By Charles Newington, FamilyVoice Australia
When something like this happens no words can carry the weight of loss to those who knew the building and loved it.
Not so long ago my wife and I were in France giving time to pray for the people of France and all whose mother tongue is French. We were standing silently praying In Notre Dame along this vein and when I opened my eyes another person was standing close to me deep in prayer. When I read the reports of this fire the visual memory of this praying man returned to me. I don’t know what he was praying for, but for me, standing in that place praying for the people of France made the place (and the people) special in a personal way. A fire of faith was kindled.
A spokesperson for the Vatican expressing the sense of loss described Notre Dame as the symbol of Christianity in France. Symbols matter. Notre Dame reminded the nation (and the world) that the roots of the nation are steeped in the faith of many generations. A young country like Australia sometimes feels empty of such enduring symbols built to the glory of God. But they are there for those who go looking for them. They speak of a time when the urban skyline was defined by buildings to the glory of God. Now our skylines are very different as are the intellectual horizons that envision them – much more immediate, much less transcendent and enduring.
Cathedrals around the world are seeing increasing numbers of visitors. I suggest it is a response to secularism’s desertification of society and the growing longing for an oasis for the soul. I’m not cynical about the tourists’ quick walk through, following a guide on autopilot. Many go not knowing what they will see or find but something of God always drops quietly into the searching heart.
Protestants in earlier times were offended by the idolatry of Catholic churches – and with some justification. They were determined to build churches that were free of embellishments and not distracting to the worshiper. In so doing they unintentionally banished faith from the imagination and corralled it in the intellect. All would be well if the lives of believers were clothed with the fire of Christ’s love, but sadly sometimes we are concerned with fighting some lesser fire.
So now as we watch this ancient symbol burn… let us pray for France and for ourselves – that the true fire of the Spirit may consume the consumable leaving us like Moses’ burning bush – on fire but not consumed.
By Caleb Stephen, FamilyVoice Australia
Editors comments: For those who do not consider themselves leaders this article is still relevant. It is good advice for all Christians to follow in everyday life and if you do you may well become qualified to be a leader.
Never before in history has it been such an exciting time to be alive! As believers in Christ, we have the tremendous privilege and wonderful responsibility of changing the course of history and impacting our world for the better. I have been thinking a lot about what the rest of the year ahead will hold. I don’t know what it holds but I find great peace and comfort in the fact that whatever happens, good or bad, God will use it to glorify Himself. He will use willing servants like you and me to accomplish His purposes and bring the wounded, the needed and the broken-hearted to Himself.
In order to really make an impact, we need to understand the key to truly accomplishing what is strong leadership. What this culture needs more than anything else is leaders willing to rally the troops and stand together to be the change that we’re all looking for. We have enough followers on this planet. People are so willing to follow, but not necessarily happy to lead. Strong leadership will determine how well we can make that impact and how far that impact will go. I like leading. I’m a leadership type. That’s just me. I mean there’s nothing wrong with not being cut out for leadership roles, but I think we need to look for people who have the potential and then mentor them into the roles.
That’s another thing that’s lacking in this culture today. It’s called mentorship. Sadly not much of that happens anymore. Jesus was the greatest leader to ever walk the face of this planet. He was born in humble circumstances, He lived and worked in humble circumstances, yet He teamed up with 12 men from a diverse range of backgrounds to spread a movement that would forever change the world. Below are seven lessons from His life that teaches us how to effectively make an impact.
There’s just not enough love in this world. And by love, I mean real, genuine, agape love. Not the fickle love of the romantic relationships that come and go. In order to truly make an impact in this world, you’ve got to have a perspective of love. That’s exactly what Christ did when He was on this earth healing, teaching and preaching. He loved everybody, even those who were so opposed to Him. In fact, He loved us all so much that He was willing to die on the Cross for us. 1 Corinthians 16:14 says, “Let all that you do be done with love.” That verse should be our motto for everything we do.
In Luke 22:27, Christ says: “I am among you as the One who serves.” Our Lord understood that his position of leadership was not one of superiority but one of servanthood. His focus was always on serving and meeting the needs of others. One of my favourite sayings is “the best way to lead is by example.” You don’t send the troops into the thick of combat by leading from behind. It doesn’t work like that. A true leader will be up at the front leading the charge, he will be getting his hands dirty and the troops will follow his example. Too often today, we have leaders who want to be in the public spotlight for their own selfish desire for fame and glory but they’re not willing to get their hands dirty and put in the hard yards to make things happen.
As leaders, we must always understand that we are servants. We start off as servants and we will always remain servants. Having an attitude of humility and a willingness to serve is so important. In fact, I would say that it’s not optional. Pride is probably the biggest barrier to leading effectively. It blinds us to the needs of those under us and it makes us have lofty delusions that we are somehow greater than everybody around us. John Maxwell said that “In order to go up, we must give up.” Leaders must realize the higher in leadership or accountability we are, the more sacrifices we must make.
Leaders realise there’s great value in building a solid team around us to challenge us to, to partner with us and to keep us accountable. Jesus understood that in order to spread His message of hope to the world he needed a team. It wasn’t a big team, it was just 12 men who answered Christ’s call to drop everything and follow Him. If we ever want to accomplish anything significant for the glory of God, it’s going to take a combination of talents and ideas to bring vision to life. Without a solid team of people we can rely and depend on, our best attempts at instigating something meaningful will be fruitless.
When we build a team we must make it clear that it’s about “we” and “us” not “me” or “I.” It is everybody collectively and actively working toward a common goal not passively sitting around watching, being entertained and inspired but not spurred on to action. Empower others to use their gifts for the glory of God. I like to say that everybody has some sort of gifting. Nobody should ever feel put down because they’re “not smart” and so forth. Everybody deep down has a gift that God has given them. When I was younger, I often put myself down because I felt I wasn’t a brilliant person and I was constantly encompassed about with failure. Everywhere I looked I saw failure and I felt I had no hope of going anywhere in life.
But then I prayed earnestly to God to show me my talents so that I could use them for His glory and He did! He enabled to see me the hidden giftings that I had, that I never knew I had. As leaders, it is our job to get to know each of our team members on a personal level, find out their individual giftings and then allow them to unleash their full potential through mentorship. Empowering others starts by giving them opportunities. Opportunities are everything. Too often today, raw talent is bottled up and it’s not allowed to be released in a positive way and that’s just terrible. Mentorship is a very important part of helping others flourish in their gifts, confidence, talents, personal growth and ultimately their service in the kingdom of God.
As I mentioned before, leaders are servants. We must always be on the lookout for ways in which we can meet the needs of others and bless them by doing so. When we serve others, we actually feel blessed too. A simple question like “are you ok?” or “how can I pray for you today?” means a lot. Remember, this is about putting the needs of others before your own. The saying is true: “People don’t care how much we know until they know how much we care.” We must understand that as leaders we will never connect with people or gain influence until we meet their needs. Our Lord understood that and that’s why He continuously and consistently met the physical and spiritual needs of His disciples, his followers and everyone else around Him. Even in His darkest hour while hanging on the Cross, He arranged for His mother to be taken care of by the faithful disciple John.
The last thing you want is to burnout because when you do so, you become ineffective as a leader. You cannot function to your maximum. There is definitely a place for regular rest because let’s face it: leaders are not super humans. We are just like everybody else, human. As leaders, we must learn to be intentional with our time. It is vital that we recognize the importance of our time and be intentional to balance it between others and ourselves. Christ was very intentional about how His time was spent. He knew the power of balancing time alone and with others. In those times alone, He would recharge and spend time with His Father in Heaven. He was acutely aware of the how important it was to schedule time to rest and unwind. He also knew when it was time to be around others to teach, fellowship and serve.
Because we are humans and we have different personalities, there will inevitably be conflict at times. The most important part of resolving conflict is to forgive and forget. The Apostle Peter asked the Lord how many times He should forgive those who offended Him. The answer? Every time and as many times as required. We should extend the same grace, mercy and forgiveness that He has extended to us. Everybody makes mistakes and we’re no different. Forgiveness is a very powerful and amazing thing. To forgive those who have wronged us enables us to be happy and closer to those around us. Forgiveness enables us to transcend bitterness, resentment and hatred and move on with the things that matter. It is our job as leaders to have an attitude of forgiveness and be always ready to offer grace toward others.
Caleb is in charge of Digital Communications & Media at FamilyVoice. He also coordinates our young adult national advocacy wing, VoiceForChange.
Prior to working fulltime with FamilyVoice, Caleb was an investigative journalist, ghostwriter, commentator and editor for some of the largest news outlets in the United States, Israel and Australia.
Outside of FamilyVoice, Caleb enjoys working with youth and the homeless and is an emergency services volunteer.
By Charles Newington, National Director
Izzy’s Instagram page has one main message – be an outspoken Christian at a time when the thought police are working hard to shut down free speech.
He is pushing the envelope – being public about what he really believes the Bible teaches about the dangers of a sinful life – the full range of behaviours that wreck people’s lives, not just gay marriage.
He has put his faith in Jesus first and is fine with his rugby contract being ripped up. He’s such a super-star expect to see him playing somewhere in the world on a huge contract – and maybe even wearing another nation’s strip and ripping big holes in the Wallaby backline…
This is what free speech looks like. It is controversial and even offensive. It has consequences like losing your job and maybe even landing up in court. What Izzy posted is provocative but it’s nothing compared to some of the comments people make on his page.
And more widely, Christians are being characterized as the most bigoted and intolerant people on the planet. Some of us are bigoted and outraged that our rights are being undermined. It’s a bit uncomfortable but that’s what a free society and free speech looks like. This idea that the only people who should have a right to make public statements are those trained in a left-leaning university is truly ridiculous.
We are becoming far too sensitive – too quick to use words like ‘furious, outraged, incensed’ and ‘offended’. A free society is not easily outraged. It values true diversity and works hard to maintain the basic social structures in which robust dialogue can produce productive change. The alternative is for the State to seriously limit free speech and freedom of religion which is a whole lot worse than Izzy Folau’s one-man mission to remove any doubt about what the Bible says about sin.
So it’s more important to defend our society’s long-standing commitment to free speech than to search the dictionary for new ways to say how angry we are.
A final comment – while I might not have been quite so incisively blunt as Izzy Folau, I’m thankful he values what Jesus has done in him and for the world more than his four million dollar contract with Rugby Australia. That’s big. RA pay him to play rugby but that should not mean they own his soul. We need more people who place their faith above their fortune, because money is a useful servant but a terrible master. Onya Izzy.
Western Australia has entered the next critical stage of the WA government push to legalise euthanasia in Western Australia!
FamilyVoice can now provide guidance (click here) for responding to the WA Government’s Ministerial Expert Panel, which has now released a Discussion Paper and began a public consultation process that assumes the WA public truly wants to legalise assisted killing by doctors.
The panel is accepting submissions until May 24.
Please also attend the open public consultation sessions – which are being held in Perth and regional areas during working hours, as set out here.
If you can attend the sessions, we would like two important questions to be asked of the expert panel:
FAMILYVOICE MEDIA RELEASE (21 March 2019):
Assisted Suicide public consultation in W.A. – a sham
Darryl Budge of Christian advocacy group FamilyVoice is angered on behalf of Western Australian’s that the WA Government’s expert panel will censor objections to euthanasia.
“This sham public consultation is a sociological experiment where the only ‘permissible’ outcome is to agree with the flawed recommendations of the Joint Select Committee on End of Life Choices,” said Darryl Budge of FamilyVoice WA.
“This government wants assisted suicide offered in every hospital when it is yet to offer a high standard of palliative care, equitably to every Western Australian.”
“We observe the disturbing irony that this discussion paper was released on the same day the Federal Government released its National Plan to Respond to the Abuse of Older Australians [Elder Abuse] 2019 - 2023, which states that “All governments are aware of distressing accounts of abuse of older people.”
“Knowing this is the case, how will this Labor government guarantee that patients in hospitals and aged care will be safeguarded against being coerced into decisions for the financial gain of family and friends?”
“This government is signing our elderly up to the worst form of abuse: pressure to die by suicide.”
“It is ironic that this government proposes that legalising assisted killing is a ‘greater choice’, but denies any choice by the WA public to reject assisted killing legislation and to choose to end pain and alleviate suffering , through access and funding to excellent palliative care instead.”
Almost beyond comprehension and belief, the brutality of abortion is sometimes unable to overcome the will to live. Hence in Australia and across the world a large number of babies continue to survive the horrendous methods of so-called termination of pregnancy. Tragically, many abortion survivors are left to die quietly of exposure – as though modern society is no better than the ancient pagan Roman culture that was characterised by infanticide.
Consider some Australian examples. Since abortion was legalised in Western Australia in 1998, we know that least 26 children (out of over 160,000 total abortions) have survived an abortion before being left to die. In 2018, as a result of numerous petitions and rallies supported by FamilyVoice, Nick Goiran MLC was able to pressure the WA Health Department into reporting each death to the WA Coroner, as a small but helpful outcome.
In 2015, 27 Queensland babies were born alive and left to die after botched late term abortions. This was revealed in 2016 by Minister for Health, Cameron Dick, in response to vigorous scrutiny by pro-life MP Mark Robinson.
FamilyVoice estimates that between 1 in 4 and 1 in 5 late term abortions in Queensland result in a baby born alive. While the statistics are likely to be similar in other states, governmental refusal to keep such records hardly helps anyone identify the sad fate of babies born alive after abortion.
Answers to parliamentary questions in Western Australia has revealed that late term abortions are performed in two different ways:
Firstly, if there is expectation that the baby will survive the abortion, an injection of potassium chloride is administered into the foetal blood stream which causes the unborn baby to die from a heart attack prior to induced labour.
Secondly, if the baby is not expected to survive birth, potassium chloride is not administered and instead labour is induced through prostaglandin administered to the mother.
Research by the Live Action pro-life organisation in North America has reported a conservative estimate of at least 1200 surviving abortions in the US each year. In Britain, The Daily Mail reported that in a twelve month period 66 babies who survived abortion were left to die. Canadian government statistics indicate that an average of 49 such born-alive infants die each year.
In 2007, a study published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology concluded that about 3% of terminations after 16 weeks’ gestation result in a born-alive infant. At 23 weeks’ gestation, the number is much higher, at nearly 10%.
In a shocking move in February of this year, the US Senate rejected the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act in a 53-44 vote. The bill would have required care for babies who survived abortion procedures and would have prosecuted doctors if they failed to care for babies born alive after abortion. So much for the US upholding such self-evident truths as the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Presumably the pro-choice doctor’s pursuit of freedom and prosperity may come at the price of a baby’s life.
Are we no better than the ancient pagan Roman society, characterised by leaving unwanted infants out overnight to die by exposure?
Such realities should prompt a serious examination of conscience by every citizen and every legislator, along with learning lessons of reform provided by Christians in ancient times.
According to sociologist Rodney Stark, the city of Rome was in such dire population decline that it was only barbarian and semi-barbarian immigrants that kept the city from disintegrating. Those immigrants unfortunately took up Roman attitudes towards childlessness and infanticide. It is argued that the natural and adoptive raising of children by Christians and Jews kept the city alive, especially as Christians rescued multitudes of abandoned infants and took them into their homes.
Through the strong influence and example of Christians, ruthless Roman society abandoned infanticide by exposure. Finally, in AD 318, the Christian Emperor Constantine declared exposure to be a crime. By 374 AD, it had become a capital offence.
The charitable work of Christians and their influence upon the political culture set a fine example for believers today. If Christians in the modern world will open our hearts and our homes to women in crisis who are facing unplanned pregnancy, and if we can re-assert the goodness of adoption as a life-preserving alternative to abortion, perhaps we will live to see the scourge of abortion abandoned once again.
Well known to many Australian is US pro-life advocate Gianna Jessen, whose mother was 7 months pregnant when she visited Planned Parenthood for a late-term saline (installation) abortion. A solution (which can include saline, digoxin, potassium chloride and prostaglandin) is injected into the mother’s uterus and into the baby. This poison burns the baby inside and out, and including the outer layer of his or her skin. After an hour, the baby is assumed to be dead and the mother delivers the head child the following day.
Gianna Jessen survived the horrendous procedure. As the abortionist was absent, Gianna went straight to hospital. Severe loss of oxygen during the failed abortion led to a diagnosis of cerebral palsy. However, by age four, Gianna needed only the assistance of a walker, leg braces, and her foster mother. Today, Jessen walks with only a small limp. She acts as a voice for the voiceless and hope for the hopeless through her pro-life activism.
“Death did not prevail over me… and I am so thankful!” Gianna Jessen proclaims.
Melissa Ohden’s mother was 19 when she opted for a saline abortion. She believed she was under five months pregnant, but Melissa was truly seven months old in the womb.
After being adopted, Melissa did not know of her history of survival until she was 14. She ultimately found her biological parents and forgave them for attempting to abort her. Melissa has since founded the Abortion Survivors Network, which seeks to educate the public about failed abortions and survivors while providing emotional, mental, and spiritual support to abortion survivors. There are now over 210 abortion survivors in this network.
“Something’s wrong when women’s empowerment is based on ending another human being’s life,” Melissa Ohden states.
Tonya Glasby was only 13 when she conceived Clare Culwell as one of a set of twins, leading Tonya’s parents to pressure for an abortion at five months gestation. Doctors ended the life of one baby, not realising Tony was carrying two. After the procedure Tonya continued to feel a baby kicking. By this time doctors deemed any further abortion procedure was medically risky.
At seven months gestation Clare Culwell was born with dislocated hips and club feet, yet thrived with her adopted family. At age 20 she discovered her birth mother Tonya at a friend’s house, where she forgave Tonya, and thanked her for sparing her life.
“This is what it looks like to survive an abortion. My hips were dislocated, I had club feet, and I was in body casts to correct what the abortion had done. But I still deserved to live,” Claire Culwell explains.
Josiah Presley’s mother unsuccessfully attempted to abort him at two months. He thrived despite a maimed left arm from the failed abortion and was adopted out of South Korea into a loving home in the USA. When Josiah later heard about his mother’s attempt to take his life, he struggled with inner anger towards her. But as he grew in his understanding of Jesus’ forgiveness for his wrongs against God, Josiah ultimately forgave his birth mother.
Josiah asks, “What makes [preborn children] different from us besides the fact that they are innocent and can’t defend themselves against these huge abortion bullies killing them?”
Nik Hoot was born with parts of both legs missing and underdeveloped fingers after a failed abortion in Siberia, Russia. Christian couple Marvin and Apryl Woodburn adopted him after being convinced by a priest that people with disability are to be loved and respected like anyone else.
Nik received his first prosthetic legs at the age of two and learned to walking on his own after two weeks. He eventually learned to play football, baseball, basketball and is now a wrestling champion.
FamilyVoice Australia upholds Christian values and the family: permanence of marriage, sanctity of human life, primacy of parenthood and limited government.
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