Monthly Archives: August 2022

To Be Near Unto God

I have used this brilliant quote before but it is worth highlighting again. It comes from the introduction to Abraham Kuyper’s delightful collection of devotions: To Be Near Unto God.

Love for God may be fine sentiment. It may be sincere and capable of inspiring holy enthusiasm, while the soul is still a stranger to fellowship with the eternal, and ignorant of the secret walk with God. The great God may still not be your God. Your heart may still not be attuned to the passionate outburst of delight: I love the Lord. For love of God in general is so largely love for the idea of God, love for the Fountain of life, the Source of all good, the Watcher of Israel who never slumbers; in brief, love for him who, whatever else changes, abides the same eternally.

But when the heart can say: I love the Lord, the idea of the Eternal becomes personified. Then God becomes the Shepherd who leads us, the Father who spiritually begat us, the covenant-God to whom we sustain the covenant relation, the Friend who offers us friendship, the Lord whom we serve, the God of our trust, who is no longer merely God, but our God.

Abraham Kuyper, To Be Near Unto God,  Kindle Edition.

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Robe – A Gem

I have travelled quite extensively around my area of the world but every now and then one finds a gem that has been missed in the past. In our recent trip to South Australia we went to Robe, in the South East corner not far from Mt Gambier. It is situated on an attractive bay. A stone obelisk on Cape Dombey which guided ships to the harbour, is still extant.

In the mid-1800s it was South Australia’s second busiest port. At this time Chinese migrants wishing to avoid Victoria’s arrival tax landed here and walked the 400 kilometres to Ballarat. It is estimated that 16000 travelled this path! The port became redundant with the advent of the railways and the wool and sheepskins which had previously been exported from here found another way of reaching their destinations.

What remains however is an attractive village which, by Australian standards, contains a collection of fine historical buildings – houses, churches and pubs. It is quite a treat to wander around the village with the aid of a pamphlet produced by the local council.

Today it is a holiday retreat with a protected marina for the keen fishermen. The fine old buildings are interspersed with modern units and houses. The town is alive and active but its C21st life is a far cry from the square riggers finding safe harbour here over 150 years ago.

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Why are we doing this?

Hetty Stok

The following is a post by my wife after observing parliament this week.

At a time when our society is becoming a place where rules are up for negotiation at best and completely ignored at worst, the federal election produced a Prime Minister who promises to go back to the parliamentary standards of the past. Less of the adversarial politics. No more shouty Question Time. Politicians held accountable. Integrity.

It’s probable that the PM himself will have trouble holding to his standards but at least he has voiced them; he has put the parliament on notice.

But our world no longer works like that. No wonder then that when a young new politician arrives in the chamber minus the regulation tie, there is a hew and cry. Just a small hew and cry from a fellow MP pointing out the error, followed by a louder Media hew and cry questioning why this archaic rule still exists. 

Another young, new politician is asked to give the pledge of allegiance before taking her seat in the Senate. She proceeds to make up her own pledge, elevating herself to Sovereign, and then insulting the Queen. The Media’s reaction? Headlines announcing that it’s time to change the pledge and ditch the monarchy.

Has this become the way we tackle the many ‘laws’ of life? When a father tells his child to eat breakfast and then get ready for school, should the child tell her father that breakfast is not to her taste and “Who made you the boss of me, anyway?” Well, yes. Modern parenting says that response is perfectly fine. Any wonder then that school children are allowed to stamp their feet and shout ‘no!’ That young people are encouraged to belligerently demand ‘why?’ And that our leaders, caught in a lie or a corruption, calmly tell us “Move on, nothing to see here.” Or, worse still, they call for a change to the archaic rules or the restrictive system.

Perversely, when we are confronted with people who don’t behave in a way our new society has deemed to be correct, we want politicians to make a law to force right behaviour. And punishment for those who disobey. Yet we have created a perfect environment that encourages disobedience and non-compliance.

Perhaps the real issue comes back to the young new politician who proclaimed she was ‘Sovereign’. Don’t we all like to think we are the ruler of our own world? Isn’t it time we realised that the title ‘Sovereign’ implies care for others, responsibility, sacrifice, dedication, and most of all, unselfish behaviour?

Categories: Hetty's Devotions | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

“Everyone Who Loves and Practices Falsehood”

I first wrote this over 10 years ago. Reflecting on it, I thought it was worth reposting.

Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.  Rev 22:14 & 15

Every now and then as I am reading the Bible a phrase or word jumps out at me. It may be something that I hadn’t noticed or reflected on before. In our staff devotions at school Revelation 22 was read and I closed my eyes and listened. I have read or heard this passage on many occasions and reflected on it. However, this time, the phrase “everyone who loves and practices falsehood” made me sit up and take notice.

We live in a world of “spin”. Politicians, companies and celebrities hire “spin’ experts – people to put the “right” perspective on an issue or dilemma. “Spin” is the key to advertising and promotion. I think we could rightly say that “spin” is part of everyday life.

I remember, years ago, attending regular meetings of church leaders and we were called to report on our individual churches. Looking back in hindsight, there was a lot of “spin” happening. Despite issues in the churches, in this public forum we put ourselves in the best light. We do it as individuals as we try to make ourselves look good, knowing all the while, that in reality we are hiding the truth.

A friend once reflected, after a visit to Holland, where one can look into the front rooms of nearly every immaculately presented house, that it reflected his family. The front room, in this case the way his family appeared, was tidy and well kept, but in the back rooms there was chaos anger, lies and pain.

As a culture and society we have become very able practitioners of falsehood. As individuals and churches, we too have been, unthinkingly, drawn into these practices. Why does Jesus include falsehood with idolaters, murderers and sexual morality?

The child of God is the representative of truth. We are called to stand in direct opposition to the enemy, “the father of lies” (John 8:44). John writes “We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood. (1 John4:6)

The Church and the Christian can have no place for “spin” or subterfuge. The world needs to see what truthful lives look like. That also includes honesty when we have mucked things up. Seeking forgiveness is far more constructive (and painful) than spin. The media, quite rightly in my opinion, has highlighted the falsehood of the church. It can only do that when we have not been true to our God of Truth. Rather than blaming the media we should look carefully at ourselves.

For me, this is a tough call. I don’t like being found out. More important though, is my desire to be more like Jesus. The Word tells me that when I know Jesus I “… will know the truth, and the truth will set (me) free.” John 8:32

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