Banks Lie Book

If you are interested in Banking issues, such as those exposed in the Bank Royal Commission in Australia, take a look at my 2010 book, Banks Lie! and see how much of it is finally coming to light.
But we need an extension on the Royal Commission to dig deeper – into more of the issues I have exposed in my landmark book.
Get your FREE copy of the e-book at: http://www.peoplesmandate.iinet.net.au/Banks-Lie-Ebook.pdf

Banking Lies

The current Banking Royal Commission in Australia reveals that what I said in my 2010 book Banks Lie! is indeed true.
Sadly that is little consolation when so many people still suffer at the hands of Banks who do secret back-room deals and then pretend to still hold rights they sold off. Hmmmm.
You can check out the Banks Lie FB page at https://www.facebook.com/pg/Banks-Lie-154203314625650/about/

Multicultural Issues

I was asked recently to reflect on some issues that I have seen over several decades of working with foreign church communities in Australia and abroad.

Here is my initial reflection on multicultural issues I have noted.

Having worked in various ethnic churches and some where the congregations are multicultural I have observed a number of issues that need management.

A simple issue is that of the local people (Aussies) learning to accept and respect the different cultural issues of the migrants.

Foreign Names

Aussies react to trying to pronounce foreign names, such as Chinese names, and many migrants find it best to just take a local name that might or might not sound like their real name, to avoid all the reactions they get when they say their strange foreign name.

However, some migrants are proud of their culture and expect the locals to change.

A funny example is a man from India who was a high caste Brahmin, so was used to being treated as special. When he was newly arrived he met a friend of mine and told them his name was Susie. My friend suggested he choose a different name to use in Australia. Susie scoffed at that idea as he was quite proud of his name and what it meant back in India. But he soon learned that the Aussies were only going to laugh at a man named Susie and he chose a local name to use quite quickly.

Among the wealthy Chinese, and among migrant groups which stick more closely together, native names are used. Gradually Aussies are getting used to calling people by their real name, even if it sounds strange to the English speaker.

Cultural Styles

Another issue that needs to be kept in mind is the difference of approach to working together. Many Asian cultures emphasise politeness and protocol, where the westerner is much more direct and pragmatic.

Directness can be offensive to an Asian, while indirectness seems silly and clumsy to Aussies.

Many Asians defer to others as a gesture of politeness. In their culture the offer would be declined but appreciated as a sign of respect.

Pastoral staff need to help the cultures understand these differences, and that directness is not intended to be rude, and that indirectness does not mean the people don’t know their own mind.

A classic case of this confusion happened when a Chinese group joined an Aussie church group for a joint camp. The original plan was to share the camp, such as the speakers and the music bands, so that both churches took equal part. This apparently worked OK with regard to the speaking sessions, but a problem emerged with the young people in the worship groups.

On the first night the Aussies asked the Chinese which band should play for the first session. The Chinese were gracious and allowed the Aussie band to play for the worship.

The next morning when the Aussies said, “So you guys are doing worship this morning”, the Chinese responded by asking “Would you like to do it?” This offer was supposed to be appreciated but declined.

Instead the Aussies thought, “Why are they offering for us to do it again? They must have thought we did a better job and are too embarrassed to do it now, or something like that.”

So the Aussies did the worship again. Before the next session the Aussies went to the Chinese and said, “So, will you do the worship for this session?” The Chinese responded politely, by asking the Aussies if they would like to do it again. The Aussies said they’d be happy to do it.

By the end of the camp the Aussie band had led music in every session.

The Aussies went away saying, “The Chinese are hopeless. They knew they were supposed to lead half the worship sessions and they didn’t seem keen to do it at all.”

The Chinese went away saying, “The Aussies are so rude. We kept being polite to them but they were never polite to us. They are just take-over types who want to push in and do everything.”

Pastoral staff need to become the buffer between the seemingly hard and thoughtless western approach and the seemingly weak and compromised Asian approach.

Cooperating

Once the cultures become more accustomed to each other, with the Asians feeling more confident to assert their ideas and their position, and with Aussies more respectful of the spiritual standing of the Asians, good cooperation is possible.

It helps when Aussies will apologise for seeming to be brash or pushy.

It helps when Asians can reveal that they do know what they believe and that their ideas are very worthy of respect and being listened to by the Aussies.

People experienced in cross-cultural issues are much more ready to give respect to new cultures. Those who have been in a mono-cultural setting all their lives do not know how to read the other cultures and to properly interpret how to relate to them.

Reading the Other Culture

A white man from South Africa shared with me how he had no problem relating to the different African tribal groups and the various groups of white people, such as those with Dutch or English backgrounds in South Africa. He said, however, that when he visited London where most of the people were white he felt quite insecure, because he had not learned how to read the cultural signals and to know who could be trusted or related to with openness, and who he had to watch out for.

Interpreting that, different cultures can get along well once they understand each other and they know how to interpret each others words, actions and expressions, such as smiles, frowns, and body language.

Multi-cultural worship works best when the different cultural groups both understand and respect each other. If there is understanding, but not respect, such as by one group looking down on the other, then the connection does not work so well.

 

Paul’s Heavenly Perspective

Heavenly Perspective in Paul’s writings.

Bible scholars enjoy investigating and dissecting the writings of the Apostle Paul. Paul’s epistles are rich in theology and at times quite complex in thought, so they provide a simulating challenge for the enquiring mind.

However scholarship can amuse itself with analysis for analysis sake. Knowledge can feed the notion that the student holds some special place or privilege since “knowledge puffs up”. Human analysis of spiritual truth can weave its own intricate pretence of insight, while missing the very heartbeat of what Paul is saying.

This is not to say that scholarship and analysis are of no value, but they need to be subservient to the spirit and intent of the spiritual transaction which Paul intended, rather than to push us into the place of bystanders who can testify in a witness box of what we have seen, but who are observers rather than participants of the truth on offer.

Now that I have that off my chest let me direct your attention to some interesting considerations that Paul’s life deserves.

Paul stands in a unique place as a contributor to the New Testament. Specifically I refer to the fact that all of his encounters with Christ were with the risen, glorified Christ of all eternity, not with the human personality the disciples dealt with.

The human Jesus, fully God and fully man, had laid aside His glory, holding the place of a servant. So those who met Christ in that capacity were denied the immediate and compelling impact of the eternal Son of God, eternal Lamb of God, eternal Creator God, that Christ is.

Paul, on the other hand, met Christ as the glorious resurrected Lord of Glory speaking from heaven itself.
Paul went on to meet with Christ in heaven and to receive revelation directly from the glorified Christ (1Cor 11:23, 2Cor 12:3,4).

Paul’s conception of spiritual truth, then, was first and foremost from the heavenly perspective. He knew things too wonderful to be allowed to put in words (2Cor 12:3,4) and so impressive were his spiritual experiences that a messenger from satan was assigned the special task of keeping Paul humble (2Cor 12:7).

Paul writes from that rich context of spiritual insight.

The great Apostle Peter held Paul’s writings in great respect but admitted that Paul’s insights were hard to understand and were misinterpreted by unlearned and unstable people (2Peter 3:15,16).

Paul’s ministry was to the minds and hearts of men and women who did not hold the depth of revelation he enjoyed. He therefore had to input into them spiritual truths that they were at times resistant to, as babes unable to handle the stronger revelation of God’s Word but needing to be grounded in the first principles. He also had to deal with their tendency to be distracted by baser, fleshly urges that competed with their spiritual health, such as being drawn into factions, being impressed by charlatans intent on exploiting them, and so on.

Paul spent a year and a half in Corinth, able to function in full-time ministry for at least part of that time, thanks to the support from outside Corinth.

After Paul left Corinth he settled into a longer stint of ministry is Ephesus and it is believed that from there he wrote at least his first epistle back to the church at Corinth.

PAUL in 2 Corinthians and his focus on suffering, death and resurrection.

It is suggested that Paul had a strong focus on the resurrection of Christ and that focus prompted his frequent references to death and resurrection in his second letter to the Corinthians.

I disagree. Paul’s focus is not on Christ’s death and resurrection specifically, nor in comparing his own or other’s experiences with those of Christ, but simply to argue for a posture of abandonment on God, disregarding personal hardship in order to serve Christ.

Christ exemplifies this posture of abandonment in enduring the cross to save sinners.

Paul anticipates and lives a life of constant tribulation, but that is of no concern since he also lives in constant consolation.

There is a dichotomy of constant tribulation made irrelevant by constant consolation. This is Paul’s reality and it is the one he repeatedly confronts the Corinthian believers with.

2Corinthians 1:3-5 “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds by Christ.”

Paul’s picture of Christian life is of a life of blessing and comfort compensating for a life of tribulation.

Consider Paul’s repeated advice to Timothy that Christians will suffer persecution.
2Timothy 3:12 “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”

(See also Peter’s reference to “fiery trial” in 1Peter 4:12, and
Christ’s predictions that His followers would be persecuted, Matt 24:9, John 15:20)

Paul clearly identified himself and his peers as targets for tribulation.
1Thessalonians 3:4 “For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know.”

This is particularly poignant for Paul since his very calling from Christ identified him as set aside to suffer persecution.
Acts 9:16 “For I will show him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.”

Note also in 2Corinthians that Paul speaks of vicarious suffering, such that his own sufferings result in blessing to those he cares for. (2Cor 1:6,7, 4:12)

Paul shares with the Corinthians how terribly he was persecuted, to the point of despairing of life, but the consolation, deliverance and protection he always relies on came through. The key issue for Paul is not that of death and resurrection but of constancy of faith, being confident that even in his extremity God will remain faithful, as he proved to be.

Note the focus on where Paul’s ‘trust’ was placed in 2Corinthians 1:9,10, “But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raises the dead: Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us:”

I repeat, Paul’s focus is not in Christ as a model of death and resurrection, but on the Christian’s challenge to trust God in the reality of a Christian life where tribulation is the turf, but consolation is guaranteed to triumph over it.

Paul’s ‘affliction list’ in 2Corinthians 4:7-12 is Paul’s assertion that tribulation fails to be a problem, thanks to God’s constant care. Rather than Paul providing a litany of evils he makes a declaration of triumph, rejoicing in ‘the excellency of the power’, being ‘not distressed’, ‘not in despair’, ‘not forsaken’, ‘not destroyed’, ‘that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body’.

This is a wonderful take on suffering and dispels the fleshly, self-preservation, narcissism of natural man, pointing to a life of victorious service to our Lord, immersed in opposition and trial, so it can be constantly triumphant over all trials right down to death itself.

The Corinthian church had been taught this perspective but quickly distracted themselves with their own carnality, dropping their moral standards, engaging in factions, celebrating their own indulgence without regard for fellow believers.

Paul not only contended with them about their fleshly distractions, but he pressed upon them the model he doubtless taught them in their presence, that Christian life is not about self, but about yielding to Christ, entering into the most dangerous and oppressive challenges, and living in triumph and effectiveness in that most undesirable context, as living proof of the gospel.

Hedonism says:
It’s My Life;
I Do What I Want;
My Comfort is Paramount;
If I suffer it must be for my good (eg: pain for health, budgeting to buy better things).

Compare this with Paul’s concept of his calling by Christ:
My life is no longer mine, but Christ’s;
I do not do what I want;
My comfort is irrelevant, and I enter a life of suffering;
I do not suffer for myself but for the benefit of others.

Paul drives home this radical view of a life of trial as a high calling with great reward, pointing the Corinthians away from appearances and to eternal riches.
2Corinthians 4:16-18 “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

PAUL IN 2 CORINTHIANS

The claim is made that Paul in 2Corinthians is defending his apostleship.

I challenge that perspective as distracting the student from the bigger picture of what Paul is saying in that letter.

Paul clearly has undisputed authority in the Corinthian church and has expressed that in previous demands made and in his demands related to his planned visit. There is no reason to believe Paul’s apostleship and his role as primary authority in the Corinthian church is in jeopardy.

So the suggestion that 2 Corinthians is written in defence of Paul’s apostleship necessarily detracts from the apostolic message Paul conveys.

Primary in Paul’s apostolic message is challenge of the carnality and sinfulness of the Corinthians, which Paul challenged in several ways in 1 Corinthians (babes 1Cor 3:1, carnality 1Cor 3:3,4, drunkeness and self-indulgence 1Cor 11:21) and which he bluntly confronted at the end of 2 Corinthians (2Cor 12:20,21, 2Cor 13:5).

Another resounding message of 2 Corinthians is Paul’s description of a spiritual life, compared with a selfish fleshly life focus, of willingly and happily enduring suffering so that the promise and proof of the gospel triumphing over those trials can be lived out, as it is by Paul and his companions.

Paul embarrasses the Corinthians by pointing out that they, in their flesh, have fawned over men who exploit them (2Cor 11:20) and who were nothing more than “false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ” (2Cor 11:13), while Paul is as worthy a hero as anyone else (2Cor 12:11). This addiction to people who impress them reflects the factional spirit at Corinth that Paul challenged in 1Corinthians 3.

Finally, Paul calls them on their inherent sinfulness and challenges them to be sure they are actually saved (2Cor 13:5).

All of this is relegated to subsidiary status if the reader has been beguiled by the widely promoted idea that Paul is principally writing to defend his apostleship.

Further, the idea that Paul has to prove anything is demeaning of this man of immense spiritual stature and unique spiritual privilege (see 2Cor 12:1-7).

Let us free 2Corinthians from the shackles of misdirection and enjoy the rich spiritual food of a great man of God, completely secure in his place of authority within the Corinthian church, who did nothing less than escort them further on their struggling spiritual journey, with truth that we each need to imbibe as we make our own spiritual journey.

Note Paul’s focus on the sinfulness of the Corinthians.

“For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not:lest there be debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults: And lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and that I shall bewail many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed.” 2Cor 12:20,21

2Cor 13:2 “I write to them which heretofore have sinned, and to all other, that, if I come again, I will not spare”.

2Cor 13:5 “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?”

Corinth and Laodicea Compared

The Corinthian church, as reflected by the correction Paul has to give them in his epistles, resembles the condition of the Laodicean church of John’s Revelation (Revelation 3:14-22).
That church failed to comprehend that it was “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” but rather thought itself to be “rich, and increased with goods, and (to) have need of nothing” (Rev 3:17).
While the Corinthian church may not be in a severe a state at the Laodiceans its members display a vain concept of themselves as able to indulge their passions, tolerate immorality and identify with competing factions, all to their detriment.
Something in the culture of Corinth entangled the local church in issues that needed Paul’s continued pastoral correction, as the Laodiceans needed Christ’s pastoral correction.
Local culture was recognised by Paul as deleterious to spiritual progress, as seen in his acceptance of the cultural stereotype applied to the residents of Crete (Titus 1:12,13).
Paul also recognised that external spiritual influences can subvert the faith of a whole congregation, as seen in Galatia (Galatians 3:1).
Rather than give up on such people Paul persisted in contending with them to have the truth established in their hearts.
Paul’s letters to the church at Corinth display his faithful and persistent care for the souls of the members, contending with them and even challenging them bluntly, in order to dispel from their minds ideas and practices that have a negative effect on their faith.

Enough said. Check it out for yourself and enjoy the glorious vision of Christian life that carried this great apostle through the toughest of treatment to the most glorious of achievements for Christ’s Kingdom.