Monday, September 15, 2014

Antisemitism: A fivefold increase

Antisemitic incidents during Israel's 50-day war with Hamas drew heavily on references to Hitler and the Holocaust, according to a report from the Anti-Defamation League.

Protests from 14 countries from Argentine to the UK included such slogans as "Jews to the gas," "Gaza. Open-air museum of the Palestinian Holocaust" and "Death to the Jews." Jews were portrayed in the media as snakes, Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu was portrayed as Hitler, and the Star of David was juxtaposed with swastikas.

Michael Gove, Conservative Chief Whip and MP for Surrey Heath, told a gathering of the Holocaust Education Trust: "In France, in July of this year, more than 100 Jewish citizens had to be rescued from one synagogue and another was firebombed. The leader of an antisemitic party - the Front National - is France's most popular politician. . .

"In Germany, Molotov cocktails were lobbed at one synagogue. In Belgium a cafe displays a sign saying "Dogs are allowed but Jews are not," while a doctor refuses to treat Jewish patients. And in May of this year four people visiting the Jewish Museum in Brussels were killed by a jihadist terrorist.

"We must all remember where this leads. Now more than ever.

"And we must not think that Britain - gentle, tolerant, civilised Britain - is immune. CST, the Community Security Trust, monitors instances of antisemitism throughout the UK. . . In July this year, CST recorded 302 antisemitic incidents, a fivefold increase from July, 2013. . . On our streets our citizens have marched with swastikas superimposed on the Israeli flag."
    

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Love is not soft

The love of God is greater far
  Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star,
  And reaches to the lowest hell;
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
  God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled,
  And pardoned from his sin.


 Oh, love of God, how rich and pure!
  How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure -
  The saints' and angels' song.

 You might find the words above a blessing. Or they might be just words. But one thing is sure: the love of God is a marvellous thing.

You may remember the Prodigal Son. He persuaded his father to give him his inheritance. although his father wasn't dead yet. Then he went off and blew it in. Destitute, starving and repentant, he came home, intending to ask for a servant's job. But his father saw him coming, ran to meet him, embraced him, ordered the fatted calf to be killed and proclaimed a party.

That's my Heavenly Father - unconditional forgiveness for the repentant sinner. But we sometimes have a strange idea about His love. It doesn't mean that He turns a blind eye to everything about us, or that He will ignore the foolish things we do.

My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord,
  Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by him,
For whom the Lord loves he chastens. 
                                                                   Heb 12:5

He chastens us because He wants us to grow up straight. When we're chastened by the Lord, it hurts. But remember two things. First, if we're chastened by the Lord, it's evidence that we're His sons. Second, He does it because He loves us.

He's our Father, and there's no better father than He.
    

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The two faces of Islam

For weeks the headlines have been of beheadings, crucifixions and executions taking place in Iraq. Even people to whom Iraq seems a million miles away have been concerned, and rightly so, that Islamic State terror might be exported to the streets of London and New York.

 

Listen to Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, international director of Barnabas Fund and an expert on Islam:


"Last month I was in Damascus. I had the great privilege of meeting Dr Ahmad Badr Al-Din Hassoun, the Grand Mufti of Syria. He is a man of peace who pleads repeatedly for equal and harmonious relations between Muslims, Christians and followers of all religions as members of one human family. Because of this stance, he has endured great abuse and criticism from some of his fellow Muslims and was targeted for assassination by the Saudis. Knowing that he would have good security and protection, the group of Islamist hit-men were instructed that, if they could not kill the Grand Mufti himself, they should kill one of his sons instead. In due course they murdered his teenage son. After some months, two of the perpetrators were caught and imprisoned. The Grand Mufti asked to see them and they were brought to him blindfolded. He instructed their blindfolds to be removed, and the two young men, discovering themselves face to face with the head of Sunni Islam in Syria and the father of their victim, shook with fear. But, to their astonishment, the Grand Mufti gently reached out his hands to them and told them not to be afraid. He said that he did not want their mothers to weep as his own bereaved wife had wept for her son, and therefore he forgave them. 

 

"Last week I was in northern Iraq and came face to face with the stark reality of another face of Islam, that of ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, now calling itself simply the Islamic State). The sheer brutality of this face of Islam cannot be comprehended. It kills men, women and children, the elderly, the poor and the weak. It cuts in half little children and commits acts of ethnic cleansing that border on genocide. This behaviour is pure barbarism reminiscent of the early Assyrians and later Babylonians who once inhabited this region and were known for their immense cruelty, , , 


"This face of Islam, based as it is on Islamic sources including the Quran and hadith [tradition recording the words and actions of Mohammed], is as authentic as the peaceful tradition of the Grand Mufti of Syria. Both have existed throughout Islamic history. The Grand Mufti of Damascus has not only been ridiculed and vilified by his co-religionists but also told that he is not a true Muslim. When he visited the UK some ten years ago, and he preached at Regent's Park mosque in London and at other mosques, he afterwards had to be protected from Muslim leaders who disagreed with his theology. . .
. . 
"The question therefore is: what is true Islam? The reality is that there are now many 'Islams' depending on one’s interpretation of the texts and of the history. All can validly claim to be theologically based on the same Islamic source texts."

Dr Sookhdeo adds a word of hope. And a word of warning.

You can read his complete article here.
      

Monday, September 08, 2014

'Outspoken' pastor faces 10 years in jail

Christianity has enjoyed phenomenal growth in China. The Pew Forum on Religion and Ethics has estimated Protestants there at 58 million and Catholics at nine million: others say there are more than 100 million Christians in China. The Chinese Communist Party has only 86 million members.

In May, a national report listed religion as one of four "severe challenges" to national security in China. (The others were the import of democratic ideals, the influence of Western culture and uncensored access to the world-wide web.)

A few weeks later, the New York Post reported, a Chinese government document said religion had grown too fast, there were too many religious sites and there were too many religious activities. Once again, the Chinese authorities are tightening the screw, especially in the coastal Zhejiang province, where Christians are particularly numerous.

Communist officials have toppled the crosses of at least 229 churches, torn down some churches entirely, and issued demolition notices to over 100 more. They have even attacked state-controlled churches, where the state has the say about membership, the appointment of pastors and the content of sermons.

Church members, some of them elderly, attempting to protect Wenzhou Salvation Church, were beaten with electric batons. A number were hospitalised with a fractured skull, broken bones and internal injuries.

One of the pastors, Huang Yizi, has been openly critical of the demolition programme, calling it "severe persecution" and an "insult" to China's Christians. "I will not be silenced," he said. "I know I will be put in jail one day." 

He was detained on August 2 for "gathering a crowd to assault a state agency" and has not been released.

He is 40 years old, and has a wife and two young children. He is said to be facing a 10-year jail term.
     

Friday, September 05, 2014

Israel: More trouble ahead

The war between Israel and Hamas is not over. It cannot be over. Hamas is sworn to destroy Israel.

Caroline Glick, senior contributing editor at the Jerusalem Post, says: "Hamas exists to obliterate Israel. The goal of each round of fighting is to soften Israel up for the next round. Hamas will only stop fighting when it is defeated. And Israel did not defeat Hamas."

She says that according to Amos Harel, Ha'aretz' defence analyst, senior Israeli military commanders want Israel to bow to Hamas’s demands for open borders with Israel and for the steady transfer of funds to Hamas’s treasury. If Israel doesn’t give in to Hamas’s demands for open borders, Hamas will renew its attacks at the end of September.

"Hamas went to war with Israel because its back was up against the wall. Due to Egypt’s decision a year ago to seal its borders with Gaza, Hamas lost the ability to expand its arsenal, fuel Gaza’s smuggling-based economy and pay its terrorists their salaries.
 
"US President Barack Obama adopted Hamas’s demand for open borders as the official position of the US government almost at the outset of the conflict. . . Under Obama the Federal Aviation Administration instituted a discriminatory and unwarranted flight ban on Israel. The repercussions of that move continue to harm Israel’s economy. . .

"Today, the US and the EU are working together at the UN Security Council to draft a resolution that would see the deployment of international military forces to Gaza. The defined role of the force would be to oversee Gaza’s demilitarization, seemingly in line with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s demand.

"But the notion that UN forces would take any steps to disarm Hamas is absurd. The minute such forces arrive in Gaza they will become human shields preventing Israel from defending itself against Hamas aggression. If they are deployed to Gaza, then in the next round of Hamas’s war against the Jews, IDF troops will have to constrain their offensive operations still further to avoid killing Western forces.

"In other words, the deployment of such a force in Gaza will make it all but impossible for Israel to fight Hamas in the future. . . Hamas now knows that all they have to do to survive, thrive and expand their war on Israel, is shake the tree. Something will fall out that will reward their aggression.

"If they pay any price at all, it will involve nothing more than the death of the civilians of Gaza. And Hamas leaders couldn’t care less. For them, the death of civilians is yet another means of attacking Israel. . .

"Residents of the south are livid at the government for opting for a ceasefire rather than mounting a full invasion of Gaza and dismantling Hamas piece by piece, terrorist by terrorist. As they see it, Operation Protective Edge failed to bring them the security they deserve and require to lead normal lives."

A man living in Israel writes in a letter: "This is a spiritual war. This is a real battle of right versus wrong; light versus darkness; truth versus lies; life versus death; the truth of the Bible versus the lies of the Koran."

Western television media have not filmed Hamas rockets falling on Israel, but they have filmed Israel air strikes on Gaza. There is no doubt that people have been influenced by the unbalanced propaganda war. In the interests of balance, they should watch this video here.
   

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Antisemitic attacks up 436 per cent

Thousands gathered outside London's Royal Courts of Justice this week at a rally to protest increased antisemitism in Britain.

Speakers included Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and Maajid Nawaz, co-founder of counter-extremism think tank Quilliam, who is a Muslim.

Douglas Murray, associate director of the Henry Jackson Society, said "We have to stop the lies." He said it had become  "acceptable discourse for people to say that Israel is committing a 'genocide' instead of the most targeted military campaign against a terrorist group in history."

Thousands of people have taken part in anti-Israel protests in recent weeks accompanied by antisemitic violence. Pro-Palestinian rioters vandalised a Tesco store in Birmingham over a refusal to boycott Israeli products. Demonstrators rioted outside a Kedem store in Manchester. Dozens of death threats were made to the store's owners.

Hate crimes against Jews have risen 383 per cent worldwide since 2013, and 436 per cent in Europe. According to a Jewish newspaper, nearly two-thirds of the UK's Jewish population have questioned their future in the UK.
   

Monday, September 01, 2014

Eighty years of 'wonderful' marriage

Do you like good news? Here's some good news.

Maurice and Helen Kaye are celebrating their 80th wedding anniversary. He's 102, and she's 101. They live independently in their flat in Bournemouth.

They met in 1929, when he was 17 and she was 16. Helen worked in her father's women's wear shop in London. Maurice was a travelling salesman. On the day they met, Maurice stayed in the shop for three hours. Eventually, Helen's mother asked her "Who's going to throw him out, you or me?"

They courted for four years before they married, because Helen's mother wanted Helen's older sister to be married first. Her mother didn't think Helen's marriage would last.

"I suppose what I fell in love with was the fact that he had a car," says Helen. "Not many young men did in those days." Maurice was persuaded by his children to give up driving when he was 100, and he's not sure if he's quite forgiven them. 

He says the secret of a happy marriage is always agreeing with his wife. "You mustn't be hard on each other," she says. "If you have to give in a little bit, you give in a little bit.

"It's been a wonderful marriage. It works because we have the same sense of humour. We laugh at the same things."

They have two children and a host of grandchildren and great grandchildren. You can see a video of the happy couple here.
     

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Some good news from refugee chaos

Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been forced to flee their homes in fear for their lives, many with only the clothes they were wearing. Many families are living in the open air, exposed to soaring heat, often without food and drink.

An estimated 1.2 million have been displaced this year. For many, it was not the first time.

Fortunately, the Kurdistan region of Iraq has not closed its borders to refugees. Officials say at least 45,000 Iraqis have fled there to escape Islamic State fighters. Iraqi Kurdistan is already home to more than 300,000 displaced Iraqis, along with 220,000 Syrian refugees. 

A local worker described one church hall where 200 families were lined wall to wall. Two babies were said to have been born there. A church in Irbil was helping 260 families, 216 of them staying in the church courtyard.

Many local Christians spend most of their days distributing aid and sharing Christ with the residents of refugee camps. “In a crisis like this, we are experiencing a time of revival and awakening everywhere,” reported a ministry leader. “God is not just moving people geographically; He is moving in their hearts as well.”

Norya is a Syrian refugee who lost her husband and five children when a rocket fired by Syrian government forces toward the terrorists landed on her house. She found Christ in a refugee camp. "She now sings hymns with us at our church group meetings.”

In the Kurdish town of Akra, some of the displaced are living in a former prison. Each bathroom is shared by approximately 10 families.

It was in a tented refugee camp in that town that workers came across Abu Mustafa, a 50-year-old man whose wife had been killed. He has three girls with cerebral atrophy. He blamed God for his tragic situation, but allowed the workers to read the Bible to him and pray for him.

“This is the first time I feel relief,” he told the workers. “For three years, I couldn’t smile or feel safe, but now I feel differently. I have peace in my heart. Please pray for my girls. I believe Jesus can heal them and heal me from the inside.” He calls the workers daily to ask when they will visit him again.

The Red Cross is appealing for funds to buy tents, blankets and food. Open Doors is appealing for funds to provide relief.

Remember those in need.
  

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Plenty of blame, but who has the answer?





So proud are the Islamic State’s leaders of their acts of barbarism that they broadcast them for the world to see on Twitter and YouTube. "In one propaganda video, they show hundreds of victims being trucked to an execution site, where they are filmed pleading for their lives before being marched toward open pits and shot one by one. Islamic State militants recently tweeted a photo of a decapitated head with this message: 'This is our ball. It is made of skin #WorldCup.'"
 
The Islamic State "runs camps where it indoctrinates children to believe that all non-Muslims are sub-human, 'apostates' and 'infidels' who should be exterminated. Vice News recently interviewed children undergoing such indoctrination by the Islamic State. One young boy looks into the camera and says 'In the name of God my name is Daoud and I am 14 years old. I’d like to join the Islamic State and to kill with them, because they fight infidels and apostates.' Another declares: 'We promise you car bombs and explosives. . . I swear to God, we will divide America in two.'
    
 "Some would like to believe that the Islamic State’s offensive in Syria and Iraq is nothing more than 'a quarrel in a faraway country between people of whom we know nothing,' in the words of Neville Chamberlain. In fact, the Islamic State’s leaders have a messianic vision of building a totalitarian Islamic empire encompassing all current and former Muslim lands, stretching from Europe to North Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia. They may never see that vision realized, but they can wreak an awful lot of death and destruction trying.

 "Their 'caliph,' Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, recently warned: 'Our last message is to the Americans: Soon we will be in direct confrontation, and the sons of Islam have prepared for such a day. So watch, for we are with you, watching.' They are rapidly accumulating the recruits and resources to follow through on this threat. The Islamic State is actively establishing cells outside Iraq and Syria, including in Europe. And according to scholars at the Rand Corporation, it 'currently brings in more than $1 million a day in revenue and is now the richest terrorist group on the planet. . . A conservative calculation suggests that [the Islamic State] may generate a surplus of $100 million to $200 million this year.'

"To put this in perspective, al-Qaeda spent about $500,000 to carry out the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

"The worst part is that all of this could have been prevented. Just a few years ago, the Islamic State (then al-Qaeda in Iraq) was a spent force, defeated both militarily and ideologically thanks to the 2007 US surge, and the Sunni masses who rose up to join the United States in driving them out. Then President Obama’s complete withdrawal of US forces in 2011 took the boot off of the terrorists’ necks. And, as Hillary Clinton recently pointed out, Obama’s 'failure' to act in Syria 'left a big vacuum, which the jihadists have now filled.'

"Now, after standing by and allowing the Islamic State to establish control in an area the size of Belgium, Obama has finally launched limited strikes - but only to prevent the Islamic State from overrunning US diplomatic facilities in northern Iraq (for fear of another Benghazi), massacring Yazidis and controlling the Mosul Dam. Obama insists that 'there’s no American military solution' to the rise of the Islamic State and that 'it’s time to turn the page on more than a decade in which so much of our foreign policy was focused on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.'

 "Obama may be tired of war, as were Hitler’s enemies. But the Islamic State is not tired of war. It has been explicit about its intentions. The lessons of history are clear. The free world ignores such barbarity at its peril."

Thiessen doesn't offer a solution. Obama's air strikes are limited. David Cameron doesn't appear to have a coherent strategy.

So what is to be done with militant Islam?
   

Monday, August 25, 2014

From shadow of death to freedom

In the most desolate circumstances, God works.

Maryam Rostampour and Marziyeh Amirizadeh were born into Muslim families in Iran. Both had a desire to know God. Both were converted to Christ in their teens, one after a vision of Jesus; the other by reading a copy of Luke's Gospel. 

They met while studying in Turkey. Studies over, they decided to return to Iran. Their people needed to hear of the love of Jesus.

Together they handed out - illegally - 20,000 New Testaments and started two house churches. They saw miracles as God protected them. Then one day they were arrested.

After days of interrogation, they were moved to the notorious Evin Prison in Teheran. They were charged with apostasy, blasphemy and anti-government activity. They were promised they would be executed by hanging - but they were told if they converted to Islam they would be released immediately. They refused.

The authorities' promise was not carried out. Eventually, they were released. How that came about is a remarkable story.

You can hear their testimonies on video here. They have written a book. Captive in Iran, about their experiences. You can read the first chapter here.

Take advantage of the opportunity. Your faith will be strengthened as you hear the stories of these brave young women.
   

Friday, August 22, 2014

Religious freedom and a secular Britain

The picture is of the flag of the new Islamist State. I don't know what its designers had in mind, but it's not black by accident. There are reports coming out of Iraq of rapes, beheadings and crucifixions. There are reports of joint suicides after women being raped. There are reports of women and children being buried alive.

Both Barack Obama and David Cameron did little when 200,000 Christians were displaced by IS (Islamist State, formerly ISIS) fighters. It was as though Christians didn't really matter. It was only when some 40,000 Yezidis were trapped on a mountain that they began to take action.

David Cameron said the Government will redouble its efforts to prevent Britons from travelling to join the 500 Britons said to be already with the world's best armed and fastest growing terrorist group. He said Islamist militants could bring terror to the streets of Britain unless urgent action were taken.

He said the terrorists have "murderous intent" and Britain must use its "military prowess" to stop them coming here. Britain had "no choice but to rise to the challenge," but he ruled out a war in Iraq. Britain is not going to get involved in another Iraq war.

Tim Montgomerie highlighted the problem in the Times yesterday.

"June’s mass persecution of Iraqi Christians in Mosul hardly moved any head of government. Barack Obama only acted when the ancient Yazidi sect was threatened with extinction. That, however, may have been only a pretext. The real trigger for action may have been US strategic interests in Arbil. Yet at least America acted. At least Germany and France are offering asylum to Iraqi Christians. Britain, with its proud heritage of providing refuge for those fleeing for their lives, has been almost comatose. . . 

"We’ve learnt in recent days that government inaction has brought some of the Church of England’s most senior clerics to the edge of despair. . . 

"I sent a round of texts to government contacts yesterday, asking whether the intervention of church leaders would spur action. Some replies left me profoundly depressed: “We can’t get bogged down in a another conflict in Iraq so close to an election.” “The public oppose granting large numbers of Iraqis asylum.” “Intervention could be a huge distraction from domestic concerns.” I did get one or two replies of high principle but most were soaked in the language of electoral calculation. I hope the Church of England has begun to realise that religious freedom is not a priority for this government or, for that matter, the opposition. . .

"Britain is becoming one of the most secular countries on earth. Growing hostility to faith schools is of a different order to what we see in the Middle East, but common to the secular mindset is a blindness to the importance of religious faith to people. It begins by wanting to push religion to the corners of the public square and then beyond it. . . 

"I hope the Baines letter [a letter to the Government from the Rt Rev Nick Baines, Bishop of Leeds] might be the moment when Church realises that, for all their worthy rhetoric at Christmas and Easter, British politicians will not fight for religious freedom. I hope its underlying mood was not, as one newspaper suggested, bitterness but resolve. Resolve to ensure the Christian voice is heard again in politics. Because religious freedom is a foundational freedom of conscience. If the political class isn’t willing to defend it, other freedoms are at risk in the years ahead."

What should we do in light of what's happening in Syria and Iraq? Pray, act and give, to help people in desperate need. Excuses might be found for election-minded politicians not to be interested, but there is no excuse for Christians to be unconcerned.
    

Monday, August 18, 2014

Suddenly, the wind blew. . .

One of the most remarkable things about Israel's war with Hamas has been the low number of casualties from the thousands of rockets fired into Israel from Gaza.

Many have exploded in unpopulated areas. Israel's Iron Dome missile defence system - developed in Israel and said to have been one of the most effective missile defence systems the world has seen -  has dealt with up to 90 per cent of the rest. Even so. . .

The commander of an Iron Dome battery protecting Tel Aviv tells a remarkable story.

The battery calculated the trajectory of an incoming missile from Gaza. (It is possible to tell where a missile will land to within 200 metres.) It was going to hit the Arieli Towers, the Kirya (Israel's equivalent of the Pentagon) or a central Tel Aviv railway station. Hundreds could have died.

The Iron Dome fired its first interceptor. It missed. It fired a second. It missed. "This is very rare. I was in shock. At this point we had just four seconds until the missile lands. We had already notified emergency services to converge on the target location and warned of a mass-casualty incident.

"Suddenly, Iron Dome (which calculates wind speeds, among other things) shows a major wind coming from the east, a strong wind that. . . sends the missile into the sea. We were all stunned. I stood up and shouted 'There is a God!'

"I witnessed this miracle with my own eyes. It was not told or reported to me. I saw the hand of God send this missile into the sea."

He will not allow your foot to be moved;
  He who keeps you will not slumber.

Behold, he who keeps Israel
  Shall neither slumber nor sleep.
                            
                                         Psa 121:3, 4
   . 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Journalists intimidated by Hamas

People have asked me "What's happening with Israel?" I have replied that no one has greater respect for human life than Israel. Hamas are terrorists, and have no respect for human life.

Mosab Hassan Yousef, the son of a founding member of Hamas, who converted to Christ and now lives in the United States, put it well. "Hamas does not care about the lives of Palestinians," he said. "It does not care about the lives of Israelis, or Americans. They do not care about their own lives. They consider dying for their ideology a way of worship."

I was ashamed when I saw an ITV newscaster shout at an Israeli spokesman. "You were told 17 times that that was a UN school," he said. "Why did you fire at it?" The man could only say they had not yet had time to complete an investigation, but that the Israel Defence Forces did not target civilians. It later turned out that the carnage at the Shati refugee camp was caused by a Hamas rocket which had gone adrift. Hamas rushed in, removed the debris, and blamed Israel.

Hamas have placed rocket launchers in the heart of populated areas. They have fired rockets from hospitals and schools. Foreign journalists in Gaza have been closely monitored by Hamas. I thought this was common knowledge. Apparently not. But the news is beginning to leak out.

 Alan Johnson,a professor of democratic theory and practice, senior research fellow at the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre and senior research associate at the Foreign Policy Centre, writes in the Telegraph. He says a long Hamas record of shutting down news bureaux, arresting reporters and cameramen, confiscating equipment and beating journalists has already been documented by the Committee to Protect Journalists.

The Foreign Press Association, he says, has now issued a protest about "blatant, incessant, forceful and unorthodox" intimidation of journalists in the Gaza Strip by Hamas. "In several cases," it says, "foreign reporters working in Gaza have been harassed, threatened or questioned over stories." Hamas was "trying to put in place a vetting procedure."

I would invite you to read the article for yourself. You can see it here.

A Hamas Ministry of Interior video directed: "Anyone killed or martyred is to be called a civilian from Gaza or Palestine, before we talk about his status in jihad or his military rank. . . always add 'innocent civilian' or 'innocent citizen' in your description of those killed in Israeli attacks on Gaza."

Indian television broadcaster Sreenivasan Jain wrote - after leaving Gaza - how Hamas placed civilians at risk by firing rockets "deep from the heart of civilian zones." How often, he asked, did they not report such things for fear of reprisals against them?

A Spanish journalist asked how television reporting never showed Hamas people, only civilians, mainly women and children, said "It's very simple. We did see Hamas people there launching rockets. . . but if we ever dare pointing our camera on them they would simply shoot at us and kill us."

French-Palestinian journalist Rudjaa Abou Dugga was forced to leave Gaza immediately, without his papers. RT correspondent Harry Fear was told to leave Gaza after tweeting that Hamas fired rockets into Israel from near his hotel.

In his article, Johnson quotes section 11.4.1 of the BBC guidelines on accuracy and impartiality: "We should normally say if our reports are censored or monitored or if we withhold information, and explain, wherever possible, the rules under which we are operating."

"Journalists from India, America, Norway, Italy, Spain, Australia, Canada and elsewhere," he says, "are complaining. Will we now hear from the Brits?"

I am waiting to see. But I'm not holding my breath.
   

Monday, August 11, 2014

Mr Pickles takes the helm

After the resignation of Baroness Warsi as faith minister, Prime Minister David Cameron has handed her role to Eric Pickles, who will fill the faith brief in addition to his job as Communities Secretary.

A couple of years ago, after the National Secular Society obtained a High Court decision banning councils having prayers to open council meetings, Mr Pickles fast-tracked laws to override the decision. "The Government recognises and respects the role that faith communities play in our society," he said.

He complained in a speech last year: "In recent years long-standing British liberties of freedom of religion have been undermined by the intolerance of aggressive secularism."

And in April this year he told the Conservative Forum: "I've stopped an attempt by militant atheists to ban councils having prayers at the start of meetings if they wish. Heaven forbid. We're a Christian nation. We have an established church. Get over it. And don't impose your politically correct intolerance on others."

He explained: "The Government has backed British values. And we've stopped Whitehall appeasing extremism of any sort. Be it the EDL, be it extreme Islamists or be it thuggish far-left, they're all as bad as each other."

Says the New Statesman: "Eric Pickles's appointment as Faith Minister is bad news for secularists."

And in a blog post about the appointment, Stephen Evans, campaign manager for the National Secular Society, asks: "Rather than a 'minister for faith,' perhaps we need a minister for freedom of belief?"

Critics complain that Baroness Warsi produced nothing but words. So will Eric Pickles do a better job as faith minister?

Time will tell.

But if his appointment causes the secular humanists to draw in their horns a little, that can't be a bad thing, can it?
   

Friday, August 08, 2014

Hundreds of thousands in humanitarian crisis

ISIS fighters are butchering their way across Iraq. Hundreds of thousands have fled, and are stranded without food and water. Many have already died in what looks to become an unprecedented humanitarian disaster.

Some 200,000 Iraqi Christians are reported to have fled from ISIS militants, who took control of Christian towns and villages in the Nineveh region this week. A number of towns are reported to have been completely emptied of their Christian populations. Many have nowhere to go and are stranded in streets and open fields.

At least 40,000 members of the Yezidi minority community are stranded on a mountain without food or water. Many have already died. Water, food and blankets are desperately needed.

The vicar of Baghdad, Canon Andrew White, says his organisation is seeking to help everybody, irrespective of belief. "People have nothing," he says. "We have had people's heads chopped off. We are having people convert. We are even having children slaughtered and cut in half."

You can see a video of Canon White here. You  can see an impassioned appeal by a Yezidi member of the Iraqi Parliament here.

You can send funds to Canon White's organisation here, or you can contribute to barnabasfund.org.

John Robb, chairman of the International Prayer Council, has appealed for five minutes of prayer in services on Sunday, August 10 and Sunday, August 17, and a day of prayer and fasting on Wednesday, August 13. The e-mail containing his appeal quotes Isa 64:1 - 4:

"Oh, that you would rend the heavens!

"That you would come down! . . ."
  

Thursday, August 07, 2014

A glorious hope

Man has been here a long time, but he doesn't improve much. Violence and lawlessness are on every hand. Daily newscasts are a litany of murder and mayhem.

It can't go on for ever. We are living in the days when God Himself will call time.

The first thing that will happen is that Christ is going to take His church - all those who know Him, love Him and serve Him - out of the earth. It might sound unbelievable, but it's true.

Look it up yourself in the Bible, for instance in 1 Thess 4:15 - 18:

For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep.

For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.

Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.

Therefore comfort one another with these words.

Can you believe it?

Are you ready?
    

Monday, August 04, 2014

The photograph he daren't show

The vicar of Baghdad, Canon Andrew White, writes in a post on his blog dated today:

"You know I love to show photos but the photo I was sent today was the most awful I have ever seen. A family of 8 all shot through the face lying in a pool of blood with their Bible open on the couch. They would not convert it cost them there life. I thought of asking if anybody wanted to see the picture but it is just too awful to show to anybody. This is Iraq today. The only hope and consolation is that all these dear people are now all with Yesua in Glory."

After a few prayer requests.he adds:

"Very Bad News. Baghdad Airport Closed. (2nd August)

"We have just had terrible news that Baghdad International Airport has been shut down because of security risks. Without it we cannot go North to do the relief work or even leave the country. Please pray that we can get out.

"Baghdad Airport open but no RJ flights (3rd August)

"Baghdad International Airport is open the main airline Jordanian Airways is not flying in or out of Iraq. So we are stuck here. We got one flight to Erbil on Iraqi Air that was all they had so she will go to to take the relief money North."

Yesterday a number of English bishops were pressing the British Government to offer asylum to Christians persecuted in Iraq.

Said the Right Rev Nick Baines, Bishop of Leeds:

"We have a tradition of offering sanctuary to people who are oppressed, and it's part of the Christian heritage of this country and the law we have established that puts an obligation on us. We also have an obligation to at least raise with the Government the possibility that we should be offering sanctuary to Christians in Iraq who have been effectively expelled under the threat of death.

"The Government cannot remain silent and you cannot just issue words - you've got to put something behind that. If we can't offer sanctuary to these people, who will? Not doing so would be tantamount to the betrayal of our moral and historical obligations."

France agreed last Monday to grant asylum to Christians driven from Mosul.

A petition on behalf of Christians in Iraq can be signed here. Donations for their relief can be sent here.
 

Friday, August 01, 2014

A war with no winners

With more than 60 Israeli soldiers killed in Gaza - nobody places higher value on the lives of its citizens than Israel - it is significant that a majority of the Israeli public wants the war in Gaza to continue. The prospect of rockets continuing to fall and armed terrorists appearing from hidden tunnels to kidnap women and children is apparently not an acceptable alternative.

With its pictures of broken, bleeding children, Hamas is beginning to win the propaganda war. There is no question that Hamas is using women and children as human shields. "Palestinian blood that is spilled is precious," said one Palestinian official, "but the goals for which this blood is spilled are even more precious."

It has now been proven that a number of tragedies - like that in a school playground in Shati refugee camp, where a number of children died - were caused by Hamas rockets fired at Israel which went adrift. Hamas rushed in, cleared the debris, and blamed Israel, leaving Israeli spokesmen to be shouted down by Western newscasters.

Hamas rockets have now been found hidden in three UN schools, as well as houses and mosques. Pictures of Israel shelling schools and mosques do not endear Israel to the public. Few people realise that the walls of fire rising from them come not from Israeli missiles, but from exploding rockets in the buildings.

This is a war in which there will be no winners. Israel may quieten Hamas for a while, but they will have worse to contend with in the future.
   

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Mosul: There are no Christians left

We have found out what has happened to the Christians in Mosul: there are no Christians left. And Western governments are doing little or nothing.

Virginian Congressman Frank Wolf told the US Congress: 
With the exception of Israel, the Bible contains more references to the cities, regions and nations of ancient Iraq than any other country. The patriarch Abraham came from a city in Iraq called Ur. Isaac's bride, Rebekah, came from north-west Iraq. Jacob spent 20 years in Iraq, and his sons - the 12 tribes of Israel - were born in north-west Iraq. The events of the book of Esther took place in Iraq, as did the account of Daniel in the lions' den. Many of Iraq's Christians still speak Aramaic, the language of Jesus.

Despite. . . Christian leaders speaking out about the systematic extermination of Christians in Iraq, the silence in this town is deafening. Does Washington even care?

In Britain, the Roman Catholic organisation Aid to the Church In Need reported on its website: 

Imagine having your house daubed with a cross or a big "C" for Christian, knowing that your house was about to be targeted and taken. This is what happened in Mosul - and the Arabic letter "N" equating to Nazarene was daubed on Christian properties by the jihadist ISIS forces. Now a city which had up to 60,000 Christians ten years ago has no Christians - they have had to flee after being told to convert or face the sword.

Just last Sunday another one thousand Christians fled from the Nineveh Plains to the Kurdish area. A city where the Liturgy was celebrated for 1,600 years had no Mass or any Christian service last Sunday. Churches have been detonated and set ablaze, converted to Mosques and all crosses taken down - with ancient tombs desecrated and destroyed.

What is our government doing about this and how are they responding? Whether we like to admit it or not - this country's government has over the years laid the foundations for such a situation to arise. Now the government seems incapable or unwilling to help Christians and others suffering and dying at the hands of ISIS.

The UK's balanced approach to the uprisings in the Middle East - supporting rebels as long as they are not too extreme - has blown up in our face. The UK and other Western governments speak about their concerns, but surely they can work to form an axis of moderation in the Middle East.

We are called to stand with our Christian brothers and sisters now - in prayer and solidarity - and to speak up for religious tolerance, religious freedom and respect for all. The echo around the Middle East of many Muslims as well as Christians was - thanks to the social media - to stand with the Arabic "N" and to say "I am Christian. I am Iraqi". . . 

If we do not stand up for Christians in a city where they have followed Christ for 1,600 years, how will anyone help us when the attacks on us become more physical? Addressing nearly one thousand Iraqis and ACN supporters opposite the Houses of Parliament on Saturday was a haunting experience - I had the feeling that what is happening in our biblical historical homeland could easily happen here before long.

Now is the time to stand up for our faith and the right to believe. 
    

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Murders in the name of Allah

When is the mainstream media going to report on the persecution of Christians in other countries? When is the mainstream media going to report on what's happening with ISIS in Iraq?

Under Saddam Hussein there were said to be 60,000 Christians living in the city of Mosul. It was a Christian centre for something like 2,000 years. It was recently estimated that there were 25,000 Christians who had not fled.

A few weeks ago, ISIS, among the most bloodthirsty of Islamic jihadists, who had taken territory in Syria and Iraq, declared the territory a caliphate, with their leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, as caliph. Ten days ago, they gave the Christians in Mosul until noon the following Saturday to convert to Islam, pay the jizya - the tax for non-Muslims, said to have been set at an impossible 450 dollars a month - leave, or die.

The houses of the Christians who left became the property of the state. As they left, they were relieved of all their valuables and all their money. In some cases, their cars were taken too and they were made to walk.

Despite all, some are said to have decided to stay. I have been waiting for the mainstream media to report what had happened to them. It looks like I will have a long wait.

Walid Shoebat claims to have been a member of the Palestine Liberation Organisation who was willing to die for the cause of jihad - though some deny his claim. He was converted to Christ about 1994.

He claims to have obtained videos of human slaughterhouses in Syria. They show executions of Christians and of Muslims who disagree with their Takhiri theology. Shoebat notes a prayer offered before the executions: "In defence of the Sunnis, O Lord. O Lord. we bring these offerings to you, O Lord. Please accept this sacrificial offering, O Lord. O Lord, accept this from us, accept this from us. In the name of Allah." The videos show severed heads neatly lined up against a wall, and headless corpses suspended by their feet.

You can read the story here, here and here.

Lord Alton initiated a debate in the House of Lords concerning international compliance with Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which says: "Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance."

You can read the debate here.
   

Friday, July 25, 2014

Evidence of the existence of God

Norman Geisler has written or co-written more than 70 books. He has spoken in every state in the US and in 25 other countries.

Once he was taking part in a public debate with an atheist. Geisler asked the atheist this question: "If there is no God, why is there something rather than nothing at all?"

  The Bible says (in Psa 19:1) The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows his handiwork. The sun, moon and stars are His handiwork. He made them and put them in place.

●  If we are just animals, how come every man has a conscience and an innate awareness of right and wrong. Who put them there?

●  The Bible says (in Heb 11:1) that faith is the evidence of things not seen. It is evidence of things that exist, not things that don't exist. If what you have is evidence of things that don't exist, then what you have is not faith. Faith is God-given.

●  The way to God is Jesus. He said I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.  He also said The one who comes to me I will by no means cast out. If you want to know the truth, why not ask Him to reveal Himself to you? If you are serious, He will do it. If it's not true, nothing will happen. What have you got to lose?
 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

'Expose the madness and speak the truth'

Just before Israel began their ground offensive in Gaza, their forces spotted a group of heavily armed Hamas terrorists emerging from an underground tunnel into Israeli territory, evidently heading towards an Israeli village. The tunnel was part of an extensive network.

"I can't imagine anything more terrifying," said one Israeli. "They're armed with machine guns, anti-tank missiles, grenades and a few thousand rounds of ammunition, tranquillisers and handcuffs and they're coming for you and they're coming for your  children. . ."

To find and destroy the tunnels, the Israelis say, was why the ground offensive became necessary.

Not that the Israelis are having it all their own way. With 29 soldiers killed and international airlines cancelling flights to Tel Aviv airport because a Hamas rocket landed a distance away, they are having a big price to pay.

Why do rockets continue to fall into Israel? The Washington Post doubtless has the truth.

"So far Hamas's campaign against Israel has been a dismal failure. Thanks in part to Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system, some 1,200 rockets fired at Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and other cities have caused only one Israeli death and a few other casualties. Attempted commando attacks via the sea and a tunnel were stopped short, and a drone that ventured into Israel was quickly shot down. . .

"Why would Hamas insist on continuing the fight when it is faring so poorly? The only plausible answer is stomach-turning: The Islamic movement calculates that it can win the concessions it has yet to obtain from Israel and Egypt not by striking Israel but by perpetuating the killing of its own people in Israeli counterattacks. . . Hamas probably calculates that more deaths will prompt Western governments to pressure Israel to grant Hamas's demands."

US columnist Charles Krauthammer says while Hamas deliberately aims rockets at civilians, Israel painstakingly tries to avoid them, actually telephoning civilians in the area and dropping warning charges, so-called roof knocking.

The whole point of Hamas's rockets, he says, is to draw Israeli counterfire.

"This produces dead Palestinians for international television. Which is why Hamas perversely urges its own people not to seek safety when Israel drops leaflets warning of an imminent attack.

"It's to the Israelis' credit that amid all this madness [the depravity of Hamas, the world's treatment of Israel and the UN's incessant condemnations] they haven't lost their moral scruples. Or their nerve. Those outside the region have the minimum obligation, therefore, to expose the madness and speak the truth. Rarely has it been so blindingly clear."
   

Monday, July 21, 2014

Antisemites have a field day

Antisemitic attacks are on the rise through Europe. Synagogues have been attacked in France. And tens of thousands spewing antisemitic nonsense and carrying placards with such messages as "Well done Israel. Hitler would have been proud" marched across central London to take their slogans to the Israeli Embassy on Saturday. Because Israel have entered Gaza.

Hamas have been firing rockets into Israel for months. They have ignored every plea for a ceasefire. They continue to fire rockets in quantities. Israel has installed bomb shelters. Israeli civilians have 15 seconds to gain shelter after the alarm sounds. Faced by the provocation, Israel began to respond.

There are no bomb shelters in Gaza. Hamas have placed their rocket launchers in built-up areas. They use women and children as human shields. They tell people to ignore Israeli warnings to evacuate targets, made by leaflet, telephone. text and pre-strike explosions.

Hamas know they cannot defeat Israel militarily. The more Palestinian casualties there are, the more they can expect international sympathy.

As evidenced by the rally in London at the weekend.

Writes Douglas Murray at the Spectator: "Thousands of anti-Semites have today succeeded in bringing central London to an almost total standstill. . .

"These are the people who stayed at home throughout the Syrian civil war, stayed at home when ISIS rampaged across Iraq, stayed at home when Boko Haram and Al-Shabaab carried out their atrocities across central Africa and showed no concern whatever when the Muslim Brotherhood was running Egypt into the ground. Yet they pretend to care about Muslims

"And here they all are, coming out to scream because Israel is carrying out the most specific and targeted campaign in the history of warfare in order to stop Hamas - a group dedicated to the annihilation of all Jews - from firing thousands of rockets into the Jewish homeland."

The rally was evidently organised by the Stop the War Coalition, whose website sports headlines like "Israel's invasion is a pre-planned atrocity that makes a mockery of ceasefire 'offers'" and "Western powers that arm Israel are complicit in its war crimes against Palestinians."

Evident too have been the media's double standards in dealing with Israelis and Palestinians. Last week two Israeli missiles exploded on a Gaza beach, killing four Palestinian children. (That was a tragedy, whichever way you look at it.) It was cringe-making watching the ITV correspondent putting the Israel Defence Forces spokesman through the third degree.

The IDF spokesman kept his cool. "The matter is being investigated. I can't say yet what is the cause. The Israeli military does not target civilians," he said.

Hamas rockets have been targeting civilians - men, women and children - for months. About that, nary a word.