Author: smcintos

News from the South Pacific: The brothers and sisters that we might miss

It’s not all about us. There are many cultures and languages in the world, and Christians have many brothers and sisters, in many places. The way we think and act is not the only right way. One overlooked region is the South Pacific. People in those regions think and speak, and sing, about what matters to them. It is interesting to learn how our brothers and sisters tell us about the most important things. I hope we are open-minded enough to appreciate them.

The Spiritual Life of Turkey

For a generation, Turkey has been governed by conservative Muslims, who want to revive the old religion. For decades before that, the nation was officially secular and religion was excluded from government. That changed about twenty years ago. The return-to-religion plan has been very successful, except for one thing; teenagers don’t like it. In time, children grow to be adults, and soon the new generation will be the majority. That new generation has a very different culture from official government policy. The generation raised to be pious in the old religion has its own ideas. READ: Turks Examine Their Muslim Devotion After Poll Says Faith Could Be Waning

The New Climate Religion

Climate activists have strong ideas about how the world will end, if we don’t change our ways. They also have new ideas for people to learn, and documents that they use to support their arguments. In theology, that is eschatology (end times), catechism (beliefs), and scriptures (respected writings). That means a belief system about the Earth’s climate is becoming a religion, something to believe in by faith. The old saying is “Man is incurably religious.” READ: The Religion of Climatism

No God in Antarctica?

An old Sailor’s proverb is; south of the fortieth parallel there is no law, and south of the fiftieth there is no God. Only a few people live on the icy continent of Antarctica, south of the fortieth parallel, and the whole economy is scientific research. That tiny population, living in temporary dormitories, is one place where I wouldn’t expect to find people worshipping God. Maybe it’s a surprise, but people always reach out to God, on any continent. The worship of God in Antarctica is a picture of people anywhere. READ: God in a cold climate

Happiness in Azerbaijan, a good lesson for us all

Can you find Azerbaijan on a map? It’s east of Turkey and north-west of Iran, or the Internet will show you. It’s a small country with more than ninety-nine percent Muslim and the remainder are Armenians who identify as Christians, so Christians are a tiny minority in the general population. We might expect stress and fear among that Christian minority, but some of them have a reason to be happy. They show that happiness or joy comes from God, and not from the surrounding circumstances. We should learn from them.

What it costs to be happy

Something happened in our terrible virus pandemic, and it made some people happy. A grandmother survived and recovered from a virus infection. It’s good to see the smiles and the relief on peoples faces when they talk about this. Their happiness came from the simplest thing and it they didn’t need to be rich and famous. I call this the goodness of God, for ordinary people, and it’s a good lesson in happiness.

How good are you, really?

Your mother told you to be good, and so did your father. It turns out, goodness, also known as virtue, is complicated. A skilled teacher can tell us how to be good, but then we have to make the decisions and act on what we know. The Bible says we are without excuse and it is clear that we can know the right thing. But, knowing is the easy part. Human history shows that we have problems with doing. My way to find God was to ask for help with doing. I wanted to be more than educated, but the knowledge was a good start. READ: Virtue Ethics

Israel and Egypt: The future does not look good

While the whole world is focusing on the Coronavirus Pandemic, there is other news. Some interesting things are happening in the world, and there are lessons that we could miss. As I write this, Muslims are in their month of Ramadan which according to the information I have runs this year from April 23 to May 23. About 1.8 billion people are counted as Muslim, and this year’s Ramadan is complicated with the restrictions of a pandemic lock down. A few years ago, I worked as a trainer for a bus company, and that meant I drove a school bus when a driver phoned in sick; and someone always phoned in. One morning I drove some children for a bilingual Arabic-English program, so they were from immigrant families from the Middle East. I heard two little girls talking behind me, about ‘those people’ which meant people like me. One little girl said “and they don’t have Ramadan!” They both seemed shocked by this information. That was a lesson for me; these people take their beliefs …

You are being watched, and no secret is safe

One consequence of the Coronavirus Pandemic is increased surveillance over people. In the name of public safety, we are being watched closely. The government in this story is in the state of Israel. The reporters don’t like Israel, and they are probably saying that resistance to that government won’t be easy now. The lesson for us all is that our lives can be watched and recorded. We are only safe if good people, in honest governments, choose to treat us fairly. The power to oppress us is available now and only human kindness can save us; or the power of God to protect us. READ: ‘Slippery slope’: Israel draws flak over coronavirus surveillance

Cherry blossoms in spring, and terrible people

We should do the right thing, and we should not do the wrong thing. That is true, but human nature doesn’t always agree. People can do things that are just plain wrong, for no logical reason. Jesus told us about that; clear instructions are good, but people need to be changed on the inside. In Toronto, a city locked down for the Coronavirus Pandemic, the blossoming cherry trees are restricted for safe viewing; and climbing into them around midnight, to drink beer, is wrong. It’s also not too bright to do that in front of the security cameras. The human race needs reformation. READ: High Park Cherry Blossom Webcam capture people climbing trees in the middle of the night

Pentecostals: Feeling the pressure in Belarus

Belarus is a Russian-speaking country located between Poland and Russia. Like any county in that part of Europe, it has an interesting history, including wars and invasions. The majority identify with Slavic Orthodox churches, and recently the government restricted Pentecostal Christians. The instructions are clear ‘Do not pray in tongues! Only pray in Russian!’ I’m not sure how the authorities will enforce this, and it’s not clear why they need this rule. People who pray in Pentecostal churches are usually harmless. Where I live, they are a good influence in the community. READ: Crack Down on Pentecostals in Belarus

The new world that we can’t see

Iran is often in the news. That country was one of the first outside of China to have an outbreak of the Coronavirus, and we all heard the stories. Other news about Iran is often hidden, but many things are happening in that nation. Reports are coming from Iran that changes have already happened in that society, on a huge scale. Recently, top government leaders have begun to admit that people are changing in their society. When the government secrecy is removed, I think the world will be surprised by the new Iran. READ: Iranian official: mass conversions ‘are happening right under our eyes’

World changes that we never imagined: Indonesia

One hundred and thirty million is a huge number. That is one estimate of the people in Indonesia who will make a radical change in their lives in the next decade. This is only one estimate, but change is coming to one of the largest countries in the world. This is a news story that is mostly ignored, but the world is changing around us. Change is uncomfortable for powerful people, but humans always think and act, and we should know that changes are coming. READ: Millions Secretly ‘Turn To Christ’ In Indonesia

Religious Arguments: When you are just not good enough

I’m a Christian and I know what that means. I know, but most of the world seems to know what I should be. Whatever you believe, other people will try to make you into what they want you to be. You might hear ‘You people should …’ They have a preferred image for people like you and you are wrong if you don’t do follow the program. Unmarried marriage counsellors don’t play the game, but they do make the rules. When I was a student in a university, I took a course from a professor that we all liked. He was an excellent teacher, and we all enjoyed learning with him. He also talked openly about his connections with a church, and my family went to a church; I thought we had something in common. One day I had an appointment in his office, and after we finished talking about my assignment, I told him that my family went to … church. I expected a smile, at least. I still remember that severe look on …

North Korea: Hidden news from a secret place

The news is not always the whole story. Many things are happening in the world that are not reported. Some stories might be considered uninteresting, or some information might be hidden from us by people who want to protect themselves. News from North Korea is rare. South Korea has many active Christians, and they are very concerned about the other half of their nation. The efforts to communicate with North Koreans about spiritual things, are mostly secret. The Communist government in the north is officially Atheist, and violently opposed to any spiritual message that comes across the border. READ: How are Bibles getting into North Korea?

News from China: The ‘spirit’ of the Hong Kong protests

Before the Coronavirus outbreak, we might have heard stories in the news about China and Hong Kong. There were many stories about demonstrations and violence in the streets, and even some reports about the protest movement spreading to other parts of China. Those stories mostly disappeared from the news when the virus outbreak took over the news. The protest movement in Hong Kong, and in other parts of China is still active. One of the surprising facts is that the protests in Hong Kong are not led by extreme political radicals. Many of the leaders, and the ‘spirit’ comes from Christians who are coming under the control of Communist Atheists who want to end all religion. READ: ‘Christian Spirit’ Flows Through Hong Kong Protests: A Conversation with the Guardian Spirit of Joshua Wong

The Coronavirus: Were We Warned?

Nostradamus was a French predictor, possibly a prophet who said something about a “twin year” when life would change for the whole Earth. I am no expert on the writings of Nostradamus, but I know he lived almost five hundred years ago. If he told us something about a pandemic in our time, we should pay attention. One big problem with the writings of Nostradamus is that they are cryptic, like a puzzle. It is possible to say now, that he wrote about something in our times. It is also possible to interpret what he said in some other way. If Nostradamus was a prophet, he did not communicate clearly to us so that we could hear his warnings, and protect ourselves. A warning that we don’t understand until after the event is mostly a curiosity. READ: Nostradamus ‘There will be a twin year’ prediction: Did Nostradamus predict coronavirus?: Express And then there is Bill Gates. He is a wealthy man who seems to be concerned about the welfare of his fellow humans. With his …

How do we worship God now?

How do you feel about this? The practice of any religion, in a place with other people, has become dangerous. Can we stay faithful in isolation? One dangerous activity is singing in a group. Christians have some hard choices to make in a pandemic lockdown. How do we worship God now? READ: Police arrest Florida pastor for holding church services despite stay-at-home order READ: Rodney Howard-Browne Closes Church, Addresses ‘False Statements’ About His Arrest READ: The US churches and pastors ignoring ‘stay-at-home’ orders

Where did it come from?

Is the coronavirus a human creation, or did we discover something that we can’t control? We can heap the blame on China, or we can admit that humans from anywhere can destroy this world. Jesus told us “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened” (Matthew 24:22). Many voices are blaming the communist government of China for the Coronavirus pandemic. Other governments are also being accused of responding slowly. This news report is an example of a clear and articulate accusation aimed at the government of China. The underlying story is that we humans can destroy ourselves, unless God restrains us.

That Little Boy Who Prayed

There is a picture, and a story on the Internet, about a six-year-old boy in Peru who prayed to God, about the Coronavirus pandemic, in the middle of a street. From the story, the boy wanted to pray, but his home was too noisy, so he went outside and prayed in the quiet street. I am skeptical about two things, but the boys’ story is a good one. Jesus did say “Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3) That boy can teach the world something. I am skeptical about the claim that this story has gone viral. It is being circulated by one denomination, the Roman Catholic Church, and probably most of the readers are in that group. But then here we are; I’m not Catholic, and we are taking the story to the wider world. Maybe it really will go viral. It should. I am also skeptical about the picture. The camera angle, the boy’s pose, and the street lighting all look like …

Rap for Jesus?

Rap for Jesus? Who knew? Some Rap musicians are sincere followers of Jesus, and we should not be surprised that they are making some new Christian worship music. Jesus told us “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Mathew 12:34)

People want to know what God is saying

Do you feel like we’re living at the end of the world, or the beginning of the end? How do know God when the world is falling apart? Sometimes the news looks like the book of Revelation. Predictions about the end of this age and the beginning of a new one seem to be happening. In a world-wide viral pandemic, people want to know what God says about history. READ: Why religious apocalyptic texts can offer us solace during the coronavirus crisis

Controversy reveals startling truth about Christianity’s growth in Africa

Most Christians in western countries don’t know that there is another world out there. God is working in the whole world. Some Nigerian pastors in mega churches are being criticized, and it’s easy to focus on the criticism and miss the sheer size of their work. They wouldn’t be noticed by the critics if they didn’t have millions of followers. We are living in a time of Christian ‘future shock.’ There are some things we should know about Africa. Christians in countries like Nigeria are spreading their influence around the world. Christians in Africa numbered about nine million in 1900, and today they are about 380 million. READ: Letter from Africa: The power of religion The world is changing around us.

Even the Chinese don’t trust their communist overlords

Did you know, Christians have a future in China? They already outnumber the Communist Party. According to researchers, Christians in China already outnumber the members of the national Communist Party and their numbers are growing. The count does not include Christians who are afraid to identify themselves because they fear persecution. The number of Christians is probably higher than the official count. READ: China will become the most Christian nation in the world