A Safe Place for our Children 2013

Filed on 20 October 2013 in Food For Thought category. Print This Page

A Safe Place for our Children 2013

I have some one-liners for us.

  • Permission becomes compulsion.
  • Freedom is the casualty.
  • We need to speak the truth while we still can.
  • Each of us is to be a watchman.
  • Each of us is a warrior but our weapons are not the weapons of this world.

Ultimately our safe place is to be found in the strength of our relationship with our Lord and the resilience of character that we develop in this relationship. This is our defence. This is the heritage we must give our children.

And so I want to talk about camping.

One of the things I look forward to when I go camping with a group of people mostly from our church is the time around the campfire at the end of the day and we have a meditation time and sometimes a reading of Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes – there, now I’ve disappointed some of you and yet it is in being real around the fire that we also learn great things.

But there is also an object lesson in the reading of Roald Dahl’s rhymes – it transpired that after a while the kids knew them off by heart and would chip in in unison. Lesson: telling the story frequently helps it to stick. And it was also evident when I was reading from Isaiah 40, you know,

Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.

and when I deliberately paused many were able to fill in the gaps.

Tell me the old, old story – and tell me often.

And we have prayer times when we all participate in short but real prayers – and if a person does not want to participate as we go around the big circle then they need to nudge the nearest person so that the circle continues. It is so good to have the smallest children participate.

And then I finally pluck up the courage to go find my tent and heap blankets on my supposed -4C sleeping bag so I don’t wake up cold and I think will I manage till morning without having to get up and I think why am I doing this to myself and then I wake with the light creeping through the trees in the unsurpassed glory of the early morning and I know why I go camping. My wife enjoys motels.

It was around a campfire last year that I listed the battles that we are up against as Christians, the threats to our future and therefore to our children and our children’s children. It was obvious that one person at least had been listening as the next morning she asked “how can we prepare?” and this formed the basis for that evening’s meditation around the campfire and for today’s talk – with a particular emphasis on how we can prepare our children.

And it came down to two important things and I would add a third for clarification

  • tell the Story
  • learn and recite scripture
  • sing

And if you know and you do these things you may choose if you like to shut your ears to everything else I say. Indeed I hope that all of you present here will agree with me in these things. When everything else is crazy, when there is danger all around, when we can tell the story, recite scripture and sing songs of praise then we will have found a safe place.

But why have I focussed on these things?

Well they are very scriptural.

As you would know, that passage of scripture in Deut 6 known as The Shema, is often the first passage that a Jewish child learns

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. And when your son asks you, “What is the meaning of this?” tell him: “We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, but the LORD brought us out of Egypt.

We learn from this the value of repeated instruction and the retelling of the story of deliverance. For us it is the story of the sacrifice of Jesus who has brought us out of our Egypt into the Promised Land. We must tell it when we sit at home, when we walk along the road, when we lie down and when we get up.

The story is to be told from generation to generation:

I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter hidden things, things from of old – what we have heard and known, what our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done (Psalm 78:2-4).

Each time The Story is told the recurring truths become more real, both to young and old: the essential and eternal reality of God – ‘there is a God; He loves me; He wants me to come to Him.’ And we only have to accept the fact that the Son of God died for our sin for us to be restored to God and know Him as Father.

When the going becomes tough the reality lasts, as with Job:

Though I know nothing else, I know there is a God, He is my Redeemer, and one day He will put things right (Job 19:25 my paraphrase of “I know that my redeemer liveth…”).

And it is in the telling of all the little stories that make up the big story, that the Word of God becomes real and is a light to our path.

What to tell? The difficulty is in knowing where to stop! Here are some starters:

Adam and Eve in the Paradise Garden. Moses in the bulrushes. Joseph! Daniel. Josiah the boy king. Nehemiah. Anna and Simeon. The boy Jesus in the Temple. John baptising Jesus. All the stories of Jesus – at the well, touching his garment, Jairus’ daughter, the widow of Nain’s son. Thomas after the resurrection. The two on the Road to Emmaus. Saul on the Damascus Road. Peter on the rooftop.

Don’t stop. Learn and recite scripture; teach our children as we walk along the road, as they go to bed and as they get up; teach our grandchildren. What they learn now will stand them in good stead as they face these battles in the times to come.

And you know and I know that the scripture we learn as kids stays with us much more than the hard learnt scriptures we memorised as adults “let not your hearts be troubled – ye believe in God, believe also in me” and “I go to prepare a place for you”.

For the same reasons learn and teach songs – the tunes stay in our head and we can sing along to the tune (even in times of trouble like Paul and Silas did in the Philippian jail).

Ultimately our safe place is to be found in the strength of our relationship with our Lord and the resilience of character that we develop in this relationship. This is our defence. This is the heritage we must give our children.

So, what is it that we must find a safe place from, what are the threats to our world and civilisation?

A. Threats to our physical habitat

a. Natural disaster

b. Environmental destruction by man – pollution; deforestation; loss of fertile land to desert; salinity; destruction of the ozone layer; global warming; starvation; disease and epidemics; ecological disturbance with threat to all animal life; nuclear wasteland

B. Human conflict, war and genocide: tyrannical regimes; warlike races; ethnic, religious and political conflict; clash of civilisations; terrorism; racial conflict within multicultural societies

C. Then there are the threats within our culture to the fundamental values that hold a society together and relate to the intrinsic value of all human life as being created in the Image of God

a. Those related to the beginning and end of life and what it means to be truly human

b. The threat to freedom of Christian expression and teaching in the name of religious vilification legislation and anti-discrimination legislation

c. Destruction of marriage and family

d. Sexual morality – alternative sexual lifestyle education in schools; classification of film, video, games, literature; pornography; prostitution; grappling with AIDS and its politicisation

e. Physical and sexual violence – including its promotion through media; classification of film, video, games, literature; abuse and violence within the family – psychological, physical and sexual

f. Accidents – falls; tree branches; wrong place wrong time; carelessness by self or others; irresponsibility by self or others e.g. drink driving; engaging in risky recreational activity

g. Other health threats – drugs; smoking; alcohol; redressing the imbalance between allowing drugs while discouraging the others; depression; suicide

Our worldview determines our attitude to these threats.

Those of humanistic worldview – believing that all mankind is innately good and that we only have to give hostile people a chance – generally are good at seeing the dangers to our universe from ourselves, but not so good at the other threats. Tragically, some Christians fall into this error.

Far-sighted people with a good grasp of history and under no illusions of the innate goodness of all mankind, whether Christian or not, have always been able to see threats to our world from tyrannical regimes and warlike races. We place the Churchills and the Kennedys in this bracket.

Christians with a strong Biblical worldview will recognise all these threats.

It is in the rebellion against what it means to be created in the Image of God that we are facing humanity’s greatest crisis. The real issue for humanity is what we do with our God and the Law that He has set in place. The principle of the Imago Dei is primary. We are to love our neighbour because he is human and created in God’s image and we are to hate the evil that threatens him and seek to avert that evil. Everything else flows from this position once we establish it.

So, to clarify, what is it we are up against?

• The revolt against the what it means to be human and be created in the image of God; re abortion; euthanasia; physician assisted suicide; destructive embryo research; cloning; embryo de-selection and eugenics; Down Syndrome genocide; babies accidentally born alive after abortion procedure and left to die; after-birth abortion; sex-selective abortion (and we have the bizarre situation in Victoria where Dr Mark Hobart is under investigation for having refused – very ethically – referral to abort a baby girl and yet the doctor who actually then aborted the girl – in our view very unethically – has no case to answer) and we could add chimeras and cyborgs

• The destruction of marriage – between male and female in life-long commitment as the basis of healthy family and society; the ideal being for children to be brought up by their biological mother and father within the stability of marriage

• The threat to freedom – to believe, to speak of what we believe, to teach our children what we believe; freedom to gather together; freedom to preach

Now, as it happens, these three are the basis of the Canberra Declaration. I imagine most of you have signed this important declaration.

What is the ultimate danger of these conflicts? The danger is that we will have degenerated into a culture of moral decay, where there will be an attitude of people doing what is right in their own eyes, and that ultimately permission to do these things will have become compulsion. Permission to sin will have been granted and permission to speak against it will have been denied – indeed we are forced into compliance.

Remember that term: Permission becomes Compulsion. If we don’t agree with what the state declares then we will find our children taken away from us and we will know the reality of persecution simply for acknowledging Jesus as Lord. We will have arrived at Vanity Fair as described by John Bunyan in his classic Pilgrim’s Progress, which, as you know, he wrote from prison.

Heavy stuff.

Oh dear – don’t you get sick of hearing about these dangers? I am assuming this is an audience committed to the fight, but like me, you get weary and wonder if there is any purpose to what we are doing. The complacent church, content in, indeed insisting on, remaining ignorant is not here. Nevertheless there are also street chaplains working in the night, and many others engaged in real evangelistic activities. So let us not be discouraged but encourage each other, upholding each other in prayer and spurring each other on.

Persecution will come as Scripture tells us – but we have a chance in Australia of holding this back.

And as it happens medicine is in the frontline of these battles:

1. All of the matters related to the intrinsic value of all human life that we have already mentioned

2. Re-defining the doctor-patient relationship to providers of medical services on consumer demand

3. Overriding of doctor’s liberty of conscience with compulsory participation e.g. in abortion referral

4. The selective repression of truly informed consent especially the abortion links with breast cancer and post-abortion syndrome

5. The health implications of re-defining marriage with respect to the effect on children, the destruction of the traditional family with a mother and a father, and restriction of freedom to bring up our children with our values

6. The threats to freedom of expression in writing and speaking what we consider to be logic and truth especially with respect to medical and public health aspects of marriage and family, sexuality and abortion. Threats include hate mail and personal accusation – even black-listing of doctors on Facebook.

Dear friends, the battle we face is enormous.

With the exception of the last two items there is the opportunity for reasoned debate even though definitions are changed in Alice-in-Wonderland style and when debate fails emotional blackmail and personal derogatory labelling (“you’re just religious”) comes to the fore. When it is seen that there is no counter to rational argument we are just ignored by those with pre-set agendas (remember, that is why MPs with pre-set agendas must be voted out).

But all this pales compared with the bitter, abusive attacks from the homosexual lobby and threats of discrimination against anyone with the temerity to defend the age-hallowed tradition of marriage as exclusively between man and woman and children should have mothers and fathers.

Please note that we are not “anti-gay” in our defence of marriage. It is the very essence of marriage that is being attacked – to broaden its scope and strip it of its intrinsic significance. There are also those who want to broaden the scope to multiple spouses and also take out the fidelity provision “to the exclusion of all others”.

The consequences of this attack are so serious in terms of threats to freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom to bring up our children with our own values (and not be subject to “diversity/sensitivity re-training”). The push for same-sex marriage – for ultimate approval and acceptance of homosexuality as the norm – is ultimately a rebellion against what it means to be made in the Image of God and His plan in creation and procreation and to silence with all the weight of the law any voices raised in protest – and to label such voices as lacking sensitivity, as hate speech, as being vilifying and discriminatory.

For Christians it will mean that we will have to accept our children being subject to education of the homosexual lifestyle, being encouraged at a young age to declare their sexuality, diversity education re families and with no right of objection. Home schooling will have to incorporate such instruction and children will be tested to ensure that they have “learned”. Christian organisations will no longer have exemption from anti-discrimination measures. Any attempt to use scripture to argue our position will be labelled as intolerance and vilification.

Should we be surprised? No, as Jesus said on the way to Calvary “if men do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?” Should we be in despair? No, because He also said “when these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” (Luke 21:28).

John Yates puts it so well “the oppositional but complementary nature of heterosexual gender identity is written into the very framework of the order of the universe and the peak of the Creator’s genius. The challenge is far more profound than most Christians realise. it is an attack on the very existence and nature of God. The spiritual warfare around this issue is very intense.”

What do we need to do in response as much as possible to ensure a safe place for our children? A necessarily brief summary that I am happy to remind you of

• Each of us to be a watchman on the wall – to awaken that part of the church asleep

• pray (as if everything depends on God), work (as if everything depends on you)

• evangelise (turn the country to God)

• know to vote (to throw out the ones with fixed social engineering agendas)

• Educate: absolutes vs subjectivism; moral law; highlight how far we have slipped and where we are going; the inevitable slide from permission to compulsion. See 2020 Vision: How then shall we live in 2012? 2020 Vision: a look at why and what we must now do in 2012

• We need a collective sense of grief for ourselves, our children and our nation.

• Sign a declaration of defiance – the Canberra Declaration

• Marching to declare where we stand. Marching at Easter (Awakening) and for the babies each May.

• Civil disobedience e.g. take our children out of homosexual propaganda classes (we need to think more of the forms civil disobedience might take)

• Proactively, we must regain lost ground (and put up a wall “you shall not pass!”)

Sometimes you just gently teach

Sometimes you preach with invitation

Sometimes you confront and challenge

Sometimes you have to condemn

Sometimes you have to drive the money-changers out of the temple

Sometimes you have to walk, with Christ, to Calvary.

And as we said at the beginning, ultimately our safe place is to be found in the strength of our relationship with our Lord and the resilience of character that we develop in this relationship. This is our defence. This is the heritage we must give our children.

For today learn and recite scripture. Teach our children and our grandchildren as we walk along the road, as they go to bed and as they get up, and don’t forget to sing.

Lachlan Dunjey 20 October 2013

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3 Responses to “A Safe Place for our Children 2013”

  1. FamilyVoice Australia 21 October 2013 at 10:46 am Permalink

    Thanks for the encouragement you brought! If you could please link people to our social media, that would be awesome.


  2. David Shearer 23 September 2014 at 11:08 am Permalink

    I have just read this. It is remarkable in its wide coverage of issues, challenges and solutions. I seek to follow Jesus. Jesus is the answer. David