Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Palm Sunday is not an April Fool’s joke (pastor's notes)

Pastor's Notes for 1 April 2012 uploaded

To read, click HERE

The "Snakes and Ladders" of the Muslim Brotherhood (Tawfik Hamid)

another interesting piece by Tawfik Hamid


The "Snakes and Ladders" of the Muslim Brotherhood
By Tawfik Hmaid
After 80 years the dream of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) to reach power in Egypt has come true. Currently, the MB controls the majority of the seats in the Egyptian Parliament and soon they will write the new constitution of Egypt.
The ascent of the MB to power may have some similarity to the game of "Snakes and Ladders" where the 'Ladder' helps the players to reach the top while a 'snake' close to that top can also bring the player down to the bottom.
The question is: Will the MB go down the 'Snake' after ascending via the 'ladder' of power? Analysis of the factors that helped the MB reach power reveals that this is a very likely possibility.
Ascending via the Ladder
Factors that helped the MB reach power
1-The Hijab
When the Supreme Guide (The Murshid) of the MB had the opportunity to meet with President Nasser after the 1952 Revolution his most important request from the President was not just toteachmore Islam to the population, andnot just to encourage people to practicemore charity to the poor, but, to the surprise of many, -as described by President Nasser himself - it was to forceALL women in Egypt wear the Hijab (Islamic headscarf)!

The Murshid was a real strategist in this request as he knew very well that inmaking Muslim women wear the Hijabit would be the most fundamental steptowards Islamizing the whole society, promote the concept of Sharia and preparethe people psychologically for becomingpart of the Islamic Caliphate.
For several reasons, the MB failed duringNasser's time to make the Egyptian women wear the Hijab; however, they succeeded in doing so during the Sadat and Mubarak eras. This changed the Egyptian society in a way that ultimately led to the overwhelming victory of the Islamists in the recent elections.
2-Giving people hope that Islam will solve all their problems:
The MB managed to give people hope that Islam is the best solution for their problems includingeconomic ones. The Slogan "Islam is the Solution"has been used successfully by the MB to promote their ideology. The economic prosperity of Saudi Arabia that beganin the late 1970s was used as evidence to convince many Egyptians that implementing Sharia is the real factor behind the economic success of Saudi Arabia.
3-Getting support from Arab countries:
After Nasser cracked down on the MB,many of its members travelled to the nearby Gulf countries where they gained a lot of financial support by portrayingthemselves as a charitable Islamic group that cares for "Dawwa" or preaching. The petrodollars that were given to the MB helped them to promote their agenda by allowing them to build more mosques, freely distribute Islamic books to people [1], and helped them carry out charitable works to gain public support.
(Note: the aim of many-if not most- of the free publications that Islamic organisations distributed in Egypt in late 1970s were given to teenager girls to promote the Hijab to them by informing them about the details of the torture techniques that they will suffer in hell -if they did not wear it.

4-Using the word "Democracy" to gain support from the West:
The MB understood that after Islamizing society all they needed to do to gain powerwas through implementing ballot 'Democracy'. MB discovered the best way to achieve this is to use the Pro-Democracy groups that are supported by the West to demand democratic reforms in the country. The plot was carefully designed as the MB knew very well that the word 'Democracy' is a magical word that can activate western minds to bringmore pressure on the Mubarak regime and the Military, thus opening the gate for them to attain power. The MB simply used the influence and strength of the Western Funded Pro-Democracy groups much as a parasite would use the blood of the host to become more powerful.

5-Internal Unity:
For several decades the existence of one common enemy of the MB (namely Secularism) was an important factor that united the power of the group. It was virtually unknown in the past to see strong divisions within the group. 'Unity' was simply an important factor for their success.

6-Getting support from the Military -after the Jan 25 Revolution:
The Military of Egypt represented by the SCAF (Supreme Council of Armed Forces) was under heavy pressure from the US and Liberal forces to deliver power to civilians. This, simply, was meant to deliver power to the Islamists to rule the country. As an attempt to protect their interests and to keep some power in the New Egypt, many believe that the SCAF had a 'deal' or an agreement with the MB to protect the 'democratic process' until the Islamists come to power in exchangefor special privileges for the military . The SCAF denies this deal. However, the selection of an Islamist such as Tarek Al-Bishri as the head of the committee to direct the political future of the country after the Jan 25 Revolution and the absence of any women and Christians in this committee, supports the view that the SCAF and the MB had a deal together as described above. This initial support from the Military for the MB greatly assistedthem in becoming more powerful.
Descending down the Snake
Factors that will likely cause the decline of the MB
1-A decline of the image of the MB
After choosing the MB in the recent parliamentary elections, many of those who elected them expected some improvement in the problems that the country faces. On the contrary, the country faced more troubles after the Islamists dominated the parliament, such as shortages of gas, and the strike bydrivers of the vital public transport system. The failure to bring aboutmiraculous improvements in the conditions within the country, coupled with over-expectations of rapid success, has created a negative image for the MB in the minds of some people and started to sway many of the public away from supporting the group. Additionally, the MB gave priority to discussing issues such as putting a ban on Internet pornography instead of legislating to prevent the collapse of the economy. The image of the Islamists in general had another setback due to the actions of some Islamic members such as Al-Baklimi (Salafi) who lied to the public about having a cosmetic operation to improve the appearance of hisnose. Recent rumours that Al-Baklimi is secretly married toa famous belly dancerand that he has financially supported the production of her movies just added more damage to the image of the Islamists. Furthermore, breaking promises such as raising the possibility that the MB may have a presidential candidate in the next presidential elections after repeatedlyinsisting that they will NEVER have one - made many people lose trust in them.

2-Internal dissolution
Divisions within the MB became clear on the surface. These divisions evidenced by the kicking out of Abdul-Menem Abu-Elfutuh (one of the former leaders of the group) from the organization, ending his membership for daring to break their rules and insisting on becoming a presidential candidate, followed by theresignation of Mohamed Habib (#2 of the MB) from the organization - brought about increasinganger from the younger members of the MB overcertain decisions of their leadership and just added more pressure on the MB.

3-Loss of support of many Liberal Media
For several years the Liberal media showed some sympathy for the MB whentheir members were imprisoned during Mubarak's tenure and the organization was considered an illegal body. This sympathy was largely due to the fact that many Liberals were predominantly focused on fighting against military control of the country rather than a real support for the MB agenda.
After the MB gained more power in the recent parliamentary elections, they expressed hostility toward women rights and personal freedoms. This has led many Liberals to realize the MB is a real threat to the freedom and liberty in the country. As a result, many of these liberals are decreasing their criticism of the military and instead are giving more attention to warning the public about the threat that the MB poses to the future of the country. This turn of mainstream liberal media against the MB has recently become more apparent after the MB attempted todominate the writing of the new Egyptian constitution to make it an Islamic.

4-US Green Light to the Military
Allowing US aid to continue to Egyptwithoutconditions being set fordelivering power to civilians has been seen by many as a green light from the US to the Military to do what they feel appropriate to get stability back to the country. Exposure of the anti-US attitudes of the MB may be behind the decision to waive restrictionsonUS aid to Egypt. Since the US made it clear that they will resume aid to Egypt without previous conditions, the Military started to show more aggressive-but controlled- attitude toward the MB. Aclash has already started between the MB and the Military over the new constitution.
5-Diminished support from wealthy Arab countries:
After the Jan 25 Revolution wealthy Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries discontinued support of the new political powers in the country, partially because they were not well organized and partially because the Arab countries feared that the success of this revolution may make it a model to be copied in their own countries. The long honeymoon between the Arab countries and the MB that lasted for decades has simply ended as Arab leaders are not ready to sacrifice their power for the sake of the MB.
The best manifestation of this division between the MB and wealthy Arab countries is clearly seen in the statements of the head of security of Dubai (General Dahi Khlafan) that accused the MB of plotting against the Gulf countries. General Khalfan actually threatened that anyone inthe UAE who will show sympathy or support to the MB that he would beconsidered a 'traitor' by the authorities.
The loss of support from wealthy Gulf countries, and the animosity that was created between these countries and the MB after the former felt that the latter may threaten their thrones, could be the straw that will break the back of the MB.
To conclude, despite the success of the MB in the recent parliamentarian elections in Egypt, the decay within the group and the presence of many powerful enemies is likely to weaken them. In other words, their initial ascent to power might be followed by a dramatic descent. Such adescent may be better for Egypt, but could also provoke a struggle for power that might result in a more aggressive wave of radicalism.

Friday, March 23, 2012

a good way to use Facbook - ISRAEL LOVES IRAN

Quote of the day.
“Iranians see our page and break down with excitement. They always thought we hated them. The power of this initiative is that it bypasses governments." - Michal Tami, an Israeli who with her husband, Roni Edry, launched a Facebook page to Iranians saying, “We will never bomb your country. We love you,” that has received daily responses from hundreds of Iranians.
(Haaretz)

http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/iranians-shocked-by-israel-loves-iran-facebook-initiative-1.420069


Iranians shocked by 'Israel loves Iran' Facebook initiative

New York Times, Washington Post report on the initiative started by two Israelis who sent a Facebook message to Iranians last Thursday saying, 'We will never bomb your country. We love you.'

By Roy Arad

A week ago, fear and hatred seemed to dominate the Middle East. Then, a simple online call for peace turned those sentiments upside down - at least briefly.

The trigger was the Facebook message two Israelis sent to Iranians last Thursday: "We will never bomb your country. We love you." Since then, the website has been swamped with mutual expressions of love and admiration between Israelis and Iranians.

'Iranians we love you' - Tomer Appelbaum - March 21 2012
Roni Edry and Michal Tamir with their children at home in Tel Aviv, March 21, 2012.


Photo by: Tomer Appelbaum

Launched by Roni Edry and his wife Michal Tamir, the initiative was enthusiastically received around the world. It appeared as the main news item on CNN's website and Al Jazeera. The New York Times and the Washington Post reported about it at length, as did media from Sweden to China.

The couple, who runs a small preparatory school for graphic design called Pushpin Mehina, now devote most of their time to their private peace enterprise. They and six friends work shifts in what they call the "situation room," going over hundreds of daily messages from Iranians and posting them on Facebook.

"You want to cry when you read them," says Tamir, trying to put her crying baby to sleep, while her husband is talking to another journalist.

"A little girl who sent us a message that in her school they forced her to trample on Israel's flag. Then when she saw Roni and our daughter it was very difficult for her...Iranians see our page and break down with excitement. They always thought we hated them. The power of this initiative is that it bypasses governments," she says.

An Iranian landscape architect named Majid began an equivalent Iranian initiative, opening a Facebook page called "Iran loves Israel." He says he heard about the Israeli page on a free radio station broadcasting to Iran from Prague, and immediately joined in.

"The responses to the page were extraordinary," says Majid, 34, a father of two. "Don't forget the Internet in Iran is blocked and it's very difficult to surf. I had no reason to think the Israelis were bad people, but in recent days I've found them to be very civilized," he says.

Shaidi Shahin, a young Iranian living in India, filled her Facebook page with expressions of love for Israel. "When I read what the Israeli couple had written," she writes to me, "I started crying."

Michael, an oil engineer from Shiraz, says "it's not a political issue. We only say we like each other, because we have no reason to hate. I've never met an Israeli. But when I found that the value of life in Israel is like in Iran, I realized these were good people."

"We're not naive. It's not like the world will change if we say 'I love you,'" says Tamir. "We're all afraid, but we want to stop a second before it's too late. Can we prevent war? Who knows?"

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Muslim Persecution of Christians: February, 2012

Why do I keep posting this like this on my blog? To remind me not to forget that this is happening. And what makes me sad and angry is that little is being done by most key world leaders and so called human rights activists about Christians being persecuted.



Muslim Persecution of Christians: February, 2012

by Raymond Ibrahim
Stonegate Institute
March 16, 2012
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Half of Iraq's indigenous Christians are gone due to the unleashed forces of jihad, many of them fleeing to nearby Syria; yet, as the Assad regime comes under attack by al-Qaeda and others, the jihad now seeps into Syria, where Christians are experiencing a level of persecution unprecedented in the nation's modern history. Likewise, some 100,000 Christian Copts have fled their native Egypt since the overthrow of the Mubarak regime; and in northern regions of Nigeria, where the jihadi group Boko Haram has been slaughtering Christians, up to 95 % of the Christian population has fled.
Meanwhile, the "big news" concerning the Muslim world in the month of February—the news that flooded the mainstream media and had U.S. politicians, beginning with President Obama, flustered, angry, and full of regret—was that copies of the Koran in Afghanistan were burned by U.S. soldiers because imprisoned Muslim inmates were using them "to facilitate extremist communications."
Categorized by theme, February's batch of Muslim persecution of Christians around the world includes (but is not limited to) the following accounts, listed in alphabetical order by country, not severity.
Church Attacks
Algeria: Armed men raided and ransacked a church formally recognized since 1958, dismantling the crucifixabove the premises. The pastor and his family, trapped inside, feared that "they could kill us." The pastor "has been repeatedly threatened and attacked since being ordained as pastor in 2007. In the summer of 2009 his wife was beaten and seriously injured by a group of unknown men. Then, in late 2011, heaps of trash were thrown over the compound walls while an angry mob shouted death threats."
EgyptThousands of Muslims attacked a Coptic church, demanding the death of its pastor, who, along with "nearly 100 terrorized Copts sought refuge inside the church, while Muslim rioters were pelting the church with stones in an effort to break into the church, assault the Copts and torch the building." They did this because a Christian girl who, according to Islamic law, automatically became a Muslim when her father converted to Islam, fled and was rumored to be hiding in the church.
Iran: Iran's Ministry of Intelligence has ordered the last two officially registered churches holding Friday Farsi-language services in Tehran—Farsi being the nation's language—to discontinue the language: "Friday services in Tehran attracted the city's converts to Christianity as well as Muslims interested in Christianity, as Friday is most Iranians' day off during the week." Banning church use of Farsi prevents most Iranians from hearing the Gospel.
Kazakhstan: A new report notes that "Churches are being raided, leaders fined and Christian literature confiscated as the Kazakh authorities enforce new laws intended further to restrict religious freedom in the country."
Kuwait: A parliamentarian is set to submit a draft law banning the construction of churches. Originally, Osama al-Munawer announced on Twitter his plans on submitting a draft law calling for the removal of all churches in Kuwait. However, he later "clarified," saying that existing churches can remain, but the construction of new ones must be banned.
Macedonia: A two-century-old Christian church famed for its valuable icons was set on fire in response to "a carnival in which Orthodox Christian men dressed as women in burkas and mocked the Koran." Earlier, "perpetrators attacked a[nother] church in the nearby village of Labunista, destroying a cross standing outside" and "also defaced a Macedonian flag outside Struga's municipal building, replacing it with a green flag representing Islam."
Nigeria: A Muslim suicide bomber forced his way into the grounds of a major church, killing two women and an 18-month-old child during Sunday morning service; some 50 people were injured in the blast. In a separate incident, Muslims detonated a bomb outside a church building, injuring five, one critically: "The bomb, planted in a parked car, was left by suspected members of Boko Haram, which seeks to impose sharia (Islamic law) throughout Nigeria."
Pakistan: A dozen armed Muslims stormed a church, seriously wounding two Christians: one man was shot and is in critical condition, the other risks having his arm amputated; another church member was thrown from the roof, after being struck repeatedly with a rifle butt. "The extremist raid was sparked by charges that [the] church was trying to evangelize Muslims in an attempt to convert them to Christianity. The community several times in the past has been the subject of assault and the pastor and his family the subject of death threats." As usual, the police, instead of pursuing the perpetrators, have opened an investigation against the pastor and 20 other church members.
Syria: Some 30 armed and masked jihadis attacked a Catholic monastery—unprecedented in Syria's modern history—demanding money. According to the Catholic Archbishop of Damascus, "the situation in the country is spiraling out of control as the armed opposition spreads its influence to different regions of the state."
Dhimmitude
[General Abuse, Debasement, and Suppression of non-Muslims as "Tolerated" Citizens]
BangladeshThree American Christians were injured after their car was attacked by a Muslim mob that suspected they were converting Muslims into Christians: at least 200 angry locals chased the missionaries' car and threw stones at it, leaving three with cuts from broken glass.
Egypt: Rather than punishing the perpetrators who opened fire on and ran tanks over Christians protesting the constant destruction of their churches, the government arrested and is trying two priests in connection to theMaspero massacre. And although Egypt's new parliament has 498 seats, only six are Copts, though Copts make up at the very least 10% of the population, and so should have approximately 50 seats. Finally, evincing how bad the situation is, Coptic protesters organized a demonstration in front of Parliament to protest "the disappearance and abduction of Coptic girls."
Indonesia: The Islamist Prosperous Justice Party complained about the Red Cross' symbol of a cross, saying it is too identifiable with Christian culture and traditions. Red Cross volunteers and activists rejected the claim, saying that any changes to the logo would be "tantamount to giving in to the extremists."
Iran: A pastor of a major house church movement began serving a five-year prison sentence for "crimes against the order." According to one activist, "His 'crimes' were being a pastor and possessing Christian materials." He is being beat in jail and getting sick, to the point that his hair has "turned fully gray."
Israel: A mob of some 50 Palestinian Muslims stoned a group of Christian tourists atop Jerusalem's Temple Mount, wounding three Israeli police officers in the process. The attack is believed to have been instigated by the former Muslim mufti of Jerusalem.
Pakistan: Yet another Christian woman, a teacher, has been targeted by Muslims due to allegations that she burned a Koran. A mob stormed her school in an attempt to abduct her, but police took her into custody. Also, aChristian student who missed the grade to get into medical school by less than 0.1% would have earned 20 extra points if he had memorized the Koran—though no bonus points for having similar knowledge of the Bible.
Turkey: A new report notes that "Christians in Turkey continue to suffer attacks from private citizens, discrimination by lower-level government officials and vilification in both school textbooks and news media," adding that there is a "root of intolerance" in Turkish society toward adherents of non-Islamic faiths: "The removal of this root of intolerance is an urgent problem that still awaits to be dealt with."
Turkmenistan: A 77-year-old Christian man was detained and questioned by police for six hours after he tried to print copies of a small book of Christian poetry. He was forced to write a statement and banned from travelling outside his home region while the case is being investigated.
Uganda: Not long after a pastor was attacked with acid and blinded by "Allahu-Akbar" screaming Muslims, his friend, another pastor, was shot at by "Islamic extremists," 
in what is being described as "a new wave of persecution against Christians in Uganda."
Murder, Apostasy Issues, and More
EgyptTwo Christians were killed "after a Muslim racketeer opened fire on them for refusing to pay him extortion money." The local bishop "hold[s] security forces and local Muslims fully responsible for terrorizing the Copts living there, who are continuously being subjected to terror and kidnapping."
Iran: After enduring five months of uncertainty in a prison, a Christian convert who was arrested in her home by security authorities has been sentenced to two years in prison by the Revolutionary Court in Tehran. Authorities further arrested six to ten Christian converts from Islam while they were meeting for worship at a home in the southern city of Shiraz. And Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani awaits execution for refusing to renounce Christianity.
Nigeria: A 79-year-old Christian woman and choir singer was found dead at her home, her throat slit with a note in Arabic left on her chest reading: "We will get you soon," a message believed to be directed at her son, a pastor at a local church.
Somalia: Al-Shabaab Muslims beheaded a 26-year-old Muslim convert to Christianity who had worked for a Christian humanitarian organization that the terrorist organization had banned. He is at least the third apostate to Christianity to be beheaded in Somalia in recent months.
Turkey: A 12-year-old boy, Hussein, publicly professed his Christian faith by wearing a silver cross necklace in school. Accordingly, Muslim classmates began taunting and spitting on him. When the boy threatened to report one of the bullies, the bully's father threatened to kill him. His religion teacher beat him severely: "Like in most Islamic countries, students of all faiths are required to attend Islamic studies in school. Those who refuse to recite the Koran and Islamic prayers are often beaten by the teacher. And so it was for Hussein. He said he was punished regularly with a two-foot long rod because he wouldn't say the Islamic Shahada."
About this Series
Because the persecution of Christians in the Islamic world is on its way to reaching epidemic proportions, "Muslim Persecution of Christians" was developed to collate some—by no means all—of the instances of Muslim persecution of Christians that surface each month. It serves two purposes:
  1. Intrinsically, to document that which the mainstream media does not: the habitual, if not chronic, Muslim persecution of Christians.
  2. Instrumentally, to show that such persecution is not "random," but systematic and interrelated—that it is rooted in a worldview inspired by Sharia.
Accordingly, whatever the anecdote of persecution, it typically fits under a specific theme, including hatred for churches and other Christian symbols; sexual abuse of Christian women; forced conversions to Islam; apostasy and blasphemy laws; theft and plunder in lieu of jizya (tribute); overall expectations for Christians to behave like cowed "dhimmis" (barely tolerated citizens); and simple violence and murder. Oftentimes it is a combination thereof.
Because these accounts of persecution span different ethnicities, languages, and locales—from Morocco in the west, to India in the east, and throughout the West, wherever there are Muslims—it should be clear that one thing alone binds them: Islam—whether the strict application of Islamic Sharia law, or the supremacist culture born of it.
Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Listening as Spiritual Hospitality (Henri Nouwen)

Listening as Spiritual Hospitality 

To listen is very hard, because it asks of us so much interior stability that we no longer need to prove ourselves by speeches, arguments, statements, or declarations.  True listeners no longer have an inner need to make their presence known.   They are free to receive, to welcome, to accept.

Listening is much more than allowing another to talk while waiting for a chance to respond.  Listening is paying full attention to others and welcoming them into our very beings.  The beauty of listening is that, those who are listened to start feeling accepted, start taking their words more seriously and discovering their own true selves.  Listening is a form of spiritual hospitality by which you invite strangers to become friends, to get to know their inner selves more fully, and even to dare to be silent with you.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Saudi Grand Mufti Calls for "Destruction of All Churches in Region"

Saudi Grand Mufti Calls for "Destruction of All Churches in Region"

by Raymond Ibrahim
Jihad Watch
March 14, 2012



According to several Arabic news sources, last Monday, Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, declared that it is "necessary to destroy all the churches of the region."
Saudi Arabia's Grand Mufti confirms Islamic hostility for churches.
The Grand Mufti made his assertion in response to a question posed by a delegation from Kuwait, where a parliament member recently called for the "removal" of churches (he later "clarified" by saying he merely meant that no churches should be built in Kuwait): the delegation wanted to confirm Sharia's position on churches.
Accordingly, the Grand Mufti "stressed that Kuwait was a part of the Arabian Peninsula, and therefore it is necessary to destroy all churches in it."
As with many grand muftis before him, the Sheikh based his proclamation on the famous tradition, or hadith, wherein the prophet of Islam declared on his deathbed that "There are not to be two religions in the [Arabian] Peninsula," which has always been interpreted to mean that only Islam can be practiced in the region.
While the facts of this account speak for themselves, consider further:
Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah is not just some random Muslim hating on churches. He is the Grand Mufti of the nation that brought Islam to the world. Moreover, he is the President of the Supreme Council of Ulema [Islamic scholars] and Chairman of the Standing Committee for Scientific Research and Issuing of Fatwas. Accordingly, when it comes to what Islam teaches, his words are immensely authoritative.
Considering the hysteria that besets the West whenever non-authoritative individuals offend Islam—for instance, a fringe, unknown pastor—imagine what would happen if a Christian counterpart to the Grand Mufti, say the Pope, were to declare that all mosques in Italy must be destroyed; imagine the nonstop Western media frenzy that would erupt, all the shrill screams of "intolerance" and "bigot," demands for apologies if not resignation, nonstop handwringing by sensitive politicians, and worse.
Yet the Grand Mufti—the highest Islamic law authority of our "friend-and-ally" Saudi Arabia—gets a free pass when he incites Muslims to destroy churches, not that any extra incitement is needed (nary a month goes by without several churches being bombed and destroyed throughout the Islamic world). In fact, at the time of this writing, I have not seen this story, already some three days old, translated on any English news source, though "newsworthy" stories are often translated in mere hours.
Likewise, consider the Grand Mufti's rationale for destroying churches: it is simply based on a hadith. But when non-Muslims evoke hadiths as authoritative—this one or the countless others that incite violence and intolerance against the "infidel"—they are accused of being "Islamophobes," of intentionally slandering and misrepresenting Islam, of being obstacles on the road to "dialogue," and so forth.
Which leads to perhaps the most important point: Islam's teachings are so easily ascertained; there is no mystery in determining what is "right" and "wrong" in Islam. The Grand Mufti based his fatwa on a canonical hadith, which Muslims and (informed) non-Muslims know is part of Islam's sources of jurisprudence (or usul al-fiqh). All very standard and expected. And yet the West—with all its institutions of higher learning, including governmental agencies dealing with cultural and religious questions—is still thoroughly "confused" as to what Islam teaches.
All of this is nothing short of a scandal—a reminder of just how deep the mainstream media, academia, and most politicians have their collective heads thrust in the sand.
Meanwhile, here is the latest piece of evidence of just how bad churches have it in the Muslim world, for those who care to know.

Some thoughts on Galatians 4:21-27: An “either-or” choice of covenants (Pastor's notes)

Pastor's notes for 18th March 2012

To read, click HERE

Monday, March 5, 2012

My iPad 2 ramblings

Finally bought an iPad a few days ago - on Friday ...
I know .... iPad 3 is coming out soon so why not wait and buy the ipad3?

One word - budget!

And also the worry that suddenly no more ipad2 and iPad 3 way above my budget.

Been wanting an ipad for a long time - ever since it came out - not that I am ungrateful fr the iPod touch my mum gave me few years ago ... Just that my eyesight has become progressively poor. *sigh* and it is hard to read and do things on an iPod. Plus ... As a Star Trek fan, an iPad is so Trek-like! (Gene Roddenberry had a wonderful knack of envisioning what future gadgets might look like)

Whenthis iPad 2 came out I got excited thinking that I would be able to buy an iPad 1 cheaper thinking the price of the orignal would drop and i can get one cheaper. oops - wrong thinking as when I finally enquired I found that there was no longer an iPad - only iPad 2s ... *sigh*

Guess Apple products are not like the windows Pc based products where older models drop in price when newer models come out ...

But one problem for me too has been how I have already invested so much money in pc based bible nd ministry software. Heart ache to get an iPad as opposed to a laptop upgrade.
But then I don't really like the fact that laptops have such poor battery life spans. And so bulky compared to an iPad ....

More research on the iPad and found in a forum that it was possible to transfer a lot of my resources under libronix platform (now under Logos) to my iPad since they had an online licensing sync system.

But still budget - cheaper to buy in Malaysia so should I wait? But am always interned about warranty if something goes wrong etc and then suddenly one shop in NZ has thenopadon sale for a week - $100 cheaper for the most basic one! But i thiught that there was no such thing as an iPad sale? All th prices have always been consistent everywhere. Would it hurt to check it out? So I did and most bunches sold out - but found one quite nearby that told me they had just one left and salesperson agreed to hold it for me! (Pleasant surprise!)

I love my iPad 2.

1. Web surfing is not difficult- pc of course is faster and easier but not a major issue.

2. Easier to watch my fav video clips

3. So nice to have my iTunes U and podcasts that I want to listen to are easy to select and synced for me to listen / view and when done I can un-sync.

4. Nice that related PDF downloads are also automatically synced in the library.

5. Oh and nice to be able to select and sync some of my mp3 music onto my iPad (like on my I touch)

6. Pictures / photos too easy to select and view.

7. A couple of simple games (free stuff) and a few fun apps that can be used for ministry (thanks to the creative mind of John Wilson who showed me how he uses them in his cross cultural ministry)

9. Of course all my fav I touch apps - weather, news, tv, jokes, airport, calculator, dictionary, etc.

### one negative thing tis that I can't type too fast or I make many mistakes or it takes of long to register the last strike and a new word / words come out ... Like how this sentence is tuning out :-)

10. Have not used really used the dual camera functions but the auto microphone is very nice. So have re-installed Skype and will probably start re-using one day.

11. I like it that with apps like documents to go, I have been able to easily transfer documents I am working in into my iPad and can even edit and do basic stuff with and and it is MS office compatible. This was a clear Posiive feature that made make decide to buy as work can be reasonably portable - though not sure how I can transfer such files to say a thumb drive etc for use in another person's PC. I suppose there should be a way to do so. But no big worries.

It was very nice putting it on my lap on Sunday to take sermon notes - no noise and not bulky and distracting to others. I love the touch key board on the screen concept. Steve Jobs is indeed a visionary (so very Star Trek like too!)

Going to help heaps in my organization.

12. Of course accessing my mail and Facebook accounts is easy and in fact since I have multiple email accounts, I like the iPad and I touch feature where's can view them all at once rather than having to sign in and out.

13. What I also like us that I find that I am very comfortable reading in bd with my iPad. I have under utilized many resources because I have found it hard to read books on a Pc screen - eyesight issues. Also at times reading in bed ith a thick book has been a chore and Now it so much lighter and this is nice.

It is great that I can read and switch books easily now ( wish all my books could be converted to electronic books :-) And I am someone who likes to mark my books and often I have not done this as it has been inconvenient. I was so happy to discover highlighting with color pencils and note making functions. And I like the logos one as I can customize my underlining, highlighting etc. very nice! So many colors and the fun part is it has an "inductive" highlighting feature.
I just re-introduced inductive BS to my young adults group and so this was a bonus for me as I have been wanting to be more systematic in doing this but one deterrent is the amount of paper, printing and filing. Now I can do it and everything is saved electronically and so better organized ...

## bad part is that I am still not used to using the features - for example ... I select and before I can highlight etc I touch something wrongly and have to start again .... :-(

### another not so good part is that unlike a pc platform I can't seem to open multiple books at one time and save a desktop so when I tried doing things like word studies under my logos books it was rather tedious - hopefully there is a better way but I have not discovered it
yet.
But in all fairness it is probably because these resources were not originally designed for the iPad

14. When I got my I touch I bought an Olive Tree app - Esv study bible as I like this study
Bible very much. But also under utilized. Now that the screen is bigger the split screen function is now usable for me.

And it is nice to actually use the Reading programmes and have it electronically managd. Will help me be more disciplined!

15. It is so nice too that I can now use the Genii iPad app to read and even listen and view the embedded extras. Tried it on the Pc platform but not as nice as on the iPad (it was designed socially for the iPad).

Bottom line is that I am glad I bought an iPad... Even if it will soon be out dated when iPad 3 is launched.

Ramblings in comprehensive car insurance claims - a comparison

On Saturday after collecting my car from the workshop, I thought to myself how pleasant the experience was compared to back home in Malaysia.

A week earlier, someone hit my car from behind - not a major accident but right side of the bumper and lights were damaged. Other driver was at fault and so in summary this is what I did.

1. Dropped by the insurance office (it happend to be a couple of minutes away)to check on the procedure.

2. I was told that I had to call a toll free number to make the report. And to make it easier, a staff there told me I could use their phone and offered to get all my insurance details form the computer so I had all the necessary info at hand.

3. I called explained and since I had the other driver's details the person on the phone told me it would be much easier to handle and told me that since it was not my fault, the would be no excess fee. Then asked if I would like her to do the report for me online. I obviously said yes

4. I did my report over the phone and she read it back to me and I confirmed it. Was accurate (she read out a legal statement and I had to verbally say I agree) -

5. I was asked to go to the insurance workshop where they do the car assessments. They asked my location and gave me the centre nearest to me. She checked on my transport situation and offered to arrange a taxi (free as part of the service) to take me home.

6. When I arrived at the centre, I was met by a service rep who told me where to park. He introduced himself and took photos etc and asked me basic questions, read out my report and asked for clarifications - I made a correction / clarification which he took down. He proceeded to explain the procedure which included

a. How my car would be st to a repair shop and when returned theynwiuld not release my car until they were satisfied as to the quality of the repair (life time guarantee?)

b. that they would call me to let me know the estimated time of repair and that they wiuld call one day ahead of time to confirm when the car could be picked up

c. And if I wanted they would arrange for a taxi to pick me up and send me to the centre

7. I signed the release of my car and was asked to go to their waiting room where someone else gave me a small folder with all the procedure information, phone numbers, my claim number and the business Cardiff the person assigned to my case .

8. I was then told that a taxi had been called and would arrive soon and they would let me know when the taxi arrived.

9. A few hours later I got a call informing me of the estimated date the car would be ready.

On the day before my car was ready I called to check on the progress and to my disappointment I was told that theeyead just got word that there was mix up in one of the spare parts and so my car (which was due for Friday) would only be ready on Wednesday as the workshop ( out sourced) had to put in a new order.

I expressed my disappointment as it was inconvenient to not have a car and I did not sign up for extra premium where I could get a special rate for a rental car if I had an accident.
*sigh* one of those things ....

I left it at that. Then in Saturday morning (11 am) I got a surprise call to say that my car was ready for pick up - it had been sent back early by the workshop and I was asked if I wanted to pick up my car today. Of course I said yes.

I was told that I had to pick it up before 12.30 pm. I said not problem and asked the person to arrange a taxi for me. He told me someone would call me back in a few minutes on that.

And someone did 5 minutes later to say a taxi would be over shortly.

Then a hiccup.

Taxi arrived and as he was driving I noticed he was using a strange route that seemed to me out of the way. I asked him and he said that his instructions was to take me to the Penrose centre. I told him my car was t to the Avondale centre.

He told me that he was just following the call centre's instructions and told me it was ok as they (taxi company) did a lot of jobs for the insurance company and he knows personaly of cases of cars sent to a different centre for pick up.

So ok .... I am cool with that. But when we arrive I finder that I was right. My car was at Avondale. And it was 12.15 pm. Taxi company call centre made an error.

Penrose calls Avondale and explains the situation and taxi is instructed to send me to the right centre and that they will wait for me. Nice customer service as I know how sticky some Kiwis can be on leaving work for home on time!

I arrive at Avondale and person took me to my car, asked if i was happy with the job ( i was!) gave me the keys and I drove off.


Now to my Malaysian experience (granted it was 15 years or so ago) ...

Mother's 3 month old Toyota - hit from being by a motor yclist who was speeding. I was stationary and signalling to turn. I could hear his bike and from my rear view mirror could see him speeding and not even looking ahead till it was too late and could see the horror on his face as he sslammed on his breaks realizing he would to be able to stop in time.
Bang!!!

Ironically similar damage - rear bumper and right rear lights.

Got his details, he is at fault and knows it and admits it - and so i go to make a police report

Bottom line - police investigates and verifies that I am not at fault at all. Cannot pin any fault on my part. Tyres are brand new. I was stationary (and I have a witness who saw the whole thing as it was outside his house ...) The tyre marks are clear on the road and everything is consistent with my story.

Workshop requires that I get an independent evaluator and they provide one saying that insurance companies are known to challenge the assessments of repair workshops and they will not do any repairs until cost is agreed on as they end up losing money when insurance companies will not pay.

Btw Car is stuck for weeks until all this below is sorted out.

Then the nightmare begins.

1. Insurance company (despite it being comprehensive) and me providing an independent evaluator will not pay the full amount for the repairs. I think it was something like $4,800 and they offer something like $2,800! What?! I thought to myself - why not you provide your own evaluation instead of me getting a quote from the workshop and getting an independent adjuster and then arguing it is too high? Too high on what grounds?!

2. Can't recall anything about any excess fee but I remember being informed that I would lose my NCB discount! What!?! But it was not my fault!

3. Yes, they know up the a client involved a motorcyclist and he was injured. He was fine on the day.... yes, but you are in a car and protected while he is on a bike and not protected so i have an 'unfair' advantage. What?! that's my fault? Also he may decide to sue me later for injuries sustained in th accident for that reason! What!? He was okay. He did not fly off his bike or anything dramatic. In fact he rode off on his bike!! Yes ... But injuries may come up a few months after and he might sue ... Sue for what!? He was at fault. He hit me and the police investigation confirms that I was not in the wrong - no contributing factor at all. Yes ... But if he decides to sue then it will ost money so you have lost your NCB

I go back and calculate and realize that if my mother loses her NCB she will end up paying a significantly larger amount of money in the long run.

4. Meanwhile back to the insurance company. I have to write and argue that I do not accept their evaluation .... And wait a few weeks after for them to come back with a counter proposal. Something like $3200 a final offer take it or leave it"

What nonsense is this? Stupid rule of only paying up to 80% of what you are insured for or something to that effect. So then why do pay such a high premium in the first place?
And it is frustrating as I borrowed my mother's new car to go to the church down the road!!
And stupid corruption in Malaysia where the Proton is protected so that her Toyota is four to five times the price it should be so the premium is so high!

5. I call a lawyer friend for advice. His advice? Take the offer or you will get nothing as it is considered a small amount (under $5000) and if you want to challenge you have to go to small claims courts(?) and th insurance company will tie you up for years - costing you lots of time and money - and you will not get more than what's offered.

6. You guessed it - I took the offer, lost almost $2000 for something that wasn't my fault. I have to pay for repairs first And wait months for whatever percentage of the reimbursement.
And I switched insurance companies ....

This is yet another reason why I like it better here in New Zealand!!!