Painting with 72 hours to live: the story of Myuran Sukumaran

A 10 minute audio.

from here: http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/the-hub-on-art/the-pastor-and-the-painter/9887398

one heart

Also see:

https://onesimusfiles.wordpress.com/2018/04/24/another-day-in-paradise/

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Pentecostal PM

It’s been an eventful week in Australian politics, with the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull being overthrown by a fringe, extreme element of his own party.

It wasn’t surprising. He has been a target of that group since he took the leadership from his predecessor, Tony Abbott, in a similar coup.

The main difference between the two leadership changes was that the first time the nation seemed to issue a huge sigh of relief, and Turnbull started his tenure as PM with very high approval ratings – a complete turnaround from Abbott’s then rapidly reducing approval among the electorate.

This time the electorate aren’t so happy about the change, and things didn’t go the way expected by the plotters against Turnbull. Their favoured candidate (the very unpopular Peter Dutton) failed in his bid to take over the leadership, and instead Scott Morrison won through as the “accidental Prime Minister”.

The result is perhaps one that many Australian evangelicals are seeing as a miracle. Morrison is a member of a Pentecostal,  evangelical church – the first Pentecostal Prime Minster in Australian history.

Watching him on TV, being sworn in last Friday night, it was easy to feel slightly optimistic…
…until, the political interviews began and his fellow Government members cut through that optimism with a slew of political obfuscation; basically regurgitating the same old rhetorical nonsense they’d been spouting for years.

Despite the alleged Pentecostal/ evangelical connections of the new Prime Minister, the message and the program of his party remains the same.

A telling part of the TV coverage on Friday night came when the studio reporters introduced a guest who had written a book about the religious beliefs of Australian Prime Minsters. Presumably they’d invited him to comment on the new PM’s religious faith, however, when the author started to address that very topic, pointing out that Morrison didn’t take a biblical direction with his social policy, he was cut off mid-sentence so they could take the audience to a reporter on location.
It seemed that something urgent needed to be reported, but that wasn’t the case. I suspect the mid-sentence switch was just an excuse to dismiss their guest when his commentary didn’t fit the kind of message they were wanting to  broadcast.

There seems to be a clear reluctance to broadcast anything purporting to be a biblical point of view, even by a guest invited to present a ‘religious’ viewpoint. And to be acceptable, any expressed religious view is expected to fit the pre-determined stereotypical expectations of the barely tolerant unbeliever.

 

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Some interesting reading related to Australia’s new “Christian” Prime Minister.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/aug/31/australia-needs-a-moral-revolution

 

Life on Mars?

 

It’s likely you would have heard about the great excitement about the discovery of a large body of water under the surface of Mars, and the possibilities it creates for there being life on Mars.

But what is the reason for the great interest in finding life beyond earth?

Maybe to some people it would legitimise their belief that given the right conditions and enough time, life could spontaneously come into existence without the need of a Creator?

If life could spontaneously start on earth without the need for Divine involvement then surely it ought to have started elsewhere too.

The more widespread life is out there in the universe, the more it could seem to legitimize the possibility that life doesn’t need a God to create it.

On the flip side – a completely barren universe (apart from earth) would tend to legitimize the Bible account of Creator God. If life can spontaneously come into being, why hasn’t it done so elsewhere? Why earth only?

Therefore scientists with an atheistic bent are desperate to find life elsewhere. It NEEDS to find evidence of widespread universal life.

But from a Christian point of view there’s no need to discount the possibility of some kind of life elsewhere. God could very well have created life beyond the earth for purposes of His own.
An account of that life beyond earth isn’t necessarily relevant to his relationship with mankind so didn’t need to be revealed in scripture

Cashless

“The cashless society is a con – and big finance is behind it “
By Brett Scott

Banks are closing ATMs and branches in an attempt to ‘nudge’ consumers towards digital services, says campaigner…

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jul/19/cashless-society-con-big-finance-banks-closing-atms

I often find the comments section of the Guardian is more enlightening than the articles themselves. They show how people are thinking and feeling about issues.

This one in particular shows how the idea of a “cashless” society has gained strong support – something that seemed unlikely back in the 70s when the idea of cashless transactions were being predicted by those with an eye on end time prophecy.

[The beast] causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name (Rev 13).

While I didn’t doubt that interpretation of the mark of the beast, it seemed like something that would face widespread resistance. The comments after the above linked article shows that 40+ years later that widespread resistance clearly isn’t there and cashlessness is increasingly being lovingly embraced.

I don’t base my faith on the validity or otherwise of what people were saying 40 years ago when they predicted a cashless society. Maybe they were mistaken about the interpretation they applied to the mark of the beast. Whether the world goes cashless or not isn’t a “deal breaking” factor with relationship to the gospel – I just find it interesting how easily it COULD be the right understanding of the above quoted scripture verses. And it’s VERY interesting how comfortable people are getting with the very idea that once seemed so uncomfortable.

It shows how easily people can be seduced to accept and celebrate things that were once viewed with suspicion or even horror.

Dangerous Love

I’m reading Dangerous Love by Ray Norman.
Norman was national director for World Vision in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania where he worked with his wife Helene.

His book looks at the challenges and cost of mission work, where Christian witness requires the casting aside of a lot of “western” preconceptions.

As well-educated and comparatively wealthy foreigners, we easily succumb to the notion that we are somehow higher in the pecking order, that our important objectives and busy schedules should take precedence because “we know best”. And too often our image among the poor is tainted, and our actions reflect a sense of entitlement and thinly veiled arrogance (in spite of our good intentions…

… In much of the world outside of Europe and north America, people are less achievement-oriented and place significantly higher value on relationships. On days after an unexpectedly long exchange with farmers, I might glance at my watch and mumble something to the effect that there was still much I had not accomplished that day. I would often hear words such as, ‘Yes, but those things can always get done tomorrow. At least today we have done the important thing and gotten to know each other better.’

During his tenure in Mauretania, an act of extreme violence against Norman and his daughter Hannah challenged the family’s resolve to continue the work they felt called to do. They were also made aware of inadequacies in the way fellow believers reacted to them in the aftermath of that violent incident.

It seemed that even our own pastor in France, a man who, along with his spouse, had been a source of support and encouragement to us over the years, seemed to strufggle with how to respond to us. He had been informed of what had happened, and once we arrived in Calais we expected to hear from him or his wife but never did. I eventually called him on our third or fourth day there. He told me that he’d heard our news, and he listened quietly as I chatted. But it seemed our situation was beyond him…

Eventually, the healing process began when the family chose to return to their work in Mauretania, and the greatest help came from those intended to be the recipients of the Norman’s ministry work. A clear example of this came from the women of Arafat, a nearby poverty stricken township, who invited Helene Norman to their community.

We understand because we too are women. And we want you to know that we are here to walk with you, to support and encourage you in this experience in which you have suffered deeply. So please know, Madame Norman, that we have brought you here among us to let you know you are not alone on this journey. We are here with you.

 

Ray Norman reflects on this as his wife tells him the full story:

I stood there in stunned silence , and between her sobs, she began to explain in halting words how the women of Arafat had provided for her, in her deepest time of need, what no friend or gathering among her many Christian acquaintances across three continents (Africa, Europe, or America) had been able, or had the insight to provide. How in the most unlikely of places, she had found common ground with those who suffer, and how God had touched her heart and demonstrated his promise of faithfulness in a remote land through ‘the least of these’ (Matt. 25:40)