The Middle East Crisis

The Middle East Crisis
The tidal waves of protests and riots convulsing capitals throughout the Arab world herald a seismic shift in world politics. More than a million demonstrators on the streets of a single capital, day after day, calling for the resignation of authoritarian leaders, some of whom have been in power for decades, has created consternation, not only in the Middle East, but throughout the world.

The catalyst: protests in Tunisia
Tunisia was the first Arab domino to fall. Tunisia has often been an anomaly: it was the first Arab country to abolish slavery in 1848, the first Arab country to abolish polygamy in 1956.

Now in 2011 it was  the first Arab country to remove a dictator without external help. Exploding public anger at blatant corruption and sharp rises in prices sparked initial protests in December. In January, the sudden flight of President Ben Ali to Saudi Arabia, after 23 years of dictatorial rule, made possible the return from exile in London of Rachid Ghannouchi to assume interim control of the troubled country. However, as the interim government consists of numerous ministers from the previous regime, and as the economic crises which sparked the discontent in the first place remain, further instability can be expected.

Although Tunisia has no history of Islamic fundamentalism, radical groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood are attempting to exploit the instability and hijack the popular revolution to turn Tunisia from a mostly secular state into a radical Islamicist regime.

The Battle for Egypt
The relative political stability under President Hosni Mubarak for over 29 years has come to an abrupt end. Mubarak’s rule has been mostly secular. However Islamicist groups have grown greatly in strength in the past 20 years despite harsh suppression from Mubarak’s government.

Despite the ban on religious parties running in the parliamentary elections, the radical Muslim Brotherhood gained 20% of the elected parliament by running as Independents. Mubarak’s military government has since limited their number of seats by imprisoning a number of Muslim Brotherhood members of parliament.

Egypt is home to one of the most ancient civilisations in the world and is arguably the most important Arab country – it has the largest population of any Arab country, 84 million. Islam is the state religion. There are however over 10 million Christians, mostly Coptic Orthodox, making up 12% of the population of Egypt.

For over 1 000 years Egypt was a majority Christian population, even after the Arab Muslim conquest in AD 640. Incredibly the Egyptian Church has survived 14 centuries of Islamic discrimination and persecution. Violence against Christians in Egypt has escalated sharply over the last ten years. 

An Islamicist awakening
An Islamicist takeover in Egypt would be a massive crisis because the country has so much influence in the peace process with the state of Israel. Egypt is America’s key regional ally and was the first Arab state to make peace with Israel. The vital Suez Canal is controlled by Egypt. Iran severed diplomatic ties with Egypt after the 1979 Revolution because of Cairo’s peace treaty with Israel. The Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has compared the turmoil in Cairo to the period before the Iranian Islamic Revolution of 1979.

The uprising in Egypt has been described by Iranians as “an Islamic Awakening” which could lead to the establishment of an Islamicist Middle East led by Iran, dedicated to the extermination of the state of Israel.

Persecution of Christians
Along with this tidal wave of popular Islamic fanaticism on the streets of the Middle East has come a sharp increase of violent persecution of Christian communities. Many hundreds of Christians have been wounded or killed in violent attacks on Christian churches and neighbourhoods, especially in Iraq and Egypt. Tens of thousands of Christians are packing up and fleeing the region.

Considering that these Christians come from communities which have survived many centuries of Islamic persecution, only to be uprooted today, shows just how severe this new wave of ruthless persecution by radical Muslims has become.

An increase of support for radicals
With the crisis escalating throughout the Arab world, Western governments are facing a conundrum of their own making. For many years Western governments and media have repeated the liberal mantra that the vast majority of Muslims are moderate and against terrorism. This is now being shown to be a self-deceiving fantasy.

Surveys in Egypt have revealed that 59% of Egyptians back Islamicists and 50% of Egyptians support the radical Hamas terrorist group. 30% of Egyptians support the even more violent and radical Hezbollah. 20% of Muslim Egyptians express support for Al Qaeda. 95% of Egyptians want greater Islamic influence in politics.

The proposed solution by Western liberals to virtually any problem worldwide, that of ballot box democracy, is plainly not going to work in the Muslim Middle East. After the American military succeeded in toppling Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship in Iraq and making possible the first democratic elections in that country, the result was more radical Islamicists in power and far more severe persecution of Christians than had ever been experienced in Iraq before.

Diametrically opposed
In 2003 American President George W. Bush declared: “Are the peoples of the Middle East somehow beyond the reach of liberty? Are they alone never to know freedom..?” The religion of Islam does seem to be diametrically opposed to the Western world’s concept of freedom. Either Islam will die or freedom will die. The Islamic concept of freedom bears no resemblance to the Western understanding of freedom. Ibn Arabi, a noted Islamic scholar, defined freedom as: being “perfect slavery” to Allah. The Muslim definition of freedom is submission and subjection to Shari’a law.

A 2010 Pew Opinion Survey and University of Maryland/World Opinion.org survey have found that 84% of Egyptians favour the death penalty for “apostates” (those who choose to leave Islam). The fact that 90% favour ‘Freedom of Religion’ is not considered a contradiction in Muslim eyes, because by freedom of religion they mean submission to Islam. To Westerners freedom means the exact opposite. Clearly we are not talking the same language.

A clear and present danger
The danger of the Radical Muslim Brotherhood, one of the most virulent Islamic terrorist organisations in the world, hijacking the popular revolution in Egypt to turn that country into an Iranian style Islamicist state dedicated to the annihilation of the state of Israel and exporting radical Islam worldwide, is a clear and present danger. Egyptian government leaders have publicly declared their astonishment at how American President Obama is betraying them into the hands of the radical Muslim Brotherhood. Though bureaucracy and corruption abound, Mubarak has been a staunch US ally and a recipient of billions of dollars in military aid. His administration has long been considered the major stabilising force in the volatile Arab world.

Despite its radical statements and bloody track record, numerous Western government leaders have gone out of their way to claim that the Muslim Brotherhood is “a force for moderation” and neither violent nor extreme!
An Anti-Western revolution
The leader of Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood, Hammam Saeed, warned that the revolution in Egypt would spread across the Middle East until the Arabs succeed in toppling all leaders allied with America and Europe.

The balance of power in the Middle East could be severely shaken and dramatically re-aligned. With the White House giving support to the Muslim Brotherhood, Israel is preparing for the worst. After years of enduring Iranian-supplied kassam rocket attacks from Gaza, Israel now fears that their cities and towns could be hit with the full brunt of the Iranian arsenal.

A clash of civilisations
Since the 1978 Camp David Peace Accord between Israel and Egypt, US taxpayers have provided US$ 63,7 billion dollars in aid to Egypt alone. The state of Israel now fears that Egypt could become part of the Iranian pact in the Middle East along with Hamas, Hezbollah and other terrorist groups. A Muslim Brotherhood take over would herald the imposition of Shari’a law, a drastic increase in persecution of Christians and open hostility with the state of Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned the Knesset that the future of Egypt and that of Egypt’s ties with Israel hang in the balance: “We have two separate worlds here, two opposites, two worldviews; that of the free democratic world and that of the radical world. Which one of them will prevail in Egypt in the future? The answer to this question is crucial to the future of Egypt, of the region and to our own future in Israel.”

Democratic experiments in the Arab world
To many Westerners who know little about Islam or the Middle East, the news of mass protests against dictatorships and calls for democracy would sound like a good development. However, in Arab countries where some measure of democracy has been introduced, however tentatively, it is invariably the radical Islamicists who come to power.

When Bahrain held elections, the Islamicist parties won most of the seats. When elections were held in Gaza, the radical Islamicist terror group, Hamas, received most of the votes. The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is confident that the majority of Egyptians will vote for them in a future election.

Islamicist caliphate
Those who understand Islam and the Middle East are warning that democracy will bring change, but it would be in the form of the worst nightmare – an Islamicist crescent spreading from Pakistan in the East to Morocco in the West. A pan-Arabian Caliphate, where the word Islamicist would no longer just be shorthand for terrorist, but describe official government policy, even in capitals such as Cairo.

If European and American officials are worried about developments in the Middle East, one can only imagine what politicians and military commanders in the state of Israel are thinking. The Muslim Brotherhood have expressed their intent to seize power. They have made it clear that one of their first actions would be to tear up the 1979 Egyptian-Israel Peace Treaty. That alone would hurtle this troubled region into even more deadly instability.

An urgent call to prayer
The fundamental, and seemingly irreconcilable, differences between most Israelis and Arabs, means that any outbreak of serious conflict could easily embroil most neighbouring countries, including Lebanon, Syria and Lybia as seen recently. Many feel that such a war is almost inevitable. Christians need to be praying through Operation World – The Definitive Prayer Guide to Every Nation.

We need to be particularly focusing the prayers of our congregations on Christians under pressure in the Middle East, and for increased Christian missionary efforts to reach Muslims for Christ. “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit says the Lord Almighty” Zech 4:6


The Spread of Pornography

The Spread of Pornography
The rapid and unrestrained spread of pornography within society must rank as the most insidious threat against marriage and the family since the sexual revolution of the Sixties. The relative ease with which one can access hard-core sexually explicit images is unprecedented in South Africa’s history. The internet serves as the primary channel to access pornography. However, widespread use of smart phones and other hand held devices has made pornography more easily available to men, women and children as young as eight years old. The targeting of minors by smut merchants has reached epidemic proportions. More and younger children are downloading hard-core pornography to their cell phones. This disturbing trend has quickly descended into a grotesque fad called ‘sexting’, in which children record video clips of themselves engaging in sexual activity and share it with friends.

A lustful addiction
Pornography consumption was once the domain of some adult males. The explosion of the internet and the increasing number of online devices has provided smut merchants with a much wider and more susceptible audience. Pornography addiction is more widespread than most people imagine. Research by psychologists indicate that online porn addiction is stronger, and more addictive than ordinary porn addiction because of its easy availability, explicitness and the privacy that online viewing offers – as opposed to ‘adult shops’. But what is pornography addiction? Firstly, it is a freely chosen sin and is enslavement to the obsessions and compulsions of lust.

Often it is a false coping mechanism for the individual and is a false love. It is a sick substitute for God’s love and is actually idol worship. It is a spiritual, emotional and psychological poison that leads to death.

A serious threat
Addiction to pornography has become such a serious threat to society, it is often referred to as the ‘new crack’. Millions of marriages are destroyed worldwide as a result of pornography addictions and the resulting downward spiral into the seedy world of sexual depravity, perversion and uncontrolled obsessions. Research indicates most men who use prostitutes are married men and the primary reason for this abnormality is their addiction to pornography.

The widespread availability of pornography, and its glamourisation in the liberal media, contributes significantly to the social degradation of women and children. Pornography has become a global multi–billion Dollar parasitic industry by profiting off the deviant sexual addictions and misery of its victims. It is a silent destroyer that lures its victims into a web of sexual depravity and unrestrained lusts. There are countless examples of men who surf the ‘XXX’ domains on the internet in their own homes without their wives ever knowing. Most men begin their journey by ‘innocently’ viewing soft porn. However, once these airbrushed images cannot provide the sexual gratification required, they steadily descend into a bizarre world of hard-core and more sexually depraved images.

The decline is imperceptible but inexorable. Their view of human sexuality is distorted and perverted to the extent that normal marital sexual relations cannot be maintained because it fails to fulfil their porn fuelled fantasies.

A secret sin
Research indicates the pornography plague is pervasive both inside and outside the Church. David Blythe, author of ‘Secret in the Pew – Pornography in the Lives of Christian Men’ says: “There are secrets sitting in the pews of our churches. This secret is a hidden lifestyle of sexual preoccupation and perversion within the lives of Christian men. It is fuelled by regular consumption of one of the most destructive forces of our time – pornography. Pornography has created such a stronghold within the Body of Christ that many have become neutralised from being of any kind of force for the Kingdom of God.

That is exactly where the enemy wants us – to be of no threat to him and his work.” It is estimated only ten percent of porn addicts confess their addiction. That leaves ninety percent of victims who either deny they have a problem or have not yet recognised their enslavement to porn. Tragic as pornography addiction is, the greater tragedy is the Church’s failure to acknowledge this formidable threat to marriage and the family. Most men, women and teens, who struggle with pornography addictions, do so in silence because of the shame and stigma attached to it. This self imposed alienation compounds the problem because the power of sin lies in its secrecy.

A destructive influence
Most addictions are overcome when the victims acknowledge their problem. However, when one considers the scope of the pornography plague and its destructive influence on marriage and the family, the dire lack of ministries addressing this issue is a national tragedy. Pornography addictions will not go away if ignored. Family Policy Institute has begun the process of lobbying for legislation that will ban internet pornography at tier one level. This is the only real way to protect children from exposure. However, until this happens, the porn plague continues unabated. The Church must acknowledge this insidious and growing threat against the family and must act decisively to stop its progress. More church-run ministries must be established around the country that offer confidential and non-judgemental help and support to victims. Pastors must preach regularly about pornography’s devastating impact on society, warn against sexual addictions and encourage people to seek help. The porn plague can and must be defeated. But it requires prayer, commitment and decisive action from the Body of Christ in South Africa. How can you help?


Top 10 Most Influential Christian Leaders of 2010

Top 10 Most Influential Christian Leaders of 2010
Christian Telegraph the largest Christian Internet ministry in the Russian language and news agency has named their 2010 ministers of the year. They say that they have been selected “because of their vast influence on Christianity.”

Evangelist of the year – Reinhard Bonnke  The legendary evangelist has brought millions of people in Africa to the Lord. Even as Reinhard is in his 70’s, his passion for Jesus is still going strong and he desires to awaken Europe, which has been spiritually asleep, to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. In addition to massive crusades, he views the Internet as a great tool for evangelism and updates his Facebook page every day. Reinhard has also prepared a successor for himself.

Writer of the year – Lisa Bevere   Being an international speaker, author of many bestsellers and TV show hostess, Lisa Bevere is one of the few who encourages women all around the world to raise their voices and change this world for the better.

Missionary of the year – Jaerock Lee  This pastor knows that the lives of Christians are to be holy and should be empowered by the Holy Spirit. He founded Manmin Church, a mega-church in Seoul, South Korea, and works to bring revival and the Gospel to the most remote corners of the world. Just a few of the other countries he has impacted are Israel, Peru, Estonia, the United States, India and countries in Africa.

Diplomat of the year – Rick Warren  The pastor of the mega-church, Saddleback, was named one of the most popular and influential users of Twitter. Rick Warren is one of the few pastors who publicly speaks with influential governmental officials. In 2010 he interviewed former United States of America president George W. Bush in his church.

Philanthropist of the year – Franklin Graham  Franklin Graham has dedicated his life to preaching the Gospel and to helping those who are in desperate situations, including economically and medically. He is the President of the worldwide relief organisation Samaritan’s Purse and the President of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Samaritan’s Purse is working in more than 100 countries.

Pastor of the year – Paul Melnichuk  Being the son of Ukrainian immigrants, Paul Melnichuk built a multi-national mega-church called The Prayer Palace in Toronto, Canada. Despite the very liberal society around him, Paul preaches the uncompromised Gospel. The Prayer Palace unites Christians from more than 50 nationalities.

Leader of the year – James Davis  James Davis is the co-founder of the growing coalition of ministries and denominations called Billion Soul Network. It includes more than 350 000 churches. James is a gifted leader and his goal is to strengthen relations between pastors in order to plant five million churches and bring one billion people to Christ.

Reformer of the year – Mark Driscoll  He is the Pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington and is working to reform the approach of having church and being a community of believers. He is using the latest technologies to do that. Mars Hill Church has created its own internet network, which is a virtual community that helps church members build strong relationships.

Broadcaster of the year – James Dobson  After more than 30 years of ministry and, as the leader of one of the most influential pro-family organisations in the US, Focus on the Family, James Dobson left the ministry that he founded and started a new radio programme called Family Talk. The focus of the new programme is to strengthen the institution of family, which James says is the foundation of a strong society.

Strategist of the year – Leonard Sweet  Leonard Sweet is a historian of the American culture, futurist who sees the trends in the society that are unnoticed by others and a writer. Leonard is also a consultant to many churches and develops strategies to fulfil the Great Commission in the digital age of the 21st Century.

Assist News – Dan Wooding,  Award winning British journalist living in Southern California.


EVANGELISM In His Name

Dear Friend,

Things that are impossible in the natural are made easy when our Lord is at work.  He shines His glorious light on hopeless situations and drives the darkness away.   The testimony that follows is one such instance.  Having lived in pain for almost fifty years, Aletta had almost given up hope – almost!  I trust you enjoy her story.

As Christians, it is our responsibility to connect people with this wondrous Jesus.  Matthew 5 v 13 describes us as the salt of the earth.  What an interesting comparison!  Why would Jesus specifically refer to Christians as salt?  On doing some research into the uses of salt – it in fact has over 14 000 known uses – one finds that comparing believers to salt is most appropriate.

Firstly, salt enhances FLAVOUR, thereby promoting an appetite or desire for foodstuffs.  Indeed, we as believers must promote a desire for God in others, making them aware of their need for the same peace, joy and love that flow from being reconciled to God.  Secondly, salt acts as a PRESERVATIVE.  Indeed, we are called to preserve holiness and righteousness in this world, directing people towards good and away from evil.  Thirdly, salt has the ability to MELT COLDNESS.  Christians, through the love shining in their words and actions, are to melt the hardness around human hearts, giving the Holy Spirit a gap to transform lives.  Lastly, salt is used to DESTROY BACTERIA and HEAL WOUNDS.  Yes indeed, Christians are called to drive the darkness out of lives, casting out demons and healing the sick in the name of Jesus, whether such illness is of a physical, mental or emotional nature.

What a perfect comparison – salt and the believer.  Let us continue more fervently than ever before, to be the salt of Christ in the life of every person we encounter!  You are welcome to contact me with any questions or feedback via Facebook (Tamryn Klintworth) or to visit www.inhisname.org.za for more information.  I look forward to hearing from you!

Yours for Africa to be saved,

Tamryn Klintworth
Evangelist
MIRACLE IN RETREAT
In September 2010, In His Name Ministries held a crusade in Retreat, Cape Town. The testimony below tells the story of an elderly Zulu woman who received a healing touch from her Lord and Saviour.

The woman danced on the stage, her face transfixed in a permanent grin of rapturous joy.  Short and round, she jived with natural African rhythm and a blessed assurance of having received complete deliverance from the pain that had tormented her for almost five decades.  Breaking into song, she began to sing a traditional Zulu tune with delightful exuberance, glorifying Christ her Redeemer, the Healer of her body, the Saviour of her soul.  The crowd rejoicing, Evangelist Tamryn Klintworth raised her hands and praised God together with her.  A voluminous wave of thanksgiving mounted to the throne room of heaven, the praises sung infiltrating the depths of hell, reminding Satan of his humiliation and enforcing his utter defeat.

The name of the dancing woman is Aletta.  She is 68-years-old and has not walked freely without pain since 1962.  Giving birth to four children resulted in her struggling against all the agony and fragility caused by slipped discs in her lower back.  Neither doctors nor medication could rectify the damage nor alleviate the pain.  Being on pension, her limited finances made seeking further treatment impossible.  With all four of her children and their families living in the same home, Aletta held the responsibility of doing the housework and caring for the five grandchildren – ranging in ages from one to seven years – in order to allow the others to continue either working or seeking employment.  With the pain becoming increasingly overwhelming and her strength failing her, her need for a miraculous intervention had become desperate and intense.

As news of the crusade spread through her community, she was filled with a divine hope.  It was said that God would be present to heal, that an encounter with His wondrous grace was a fixed appointment for all who came.  Arriving at the Saturday evening meeting, Aletta hobbled painfully and found a place to sit in the throng.  The Gospel message having been preached with its characteristic sin-destroying might, Evangelist Tamryn began to minister to the sick.  Coming forward for prayer, Aletta stood in the line with eyes tightly closed.  Her turn having come, her faith met with that power-packed prayer, such effecting an explosion of healing as a spark ignites dynamite.  Driving the pain before His flaming touch, the Holy Spirit raced through her body.  Collapsing to the floor under the presence of the God, she awoke to find her back restored to full movement and flexibility, the pain having disappeared before a rising floodtide of Holy Spirit power!

Being a member of her church choir, she shares her eagerness to proclaim her testimony the very next Sunday at her own place of worship.  “Jesus has set me free!  Thank you Jesus!” she declares.  “If I was not so old,” she continues, “I would travel with you and give my testimony in each crusade!”  Her face electric with joy, she leaves the venue at the service conclusion still bouncing with happiness, her rich voice undulating in song.  What a wondrous Jesus we serve!  We glorify Him who breathes forth stars of fire, yet whose true delight consists in lovingly intervening in the affairs of men!

Tamryn is the founder of In His Name Ministries, an evangelistic organisation dedicated to proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout Africa and the world.  Find her on Facebook under Tamryn Klintworth or visit the ministry website at: www.inhisname.org.za


Motivatioal Gifts: Exhortation & Giving

Motivatioal Gifts: Exhortation & Giving
Over the last few issues we have been looking at the various Motivational Gifts. This next article focuses on the gifts of exhortation and giving. Please read Romans 12:6-8 for reference.

Exhortation (Encourager)
This is a strong life-related gift, which draws on experience. Unlike the teacher, truth is truth for the exhorter, whether it comes from the Bible or from experience. In fact, the exhorter needs to confirm the truth of Scripture from practical experience. When exhorters speak, they need the full interest and attention of every listener, as the person of their gift. It is the gift of encouragement to personal progress. Biblical Example: Barnabas (Acts 4:36, 11:22-26)

Characteristics
a) They love people. They love to see people growing and maturing
b) They visualise specific achievements, and prescribe sets of action. They see the answer to the problem and then set the steps into action in order to get there
c) They are grieved with teaching which is not practical
d) They have an ability to see how trials can produce new levels of maturity
e) They want to see visible acceptance when they talk to people. They want to see that the people understand what they are saying, and that they have received it and will put it into practice
f)  They teach from human experience
g) They enjoy seeing people take steps of action. They are inclined to become frustrated when people don’t follow through in taking steps to solve their problem
h) They take delight in personal conferences/counselling that produces new insights
i) They are fluent in communication
j) They are loved because of their positive attitude.

Misunderstandings
a) Their emphasis on steps of action may seem to oversimplify the problem
b)Their desire to win non-Christians by example (e.g. family and friends) may appear to be a lack of interest in personal evangelism
c) Their use of Scripture for practical application may be taken out of context
d) Their emphasis on steps of action may seem to show a disregard for the feelings of the person being counselled.

How their counsel will help you
Their counsel will help you to pinpoint causes of problems and take steps towards a solution of those problems.

Giving
The gift of giving can be seen as the gift of ‘special sharing’. The real motivation behind givers is the support of others. One always feels the strong support flowing out of this gift. People who have a strong giving motivation are not gullible – they have insight regarding when and whom to help.
This gift is not restricted to the wealthy: finance is only one concrete expression of this gift. A Biblical example would be Abraham (Gen 12-14) who was prepared to give his son, and also his land to Lot. A perfect example – God gave His son (John 3:16)

Characteristics
a) They have an ability to make money. They also know how to use their money to make wise purchases and sound investments
b) They desire to give to ministries to meet their need (sometimes beyond the local Body). They will be obedient in their own church, but they enjoy giving to the wider Body
c)  They like to motivate others to give
d) They want to meet needs that others overlook
e) They enjoy meeting needs without pressure
f) They experience joy when their gift is an answer to specific prayer
g) They are concerned that their gift should be of high quality
h) They have a desire to feel a part of the work or person to whom they give. They like to feel involved, and that they are co-labouring in some way
i) If married, they depend on their partner’s counsel to confirm the  amount of the gift
j) They will intercede for needs and for the salvation of souls
k) They see hospitality as an opportunity to give.

Misunderstandings
a) They need to deal with large sums of money and may therefore appear carnal
b) Their desire to increase the effectiveness of a ministry by their gift may appear to be an attempt to control the work or person. They may be big givers in the church, and sometimes they may be viewed by the rest of the church Body as trying to manipulate the work of God. This is not true! Their giving is their gifting and involvement – the way in which they co-labour in the Body
c) Their attempt to encourage others to give may appear as stinginess (‘you give!’)
d) Their lack of response to pressure appeals may appear to be stinginess. They respond when they see a genuine need
e) If they live a frugal personal life, they can appear to friends and relatives as selfish in not meeting their wants. Their family often suffers because they pour their finance elsewhere. As a giver, you must remember that your family comes first, but the family must also recognise and understand where this gifting comes from.

How their counsel will help you
Their counsel will help you to reveal the unwise use of assets, (e.g. with budgeting, financing, etc.) and encourage you to give liberally to God’s work.

See next month’s issue for the follow-up article in the Motivational Gifts series.


The Way Of Balaam

The Way Of Balaam
Why do some Christians pray to God as ‘mother’? Why do some Christians use labyrinths and mandalas? Why do some believe that different religions are all part of ‘one truth’? What do actively homosexual bishops have in common with militant feminism, ‘interfaith’ worship, and the watering down of core doctrines of the Faith? Are these trends mere signs of an aberrant but harmless spirituality, or are they sinister and toxic to orthodox Christian faith and practice?

False teaching
Proponents of these trends present them as enlightened, progressive and cutting edge. But are they really? Or are we drifting into paganism? It has been said that Christian orthodoxy (correct belief and behaviour) is never more than one generation from extinction. In other words, as is emphasised many times in the New Testament, we must be on our guard against false teaching. This is because false teaching is a poison to the Christian Church.

It undermines the true Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, thereby bringing spiritual death to people in need of salvation. It subverts the truth revealed to us, and promotes ‘the lie’ – thereby colluding with the ‘father of lies’ himself.

Not least, false teaching brings the judgement of God upon churches who allow it. I believe that the precipitous decline over the last 40 or 50 years in many of the Protestant denominations of North America and Britain is the direct result of the infiltration of unbiblical, and in some cases outright heretical, teachings. As an example, the Anglican Church of Canada declined 75% in attendance figures from 1961 to 2009; this is a church which embraces the belief that homosexual unions are good and normal, and perform ceremonies blessing them.

Sound doctrine
But what are these false teachings, and how do we recognise them? The issues are complex, but I believe they can be set out in a way that clarifies them. We need to know how to counter these false doctrines – it is not enough to quote a verse or two of the Bible (correct though it is to base our responses on the Word) , we need to have a thorough and sound doctrinal understanding of what the Bible teaches.

Gnostic sects
You may ask what Gnostic belief is and what it has to do with Christians today. Well, Gnostic sects were among the first groups to twist the Christian Gospel – they had a huge influence and led many astray into darkness in the times of the early church. They were groups that mixed Christian belief with the pagan religions of the Roman Empire, and eastern philosophies.

Their teachings have reappeared from time to time in the history of the Christian church, but are reasserting their influence in our day and age, especially because of the impact of Eastern religions like Buddhism and Hinduism in the West. They are subtle and once again will deceive many – but they can be recognised, and they can be countered.

All denominations are at risk
[These heretical movements and Gnostic beliefs] are occurring in mainline denominations, such as Anglican, Baptist, Reformed and Lutheran churches. However these false teachings are beginning to infiltrate large Free Evangelical and Charismatic/Pentecostal churches through the very influential leaders of the ‘Emergent Church’ movement. Western culture has long abandoned its mooring in Christian thought and belief and the effect of this will be felt not only in North America, Britain and Europe, but throughout the world.

A new world order
Many prominent and respected Christian thinkers are warning us that we face the rise of a new world order that is totally pagan in its foundations and which will threaten the Christian Church in a way that has not been seen since the days of the Roman Empire. Not only is this new world order post-Christian, it is anti-Christian.

Frederick Baue, the Lutheran theologian tells us that what is coming is “a phase of Western or world civilisation that is innately religious but hostile to Christianity….or worse, a dominant but false church that brings all of its forces to bear against the truth of God’s Word”. If we are not prepared, if we do not equip ourselves by seeking a deeper understanding of Christian truth and a deeper knowledge of our faith, we will be swept away by what is coming on the world.

How false teachings infiltrate
There are two main ways that false teaching enters the Church; either by subtraction, where parts of the Gospel are denied, or by addition, where additions to the Faith are made. An example of the former is denial of Jesus’ deity, or of the doctrine of atonement. Examples of the latter are more difficult to discern; but it occurs when the message of the Gospel is supplemented by other teachings that dilute or contradict the Gospel.

Wandering off the path like Balaam
Balaam is mentioned by both the writers of Jude and Peter in their discussions about the dangers that false teachers were posing for the early Christian communities. In Peter’s second letter he warns the church against false teachers who in a manner similar to the false prophets of the Old Testament will introduce heresies.

These people are immoral, seductive and will bring the Christian faith into disrepute. Peter equates them with Balaam the prophet of the Old Testament who forsook the right way. From this we gather that these are people who have known the truth and have taught it at one stage, but have no wandered off like Balaam.

Renewed passion
I believe that the Christian Church today as never before needs believers that love the Lord Jesus and are committed to standing for the truth. By equipping ourselves with knowledge, a solid understanding of the Word and through prayer, we can experience  renewed passion for the Lord among believers and a clearer understanding of His glorious Gospel.


Skeptics Answered: How do you Know Jesus is Alive?

Skeptics Answered: How do you Know Jesus is Alive?
The Resurrection is so important and foundational to Christianity that it has been targeted for the most relentless attacks. A skeptical university lecturer, Josh McDowell, determined to disprove Christianity by investigating evidence against the Resurrection.

Researching the facts
The result was his conversion to Christ and publication of the monumental: ‘Evidence That Demands a Verdict’ which exhaustively and conclusively presents documentation and evidence upon evidence substantiating the historical truth, factual accuracy, archaeological evidence, manuscript evidence, fulfilled prophecies, transformed lives, and other indisputable evidences which support the fact of the Resurrection of Christ from the dead and the truth claims of Christianity.

Examining the evidence
Simon Greenleaf, recognised as one of the most skilled legal minds of all time, developed the Harvard Law School. He is recognised as the top authority on what constitutes sound evidence.

Greenleaf made a thorough examination of the objective evidence and the testimony of the four Gospel writers. In his book: ‘The Testimony of the Evangelists’ he concluded: “It was therefore impossible that they could have persisted in affirming the truths they have narrated, had not Jesus actually risen from the dead, and had they not known this fact as certainly as they knew any other fact.” Simon Greenleaf declared that any court of law, if presented with the evidence of the Resurrection, would have to give a verdict in favour of the integrity and accuracy of the Gospel writers and the fact of the Resurrection.

What are the facts?
The Jewish religious leaders had great concerns about the corpse of Jesus and they approached the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, for a military detachment to secure the tomb (Matt 28:62-64).

The Roman governor’s priority in the volatile province of Palestine was to preserve peace and stability. He recognised the political problems that would ensue if anything happened to this religious Teacher whom he had three times declared innocent, and ultimately washed his hands in front of the crowd declaring, “I’m innocent of this Man’s blood” Matt 27:24.

Pilate was only too aware that a travesty of justice had taken place, and the last thing he needed was a review of his shameful conduct and dereliction of duty in this case. Ensuring that the victim’s corpse remained buried was definitely in Pilate’s political interests as well. “‘Take a guard’, Pilate answered. ‘Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how’. So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.” Matt 27:65

The Roman guard
As the chief priests had approached the Roman governor, and as the Greek word ‘Koustodia’ is used to describe the detachment of soldiers, it was evidently a Roman guard. If only a temple guard had been used, there would have been no need to approach Pilate to issue the order. Additionally the concern of the guards after the Resurrection to be protected from consequences from the governor (Matt 28:14) confirms that those guarding the tomb were Roman soldiers.

The detachment would have consisted of at least 16 soldiers with four men placed directly in front of the entrance of the tomb, on duty, at any time. Under Roman military law any guard who deserted his post, or who fell asleep on duty, would face crucifixion. Anyone breaking a Roman seal without permission would be executed.

Although the intention of the religious and political leaders had been to ensure that the phenomenon of Jesus ended at the tomb, their extraordinary security measures have only served to confirm the truth that they had murdered an innocent Man and that Jesus Christ was truly the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.

Theories about the empty tomb
To explain away the empty tomb, the enemies of the Gospel have had to resort to some desperate deceptions. The first was to suggest that the disciples had stolen the body. This incredible theory suggests that those same disciples who had slept in the garden, fled at His arrest, denied Him before a young woman, were hiding in fear behind locked doors, could have unitedly overcome 16 professional Roman soldiers, dared to break a Roman seal, moved a two tonne tomb stone, just to steal a corpse!

A dead Messiah would have served absolutely no purpose for the disciples. What possible motivation could they have had, even had they possessed the ability to overcome the military, political and logistical obstacles? They had nothing to gain and everything to lose. Every one of the disciples suffered severe persecution, most dying as martyrs for the Faith. Would you die for a lie?

Did Jesus really die?
Others have questioned whether Christ had really died on the Cross. Perhaps He only fainted? This swoon theory would have us believe that the Roman soldiers, who were professional killers, (the centurion in charge, would most probably have supervised dozens if not hundreds of executions), had failed to ensure that this high profile political prisoner was not actually dead. Considering the vicious flogging which the Lord had already endured, the excruciating torture of crucifixion, and the spear thrust into His side, with blood and water flowing out, all provide convincing evidence of death.

Yet, those advocating this theory would have us believe that One Who had endured savage flogging, crucifixion and a spear to the heart, could not only have survived the legendary Roman military efficiency, but that He was revived on a cold slab. Further that He somehow disengaged from the grave clothes, and one hundred pounds of spices, ointments and wrappings which had effectively mummified Him, rolled away the two tonne stone, overpowered, or eluded, the Roman soldiers, and somehow found and impressed the disciples with His Deity? These suggestions have only to be mentioned to be dismissed as unbelievable.

The empty tomb
Another desperate attempt to explain away the Resurrection of Christ has been that they went to the wrong tomb. All of them. Mary Magdalene, Peter, John, the other women, all went to the wrong tomb. And somehow neither the Pharisees, nor the Sadducees, nor the Roman soldiers, nor Joseph of Arimathea, whose tomb it was, thought to point out that the tomb was in fact still occupied! However, this theory is also impossible, as the tomb was not in a cemetery, but in a garden privately owned by Joseph of Arimathea. There was no other tomb in that garden.
And all that the Roman and Jewish leaders had to do in order to end Christianity forever was produce the corpse of Jesus. But they couldn’t do it. “And with great power the Apostles gave witness to the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus.” Acts 4:33. Thousands in Jerusalem, including Pharisees, came to faith in Jesus Christ.

The crisis of credibility
To the Jewish religious leaders, this was their worst nightmare, a disaster. The proclamation of the Resurrection of Christ undermined their power and credibility. Thousands of their followers now believed that they had condemned an innocent Man, the Messiah Himself. The new religion of Christianity was undermining the power base and credibility of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Since they desperately needed Jesus’ corpse, the Jewish leaders would have used every means at their disposal to hunt it down and find it – if that was possible. However, we are not only dealing with the empty tomb, and the absence of the body, but the testimony of eyewitnesses. On at least twelve separate occasions Jesus Christ was seen after rising from the tomb.

Eye witness testimonies
Mary Magdalene (John 20:11-18; Mark 16:9); the other women (Matt 28:8-10); Peter (Luke 24:34); the two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35); ten of the disciples (Luke 24:36-43; John 20:19-24); all eleven disciples, eight days later (John 20:24-29); seven disciples by the Sea of Tiberius (John 21:1-23); to 500 at one time (1 Cor 15:6); to James (1 Cor 15:7); to all 11 Apostles, and others, at the Ascension (Acts 1:3-12); Paul (Acts 9:3-8); and John (Rev 1:12-18), all saw the Lord bodily raised from the dead. 

To explain away the testimony of all these eyewitnesses, enemies of Christianity suggest that these were merely hallucinations. However, while hallucinations tend to be unique psychological experiences of an individual, we are here dealing with a large number of individuals, who at different times, in different groups, in different places, both indoors and outdoors, on a hilltop, along a roadside, by a lake shore, all saw the Lord. They saw Him, they ate with Him, they saw the wounds in His hands and in His side. And far from being gullible, it would appear that His disciples were very skeptical and slow to believe. Thomas declared that he would not believe that Christ had risen unless he personally placed his fingers in the nail prints in His hands and feet and his hand in the wound in His side.

Transformed disciples
Not only do we have the testimony of the eyewitnesses, but the dramatic transformation of the disciples. The Resurrection of Christ from the dead transformed the disciples’ grief to joy, their cowardice to boldness, their skepticism to faith and their doubt to determination. It turned Saul, the persecutor of the Church into Paul the Apostle of the Church.

It also transformed society and history. The very existence of the largest religious movement in the history of the world is another powerful evidence of the truth of the Resurrection. Jesus Himself had prophesied His Resurrection from the dead. And because of His fulfilment of this, we can be absolutely certain that Jesus Christ is God with us, as He claimed. By His Resurrection we can know that our sins are forgiven through His blood sacrificed on the Cross of Calvary.

Because of Christ’s death on the Cross we can rejoice that our sins are paid for – we are forgiven, justified by faith. Because of Christ’s Resurrection from the dead we can rejoice in the prospect of eternal life. Because of Christ’s Ascension we can know that He has all authority and that His Great Commission will be accomplished on earth. Because of the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost we do not need to trust in our own abilities, but in His power alone. “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit says the Lord.”

We serve a risen Saviour! Death is defeated. Christ has risen – victorious over death, hell, satan and the grave. Jesus Christ is the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:25).

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” 1 Pet 1:3
 
PETER HAMMOND is a missionary, Bible-teacher and author. For more information, contact:
021 689 4480; www.frontline.org.za; or email
mission@frontline.org.za

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St Patrick – Not the Patron Saint of Pubs

St Patrick – Not the Patron Saint of Pubs
Patrick was only 16 years old when he saw a fleet of 50 longboats heading for the shore. As the Roman Legions had long since departed Britain, Patrick’s home town was vulnerable to attack. As the Irish raiders leapt from their boats onto the pebbled beach, sounding their war-horns, the population fled in terror. The attackers looted and burned the village and carried away captives, including young Patrick.

A man of noble character
The year was AD 405. Patrick’s name in Latin was Patricius, meaning ‘Noble’. He was the son of a Civil Magistrate, but now he had become a slave in Ireland. Patrick was sold to a cruel warrior chief whose stockade in Northern Ireland was surrounded by sharp poles with the heads of his opponents impaled on them. Patrick was put to work as a shepherd to care for his master’s pigs and sheep.
He lived a lonely existence in the nearby hills, enduring long bouts of hunger and thirst, isolated from human company for months at a time. Patrick witnessed the superstitions of the Druid priests who sacrificed prisoners of war to their war gods and newborns to the harvest gods. Skulls were used as drinking bowls; heads of decapitated enemies were used as footballs.

In this strange place at ‘the ends of the earth’ amongst these fierce people, Patrick remembered the faith of his father and grandfather, and the prayers of his mother and turned to Christ. Kneeling on the slopes of the Slemish Mountain, near what is now the town of Ballymena, Patrick prayed, sometimes a hundred times a day.

An end to his enslavement
After six years of slavery, Patrick was led of the Lord to escape and run nearly 200 miles to a coastal port where he was able to persuade a captain to take him along with a shipment of Irish wolfhounds. A storm blew them off course to land on the coast of Gaul (France).

Attacks by vandals had devastated the area and there was no food to be found in the, once fertile, area. Here Patrick was able to repay the kindness of the ship captain by praying for the Lord’s provision – and then seeing a herd of pigs appear.

A voice to the Irish people
Patrick received a Macedonian call. In a vision, an Irishman named Victoricius presented him letters entitled ‘The Voice of the Irish’: “We appeal to you, holy servant boy, to come and walk among us again”. Patrick was “pierced to my very heart” and he returned to the land where he had suffered as a slave many years before.

Leaving a spiritual legacy
Patrick was over 40 years old when he arrived as a missionary to Ireland in AD 432. He faced fierce opposition from the Druids. Patrick survived numerous attempts on his life and confronted the idolatry, immorality, slavery and human sacrifices of the savage tribes.

“Daily I expect murder, fraud or captivity, but I fear none of these things because of the promises of Heaven. I have cast myself into the hands of God Almighty who rules everywhere.” Patrick delighted in taking risks for the Gospel. “I must take this decision disregarding risks involved and make known the gifts of God and His everlasting consolation. Neither must I fear any such risk in faithfully preaching God’s Name boldly in every place, so that even after my death, a spiritual legacy may be left for my brethren and my children.”

Confronting the Druid religion
At Tara, Patrick challenged the Druids to a contest. The Druids invoked demons and brought a dark fog over the land. Patrick prayed and suddenly the fog cleared and the sun shone brightly. The king ordered 27 chariots to go and seize Patrick. He prayed aloud: “May God come up to scatter His enemies and may those who hate Him flee from His face.” The charioteers fell dead. Patrick rebuked the king: “If you do not believe now, you will die on the spot for the wrath of God descends on your head.” The king fell on his knees before the missionary and pledged his realm to Christ. Many turned to Christ on that day.

One of Patrick’s writings was a letter excommunicating a tyrant Coroticus who had carried off some of Patrick’s converts into slavery. Within his lifetime Patrick ended the slave trade in Ireland. The legend that Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland has to do with his spiritual warfare in driving the demons from the land.
The famous ‘Lorica’ – Patrick’s Breastplate prayer of protection expresses Patrick’s confidence in God to protect him from “every fierce, merciless force that may come upon my body and soul, incantations of false prophets, black laws of paganism, deceit of idolatry, spells of druids…”

Training others to spread the Word
Patrick was one of the first great missionaries who brought the Gospel beyond the boundaries of the old Roman Civilisation. Patrick’s missionary strategy was to concentrate on converting the tribal kings. As the kings converted, they gave their sons to Patrick to be trained as missionaries. From kingdom to kingdom, Patrick converted pagans, built churches, trained disciples, ordained deacons and ministers and built mission stations. Patrick provided pastors with written doctrinal standards with which to teach their people.

Evangelising Europe
For 30 years Patrick evangelised Ireland, converting many chiefs and kings, establishing over 300 congregations and baptising 120 000 people.
Patrick became an inspiring example for Celtic Christians. His life of continuous prayer, his love for the Scriptures, his love of God’s Creation and missionary vision inspired many hundreds of Celts to take the Gospel to Scotland, England and throughout Europe.
 
PETER HAMMOND is a missionary, Bible-teacher and author. For more information, contact:
021 689 4480; www.frontline.org.za; or email
mission@frontline.org.za

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Diamonds & Disco Dancing

It was a cold evening. The skies were patchy with clouds and chilly winds gusted from the peaks. Howard drove me to the church where I was to preach. That first Friday night as I sat on the platform I looked across a gathering of 200 people; there were no young people. I leaned over to Howard and asked, “Where are the young people?”
 “Reinhard, would you like to know where all the young people in Kimberley are?” Howard answered. He drove through the streets until we reached a large warehouse, ablaze with gaudy neon signs. One large sign blinked out the word, ‘disco, disco, disco’.
The parking lot was jam-packed. I could hear the boom of the heavy base beat. “This is a den of iniquity,” I said sadly.  Howard nodded, “this is the latest thing, Reinhard. It is a ‘discotheque’ and young people flock here.”

Drawn to the world
I felt a shiver go down my spine. How could the church compete for the attention of their youth against such temptation? The quiet little church building we had just come from, and this pulsating, giant warehouse could not seem more opposite. It was a sad reality of modern life, but I could do nothing to fix the gulf between young and old in Kimberley, or anywhere else in the world. Only a revival of faith in Jesus could do that.
I would go back and preach my heart out to the old people again on Saturday and Sunday. Perhaps God would move in their hearts, and they would begin to make a difference in the lives of their own young people. That seemed the best I could hope to achieve.
But as I turned to get into the car, I  stopped in my tracks. The Holy Spirit began to speak to me. I had no idea what the Spirit wanted me to do, but I knew I could not leave.

Empty, lonely people
“Let’s take a look inside,” Howard suggested. I nodded. As I opened the door, the blast of music must have knocked my hair back! In that instant I received a spiritual vision of the reality of the disco. In the flash of the strobe lights, I did not see young people dancing with joy. I saw frozen images of boredom, fear, loneliness and insecurity, one after the other, captured on the faces of those young people. Each of those haunted faces spoke to me of emptiness – pure emptiness.
Now I knew what the Spirit had wanted me to see. I felt the undeniable compassion of Jesus surging within me. I wanted to weep for the precious, searching young people of Kimberley. They lived in the city that was diamond crazy, yet they did not know that they were the diamonds God created. They were more precious in His sight than mountains of wealth. He cared enough to die for them.
Suddenly, I could not care less what anyone thought of me. I knew that I would preach in that disco. Nothing could deny the love of Jesus that I felt.

Prompted to preach in a disco
I heard the Holy Spirit say in my heart, “Find the owner of this place.” And so, I said to Howard, “Help me to find the owner of this disco.”
The owner was a middle-aged businessman who looked to be very much part of the rock-and-roll culture. He had long hair, gold chains around his neck, an open collared shirt, and blue jeans. I said to him, “Sir, I’ve come all the way from Germany. I am asking you for permission to allow me to address the young people in your disco for five minutes.”
He looked at me from top to toe. “You’re a preacher,” he said. “If you want to preach you should preach in a church.” “There are no young people in the church,” I said. “Now give me five minutes, only five minutes, I ask of you.” “You’ve got to be kidding.” He shook his head in disbelief, then turned around and walked away. He had no sympathy for my plea.

A God-ordained moment
As he was walking away, the Holy Spirit said to me, “Tell him what you saw when you looked into his dance hall.” I went after the man and took him by the arm. “One question, sir,” I said, looking deep into his eyes.
“Do you think the young people find what they need for life in your disco?” Slowly the face of the man changed. He looked down thoughtfully. When he looked up again he said, “It is very strange that you should say that. I have children of my own. I’ve thought many times that the disco will not give the young people what they need for life.” He was thoughtful for a moment. “OK, you can preach tomorrow for five minutes.”

An unexpected response
The next night I dressed in casual clothes. I did not want to look like a preacher just coming from church. We drove to the disco, arriving at 11:30 pm. The parking lot was even more crowded than it had been on Friday.  Shoulder to shoulder, we had to push our way between the people to get past them to find a place to sit. When the clock struck twelve, the music stopped.
I jumped up and onto the stage and took the microphone from the DJ and shouted, “Sit down. I’ve come all the way from Germany, and I’ve got something  important to tell you.”
Suddenly, the young people began sitting down. It was then I realised I was not in church but in a dance hall. There were no pews. Only a few bar stools. Most of the young people plopped right down on the dance floor. There they sat, smoking cigarettes and chewing gum, waiting for me to begin.
I started to preach one minute, two minutes, suddenly the Holy Spirit was there; the wind of God was moving in that disco. I heard sobbing. I saw young people, crying everywhere. And I knew one thing – when people start shedding tears, it’s time for the altar call – and I knew my time was flying.
“How many of you want to receive Jesus Christ as your Saviour? How many want to find forgiveness for your sins and enter God’s plan for your life?” Every hand that I could see in that place went straight up.

God’s true diamonds
We prayed for salvation together. My five minutes were up. My work was done. I left walking on cloud nine, absolutely rejoicing.
A year later I returned to Kimberley and Howard met me at the airport. He drove me to the warehouse district. The car stopped and I looked out the window. I couldn’t believe my eyes – instead of seeing the big disco sign, there was a huge white cross on the front of the building. We walked up to the door where we had stood one year ago, the door that the Holy Spirit had told me to open. I remembered the pounding beat of the music that night. Now I heard another sound coming from inside. Howard swung the door open; people rushed to me; one young man said, “Remember me? I was the DJ that night that you came.” Another grabbed my hand. “I was operating the light show.” Another said, “We were dancing the night away. Now we are serving Jesus.” “After you left town, the disco went bankrupt,” Howard shouted to me. “This disco is a church!” He was beaming from ear to ear. Now that disco was rocking the right way. Kimberley’s true diamonds were shining in their Father’s eyes. 