GLEANINGS (March 9, 2017):
- MELBOURNE – Disturbing slow erosion and silent churches!
- MIDDLE EAST – Prayer and Christian love in action
- PERTH – Strenuous stairway to heaven or easy highway to hell?
THE INSIDIOUS WORK OF THE ENEMY
Erica Grace challenges changing the definition of marriage…
I had just finished writing to my local state and federal Members of Parliament letting them know I was not in favour of changing the definition of marriage to include same sex marriage.
Their answers arrived back and basically they both said the same thing: ‘Changing the definition of marriage will not change your life one iota!’
The slow erosion
I knew they are wrong, and then we had the opportunity to counsel a young Christian man who told us his story.
Basically, his wife of 10 years decided to go back to Uni for further studies. While there she was introduced to the ‘fascinating’ world of homosexuality, open relationships and free thinking. Becoming more engrossed in her new environment she became disenchanted with married life and the Christian walk. Her new surroundings made same- sex relationships, transgender, and such to look so appealing.
Finally the day came when she told her Christian husband she no longer believed in Jesus.
She added that the Bible was an outdated book full of restrictions. In fact the Bible was overly paternalistic and everything was male oriented. It made her sick! She had found feminism and now she was livid as she realised how much she had been trodden on all these years! She felt she had been blindsided into having children. She felt her three young children were like parasites draining the life out of her! She could have done so much more with her life without them! But now she was saddled with them and she could hardly wait for them to grow up and get out of her life! Something she repeats frequently to each of them!
And about her husband, how dare he expect her to cook for him, even though he worked 10 hours a day to pay their mortgage! Surely he could come home and cook for himself. And by the way, if the young children woke up at night, why should only she wake up to tend to them? He should wake up too! Forget about the fact that she worked from home making crafts and could have naps all day long if she wanted, but he couldn’t!
Little by little the fact that the husband would not deny his Christian faith or stop going to church began to eat away at her. The husband never stopped praying for her or being faithful to her. He tried to reach her but she would bitterly retort: ‘I can’t believe you don’t love me enough to encourage me to grow in this aspect of my life. Can’t you see this is a growth experience for me? There are so many more expressions to my sexuality that I want to explore and you don’t support me?’
The trap sprung
One day she finally told him she was certainly bisexual and wanted to share sexual activity with other women. The husband stood firm. His marriage vows to her were a covenant, he would never agree to share their bed with others. She began to despise him to the point she told him she no longer could share the bed with him. She made him sleep in a cot in the kitchen. And then a long procession of women came through the house; sometimes even men.
Finally the day came when she just couldn’t stand to even look at her husband and asked for a divorce.
Today the couple is divorced and their three children are shared by both of them. The children remember a time when their mother was a Christian and they candidly ask her why she changed her mind. They wish their mother would be like she used to be and they wish they could have their dad with them all the time. Sadly the children’s life is uncertain; they don’t know where they will spend the night as both parents try to divide the week around their jobs. The children are already exhibiting signs of anxiety and depression. What will become of them?
When you hear stories like these you wonder, how many couples are going through this? How many women are walking away from their marriages because all of a sudden they feel they are either lesbians or bi-sexual? Or how many husbands are walking away from their homes giving in to same sex attractions?
But the most disturbing question is: Had this couple ever heard biblical teaching on marriage in their congregation? The answer this young father gave was ‘no. ’
This young mum has no idea how much damage she is causing to those around her in her pursuit of ‘self-growth.’ If her husband hadn’t been a committed Christian he would’ve walked away leaving her to her fantasies. Today she slides into poverty, now sleeping in a trailer.
Fortunately this young father is fully committed to the children’s welfare and makes sure he has them on weekends so he can take them to church.
As we listened to his story our hearts wept. We wept for the church. We wept for our nation. We wept for the family fabric in this country that is becoming increasingly threadbare.
The slippery dip no one talks about
The breakdown of the family is not difficult to follow. Satan has been constantly attacking what God has so marvelously instituted. The little contraceptive pill, in 1961, began a downward spiral that no one saw coming. All of a sudden women and men were free to explore sexuality without the ‘burden’ of pregnancy. Of course, the latter abortion laws would take care of that unwanted burden as well.
Then in l975 came the ‘No Fault Divorce.’ This was a wonderful idea! Up until that time if couples were to divorce they had to have a reason: Abandonment, violence, infidelity. But no more! Thanks to the Labor government Australians could now divorce just because they no longer love each other!
The most pervasive damage to marriage though, in my opinion, has been the de facto relationships. These are couples that live together as though they were married but never marry. This is a very fragile relationship, where either the man or woman is free to walk away any time. But once again, the government has helped destroy the family by guaranteeing that this type of relationship gets equal rights as a married couple in payments, and so on. They never took into consideration that the children are the unintended victims of this insecure bond.
All these changes have occurred without a whimper from the church.
A challenge to all of us
And so we are left to ponder the state of our country and our church. Most of the counselling we do somehow always deals with childhood issues that began in dysfunctional homes. As we listen to what is being preached from our pulpits my ears strain to hear something practical, something that will teach members how to live a Christian life in a worldly culture. But as much as I strain, I only hear sermons that remain in the stratosphere, never descending to everyday lives.
Perhaps that is the reason why Christians abort, divorce, are addicted to porn at equal rates as unchurched people. Where are the teachers of God’s word? If the church were doing its job right, no one in our congregations should be left wondering…
- What marriage is
- How to raise a godly family
- Why same-sex marriage is not the same as marriage
- How to guard our marriage from the enemy’s attacks!
Do we really think cultural changes won’t affect us ‘one iota’? Think again! It already has.
Erica Grace, ex-missionary to South America, is the author of Foundations for the Family, a biblical teaching series suitable for whole congregations. Warmly welcomed itinerant ministers, she and her husband, Chris, are also on the ACC Multinational Pastors Team, Victoria. Links: firstname.lastname@example.org / (041) 270 2945
‘SECRET’ CHURCH LEADER WITNESSES TO PEOPLE WHO MIGHT KILL HIM
Dan Wooding reports good news…
Note: *All names are changed for security reasons. Hameedullah* works as a church leader in a country known for intense persecution of Christians.
‘When he was young, he lived illegally as a refugee in a Muslim country that didn’t want him or his religion, whose people are always looking out for non-Islamic activity. He even faced scrutiny from members of his own family, some of whom became radicalised and were recruited into terrorist networks,’ said WorldWatch Monitor in a recent story.
‘Both his parents converted to Christianity through meeting a Christian midwife. She showed them compassion and sensitivity, dealing with their physical and emotional needs as they settled into a new and hostile culture. Baba Jani* (Hameedullah’s father) was given a copy of the Bible by the midwife. He didn’t know how to read so the midwife sent him to literacy classes. ‘He was taught by Christians and noticed how they treated each other and worked together. He liked it and felt that’s how life should be. He and my mother were baptised. Naturally, I became a believer in Christianity too,’ said Hameedullah.
Faith comes easy to children in the part of the Muslim world where Hameedullah grew up, but his faith was different from the majority of others in the refugee camp; some of his family joined extremist organisations and became terrorists.
Life was a constant struggle, keeping his faith hidden and hoping people didn’t notice some of the choices he made in the camp. He refused to marry more than one wife, refrained from readily-available drugs, and did not steal or engage in fraudulent behaviour.
‘I was born a refugee so was often in turmoil about my identity,’ he said. ‘But I did not want to break the law. I believed that the Jesus of the Bible stories we heard wanted us to act differently from the depravity and confusion that was considered normal and acceptable around us.’
WorldWatch Monitor went onto say that Hameedullah met Qareem*, a missionary. Qareem’s life made Hameedullah think about telling others about his faith too, though he felt afraid about what might happen to him. Ten years later Qareem was kidnapped and is still missing. Hameedullah believes he was killed for evangelising in a place where people kill those who convert from Islam to Christianity. ‘When brother Qareem disappeared, the fellowship group of secret believers was at severe risk and so we dispersed,’ said Hameedullah.
Witnessing and helping thousands of Christians
He mourned the loss of his friend but longed to help other secret believers. ‘They were languishing in loneliness, isolation and spiritual hunger. I joined an underground Christian organisation, helping it distribute Christian literature and translating their work. Often, I went into the mountains of my homeland and explained Christianity to others who had converted too. Qareem’s death changed my life. I became an evangelist, just as he wanted me to be.’
As a pastor working in secret he helps thousands of Christians in a country that refuses to believe that Christians even exist. He trains other Christians to evangelise and care for new believers.
‘Many of our lay workers and young pastoral care workers are involved in taking care of the widows and families of Christians killed because of their faith, or teaching in schools to influence young lives and minds. They are faithful and need the prayers of the global church.’
Hameedullah fears for his own safety, and also for that of young people tempted by radicalisation. ‘Many of our children are recruited by extremist organisations, or become addicted to drugs. We are vulnerable to those who watch for non-Islamic activities and are willing to report to the authorities. This is how Qareem was found out by an extremist organisation and taken away from us.’
Dan Wooding is founder/director of the highly recommended ASSIST and ASSIST News Service (www.assistnews.net)
HIGHWAY TO HELL OR THE STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN?
Harold Harvey encourages picking up one’s cross…
An e-mail I received recently quoted a number of pithy sayings, among which was the comment pictured below at end of this blog.
I started to ponder the question suggested by the comment, wondering, ‘Just what are the proportions of people who go to heaven as opposed to those who go to hell?’
Prepared to climb?
The email suggested that as there is a Highway to Hell compared to only a Stairway to Heaven that the traffic on the road to hell would carry more people than those who are prepared to climb the stairway to heaven.
Dwellers of Perth, Western Australia (the city in which I live) would be familiar with Jacob’s Ladder (a name given to a stairway from a highway to Kings Park) which is used by joggers for their workouts.
It is relatively easy to jog along the highway below but the few who take the strenuous course of Jacob’s Ladder arrive at Kings Park, puffing and panting for breath. It is only the relatively few who choose to get to Kings Park via Jacob’s Ladder.
Most of us take the easy method of getting there by car. Many are the travellers in cars who go along the highways but it is the relatively few who take the stairway.
Taking the stairway is much like ‘picking up our crosses’ to follow Christ. To many, the effort (cost involved) doesn’t seem worth it.
Two ways in life
Jesus told of two ways in life that people are ‘travelling.’ One is the broad way (much akin to the highway) whereon the many are travelling but through unbelief are on their way to destruction whereas those on the narrow way whereon only the few are ‘travelling’ are on their way to finding life eternal.
In Matthew 7:13-14, he clearly said, ‘Enter in at the strait (narrow) gate for wide is the gate and broad (like a highway) is the way that leads to destruction and many there are who go that way. Because strait is the gate and narrow is the way which leads to life and few there are who find it.’
We need to be careful not to despise the inheritance (in the Christian’s case, the end result of following Christ) as Esau did who sold out his inheritance for a bowl of lentil soup (the easy way that led to so much trouble).
There used to be a song taught to Sunday school kids. The lyrics ended with ‘Which way are you travelling? Which way are you travelling? The broad or narrow way?’
Remember it is the few who actually go the ‘Stairway to Heaven’ but it is the many that travel the ‘Highway to Hell.’
The Sunday school song asks us all, ‘Which way are you travelling – the broad or narrow way?’ Is it the Highway to Hell or the Stairway to Heaven?
Harold Harvey, Koongamia, WA, has ministered in Foursquare Church and Christian Revival Crusade churches and is currently a minister in the Australian Christian Churches. Now retired – though not believing in ministerial retirement – he continues ministry with weekly write-ups (Beams of Light), link: email@example.com
Disclaimer: Articles, as well as the sources linked to, do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ConnectingwithYou! Our thanks mainly to Dan Wooding, ASSIST (www.assistnews.net) and other news sources for timely gleanings