Make no mistake about the attack on New York, it was not from God but from the enemy, because he hates mankind, and he comes to rob, to kill and destroy.
What kind of a God do you serve? Was the tragic events of the terrorist’s attack on the New York World Trade Centre and act of an angry God or a wake up call for the Church? It’s amazing to me how many preachers focus on the negative, on the "judgmental" side of God. Jan and I arrived in the USA shortly after the shocking tragedy of September 11th. Fear and panic were obvious, people were still in shock and trauma and yet as I turned on the television I was shocked by a panel of preachers proclaiming that this was the "judgment of God". I was appalled to say the least. Here are some Bible facts on the matter.
Firstly, we do not live in the dispensation of judgment but grace.
Secondly, God poured out His wrath on Jesus on the cross, the Bible says He is no longer holding man’s sin against them. The only sin that keeps us from heaven is rejection of Jesus as our Saviour!
Thirdly, let me say that if this had been the judgment of God then there would have been more than two buildings missing from the New York skyline. (Remember Sodom and Gomorrah?) Needless to say if it had been the judgement of God then I am sure that there are a few places He would have started on before the Big Apple!
At this time when the people of the USA need reassurance, love and support from their pulpits there are numbers of preachers doing exactly the opposite - claiming that "God is angry", that this is "His judgment". That is so sad, when people needed some encouragement and support they are being "beaten up" by preachers with a distorted view of God. I heard that President Bush was so incensed by some of these "men of God" that he called and spoke with them. At least one, an international preacher and leader of his denomination, wrote an apology in the prestigious national newspaper USA Today. One national radio personality said he thought that preachers making statements like this must serve the same God as the terrorists who flew the planes into the World Trade Centre! (They also stated that the catastrophe was God’s judgement on the USA).
John 3:16-17 says: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, For God did not send His son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved……"
Matthew 11:19 says: "The Son of Man comes ….and they say, ‘Look …..a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners". Jesus came to save the world, not to destroy it!
Luke 6:35 says "But love your enemies, do good…and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and the evil".
The Lord tells me to love my enemies but He kills his? I don’t think the Lord would require me to do something He had no intention of doing himself! The Church needs a revelation of the goodness and the kindness of the Lord.
Jesus Only Showed Anger To False Preachers
There is something seriously wrong with this whole Doomsday theology – it brings a reproach and dishonour upon the name of our Lord. Jesus never got angry with the people who came to him. The only people He got angry with were the preachers of the day – the Scribes and Pharisees. Why? Because they misrepresented His Father to the people! Yet we still have preachers bringing dishonour to the name of the Lord with their rhetoric of judgment and damnation. Of course I believe that there will be a judgment but not yet – we are living in the dispensation of grace! But this judgement is not for us as believers! Nehemiah 9:17 says: "….But you are God, ready to pardon. Gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abundant in kindness……."
The Y2K Fiasco - We Never Seem To Learn?
I am always amazed how so many Christians are fascinated with the "Doom and Gloom" theology. It is simply astounding just how short our memories are. Remember the Y2K fiasco? Fear-creating writers sold over 45 million books citing every conceivable catastrophe from civil war, planes dropping from the sky to the end of the civilised world as we know it. Reputable preachers were advocating food storage and a "head for the caves" mentality. No banks failed, no planes crashed, no wars or civil war started. And yet not one of these prophets of doom has ever apologised for their scare-mongering tactics. And now we are experiencing the same slander of God’s name in this latest disaster. While my heart goes out to the victims and their families, here are some facts about the World Trade Centre disaster.
Billye Brim was speaking in Australia some weeks before the event when she stopped and said she felt an urgency to pray as she was sensing trouble in the East and had read that some suicide bombers were looking for a place in the world to blow themselves and others to hell. The only other time she had received a similar word was the week prior to the disastrous bombing in Oklahoma City.
Rod Parsley had been woken by the Lord and began to intercede.
Jack Hayford was in Washington DC when the first two planes hit the World Trade Centre. He kept hearing the words "second strike" and so he and the 300 ministers with him, dropped to their knees and began to intercede. The death toll from the second two planes was remarkably lighter.
US authorities then grounded all aircraft and it was later found that there may have been up to 8-10 suicide pilots all ready aboard other flights that were cancelled.
Dozens of New York pastors have testified that hundreds of their people were late for work that day, delayed in traffic, led to stay away and many other reasons.
This act has not only galvanised Americans as I never witnessed before (there are flags and signs on every corner), but also Christians throughout the world. What the devil meant for evil, has turned to good. People are more open to the Gospel than ever before.
The death toll could have been far worse, miraculously two thirds of the people in the buildings managed to escape.
Why Did God Allow This To Happen?
Personally I don’t believe God had anything to do with the act, it is obvious that He tried to warn His people. Hundreds of Christians have reported being late for work, or missing work altogether on that fateful day. Most of these people cite that it was an abnormal thing for them to do. Romans 8:14 says "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God." I believe that God tries to warn His people. Sometime ago I wrote a book called "Living in the Supernatural - naturally" in which I interviewed a number of mature Christians who had experienced narrow escapes from death. Every single one of them - 100% - told me that before the event, a quiet voice within them said, "Don’t do that!" or "Get out of here now!" It’s called the voice of our conscience - which is the voice of the human spirit. But we can also ignore that voice, at our peril!
I believe that this event is a wake-up call for the Church. We have Muslim extremists that are prepared to pray five times a day - prepared to blow themselves and innocent people to hell for what they believe - while we have problems getting Christians to even come to Church twice on Sundays! I believe we had better heed that call and wake up or what we saw at the World Trade Center could happen again. We are dealing with spiritual forces here, forces that no military response can defeat. (I am not against a military response - Romans 13:1-4 proves this is a also a necessary response).
What can we do? Wake up as a Church and pray. We are living in evil days. We need to pray for protection over your home, family, church and nation. Pray for the victims families. Pray for the nation’s leaders, pray for their wisdom and our peace. Pray for the children, that fear would not gain a hold in their minds. Don’t slander the name of the Lord by blaming Him. I want my children and grandchildren growing up knowing the goodness, the kindness of their Heavenly Father! I want them growing up in a church that preaches the love, the kindness, the grace of God – not one that brings dishonour upon His name and character!
This is Australia’s Centenary of Federation. It is a time when we should give thanks to the Lord for the wonderful gift of our freedom. A time when we reflect upon the goodness the Lord has shown to our nation and how he has raised us up to be a light that shines, a light of freedom, justice, righteousness and hope. Australia as a haven of peace in a troubled world is something we should never take for granted - as the tragic bombings in the USA bear witness.
From 1606 - when Pedro de Quiros named this land "South land of the Holy Spirit" - it is unmistakable to see just how God directed men and women to ensure our nation would be founded upon His word, the Bible. That doesn’t mean that there have not been injustices in our nation’s history, however the Lord has raised this nation up to be a beacon of the light and hope throughout the Asian/Pacific area. How can we play our part in retaining the priceless Christian Heritage that has been handed down to us from our forefathers? Those of us who put our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ realise that our roots are found in Abraham - the father of faith. Genesis 12:2 says "And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and you will be a blessing."
It was God’s desire to raise up a Godly nation, a people that would love and serve Him. God says that he would "bless that nation. As we look back on Australia’s history, we see a nucleus of people wanting to do what right. However if we look at our nation’s present condition, we see a decline in morality, hope and direction over the last fifty years. Just because we have a great heritage does not mean we will always have one. But God is not through with Australia. He is looking for those who would not only talk about "salt" and "light" – but live it! He is looking for politicians, business people, and families who will stand up for righteousness and holiness and make a difference. Those are the people whom God will bless. When a group of people turn to the Lord and follow after Him, He will bless them and help them. Psalm 33:12 says "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord: and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance." We must recognise that a nation will enter into the fullness of its blessing when it establishes Jesus as Lord and head.
What can you do to help your nation to be blessed? You can purpose to live a godly life, to walk in the light of God’s word, to the best of your ability. Your life does make a difference, in fact the way you live does affect your country. Proverbs 14:34 says "Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people." Right living is what causes a nation to prosper and grow. But sin has the opposite affect, it tears down, it destroys lives. One only has to learn from the lessons of history to see this born out. When we maintain a moral standard, when we choose to live according the God’s principles, there follows blessing and prosperity. But when people (or nations) move away from Biblical principles, there will be a curse that will manifest itself in the home, family, marriages and the nation.
Over the last 20 years, we have witnessed a drastic increase in crime, lawlessness, sexually transmitted diseases, drug addiction and rebellion in the hearts of children. Of course we have many "bleeding hearts" that maintain that we are trying to limit and restrict people’s freedom through Biblical morality when we are actually trying to save lives. How many people have died of AIDS, or are the victims of fractured families. How many precious young lives have been lost through drugs or suicide? Why? Because of sin.
The Consequences Of Losing Our Christian Heritage Are Horrific!
Another way we can make a difference is to stand up and be accountable. I find that many Christians will seldom speak up - the silent majority! Minority groups such as Muslims, homosexuals and "greenies" are far more outspoken. I have heard people say "Christians have no business in politics" That is an ignorant statement! If you take Christians out of politics what do you have left? We have a voice, a strong voice if we would speak as one body. We can make that voice heard on local, state and federal levels, especially when it concerns things that are obviously sin or morally wrong. If you do not like the way a politician or political party is implementing law, we need to speak up. In Australia we are blessed with freedom of speech, and we must use it! Australia is drifting from its Christian roots. If we lose that priceless heritage we will never get it back. Our Christian heritage has been given to us by our forefathers, it was their blood, sweat and prayers that gave us what we have. Can we afford to let them and the next generation down?
Another important area where we need to lift our voice that exceeds even our voice in government - is the voice of prayer! The Bible clearly declares to us that prayer can make the difference in guiding a nation. 2 Chron 7:14 says, "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways: then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land." Notice God did not say He would heal the land when everyone got saved, was living right, or baptized in the Holy Spirit. No. The qualifications for healing the land was for us to humble ourselves and pray! Everything does not have to be perfect for God to bless our land. When we lift our voices in prayer, we can make a difference! Your prayers can open the window of heaven, bring about God’s will and bless Australia. The most powerful position is not Parliament House, nor the United Nations - it is making supplication to the God of heaven from a heart that is seeking after Him. I beseech you to stand up for your Christian beliefs, lift your voice to heaven in prayer. Let’s work together with the Lord to bring our nation back to him!
The Lord has enabled our ministry to secure our own office premises on the Gold Coast, here I believe we will help raise, train and promote young ministries in this country – especially evangelists, prophets and travelling ministry. This facility gives us the space to host small seminars and mini-conventions as well as provide emergency accommodation for these people.
Our heart goes out to these young men and women in the formidable challenge that lies ahead in restoring Australia to its Godly heritage – Southland of the Holy Spirit. I am sure you are aware that travelling ministries have a unique set of problems and challenges, particularly in the area of family and marriage. Jan and I feel that we can help immensely in this area by not only being mentors but also as "spiritual parents" to young travelling ministers. I believe the Lord has been challenging me about helping to train and nurture the next generation of travelling ministries. God does not want to let our vision die when we do but to pass it on.
It was the AFL Grand Final not so long ago – Brisbane v Essendon. I made the comment to my wife during the game that number 32 for Brisbane who was wearing the headgear was Shaun Hart and that he lived up the road from us. As the game progressed Shaun was everywhere, gaining possession after possession. He was like a Jack Russell. They say good players who do the little things make the big difference in pressure games. Towards the end of the game, I said to myself “ he’s had a blinder, I bet he wins the Norm Smith medal!”
As it turned out, Brisbane’s “braveheart” did win the medal and was instrumental in helping his team take the premiership. For me, the highlight was watching him accept the award and listening to his humble response as the recipient of this prestigious award.
Shaun said he wanted to first of all thank his Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. He went on to say that everyone knew he was a Christian and what he stood for. He then thanked his wife Linda and boys Jessy and Ricky, and also his team mates.
So many times in our own lives, we forget to acknowledge the people that count, be it the Creator who gave us the ability to pursue greatness or our family who unselfishly make sacrifices so that we can continue to live out our desire to succeed in our chosen endeavour.
I for one was impressed with the way Shaun gave credit to others who had a great impact in his life. I think he has got the mixture right both on and off the field. He is an excellent example to others when you hear his coach making such praiseworthy comments as “he is just an excellent human being” (Leigh Matthews).
It is two weeks later and I have the privilege of interviewing Shaun Hart.
M.U. So Shaun how does it feel to win the AFL premiership, grandfinal and Norm Smith medal this year?
S.H. Excellent. It really is amazing what has taken place over the last few weeks.
M.U. Shaun is there a bigger picture or other projects for you in the future
S.H. For sure! Winning the medal and achieving what the Lions have done this year is fantastic but this is all the more reason to become involved in a greater capacity with youth in our country.
M.U. Shaun, I for one found it difficult to maintain my Christian focus in the area of sport. It must be even harder for someone such as yourself who is in a high profile position. How do you stay focused?
S.H. Yes, it is hard to maintain that standard but the key is to gain the respect of others around me through the life I live. I believe that being a Christian gives me a greater source to depend on or to tap into.
M.U. When you are confronted with challenges or disappointments, how do you overcome such adversities?
S.H. Well Simon, not everything in football has been smooth sailing for me. I have experienced some very difficult years that at one point almost caused me to give up. I think it wasn’t until I truly got focused in my spiritual life that my career got back on track. As footballers, we have to contend with injuries, poor playing form and getting dropped to reserve grade. I have had periods in grade football where for a while I was struggling both physically and spiritually.
To answer your question, the way I overcome obstacles is I train harder and I work through it putting the time in on perfecting skills, developing my fitness and generally I just set the bar a bit higher. I also have to apply these same principles in my Christian life. We always have to work on it. I also pray about areas in my game that I need to work on or improve.
M.U. Has there been anyone in particular who has been like a mentor and helped you in your Christian walk.
S.H. Yes, my pastor Don Easton at CCC and his associate. In fact our chaplain at the Lions who has been with us since the inception played a big part in resurrecting my career.
M.U. Do sporting chaplains play a key role in helping the players if they do go off the rails?
S.H. Yes they do but that depends on the latitude they are given by our head coach and the working relationship that the chaplain has with the players.
M.U. For too long Christians have been perceived as loopy or geeky to say the least. In fact many of us have been in the closet, not willing to stand up for what we believe in. It seems the Americans have always been quite good at acknowledging their Saviour when it comes to sports people and entertainers. What do you think?
S.H. Yeah, it is overdue for sure but it is good to see Christians in Australia rising up and acknowledging their Saviour. We are starting to get quite a network of Christian sports people in our country.
M.U. From the people at Col Stringer Ministries and Ministry Unlimited thank you for doing the interview, it is fantastic what you have achieved recently and what you are doing with youth projects in Australia. Keep up the good work and stay in touch with God’s History Makers.