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Archive for October, 2013

The Rich and the Kingdom of God

October 28th, 2013
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Luke18 :15 – 17

15 People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 17 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”

 The first century had a high mortality rate among children. They also were not seen as of the same value as adults. While they may hold some value in the present and in the future in their contribution to the family business, they especially ,in a agricultural society, possessed little if any intrinsic value as human beings.

 The word “infants” really emphasises this vulnerability, especially in a world of infanticide and abandonment. Little children is the same word used for household slaves, those maintained in a state of subordination in the Greco-Roman world.

 This symbolized the upside down world of Jesus’ teaching; that welcoming such was to extend respectful service to that social group most overlooked.

 Where does a rich man of the ruling class fit into all of this? He certainly is in a different category to the outsiders, the small, the insignificant. Jesus is going to be very disturbing.

 Luke18:18-22

A certain ruler

 Usually in Luke this can be associated with the synagogue.

 asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

 He has come to Jesus to be instructed. He would be a man of honour and wealth.

 However, he adds the word good. This is a word game rooted in concerns for status. According to their linguistic system, one commendation deserves another. He is signifying his commitment to a particular set of conventions and his identity within a particular social group. A reciprocated honourable response.

 This means he has missed what Jesus has been saying about status.

 It is, however, a reasonable question since throughout Luke’s gospel our commitments, attitudes are linked to our practices.

 We will see eternal life = treasure in heaven = entering the Kingdom of God = being saved.

 The ruler sees salvation primarily in the future: inheriting eternal life. But Jesus is concerned about the present: how we receive the Kingdom of God today as a little child has implications for entering the Kingdom of God.

 His response as we will see shows he didn’t really get what Jesus was saying.

Read more…

Message for the Day

PNG Trip

October 21st, 2013
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Rod and Mark safely returned from the very tiring trip to the highlands of PNG. A summary of the church in PNG comes from Ben: “The PNG church is moving”. It is estimated around 150 people attended services in the highlands. Returning to  Goroka Rod and Mark met with representatives of a very isolated group in the Ramu valley that has at least 30 adults and may have up to 90 children. They see themselves as members of our church. On  this trip they were not able to met with representatives of another group at the end of the Kokoda track.

With congregations identifying themselves as GCI and others wanting some form of affiliation, there are major decisions to be made for the future assistance of these Christians in their growth and development. Debriefings about the trip will be taking place theses coming weeks with an annual PNG meeting some time in early 2014. There is a lot to be discussed.

Rod and Mark want to thank everyone for their prayers over the last two weeks.

News

WEA Religious Liberty Prayer News 16th October, 2013

October 18th, 2013
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Pastor Kashkumbaev re-arrested hours after release from prison in KAZAKHSTAN
Pastor Kashkumbaev emerging from an Astana jail shortly before he was       re-arrested on 8 October (Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty)
10 October, Kazakh pastor, Bakhytzhat Kashkumbaev, detained on charges of harming the health his congregation in May 2013, was reportedly re-arrested hours after being released into house arrest.
 

According to a report by International Christian Concern, he was re-arrested for charges of extremism under article 233 of the country’s Criminal Code.

 

In a media report, an investigator stated that the pastor would remain in prison for 3 days, following which the authorities would decide whether to keep him in prison further or let him go.

 

In a letter to the United Nations Human Rights Council in August 2013, pastor Kashkumbaev stated, “though I am 67, and I cannot boast of ideal health since I had a serious heart attack in 2011, with chronic otitis of both ears, varicose veins in my legs, chronic bronchitis, chronic gastritis … I am psychologically healthy (but) it will not take much for the authorities to make me a vegetable … I am begging you to protect me.” 

 

Prayer points: 

  • Pray that pastor Kashkumbaev would be released from prison;
  • Pray that the false allegation brought up against the pastor would be exposed and that he would be cleared of any wrong doing;
  • Pray that the authorities would act justly, and not discriminate against pastor Kashkumbaev.
Local authority halts construction of a church, forces Christians to return to Islam in BANGLADESH

Construction on hold at the Tangail Evangelical Holiness Church in Bilbathuagani village 

3 OctoberIt is reported that a local council official has halted the construction of a church and forced Christians to worship at a mosque in Tangail district, Bangladesh.

 

According to reports, the local council chairman also threatened the Christians at the Tangail Evangelical Holiness Church to recant their faith or face expulsion from the village.

 

In the incident, 8 of the church’s 25 Christians agreed to return to Islam under orders of the local council official.

 

The chairman is clipping the wings of our faith. I do not know how long we can grin and bear it. We want religious freedom. We want to practise our religion freely” stated one of the Christians who agreed to return back to Islam.

  

Prayer points:

  • Pray for God’s protection over the Tangail Evangelical Holiness Church;
  • Pray that the local council chairman would experience a change in heart and would stop harassing Christians in the Bilbathuagani village;

  • Pray that the authorities in Bangladesh would uphold the freedom of religion.

Waleed Saad Shaker, 1 of the 2 Coptic Christians killed in the incident. 

2 Christians killed in LIBYA

 

1 OctoberIt is reported that 2 Egyptian Christians living in Libya were robbed by a group of Muslim extremists who later shot them to death for refusing to convert to Islam.

 

On 25 September, a group of Muslims accosted Waleed Saad Shaker, 25, and Nash’at Shenouda Ishaq, 27, in the Derna District in northeastern Libya and demanded their possessions. During the robbery the attackers demanded that the Christians convert to Islam. Upon refusal, the attackers tied up the 2 Christians and shot them.

 

According to reports, no arrests were made in connection with the incident. Alarmingly, the attack marked the 3rd time in 2 weeks where a Coptic Christian was robbed and killed in the Derna District.

 

Prayer points:

  • Pray that the families of the deceased would experience Jesus’ comforting presence during this time of sorrow;
  • Pray that the 2 families would continue to place their complete trust in the LORD;
  • Pray for the attackers, that they would turn away from evil and come to repentance;
  • Pray for God’s protection over all Christians in Libya.

Prayers