For "Scripture Sunday":
Middle East Chaos: What's Happening and Why
"Once again the Middle East is being transformed before our eyes, with a near-constant stream of headlines describing chaos and upheaval. What does it mean? Where is it leading? You need to know the answers!
Source: photo illustration by Shaun Venish/123RF/Photodisc
What news items have dominated international headlines the last several years? Consider this quick recap:
• Four years ago the Arab Spring uprising began to reshape the Middle East. Several Arab governments were overthrown in what was widely hailed at the time as a popular and progressive democracy movement. However, subsequent events showed this view to be naïve and far from reality, with violence, bloodshed and harsher forms of oppression spreading through the region.
• The Syrian civil war, an outgrowth of the Arab Spring, has claimed some 200,000 lives as various groups have competed—so far unsuccessfully—to overthrow Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad. The war has also created millions of refugees, many of whom have fled into neighboring Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq.
• In the background over the last few years we've seen Iran determinedly pursuing nuclear arms, while endless rounds of negotiations with Western nations accomplished little other than allowing Iran to buy time to pursue its goals of developing nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them. Recent news reports indicate that Iran now appears to have mastered most of the design challenges involved in creating a nuclear warhead that can be fitted on its Shahab-3 missiles.
• In recent months we've witnessed history being made as a new national entity arose on the world scene—the Islamic State (also referred to as ISIS and ISIL), spanning about a third of what was formerly Syria and Iraq. And as this new state has arisen, Iraq and Syria have fragmented to the point of no longer existing as we have known them.
• Part of the declaration of the Islamic State was the simultaneous proclamation of the reestablishment of an Islamic caliphate—an Islamic religious-political empire uniting Muslims under the rule of a single leader and governed by Islamic sharia law.
• The newly proclaimed Islamic State/caliphate has also shocked the world with its brutality—proudly beheading Western hostages and distributing videos of the murders, executing prisoners in the thousands, capturing women and selling them as sex slaves, and instilling fear in millions of people in the region.
• This last summer saw yet another war between Hamas and Israel, with Hamas and other terror groups in Gaza indiscriminately launching rockets and mortars at Israeli cities and towns until Israel retaliated with a devastating ground invasion to destroy and degrade terror capabilities. And as I write this, we may be seeing the beginning of a new intifada, or uprising, among Arabs living in Israel, with several Israelis murdered in car and knife assaults, including an appalling attack in which four rabbis were shot, knifed and hacked to death during morning prayers at a Jerusalem synagogue.
Why are we seeing such chaos and violence in the Middle East? What's behind it, and where is it going?
These are crucial questions, because we cannot understand so much of what's happening in the world if we don't understand what's taking place in the Middle East—and more importantly, why it's taking place. And you can be sure that the Middle East isn't the only area affected by these trends. They're increasingly affecting the rest of the world.
What do all of these things have in common? If you're an astute follower of the news, you probably recognize that all of these events have a key factor in common—and that's Islam. They're all driven by beliefs spelled out in Islam's holy book, the Quran, and the Hadith, the traditions of the prophet Muhammad." Complete article at: http://www.ucg.org/news-and-prophecy/middle-east-chaos-whats-happening-and-why/
SPREADING ETHNIC VIOLENCE
On 26th December 2014
"Religious and racial violence continues to erupt around the world. In Nigeria, Islamic militants have killed or kidnapped hundreds of men, women and children and torched homes of people of different faiths. In Syria and Iraq, Shiites and Sunni Moslems are killing and beheading each other. In Canada, Australia and East Africa, Moslem fanatics have mounted attacks on non-believers.
Just this past week, an angry young man assassinated two New York policemen in apparent revenge for the killing of two black men that led to days of riots and demonstrations in dozens of American cities (The Wall Street Journal, December 22, 2014). Also last week, terrorists shouting Islamic slogans drove their vehicles into pedestrians in several cities in France, causing the French government to disperse armed military personnel in the streets of Paris (The New York Times, December 23, 2014)."
Long ago, Jesus warned that a major sign that would precede His return would be “nation would rise against nation” (Matthew 24:3-8).
Who is at the heart of your problems?
Transcript: [Steve Myers] "It seems that right from the beginning, it was human nature to blame somebody else for our problems. Remember what Adam told God – the reason why he sinned? He said, "The woman You gave me, she gave me of the tree and I ate it. It's all her fault. Well, in fact, God, it must be Your fault that I messed up" (Genesis:3:12). And boy, doesn't that kind of set the tone for all of us? We all have a tendency at times to shift the responsibility for our problems, or maybe even our sins, to blame others. "It was my bad environment," "It was my parents who were to blame" – and we have a tendency to spin it.
I don't know if we've ever thought that in some ways it actually devalues others when we do that because the end result is, if I blame someone else, I feel better about myself because it's really their fault. It's really their problem. So maybe it's a good time to step back a little bit and ask ourselves, "Where in my life have I blamed others? Where do I need to stop blaming someone else?" You know, maybe it is in our upbringing. Maybe it's, "Well, I grew up with terrible parents." Well, is it time to quit blaming them and take responsibility? Or maybe it's, well, my family upbringing. Or maybe it's, you know, my job – I blame my job for my financial problems and that's the issue. It's my environment.
You know, at some point, do we have to stop blaming our friends, we have to stop blaming our family, or maybe it's even blaming my poor health, blaming my education or lack of education? You know, see, I think it comes down to that time that we have to step back and take personal responsibility. James 1 tells us we certainly can't blame God. He says so very clearly in James:1:13, "Let no one say when he's tempted, 'I am tempted by God'. God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone." In fact, it even goes on to say in the next verse, we're each tempted by our own selfish desires (James:1:14). And so, now's the time to stop that. Now's the time to quit the blame game and take personal responsibility, admit our own problems, admit our own sin, ask God for forgiveness and go on without playing that game any longer." From: http://www.ucg.org/beyond-today-daily/christian-living/blame-game
50 Years Without Christmas
"Two years ago was a special Christmas for me.
It was the 50th consecutive year that I’ve been without it. Yes, a golden anniversary of not having something!
I remember it well. When you are 11 years old, it’s no small thing if your parents make the life-changing decision that it is intellectually dishonest, scripturally untruthful and spiritually hypocritical to celebrate Christmas.
Researching the facts was the easy part—history has never hidden the pagan origins of Christmas and how its customs became integrated into the church by powerful people who called themselves Christians but whose practices bore little resemblance to those of the Christians of the Bible.
The “Christ vs. Christianity” column on pages 28-30 gives a great summary of what the Bible clearly does say, and does not say, about God’s view of such behavior. The bottom line is that the pro-Christmas argument can never revolve around the historical or biblical facts; its only defense is human rationalizing and justifying.
It wasn’t hard to see the truth
Even as a child, I didn’t find it hard to clearly see the truth of the matter. Maybe I was more primed to accept it, since the memories of having been lied to about Santa Claus were still fairly fresh in my young head.
At any rate, it really wasn’t all that hard for me to stop celebrating Christmas. That we weren’t going to keep Christmas anymore was much more difficult for others than it was for us! I saw my grandparents all the time throughout the year, but one would have thought their world was coming apart when we announced that we were quietly bowing out of the Christmas scene!
Despite some of those challenges, from year one
I never missed Christmas." More at: http://lifehopeandtruth.com/discern/nov-dec-2014/50-years-without-christmas/ article by Scott Ashley
Just for your safety and information:
Where are germs hiding in your kitchen? Study finds surprising results
"Food poisoning is no picnic for sufferers, but are we doing all we can to prevent our friends and family members from getting sick?
…. In no particular order, the six "germiest" items in the kitchen were the refrigerator vegetable and meat compartments, blender gasket, can opener, rubber spatula and rubber-sealed food storage container.
These items come in direct contact with food, especially raw produce, meats and ready-to-eat meals, potentially making friends and family sick."
Complete article and video at:
Mostly the weather has been mild, even so, all we got done was working on that kitchen light, messing with clothes dryers, and some more raking and burning.
I had bought this light at the Black Friday Half-Price Sale at Angelic Thrift Shop. I have to have a light that can be seen from both sides. I wanted the light on a dimmer, but so far, all three people who have worked on it have managed to blow up the dimmers. We finally found out where it was wired incorrectly, and put in a regular switch.
There are five rose-colored glass plates on that shelf too.
The belt on Ray's dryer broke, but when we tried to dry his clothes in my dryer it was taking too long. I am so careful about cleaning out the lint filter that I never knew that this would happen to me. The dryer hose to the outside of the house had clogged up, so we had to clear the nasty wet lint out of it, now it works. The appliance repair place is closed till Tuesday, so we will take Ray's dryer then.
When Ray and I went to church it was in the 70's. It started raining and suddenly dropped down to 40°. Ray was just in a shirt and wished he had brought a coat. I always keep an extra sweater, (and a pair of comfortable shoes) in the van, so I was OK. The Bible readings were Psa. 121,122,139. Then we continued on with the study of Genesis 44:18-47:27 about Joseph (re-named Israel) in the land of Egypt. Also mentioned in Eze. 37:15-28 and the house of Israel. The Teaching was more about Joseph and how the 12 tribe's bloodlines came from him and his 12 children, then on down to Moses, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tribe_of_Levi. Jesus came from the tribe of Judah. http://lifehopeandtruth.com/prophecy/12-tribes-of-israel/
The potluck was great, as usual. I had been given some organic 'pasta' made out of black beans in a spaghetti shape. I thought that chicken spaghetti which is in a white sauce, with it, would be a contrast, so that's what I made. I added sliced olives, pine nuts, sautéed onions and orange bell peppers. I was worried that the folks wouldn't want to eat black spaghetti, but it was quickly devoured, even the kids loved it.
Now, it is a nasty, cold, damp, dreary, rainy day.