Reflection on Exodus 14:19-31

images.jpg

Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Exodus+14.19-31

Scripture

And when the Israelites saw the great power the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.

Observation

The Israelites are fleeing the Egyptians and have arrived at the Red Sea. The angel of the Lord and the cloud of glory move from the front of the Israelites to behind them, between the Israelites and the Egyptians. Through the night the cloud brings darkness to the Egyptians and light to the Israelites.

At the Lord’s command Moses stretches his staff over the sea, and the Lord sends a strong wind to divide the waters. The people of Israel go through the sea on dry land with the waters gathered up on either side of them.

The Egyptians pursue the Israelites, but the Lord throws confusion over them. The wheels of their chariots fall off. The Lord again tells Moses to stretch out his staff over the water, and it collapses back on itself drowning the Egyptian army.

In response to this display of power, the Israelites put their trust in the Lord and Moses.

Application

This is an awesome miracle, a demonstration of the power of God, and it brought to the people of God the ability to trust Him.

There seemed to be no way, but God opened a way. The future of the people seemed closed up, but God provided a new way, a new hope, a new future.

This display caused the people to put their trust in the Lord– for a few days .Later they would become hungry, and their praise would turn to grumbling.

Spiritual maturity comes when we learn to trust God in the tough times as well as in the excitement of miracles. Do I still trust Him when my prayers seem to go unanswered, or when enemies triumph at my expense?

I must trust the Lord in every circumstance.

Prayer

Lord, please help me to trust you in the good times and also in the tough times. Amen.

Advertisements

Redefining Marriage Undermines All Freedom

one-man-one-woman

Marriage in the UK was redefined to allow marriage between any two people just 4 years ago. Conservative magazine The Spectator describes some of the repercussions of this decision in just a very short time period.

Four years ago, amid much uncertainty, 400 British members of parliament voted to redefine marriage in the United Kingdom.

Then prime minister David Cameron announced that, despite having made no mention of the issue in his party’s pre-election manifesto, it would be MP’s who decided the fate of marriage.

Now, it’s Australia’s turn to choose. There’s one key difference. Unlike in Britain, it will be the people who decide.

Everyone agrees, whether they admit it or not. This is a decision of enormous significance.

Therefore, it seems sensible to analyse the consequences of the potential change, within nations in which redefinition has previously been carried out.

In the United Kingdom, it has become abundantly clear that redefinition has affected many people, across many spheres. At first glance, these spheres appeared distinct from marriage redefinition. However, subsequent changes, have proved that they are entirely intertwined.

Gender: Current Conservative Prime Minister, Theresa May, has revealed proposals to abolish the need for any medical consultation before gender reassignment. Simply filling out an official form will be sufficient. A ‘Ministry of Equalities’ press release, explicitly announced, that the proposals were designed to: ‘build on the progress’ of same-sex marriage. Guardian journalist Roz Kaveney boasted that changing your gender is now: Almost as simple as changing your name by statutory declaration’.

Manifestations of the ‘British gender revolution’ are not difficult to find. Transport for London, have prohibited the use of the ‘heteronormative’ words, such as ladies and gentlemen. Meanwhile, universities across the nation are threatening to ‘mark down’ students, who continue to use the words ‘he’ and ‘she’. Instead, ‘gender neutral pronouns’ such as ‘ze’, must be uniformly applied.

Such gender-theory radicalism has delighted Stonewall, the UK’s largest LGBT lobby. Their Orwellian tagline: Acceptance without exception’, can be seen plastered on posters and adverts. Politicians, attempt to ‘out-radical’ one another, in the race to be an original champion, in the next emancipatory front of ‘Trans-rights’.

Freedom of religion: Much was made in the UK, about supposed exemptions, designed to ensure that believers would always be allowed to stay true to their convictions.

Four years later, the very same people who made ‘heartfelt promises’, now work tirelessly to undermine them.

Equalities minister Justine Greening, has insisted that churches must be made to: ‘Keep up with modern attitudes. Likewise, the Speaker of the House of Commons, a position supposedly defined by its political neutrality, had this to say: I feel we’ll only have proper equal marriage when you can bloody well get married in a church if you want to do so, without having to fight the church for the equality that should be your right’.

It became clear, during this year’s general election, just how militant the LGBT lobby have become, following marriage redefinition. The primary target was Tim Farron, leader of England’s third largest political party, the Liberal Democrats. High-profile journalists had heard that Farron was a practising Christian. In every single interview thereafter, they demanded to know. Did he personally believe homosexual sex to be a sin? He practically begged the commentariat, to allow him to keep his personal faith and legislative convictions separate. For decades, he pointed out, he had out vocally and legislatively supported the LGBT Lobby. Likewise, he had long backed same-sex marriage, voting for it enthusiastically. This simply was no longer enough.

Shortly after the election campaign, Farron resigned. He stated that it was now impossible, for a believing Christian to hold a prominent position in British politics.

In a heartbreaking development and in spite of Britain’s ‘foster crisis’, aspiring foster parents who identify as religious, face interrogation. Those who are deemed unlikely to ‘celebrate’ homosexuality, have had their dreams of parenthood scuppered. This month, Britain’s High Court, ruled that a Pentecostal couple were ineligible parents. While the court recognised their successful and loving record of adoption, they decreed that above all else: ‘The equality provisions concerning sexual orientation should take precedence. How has Great Britain become so twisted? Practicing Jews, Muslims, Christians and Sikhs, who want to stay true to their religious teachings, can no longer adopt children.

Read the rest of the article here– you may have to sign up for a free account, but it’s worth the hassle.

As an aside I note that WordPress have inserted a rainbow banner on their sites, at least for Australian users. All hail our Gay Overlords.

Jeremy Sammut: The ill-liberal equality campaign

From the Centre For Independent Studies

The ill-liberal equality campaign

Jeremy Sammut

same sex marriage 1 activistm protest activistsBill Shorten says it is a “distraction” for defenders of traditional marriage to claim that same-sex marriage will threaten religious freedom in Australia. According to the nominal leader of the ‘Yes’ campaign, the real question to be decided at the plebiscite is purely whether the right to marry should be extended to same-sex couples.

Australian believers of many faiths are rightly sceptical. LGTBQI activists and ‘marriage equality campaigners told the 2017 parliamentary enquiry that any religious exemptions from same-sex marriage for civil celebrants and wedding-related businesses would be humiliating and degrading. There is also concern about international precedents; such as in Sweden, where the Social Democrat Prime Minister said in June that Church of Sweden clergy should no longer be exempt from wedding same-sex couples.

Nevertheless, Shorten could transform the question of religious freedom into a genuine non-issue simply by promising that a comprehensive religious freedom plank will be included in the ALP platform. This would commit future Labor governments to retain in the Marriage Act not only protections for priests and ministers, but also for the proverbial Christian bakeries and other service providers holding religious and conscientious objections to same-sex marriage.

But Labor leader could ever promise to guarantee religious freedom without being lynched by the left for condoning prejudice and discrimination. Shorten’s ‘nothing to see here’ attitude towards religious freedom is a tactical ploy. It is designed to return the plebiscite debate to the preferred ‘Yes’ narrative of a progressive crusade to advance gay and lesbian rights, and overcome the alleged bigotry and homophobia of marriage traditionalists — without regard for the rights of anyone else.

Disregard for the values and perspectives of those who are opposed to same-sex marriage has long been a hallmark of LGTBQI activists. The lack of concern for how extending the rights of one group may restrict the rights of other groups not only epitomises the narcissism at root of all forms of contemporary identity politics. It also highlights the ill-liberal nature of activist-driven ‘marriage equality’ cause.

The scant interest in the rights of others is in stark contrast to the attitude displayed by marriage traditionalists. When the Howard government amended the Marriage Act in 2004 to confirm the legal definition of marriage as “the union of a man and a woman” — with bi-partisan support — it also introduced changes to superannuation laws that granted members of same-sex relationships the right to claim their partners’ super death benefits.

This opened the way to a slew of reforms that have subsequently expanded the legal rights and protection afforded to same-sex couples. This includes the legal recognition of same-sex unions now provided for under legislation in six states and territories. At the federal level in 2008 and 2009, wide-ranging reforms guaranteed equal entitlements and responsibilities for same-sex couples in relation to social security, veterans’ affairs, employment, taxation, superannuation, immigration, and workers compensation.

The legal equality extended to same-sex couples has reached the point that in the words of the Parliamentary Library,  there are “fewer and fewer rights and obligations attached to married couples which do not attach to de facto couples—a status currently encompassing same-sex couples in most legal context”.

The extension of equal legal rights for same-sex couples has generated little controversy and virtually no parliamentary or community opposition — even from those marriage traditionalists theologically opposed to homosexuality, and those atheists personally opposed to same-sex marriage. This is in keeping with the evolution of modern social attitudes and weakening of communal prejudices that began with the de-criminalisation of homosexuality, and shows that few people these days have any serious desire to use the law to punish homosexuals such as by denying same-sex relationships a legal standing that is ‘as good as marriage’.

Australians, including religious believers, have hereby demonstrated a willingness to live and let live alongside others, even if they disagree about personal and moral questions pertaining to sexuality. This is an example of the ‘fair go’ attitude that must prevail in truly civil and liberal democratic societies, where compromise is often required on issues involving conflicting interests and competing rights. Marriage traditionalists have protected the meaning of marriage in Australia; but they have not opposed protecting and extending the rights of same-sex couples. Marriage traditionalists have not denied legal status and substance to same-sex relationships other than the use of the term ‘marriage’ — and for valid reasons in defence of religious freedom.

Compare such practical tolerance with the intolerant attitude of ‘marriage equality’ advocates. The assertion that same-sex marriage is a ‘human right’ obliterates consideration of the legal and human rights of religious believers.  The best measure we have of the genuine threat same-sex marriage poses to religious freedom are the statements made by Liberal MP and former Human Rights Commissioner, Tim Wilson. He claims the only way to protect religious freedom is to ensure a Coalition government passes a same-sex marriage bill through parliament that will include (limited) religious exemptions for faith-based organisations (but not for Christian bakeries). This is because, Wilson argues, a Shorten Labor government is sure to pass a same-sex marriage bill sans any religious protections at all.

To say the least, this is very weak ‘liberal’ argument for voting Yes; it amounts to a transactional rationalisation for surrendering, on terms, to the anti-religious freedom ‘marriage equality’ cause, and offers, at best, only a vestigial defence of the core liberal principles at stake. Only in tin-pot republics, and under totalitarian regimes, do changes of government threaten human rights such as religious liberty. In a free country, the protection of fundamental rights and principles such as freedom of religion should not be beholden to the inevitable turn of the electoral cycle.

It is little wonder, therefore, that defenders of traditional marriage and religious freedom have been so determined to refer the question of same-sex marriage for decision directly by the Australian people at the plebiscite.

Jeremy Sammut is a Senior Research Fellow at The Centre for Independent Studies.

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.