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TRUTH HAS STUMBLED IN THE PUBLIC SQUARE

By Australian Newsletter

Editors comment:  This article is a rallying call to stand up for truth in a culture where truth is under increasing attack.  We at the Australian Prayer Network are committed to do just that through our newsletters and our ministry of calling the Christians of our nation to prayer.  We invite you to consider how you may respond as the Lord quickens to you the urgency of the hour.

Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands far away; for truth has stumbled in the public squares, and uprightness cannot enter.  Truth is lacking, and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey.  The Lord saw it, and it displeased him that there was no justice.  He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no one to intercede… [Isaiah 59:14-16a]

One year ago, almost exactly, I read this scripture.  I was days away from starting my new job as Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) Managing Director.  Isaiah’s prophecy diagnoses many cultural maladies in his day.  All of them are increasingly relevant to our times.  This one hits the bullseye.  Across the western world, truth in the public squares is being attacked and suppressed.  The greatest stronghold of truth, Christianity, is being pathologised and blamed for significant harms.  To this end, Christian institutions are being undermined.

Churches are being pressured by new moral and legal norms.  Individuals who speak or live consistent with truth are made a prey; fair game for everything from public hostility to legal action.  Individual voices are few and easily targeted.  Institutions are compromised or quieted.  Churches are derided and ignored.  Those who will not be silent are targeted relentlessly by regulatory authorities, public spokespeople, activists, political figures, the law, and media commentary.  The outcome is that truth has stumbled in the public squares.

When truth stumbles, Isaiah 59 teaches that this progression will quickly follow: righteousness will be far away, then justice will be turned back, then those who depart from evil will be made a prey.  I have seen that in so many ways, not least of which are the 60 or so legal cases ACL has supported, where Christians who have done what is right have gotten in trouble with the law.  But the injustice that represents had to happen.  When truth is evacuated from the public squares, righteousness must soon follow, for the truth about right and wrong is no longer heard.  And when right and wrong are muddled, justice cannot be done.

No wonder Isaiah said of his day, “woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness.”  It’s all part of the same problem.  To stand for truth in public as a relentless, unquieted, and effective voice, is a leadership role that is desperately needed.  It requires divinely inspired courage, wisdom and endurance.  But the courage of one inspires the courage of others.  And the truth, whenever it is spoken, will yield fruit.  Silence is not an option.  To be silent is to stand by whilst evil ideologies gain the ascendency.  It is to neglect the opportunity to call a nation back to righteousness.  It is to allow people and children to suffer.  It is to fail to defend the church and Christian people in our nation.  It is to fail to do good. It is to fail to love our neighbour.

Each of these failures would individually be a shameful sin. Collectively, they represent an abrogation of responsibility for which we will be held accountable.  My prayer is that the final clause of that Isaiah 59 scripture will never be true in our time: “The Lord saw it, and it displeased him that there was no justice.  He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no one to intercede…” God’s desire to see truth in public is clear.  Who will He find to fly that banner?

I know that many Christians feel as I have already described: quieted.  We self-censor our beliefs.  We marvel that nobody thinks like us.  We are frustrated at compromise on every hand, especially politically.  The news about the church is so often bad.  The news about the culture is so often bad.  And we feel powerless to really make a difference.  We wonder where our society is heading.  In God’s grace, I pray that the Australian Christian Lobby will be able to boldly proclaim God’s truth in the public squares, with the unshakable confidence that these timeless, divinely authored convictions make sense of our world, give us wisdom for our world, and literally save the world.

I want to see truth made public.  That is ACL’s mission for this next season.  But it cannot be done alone. It’s not just me.  It’s not just ACL.  It’s all of us.  There are nearly 150,000 of us, easily one of the very biggest movements in the country, and we are growing quickly.

We have the technology.  We have your support.  We have the connections.  We have lobbyists, lawyers, and educators.  And we have God’s truth.  And God empowers His truth, whenever it is spoken.  We just need to stand together and be heard.  That is why I am asking you to be ready to stand with us as we refocus ACL as a grassroots movement of people like you and I who will seek to boldly and effectively proclaim God’s truth in public.

We already have a bold voice for truth in every parliament in the country, through our lobbyists.  We already have a bold voice for truth in courts and tribunals across the nation, through the Human Rights Law Alliance.  We already equip young people of exceptional ability to stand for truth in their careers, through the Lachlan Macquarie Institute.  We already produce original research, speak into the media, host dozens of targeted events in every state, and produce quality Christian content on social media.  And now we are building the army.  That’s you.

When you pick up the phone to call your Senator, sign a petition online, write to your local MP, nominate a candidate for LMI, share ACL with a friend, volunteer in an election campaign, knock on a door, or kneel to pray, you too will be making truth public.  Let’s build an army for truth that cannot be ignored.  By God’s grace and with your prayers, that is our mission.  Please be ready to join me, and please be praying.  I’m excited as we refocus and hone our mission to see truth made public.

Source: An article written by Australian Christian Lobby Managing Director Martyn Iles.

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SCHOOL STUDENTS’ STRIKE ORGANISED BY ADULT ACTIVISTS

By Australian Newsletter

Editor’s note:  This article is not about the issue of climate change, on which we recognise our readers would have a variety of differing views, but it is to expose and draw attention to the emerging trend for political activists to take advantage of our children to further their own political causes.  Children as young as 5 cannot have a considered view on complex political issues therefore involving them in this way is indoctrination not education.  We ignore it at our peril (see our other article in this newsletter).

A school strike last Friday promoted as a “student-led protest” by thousands of children skipping classes to attend climate change rallies around the nation has been organised by a network of adult activists from climate campaign organisations.  The primary backer of the planned student walkout called School Strike 4 Climate Action is the Australian Youth Climate Coalition, a non-profit company registered as a charity with an all-adult board and 68 adult staff.  The AYCC was set up a decade ago to mobilise young people on climate action by Anna Rose, an adult activist and the wife of former GetUp national director and Greens candidate Simon Sheikh.

Mr Sheikh was listed in the AYCC’s 2013 constitution as one of its 16 full members, along with Ms Rose, with voting rights to elect the group’s board.  The adult-controlled AYCC has extensive links to other climate action and anti-Adani groups with large campaign budgets, including the Sunrise Project, GetUp and Greenpeace.  Asked about adult activists helping to organise Friday’s strike while it was billed as student-led, AYCC national director Gemma Borgo-Caratti said that students taking part were “an inspiration” and the group was proud to support them as they fought for their future.

“It’s been so powerful to see parents, organisations, unions and people of all ages standing with them,” Ms Borgo-Caratti said. “Either­ you are with these students or you are standing on the wrong side of history.”  While Scott Morrison and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian have urged students to attend school today NSW Labor leader Michael Daley backs the student walkout as the “right thing”, just a week before the NSW election.  Ms Borgo-Caratti said the AYCC, which received donations and grants totalling $2.8 million according to its last submitted financial report, was a “people-powered, people-funded” organisation.

As well as 68 adult staff, the AYCC says it has 850 volunteers aged 13 to 30.  The group runs a high school program called Switched on Schools, with student workshops and summits.  An AYCC spokeswoman said schoolchildren were “determining” the climate protest today, while confirming staff were “helping to organise and giving support” at the request of students.  “Young people are passionate but they may not have really organised a big event before,” she said.  The contact number for inquiries about the strike by “children aged 5-18” is the AYCC.

Another key group helping with organisation is the recently formed Climate Leaders, which says it represents under-18s who cannot vote or run for public office.  Climate Leaders, which endorses political candidates such as Warringah independent Zali Steggall who “meet our criteria and prove, in an interview with us, that they have what it takes”, was co-founded by Christina McPhail. Ms McPhail, a professional activist and the group’s chair­woman, said she had been working “full-time” in recent months on today’s school strike.

Other members of the all-adult Climate Leaders board include Django Merope Synge, a national campaigner for GetUp recently involved with Ms McPhail in the campaign to oust Tony Abbott at the expected May election, and Chris Cooper, a campaigner for GetUp offshoot group Purpose.  When students staged a sit-in at Parliament House in Canberra during their November strike, they were addressed by Greenpeace chief executive David Ritter, GetUp environmental justice campaign director Sam Regester and Sunrise executive director John Hepburn.

Adult climate activists are using children as “pawns” for their own purposes by encouraging them to leave school to attend  environment strikes, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said.  “I think that most Australians would take a cynical view of professional adult activists using kids for this purpose during school time when they should be at school,” he said.  “They should not be used as pawns by professional adult activists as part of a political strategy.” “It’s a free world and during their free time kids can pursue whatever agendas and issues they want to pursue,” he said.  “But I call on all involved to ensure that kids, during the day, during school time, attend school.”

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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FASTING: MANY CHRISTIANS HAVE NEVER BEEN TAUGHT HOW OR WHY TO FAST

By Feature Articles

Many Christians practice fasting during Lent.  As Lent is now upon us, some theologians are drawing attention to the fact that the practice of fasting might be waning because many Christians have never been taught why it’s necessary or even how to do it.  But it’s undoubtedly biblical and its importance has not disappeared just because fewer Christians now practice it, they say.  Fasting is completely out of step with the way the West approaches Christianity (and religion as a whole), and, because the world has so penetrated the church, this may well be the primary reason why fasting is so unfamiliar to Western Christians in the 21st century.

Guy M Richard, assistant professor of theology at Reformed Theological Seminary in Atlanta, in a piece published in the November 2018 edition of Tabletalk magazine said “We need to remember that Jesus is not interested in Christians’ simply going through the motions.  He is not looking for mere rote performance of fasting, any more than He would be looking for mere rote performance of giving or praying or anything else,” Richard added. Fasting is a “game-changer,” and that is because it’s a form of unbroken intercession, says author Jennifer Eivaz, in her book Glory Carriers: How to Host His Presence Every Day, which was recently released.

“When Jesus spoke to His disciples and He asked them some questions in connection to the Lord’s prayer, He didn’t just ask them questions, He made some very clear statements.  And He said ‘when’ you pray, and then He said, ‘when’ you fast,” Eivaz explained.  That language is clear, she noted, as it’s understood that prayer and fasting are essential disciplines for followers of Christ. “When you are fasting, and that is in connection with prayer, too many people don’t realize that you are making your own physical body a sacrifice and when you do that you are literally in a continuous prayer.

“Just because you may not be verbalizing something in the moment, that act alone is a continuous prayer,” Eivaz, who pastors at Harvest Christian Centre in California, explained.  Imagine the power of fasting for an entire day, she continued.  That is 24 hours of straight prayer.  Such discipline yields breakthroughs and answered prayer on much higher levels than when people pray ordinarily.  Eivaz believes that many Christians, especially those who do not fast, have simply never had solid teaching on it and leaders have not called people to fast.  Meanwhile, Scripture is replete with examples of prophets, speaking for God, both calling people to and teaching them how to do it.

Pastors and lay leaders should revisit this whole concept and its accompanying spirituality, the author urged, particularly given what Jesus says in Mark 9:29, speaking of a demonically tormented boy.  Mark 9:29 reads: “He told them, ‘This kind can come out only by prayer and fasting.'” “So if there’s someone with a spiritual oppression and you can’t break it, well, fast and pray and then you will break it,” she said.  “We’ve lost contact with some of the spiritual dimensions of fasting.  We’ve become more flesh-oriented, entertainment-oriented, and we’ve neglected the spiritual realm.”

When dealing with distinctly spiritual forces, both good and evil, how can people not practice it if they care about the advance of God’s Kingdom, Eivaz asked, “because you will deal with things that require fasting.” God honours a Christian who fasts to seek His will and pray for breakthrough and will also do so in communities who fast together.  When people mix their prayers with fasting it brings speed to answered prayer, she said, citing Isaiah 58:8.  When fasting is done as God prescribes, “Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.”

While the Bible shows there are different kinds of fasts, the prophet Daniel fasted choice meat and wine, for example, they all centre around going without food, Eivaz said. “In a lot of Christian circles they are having negativity fasts or maybe they’ll turn off their phones for a season.  I think all of that is helpful, but it’s not a biblical fast,” she said. “Me, having the body type that I have where my blood sugar just goes nuts [if I don’t eat], I train my body to fast one hour at a time.  I just added an hour just to stretch myself.  You have to work with what you have and the Lord honours that.”

Donald Whitney, a professor of biblical spirituality and associate dean of the School of Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, concurs.  “Fasting appears in the Bible more often than something as important as baptism,” he said, “by my count, fasting is mentioned about 77 times versus 75 times for baptism.”  People are not going to do what they have not been taught to do, he said, echoing Eivaz.  “It’s hard to be an advocate for something from the pulpit you’re not doing,”

Whitney said. “It’s hard to get up to urge people to fast if you’re not fasting.  The same is true for family worship or any other practice.”

He explained there are many purposes to fasting, but the most common one is to strengthen prayer.  For fasting to be done right, there must be a biblical purpose, he emphasized.  If not done with such a purpose, it will only be something to endure.  “It’s not the church’s idea, it’s God’s idea,” he stressed, adding that “we don’t manipulate God by doing it and we don’t gain anything necessarily by doing it.” “If, when you get hungry and your stomach growls and your head aches and you say, ‘Man, I’m hungry,’ and your next thought is ‘Oh, that’s right, I’m fasting today,’ and then your next thought is ‘How long until this is over?’ you’re doing it wrong.”

For it to be done right the thought that should follow the hunger pangs and remembrance that one is fasting is, for example, remembering to pray for one’s spouse or for someone’s conversion. “Your hunger serves your larger purpose,” Whitney reiterated, “and without that it is just something to be endured and we think that we are impressing God by making ourselves suffer and somehow that earns us points.  That’s just a works-based, not Gospel-based view of fasting.  And that’s probably the most common mistake by those who do fast.” He regards the practice as so important that he requires his students to fast twice per semester.

He doesn’t rigidly enforce as he always has pregnant or diabetic students who will endanger their health if they do not eat. “We want to make sure that we always cover our bases in saying that we never want to ask people to do anything that would cause them or an unborn child any kind of harm.” “But I have found that where there is a will there is way,” he said, noting there are ways to give up food in order to still feel the hunger and a sense of lack that inclines them to pray while simultaneously maintaining a nutritional intake that will enable them to function.  Whitney is the author of Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, which explores the purpose of fasting.

Source: Christian Post

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ARE AUSTRALIAN HOSPITALS HELPING OR HINDERING GENDER DYSPHORIC CHILDREN

By Australian Newsletter

9news.com.au has reported on the dramatic increase in the number of children seeking transgender treatment in Australia.   They say, “according to The Royal Children’s Hospital, 1.2 per cent of the adolescent population identify as transgender with children as young as three expressing concerns about their biological sex.”  The increase is not limited to one hospital.

“Figures exclusively provided to 9news.com.au show that at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead in Sydney, there was 54 new referrals last year compared to one patient in 2013.”  They also say, “The average age of children referred to the hospital is 12.”

There is a great deal of debate about the cause of such a dramatic spike.

This is happening in many western nations.  Some say it is about more awareness and acceptance.  Others say it is the result of a social contagion.

Not enough credible studies have been conducted to be conclusive.

Spokeswoman for Binary, Kirralie Smith, is concerned about the alarming increase in the number of children seeking medical intervention.  The 9news report stated, “Research shows that 96% of children diagnosed with gender dysphoria have continued to identify as gender diverse and no patient who commenced stage 2 treatment has wanted to transition back to their birth sex.”

Smith responded by saying, “that is consistent with many other statistics from around the world.  What they failed to mention is that if children do not undergo any intervention, up to 90% of children will desist.  In other words, if you allow kids to naturally develop, they will grow out of the dysphoria and live their adult lives according to their biological gender.”

Smith also noted, “Medical intervention has proven only to reinforce the dysphoria.  Not enough studies have been conducted on side effects of the medications and surgeries, but one thing we know for sure is infertility or sterilisation is one permanent effect.”

Source: Binery

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QUEENSLAND INTRODUCE GENDER THEORY IN SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGY COURSE

By Australian Newsletter

A new ATAR psychology course on offer for Queensland year 11 and 12 students seeks to embed gender theory into school curriculum once more.  “Including gender theory in school curriculum does no good for children,” commented Australian Christian Lobby’s managing director Martyn Iles.  “It harms kids by causing them to question their identity and can sow uncertainty during an already vulnerable stage of life.” “Across the country, we are already seeing a dramatic increase in the number of children struggling with gender identity and wanting to transition, this kind of addition to the QLD curriculum is the last thing kids need.”

“Gender theory often purposely omits the reasons for gender dysphoria which includes the tragedy of sexual abuse.  Teaching gender theory potentially puts kids on a pathway of hormones and irreversible reassignment surgery,”

warned Mr Iles. “The reality is that tens of thousands of people across the globe regret mutilating their bodies.  We know that without medical intervention 80-90% of children revert to their natal sex through puberty, a process which is now being prevented by puberty blockers.   Embedding gender theory into year 11 and 12 school subjects is a retrograde step which is anti-science and pro-ideology.”

Source: Australian Christian Lobby

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