Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The fine balance of conviction and cooperation. Some thoughts on Galatians 2: 1-2 (Pastor's Notes)

Pastor's notes for Sunday 26 June 2011

To read click HERE

MY copy of "The Berglass Effects" has arrived

My copy of "The Berglass effects" arrived this morning. That's my own very early Christmas present :-)
It is taking a lot of discipline not to read it now as I have a lot on my plate that is of a much higher priority ... so my compromise is to blog that it has arrived and get the excitement out of my system :-)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Funny UK classified ads

Good to get this in the mail to bring a smile to my face (a number of times!) :-)

These are classified ads, which were actually placed in a U.K. newspaper:

8 years old.
Hateful little dog.

1/2 Cocker Spaniel, 1/2 sneaky neighbour's dog.

Mother is a Kennel Club registered German Shepherd.
Father is a Super Dog, able to leap tall fences in a single bound.

Must sell washer and dryer £100.

Worn once by mistake.
Call Stephanie.

**** And the WINNER is ****

Complete set of Encyclopaedia Britannica, 45 volumes.
Excellent condition, £200 or best offer.
No longer needed, got married, wife knows everything..

[forwarded by Deron Higgins]

Prayer is in many ways the criterion of Christian life. (Henri Nouwen)

So much is happening and in some aspects I feel really helpless ... so it is a timely reminder for me this morning that I am on the right track and should not "feel guilty" (yet again!) because by praying I am doing the right and necessary practical thing. 

Wednesday June 15, 2011
When you pray, go to your private room and, when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in that secret place, and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6)  

Prayer is in many ways the criterion of Christian life. Prayer requires that we stand in God's presence with open hands, naked and vulnerable, proclaiming to ourselves and to others that without God we can do nothing. 

- Henri J. M. Nouwen

Friday, June 10, 2011

Shocking world of our student drunks (NZ Herald Report)

"The study, part of the doctoral research of Waikato student Brett McEwan, investigated "controlled intoxication" - the ways in which some heavy drinkers monitor and manage their excessive alcohol intake.

What? If the alcohol intake is known to be excessive, you still want to take more and manage it?  I guess I am out of touch but I think this is stupid thinking. 

Shocking world of our student drunks

By Martin Johnston and Isaac Davison
5:30 AM Friday Jun 10, 2011

Nearly a third of university drinkers have passed out while boozing in the past six months - and many say vomiting does not stop them continuing a binge.
More than half said they had physically hurt themselves while intoxicated to that point, according to a shocking paper published today by the New Zealand Medical Journal.
It reveals that 27 per cent of men and 9 per cent of women say throwing up will not stop them from continuing their boozing.
The Waikato University study canvassed about 500 students, mostly aged 18 or 19, from the dormitories of a medium-sized university, which it did not name.
The study, part of the doctoral research of Waikato student Brett McEwan, investigated "controlled intoxication" - the ways in which some heavy drinkers monitor and manage their excessive alcohol intake.
It comes as Parliament considers the Alcohol Reform Bill, which introduces a split purchase age under which the minimum age for buying liquor at supermarkets and other off-licence shops would be increased from 18 years to 20.
The age in pubs and other on-licensed premises would remain 18.
The bill, to be reported back from a select committee on June 23, is in response to the Law Commission's 2010 report aimed at curbing the harms of alcohol.
The Medical Journal paper notes that students living in university dorms or halls of residence often drink more than those who live elsewhere.
It also shows that many students "pre-load" - drink on private premises - before going to on-licence premises.
But they do not drink so much that they are refused entry.
Forty-four per cent of the male students surveyed and 30 per cent of the female said they got drunk weekly.
The drinkers were asked how they responded to 14 effects of drinking.
Fifty-three per cent of the men said they usually stopped drinking when the room "started spinning", 26 per cent said they usually slowed their drinking, and 11 per cent said this did not influence their drinking.
Of the women, 61 per cent stopped, 24 per cent slowed down, 4 per cent were not influenced, and 10 per cent said "not applicable".
More than 20 per cent of the men said their drinking was not influenced as they started to lose the ability to walk or talk properly.
But 39 per cent of men and women said they would stop drinking if friends told them to do so.
Asked how they knew when they'd had enough to drink, one student told the researchers: "I know if I am going to drink any more I am going to make a total arse of myself, so I stop."
Another said: "I usually just keep going. I am usually still in control when I am smashed to a certain degree. I just keep topping it up.
"Once I hit smashed, then I will slow down a bit, come back down a bit and then keep topping up to that point."
Alcohol Healthwatch director Rebecca Williams said there were few cues to challenge excessive drinking among students.
"Unfortunately, [risky drinking] is supported by our environment right now," she said.
"Alcohol is widely available, discounted, particularly targeted at students. Why would we expect them to be different?
"They have fun doing it. So we need to provide other viable social options, and alcohol needs to be de-emphasised by limiting the interests of the liquor industry. It sounds anti-business, but that's where the evidence lies."
Ms Williams said "the buck stops with the Government", which needed to make hard calls in its recommendations on the Alcohol Reform Bill.
"Parents and communities can do only so much. If the Government were to address accessibility, availability and promotion of alcohol, it would affect consumption."
* When they vomit, 61 per cent of men and 71 per cent of women will usually stop drinking. 
* 17 per cent of men and 8 per cent of women will usually slow their drinking. 
* 10 per cent of men and 1 per cent of women say it doesn't influence their drinking.
Source: NZ Medical Journal

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Ramblings on "What Al-Zawahiri said about the killing of Bin Laden?" (Tawfik Hamid)

Before I get to Tawfik Hamid's article, just some thoughts ... on this morning's TV news, it was reported that Al-Zawahiri condemned the US on the way they buried Osama,

Made me wonder the following:

1. Why is he not pleased that Osama died a martyr's death? Is it because he did not actually die a martyr's death? He was killed in a raid while hiding from the US military ... was this more of a coward's death than that of a martyr?

2. If he did die a martyr's death, should there not be great rejoicing as his place in paradise is secure with all the pleasures he so often highlights to others, to get them to die as martyrs? Or is there a subconscious concern that even Osama's place in paradise is uncertain?

3. And like Tawfik mentions (in his point 8 below) I found it ironic (actually hypocritical!) that he places such an emphasis on proper burial of a Muslim yet glorifies the killing of thousands in a manner that does not allow them a decent burial - not just "infidels" but their fellow Muslims. And to selectively appeal to the Geneva convention rules of war on Muslim prisoners and yet not respect the other aspects?

What Al-Zawahiri said about the killing of Bin Laden?
By Tawfik Hamid
Today, June 8, Dr. Ayman Al-Zawahiri appeared on video to give words of condolences for Bin Laden'sdeath. His appearance (which is the first response to Bin Laden death) and his way of speaking indicate that he presumes to be currently leading Al-Qaeda.
The video (in Arabic) started with Bin Laden saying to the US that they will never have peace (i.e. Al-Qaeda will continue fighting them) until the Palestinians have peace (in Jihadists' jargon this means erasing Israel from the map rather than living peaceful with the Israelis). This was taken from a earlier video that was released years ago by Bin Laden.  
The use of a video of Bin Laden speaking at the beginning of the tape aims to give his followers the feeling that he is still 'alive'. This feeling is meant to create more enthusiasm in the hearts of his followers.
The verse that was used in the tape further established the common Muslim's belief that martyrs (like Bin Laden -in the view of the Jihadists) are not dead but alive. The whole verse was quoted and it says: (Quran 3:169): "Think not of those who are slain in Allah's way as dead. Nay, they live, finding their sustenance in the presence of their Lord."
Early in the video, there was also a very passionate and powerful song about Bin Laden describing him and presenting his images on a horse as a honorable and great knight.
Al-Zawahiri was very passionate in his message and he was pointing with his index finger which is a classical Islamic sign that is used in a Muslim's prayer to indicate that "There is no God but Allah".
The main features of Al-Zawahiri's talk are:
1-     More than 20% of the speech was poetry which shows his very high command of Arabic language. Some of the poems about Bin Laden seem to be authored by Al-Zawahiri himself. It is not surprising that Al-Zawahiri has this very high command of classical Arabic as he was the grandson of a former Sheik Al-Azhar  (the most reputable Islamic University in the Muslim world), and well-read in Sayed Qutb's books and interpretations (Tafsseer) of the Quran.  As is well known, Sayed Qutb's command of classical Arabic was very impressive.

Interestingly, when Bin Laden was speaking at the beginning of the video he made two mistakes in Arabic language in a very short segment (less than 2 minutes). On the contrary, Al-Zawahiri spoke more than 20 minutes with virtually not a single mistake in the Arabic grammar or the language.

2-   Al-Zawahiri strongly encouraged the "Arab Spring" as he sees it as a way to establish Sharia (Islamic) Law in the area (i.e. to be like the Taliban).  

3-   He was trying to humiliate the US for what he described as its defeat in Tora Bora, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He also considered the removal of US allies in the Arab world and withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan as evidence for the defeat of the US.

4-   He threatened the US with forthcoming acts of terror in revenge for Bin Laden's killing.

5-    He reminded Muslims all over the world about Palestine, Kashmir, and Chechnya in an attempt to make the Muslim world enthusiastic about the return of the Caliphate.

6-   He thanked Ismail Haneia (the leader of the Hamas organization) for praising Bin Laden after his death.  

7-    He encouraged the Pakistanis and people in the Gulf area to follow the footsteps of other Arab countries' revolutions to remove their leaders to establish Sharia (Comment: Al-Zawahiri does not see Saudi Arabia as applying true Sharia as it allows non-Muslims to exist on its Holy land, allows western banks and T.V. satellites, and does not declare Jihad on the West).

8-   Al-Zawahiri also criticized the US for not respecting the rules of the Geneva Convention with Muslim prisoners of war (Comment: It is ironic to see those who behead innocents and kill thousands of their fellow Muslims by bombing their markets and funerals, demanding respect for the rules of Geneva convention!).  

9-   He also reminded Muslims of the historical wars of Salah Al-din against the people of the "Cross" to encourage them to fight the West. (Note: the West as a whole and people who have fair skin and colored hair and eyes are seen as "people of the Cross" by many in the Muslim world irrespective of their beliefs).

10-                       Al-Zawahiri gave an oath of Loyalty to Mullah Umar (the leader of the Taliban). This indicates that the Taliban sponsoring Al-Qaeda is a likely outcome after the withdrawal of the US troops from Afghanistan.

11- He encouraged the whole Muslim Umma (world) to follow the path of "Jihad".  

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The transformed life of God’s messenger: Some thoughts on Galatians 1: 13-17 (Pastor's Notes)

Pastor's notes for 12 June 2011. To read click HERE

"Weird interview" with Pop Haydn and his wife Nancy

Link below to an interview with a magician that I like very much Whit "pop" Haydn!

I had the privilege of having a personal conversation / interview with him a couple of years ago in Auckland.
He's style of magic is clearly different from most, and not something I would be comfortable doing BUT he is a pretty amazing magician that I admire. The 2nd part of the interview (video) will make it clear why I like him so much (and why I enjoyed my meeting with him so much as we have something else in common)

BTW, I obviously did not do this interview but it is so much better than what I could do :-) I did not try to publish the interview I had with him (unlike the ones I did with Paul Daniels and Debbie McGee, and John Carney) simply because it went off tangent in so many ways and was not sutiable as an intrerfview article. But it was a great interview / conversation, mini lecture for me of mostly Pop talking and me just taking things in. It had a lot of stuff related to church, ministry, theology etc :-)

I enjoy following him on FB.

Ok - back to work :-)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Call to ban the Bible in Pakistan. Will Malaysia be next?

Will Malaysia be next? Is this too far fetched a situation? God have mercy!

Monday, June 6, 2011 (3:47 am)
By Joseph DeCaro, Worthy News International Correspondent

Islamabad, Pakistan (Worthy News)-- Pakistani Christians are troubled by a Bible ban from radical Muslim clerics whose own prophet had never outlawed it.

Nevertheless, Muslim clerics recently asked the Supreme Court of Pakistan to rule that some scriptures have been added to the Bible and that they violate the Islamic nation's blasphemy laws by depicting biblical figures revered by Muslims as flawed; they allege that these additions were inserted to show the prophets guilty of "a variety of moral crimes, which undermine the sanctity of the holy figures."

Although Muslims accept the Pentateuch, the Psalms and the Gospels, many believe the rest of the Bible is a "corruption" of the original texts.

The clerics claimed their actions were in response to the burning of a Qur'an by Pastor Terry Jones, but local Islamists have become even more vocal after the targeted assasination of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden by American troops while he was secretly living in Pakistan.

Naveed Walter, president of Human Rights Focus Pakistan, said Islamist clerics "usually attack individuals, groups, churches and communities of Christians, by falsely accusing them of blasphemy, but this time they are planning to ban even the Bible in Pakistan."

Although the Qu'ran instructs Muslims to respect the "people of the book", it also exhorts Muslims to fight Christians and Jews who don't accept Islam, until they pay a "jizra," or tribute tax as inferior dhimmis.

Pakistan: Islamist extremists say 'ban the Bible' By: John Pontifex

Posted: Monday, June 6, 2011 9:26 pm

Pakistan:  Islamist extremists say 'ban the Bible' | Bishop Sebastian Shaw, Pakistan. ban the Bible,Maulana Abdul Rauf Farooqi
Bishop Sebastian Shaw
A Pakistan Catholic bishop has described his people's distress after extremists demanded the Bible be banned and called on the country's Supreme Court to investigate "blasphemous" and "pornographic" passages.

Bishop Sebastian Shaw of Lahore said the faithful were "very shocked" after Islamist political party Jamiat-Ulema-e-Islami informally petitioned the Supreme Court of Pakistan to declare certain Biblical passages "blasphemous".

At a press conference, party leader Maulana Abdul Rauf Farooqi called for the Bible to be banned and complained about passages in which prophets are described carrying out "a variety of moral crimes, which undermine the sanctity of the holy figures".

Speaking at a Lahore mosque, the clerics from Jamiat-Ulema-e-Islami said that if the Supreme Court failed to declare the offending texts "blasphemous", they would submit an application for the Bible to be formally banned in Pakistan.

Maulana Farooqi reportedly said that his lawyers were "preparing to ask the court to ban the book".

Responding to the press conference, Bishop Shaw referred to the increased tensions faced by the Church and warned of more trouble if Church leaders were to issue a strongly worded condemnation of the ban the Bible initiative.

The bishop told Aid to the Church in Need: "People are very shocked by this. We Christians are in Pakistan and we have a right to our Bible. It is a very old divine text. But if we want to make an issue out of it, it will certainly become one. We must be wise and instead ask people to pray for us, to remember us before God. What we need right now is prayers and patience."

He stressed that the campaign was unlikely to succeed, especially as the Bible is respected by the majority of Muslims.

In the press conference last week, Maulana Farooqi referred to "pornographic" Biblical passages where figures – revered by both Christianity and Islam – are described behaving immorally.

Extremists have referred to Biblical heroes such as David, who coveted a man's wife and so sent him to face certain death on the battle frontlines.

Jamiat-Ulema-e-Islami's ban the Bible initiative is the latest attempt by radicals to use the country's Blasphemy Laws to shield Islam from perceived insults.

Under the laws, desecration against the Qur'an carries a life sentence and Maulana Farooqi said the ban the Bible call was in response to US Pastor Terry Jones who oversaw the burning of the Islamic holy book at a Florida church in March.

Pakistan's Blasphemy Laws are linked to some of the country's worst violence this year including the murders of federal minorities minister, Shahbaz Bhatti, in March, and Salman Taseer, Governor of the Punjab, who openly criticised the legislation.

Urging calm, Bishop Shaw told Aid to the Church in Need that in calling for the Bible to be banned, the extremists were trying to provoke Christians.

He said: "Problems like this are happening one after the other. If we give the right response, the matter will die away just like any other debate that suddenly flares up."

In a statement, Church of Pakistan Bishop Dr Alexander John Malik of Lahore said that agreeing to the extremists' demands to ban the Bible would be a violation of religious freedom as guaranteed by the constitution and said the militants' campaign was sowing discord among different communities.

Fr Andrew Nisari, parish priest of Lahore's Sacred Heart Catholic Cathedral, told ACN: "Calling for the Bible to be burnt is very hurtful to us. People were very upset about it and from the pulpit I asked them not to be angry and emotional."

He told how a Muslim extremist had burnt a copy of the Bible at the cathedral. Fr Nisari said that during the incident, in March, cathedral guards had stopped the man on his way to the cathedral where he had said he wanted to burn the Bible and so he carried out the Bible-burning at the cathedral gates. Police have since pressed charges against the man and the case is ongoing.

Fr Nisari said: "Life for us is not easy. The only way anyone can really begin to understand what it is like for us in Pakistan is to actually be here experiencing what we experience."

Source: ACN

Call to Ban the Bible Troubles Pakistan’s Embattled Christians

Thursday, June 02, 2011
By Patrick Goodenough
Pakistan christians
Pakistani Christians protest after hundreds of Muslims burned and looted Christian homes in the city of Gorja in an August 2009 rampage sparked by allegations that a Qur’an had been defaced. (AP Photo)
( – Pakistani Christians reacted with dismay Thursday to campaign by radical Muslim clerics to have the Bible declared blasphemous and banned, but some said the community should respond calmly, without fear, trusting God to protect His word.
Muslims should not blame Pakistan’s Christian minority for the actions of one misguided pastor in Florida, said one activist, who also noted that even Mohammed, the 7th century Muslim prophet, had not outlawed the Bible.
A group of Muslim clerics has asked the Supreme Court of Pakistan to determine that certain passages of the Bible violate the country’s blasphemy laws, because they depict some biblical figures – whom Muslims revere as “Islamic prophets” – as flawed or immoral.
If the court does not make the declaration, the campaigners said, they would lodge an formal application for the Bible to be banned in its entirety.
The group, led by Abdul Rauf Farooqi of the Islamist party JUI-S (Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Sami-ul Haq group), says its initiative is in response to the burning of a Qur’an at the small Florida church headed by Terry Jones.
“This move by the JUI-S is in reaction to Terry Jones’ action of burning the Qur’an,” said Asif Aqeel, director of the Lahore-based Community Development Initiative, an affiliate of European Center for Law and Justice.
“Pakistani society, even JUI-S, should understand that Pakistani poor and illiterate [Christian] community should not be punished for the act of any individual living abroad,” he told
“We are not related to Terry Jones, who should not be even called a pastor due to lack of wisdom and biblical understanding.”
Aqeel said JUI-S should remember that, even during the times of Mohammed and the subsequent caliphs and other Muslim rulers, the Bible was not banned “despite the fact that all of them knew that the Bible had different viewpoint on several things.”
There was no “religious reasoning” behind the demand for a ban, he added.
The Rev. Arif Siraj, moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Pakistan, said that there have been attempts to challenge biblical truth ever since the birth of Christianity.
It was the responsibility of Christians to act in the light of biblical teachings, he said. “It is God’s word so He will take care of it.”
Siraq said Christians should understand the essence of the Bible and be encouraged to pray in the face of the current circumstances, rather than be fearful.
If the JUI-S initiative takes hold and gathers momentum, he said, “then we will peacefully protest as we have been doing in the past and we will also pray that God will make Pakistani people understand the efforts of the Christians in developing this nation.”
Naveed Walter, the president of Human Rights Focus Pakistan, a non-governmental organization advocating against the blasphemy laws, was taken aback by the latest move by radicals.
“I am shocked to hear about the new Islamists’ plans to attack the Christians, now in a different way,” he told
“They usually attack individuals, groups, churches and communities of Christians, by falsely accusing them of blasphemy,” he said. “But this time they are planning to ban even the Bible in Pakistan. The extremists have crossed the all limitations of extremism.”
Walter said Christians were hopeful the Supreme Court would not accept an application calling for a Bible ban, should JUI-S lawyers try to submit one.
Violent reaction feared
Islam’s view of the Bible is open to debate and interpretation. In places (such as sura 29:46-47) the Qur’an appears to direct Muslims to respect the Bible and those who believe in it. But elsewhere (such as sura 9:29-31) it exhorts Muslims to fight those – including Christians and Jews – who do not accept Islam, until they pay tribute and accept inferior (dhimmi) status.
The JUI-S is closely associated with the Taliban and other violent Islamic groups.
According to Aqeel, it is not a prominent political faction, though considered influential due to its historical relationship with the Taliban. The “Sami-ul Haq” in its name is the head of a madrassa that has been called the Taliban’s launching pad, with Mullah Omar and other senior Taliban figures having studied there.
As a federal senator, Sami-ul Haq played a leading role in passage of a law in 1991 enforcing shari’a in Pakistan, Aqeel recalled.
Given that background, he said, the group’s anti-Bible campaign had to be taken seriously.
“If the petition is filed, the Christian community may not be able to handle the case due to lack of sufficient legal acumen and due to the sensitivity and violent reactionary attitude of the Muslim majority in Pakistan,” Aqeel said.
How the court would likely respond was a different matter, as it would be aware of the fact that the case would impact Pakistan’s international image.
Aqeel predicted that the court would either delay indefinitely any action on the petition, or “decide in favor of the Christians.”

Will obedience wives club one day lead to sex slaves?

Perak Mufti supports the "obedient wives club"

The Star) - Perak mufti Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria has given his backing to the Obedient Wives Club, which offers “sex lessons” to help women keep their husbands.

Harussani, who recently banned the poco poco dance in Perak, said women needed to be reminded of their roles and responsibilities to their husbands.
“The younger generation is too absorbed in cultures that are not their own. Wives must be very obedient to their husbands.
“However, in Islam, the wife can go against her husband if what he does is not according to the religion,” he said, calling for more such clubs to be set up throughout the country as a way to counter social ills.
He was responding to a statement by club vice-president Dr Rohaya Mohamadthat a husband who was kept happy in the bedroom would have no reason to stray, seek out prostitutes or indulge in other social vices.
The club had also offered sex lessons to help wives “serve their husbands better than a first-class prostitute”.
However, Johor Islamic Council advisor Datuk Nooh Gadut said the use of the term “first-class prostitute” was extreme, adding that marriages in Islam should not be just for sex but for, among others, love.
Click on the link below for the rest of the story.

Here's the story that started the whole matter.

It's all about gratifying the sexual lust (not needs) of certain privileged men and this is endorsed as a Muslim right?

See report below ...

Men should have sex slaves, says female Kuwaiti politician

Jun 6, 2011 
KUWAIT CITY // Salwa al Mutairi, a former parliamentary candidate, said in a video posted on You Tube last month that sex slaves should be legal and prisoners from war-torn countries, such as Chechnya, would make suitable concubines.
Ms al Mutairi said she asked Saudi muftis what the Islamic ruling was on owning sex slaves while on a trip to Mecca because she had a male colleague who was "young and something of a womaniser".
The mufti told her it is not haram, or forbidden, she said. "The context must be that of a Muslim nation conquering a non-Muslim nation, so these jawari have to be prisoners of war."
Jariya is an Arabic term meaning "concubine" or "sex slave". The plural of the word is jawari.
Ms al Mutairi said free women must be married with a contract but, with concubines, "the man just buys her and that's it. That's enough to serve as marriage".
The ruling was confirmed by "specialised people of the faith" in Kuwait, she said. "They said, 'That's right, the only solution for a decent man who has the means, who is overpowered by desire and who does not want to commit fornication, is to acquire jawari'."
Offices could be opened to run the sex trade in the same way recruitment agencies provide domestic labourers, Ms al Mutairi suggested.
"One of the countries where [I see this trade is possible] is Chechnya. The country is at war with another state, so there are some captives for sure. I say go and buy those captives, they might just die of hunger over there. I say go and buy them and sell them to merchants here in Kuwait who may otherwise commit a sin."

For the rest of the story, click on the link below.

Also go here