Friday, 9 January 2015

Do You Want to be Left Behind?

Its a simple enough question. Do you want to be taken or do you want to be left behind? Well, what does Jesus say?
"As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come." (Matthew 24:37-42)
Did you notice what Jesus said? "As in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man" - meaning "in the same way." In the days of Noah, according to Jesus, who was "taken"? That's right, the people who rejected the message of Noah. So when Jesus returns, he says "one will be taken and the other left." So, when Jesus returns, which one will be taken? 

So let me ask you again, do you want to be taken or do you want to be left? And if you are in any doubt, reflect on this earlier parable Jesus told to explain what will happen when he returns.
"Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. “The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’” (Matthew 13:24-30)
Which was taken first? Now go figure what the parable means for you. 

Monday, 5 January 2015

A Route of Hope

Katie Ruth shares how writing poetry helped her overcome panic attacks. Obtain A Route of Hope from Amazon or direct from the publishers Abela Publishing. It is also available as an e-book.

Modern Israel in the Light of Scripture

The Vine Church, Hong Kong is launching their Manna Bites teaching course on Wednesday 7th January. Check out the website and register your place here

Monday, 29 December 2014

Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God

The odds of life existing on another planet in the entire universe are less than one. "We should not be here"

Read this important article from the Wall Streeet Journal written by Eric Metaxas. Here's a taster:
"As our knowledge of the universe increased, it became clear that there were far more factors necessary for life than Sagan supposed. His two parameters grew to 10 and then 20 and then 50, and so the number of potentially life-supporting planets decreased accordingly. The number dropped to a few thousand planets and kept on plummeting.
Even SETI proponents acknowledged the problem. Peter Schenkel wrote in a 2006 piece for Skeptical Inquirer magazine: “In light of new findings and insights, it seems appropriate to put excessive euphoria to rest . . . . We should quietly admit that the early estimates . . . may no longer be tenable.”
As factors continued to be discovered, the number of possible planets hit zero, and kept going. In other words, the odds turned against any planet in the universe supporting life, including this one. Probability said that even we shouldn’t be here.
Today there are more than 200 known parameters necessary for a planet to support life—every single one of which must be perfectly met, or the whole thing falls apart. Without a massive planet like Jupiter nearby, whose gravity will draw away asteroids, a thousand times as many would hit Earth’s surface. The odds against life in the universe are simply astonishing.
Yet here we are, not only existing, but talking about existing. What can account for it? Can every one of those many parameters have been perfect by accident? At what point is it fair to admit that science suggests that we cannot be the result of random forces? Doesn’t assuming that an intelligence created these perfect conditions require far less faith than believing that a life-sustaining Earth just happened to beat the inconceivable odds to come into being?"
Read more here 

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Saturday Big Breakfast: Harvey Thomas

Harvey Thomas spent 15 years directing the Billy Graham crusades and 14 years as Communications and Press Director for Mrs Thatcher and the Conservatives. In 1984 he had an “extraordinary escape” having been blown through the roof by the Brighton Bomb. He and his wife Marlies are the co-Executive Directors of African Enterprise UK, focussing on the work of reconciliation and mission.
A great event to attend and  invite friends to, especially to hear about the life transforming power of the Gospel that enabled Harvey to both forgive and even befriend the man who detonated a bomb underneath his bedroom.
Tickets are £5 and include either a full English or Continental breakfast
For further information and ticket sales please email the church office or call 01344 844946

More Ambassadors Needed

Heartened by the recent historic meeting between Prime Minister David Cameron and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, at the United Nations, signaling a long-overdue thawing of Anglo-Iranian relations, I was delighted to attend the New Horizons interfaith conference in Tehran in October, as a member of a UK delegation. 
The conference addressed issues where faith and politics intersect in the Middle East such as Israel’s war on Gaza, Islamophobia in the West as well as the rise of ISIS and those sponsoring extremism.
“There is no teleology in western society, no guiding morality, only an obsession with materialism,” argued organizer Arash Darya-Bandari. “We believe it is necessary to control the negative tendencies in culture, such as pornography, alcohol, drugs, prostitution, to strive towards a more moral and justice society.”
One of the contributors, Eric Walberg wrote, “Contrary to the shrill cries in the western media that the conference was anti-Semitic, it was unique in my experience in addressing Zionism and US imperialism forthrightly and intelligently, without a hint of racism. The issue of anti-Semitism was addressed and dismissed, as “There is no issue with Jewish people or the Jewish religion,” explained Darya-Bandari, “but rather with Zionism, that secular distortion of Judaism that itself is racist, and has been used as a pretext to dispossess and kill Palestinians.”
He went on to report, “The conference issued a resolution condemning ISIS, Zionism, US unconditional support of Israel, Islamophobia, and calling for activism locally to boycott Israeli goods and to promote understanding between the West and the Muslim world, and to fight sectarianism. “This was a great opportunity to meet anti-imperialist activists from around the world, to bring Russians, Poles, western Europeans, North Americans together with Iranians and other Muslims, both Sunni and Shia, in a forum without sectarianism, truly supporting peace and understanding,” said delegate Mateusz Piskorski, director of the European Centre of Geopolitical Analysis in Warsaw and former MP in the Polish Sejm.”
I was invited to contribute to the opening ceremony and present a biblical perspective on Jihad and in particular, a Christian refutation of the Islamic State (IS). Later in the conference I was asked to present a paper on the impact of the Israel Lobby in the UK, especially in parliament and in the media, ahead of the publication of my new book on the Lobby.
“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:20)
Ambassadors, of necessity serve in foreign countries, where perspectives may be different and at times even hostile to one’s own. But given the dire consequences of any breakdown in relations between countries, dialogue and diplomacy are always to be preferred over war and strife.
In the journal Diplomat, Michael Binyon asks,
“Are Christian church leaders becoming the world’s most active peacemakers? Only a week after President Peres of Israel and the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas accepted the Pope’s invitation to pray together with him in Rome, the Archbishop of Canterbury made a dramatic flight to Nigeria to pray with President Goodluck Jonathan and encourage him to make every effort to find the schoolgirls kidnapped by the terrorist organisation Boko Haram.
The Archbishop’s impromptu trip came hard on the heels of a visit to Pakistan, where he visited a small embattled Christian community and praised their efforts to forge closer links with the wider Muslim community, despite regular attacks by militants, the threats of mob violence and the increasing use of the notorious blasphemy laws to force Christians from their land and property…
Peacemaking and reconciliation – within the Anglican Church and between the world’s main faith groups – were the declared priority for Justin Welby from the moment he became Archbishop. He is well qualified for the role. As an oil executive who visited Nigeria often before his ordination, he has seen at first-hand the conflict raging between Christians and Muslims in Central Nigeria that is now taking a deadly toll. As a former head of Coventry Cathedral’s Centre for Reconciliation, he has himself conducted delicate negotiations between militant groups in an effort to free hostages, often risking his own life.”
A walk through the deserted US embassy in Tehran last week was a poignant reminder of how a failure to pursue diplomacy has fueled not only decades of missed opportunities but also perpetuated misunderstanding and animosity between our countries.
Ironically, the leaders in Jesus day, tried to dictate whom he could and could not meet with, criticizing him for eating with “tax collectors and sinners”.  Clearly they considered his actions “conduct unbecoming” a rabbi. Thankfully for us he did not listen to them.
Critics of conferences such as New Horizons should think more carefully about how their inflammatory words will negatively impact on their own communities in Iran.
They would be better served following the examples set by our Prime Minister, the Pope and the Archbishop who, as true ambassadors, are working for peace and reconciliation.

First published on on 7th October 2014

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Recipes of Resistance

Women of Palestine: A multimedia event- package available to groups

This package was produced for a project centred on International Women’s Day 2014. It sought to knit together an understanding and appreciation of the daily work and political struggle of Palestinian women with the wider movement for women’s rights internationally.

Women from Northern PSC groups have developed a free-standing “module” about the Olive Roots Association in Zaytoun, Gaza (Jameela’s Kitchen), a women’s cooperative which provides food for local families. This material is a vehicle for celebrating what the women in Gaza project are achieving and for making people aware of the obstacles they have to overcome.

Although the topic seems to be confined to the realm of the domestic, it can open avenues which are politically wide-reaching. A core aim of the project was therefore use the opportunity to raise awareness about the BDS movement with people to whom it might be an unfamiliar concept.

Material available

Film of Jameela’s Kitchen on disc
Advice on how to mount a simple demonstration of Palestinian food preparation.
Slide show with Fact Sheet and notes
Photographic exhibition (electronically for showing on projector if you are very far away or the foam-board mounted materials if you are close to the north)
Links to poems on internet or poems on pen-drive.

Copies of booklets and cards as long as stocks last (postage would need to be charged if you are at a distance. Booklets cost £5 and sets of cards also cost £5) For more information contact Recipes of Resistance

It may be possible for a couple of the core team to help with presentation at an event, depending on timing and other logistical issues.

If you are interested in finding out more, please contact us at Boycott Israel Network

Thursday, 13 November 2014

British Airways, Tom Hewitt and Street Children

British Airways community and conservation bursary helping street children in South Africa