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.