Reflections on Western Society

Reflections on Western Society 

[contributed by SM]

During a speech, former Minister for Defence, Kevin Andrews, referred to Pitirim Sorokin, 1889-1968, a Russian-American. Sorokin noted of the Russian Revolution: “During the first stages of the [Russian] Revolution, its leaders deliberately attempted to destroy marriage and the family. 

 Free love was glorified by the official ‘glass of water’ theory: if a person is thirsty, so went the Party line, it is immaterial what glass he uses when satisfying his thirst; it is equally unimportant how he satisfies his sex hunger. The legal distinction between marriage and casual sexual intercourse was abolished. The communist law spoke only of ‘contracts’ between males and females for the satisfaction of their desires either for an indefinite or a definite period – a year, a month, a week, or even a single night. In short, a variation on that musical play, “Anything Goes.”  Really? Does this ring a bell?

 The social chaos, which followed the policy, caused its abandonment later in the 1920s. It doesn’t take a university degree to see what this could do to the social values of Western civilization with respect to personal relationships and individual attitudes. Could it happen here? Is it happening here?

 Furthermore, one could be brave and state that in the West courtesy still exists. Certainly it exists but so does, increasingly, masculine aggressiveness (machismo) an example of which is the single, sometimes fatal, punch reported from time to time. Sledging in cricket is now accepted as a norm and the behaviour by some players of football needs no comment.

 In short, the death of courtesy in Western civilization is noticeable. So what is courtesy? Simply the social oil which facilitates good relationships between people and peoples. It is not the only catalyst but it is a necessary one. It is what Christianity calls “Love in action” – courtesy – respectful kindliness in behaviour…

 Without its presence relationships are endangered; bullying can potentially exist in workplace dealings; in the twilight world of crime enforcing extreme violence becomes the norm. It is useless to go on as you already know where the bully boys operate. The practice of courtesy – EVEN A SMILE — as a habit — would make a real contribution to harmony and safety in the community.  So?  Simple ….. GET WITH IT — TRY IT. You could be really surprised at its effect. Better still find out what being Christian really means!

 Been to worship in a Church recently? No? Try it – you might find the peace you seek. [Speak to a minister or priest if the above has interested you. – SM]

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A Charming Failure?

 “There is something innately charming about the ordinary folk who came in droves to see the charismatic preacher (Billy Graham): men in their dark suits and hats, women wearing frocks, hats and gloves, girls with their plaits and bobbysocks, clean-cut lads with short-back-and-sides haircuts, all in a conscious effort to look their best.”

The words “innately charming” appeared in a recent article (extract above) on Billy Graham by a TV presenter. They could be judgmental as well as descriptive but can one judge the standards of another time? The clothing mentioned in the above paragraph, for example, was as normal in those days as is the “dress down” aspect of today’s custom of no ties, non-ironed trousers, rumpled clothes, torn and faded jeans and so on. Do we judge the dress of the Elizabethan era? As well, remember that most of those “well dressed” people were the war generation who grew up in the Depression. They conserved clothes and wore their “best clothes” – as expected – in those days, to such events. Those with a knowledge of that time would agree. Not to know that is to misread the scene.  “What’s acceptable and worn at the time“ applies to both eras.

More importantly, what were the results of Graham’s charisma? “Passing” seems the judgment by that writer – a non-continuance into the next generation. Was the transience of his message due to a failure in preaching done by a “slick preacher with movie-star looks and a sonorous voice”? That seems too easy an explanation – Graham could not achieve everything, surely, in one sermon to a massed audience. Follow up education was needed.  It was provided. Did the many, though, follow through or was the rally the beginning and the end – which I suggest it was. If the many didn’t attend what was their reason? Lack of time or inclination are possibilities. So many attendees would never have gone past the “God exists and Jesus calls you to know that” step.

As well there were the loosely connected people who did not know or could not teach/explain the essence of Faith, “Love one another” to their children.  Among them, were the many parents who stayed at home but sent children to Sunday school – a childminding facility on Sunday morning. Did the parents come later to worship with their offspring? Well, see the result to-day – empty pews.

So, if any hard-line view is taken of the Billy Graham campaigns then “parent-failure” has to be seen as a factor. As the parent so the child. Further, Christian educators of those days tried to “make it easy” to learn and discarded learning by heart/rote from the Bible and a little book called the Catechism with its question-and-answer method fell into disuse. That contributed to ignorance and the fall away in worshippers.

In Queensland’s Presbyterian Church the reverend gentlemen of the 1960s were told annually at their State Assembly that youth numbers were falling – that there was a real need to act. Did it happen? The words fell on deaf ears. That wasn’t Billy Graham’s fault.

Indeed, one can ask if theological colleges even now realise the need for high communication skills in students.

The “after Billy Graham generation” consequently – largely uninstructed and uninformed – went into a world of beguiling influences and of wonderful singers – the Beatles and suchlike – and welcomed the advent of the Pill in the 1960s. So the Pill was there, the Bible said, “Not before marriage”. Was “why” ever explained? Who won?  The Church?  No way, so the old Greek god Eros, with the help of the Pill, won by many lengths. Who was Eros?  Sex. You’ll no doubt see some aspects in the Mardi Gras which, this year, celebrates its start up 50 years ago – about the time we are referring to above. It is now described as “Australia’s greatest pageant”. It may well be.

The real question, though, has to be, did Graham fail or was it lack of skilled Church involvement/education/illumination as well as indifference by send-them to Sunday School parents and other non helping adults as well? By the clergy’s lack of communication skills? Billy Graham’s so called “pretty faith” lit the glimmer of belief in a lot of people but lack of extra fuel caused it to fail. 

There’s hope, though, tune into Jordan Peterson by clicking here – you won’t sleep!

[SM]

Having Trouble Praying?

Having Trouble Praying?

Prayer is not an acquired art but is instinctive. We pray for help when life is just too much for us and, interestingly enough, pray with our whole being that we be heard – particularly when we are desperate and anxious.

Are there any rules? Strictly speaking there aren’t.  We do not have to be great scholars to speak with the unseen Spirit that is our Father. St Paul described the Spirit in these words:

            God, in whom we live and move and have our being.

So, just as we are surrounded by wireless and TV waves and have to tune in to make use of them so we have to tune into God, the Spirit, through prayer. And that word “prayer” simply means talking to Him.

On the other hand, there are some aspects that we should think about. One has to face up to what Martin Luther said, ‘Don’t lie to God.’ What’s the point? If there is something we should do and we don’t, isn’t the really straightforward thing to do is to pray for the desire to be put in to our hearts? Another could be the need to be definite. For example, it is not enough in our private prayers to say we have been sinful. We must face up to what sins we have committed. As God said to Job,  “… I will demand of you and you will answer.”  So simply say what it is that you have done wrong and ask for forgiveness.- and mean it.

Then, too, we have to remember that the whole family of human beings is, in effect, the family of God and we have to live in harmony with the rest of the family and that’s where the word “love “comes in – in this case meaning ” being considerate of,” and that  means simply being ”kind”.

 Life is like a picture at the cinema. We come in with the picture well on (when we are born) and leave before it is finished (when we die). Hence God’s purposes – and sometimes ours – are best served when our particular prayers are not answered. The action has already begun so can we really expect it  to be changed when it is in full flight? What best suits everybody seems to be the rule that applies and still allows for answers in particular situations.  Remember, the cup of suffering was not taken away from Jesus when He prayed in Gethsemane.

Prayer is not a means of escape but a means by which we are enabled to overcome and handle matters in all situations in life – overcoming in the sense of never being without peace within; peace which passes all human understanding and never being without the feeling of being in touch with God. And the last way we benefit is to have what we call Grace, a generosity of attitude and spirit which enables us to say, ‘Father, forgive them they know not what they do.’

If you are having trouble praying try talking to God as if He is sitting opposite you.

                                    – Adapted from and with acknowledgements to William Barclay.

If you wish, by all means talk to your minister or priest about anything in the above article. (SM)

LOVE – “Can Western Civilisation be saved?”

    “Can Western Civilisation be saved?”

 “Western civilization has been transformed from the lovechild of Christianity and the Enlightenment into a malformed neo—Marxist culture” wrote Jennifer Oriel in “The Australian” 11/7/16. Then Paul Kelly in “The Australian” 15-16/4/17 stated, Progressive morality is elbowing out Christian values… Christian tradition faces erosion from … the failure of its churches and clerics (and)…Secularism and the rise of an alternative progressive morality.” The recent Census confirms these writings. So where to now? What’s ahead?

 

An old story tells how an “important–on-earth successful” man appeared at the bar of Heaven. St. Peter asked him what he did on earth and he replied that he had made a lot of money. Money!!! The whole of Heaven laughed. Why? Because he had missed the point to love (like or being kind to) others was far more important than using a once only life just to amass money – necessarily left behind when one dies. Read some of the obituary notices in the press – what gets a mention – love or money?

 

Love is a Christian core belief. It matters in life and at life’s end – loving, being loved, and helping others. They all matter. So, if we don’t teach that to children, the “I want” or “I suits Me” attitudes will prevail. Those who cause domestic violence and road rage – as well as “one-hit fatal” punchersare

 “I want” and “I suit Me” followers. If children imitate them and are not taught otherwise we will end up living among violent people – Barbarians.

Christ said, “Love (care for or be kind to) one anotherand, also, that we had to tell others that, when we believed in Him, His death on the Cross negated our individual sins, and that the final destiny of Christians was to be with the God who created them. If not that,what’s the point of being born? If just to get power or money then, at the end it seems like a lot of worry and trouble for nothing.  Why, if it then means little?

 

Well, what if you object that Christianity wants you to believe that Jesus Christ rose from the dead? Did He? Consider just one event. A disciple named Peter denied knowing Jesus three times on the night before Jesus’s crucifixion. Later, after having met the risen Jesus, Peter changed his whole purpose in life, taught others about Jesus, and was, finally, crucified in Rome. Why? What made him die rather than disbelieve that Christ was alive? But remember that there were others who saw Jesus alive.

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In non-Christian Rome, Christians met at near dawn on a Sunday to know and encourage each other. They believed in God and in his Son, Jesus, as do Christians today. So, can the West be saved? Yes, if we teach our children to believe in Christ and the Christian way of caring for each other and our legislation in Parliament reflects it. Think about it.

 

           Speak to a minister or priest if you want to know more.  (SM)

Easter and When It Started

(Image used with permission from http://clipart.christiansunite.com/)

A few years ago I had the privilege of visiting Israel. This, of course, was with the aim of visiting places important in the recorded events in the life of Jesus. Some places were busy with many pilgrims and this made it difficult to visualise or even think about the events which occurred there.

Adding to the difficulty was the erection of churches over places mentioned in the Gospel accounts. The traditional place of the manger has, for example, a magnificent and beautiful cathedral, which is a tribute to the faith and devotion of those who erected it. Similarly in Cana where Jesus performed the miracle of turning water into wine at a wedding. My surprise from this visit lay in the size of the flagons which held something like 20 gallons each.

In the Cathedral surmounting the traditional tomb in which Jesus was laid after the crucifixion the crowds were so numerous that joining the queue meant standing for at least an hour and a half added to which the continual movement of other visitors inevitably detracted from the solemnity of the moment. No, I didn’t join the queue. I did my best to see, at a distance this revered place and left.

Elsewhere, significant sites were easily visited such as where Christ faced trial, where He was imprisoned, the road along which he carried the cross to Calvary and the stations of the cross (recorded events/happenings).

Golgotha or the Place of the Skull turned out to be a rugged cliff face in which two holes represented the eyes, a jagged hole the mouth and rocky protrusions evocative of a face. The ancient olive trees in the garden of Gethsemane stood silent . There seemed little doubt they could have been there when the momentous events of the first Easter took place.

Nearby was a small entrance to what is called the Garden Tomb. This is believed by many to be the actual tomb in which Jesus was laid. One has to bend to pass through the entrance into the space beyond. Here in the small area involved were two, as I recall, rocky shelves. On one of these is believed the body of Jesus lay briefly from Friday until Sunday morning. Undoubtedly one felt that this could well have been His tomb. And so I, as did others, stand in silence remembering. And then, turning to leave, one saw the words written above the entry/exit hole.  They were –

                                    He is not here He is risen.

 (By all means discuss the implications of this article with a minister or priest. SM)

http://www.bible-studys.org/Books of the Bible.html

This Book has been fenced off in black. Many homes have a copy but it is rarely read though it is the most powerful book one can ever read. Many know about it but that’s all – yet it is the key to why we’re here and where we’re going. It has often been recommended by the oddest people and brandished in the most obnoxious ways. Some have died so that it can be read.  To start at the beginning is to become lost before you even get to the New Testament. Stay with me for a bit of help.

Did you know there was an Old Testament and a New Testament? Start again – what does the word “Testament“ mean? It simply means “Agreement”.  With whom?  With people. Between God and the people of ancient Israel and now us. And there were several agreements by God with them – which they couldn’t keep. Well, there’s a start! The Old Testament records the efforts and failures of those times. It’s best to read it as a history of God looking for and making several arrangements with the human beings He has created.  And that’s what the word Covenant means –New Covenant means New Agreement.

Here’s a short way to help you to get a bird’s eye view of the Old Testament.  Go to the New Testament and read the section entitled ”Hebrews” .The loud and clear message from that section is that the main figures mentioned there had FAITH- an unshakeable belief in God and that God cared for them enough to send His Son as a human being into the world.

 Now read the section entitled “John” in the New Testament to know what happened to Jesus and what his crucifixion meant for us. In short, He made it possible for us to have a direct relationship with God. That’s why we   say, “Through Jesus Christ our Lord.  

This can help -double click on this link – it’s easy to find your way:

http://www.bible-studys.org/Books of the Bible.html

As suggested, a brief encounter is to read Hebrews and John and get into a new relationship with God for your inner peace and the promise of everlasting life. Try it – you deserve it.

(If you wish, speak to any minister or priest about this– SM)

Reflections on Western Society

During a speech, former Minister for Defence, Kevin Andrews, referred to Pitirim Sorokin, 1889-1968, a Russian-American. Sorokin noted of the Russian Revolution: “During the first stages of the [Russian] Revolution, its leaders deliberately attempted to destroy marriage and the family.

Free love was glorified by the official ‘glass of water’ theory: if a person is thirsty, so went the Party line, it is immaterial what glass he uses when satisfying his thirst; it is equally unimportant how he satisfies his sex hunger. The legal distinction between marriage and casual sexual intercourse was abolished. The communist law spoke only of ‘contracts’ between males and females for the satisfaction of their desires either for an indefinite or a definite period – a year, a month, a week, or even a single night. In short, a variation on that musical play, “Anything Goes.”  Really? Does this ring a bell?

The social chaos, which followed the policy, caused its abandonment later in the 1920s. It doesn’t take a university degree to see what this could do to the social values of Western civilization with respect to personal relationships and individual attitudes. Could it happen here? Is it happening here?

Furthermore, one could be brave and state that in the West courtesy still exists. Certainly it exists but so does, increasingly, masculine aggressiveness (machismo) an example of which is the single, sometimes fatal, punch reported from time to time. Sledging in cricket is now accepted as a norm and the behaviour by some players of football needs no comment.

In short, the death of courtesy in Western civilization is noticeable. So what is courtesy? Simply the social oil which facilitates good relationships between people and peoples. It is not the only catalyst but it is a necessary one. It is what Christianity calls “Love in action” – courtesy – respectful kindliness in behaviour…

Without its presence male-female relationships are endangered; bullying can potentially exist in workplace dealings; in the twilight world of crime enforcing extreme violence becomes the norm. It is useless to go on as you already know where the bully boys operate. The practice of courtesy – EVEN A SMILE — as a habit — would make a real contribution to harmony and safety in the community.  So?  Simple .. GET WITH IT — TRY IT. You could be really surprised at its effect. Better still find out what being Christian really means!

Been to worship in a Church recently? No? Try it – you might find the peace you seek. [Speak to a minister or priest if the above has interested you. – SM]

You Can Be Changed Utterly in 2017

The poet, W.B. Yeats, has a most expressive line in one of his poems, “Easter 1916”, which says simply: “All changed, changed utterly.”

Everything is changed and changed utterly in our world from what it was.

Few people think much about our living in an era seemingly indifferent to the Christian message which was embraced widely by those who went before us. Christian faith has been decreased by the great flood of blood in World Wars I & II and the embracing of different ways of looking at what we call reality. In other words, we are in a Post Christian era. You can see it in the lifestyles depicted in film and TV and in society itself – an eat, drink, and go-for-it life. 

Everything is changed and changed utterly.

Christian standards are irrelevant. Everyone decides what to do for him/herself. If you are a Christian OK but don’t expect the world to act or look at things the way you do. Christians think and act differently because Christians march to a different drum from society at large.

Everything is changed and changed utterly.

Why? Because of the good news.  Hear it and get to grips with the heart of Christianity – the gospel (which means good news). But what is it? What is the good news?

SIMPLY THAT JESUS SAVES – BUT FROM WHAT?

From Hell? What and where is Hell? To answer simply – saved from DESPAIR where the Latin origin of “despair” means de = without & spiro = I hope or spirit. And, without limiting its meaning, you know that life without hope (despair) can be hell for some people. So we can be saved from that because Life is not a cosmic joke – ending in nothing.To be changed from Despair to Hope is to be changed and changed utterly. To be in-spired (or inspirited) is to get a life –to be changed utterly.

UTTERLY?

Christ rose from the dead – that validated his message and changed everything in life utterly and forever. He is not still on the Cross. He is not still there sacrificing His life for any shortfalls in our behaviour (our sins) by giving his life to offset them. He is not still in his tomb. He is not dead. He is risen – ALIVE and now with God. People saw Him, ate with Him, talked with Him. His friends recognized Him by voice and face.

Dare to believe He did all that and is alive now. Then…pray and ask Him into your life and you will be changed utterly. You will have Hope that where He is you will be. What goes on in the world will pale into insignificance besides that Hope. Worry? Trouble? Sickness? Yes, still around because we are human. But, whatever happens, we go on as believing travellers in time to finally meet Him.

Dare to ask Him into your life? Try it. Talk to any minister if you wish and if you haven’t got one try ours at (07) 3831 7458                   [SM] .

 

Worship Service for Advent with Carols, Readings and Music for Christmas

Are you yearning for some good Christmas music instead of the razzamataz you find in the commercial frenzy of the season? Then come to St Paul’s and raise your voice in song with traditional carols led by a choir with instrumental accompaniment including pipe organ, flute and violin. Come to celebrate the real reason we have Christmas. Hear the ageless story and worship the Christ Child, the babe in the manger who came into this world to bring light into our darkness. 

Make your Christmas special by coming to St Paul’s Presbyterian Church on 18 December for an illuminating and atmospheric Carols Service at 6:30pm. A special visual surprise awaits you in keeping with the theme of  “A Light shines in the Darkness”!

A ‘Bring and Share’ Meal at 5pm precedes the Service.

 

COMMUNION and CHRISTMAS

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Strangely enough the words have much in common.

Christmas is short for Christ Mass which is another way of saying a Mass for Christ’s Birthday. If you did not

know, the Mass (and we put theology aside for the moment), is the Roman Catholic word for the equivalent of

our Communion.  Other words, such as Eucharist or Holy Communion, have the same basic meaning.

 

Now, Communion as we know it wasn’t always conducted the way that it is in many of our churches today –

even with the minor variations that we might notice.  If you haven’t read it, look at 1st Corinthians, chapter

11:17-34 and some of the following verses. After reading that it is easy to see why the conduct of the Communion

requires a prayerful approach and a realisation that we are in the presence of the Lord during its celebration.

 

In the same way the 25th December wasn’t always celebrated by Anglo Saxons the way we celebrate it.  

For them Christmas was the middle of winter.  So the Church symbolically took the middle of the long night of winter and

brought life into it. If a cold winter is a season of no growth, the relevance is easily seen.   Into the winter’s night of the

soul – into the soul seeking its Creator – Jesus Christ comes and brings life.   

 

Life?  Yes, Life with a capital “L”. It’s a way of life which makes you see the world differently.   Values change, people

become important, you become agents of love, people with a mission which never stops – people who don’t wait to be

helped but become people who help.   Criticism gives way to helpfulness.   Anything less than that is not the real Life.

Christmas and Communion – the seed and the fruit of that seed. 

At Christmas we give thanks for the birth of Jesus. At Communion we give thanks for Him. In the prayer of consecration

of the elements, we seek again the benefits of His life and death and resurrection:

We ask God to feed our faith. 

 As He loves, so let us love. 

 As He is Life, so let us receive Life, and help others to have Life.                                                                            

[If you wish, speak to your Minister or priest about the richness of what is offered to us through faith in Jesus Christ. SM]