Sunday, December 28, 2014

Jesus' Christmas Job Description.

The Angel declared the Job description for the promised Baby. His mission, to save people (among other things). As we finish celebrating Christmas it is a good time to ask ourselves “what does ‘save’ mean”. To help understand this I’ve used four personal illustrations.

When I was about 11 years old I was on a pontoon at a swimming beach and I was pushed into the water. I couldn’t swim. The other Y.P. thought I was fooling around until my mother screamed out ‘Save him’! Someone had to dive in and rescue me. I was saved from drowning.
When the Bible uses the term ‘saved’ it means someone had to ‘dive into that situation and rescue the person who cannot save himself. This is what Jesus Christ came to do at Christmas. That was part of His ‘Job Description’. But there is much more to being saved than being ‘pulled out of the water’ – or whatever other situation. When I accept Jesus as my Saviour He saved me from my sin and judgement.

When I was about 19 years I was going to church but I was only really play acting at being a Christian. After the evening service I was standing on the street corner, alone, and it was as though God said in my heart “Shape up or ship out”! The Lord was offering me the opportunity to be saved from hypocrisy and a wasted life. That wasn’t a fun time I can tell you. I chose to shape up. I was saved from being masquerading and a useless life. The alternative was too terrible to contemplate. This decision two years later led me into Bible College. At that moment my Saviour became my Lord.

My first few days in College were great, until one night. I sat at my desk and felt guilty about being there. Memories of my past mistakes, failures and disobedience flooded the mind. The devil whispered “you are no good. You should not be a minister. You are unworthy”. He was right. He didn’t have to lie or make things up. What was I to do? I opened the Bible and these verses from Colossians 2:13-15 leapt out at me. The Lord was saying to my heart “you are saved from your past. The Devil hasn’t any power to blackmail you. You are forgiven! You are cleansed! You have been set free by Christ’s victory at the cross”.  

Over the years I’ve been challenged by people who believe that all religions are leading you to the same God. However when I looked at the Bible it said something different. Acts 4:12, John 14:6 tells us that Jesus is the only way to know and meet God and call Him ‘our Father’. The Bible means what it says. Therefore if anyone wants to know what God is like, how to meet Him and be accepted in time and eternity there is only one way. It is called ‘Salvation’ and it has been made possible because Jesus Christ came into this World to ‘make it possible’. To do this He had to live as a man and suffer an unjust death. More than that, to be the Saviour, He had to rescue us from sin and judgement by taking it from us and putting it upon Himself. However, if He was still in the tomb there is no way He could be our Saviour, only a failure. However as Matthew 28:6 and other passages tell us, Jesus conquered death and the tomb by rising again and by that became fulfilled His job description, to save all who believe in Him.  . No other religion or Faith has a message such as this, or a Saviour such as Jesus.
How then can you experience the salvation secured for you by Jesus?
First, you must recognise that you are ‘drowning’ in sin, hopelessness, and the wrath of God.
Second, you must accept the fact that Jesus is the only One who is able to reach out to you and place you on salvation’s ground.
 Third, you must invite Him into your life, by faith, and allow Him to be your Saviour and Lord.

 When you do this a whole new destiny awaits to be discovered, enjoyed and shared. You become a new person in God’s eyes. 2 Corinthians 5:17-21. That is the Joy promised at Christmas. That is the reality secured at Calvary. That is the gift offered by Jesus Christ on behalf of the Father and it is yours to be claimed by faith. What a great way to end the year and face the New Year.

Today make it your day for claiming Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. 2 Corinthians 6:2
Ray Hawkins Dec 28.2014.)



Sunday, December 21, 2014

Christmas Roundup

What are the features most prominent at Christmas time for Christians to hear, read and see? Shepherds, the star, wise men and of course the babe in the manger. All of these grab our attention and fascinate us with their various amounts of mystery surrounding them. However, there is so much more to the Christmas event which so many of us never seem to hear about.

A number of the New Testament books hold various key facts and factors about Christmas. When we put them together, as best we can, an awesome, powerful, majestic and definitely mysterious picture emerges. From Matthew we see the birth of the promise king in the Davidic line. Luke gives to us the fact that the Bethlehem baby is the promised Second Adam. As such, this Jesus is the Saviour of all. John goes beyond the historical and into the wonder of the eternal. He is overwhelmed by the fact that this baby who became a man is none other than Emmanuel, God with us. How this could be has been wrestled with ever since.

Paul in writing to the Philippians tries to help us come to grips with this mystery of grace. His version of Christmas is in chapter 2:6-7: ‘though he (Christ Jesus) was in the form of God did not regard equality with God something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness.’

In Hebrews 2:5 the writer expresses his view of the purpose for Christmas. It was to receive a body without blemish so as to fulfil the symbolisms undergirding the Old Testament sacrificial system. For that body to be free of a sin nature required the virgin birth promised in Isaiah 7:14. The book unfolds the wonder of why Christmas was necessary to the completion of God’s revealed word and symbols from Genesis to Malachi. Again and again through the New Testament we are faced with the reality that the Christmas event is more than an act of God. Rather it is God Himself in action, coming into humanity’s realm to save and lift up to His realm.

When writing to Titus the apostle Paul used the word ‘Epiphany’, which has the meaning of light being shone. Paul in effect says that Christmas became the time when the kindness and love of God lit up and penetrated history. That light was not something created. It refers to the one who is the Light of the world who came into the darkness of Humanity’s existence. As you can grasp Christmas is much more than the cherished account of shepherds and wise men and a manger. When we take the time to look at it from the whole of Scripture we must surely be overcome with wonder.

In the words of Peter, Christmas isn’t a fairy story but fulfilled prophesy. In writing to the Church he wrote ‘For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we have been eye witnesses of his majesty’. (2 Peter 1:16) Notice Christmas is the power of God bound up in a dependent, vulnerable baby. That power continues today, not because of the events of Bethlehem but of Calvary thirty three years late. However one without the other is impossible.

As you celebrate Christmas enjoy the family time, the Church services and various activities. However, do not lose sight of the mystery, the majesty and the marvel which surrounds this event. It is to draw us into a commitment of our lives to the One who committed His life to us so as to save us from sin, from judgement and eternal rejection. Christmas is the kindness of God preparing a safe place for us before He comes in judgement.

copyright Ray Hawkins 22.12.2014.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Were the Angels kidding

Adam as a modern day angel
The land was occupied territory and zealots (today’s terrorist or freedom fighters) carried out guerrilla raids. So much political and religious corruption existed it made the faithful depressed. Surrounding nations and their leaders played the political power games for their own advantage whilst the common folk suffered.  Across the world today many can relate to the situation in Israel the night the angels sang.
Imagine those shepherds outside of Bethlehem minding the sheep. Those men were very low in the status ratings of the community and considered unreliable or unwanted witnesses in court. Sitting out there and on guard against animal and human predators was probably nerve wracking. Every strange noise could be magnified in their minds as a potential threat. Suddenly the night lights up and an angel appears soon surrounded by a host of others. Did they imagine their earthly days had come to an end?

It is easy to understand why the angel said “Fear not!” as he would have seen their stricken faces. However it is the following words which must have confused them even more. “I bring you good tidings of great joy”. Those men sure could do with some good news and lots of joy in their circumstances. Were they about to be given a map to buried treasure? Maybe they would be transformed into princes? How deflated they may have felt when the angels told them that the Saviour long promised through the lineage of King David had come. Well maybe not deflated but thrilled if they were men who longed for the promises of their Scriptures about the coming one.
How would the announcements of the angels actually work out in their life, the country’s experience and down to our day? For after the shepherds had seen the baby Jesus and spread the news not much joy flowed. Later King Herod who was becoming more and more deranged had infant boys of Bethlehem killed in his endeavour to destroy the baby Jesus. Tears, not joy flowed. Where was the joy, for the shepherds and the nation, during thirty silent years as Jesus grew to manhood? Did the angels wonder at what they said?

Maybe you, along with others, have similar wonderings as you sing carols and enjoy this Christmas time. You probably don’t wonder about the fact of the person called Jesus, but wonder about the joy promised. This is especially true if you have lived through abuse, poverty, war and injustices. How can the Joy promised at Jesus’ earthly arrival infect, affect and inject joy into your life?
The joy promised is bound up in the person and the accomplishments of Jesus. Not as the baby nor the boy but as the crucified and risen warrior Lord of Calvary. His joy was to do the Father’s will. His joy was to flesh out the promises of the Scriptures from Genesis to Malachi. His joy was to see you as putting your trust in Him as your personal Lord and Saviour. (Hebrews 12:1-3) How then can His joy be ours?

Regardless of your circumstances Jesus as the risen Christ (Messiah, Saviour) stands with you, keeps you as His own and has a place for you in His glory. You can find joy and peace in knowing God keeps His promises as recorded in the Scriptures. Sure they may seem a long time in coming but He has His time marked on the Calendar of Heaven, not earths’. His joy in you turns your pain into testimony to your faith that Jesus reigns. You know it by faith, it will one day be tangible. You may not realise it but His joy in you and for you creates a spiritual and moral fragrance that impacts those who enter your sphere of influence.

Story of Christmas as promised in Bible.
The angels weren’t kidding in their announcement that the world was about to be confronted with the Gospel (good news). Nor did they exaggerate that joy would pour out upon men and women around the globe who bowed the knee, not to the baby but to the promised one of Scripture who had come.

Regardless of your personal circumstances may the announcement by the angels be fulfilled in you! May the Joy of the Lord be your hope, delight, strength, comfort and song at this season and all through the year!

Copyright Ray Hawkins 2014.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Jesus = Emmanuel and Second Adam

Christmas time stirs up consideration of the One Christians call Jesus the Christ, the Son of God. The reasons for this are many. One of the main ones centres upon the Biblical claim that within the person of this Man dwelt two natures. This is expressed in the titles 'Emmanuel' (God with us) and the Second Adam (highlighting His humanity.) Controversy has waged over the centuries with  protagonists emphasising one aspect of Christ's nature of the other.

The Bible allows the tension of these two to abide without trying to solve the mystery. It is a faith matter similar to accepting the mystery of the One God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, three in One. From out of the  discussion about Jesus and His humanity arises the question, was Jesus a man of His time? What then would be the implications of, ‘Any understanding of Jesus must be based on the fact that Jesus was a man of His own time’ and also the statement, ‘His knowledge was but the knowledge of His time.’

I understand that Jesus did not know all that the Father had in mind for Him or the future. This is evident from Mark 13:32 where Jesus admitted that He as the Son didn’t know when the ‘fig tree’ would blossom. I understand this limitation of and on Jesus was part of His living the life of dependence on and faith in His Father’s will. He lived out what He calls us to do. What are the implications of Jesus being a man of His time and having His knowledge limited to that time? Does this mean He is fallible in some of His statements? If so what? Does it mean we in this 21st A.D. century can know more that Jesus did whilst on earth? To accept that is to undermine His authority and the credibility of Genesis to Revelation. Jesus upheld creation, Adam and Eve, marriage, Noah’s flood (amongst other matters) all of which today are considered either unscientific or outdated.

May I suggest we gain a clue to Christ’s apparent lack of knowledge on certain matters from John 5:19,20,30. John 17:8.  John 8:28 is a good summary: ‘Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will realise that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own, but speak these things as the Father instructs me.”’ (NRSV) He was in tune with the Father and shared what the Father revealed to Him at that time. He wasn’t doing His own bidding. Was this also an expression of Jesus being the prophet also? Now this puts us into a difficult position if we dismiss aspects of what Jesus taught as simply being due to the knowledge of the time. It makes the Father also fallible. It makes 21st century man wiser than the Father and the Son as well as the Scriptures. Such a thing is not only impossible, it is ridiculous!

The mystery of Jesus as Emmanuel and the second Adam at the same time remains. His testimony as to His teaching must be two fold. A diligent study of His Bible and a dependence upon listening to His Father must undergird what He taught and did. I believe we can build our lives, faith, and hope upon Jesus as being the infallible teacher , the one we call Lord and Saviour.
Copyright Ray Hawkins 7.12.2014.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Marriage Dance

Our wedding day 1964
The beauty of marriage is under a concerted ‘acid attack’ designed to deface it by degrading its image and meaning. The Christian view of the mystery and majesty underlining this union of a man and woman has suffered under a barrage of Humanistic attacks. Such a philosophy of life has no room for the spiritual dimension nor for defending what is termed sacred and moral boundaries. Applied to marriage this allows such people to consider same sex relationships, multiple partners and polygamy as valid marriages.

 The only place, and I‘ll write it again, the only place to gain an understanding of marriage is in the Judeo–Christian Bible. Only there will you find its institution with the wonder of its meaning, majesty and mystery. For such a relation didn’t evolve but was God given to men and women through Adam and Eve. Read Genesis chapter 2 for the beginning, Ephesians 5:21-33 for its mystery.

When a man and a woman enter into a marital union they more often than not are ignorant of what underlies such a unique and beautiful oneness. This is a shame if it is never discovered. However in the beginning of becoming husband and wife the intent is to enjoy the rhythm of the wedding dance. This dance of a loving relationship has many steps, different music moods and takes place on various ‘dance-floors’. It takes time and effort, grace and forgiveness, perseverance and laughter.

 I remember as a teenager plucking up the courage to go and learn ballroom dancing. At first it felt awkward. I was nervous, reticent and clumsy. My teacher endured many a sore toe and scrapped shin before I became reasonably proficient in a variety of dances. When I married I began an unending dance. My wife and I were beginners. We did have some good teachers on the ‘sidelines’ encouraging us but it was up to us to learn the steps and sense the rhythm of the dance being ‘played’ at that time. Sore toes or should I say hurt egos that caused concerns. These came about due to each wanting to swing and sway to his or her own tune. This made us want to do our own ‘steps’ resulting in a wrestling match instead of a loving tango. However, we knew ours was an unending dance. Therefore we set our hearts to practice. Perhaps one of the hardest things was to hear the same melody and sway to the same beat. It’s easy to embrace in the dance. It’s another things to maintain the embrace in the movement of life.

 Factors that kept us dancing, even when we had our egos stepped upon or something interrupted the music was the grace of mercy and forgiveness. There was also the healing qualities of communicating, even is hesitantly of what was causing us to be ‘tripped.’ Such sharing requires trust and tenderness and at the same time a willingness to learn from it. Other features in the dance routine of life include the serious and intense as well as the fun provoking jigs mixed with the passion of the waltz and tango. Many of the modern dances portray individuals shaking and shimmering, but not reaching out to the other and learning to co-ordinate their movements. Seems like a modern day metaphor for how people view marriage.

 God intended marriage to be on the ‘dance floor’ of everyday living. Husbands and wives were to feel the rhythm of God’s music in the midst of earth’s cacophony. They were meant to know that the skill in marriage comes though faithfulness and persistence in understanding and appreciating each other. The more time you dance together, the closer you grow together. The closer you are the sweeter the dance. The sweeter the dance the more varied the steps. The more varied the steps the more exhilarating the embrace. The more exhilarating the embrace the more wonderful the music that plays for you to dance.

 For that to be true, God must be the Dance master as well as the Orchestra leader. I have to admit, I like to dance with my wife to the music of the Eternal God on the dance floor of the everyday life. We have been in the dance for fifty years now. While the vigour of the early days may be pleasant memories the vitality of our senior years in the marriage dance is stronger and more meaningful. This is because we discovered the mystery, the meaning and the majesty of marriage. It has kept us dancing together across life’s varied ‘dance floors’.

© Ray Hawkins

For an insight into the three ‘M’s of marriage you could read my 31 day devotional book ‘From Eden with Love.’ Published by Even Before Publishing’ and available in Christian bookshops and Amazon. It is also an Ebook.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Devil is a Pervert

 When we look at creation we are faced with a dilemma. It is beautiful, awesome and amazing. Then we see cruelty in the animal kingdom, disease and decay. Somehow something has perverted it. We look at Humankind and see brilliant minds, creative geniuses, adventurers and people with talents to heal, teach and care. But at the same time there are terrorists, predators, criminals and so much suffering. How has this perversion happened?

The World Book dictionary describes the word ‘pervert’ as ‘to lead or turn away from the right way or from the truth.’ It also adds ‘to change from what is natural or normal’ especially in regard to sexual behaviour.

Philosophy and religion seek to explain it and present innumerable explanations. The best insight, however, is found within the pages of the Judeo-Christian Bible. People may reject its account in Genesis or explain it away as poetical or mythological but they have no better explanation. Sure some parts raise questions which are not answered in this blog. Still what is stated in plain language makes sense.

Genesis chapters one and two tell us the World was created good. Chapter three introduces the Perverter! He is termed the ‘Serpent.’ Most people imagine this person as a snake. The term comes from the word ‘shining ’ and describes  Seraphims in Isaiah 6:2.(the perverter is able to appear as an angel of light – 2 Corinthians 11:14 – and could well have impersonated a serpent to achieve his perversion of Humanity. The curse on the snake reveals complicity and a warning. Study the Scriptures and see this ‘shining one’ to be an angelic being who rebelled against God and turned away (perverted himself) from God’s truth and holiness. Revelation 12:9 gives the final unmasking of this creature. He is defined as ‘the great dragon, the ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world.’ As you read the Bible you become aware of his insidious perverting of God’s word, creation and worship.

Genesis unfolds the Devil’s approach. He deceived Eve through making her doubt the honour of God. He did this by casting doubt upon God’s word. She in turn beguiled Adam into breaking the explicit prohibition he had received from Yahweh about eating of the fruit. This act of neglectful disobedience, urged on undoubtedly by the Perverter, turned both Adam and Eve away from God. Something took over their soul and their mind. It is called falling short of what the Lord had created them to be. It is a walking in the darkness of self-interest rather than the Light of God. They had been perverted!

The Devil is also the perverter of Godly worship. As the deceiver, the Devil has offered people myriads of ways to worship. They range from Idolatry to Atheism. Failing that he infiltrates and corrupts Communion, songs/psalms/hymns and makes the pulpit an ego centric opportunity to distract from the Gospel. The sad story of five of the seven churches in Revelation chapters two and three makes the reader aware of that. In Australia Christians are shuddering at the unfolding stories of perverts in clerical uniform who have abused young and old. Such behaviour is the imprimatur of Satan’s perversion in the heart towards the sanctity of another, of marriage and the principle of chastity before marriage.

Another aspect of the Devil’s perverted nature infecting the human soul is seen in people’s attitude to creation. While the Psalmist looked at the earth and the heaven’s and saw God’s handiwork (Ps 8) people choose to see ‘chance.’ Evolution is the mantra of science. The dictionary says mantra comes from Hinduism meaning ‘instrument of thought.’ That in turn comes from the root ‘man think.’  Strange how people can see the wonder of creation in the micro or the macro dimensions and give credit to ‘nothing’ for all creation’s complexity. Then there are those who worship creation (Pantheists) and at the same time sever it from the Creator. Some environmentalists are prone to a similar folly.

The Bible gives understanding on Creation, Morality, the human soul and Spiritual matters (and much, much more) and how they have been perverted. Can you understand why the Devil, the perverter doesn’t want people to read it or believe it. It unmasks him. It reveals his purposes. More to the point it declares his ultimate judgement. (Revelation 20.) He has the World under his pernicious and perverted spell and wants to keep it that way. However, God will not be defied. He set about overthrowing the perversion and the damnation inherent in what the deceiver has done. This is the message of Christmas and of the Passover (Easter). It also underpins His command to repent (turn back to God) and obey the Truth (His word).

© Ray Hawkins


(A fuller explanation of God’s reclaiming from the Pervert’s grip creation and humankind can be found in my short devotional books ‘Bethlehem’s Warrior Baby’ and Captured by Calvary.’ These are available in Christian bookshops or Amazon in paper back or Ebooks)

Sunday, November 16, 2014


Secrecy is vital in warfare. Enemies endeavour to discover the opposing forces plans by whatever means possible. Reading true or fictional accounts of previous conflicts is fascinating to see the bravery and stupidity of the various combatants.

In the moral and spiritual warfare between the Kingdom of Light and that of the Darkness there is a strange anomaly. From the beginning of the contest the Ruler of the Light outlined His plans to reclaim what had been usurped and enslaved. This was intentional. It was to inform those enslaved by the Dark Lord of the air that redemption was coming. Although some generations would not see it literally, they still could participate in the victory. How was this possible? By trusting in the revealed plan of the Lord of the Kingdom of Light and Life. Faith would secure them inclusion in the promised future Kingdom.

Where is this redemptive plan written? In the Judeo-Christian Bible.  From Genesis through to Revelation various facets are spelt out. These may be in promise, symbol, story, parable and in plain words. On their own they may not reveal much (as any investigator appreciates) but put them together in a proper frame and they speak volumes.  Why does the Lord do this? “I declared them (His plans) to you from long ago, before they came to pass I announced them to you, so that you would not say, ‘My idol did them, my carved image and my cast image commanded them’.” (Isaiah 48:5) God wants you to know His heart so that you can respond.

The Devil, the prince of Darkness, doesn’t want you to hear, understand or to respond to the Grace and plans of God revealed in Jesus Christ. Because the Devil can read he sets in motion a counter strategy. This is basically to counterfeit, confuse or crush either God’s Word or God’s people. Let us briefly consider the Devil’s attempts to counterfeit some of God’s promises.

In Genesis chapter three is the account of Humankind’s enslavement by the ruler of the Darkness. When the Lord imposed a judicial judgement on Adam and Eve, He also outlined a future deliverance involving a woman and a baby. This of course is the Virgin Birth and the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem.  The Devil countered this through the occult powers of the Babylonians. Jeremiah quotes with sadness the tendency of the people of Judah to worship ‘the queen of heaven.’ (Jeremiah 44:17-25) She also is pictured with a baby. This counterfeit is still operating today. Its force is to distract from the wonder of the event called Christmas. The Roman festival called Saturnalia on December 25th also seeks to lessen the reality of the literal historical event recorded in the Gospels of the birth of Jesus. Think also about how the idea of Christ’s resurrection from the tomb has been distorted. The term Easter comes from a pagan term for the goddess of spring, that is, life renewed from winter’s grave. The bunny and his basket of eggs symbolise new life and fertility.

Because God raised up men to be His penman and record His words, the Devil has done the same. His counterfeit, so called holy books have appeared over time. Each offers their own versions of god, morality and salvation. They do lack historical credibility and fail the test of investigative research. The Bible has been put under the severest and wide ranging investigations but stood up to their tests. Such books as the Koran, the book of Mormon or other religious writings cannot face such detailed examinations. Perhaps this is one reason why those who question especially the Koran are in fear of their lives.

False prophets are the Devil’s infiltrators and saboteurs. Such men and women are nice, presentable well–spoken and plausible. Their intention is to counterfeit the Gospel message and undermine the person and work of Jesus Christ. They will deny Him as the Son of God, the promised Messiah, crucified as our substitute for our judgement, our sin and to secure our forgiveness and salvation. They will scorn the idea of His resurrection and Second Coming, and ridicule the idea of judgement and eternal condemnation. This fits well with men and women who either love their pagan ways or seek to earn God’s favour through self–effort. These false prophets may do wonderful things and impressive works but Jesus calls them agents of evil. (Matthew 7:21-23)

How then can we discern the true from the false? How are we able to unmask the counterfeit and walk in the light of God’s grace? Through holding up teachers and teachings, religion and rituals to the light of God’s Word. Check out what He has promised and see how it has been fulfilled. Then rest comfortably in knowing that that which is still a future event will just as surely be fulfilled. This is the promise recorded in Isaiah 55:10-11: ‘For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.’

© Ray Hawkins



Sunday, November 9, 2014

Islam's Greatest Fear

Islam in its many shades of black dominates World headlines today. In lands they control they impose a ruthless regime. In countries where they are not yet in large numbers they wear the demeanour of being victims. From whatever perspective and in whatever country their intent is the same. Islam must rule.

What can stand in its way for it seems unstoppable. Those who oppose it can expect the ISIS treatment (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria – the terrorist group) of subjugation or beheading. Strange as it may seem ISIS, and Islam in general, have a fear which they suppress through violence upon ‘infidels.’ Such a fear isn’t about conflict or death, it is about engaging in a confrontation with Truth.

This is readily seen by its treatment of those from its ranks who commit their lives to the Truth which out-shines anything Islam has to offer. Consider honour killings inflicted upon individuals who leave Islam for the Truth. Without realising it, this action is in fact a tacit statement of its fear. If this wasn’t the case then Islam would have no cause to murder anyone with a different faith, ideology or lifestyle. Fear is irrational in its frenzy to silence that which it cannot answer or control. We have witnessed it in the murder of women and girls who seek an education. We read about it in mobs who kill, without any shred of evidence, those accused of violating the Koran.

Sharia law has no capability to handle Democracy, the Christian view of Human dignity, female equality or the foundation for marriage. There is an implacable hatred to Israel and the Christian Faith which no appeasement will subdue. Islam denies Israel its history for historical Truth undermines and reduces Islam’s claim to the land. The followers of the Koran pervert the Christian Scriptures concerning the person of Christ Jesus and His death on the cross. No death means the Scriptures lie. No crucifixion means no fulfilment of the prophecies of the Old Testament. No entombment means no resurrection and therefore no forgiveness by faith. It also denies the statements of Jesus and His apostles concerning His return to rule. You must understand also the Koran was compiled 500 years after Jesus walked upon this earth. It isn’t eye–witness accounts as we have in the Judeo–Christian scriptures.

When Muslims chant “There is no god but Allah” it is more a confrontation to the Bible’s affirmation “Jesus is Lord!” They are adamant that God has no Son. This is a direct challenge to the Gospels and the celebration of the virgin birth held at Christmas. Rather than accepting the right of someone to believe what they understand as Truth, Islam cannot abide such mental and spiritual liberty. So when ISIS paints the Arabic letter ‘N’ on a house it signifies a believer in the Nazarene, Jesus. That letter becomes a death notice. Why? Because of the fear the Truth about Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the Living God arouses within their darkened minds.

Why would anyone or any ideology fight against the concept of God being Love is hard to
explain. They might not agree with it but that is different to wanting to obliterate those who believe it. The same goes for the wonderful privilege Christians have in calling God “Our Father!” Our relationship with the Triune God isn’t due to our ability to perform things pleasing to Him. Rather it flows from our conviction about the Truth. What is this Truth? To sum it up means we believe Jesus is ‘The Way, The Truth and The Life. It means no one comes to the Father except through a relationship of a living faith in Jesus. Such Truth is what Islam fears. If it didn’t its leaders would allow those within their community the privilege to choose what they understand as Truth. At the moment to believe is to face death for apostasy. Yet around the world many, many people are taking that risk and making Jesus their own personal Lord and Saviour. That’s what Islam fears!

 © Ray Hawkins

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Why Persecution?

Sunday November 2nd 2014 was Solidarity with the Suffering Church day. In Australia nearly 700 churches participated in this event. Many Christians wore T-shirts with the Arabic letter for ‘N’ emblazoned on is front. This came about from the Islamic Caliphate terrorist group painting that letter on Christian homes. It stood for ‘Nazarene’ that is Jesus of Nazareth, and it marked out those who were His followers. In many instances these disciples were martyred.

Persecution isn’t an experience confined to Christians. It is a worldwide, cross cultural and religious barriers phenomenon. Persecution stems from the heart of people twisted by strange, evil, undefined or antagonistic motives. Such emotions seeks to crush those with differing views or who unsettle personal prejudices and convictions. Unfortunately the Christian Faith endures what appears to be attacks from many quarters simply on the basis of commitment to Christ and the testimony of the cross.

The English word ‘Persecution’ comes from the Latin ‘prosequi’ meaning to prosecute and the Anglo/French word ‘pursuer’ to pursue. The intent is to treat badly and to harm.

Why do non-Christians want to eradicate the disciples of the Gospel which invites people to know what the heart longs for? What can that be?  God’s love and forgiveness, to have hope in life and beyond, to enjoy inner peace and joy regardless of whether rich or poor, healthy or unwell! The Bible tells us opposition is for two reasons (at least). One is the World doesn’t want to acknowledge that Jesus is the prophesied One of the Old Testament. That person is revealed as both Son of Man and Son of God. The second reason is due to the Cross of Christ. (1 Corinthians 1:18-24) It is the cross which says no one can earn their way into Heaven and God’s favour. It is a declaration that God’s grace is to be accepted by faith and commitment to Jesus as Lord and Saviour.

This message is resisted, not because it is untrue or unverifiable. It is fought against not because it demeans or degrades. It is opposed because Christ Jesus not only has dealt with sin and offences against His Heavenly Father, but because He calls for a transformed life. People want to know forgiveness and experience love, joy and peace yet cling to their ungodly lifestyle. It amazes me how you can join any religious group by saying ‘yes’ to a number of untested statements but not have a change of heart. All that is required is saying some memorised prayers and perform some religiously ordained rituals. You can still lust, hate, steal, abuse others, lie, even murder and be ungodly in mind and behaviour and be considered a ‘good member of that religion. Jesus Christ will have none of that.

When a person accepts Christ as Lord and Saviour it begins a creative act by Him. Christ Jesus changes the person’s destiny from Hell to Heaven, raises the believer from spiritual death to a new life with eternity in it. In effect the person has a new heart, one that longs to know God’s will in preference to one’s selfish desires. (read 2 Corinthians 5) What the Lord Jesus does is give a new lifestyle to go with His high calling. It is a call to holy living above and beyond outward observances.

When this begins to take place a strange reaction sets in from former friends, even family, who are unsettled by the new you. Attempts are made to get you to recant your new found faith or to trip you up through temptation to your former life. Should this fail harsher methods are introduced such as ostracism from their presence to so called, ‘honour killings.’ The motive behind all these attacks is simple. They see what the Gospel can do to a person but they personally don’t want to surrender their pride, passions or prejudices to Truth. So there is only one thing to do, destroy the object which disturbs. So begins persecution of either an individual or a group.

Jesus warned His disciples that to follow Him was a dangerous, even life threatening choice. It stems from the fact that Jesus was not and is not part of this world’s system. They sought to destroy Him, but couldn’t, so the next thing is to destroy His people. Little do such persecutors realise that Christians are kept by the power of the risen Lord. Even if martyred or enslaved they have a place reserved for them in the presence of the Eternal Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. (John 14-16. 1 Peter 1.)

In the face of all the opposition and persecution men and women of all ages still choose Christ Jesus as the Way, the Truth and the Life. Why? Because He is all that and more!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

1st - 5th September 2014
Rebecca's Dream

(Even Before March 2014)


Carol Preston

About the Book

Rebecca Oakes is thirteen years old when her mother, Suzannah, dies in the small town of Marengo, New South Wales, in 1873. With her older brother and sisters soon involved in their own lives, Rebecca is left alone to care for her ageing father. But Rebecca has a dream for her own life. She wants to make a difference to the world around her; a world where it is hardly possible for a woman to get an education, where women have no rights, no vote, no voice. Rebecca will have to fight the systems of her time if she is to achieve her goals. She must find the courage to stand against sexual and religious prejudice, and resist the pressures of even those close to her, in order to make her way towards her dream, influenced by one man who hates her, who will do anything to thwart her plans, and another man who loves her, and will do anything to make her happy.

Rebecca’s Dream is the second book in the Oakes Family Saga. Background notes and discussion questions are available for book clubs.

About the Author

Carol lives in Wollongong with her husband, Neil. She is a psychologist and has a part time private counselling practice, as well as being an author and speaker. Carol enjoys spending time with her children and four grandchildren, as well as bushwalking, gardening and holidaying overseas with her husband. One of her hobbies over many years has been family history research. It was this research which started Carol on the journey of writing novels.
Her first trilogy is about the Oakes Family; Suzannah’s Gold, Rebecca’s Dream and The Price of Peace, which takes the reader from 1838 when her great great grandmother, Suzannah Casey was transported from Ireland, through to the end of the First World War when Suzannah’s children and grandchildren are involved in the battle, not only to survive the war but to survive the waiting at home. The first two of these have recently been re-released by EBP. Carol’s fourth novel, The Face of Forgiveness, is about two young women who are transported to Australia in 1839. The most recent of Carol’s novel is a series based on her mother’s family, which begins with the First Fleet of convicts to Australia. These include Mary’s Guardian, Charlotte’s Angel, Tangled Secrets, and Truly Free.
For more information about Carol’s books and her other interests she can be contacted on her website:, on her Facebook author page:

or her Amazon author page:

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Heaven's 'Dress Code'

Strange how entrance requirements for Heaven or Paradise fluctuate, depending upon whom you ask. After a documentary on Gadaffi, depraved and brutal ruler of Libya an Iman was asked a pointed question. Did he expect Gadaffi to go to Paradise? “Yes” said the Iman. A Roman Catholic Archbishop had a T.V.  'Q and A' programme with Atheists. In a concluding and confused statement he said he expected to see them in heaven. Add to that, most of the community, regardless of lifestyle, religious faith or lack of it, consider Heaven (if there is one) their destiny.

Surely, if there is a place called Heaven, there must be some standard for entrance. For such a place means that Its Creator owns and dwells there. How can any of us know what He is like and what His dress requirements are for entrance? Sounds discriminatory, the word our World is trying to eradicate. Too bad! He does have the last word after all in life’s matters. The question each of us needs to answer is ‘Where can I find the required information for acceptance in Heaven?’ Most people would say that is the realm of religion. True! However, which Faith system has the best credentials?

I’ve bet my life on the credentials of the Bible and its revelation of the Person who is Heaven’s Lord. We know Him as Jesus Christ. Heaven’s inhabitants revere Him as Yahweh, Son of God, the Logos. When you read about Him and His dwelling place it becomes crystal clear entrance requires an impossible dress code for we earth inhabitants. We are told that ‘without holiness’ it is impossible to see the Lord, (Hebrews 12:14) let alone get past whoever is on the ‘gate’. In our most impressive moments of self-evaluation holy would not be a term we would apply to ourselves. For the word embraces concepts, behaviour and character traits which strip all our pretence of measuring up to Heaven’s dress code.

Holiness speaks of purity in mind, thought, action and relationships. Holiness is being unblemished in our worship of the Eternal God. Holiness reveals that a person is partaker of the sacred, thereby separated from the defilement of our Sin nature and its multitude of expressions. Holiness says to us “Unless there is a miracle you will never be fitted out for Heaven’s dress requirement.” Why? Simply because holiness isn’t a deodorant to splash on or a perfume to cover our body odour or soul's cesspool. Holiness can never be manufactured by so called ‘good works’ (they have our foul fingerprints all over them). Well intentioned promises are easily forgotten and religious ritual is an empty exercise separated from personal holiness and faith.

It begins to look as though Heaven will be an empty place, apart from the angels. It would have been without the transforming grace of God expressed in the Judeo-Christian Bible. In symbol, statement and ultimately in the Person of Jesus Christ Heaven’s dress requirement became an earthly gift. This is the message of Scripture. It is the basic theme of Christmas. It is the ultimate achievement, for us, of Calvary. It is the most wonderful gift ever offered to corrupt, wayward, ignorant, indifferent and spiritually dead people. For Christ’s life on earth stood the test under intense and sustained opposition and temptation to make Him similar to us, that is, unholy. How do we know? From the historical records and the Biblical accounts, Jesus Christ died to sin, buried it and on the third day rose again. Now He has not only prepared a place in heaven for believers, He has provided the garment which meets the code. What is that garment? It isn’t a spiritual feeling or a religious observance. It is none other than the very life of Christ indwelling us and in the eyes of the Father, covering us eternally.

How can we earn this ‘garment?’ We cannot! How then is it available? It is the gift of God to us. Ephesians 2:1-10. How do we claim it? By realising our un–holiness and its consequences. Then seeking for the cleansing, forgiveness and transforming grace of God offered to us as a faith and gratitude response. 2 Corinthians 5:11–21

I can never be good enough for heaven in my own dress code. This I know, however, I’ve been given Christ Jesus' promise of meeting Him face to Face one day. How? Because of His grace and gift to me. This is also available to anyone, to you, by a faith response, regardless of how weak you may think your faith to be. Jesus will honour your heart’s call and cleanse, forgive and transform you from the inside out and clothe you in His righteousness, which is the holy dress code of Heaven.

 ©Ray Hawkins

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Onward towards the Past!

A concerted campaign is gaining momentum to relegate the Church to the edge of irrelevance. Unfortunately this is being aided and abetted by revelations into child abuse by various church leaders. Listen to the squeals from some areas of Christendom as their power, influence and status in society wanes. You would imagine the Church’s mission was about to collapse. Instead of bemoaning the loss of tax benefits, perceived status and special privileges we should be more vocal in proclaiming the Gospel.

In Matthew 24 and Luke 21 we have the record of the collision of the future with the past  Jesus used the historical figure of Noah to make a point or two. To understand the magnitude of this future event read Genesis 6. The moral and spiritual decline into depravity was immense. God’s judgement was slow in coming and His grace provided the ark. Unbelief and self–gratification treated His mercy with disdain and the world paid the penalty. What is gathering momentum which should warn people to turn to Christ and make Him their refuge, their ‘ark?’ 1 Peter 3:17-22.
Here’s a short list:

*Seeing the evidence of creation and making it the offspring of chance and evolution.

*Thereby declaring an individual’s life is meaningless.

*This permits the murder of babies (abortion) and euthanasing the disabled, infirm and old.

*Then there’s the moral corruption within Christendom detailed in child abuse and apostasy.

*With the loss of faith in the Bible people are seeking spirituality and morality in the occult.

*The rejection of the Biblical understanding and symbolism of marriage and endorsing as normal same–sex marriages.

*Endorsing what the Bible condemns in relation to sexual behaviour

 Add to the above the onward move to the past as detailed by the prophet Daniel 2. 10:1-12:1 and spelt out in more detail in Revelation 6-19 and Matthew 24:15-28. It is as though Jesus is saying ‘keep your eyes open for the events recorded.’ These are portents which drive the kingdoms of this world and Satan’s forces into the last great judgement and conflict. (Read 2 Thessalonian)

NASA in recent days has been speaking of the potential threat to earth of asteroids and comets. The space authority is endeavouring to develop some defence shield against such an eventuality. (Matthew 24:29)

How then should the Church of today handle the spiral into the moral and spiritual dark ages? Not by whingeing, crying ‘foul’ and compromising the Gospel’s message. Rather the opposite. Have the faith and mindset revealed in the early Church’s history. Make Christ and the cross and the future known. Expect to be opposed yet trusting in the Lord to honour His word to those who are seekers after truth. Realise, as is evident in places such as Iran, that the Church’s faithfulness to Christ can mean various sanctions, dismissal and even death.

Therefore we must be certain about knowing in whom we have believed. We must know that He is the Lord of Glory, He is the victor over the tomb. He is the One who can forgive us, cleanse us, accept us and keep us through whatever the collision of the future with the past throw our way. Jesus is the person who fulfilled the written promises of the past and He will keep His word about the future. Therefore saturate your mind with His word, keep your eyes open and your faith strong. Be prepared to give and account of your trust in Jesus as Lord and Saviour. Should any retribution fall upon you from your sphere of influence consider it a badge of honour knowing your reward is in Glory! Read the letters of James and Peter to sustain you through such times.

 © Ray Hawkins Oct 2014.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

I'm a Fundamental Christian

Does that mean I’m a gun-toting, knife wielding blood thirsty assailant?Actually, it means the exact opposite. The word ‘Fundamental’ means ‘Forming a foundation. Essential.’ (World Book Dictionary) Therefore a fundamentalist is a person who believes the foundational, the essential tenants of his or her faith and ideology. This conviction motivates them to live out their foundational beliefs and it becomes their world-view.’
Yes, it is correct to say certain religious and political groups have a basic belief system that promotes barbaric behaviour and cruel oppression. However, such a worldview cannot be laid at the feet of Christianity’s founder, the Lord Jesus Christ. On what basis do I make such a statement? Simply on the authority of the Bible!

For me, to be a Christian Fundamentalist requires me to know, understand and apply the foundational truths of the Christian Faith. The most basic one of course is the person and work of the one named Jesus in the Gospels. He is the promised Messiah of the Old Testament; He is the Song of God; He was crucified according to the scriptures, entombed and on the third day rose again. (John 20:31. Romans 10:9-13)

When you ask Him to be your Saviour and Lord you place yourself under His authority. In turn that requires you to get to know, understand and endeavour to live out His teachings. That is fundamental to your Christian life. As you read the Gospels and the New Testament letters you do not find any jihadist teaching or allowance for such behaviour. In fact a far great test for moral and spiritual courage and faith is demanded.

The fundamentals of my faith flow from but do not cease at the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:1-48. In the context of which fundamentalism is now portrayed as being terrorists what do you make of the following:

‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.’

‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake’

‘Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account’

‘I (Jesus speaking) say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you so that you may be children of your Father in Heaven…”

‘In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.’ Matthew 7:12.

History has an unfortunate record of disobedience to these fundamentals by true and pseudo disciples. The Inquisition is a case in point. Jesus never authorised His followers to perpetrate such intolerance and cruelty towards those who reject Him. In fact in the parable of the ‘Weeds’ in Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43. The Lord calls for patience and kindness. Why? Because only He can discern the ‘Wheat from the Weed’ for He alone sees the heart. He alone is the Supreme Judge and hasn’t delegated that to anyone. He has set aside a judgement day when all will give an account of their fundamental worldview, behaviour and view of Him.

Jesus Christ isn’t demanding of His followers what He hasn’t experienced Himself. Isaiah 53 prophecy was fulfilled in Christ on the cross. He could have called the angelic hosts to rescue Him, but no, He trusted in the Heavenly Father’s promise of victory over Sin, Death and the Devil. This could only be accomplished through the medium of the cross and the declaration of victory by the resurrection from the tomb.

It is on the evidence of the Bible, secular and sacred history that I bowed in faith before Him and became His disciple. I have grown in that relationship for nigh on sixty years and have found Him faithful to His word. It hasn’t always been easy (however a lot easier than my Christian family in other countries), it hasn’t always been pleasant. Nor has it always been appreciated while being exploited by Christ’s opponents. However, the sense of walking in His light and approval combined with the promise of one day seeing Him face to face puts everything in proper perspective. Both my walk in this life and my abiding with Him in the next is simply, solely and eternally due to the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.

They are some of the reasons I’m a Christian Fundamentalist. There are others and you can read about them in the Judeo-Christian Bible.


© Ray Hawkins October 2014.

Monday, October 6, 2014

God has and will honour His promises.

 The Society was sick, morally, spiritually and physically. Isaiah highlights some of the
symptoms in the opening passages of his writings. ‘From the sole of your foot to the top of your head there is no soundness- only wounds and welts and open sores, not cleansed or bandaged or soothed with oil. (Isaiah 1:6)

The Nation was also fascinated by the occult. Moses warned the people of his day about this danger. He had it recorded in Deuteronomy 7:1-6 and 18:9-13 to steer Israel clear of the Darkness of the nations prevalent in the land Israel was entering. It is still good advice today. Similar to the Israelite nation of yesteryear people today find a fascination with the Devil’s doorways to despair and bondage.

By the time Isaiah speaks out the nation has become obsessed. ‘When men tell you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living?’ The result of this involvement is played out in the poverty of the nation and their unbridled anger. The hellishness of their situation is written in Isaiah 8:21,22. ‘Distressed and hungry, they will roam through the land; when they are famished, they will become enraged and, looking upward, they will curse their king and their God. Then they will look toward the earth and see only distress and darkness and fearful gloom, and they will be thrust into utter darkness.’

As you read that it would be easy to imagine that the eternal and Holy God would simply judge and obliterate the nation. This presumably would be what most others with any such authority would do. But that is not the way of the ever faithful Covenant keeping God. The nation may, and did, break the Covenant but not the Lord. It is an expression of His Holy providence that He is able to achieve His purposes even with a nation acting contrary to Its calling. It is in such unco-operative circumstances that we realise the grace,  power and perseverance of the God who will honour His word.

Flowing on from his bleak estimation of the Nation’s unfitness before the Lord the prophet shatters the dismal scene with one word. Nevertheless! (Isa.9:1) God will not be denied the fulfillment of His purposes. In fact the scene will be one of stark contrast, National Darkness penetrated by Heaven’s Light. The impact will be more glorious than a conquering army sharing in the spoils of victory. It will be more joyous than end of harvest celebrations. (Isa.9:2-4)

What will usher in these celebrations? What will be so awesome that it can only be compared to light bursting into the darkness? What will have such authority as to break the bondage of the yoke of the occult? Isaiah doesn’t point to the Lord God of Hosts slaying the unrighteous and casting down the demonic. He adds to a promised babe in chapter 7:14 the following declaration, For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, asnd the government will be on his shoulders. He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.’ (Is.9:6,7)

So great is the power of God to achieve His purposes that He will use a male babe, the child, to conquer the darkness and turn the Nation’s heart to the Lord God Almighty. Ever since the prophet wrote those words Israel, and indeed the world have waited for it to come to pass. Unfortunately some have endeavoured to prevent it. Some have tried to deny it. Others have sought to corrupt it or smother it. However, God who can turn Humankind’s anger to His own purposes will not be put off by such opposition.

There is a claimant to the fulfilment of this promise. In fact a Jewish Tax collector recorded the life of the one he believed met the requirements of Isaiah’s prophecy. Matthew took the words of Isaiah 9:1,2 and wrote, ‘Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which is by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali - to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah, “Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the way to the sea, along the Jordon, Galilee of the Gentiles - the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” (Matthew 4:12-16)

The person Matthew was writing about has come to be known as Yeshua. At his birth, which Matthew records, as well as does Luke a Gentile Doctor, the sense of Isaiah’s insights of a babe to be born dominate.

 It is in the life and work of this person that the ‘Nevertheless’ is able to be fulfilled. He is the source of Heaven’s light in the midst of a Nation’s darkness. Yeshua is God’s ‘Nevertheless’ to all that is blocking a relationship with the Everlasting Lord. Isaiah goes on to deal in more detail with this ‘Son given’ unveiling his character (ch.11), his ministry (ch.42) his rejection, death and resurrection (ch.53) and his return in judgement (ch.63).

 Casting an eye over the world scene today is enough to create despair. It would almost appear to make the days of Isaiah a light hearted romp. If the prophet broke his heart then how would he feel today? One thing is for sure, he would still rest secure in the Covenant keeping God. The prophet would acknowledge the seriousness of the situation and bounce back with that declaration of Faith, ‘Nevertheless!’

 God will fulfill His word to the Nation of Israel despite internal unbelief and external hatred. He will reign from Zion (Isaiah 2) He will honour His word to David (Psalm 89:20-37) He will be known as The Redeemer (Isaiah 43:14) This is the power and significance of ‘Nevertheless’ in the N.I.V translation of Isaiah 9:1. A foretaste of it has been revealed in the babe of Bethlehem who became the man of Nazareth. A deepening appreciation is gained when he is recognised as the suffering servant of Isaiah 53 and the cursed one of Psalm 22. A sense of awe is born when it permeates the mind that in both those passages as in Psalm 118 there is the vibrancy of resurrection life.

God, in our estimation, might be taking His time. When He decides ‘time’s up’ events will happen quickly to the fulfilling of His promises.  Let God’s ‘Nevertheless’ take your eyes and heart away from the darkness and look to what He has already fulfilled and what He has promised for the future.


Ray Hawkins. ©Oct. 2014.