist, other say Elijah or one of the prophets.” He then asks, “Who do you say I am?” Peter replies, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.”

Jesus commends Peter because he has made this confession through the revelation of God. He goes on to say that upon the rock of this confession Jesus will build His church, and hell will not prevail against it.

Application

This confession, “You are the Messiah (or the Christ), the Son of the Living God” is the heart of true faith. It is the rock that is the foundation of the church.

Jesus is the Messiah, the one anointed and sent by the Father. He lived the perfect sinless life that was acceptable to the Father. He laid down His life to set us free from sin.

He is the Son of the Living God. He is the Son, the Word become flesh. Every part of His character and ministry perfectly represented the likeness of Father God. When we see Jesus we see God.

The eye of faith recognises who Jesus is. By faith we take hold of this Son of God, and from Him we receive the free gift of salvation and reconciliation.

Christianity is not a set of rules to be obeyed or rituals to be performed in order to win God’s favour. It is a relationship. We are brought into God’s family and set free from all bondage.

Prayer

Jesus you are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. You are my Lord and my Saviour. Amen.

Bill Muehlenberg: Homosexuals Against Homosexual Marriage

Bill Muehlenberg writes:

Homosexuals Against Homosexual Marriage

Aug 23, 2017

Yesterday I penned a piece quoting from a number of Australian homosexuals who have voiced their opposition to homosexual marriage. Why write such an article? It is pretty obvious: this is the sort of information the mainstream media and the pro-homosexual lobby does NOT want to get out into the public arena.

They want you to believe that not only every homosexual just can’t wait to have homosexual marriage legalised, but that everyone plus their dog wants it too. This is all part of the narrative of the activists: lie through your teeth loud enough and often enough, and eventually folks will start to believe you.

Since the other side plays fast and loose with the truth, I and others will proffer some facts and some truth here, even if it results in even more hate, derision and censorship. Just as plenty of debate about homosexual marriage has taken place among Australian homosexuals, so too elsewhere.

In North America for example, many homosexuals have expressed their disinterest in marriage. In fact, there are many homosexual organisations which are fiercely opposed to the concept of same-sex marriage. As one example, consider the US-based group, Against Equality. They are quite explicit in their aims:

“Against Equality is an online archive, publishing, and arts collective focused on critiquing mainstream gay and lesbian politics. As queer thinkers, writers and artists, we are committed to dislodging the centrality of equality rhetoric and challenging the demand for inclusion in the institution of marriage.”

Also, when Ontario legalised same-sex marriage in 2003, there was not exactly a huge rush of Canadian homosexual couples to the altar. Indeed, the New York Times was so intrigued with this fact that it did a major story on it. Here is one excerpt from that article:

When David Andrew, a forty-one-year-old federal government employee, heard that the highest Ontario court had extended marriage rights to same-sex couples … he broke into a sweat. “I was dreading the conversation,” he said, fearing that his partner would feel jilted when he told him that he did not believe in the institution. “Personally, I saw marriage as a dumbing down of gay relationships. My dread is that soon you will have a complacent bloc of gay and lesbian soccer moms.”

The article also cites Rinaldo Walcott, a sociologist at the University of Toronto, who shared his worries about getting on board the heterosexual marriage bandwagon: “I can already hear folks saying things like: `Why are bathhouses needed? Straights don’t have them’. Will queers now have to live with the heterosexual forms of guilt associated with something called cheating?”

Another telling comment comes from a Toronto homosexual magazine editor who said, “Ambiguity is a good word for the feeling among gays about marriage. I’d be for marriage if I thought gay people would challenge and change the institution and not buy into the traditional meaning of ‘till death do us part’ and monogamy forever. We should be Oscar Wildes and not like everyone else watching the play.”

In an editorial in an American homosexual magazine, Jim Rinnert says of SSM: “I’m against it”. He writes, in part:

Gay marriage strikes me as, first and foremost, just another way to show the straights that we’re the same as them, that we’re as “normal” as the heterosexuals with whom we share the planet and thereby are worthy of acceptance into their clubs. Well, without getting into a discourse on the social function of homosexuality in cultures ancient and modern, let me just assert that, guess what—we’re not the same. We’re different. Rather than try to paint heterosexual stripes on our pelts, let’s examine, explore and celebrate our different coloration.

Noted Irish political commentator and homosexual, Richard Waghorne, has also weighed into the debate, arguing that homosexuals should leave marriage alone. He said, “Actually, gay people should defend the traditional understanding of marriage as strongly as everyone else. Given that it is being undermined in the name of gay people, with consequences for future generations, it is all the more important that gay people who are opposed to gay marriage speak up.”

He especially made his case on the well-being of children, and how they deserve a mother and a father, something which same-sex marriage can obviously never provide them. Thus he says homosexual marriage “is not only unnecessary, but verges on selfishness”.

All these stories – and more – are found in my book Strained Relations with full documentation. Indeed, with over 700 footnotes, it is one of those books the other side has been doing its best to pretend does not exist. But there are plenty more examples of homosexuals telling us to say ‘no’ to homosexual marriage. Here are some others.

Doug Mainwaring is one homosexual leader who has demonstrated some hard-headed honesty. His article, “I’m Gay and I Oppose Same-Sex Marriage,” is well worth quoting from:

The notion of same-sex marriage is implausible, yet political correctness has made stating the obvious a risky business. Genderless marriage is not marriage at all. It is something else entirely. Opposition to same-sex marriage is characterized in the media, at best, as clinging to ‘old-fashioned’ religious beliefs and traditions, and at worst, as homophobia and hatred.
I’ve always been careful to avoid using religion or appeals to tradition as I’ve approached this topic. And with good reason: Neither religion nor tradition has played a significant role in forming my stance. But reason and experience certainly have….
There are perhaps a hundred different things, small and large, that are negotiated between parents and kids every week. Moms and dads interact differently with their children. To give kids two moms or two dads is to withhold from them someone whom they desperately need and deserve in order to be whole and happy. It is to permanently etch ‘deprivation’ on their hearts.

He continues,

Here’s a very sad fact of life that never gets portrayed on Glee or Modern Family: I find that men I know who have left their wives as they’ve come out of the closet often lead diminished, and in some cases nearly bankrupt, lives—socially, familially, emotionally, and intellectually.
They adjust their entire view of the world and their role within it in order to accommodate what has become the dominant aspect of their lives: their homosexuality. In doing so, they trade rich lives for one-dimensional lives. Yet this is what our post-modern world has taught us to do. I went along with it for a long while, but slowly turned back when I witnessed my life shrinking and not growing.

His conclusion needs to be shouted from the rooftops: “Marriage is not an elastic term. It is immutable. It offers the very best for children and society. We should not adulterate nor mutilate its definition, thereby denying its riches to current and future generations.”

Consider also two Irish homosexuals, Keith Mills and Paddy Manning. They have a very important 4-minute video on why they are against homosexual marriage. Please watch it and share it widely: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q6HD8KLQBvA&feature=youtu.be

They remind us about this fundamental truth: “Marriage is, at its heart, about children and providing those children with their biological parents. Recognising difference is not discrimination.” Yet I have folks attack me for even daring to promote this short clip. One even said, “This video is stupid, bigoted, hateful and hurtful.” Good grief!

Another fellow, a 30-year-old gay man, has penned a piece also opposing homosexual marriage. He begins:

I can’t seem to bring myself to celebrate the triumph of same-sex marriage. Deep down, I know that every American, gay or straight, has suffered a great loss because of this.
I’m not alone in thinking this. The big secret in the LGBT community is that there are a significant number of gays and lesbians who oppose same-sex marriage, and an even larger number who are ambivalent. You don’t hear us speak out because gay rights activists (most of whom are straight) have a history of viciously stamping out any trace of individualism within the gay community. I asked to publish this article under a pseudonym, not because I fear harassment from Christian conservatives, but because I know this article will make me a target of the Gaystapo.

He continues:

The wheels of my Pride Parade float came off the moment I realized that the argument in support of gay marriage is predicated on one audaciously bald-faced lie: the lie that same-sex relationships are inherently equal to heterosexual relationships. It only takes a moment of objective thought to realize that the union of two men or two women is a drastically different arrangement than the union of a man and a woman. It’s about time we realize this very basic truth and stop pretending that all relationships are created equal.
This inherent inequality is often overlooked by same-sex marriage advocates because they lack a fundamental understanding of what marriage actually is. It seems as though most people view marriage as little more than a love contract. Two people fall in love, agree to stick together (for a while, at least), then sign on the dotted line. If marriage is just a love contract, then surely same-sex couples should be allowed to participate in this institution. After all, two men or two women are capable of loving each other just as well as a man and a woman.
But this vapid understanding of marriage leaves many questions unanswered. If marriage is little more than a love contract, why do we need government to get involved? Why was government invited to regulate marriages but not other interpersonal relationships, like friendships? Why does every religion hold marriage to be a sacred and divine institution? Surely marriage must be more than just a love contract….
Marriage is often correctly viewed as an institution deeply rooted in religious tradition. But people sometimes forget that marriage is also based in science. When a heterosexual couple has sex, a biological reaction can occur that results in a new human life.
Government got into the marriage business to ensure that these new lives are created in a responsible manner. This capacity for creating new life is what makes marriage special. No matter how much we try, same-sex couples will never be able to create a new life. If you find that level of inequality offensive, take it up with Mother Nature. Redefining marriage to include same-sex couples relegates this once noble institution to nothing more than a lousy love contract. This harms all of society by turning marriage, the bedrock of society, into a meaningless anachronism.

He concludes:

At its core, the institution of marriage is all about creating and sustaining families. Over thousands of years of human civilization, the brightest minds have been unable to come up with a successful alternative. Yet in our hubris we assume we know better. Americans need to realize that same-sex relationships will never be equal to traditional marriages. You know what? I’m okay with that.

It is always refreshing and encouraging to find homosexuals who will show a bit of honesty here. They are willing to say what needs to be said, despite all the hatred and abuse that inevitably follows. And they know the fundamental truth about marriage: it is all about the children.

But for daring to share these basic truths, these homosexuals have been on the receiving end of plenty from the ‘love and tolerance’ brigade. As I asked in my companion piece to this one: If a homosexual opposes homosexual marriage, does that make him a hateful, bigoted homophobe?

www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2013/03/9432/
thefederalist.com/2015/04/28/im-gay-and-i-oppose-same-sex-marriage/

Reflection on Romans 12:1-8

Ro12

Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans+12.1-8

Scripture

Don’t copy the behaviours and customs of the world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.

Observation

Paul exhorts us to offer ourselves as living sacrifices to God; the kind that is acceptable to Him. We must allow God to change the way we think, becoming new people in the process.

We should always be humble, honest with ourselves and measuring ourselves by the faith He has given us.

God gives us different gifts (these are often called motivational gifts). Whatever our gifting- prophecy, serving, teaching,encouraging, giving, leadership or kindness- we should do it to honour the Lord.

Application

Many christians fail to grow in the Lord because their ambitions and desires are worldly, rooted in the flesh and in human wisdom. They forsake the most hateful sins easily enough, but they fail to grow in holiness or character.

We can change our outward behaviour without changing our heart, but this does not produce lasting transformation. Often such change becomes legalistic or religious because the focus is on changing behaviour not on changing the thinking.

When we surrender to God everything that we are, He starts to change our thinking. As our thinking changes, we discover that we are no longer conforming to the ways of the world but are being transformed by Him.

The best part is that when God does the changing in us, it is genuine. He changes us from the inside out.

Prayer

Lord I surrender all that I am to you- every thought, desire and ambition. Please bring my will into alignment with yours. Amen.