Thursday, 27 June 2019

The Kingdom of God

Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Matthew 6:10 



The kingdom of God is a central theme of the Gospels as well as other New Testament books. It is the message that John the Baptist declared in preparation for Jesus (Mt 3:2Mk 1:14-15), what Jesus taught the disciples in the 40 days between his resurrection and ascension (Ac 1:3), and what Paul is recorded as proclaiming at the conclusion of the book of Acts (Ac 28:31).

A kingdom is a place where someone has a rule or governance. The same is true of the kingdom of God. Jesus said in his prayer: “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Mt 6:10). The kingdom of God is where God’s will is carried out.

The Old Testament theme of Yahweh’s rule and reign is another way of describing the kingdom of God. The psalmist speaks of Yahweh’s kingdom as an everlasting realm that endures throughout all generations (Ps 145:13). Isaiah declares that Yahweh will save (Isa 33:22) and speaks of a time when God will be worshiped in all the earth (Isa 2).

During the first century AD, many Jews believed that the Messiah would initiate this reign, which is based on passages like Malachi 3:1-5; Zechariah 9:9-10; Isaiah 9:1-7; and Isaiah 52:13-53:12. They also believed that the kingdom would be established through political or military means (compare Mt 26:51-53; Lk 22:47-53) - but Jesus ushered in the kingdom in a radically unexpected way. He announced that the kingdom had come upon those whom he freed from demons (Mt 12:28); he taught that the kingdom should be received like a child (Mk 10:15) and explained that it belongs to the impoverished (Lk 6:20). Jesus declared the kingdom of God as a present reality that could be experienced by those he taught and to whom he ministered.

Jesus’ teaching also assumed the kingdom was a future reality. While his disciples expected the kingdom to appear immediately, Jesus changed their expectations by telling them a parable about a ruler who had to leave before he could return to his kingdom (Lk 19:11-27). He described what good and faithful servants could do in the meantime. Paul spoke of the kingdom as something that could be inherited (1 Co 6:9-10) and that does not perish (1 Co 15:50). These examples testify to the kingdom of God as a future reality.

To borrow the phrase made popular by George Eldon Ladd, the kingdom of God is “already/not yet.” God’s kingdom has a dual dimension. Jesus initiated the kingdom of earth, and wherever God’s will is carried out, the kingdom is a reality. The kingdom, however, had not been fully manifested in Jesus’ day - nor has it in ours. We do not yet live in a world where God’s will is a complete reality. We feel the tension of experiencing God’s kingdom in our lives and communities before it is fully realized. We still see unbelief, brokenness, and sin, telling us God’s will is not yet fully expressed.

Many believers neglect to focus on the kingdom as a present reality. Their concern centers on the future reality of getting to heaven - but this focus can easily sever the relationship between the Christian life and the life here and now. When Jesus prayed, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Mt 6:10), he asked that God would bring the experience of heaven to earth. Through Jesus, God’s reign, rule, and power are available to us today, not just in the distant future. The present reality of the kingdom of God should prompt us to examine our lives and ask what areas we have not yet surrendered to God’s rule.

On a larger level, the notion of God’s kingdom should lead us to examine both our neighborhoods and the global community and ask what lies outside of God’s desires. Where are people not being treated with the dignity and honor they deserve as God’s image-bearers?

As we anticipate the time when all things will be made fully new (Rev. 21:4-5), we can actively participate in the kingdom of God now (Mt 4:17). As we surrender to the reign of God, we will begin to experience the kingdom of God now - as God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven (Mt 6:10).

What questions does the present reality of God’s kingdom prompt you to ask about your community?





Cred: Bible Connection News

Monday, 24 June 2019

US Launches Cyber-Attack Against Iran

Israel was hoping for a tougher response to Iranian aggression, but hacking their computers will have to do

US launched a cyber-attack against Iranian military computer systems

On Thursday evening, the US launched a cyber-attack against Iranian military computer systems. The attack first reported in Yahoo News comes in retaliation for recent assaults on vessels passing through the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf.

The Strait of Hormuz is a narrow passage through the Persian Gulf with Iran along the north coast. One-third of the world’s liquefied natural gas and almost 20 percent of total global oil consumption passes through the strait, making it a highly important strategic location for international trade. More than 17 million barrels of oil pass through the region every day.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard has been digitally tracking and targeting military and commercial ships passing through the strait. The US military-grade cyber-attack disrupted computer and launching systems used by the Iranians to launch attacks against shipping vessels passing through the strait. Iran’s military computer systems have enabled attacks on vessels in the region for several years.

According to the report, for the past two years, the Iranian cyber forces have also tried to hack US naval ships in the Persian Gulf.

The US cyber-attack on Iranian military systems comes days after an Iranian rocket took down a US military reconnaissance drone in the area. Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been calling for a tougher stance and direct military action against Iranian aggression in the region.

Real Peace is Not the Absence of Conflict

I have never liked conflict

Real peace

Like many people, I would go to great lengths to avoid it, and I fear its approaching.

Romans 12:16-18 (KJV)
16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.
17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.
18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.


20   You clash with the character of one person or another…. It has to be that way—you are not a dollar bill to be liked by everyone. Besides, without those clashes which arise in dealing with your neighbors, how could you ever lose the sharp corners, the edges—imperfections and defects of your character—and acquire the order, the smoothness, and the firm mildness of charity, of perfection? If your character and that of those around you were soft and sweet like marshmallows, you would never become a saint.


I think this is, in part, because we don’t know how to understand it, and we either fight for victory, or we settle for a compromise. As a result, we are not aware of the sweetness of harmony, the true peace of living in concord, and the hope that comes from finding the true peace that happens when we reconcile.

As a result, we dwell in a time where conflict is played out strategically, in back rooms and parking lot conversations, via text messages and other social media we gather our side and are ready to go to war or run away from our opponents.

And all suffers


Living in peace with everyone is not about being liked, it is not about being popular, it is about working for true reconciliation, true unity that is not at the cost of diversity, or does it force conformity to anything else but Jesus. ANd since the Spirit is in charge of that transformation, the very clashes we, can lead to reconciliation.

Real peace is found there, not in the apparent absence of conflict.

It is a hard lesson, and to be honest, one I have refused to learn, even as I prayed for such a sense of peace to grow in my life. Yet I have begun to see it, I have watched God at work bringing together those who trusted Him enough to be honest, and desire to see Him honored more than to be proven they are right. I have seen it in those who journey together. I have seen it at the communion rail, and in the passing of the peace.

So trust God, be willing to pay the price for true peace, knowing God will help, He will be there, and the person you are in conflict may come to realize, as you do, that you are on the same journey, being drawn by God into His presence.


Heavenly Father, help us to trust and depend on you more than we fear and avoid conflict. In those situations, help us to honor you, and seek the peace that is found in reconciliation, not settling for compromise or avoidance. Give us the patience to see this happen, in Jesus name. AMEN!



Cred:

Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 209-213). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Christian Woman from Sudan Kidnapped and tortured in Egypt Highlights Convert Pressures

abducted and tortured

A Christian mother from Sudan had deep cause for worry November last year once her Muslim brother visited her church in Cairo, Egypt with a photograph of her husband and
asked members if they knew his whereabouts.

Muslim extremists from Sudan had abducted and tortured her but 2 years earlier in Cairo, and that they threatened to kill her husband and girl if she refused to come back
to Islam.

The 42-year-old Ebtehaj Alsanosi Altejani Mostafa was tied to a chair in a darkened room with no windows when her abductors gave her that ultimatum in February 2017, she told Morning Star News.
"I won't return to Islam - I hate Islam," she told them, as they continue beating her, Mostafa said.

She had fled to Egypt in 2005 once being imprisoned 5 times for her religion in Sudan.
In Cairo she met a Sudanese pastor, additionally, a convert from Islam, United Nations agency would become her husband; he had also fled abuse in Sudan.

Since she was abducted, tortured and raped in February 2017, Mostafa and her family have had to change residences many times because of the Sudanese Muslim extremists' threats on
their lives.

She still takes medication for the physical and psychological trauma she suffered when 2 Sudanese Muslim extremists abducted her as she was on her way to a market in 2017.
They called her name, grabbed her, coated her nose and mouth, twisted her hands and sprayed some chemical on her that left her unconscious, she said.

They took her to the windowless room in an unknown house where they poured water on her, pulled her hair and tied her hands and legs to a chair, all the while shouting her name.
Covering her eyes, they reminded her of her Muslim upbringing in Sudan and the way after her college years she moved together with her family to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Her Sudanese father, they reminded her, is a sheikh (Islamic teacher) in Saudi Arabia, she said.

"You are a disgrace to your Muslim family, you brought shame to the family," they shouted as they struck her, she said. "You are 'kafira' [infidel]."

They said she should divorce her husband and come back to her Sudanese family in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia so as to avoid wasting her life.
It was then that they further threatened to kill her husband and girl, now 11, if she refused.

After she told them she would rather die than return to Islam, one of the kidnappers brought a copy of the Koran and began reciting verses that call for the killing of those who leave Islam.
Between verses, they yelled, "Allahu Akbar," the jihadist slogan, "God is greater," she said.

The extremists then untied her, forced her to lie on the ground and ripped her garments.
In spite of her pleas to prevent, they raped her in turns, she said.

"This is lesson number one," one among the lads told her.

After leaving the area shortly, they came back and started spitting on her as they abused her with obscenities, describing her as "adulterous" for being the wife of a pastor, she said.
One of the boys was taking photos and video.

Four different men entered the room, two Sudanese and two Egyptians.
By now her eyes were no longer covered.
The Egyptians, she said, were referred to as Abu Mahmoud and Abu Ali.

"This time I saw them clearly," she said.

One of the new arrivals ordered her to repeat the shahada, the Muslim profession of religion, after him. When she refused, he had one amongst the others shove her onto the chair and tie her hands and legs again; her chest and back were in great pain, she said. Placing a cup of water and a bit of bread on the ground, they tried to force her to take them, however, she refused.

After going away from the room for a short time, they came back and covered her eyes as they mentioned whether or not to stay here on the chair.

They then forced her to kneel at length, painting her legs, and one of the men sat on the chair and began smoking a cigarette.

The man burned her back with the smoke twenty-six times attempting to force her to mention the shahada, she said.
They laughed with every burn mark, she said; the area was filled with smoke.

They tied her to the chair again. Refusing their demand once more, she was maltreated on her face and kicked many times, she said, as they continuing ordering her to renounce Christ and save her life.

"Baya [a nickname for Ebtehaj], say the shahada and confess that Muhammad is that the prophet of God," they told her.

Mostafa collapsed to her left. They left her in the dark room.
When they came back, they turned on the light and asked if she needed to mention one thing.

"You are tired, did you change your mind?
Are you certain you would like to stay with Jesus? " they asked her in turns.

They once more tried to force her to mention the Muslim profession of religion, and once she again refused, they asked her why she worships 3 gods: Mary, Jesus Christ and God.

"This isn't true, I believe in God the father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit - one God," she told them.

Before going away the room, they told her that this was her last probability to come back to her previous faith before they're allowed to kill her.

After a few minutes, they returned, carrying a Muslim prayer mat.
"This is your day of reckoning with us," one among them said.

They put a container of water in front of her to wash and say the Muslim confession, but she again refused.
She was given a face veil, the Muslim veil for ladies that leaves solely the eyes exposed, along with many papers for her to sign, as one of the men continued taking photos and videos, she said.

After many tries to force her to sign the papers speech she had came back to Islam, they hurt her hands as they forced her against her will to sign one
of the papers, she said.

Then she felt a blow to the rear of her head and lost consciousness.

When she came to, she found herself on a street with individuals and cars passing by, she said.

Prior to her abduction, Mostafa had received a telephone call from one among her sisters telling her that her uncle and brother were reaching to hurt her, she said.

Her uncle, a prominent officer in Sudan's notorious National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS), also has a large influence as the military attaché in Sudan's Foreign Ministry in Khartoum
and can simply move between Sudan and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where his brother lives, she said.

Mostafa said she is trusting that God has His purposes for her abduction and that her purpose in revealing it was that the international community would know what kinds of pressures Sudanese converts face in Egypt.

"Our God is ready, and I am now alive," she said.

Sudan hierarchic sixth on Christian support organization Open Doors' 2019 World Watch List of states wherever it's almost tough to be a Christian, whereas Egypt hierarchic sixteenth.

Walking in the Light of Jesus Christ

From the Beginning

The third line of Genesis reads, Then God said, “Let there be light.” It goes on to tell us that the light was good.

Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.
~ Genesis 1: 3-5 ~

We understand that, from the beginning of creation, light was not only good but vital in keeping us from darkness. Luke 11: 36 tells us,  “If therefore your whole body is full of light, with no dark part in it, it will be wholly illumined, as when the lamp illumines you with its rays.”

So, we are taught that, in order to follow Jesus, we must stay on the path of His light and in this, we shall radiate His light for others to see.

Jesus gives us this example in John 5: 35 when referring to John the Baptist, He said, “He was the lamp that was burning and was shining and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light.


Let your Light Shine

In Matthew 5: 16, Jesus tells us, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”

Have you ever seen a person whose devotion to God is so heartfelt that his love radiates beyond any spoken words? It is a special kindness; a willingness to serve selflessly and with absolute humility and it is purely for love of God. When we see this in others, we witness the light of Jesus being radiated through man. No words are necessary. This is what Our Lord asks of us and, if we work to please Him, it becomes our life’s purpose.

How blessed are the people who know the joyful sound! O Lord, they walk in the light of Your countenance.
~Psalm 89:15~


How do we Radiate the Light of Jesus?

How do we become a lamp for Christ? We begin with prayer. Saint Paul, in Thessalonians, tells us to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:16). Ask for forgiveness and forgive others. We cannot walk in the light of Christ if we cannot forgive. In Mark 11, Jesus taught us, “Whenever you stand to pray, forgive if you have anything against anyone so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions.” Live humbly. Pride will cast a shadow of darkness trying to extinguish your light. Trust. And most importantly, believe.
“And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”
~Matthew 21:22~


Light Casts out Darkness

Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”
~John 8: 12~

Let us remember His promise and trust that, in following Him, our light can bring others to Him. He is the Light of the world. Keep this first in mind and heart and as long as we live as He taught, we can become sons of Light. Remembering and believing this, we will not go off the path.
This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him, there is no darkness at all.
~ 1 John: 1:5~


“Blessed the one who has shone by the light of faith of the Lord, like a radiant lamp on a tall lampstand, and has enlightened souls that are darkened, for they followed the heresy of the faithless and impious.”
~Saint Ephrem of Syria~


By Marilyn Nash





Writer Bio
Marilyn Nash is a rosary artisan, artist, writer and designer. Author of the book ~ The Sacred Strand, Praying the Rosary with Saints and Artists. She is certified is Religious Education (Providence College, USA) and has taught both children and adults, specializing in Catholic themes and doctrine related to Mary and the Rosary.  Also a lector and Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, her passion is painting sacred and spiritual art.

Tuesday, 22 January 2019

We Were Not Alone

We Were Not Alone

Her nerves are stretched to where she feels she can stand this no more. She slams on the brakes of the car in the parking lot and sits staring at nothing as the motor idles. Her mind seems to have gone on hold. No thoughts, no feelings, no nothing. It’s been too much.

Finally, shaking her head as though to awaken from a deep sleep, she turns the ignition off and takes a long agonizingly deep breath and steps out of the car.

Walking into the building she walks to the elevator and rises to the third floor. Slowly she opens a door and enters into a plush waiting room with a fake palm tree in one corner, enticing comfortable chairs, and carpet so thick she feels she could curl up on it like a cosy warm bed.

She signs the sheet on the clipboard and takes a seat. Glancing at the stack of magazines she ignores a Man sitting across the room. Then her name is called.

For thirty minutes she sits with her hands folded tightly in her lap and tells her counsellor about a horrifying memory of her childhood. Tears stream, she wants to scream but takes a deep breath and fights to maintain control.

He’s sympathetic and asks several questions. She replies as best she can. One question arises that throws her into a tizzy. “Where was Jesus when this happened?”

She bolts out of the chair and paces.

The Doctor waits.

Unbeknownst to her, the Man has entered the room.

He waits.

She stomps across the room and with fists tightly clenched at her sides, she stares out the window at the parking lot below. Tears stream down her face. She fights to subdue her anger.

“Where was Jesus?” the Doctor asks again and she spins around facing him. “I don’t know!” she almost screams.

She runs her hands through her hair in a frantic, hopeless and frustrated gesture, and plops down on the couch. She closes her eyes trying to fight the flood of tears that want to rush down her cheeks, and before the Doctor can say anything a vision appears before her.

The vision is so clear of Jesus on His knees with tears streaming down His face and begging His Father to stop what is happening to this child. His pain is so evident and His agony is even greater than the child’s that He’s praying for, her!

On the couch, she is shaking violently and sobbing. Now she knows the answer.


Luke 22:42 – “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”

Even Jesus asked His Father to not let this happen, and yet He suffered greatly, even unto death. Children do not have the physical or emotional ability to stop the abuse that is being inflicted upon them; be it emotional, physical, or sexual. They cry out in many instances to deaf ears and blind eyes begging for it to stop.

The hurt goes so deep it becomes anger and many times that anger is directed straight at God. “Why didn’t You stop it!?” “He did nothing!” is how many deals with those issues. As in the story above, the great I Am was there. He can’t reach down and stop the torment being inflicted, but He is praying fervently for the child. He knows our suffering. He knows our tears, His heart is being ripped out at seeing what we are going through, then and now. He is with us through it all.

We can blame God, or we can reach out to Him to help us overcome all that was done. If the suffering is continuing through your thoughts and memories, reach out to Christ. Invite Him into your suffering. He’s waiting to take you in His arms and heal your heart.

Sunday, 20 January 2019

Dealing with Evil in the Church, without losing your faith


19  But Joseph replied, “Don’t be afraid of me. Am I God, that I can punish you? 20  You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people. 21  No, don’t be afraid. I will continue to take care of you and your children.” So he reassured them by speaking kindly to them.
Genesis 50:19-21 (NLT2)

In one of his (Boccaccio) stories in the Decameron, a practical Jewish businessman, Abraham, is contemplating conversion and baptism, at the gentle leading of the pious archbishop of Paris, but has to reside at Rome for a season to do business with the Borgia family and the papal bankers. The archbishop asks him if he wouldn’t like to receive baptism before his trip, but he is a practical man, and business must come first. The bishop is convinced that Abraham will never join the Church once he sees her corruptions with his own eyes; but when he returns to Paris, he asks to be baptized! He explains to the startled archbishop, “I’m a practical Jewish businessman. I don’t know theology, but I know the business. And one thing I know with certainty is that no earthly business that corrupt and venal could possibly last fourteen weeks; this one has lasted over fourteen centuries. It’s a miracle! Count me in!”

I have been grieving over the church recently.

It seems like we are entering a season where evil seems to be winning, thrusting its devastation both near and far. I see the broken lives, some still in denial about what is going on, about their role in the game, I sense that others don't really care, passing by the broken lives as the priest and the Levite did on the road.

On the national level, the battles are like icebergs. In my denomination, you see it in the reactions to a document which alleges chronic, planned and coordination bullying. The Catholic Church has its internal wars going, as do the Methodists, Baptists, and other groups.

And what is even scarier, the wars we see are often not the real war. As any counsellor/manager knows, the stated problem is rarely the real problem. Those are deeper, even at the point of sub-conscious, as our souls can't bear the trauma.

On a local level, sin has raised its bitter head to many times in the past two months. Again, the temptation is to deny the seriousness of the impact on individuals and parishes. We want to say, "that's their problem, it won't affect me or mine." Yet, even in saying that, we acknowledge the division in the church.

To that point, Peter Kreeft's Socrates referents Boccaccio, and makes me think deeper. Could our evil be used by God to draw others to Him? (This is by no means an excuse, or should we use it to justify or be complacent about evil - we need to confront it) The Jewish businessman finds hope because the church perseveres in spite of the corruption, in spite of the evil.

It requires a great deal of faith or true depending on God to see this. It takes the attitude of Joseph, who can piece together all the things God used to come to a point where the family is preserved, where they are provided for in the midst of another storm.

God doesn't like such things or plan them, and I am sure they break His heart. Yet, His love finds a way to use them to bless us, all things, even the evil, even the brokenness. He promises that so many times, along with the fact that He will never leave us or forsake us.

We need to know that in these dark days, and in those to come.

He is with us, He will be with us, and somehow, He will use even these times.

May the peace of God, which passes all understanding, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus

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