March 2009

The saying goes that there is nothing certain in life except death and taxes. The Bible phrases it differently, confirming that “as it is appointed unto man once to die, but after this the judgment,” and “in this world ye shall have tribulation.” My father had a strong recollection of the Great Depression. He had just married and had bought a new farm with a large loan from the bank. Then the stock market crashed in 1929, banks were closed, farm products lost value and what happened after that is known in history as the Great Depression. My father stuck with the loan and the farm through almost impossible times, surviving the Great Depression and finally paying off the loan which, as a young boy, I vividly remember as being a happy celebration when we burned the mortgage paper!

We easily forget hard times, especially when times are good. Kathleen’s mother, who died in 2006 at 100 years of age, also talked vividly of the Great Depression. These oldies who experienced that period carried with them the shadow of that reality through good times and always took it into account. My earliest memories include a few of the difficulties of that period as things were slowly beginning to turn around. Children today, at least in prosperous countries, generally sense little of the value of money and often hardly know what money feels like with our credit-based society.

We have been convinced by the experts (many of them haven’t paid their taxes it seems) that nothing really could interrupt this festive, comfortable lifestyle that we have come to expect. There are safeguards in the financial world that would preclude a repeat of a depression. It could not happen again in our day! Or could it? The Bible talks about a real financial meltdown in the book of Revelation as it describes the events of the Tribulation days to come. So it follows that we could see difficult financial days again before the Tribulation.

Today some of the “rock-solid” foundations of our financial welfare are shaking uncontrollably. Banks and insurance companies have ventured into “shoddy schemes” to make a killing without, they thought, any accountability or even risk. Regulators and politicians let it happen and credit-rating agencies stamped AAA on the sham. We, the people, are rightly angry and shocked to the roots. It disturbs my feeling of wellbeing to even think long about it!

But one thing is sure: Jesus is still the same, yesterday, today and forever! This is a call for us to come back to the True Rock and trust in Him. The news states that the sale and use of video games is increasing during these difficult times. It could be hoped that the Lord would use these times to increase all of us in our faith and trust in Him. With a heavy heart we pray for all our friends in the many churches around the world that are affected by today’s trials. Actually, Australia seems to be weathering the storm much better than most of the developed countries.

We started the Old Testament Bible History course the first half of February in Faith Baptist Church of Regents Park. Twenty-two are studying the course. The first week many of them were in a state of shock after realizing how much work it looked like it would take to do the course! Several are in their late thirties or forties, but most of them are in their twenties with several university students and others in fulltime work. All are very busy and are making a sacrificial effort to devote Monday night to attending the class. On an average, the course study needs probably around four hours of homework each week. The third and fourth weeks of study witnessed the waning of the initial shock and the emergence of a holy excitement about how much they are learning! It’s a great thrill for us to observe this process in the lives of laypeople who have decided to do something definite to increase their knowledge of God’s Word. It truly fills our hearts with gratitude to God for enabling us to develop these study materials that can be used anywhere, language permitting.

“The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee (Numbers 6:24-25).”

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