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How to Defeat the Terrorists

by Donald Geddes — last modified Dec 13, 2014 08:53 PM
by Rev Donald Geddes

AssyriansAtrocities committed by terrorists in the Middle East are nothing new. They were operating in Old Testament times.

The Assyrians were the Old Testament equivalent of the Islamic State terrorists. They were cruel, arrogant and brutal, waging war with shocking ferocity, uprooting those who opposed them and deporting them to other parts of their empire. They waged war on surrounding nations between 1,500 and 1,100 BC.

Their capital city was Nineveh located near modern Mosul in northern Iraq — the very area in which modern Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) terrorists are fighting. As is the case with ISIL, the Assyrians engendered great fear in all surrounding countries.

They attacked the Kingdom of Israel in 733 BC and carried many of its inhabitants into exile. Later in 721 BC the Assyrians besieged Israel’s capital city Samaria and captured it three years later. Thus Israel came to an end and the ten tribes that made up the country disappeared from the pages of history.

It was prior to this calamity that God called the prophet Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach the need for them to repent. This would be like going to the headquarters of ISIL telling them to turn to Christ! No wonder he ran in the opposite direction! Yet, when God rescued him from the sea through a great fish and Jonah obeyed God’s call, the godless Assyrians heeded his message and repented. This did not stop Assyria from threatening other nations.

The tiny southern Kingdom of Judah was left very vulnerable. The prophets warned that if they broke God’s Commandments and worshipped idols as Israel had done, they too would face God’s judgement at the hands of the ruthless Assyrians. Eventually the Assyrians surrounded Jerusalem and godly King Hezekiah led his people in a prayer for deliverance. The huge Assyrian army had Hezekiah “shut up like a bird in a cage” in Jerusalem but, in answer to prayer, God sent a plague that killed 185,000 Assyrians in one night and Jerusalem was saved.

This was the beginning of the end for Assyria. In 612 BC Nineveh was so completely destroyed by the Medes, Babylonians and Scythians, that its location was unknown until discovered by archaeologists in the 19th century.

The story of the Assyrians is instructive for our present-day situation. Bombing the Islamic State will not stop them: it will only encourage more Muslims to join their ranks. Only the Gospel will stop them because what is needed is for hearts to be changed.

King Hezekiah learned that when he led his people in prayer, God answered in a spectacular way. We need godly leaders to lead us in prayer for deliverance from terrorism both abroad and at home. We need to pray that God will bring the Gospel to the Islamist terrorists perhaps via radio. After all, their actions are making many Muslims very uneasy—leading them to listen to the Gospel broadcasts and to respond in repentance.

God thwarted the terrorists once. Do we really believe he can do it again?

Evangelism - a lost art?

by Donald Geddes — last modified Dec 13, 2014 08:52 PM

The 21 million member Southern Baptist denomination in the U.S. is facing a crisis.

Known as an Evangelical Church which actively encouraged evangelism and which produced evangelists like Billy Graham, for the first time since the 1800s baptisms have declined. It was revealed over 80% of Baptist churches baptized only one person in the 18 to 29 year age range.

Various reasons for the ‘crisis in evangelism’ have been suggested including a focus on rules rather than conversions, too much technology (sound and light show), lack of belief that Christ is the only way to be saved and a cultural shift in members who are more interested in organizing group cruises and social activities.

There is no doubt the same problem exists in Australia and the Presbyterian denomination is no exception. The Presbyterians in Queensland adopted a strongly evangelistic stance after Church Union in 1977 with the appointment of Rev. Harold Whitney as Evangelist. However, the preoccupation with attaining doctrinal purity eventually overran this evangelical zeal. Today the preaching in most churches is biblical but not evangelistic.

At a denominational level, preoccupation with revising the Code has overshadowed a burden to proclaim the Gospel and evangelism has faded from the agenda.

On a local level, few churches have seen their numbers grow as a result of conversions. In fact, it seems to be rare to find ministers who expect their preaching to produce conversions and perhaps this is because outsiders rarely darken the doors of their churches.

Members need to be encouraged to bring non-Christians to church so they can hear the Gospel. There must be a friendly and welcoming atmosphere to encourage new-comers to return.

The best way to bring a new dynamism into a congregation is to see a few new converts. But how many churches, including ours, have seen this in recent times?

LighthouseEvangelism is absolutely necessary to assure a congregation of a future. It is part of the fundamental reason why a church exists. In the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:13-16) Jesus told His disciples, “You are the salt of the earth… You are the light of the world.” He didn’t say Christians are to become salt and light: they are salt and light. In other words, it is the very nature of being a Christian to influence others for good and to witness to the Gospel.

What is more, Jesus warned that those who fail to do this are useless and will be despised by non-Christians. His challenge to His disciples applies to us: “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” This is not optional. It is essential.

The bulk of Jesus’ ministry was spent in preparing His disciples for ministry. His parting instruction to them was to “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation” (Mark 16:15). This was not a new command. In the Old Testament God’s people were told, “‘You are my witnesses’, declares the Lord.” (Isa 43:12).

This is repeated by Jesus in His parting words before His ascension: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8).

If our lives do not witness to the fact that we are Christians there is something radically wrong. If our church is not a light on the hill in a sin-darkened community, it will fail. Pray that both we as Christians and our church at Browns Plains will not fail in our God-given task of proclaiming the good news of salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ.

Donald Geddes

Baby miraculously saved

by Donald Geddes — last modified Dec 13, 2014 08:51 PM
by Donald Geddes

Out of the terrible devastation in Gaza as a result of the war with Israel, has come an amazing story of how a baby was saved. The 23 year old mother, who was nine months pregnant, was a casualty of an Israeli airstrike. She was pronounced dead on arrival at a Gaza hospital. Miraculously the doctors managed to save the baby girl.

The Bible also has accounts of the miraculous way in which a baby was saved from certain death – and these stories are of great significance!

When Moses was born, his life was in great danger because Pharaoh, who was concerned at the rapid growth of the Hebrew population, had ordered that all baby Hebrew boys were to be thrown into the River Nile. Moses’ mother hid her baby for three months, and then placed him in a papyrus basket which she put in the river, fulfilling Pharaoh’s command.

The basket was discovered by Pharaoh’s daughter, who hired Moses’ mother to look after the baby until he was old enough to live in the palace. Thus Moses was saved in order to be the saviour of the Children of Israel who lead His people out of slavery in Egypt.

This story is a type or picture of Jesus who was also saved as a baby in order to become the saviour of God’s people. When Herod heard of the birth of “one born to be King of the Jews”, he ordered that all baby boys in the vicinity of Bethlehem were to be put to death but Joseph had been warned in a dream and he, Mary and baby Jesus escaped to Egypt, only returning to Nazareth after Herod’s death.

The significance of this escape is depicted in Revelation 12 where John sees a vision of a pregnant woman about to give birth. She is clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. The twelve stars (representing the twelve tribes) identify her as faithful Israel embodied in Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Her son is said to rule all nations with an iron sceptre (v5) clearly indicating this is King Jesus.

The woman was confronted by an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his head… The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that it might devour her child the moment he was born. This dragon is identified in verse 9 as that ancient Serpent called the devil or Satan. He is the great enemy of God who deceives the nations (20:3,8,10) and leads the whole world astray (12:9).

The woman gave birth to a son, a male child, but Satan was thwarted in his aim to kill the woman’s baby as her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. Not only was Jesus spared as a baby but Satan’s ultimate attack to have Jesus crucified failed at the Resurrection.

John hears a loud voice in Heaven make the victorious proclamation, “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down (v10).

Jesus was spared to be our Saviour and to triumph over Satan in his war against God’s people (v13). One day we will join in those who rejoice in this victory in Heaven.

Father's Day - Is it meaningless?

by Donald Geddes — last modified Dec 13, 2014 08:51 PM

In Australia there are 780,000 families without a father so, for them, Fathers Day is meaningless.

The number of fatherless families has increased substantially over the last two decades. In 1986-1988 one parent families with children under 15 years accounted for 14% of all families. Today it is 22%!

What is it that children miss not having a father? Psychologists suggest this leaves a solo-mother short-handed in parenting and often struggling economically, but there are specific problems associated with the lack of a masculine presence. These include lack of discipline, exaggerated peer orientation, learning disabilities, and increased violence in boys.

It is no statistical freak that the increase in vandalism, street violence, gang warfare and lack of respect for the law parallels the breakdown of the family and the increase of sole-parent families.

There are also significant spiritual issues. The Bible gives the important and vital role of discipline (Prov 23:13-14) and teaching to the father: Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. Eph. 6:4.

What is not always recognized is the fact that the godly father is meant to image God the Heavenly Father.

Some years ago I was leading a Bible Study in a Youth Camp and we were discussing the concept of God as our loving Heavenly Father. One teenage girl blurted out, “That is meaningless to me because my father is such a rotter!”

How can a child or young person visualize the Fatherhood of God without an earthly role model? How can they understand the love of the Heavenly Father without ever having experienced the love of an earthly father?

This makes understanding of the Gospel more difficult and the task of a godly mother less easy. If children have been brought up to believe a father is not necessary, how will they be humanly persuaded of their need for a Heavenly father? How can they understand what Jesus said in Matthew 7:11: If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

When Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount: Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? (Matt 6:26), He was showing how valuable each individual is in the sight of God. But the idea of a father providing every need is foreign to fatherless families, so it is no wonder so many young people have such low self esteem. They do not see themselves as valuable in God’s sight.

The Lord’s Prayer is addressed to Our Father in Heaven, in the understanding that a loving Heavenly Father is able to meet our every need. If this concept is one that is foreign to a child in a fatherless family, it makes it less likely they will pray that prayer or any other prayer in faith.

So, is Fathers Day meaningless?

Not to those who are true Christians who, even though they may never have experienced the love of an earthly father, have experienced something far better; the love of God our Heavenly Father.

Rev. Donald Geddes

I should mention a rather startling fact: By the time they are 15 or 16, twice as many children in Britain have a television as have a biological father living at home. The child may be father to the man, but the television is father to the child.