Monday, July 25, 2011

Thoughts along the Home Stretch

We are rounding the corner, heading for the home stretch. It is Monday morning in Sydney and we are about to depart for the Blue Mountains where we will be spending a few days with Alison’s friends, Hugh and Barbie. At the top of the mountain, in Leura, it will be close to freezing, at least toward sundown. Believe it or not, I am looking forward to that! (Update – it is now evening and we had a great time in the hills – almost thought it was going to snow!)

Yesterday was a blessed day. We worshiped with the church family at St. Philip’s Anglican Church in Sydney (well, Turramurra, but it’s all Sydney to me). Life was flowing through this body. It reminded me so much of Grace Community Church. The singing was wonderful and the Word was both piercing and encouraging in the way that only God’s Spirit-filled Word can be.

St. Philip’s seems to be an oasis in a desert – spiritually speaking, that is. As previously mentioned on this page, there is little attention paid to the gospel in Australia. It is increasingly the case in the U.S., but it is critical here in OZ. This morning on Good Morning Australia (equivalent to “Today” in America), one of the guests was the founder of a web site that encourages married men and women to cheat on their spouses. It was noted that this site receives more hits in Australia than any other country. Furthermore, in every other country, far more men visit the site than women. In Australia, just as many women “sign up” for an illicit relationship as do men. Australia, like America, is sinking.

But, God always has His people, does He not? We were so encouraged by the growth at St. Philip’s! The body there is talking about expansion – please pray that this light on a hill in a very dark place will find the resources to expand their facilities and yield to the Holy Spirit as He grows the gospel in Sydney.

Want another really encouraging word? It was announced in church that the Alpha Course – a Bible Study program that originated in England – is being conducted in Baghdad. It is the largest such study in the world – 2,700 people! Alpha would not be my first choice of Bible study programs, but God has greatly used it and I give Him great praise for this wonderful news!

I must say that I spend a lot of time explaining my political preferences in Australia. It is interesting to me that the same people who cheer the news about the church in Iraq have little more than contempt for George Bush. By no means did I agree with everything President Bush did, but I strongly believe that he is a brother in Christ and a man of honorable character. Did he contribute to this economic mess we are in? Absolutely! But, not an ounce more than I contributed to the mess, and, almost certainly, no more than you contributed to it. Greed is what has us where we are; greed in almost every one of us. I seek to be generous, but there is a self-centered “get it, and get it now” streak in me that will not die easily.

When it comes to politics, voting always comes down to a “lesser of two evils” for me. I DO NOT think that all politicians are evil. But, even though all governments are ordained by God (don’t even begin to ask me to explain that), they are imperfect – many times, evil. God is nothing but good, but He uses all governments and people and circumstances for His sovereign will and purposes. My responsibility is to vote responsibly, since I live in a democracy. I can’t say that I would never vote for someone who is pro-abortion (remember – lesser of two evils), but there would have to be a very strong, compelling reason for me to vote that way. That is the first item on the list, when I consider which candidate to support.

I had better get off the old soap box. It’s time for bed and then my penultimate (full) day in OZ. Remember, we are 14 hours ahead of you blokes on the East Coast. Early Thursday morning, I will click my heels (don’t you dare call me Dorothy) and say, “There’s no place like home!”


Tom Rutledge said...

That is encouraging news about the church Brad, in both places. Thanks for the update, it is great to hear the optimism for Oz, I will pray that God will get a foothold there.

Anonymous said...

As I read your post I am reminded that God is in Control. Praise God for St. Philip's Anglican Church and may they continue to grow and expand. And I agree with you when it comes to politics,"the lesser of the two evils" my prayer is that a true Christ follower would become president, one that spends time on his knees and seeking God's wisdom, instead of blaming others for the mess we are in. Thanks again for sharing your journey with us.
God bless,

Denton White said...

Great post Brad. Very insightful and left lots to think about. You have stoked the fires in my thinking. Thanks.