Saturday, November 28, 2009

Kindergarten for a Hill Tribe

In November 2009 the Gold Coast Japanese Christian Church, Know Your Bible (Robina), and other individuals donated funds towards the construction of a kindergarten for an indigenous hill tribe on the island of Mindanao, Philippines.

Most of these mountain-top villages have no electricity or tap-water. Their ancestors have lived in the hills for generations. And most of the villages are animist.

But not too long ago one entire village believed the Gospel and were baptized.

The following is the remarkable story of how God revealed Himself through dreams to the village Chief, resulting in the conversion of the entire village.

It took our team five hours by bus, plus two hours on a motorcycle (with four of us on one motorcycle!), plus hours hiking on foot and crossing rivers on logs. It rained the whole time.

I was told I was the first foreigner ever to set foot in those mountains. So I expected the village people to look surprised when I arrived.

When we finally arrived, the Chief gathered the whole village together. But no-one looked surprised to see a foreigner.

So I asked my interpreter to ask the Chief if it’s really true that I was the first foreigner they’d seen. The following was the Chief’s fascinating reply:

“Many years ago we used to worship the spirits,” said the chief, “ The men used to spear each other, and had as many wives as we liked.

Then one day I had a dream in which somebody dressed in white appeared to me and said, ‘You better repent of what you are doing, and start worshipping the one true God in heaven’.

Then I was told in another dream to gather the whole village together and tell everyone to repent and start worshipping the one true God in heaven.

Then I was told in another dream to write down certain laws which the village was to live by.

And I was also told to build a building where the entire village could gather to worship the one true God in heaven.

The behavior of our village became so good that we gained the reputation of causing the least amount of trouble to the Government of any of the hill tribes. So much so that my name was changed to Datu Malinaw [which means, Chief Peace-Bringer].

"Then one day I got sick, and had to come down off the mountain into the lowlands to look for a doctor. And by chance, the first person I met happened to be a Pastor.
The Pastor took me into his house and showed me the Bible. I was amazed to discover in the Bible almost exactly the same words that had been told to me in the dreams. So I knew that the God who wrote the Bible is the same God who had revealed Himself to me in the dreams.

I invited the Pastor to come and live in the mountain, learn our language and teach us about God.

Finally I was told in another dream that someday white people will come from a faraway land and tell us more about what God wants us to do.

So no-one is surprised to see you - we’ve all been waiting for you,”
said the Chief.

Everyone gathered together, eagerly waiting to hear my message. We preached about Creation, sin and death, God’s gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ, Water Baptism and Receiving the Holy Spirit.

After I finished speaking, the chief dismissed all of the villagers from the house while the Elders had a closed discussion. Then after a short time he gathered everyone together again. The Tribal spokesman announced:

"The Elders have discussed the message which we all just heard, and have unanimously agreed that it is truly a message from God. Therefore, as of now, we all accept it."

In that way the whole village instantly accepted the Gospel and they also accepted the message about receiving the Holy Spirit.

But when it came to the message about water baptism, the Chief did not at first give permission for his people to be baptized.

"But if you'll help us build a new building for worship," he said, "then I'll allow the people to be baptized."

At first I felt unhappy with the Chief’s response regarding baptism - I felt that if his obedience to God was complete, he should be willing to submit to baptism irrespective of whether or not we agreed to help them with a new building.
But then the Lord softened my heart; He seemed to be impressing upon my heart:

“These tribal people don’t have legal title to the land which they’ve occupied for generations; they feel they are less formally-educated and less wealthy than lowlanders; and the Chief feels that by allowing his people to submit to baptism, he will be bringing his people into covenant with his visitors – so all he is doing is he is looking for a token of your sincerity – then he will feel sure he won’t be exposing his people to any risk of being exploited or driven off their land – and he will gladly submit to baptism”, the Lord seemed to be telling me.

So I shared my feelings with the others in our team, and one of our team immediately gave the Chief 100 pesos (which is only about five dollars). Then the Chief immediately gave permission for his people to be baptized. That was all it took – just a little token of our integrity, just five dollars. I was amazed!

We calculated it would cost only $1250 to construct a church-building, since all we'd need to do was buy corrugated roofing iron and cement and hire a chain-saw to cut wood from the jungle.

That seemed such a small price to pay in order to see an entire village baptized and following Jesus.

So when I got home to Australia, I told a Church about it, and while I was still speaking, the Pastor jumped up and grabbed the microphone off me, and said to the congregation:

"We'll take-up an offering on that straightaway – and whatever you give in the offering tonight, we'll match it dollar-for-dollar from existing church funds."

So in one offering almost the entire amount was raised.

We sent the money to the Philippines, and the new church-building was constructed – the whole building was made from beautiful Philippine mahogany.

Then the Chief came true to his word and he was baptized - he and his entire village – in one day, in the river.

At the opening Church service there were 1,300 people in attendance.

Since then, some of their young people have graduated from Bible College, and they have spread the Gospel to four neighbouring villages.

But there are many, many more villages in that particular Tribe which are yet to hear the Gospel. The total population of all the villages of this particular Tribe is approximately 25,000 people.

The total cost of constructing the kindergarten will be only $1500. Church-buildings can be constructed in neighbouring villages for approximately $2000. The reason it is so cheap is because land, wood and labour can be provided freely by the Tribe.

Through partnering with our Filipino workers in Christ, we could achieve seeing all 25,000 people brought to Christ.

But this opportunity won’t be there forever because, as roads and bridges are being built, the villages will become more and more accessible, and it may only be a matter of time before other religions seek to enter and proselytize.

So now is the time when we must walk through the open door which God has set before us before it is too late.

If anyone would like to contribute towards bringing Pastor Sinday from the Philippines to Australia to share the vision amongst interested groups, they may make a direct deposit at:

Name of Bank: Bendigo Bank
Account Name: Go and Serve the Lord (Go-Serve)
Account Number: 114585805
BSB: 633-000

Please include the reference: Tribe

For more information visit here or to view an English/Japanese video of this testimony visit here

Monday, November 23, 2009

Moses' Solution to the Current Financial Crisis

Many are thinking the current financial crisis is a tragedy which indicates that ours must be the last generation before Christ returns.

But I think the current financial crisis has the potential to bring-about some advantageous adjustments in our economic system, if we respond to it properly.

And I'm not talking about moving away from Capitalism/profit-making towards some sort of socialistic redistribution of wealth. Of course not! Many have argued that it was a socialistic redistributionist mentality that contributed to this economic crisis in the first place! Private property and profit-making (Capitalism) were entirely part of the economic system which God gave to Israel through Moses.

But there were a number of major differences between Moses' system and ours - and this is where we may be able to make some helpful adjustments.

For example, Moses allowed no interest to be charged within the economy, except to non-citizens.

If we started following that today, the boom-bust/inflation-recession economic cycle would become a thing of the past. The current economic crisis wouldn't be repeated.

Eliminating interest wouldn't stop financiers from supplying capital to entrepreneurs. Rather, it would encourage financiers to supply capital through partnerships rather than through lending. The shared risk/profit involved in partnership would motivate enhanced economic performance and growth.

In an economy without interest, some of our current wealth-creation strategies would change too.

For example, investing in real estate are requires instability in the economy (inflation) to force the 'value' of properties up so the property can then be sold at a profit. But in an economy with no interest, prices wouldn't rise, therefore a different value system would be required in order to see real estate as a profitable investment.

The economic stability created through eliminating interest would eliminate inflation - therefore house-prices wouldn't rise. The only way the value of a house would rise is if we actually did something to improve its physical value - such as by making it bigger, or improving its fixtures. In that case, when we later sold the house, it would be legitimate to make a profit by charging a higher price than what we paid for it, in consideration of all the improvements and labour we did.

Currently, many real-estate investors do nothing to physically improve the value of their properties, and yet they sell them at a higher price. In other words, the buyer is getting less house for his money than what the original owner got when he bought the same house. Instead of being a win-win situation with equal profiting, one person seeks to make a profit through the other person being less advantaged.

Many today are involved in wealth-creation strategies which hope for and depend upon that type of instability in their own economy. That's not the picture Moses was aiming for in his blueprint for society!

If we eliminated interest, there'd be no price rises, so the only way we could make money out of real estate would be by physically improving the property. This would stimulate economic activity.

The other way we could increase our wealth through real estate would be not to sell the properties, but to keep them and continue physically improving their value, and then pass them down the family-line.

Imagine if houses were built to last for generations. Imagine if each generation that inherited the family houses continued to physically improve their value before passing them onto the next generation. Each generation would make the houses bigger, better, they might add gold pathways, sapphire floor-tiles, silk curtains, gates of pearl, foundations of precious stones, etc. The extended family would continuously be increasing their wealth without selling, without profiting through someone else's comparative disadvantage, without contributing to inflation in the economy.

That's real, physical prosperity. Whereas when an economy is based on profit-making through selling assets whose physical value hasn't been improved, it's a phantom prosperity. It has to unravel eventually.

God planted a garden in Eden and there He put the man whom He had formed. And God put gold and silver in the ground in the garden. I believe, given time, that Adam might have turned Eden into a replica of Paradise in heaven, with streets of gold and gates of pearl. Not so he could sell it - but so he could keep it, and keep improving it, and so manking could keep enjoying it perpetually.

That's another value-sytem with regard to wealth, even though it's entirely Scriptural and legitimate to seek profit through selling. When we profit through selling, we ought to want it to be done in a way that neither contributes to nor depends upon instability in the economy caused through price-rises which were caused by interest.

Moses did allow interest to be charged to non-citizens or to other nations. If we did that, our nation would have a continuous surplus of money flowing into the country rather than out of the country. That has obvious economic and military advantages.

So in conclusion, does Jesus have to come back in our generation, due to the current economic crisis? He could come back in our generation, but He doesn't have to just because of the current crisis. Rather, we can learn from it and make adjustments which may create greater wealth and safeguard us from being affected by future crises, should the Lord tarry.

But in any case, come Lord Jesus!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Prosperity - Two Forgotten Keys

"Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD:

and the fruit of the womb is his reward.

As arrows in the hand of a mighty man;

so are children of the youth.

Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them:

they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate" Psalm 127:3-5)

There is a lot of good teaching around today about prosperity. Preachers take great delight in quoting passages from the Bible which promise prosperity, and enthusiastically apply these promises to their lives. They are happy to claim fiat money, houses, cars and clothes as examples of ways in which they can expect to prosper, based on these passages of Scripture - and there's nothing wrong with that.

But many of these same passages also talk about having large families - in terms of it being a blessing. So when was the last time you heard a prosperity preacher claim that particular "blessing"?

It seems we don't really consider it a blessing to have a large family nowadays, even though the Bible calls it a blessing. We've thought that to safeguard our prosperity, we better limit the number of children we have.

The church largely reflects the thinking of contemporary secular society, on this matter. But the Bible says that God's people ought to be blessed with greater fertility than non-covenant people!

Another way in which we differ from the Bible in modern society is in regard to inheritance. We consider it normal in our society for a newly married couple to have to spend half their working-life paying off the mortgage on a quarter-acre block. And then when their kids get married, they have to start from scratch as well, going into half a lifetime of debt - and we think that's normal.

It doesn't sound to me like that's what God had in mind. There has to be a better way.

The Bible says that His covenant people should be "above only and not beneath", the "head and not the tail", that we would "lend...and...not borrow".

How is this achievable? In this article I seek to illustrate how a return to old, Biblical values could vouchsafe prosperity to us, to our children and our children's children for generations to come. Children and inheritance (land) could be two keys to prosperity.


Imagine a young couple marrying at around age 21. Let's say the couple likes children and they end-up producing five children over the next say 21 years. Then imagine each of their children marries at around the age of 21 and has five children as well, over say the next 21 years. Then each of their grandchildren has five children over the following 21 years, and so on...

Considering each person lives between 70 and 80 years, and each person finds their spouse outside the family, after approximately 100 years there would be somewhere in the vicinity of 625 families with a total of 4,678 people. That's almost the population of the centre of Gatton, Queensland. All from one couple, in only 100 years!

Imagine the influence for good that an extended family of this size can have! That's influence. That's wealth. That's prosperity. That's blessing.

But how can couples afford a "large" family (of five) these days? Consider the following Biblical approach to inheritance as a possible answer.


Let's say, instead of purchasing a nice house in the City, the original couple are willing to go just a bit further out of town, and purchase a small house on inexpensive acreage - zoned rural or semi-rural. For about the same price as a nice house in the City, the couple can buy hundreds of acres - and some properties even already have multiple titles and dwellings.

"But who would want to live outside of the City?" Well remember that some people already have to drive 40-minutes to get to work anyway, even though they live in the City! So it's not all that different.

So the couple starts-out living in a small house - just a bit of a shack perhaps, with only one or two-bedrooms. Then as each of their children is born, they add an extra bedroom onto the house, as it's needed.

At a cost of between $600 - $2000 per square metre for an extension, the family can afford to save-up and probably pay cash for each extension without having to borrow money, when each new baby arrives.

As each new child comes along, the couple keeps extending the house, one room at a time, as they can afford it.

Then when the time comes when their firstborn gets married and moves out - a simple, inexpensive dwelling can be built for the young couple somewhere down the far end of the property, where they can live their own independent life.

As each child grows up and gets married, he prepares a dwelling for his bride, down one end of the family property.

The advantage for each of their kids is: they never have to buy land: they only need to build a small dwelling. To begin with, they would construct a simple one or two-bedroom home, at a cost of only about $28,000 after receiving the Government's $7,000first home-owner's grant.

Then as each of their children comes along, their house can be extended in stages as they can afford it, adding one extra room at a time - just like their parents did.

When their children grow up and marry, houses can be built for them also, on the property - and each of these houses is similarly extended in small stages to accommodate each child that comes along, and so on...

After approximately 100 years, there would now be around 625 houses on the property and each house would end-up having six bedrooms or more. That's a bit of a mansion!

At no stage would any of the children ever need to buy land, or ever need to borrow money from any financial institution outside the extended family. Each new home would be highly affordable, because the land is already owned by the extended family and because each family has the luxury of being allowed to start with a small structure which can be extended in stages as they can afford it.

Since they won't ever need to go to the Banks, a total of nearly $400 million in borrowings and interest can be saved by the extended family over the 100-year period.

And that figure is not even considering that by 100 years, some families wouldn't need to build at all, as a number of houses would by then have become available for inheritance.

But even if each new couple borrowed money for each stage of building, at no time would they ever need to borrow more than approximately $12,000 (compare that with the average mortgage in the City).

And consider quality of life. If the original couple had bought say 1000 acres, and the land now has 625 houses on it, that means each house would have its own one-and-a-half acre block. That's seven times the size of most residential blocks in the City.

And there would still be 62.5 acres of spare land remaining, which could be developed into parks, walking tracks, a lake, farms, family businesses, roadways or a community centre.

And all of it would be owned by the extended family! The fathers would be able to look out over the estate saying, "How's the serenity!"

The financial burden on couples to borrow money from outside the family is eliminated. Land was only purchased once. Money was never borrowed from a Bank to build the houses.

All this is possible simply by each family having five children and by following the Biblical inheritance pattern in which rural land, once inherited, could never be sold outside the Tribe. Real Estate in the City could be sold, but rural land always stayed in the Tribe - it could be leased, but never sold.

Population + land = influence = power = prosperity.

In this way, one man can become a village or a township of 625 families totalling 4,678 people.

God's plan was for a man to become a family, for families to become a tribe, and for tribes to become a nation.

In 100 years, the City will have grown out to meet the land which was once a 40-minute drive from the City, so by then the 1000-acre estate will have city value. And in the mean time, the family isn't too inconvenienced because, like I said, many people living in the City are already driving 40-minutes to get to work anyway.

Adapting the Principles

Sounds good. But of course it's a bit idealistic and there are reasons why it probably wouldn't work-out exactly like that in practice - and we're probably not meant to try to follow it to the letter either.

However, the model serves, in an over-the-top sort of way, to illustrate concepts which could be a blessing to us, even if we only adopted some of them to a small extent.

There are some principles in it which I think are worth considering. Maybe some couples could apply parts of it, in varying degrees - depending on what's appropriate to each family's unique calling, circumstances and culture.

As Paul said: "Every man has his proper gift of God." We're not all called to do the same thing in life, nevertheless we can each trust God to prosper us despite the varying sacrifices of our callings.

One reason why it wouldn't always happen exactly like that is because not every child will stay in the vicinity of their parents: some will become more closely connected to their spouse's side of the family; others will move away to follow a call of God, or for education, career, or missions, or simply to feel more independent.

Statistically however, a large number of children do end-up living close to the vicinity of their parents.

Even if just half or a third of the couple's 4,678 descendants stayed somewhere on or near the original estate, that's still 2,339 or 1,559 people.

A man with this many descendants in one Shire is still considered a man of considerable influence - not to mention that his children who have moved away will be a blessing wherever they are as well.

Even considering two-thirds of the children will end-up moving away, the model is still financially beneficial, in the following ways:

The ownership of the land always stays in the extended family.

So each individual family, even when they move away, remains a perpetual joint-heir to the land, no matter what.

Each family would still individually own both a share in the land plus they would own outright and individually any improvements they had personally built on the family land.

For example, if they'd built a house, they can continue to derive an income from it by letting it, or they could use its collateral.

The point is that each family, even if they move away, is given a tremendous head-start in life, by the opportunity to own land and house pretty-much debt-free, back at "home".

Blessed to Be a Blessing

4678 people. Imagine the influence for good that a man can have through having this many descendants. What a blessing!

The above calculations are based on five children per family - because five children per couple was the average fertility rate in Australia in the 50's, before the introduction of the contraceptive pill.

But since we believers are covenant people and have the promise of becoming "blessed above all people round about" us, therefore we can reasonably expect to have even more than five children per family.

(Fertility is a blessing, according to the Bible).

So let's say each generation, instead of having five children, ends-up being blessed with the average fertility rate that existed in Australia in the 1800's - which was eight children per couple.

The population after 100 years would now be 42,000 (instead of 4,678 if they only had five children).

That's a town bigger than Mt Isa, Queensland; or about the size of the City of Armidale, NSW.

Imagine the combined economic power of an extended family this size!

(Townships of a similar size already contribute a sizable percentage of Queensland's overall Gross State Product).

Now consider if, instead of five or eight children, each family had the same number of children with which the Lord blessed Jacob - that is,12 children.

The result after a hundred years would be almost a half million people, or more than the population of the entire Gold Coast, or about 12% of Queensland's total population, in just 100 years!

All from one couple.

Then imagine if not just one couple but every Christian couple was similarly blessed.

If you want to talk about church growth, or revival - that's a pretty effective strategy right there!

I'll show you some figures on that further down.

(Christians ought to be more fertile than non-covenant people!)

But considering one family for now, and for the sake of being conservative, let's use the lower figure of only five children, and let's only count one-third of his 4,678 descendants since two-thirds could move away - which comes to 1,559 people.

Imagine the influence that a family of 1,559 people can have in its local Shire (ignoring the influence the other two-thirds of the family will have wherever they go).

This number of people - 1,559 people - belonging to one extended family, is a significant enough number to be able to influence the morals, faith, law, government, business, education, health, arts, media, and religion of their particular Shire.

That amount of influence sounds like prosperity to me.

Do the maths and find out how many descendants a couple will have if each generation only had two kids instead of five. You'll be shocked how big the difference is after 100 years.

And then do the Maths and see how many descendants there'll be if each generation has only 1.79 children (the national average in Australia at the time of writing).

As you'll see if you do the Maths, the couple will eventually reach a point where the population starts going down, and finally, will breed itself out of existence.

That trend is already happening in most developed countries.

Is that what God wants for you?

God's will for Israel was that they become as numerous as the sand on the sea, or as the stars in the heavens.

Nevertheless, God promised: "More are the children of the desolate than of the married woman".

And, "I will give them a place and a name in my house better than of sons and daughters".

God makes the desolate woman a "joyful mother of children".

Abraham only had one son who was his heir - yet God made him a father of many nations.

Paul called Timothy, "My own son in the faith" and he said of the Corinthian church, "I myself have begotten you through the Gospel".

So spiritual children are of the essence, and the real tallying of a man's prosperity will take place only in eternity in the Kingdom of heaven.

Notwithstanding, a man's natural children are like arrows in the hand of the mighty, and happy is the man that has his quiver full of them.

Lifestyle Advantages

Besides wealth and influence, consider some advantages of this lifestyle to the family itself:

•Each young family receives support from the collective wisdom of the older families. The elders are available to give guidance whenever it is asked for by younger families.

•Children can safely play outside until late afternoon without their parents ever worrying where their children are - because after all, they'd be with relatives!

•The property could include trees, wetlands, grazing paddocks and agricultural areas promoting a a non-toxic environment and yielding healthier nutrition.

•Fathers bring-up their children in the ways of the Lord, and the children pass it onto the children's children.

•God's blessing abides on each family because they continually obey His principles in matters of faith and morals - and in physical things as well.

I'm not sure if any statistics are available which tell us the percentage of children of Christian homes who continue serving the Lord throughout their adult life.

Let's assume conservatively that only half of this family's descendants will remain active Christians in adult life. That's still a sizeable number of church members being contributed from one extended family!

As for the half who may not remain active Christians, most of them would still hold to the general values instilled in them by their Christian parents. So either way, the family makes a valuable contribution to future society through all of its children.

Hopefully an environment will have been created where many of the new families will see clear advantages to preserving the family's values on faith. And many of the children will see advantages to staying on or near the family Estate.

A Perpetual Inheritance

The land itself would be owned by a Family Trust, with each descendant becoming a beneficiary.

The value of the land could be used as collateral for outside investment, with the profits of that outside investment coming back into a growing Fund, the profits of which could be made available to the beneficiaries.

So each individual remains a beneficiary of the family Trust, even if they move away to do missionary work, or for business, or for education, or simply for greater independance.

Even if a family moves away and buys a house or apartment in the City somewhere, they would always have the assurance of knowing they own their share of the family estate in Trust.

And any improvements they personally make on the family property would be continue to be their own private title.

Only the land itself would remain in Trust. But the improvements would be privately owned.

The land itself would never be sold, but would be held in Trust as a perpetual family inheritance for generations to come.

But any privately-owned improvements on the land (houses) could be leased outside the family.

This means that each family who chooses to stay on the family estate has complete independence. It is not "communal" living that is being envisaged here, for God said, "Therefore shall a man LEAVE his father and mother and cleave to his wife and they shall be one flesh".

Each family has separate ownership of their own house and they can either live in it themselves or let it.

But it means that each new family doesn't have to start from scratch and spend half their working life paying off a mortgage on a quarter-acre block - because the land is already there.

Each family has the option of building their first home without having to pay a thing for land. They can build their nest on the land which is their family inheritance.

Of course not every descendant would want to build their first home there, but the option is always there, if it suits them. Even if they never choose to build their home there, they remain a beneficiary of the land itself because it is held in Trust.

Of course there are so many reasons why this is impractical if we tried to apply it to the letter to our family.

That's because Moses' Law that tribal land had to remain a perpetual inheritance was not a blueprint for each new family that ever started in Israel - Moses was founding a new nation, so his statement is probably meant to be understood on a tribal or national level, rather than on an individual or family level. So that's a bit of a disclaimer, or a caution not to try apply the letter of the Law in a way that perhaps wasn't intended and that may not be required of us under a new and better covenant.

But sometimes God likes to start whole new "nations" from within an existing nation. He has promised to do it for Abraham, therefore He has promised to make a nation of you and I too - because we are in Christ, and Christ is the seed of Abraham.

What if God wanted to make of a family a tribe and of a tribe a nation, even today?

Taking it to a National Level

Let's see what would happen if not just one couple - but believers in Christ all over the country - adopted this lifestyle.

If we achieved Christian women becoming the most fertile 20% of women in the country, then as early as the second generation one half of all the children in the country will belong to Christian families.

That's quite a statement. It's called the law of Heritability of Fertility. It works like this, and I quote from David Burbridge:

"...suppose that out of every 10 women in the present generation, 3 have no children, 3 have one child, 2 have 2 children, 1 has 3 children, and 1 has 4 children.

The total number of children is 14, and the average per woman is 1.4 [which is about how it many developed countries. In Australia it has recently risen to 1.797 - J.E.].

Now suppose that...every female has as many children as her own mother.

On these assumptions the average number of children born to each female of the second generation will be 2.57

Average fertility has almost doubled in a generation.

This largely reflects the fact that in this model the most fertile 20% of women contribute half of all the children in the second generation (7 out of every 14), and we assume that the daughters from these families inherit their mothers’ high fertility."

- David Burbridge

Notice that half of the children in the second generation come from the most fertile 20% of women.

(Second Generation 0 + 3 + 4 + 9 +16 = 32 children. 16 out of 32 come from the top 20% most fertile women.)

If those most fertile 20% of women in the country happen to be Christian women, then half the country's children will come from Christian homes, in the second generation.

Is this achievable? Could Christian women become the most fertile women in the country? Can half the nation's children come from Christian homes by the second generation?

It's really a matter of choice for the Church in Australia - and a matter of our values.

"The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich, and He addeth no sorrow with it."

And you know what - we talk about wanting to reverse abortion laws - well there's one way we can achieve it within a couple of short generations. All we need to do is say nothing, and simply lift our own birthrate. 50% of the country's voters could be our own descendants, after the second generation grows up, after our women become the top 20% most fertile in the country. No political activism would be necessary.

Evangelical Church Growth

Let's look at some figures relating to the Church in Australia, and see what can happen.

Approximately 32.25% of Australia's population are females within the ages of 21 and 42; and approximately 2.9% of Australia's population are Pentecostal and Evangelical believers.

If each Pentecostal and Evangelical family produced an average of five children per couple, whilst the rest of Australia continued producing at the current national average of 1.797 per couple - within approximately 50 years the women of these Pentecostal and Evangelical families will become the top 20% most fertile women in the country.

So in the generation after that, half of all the children born in Australia will belong to Pentecostal and Evangelical Christian families.

That means, in approximately 100 years, about three-quarters of all the nation's children would be from Pentecostal and Evangelical families!

Then, in a democracy, Christians would have the voting majority to reverse or enact any laws they like.

Assemblies of God

Now let's narrow it down even more to just one denomination. Consider the Australian Assemblies of God (AOG), for example.

If every new couple of each generation in the Australian Assemblies of God alone had five children, after 100 years the denomination would have a total of 16,366,875 new members, comprising of 2,015,625 new families, living in 3,225 family estates like new "villages" spread out all over Australia.

That's not even including the results of church growth through evangelism.

Between them, a combined $1.29 trillion would be saved through not needing to borrow and pay interest - money which could be invested in the Kingdom of God or which could contribute to their own prosperity as well.

If ever there was a country in the world that has the space for this, it's Australia.

God has promised to turn the desert into a fruitful field when the nation meets the conditions.

We haven't even begun to see the prosperity that God has planned for His servants in this country!

National Fertility Improves Prosperity

So that illustrates how raising the birthrate can be great for our country spiritually.

Fertility can also be beneficial for families financially, as follows:

The fertility rate in most developed countries is currently below the replacement level (in Australia it is 1.797 babies per couple).

This means we have an ageing population with fewer people in the working age bracket to support the aged population, causing an increasing strain on the economy.

But if we lift the birthrate we will have more young people in the working age bracket and a larger labour force to derive the highest possible benefit out of our rich natural resources.

Governments of developed countries including Australia are now starting to offer incentives to couples to have more children, because economists understand the importance that lifting the birthrate has to our future prosperity.

In short, if we lift the national birthrate, we will all actually be better off!

This is the exact opposite pathway to prosperity that many of us were told, since the introduction of the contraceptive pill in the 50's. We were told that the Pill would safeguard the prosperity of our children when, in fact, economically, our nation's low fertility rate is now threatening our children's and our own future prosperity.

" thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts" (Isa.55:8,9).

Returning to Old Values

Obviously the picture painted above is very Utopian and a bit larger-than-life and probably impractical and probably isn't exactly the way the Bible is meant to be applied. I've made the illustration deliberately extreme, in order to demonstrate the far-reaching effects that some of its principles and core values can have.

Perhaps there is some basis in Scripture for us to have a change of values.

The Bible says that influence can be achieved and material prosperity can be measured by two things: children and land.

Of course great ministers like Paul and John Wesley who had no children, have been of unsurpassed influence. So wealth and influence can never be measured by children and land alone. Each of us has his proper gift of God.

Some will make their mark for eternity through being separated to apostleship. Others will make their mark for eternity through raising their own children. Some may be do a mixture of both. There is any number of varieties in the grace and callings of God.

For many of us in post-modern society though, it may require a paradigm shift - a re-evaluation of values - to think that wealth can sometimes be measured by children and land, rather than by jewelery, cars or even by the amount of spare time that we have.

The above model is extreme - but deliberately so - because it illustrates how we today are actually living with the opposite extreme sense of values - and maybe it's time for a change.

Maybe we don't have to swing back to the opposite extreme - but to swing back somewhere towards the middle might be good for our society, and for the church, and for our family.

There has to be a better way than for each new family to have to spend half their working-life paying off the mortgage on a quarter-acre block of land!

And I'm yet to meet the mother of a large family who looks unhappy!

Maybe we could apply the Bible's principle that tribal land was to remain a perpetual inheritance of families, at least to some extent, and of course with some variation.

Maybe it could make the "Australian Dream" to own your own home that much easier on each successive generation.

Children are a heritage from the Lord - a blessing, and not an obstacle to our prosperity.

"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, [which is] your reasonable service.

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God"

- Romans 12:1,2

Making it Easier for the Next Generations

As conceded above, inevitably many descendants would move away to live in other places, for education and career, or in order to fulfill a call of God.

However, no matter where each person ends-up living, he would know that he always has a place to call home and a house of his own, back on the land which remains his perpetual family inheritance - land which may be leased, but never sold.

This would be a lavish foundation and a huge load off the shoulders indeed, for any young couple starting out in life together.


I once visited an elderly Filipino couple in Brisbane, and on their lounge room wall were individually framed photos of the couple and of each of their twelve children.

One-by-one the man pointed-out with pride what each child is now doing.

One is a Pastor in Norway.

Another is a Pastor in Manila and Founder/Principal of a school with 700 students.

Now he's sending church-planters out.

Another founded a humanitarian aid program in Australia benefiting the Philippines.

Another has an itinerant ministry training children's workers.

Another lives in and works in America.

One-by one he told me what each of his children are now doing, and I couldn't help thinking, "Here is a man of influence!"

He said to me, "I can't understand why Australians say they can't afford more children. If I could bring-up twelve children in a poor country like the Philippines [and they adopted one too], surely they can do it here in Australia".

I asked, "But in the Philippines, don't you have help from your extended family to look after all those kids?"

"No!" he said, "We raised them all ourselves. Sure - I had to work a second job at times. But we got through - the Lord got us through."

Neither he nor his wife seemed worse for the wear, and again - I couldn't help thinking, here is a man of influence.

His wife is like a matriarch who exercises her prophetic gift and gift of tongues and interpretation to speak to and intercede for all her family.

It's marvellous!

Working Smarter, Not Harder

Another couple who wanted to become missionaries already had two children when, after a significant gap, she became pregnant again with their third.

They told me how their Pastor, trying to be helpful, had advised them not to have any more children.

So when he heard she was pregnant again, he said with exasperation, "How will you ever have a world-wide ministry? Now you'll have to wait even longer for all your kids to be off your hands!"

I simply asked, "Would you say Benny Hinn has a worldwide ministry?" then pointed-out that he has four children.

See, you can still influence the world, even when you have a large family.

In fact, what better way to influence the world than through the lives of your children, whom you have with you full-time all those years.

Sometimes people say they want to have fewer children so they can give more time to ministry.

Every man has his proper gift of God, one after this manner and one after that.

But keep in mind than when you minister to others - let's say as a Youth Pastor - very often what you end-up doing is contributing some things into the lives of kids which really their own parents should have contributed.

Therefore perhaps a good strategy for youth ministry in our nation would be for our own families to begin to model a return to more traditional values.

Sure the couple mentioned above may need to adjust the way they operate in the ministry at times, now that they have an extra child.

Perhaps they could train local leaders to share the work of evangelism.

Or they could add a TV ministry, if the Lord willed.

That way they could widen their influence without being away from home so much.

Besides, why does a couple always need to wait for their children to be grown up before they can go to the mission field anyway?

It occurred to me one day that there are already children living in those countries where we want to go as missionaries - lots of children, lots of them. If the children there are surviving, then surely our children will too - and even more so, because we have the promises of God on our side!

It amazes me that some believers have the faith to feed multitudes on the mission field, yet they find the concept so impossible that a large family could become a missionary family.

The first thing they say is, "How could we afford it?" And yet they propose to teach the locals on the mission field about trusting God to get them out of poverty.

Moses looked-after an estimated two million people in the howling wilderness for 40 years. That's one large family!

I recently heard about an Australian family with six children who have gone to flood-ravaged Mozambique to minister amongst orphans. Not only do they have faith for their own children there, but they have begun to foster local children as well.

What message are we missionaries going to take to the mums and dads in these countries anyway - that my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus? and yet we're reluctant to demonstrate faith in that promise in our own family's lives.

God can look after your kids on the mission field just as well as He can look after the kids you're going to minister to.

But of course, God may strategically lead a missionary family to return home, for the sake of their kids.

Each of us needs to hear from the Holy Spirit concerning his plans for us individually.

But can you see that maybe we're having difficulty seeing the advantages that the Bible places on having a large family?

Are Large Families Disadvantaged?

Children of larger families seem to have a stronger sense of identity and belonging.

And it doesn't seem to disadvantage them socially or financially.

For example, my father knows a man on the Gold Coast who has ten children, and nine of them have become millionaires and the tenth is on her way!

Issues & Considerations

Could Australia's future prosperity be impacted by whether or not society adjusts its view about having more children?

Many have thought they could safe-guard their standard of living by restricting the number of children they had. And with the introduction of the Contraceptive Pill in the 1950's, the fertility rate plummeted from an average of 5.0 per couple to the 1.797 it is today.

It's beginning to make a serious financial drain on our economy. Sociologists are therefore asking whether the ideology has backfired on us.

• We are not even replacing ourselves.

•We now have an ageing population and a diminishing workforce that will be unable to sustain the way of life that society has become used to. Eventually the population will start declining - yet we already have a shortage of skilled labour in Australia and already need workers to come from abroad.

Many of us complain about immigration, because we don't know what sort of people are coming here or what problems they bring with them.

A simple solution for Australia is, have more kids! That way we know what we're getting.

At the end of the day, people means power, for any economy - despite the vastness of its natural resources.

Even though it seemed we could give a better quality of life to our children by having fewer children, that is actually not a sustainable situation beyond a couple of generations.

Plus - has it really been a significantly better quality of life for our children anyway?

Large families seem to enjoy happy memories.

Could we as a society benefit from a return to the old sense of values - that sees having more children as a good thing?

Worldwide Trends

Declining birth rates are happening in most of the developed, democratic, Western societies - such as the USA, Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand and Europe - all the countries that have traditionally been the bastions of democracy, human rights, civil liberty, international security, and faith in Christ.

These are the Allied countries which, because of their ideology and faith, were able to save the world from evil during the First and Second World Wars - but only just, because of their numbers.

These are the countries from which most missionary work and humanitarian work has emanated.

On top of the lowering birth rate, these countries also have the highest abortion rates in the world (Australia has one of the highest abortion rates in the developed world).

Meanwhile, it is the Muslims and Hindus in Australia that continue to have a high fertility rate.

The Muslim population of Australia increased at a rate five times higher than Australia's overall population growth, in the period between the last two censuses. This applies similarly to Muslims all over the world, not just in Australia.

For example, in both Israel and Russia, the Muslim population will reach more than 50% within our lifetime, if the current trends continues. Jews could lose their rights through democracy, without one bullet even being fired, unless Jewish women raise their birthrate to match that of the Palestinians.

So what could Australia's and the World's demographics look like in a couple of hundred years - politically, socially, ideologically, economically, domestically, internationally, and religiously - if the current way of thought concerning the value of children in these countries continues??

As our Western countries spiral downwards towards the point of negative population growth, would we be able to once again stem the tide of evil, should another worldwide conflict break out?

What's at risk is human rights, freedom, civil liberty, and Christian society.

All because we though we were better off to have fewer kids.

I'm wondering whether we could enhance our future prosperity in Australia by having more children - even of it means adjusting one's view of what really constitutes a better standard of living.

This doesn't mean that every couple, even with God's blessing, should produce some 20,000 offspring within approximately 100 years because "...every man has his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that" (I Cor.7:7).

But perhaps if more Christians decided to have a more natural number of children, there would be a future benefit to Australia's way of life both economically and religiously - as each child grows and takes their place in future society.

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts"

- Isa.55:8,9

It seems to be the white, "Christian" societies that are having fewer children. Meanwhile some white people complain about their Government's policy of foreign immigration. Could one solution be to simply have more kids themselves?

In Moses' Law, God gave a pattern for family land ownership similar to what's been described above. God also imprinted his plan for childbirth in nature itself - and we interfere with it to our own detriment, as sociologists and doctors are now discovering.

Mothers of large families invariably have a glow of happiness and fulfillment on their face.

The list of possible side-effects that accompany the contraceptive Pill is of some concern. Not that I'm saying it's wrong.

Some articles also claim the contraceptive pill may act as an abortificient up to 80% of the time (by preventing an egg which may already have been fertilized from successfully embedding into the uterine wall). If we believe life begins at conception, surely for conscience sake, that is a claim we ought to want to research.

Many of us wish there was more we could do to stop abortion in our country. A simple way to eliminate abortion within a short period of time is for Christians to lift their own fertility rate. (The birthrate in Western countries is below the replacement level. This means they are breeding themselves out of existence. If Christians lift their birthrate, all those who practise abortion will, in process of time, be a diminishing population. Abortion is a self-enacted judgment, because it robs those who practise it of a posterity. In no time, Christians will become a voting majority Abortion could be illegalized without any political activism - simply by lifting our own birthrate.).

God's plan was that a man would become a family, a family would become a tribe, and that a nation would be made up of tribes - and He is still into making nations out of us!

More importantly, by our spiritual children - but remember, our natural children can become our spiritual children, and become like arrows in the hand of the mighty.

Happy is the man who hath his quiver full of them.


Harvest Without Limitation

"Go ye into all the world..." Jesus said
"...and preach the Gospel to every nation"

The Apostles heeded His Word
And went without hesitation

But until the Holy Ghost was given
The upper room remained their station

"Wait for the Promise", Jesus had told them
They were filled with anticipation

In one place for ten days they waited
All in good relation

With the women and Mary and His brothers
They continued in prayer for the duration

Matthias along with the eleven
As an Apostle received his registration

For one-hundred-and-twenty people
It was a time of preparation

Then when the Day of Pentecost was fully come
The room was shaken with vibration

They all began to speak with other tongues
As the Spirit gave them dictation

When this was noised abroad
The city was filled with consternation

"How do we hear every man speaking our language?
Is this mere intoxication?"

"These are not drunk as ye suppose"
Peter stood and gave his quotation

"This is that which was spoken by Joel"
The empowerment for the ministration

"What must we do?"
The people asked with desperation

"Repent and be baptized, and you'll receive the Spirit too
For the Promise is for you and your children to every generation"

In that way, in one day
Three-thousand became the Church's population!

And today in contemporary society
We are still in the same situation

It's not by might, nor by power
Nor by human orchestration

It's by the Spirit
When He comes in manifestation...

...that we shall attract the harvest
without limitation

It's by letting go
Of our reputation...

...allowing rather
The Spirit's impartation...

...that we shall enjoy
the greater celebration

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Biblical Wealth Creation Strategy

It seems some believers, including prosperity preachers, were affected by the current financial crisis. But sometimes a lot of our modern wealth-creation strategies are different to the Bible's value-system, and we might not even know it. If we return to the Bible's definition of prosperity, we might remain unaffected by such crises.

For example, Moses' system of Law forbad charging interest within the economy, except to non-citizens. If we did that in our modern economies, inflation would be a thing of the past. But a lot of modern wealth-creation strategies actually depend on earning interest.

In Moses' economy without interest, it would have been unlikely to use real estate as a wealth-creation strategy - because the economy would have remained stable. In our modern economies, however, we actually hope for instability in the economy to force prices up so we can profit by selling the house to some less fortunate buyer for more than we paid for it even though we haven't made any improvements to the property.

Morally, we ought to desire stability in the economy. Ideally we ought not to seek a wealth-creation strategy that somehow disadvantages our neighbour in comparison to how much we are advantaged. We ought to seek mutual profit.

If we've made capital improvement to a property, and those improvements are reflected in the new price of our house - then that's fair enough. But to sell the same house without improvements for more than we paid for it is only possible in an unstable environment and it means the buyer is getting less house for his money than you did. Is that 'walking in love'?

I'm not saying we shouldn't be involved in such strategies while that's the way our system works. But I think the Bible's value-system is different and we can benefit by rediscovering it and returning to it.

In a future post I'll go into more detail about Biblical wealth-creation strategies.

God's Social Welfare System

God gave us, in His Word, a blueprint for a social welfare system which doesn't cost society anything - a system which is more effective and compassionate towards the poor and yet doesn't tax the wealthy in order to redistribute their wealth to the poor.

In the system of Law which God gave to Israel through Moses, there weren't any unemployment benefits and there weren't any prisons.

But to what extent is it legitmate to apply Moses' Law to modern civil society?

Every point of Moses' Law can be summarized in one word - love. One purpose of Moses' Law was to show Israel how to apply the principle of love in all kinds of relationships: in their relationships with God, parents, spouse, children, employers/employees, the poor, criminals, foreigners and other nations.

In the New Testament, we also are commanded to love. We express our love - either for God or for our neighbour - in slightly different ways to how they expressed their love under the Old Covenant.

For example, in the Old Testament, if a person loved God, he could voluntarily sacrifice an offering on the altar; whereas in the New Testament, we show our love for God by bringing the sacrifice of praise, the fruit of our lips offering thanks to God. The expression is different, but the underlying principle is the same. The whole point is love.

So, when it comes to things like a national social welfare system or a national criminal justice system - we can learn from the way Moses applied the principle of love to such matters, since we are also under the commandment of love - even though we may not apply it in exactly the same way.

The principle of love states that "Love worketh no ill toward his neighbour". Moses wrote points of Law which taught Israelites how to avoid harming their neighbours - whether their neighbour was their wife, child, employer, employee, a poor person, the victim or perpetrator of crime, or a foreign resident.

Part of working no ill towards your neighbour is to avoid inflicting a cost on your neighbour. You find it an ill if someone inflicts a cost on you, don't you? Of course you do. We all do.

Therefore an important observation about Moses' handling of social welfare and criminal justice is that no segment of society was disadvantaged in order to advantage another segment.

For example, in dealing with the poor, Moses never gave them a system which cost society in any way; and in dealing with criminals, Moses never gave them a system which cost society in any way. To legislate otherwise, would have been tantamount to working ill towards one's neighbour.

Compare that with modern social welfare or social justice systems which cost society a significant percentage of their GDP. In Australia, 22.5% of our GDP is spent on welfare. That's $25,370 per capita. That means, if you are a family of five, and if we were somehow able to appropriately apply Moses' social welfare system in Australia, you could have an extra $126,850 in your pocket every year.

That's not including the cost of our modern prison system. In the United States, the average cost of incarceration per prisoner in 2005 was $23,876. That amounts to an estimated cost of $60billion per year on corrections.

Whereas Moses' criminal justice system included principles which made sure the cost to society was zero. Moses' system inflicted no cost on society - it worked no ill towards one's neighbour - whereas our system does, at great cost.

Any 'social justice' system which inflicts any cost on any particular segment of society for the benefit of another segment of society is not really 'justice' at all - and it is inconsistent with the commandment of love because love worketh no ill toward his neighbour.

There is a way in which we can appropriately apply Moses' handling of social welfare and criminal justice in a way which fulfills the commandment of love - in a way which inflicts no cost at all on society.

In a future post I'll point-out some details of Moses' handling of social welfare and criminal justice, and share some thoughts on how legislators could apply it to modern society.

It's a sytem which benefits everyone - the unemployed, the employed, the employer - each at the same time.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

What Defines a Meeting as "Decently and In Order" (I Cor.14:40)?

Many believers have been hindered from embracing Holy Spirit meetings (such as the meeting viewable here) because they've been taught that it is "confusion" and that it is not "decently and in order".

But what is really meant by "confusion" and "decently and in order" (I Cor. 14:33,40)? I think these may be two of the most commonly misunderstood verses in the Epistles. Yes, God is not the author of confusion; and all things must be done decently and in order - but how should we define "confusion" and "decently and in order"? The Bible's definition might not be the same as ours.

For example, remember in Acts chapter two, how the Holy Spirit enabled 120 people to speak with tongues out loud at the same time - it caused a whole multitude to feel confounded and to think they must have been drunk. If that happens in a church service today, should we define it as "confusion" and not "decently and in order"?

In Acts 10:44-48 the Holy Spirit fell on a congregation, interrupting Peter's sermon while he was still preaching - and the whole congregation began to speak with tongues out loud. If this happens today during a sermon in our church, should we decry it as "confusion" and not "decently and in order"?

At Ephesus the Holy Ghost came upon about twelve people and they spoke with tongues and prophesied (Acts 19:6,7). When we hear of the same thing happening today - of twelve or more people speaking with tongues in a meeting at the same time and prophesying - should we label it as "confusion" and not "decently and in order"?

In each of the above situations there were many people speaking with tongues publicly without an interpreter; and it even caused people to feel confounded and to think they were drunk, and yet notice - the Apostles were okay with it.

So, what did Paul mean when he said to "let all things be done decently and in order"? Obviously, Paul could not have been against a scenario where 120 people might speak with tongues out loud all at the same time; and he could not have been against a scenario where a sermon might be interrupted when an entire congregation suddenly begins to speak witb tongues out loud; and he could not have been against a scenario where about twelve people might speak with tongues and prophesy out loud publicly - or else he would have been contradicting the Scriptures and the work of the Holy Spirit.

So, what was happening at Corinth that Paul sought to correct? Well, the text explains it in Paul's own words. The Corinthians were thinking that having different gifts meant they had different spirits (I Cor.12:1-11); and that different gifts made them spiritually different from one another (vv 12-14); and that having different gifts made them better than one another (vv 15-31). Consequently, they had become unloving, impatient, envious, proud, self-promoting, badly behaved, irritable, annoyed with each other, irrationally behaved and unnecessarily noisy in their expressions of their spiritual gifts without considering the need to edify one another during their gatherings (I Cor.13).

So doctrinally, there was some "confusion" which Paul needed to correct: he needed to remind them that despite having differing spiritual gifts, there is still only one Lord, one faith, one baptism; and as far as their attitudes and motives go, Paul needed to remind them not to be childish and immature, but to consider what is appropriate behaviour to the circumstances, and to think of one another's benefit instead of one's own, and to have some common sense.

Also, Paul was discussing the function of the congregation during regular church-services, not about extraordinary occassions when from time-to-time the Holy Spirit gets poured out in a special way. Meetings like Acts 2, Acts 10 and Acts 19 didn't happen everytime the disciples gathered together - it happened that way when a congregation was first baptized with the Holy Spirit and then also from time-to-time again in the future (Acts 13:52) - but not necessarily every meeting.

But what was happening at Corinth is that too many individuals, with wrong motives, were wanting to stand up and hold the floor, one after the other, Sunday after Sunday, and address the the congregation, expecting the attention of the whole congregation, and speaking with an unknown tongue, when no-one could understand them. Of course that was pointless, which any sensible person, even an unbeliever, should know.

But that didn't mean there weren't situations in which it was entirely appropriate that everyone spoke with tongues publicly without an interpreter - even in the Bible. In Acts 2, 10 and 19, the people weren't seeking attention, they weren't addressing the congregation - they were speaking to God.

Here is an illustration about different things being appropriate in different situations. Imagine 65,718 people in a football stadium during the World Cup. Everyone shouts at the same time. Everyone carries on a conversation with his friends sitting beside him. Everyone in the stadium has his own culture and language - and it's okay that everyone is talking and shouting his own language and it isn't necessary that everyone understands everything that everyone else in the stadium is saying. However, it would be pointless if, one-by-one, individuals wanted to stand up, hold the microphone, address the whole stadium in his own language, and expect everyone to listen even though many in the crowd wouldn't understand. That wouldn't be appropriate to the circumstances - it would be childish and immature. And if people persisted in doing so, you'd question their mental health.

That is the type of occurrence Paul was correcting. He wasn't saying there can't be times when the Holy Spirit gets poured out on a congregation in a special way when everyone might begin to speak with tongues out loud at the same time without the need for an interpreter and to prophesy (otherwise, Paul would have been contradicting his own meeting at Ephesus in Acts 19). What Paul was talking about, rather, was regular, every Sunday meetings, where individuals were behaving in a non-sensical way which even unbelievers would think was useless.

When Paul said unbelievers would think they were mad, it wasn't because of the fact of speaking with tongues - Paul said tongues are a sign to unbelievers. There are circumstances in which any sensible person knows - even unbelievers - that it's quite okay for many people to be speaking in different languages at the same time - such as spectators in a stadium during an international football match, or believers during group-prayer or during an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. That doesn't mean a group of people are mad.

What anyone will think is crazy, however, is if grown adults are standing up, holding the floor, going on and on in a different language, expecting people's attention, even though no-one understands them - and thinking that's beneficial. Anyone with a bit of common sense knows that's pointless.

But when a whole church gets filled with the Spirit for the first time and all begin to speak with tongues - no individual is expecting the congregation to give him their undivided attention; no-one is addressing the congregation. They are all speaking to God, as in Acts 2, 10 & 19. That's entirely Scriptural and okay - and it's not what Paul was addressing.

The linked video was not one of the church's regular Sunday morning services. It was a season of special revival in the church. Many were getting filled with the Spirit for the first time. The church did not experience this type of outpouring every Sunday. It was an extraordinary season, like Acts 2, 10 and 19. In the video, no-one was using the gift of tongues in the manner which Paul was correcting in I Corinthians. Rather, they were speaking with tongues in a way that was consistent with Acts 2, 10 & 19. They were speaking not to the congregation, but to God. Yes, it caused some people to feel "confounded" and others to wonder whether they might be drunk. But those people ended-up hearing the Gospel and getting saved!

So it's important to compare Scripture with Scripture, and gain a balanced understanding of what really defines a meeting as "decently and in order". Every sensible person knows it doesn't serve any purpose if one-by-one individuals stand up and address a congregation in languages which no-one understands; but it's also entirely okay, Scriptural, beneficial and positively impacting even upon unbelievers if everyone speaks with tongues out loud at the same time without an interpreter and prophesies when the Holy Spirit is being poured out. It draws people to God. Since "tongues are a sign to unbelievers" it follows that we needn't shield unbelievers from ever hearing tongues.

Those are my thoughts about I Cor.14:33,40. Does this liberate you?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Is Population-Growth and Sustainability a Reason Why Jesus Must Return in Our Generation?

A friend told me that Jesus has to return in our generation because the earth won't be able to sustain the population growth if the world continues.

But I wonder what population the earth can actually sustain.

Projections about sustainability have sometimes been very wrong, in the past!

For example, when the first settlement at Botany Bay was struggling for survival in the late 1700s, men wondered whether the land surrounding Sydney would be able to sustain the fledgling population of less than 3,000 - but today that very same land has become home to 4.5 million of some of the world's most well-fed people. That means the land around Sydney has proven capable of sustaining a population 150,000% more than was originally thought possible. That's how wrong projections can be sometimes!

Sydney's population will keep growing, if the Lord tarries, and the people should survive just fine. The current population density of Sydney is only 2,058 people per square kilometre, compared with 43,079 people per square kilometre in Manila, Philippines - and yet the population of Manila is surviving just fine. So why couldn't Sydney's population survive just as well even if its population increases to the same density as Manila's?

If Sydney's population increases to the same density as Manila's - which would require a population growth of 2,093% to 95.2 million people, on today's figures - I'm sure the fortunate people of Sydney will still have equal chance of surviving, if they match the industriousness of their Manila counterparts.

And imagine if the population of every city in the world - not only Sydney's - increases to a population-density equal to Manila's. Since Manila's 38.55 square kilometres of land and its surrounding resource base is capable of sustaining 1,660,714 people - based on that model, other existing cities with a similar or better surrounding resource base also ought to be able to survive when they grow to have the same population density. Based on the number of exisiting cities in the world, that means the planet could easily sustain a population of multiple-trillions of people!

And that's without even factoring-in the certainty of improved technology over time, which always makes life easier. Improved technology improves sustainability.

Population-growth itself makes life easier. Economies always grow when the population grows. A fledgling population always made survival difficult, but a growing population multiplies the potential for prosperity.

Besides, God has promised to turn the wilderness into a fruitful field. He can cause water to spring up from the ground. In the Scriptures He has promised to do so. We are already seeing this happen in Israel and in parts of Australia. Once desolate blocks of land have become watered and fruitful and are once again attracting fauna.

Even if only existing cities grow to have the same population density as Manila, the earth's population will become multiple-trillions of people. How much bigger could the earth's population be if brand new cities which don't currently exist are founded! There is still so much unused space, so many unused resources on earth.

I've seen multiple-thousands of people living an entirely self-sufficient lifestyle on hilltops all over the southern Philippines - with plenty of room yet for population growth. And there are many more mountains and fields around the world besides those in the Philippines which as yet are almost completely uninhabited. They are surrounded with resource bases. There is so much available land in the earth. And the oceans are teeming with fish. The earth could probably sustain a population of many, many multiples of trillions or even more.

Concerns about sustainability are nothing new. In the early 1800s one author felt the earth was running out of resources, and he predicted a dire worldwide crisis by 1850. Needless to say the crisis didn't happen, and now individual countries have populations equal to what was the total world population in 1850 - the world's population has grown by 566.6% since then. He was wrong about sustainability then, and modern end-times pundits are probably wrong about sustainability now.

I'm actually looking forward to seeing the improvements on the planet as the population keeps growing!

So although Jesus could return in our generation - population growth isn't necessarily a reason why He must.

"But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father" (Mark 13:32).