27
Aug
15

Why Pray? Three different views of prayer.

prayerThe first two ideas below are teachings I’ve come across a number of times. The third view is a very simplified description of my own.

1) God WILL do nothing in answer to prayer, because He has already pre-ordained the whole outcome of history, down to the smallest incident. For God to actually respond to prayer would mean that He is dependent on man and that man can have an influence on God – if that were the case, God could not truly be sovereign. At best prayer is merely finding and professing agreement with the things God has already determined.

2) God CAN do nothing without prayer, because He has no jurisdiction on earth so needs mankind’s prayer to give Him authority to act here. After creating man, God gave man authority on earth – something that man soon gave over to Satan through Adam and Eve’s disobedience. Jesus as man won back that authority for man, enabling God legal access to act on earth again through the intercession of men and women.

3) God has chosen to respond to prayer. Prayer is not some kind of force independent of the one to whom we pray. God doesn’t NEED mankind to pray but mankind needs to pray to Him. God has established prayer as a way for man to grow in relationship with Him. Prayer can test faith, and faith exercised strengthens the relationship between man and God. Prayer encourages us into a greater understanding of who God is and what His purposes are.

God WILL change things in the world and in people’s lives in response to prayer, if a variety of conditions are met such as: faith, the right motive; and right relationship with God and with others. A requested outcome has to be in accordance with God’s character and His greater purposes.

I refer to character and purposes instead of saying “according to God’s will” because many people pick up strange ideas about God’s will from isolated bible verses, or from teachings they adopt and many see that “God’s will” is something fixed, predetermined and unchangeable and yet through scripture we see multiple instances of God changing His intended action in response to prayer and/or repentance.

13
Aug
15

Goodbye Cobber, God Bless You

grave stoneA few days ago I wrote a little about the centenary of the battle of the Nek, part of the August campaign in Gallipoli 1915.

Today I finished Goodbye Cobber, God Bless You, a book by John Hamilton, about the battle of the Nek and how the 8th and 10th Light Horse brigades were mostly wiped out through the foolishness of senior commanding officers.

In recent years in Australia, there was national mourning whenever an Australian serviceman lost his life in Afghanistan, and their funerals would be attended by the Prime minister and other political and community leaders. There would probably have been community outrage had war fatalities risen to significant numbers. During 13 years in Afghanistan there were 41 Australian military deaths. At the Nek there were at least 234 deaths and around 140 wounded out of the approximately 600 troops involved, all in matter of an hour or so.

Maybe these figures are no greater than other WWI battles, apart from the manner in which they were sustained, with the troops being ordered into a situation that had been proven hopeless within minutes of it starting. But what happened there (and elsewhere in WWI) showed an attitude to human life that would be foreign to modern Australia.

Apart from the military orders that caused the slaughter of so many, that attitude is also reflected in the way it was reported in the press when the story got out at home.

Here is an example quoted in Goodbye Cobber, God Bless You, starting with a description of the second wave of 150 men sent charging towards the Turkish lines:

Before they had gone half way upon their course not more than twenty were on their feet but they still charged. It was heroic! It was wonderful! In a few seconds, the twenty had dwindled to a dozen, to ten, to seven, to three. Would these last survivors persist? Two dropped. One struggled to his feet again, only to sag at the knees and go down a second time. The last remaining hero looked around. His face was red, his eyes were staring, but he smiled grimly. Still he ran to tackle the enemy single-handed but the end of the race was near, He stopped as if some invisible obstacle had blocked the way. For an instant he stood still. He then toppled backwards, holding his rifle, with the bayonet fixed, high above his head. The charge had finished. (from the Argus,8th October)

I don’t think I need to much further comment, apart from asking what kind of political or cultural conditioning could have led to such an outlook, and how easily could we return to that kind of mindset?

Sadly I think it would be all too easy when patriotism and duty to God become confused.

12
Aug
15

Secular Government and Marriage “Equality”

Unlike the rest of the “Western” world, Australia is currently maintaining its position against same sex marriage. Last night a decision was made by the Abbott Government to keep to its definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman.

However, that decision seems to be contrary to perceived popular opinion and the Government has suggested taking the issue to a national referendum after the next election.

One interesting aspect of the debate within Australia is that those in favour of legitimising homosexual marriage have changed their terminology to make their view more “friendly”. They speak of “Marriage Equality” and thereby subtly change the issue all together, potentially widening the goalposts, allowing others to one day broaden the definition of marriage even further.

My own position on this issue is that I would vote against same sex marriage if it does go to a referendum.
But if it DOES get passed and the legal definition of marriage is changed in Australia, I’m not going to panic. I’m not going to get upset. I’m not going to proclaim that she sky is falling, or that our government is part of a “beast system”.

I’ll accept that a secular Government in charge of a secular nation have followed a secular path that is contrary to God’s ways. Something secular nations and secular leaders have been doing throughout history.

The answer is NOT found in trying to change the ways of secular governments. The answer is in helping people migrate FROM those secular nations TO the Kingdom of God.

au.news.yahoo.com/a/29237238/coalition-mps-reject-conscience-vote-on-same-sex-marriage/

07
Aug
15

Anzacs and WWI: 100 years on. (7th August)

gallipoliToday is the 100th anniversary of the battle of the Nek, part of the Gallipoli campaign. It was the event portrayed as the climax of Peter Weir’s film Gallipoli.

Four successive waves of Australian Light Horsemen were ordered to leave the safety of their trenches to attack the Turkish lines only 20-30 metres away. They weren’t allowed to load their weapons but were ordered to charge with bayonets only. They were wiped out by Turkish fire almost as soon as they started.
Even though the outcome was clear after the failure of the first wave, their commanding officer refused to back down and sent three more waves, 150 men in each wave, to certain death.

05_theNekLThe battlefield has been described as being the size of two tennis courts and was a narrow strip of land between two steep drops. Official war historian Charles Bean likened the charge as trying to attack an upturned frying pan by way of the handle.

Lieutenant Colonel Noel Brazier tried to put a stop to the inevitable slaughter after the first wave, but his attempt was rejected by Major General Antill who ordered the attack’s continuation. Brazier had been responsible for the recruitment of many of the men who were being sent to their deaths, having encouraged many friends and colleagues to enlist in the 10th Light Horse.

Despite the horrific slaughter, a few survived and were able to crawl back to the safety of their own trenches. Later in the war some of the surviving Light Horsemen were posted to Palestine where they were at last able to serve on horseback, something impossible at Gallipoli. In Palestine they were part of some significant victories and eventually entered Jerusalem along with General Allenby, when the city was surrendered by the Turkish forces.

_____________

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Nek

 

06
Aug
15

Anzacs and WWI: 100 years on (6th August)

Today is the centenary of the battle of Lone Pine.

An Australian attack was launched against Turkish trenches to distract attention from other operations on the Gallipoli Peninsula. When the trenches were reached it was found they had a “roof” of logs that needed to be removed to engage the Turkish defenders.

A brutal hand to hand battle started and lasted for four days, leading to 2000 Australian and up to 7,000 Turkish casualties.

grave_lonepine

7 Victoria Crosses were awarded to participants.

The site of Lone Pine is now a significant memorial and burial site for the war dead. A commemoration service is to be held there today at 5pm local time.

 

 

For more information about the battle see here: http://www.gallipoli.gov.au/bravery-awards-at-gallipoli/lone-pine.php

Also see here for more about commemoration events:

http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2015/08/05/gallipoli-symphony-performed-first-time-istanbul

06
Aug
15

Anzacs and WWI: a family connection?

2015 has been an interesting year.

It is the centenary of the WWI Gallipoli campaign, a defining event in Australia’s history that I knew very little about. As the commemoration of Anzac Day approached, I decided to end my ignorance, and started reading accounts about it from a variety of sources. I’ve already posted a few things about that journey earlier on this blog.

Alongside my own “Gallipoli campaign” I have also been doing some research into my family tree. That was something I started more than 30 years ago when my two Grandmothers were still alive. I obtained as much information as I could from them and then, in those pre-internet days, I hit a dead end.

Recently I decided to see if I could pick things up again after discovering a website that gave free access to basic genealogical records and was able to discover another 100 years of family records, taking me back to the mid-1700s and adding a bit of substance to a few family “myths”.

Yesterday those two different areas of research may have come together. Completely by accident I discovered a man who is possibly a distant relative who served with the AIF (Australian Imperial Force) in the Gallipoli campaign.AIF

He was born in the small English town where I grew up and his (not too common) family name is the same as my Grandmother’s maiden name.

At some stage prior to 1914 he moved to Australia.
He enlisted with the 1st Field Ambulance in Sydney early in September 1914 only three weeks after its formation. A month later he boarded the HMAT Euripides to join the convoy sailing from Albany WA to join the war in Europe. However, the destination changed while they were en route, and they disembarked in Egypt.Euripides

As part of the 1st Field Ambulance he would have been part of the first ANZACS to be sent from Egypt to Gallipoli and could have been among those in the 25th April landing, dealing with the high number of heavy casualties.

So far I’ve not been able to find any specific records related to his service, but as a survivor of Gallipoli, he would have been posted to the Western Front with the rest of the 1st Field Ambulance, where again he survived and returned to Sydney after the war.

Just over 20 years later he was killed in a workplace accident in Sydney.

______________________________________

After writing the above I’ve been able to find a copy of his military record on the National Archives of Australia website and have confirmed that he was at Gallipoli on 25th April 1915, but a few days later was shipped off to No.1 General Hospital at Heliopolis, Egypt with a bullet wound to the right thigh.
He re-joined his unit at Gallipoli on 10th July.

05
Aug
15

Political Extremism: Rise and Fall

The title of a forum thread started by a friend a few days ago had me wondering what planet he’d moved to…

And then I realised, it read “INCREDIBLE: NAZIS NOW TOP PARTY IN AUSTRIA and not NAZIS NOW TOP PARTY IN AUSTRALIA

It is surprising how many around the world are driven by a Nazi-friendly outlook and very disturbing when a nation has majority willing to support that ideology.
Political support can grow like a rolling snow ball. What starts out as something minor can gather support and gradually become something more significant. The more significant it becomes, the more rapid the growth. As momentum increases, the more people are willing to jump on board.

russianI recall my cousin saying many years ago that Hitler made only one mistake. I wish I’d asked him what the mistake was, and whether he thought it was a good thing that he’d made that mistake, but I think I didn’t want him to confirm that he had some sympathy for Hitler.

Recently I’ve been reading a lot about the violent history of last century and its two world wars. How easily things could have been very different if not for single decisions made by individuals and nations.
Maybe the “one mistake” my cousin was referring to was Hitler’s decision to attack Russia, opening up another battle front he couldn’t afford to maintain, reducing the effectiveness of what could be done elsewhere. What would have happened elsewhere if that extra commitment hadn’t been initiated?

Also, how different the world could be today if Japan had chosen NOT to have attacked Pearl Harbour, if they had left America alone? Maybe Japan could have easily taken over the rest of Asia and possibly Australia with little effective opposition. Britain had been shown ineffective against them through the fall of Singapore.pearl harbour

With the Pearl Harbour decision (like Hitler and Russia) Japan also bit off more than they could chew, stretching their resources too widely and reducing their efficiency.

Perhaps examples like that show how easily things can change in the world.
God can shape events with a little nudge rather than a heavy blow. He doesn’t need to get involved in an obvious way. Just removing His restraining hand to allow man’s sin to take a particular direction can set in motion the chain of events that will further HIS purposes.
God doesn’t need to directly crush the evils of men. He can let man’s sin run its course until its inevitable fruit is reaped.

But like Ezekiel describes, God DOES also intervene in a more direct way, drawing rulers of nations into situations that will ultimate lead to their failure and downfall.

Behold, I am against you, O Gog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal. I will turn you around, put hooks into your jaws, and lead you out, with all your army…

… ” I will turn you around and lead you on, bringing you up from the far north, and bring you against the mountains of Israel. Then I will knock the bow out of your left hand, and cause the arrows to fall out of your right hand. You shall fall upon the mountains of Israel, you and all your troops and the peoples who are with you; I will give you to birds of prey of every sort and to the beasts of the field to be devoured. You shall fall on the open field; for I have spoken,” says the Lord God.

(see Ezekiel 38-39)




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