Australia

19 08 2012

Australia!

It is most interesting, even strange, to see your own nation listed objectively, among the nations of the world in terms of both:

(1) Answers to prayer and (2) Challenges For Prayer.

I have already cited the details of Australians and their beliefs from the 2011 census:

Religious Affiliation
  • Christian   61%       (13.15 million)
  • Buddhist    2.5%    (  0.52  million)
  • Islam         2.2%     (  0.47  million)
  • Hinduism   1.3%     (  0.27  million)
  • Judaism    0.5%     (  0.09  million)
  • Other        0.8%     (  0.16  million)

See: https://nwcc.wordpress.com/australians/

The nation is in many ways, envied by so many nations of the world, in terms of space, living conditions, wealth, health and freedom for the gospel to be proclaimed and engaged in at a public level. This is not to say, however, that there is not a daily battle in influencing or wanting to enlarge, the minds and hearts of the Australian public towards the things of Christ. There is a battle.

* One of the figures I like to quote in terms of need for prayer and renewal, is the fact that there are about 10,000 Christian Pastors or Minister-leaders, or Priests/elders, across this nation of 22 million people.  There are another former 10,000 Christian Pastors or leaders, etc. who have been sidelined due to sheer weariness, difficulty, rejection, physical or mental illness, disaffection, loss of faith, boredom or in some case, even unbelief. These people are sort-of casualties of ‘church systems’, or of human church-institutional life generally. Lord of the Church, we pray for a renewal of ‘participation in ministry’, for many of these leaders.

Now we shall turn to the objective list of needs, as cited by Operation World.

1. Australia is undergoing many changes:

(a) Increasing pluralism and aggressive secularisation: (See for example: http://www.billmuehlenberg.com/2012/05/07/it-is-wrong-to-judge/

(b) Sustained immigration has created a multi-cultural country, where fast growing religious and ethnic minorities cause considerable tensions in communities that have taken for granted, and now want to retain Christian and/or Anglo-Saxon heritage.

(c) Australia’s role as a regional peacekeeper and stable democracy is a blessing to many countries, such as Timor, Bougainville, Solomon Islands, and others. However attitudes towards refugees and asylum seekers are strained because of the constant inflow of people.

(d) The precarious ecology is overexploited – in urdan settings as much as in rural ones. Water availability, land-usage, drought, the pressure from mining companies all add to the yearly stress of the nation. Native koalas, and Tasmanian devils, are examples of the local species under threat. Ferral animals abound in outback Australia, doing incredible damage. We pray for wisdom in conservation and stewardship. See also my article Big Concerns.

2. The Church in Australia faces a mighty challenge – “to remain relevant”. [Personally, I would not put it this way. Church will ever be relevant to the nation, as the guardian and voice of the gospel]. While some 61% identify as Christian, only 10% of the nation regularly attend church. Increasingly there are negative attitudes towards the churches. There is an individualised ideology, which works against Christian community! We pray for reformation and revival of the Christian community within society.

3. Evangelicals are a dynamic and diverse entity. The Sydney Anglican diocese is an example of conservative, biblical strength, as is a growing minority in the Melbourne diocese. The greatest growth has been in the Pentecostal/charismatic church groups. Put together, they would constitute about the Third Largest group behind (1) Roman Catholic and (2) Anglican. The other large church, The Uniting Church in Australia since 1977 [formerly Methodists, Presbyterian and Congregational], has been deeply affected by political power-wielding of many with ‘liberal’ theology.

(a) Mainline churches are in varying degrees of polarisation

(b) Christian Holistic ministry – to the homeless, drug addicts, poor and the disabled – is an area of great opportunity.

(c) The Ideological debate with secular materialists: many hot topics such as human origin, human sexuality and the existence of God, are under public scrutiny, attack and debate.

4. The Missions Vision Within Australian churches is mixed: a small minority of churches maintain a once large work as a missionary sending nation. We pray for a renewal of perspective in regard to going, sending and giving to other nations. 

5. Less Reached Peoples Are found in increasing numbers and diversityPray for outreach to continue to:

(a) People in working-class urban areas

(b) Muslims

(c) Chinese

(d) Vietnamese

(e) Diverse people from the Balkans and Eastern Europe

(f) Jews – number over 100,000

(g) Southern Europeans

6. The 550,000 Indigenous Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders

(a) Most Aborigines are Christian

(b) Pray for the Aboriginal Evangelical Fellowship

(c) Pray for the nearly 500 missionaries in 26 denominational agencies

(d) Bible Translation is in Progress

7. Student Ministry needs greater attention. 600,000 students in 40 universities are served by small student groups on each campus.

8. Young People and Children: A drastic drop in Sunday school attendances, and weekend sport on Sunday, has proven a challenge to Schools Ministry  Groups to reach the children and give them opportunity to hear the gospel. Government, secular opposition, the considerations of other religions, and an often unhelpful, even hostile mainstream media continue to make this aspect of ministry somewhat difficult.

9. Pray For the Christian Media

Radio, Literature, Visual Media, The Internet, (including Facebook) all provide good opportunities to the Word of Christ to go forth in a deeply beneficial way, to the nation.





Big Concerns—in Australia

9 07 2012

We have a great country here in Australia.  However we also have some big concerns. Here are just a few:

  • Mining. Community Life in Country Australia needs genuine support from Federal and State Government Regulation. One prime reason is that Mining Companies—in the race to get rich—are abusive of the people in small towns and rural areas, Aboriginal communities in distant regions, farmers, their roads and town infra-structure, community life and resources. It is not for nothing that biblical wisdom calls upon people to suppress greed, and curb foolish desires.
  • Ferral Animals in Outback and regional Australia. Camels, Pigs, Goats, Zebras, Foxes, Cats, Dogs, Cane Toads, and more are not being targeted and kept in check to a sufficient degree. This is decimating many parts of the landscape. We need to invest public money to control these creatures.  Political parties like the Greens are silent about this stuff, (while they almost dismantle an Indonesian Beef industry). We need more political will and wisdom to effect action, and encourage shooters to take this in hand, for the benefit of all Australians.
  • Marriage is Foundational to Community and to Life. It is mere popularism to jettison centuries of wisdom, by changing the marriage act to include homosexual relationships. There is enough confusion about life as it is, without this change being foisted upon everyone to satisfy the desires a so few!
  • Foreign Investment in Farming Land. We urgently need to severely restrict land ownership to Australian people—if we want a secure future for our food production, and wellbeing of our nation, overall. Government lack strength of will to address this. It is urgent. Learn from New Zealand. Learn from China. Learn Quickly please.
  • The River Murray. As a South Australian it is easy to see how the power of the Eastern States and their desire for more and more water, is to the detriment of efficient farmers at the bottom end of the River. The situation is being addressed, and I hope it succeeds. It just makes sense to have a healthy river all the way to the sea.
  • Prime Agricultural Land in Tasmania. The Forestry Industry in Tasmania has abused local communities, and abused good farming land. The buying up of the best land for the planting of small timber to be used for wood-chipping is wrong, and harmful to local communities and their life-blood. Again big and powerful seems to triumph over local, people-matters. Ask farmers around Deloraine. Forestry has surrounded small farms, buying out other landholders, giving the farmer unwanted shade and wallabies, stealing underground water supplies, stopping rivers and ruining community life. Sheer money madness. Meanwhile some faceless investor in Sydney with too much money profits from growing trees, and gets tax-breaks at the expense of Tasmanian community.
  • Suburban Housing Plans. In such a vast nation, it is unfortunate to see the lack of planning for space for people to enjoy. In Adelaide large house blocks where children can play and people can retain their sanity, are just being carved up to cram in more houses. This is folly. When there is a chance to retain land for parks and gardens, the government is just carving up the land for real estate. Sheer madness. Human beings need space.
  • Fishing. The recent decisions to grab so much of the ocean for national parks, and the ongoing restrictions on fishing by recreational people is madness. Meanwhile large Pirate trawlers are not being checked or stopped in far off areas of our Oceans. This is the clearly the wrong approach. But green consciences seem easily salved by poor solutions.
  • Coles and Woolworths Supermarkets are a greedy Duopoly. It is a great shame that this has been allowed to develop. These large companies ruin primary industries with their capacity to dominate prices, and exert their powerful will at the expense of local growers. People such as the dairy industry, the beef and wine, and fruit and vegetable industries matter. We are allowing them to be treated with contempt and disdain, by this dominating retail outlet. It is wrong. PRoduct labelling is deceptive and there seems to be a lack of bite in the ACCC. Home brands dominate. Sadly, people just ignore the plain wisdom of Dick Smith. Wake up.
  • Insurance Fear. We need to address the amount that small people, and local community can be sued. Much of our fun activity is curbed by insurance fears. This needs to be addressed at a legal level, so that community can regain their freedom to hold events.  How often do we hear that something has been changed for fear of insurance claims. Take a large slippery-dip for example, or a circular whizzie wheel in a children’s park, even climbing on an old train!  Recover freedom!
  • Youth And Children: Our young people need more areas to play. This is linked to the insurance and space issues. People in the cities need a small fortune for their young people to lear to ride a motorcycle and have fun in spaces.
  • Overseas Aid: The Budget decision to forestall the contribution of Government to Overseas Aid, in the face of global economic concerns was an example of sheer ALP selfishness and ALP self-interest. It is an example of not keeping our Word—another from the ALP. It is an example of not genuinely feeling that we are part of a global life, where we need to care for others less fortunate. Bad leadership, very bad.
  • Drugs, Crime, Bikie Gangs: Our society is being badly affected by home invasions, suburban killings, drive-by murders, gang warfare, addiction to drugs, an illegal and destructive methamphetamine industry, prostitution, pornography, robbery,intimidation, threats to murder and criminal activity. Police need better powers within the legal system to attack this horrendously growing and alarming trend. It is linked to International Crime, and is not an easy issue to solve. Penalties must be far tougher, and the ability to get a conviction made simpler. Do it!
  • Abortion: The attitude of our Australian society towards the abortion of babies is horrifying. We have succumbed to a deceptive view of when life begins, and have failed to speak of the rights of a child in the womb, to be cared for, and have a right to begin life in this world. Careful thinking even from a non-faith perspective will soon show that this is a person in their early stages, within the Womb. We must listen and give voice to the stories of those who have seen the horror, seen the baby-child move away from the knife, as they were slaughtered, without a voice, without a right to love.
  • Pay Rises for Politicians: It is shameful that our politicians can all conspire and agree to greedy $40,000 to $100,000 per year type pay-rises (not base pay… pay rises of this magnitude) in 2012, while pensioners and self-funded retirees who have contributed greatly to building the nation, are left to turn off heaters in winter, to survive economically. Poor form, real poor.
  • Payment for Elite Sport: The Payments given to AFL footballers is out of control. $500,000 to $800,000 a year for catching and kicking a piece of leather. It is madness. And it is sending the wrong message to youth, to small communities, and ordinary people concerning the place of sport in our lives. It affects young people their willingness to enjoy sport, to volunteer, and serve generously. The elite players get big heads. Ugly pride is rewarded! They are not worth it. Why should local people who like sport be paying through sponsorships for this?
  • Sharia Law: the creeping concessions being made to the demands of Islam will deeply affect our future. One only needs to look at England, France or the Netherlands to see the unhelpful changes to community life which this had afforded. Rights for women—married and for young girls and their future freedoms, approach to married life, restriction to dress-codes, butchering of meat, refusal to integrate, formation of ghettos, community anger, separation from others. The policy of closing a swimming pool for males in country Victoria, is a classic example, as is the banning of ham-sandwiches at local council luncheon.  We need courage and a clear and broad, well thought-out understanding of the true nature of freedom and the need for regulation within society, to enhance freedom.
  • Government speechmaking:  Any society which puts ‘the economy’ ahead of ‘community life’ is heading for trouble. Our speech-writers need to change their rhetoric to put people and their communities first. Only then, will we be in a genuine position to be a rich blessing to others—including other nations, refugees, and the world generally.
My views are held by many others, I know. My personal thinking is deeply affected by the need to care for people first, families, youth, the elderly, communities; and also for the environment with which we have been entrusted to enjoy, and to receive its benefits gladly. I am glad and sure, that to follow Jesus in the power of his Spirit is the way for people, communities and families to be a blessing to the creation, into which we have been placed. Renewal and reform of faith, and action is alway possible. Lets do some!

(OK, so the next blog can include some good stories of good things that are happening)





All You Nations

22 05 2012

1 Praise the LORD, all you nations! Extol him, all you peoples!

2 For great is his steadfast love toward us, And the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever, Praise the Lord! 

 – Psalm 117

1 αλληλουια αἰνεῖτε τὸν κύριον πάντα τὰ ἔθνη ἐπαινέσατε αὐτόν πάντες οἱ λαοί

2 ὅτι ἐκραταιώθη τὸ ἔλεος αὐτοῦ ἐφ’ ἡμᾶς καὶ ἡ ἀλήθεια τοῦ κυρίου μένει εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα

– Psalm 117

 

By the Spirit (Gen. 1), God in Christ, has created all the nations. God in Christ Jesus is of course interested in all the nations. Indeed in Christ, God has redeemed the nations, through Jesus death and resurrection. Now in the ascension of Jesus Christ, the nations are seated in heavenly places, “in Christ”.

We have a human being who represents us there, at the right hand of God. The human being Jesus, is spatially somewhere!! His humanity was not reabsorbed into the Godhead. Jesus the man did not somehow “throw off” his manhood, and revert to the pre-incarnation situation of the Son of God; he remains Man and truly man, forever. And we are in Him. He is also truly God, truly the Son of God.

In Christ! This is the true destiny of the nations – redeemed in Jesus Christ. To opt for hell is a strange and shocking option folks.  Therefore, change your mind about God, have faith in him, for he is good. Turn to him anew in trust, and in sincere thankfulness for his redemptive plan. He bore our sins, took our guilt upon himself, he bore away our unbelief, and in his crucifixion, bore the judgment of this tragic sin. He did this in his abandonment! While we were still enemies of God, he entered into our hell, and bore the judgment of God’s ‘no’ upon our evil. This is love. This is grace. This is the action of the God of grace.

Begin, therefore, to live as One who has – by the Holy Spirit’s indwelling – been forgiven fully, and given the gift of eternal life. Receive the Holy Spirit, none less than God himself, indwelling, abiding in your life, thoughts, mind and human heart. Come into God’s Presence as one wholly sanctified. 

Hey all you nations – Praise the Lord! 

You Australians, Praise the Lord!

中国,赞美主!  (哈利路亚赞美主)

Μπορείτε Έλληνες  αλληλουια αἰνεῖτε τὸν κύριον

Voi italiani! Lodate il Signore!

Ju shqiptarët! Lavdëroni Zotin!

Siz Türkler! Allah’a şükretmek!

Bạn Việt! Ngợi khen Chúa!

شما ایرانی ها! ستایش پروردگار!

Wewe Waafrika! Bwana asifiwe!

Usted peruanos! Alabado sea el Señor!





Adelaide to Darwin

18 07 2009

Arrived home this week from a driving trip (on annual leave) to Darwin, in the Northern Territory (NT). What beautiful territory!  From the flat city named after Queen Adelaide, to the Modern City named after Charles Darwin – it was mostly dirt, termite mounds, blue sky, green pick and long grass for cattle, lots of bitumen, and … I like our term: “the bush!”

It is staggering how much wide open space there is in Australia. And some strange, odd, stunning, and interesting places there are!  Alice Springs is a very lovely looking town. Standley Chasm is always a favorite.

But that Big Rock is still a stand out: Uluru – or Ayers Rock as we said for a while. (And of course Kata Juta – the Olgas). Always reminds me of this Blog Spot – ‘And the Rock Was Christ’… provision of water springing up in the dry land, the law for aboriginal children ‘rustling in the leaves of the trees’ (innate in creation, we might say), and the sheer mystery of it.  Ha. …. I rather like the Aboriginal explanation as to how it all came to be… ahead of the one by the geologists (still plenty of room for mystery when both have had their say!)

To the west of Elliott, (half way between Darwin and Alice) there is a great Waterhole with more pelicans and other birds catching fish in a big expanse of water – the Longreach Waterhole. It is near to Newcastle Waters, and so worth a look.

Then, to the top end…. Wow! The salty crocodile, is a fearsome creature! The fresh water crocodile, is mostly, rather like a very sleepy lizard. Ha.

Mindil Beach sunset markets, on Thursday and Sunday nights is quite an event. Food and people from all over the place, but with a distinctive Darwin feel.

And winter in Darwin 32 degrees! Can you believe it? Quite nice to get about in shorts for 3 weeks.

Then, there are the water holes… Douglas Daly, hot springs, cooler pools and cold rivers. Very refreshing. Litchfield National Park – what excellent Falls into the waterholes. And the lovely open wet country on the road to Jabiru.

Speaking of Jabiru – what a colouful masterpiece is the bird they call the Jabiru. And then there are the hawks and raptors – birds everywhere…. Enough of all this.

Psalm 150:6 is a good summary:

“Let everything that breathes praise the LORD! Praise the LORD!”





Freedom: Secret Christians in Australia?

19 12 2008

Living in Australia, one is generally grateful for the laws of the land, and the way in which they are implemented. Generally speaking. It is a land many people love to come to, and to live in, and to settle in, and to find a peaceful, relaxed lifestyle for themselves and their family. It is a beautiful country.  By contrast, many who come to Australia, do so from horrific situations. War. Violence. Mayhem. Murder. These have been the lot of so many new arrivals in Australia. 

Many of us have watched, with growing concern, the rise of Militant Islam is overseas nations, and know of the harshness of much Islamic law, even today. We also learn of the changing face of Europe. We hear of the way many no longer recognize parts of London and England. In certain places, Islam has made huge inroads into what has been centrally, a Christian nation – England. As to how and why this has happened, many answers could be given. Even so, what is to be done by governments?  Many fear the same may happen to Australia.  Many more, hope that it does not.

One solution (I write as a thoroughly convinced Christian), is to rediscover, and proclaim the sweet, gracious, wonderful gospel of the reign and Presence of Christ Jesus, and to seek to live under that rule, and to amend our lives, to do so.  This may give a new impetus to how we order the rules, policies, and culture-aspects of our nation.  At the same time, one needs, as always, to openly accept the lives and beliefs of others. Even if one may disagree, firmly, it can still be cheerfully. 

The atheist, the agnostic, the Buddhist and the Moslem, are, can and should all be able to find a welcome space, and place to live in Australia. We are currently free to exchange in conversation of our ideas, understandings and values. What a great place! 

However, there is a need for Nations to take seriously the growing dangers coming from the desire for harsh Sharia law to be established. Australia is a nation. We must not bury our heads in the sand. We need to be alert.

Globally, I would say, that few Christian leaders understand the dangers and causes of a harsh Islam, as well as Patrick Sookhdeo. The writer of the article which follows, contains some of his pertinent comments. I would like to commend this letter, in its entirety, from the Barnabas Fund

The article, is to be found on their Website. (See the Links, on the side of this page). 

19th December 2008 – 

Why should they be secret?

Barnabas Fund launches campaign for the abolition of the Islamic apostasy law

Islam is a one-way street. You can convert to Islam but you are not allowed to convert from Islam. All schools of Islamic law, shari‘a, agree on this rule and specify the death sentence for an adult male Muslim who chooses to leave his Islamic faith. Most also impose the death penalty on women apostates. The rule was established many centuries ago by Islamic scholars, but even today most Islamic religious leaders and many ordinary Muslim people agree with it.

The death penalty is rarely put into practice, but the existence of this “apostasy law” is so well known amongst Muslims that it generates strong hostility towards apostates, whether from family or community, from religious or secular leaders, from police or judiciary. So it is normal for converts from Islam to face persecution and violence. They may be arrested, either for apostasy or on a pretext. They may be attacked, beaten or even murdered by their own relatives. And those who commit the violence will probably not be punished for it.

A further range of penalties for apostasy is laid down in shari‘a, including losing one’s spouse and children and forfeiting one’s property and inheritance. These are imposed in many Muslim contexts today.

It is not surprising that many converts from Islam to Christianity keep their new faith secret, but why should they have to do so? Islam actively encourages non-Muslims to convert to Islam, but it is the only world faith with a death sentence for those who leave it.

The Islamic apostasy law also stands in stark contrast to Article 18 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, published sixty years ago this month, which states that “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief…”

Things can change

There are brave Muslim voices calling for the apostasy law to be abolished. Some scholars point out that the Qu’ran has no clear statement about the need to punish apostasy in this life. Others doubt that the traditions about Muhammad’s response to apostates are genuine. Still others say that apostates who were killed in the early days of Islam were condemned not for changing their faith, but for rebelling against the Islamic state.

In support of these voices, Barnabas Fund is launching a new campaign that seeks to bring an end to the Islamic apostasy law. Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, International Director, says, “Although only Muslim leaders can make this happen, we as Christians can help the process, by speaking up for freedom of religion and belief and by encouraging others to do the same. We ask you to join us in our efforts and prayers to bring about change for those who choose to leave their Islamic faith, so that they are no longer subject to any penalty but are free to follow their new convictions without fear.”

What to do now

If you would like to sign our petition, please go to sign online petition. The sign-up sheet can be downloaded and printed out here, so that you can both encourage your friends to sign and take the petition to your church. 

Above all, please pray: that the apostasy law will lose its hold on Muslim people worldwide; that it will be rejected as a wrong interpretation of the Islamic sources; and that Muslims may be free to convert without any danger of reprisals.”

That is the end of the article.








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