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Culture War Part 02: What Do The Two Sides Believe?

The great cultural civil war, with its polarisation of society groups and poisoning of the public square, continues. As we learned last month, this ‘war’ is nothing new - it is at least half a century old. Yet, the flare-ups that we witnessed during and after the 2016 US presidential campaign, shows us the need to understand what’s going on. After all, when you understand a problem, you are halfway towards a solution (Proverbs 4:7).
Remember, this is similar to the ‘Cold War,’ where there is not so much an exchange of bullets and weapons fire. What we have instead is an acrimonious public discourse, an abundance of legislation and regulations, the tyranny of political correctness, and a divided public.
The two sides of the culture-war are:
1.On the Left: Secular Progressives (often called ‘Liberals,’ but best to stick to SP), influenced by cultural Marxism and old-fashioned socialism;
2.On the Right: Traditional Values Conservatives;
Ultimately, this war is about western civilisation - the…
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What Should We Think About America’s Mass Shootings?

It was heart-breaking news: on Sunday 5 November 2017, the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas, was hit with a mass shooting. Devin Kelley, age 26, with a history of violence and mental health issues, stormed into the church. Clad in black, carrying a military-style rifle, and wearing a ballistic vest on his chest, Kelley fired at the congregation indiscriminately and at close range. By the time he was done, 26 people were dead, with ages ranging from 5 to 72. Among the dead was the 14 year old daughter of the pastor. Kelley later committed suicide after being attacked by a gun owner.
It is the grimmest of role calls. Kelley’s shooting spree comes on the heals of the Las Vegas attack on 1 October 2017, where 64 year old Stephen Paddock killed 64 people during a concert. Omar Mateen, age 29, murdered 49 people in a gay night club in Orlando, Florida on 12 June 2016. There was the attack on Virginia Tech by a Korean migrant named Cho Seung Hui, age 23, on 16 April 2007; Cho…

M’judarra (Lentil & Rice Casserole)

This is a vegetarian main meal delight. Popular in Egypt and the Middle East, m’judarra is a simple lentil and rice with spice dish. Topped with golden-fried onions and plain yoghurt, it is a taste sensation.

1 ½ cups brown lentils, washed and drained. 1 ½ t. salt 5 cups water 2 medium-sized onions, cut in half and finely sliced (or make more if you like golden brown onions) 150 ml light olive oil 1 cup or less (1/2 cup) long-grain rice, washed and drained. Spices: Choose one. Cinnamon or curry powder or cumin to taste.
Place lentils in a saucepan with salt and 3 cups water. Cover and bring to a boil. Add a further cup of water and boil for approximately 15 minutes.
While lentils are cooking, fry onion in oil until dark brown or golden (be sure not to burn). Set aside a generous part of the onions and add the reminder, together with its oil, to the boiling water. Add rice and stir. Add remaining water, add one of the three spices listed above to taste (don’t go overboard), cover and cook over …

For Such A Time As This: Why Study the Book of Esther

The Jews had light, and gladness, and joy, and honour. 17And in every province, and in every city, whithersoever the king’s commandment and his decree came, the Jews had joy and gladness, a feast and a good day. And many of the people of the land became Jews; for the fear of the Jews fell upon them Esther 8:16-17
It has all the ingredients of a block-buster movie, but this is no Hollywood creation. The Book of Esther tells the very real story in the 5th Century BC of an insidious plot to destroy the Jewish people. Ironically, this scheme was not hatched by the overbearing Egyptians, war-like Assyrians, or despotic Babylonians - it happened under the enlightened, cultured, tolerant Persian empire. Of all Israel’s occupiers, the Persians should have been the least likely empire to hatch such a plot - but, as the book tells us, not only was this plot of Jewish destruction conceived, but it almost succeeded. The reason it ultimately failed is because of the ‘God-factor.’ The Lord promise…

Signs of the Times: How Should We Respond?

Bible prophecy is a wonderful, God-given blessing to the church and the world. Its benefits are incalculable, including bringing edification, comfort, enlargement to the church. Of course, it is a ‘heads up’ regarding the future.
Yet prophecy is in danger of falling into disrepute through foe and friend alike. Foes seek to ignore, marginalise, or discredit the prophetic word. Prophecy’s ‘friends’ are capable of doing some very unwise things, too. For example, they set the date for Christ’s return. I remember as a 21 year old sitting in church and hearing that a certain high-profile man ‘staked his reputation’ that Jesus would return the very next month! Another man wrote a book called about why Jesus would return that very year. Though the book was from America, it travelled very quickly to Australia (and, no doubt, other parts of the world). Normal ‘Aussie skepticism’ was thrown to the wind as people were stirred up that Jesus might, just might, return that year. One man seemed distre…

Paul’s Secret to Changing the World Part 04

Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ JesusPhilippians 3:12 (KJV)
He is one of the most impactful individuals who ever walked this planet. Two millennia after he lived, his legacy continues to grow exponentially. It would be hard to over-estimate the impact he has had on humanity.
The man in focus is none other than the Apostle Paul. Tireless church planter, apostolic father figure, and (human) author of half the New Testament, he leaves an example worthy of emulation. The secret of his world-changing success is found in the third chapter of Philippians.
So far, we have learned:
Principle One: Grace brings world-change; Principle Two: Righteousness brings world-change - when you change into the righteous image of Christ, you are then empowered to be an agent of change to the world. Principle Three: Knowing Christ. Christ is such a powerful, singular figure that knowing …

A Burdensome Stone: Jerusalem and the Last Days Part 04

Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem.3And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it — Zechariah 12:2-3
In the first two parts, we covered the history of Jerusalem from its earliest days 4,000 years ago until the year 2000 AD. David 3000 years ago captured Jerusalem and made it his royal city and God’s holy city. The ark of the covenant and eventually Solomon’s temple resided here. A 1,000 years later Jesus of Nazareth, son of David, was enthusiastically received by the city on His triumphal entry. Yet within a week He had been betrayed, rejected, and crucified. Victoriously, Jerusalem was the site of the resurrection and ascension of Jesus. It was here that the Christian Church was born and from its walls the gospel of …