Antisemitism, Ungodly!!!

BenGarissonOnFacebookTrollBullyingAndHateSpeechWhen was the last time you heard of 167 US congress members agreeing on one thing. Republicans, democrats and Jewish community leaders have combined to call for the White House to appoint an envoy on anti-Semitism. Attacks and threats on Jews have escalated in America and around the world and the congress members called for specific action. “We view US leadership on combating anti-Semitism and promoting human rights as pivotal components of American diplomacy and foreign policy,’ the bipartisan letter read. “The Office of Special Envoy enables the US to show the world its commitment to these ideals, particularly at a time when anti-Semitism is dangerously on the rise,” they wrote.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) have a clear definition of anti-Semitism: “The belief or behavior hostile toward Jews just because they are Jewish. It may take the form of religious teachings that proclaim the inferiority of Jews, for instance, or political efforts to isolate, oppress, or otherwise injure them. It may also include prejudiced or stereotyped views about Jews.”

Last March, the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, held an emergency debate to discuss anti-Semitism in the U.S. “For many years there was a sense that the United States was the safest place for people of all religions and ethnic groups, a place with tolerance for any religion or race. Unfortunately, this has changed 180 degrees,” Knesset committee chairman MK Avraham Neguise (Likud) said.

Europe

And in Europe? According to a report presented to the Israeli government earlier in January (2016), anti-Semitism in Europe has reached its highest levels in decades. More than half of French Jews are considering emigrating, while the number of incidents targeting Jews in London rose by 61% in 2015 (483 in the 12-month period to November 2015, up from 299 in the same period in 2014), according to the International Business Times (ibtimes.co.uk)

In the UK far right activist Jeremy Bedford-Turner has ignited debate for more than a year. In a July 2015 speech he said, “…all politicians are nothing but a bunch of puppets dancing to a Jewish tune, and the ruling regimes in the West for the last one hundred years have danced to the same tune.”

“ Evoking medieval libels which claimed that Jews drank the blood of non-Jewish children, Bedford-Turner told his followers, of whom one third were from the violent extreme-right National Rebirth of Poland group, that the French Revolution and both World Wars were massacres perpetrated by Jews. He concluded that England was “merry” during the period of the expulsion of Jews from England and demanded: “Let’s free England from Jewish control.” (March 8, 2017, jwire.com.au)

thADL traces anti-Semitism directly to Christian influence. On the ADL home page they say: “The rise of Christianity greatly increased hatred of Jews. They became seen not merely as outsiders but as a people who rejected Jesus and crucified him — despite the fact that the Roman authorities ordered and carried out the crucifixion. By the high middle ages (11th-14th centuries), Jews were widely persecuted as barely human “Christ-killers” and “Devils.” Forced to live in all-Jewish ghettos, they were accused of poisoning rivers and wells during times of disease. Some were tortured and executed for supposedly abducting and killing Christian children to drink their blood or to use it in baking matzoh — a charge known as the ‘blood libel.’” (adl.org) And there is much more.

To trace the death of Jesus to any human is a long stretch. Jesus chose to lay down His own life. Without His death and resurrection we would all be lost. His sacrifice for sin was His amazing plan. Thankfully millions of Christians hold Israel as a special place in their hearts. Jesus chose to be a Jewish man, so we respect and honour them as His physical family.

We should know the Bible says: “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.” (1 John chapter 3, verse 16)

Church

Bulgarian-Israeli lawyer Moshe Aloni is building a campaign to submit the Bulgarian Independent Orthodox Church for the Nobel Peace Prize. He proclaimed ‘brave acts of heroism’ by church clergy and community during the holocaust. Openly the church protested anti-Semitic laws in World War II. At every turn they resisted the deportation of 48,000 Bulgarian Jews to Nazi death camps. His petition makes specific mention of two clergymen – Metropolitan (Bishop) Stephan, the highest ranking Bulgarian church official during the holocaust, and Metropolitan Kiril, head of the Church in the Bulgarian city of Plovdiv.

These two men were named ‘Righteous among the Living’ at Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial, Jerusalem in 2001. According to Yad Vashem records Kiril sent a personal telegram to the King pleading mercy for the Jews. He threatened to end his loyalty to Bulgaria and to act independently if necessary. He said he was prepared to lay across the railway tracks in order to stop the deportation.

“Due to the heroic acts of these two prominent leaders and their willingness to speak up and take action, the deportation of the Jews of Bulgaria was postponed again and again until it was finally cancelled with the end of the war,” wrote Aloni in his letter to the Nobel Committee.

When I read about Rev Kiril, I went back to 1 John chapter 3, verse 16 and was challenged.

 

 

Freedom, What Happened?

imagesA recent Freedom House report declares Israel is the only free country in the Middle East. Israel scored 80 out of 100 points on the Freedom House chart. Partly free countries are Turkey (38), Jordan (37) and Kuwait (36.) Countries deemed not free were Iraq (27), Iran (17), Saudi Arabia (10) and Syria (-1). By world standards Israel scored lower than most. North American and European nations were listed between 89 and 100.

Freedom House used a complex scoring system assessing political rights and civil liberties. Principles applied by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights were observed.

According to the 2016 report 72 countries showed declining standards of freedom over a 10 year slide. Just 43 countries made gains. “The democracies of Europe and the United States struggled to cope with the Syrian civil war and other unresolved regional conflicts. In addition to compounding the misery and driving up the death toll of civilians in the affected territories, the fighting generated unprecedented numbers of refugees and incubated terrorist groups that inspired or organized attacks on targets abroad. In democratic countries, these stresses led to populist, often bigoted reactions as well as new security measures, both of which threaten the core values of an open society.” – the report observed.

Driving Force

The report concluded: “The number of countries designated as Free stands at 86, representing 44 percent of the world’s 195 polities and nearly 2.9 billion people – or 40 percent of the global population. The number of Free countries has decreased by three from the previous year.” (The three were Dominican Republic, Lesotho and Montenegro)

There are 2.6 billion people living in nations listed as Not Free. There are 1.8 billion people in Partly Free locations. Look at that…. 4. 4 billion people live in less than free societies! This is the driving force behind the refugee crisis causing pain and distress worldwide. The issue is critical and causing serious dilemma for world leaders and concerned Christians.

The Christian position is very clear. The Bible repeatedly lays out the appropriate divine direction – How would you like to be treated? That is how we should treat foreigners (Leviticus chapter 19, verses 33-34).

  • Give them practical aid -food and clothing (Leviticus 19 verses 9-19)
  • Love them. (Deuteronomy 10, verses 18-19)
  • Seek justice for them (Malachi 3 verse 5)
  • Invite them in (Matthew chapter 25, verses 25-36)
  • Show mercy (Luke 10 chapter 10, verses 29-37)

Relevant

unknownCBN last February ran an article ‘9 Thing the Bible says You should Do for Refugees.’ 7 Feb. 2017) A reader to Relevant magazine said: “Hate to see anyone have to go through this. I’d love to see the church rally together to do everything possible to help the refugees. That said, I absolutely do not think our government should. The guidelines in the Bible are for the church and individuals – not guidelines on how to run a country. The government is in place to defend and protect Americans, and I don’t think helping refugees accomplishes that in any way.”

Writer Sarah Quezada authored “The Church must stand up for Immigrants and Refugees” – published by Relevant February 6, 2017. She referred to the Good Samaritan.

There is no doubt what the mission of the church is called to be, but what is the role of government? Every government has an obligation to protect the national residents, the voters. Regarding immigration and open doors for refugees the attitude is intensifying. A recent survey by Chatham House highlights the public opinion. They note the mounting public anxiety over migrants from mainly Muslim regions.

“In our survey, carried out before President Trump’s executive order was announced, respondents were given the following statement: ‘All further migration from mainly Muslim countries should be stopped’. They were then asked to what extent did they agree or disagree with this statement. Overall, across all 10 of the European countries an average of 55% agreed that all further migration from mainly Muslim countries should be stopped, 25% neither agreed nor disagreed and 20% disagreed.” (www,chathamhouse.org – What Do Europeans Think About Muslim Immigration – Feb 7, 2017)

In November last year Helena Legido-Quigley, from the Centre on Global Health Security wrote: “Doctors working in Greek refugee camps report asylum seekers experiencing mental anguish and anxiety symptoms related to border closures and not knowing whether they will be relocated or granted asylum. And in camps at Calais, Munich, and across Greece, doctors report widespread anxiety symptoms and distress among all groups. A physical representation of this anxiety reported frequently is sudden collapse due to mental exhaustion.

“Many refugees also report not wanting to use emergency medical services, even when they need the care, for fear of missing an opportunity to cross a border. But refugees’ need for health services extends beyond mental and emergency health care to cover the whole gamut of routine health care.” (Chatham House – Europe Must Find Humane and Dignified Response – 30 November, 2016)

The vast number of refugees have legitimate need for love and care. It is the minority who take the crisis and use it for violent opportunities. We must have wisdom in processing the desire to help.

I recall being frustrated often as I travelled in and out of Israel. The officials asked many questions and refused to concede until every one was answered appropriately. Israel is famous for effective vetting procedures.

I also remember the joy we knew after we entered and met with our Jewish friends in Jerusalem. They blessed us with abundant hospitality and we shared in their celebrations. Friendships were established that remain to this day. There is a balance, and we must find it quickly.

Donald and Goliath

imagesIs there a hidden ingredient behind the momentum of US President-elect Donald J. Trump? Could it be a divine hand has chosen him?

For eight years the Obama administration has been at least aloof towards Israel. The relationship between President Obama and Israeli PM Netanyahu has been mean and bitter.

Obama supporters like to point to the $38 billion military aid deal US granted Israel last year. It was the largest deal of its kind in American history but it also gave a huge subsidy to the weapons industry in the USA.

Recent action taken by the US Obama administration at the UN against Israel, rocked the world and sparks our Donald Trump thoughts.

“I think Obama will join Jimmy Carter as somebody who will always stand against Israel, but who will be tossed into the dustbin of history when it comes to the Middle East, and this will harm his legacy tremendously,” said esteemed legal scholar Professor Alan Dershowitz.

 Brutus.

“Today’s passage of an ill-conceived resolution on Israeli settlements marks another shameful chapter in the bizarre anti-Israel history of the United Nations,” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said in a statement. “The abstention of the United States has made us complicit in this outrageous attack, and marks a troubling departure from our nation’s long, bipartisan history of defending our ally Israel in the United Nations.”

Yes America the so-called stalwart of Israel became Brutus. Even Democrats issued scathing statements aimed at the Obama tactic. Incoming Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer said the decision was ‘extremely frustrating, disappointing and confounding.’

“Whatever one’s views are on settlements, the UN is the wrong forum to settle these issues,” Schumer said.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut, called the US’s abstention from the vote “unconscionable.” “A two-state solution must be negotiated directly between the Israelis and Palestinians, and this resolution flies in the face of this necessity,” Blumenthal said.

images-1The Democrats were soundly demolished during recent US elections. Donald Trump trounced Hillary Clinton, and Republicans won both houses. Whether or not the anti-Israel move was a Barrack Obama dummy spit or not. His decision placed the USA on precarious turf.

 Zechariah

Israel’s Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef declared, “Sometimes, we need to be reminded from above, that we can count on no one but our Father who art in heaven.” He declared to his followers that the USA has forsaken Israel and now the Jewish state can now place its trust in God.

Among the authors in the Bible there is Zechariah, a man who is called ‘the prophet of hope.’ His writing covers the centuries of the pagan empire and moves on to the age of Messiah.

He wrote these very interesting words: “On that day, when all the nations of the earth are gathered around her, I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock to all nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves.” (Zechariah chapter 12, verse 3)

Theologian Matthew Henry wrote about this. “The enemies of God and of His kingdom bear a great deal of malice and ill-will toward Jerusalem and form designs for its destruction, but it will prove at last, that they are but preparing ruin for themselves.”

Picture the scene at the UN. The nations of the world led by the USA are gathered around the tiny state of Israel determined to do harm. It is amazing to me that New Zealand, a small nation itself, could be part of this agenda. (Thankfully our Australian leaders would have none of it!)

On his blog Stan Goodenough cut loose: “There is no Palestinian territory. There never has been. You can call it that until you are blue in the face but it has never been – and it is not – Palestinian territory. Weeks ago you let UNESCO cut the Jews off from their holiest site, the Temple Mount, the Mountain of the Lord.

You’re going to learn this soon. You will eventually get it: The Land belongs to the LORD God of Israel. Jerusalem is the City of David. The Temple Mount is the Mountain of the LORD – the throne room of the Great King.”

Remember what Rabbi Yosef said. He declared the USA had forsaken Israel and now Israel must trust God. If Obama has been concerned for his legacy, he sealed it at the UN. He will forever be Brutus.

But now the divine implications (or are they?) From January 20, Obama will be replaced, by President Donald Trump, a declared champion of Israel.

When he chose to run for office, the US media went into frenzy. They found and exposed every possible flaw in his character and openly championed Hilary Clinton to win. But the Trump train rumbled on, all the way to the White House.

President Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu plan to meet in February. There are strong indications a much stronger US-Israel relationship will be achieved.

Remember the Obama big deal with Iran? That could well face serious challenge. Trump called it ‘the worst deal ever negotiated.’ I imagine Bibi and The Donald will enjoy their time together.

Before then, comes the Trump Inauguration on January 20. The US media has thrilled to announce every singer, actor or stooge who prefers not to appear. At school they were the types who ‘don’t want to play with you anymore.’ Life will go on and Trump will be President.

Among the faith leaders who will be there is Rev Franklin Graham, who has been a staunch Trump supporter all along. The media describes Graham as anti-gay and anti-Islam, a petulant press playing childish games! On the other hand Franklin Graham has credited God for Trump’s win in the election.

Some Christians were put off by the flaws in the Trump character but then they missed the murder and adultery of David and the Christian killer lust of the Apostle Paul.

Ron Ross is a Middle East consultant for United Christian Broadcasters (Vision FM). Previously he was radio news editor for Bridges for Peace in Jerusalem, Israel.

His career started at WINTV (Email: ronandyvonne@mac.com)

Ron Ross previous articles may be viewed at

http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/ron-ross.html

Aching World. Needing the Love of the Father.

images-1At times analysts feared full-on civil war in America. Warring parties became physical after Donald Trump won the vicious US presidential election. Street scenes were reminiscent of more lawless regions and it will take wise, even gentle wisdom to begin healing a very distraught nation.

When the masses voted for England to withdraw from the European Union, they called it Brexit. The ruling Establishment was rocked and the nation is in the process of working through the changes.

Independent political leaders in Europe have been encouraged by the fall-out. They feel energized to lead a mounting charge against the more recognized major political parties. Australian politicians have also stirred their supporters with lethal language and the fruit is beginning to appear with disturbing possibilities.

Christians have a vital role to be salt and light, and play our part to reverse the trend.

Spurgeon

June 28, 1903, the great preacher C.H. Spurgeon spoke on the ministry of reconciliation. “And (he) has given to us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians chapter 5, verses 18). He described how this ministry became necessary after ‘our first parents hearkened to the serpent’s voice and believed the Devil rather than their Maker.’

In the current international climate it is very obvious the voice of the serpent continues to influence many. The role of the Christian is to stand in the gap and represent our God who is love, who is peace. Spurgeon emphasized God gave this ministry to humans. He did not address angels or heavenly beings but the Church.

How can we begin such a vital influence and help the world around us adjust? It starts with an essential fellowship across the Kingdom. Sadly we have been too often, part of the problem. When I served in the Middle East, the churches united so that we maximized our strength. We often united for prayer and outreach. The goal was not to win souls for ‘our church’ but for the Kingdom of God.

To be effective our ministry of reconciliation must be applied with the full force of the Almighty. The moment we replace Him with selfishness, or replace humility with pride, His Spirit is quenched, and our influence is merely humanistic. Church can quickly become a club rather than a spiritual force of righteousness.

Study the headlines of this year and consider what they suggest might be the terrifying possibilities in 2017. God has set us apart to make a difference, but that Kingdom difference only comes in His name.

Jerusalem

imagesWhen my wife and I lived in Jerusalem, we learned Hebrew words used by the messianic communities to identify the characteristics of God. Jehovah Rophe means ‘Jehovah heals’ or ‘Jehovah my Health’ and it is by this name, He was known when the Israelites were lost in the wilderness. The people survived by following the pillar of cloud by day and by night. The children of Israel did not stumble around aimlessly, they focused on the Lord and followed when He led the way and only then. (Exodus chapter 15, verse 22) That sense of His divine Presence is a huge blessing in itself.

Another popular Hebrew name is Jehovah Shalom. The world desperately needs His shalom. There is an old saying that best describes the unrest in the world. It says, ‘No God, no peace! Know God, know peace!” So true.

The Israelites have known some very disturbing times. One tells us ‘every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” (Judges chapter 21, verse 25) They had backslidden and rather than follow Him they were moving selfishly caught up in their flesh. There are so many voices of anger and discontent today, the verse seems very applicable.

Author Marilyn Hickey explains, “Consider the word shalom. People in Israel say, ‘Shalom! Shalom!’ I once asked why they say it twice. It is because they want you to have peace in the inner man as well as peace in the outer man.” She added, “A final meaning of shalom is so beautiful that I wont expound upon it. It simply communicates ‘peace’ in the most perfect way imaginable.” Hickey explains it is used 170 times throughout the Bible, and then reminds us: “The prophet Isaiah announced that Jesus would come as ‘the Prince of Peace’ (Isaiah chapter 9, verse 6).

The most powerful outreach is not achieved by church professionals but more often by ordinary every day believers. I often found myself in animated conversations about my faith at my local golf club. The discussion often turned to be about a real estate agent and a store owner both members of our church. Their names came up when so many of my conversationalists referred to those men and shared how impressed they were with them in business. Their witness was profound and effective.

Years ago I was in a Youth With a Mission team working among Vietnamese refugees in a camp in Hong Kong. Our first request to serve there was denied by the supervisor. He eventually relented but warned us not to evangelize. Instead he assigned us, to restore a blocked and overflowing toilet system. When that unpalatable task was completed we turned up and asked for our next assignment. The Supervisor said he was stunned and did not believe we would be back but he then gave us permission to conduct evangelistic services and support programmes.

I will never forget the first refugee who came over to me and asked, “Why do you do this?” Our world is in desperate need of God, the Father. Jesus died for the lost and commissioned us to reach out to them. Have a joyous and blessed New Year and remember to share the joy.

 

 

Sabina Citron, My Jerusalem Encounter.

imagesSome years ago, I was invited to meet Holocaust survivor Sabina Citron. She had just authored her book ‘The Indictment’ and her publisher arranged for us to meet at the Menachem Begin Heritage Centre. The location itself was worth the visit but Citron was a national Jewish hero and I looked forward to our interview.

The breath-taking view from the Centre overlooked the Jerusalem skyline. Ms Citron arrived and arranged for us to enjoy lunch on the balcony with that breathtaking panorama.

I had previously ‘googled’ Sabina Citron to gather background for our chat and was shocked to find that more entries referred to her being a ‘nazi-hunter’ than an author or holocaust survivor. During our lunch, there were more shocks to come.

Auschwitz

She was an Auschwitz survivor, and I had visited that concentration camp many times. It’s a gut-wrenching experience just to walk around. I could only imagine the horrors but often survivors were our guides and they portrayed the evil from personal experience. More than once I had to hang back from our tour group to shed a tear, gather myself and of course to pray.

On one visit I met an elderly man who was so grateful Christians had made it possible for him to live in Israel. He had been a small boy in Auschwitz where the evil Dr Josef Mengele had performed painful experiments on him.

Although I have lived and worked overseas, I have not known the terrible hunger, violence, pain and persecution others experienced in the Holocaust and in various locations around the world today. Christians are being persecuted for their faith in more than forty nations. The Christian Post reports more than 8 million children under the age of 5 die every year from causes stemming from extreme poverty. I baulk at the extravagance of Christmas and even the expense of the fireworks at New Year when I think of the massive need of innocent victims.

Sabina described it so well. “The survivors of the Holocaust know all there is to know about indifference! We were persecuted, humiliated beyond description and eventually put to death while the world remained indifferent. Most of us still find it impossible to understand how a civilized world could close its eyes and ears, and pretend not to see or hear the voices of the doomed.” She said this to me in 2009.

I wonder what the persecuted of this generation will say about our ‘civilised’ response to their crisis in years to come. How will our apathy and do-nothingness be described by the Sabina Citron’s of tomorrow?

2401683“We were taken to Auschwitz. We were given striped clothing like criminals and some wooden shoes, and then taken to the showers. We were told to strip naked and leave all our belongings behind.” Her words prompt deep sorrow and concern. But even as I reflect on them now, she may well be speaking to so many persecuted innocents suffering today.

 Anti-Semitism

She was extremely critical of Christian anti-semitism prevalent before World War II. Sabina described replacement theology or supersessionism as a contributing factor to the Holocaust evil.

“The Church’s continued accusation of Jewish guilt in Jesus’ death at the cross fuelled the flames of hatred, which only seemed to grow with time. That Jesus was crucified by the Romans, as were other ‘rebellious’ Jews, was apparently never acknowledged,” she wrote in The Indictment.

Earlier she wrote about the Lord. “Jesus was a kind man who preached love and understanding, a man who was seen as a Messiah by some,” she observed. “Jesus as a Jew, was flogged by the Romans as he proceeded to his crucifixion, a punishment regularly used by the Romans,” Sabine wrote.

Sabina left Europe and lived in Canada. She founded the Canadian Holocaust Remembrance Association. In latter years she returned to live in Israel.

My visit with her was a joy. She shared her heart with me. The memory of that encounter brings the persecuted vividly to mind. I pray we will not to continue to ignore their plight in the midst of celebrating the joys of Christmas. After all a famous carol begins, ‘Joy to the world…” I believe we have a Kingdom responsibility to play our very active part.

Ron Ross is a Middle East consultant for United Christian Broadcasters (Vision FM). Previously he was radio news editor for Bridges for Peace in Jerusalem, Israel.

His career started at WINTV (Email: ronandyvonne@mac.com)

Ron Ross previous articles may be viewed at

http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/ron-ross.html

King Hezekiah Really Did Destroy Idols

imagesThe accuracy of the Bible is continually confirmed. Recent excavations in the Tel Lachish National Park in Israel have revealed a ‘gate-shrine,’ dated to the period of the First Temple, about the eighth century B.C.

“The size of the gate is consistent with the historical and archaeological knowledge we possess, whereby Lachish was a major city and the most important one after Jerusalem,” said excavation director Sa’ar Ganor. In her ChristianHeadlines.com article editor Veronica Neffinger observed: “King Hezekiah really did destroy idols, consistent with the Bible account.’ Some like to doubt and debate the historic value of the Old Testament but this evidence is conclusive.

2 Kings chapter 18, verse 4 says that King Hezekiah “removed the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles,” Veronica Neffinger observed. (Israel: New Discovery Confirms King Hezekiah Really Did Destroy Idols – ChristianHeadlines.com, September 28, 2016)

Archaeologists found evidence of the destruction of pagan artifacts. Included in the discovery were horns on the pagan altar which had been “intentionally truncated.”

A latrine was also found at the site. It was built as a purely symbolic statement. It was a desecration. Even this warped practice was reported in the Bible. “And they demolished the pillar of Baal, and demolished the house of Baal, and made it a latrine to this day.” (2 Kings chapter 10, verse 27) How brilliantly and accurately detailed?

Idolatry

Are we as fastidious as King Hezekiah? Has idolatry simply become a way of life for most of us? It seems appropriate to take a long hard look at the way we embrace celebrations at Christmas, for instance.

At the risk of being tagged a wowser, I am concerned at the serious debt some suffer to buy expensive gifts in what amounts to pure and simple materialism. It flies in the face of Jesus lowly birth in a manger.

I am amazed by statistics that show how many are paying off credit card debts from last year as many overspend on stuff. Stop to think a minute. The very name Christmas means ‘mass of Christ.’ It was a heathen celebration on the birthday of Sol, the Sun God, December 25. It is, actually, an ancient rite of BAALISM, which the Bible condemns as the most abominable of all idolatrous worship! King Hezekiah did not fool around with Baal and neither should we. (“You should have no other gods before me”, comes to mind)

I am not against a joy-filled Christmas celebration but I am concerned about the materialism, which has taken Jesus off the throne. It is also a curse when people who cannot afford with the mounting costs of ‘keeping up’, carry a huge burden into the New Year. Jesus came to set us free not to make life a bondage.

In a sermon on idolatry Rev John Piper said, “The only light in the universe that can bring light to the heart is the glory of God. If we exchange it for other things, we will live in darkness, no matter how brilliant we are or how many fires we may build or candles we may light.” (The First Dark Exchange, Idolatry, Romans 1: 21-23)

images-1Little Children

At Christmas we can often be like little children. I delight to watch a baby play with the wrapping paper, while the expensive gift is left unattended. Many of us display great joy over some gift on Christmas Day and hardly remember where we put it a few weeks later.

The gift to be thoroughly embraced is Jesus and frankly we should be aware of the enormity of His grace and blessing every day.

The Apostle Paul wrote: “For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” (Romans chapter 1, verse 21)

No one enjoys Christmas more than little children. I look forward to enjoying my grandchildren right throughout the holiday season. But let us plan for Christmas this year with children in mind.

Throughout the first letter of the Apostle John, there are two words that he often repeated – paidia and teknia, both can be translated ‘little children.’ Paidia correctly refers to ‘babes in Christ”, new believers. Teknia more accurately means ‘beloved children.’

“An ancient historian relates, that when the Apostle (Paul) was so enfeebled by age as not to be able to preach, he was frequently brought into the congregation in his chair, and just uttered, Beloved children, love one another. He could not have given a more important advice. And equally important is this which lies before us; equally necessary for every part of the Church of Christ. Beloved children, keep yourselves from idols.” (John Wesley, Sermon 78, Spiritual Idolatry)

Author and preacher Max Lucado invites each of us to embrace Christmas with a Christ-centred focus. “Off to one side sits a group of shepherds. They sit silently on the floor, perhaps perplexed, perhaps in awe, no doubt in amazement. Their night watch had been interrupted by an explosion of light from heaven and a symphony of angels. God goes to those who have time to hear him–and so on this cloudless night he went to simple shepherds.”

It is appropriate to remember our most wonderfully wrapped gaudy and expensive gifts will never save us. Christ is the reason for the season and we can enjoy His gift right now.

Ron Ross is a Middle East consultant for United Christian Broadcasters (Vision FM). Previously he was radio news editor for Bridges for Peace in Jerusalem, Israel.

His career started at WINTV (Email: ronandyvonne@mac.com)

Ron Ross previous articles may be viewed at

http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/ron-ross.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Christian Godfather of the Israeli Army

Unknown-2Sadly only a few know the heroic story of Lt. Col. John Henry Patterson. Jerry Klinger, the President of the Jewish-American Society for Historic Preservation (www.JASHP.org) has authored a detailed account of this extraordinary man.

At a tribute in Patterson’s honor Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “There is no exaggeration; Patterson was the commander of the first Jewish fighting force in nearly two millennia. And as such, he can be called the godfather of the Israeli army.”

At that event Klinger was seated in the front row with the guest of honour. Of the comment by the Prime Minister, Klinger wrote: “It was a curious statement to those who knew nothing about Colonel Patterson. Patterson was a Christian. A Christian was the Godfather of the modern Israel Defense Forces, not a Jew.”

The connection becomes even more intimate when we learn Patterson was the sandak (godfather) of Yonnie (Jonathan) Netanyahu, elder brother of the Prime Minister. Yonni born in 1946 was named for Patterson and for Jonathan’s grandfather. Yonni like his godfather rose to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. He was killed in the 1976 Entebbe raid.

Bridge Builder

images-1Patterson led an adventurous life. Historians list him as an Anglo-Irish soldier, hunter, author and Zionist. He wrote ‘The Man-eaters of Tsavo (1907) which detailed his bridge building assignment and a battle with hungry, man-eating lions. He was commissioned by the British to build a railway bridge over the Tsavo River (Kenya) 1988-89. The work was hindered when frequent lion attacks depleted the work crew and demoralized those who remained.

Patterson learned tiger hunting skills serving with the Brits in India. More than a hundred of his bridge-builders were killed by giant-sized lions and Patterson resolved to eliminate the problem. After a difficult campaign Patterson killed two gigantic lions.

Klinger reports: “They were incredibly huge beasts measuring over nine feet in length from their noses to the tips of their tails. The lion corpses were brought into camp for the men to see. It took eight men to carry each one.”

Patterson wrote a book ‘The Man-eaters of Tsavo.” It was a best-seller and enjoyed numerous printings. There were three movies made from the book. The most recent, “The Ghost and the Darkness” in 1996 starred Val Klimer.

Patterson was appointed Game Warden of a reserve in East Africa in 1908. A couple on safari, Audley and Ethel Blyth were mysteriously shot. Although Patterson was investigated for the crime, no evidence led to him, nevertheless tongues wagged. He was shunned by the powers-that-be and resigned from the army in 1911. World War 1 broke out three years later.

Patterson returned to uniform and was sent to Flanders. The Turks feared the Jews would side with Britain and expelled them out of what was then Palestine. The desperate Jews fled to Egypt.

Gallipoli

The Jewish refugees, Patterson and a Russian activist Vladimir Jabotinsky would soon connect alongside a one-armed Russian Joseph Trumpeldor. Jabotinsky and Trumpeldor were avid Zionists and Patterson already a Jewish sympathizer soon embraced the cause.

The Jews wanted to fight with the Brits for ‘Palestine.’ They were offered a support and supply role as mule drivers. Jabotinsky offended by the offer, refused. His passionate friend Trumpeldor accepted but a problem remained. Who would lead this unusual unit? Enter Patterson, a non-Jew and a very experienced fighter. Patterson wrote about that moment in his book, “With the Zionists in Gallipoli.”

Unknown-3“It was strange, therefore that I, so imbued with the Jewish traditions should have arrived in Egypt at the psychological moment when General Sir John Maxwell, the C-in-C in Egypt, was looking for a suitable officer to recruit a Jewish unit. A Jewish unit had been unknown for 2,000 years, since the day of the Maccabees, those heroic sons of Israel who fought so valiantly, and for a time so successfully, to wrest Jerusalem from the Roman Legions…. It is curious that General Maxwell should have chosen me (to command a Jewish unit), because he knew nothing of my knowledge of Jewish history and my sympathy for the Jewish race. When as a boy I eagerly devoured the records of the glorious deeds of the Jewish military captains, such as Joshua, Joab, Gideon, Judas Maccabee, I never dreamed that I in a small way would become a captain of a host of the Children of Israel.”

Klinger wrote: “The Zion Mule Corp was organized, six hundred and fifty men strong. With the blessing of the chief Rabbi of Alexandria, they sailed for Gallipoli. They sailed with and as part of the British army opening the first step in the creation of the later Israel Defense Forces.

The tragedy and inspiration of Gallipoli followed. The Zion Mule Corp came through a wicked war with ‘courage, purpose and steadfastness.’

After the torrid campaign Patterson was hospitalized. Jabotinsky who watched events closely was distraught when the British disbanded the Zion Mule Corps, ignoring promises of legitimacy, made to the Jewish refugees when they signed on.

The Jewish Legion

Furious Jabotinsky spearheaded a campaign to begin a Jewish legion but the British leadership wanted none of it. Lord Kitchener openly opposed the Jewish unit and thwarted the plan .Then on June 5, 1916 Kitchener sailed for a high level meeting with the Russians.. His ship hit a mine and Kitchener was never found.

He was replaced by Captain Amery who had served with Patterson in the Boer War and at Gallipoli. Meetings began with Jabotinsky, Patterson and Amery. It turned out Amery was keen for Jews to help Britain win control of Palestine from the Turks. The Jewish legion was approved.

When the formation of the Jewish Legion commenced the leadership was an important consideration. When the debate commenced, Jabotinsky declared: “There is only one nominee ….even though he is not a Jew, he must be our colonel; and I hope that one day he will be our general: Patterson!”

The appointment was officially confirmed July 27, 1917. “Never in Jewish history has there been in our midst a Christian friend of his penetration and devotion.” Vladimir Jabotinsky said. 67 years after his death, the ashes of Lt Col John Henry Patterson were transferred for burial in Israel.

 

Ron Ross is a Middle East consultant for United Christian Broadcasters (Vision FM). Previously he was radio news editor for Bridges for Peace in Jerusalem, Israel.

His career started at WINTV (Email: ron@ronross.org)

 

 

 

 

 

It Started with the Answering Machine.

How could we explain our modern world to generations past? Back in the day some thought we could never fly. Colour television was beyond a dream. Now Google is about to develop robot clones of dead loved ones and celebrities. (Sputnik News, March 17, 2016) Yes, you will be able to preserve your favourite person in full robotic perfection!

images“Artificial intelligence experts speculate that in the not-so-distant future people will replace dead relatives with cloned robots installed with downloaded variants of that person’s brain,” according to a report this year. Vermont’s Tersem Movement Foundation is a research institute planning to “transfer human consciousness to computers and robots.” The Foundation director Bruce Duncan explained: “It’s like when people stuff a pet cat or dog. We don’t stuff humans, but this is a way of ‘stuffing’ their information, their personality and mannerisms.” (Sputnik News, March 17, 2016)

Is your mind spinning, like mine? What about a visit to Doctor Robot? Dr Berci Mesko MD, PhD, the Medical Futurist wrote a book “My Health, Upgraded.” On his website he wrote: Surgical robots become increasingly precise each day. Man–size robots can lift and move patients and transport them throughout the hospital. I held a PARO therapeutic robot in my arms. It was cute and calmed me. At a conference I once watched how a diminutive robot made an entire audience dance with it. It only takes the Xenex robot 10 minutes to disinfect a patient room with UV light. A robot called Tug works at hospitals in the San Francisco Bay Area. It delivers food and medicine. It picks up waste and laundry. It navigates the halls without crashing into people”. (medicalfuturist.com)

But wait there’s more! A May 2016 story published by the Sydney Morning Herald reported on medical robots and specifically on doctors. The headline said, “The Robot will see you now.”

The Ying Ao sink foundry in southern China now has nine robots replacing 140 full-time workers. In a recent article, ‘China’s Robot Revolution’ the Guardian said: “Across China, factories are replacing humans with robots in a new automation-driven industrial revolution. And the effects will be felt around the world.” China is embracing robotics carefully, enthusiastically and systematically. They have a project entitled ‘Made in China 2025’. The aim is to reduce production costs by using more and more robots to improve efficiency and productivity and ultimately to reduce manufacturing costs. One Chinese entrepreneur was very direct. “Young people do not want to work on manual tasks. I’ll replace them with robots,” he said. Another forecast said 70 percent of jobs today will be replaced by robots by the end of this century. Doctors, lawyers, architects, pharmacists and accountants are all on the list.

images-1The Taub Centre for Social Policy Studies in Israel issued a report ‘A Picture of the Nation’, May 2016. They estimated ‘about 1 million Israelis (today) work in occupations at risk of computerization over the next two decades.” (Study Page 62)

Jobs at risk include tailors, watch repairers, telephone salesperson, data entry clerk, bankclerk. At medium risk they listed economist, historian, teaching assistant, bus driver, financial adviser. Of serious consideration was their estimate in the United States. 17 per cent of the workforce will be affected, in Germany 19 per cent. Similar impact will effect every country, that adopts new technologies.

Revolution

Are humans becoming obsolete in the work force, asked NBC News. “All signs point to yes,” they said. They analysed nine jobs humans are about to lose. Pharmacists, lawyers and paralegals, drivers, astronauts, store clerks, soldiers, babysitters, rescue workers, sports writers and reporters are all on the list of threatened jobs. We are living a robotic revolution.

Marshall Brain, the author of Robotic Nation, on his website wrote: “The computer power we will have in a home machine around 2050 will be utterly amazing. A typical home computer will have processing power and memory capacity that exceeds that of a human brain. What we will have in 2100 is anyone’s guess. The power of a million human brains on the desktop? It is impossible to imagine, but not unlikely.” (marshallbrain.com)

He also wrote: “People are talking optimistically about fielding a team of humanoid robotic soccer players able to beat the best human players in 2050. Imagine a team of C-3POs running and kicking as well as or better than the best human soccer stars, but never getting tired or injured.” (I’m not sure how much I’d pay to watch a bunch of robots at play?)

May 19, 2016 health writer Mike Adams spoke about workers demanding $15 an hour for jobs at fast food outlets. That same day Wendys in America announced 6000 restaurants will be converted to automated kiosks later in the year. (naturalnews.com)

I stood in a queue at a supermarket recently when I noticed the man behind me only had five or six items in his basket. “Hey mate, why don’t you pop down to the automated area? You’ll be much quicker,” I said. “No thanks, those things are only there to take our jobs,” he said. Reality check, right there.

So what comfort can we find? I draw on my faith. The Bible describes Jesus as ‘the same yesterday, today and forever.’ (Hebrews chapter 13, verse 8) He can never be improved. There will not be a 21st century model that replaces Him.

God also has the power to all that He has promised, we read in Romans chapter 4, verses 21. What about His promises? The Greek text for that word ‘promised’ describes an action which is viewed as having been completed in the past, once and for all, not needing to be repeated. The world around us may change, our lives may face turbulence and even Big Brother intervention. There is One who will never change or be obsolete. In this topsy-turvy world, we can rest in Him.

 

The Christian Godfather of the Israeli Army

UnknownSadly only a few know the heroic story of Lt. Col. John Henry Patterson (pictured). Jerry Klinger, the President of the Jewish-American Society for Historic Preservation (www.JASHP.org) has authored a detailed account of this extraordinary man.

At a tribute in Patterson’s honor Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “There is no exaggeration; Patterson was the commander of the first Jewish fighting force in nearly two millennia. And as such, he can be called the godfather of the Israeli army.”

At that event Klinger was seated in the front row with the guest of honour. Of the comment by the Prime Minister, Klinger wrote: “It was a curious statement to those who knew nothing about Colonel Patterson. Patterson was a Christian. A Christian was the Godfather of the modern Israel Defense Forces, not a Jew.”

The connection becomes even more intimate when we learn Patterson was the sandak (godfather) of Yonnie (Jonathan) Netanyahu, elder brother of the Prime Minister. Yonni born in 1946 was named for Patterson and for Jonathan’s grandfather. Yonni like his godfather rose to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. He was killed in the 1976 Entebbe raid.

Bridge Builder

imagesPatterson led an adventurous life. Historians list him as an Anglo-Irish soldier, hunter, author and Zionist. He wrote ‘The Man-eaters of Tsavo (1907) which detailed his bridge building assignment and a battle with hungry, man-eating lions. He was commissioned by the British to build a railway bridge over the Tsavo River (Kenya) 1988-89. The work was hindered when frequent lion attacks depleted the work crew and demoralized those who remained.

Patterson learned tiger hunting skills serving with the Brits in India. More than a hundred of his bridge-builders were killed by giant-sized lions and Patterson resolved to eliminate the problem. After a difficult campaign Patterson killed two gigantic lions.

Klinger reports: “They were incredibly huge beasts measuring over nine feet in length from their noses to the tips of their tails. The lion corpses were brought into camp for the men to see. It took eight men to carry each one.”

Patterson wrote a book ‘The Man-eaters of Tsavo.” It was a best-seller and enjoyed numerous printings. There were three movies made from the book. The most recent, “The Ghost and the Darkness” in 1996 starred Val Klimer.

Patterson was appointed Game Warden of a reserve in East Africa in 1908. A couple on safari, Audley and Ethel Blyth were mysteriously shot. Although Patterson was investigated for the crime, no evidence led to him, nevertheless tongues wagged. He was shunned by the powers-that-be and resigned from the army in 1911. World War 1 broke out three years later.

Patterson returned to uniform and was sent to Flanders. The Turks feared the Jews would side with Britain and expelled them out of what was then Palestine. The desperate Jews fled to Egypt.

Gallipoli

The Jewish refugees, Patterson and a Russian activist Vladimir Jabotinsky would soon connect alongside a one-armed Russian Joseph Trumpeldor. Jabotinsky and Trumpeldor were avid Zionists and Patterson already a Jewish sympathizer soon embraced the cause.

The Jews wanted to fight with the Brits for ‘Palestine.’ They were offered a support and supply role as mule drivers. Jabotinsky offended by the offer, refused. His passionate friend Trumpeldor accepted but a problem remained. Who would lead this unusual unit? Enter Patterson, a non-Jew and a very experienced fighter. Patterson wrote about that moment in his book, “With the Zionists in Gallipoli.”

“It was strange, therefore that I, so imbued with the Jewish traditions should have arrived in Egypt at the psychological moment when General Sir John Maxwell, the C-in-C in Egypt, was looking for a suitable officer to recruit a Jewish unit. A Jewish unit had been unknown for 2,000 years, since the day of the Maccabees, those heroic sons of Israel who fought so valiantly, and for a time so successfully, to wrest Jerusalem from the Roman Legions…. It is curious that General Maxwell should have chosen me (to command a Jewish unit), because he knew nothing of my knowledge of Jewish history and my sympathy for the Jewish race. When as a boy I eagerly devoured the records of the glorious deeds of the Jewish military captains, such as Joshua, Joab, Gideon, Judas Maccabee, I never dreamed that I in a small way would become a captain of a host of the Children of Israel.”

Klinger wrote: “The Zion Mule Corp was organized, six hundred and fifty men strong. With the blessing of the chief Rabbi of Alexandria, they sailed for Gallipoli. They sailed with and as part of the British army opening the first step in the creation of the later Israel Defense Forces.

The tragedy and inspiration of Gallipoli followed. The Zion Mule Corp came through a wicked war with ‘courage, purpose and steadfastness.’

After the torrid campaign Patterson was hospitalized. Jabotinsky who watched events closely was distraught when the British disbanded the Zion Mule Corps, ignoring promises of legitimacy, made to the Jewish refugees when they signed on.

The Jewish Legion

Furious Jabotinsky spearheaded a campaign to begin a Jewish legion but the British leadership wanted none of it. Lord Kitchener openly opposed the Jewish unit and thwarted the plan .Then on June 5, 1916 Kitchener sailed for a high level meeting with the Russians.. His ship hit a mine and Kitchener was never found.

He was replaced by Captain Amery who had served with Patterson in the Boer War and at Gallipoli. Meetings began with Jabotinsky, Patterson and Amery. It turned out Amery was keen for Jews to help Britain win control of Palestine from the Turks. The Jewish legion was approved.

When the formation of the Jewish Legion commenced the leadership was an important consideration. When the debate commenced, Jabotinsky declared: “There is only one nominee ….even though he is not a Jew, he must be our colonel; and I hope that one day he will be our general: Patterson!”

The appointment was officially confirmed July 27, 1917. “Never in Jewish history has there been in our midst a Christian friend of his penetration and devotion.” Vladimir Jabotinsky said. 67 years after his death, the ashes of Lt Col John Henry Patterson were transferred for burial in Israel.

Ron Ross is a Middle East consultant for United Christian Broadcasters (Vision FM). Previously he was radio news editor for Bridges for Peace in Jerusalem, Israel. His career started at WINTV (Email: ron@ronross.org)