Perplexing Generosity

I like the idea of startling visitors to church events, such as childrens school holiday programs, by not charging money. It makes a bold statement. The unconditional salvation of the gospel has inspired us to be generous in running this event, to bring the gospel to you. We should stand out with our generous activities we put on for children and youth in the community.

But combined with this we actually need ways of telling people how we do resource what we do. Transparency is needed to show people the mechanics of how peoples voluntary generous giving provides for church staff/buildings and their voluntary time provides for amazing events. Resurrection affirms redeeming creation aka ‘the small details’. The details point to the gospel more than a gnostic “Jesus provided all this, no more questions”.

A great way to do transparency in public services is by taking a cash collection – ‘there go the money bags’, swoosh. Put basic financial stats in the handed out newsletter. Make it clear how people give, and how much they are giving. Have AGM reports always on the noticeboard for people to look at the church budget. Spend alot of time publicly thanking people for hours of hard work put into ministries. The apostle Paul is thanking people all the time.

Part of the gospel-transparency ought to be to do with who the “paid guys” are. Knowing this you can then infer who the real volunteers are. Every time I take my kids to a new sport I’m always thinking, who are the paid guys here? The paid guys have the power, responsibility and authority in an organisation. If there are too many paid guys then I get worried. Why do they need paid guys to do everything? If there are too few paid guys I get worried.  Why are the paid guys hiding?

I once heard a pastor proudly state that in his Sunday services, because of his great lay leadership and blendy-in outfit, it was extremely hard for visitors to tell “who the minister is”. That seems weak to me. The Lordship of Jesus redeems and affirms human hierarchy and authority structures, not flattens them. And to the outsider, the great event you are enjoying is probably the fruit of wonderful volunteer labour AND a few paid guys sweating it out full-time. Lets not deceive people by pretending it was all volunteer driven.

Somehow we need to combine perplexing generosity with real gospel transparency, that allows outsiders to follow the money. The more brilliant and polished our events are, the more transparent we need to be. Otherwise our “free” events will just feel like Amway free lunch seminars, or cult events where you know there is some BIG financial gotcha around the corner. And that is plain creepy.

National Day of Mourning & Compassion

20,000 murders in Victoria alone, too sad.

Join us, on November 23rd

as we walk and pray to raise community awareness about the destruction of life that is occuring every day.

Of particular concern are the attrocities of late-term abortion now made easier by the Abortion Reform Bill, recently passed in Victoria.

National Day of Mourning & Compassion.

Opposition to Abortion Law Reform 2008 Petition

The fight continues…

Opposition to Abortion Law Reform 2008 (Victoria, Australia) Petition
As Christian and Catholic believers in Jesus Christ, who reside in Victoria
• We affirm that God is the giver of all life, and that He opposes violence and killing.
• We affirm that all human life is sacred, and that God loves and cares for all human beings from conception until death.
• We affirm that pregnancy, childbirth and parenting are great blessings.
• We oppose abortion except in rare and exceptional circumstances, such as when a pregnant woman’s life is in grave danger.
• We affirm that in Jesus Christ there is forgiveness and restoration for people who have had abortions and people who have performed abortions.
• We call on Churches and the State to provide compassionate and truthful counselling for pregnant women on the risks of abortion, and on the alternatives to abortion.
• We call on Churches and the State to provide compassionate and generous support for all parents, especially single parents and those struggling with need.
• We call on Churches and the State to improve care for the disabled, and to demonstrate that they are a valued part of society.
• We condemn the Abortion Law Reform Act 2008, which permits abortion on demand up to 24 weeks of pregnancy and allows abortion from 24 weeks until birth on the agreement of two doctors.
• We praise the role that medical and nursing professionals play in sustaining life in the State of Victoria.
• We support all Victorian doctors and nurses who, on grounds of religion or conscience, refuse to participate in abortion or to provide a referral for abortion.

Media fails to report protests against culture of death

As we speak the Victorian Parliament is still debating the Abortion Reform Bill, giving a State mandate to murder unborn children.

Last Sunday there was a big protest against this bill. It received very little media coverage:

THOUSANDS of anti-abortion supporters packed Melbourne’s St Patrick’s Cathedral yesterday before rallying outside parliament in an emotive last stand against decriminalising abortion.

Churchgoers in rally against abortion bill | The Australian

The Age only gave it a slight mention at the end of a wider article:

Yesterday, more than 2000 protesters converged on the steps of the Victorian Parliament to voice their opposition to the bill. Earlier, 2500 packed St Patrick’s Cathedral for a service, led by Archbishop Denis Hart, urging the bill’s defeat.

Abortion bill’s rights ‘breach’ | theage.com.au

This paragraph doesn’t even make any sense. It is easy to count the number of people in a building. If 2500 went to a service against abortion, why wouldn’t they all walk 5 minutes down the road to join the protest? What about all the Roman Catholics that went to the protest and not the service? And what about all the Protestant Christians who turned up? All the concerned citizens? There had to be at least three or four thousand people there:

On the other hand, in the Saturday Age, they ran a story on a protest against freeway noise on the widened Monash freeway:

How can 200 people protesting freeway noise be the lead national story on the Age web site, but a 3000-4000 person protest against the abortion of unborn children barely rate a mention?

The Age and other media outlets are not interested in justice.

5th October Prayer and Protest Rally, Parliament House, Melbourne

The whole family and a bunch of people from church went to the prayer and protest rally for the murderous proposed abortion bill. I reckon about 4000+ people there. There were more than you can see just on these photos, but it was quite big.

There were lots of kids and babies and prams. Josiah and Jemima were asking lots of questions. We tried to be as clear as we could – we were there to protest the government allowing and encouraging thousands of babies to be killed in their mother’s tummies. .

More photos on my flickr page.

Home – Matt’s Protest

Go Matt.

On Tuesday 7th October, Parliament is set to debate and then vote on the Abortion Law Reform bill, which allows unborn babies to be aborted for any reasons up to 24 weeks, and up to 9 months if 2 doctors give their consent. More info…

I just don’t get why unborn kids don’t have rights. I can’t sit by and keep quiet anymore. Enough is enough. So I’m protesting every day from early until late on the steps of Parliament until the vote is made

Home – Matt’s Protest

Collingwood are favourites to get Cousins – realfooty.com.au

Is this is in the Pies best interest? We already have enough character issues. Contrary to the pragmatists out there, it does matter.

COLLINGWOOD are the short-priced favourites to hand disgraced former West Coast captain Ben Cousins the chance to restart his AFL career in 2009.

Collingwood are favourites to get Cousins – realfooty.com.au

BUSY

A Christian email suggests BUSY = “Being under Satan’s Yoke”

I know what they mean!

What is a Christian ethical response to Western busyness?

Is it slowing down the pace of life?

Or overloading with more Christian activities to cover the turf?

If you do the former you risk simply getting controlled by the tyranny of the urgent and demanding.

If you do the latter you haven’t really changed the paradigm.

Which way to go?

Mem Fox blasts full time child care for babies | Herald Sun

It is heartbreaking.

“I don’t know why some people have children at all if they know that they can take only a few weeks off work.

“I know you want a child, and you have every right to want a child, but does the child want you if you are going to put it in child care at six weeks? I don’t think the child wants you, to tell the honest truth.

“I was talking to someone in child care in Queensland this year. She said that we’re going to look back on this time from the late ’90s onwards and wonder how we have allowed that child abuse to happen. It’s awful for the mothers as well. It’s completely heartbreaking.

Mem Fox blasts full time child care for babies | Herald Sun

Christian bikies in unholy brawl – World – smh.com.au

Maybe they had a good reason to get into a bar fight that saw a Hells Angel killed. Maybe it was self defence. Maybe it was to protect some innocents the Hells Angels were attacking. Or maybe they are recent converts with a violent history to shake-off. Maybe they didn’t start it, but they finished it.

LOS ANGELES: Authorities have arrested eight members of a Christian bikie gang known as the Set Free Soldiers on charges of attempted murder in connection with a bar fight last week with members of the Hells Angels.

The arrests were made during raids in southern California, authorities said. Three people are still being sought on arrest warrants.

An Anaheim police spokesman, Sergeant Tim Schmidt, said the raids followed a clash between the Set Free Soldiers and Hells Angels at a Newport Beach bar.

All those arrested on Wednesday were members of Set Free Soldiers, Sergeant Schmidt said. They are being held on bail of $US1 million ($1.09 million) each.

On their website, Set Free Soldiers describe themselves as “a group of men who love Jesus and love to ride hard. We are not your normal motorcycle club. Some say we are too good for the bad guys, and too bad for the good guys.”

Christian bikies in unholy brawl – World – smh.com.au

Honoring Men

Today I give honor to the great Aussie men who served in the Vietnam war.

Over 500 did not make it back and many lives have been broken and lost upon return.

No returning soldier ever deserves to be treated as they were when they came back. An absolute disgrace.

It is truly impossible for me or anyone to know the terrors that guerilla warfare in the jungles must have wrought on all soldiers fighting in that war.

Romans 13:7 Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

Medicare, not medikill (Make A Stand)

Why would you want to encourage or legalise murder? Abortion for convenience is wrong. Sex has consequences.

On 17 September 2008, Senator Guy Barnett (Liberal, Tas) will move a disallowance motion in the Senate seeking to tip the balance of power in favour of voiceless unborn children. The motion aims to terminate Medicare funding for abortions performed in the second trimester of pregnancy – 14 to 26 weeks gestation.

Partial birth abortion is a brutal method used to terminate pregnancies during the second trimester of pregnancy. Although banned in the United States, this horrific method of abortion may attract a Medicare benefit.

Medicare, not medikill (Make A Stand) – www.makeastand.org.au

Department of Health & Ageing -Marriage Increases Life Expectancy

Just at the age when people start giving up on their marriage promises in droves, is the age at which there are marked health benefits for sticking to your marriage. If you are struggling in your marriage – do everything you can to fight for the relationship and not give up.

New data analysis released by Mrs Elliot showed married male and female Australians live longer than life-long single people.

Australian Bureau of Statistics data on age-specific death rates in Australia per thousand per age group clearly shows that married people have lower death rates than non-married people in almost all age groups, for both men and women. (The data compares the rate of death per 1,000 for single people versus married ones.)

Data analysed by the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing shows the difference between single and married starts in the 40s and grows sharply in the 60s.

The real spike appears in the 70-84 group with the death rate for single people almost double than married men and women.

Department of Health & Ageing -Marriage Increases Life Expectancy

Marriage helps you live longer | The Daily Telegraph

Based on…

“Based on a Christian worldview” claims the latest marriage/parenting/Christian education/church leadership curriculum.

And it is about as accurate as the latest Hollywood movie that begins with “Based on a true story…”

You can’t “base” something on Jesus Christ, and never mention him.

You can’t “base” something on the Bible, and then never use the Bible in your material.

If your material on any topic can survive having the Bible and gospel elements cut out, then it wasn’t really based on a Christian worldview was it?

After struggle with affluenza come intimations of morality | The Australian

I have lots of respect for this Clive Hamilton. But, for all of Affluenza’s brilliance as a cultural and economic study into Australian greed, the weakest parts of the book are the “solution” chapters at the end.

You can’t blame someone for wanting to move from the “what is the problem?” discussion to the “what is the solution?” discussion. But it’s a very different ball game.

My conviction is that our Western affluenza is a deeply spiritual and idolatrous problem, and therefore can only be redeemed by substituting idols for the true and living God. The message of the New Testament is couched in categories of freedom from slavery-to-idols, by the death and resurrection of God’s Son, in order to be “set free indeed” by the truth of Jesus Christ. We do not have power in ourselves to do this, but God offers it freely in the gospel of Jesus Christ, through the power of his Spirit.

Good luck Clive, I look forward to reading what you come up with.

CLIVE Hamilton has considerable drawing power among the reading public, but will a book about non-religious spirituality based on the premise that we need to be good for goodness’s sake walk off the shelves?

Professor Hamilton took to the airwaves yesterday morning to talk up his latest offering, The Freedom Paradox: Towards a Post-secular Ethics.

After struggle with affluenza come intimations of morality | The Australian

Why use less energy?

I’m personally much more motivated to dramatically drop my carbon footprint and energy/food wastage because of increasing global food shortages. Why should someone starve so I can have central heating?

My second motivation to drop energy usage is because of peak oil and/or some other global oil crisis. We have to change our lifestyles to not assume cheap oil.

Climate change would be a distant third motivator.

Immoral Muslim Views on Women and Polygamy

Two Muslim leaders come forward this week to claim both a market and a call for legality for Muslim polygamous marriages.

They have a good case in that our society permits plural sexual relationships, so why not this? The answer of course is that the Christian ideal of one man and one woman for life that has held sway in Western culture for such a long time, should remain our ideal, to the majority benefit of society.

The more permissive immoral structures we now have are causing untold damage to men, women and children. Polygamy will only increase that. Modern western sexual autonomy is a complete disaster. Islamic polygamy is just as immoral. We want a tightening of our legal structures to preserve marriage as represented in the proven Western tradition.

Theologically speaking, marriage is a spiritual metaphor of the exclusive relationship between Christ and his Church. It can only be captured truly by a lifelong exclusive committed covenant between a man and a woman. Two people of the same gender cannot image the complementarity between Christ and the Church. Polygamy cannot represent it because it is not an exclusive relationship.

The Christian marriage model is designed to curb the selfish and sinful tendencies of men and women. Both Western sexual autonomy and Islamic polygamy only serve to magnify sinful human tendencies, especially among men.

The Sydney Morning Herald quoted Sheikh Chami as saying that he was asked almost weekly to conduct polygamous religious ceremonies, but had declined to perform such ceremonies.

He also claimed that there were other sheikhs without any qualifications, without any place, who conducted such marriages.

Islamic Friendship Association of Australia president Keysar Trad said recognising polygamous unions would help protect the rights of women in the relationship.

“This idea of plural sexual relationships, it is not so much frowned upon by society as long as these people don’t say we want a polygamous relationship,” he said.

‘Polygamy all about wanting sex with more women legally’

Sheik Chami said yesterday there was nothing wrong with having a number of marriages. “You allow the lesbians, you allow the gays – why not these people? What’s wrong with it?” he said.

Polygamy fights for an Aussie home | The Australian

Hoover Institution – Policy Review – How the West Really Lost God

This is a stunning essay on the rise and possible fall of secularism in the West. Is the thesis correct though? There are big gaps in either view.

This essay represents what might be called a radical friendly amendment to the revisionists. It questions the theory of secularization and, by extension, its father Nietzsche, not by citing current facts about religious renewal or historical facts about Christianity’s influence, but rather by exploring a hitherto unexamined logical leap in the famous story line. To be fancy about it for a moment, what secularization theory assumes is that religious belief comes ontologically first for people and that it goes on to determine or shape other things they do — including such elemental personal decisions as whether they marry and have children or not.10 Implied here is a striking, albeit widely assumed, view of how one social phenenomenon powers another: that religious believers are more likely to produce families because religious belief somehow comes first.

Hoover Institution – Policy Review – How the West Really Lost God

Australian retirees face tougher times as falling superannuation returns come just as many prices jump, Chris Zappone reports

The Age reports on tough times for retirees:

Even taking into account the recent slide, returns over the past five years have averaged just over 11%, SuperRatings said today.

Australian retirees face tougher times as falling superannuation returns come just as many prices jump, Chris Zappone reports

Well it would be “tough”. But why does the Age web site put a photo of an Eastern European elderly peasant crying with this article? Are middle class Aussies doing it that tough?

David Field: 2 minutes, 35 seconds

David Field blogs the latest government stats from the UK on the number of abortions there. There is no equivalent reporting from any federal or state health department in Australia. Abortion is murder, a great evil. Hiding the evil is also reprehensible.

The total number of abortions rose to 198,499 abortions to residents of England and Wales (and another 7099 to non-residents). This is the highest ever figure. After ups and downs (between 126,000 and 167,000) in the 1970s, the figure has risen steadily almost every year since.

The rate of abortions rose to 18.6 per 1000 women between 15-44 yrs old. This is the highest ever rate. After ups and downs (9.9 – 12.1) in the 1970s, the rate has risen steadily almost every year since.

2,937 abortions were performed at 20 weeks gestation or over.

David Field: 2 minutes, 35 seconds

The Story of Stuff with Annie Leonard

This is a delightful 20 minute flash documentary.

The presentation is fantastic.

The message is significant. Though it touches on climate changes it gets closer to some of the more root issues of consumerism that are the cause of much injustice today. The time has come for people who worship Jesus to stop worshiping “stuff” on the side.

The Story of Stuff with Annie Leonard