Intolerance Growing in Indonesia

This is a very worrying trend in a nation which has, in the past, been verytolerant of diverse beliefs.

From persecution.org

Survey Finds 59% of Respondents Carried Out Acts of Intolerance Toward Non-Muslims

ICC Note:

The Wahid Foundation, an organization that promotes tolerance in Indonesia reports on acts of sectarian violence. The former first lady of Indonesia, Sinta Nuriyah Wahid, cited some alarming statistics from the Foundation’s research saying that, “Only 11 per cent of respondents expressed strong rejection of the idea of establishing an Islamic nation,” and adding that, “59 per cent of Indonesians who responded to the survey carried out acts of intolerance towards non-Muslims.” Indonesia has been under the growing influence of conservative Islam which is resulting in more acts of intolerance against non-Muslims.

4/25/2017 Indonesia (Asia News) – Sectarian acts against non-Muslims are rising fast, this according to a study by the Wahid Foundation, an organisation that promotes a tolerant and multicultural society in Indonesia.

The Wahid Foundation was set up to support the humanitarian vision of Abdurrahman Wahid (Gus Dur), a moderate Muslim intellectual and a former president of Indonesia, who, during his political career, promoted an inclusive version of Islam. As president, and as leader of the Nahdlatul Ulama, a Muslim movement, he promoted the rights of minorities, non-Muslims and Indonesian Chinese.

His widow, Sin Nuriyah Wahid, raised the issue of intolerance during a television interview on 10 April. The former first lady cited the Foundation’s study to warn her fellow citizens and her words continue to echo. The results of local elections in Jakarta on 19 April, which saw the victory of Anies Baswedan and radical Islamist groups, re-ignited the debate.

[Full Story]

3 Reasons to Not Believe

Some satire from “The Babylon Bee”

Here Are 3 Totally Solid Reasons To Believe Jesus Came Back From The Dead, But I Don’t Believe Them Because I’m Not A Weak-Minded Moron

 

It’s that time of year again—sheeple everywhere are celebrating the death and resurrection of Jesus. Religious simpletons who choose to regurgitate the blind faith their parents hammered into their skulls when they were children are gathering in church buildings and worshiping their magic sky fairy who has “come back from the dead.”

It’s interesting that the Christian religion sort of hinges on this event, and I’ll admit that there are a number of reasons why it actually makes sense to believe that the resurrection of Christ is a historical fact. I would probably even believe it myself, if I were a low-brow, dunderheaded flat-earther.

Well, just for fun on this Easter weekend, I thought I’d go over a few of these rationales. So here are three totally solid reasons to believe Jesus came back from the dead, which I don’t believe because I’m not a weak-minded moron.

1.) The tomb was empty. Jesus was publicly executed and laid in a guarded tomb in the city of Jerusalem. I mean, these are verifiable things that played out in front of people, you know? And with so many authority figures viciously opposed to Jesus, the entire Christianity thing could’ve been squashed right off the bat—all they had to do was produce his dead body (which, you better believe, they tried to do). But nobody could, because his body was gone. The empty tomb is quite a convincing reason to believe in the resurrection, but I never will because I’m not a mentally challenged dolt.

2.) He appeared to lots of people after his death. So tons of people claimed to have encountered the resurrected Jesus. Which is crazy. The Apostle Paul was one of them—and he gave up his enviable life of privilege in exchange for imprisonment, beatings, stonings, starvation, shipwrecks, and traveling thousands of miles to tell people that Jesus had come back from the dead, before being executed. Which would be weird for him to go through if he were just making it all up. And the disciples of Jesus—they all claimed to have encountered the back-from-the-dead Jesus. And they all maintained his resurrection as truth, all the way to their bloody, torturous deaths for claiming so. Which again, you know, wow. They literally could’ve stopped being tortured in horrific ways by denying that Jesus was risen. That’s a legit reason to believe that they were not actually lying, and they had actually seen the resurrected Christ with their own eyes and knew he was Lord and Savior, but I just can’t accept that because I’m not a feeble-minded, Bible-thumping robot.

3.) Christianity totally exploded. Jesus’s death should’ve killed Christianity, you know? Like, OK, no more Jesus, no more Christianity. Seems simple. Especially in that place and time—that population was staunchly opposed to the idea that people came back from the dead, and the idea of worshiping a man, to them, would have been the lowest form of blasphemy. But what happened? Well, starting from the place Jesus was crucified—which is the same place tons of people started claiming he had risen from the dead—Christianity exploded and believers were multiplied exponentially. Now if you think about it, the only thing that can really account for that would be the hundreds, or even thousands of people who told everyone they knew that they had literally seen the resurrected Jesus with their own eyes, and were willing to risk any form of punishment rather than deny what they had seen and knew as truth. Seriously, guys, think about that. I’m so glad I’m not a religulous, room-temperature-IQ-having buffoon, because If I were, I totally might believe that. But then I would be an emotional-crutch-needing dimwit. And people might make fun of me.

So there you have it. Those three reasons are pretty legit, are they not? Told you. They’re super-solid. I feel sorry for you lunkheads who take them to heart. You’re laughably weak-minded and unintelligent. I, on the other hand, am neither—which is why I don’t believe them.

I’m so glad I’m not a brainwashed half-wit, otherwise I’d probably believe all of this sound evidence.

Easter Means We Don’t Need A “Prayer Room”

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Stephen McAlpine writes:

Christian: We Don’t Need No Prayer Room

The decision by the Royal Adelaide Hospital to build a prayer room for Muslims, but no dedicated chapel for Christians, merely a multi-faith room instead, has drawn predictable ire from the likes of Australian Conservatives leader Senator Cory Bernardi.

The Australian newspaper today reported Bernardi  saying he is “sick and tired” of the constant accommodation to a minority group in Australia, to the detriment of Australia’s historical faith.

The report states:

Senator Bernardi said the new hospital’s arrangement was “everything that’s wrong” with the approach to integrate other cultural groups, and the prayer room was “clearly designed for Islam”.

Separate washing areas were “all the symbolism I need that this is tailor-made to accommodate to a tiny minority’’, he said yesterday. “We’re bending over to ­appease a minority for fear of causing offence while undermining our tradition and heritage.

is Bernardi right?  Is that what is happening?

Perhaps.  It’s not beyond the realms of possibility in our secular context, in which Anything But Christianity is viewed ironically, as sacrosanct, that that is the case.

But it’s not the only reason, perhaps not even the primary one.  Other faiths are less demarcated in our culture in the sense that Islam has strong parameters about what it can and cannot do; what it can and cannot abide in the public square.  Provisions need to be made.  Dedicated prayer rooms need to be available.

A multi-faith room for everyone else seems somehow reasonable because no one else seems to care too much about separatism in the way Islam still does.  And let’s face it, the anaemic version of Christianity in the public setting today has been at pains to show how much it is the same as everything else.  Islam, to its credit, is not making that mistake.

Perhaps too Bernardi, for all his railing against the secular system, misses the radical point of Christianity.  For if he understood it rightly he’d realise, we don’t need no prayer room at all!

Read the rest here

Cindy Jacobs: The Lord Says, ‘It’s Time for a Renewal of the Holy Spirit’

We all need renewal in the Holy Spirit, but this is not something mystical or just a thing for the men and women of God. It’s so simple, but we forget.

 

Cindy Jacobs writes:

 

If you want to win your battle, you must pick up your armor. (Pixabay)

Inside us is the Holy Spirit, and if we will let Him rise up, He can break any yoke, anything that’s coming against us.

We just have to learn to rise up in our spirit, and how do we do that? Well, we do it through quoting the Word, just quoting the Scripture. The Word of God is so powerful. I broke my foot and was really feeling bad, and the Lord just spoke to me, “Get up in the night and start quoting the Scripture on healing.” I know to do that, but I needed to do it more. I have begun seeing a real turnaround since I’ve done that.

Somehow, we forget to fight. In the middle of everything that’s going on, we get under it, but we forget to fight. We forget that if we resist the devil, he will flee from us. That we have the authority to overcome anything, but we have to take the authority. We have to take it, we have to rise up and use the weapons that are not carnal, but mighty.

I just feel like God wants to remind us this day, and the Lord says to you, “Look around you and see the things that you used to do, the things you used to know to do, but you do not do anymore. Look around you and recall the way you used to quote the Scripture, the way perhaps you used to worship.”

The Lord says, “It’s time for a renewal of the Holy Spirit. It’s time for you to come into a renewing where you take the things you know to do and pick up the weapons that have been given to you by the Holy Spirit.”

As I prophesied into this, the reason I started prophesying is this: I saw a table, we’re sitting at this big conference table in our office, but I saw all kinds of tools, weapons of warfare on the table, but we weren’t using them. We were crying out because we were being so attacked, and we were so upset that we were being so attacked, but we had weapons right there on the table.

Pick up your weapons, pick up your weapons and do what you know to do. If you will do this, I guarantee you will win.

Cindy Jacobs is an author, speaker and teacher with a heart for discipling nations in the areas of prayer and prophetic gifts. She and Mike—her husband of 43 years—co-founded Generals International in 1985.

Chad Ashby: Hospitality Is War

From Desiring God, Chad Ashby writes:

Hospitality Is War

Article by

Pastor, Newberry, South Carolina

God has a habit of waging war with strange weapons. He fought Egypt with frogs, gnats, and boils. He defeated the Midianite army with Gideon’s clay pots and torches. Strangest of all, he defeated sin and death using a tree. So, it should be no surprise to us that Jesus calls us to take up forks and spoons to fight back Satan and his legions.

Brothers and sisters, hospitality is war.

The word hospitality seems harmless enough. Maybe it conjures images of Ina Garten serenely chopping herbs plucked from her lush palisade and soft-lit montages of company having lighthearted conversation while enjoying tomato crostini. Maybe you just picture an old fashioned potluck. Either way, does hospitality really have eternal value? Can sharing the table with others really advance the kingdom of Christ?

Gathering at the King’s Table

“It has been Christ’s plan since the beginning of the church to advance his kingdom through dinner tables.”

It is the prerogative of conquering kings to invite guests to their table. In kindness, David invited Mephibosheth, grandson of King Saul, to join his royal banquet (2 Samuel 9:10). In the book of Daniel, King Nebuchadnezzar extended hospitality to Daniel and his friends after his conquest of Judea (Daniel 1:5). An invitation to the king’s table is an extension of sovereign grace and mercy.

As Christians, hospitality also flows from our King. Jesus started his ministry in Mark’s Gospel going about “proclaiming. . . ‘the kingdom of God is at hand’” (Mark 1:14–15). In the very next chapter, Jesus gives a foretaste of his triumphant victory, sharing the table with the most unlikely of guests. The scribes marvel at his dinner company: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” (Mark 2:16).

Our King has invited us to dine at his table as royal sons and daughters. Consider this reality: “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies” (Psalm 23:5). Nothing snubs an enemy and declares, “We are untouchable!” like sitting down to dinner in the middle of a war.

It’s no accident that we accept the hospitality of our Savior every time we approach the Communion Table. Jesus has invited us to share in his eternal victory through his death and resurrection at a table. It signals to the powers of darkness that our victory is certain; their defeat is imminent.

Gathering Together at One Table

In the Old Testament, Jews and Gentiles were reminded of a glaring separation every time they sat down for dinner. Jews did not eat what Gentiles ate, did not sit at Gentile dinner tables, and weren’t even supposed to enter Gentile homes (Acts 10:28). This rift separated all of mankind into two irreconcilable categories, and the whole world was reminded of it at 5:30pm every evening.

However, as the apostles spread the message of Jesus’s death and resurrection far and wide, the unthinkable became reality. Jesus brought an end to the food fight. The King invited both Jews and Gentiles to his table.

“Are you sitting down to eat with people you should never get along with?”

It began with a series of troubling dreams where the Lord commanded Peter to eat Gentile food. Peter was puzzled by the Lord’s chiding: “What God has made clean, do not call common” (Acts 10:15). However, when he entered a Gentile home for the first time and watched as a Roman centurion named Cornelius and his whole household became believers, Peter realized that the blood of Jesus washes all men clean.

When Jesus wanted to show Peter the full implications of the “good news of peace through Jesus Christ” (Acts 10:36), he brought Peter to a dinner table. In the home of Cornelius, Peter learned that one Lord, one faith, and one baptism meant that men who formerly hated one another could now peacefully share a dinner table.

Never before had a Galilean fisherman been a houseguest of a Roman centurion. The dividing wall of hostility had been torn down in Christ (Ephesians 2:14–16). Peter and Cornelius celebrated their King’s victory before the whole world by sharing the hospitality that was theirs through the same gospel (Acts 10:48).

Hospitality Is Worth the Fight

It has been Christ’s plan since the beginning of the church to advance his kingdom through dinner tables. The first believers in Acts are found “day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, [receiving] their food with glad and generous hearts” (Acts 2:46). For millennia, the dinner table was a visible reminder of the division between men. It is at the dinner table that the peace of Christ must now visibly reign.

So, how are you celebrating the victory of our crucified and risen King day by day? Are your meals bizarre to the world? Are you sitting down to eat with people you should never get along with? Are you dining with people from other races, nations, and social classes — eating food you would never have tried if not for the unity of Christ’s body? How does your mealtime shine forth the peace that Christ has brought to a hostile world?

“God has made forks and spoons, pans, pots, and plates weapons of war against the darkness.”

Showing hospitality is a fight. Satan will convince you, six ways to Sunday, that you don’t have time to share your table with others. Whether scheduling issues, sports practices, fatigue, or money constraints — there will always be a reason not to invite others over for dinner.

But hospitality is worth the fight. When you survey your kitchen at the night’s close, and it is filled with dirty silverware, piles of plates, and a sink overflowing with greasy pans and pots, may you realize these are the well-used weapons of our war against the darkness. Make your ladles, casserole dishes, and cookie sheets become your trusty side arms in our fight to expand his kingdom.

Melania Trump and The Lord’s Prayer

From Charisma News:

Why Melania Trump Leading the Public in the Lord’s Prayer at a Rally in Florida Was a Historic Event

U.S. first lady Melania Trump steps from the stage after speaking at U.S. President Donald Trump's 'Make America Great Again' rally at Orlando Melbourne International Airport
U.S. first lady Melania Trump steps from the stage after speaking at U.S. President Donald Trump’s ‘Make America Great Again’ rally at Orlando Melbourne International Airport. (REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

We just witnessed Melania Trump’s finest moment as first lady so far.

After a week in which her husband declared war on the mainstream media, Melania absolutely electrified a huge crowd at a rally in Melbourne, Florida by reciting the Lord’s Prayer. What Donald Trump had to share afterwards was remarkable as well, but that night will always be remembered for what Melania did.

After beginning with the phrase “let us pray,” Melania stunned the entire world by slowly but carefully leading the crowd in the Lord’s Prayer, and it is being reported that the assembled throng responded to her prayer with “thunderous applause.”

She did not pronounce all of the words perfectly, but that didn’t matter.

What matters is that her courage enabled her to create the most powerful moment that we have seen from a First Lady in decades. The following is from a transcript of her remarks:

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed is your name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespasses [sic] against us.

‘Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

If you have not seen footage of this incredible moment yet, you can watch it right here.

One of the primary reasons this moment evoked so much emotion is because the Lord’s Prayer is undeniably a Christian prayer.

Over the decades, our politicians have become very adept at speaking of “god” in a very generic sense. Even when they pray, most of our politicians are careful to use universal language that could apply to almost any religion.

That is why what Melania Trump did was so radical. By reciting the Lord’s Prayer, she was clearly identifying herself as a Christian, and there was absolutely no question about whom she was addressing.

 

 

Read the full article here

My Story

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Last night at the Christian Life and Witness Course, which we are running as preparation for Come Together next month, it was suggested that we write down the story of our faith journey. “You can blog it,”  the presenter, Rodney Trinidad said amongst other options.

Unexpectedly finding myself with a spare half hour, I thought that might be a good idea. I have talked about my conversion experience on many occasions, but it has been a long time since I wrote it down.

The story starts with my birth in 1958, in Wolverhampton, England, to a working class couple. My school years were at a Catholic school, and Mum used to take my brother and me to Mass most Sundays.

I guess that time of my childhood would be like that of most children in England at the time. My parents rented an ordinary Council house and made sure we had enough to eat and were dressed warmly.

In the late 1960’s the UK began a long process of transition from the unionised industrial era to a much more modern economy, and as companies were trying to become more competitive there were increasing strikes in all parts of the country. As a result Mum and Dad saw some brochures about how wonderful life in Australia was- backed up by letters from my Aunt who had moved to Sydney years before.

So it was that in February 1969, the Bates family became 10 pound poms and moved to Sydney.

As I grew through my teen years, I became a bit of an atheist. I loved to bait the christians in my year. But I was also very depressed.

In May 1976, during the first year of my degree in Chemical Engineering, I was staying at my friend’s place. His family had gone on holidays, and the plan was that after we had finished our end of term exams we would join them.

As I was lying in bed one night just before going to sleep, I had a vision as clear as if it were real life. In this vision I saw myself climbing a mountain. It was so steep that I was literally dragging myself up the side of the mountain. As I climbed I could see that there was an intense light shining from behind the mountain, but I couldn’t see the source. As I climbed the light got brighter.

Finally, I reached the top and saw that the source of the light was Jesus. As I saw Him I felt love, joy and peace such as I had never experienced before.

So what do you do with an experience like that? God literally dropped on a self-proclaimed atheist and said “Here I am.”

I said to the God who only minutes before I would have said I didn’t believe in, “I will go to church next Sunday and if it’s good I will follow you.”

The following Sunday, I didn’t go to church because I was away with my friend’s family. But the Sunday after, I went to the night service at Wesley Methodist Church Castle Hill. The service, although it was a traditional 4 hymn service, was so full of the presence of God.

Since that time, I have obviously grown in my knowledge of who God is. There have been times when  life has been very challenging. There have even been times when the old depression has threatened to come back and overwhelm me.

But God has given me such purpose in my life, and that initial feeling of love, joy and peace has always remained with me.

Walking with Jesus is just the best life there is.