Jerusalem ‘Rain of Peace’. “Shalom”

The foundation of almost every Hebrew word is a root composed of three consonants, and each root has its own fundamental meaning. The other letters that fill in around the three-consonant root to make a word can be varied in many ways to make other words. However, something of the basic meaning of the root always remains in the meaning of all other words.

12428062711510873765Shalom_black.svg.hiThe root of the word shalom (Hebrew left) is sheen-lamed-mem, transliterated in English as SH-L-M. Its basic meaning is “wholeness” or “completeness.”

Literally hundreds of Hebrew words are built from the root SH-L-M, and all of them have some connection to the basic meaning. For example, ShaLeM means “complete,” and is also mentioned in Genesis 14:18 “And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of God Most High.”

SheLeM means “peace offering” which was part of restoring a broken relation with God; SheeLeM means “he paid,” that is, he completely fulfilled his obligation.

Proverbs 18:21 tells us there is life or death in the power of the tongue. Therefore, whenever you employ the word “shalom” you are speaking into someone’s life all the wonderful things that shalom means!The common phrase shalu shalom yerushalayim (pray for the peace of Jerusalem) is not speaking about an absence of war (though that is part of it) but that Jerusalem (and by extension all of Israel) is complete and whole and goes far beyond the idea of “peace”.”


Most religions place a strong significance on the city of Jerusalem. It is the birthplace of the world’s three monotheistic faiths. There is no place as biblically relevant. But it was neither built or named by the Hebrews. It’s original name was something like – Urusalim which meant the foundation of Shalem and this was an ancient Ugaritic god – an idol. It is first mentioned in the Bible in Joshua 10: 1 when it was conquered, sacked and then abandoned by Israel. (Judges 1: 8)

Then along came David, four hundred years later. In 2 Samuel 5: 6 we learn David conquered Jerusalem and made it his capital. It was where he established his palace, his home, his headquarters.

UnknownBy the time the Hebrews had a say in it, the name Jerusalem had been long established. Most likely, the original name, that sounded something like Urusalimum or Ursalimmu, meant Foundation Of Shalem, the latter being a known Ugaritic god.

The reason why the Hebrews didn’t rename the city when they had the chance, may be, because its name was easily transliterated into something very striking in Hebrew.

Without a doubt the second and dominant part of the name reminded (then and now) of the word (shalom), peace. The root of this word, (shalem), denotes completeness, wholeness and soundness. In this sense the name Jerusalem is related to some other famous names from the David saga: Solomon and Absalom.

The first part of the name Jerusalem may likely have reminded a Hebrew audience of the verb (yara), throw, cast or shoot. This verb is used when arrows are shot, stones are thrown or stacked and even when lots are cast.

Other derivations of this same verb is (yoreh), early rain, and (moreh b, c), meaning both early rain and teacher.

Perhaps the name Jerusalem was never changed, but only Hebraized, because it seems to mean Rain Of Peace.

Jerusalem was to be the radiating heart of a world of completeness and wholeness. It seems that history supplied her with a most suitable but challenging name.



Revolution: Jesus loves Every Jihadist

Love your enemies! Has there ever been a more difficult edict? Every day we are confronted by bloodshed and violence inflicted by very unloving types. Graphic TV news portrays distressing vision depicting innocent victims mutilated by Islamic State or other brutal jihadists.

How can we love enemies who demonstrate such ruthless character? First we must accept Jesus came as a revolutionary. He came to confront the spiralling disaster of a fallen world.

015-jesus-diesThe Romans actually crucified Jesus as a traitor. He was charged with the crime of sedition. A sign saying ‘King of the Jews’ was nailed on his cross, to indicate his crime. He was seen to be a threat to the ruling Roman power of the day. He was a Jewish revolutionary, as far as they were concerned.

From the cross Jesus said, ‘Father forgive them, they know not what they do.” Love verbalised in the most brutal circumstances.


Violence was not uncommon to Jesus or his followers. In fact Matthew, the gospel writer quotes Jesus saying to them: “But I say to you love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew chapter 5, verse 44) No hiding conflict and persecution there.

Before we think about modern terrorism and the brutality of jihadist groups let us confirm Jesus knew what he was saying.

He warned the disciples ‘I am sending you out like sheep in the midst of wolves’ and ‘they will flog you in the synagogues.” (Matthew chapter 10, verse 16)

The Apostle John was the only disciple who did not die violently. Peter was martyred in Rome where he was crucified upside down, so that his death would not be seen as the equal of Jesus. James died by the sword. His unnamed accuser was so moved by his courage he embraced the Christian faith and asked to die with the disciple. The Romans obliged and both were beheaded. Jesus also chose to die violently.

The revolution in His teaching is found in three words: “God is love.” He is not about love. He does not have to choose love. He is love. If we know him and have united with him we are bathed in love. It’s amazing.


UnknownSo how do we deal with jihadists? People are slaughtered week after week and we are deeply moved by so many bloody events.

Molenbeek is a neighbourhood in Brussels and it is described as the incubator for the recent Paris and Brussels terror attacks. It is home to a critical community battling poverty and unemployed youth. Out of this unhealthy environment jihadi foreign fighters emerge and many are active in Syria and Iraq. Belgium has the highest EU ratio of young men who have links with ISIS in Syria.

The hurt and pain is still evident in Molenbeek. There is a gathering of Muslim mothers today who are getting support from a group called ‘Les Parents Concernes’ (The Affected Parents). They are meeting with mothers who are grieving. These hurting women have watched their kin become radicalized and join ISIS. “Our children are buying one way tickets to their graves,” one mother said.

These mothers are trying to make a difference but they feel isolated and cope in the face of little or no support.

Christian Aid Mission (CAM) is on the frontline. They report Islamic State militants are disguising themselves as refugees at UN refugee camps in Jordan.

“The camps are dangerous because they have ISIS, Iraqi militants and Syrian militias. It’s a place for gangs,’ the spokesman said. Mission workers enter only with police protection.

An ISIS fighter came to faith in Jesus after watching the love of God demonstrated by the Christians.


A man in the Middle East told me he came to faith after being taught to hate all his life. Love your enemies was an explosive shock to him.

The jihadists are made in the image of God. He grieves for them. Remember what Jesus told his disciples? “Pray for those who persecute you.”

While we want them restrained, contained and even detained, above all we pray for their salvation. We pray for outreaches like Christian Aid Mission and all the others courageously impacting the danger zones today.

Many Muslims are very distressed. Every day thousands are leaving Islam. According to a report by in Africa alone, 16,000 Muslims leave Islam everyday. This same report quoted an interview with an Islamic cleric Ahmad al Qataari on the internet site He said, ‘in every hour, 667 Muslims convert to Christianity. Every day, 16,000 Muslims convert to Christianity. Every year, 6 million Muslims convert to Christianity.” (Islam in Fast Demise by Ali Sina,

God is love. Visit the Christian Aid Mission website – Pray for Christians ministering on the frontlines. Above all else, pray.

Holy Days Are Here Again!

“Everyday for more than a millennium, since the time of Moses, the priests had offered sacrifices for the sins of God’s people at the third hour and the ninth hour – at dawn and at three in the afternoon.

And each year since the time of Moses, Israel had celebrated Passover, and the priests had offered the daily sacrifice at three in the afternoon before Shabbat and the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

“Now all those offerings came to one great, final conclusion as God’s Lamb, presented to the people asthumbnail-1 He rode into Jerusalem on lamb-selection day, was offered at the exact hour of the last sacrifice of Passover.” (Echoes of His Presence, Ray Vander Laan, Focus on the Family, Colorado Springs, Colorado)

Quite a few years ago, those words by Ray Vander Laan touched me deeply. I pictured Jesus riding on the donkey, into Jerusalem, on lamb-selection day and that fact, brought me to my knees, overwhelmed. God is amazing and His covenant is specific and provable. He has never detoured from His plan to bring us into His Kingdom.

“The spiritual does not come first, but the physical and then the spiritual.” (1 Corinthians chapter 15 verse 46) Your body, the natural, was formed, then came life, the spiritual. This same formula is applied to the link between the Jewish Passover and the Christian Easter. Understanding the principles of Passover uncovers the riches of Easter.


Passover is the most ancient of Jewish festivals. For seven days in Israel Passover celebrates the deliverance of the children of Israel from bondage in Egypt (Exodus chapter 12 verse 13) They were slaves before Pharaoh let them go.

Easter proclaims the freedom found when Jesus rescues the sinner from the bondage of sin. “My chains fell off, my heart was free, I rose, went forth, and followed Thee,” Charles Wesley wrote. (Hymn: ‘And can it be I should Gain’) Am I showing my age with that illustration?

Jesus made salvation available by the shedding of His blood, a gesture directly linked to ancient traditions. The word ‘blood’ appears 346 times in the Old Testament (KJV translation), and 101 times in the New Testament, according to research published by

It helps to understand the season of Passover is closely identified with the Jewish feast of Unleavened Bread held in spring to symbolize the beginning of new life.

003-shepherds-sheepEvery year Jews remember they were redeemed from Egyptian slavery by slaughtering an unblemished lamb. Jesus is called our Passover. The Apostle Paul who studied under the great Jewish sage Rabbi Gamaliel, wrote, “Messiah, our pesach (Passover), has been sacrificed for us (1 Corinthians chapter 5 verse 7). John the Baptist referred to Jesus as ‘the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.’ (John 1:29) He died in Jerusalem at Passover time.

When Jews celebrate Passover they share in the Seder (meaning ‘order or arrangement’ in Hebrew). They recall Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and the suffering in Egypt of their people. The miracle of their redemption by the parting of the Sea of Reeds is joyfully acknowledged.

Until recently reclining was preferred during the Seder. Resting on the left side, gave freedom for the right hand to handle food and drink. Reclining was regarded as a form of freedom and equality. No one sat at the head of the table. It was a communal affair.

Wine is a symbol

Wine is a symbol of joy and happiness and four cups of wine are served.

Why four cups? “The accepted explanation is that these four cups symbolize the four expressions of redemption that are found in the Book of Exodus: ‘I will bring you out….I will deliver you…I will redeem you…I will take you to me for a people.” (Passover, Keter Books, Jerusalem)

thumbnail-2Right at the end of the Seder, comes an incredible event. It involves the ‘afikomen’ a Greek word meaning dessert. The afikomen is matzah, a bread made with flour, water and salt. It can be round, square or rectangular but it is flat and quite crisp. Three pieces of the afikomen are covered by a cloth. The host takes the middle piece, breaks it in half, replaces one piece under the cloth but hides the second portion earlier.

Within Ashkenazi groups, children at the Seder are invited to find the hidden piece. the winner is rewarded. Maybe this game was designed to keep the youngsters awake!

Consider the matzah, striped and pierced, even to this day. He was pierced and striped for our sins. (Isaiah 53:5) Even the Afikomen, which was hidden for a moment, reminds us of the Lord who made Himself known to us, and brought us to the Father and brought us eternal freedom, a reward to be treasured

His word is life

 “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

They said to him’, “Sir, give us this bread always.” ‘Jesus said to them’, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” (John chapter 6 verses 32-35)



Purim, Esther and Hidden Truth.

images-2“They tried to kill us! We won! Let’s eat!!!”  Such a motive launches the Jewish feast of Purim. Purim this year is on March 23-24. It is without doubt one of the most energetic and fun-filled of all Jewish holidays.

The Book of Esther (commonly called ‘the Megillah’) is read during the party. The story is set more than 2000 years ago in Persia and emphasizes how the people escaped a diabolical plot. It reflects a cycle of existence the Jews have faced from one generation to the next.

Esther and Mordecai

The story relates how King Achashverosh held a large party which his queen refused to attend. As was the way with ancient kings, she was replaced by a new queen, Esther, the Jewess. The timing was perfect. Esther’s uncle Mordechai uncovered a plot to assassinate the king which escalated Mordechai’s popularity and his influence in the royal court.

That relationship proved particularly valuable when Haman, the King’s senior advisor, began to plot the destruction of all the Jews in Persia. (Biblical Persia is the modern day Iran which is interesting) Esther courageously reported that plot to the king who reversed the wicked decree. Haman was sent to the gallows and Mordechai, who was mentor to Esther, was appointed Prime Minister.

The Hidden, Revealed

It is a fascinating study. The name Esther in Hebrew means ‘hidden.’ The Hebrew word megilla means scroll and that relates to the word ligalot which means ‘to reveal.’ The scroll of Esther was a megilla, so that which is hidden in this book is revealed to those who will enquire.

Not once in the Book of Esther isGod mentioned. The Author intends imagesfor the reader to find what He is doing and guiding throughout the story. As the Jewish people celebrate they remind themselves and each other how the Lord has His hand upon them despite the wicked schemes of anti-Semitism.

For the Jewish people He split the sea, made the Jericho walls tumble down and in a most timely fashion chose Esther and Mordecai ‘for such a time as this.’

When I first experienced Purim in Jerusalem I was stunned, shocked and surprised. People throughout the city appeared to be on-the-edge, even living recklessly. They wore strange colourful disguises . Purple, pink or rainbow colored hair was not unusual.

I know now rabbinical teaching explains the disguise by the story of Esau and Jacob. Esau received Jacob’s blessing by disguise. By this Purim practice they say some outward activities may seem to be questionable, but in the heart the Jews remain a holy people, chosen by God. Isaac failed to identify his own son Jacob. That did not hinder the blessings Jacob received, his heart was always known to Hashem (God).

‘Eat, Drink and Be Merry’ is a physical Purim display of joy and appreciation. Haman planned to destroy the Jews physically. His plot was thwarted and the Jewish people celebrate with a focus on their physical rescue. They give money to the poor and provide gifts of food to their friends. They eat a festive meal and drink wine.

Haman described them as ‘a scattered and dispersed nation.’ The Purim Party explodes in the face of those words and the unity of the Jewish people is proclaimed by an open display of welfare and friendship.

Every year Purim is an important reminder to Israel and the Jewish people of the plans, plots and intentions of their enemies. Purim and the party atmosphere celebrates the underlying truth, God is with them.






Arab Teacher Wins Global Award

Hanan Al HroubHanan Al-Hroub (pictured) is an Arab primary teacher who grew up in a refugee camp near Bethlehem, Israel. Violence was prevalent in and around her community. Recently she won the Varkey Foundation’s 2016 Global Teacher Prize collecting the million dollar award.

Her victory was announced in Dubai by Pope Francis (on video link) and applauded by Prince William, US vice-President Joe Biden, former President Bill Clinton and many others.

She was led into school-teaching after her own children were traumatised by a shooting incident they witnessed one afternoon as they returned home after school.


That experience led Hanan into school-teaching. She was motivated to help other children by providing a safe place for them and building trust with them. Today she teaches in the West Bank city of al-Bireh, near Ramallah. That area is mostly in the news for brutality and violence. In the midst of instability and uncertainty, Hanan is a peacemaker at least for her students.

“Her approach has led to a decline in violent behaviour in schools where this is usually a frequent occurrence; she has inspired her colleagues to review the way they teach, their classroom management strategies and the sanctions they use,” a statement from the Varkey Foundation said.

Deeply concerned for the children, she wrote a book “We Play and Learn.” In it she focussed on the importance of children playing and learning trust, respect, honesty and literacy.

8000 teachers were considered before the final announcement was made during a ceremony in Dubai. Her success was celebrated by a large crowd in Ramallah who gathered to watch the announcement on a large screen, provided for the event.

“I would like to congratulate the teacher Hanan al-Hroub for winning this prestigious prize due to the importance she gave to the role of play in a child’s education,’ the Pope said in his video statement.

An Example

Humbled by her success Hanan emphasised her “no to violence” philosophy. She hoped her success would be an example to teachers ‘around the world.’

Famously Plato said, “The direction in which education starts a man will determine his future life.” It is more than likely the contribution of wisdom, learning and character being made by Hanan al-Hroub will reap a rewarding harvest in the Middle East and hopefully, more specifically, in the community where she lives.

Finalists for the 2016 event came from Australia, Finland, India, Japan, Kenya, Pakistan, Britain and the United States.

Richard JohnsonOne of the ten finalists was Rostrata (Perth) primary science teacher Richard Johnson (pictured left). He must have narrowly missed first prize. He was recognised for his efforts in developing a dedicated primary school Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths lab at Rostrata.

The model has been copied by schools throughout Australia and has gained international interest too.

He is a proponent for studied progress in education. He called for progress to bring education systems into the 21st century.

Alexander the Great summed up the importance of teachers and the education they bring: “I am indebted to my father for living, but to my teacher for living well!”

Francis Bacon made that famous quote, ‘knowledge is power.’ But in the Bible, the Book of Proverbs is said to be a manual for wisdom it says: “Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance.” (Proverbs chapter 1, verse 5)

Madonna, Taylor Swift and a Ferret Named Phil


Australian author William Reiner wrote and published ‘A Ferret Named Phil.’ The delightful story features Phil, the Ferret who deals with bullying without resorting to violence.

“Bullying is something that affects everybody at some stage of their life, regardless, if you’re big or small. From cyber-bullying to schoolyard bullying and all the way to workplace bullying,” Reimer , a 21 year old, wrote last year.

‘A Ferret Named Phil’ is fast becoming a national favourite with parents, school teachers and children (of all ages) You can see the public reaction on the Facebook page and at

The Hairy Monster?

UnknownThe book had instant appeal because bullying is so prevalent. Madonna was called ‘the hairy monster” at school. Taylor Swift said attacks on her by bullies inspired her early songs. Miley Cyrus was a victim. Tyra Banks was called ‘Lightbulb Head.’ In a TV interview Justin Timberlake recalled, “I grew up in Tennessee, and if you didn’t play football you were a sissy.’

I relate. As a child I suffered a fractured skull and my parents, on doctors orders, banned me from contact sports. So my peers played rugby. I did track. A group of the boys ganged up and nicknamed me ‘horsemeat’ which meant ‘good for nothing.’ Later I was blown away when I learned Jesus declared, ‘call no man Raca’ meaning ‘good for nothing.’! (Matthew chapter 5: verses 22) Obviously He taught ‘love your neighbour.’ Bullying certainly fails there. Bullying indeed is a curse not a blessing.

Steven Spielberg was called ‘a nerd’ at school. Sandra Bullock was heckled for her clothes. Classmates bullied Kate Winslet for her weight, they called her ‘Blubber.’ Bullying comes to most of us in one form or another.

The bullying is all about shaming and humiliating the victim. Some school-children are so persistently attacked, the parental option is to home school.

images-3Victims may not want to wake up and face school. They may self-harm or fake sickness to stay home.

Some may be targeted because of their appearance, their skin colour or ethnicity. Others are put down because they are academically superior or the opposite.

Who’s cool!

Bullies decide who’s in, who’s not, who is ‘cool’ and they will let their opinion be known in aggressive, put you in your place ways.

When dealing with this problem it is important to recognise the bully, whether boy or girl, is in as much need as the victim. Their aggressive behaviour may stem from personal anger or inferiority and the need to bring others down.

In fact, there are three groups involved where bullying occurs (1) the victim, (2) the bully and (3) the bystanders, who may be classmates, workmates, family members.

Christian children may face very specific attacks.

Wisdom calls for consultation with others. Go to people you respect and search for the best for your child and for the bully. What is the best outcome?

Bullying goes on beyond the classroom. Earlier this year as a result of action by the Transport Workers Union, those who bully South Australian Public Transport workers will face up to 25 years jail.

Jesus shared the bottom line. “A new command, I give you: Love one another, as I have loved you..” (John 13:34) Anger kills. Love brings life, even into the most trying situations.

Safe and Secure

When you buckle into an aircraft the cabin crew asks you to observe very clear safety instructions. Parents apply the oxygen masks before the children. It makes sense. The parent must be free to protect the child. The parent needs to be free to respond so the situation does not get out of hand.

So it is when dealing with bullying. Deal with your adult feelings first. Help your child feel safe and secure with you on their side. Give them confidence in you and your wisdom and maturity. Be the example and panic and anger will not help.

images-1Avril Lavigne (pictured) is a Canadian singer who launched her own Foundation to touch the lives of young people. “Our work has allowed Special Olympics athletes from across the world to compete at the World Games, brought music therapy to children with serious illnesses, provide Lyme disease treatment to kids who could not afford care, and helped youth with disabilities attend summer camp where they formed lifelong, supportive friendships.”

She is in touch with teens. She wrote the song “I’m with You.” She sings “I’m looking for a place, I’m searching for a face, Is anybody here I know, ‘Cause nothing’s going right, And everything’s a mess And no one likes to be alone” Isn’t anybody trying to find me? Won’t somebody take me home?”

Those lyrics reminds me how important it is to know there is someone you can count on. Jesus said, “I am with you, even to the end.” (Matthew 28:20) On her home page ( Lavigne wrote “Each action we take, large or small, is helping to change a life.’

Where bullying is concerned are we aware? Help is available. Talk to a doctor, a pastor or a school principal. It’s important to take bullying seriously and not brush it off. Visit a website like for specialist advice.

Dangers in the Web

The invitations are alluring, complimentary and full of promise. A website says, “Geeks were once ridiculed and reviled” but then “geeks became the people to know.In fact, they started being considered cool.” For many teens today ‘cool’ is a craving.


The Internet provides a ‘cool’ world. The Geeks are the new astronauts. They have a world without parents and they friend only those they choose or those who trap them.

The Geek can find a forum or a chat room or a great variety of creative and appealing activities. In some cases the Geek becomes a statistic and finds it difficult to live without their internet fix.

The phrase Internet addiction has become a new medical term that dates back to the late 1990’s. The pioneering studies came from Dr Kimberly Young. In 1998 she published ‘Caught in the Net’.

A professor at St. Bonaventure University, Dr Young founded the first inpatient clinic for Internet addiction. She also assisted The Centre for Internet Addiction to set up an informative website They listed Internet Gaming Disorder, Internet Gambling, Internet Infidelity, Sexting and Porn as key topics of concern.

“Excessive internet use, sexualisation of children, cyber bullying and aggression are all risks associated with media usage by children and adolescents.” This quote published by The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, March 2012. ( Article: ‘Mental Health of Children impacted by Internet, Media and Technology

Ticking Bomb

images-1Of course the internet is a powerful and productive tool for studies, research and even relaxation. Not all internet use comes under the addiction label. But the ‘internet addictive’ condition may produce observable symptoms. Mood swings, withdrawal and dependence are among the tell-tale signs.

Two years ago a Sun Herald report found children as young as eight were being hooked on computer games and the Internet. (Elissa Doherty, Herald Sun, Feb 19, 2014) In that article teens were reportedly spending up to 15 hours a day on specific games.

“We are sitting on a ticking time bomb – a very large portion of the children and teenagers that I see in clinic has an addiction or overuse problem to some extent.” The Sun Herald quoted Dr Tam, co-founder of the Networ for Internet Investigation and Research, Australia.

Tam warned of serious cases where young people were playing all night and not sleeping and even dropping out of school.

A 2015 documentary ‘Web Junkie’ stunned U.S. viewers. The camera followed several teenage Internet addicts who were sent to a rehabilitation camp in the south of Beijing, China. The teenagers were drugged or tricked by their parents and transferred to the boot-camp. The common theme from the programme was the addicts commitment to escapism.

‘Web Junkie was made in China, where producers say over 400 rehabilitation camps function.


Another report from China, produced with cooperative participants, found addicts had conduct and concentration problems. The addicts escaped into their internet world and they achieved a sense of self-satisfaction and even approval. They also had a high degree of loneliness and depression compared to non-addict groups.

A stunning South Korean case reports on the death of a 3 months old baby girl. The police enquiry found the parents were spending 12 hours a day in an Internet café raising their Internet daughter. Their baby died of malnutrition, neglected at home. This is Internet addiction in the extreme and it is frightening. It reveals just how far this addiction can go.

images‘Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey?” the Apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the church in Rome. (Romans 6:16) Internet addiction is a form of entrapment or becoming enslaved. It may warrant a loving intervention, to bring freedom.

Do you know someone who is absorbed by the internet? Is there a situation where the Internet is used as a child-minding service?

Is there someone close to you displaying restlessness, mood swings, sleeplessness or irritability? Is it you? Every symptom mentioned is shown as a possible outcome from Internet overdose.

The Network for Internet Investigation and Research Australia (NIIRA) lists therapists who specialise in Internet Overuse Problems. but please talk to someone.


Lady Gaga, Adele and Justin Bieber,

Songwriters Touching Hearts and Minds.

Superstar Lady Gaga herself a teenage victim of rape, stole the show at the 2016 Academy Awards. Dressed in white, seated at a white grand piano, she introduced a group of fellow victims as she sang “Till it Happens to you!”

“You tell me it gets better, it gets better in time. You say I’ll pull myself together, put it together, you’ll be fine. Tell me what the hell do you know? How could you know? ‘til it happens to you, you don’t know how it feels, how it feels, ‘til it happens to you, you wont’ know, it won’t be real. No, it won’t be real, won’t know how it feels.”

Tears flowed down famous faces after the song. Her YouTube performance contains graphic images to accentuate the horror of her message.

Justin Bieber

When Justin Bieber (pictured below) released his US debut album in 2009 he became the first debut artist to have seven songs on the Billboard Hot 100 (USA). In 2010 the Canadian superstar wrote and recorded a contemporary Christian song, ‘Pray” His lyrics touched on events that were causing anxiety and concern for his generation.

images“I just can’t sleep tonight, knowing things aint right. It’s in the papers, it’s on the TV. It’s everywhere that I go. Children are crying, soldiers are dying, some people don’t have a home but I know there’s sunshine beyond that rain. I know there’s good times beyond that pain. Hey! Can you tell me how I can make a change? I close my eyes and I can see a better day, I close my eyes and pray….”

More recently Justin Bieber wrote ‘Life is Worth Living.” This time he sings to encourage a girl who is wounded and hurt. He sings about ‘the meaning of forgiveness’ and emphasises ‘life is worth living, so live another day’.


Throughout the centuries many great songwriters have been inspiring story tellers. Bob Dylan (pictured) ranks among the greats. In 1964 he wrote: Come senators, congressmen, Please heed the call, Don’t stand in the doorway, don’t block up the hall, For he that gets hurt will be he who has stalled. There’s a battle outside and it is ragin’. It’ll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls, for the times they are a-changin’.”

There is a formidable list of talented story-tellers who find melodic ways to bring faith, hope and encouragement to all of us. It is an interesting exercise to think through the songs that have lifted your spirits just when it was needed. In 1965 my good friend Barry Maguire wrote ‘The Eve of Destruction.” It was prophetic then and I believe it speaks volumes even today.

“The eastern world it is exploding, violence flarin’, bullets loadin’. You’re old enough to kill but not for votin’. You don’t believe in war but what’s that gun you’re totin’? And even the Jordan River has bodies floatin’. But you tell me over and over and over again my friend. Ah, you don’t believe, we’re on the eve of destruction”

Matthew 24

I regard these troubadours as carrying the story telling techniques found in the Bible. Jesus was a most impressive teacher because he used stories in true rabbinic tradition. The disciples asked Jesus when the end might come. He told them about the fig tree.

 “Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; so, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door.” (Matthew 24: 32,33)

Earlier he said to them: “See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many. You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.” (Matthew 24: 5-8)

Maybe today He would  pick up a guitar and sing  words of wisdom. How many hits would He get on You Tube? Come to think about it, in 1973 Johnny Cash sang about the Matthew 24 message.

“A great bear from the northland has risen from his sleep, And the Army ranks in red are near two hundred million deep. The young and old now prophesy a coming Prince of Peace And last night I dreamed of lightning in the east.  Matthew twenty-four is knocking at the door, And there can’t be too much more to come to pass. Matthew twenty-four is knocking at the door, And a day or one more could be the last.”

In 1973 Cash sang about Russia (the bear) and a gigantic army from China (Army ranks in red).

“And there can’t be too much more to come to pass” seems to be much more than just a lyric.