What does a daily quiet time look like ?

April 29, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-miscellaneous

“The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.” (Proverbs 21:5 ESV)

Having a quiet time is like many other activities you might do in life — in at least one respect.
To be successful, it helps to have a plan.
The Bible says, “The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty” (Proverbs 21:5 ESV).

Pray

If you’ve never had a quiet time before, you may not have a good, simple plan for doing one.
Simplicity is important with any plan you develop.
If you make it complicated, you’re more likely to get off track.
All you really need for an effective quiet time is a Bible, notebook, and maybe a hymnal or songbook.
So what does a daily quiet time look like?

quiet time

First, be quiet before the Lord.
The Bible calls it waiting on God.
You start by simply sitting down and shutting up.
talking to God
Second, pray briefly.
Start off with a short opening prayer.
Ask God to open your mind and guide you. Ask him to cleanse your mind.

Read a portion of Scripture slowly.
This is where your conversation with God begins.
He starts speaking to you through his Word,
and then you speak back to him through prayer.

Read the Bible slowly.
Don’t try to read too quickly or too much.
The more slowly you read Scripture, the more you’re forced to think about what you’re reading.

MeditateMeditate on the Word.
Spend some time chewing on what God is saying.
Chew on the Word like cows chew on cud.
Ponder and wrestle with it in your mind.
There are lots of great methods for meditating on the Word.

Write down what you discover.
When God speaks to you through his Word,
care enough about what he is saying to write it down.
Writing enables us to remember what God has said to us and record our discoveries.

Pray again.

Be quiet.

Ask God to show you his Word.
Talk to God about what he has said to you.
Tell him what you’re thinking about what he is saying.
Talk to him about anything else that’s on your mind.

– fwd: v c mathews

Ireland’s defense of marriage leaders speak up for mothers, fathers, children

April 29, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-lead

Ireland's defense of marriage leadersIreland, April 26, 2015: Opponents of a referendum that would recognize “gay marriage” in Ireland face an uphill fight, but one commentator says they can win if people are willing to speak up and focus on the need for children to have a mother and a father.

“I think civil marriage is a really critical institution for upholding the common good – specifically the good of children being raised by their own mother and father in a lifelong committed relationship,” said Ben Conroy, a spokesperson for the Iona Institute, an Irish NGO focused on civil society and religion.

He said redefining marriage would remove from the Republic of Ireland’s constitution “any idea that there’s anything special, or unique, or worth protecting about a child being raised by their mother and father.”

“In fact, it’ll abolish the notion that there’s anything particularly special about motherhood and fatherhood at all, only ‘parenthood’,” he continued.

The referendum would amend the Republic of Ireland’s constitution to read, “Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.”

The vote on the referendum will be held on May 22, with voter registration closing on May 5.

Conroy told CNA that opponents of the referendum are “definitely the underdogs,” according to opinion polls.

However, he characterized referendum support as “very soft.” He said most voters who currently favor the referendum have reservations about it, and almost all voters still appear to believe that a child is best adopted by a man and a woman in preference to other situations.

He noted that a marriage referendum in Slovenia showed a large majority in favor of redefining marriage in the campaigns ahead of the election, only to lose on Election Day.

“The question is whether or not we can get the message about the connection between marriage and the family across, in the face of a ‘Yes’ campaign that has overwhelming support in the media and elite Ireland,” Conroy said. “They’re determined to argue that this is just about love and equality, but I think that’s completely wrong, not to mention quite short-sighted.”

Conroy said voters in the Republic Ireland should consider Article 41 of the Constitution, which the referendum would change, as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which considers marriage as part of the right to “found a family.”

“Marriage in Irish and international law has never just been about two people who love each other: it’s always been a child-centered institution,” Conroy explained.

“I think a lot of Irish people would prefer to see a better way of recognizing the legal equality of gay people without obliterating a child’s right to a mother and father.”

Conroy said many referendum opponents suffer social pressure and even a “climate of fear,” given that an Irish Times writer has called for the creation of a “homophobia watchdog” to monitor rhetoric surrounding the referendum. What Conroy characterized as “social media mobs” can also target those who do not agree with the referendum.

However, he noted that there are situations where opponents of the referendum are in the majority but in fact believe themselves to be alone until someone speaks up.

“Talk to people!” Conroy advised referendum opponents. “Tell them you think every child, gay or straight, deserves the love of a mother and father where possible.”

Conroy warned that there is no conscience clause in the referendum to allow bakers, florists, printers and others to avoid participating in ceremonies to which they object. He believes that legal cases involving these businesses will become more common, as they have in other places.

In Northern Ireland, a baker who declined to make a cake saying “Support Gay Marriage” was sued by the country’s Equality Commission, even though the U.K. country does not recognize same-sex civil marriage.

“I think that’s a harbinger of things to come if this passes,” Conroy said.

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny has said that Catholic schools will be expected to teach children that in Ireland people “will have the right to get married irrespective of their sexual orientation.”

For Conroy, that was “a pretty huge step” that he doesn’t think people have adequately considered.

“We’ve come a very long way in the level of love we show our brothers and sisters who are gay, and it’s only a very tiny number of people who don’t welcome that wholeheartedly,” he added.

“But marriage is a particular institution, with particular purposes, and children – gay and straight – do have a right to a mother and father where possible. There shouldn’t be a contradiction there, and I don’t think there is.”

The Republic of Ireland’s four main political parties all support the referendum. They and campaign groups like Yes Equality intend to spend almost $750,000 to promote it, the Irish Times reports. The main opponent of the referendum, Mothers and Fathers Matter, hopes to spend about $160,000.

In a March 10 statement, the Republic of Ireland’s Catholic bishops said they could not support the referendum.

“The effects of this proposed amendment will be far-reaching for this and for future generations,” they said. “We say to all voters: Marriage is important – Reflect before you change it.”

They voiced concern that if the Constitution is amended, “it will become increasingly difficult to speak any longer in public about marriage as being between a man and a woman.”

“What will we be expected to teach children in school about marriage? Will those who sincerely continue to believe that marriage is between a man and a woman be forced to act against their conscience?” they asked.

Ireland’s Catholic bishops could consider withdrawing from registering civil marriages if the referendum passes, given that the Church’s view of marriage and the state’s view will be “radically different,” Martin Long, a bishops’ spokesman, said April 13, according to the Irish Times. Almost 60 percent of registered Irish marriages in 2014 resulted from Catholic Church ceremonies.

– cna

Sakshi Maharaj politicises Nepal quake, blames Rahul Gandhi for tragedy

April 29, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Rahul GandhiNepal, April 28, 2015: Sakshi Maharaj is back in headlines, now for linking Rahul Gandhi to the Nepal earthquake. Trivialising and politicising the great tragedy, he said to the reporters in Haridwar, “Rahul Gandhi eats beef, and goes to the holy shrine (Kedarnath) without purifying himself. The earthquake was bound to happen.”

The death toll has crossed over 4,000 and Nepal PM Sushil Koirala has said that it may reach 10,000.

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s MP from Unnao has received flak for his communal comments.

An English daily has quoted Congress spokesperson Sushmita Dev saying the incident unfortunate and petty and said that the ‘cohorts of the PM and BJP’ are trying to ‘communalise and politicise’ the tragedy.  She said that Sakshi Maharaj not just ‘denigrated’ the wake victim but devotees visiting the Kedarnath temple. She demanded that PM Modi and Amit Shah take action against the MP and stop the spread of ‘rabid politics’.

Sakshi has repeatedly courted controversy. The lawmaker had earlier asked Hindu women to have at least four children, described Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse as a “patriot” and more recently demanded that those not following family planning should be stripped of their voting right.

– dna

Bishops condemn Hindu Mahasabha statement

April 29, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Hindu MahasabhaNew Delhi, April 26, 2015: The Catholic bishops’ Conference of India has condemned the “highly provocative” statement of the Hindu Mahasabha general secretary Munna Kumar Shukla that encourages attacks on churches and said such statements and the escalated violence indicate a “sinister pattern.”

The bishops have taken a “serious note” of “irresponsible statement” of Shukla, General Secretary of the Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha, the prelates said in a statement.

Shukla, according to media reports said, attacking a church is not illegal and wanted the government award those who attack the churches.

“Christian community is greatly shocked and its susceptibilities are deeply wounded” by the statement, the bishop said in the press statement issued at the end of their Standing Committee Meeting on Friday.

Some 40 bishops including cardinals, archbishops and bishops attended the meeting in Bangalore.

“Shri Shukla’s contention that attacking a Church is not illegal and that it violates no law is highly untenable and contrary to standards, norms and laws of the land.,” said the statement signed by conference president Cardinal Baselios Cleemis.

The Hindu Mahasabha leader’s statement that Churches are no longer places of worship but factories for conversion of Hindus into Christianity is highly insinuating and derogatory. He further stated that the Central Government should protect and award the youth who attack Churches. He also claimed that the Taj Mahal was previously a Shiva Temple, the bishops noted.

“In recent times there has been an escalation of violence against Christians and other minorities together with highly unwarranted statements. All such attacks indicate a sinister pattern and evil design calculated to denigrate and defame the Christians, peace-loving and law abiding citizens of India,” the bishops said.

The bishops also wanted the Central and State Governments initiate to “swift action to put an end to such inflammatory and provocative statements” and “halt of attacks on Christians and other minorities and to ensure that communal harmony.”

– press release

Christians suspect boy arrested in church attack is ‘red herring’

April 29, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Agra Catholic church attackNew Delhi, April 27, 2015: Police have arrested one man in connection with a Catholic church attack earlier this month in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. But the official claim that the motive was personal and not related to religion has drawn ire from the Christian community and a call for an independent probe.

A Muslim youth named Haider was arrested on April 24 for attacking the St Mary’s Church in Agra district in the early hours of April 16; officials say he was under the influence of drugs.

Two statues were damaged and a dog leash was found around the neck of a statue of Mary. Vehicles parked at the church were also damaged.

Rajesh Modak, senior superintendent of police, told ucanews.com that Haider, a rickshaw puller, confessed to the crime. Modak said Haider attacked the church in a fit of rage after he was unable to meet a girl he was in love with.

“He was in love with a girl who used to come to the church on Saturday and for the last few days, he was not able to meet her. So out of anger, he committed the crime,” Modak said, adding that the faith of the girl is not known.

Local media reports suggested that the girl is a Christian.

Three others detained in connection with the crime have been released after questioning.

However, the Christian community has questioned the official explanation and demanded a thorough investigation.

“It is not possible that he would have done all the damage alone. The police version is not convincing. We want a separate independent inquiry into the matter,” Fr Savarimuthu Shankar, spokesperson of the Delhi archdiocese, told ucanews.com.

He and others accuse police of attempting to whitewash what they say is evidently part of a string of religious confrontations.

Since December, at least six churches in Delhi have been vandalized. Separately, a number of individuals have been attacked, including an elderly nun who was gang-raped in March.

Fr Dominic Emmanuel, a Christian leader, said that he, too, was skeptical of the official explanation.

Terming the police version “doubtful”, the priest said that a free and fair probe is needed into the matter.

Over a hundred Christian schools in 10 districts around state capital Lucknow closed their doors last Thursday in a protest called by the Uttar Pradesh Masihi (Christian) Association against the Agra church attack.

Sikh and Muslim leaders along with several churches, including the Methodist Church, Church of North India and Assembly of God Church joined the protest.

– ucan

Why are Malaysia’s Muslims so cross about a cross?

April 29, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-asia

CrossMalaysia, April 22, 2015: Over the last few years, we have seen an increase in incidents where pockets of protesters demonstrate against places of worship in Malaysia. Almost all of these protests are about non-Muslim places of worship. Of particular offense to people recently, seems to be the humble cross. It’s amazing that two simple bars, placed diagonally from each other, can cause this much rage.

A cross is used nearly universally as a multipurpose symbol: mathematical, scientific, architectural and biological. It is used to symbolize safety and health. It is used in half the flags and crests of European countries, sports clubs and royal houses. Everywhere else, people just see it as it is — a symbol. But somehow, somewhere along the line, some Malaysians have been taught to believe that the mere presence of the cross is enough shake their faith.

I am sorry, but even vampire movies have moved on from that premise. Have you seen Twilight? Modern vampires love garlic and have church weddings.

There seems to be a pattern every time an insensitive thing like this happens. A group of people who look like redneck hillbillies will draw badly spelt English slogans on mono-colored posters with marker pens and manila cards, rage for a few minutes in front of a building while shouting slogans and then move off, presumably to pat each other’s backs and enjoy a well-earned cup of teh tarik (milk tea).

Social media will be abuzz with “cross” jokes, comments about the protesters’ fashion sense, and a deluge of write-ups decrying the sad state of affairs that is now Malaysia. Politically inclined commentators would, of course, blame the other party for this state of affairs.

In the coming days, the media will be abuzz with comments about the demonstration. Typically there will be three types of comments by both politicians and non-governmental organizations (NGO).

The first would be the ambivalent, government-style answer:

“It’s an isolated incident.”

“This does not reflect the real state of affairs in Malaysia.”

“This is not the government’s stand.”

“Malaysia masih aman (still peaceful).”

The second would be the slightly more assertive, but still cautious type of requests for action:

“Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak should say something.”

“The police should investigate.”

“Action should be taken against the protesters.”

The third would be the downplaying type of comments:

“They mean no harm.”

“No one was hurt.”

“We have explained the issue.”

Then, depending on the backlash, there would be harmonious images of local leaders and representatives of religious bodies shaking hands and making up.

Crisis averted. Problem solved.

Really?

How many times must this scenario be played out before some assertive action is taken to ensure it does not repeat? Is it too much for law abiding, tax paying citizens to ask for the right to worship freely without the fear of people crucifying them to their own religious symbol?

Truth is Malaysians have become so desensitized to sensitive issues that tact and thoughtfulness now goes out the window. More sadly, it has been replaced with a crude form of crassness we call “dialogue”.

The danger of this trend is, with the moderates being pushed out of the conversation, and the mainstream discussion becoming increasingly radical, the day will come where the roles are reversed — what once was radical will be moderate and vice versa.

Then we really will have crossed a line.

Emmanuel Joseph works with IT projects in a Malaysian GLC. In his free time he juggles between NGOs and his part time law degree.

– the malaysian insider

New Islamic state video shows militants killing 30 Ethiopian Christians in Libya

April 29, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-world

Islamic State fightersLibya, April 23, 2015: “To the nation of the cross, we’re back again,” says a masked Islamic State (IS) fighter on a video posted on social media sites on Sunday (19 April), just before 30 Ethiopian Christians are brutally executed on screen. Their killings justified by their refusal to accept Islam or pay the humiliating jizya tax, 15 Ethiopian Christians are gruesomely beheaded on a Libyan beach and another 15 are shot in the back of the head in the Libyan desert.

The title of this latest video is “Until There Came to Them Clear Evidence”, a quote from the Quran (98:1) that says: “Those who reject (Truth) among the People of the Book and among the Polytheists, were not going to depart (from their ways) until there should come to them Clear Evidence”. The message of IS is clear: the killing of Christians who deny the “Clear Evidence” and refuse to accept Islam is upon their own head and therefore justified.

Denouncing Christianity as having deviated from true monotheism after the time of Christ, the 29-minute-long IS production begins with a history of the early church. Muslims believe that the Christian doctrine of the Trinity renders Christians “polytheists”. For Islamic State fighters, the penalty for the so-called deviation from the truth is subjugation (dhimma) or death.

The recorded voice of cleric Abu Malik Anas Al-Nashwan presents Christians with two options if they do they do not accept Islam. “Those who embrace Islam or jizya will be safe,” he says. An Islamic provision that subjugates Christians living in areas under Islamic rule, the payment of a jizya head tax allows them to live in the land and practice their religion, but always in the knowledge that they owe their very lives to those who rule over them.

If, however, Christians refuse to accept the dhimmi status offered to them through the jizya, they “will have nothing from us but the edge of the sword,” says Al-Nashwan. “The men will be killed, the women and children enslaved, and the money seized. That is Allah and the prophet’s judgment.”

The rest of the video is devoted to presenting the two possibilities offered to the world’s Christians. First, Christians living in Raqqa, Syria, are shown testifying to living in peace and holding onto their property after having paid the jizya. They claim that the Islamic courts set up by IS are able to deal with any matters that arise, and do not discriminate against them. They are heard urging fellow Christians to return to Raqqa and follow suit.

The scene then changes to Mosul, Iraq, where Christians refused to accept Islam or the dhimmi status. Images of fighters destroying churches and crosses flash across the screen. Al-Nashwan is heard saying that Caliph Ibrahim, as the leader of IS is known among his followers, decided to send Mosul’s Christians into exile rather than kill them, in a display of mercy. Their homes, however, are now in the possession of IS.

Finally, the video records the beheadings of 15 Christians, dressed in orange uniforms and lined up on a beach in Libya’s Barqa province, followed by the shooting of another 15, dressed in dark-coloured uniforms, in a desert in Libya’s southern Fezzan region. Rolling subtitles name the victims as “worshippers of the cross belonging to the hostile Ethiopian church”.

Reminiscent of a video posted in February this year in which 21 Egyptian Christians were beheaded on the Libyan coastline, the latest video threatens Christians all over the world. “We tell Christians everywhere that the Islamic State will spread, God willing,” says Al-Nashwan. “It will reach you even if you are in fortresses.” A masked militant warns believers everywhere, “We swear to Allah… you will not have safety even in your dreams until you embrace Islam”.

In response to the video, Ethiopia has said, “We strongly condemn such atrocities, whether they are Ethiopians or not.” Following the killings of Egyptian Christians earlier this year, Egypt has called on all migrant workers living in Libya to return home. Like Egypt, many Ethiopians live and work in Libya, their Christians extremely vulnerable to the spread of IS violence.

– barnabas

Self – Appraisal

April 9, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-miscellaneous

a young boy uses a public pay phoneA Little boy went to a telephone booth which was at the cash counter of a store and dialed a number. The store-owner observed and listened to the conversation:

Boy: “Madam, can you give me the job of cutting your lawn?”

Woman: ( at the other end of the phone line ) “I already have someone to cut my lawn.”

Boy: “Madam, I will cut your lawn for half the price than the person who cuts your lawn now.”

Woman: “I’m very satisfied with the person who is presently cutting the lawn.”

Boy: ( with more perseverance ) “Madam, I’ll even sweep the floor and the stairs of your house for free.”

Woman: “No, thank you.”

boy cleaning the lawnWith a smile on his face, the little boy put the receiver down. The store-owner, who was listening to all this, walked over to the boy.

Store-owner: “Son… I like your attitude; I like that positive spirit and would like to offer you a job.”

Boy: “No thanks.”

Store-owner: “But you were really pleading for one.”

Boy: “No Sir, I was just checking my performance at the job I already have. I am the one who is working for that lady I was talking to!”

This is called “Self-Appraisal”

Give your best and the world comes to you!

More Christians martyred today than in first century: Pope Francis

April 9, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-world

christian first century martyrsVatican City, April 7, 2015: The number of Christians being martyred today surpasses that of the first century, Pope Francis has said.

In his Regina Caeli prayers the Holy Father said: “Persecuted Christians are the martyrs of our time. May the international community not remain mute and inert in the face of this crime.”

Last week almost 150 Kenyan Christians were murdered by al-Shabaab terrorists at Garissa university. It is estimated that between 8,000 and 10,000 Christians are killed for their faith every year worldwide.

In his address, Pope Francis spoke about the meaning of Easter, saying: “In Him, through our Baptism, we are risen, we have passed from death to life, from the slavery of sin to the freedom of love.

“This is the Good News that we are called to carry to others in every environment, animated by the Holy Spirit. Faith in the resurrection of Jesus and the hope He has brought to us is the most beautiful gift that a Christian can and must offer his brothers and sisters.

“To one and all, therefore, do not tire of repeating: Christ is risen,” he urged the crowd, adding that the Good News of the resurrection should “shine on our face, in our feelings and in our behavior, in the way in which we treat others.

“We proclaim the resurrection of Christ when his light illuminates the dark moments of our existence, and we are able to share it with others; when we know when to smile with those who smile, and weep with those who weep; when we accompany those who are sad and at risk of losing hope; when we recount our experience of faith to those who are searching for meaning and happiness,” the pope said.

“And there — with our attitude, with our witness, with our life — we say ‘Jesus is Risen,’ with our soul. Let our lives be conquered and transformed by the resurrection.”

– the catholic herald

Buddhist hardliners attempt to storm archaeological site

April 9, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-asia

Balangoda archaeological siteColombo, April 7, 2015: Police and Buddhist protesters clashed in the town of Balangoda on Saturday after members of the hardline Sinhala Ravaya group demanded that an ancient Buddhist archaeological site be cleared of all Muslim structures.

Police fired water cannons at the protesters, who held their demonstration in spite of an injunction aimed at preventing further flare-ups at the historic Kuragala religious site.

Muslims and Buddhists are split on the site’s original purpose; it contains an ancient Sufi shrine and Arabic inscription dating back to the 10th century, but Buddhists maintain its original purpose was a monastery that dates back to the 2nd century BC. They have repeatedly called for the removal of newer mosques built on the site.

Magalkande Sudantha Thero, a monk and the convener of Sinhala Ravaya, said hundreds of protesters including dozens of monks were attempting to enter the rock temple to “remove illegal Muslim constructions”.

“We appealed to government officials to remove illegal constructions before April 4 but they ignored us. Therefore as Buddhist monks we have a right to protect Buddhism since this is a Buddhist country,” Sudantha Thero told ucanews.com.

According to Muslims, the cave is a holy meditation site of one of Islam’s greatest saints, Sheikh Mohiyadeen Abdul Qadir Jilani.

Sym Saleem Been, a member of the Dambulla Mosque committee, said Sinhala Ravaya’s demands were pointless. In 2012, Buddhist protesters firebombed and stormed the Dambulla mosque, claiming it was an illegal structure on a sacred Buddhist site.

“There is no Buddhist temple or even a Buddhist statue at Kuragala,” Been pointed out. “This beautiful ancient mosque remains in its current location and it holds great significance for Muslims all over the country.”

Tensions between Buddhists and Muslims have been rising in recent years amid outgrowth of radical Buddhist groups. Last June, four Muslims were killed and more than 150 people injured after the hardline Bodu Bala Sena launched attacks on Muslim majority coastal towns.

Also this week, Sinhala Ravaya called on the government to ban niqabs and burqas, saying the full-face coverings posed grave security risks.

The cabinet is working on a draft bill that would hand down harsh punishment for those found guilty of hate speech, particularly that which leads to violence.

– ucan

Next Page »