All posts filed under: z35

Credit: Giusi Barbiani/Flickr/Creative Commons

Meditation: A kind of hush

The other day I was sitting in the car waiting for my mother. Fall was upon us and through the pouring rain, the only real colour to be seen was in the leaves. The rest was mostly grey. Everything seemed so serene and a stillness came over me – a hush if you will. This scripture came to my mind: “But the Lord is in His holy temple; let all the earth hush and keep silence before him” (Habakkuk 2:20) These beautiful ‘hush’ moments usually come without notice, yet just when I need them. The noise and cares of the world can creep in and clutter my soul. Before long I am feeling unsettled and sadly like no one cares. The disciples felt similar emotions one night in a boat when a terrible storm occurred. Jesus was asleep then and the disciples came to him and said, ‘Teacher don’t you care if we drown?’ (Mark 4 :38) The bible says Jesus got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Hush be still’ …

Crosses near Budapest, Hungary Credit: Gyorgy Soponyai/Flickr/Creative Commons

Acts of faith in a foreign land — Naaman, Bieber and Pratt

There is a story in 2 Kings about Naaman (2 Kings 5:1-19), a general in the Aramean army. The Bible describes him as “a great man” (v 1) suggesting he was a national hero in Aram. But though a celebrity, he also had leprosy — a dreaded, disfiguring disease in that culture. Since leprosy was incurable, people were considered the living dead. But one day his servant girl, an Israelite captured during one of Naaman’s many raids, told her master about an Israeli prophet capable of curing a person of leprosy. When he tracked down the prophet, Elisha told Naaman he would be healed if he dunked himself seven times in the Jordan River. After kicking up a bit of a fuss, Naaman did as he was told and was instantly healed. Naaman offered Elisha gold and wealth for the healing, but the the prophet refused the generous gift. So instead Naaman asked Elisha for a gift. He wanted two mule loads of Israeli dirt so he could build an altar to the Lord back …

People lining up down the street and around the corner to attend a service at Hillsong NY. Photo: Carl Lentz/Instagram

And the darkness could not overcome the light

Carl Lentz is the pastor of a Hillsong church in New York City. This past week he shared a powerful photo on Instagram of people waiting to enter their church. On Sunday evening, people lined up to attend the first service, but when it filled to capacity, they stayed in a line that stretched around the street corner for two and a half hours waiting for the next service to start. Writing on Instagram to his 336,000 followers, Lentz states: “Last night, hundreds of people couldn’t get into our first service. So they waited two hours to be part of the “second” one… who know, perhaps someday soon we will have our own building. But I will never forget these days. Every meeting we have ever had, we have to rent a venue. Pay for it. And it’s never big enough! So waiting in a line, to get into an overcrowded room where you just might have to stand the whole time, becomes a normal thing. It’s literally a choice to be inconvenienced. The photo …

Shekel overlaid on a model of the Temple: Source Wikipedia/Juan R. Cuadra

Why did Jesus pay the Temple tax?

There is an interesting story in the Gospels involving Peter and the Temple tax collectors.  They had cornered the apostle and asked him if he and His Master — Jesus — paid the temple tax. Under pressure and in typical Peter fashion, he blurted out “yes” without thinking (Matthew 17:24-27). “Does your teacher not pay the [b]two-drachma tax?”25 He [Peter] said, “Yes.” (Matthew 17:24b-25 NASV) The priests had instituted a yearly tax for the temple of two drachma (half shekel). It was patterned after similar taxes paid in the Old Testament. Moses instituted a half shekel sanctuary tax to help fund the tabernacle (Exodus 30:12-13). However this tax was only collected when Israel performed a national census. There was also a one third shekel tax instituted annually for the temple in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah (Nehemiah 10:32; Ezra 6:8). But this was a voluntary contribution from the people while the Exodus tax had the authority of Moses behind it. So priests merged these two ideas together — taking the half Shekel tax from Exodus …

Fall sunset over Zurich, Switzerland. Photo: Werner_B/Flickr/Creative Commons

Swiss agency reports large numbers of Muslims converting to Christ

It’s happening all across Europe — Germany, England, Austria — Muslims are turning to Christ by the thousands. Despite all that is happening, the Holy Spirit is moving. The latest country added to that list is Switzerland. According to Switzerland’s Counselling Center for Integration and Religious Affairs (CCIRA), since 2004 over 2,000 Muslim refugees have become Christians. And it does not appear that the conversion rates will be slowing down any time soon. The ones turning to Christ are mostly Kurds and Afghans. In an interview with a Swiss TV news program, 20 Minutes, CCIRA coordinator Kathrin Anliker said a couple of factors are at play here. First Muslims are increasingly horrified by the brutality of extremists in the Middle East. Just recently a Sharia court in ISIS controlled Mosul, Iraq ordered nine young men to be publicly executed. According to reports, ISIS accused the nine of being members of a resistance movement.  The court ordered the men be tied to iron posts then cut in half with a chain saw. Secondly, Anliker noticed that some of the refugees had …

Model of Herod's Temple at the Israel Museum. Photo: Berthold Werner/Wikipedia

What will Israel’s third temple look like?

An interesting article on Breaking Israel News (BIN) recently caught my attention. I have reported previous how some Orthodox Jews in Israel are preparing for the construction of a third Temple – the first one being Solomon’s temple and the second built by King Herod that was in place during Jesus’s day and destroyed in 70 AD. A group of Orthodox based in Israel found the The Temple Institute (TTI) in 1987 to prepare for the construction of a third temple. TTI has already made a number of temple utensils (including a massive altar), ordered architectural drawings for a new temple and even started a school to train priests in how to make sacrifices. Their desire to build a third temple is based in part on an Old Testament prophecy found in Ezekiel. In a vision, God carries the Prophet Ezekiel to a future temple that is not remotely similar to either of the two temples previously constructed (Ezekiel 40). This leads some to conclude that God intends to have a third temple built. However, …

Mount Ranier Photo: .aditya./Flickr/Creative Commons

Every senior needs a mountain

One of the powerful statements in the Old Testament were the words Caleb uttered as he entered the promised land under Joshua. This was the second time he had been at the edge of the land of milk and honey. The first had been under Moses, when Caleb and Joshua were among 12 men chosen to spy out the land God promised Israel. While the other spies returned with tales of giants and impenetrable walled cities, Caleb and Joshua believed they could take the land with God’s help. But the doubters won the day and Israel wandered around the desert for over 40 years until all the “negative Nellies” had died off. As Israel was poised to enter the land a second time, Caleb, now age 84, reminded Joshua of the land God had promised Caleb and his family saying: 12 Now therefore give me this mountain… (Joshua 14:12 KJV) Ever since he first spied out the land, Caleb had a vision, a sense of purpose, a goal – that this hill country would one day …

Market Church in Wiesbaden, Germany. Photo: Kay Gaensler/Flickr/Creative Commons

Muslim refugees in Germany threaten ‘impure’ Christians

According to an article on Breitbart, Christians in Germany’s migrant housing are being forced to hide their faith due to intimidation and death threats by Muslims. At a recent Frankfurt news conference, Mahin Mousapour said that Christians purposefully hide their crosses and Bibles to avoid hate attacks by Muslims. Mousapour is from Iran. A former Muslim, she became a Christian over 25 years ago  and now pastors Persian Father House, an Evangelical Free church in Frankfurt. Fearing reprisal, refugees tell people in their complex that they are only visiting friends when attending her church. Ms Mousapour was joined at the news conference by politician Erika Steinbach who serves as a member of the Bundestag. It is a German equivalent of the U.S. House of Representatives or Canada and England’s House of Commons. Mousapour said Muslims tell Christians that they are “impure as a dog” adding: “Toys of Christian children are being destroyed. Christian asylum seekers are told to not only wash their dishes after eating, but also they must clean the entire kitchen as it would otherwise be ‘unclean’.” …

When it isn't eating nuts and berries, this Finch transforms into a vampire. Photo: Vampire Finch/Peter Wilton/Wikipedia

Why animals became carnivores: Vampire finches

In my earlier post, I wrote on Dr. Joel Berger’s study that showed a prey’s natural fear of predators is not instinctive but rather a learned behaviour. If there are no carnivores around, the animals had little fear of predators compared to those existing in areas with many natural enemies. The prophet Isaiah spoke of a day when the lion would lie with the lamb (Isaiah 11:6-9). The lamb would have no fear of the lion because it eats vegetation. Since Isaiah saw this as part of the new heaven and new earth (Isaiah 65: 17, 25), many have concluded that at creation, animals were not created as carnivores.  It was also a learned behaviour. So what happened to change the natural order of life as God intended it? The Apostle Paul explains it this way: “For the creation was subject to futility, not willingly, 
but because of Him who subjected it in hope
That the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
For we know that …

The Dead Sea Photo: Daniel Godwin/Flickr/Creative Commons

Is Ezekiel’s prophecy about the Dead Sea coming to life?

At 429 meters below sea level, the Dead Sea is the lowest land spot on earth. And as its name suggests due to its salt density (nearly 10 times denser than the ocean), nothing is able to live in the water. This includes fish and other aquatic life. It doesn’t even have plant life along its shore because of the layers of salt. The sea which is 50 kms long borders Israel, Palestine and Jordan. It is a popular Mediterranean tourist destination, and due to the water’s density, people float more than swim in its water. Because of its high mineral concentrations, many believe its water and mud have medicinal qualities. Apparently, even King Herod the Great had a health spa of sorts along its shores. The Bible talks about the Dead Sea a few times. The first is found in Genesis 14:3. But perhaps one of the stranger mentions is an end-time prophecy by Ezekiel that one day the Dead Sea will come back to life. Its dead putrid waters will be healed. 8 Then …

Another media report of Muslims turning to Christ in significant numbers, this time in Stoke-on-Trent, England. Photo: Stoke-on-Trent, Futurilla/Flickr/Creative Commons

Media reports Muslims turning to Christianity in England

I have written several articles on Muslims converting to Christianity in unprecedented numbers. Stories tell of Muslims turning to Christ after Jesus appeared to them in dreams, a fulfillment of Joel 2:28. In Iran, thousands are becoming Christians despite the fear of persecution when they make that decision. And now with the recent influx of hundreds of thousands of Muslims into Europe, several secular media report that thousands of Muslims — many fed up with the violence of the extremists — are becoming Christians across Europe. Now we can add England to this list. A prominent English newspaper, The Guardian wrote a curious article on what is happening at Church of St. Mark in Stoke-on-Trent, England. The story stated that one recent Saturday morning, 15 Muslim refugees were baptized in the church. Rev Sally Smith who serves as the church’s vicar, says that three to four Muslims turn to Christianity weekly. According to the article, part of the reason for the growth is that the church is supplying the refugees assistance in the form of …