Steps to Life January 2019 Newsletter
It’s January 2019 and Where Are We Headed? Do We Need to Be Worried?
We live in a dangerous world. Paul says in Hebrews 13: 11, 12 - And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.
In the physical world bad things happen too often to innocent people. You can’t even plan a vacation without wondering if there will be a flood, bush fire, catastrophic wind storm, violent act of terrorism and in many countries an outbreak of war. There is violence on our streets, national and international conflict of one type or another to the point where it is well nigh impossible to tally the numbers of soldier deaths, civilian deaths, people injured due to armed conflict or displaced people due to wars raging just in 2018. Nations struggle for supremacy.
Social world standards of morality and behaviour are being changed. For Australians, the November state election in Victoria, gave insight into a shift in what Victorians now see as important values. It’s a giant shift from even ten years back. In the Victorian election the word ‘progressive’ was often used to describe a political agenda that reflected the changing values of the broader community. Other words similarly used included ‘modern’ and ‘relevant’. The politicians and policies not perceived as being progressive, by implication, were viewed as being ‘regressive’. They were, and are, being described as ‘narrow’ and accused of forcing their ‘skewed worldview’ on the broader community. After all, it is said, we are a democracy and what the majority want they should be given! Remember the French Revolution?
In the election’s aftermath, members of the press and politicians of both the winning and losing parties, repeatedly said that the change in the composition of the Victorian Parliament was due to a recognition that ‘progressive’ leaders and policies were being demanded by the electorate. Federally, the same scenario is playing out in the lead up to the next Federal election in 2019. So what did and do the ‘progressive’ leaders stand for?
Did ‘progressive’ mean moving back to Biblical morality and be-coming more Christlike? No. Commentators pointed out clearly that candidates who had opposed the enactment of same sex marriage, introduction of the safe (unsafe) school program, the introduction of government funded injecting rooms and so on were the ones who were not elected or had major voting swings against them. Worse than that, one candidate who had publically come out against same sex marriage and safe (unsafe) schools based on Biblical values was ridiculed for being discriminatory.
And then there is the out of control pornography viewing. Paul says in Phillippians 4:8, Finally brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things of good report, if there be any virtue and if there be any praise think on these things.
Way back in 2006 worldwide revenues from pornography sales were higher than the revenues of Microsoft, Apple, Google, Amazon, eBay, Yahoo and Netflix all combined, as reported by social researchers Crooks and Baur. In 2016 an Australian parliamentary committee reported that Australia was the forth-highest spending country on pornography, behind the USA, Korea and Japan. Not a record to boast about! Another report has Australia ranked number 7 for internet porn traffic. (Porn Hub). In April 2018 the Sydney Morning Herald reported that - Few topics are as contentious as pornography – and quoted Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and Presbyterian minister Chris Hedges as saying it “glorifies our dehumanisation of women”. There are many sources reporting statistics saying the greatest rise in porn viewing is when the scenes are of teenage girls and involve violence and rape. Pastor Chris Hedges is right! How safe are our men, women, teenagers and children living with porn as the norm. Where is our world headed?
Culture has become the standard by which right and wrong is judged. In our western democracies, since the light of truth shone dispelling the moral blackness of the Dark Ages, our cultural values were historically based on the biblical foundations of the Reformation – the Bible’s description of right and wrong. Today, the biblical foundations of culture have been severely eroded.
So culturally, rave dance parties have taken over from rock concerts, and drug taking on an unprecendented scale is used to enhance the effects of the blaring music (sic) and lights has become the done thing. On December 8, 2018 at the Knockout Games of Destiny event held at Sydney’s Olympic Stadium, 19 year old Callum Brosnan died from a drug overdose. His girl friend and family were ‘shattered’. It follows two deaths early this year at the dance party Defqon 1. Others were hospitalized. Festival goers just keep ignoring the warnings about the use of drugs at these events. Culturally it is acceptable – drug taking at rave parties is the norm, despite the best efforts of police and governments to prevent it happening. Culturally, the community wants young people to have fun.
Culturally, ‘social justice warriors’ have become the champions of society. While Satan has created many situations of inequality, injustice and exploitation, we need to ask ourselves the question, ‘Has social injustice distracted our communities from listening to the ‘present truth warriors’ who proclaim the second coming of Jesus?’ What should our emphasis be? Should we strike a balance between addressing social injustice issues and the preaching of the second coming? Jesus told his disciples - And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give. (Matt. 10: 7,8.) Jesus struck a balance. It wasn’t a case of ‘either, or.’
When Jesus was here on earth social injustice was rife. Slavery, poverty, racial and religious discrimination, inequality on many fronts including gender, exploitation, theft and brutality were endemic. Did Jesus raise protest marches, inciting violence as a way of overturning the social order and rectifying the situation people lived in? No. He said – Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. (Matt. 11: 28, 29). And then he focused their attention on heaven – Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. (John 14: 1 to 3).
The government of Jesus’ day was worried about His political aspirations. Pilate put it straight to Jesus at His trail - Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done? Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. (John 18: 35 to 36). The responses given by Jesus are still relevant to us today.
Economically and financially the world, not just Australia, is living precariously. Central banks have pumped huge sums of cash into their economies to stimulate demand, which in turn stimulates the supply of jobs and income. Ian Verrender, Financial Editor for the ABC reported on this in December 2018, stating that in an unprecedented way, the finance markets of the world are now the ‘tail wagging the dog’ of the central banks. Once central banks shaped monetary policy that set the scene for what happens on the finance markets. Because of the huge amounts of money pumped into the finance markets by central banks by way of bond and share purchase to keep economies afloat, the central banks who now own these shares and bonds, are loath to take action that will cause a downturn in the financial markets for fear of devaluing their shares. With a worldwide crash in housing prices, which in turn means that people have now borrowed more than the value of their homes, many cannot afford to pay their repayments. In turn, in restricting their household weekly spending to make repayments there is less consumer demand and therefore a constriction in available jobs and incomes. Central banks have not had to solve this problem in the past.
Verrender said, The US Fed injected almost $US4 trillion into the system by buying up US Government bonds and mortgage debt. Europe did the same. Japan's central bank went several steps further. It now owns close to half of all Japanese Government bonds; so many it has killed the market. It since has had to switch to buying shares on the Tokyo stock exchange just to keep pumping cash into the system. He continues - Pumping money in certainly helped save the global economy. Turning off the tap was problematic. Unwinding the stimulus, however, is proving a major headache. The apostle James made the following prophetic economic commentary on the world in the last days – pertinent to right now! Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth eaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days. Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth. Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter. Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you. (James 5: 1 to 8).
James’ timely advice to us is - Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord... Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. (James 5: 7,8).
Then there is the worldwide phenomenon of gender issue. Boys at school who claim to be girls today, being given the right to use the girls toilets and then tomorrow being boys again- and on it goes. How dangerous is that!
Martin Iles of Australian Christian Lobby, on November 28, 2018 wrote these insightful comments.
For the first time in Australian law, we are contemplating crossing a threshold. Not merely prohibited speech, but now compelled speech. (Note: that threshold has been crossed in other countries already.) The law compels us to say things whether we like it or not. ….. As the activists say, gender is like a galaxy. It can never be understood, but it can always be explored (an actual quote from a gender-bending school resource).
My intergalactic expedition might lead me to discover fascinating facets of my gender previously unknown to me. I might discover my inner aethergender, which is a wide, commanding and powerful gender. It’s ok to combine this with other genders, so I could still be a woman, too. By reason of near infinite combinations of gender identities, I could do whatever I want. It’s just gender expression.
But if you decided not to employ me because of my frankly bizarre gender expression – like being an overbearing and rude aethergender transwoman – or you criticise me or tell me that I’ve lost my mind, you’ll be sorry. ….. . The legal protection of “gender expression” may mean that’s discrimination and hate speech. ….. . And so, with the world bludgeoned into submission, too afraid to speak up or so much as cast a sideways glance, my delusion would be complete. Invented in the confines of my mind, confirmed by the laws of my State, and foisted upon a powerless community. Here’s the thing: my story is satire, but the legal principles I’ve invoked are all real. ….. .
Mad as it is, there are three big ideas which run through all of this. The first is the idea that the truth is intolerable. …. . The second is the idea that how I feel in my head is in fact the same as what is real. …… . The third is the idea that nothing less than overt affirmation will do. People must be compelled by the force of law to participate in my lie and affirm my lie.
Is this a surprise to us? It shouldn’t be, because those are exactly the three things the Apostle Paul identifies as characterising a Romans 1 society.
It’s January 2019 and where are we headed? Do we need to be worried? In John 14: 27 to 29 Jesus is recorded as saying – Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. ….. .And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe.
Christian greetings from Cherryl and the STL Team
Brian Way / Programs Co-Ordinator