Monday, April 26, 2010

SOMME TO KOKODA


My 08.00 taxi arrived at 07.45. Stimulating conversation en route to Brisbane airport includes discussion on origin of the universe. ‘Big Bang’ and ‘Cosmic Egg’ theories come from the driver’s side. ‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth’ come from the passenger’s side. Why don’t people simply take God at His Word? Rebellion! For man our war with God began in the Garden of Eden with the devil saying to Eve: ‘Has God indeed said, “You shall not eat of every tree in the garden?”’ Genesis 3:1b. All conflict begins here – doubting God’s Word.

The flight to the Army Chaplain’s Conference is pleasant. Green tea and a blueberry muffin. The plane begins to slow. Like a farmer’s tractor passing through a flock of sheep stubborn clouds part slowly to reveal red-tiled Sydney rooftops rising up to greet us. The hour and a half flight passed quickly with nose buried in ‘Somme Mud.’

A few years ago, while my father was still alive, I enquired as to the names of the two youthful people in an old photo on the mantelpiece of his Scottish home. ‘That’s my mother and her brother.’ ‘What happened to my great uncle?’ I enquired. ‘He’s buried in the Somme Mud, son.’ Aussie ‘Digger’ EPF Lynch, who was there, relates some of the horrors of the Great War among the trenches: ‘Dead men are lying in rough rows in the snow near the big burial ground, lying waiting for all that’s to come to them now. And for what do they wait? A few short prayers spoken by a strange padre and a grave in the Somme mud… I land the padre at the cemetery where a long row of shallow graves are dug. Near each open grave lies the body of an Australian soldier. A few are sewn up in grey blankets. Others just lie there in their muddy uniforms, waiting to go to their muddy beds. Into each grave a body is lowered. The men nearby stand to attention. A few of them remove their steel helmets and the padre says a brief burial service and passes on to the next, whilst the wet mud is showered in upon the body of an Australian lad.’ (Somme Mud, pp. 70-71). Perhaps some of these lads met my Scottish great uncle before they all died. So young. So brave.

The Vietnamese driver deposits me at my barracks’ destination. The ‘Padre’ conference included an afternoon trip to the ‘Kokoda Track Memorial Walkway.’ With ten or so other camouflage uniformed ‘padres’ we were guided along the track by two ‘diggers,’ Don and Norm, who actually had fought along the Kokoda Track in the South Pacific in WWII. Under manned and ill-equipped for jungle warfare they had contributed to repelling the Japanese forces who wanted to, as Norm said, ‘Take Australia from us.’ As we contemplate the terrors experienced by these and the men who died a party of Japanese tourists passes by, all smiles and waving to us. We smile back. Peace! We hear also about the gallantry of the native ‘Fuzzie Wuzzies,’ who carried wounded Australian soldiers out of the jungle to safety. ‘Angels,’ Don called them. Indeed – and sent by God! Don had ‘celebrated’ his nineteenth birthday on that gruelling jungle trail. So young. So brave.

Upon hearing I was becoming an Army Chaplain my eldest brother remarked, ‘God’s army is invading the Australian army!’ Then he reminded me of the following verses, ‘Put on the whole armour of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil… Therefore take up the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace. Above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit…’ Ephesians 6:11-18. Referring to my new role as army chaplain my brother wrote, ‘God bless you brother. Every step of the way. Interesting, isn’t it, that there in the midst of Paul’s extended martial uniform metaphor in Ephesians 6 he should include the image “Having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of PEACE”?’

Because of the Prince of Peace, we’re able to say with Scripture, ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?’ 1 Corinthians 15:54-55.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

ANZAC DAY 2013


ANZAC Day is a day of honouring and remembering. What are we honouring and remembering? We honour and remember those who fought and died for freedom and justice: those who gave their lives in the cause of peace.

What is peace? Is peace merely a ceasefire? Is peace merely the time between wars? No! True and lasting peace, at least for the individual, only comes when you have been reconciled to God through Jesus Christ and His death on the cross.

It’s been said that there’re no Atheists in the foxholes of war! If this were the case, then those who fought and died for peace, the type of peace we enjoy in Australia, had already made their peace with God.

There was a true story in a magazine not many years ago about a man who would talk to the soldiers boarding troop ships at the start of WWII. He wanted to make sure that these young men were right with God before putting their very lives into harm’s way. He would ask them awkward questions like: “What will happen to you if you die?” He would say things like, “Don’t trust in yourself or your own perceived goodness to get you into heaven, but make your peace with God through Jesus Christ. Trust only in Jesus.”

After the war this mystery man was tracked down by not a few who had survived the carnage. These brave men wanted to thank him for caring for their souls, for preparing them for their baptisms of fire. For when they participated in the hellfire of war, and had smelled the unmistakeable stench of death in their nostrils, death that clings like a thousand leeches sucking your very life’s-blood, death that covers you like a cold and wet blanket, as a black shroud — they had remembered what he had said to them. It was then that they had earnestly made their peace with God through Jesus Christ!

The Scripture says, “You can tell what a tree is like by the fruit it produces.” Many, far too many, good trees have been cut down even in their prime — defending freedom and justice. May no Australian take for granted the good fruit that came from those good trees — many of whom, too many of whom, lost their lives.

What is that good fruit? Some of the good fruit is that in Australia, she that holds the sword in one hand and the weigh-scales in the other, even Lady Justice, still wears a blindfold! Our justice system is based on the Ten Commandments, summarised in Jesus’ command to love God and your neighbour as yourself. Or, as translated into the language of the Australian Defence Force: “Mateship!”

The good fruit is the freedom we enjoy in our nation — in our home girt by sea, “The Lucky Country.” The good fruit they gave us is the peace we enjoy in this great land that “abounds in nature’s gifts of beauty rich and fair.” Fellow Aussies, all we have was purchased at a great price, a very great price!

Australians and New Zealanders, the ANZACS, fought shoulder to shoulder and bled their blood together at Gallipoli and elsewhere. We gained our identity as a nation at Anzac Cove during the Great War. Australia, “we are young and free!”

I’m proud to serve with men and women who hold with me the same ideals. I’m proud to serve with those who believe in the freedom ideal: freedom from foreign aggression: freedom for all law-abiding citizens, freedom to raise our families in peace. I’m proud to serve with those who believe in the justice ideal: the rule of law, ie, justice for all, rich or poor, young and old, male or female. A fair go.

This morning as we stand or sit beneath the Southern Cross, the cross that is emblazed on our nation’s flag, may we never forget the pain and the anguish, the blood and the sweat, the tears and the toil of all those who gave their very lives to advance Australia fair.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

READY TO BATTLE FOR PEACE

‘Blessed be the LORD my Rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle.’ Psalm 144:1. Upon arrival at the Royal Military College I’m assigned a room with a roommate – hope he’s not a snorer! The mortar binding Duntroon’s bricks is a long heritage mixed with strong tradition. With clock ticking, for the next thirty-two days I will rise at 0530, shower, dress and be ready to be counted on the parade ground – hope I remember to shave! After the daily head count it’s quick march up the hill to the officer’s mess for breakfast – the grand old Duke of York and his ten thousand men constantly springs to mind! Why does every venue have to be at the top of some hill?

After breakfast we are marched off each day to practice at keeping our breakfast down during an hour and a half’s physical training. Then it’s quick march to lectures on First Aid, radio use, and sundry other things. Marches to and from lunch. There is even a march to the parade ground to learn how to march properly. ‘Left, right, left, salute to the left, salute to the right, salute to the front as the rain drips off our hat rims. Also there’s weapon’s training until we’re able to dismantle and ‘remantle’ the weapon blindfolded! Busy, busy until 2020 every day. Afterward there is homework to be done, and uniforms to be washed and ironed ready for morning. At night the mind is still too active to engage in much sleeping.

‘A time of war and a time of peace.’ Ecclesiastes 3:8b. Majura Military Range in Canberra is beautiful. Lichen-covered jagged rocks growing out of the ground like graveyard headstones met us on our arrival. Live ammunition target-practice is halted as a big red kangaroo bounds through the right to left of arc of fire. Viewed through telescopic sights its rhythmic springing is poetry in motion! Lord, You have made all things well! I can hear myself breathing. I can hear my heart beat as I squeeze off my shots. ‘Good grouping, padre!’

‘When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD will lift up a standard against him.’ Isaiah 59:19b. With full to overflowing backpacks and waist webbing loaded with blank ammo it’s off to spend some time in among the gum trees. The breath of darkness chills our bones and blinds our eyes as part of its advance attack on our Section. With boots still on no sooner am I in my sleeping bag when I hear, ‘Stand to!’ I scramble out of my frozen cocoon with rifle in hand and stumble through canister-smoke to take up my preselected position. The darkness has a weapon in its hands. The end of its gun is in flames and gives its position away as it rushes at me like a night steam train. Just as well I am firing blank rounds, as the darkness knows it has been hit over and over. The shadow goes down. Lord, could I do this for real? The wounded darkness moans. Then it’s off and running again, weapon blazing. Danger over I was to have some shuteye before taking my turn to watch the darkness. With my nose poking out of my sleeping bag and my heart rate gradually slowing, sleep was almost on my breath. Then I hear the word, ‘Halt!’ It’s out of the sleeping bag again. But it’s just a false alarm. The intruder is a huge, but thankfully unarmed, kangaroo!

‘When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches.’ Psalm 63:6. No sooner am I jammed back into my sleeping bag (boots and camouflage uniform still on!) than it’s my turn for a two-hour watch. Ah, the night constellation bears silent witness to my weary soul. ‘When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You should visit him?’ Psalm 8:3-4. I thank God that He has visited us in the Person of His Son Jesus Christ. In the quietness of the night I consider the paradox of why wars need to be fought in order to keep the peace.

‘For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.’ Ephesians 6:12. As Christians our battle is spiritual. With the binoculars of God’s written Word we are able to see what’s going on behind enemy lines. Evil must be stopped. Onward! Christian soldiers, / Marching as to war / With the Cross of Jesus / Going on before. (Sabine Baring-Gould)

‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.’ Revelation 21:4. Christians have a glorious future.

Monday, April 12, 2010

CHRISTIAN FREEDOM OR SOCIALIST BONDAGE?


I see that President Obama has managed to polarize Americans like never before.

Arguably, he clandestinely concocted and had passed “Obama-Care” (ie, socialised medicine) behind closed doors and furtively foisted it on an unwilling majority of Americans!

Of course, this is not exactly how President Obama would describe the latest turn of events in America. And that’s the point! He doesn’t seem to be able to see, let alone acknowledge, the damage he is doing to the very fabric of the Christian Republic of America. For, last time I looked, at least twenty of the fifty states are seeking to sue the Federal Government on and around the constitutionality of the Federal Government’s *forcing* individual Americans to buy one of its products on pain of a fine.

Socialism is the *forced* redistribution of wealth. This, therefore, is not Christianity in any way, shape, or form! In opposition to this, the Bible teaches “Thou shalt not steal,” (this goes for governments as well as individuals), and charity for the Christian is a *voluntary* thing (eg, the Lord loves a *cheerful* giver).

To be sure, paying our fair share of taxes is Biblical. However, Obama-Care is not about loving one’s neighbour as oneself. Rather, it is about the government harassing one and one’s neighbours to pay another’s (medical) bills! This is socialism, and it is nothing like what the Christian founders of America had in mind when they wrote the Constitution and Bill of Rights etc.

Christianity is about (collective and individual) freedom under God, even at a national level. Socialism is simply bondage by and to the State.

Because the Federal Government is now in the process of forcing its people to involve themselves in its socialised medicine plan (on pain of government retribution), this has caused people to wonder if President Obama is some kind of socialist.

If any are brave enough to criticize Obama and his policies they are immediately shown the “racist card.” One only has to look at what the leftist media says about Sarah Palin and all Conservative Americans (eg, the Tea-Partiers). They are being demonised by the leftist (ie, the main stream) media. This is is only serving to polarize America further.

It is no longer about politics in America, whether a person is a Republican or a Democrat. Rather the lines are being drawn on whether one is a Constitutional American or a Socialist American.

America is THE great Christian experiment. As a Christian I am greatly encouraged to see Americans at a grass roots level seeking to regain their Christian heritage, their freedom under God, as they (re)discover their (Christian)Constitution. Whether at a federal, state, or individual level, may America live up to her constant boast before the world: “In God we trust.”

Christian freedom or Socialist bondage? We watch and pray. For if America falls to socialism, what hope at this time have the rest of the nations?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

THE CASE FOR EASTER


Last Sunday morning at church we were all given a wee book for free! It was a book by Lee Strobel caled "A Case For Easter: A Journalist Investigates the Evidence for the Resurrection".

Upon reading it I was thinking that it would have been helpful to me way back over twenty years ago when God was going through the process of converting me. Back then I started reading the Bible almost looking for discprepancies. It seems Strobel too had the same sort of healthy skepticism I had when God started His work of grace in his heart.

Anyway, I reckon that "The Case For Easter" would be a handy wee book to give to someone who has started to become interested in the things of God as it deals with some of the usual basic questions we all have about the death and resurrection of Jesus. It won't convince any whom God is by-passing, but those He is calling inwardly will benefit!

Monday, April 5, 2010

LAW OF NATURAL SELECTION REVISITED

I write the following in the context of my continual struggle to understand the argument put forth by the atheistic neo-Darwinist regarding his take on so-called natural selection.

It has been excerpted from my e-book called "The Nexus: The True Nature of Nature"

http://www.amazon.com/NEXUS-True-Nature-ebook/dp/B006WHGINI/ref=la_B006NTVAWY_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1354564142&sr=1-7

Richard Dawkins preaches that:

'The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.'

However, it is on this very issue that the neo-Darwinist scrapes his nails on the blackboard to the irritation and annoyance of all who believe in the logic of non-contradiction. The atheistic neo-Darwinist must live in a different ‘universe’ to the rest of us! For, as already stated, the neo-Darwinist lives in a universe that at bottom has no design.

Yes, design implies a designer. Therefore, for the neo-Darwinist ‘natural selection’ cannot possibly imply design – lest God get an Almighty foot in the door! So, by alleging that ‘natural selection’ is by nature not design the neo-Darwinist thinks he has safely sidestepped God. But semantics is a poor defence!

However, by Richard Dawkins’ own admission the nature of ‘natural selection’ is not without design or purpose, for elsewhere Dawkins agrees that ‘natural selection’ is indeed ‘non-random.’ Says Dawkins, the ‘components of evolution by natural selection: random mutation followed by non-random natural selection.’ Let’s see if we’ve got it: Whereas mutation is random, natural selection is non-random.

What does the neo-Darwinist mean by 'random' and ‘non-random’? Well, apparently not what my dictionary says it means! My dictionary has: random 1. made, done, etc., without method or conscious choice (random selection). Let’s put the brakes on here and put the car into reverse to see what we’ve just run over. We see “Random’ lying on the street. We tell the attending law-officer that it wasn’t by method or conscious choice that we hit him. It was purely by accident. We hit him at random. My dictionary defines ‘at random’ thus: 'without aim or purpose or principle.' We hope that 'Random’ will make a full recovery!

The atheistic neo-Darwinist agrees then that the ‘natural’ in ‘natural selection’ is by nature the opposite of ‘random.’ It is 'non-random.' Therefore according to the law of non-contradiction the atheistic neo-Darwinist believes in ‘non-random selection,’ which is to say that the selecting being done by the ‘natural’ in ‘natural selection’ is done with method, with conscious choice, with aim, with purpose, and with principle! The shorthand way of stating this is that the ‘selection’ in ‘natural selection’ is by nature according to design!

We believe in a sovereign God who consciously controls everything that comes to pass (including of course at the level of genes). However, we do not believe that any Atheist neo-Darwinist will be willing to admit to this - unless God first illuminates his mind while granting him repentance!

Friday, April 2, 2010

SWALLOWING DEATH


When the prophet Jonah tried to flee from the assignment God had given him, God had a great fish swallow him. When Adam tried to flee from his God-given assignment, God had a garden snake as it were swallow him. First Eve swallowed the Devil’s lie, then Adam swallowed the forbidden fruit. As mankind’s federal head, Adam formed a confederacy with the Devil against God. In Adam, we also have covenanted with death. (Isa. 28:15; Rom. 5:12). Therefore, the earth has been swallowing us one by one ever since. (Gen. 3:19; Prov. 1:12).

To no avail Eve had told the lying serpent about God’s threatened death penalty for disobedience. But ‘Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’” Genesis 3:4&5. Therefore, according to the Devil, for man to be ‘like God, knowing good and evil’ – to remove the parameters of God’s Law and to make up your own rules – simply eat the forbidden fruit!

Man equal to God? Who could resist it? Death? Small price to pay for moral freedom! But contrary to the suggestion of Satan, God never wrote His Law on mankind’s heart at his creation in order to stifle. Human physical death proves the paradox of the freedom of law. For true stifling comes when Hell dislocates its jaw and swallows you into its fiery belly.

Dear reader, how have you been enjoying your ‘autonomy’ from God? I’m sure, like me, you have not enjoyed being mistreated by others or seeing loved ones die. And who can explain away the death of an infant? Yet these miserable related things are included in the wages we collect for turning our collective cold shoulder to the One who created mankind.

Man’s main purpose is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. But this runs contrary to the philosophy taught by those educators who work overtime to keep the living and true God out of our eduction system; especially our science classes. Why remove God from education? Behold! Our covenant with death! But human death is unnatural. It didn’t exist in the beginning when God created us. Death came when man rebelled against God in the Garden – siding with the Devil. But when was the last time you heard this taught in a school science class? Old hat? That’s exactly what the serpent told Eve! Just eat the fruit and you can make up your own rules without God interfering in your education! (Prov.16:25).

But we since have learned that the Devil is a liar. For he said to Eve, ‘You will not surely die.’ How many times over has the Devil been proven a liar? See the jaws of death salivating for you! Why then should you keep on trusting him over the God who made you? Perhaps you don’t believe in God or the Devil? Perhaps you believe instead, e.g., what the Darwinian Evolutionists are teaching our precious children? The young are being taught to believe that we will not surely die for disobeying God – that death is simply a ‘natural’ process. Death and Hell? Small price to pay for autonomy from God! – and so say all who ignore God.

But there is Good News! The keeping of God’s Law provides true freedom – freedom from death and Hell. But before you look for the old straitjacket in your closet to put on, remember that you are still under the condemnation of the guilt of our rebellion way back in Adam! Therefore it is only through our substitute Adam’s perfect keeping of God’s Law that we are saved. And His death on the cross was to pay the penalty we owed God for breaking His Commandments. He physically rose from the dead. Thus contrary to the teaching of that old serpent the Devil, becoming like God is not attained through freedom from God and His Law, but by being united to Christ and His completed work through the instrument of faith.

He is the express image of God. Therefore, ‘Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.’ Philippians 2:5-8. Christ by His bodily resurrection has swallowed up death forever. (Isa. 25:8).