Archive for March, 2011

Debunking Exercise Myths

March 31st, 2011
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An interesting article appeared in the SMH March 31st,2011, called Chewing the Fat to Debunk Exercise Myths by Marjie Gilliam.

It contains helpful advice to all those who want to stay healthy:

THERE are so many exercise fads, myths and misconceptions that it can be difficult sorting fact from fiction.

One myth is when you stop exercising, muscle turns to fat, says Brian Udermann, professor of exercise and sports science at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. He has studied the validity of some common beliefs.

Fat and muscle are different types of tissue, so it is impossible for one to convert to the other. Muscle is gained and calories burnt when performing resistance-training exercise. We experience muscle loss and body fat increases if we choose a sedentary lifestyle.

Udermann believes there are so many myths surrounding exercise and health, he put them in a book titled 25 Ways to Cure the Hiccups: Uncovering the Truth behind 101 Common Myths and Misconceptions.

Despite what our parents told us, swimming after eating is not dangerous, he says. The myth tells us you must wait at least an hour before going into the water or risk cramps and possible drowning. Consuming a large meal just before getting into the water may make you nauseous but other than that, it is unlikely to cause problems.

Morning workouts don’t elevate your metabolism more than afternoon or evening workouts. The best time is when it is convenient. With the right intensity, no matter what time of day, you can burn a significant number of calories and get into great shape. Thin is not in. It is healthier to be 10 kilograms overweight and physically active than to be at a ”healthy” scale weight but sedentary. Exercise has a powerful and positive impact on all aspects of health and is more important than the number on the scale. Focus on body composition and waistline measurement and use the number on the scale as only one aspect of good health.

For the full article click here

Over 60's

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 101 | Wed 23 Mar 2011

March 31st, 2011
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By Elizabeth Kendal

MARCH 2011 UPDATE -- During March we prayed for . . . 

EGYPT, after the Egyptian Army fired live ammunition against the
  community of St Bishoy Monastery in Wadi al-Natroun before using tanks
  and bulldozers to destroy the monastery's security wall -- all that
  protected the monastery from Arab raiders and jihadists. 

* UPDATE (1): ARMY AS MUTAWEEN (Islamic religious police).  Amnesty
  International reports that after the military cleared Tahrir Square on
  9 March, officers of the Egyptian Army took at least 18 women into
  military detention where male soldiers were permitted to photograph
  them being beaten, stripped and electrocuted. Whilst torture and
  degradation in Egyptian prisons is not new, what happened next is. In
  what is nothing short of sexual assault, the women were also forcibly
  examined to see if they were virgins. Those who failed the 'virginity
  tests' were threatened with prostitution charges. Further to this,
  Middle East analyst Barry Rubin reports (28 March) that a text message
  circulating widely in Egypt is demanding all women, Christians
  included, adopt proper Islamic dress. Will the Army defend the rights
  of women or the dictators of Islam? 

* UPDATE (2): RECONCILIATION EGYPTIAN STYLE. On 20 March in the village
  of Qana, Upper Egypt, Muslim fundamentalists torched an apartment
  belonging to Coptic Christian teacher Ayman Anwar Mitri (45) because
  they claimed he had leased it to 'prostitutes'.  When Mr Mitri arrived
  at the scene he was taken away and attacked by a gang of 12 Islamic
  fundamentalists. Claiming they were applying Sharia Law, they beat him
  and sliced off his right ear. They also cut into his neck, other ear,
  face and arm while shouting religious slogans and threatening to kill
  him. When they had finished torturing him, they called the police who
  took Mr Mitri away and coerced him into accepting 'reconciliation'.
  (Sharia Law does not permit Christians to testify against Muslims. This
  is the most dangerous element of 'dhimmitude' or 'state of
  subjugation'.) When threatened with the kidnap of his daughters, Mr
  Mitri agreed to drop the charges. The 'reconciliation' was conducted in
  the presence of Colonel Ahmed Masood, vice military ruler of Qena. 

ETHIOPIA, where a massive Islamic pogrom in Muslim-majority Jimma Zone in
  Oromiya regional state had at least 59 churches, a Bible school and an
  office razed, with more than 4000 Christians displaced. 

* UPDATE: According to Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, the pogrom
  was incited by preachers from the Islamist Kawarja sect and other
  'extremists'. Some Christian victims reported that those who torched
  their homes and tried to kill them had been their neighbours and
  friends. One victim heard Islamic leaders shouting that any Muslim who
  did not join in the pogrom was not a true Muslim. Kawarja, which seeks
  the establishment of an Islamic state, has reportedly been preaching
  intolerance and hatred in the area for several years. Some 100
  attackers have been arrested. Still, relations have soured and tensions
  remain high. 

SOUTH SUDAN, where Khartoum-backed militias and heavily armed soldiers of
  the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) have invaded, razed, fortified and
  occupied several villages in the northern Abyei region, forcing some
  45,000 Southerners (Ngok Dinka) to flee south for refuge. 

* UPDATE: The regime in Khartoum appears to be incrementally invading and
  occupying the resource-rich, contested border region of Abyei. Recent
  satellite images show that at least three more villages have been
  occupied by the SAF, and that massive troop deployments and air-power
  has been brought in. Clearly any Southern resistance to the SAF advance
  will trigger a huge conflagration. Further to this, South Sudan faces
  an implosion along tribal lines. Five Southern rebel/opposition forces
  have now allied under the leadership of General George Athor to fight
  against the main Southern force, the Dinka-dominated SPLA. 

NIGERIA, where pre-election violence is mounting. Tensions are soaring,
  especially on the ethnic-religious fault-line, and most notably in
  flashpoint Jos where the political stakes are particularly high. The
  Nigerian elections are: 2 April -- National Assembly (parliament); 9
  April -- Presidential election; 16 April -- State Assemblies and
  governorships. Please pray for Nigeria. 

MARCH 2011 ROUND-UP -- also this month . . . 


(For background see RLPB 085, 'Ivory Coast: on the brink of war', 8 Dec 
Prayer-Bulletin---RLPB-085---Wed-08-Dec-2010.aspx ) 

As noted in RLPB 085, Ivory Coast (IC) is so profoundly divided that it 
was never going to be unified by such high-stake elections. After dealing 
with gross irregularities emanating primarily from the unmonitored north, 
IC's Constitutional Council declared Gbagbo the winner. Despite this, the 
'International Community' remains firm in its support for Ouattara.

The high stakes in IC relate not only to race ('Ivorite' v immigrant) and 
religion (Christian v Muslim), but also to Ivorian independence v French 
neo- colonialism. Ouattara is essentially France's man in Ivory Coast. 
Through him, France will maintain its exploitative, colonialist hegemony 
over Ivorian amenities, including the banks. On the other hand, Gbagbo is 
fighting to end French colonialism, especially French control of Ivorian 
funds. (The colonial pact brokered in the 1960s mandates that 65 percent 
of the foreign currency reserves of former French colonies in Africa go 
into the French Treasury, while a further 20 percent of reserves go to 
cover 'financial liabilities'. Did you ever wonder why Francophone Africa 
was so poor?) This is one reason why US-educated, former IMF official 
Alassane Ouattara -- a Muslim who plays the race-religion card for 
political gain, who triggered a civil war with a failed coup in 2002, who 
is backed internationally by Islamic states and organisations -- is so 
favoured by the West. It is all about 'interests'. But as rebel forces 
advance on Abidjan, IC's non-Muslims know they stand to lose more than 
just their prosperity. IC's traditional religious liberty and security 
will be a thing of the past if Islam takes control of IC.


Early on Sunday 27 March a 2kg bomb ripped through the front of the Church 
of Our Lady in Zahle industrial zone in the Bekaa Valley. Several homes 
and cars in the vicinity were also damaged and one man suffered shrapnel 
injuries. This bomb, remotely detonated in the church entrance, was 
intended to send a threat. Despite this, Father Georges Bahy assured 
journalists that the Christian community would 'fix the church and 
continue as normal'. The bombing came only days after seven Estonian 
cyclists were kidnapped in Zahle. Former President and current Phalange 
party leader, Amin Gemayel, is concerned that the Zahle church bombing may 
herald a wave of persecution.


(1) ASSASSINATED! On 2 March Pakistan's first Christian cabinet minister, 
Shahbaz Bhatti, the Minister for Minorities, was assassinated on his way 
to a cabinet meeting. Militants from Tanseem Al Qaeda and Tehrik-e-Taliban 
Punjab drove into Islamabad's secure diplomatic area, gunned down the MP 
and drove away, leaving many suspecting that members of the security 
forces were complicit. Bhatti, a Catholic and long-time religious liberty 
advocate, was killed for his courageous public stance against the 
blasphemy law and as a protest against the government's appointment of a 
'disbeliever' to the cabinet.

(2) MURDERED? Qamar David, another Christian victim of the blasphemy law, 
died in Karachi Central Jail on 15 March. Whilst authorities maintain he 
died of natural causes, his family and supporters are convinced he was 
murdered. Charged in June 2006, David was sentenced to life in prison in 
February 2010. He had faced endless threats on his life since his arrest. 

(3) SHOT! On 21 March in Hyderabad a group of Muslims were harassing 
Christian women entering the church, so four Christian men came out to 
request respect. The Muslims left but returned with guns and four 
Christians were shot. Younis Masih (47, married father of four) and Jameel 
Masih (22, married a month ago) died instantly. The Christians had to 
protest for hours, blocking the main road with the two dead bodies, just 
to force the police to file their report.

(4) THREATENED! Death threats have been made against Joseph Francis, the 
director of the Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS) in 
Pakistan. These death threats started after Mr Francis spoke publically 
about the misuse of the blasphemy law. Despite the dangers, Mr Francis is 
refusing to back down. He simply requests prayers for himself and the 
entire staff of CLASS.


The Ministry of Jesus Christ(1)

March 31st, 2011
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Scripture of the Day: John15:4-5

4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (NIV)

A conversation from You’re Included between Mike Feazell and Andrew Purves.

JMF: In your book, The Crucifixion of Ministry, on page 128, you wrote, “At its core, pastoral work involves bearing witness to the joining of two stories, the parishioners and God’s. Who is Jesus Christ specifically for this person amid the particularities and the exigencies of his or her current life experience?”

How does a pastor bring those two stories together?

Andrew Purves: It really is a fundamental question in this way in two regards. First of all, as a pastor, you have to live in Christ. You have to know the Lord. That doesn’t just mean passing the theology test—that’s important—know the Lord, knowing how to speak appropriately of the Lord. But you must know the Lord as the Lord of your life. That means a life of piety, a life of prayer, ethical attentiveness and so on. It means a life of worship, a life of living in Christ.

Saint Paul used the phrase “in Christ,” “in the Lord,” “in him” in his letters around 164 times. It’s his fundamental statement about what it means to be a Christian. A Christian is someone in Christ. I take that to mean an organic connectedness, a relationship…even in rather hackneyed terms, a “personal relationship” with a living, reigning Lord.

That’s something we have to attend to. It’s just like cleaning your teeth. You get up in the morning and you clean your teeth. It’s a fundamental good habit. Just because it’s a habit doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. Our habit, the habitus, the rhythm of our life, is to attend to our life in the Lord. You can’t do ministry unless you have a life in Christ, in him, embedded in him, rooted, growing up in him, so that the flower of your ministry and faith is a result of your roots of faith—life being deeply embedded in the soil of the word of God. That on the one hand.

The other thing—to be a pastor you have to be embedded with your people. You’ve got to know your people. One of the sad aspects, I think, of contemporary ministry is that ministers tend to sit in big offices with a sanctuary outside, and people come and visit the minister. In the olden days, the ministers used to go and visit the people. The word parish comes from two Greek words para, oikos, beyond the house—and the parish was the walking distance that the minister or priest could cover to get to the houses of the people.

We read in Acts that Paul visited from house to house—all of which is to say the pastor must know his or her people. You’ve got to be involved in their lives. You’re with them in their births and their deaths and their getting jobs and losing jobs and in their hospitals and all of their ups and downs. You’re with them. I think that’s the genius of a pastoral charism, of a pastoral giftedness—that your joy is to walk with these people.

So you know the Lord, you’re embedded in the life of the Lord…when one thinks perhaps of John 15—you’re a branch connected to the vine, you’re organically connected and you are in Christ, abiding in him. But you’re also in the people, you’re abiding in them.

As the pastor, then, you are the one who enables that conversation. They know the Lord, too, but you’re the one whose special job and appointment is to bear witness. So I tell my students don’t use phrases like “pastoral counseling.” If somebody needs a therapist, find a good therapist. Your job is rather to help them interpret their context of their life—the vicissitudes, the pains, the tragedies, the joys. Go to the graduation parties as well as the funeral homes. Make the connections, and in the small things you often don’t even have to say words. You are making connections between Jesus and them. It feeds into the sermons.

For example, I preach all over the country and I come in on a parachute. You know, here I am. I preach, I don’t know the people, I don’t know the context. I preach, people say how wonderful it is and all the rest. But at the end of the day, that’s not effective preaching.

Effective preaching arises out of a preacher or pastor, a man or a woman who is embedded with the people and preaches into the context of their pain, preaches into the context of the silence of their cry to God—“where are you, God?”, and they hear nothing back. They preach into these terrible cosmic silences and these ambiguities and these confusions that are the normal part of ongoing life. So I think there’s that dual embedded-ness.

One other thought that I’ve played with through the years is that I think all ministry has a “from-to” character. That is, you move from your place as the pastor, from your life in Christ, from your safe place, to where the people are. That may be not be a comfortable place.

Although I’m well acquainted (sadly) with hospitals because of my own cancer, I don’t like hospitals. I have a daughter-in-law who is a physician. She’s very comfortable in hospitals. I will never be comfortable in hospitals. But, you know, hospitals are not my “to” place. And yet as pastors we have to go into these uncomfortable “to” places. But we can only do what we do in these, as it were, “to” places because we have a deep grounded-ness in our “from” place, and that’s our anchor.

So I would encourage pastors really, really seriously in this regard. If you have no life in Christ, you have no ministry, because we read in John 15:5, “Apart from me, you can do nothing. Unless you are connected into me, the vine, you can do nothing.”

So, the most practical, pertinent question I can put to a working pastor is, “What’s going on in your life in Jesus?” Because if you don’t have a life in Christ, you don’t have a ministry. No matter how technically proficient you are in the skills of ministry, no matter how many committee meetings you go to, your life in Christ means that you can go into these situations and you know who Jesus is, what he is up to in all of these contexts, and you can point to that, bear witness to that.

Message for the Day