Monday, 31 March 2014
2 Timothy 2:15-16 - Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness.
Friday, 28 March 2014
Tuesday, 25 March 2014
Galatians 5:16-17 - I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.
Friday, 21 March 2014
Romans 5:1 - Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
Wednesday, 19 March 2014
Tuesday, 18 March 2014
Psalm 103:2-6 - Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits:
Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases,
Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
The LORD executes righteousness And justice for all who are oppressed.
Monday, 17 March 2014
Romans 12:1 - I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
Sunday, 16 March 2014
Begin forwarded message:
UN Official: India's 'Conversion' Laws Threaten Religious Freedom
By Vishal Arora
- Indian Muslim women walk past the Bhagyalakshmi temple, near the historic Charminar monument, in the old city section of Hyderabad on Nov. 16, 2012.
- Noah Seelam/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
India's laws restricting religious conversions–intended to protect people from being forced to change their beliefs — are an obstacle to religious freedom, a senior United Nations figure said in an interview.
Heiner Bielefeldt, the UN's special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, spoke to The Wall Street Journal last week.
The laws he discussed apply in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, and vary state by state. The Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act, for instance, says a person who wants to convert to another religion must first get permission from the district magistrate to do so. Mr. Bielefeldt argues that the laws place unreasonable restrictions not only on people's right to convert to another religion, but also their right to propagate their own religion.
The Wall Street Journal: What are some of your observations about religious freedom in India?
Heiner Bielefeldt: It's a birthplace of many world religions. In terms of diversity, it's second to not a single other country. There's a heritage of pluralism. But secularism has come under threat in India. Apart from communal violence, the main point that ranks the highest is anti-conversion laws.
WSJ: Can you please elaborate?
Mr. Bielefeldt: Conversion can mean turning to another religion or inviting someone else to turn to my religion. The former is absolutely protected [in the UN's understanding.] Causing someone else to convert is not absolutely protected as a right, nevertheless it is involved in freedom of religion and strongly protected. The state has to ensure this is possible in a non-coercive manner.
The anti-conversion laws primarily threaten not the convert, but the missionaries. For example, the prohibition of coercion is mixed with very vague concepts like inducement or allurement. Any invitation [to another religion] has an element of inducement or allurement. The law particularly in Gujarat carries a high penalty of three years' imprisonment based on such loosely defined terms. This doesn't do justice even to the rule of law, in which laws need to be clear, especially in criminal law.
WSJ: So this legislation doesn't affect the right of a person to adopt another religion?
Mr. Bielefeldt: The converts themselves in Gujarat have to undergo, I'd say, a humiliating bureaucratic procedure, exposing themselves and explaining the reasons [for their conversion] as if the State were in a position of being able to assess the genuineness of conversion. This is disrespect of freedom of religion or belief.
The laws are also applied in a discriminatory manner in the practice of "re-conversion." [This term describes cases where people revert back to their original beliefs.] Re-conversion, or so-called homecoming, ceremonies are encouraged [by some of these laws.] I heard from eyewitnesses how Indian festivals are used or abused to stage big ceremonies of mass re-conversions.
WSJ: You travelled to meet survivors of the violence against Christians in Gujarat's Dangs district in 1998, and of the violence against Muslims in that state in 2002 where more than 1,000 people, mainly Muslims, were killed. You also visited Orissa's Kandhamal district and Karnataka where anti-Christian violence occurred in 2008. What's your impression of what happened?
Mr. Bielefeldt: There is a continued climate of fear, and maybe that's even the purpose. The acts of violence are part of a broader pattern of instigating fear into the minorities, sending them a message they don't belong to this country unless they either keep at the margins or turn to Hinduism.
People feel that not enough has been done. The state apparatus seems to function to a certain degree, nevertheless the extremely late, slow responses of some important actors like law and enforcement and security indicate a clear gap in protection.
Follow India Real Time on Twitter @WSJIndia.
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Jihadists to Christians in Syrian city: convert to Islam, pay up or be killed
Syria, March 04, 2014: A Jihadist group in control of the northern Syrian city of Raqqa has given Christians a devastating ultimatum: convert to Islam, pay the jizya tax and abide by a list of restrictions, or else risk being killed.
In a statement posted online, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) said it would give Christians protection if they paid the tax and agreed to its conditions, adding:
If they reject, they are subject to being legitimate targets, and nothing will remain between them and ISIS other than the sword.
The militants said that a group of 20 Christian leaders had agreed to the Aqed al-Thimaprotection pact. Every Christian man will have to pay a levy in gold: four dinars, worth £435 at current prices, for the wealthy, half that for those on middle-income and a quarter for the poor.
They have to abide by twelve rules, which include restrictions on practising their faith; they are not allowed to make renovations to churches or other religious buildings, display crosses or other Christian symbols outside of churches, ring church bells or pray in public. They are also barred from carrying arms and must follow other rules imposed on their daily lives.
ISIS cited the Islamic concept of dhimma, which governs non-Muslims living in conquered Islamic territory. It dates back to the early days of Islam in the seventh century but was largely abolished under the Ottomans in the mid-19th century.
The jizya is, on the face of it, a protection racket, but its significance runs deeper than that of a mafia-style extortion scheme. It is a humiliating tax or tribute that the Quran commands Christians and Jews to pay"with willing submission and while feeling themselves subdued" (Q 9:29).
It is part of a collection of rules and regulations imposed on those granted dhimmi status that are intended to mark them out as inferior to Muslims. So, while paying the jizya does guarantee a level of protection for Christians and Jews, it comes at the high price of their accepting a sub-class status in which they are not recognised as citizens and their rights are restricted.
- barnabas team
Most dangerous Christian prayers?
1. Teach me humility.
After you pray this Christian prayer for humility, be ready for people to badmouth you, slander you, and drag your name through the mud. If you pray for humility, be ready for false accusations, for that "skeleton in the closet" to be revealed, or for people to belittle you and talk down to you as if you were inferior.
The only way to learn humility is to be placed in humbling situations, so if you pray for humility, be ready!
2. Teach me patience.
If you pray for patience, get ready to be surrounded by the most annoying people you have ever met. Get ready for your car to break down when you are late for an appointment. Get ready your children to go bonkers. Get ready for prayers to not get answered. Get ready for setbacks, roadblocks, and pitfalls.
Just like with all the other Christian prayers on this list, God teaches us patience by taking us through trying times.
3. Lead me wherever you want me to go.
Usually when we pray this Christian prayer, we think that God is going to send us into high profile ministry positions, places of honor and glory, and opportunities to be heard. This is why ministry leaders almost never "feel the leading of God" to go to smaller ministries and places of lesser significance. God always seems to "call" pastors and ministry professionals to bigger churches, richer ministries, and positions with greater power.
While I do not deny that God sometimes leads people in these directions, I think that more often than not, God wants to lead us downward, but we refuse to go. Of course, this does not mean that we will stay in the gutter if God leads us there. God may very well lift us up out of the gutter to a place of prominence, but when He does so, He gets the glory instead of us.
That's why this is such a dangerous Christian prayer. We want to be used by God for great things in His kingdom, but God's path to greatness usually does not mirror what we had in mind. God's path to greatness usually leads to prison, death, and the gates of hell.
Also (and this fits with #1 above), when we pray this prayer, we will often be faced with a choice between two ministry positions, one that leads to honor, glory, and fame, and one that leads to obscurity and insignificance. Though the temptation is to choose glory and honor, such decisions may actually be a choice to follow Jesus downward into humility.
I once heard Francis Schaeffer say in an interview that if given the choice between two ministry positions, we should choose the one with less fame and glory.
4. Help me understand the plight of the poor.
This Christian prayer is like asking God to make you poor. Yikes! How can you understand the plight of the poor unless you become poor yourself?!
So do you like your nice house, your two cars, your steak dinners, and your Caribbean vacations? Don't ask God to help you understand the plight of the poor.
5. Make me more like Jesus.
I had my life all figure out, and it was all going according to my perfect plan. Then I started praying this prayer. Before long, all my hopes and dreams lay shattered around my feet. I often tried to pick up the pieces and glue everything back together, but God would come through with His baseball bat and smash it all to hell (almost literally… all of my plans and dreams deserved nothing more).
When you pray to be like Jesus, God will begin to break down, burn away, and slough off anything and everything in your life that does not look like Jesus. This sounds nice until you begin to experience it. The purification of our life may be with God's refining fire, but it sill burns!
The purification of our life may be with God's refining fire, but it sill burns!
6. Give me more faith.
When Christians pray for God to give us more faith, we are likely to enter into some of the difficult and doubt-filled times of our lives. You will begin to question everything you have never known and everything you have ever believed. You may even begin to doubt God's goodness and maybe even His existence.
This is not bad. Embrace the doubts. Understand that if what you believe it true, it can stand up against all questions. Truth does not fear a challenge. There is no other way for your faith to grow than for your faith to be tested.
There is no other way for your faith to grow than for your faith to be tested.
7. Give me victory over sin and temptation.
Christian prayer How do you think victory comes, except through ever-increasing cycles of temptation? Sure, God does not send the temptations, and He never allows us to be tempted with more than we can bear, but if we pray for God to give us victory over sin and temptation, this is the same thing as asking God to strengthen us so that we can stand up under greater and greater temptations!
So if you pray this Christian prayer, be ready for an onslaught of all the wiles of the devil.
8. Please help my annoying neighbor/coworker come to Christ.
This is a great Christian prayer. Except guess how God is going to help your annoying neighbor or coworker come to Christ? That's right. He's going to use you.
I once heard a story of a Bible study group who decided to make a prayer list of all the people they "disliked" the most, and then pray for these people every week as part of the Bible study. Over the course of the next ten years, all but one of the people on that list became believers, and almost all of them became Christians because the members of that Bible study showed grace, love, mercy, and forgiveness to these "annoying" people.
If you are going to pray for someone, be prepared to answer your own prayers.
Saturday, 15 March 2014
Galatians 3:24-26 - Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
Friday, 14 March 2014
Thursday, 6 March 2014
1 Peter 1:24-25 - because "All flesh is as grass, And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers,
Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you. But the word of the LORD endures forever."