What is the Gold on the Mantelpiece of our Lives?

The Gold on the Mantelpiece of Life

As the first month of 2018 draws to a close, let us take some time out of our busy schedule to do a little reflection together. This may be one, not the most but, may be one of the most important decisions you ever made. January is the first month of the year in the Julian and Gregorian calendars and the first month to have the length of 31 days. The first day of the month is celebrated as New Year’s Day, partying and much fanfare welcomes the day. It is, on average, the coldest month of the year within most of the Northern Hemisphere (Europe etc.) and the warmest month of the year within most of the Southern Hemisphere (Australia etc.). In the Southern hemisphere, January is the seasonal equivalent of July in the Northern hemisphere and vice versa. Ancient Roman observances during this month.

Originally the Roman year had 10 named months Martius ‘March’, Aprilis ‘April’, Maius ‘May’, Junius ‘June’, Quintilis ‘July’, Sextilis ‘August’, September ‘September’, October ‘October’, November ‘November’, December ‘December’, and probably two unnamed months in the dead of winter when not much happened in agriculture. The year began with Martius ‘March’. Numa Pompilius, the second king of Rome circa 700 BC, added the two months Januarius mensis ‘month of Janus’ or ‘January’ and Februarius mensis ‘month of Februa’ or ‘February’.  Pompilius also moved the beginning of the year from Marius to Januarius and changed the number of days in several months to be odd, a lucky number. After Februarius there was occasionally an additional month of Intercalaris ‘inter-calendar’. This is the origin of the leap-year day being in February. However, in 46 BC, Julius Caesar reformed the Roman calendar (hence the Julian calendar) changing the number of days in many months and removing Intercalaris.

Many ethnic groups then add meanings and symbolism to months, listen to daily horoscope readings because their future lies with the movement and interpretations of the starts. This may sound familiar but it is worth repeating, that whatever the month you were born in, ‘that life is what we make it’. Your future does not depend on the month you were born in, or your star signs, it is about the purpose for which you were born. You were placed here by God’s design not a lunar eclipse. The most fun part of our life experience and purpose on earth is having a target to aim at.

Got you? What direction did you think this was taken? Arguments or discussions about the meaning of months, and how they affect your life? No, not even close my friends. So, then, It’s not so much about months, the beginning of months or even making January, or New Year’s resolutions. As for whether we know it consciously planned it, or unconsciously drift towards it, we all aim for something in life, to have a firm foundation. Parents want their children to do better than they, and sometimes they set the foundation for their kids. We planned for and work towards a good education, that will land us a good paying job, get married to build a house to have loads of money or even loosely, just maybe to achieve anything or something special. Because, we all need to aim our lives in a meaningful direction, our relationship with Christ should be at the forefront of our goals. Yes, some of us have these more certain tangible goals, like may be seeking God first, ‘But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well’ (Matt. 6. 33). What is the Gold on the Mantelpiece of our Lives? Putting Christ first is the first step to upgrading our spiritual status! Then winning at least one person to Jesus Christ, should be part of our life’s plan. Or for those who have the ministry call and spiritually gifted, a course for personal educational training and development. Which is professionally equipping oneself for excellence rather than below par and mediocre ministry performance.

Then again, maybe some of us have been thinking about starting a new Neighbourhood Bible study or even starting a new church. Possibly then 2018 could be the year when that we embark on that new initiative, possibly begin a new career, for some even retirement, some writing a book, singing a new song or just a commitment to living healthy. This should not be a goal for the year starting January 2018 only. I would not put it past some of our more ambitious folks to consider, even take steps to run for public office, no biblical objection and none from me. In fact, the more Christians entering in public office, it is the better and more emphatic our personal and response services would be. So what that everybody’s goals are different? It is healthy even a good and positive thing to have one or two golds. This is life achievement go0al, given pride of place on the mantelpiece. Often we see people embarked on a course of action because they want a constructive self-disciplined program to pursue.

Again for emphasis, we all need a purpose for being, something to live for, something to get out of bed, aim and shoot our life arrows at, that something that will make life a bit more interesting. Having a purpose increases our zest, our enthusiasm and passion for life and it can be infectious. We welcome the break of each day and greet each moment with joy and anticipation. Alternatively, if we just drift, having nothing to aim at, to hope for, and to work toward leaves us, the body of Christ internationally a bit flaccid, our energy sapped by life’s circumstances and we remain sometimes hopeless and depressed.

 

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Christian worldview?

Dear Friends,

2018 has come like a thief in the night, it wasn’t long ago that we were welcoming in 2017 with much fanfare and fireworks, but it fizzled out with little more than a whimper. Oh pray tell, where did the time go?

I am not sure if any, some or all of you has ever been faced with the question of ‘what is a worldview? Let alone a ‘Christian worldview?

It in a wider sense, can be considered ‘a particular philosophy of life or conception of the world’.  So that a ‘Christian world view revolves around the battle of good and evil. Synonyms attached: beliefs · credo · faith · convictions · ideology · ideas · thinking · notions · theories · doctrine · tenets · values · principles · ethics · attitude · line · view · viewpoint · outlook · world view · school of thought etc.

Some dictionary defines it the following ways:

‘A comprehensive conception or apprehension of the world especially from a specific standpoint’ – Merriam-Webster.

‘A particular philosophy of life or conception of the world… i.e.

‘I have broadened my worldview by experiencing a whole new culture’ – Oxford English Dictionary

‘A comprehensive, esp. personal, philosophy or conception of the world and of human life’ – Collins English Dictionary.

What they are concluding together is that a ‘worldview’ denotes an all-inclusive conception of the world from a specific standpoint. So that a ‘Christian worldview’, can be interpreted as a comprehensive conception of the world from a Christian standpoint. A person’s worldview is his ‘big picture’, a harmony of all his/her beliefs about the world. It is our way of understanding reality as opposed to concepts. So our worldview is the basis for making daily decisions and is therefore extremely important to us.

For example a bowl of grapes sitting on a table is seen by several people. And a botanist looking at the grapes classifies as is. An artist sees a still-life and draws it. A grocer sees an asset and catalogues it. A child sees lunch and eats it. How we look at any situation is influenced by how we look at the world at large. Every worldview, Christian and non-Christian, deals with at least these three questions:

1) Where did mankind come from? (Where did we originate and why are we here?)

2) What is wrong with the world? (Where did this decay come from?)

3) How can it be fixed? (Who will fix it?)

 

Of the many dominant worldviews in modern times, humanism, atheism, naturalism, etc. naturalism which answers the three questions like this: 1) Humanity are the product of random acts of nature with no real purpose. 2) Man do not respect nature as he should. 3) Mankind can save the world through ecology and conservation. So that a naturalistic worldview generates many related philosophies such as moral relativism, existentialism, pragmatism, and utopianism.

Of greater impact on our world, and on man himself is the Christian worldview, as it answers the three questions biblically, therefore authoritatively: 1) Humankind are the unique creation of God, designed to govern the universe and have communion with Him (Genesis 1:27-28; 2:15). 2) Adam and Eve the first humans sinned against God and subjected the whole human family to a curse (Genesis 3). 3) God Himself has redeemed the world through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ (Genesis 3:15; Luke 19:10), and greater still is the hope for mankind, God will one day restore His creation to its former perfect state (Isaiah 65:17-25). Therefore, a Christian worldview leads mankind to believe in moral principles, miracles, human self-worth, and the possibility of redemption through Christ.

Therefore, it is important to remember that a worldview is comprehensive. It affects every area of life, from money to morality, from politics to art. True Christianity is more than a set of dogmas to repeat at church gatherings. Christianity as was practiced by Christ and taught by the apostles in the Biblical text, is itself a worldview. The Scriptures never differentiates between a ‘religious’ and a ‘secular’ life; the Bible presumed that the Christian life is the only life there is. Jesus Christ proclaimed Himself ‘the way, the truth, and the life’ (John 14:6) and, in following Him leaves no alternative path to redemption and salvation, that is humanity’s worldview!

Does God love us, Humankind?

Love is one of the most used, yet one of the most misused and abused word in human language. How often have we used it, say it, sing it, think it, and even write about it? Yet it widely remains either misunderstood or misapplied. How often have you heard “I love you” from someone who ends up hurting you the most? So what is love? Paul gave the folks in Corinth (1Cor. 13), a great lesson on what true love is. He gave love, its true definition in human terms, but also how it is applied in the great scheme of things less they have any doubt. But read this, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: he sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Saviour of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. Considering how humanity treat each other, how life means nothing, this is hard to take in, isn’t it? On top of that consider the estimated 4 ½ million babies aborted each year. The world rage war against Hitler, and we join in condemning him for his death chambers, yet the womb has become death camp for millions in the name of modernity. When will we start loving the loveless, the helpless those with the greatest needs among us?

The greatest expression of God’s love is communicated to us in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”. Romans 5:8 proclaims the same message: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us”. Clearly, from these verses it is God’s greatest desire that we join Him in His eternal kingdom. He has made the way possible by paying the price for our sins. He loves us because He chose to as an act of His will. Love forgives. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). So, the concept of God loving people is prevalent throughout the Bible. Most famously, it appears in John 3:16, which assures us that God loves the world to the highest degree, and gave his only Son, the greatest gift, that id humanity believes in him we will have eternal life. But what exactly does this divine love consist of? The answer might very well be found in the original language of the Bible, Hebrew.

Love in Old Testament

In Deuteronomy, we find a seemingly very strange commandment: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all of your soul and with all of your might” (Deut. 6:5). But wait. How can you force yourself to have a feeling? However, the Biblical “love” that is portrayed in this verse is very different from the “love” that we find in romance novels and Hollywood movies. The Hebrew word for love in this verse is ‘ahav’. This word does not refer to passionate or amorous love. The word ‘ahav’ at its most basic level refers to loyalty. Loving God means being faithful to Him alone. Israel in the commandments was commanded to love God only, and whenever they strayed and served some unknown god, they were severely punished for their unfaithfulness.

Engage in Biblical Study

So, what does it mean that God is love? Love is an attribute of God. Love is a core aspect of God’s character, His Person. God’s love is in no sense in conflict with His holiness, righteousness, justice, or even His wrath. All of God’s attributes are in perfect harmony. Everything God does is loving, just as everything He does is just and right. God is the perfect example of true love. Amazingly, God has given those who receive His Son Jesus as their personal Savior the ability to love as He does, through the power of the Holy Spirit (John 1:12; 1 John 3:1, 23-24). The message that we derived from these teachings are that the Bible is not concerned with subjective inner feelings, but with objective outward actions. Do you yearn to be loyal to a loving God? “Today, if you hear his voice do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion” (Hebrews 3: 7, 15; Psalm 95: 1-7). Additionally, if you are thirsty for the insider’s perspective into the Biblical message, or to broaden your concept on love, now is the time to become active in a Biblical study.

The Seven Social Sins

Many of us are used to hearing sermons on ‘spiritual sins’ focussed on us from the pulpit, but not so much on evils that lurk within the social fabric of society. Of course, the need for the message of ethical values are great in modern cultures and must be preached in and out of season and with the aim of directing us to live closer to Christ. Preachers not preaching about social ills are deserting the message of human worth and value, and unresponsiveness and disregard often do much more harm than absolute odium, a deletion of care for all. Too often, we neglect to permit ourselves to be esteemed by our families and friends our support group, the people who truly love and who add meaning, and who actually matters in our lives. More often than not, we are blinded by our own self-interest, pursuing others who are rich and wealthy, they look up to, and want to love us, the kind of people that are more interested in their bank balances, that do not even care or add value to our lives. This is actually a worthless endeavor, a fruitless chase, a waste of time pursuing a friendship with the rich, those who do not have our interest at heart. While those who truly love us, who daily demonstrate that love by being there for us, recognizing our humanity, in good times and in bad. They have to stand by and watch us making a fool of ourselves, literally pleading with the rich to be our friends! The time will come and now is when we stop pursuing those with no ethical or social values, who do not care about our human value or worth and care for those who daily demonstrate their love. It is time for us to love our fellow man, while allowing ourselves to be loved despite the mounting socials ills.

Taken from a sermon, ‘The Seven Social Sins’ preached in London, on March 20, 1925, F. L. Donaldson highlighted the following:

  • Wealth without work.
  • Pleasure without conscience.
  • Knowledge without character.
  • Commerce without morality.
  • Science without humanity.
  • Worship without sacrifice.
  • Politics without principle.

Humankind is so caught up in his own self-importance, that he forgot to care for others, human life now below that of an animal. He endeavors daily to save the planet, spending millions to save endangered species, but humanity we will not care for.  Ethnic cleansing, famine, and wars destroying sections of the world while we spend billions developing nuclear weapons, enough already in existence than can destroy the world several times over. Scientist declared that a child is not a human until it’s born, so he gave women godlike powers to terminate a pregnancy whenever she wants, so 4 ¼ million babies are aborted yearly in the name of progress. In the name of empowering women, if the child will stop her education and career, she has the right to end its life! When and in whose book, does a career becomes more important than human life? Get rich quick, get-going while the going is good, forget about social ills. Is this not a world going backward?

We find in Stoic philosophy, “What a despicable thing a human being is if he does not rise above human affairs! All the time that we are struggling with our passions, what is so wonderful about our achievement, even if we prevail? We are outdoing monsters: why should we be conceited because we are not as bad as the worst people? I cannot see why anyone who is more robust than the others in a hospital should be pleased with himself: strength is quite different from good health. Have you broken free from moral vices? Your face does not have a feigned expression, your speech is not designed to please somebody else, nor are your feelings concealed, nor do you harbor greed, which denies itself what it has taken from others, nor luxury, which squanders money shamefully only to recoup it even more shamefully, nor ambition, which will bring you honors only by dishonorable means? You have not yet achieved anything: you have broken free from many things, but not yet from yourself. The virtue to which we aspire is marvelous not because freedom from evil is in itself wonderful, but because it releases the mind, prepares it for knowledge of the celestial, and makes it worthy to enter into a partnership with god”. Socrates and the Stoics 7h – Seneca, Naturales Quaestiones Book I, praefatio 1-7

The Apostle Paul, met some of these Greek philosophers, “A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to debate with him. Some of them asked, ‘What is this babbler trying to say?’ Others remarked, ‘He seems to be advocating foreign gods.’ They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection.Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, ‘May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we would like to know what they mean”. (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas) (Acts 17: 18-21).

Epicurean philosophers originally taught that the supreme good is happiness, but not mere momentary pleasure or temporary gratification. The Epicureans, named after their founder Epicurus (341-270 B.C.), they believed the chief end of living was a pleasure. They believed in numerous gods who had no influence over the affairs of man and did not believe in the immortality of the soul. However, by the time of Paul, this philosophy disintegrated into a more sensual system of thought. The Stoic philosophers, on the other hand, taught that people should live in harmony with nature, recognize their own self-sufficiency and independence, and suppress their desires. The Stoics, founded by Zeno (c. 300 B.C.), believed that God was the world’s soul which indwelt all things, God was in all men, all men were brothers. That living in harmony with nature brought happiness. Many Stoics were men of high moral principle, and that human affairs were governed by fate. At its best, Stoicism had some admirable qualities, but like Epicureanism, by the time of Paul it to had deteriorated into a system of pride.

Though the world often confuses vanity and pride, they definitely are not the same things, as one can have pride without being conceited.  One can have pride, which is a healthy opinion of others and us. However, there is a kind of pride that can be elevated to a dangerous level it becomes vain, narcissistic when we become self-absorbed, and think negatively of others and even what we want others to think of us. John gave this advice about what is in the world, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives for ever” (1John 2: 15-17).

Each of us when we were young, we have a personal ambition of sorts, some want to be doctors, lawyers, pilots, engineers or do creative things, and among a number of disciplines to pursue. Yet we all have to fight holding on to our dreams, fight for the opportunities that are out there, hold on to that pride, that ambition that burns within you, never let go. Not many have the ambition to sit back and enjoy life in paradise without effort, to be pleased with his/her-self, without actually achieving something. However, for many, the focus is not on self but on others, for to them a successful life is wrapped up in serving others in their communities. For many recognizing human values, pursuing and fighting for social equality, being there for someone in need, helping to lift or carry a heavy load is what life is all about. Let us examine ourselves with the ‘seven social sins’ and see where we fall. How many of us in society today, that can stand and say, I am as sinful as the most errant among us when it comes to being my brothers keeper, but with God’s help I can be as good as the best among us in combating social ills?

 

 

Christians are the ‘salt and light’ of the World

The ethical message of ‘salt and light’, Matthew 5:13-16) is part of the broader teachings of Christ called the Sermon on the Mount, which is the first of five great treatises recorded in Matthew (Ch. 5-7; 10; 13; 18; 24-25). Which consists of three types of materials, 1) the beatitudes, i.e., declarations of blessedness (5: 1-12), 2) ethical admonitions (5: 13-20; 6: 1-7:23), and 3) contrasts between Jesus ethical teachings and Jewish legalistic traditions (5: 21-48). The Sermons ends with a short parable stressing the importance of practising what has just been taught (7: 24-27) and an expression of amazement by the crowds at the authority with which Jesus spoke (7: 28-29).

Sentiments vary among theologians as to whether the Sermon is a summary of what Jesus taught on one occurrence or an accumulation of teachings presented on several occasions. Matthew then would possibly have taken a single sermon and extended it with other relevant teachings of Jesus. Whatever side you agree with, what is undeniable is the Sermon on the Mount is a call to moral and ethical living. Its principled call is so high that some have dismissed it as being absolute, impractical in an application and therefore have projected its fulfilment to the future kingdom. However, there is no doubt, that Jesus, as recorded by Matthew, gave the sermon as a standard for all Christians, realising that its demands cannot be met in our own power, but by the presence of the Holy Spirit guiding us along the way. Also true is that Jesus on occasion used hyperbole to make His point.

Therefore, here is Jesus in His Homily using the concepts of salt and light, which He has done on a number of different times to refer to the role of His followers in the world. One such instance as written here in Matthew 5:13: ‘You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot’. Back in the days, in the Middle Eastern world, of Christ and the Apostles, first century AD, Salt had two purposes, ‘flavouring and preservatives’. Many of us take our fridges a 19th-century invention, for granted many shoppers often seen pulling their groceries from their cars and loading them in our refrigerators weekly. Nevertheless, in those days it was not so, and because of the lack of refrigeration, salt was applied to preserve food, especially meat that would quickly spoil in the desert environment. The concept of believers in Christ being the preservatives to the world, is powerful (Psa. 14:3; Rom. 8:8). The presence of Christians preserves the world from the evil that is inherent in the society of ungodly men whose unredeemed natures are corrupted by sin.

Likewise, salt was used then, as now, as a flavour enhancer. In the same manner that salt improves the taste of the food it flavours, the followers of Christ stand out as those who ‘improve’ the flavour of life in this world. Christians, living under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and in obedience to Christ, will inevitably influence the world for good, as salt has a positive influence on the taste of the food it seasons. So that where there is strife, Christians are to be peacemakers; where there is sorrow, he is to be the ministers of Christ, healing wounds, and where there is hatred, he is to demonstrate the love of God in Christ, returning good in the place of evil (Luke 6:35).

In the similarity of light to the world, the good deeds of Christ’s followers are to shine for the entire world to see. Now examine how Matthew 5 highlights this truth: ‘You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. ‘Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven’ (Matt. 5:14-16, NIV). The impression Christ is giving here is similar, the presence of light in the darkness is something that is unmistakable. Therefore the presence of Christians in the world must be likened to the light in the darkness, not only in the sense that the truth of God’s Word brings light to the darkened hearts of sinful man (John 1:1-10), but correspondingly in the sense that Christian’s good deeds must be evident for all to see. Moreover, indeed, our actions will be obvious if they are done in accordance with the other principles that Jesus references in His Sermon, such as the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:3-11. Particularly take note that Christ concern is not that Christians would stand out for their own sake, but that those who looked on and become aware of their status in Christ, might be led to ‘glorify your Father in heaven’ (v. 16).

In light of these teachings, Christians should take serious note of the sorts of things that could hinder or prevent us from fulfilling our roles as salt and light in the world. The sermon plainly states that the difference between the Christian and the world must be preserved; therefore, any activity on our part that shadows the difference between Christians and the rest of the world is a step in the wrong direction. This can happen either through a choice to accept the ways of the world for the sake of comfort or expediency or to disregard the law of obedience to Christ.

How often do we hear the term peace being floated about, yet we see an environment packed with tension? ‘Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other’ (Mark 9:50). The proposal here is that saltiness can be lost specifically through a lack of peace with one another. Therefore, to maintain our salt flavour we are commanded to have peace among us. Likewise, ‘Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure heap; it is thrown out’, (Luke 14:34-35). Here we find a reference to the metaphor of salt once again, this time in the context of obedient discipleship to Jesus Christ. This loss of saltiness occurs in the failure of the Christian to daily take up the cross and follows Christ enthusiastically.

Apparently, then, the character of the Christian as salt and light in the world could stall or prohibited through any decision to collaborate or settle for that which is more expedient or comfortable, rather than that which is truly best and pleasing to the Lord. Moreover, the status of salt and light is something that follows naturally from the Christian’s humble obedience to the commandments of Christ. If we abolish the commandments, and teach men so, on what basis can we guide our spiritual walk and in obedience to Christ? It is when we depart from the Spirit-led lifestyle of obedience and genuine discipleship that the distinctions between ourselves and the rest of the world become hazy and our testimony is stalled. However, by remaining focused on Christ and being obedient to Him can we expect to remain salt and light in the world? However, the concept of Christianity is seen as a myth to the wider world, and they say it cannot be proven by science. In the eyes of philosophers it beyond reason, that Christians are foolish and using ‘God as a crutch’. In the eyes of many, the stock of the world jokes, trampled under feet, harassed and killed for their faith in many countries, Christ is saying without you, the ‘Christian’, the world would have no light, and no taste!

Genuine or fake friends

The term ‘fake’ is in the news a lot these days, a term generally associated with US president Donald Trump. However, have you ever wondered if your friend is real or counterfeit? On the other hand, is it OK if I call you my friend? What qualifies us as friends? Well, let us understand what true friendship is. One definition of friend is, ‘a person who you know well and who you like a lot, but who is usually not a member of your family.’ We often hear people say, ‘S/he’s my best/oldest/closest friend – we’ve known each other since we were very young.’ Or we’ve known each other since kindergarten.’ ‘He’s a family friend/friend of the family.’ ‘This restaurant was recommended to me by a friend.’ ‘We’ve been friends for years.’ Tom and Jerry are (good) friends of ours’ or ‘we are (good) friends with Peter and John.’ ’I’ve made a lot of friends in this job.’ Alternatively, ‘He finds it difficult to make friends.’ When most of the above is the case, we accept as the norm without question. When the latter is the case, we often try to find reasons why someone is friendless. Even try to offer up good reasons why this is so. Nevertheless, the lists of friendship quotes stretches, without labouring, I think the point is obvious. In addition, what it reveals is that we use the ‘friend’ phrase very loosely. Likewise, it is obvious that there are differing levels of ‘good’ as well as ‘false’ friendship so whom do we trust? Let us engage the issue together.

Most of us at one time or another in our life journey, has encountered one or more ‘fake’ friends, but they never outnumber the ‘true’ ones. Those people who falsely claim to be something, feel, or do something they can be called fake. When our friend acts sweet but spreads rumours about us when we are absent, we can say that they are fake. They are the ones we must identify and recuse ourselves. ‘Fake’ when used as a verb, means to take an action with the intent to deceive, to misrepresent the truth, as you know it. Alternatively, these people are only our friends when s/he needs or wants something from us, or when it suits their cause. Whatever it is they want, do not have to be money or material things, maybe some news or juicy gossip about someone, friend or foe. After s/he gets what they want, s/he ignores you until he wants something else. Now hear this, the best of us fall prey to their conceited attitude, until our eyes are open to their folly, or after we are burned whichever comes first. Untie the knot, loose them!

Friendship is something we can never live without; we all need a friend in good times and in bad. Someone who sticks closer than a brother does! What does the Bible say about Friendship? How are we to choose our friends? How should friends treat one another? All of these are good questions and the Bible has some good Scriptures to study to answer them. ‘One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother’ (Prov. 18: 24). Now you understand why some seemingly unshakeable, unbreakable, friendships end in such public shame and disgrace. It is because it takes time, through let downs and heartaches to know who really are our friends. Time proves their value and worth, their longevity is a testimony to their importance. Yes, some friendships have to go through trials, much burning will take place for truth and dependence to be realised. Yes, some friends are only so by name, their actions prove anything but. Those we can do without, free ourselves from, break the shackles they have on us, as their very presence in our lives spells ruin, heartaches and trouble. So why do we keep them, when they only cause us hurt? Of course when our eyes are open and we attempt to separate from them, they become angry with us for wanting to leave, we become the problem, not them. ‘Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered… or you may learn their ways and get yourself ensnared.’ (Prov. 22: 24-25). Therefore, we have a just cause to separate ourselves. Fake friendship can be disastrous to our state of mind, our personal wellbeing. Hear this; be careful whom you call your friend.

Friendship is viewed highly valuable in the biblical story of David and Jonathan. We understand from the biblical narrative (1Sam. 18:1), that Jonathan loved David. However, it was not until Second Samuel (1:26) that we fully understand the solemnity of this friendship. Here we read how David has lamented after Jonathan’s death, in which he said that his love for Jonathan was more wonderful than the love of a woman. Some bible watchers erroneously interpreted these passages to advocate a homosexual relationship between David and Jonathan. However, this spurious interpretation should be rejected for at least the following reasons.

Of paramount importance, we are all familiar with the three words in Greek expressing three levels of love, Agape (unconditional love), Phileo (brotherly love, friendship) and Eros (erotic love).  Hebrew actually has four words for love, but they are not always translated as love.  You have Ahav (love), Racham (tender mercies) Dodi (beloved as spousal love), and Ra’ah (brotherly love, or friendship).   It would be wrong to try to make a parallel between the Greek words for love and the Hebrew words, which creates a real problem in translation as love is at the very root and centre of Scripture. I suppose we could say the closest to Ahav is Agape, Ra’ah is like Phileo and Dodi is like Eros.   Yet this would not be accurate as Ahav is used in cases where Agape would not fit, Ra’ah, although rendered as friendship, is also rendered as Shepherd and consuming passion and is often used by David to express his love for God, so it would be very inappropriate to consider Ra’ah equivalent to Phileo in many cases.

Israel’s King Solomon uses Dodi toward his adored to express a sexual desire, but it does not carry the lustful, self-gratification of Eros. Likewise, there is a fourth word in Hebrew for love and that is Racham, which is often expressed as a romantic love or rendered as tender mercies. Though this message is not about homosexuality, we can with confidence say that the word ‘aheb’, (aw-hab’), ‘ahav, for ‘love’ used here is not the typical word used in Hebrew for sensual activity. The closest word in Hebrew for erotic ‘love’ would possibly be ‘Dodi.’ However, ‘aheb’ is used and possibly has some political and diplomatic meanings (1Sam. 16:21; 1Kings 5:1).

Additionally, David’s association of his relationship with Jonathan with that of women was possibly an allusion to his experience with King Saul’s daughter, as he was promise one of Saul’s daughters for killing Goliath. However, Saul continued to add conditions on the marriage with the essential wish to have David killed (1Sam. 18:17, 25). The friendship Jonathan showed to David was superior to anything he could have received from Saul’s daughter. Moreover, the Bible plainly and unfailingly condemns homosexual practices (Gen. 1:26-27; Lev. 18:22; 20:13; Rom. 1:18-25). Commending a homosexual love between David and Jonathan would be controverting the prohibitions found all through the Scriptures.

Therefore, the friendship between David and Jonathan was a pure covenantal relationship. We understand David and Jonathan forming an agreement from reading 1Sam. 18:1-5. In this agreement, Jonathan was to be second in command in David’s future reign, and David was to protect Jonathan’s family (1Sam 20:16-17, 42; 23:16-18).

Obviously, this indicate that the men were very good friends, and in this friendship we observe a few ‘friendship’ qualities, ‘sacrifice, loyalty, defence, and expression of emotions’ qualities that define true friendship. First in (1Sam18:4), we see how Jonathan gave David his clothes and military garb. The significance of this gift was that Jonathan recognised that David would one day be king of Israel. Rather than being envious or jealous, Jonathan submitted to God’s will and sacrificed his own right to the throne. Second, (1Sam 19:1-3, we read of Jonathan’s loyalty toward and defence of David. King Saul told his followers to kill David. Jonathan rebuked his father and recalled David’s faithfulness to him in killing Goliath.

Finally, Jonathan and David were also free to express their emotions with one another. In (1Sam 20), we see a plan invented by Jonathan to reveal his father’s tactics toward David. Jonathan was going to practice his archery. If he told his servant that the arrows he shot were to the side of the target, David was safe. If Jonathan told his servant that the arrows were beyond the target, David was to leave and not return. Jonathan told the servant that the arrows were beyond the target, meaning that David should flee. After releasing his servant, Jonathan found David and the two men cried together. “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (Prov. 17:17). This is an age-old unbreakable truth and evidence in the friendship of David and Jonathan, disaster did not separate them.

Rather than being evidence for a homosexual relationship in the Bible, the account of David and Jonathan is an example of true biblical friendship. True friendship, according to the Bible, involves loyalty, sacrifice, compromise, and yes, emotional attachment. That is the message we should learn from the narrative of David and Jonathan. The idea that the only person in the Bible described as ‘a man after God’s own heart’ (Acts 13:22), was a practicing homosexual (or a bisexual man) is someones faulty hermeneutics, and clearly ridiculous. An absurd idea which has no true biblical basis.

As with David and Jonathan friendship, some people came into our lives to add value, but clearly, some are only there to shame and embarrass us, to take, and to destroy our name, image and standing, which are you? Jonathan was there for David, in good times and in bad, when King Saul, Jonathan’s father attempted to kill David Jonathan did not side with his father, but shielded David. If you are never there when your friend need you, a shoulder to cry on, to help find a way, can you really call yourself a friend. If you killed him/her by your spite and lashing tongue, how you call yourself a friend? Jonathan never turns his back on David, what kind of friend turn their backs, ignore the cry for help, leave at the time that you are needed the most? Would David have died if Jonathan weren’t there? Being a friend in need and indeed? If Jonathan were not standing by David, when he was struggling, he would be in serious trouble. Likewise, if you were not standing by us when in our struggle, do not expect us to find you when we succeed. David when he eventually sat on the throne set out to fulfil the promises he made to Jonathan’s household, because of the true bond they share.

What is Jesus view on Friendship? “My command is this: love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15:12-15). Not only is love a command, but it is closely linked with friendship. You reveal your all to your friends. So that only someone close to you, a considered friend can truly hurt you! The true friends will not, but will lay down his life for us! Christ is a true friends example of love and faithfulness.

Human destiny, humanity’s future is never tied to those who abandoned and left us at difficult times in our lives. It is not that those who leave are bad people, like John Mark, who abandoned Paul, when things got tough on the missionary road. It means that they have already played their tune, sing their song, and act their part in your story. Remember the saying, “when one door is closed, another is open”, I say many are open!

British author, theologian and poet C. S. Lewis asked this question, ‘Is any pleasure on earth as great as a circle of Christian friends by a good fire?’ Lewis went on to advise that, ‘Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.’ So, as someone once ponder about what to do if we find ourselves trapped in a hole in the ground beneath a massive rock that we cannot move, and have no hope of being rescue? His advice is we meditate on and ponder the view of how lucky we are that life-cycle of friends has been good to us up to this point in time now absent, because we hurt them. Otherwise, he said if time has not been good to us thus far, which given our existing situation appears more possible, we should reflect on how blessed we are that the friendship we lack will not be distressing us any longer. ‘Woeful waste makes woeful wants,’ was one of my mom’s favourite quotes. I since have understood that this can apply to any situation in life. If we spend our time acting unfriendly, causing ruin, destroying those souls who acted friendly towards us, when the evil days come, when the massive rock of life circumstances surrounds, pins us down, who will be there for us, who will we call on, or who will be there standing by our side?

True friendship does not need daily conversation, telephone calls, or even weekly home visits. This kind is the David and Jonathan kind, it is from the heart, and though out of site, they are not out of mind. Though near are far, you are assured and reassured of their continuing, stick-to-it-iveness, they never part. Just call, they will tell you, and I will be there, before you can say, ‘Cat on a hot tin roof.’ My Christian friends know this that the durable link of friendship is not always a stable comparison, because true friendship is not always about giving and taking in identical manner. As an alternative, friendship is rooted in a sentiment that you know accurately who will be there for you in times of trouble. “When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathise with him and comfort him” (Job 2: 11). The person who never shirks or shies away when you need them or something, no matter what the value or what time of day or night the call comes is what true friendship is all about. Jobs friends demonstrated that.

Hubert H. Humphrey, American politician and former vice president once said, ‘the greatest gift of life is friendship, and I have received it.’ Most of us can identify with this sentiment. At one point or another in our lives, we experience what it is to have friends. The world as it is, is filled many loveless, abandoned and forsaken souls, the suffer fear and dread, they need a friend. You, I, we all can join hands and hearts together, to help fill that void in people’s lives, the kind that governments cannot provide. So make a commitment today, make an effort to share a moment, or a smile, give friendship to somebody in need. Give true friendship, which is that symbol of love, someone will appreciate. Be a friend to Jesus, by being a true friend to a suffering depressed soul! You will find it is worth the effort.

Sharia law – Compatible with Western Christian Values?

David Cameron, former British Prime minister made a very fundamentally flawed step when he allows some functions of sharia law to operate side by side with British law. This has been seen in some quarters as a retrograde and wrong step because it devalues the British system and it now allows a two-tier law system to operate in Britain. There are not many other western countries that allow a two-tier law system to operate within their borders. For this Europe is doomed, Christianity will be loss, western values crumbles! Western societies are shaped, were patterned after Jewish and Christian values. If you travel to Russia, you either abide by their laws or are thrown  in prison or out of the country, the French, the Australians, and many more countries are the same. If you travel to Saudi Arabia and you fail to abide by their Islamic law you are put in prison or thrown out of their country. So why does a western government allow this two-tier system to happen in a western democracy?

There are no democracy in Islamic states, they believe in dictatorships, one strong man at the helm of power. This is what the Turkish president is seemingly heading towards, a one party state and government, that has no opposition to question or challenges it. Why Cameron did this only he and his conservative government knows except to muddy the waters, or being seen as tolerating Muslim values, pushing the Islamic agenda. What was in it for him? The current mayor does repeatedly and consistently proclaims that Islam can co-exist with western or British values? Well thinking people knows this is not possible and could never be. Is the teaching of sharia law consistent with the Ten Commandments law that shape western values? Western laws have their roots in Christian values, and it is impossible for any keen sighted person to accept otherwise, and that is that sharia law violates Christian values, and by extension western principles.

It was not until the 6th century A.D., some 600 years after Christianity, when Islam was created. When he started to preach no one accepted his message, in fact he was ridiculed and driven out of the city. He went to another city and happen to raise a following. Some time later a group of men overthrow the government, by this time he was ready to return. There is a strong school of though that he orchestrated the overthrow of the government  from the second city where he fled to. He returned and immediately established his caliphate government. However, when he arrived with his new message he claimed was from God, it was the new kid on the block; it appears as if out of time, much later than Judaism and Christianity. It was not established to confirm the Biblical literature, but rather cynically to dishonour its key message, that Christ is the Messiah, that He is the Son of God, and the final and last prophet from God to man. To validate its message, he has to do a few things, deny Christ Messiah-ship.

And even when he accept Christ as a prophet, he denies His divinity, and further down the line many Imams claim that Christ was not crucified, and they can prove it.  The four Gospel writers declare that Christ was crucified; the book of Acts gave evidence of multiple people who not just saw Him when He died, but saw Him when He was resurrected. Why the Imams of Islam want to deny that though they were not alive then, is a puzzle? The only answer is that if they accept that that Christ was killed, buried and rose from the dead, their message has no relevancy.

Therefore, Mohammad did not come with a message that would exist in harmony with the Holy Scriptures. Despite the plain difference in ideologies or interests with the Bible, the Koran does not indicate a message of harmony with ‘the people of the book,’ the Jewish people and Christians, rather his clear intent was to replace them. That is the age-old message you will hear from the Imams. They will never stop until Islam replaces Christianity in the west. Not until the Islamic flag is flying from the roof of the white house and Buckingham palace. They are buying up choice properties in western capitals. In 2016 alone over 2000 Mosque were built or opened in America alone. The number in other western countries and the cities of Europe dwarf that figure. The interfaith movement was meant to be a body that promotes dialogue, but is being used to foster Islamic growth and to build more Mosques in the Hub of European capitals. If there was an effort to co-exist with Christianity, why are there millions being injected in the west to foster Islamic programmes, colleges, centres? They are being given special places in many schools to pray.

To achieve their goals, millions of dollars of Saudi Arabian money have trained agents in Saudi Arabia and Turkey to infiltrate vital agencies of the west. They are place at strategic point in universities, public and private institutions, agencies of government, public administrations to accomplish their goals. They must make Islamic values look good to westerners, a religion they can relate to, and become a member of. Their motto is ‘Islam is a peaceful religion,’ but the proof of the pudding is in the eating. If was peaceful why is there a war ranging between the factions of Islam, between Shea and Sunni? The west can never understand that Islam is at war with itself. That Sunnis and Shea can never see eye to eye in the interpretation of the prophets teachings. Mohammad had ordered his army to attack Syria, but died before it happened. However, shortly after the death of Mohammed, Abu Baker sent the army to conquer Syria. There were many pretenders to the throne of Mohammad, but Abu Bakr succeeded him. He raged war against other pretenders and by so doing extended the territories of Islam under the flashing sword. People in those territories invaded were given a change to convert to Islam or face the sword. Many millions converted to Islam under the threat of death.

When Islam came along, Christianity has blazed a trail of success in all the regions of the Middle East. Thanks to the successful preaching’s of Paul and many other New Testament prophets the God News of Christ, the Gospel message has reached millions, people were converting, the church was growing, ancient false gods were being toppled over. People were being saved into the kingdom of God, not through the edge of the sword but by the convincing power of the message that Jesus died to save the lost. The enemies of God must find a way to stop this spread, their religion of multiple gods, was being weakened by the day. Christianity became a threat to them. Their alternative answer to this threat was to claim, there was one God also, and Mohammad was his prophet. The claim now of a single ‘monotheistic’ God they assume would stop the march of Christianity in those regions. Only, this new proclaimed god was not the God of Israel, because the Gospel message already proclaim Jesus as the Messiah, and ‘Emmanuel, ‘God with us,’ the Christ of God.

Therefore, to authenticate, they claim, a new message was given, the Koran contains this new message, and Mohammad is his messenger. However, there are no independent authentications of this new message delivered by the angel Gabriel to the new messenger. If there was authentication which there is not, then all the Old and New Testament prophets made a mistake in their prophesies concerning Christ. If there was a new message delivered in a cave to a new messenger, then God was dismissing the teachings of Christ His own Son, who Himself declared in the ears of many, ‘this is my beloved Son, in whom I AM well pleased.’ If God now rejects His Son, should there not be more than one message or messenger to confirm this rejection? For something so vital, for the sake and redeeming feature of the whole human race, would God appears to one man and give no clue, that He no longer love His Son or the message He gave? God sent His son to die to seal the faith of humanity that through Christ humankind would have hope. Would God then 600 years later dismiss the sacrifice of His son to accept another?

The fact is, this is whole thing incredulous, and the mere suggestion that God would do such a thing is making God a liar. However, Satan is the liar; he is the father of lies, a liar from the beginning, look what he told Adam and Eve. He saw the growth of the Gospel message, and to thwart the message of Salvation in Christ, to mix up people’s minds, as to Gods motive in sending Christ, He sent his counterfeit messenger. Only this messenger appears as an angel of light, but is not from God, a phoney that would make it hard for many to deny Him, unless God reveal truth to man. He deceived and continues to deceive many who will not look to the true God for help. This new message was not to coexist with Jews, the ‘people of the book’ and the Gospel of Christ. If it was why the centuries of almost relentless hostilities, and attempts to replace the Jews and Christianity?

Many scholars who have read the Islamic law books and analyse sharia has concluded that Islamic values are essentially ‘a rebellion against the Ten Commandments’ issued to the people of Israel on Mt Sinai. These biblical scholars believes that Islam infringes the commandment, ‘Thou shalt not kill’ as when Allah commanded Muslims to kill Allah’s enemies, and in the process, they kill and be killed in jihad if they are to be guaranteed heaven. Being compliant, a parallel legal system would effectively nullify actual freedom for many of the people possibly forced to use it, and the ability to receive equal justice under law. Sharia is the reason there is a death warrant was issued on Salman Rushdie for writing the ‘Satanic Verses’ that analyse the tenets of the Islamic message and its messenger by the Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran for apostasy. Many other authors, commentators, journalists have died violent deaths at the hands of Islamist who believed that though there is freedom of speech, you do not have the right to question the prophet, or paint a cartoon of him. What does it matter if someone depict you in a cartoon? Does it hurt you, does it devalue you or your message? Are we not allowed to laugh at ourselves ones in a while? And the truth should be able to stand up to any and every criticism! Scepticism does not devalue truth, it generates exposure and gives it light and wings to fly on. That should be lauded, no?

What the Islamist are then telling you and the rest of the world to do is accept the message and the messenger who brought it blindly without any question of legitimacy. The thing is they have the right to question you and your faith, they called Christ illegitimate, a bastard child because Mary and Joseph were not married when Mary became pregnant with Christ. However, it stands to reason and it became a standard that every man has the right to question his belief system in western culture. This right is being taken away, because many are offended if you want to ask valid questions. How then can sharia law be consistent, or live in harmony with Christian and western values and culture?

What is My Identity?

We often find ourselves asking, who am I, what am I supposed to be? What am I here for and what are my goals in life? We asked these questions of ourselves especially when things are not working out for us, we suffer many setbacks. Likewise, often we are told to discover ourselves, find out whom we are, then find and take our place, in the world. That way we find our truthful selves. However, they never told us truly, how to get there, and how to find our way? They never told you about the many bends and humps, and hills you must climb. Few tell you how difficult are the race of life and the many disappointments along the way. Of course, there are many pointers, many roads leading in all direction, and many suggestions.

They told you about the anchor of religion, but so many in the market place advertising their brand, you never know which one to choose, or which is the right one? To muddy the water even more they try to tell you anyone is OK, they all leads to God. Just chose a brand they all are calling on the same God. However, are they right? Does all religion leads to the true God, and if there are false teachers and preachers how do we identify them? They deny that Jesus Christ is God the Son come in the flesh (1 John 4:2-3). They deny Jesus Christ is the Sovereign Lord (2 Peter 2:1). They will say that Jesus has already returned (2 Timothy 2:18, Matthew 24:23-27). They pretend to be Christ’s servants but they actually preach a different Gospel (2 Corinthians 11:4 and 12-15, Galatians 1:6-7).They are in disguise, and taking off the arsenic label of a bottle, replacing it with honey don’t make the content any less deadly.

Humanity can identify the right type of strategy to solve the purpose of his existence, by identifying the true religion. To solve the purpose of existence he must settle comfortable with whom the true God is. Alternatively, he must solve the problem of his identity by asking two delicate yet apparent questions: How well can we define the problem of man? How well can we define the ability sphere obligatory to disentangle its complexity? Once we disentangle the complexity of Man and our understandings of God we will determined our identity, and find our purpose in the world.

So that after resolving the problem of our identity, we must answer, is who we are a choice? Alternatively, can we change who we are? Do identifying who we are and our purpose on earth determine our life choices? When we choose to belong to the human experience, we agree to unite and engage with the known world. However, the legend of the jagged nonconformist disregards the fact that humans are communal by natures, we need each other. That we desire inordinately for love, companionship and community. We are stronger together; we have a need to belong – a desire to succeed in the race of life. In addition, community have a need for all to be good to each other.

When we were born we became part of a family, develop relationship, in schools, in church, we become members of groups. We become part of the wider community without choosing and without being offered a choice or agreeing we become part of the human family. We also volunteer to do things the way society do them; we contribute to its stability.  We agree to play by societies rules, or otherwise we are punished. This in philosophy is known as voluntary conformism.

Some folks often query whether these kinds of societal conformity offer us ‘freedom,’ of choice. However, because it offers the freedom to choose what assembly to belong to and, though illogically, the freedom to do what others expects us to do, we can affirm, positively it is freedom. Therefore, though humans have the freedom of choice, the right to act, to speak and to think, we must ask, what is the limit to freedom? Can we then dare to assert that with freedom comes responsibility? I am free to speak, but I must know when to speak. I am free to shout, but shouting in a place where quiet and silence is beneficial, even healing will cause disgust. I am free to walk but there are laws against trespassing on others property. So freedom have limits, no?

Adam and Eve, had freedom to their hearts content. God made them free moral agents with the power of choice. “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Gen. 1: 27). They were given all things God created in the garden, they were in control, and they identify with God as long as they made the right choices. They lost that identity, and ever since humankind is trying to find himself. Though they we are advised that a particular choice would cause their death, they ignore that advice, follow a lie, and humanity has suffered ever since. Our best choices prove inadequate, causes self-hate and personal regrets and disgust unless it centres on God. “Unless a man is wise his own circumstances will not please him; every kind of folly is plagued with self-disgust” (Seneca, Letters 9.22).

However, it will be well with us if we heed the advice Joshua gave to the people of ancient Israel: ‘But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24: 15NIV). Joshua puts the clear choice before the people in concise form, but not as if he was unconcerned, whether they served God or not. Choose you whom ye will serve, now the matter is place plainly before you. He resolves to serve God, whatever the people of Israel did. It is essential that the service of God’s people be performed with this kind of willing and resolute mind. They identify with and chose to serve the God of their fathers. After the service of God is made the peoples clear and deliberate choice, Joshua binds them to it by a solemn covenant.

Our most important life choices are not just about finding ourselves, or discerning how we fit into the big picture of the human experience. “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it” (1Cor. 12: 27NIV). I conclude it is not about personal identity, independent of God, but rather in Him. Our experiences, has everything to do about discovering who we are in God and what He created us to be in the world! Our human identity can only find fulfilment and contentment in Christ Jesus. Without Christ we are nothing, and can do nothing, out life choice is complete in Him alone. God created the human family to have distinctive characteristics and purpose in the world. “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1Pet. 2: 9NIV). However, God designed us also to have a commonality of contentment with our lives through His will. We discover our identity when we know and choose Christ, and the more closely we are drawn to Him. All other names and prophets are a nonstarter.

Muslim Imam denies the Holocaust.

Holocaust denial is never new and continues unabated among Muslims, despite in existence of clear evidence, documented proof in videos and still photographs, thousands of living eye witnesses and personal stories. The Holocaust among Muslims is a concocted tale of Zionism and supported by Western and European white lies.

Why would Muslims want to deny one of the most horrible historical blots on the human experience and psyche? Could it not be that the Muslims themselves have an agenda, which is not so subtle? Could it be that by denying anything to do with the Jewish people, who God has chosen to establish His name among the entire race of humanity, is to deny their credibility? Could it be then, that by of denying Judaism, which gave birth to Christianity, is affirming Islam’s credibility? If the Jewish history and experience were wiped out, there would be no doubt, questioning, or denial of the Islamic prophet and his message in the Koran? Historians and biblical theologians agree Jesus Christ, the Jewish Messiah, as recorded in the Holy Scriptures by holy men as they were moved and influenced by God, was/is the true prophet and son of God, the saviour of humanity and the final messenger to humankind! Many researchers have found little evidence of Mohammad claims of divine inspiration, of being the final prophet or his claim, that his message replaced the Jewish prophets and Jesus himself! Therefore, what is the inheritance of the Jewish people, for Christianity, and all of humanity if in fact the Koran later replaced the biblical literature Christians believe was divinely inspired?

I digressed, but deliberately to prove a very pivotal point, which is denying something that is so evidence is like putting petrol on your house, torched it, watched it burns, someone point it out, took pictures, videotape it, but you will not accept that your house is on fire. Christ said to Paul, ‘it’s hard to kick against the pricks’ and Muslims agenda is really believing that if you deny something never happen will make it disappear from memory! One very prominent Holocaust denier is Australia’s former Grand Mufti, Sheikh Taj Din al-Hilali who was named ‘Muslim Man of the Year’ in 2005 and Australia most senior and longest-serving Muslim cleric (1988-2007).

Hilali in 1988, when imam of the largest mosque in Australia gave a speech at Sydney University described Jews as the cause of all wars and the existential enemy of humanity.

In July 2006, Hilali refers to the Holocaust as a ‘Zionist lie’ and referred to Israel as a ‘cancer.’ This kind of dangerous rhetoric is not new among Muslims or unique to Australia.

In October 2006 insinuating that the long prison sentences handed to Sydney’s Lebanese gang-rapists for attacking young teenage girls in the year 2000, were unfair he compared Australian women who do not wear the Islamic veil to meat left uncovered in the streets and then eaten by cats. During his long career, Hilali also praised suicide bombers as heroes and called the September 11, 2001 terror attacks in the United States “God′s work against oppressors” and “the work of 100 per cent American gangs.’

At the time, Hilali’s principal adviser and spokesperson, Keysar Trad, wrote, ‘The criminal dregs of white society colonised this country and… the descendants of these criminal dregs tell us that they are better than us.’ Trad subsequently served as president of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils the national umbrella organization, which represents Australian Muslims at national and international level from July 2016 until May 2017. 

The Auschwitz Institute, the Holocaust memorials are among the thousands of places where evidence exist if Mr Hilali and his lot are interested in some history lessons, but I suspect they are not! However, I will offer some anyways, because as George Santayana remarked, ‘Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.’ Though the quote is most likely due to, and in its original form read, ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’ As Mr Hilali and his cohorts will find, between 1933 and 1945, Nazi Germany and its allies established more than 40,000 camps and other incarceration sites. The perpetrators used these sites for a range of purposes, including forced labour, detention of people thought to be enemies of the state, and mass murder. The total number of sites is based upon on-going research in the perpetrators’ own records.

Concentration Camps

From its rise to power in 1933, the Nazi regime built a series of detention facilities to imprison and eliminate so-called ‘enemies of the state.’ Most prisoners in the early concentration camps were German Communists, Socialists, Social Democrats, Roma (Gypsies), Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals, and persons accused of ‘asocial’ or socially deviant behaviour. These facilities were called ‘concentration camps’ because those imprisoned there were physically ‘concentrated’ in one location.

After Germany’s annexation of Austria in March 1938, the Nazis arrested German and Austrian Jews and imprisoned them in the Dachau, Buchenwald, and Sachsenhausen concentration camps, all located in Germany. After the violent Kristallnacht (‘Night of Broken Glass’) pogroms in November 1938, the Nazis conducted mass arrests of adult male Jews and incarcerated them in camps for brief periods.

Forced-Labour Prisoner-of-War Camps

Subsequent to the German invasion of Poland in September 1939, the Nazis opened forced-labour camps where thousands of prisoners died from exhaustion, starvation, and exposure. SS units guarded the camps. During World War II, the Nazi camp system expanded rapidly. In some camps, Nazi doctors performed medical experiments on prisoners.

Succeeding the June 1941 German invasion of the Soviet Union, the Nazis increased the number of prisoner-of-war (POW) camps. Some new camps were built at existing concentration camp complexes (such as Auschwitz) in occupied Poland. The camp at Lublin, later known as Majdanek, was established in the autumn of 1941 as a POW camp and became a concentration camp in 1943. Thousands of Soviet POWs were shot or gassed there.

Jewish Genocide Centres

In order to expedite the ‘Final Solution’ (the genocide or mass destruction of the Jews), the Nazis established killing centres in Poland, the country with the largest Jewish population. The killing centres were designed for efficient mass murder. Chelmno, the first massacre centre, opened in December 1941. Jewish and Roma people were gassed in mobile gas vans there. In 1942, the Nazis opened the Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka killing centres to systematically kill the Jews of the General government (the territory in the interior of occupied Poland).

The Nazis constructed further gas chambers (rooms that filled with poison gas to kill those inside) to increase killing efficiency and to make the process more impersonal for the perpetrators. At the Auschwitz camp complex, the Birkenau killing centre had four gas chambers. During the height of deportations to the camp, up to 6,000 Jews were gassed there each day.

Jews in Nazi-occupied lands often were first deported to transit camps such as Westerbork in the Netherlands, or Drancy in France, en route to the killing centres in occupied Poland. The transit camps were usually the last stop before deportation to a killing centre.

Additionally millions of people were imprisoned and abused including starvation in Nazi occupied territories and the various types of concentration camps. Under SS management, the German secret police, the Germans and their agents murdered more than three million Jews in the killing centres alone. Only a small fraction of those imprisoned in Nazi camps survived.

Does one need spiritual visions and inspiration to see this flagrant denial and contempt for the truth of history? Is this then not a clear Satanic inspired attempt to deny the truth, which can be found in Christ Jesus alone? ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’ (John 14: 6). Satan’s attempt to deny Christ, and the Scriptures that testify of His divinity, and his objective, is to establish, that the bible lies and the Koran is truth! To deny the Jews and their suffering is denying history. As Samuel Taylor Coleridge once remarked, ‘If men could learn from history, what lessons it might teach us! But passion and party blind our eyes, and the light which experience gives us is a lantern on the stern which shines only on the waves behind.’ Establishing there is another way, gives credibility to Mohammad’s teachings, which has no credible history! As to accept Islam is to deny Christ! In fact, many others have now accepted that all religions are equally true, there is one god, so that there are many ways to him! When the water is so muddy, people will not see a difference. My friends, removing the label of an ‘arsenic poison’ bottle and re-label it, as ‘fruit juice’ will not neutralise its deadly content!

With such credible documented evidence of history, how does Muslims and imams like Hilali are allowed to get away with such blatant Holocaust denial?

A Troubled Mind

“But I cry to you for help, Lord; in the morning my prayer comes before you… Why, Lord, do you reject me and hide your face from me? From my youth I have suffered and been close to death; I have borne your terrors and am in despair” (Psa. 88:13-15NIV).

This sounds like a pretty bad place to be, is it not. I mean that place where, you feel that the host of hell has overtaken you and you are in fear for your life. Where your faith and confidence in God is weakened because there is no response from Heaven to your plight? You feel rejected and alone, abandoned even as your troubles instead of decreasing, they seemingly multiplied?

Many of you know it well; you have been at that place repeatedly in your life when it seems God ignores your plight. You want answers, after years of struggles you want an end. After years of seeking, knocking and asking but no credible substantive answer is revealed. Your mind start to play tricks on you, God no longer loves you, He forget you or do not care about your circumstance. Especially when you look around and see people evil ones prospering, those who have no faith or belief in God. David declared this a personal issue, “For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” He is not alone in this mystery, Job asked, “Why do the wicked live on, growing old and increasing in power? That question continues to plague us even now.

When things get rough with us, we want instant release. The prophet Jeremiah said, “You are always righteous, LORD, when I bring a case before you. Yet I would speak with you about your justice: Why does the way of the wicked prosper? This is the significant part is it not? Why do all the faithless live relatively at ease and without a care in the world? It is human that we look on the growth and wealth, even prosperity of ungodly people and wonder why others who know God, our suffering are prolonged. Though we are encouraged in Scriptures, “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things… For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God… When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory” (Col. 3: 2-4)

Therefore, the problem is not in what is actually happening, it is the perception of what is, in Greek thought, “the fault is not in one’s surroundings but in the mind itself. Whatever it was that made poverty a trial makes riches a trial as well. When a person is sick, it makes no difference whether you lay him on a wooden bed or a golden one: he will take the disease along wherever you carry him. Even so, it matters not at all whether one sick in mind is placed in wealth or in poverty. The trouble is his own, and it follows him” (Socrates and the Stoics). The mind can always put us into a place where we feel helpless and disenfranchised, God no longer cares he will say. However, exactly the opposite is true; God cares more than we will ever know. The bible gives us enough meat to chew on about God’s unfailing love towards the human race and the things He has in store for us. Satan does not want us to fully understand and appreciate that so he fills our hearts with fear and doubts.

The mind of a human being, the place where our thoughts take place and our opinion and choices to do good or evil, come to manifestation. A number of terms in the Scriptures are used for mind and reason, some of which overlaps in meaning and others that view the inner man (mind/spirit) from opposing views. The significance of this aspect of human reality is viewed mainly in its relation to God and His revelation to man.

The simple difference between Hebrew and Greek thought, is that in Hebrew it serve as allusions to the mind or reason most often, mainly, ‘heart,’ ‘spirit,’ ‘soul’, so are not limited to these meanings, but cover a wide range of ideas as they seek to describe the inner man or the unseen dimensions of the human person in an all-inclusive way, i.e. specifics of eastern thought. However, advances in the Old Testament are not, for lack of such specific language to be thought of as less refined but rather as linked

to Hebrew culture, which reflected the cerebral and sensitive aspects of human life from the standpoint of the whole person? I.e. ‘heart, soul, and spirit’ are not separate parts of the inner man, but are reference to the whole inner man and is to be understood in relation to the whole human person. Consequently, the aspect of the inner thought and knowledge is view in connection to right behaviour.

Likewise, in Hebrew the heart is view as connected to the Mind. The term ‘heart’ (leb ‘bel’, ‘lebab’ or ‘b’bel’, in its metaphorical practice, is the most significant term for the ‘inner person.’ It sights the inner person from different viewpoints, of which the unease here is its reference to the ‘thought’ or ‘will’ of human beings or to the structure of understanding. Therefore, the ‘heart’ or ‘to set the heart’ means to make up the mind or choose (2Chron.12:14; Neh. 4:6). ‘Calling to mind’ in Deut. 30:1; Isa. 46:8; 65:17; Jer. 3:16; ‘recalling’ is similar (Deut. 30:1; Jer. 51:50; Ezek. 38:10).Wisdom and understanding are located in the heart (1Kings 3:12; Prov. 16:23) and perceived with the heart (Prov. 18:15; 22:17; Eccles. 1:1, 8:16). Moreover, it is the heart that plans or purposes to act (Prov. 16:1 Proverbs 16:9). God’s ‘mind’ is sometimes described this way (Jer. 19:5; 32:35; 44:21). Decisions of a moral nature take place in the heart (Gen 20:5; Job 11:13). This being the case, evil will also be manifested in the heart, where decisions to disobey and rebel take place (Jer. 17:9). The heart or mind can be perverse and therefore incapable of apprehending truth and wisdom (Prov. 10:20; 11:20; 12:8; Prov. 17:16, 20). The heart is also the place where deception occurs (Isa. 44:20).

Therefore, ‘heart’ serves as a reference to the person as thinking, perceiving, and willing being, bringing together the ideas of knowledge, understanding, and will. When we are faced with mind-blowing decisions, when circumstances affects our lives in such a way that we are unable to see the price. We are advised to, ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding’ (Prov. 3:5NIV). When we lose sight of God, fail to rise above our fears and doubt of God, the visions of prosperity around us, will cause us to fail. When we struggle and people are advancing and developing, especially if those people are wicked, we are thinking as the world does. Paul advised, ‘Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will’ (Rom. 12: 2). Only when we are fully transformed in our way of thinking, can we see and understand the full picture of why others prosper living so wicked year after year. David was tempted to be envious at their prosperity, but when He searched the Scriptures he realised they were living on slippery ground.

So friends work hard in controlling the mind and its perception of what is or is not. We have to take control of out thought processes so we win the battle of wits, Satan throws at us because winning will not come to us without that spiritual fight. We have to be strong in spirit and soul and be courageous, knowing that we can do it if we put our backs into it. Our heart can accomplish anything and everything that our mind can conceptualise. If anybody puts us down, analyse us for lack of physical progress, keep on fighting, believe in your own ability, but have faith in God who strengthens you. God can do anything but fail, and in Him, we can turn our negative life and way of thinking into something positive!