Month: May 2018

Palestine Credit: rainwiz/Flickr/Creative Commons

Who belongs in Palestine — Jews or Muslims?

When we talk of Palestine, we immediately think of the Palestinians, a group of Muslims, who are fighting to be recognized as a separate nation. Israel has basically opposed this initiative for one simple reason — one of the leading political groups in Palestine, Hamas, stated in its 1988 covenant that one of its goals is the annihilation of Israel: “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it” (The Martyr, Imam Hassan al-Banna, of blessed memory).” Israel is unwilling to accept Palestine as nation until they are willing to accept Israel as a nation. But what does the word Palestine refer to? Most believe it was a word the Roman developed to describe the ancient Philistines who have have since disappeared. Based on this belief, modern Palestinians have claimed this area as their homeland. However, modern scholarship is challenging this notion. There is strong evidence that the word Palestine was originally used to refer to Israel, not the Philistines. In an article published …

Credit: Tamara Leaver/Flickr/Creative Commons

Unlocking your future

In his letter to the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul wrote: 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:19 NIV) It is a powerful verse when we understand that we are God’s handiwork, literally God’s work of art. But the kicker here is that there are things, good works, that God has prepared and called you to do. The tense of the Greek word prepared (proetoimasen) means that the decision about what God wants you to do was made long before (well in advance of)  your salvation. God has a long-term plan for your life. When you look in the Old Testament, you see examples of this. The prophet Isaiah understood that God had called him to a prophetic ministry while Isaiah was still in the womb: Listen to me, you islands;     hear this, you distant nations: Before I was born the Lord called me;     from my mother’s womb he has spoken my name. 2 He made my mouth like a …

Credit: Joe Bustillos/Flickr/Creative Commons

Is God beginning to move in the music industry?

A couple of different stories caught my attention this past week, though unrelated, they both have a God connection. The first involved an article on Christian Post (CP) about this year’s American Idol where the final five performers in the singing competition are all Christians. And they are anointed as well and this is not just my opinion, but that of the American Idol judges. Though Michael Woodward did not move on to the final three, his song “Still I Arise” very much affected the judges. Pop superstar Katy Perry who was in tears before Woodward’s song was finished said, “I mean, you’re anointed. I thought I had my emotions removed. It’s so beautiful what I just saw between you and your mother.” Fellow judge Lionel Ritchie echoed the comments added, “You are anointed, my friend.” Woodward comes from a Christian home where his grandmother and mother both impacted him spiritually. According to CP, his mother, Wanda, has a Christian program that she broadcasts weekly live on Facebook.  And his grandmother raised Michael on Gospel …

Credit: EBCanon/Flickr/Creative Commons

Your Money and the Church – Part 3

Here is one of the best secrets for managing your generosity and giving of money: Don’t. If you spend any time among religious people, you will be asked for money. When I go to church on Sunday, there is always an offering, a time when all other business stops and the ushers collect money from us. I have lived with this all my life and I have an acquired immunity, but some people who come with me are offended and disoriented. What will God think about them if they don’t give enough? So, don’t give. The exercise will be good for you. Yesterday I was walking in the mall. It’s not really my place but I had a meeting with someone. At an intersection in the walkways, I saw a display booth with two young women looking hopeful. They represented one of those Christian charities that sponsor children and they were looking for sponsors. I won’t name the organization, but there are several and they do very good work. What bothered me was all the …

Youth Park, Bucharest, Romania Credit: Sorin Mutu/Flickr/Creative Commons

Seeing our reflection in others

Just before we shut the TV off a few nights ago, we watched a few minutes of Les Miserables, the story of Jean Valjean. In the last scene as he enters heaven, Jean, reminded of the mercy shown him by an old priest, sings: “to love another person is to see the face of God.” Those words challenged me to look further into what this means and in my mind I have tied this to judging.  God commands us to not judge others or we will be judged. In His sermon on the mount, Jesus said: 7 “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. 2 For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. (Matthew 7:1-2 NASV) The message Jesus was delivering is that we are all the same.  We are all created in the image of God, but after the fall of man we all have that same ugly, sinful nature. We are no different from the person we are …

Freshwind Band at Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in March 2008 where the Toronto Revival broke out. Source: andrewgazaneo artwork by Sarah M Gazeno/Wikipedia/Creative Commons

Justin Bieber’s mom Pattie Mallette ‘Travailing in the Spirit’?

Pattie Mallette may not be a familiar name to most of us, but her pop star son, Justin Bieber, is a household name in many parts of the world. In earlier articles, I have written about the remarkable spiritual transformation taking place in Justin’s life. Dale Hurd writing for Christ for All Nations tells the story about Pattie’s spiritual journey. Incredibly, it started at the Toronto revival, also called the Toronto Blessing, that broke out in a Vineyard Church in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in January 1994. The church originally called Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship has since been renamed Catch the Fire Toronto and is pastored by John and Carol Arnott. Pattie shared her journey to faith at the 2018 Light the Fire Again conference held at the same building, the Attwell Center, where the Toronto revival broke out. In the early 1990s, Pattie became a Christian in a hospital room shortly after a failed suicide attempt. She was led to the Lord and mentored by a couple who attended the Vineyard church where the revival …

Volcanic column of smoke on Hawaii's Big Island taken May 7, 2018 Credit: macprohawaii/US Geological Survey/Flickr/Public Domain

A near asteroid hit and volcanic eruption on Hawaii: Apocalyptic shots across the bow?

During the 18th century, if a naval ship was unable to recognize an oncoming vessel it would fire a warning shot in the general direction of the ship. Under the law of the sea, the ship receiving the shot was expected to hoist its flag so it could be recognized and respond with a shot of its own. It was form of rudimentary communication between ships. With modern communications equipment, the shot across the bow has taken on a more ominous tone. When naval vessels, such as the coast guard, are pursuing another vessel, they will perform a shot across the bow typically in front of the ship telling it to stop. The shot demonstrates that the fleeing ship is within range, sighted and more importantly the pursuing ship is willing to go the next step if it does not come to heel. One has to ask if the world just received a shot across the bow. According to the Bible’s apocalyptic literature, the end times will be marked by massive asteroids slamming into the …

Credit: Andrei Niemimäki/Flickr/Creative Commons

Don’t fear your mistakes

Several years back I was working on a small newspaper. We had just sent our most recent issue to the printer and the finished product had just arrived and someone brought a copy to my office. The typo on the front page was the first thing I saw when it landed on my desk. I don’t know how many times we had proofed that issue, but a mistake had somehow slipped through. And there it was glaring at me. Though it was years back I still remember the distinctive purple color that accentuated this particular cover. The last place you want to see a mistake is on the cover. After looking at it for several minutes, those feelings that had haunted me for years started welling up inside me. I needed to punish myself and say how stupid I was for allowing this mistake to happen. I didn’t think these thoughts, I said them out loud. Typically I yelled at myself how stupid I was when these type of things happened. I wanted to take …

The Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci (1452-1519) Credit: Wikipedia

Are Apostles for today?

We have leaders today who refer to themselves as Apostles. Some even add the term as part of their title. It was part of the five key ministries that Paul listed as necessary for building the church: 11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; (Ephesians 4:11-12 NASV) Traditionally non charismatic churches or cessationists have opposed the usage of ministries such as apostles and prophets and even spiritual gifts. Also called dispensationalism, those holding this view believed these ministries and spiritual gifts were for another dispensation, and not for today. It has always been a bit puzzling why ministries such as prophets and apostles were rejected while pastors, teachers and evangelists were embraced even though the five are listed together. However, that all changed with the Revival that took place in North Battleford, Saskatchewan Canada in 1948 where they rejected dispensationalism and restored …

Credit: Bernard Forand/Flickr/Creative Commons

Your Money and the Church – Part 2

Did you know that you are lazy? And me too, I can be included in that number. The basic nature of the human race is to always look for the easy way out, the softest cushion. We all have that affliction from childhood, and if you have learned to work hard, congratulations for resisting. Have you noticed how words like ‘luxury’ go with words like ‘ease’ and ‘relax?’ We don’t earn, we don’t learn, and we don’t manage, if we can find the couch first. That monster lives in all of us somewhere. The popular picture of success is doing nothing like some ancient European aristocrat supported by an army of serfs, and not a brave person climbing mount Everest with a gritty expression on their face. Did you also know that your life is a project, your family is a business and your church is a consortium? Everything requires diligent management. According to the Bible: “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!” (Proverbs 6:6) If ants could speak to …

Credit: Camilla Carlstrom/Flickr/Creative Commons

The judging stone

I recently attended a funeral for a friend of ours and I found out something about Bill I had never known before. About 40 years ago his wife first accepted Christ and her transformation brought Bill to a place of decision in his own life. But after becoming a Christian, he became very judgemental of family and friends. But, that all changed when one day he read a story from the Gospels. In the account, the Pharisees brought to Jesus a woman caught in adultery. They asked Christ if she should be stoned for her sin according to the law of Moses. Christ responded: “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” – John 8:7 (NIV) After reading this, Bill went into their backyard, picked up a stone and put it in his pocket. He carried that stone with him for 38 years as a reminder that he had a sinful nature and could not cast the first stone of judgement.  I can picture him grabbing that stone whenever …

Despite living on a planet with 7.6 billion people, many still feel alone. Credit: Xynn Tii/Flickr/Creative Commons

Survey reveals the Gen Z generation is the loneliest group of people on earth

Earlier this month, Cigna, a global health company, released data it received based on a poll it conducted in February and March this year. Cigna wanted to find out how lonely people were and asked 20,000 Americans over the age of 18 a series of questions based on a 20-question loneliness scale developed by UCLA. This included questions asking if they had anyone to turn to or if the respondents felt like they were part of a group of friends. Based on their response, they were ranked between 20 (least lonely) to 80 (most lonely). When analyzing by age groups, Cigna discovered that the loneliest people on the planet were those referred to a Generation Z (between the ages of 18 to 22) who ranked 48. The least lonely were those over the age of 72 who scored 39. As an age-group, Generation Z was on par with another group, single parents, who despite having children similarly scored 48 in terms of loneliness. The average score for all Americans surveyed was 44 and revealed as …

An Israeli sunset Credit: Israel Nature Photographers/Flickr/Creative Commons

Does an ancient archaeological discovery tell us something about ‘spiritual warfare’?

There is a strange story in the Old Testament talking about a battle that took place between Israel and Moab. Found in 2 Kings 3, we are told that Israel had the kingdom of Moab in subjection. As a vassal, the Moabites paid an annual tax to Israel of 100,000 lambs and the wool from 100,000 sheep. The reason was obvious, we are told that Mesha, the King of Moab, was a breeder of sheep (verse 3) and had obviously developed a unique breed that was in demand. By this time, Israel had split apart into two nations, Samaria (Israel) and Judah. King Ahab of Israel had just died and King Mesha decided this was an opportune time to break free from Israel’s domination. Undoubtedly, Israel became aware of the problem when Mesha refused to pay the tribute. So Jehoram, the new King of Israel contacted King Jehoshaphat of Judah and an unnamed King of Edom to help Jehoram bring Moab back into submission. Obviously, it was in everyone’s best interest to keep Moab under …

Credit: Ajith Kumar/Flickr/Creative Commons

Did being caught up to Paul’s ‘Third Heaven’ lead to a miraculous recovery for brain dead teen?

The media describes him as the “Miracle Boy” from Mobile, Alabama. Two months ago, Trenton McKinley, 13, was in a trailer being pulled by a dune buggy when the person driving slammed on the brakes forcing the trailer to flip. They were driving on cement and Trenton was thrown out and the trailer landed on his head. Unconscious, he was rushed to hospital. By the time his mother, Jennifer Reindl, arrived, her son had been dead for 15 minutes. His heart kept stopping and they were rebooting it using adrenaline. According to Fox News, the doctors gave Trenton little hope adding that even if he came out of the coma he would be a vegetable because of oxidation. The only thing keeping him alive was life support. After going several days of registering no brain activity, the doctors finally told Jennifer there was nothing more that could be done. If his heart stopped again, they would not use adrenaline to restart it. One Saturday a few weeks back, the doctors told Jennifer they would keep …

Church in rural England Credit: Peter Smithson/Flickr/Creative Commons

Your Money and the Church – Part 1

No one likes their first job, or at least we can complain about it later, when we learn how the world really works. I have my own horror story. Just when I turned 18, almost on my birthday, I started my first real job. I left high school early and started working in January, in a cold winter, with short days and not much sunlight. I was hired to drive a small truck for a parts department in a shop that repaired construction equipment. Every morning I got up early, ate something in a bowl, and hurried to a bus stop. The bus took me to a remote suburb, and then I walked several blocks and crossed a busy road into an industrial area, and after more walking, I hurried into my workplace to punch the time clock. Then I did janitorial work and drove the truck when ordered, and I hardly knew how to drive. Travel to and from work, on the bus, was in darkness for weeks, and the weather was severely cold. …

Blind burrowing mole rats find evidence of King David’s reign

With the help of burrowing mole rats, archaeologists have found more evidence of King David’s reign. When the moles dig into the ground, they deposit the unearthed dirt around their hole and archaeologists will sift through this dirt to see what lies deeper down. It was just such mounds that led to the discovery of the ancient city of Eglon, 30 miles south of Jerusalem, by Dr. Faust Yair Sapir of Bar-Ilan University. Mentioned in Joshua, it was one of five Amorite cities that formed a league to resist Israel. The cities were defeated and Eglon was incorporated into the Tribe of Judah. As they began their archaeological dig of the 15 acre site, they discovered evidence of its original Canaanite roots including a pottery bowl the Canaanites offered to their gods to protect their buildings. This along with radio carbon dating of coal and olive pits dated the original building to the 12th century BC. Then they noticed the building was later rebuilt into a design unique to ancient Jews consisting of a courtyard …

Credit: iacovibus/Flickr/Creative Commons

More than Trust

‘Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. (Psalm 143:8 NIRV) I was reading this scripture one morning and found it interesting the words ‘trust’ and ‘entrust’ were both in this verse. This sent me on a little word study. The following definitions are from Collins English Dictionary: Trust – reliance on and confidence in the truth,worth,reliability of a person or thing; faith Entrust – to put into the care or protection of someone. I am familiar with learning to trust, but to entrust some situations or people completely into God’s care, is a bit more of a challenge for me. Entrust is an active verb. For example, I will entrust (put) you into God’s total care. It no longer belongs to me but to God. I release myself, the situation, or the person completely. However, I found there is a key to doing this. I must know God’s character; that …

The Black Church of Buoakirkja in Iceland Credit: David Soldano/Flickr/Creative Commons

How to argue with a “New Atheist”

A few years ago, a man I knew was diagnosed with cancer. He was older than me, and I think his health was not good. The cancer doctors used very aggressive treatments and his tumour began to shrink. His friends, including me, were happy about this because it seemed like he was going to beat the cancer. Then the bad news came. The treatment for cancer was so severe, it was killing him. The doctors were forced to stop the treatment to save his life, and the tumor started growing again. He knew he would die from the cancer, and he went to a hospice for palliative care, which means he went to a specialized hospital, and waited to die. And the end of his story is; he did die, after a few weeks. The palliative care unit was close to where I worked and I made a few lunch-time visits. He had visits from family members in the evenings. On my lunchtime work schedule, I had to walk several blocks and I could only …

Christian NBA star Jeremy Lin Credit: Christian/Flickr/Creative Commons

If God was willing to use Samson, the Lord will use you despite your imperfections

I have thought of writing this story for a while, and when I saw an article on a Christian NBA basketball star Jeremy Lin, I was inspired to write it. For those who don’t know, Jeremy Lin, 29, plays for the Brooklyn Nets in the NBA. He has been an all-star basket ball player throughout much of his career and is the first NBA player of Chinese or Taiwanese descent. He has always floated under the radar. He was undrafted and came out of nowhere during New York Knicks’s 2012 season. The Knicks were having a terrible year and the coach was contemplating cutting Lin who had not seen any significant playing time. But after repeated losses and injuries to players, the coach decided to play Lin who stormed off the bench and many argue single handily turned the Knicks’s 2012 season around. When Jeremy scored 38 points in a game in February 2012, in an interview with ESPN NBA star Kobe Bryant said: “Players playing that well don’t usually come out of nowhere. It …