I find a lot of amazing stories from around the world. They can inspire me to do great things or to think differently about people or a topic. Sometimes I share a mix of some of my favourites. So read on and enjoy.
[Gospel believing Christians] want to love their Muslim neighbors, but they stumble over what [they think] their neighbors believe. Effectively, they do not see a person. They see a religion; a defective religion. And to reconcile between their attitude and their faith, they claim to love the sinner, but hate the sin.
‘Space to Roam’ is a film inspired by all the unique structures, patterns, and overall “otherworldly” landscapes found in Southwestern America’s public lands in hopes of protecting them. This project is dedicated to the people who preserve the history of and protect our public lands. It is also in honor of ‘astronaut’ Kyle Hague’s grandmother who unfortunately passed away during production.
Why are good and right things never easy to do? We seem to struggle to live out our principles even at the best of times, but catch us on a bad day and we can utterly fail in that endeavour. Whether it’s standing with the helpless, defending someone’s rights, or holding back our road-rage, we know we are weak and in constant need of a radical heart-change. So whether you do or don’t support Israel Folou’s position or behaviour or court case, if you stand for free speech for all, you must be consistent in your stand. Israel Folou is infamously known for stating his beliefs on Instagram with a post about those in sinful lifestyles and that hell is awaiting them. Since then, his contract with Rugby Australia was terminated, after his actions were considered at a Code of Conduct hearing.
The Rugby Australia Integrity Unit deemed that Folau had committed a high-level breach of the Professional Players’ Code of Conduct warranting termination of his employment contract.
“Rugby Australia and the NSW Rugby Union made the decision to pursue the termination of Israel Folau’s contract because of a serious breach of the Professional Players Code of Conduct. The Rugby Australia Integrity Unit deemed that Folau had committed a high-level breach of the Professional Players’ Code of Conduct warranting termination of his employment contract. ” – RUGBY AUSTRALIA AND NSW RUGBY STATEMENT
What has now followed has been a question of freedom of speech and whether Rugby Australia has breached fair work practices or laws by Folou’s sacking. Folou is currently seeking legal action for damages and, as he says, to defend his freedom of speech. He had a fundraiser to cover legal fees on GoFundMe, which was then subsequently removed by GoFundMe on the basis that it had violated their policy. The Australian Christian Lobby has since offered support to Folou and set up a fund for his legal fees.
Chief Executive Rob Solomon said Folau’s original request for donations was flagged as “high risk” within hours of going live with donations refunded in full.
He told News Corp Australia it was noted as “high risk” of violating its policies but said the company was “wide open for business” for religious causes.
Recently the online fundraising platform GoFundMe shut down Israel Folau’s legal defence fund and turned away hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations.
On behalf of the Australian Christian Lobby, I have spoken to Israel Folau to let him know that ACL will be donating $100,000 to his legal defence, because it’s right and it sets an important legal precedent.
I have also offered to host his online appeal for funds here on our website and he has accepted our offer.
Do you find it hard to stand by your principles when you have to stand up for people you don’t agree with? Free speech for all is a nice concept, but will you defend your enemy in their right to say what they want to say? My guess is you would find it hard. We are complicated, contradictory people, and loving our enemies is probably the hardest thing we will ever do. On this issue of free speech some people wouldn’t have a big problem. But how about loving your enemy in general? Jesus had some pretty tough words to say to his followers about his kingdom:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
Our standards seem pretty weak compared to the ones of the eternal kingdom. We can’t even keep our own standards. But that’s why Jesus came, so hypocrites, liars, drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, etc. like us could receive grace through his death and resurrection. And Jesus, the King of this coming eternal kingdom, has given us the Holy Spirit to help us want to do the right thing. Now if that doesn’t give you strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow, I don’t know what will. Keep fighting on behalf of your enemy!
Do you have thoughts or questions? Leave them down below! In terms of Folou, I’ve come across many a comment that this is not a freedom of speech issue. Regardless, my point stands, whose freedom of speech do you struggle to uphold?
Have you ever reached a milestone you have been proud of? Maybe you finished something that took years or many long hours to do? This year I passed making 50 blood donations*. I’m not incredibly proud of this achievement, but when I consider all the decisions and efforts needed to get to that number, I am grateful for reaching it.
I just attended a celebration event with the Red Cross where people were thanked for donating blood and stories were shared of lives changed by donors. There were people there who had reached 50 donations, as well as 100, 150, up to 350 donations! The highest milestone in Western Australia this year was a person who donated over 700 times. It’s impressive how faithfulness to a cause can get you to reach such a point. It’s made me think how small steps over a long time can lead to great achievements. So here is my encouragement for you to continue or start a journey in faithfulness.
When I started my journey in donating blood I had no aspirations to reach a number, and I still don’t. It was just a matter of doing something I believed had value. It was something to do with family and something selfless to do for others. I was 17 or so when I first donated, and now I’m 28. Over that time I certainly wasn’t always a faithful visitor to the blood bank, but in the last couple of years I made a concerted effort to donate regularly. The numbers started to add up. It became a normal part of my routine. When I reached 50 donations, I was simply happy, as it was a sign I had been healthy and able to do that much.
*Most of these have been plasma donations, which meant I could donate every 2 weeks. Whole blood donations require a 3 month wait period between times.
Why am I commited?
I have many motivations for the different commitments in my life. With donating, I’ve found several. The more people I come across, the more I realise donating blood is an honour for the healthy and available. There are a plethora of reasons that much of my family finds it difficult to donate. I just happen to have big arm veins and healthy body and the willingness to do it. So I donate not just for myself, but also for those who can’t or find it hard.
At the Red Cross event we heard two very moving stories of the impact of blood and bone marrow products had on children and their families. It’s given me a renewed desire to give and to encourage others to do the same. One of the stories was from the Tate family. Their three children all have no immune system! They need blood transfusions every three weeks. Watch below for their experience:
What about you?
So I encourage you to find something worthwhile and sticking at it. It may be for a season of life or end up a lifelong commitment. For this post, may I encourage you to consider donating blood. It’s a relatively small commitment. For me, it takes at most 45 minutes to donate plasma, not including travel and the interview and health test. You will probably never meet the patient in need, but every person is worthy of the blood in their veins. Their family will be thankful.
I thank God for the way he has made us, so that we can help one another in this way. He is worthy of all the honour and glory I got at the event. My life, my blood, is not my own but was bought at a great price. So I must glorify the Lord in my body.
“It’s a good time to be a comedian, it’s a bad time to live on Earth.”
Zac Mander – Collective Noun (The Courier Mail – “Midnight Hour Time to Shine”)
If you are on Youtube or other social media, you experience a 24-hour news cycle that churns out the good and bad in rapid measure. Comedians and other social commentators have a field day mining these feeds for things to draw out and use. Plus with the internet, there has never been better and easier exposure for comedians. As such there are plenty of new people every day to follow and enjoy. Here are some notable pieces and people for me.
Alternative Facts, Dead People – Songify the News 12 – Schmoyoho (Youtube) – Length: 3mins –In which the White House argues for some pretty messy stuff. Schmoyoho takes clips of stories and fits them into a song, often making fun of the content or the people displayed in it. They also know as the Gregory Brothers and have great artistry in using Autotune to create songs for the news.
Nightly News Now Episode 6: Warnie, Waves, & Winnings – Collective Noun (Youtube) – Length: 7mins — Part of a six episode series of a parody news show. Collective Noun is a late night radio show in Brisbane that has a bit of a following around the world, especially online with their podcast and social media accounts. Using the news to make games and other fun bits, Dom Fay and Zac Mander are two Aussies who use the serious to make the funny.
Homeowner Deters Package Thieves By Leaving Paul Washer In Box On Porch – Babylon Bee – Article Length: short — Paul Washer shows up to preach to a potential thief. Babylon Bee is a Christian satirical news site, initially written by Adam Ford, that hits hard across denominations and countries. It’s fun to laugh at the truth seen in the eyes of satire, but it also has the power to make you see your own hypocrisy.
Check these out, and I hope you have a great day not being overwhelmed by the news!
It’s been a big year for many people. There have been a lot of hard things to go through. There have also been a lot of great things to celebrate. I personally am happy to have been able to learn of some great stories coming out of the Middle East and Eastern Europe. There are also tragic stories I’ve heard, too. All this to say, here are some things this year (in no particular order) I thought you’d value.
“At least seven Christians have died and an additional 15 injured in Egypt today (Nov 2, 2018) after a violent attack on a group of Coptic pilgrims. The Christians were on their way to visit a desert monastery, when a group of masked gunmen stopped the bus and fired on it. The death toll is expected to rise.”
” Charles tells the story of his eventual escape from North Korea in 2008 at age 14. After a brief period of time in China at the age of 8, he was sent back to North Korea to work in a labor camp where he was starved and beaten… What have you survived?”
This photo-journal tells the stories of survivors and of the devastation of Aleppo, Syria. There is hope there, but it will be a long, long process of recovery. Note: There is limited free viewing of the NY magazine.
In India I learned I should be more grateful and make more use of the Biblical teaching I’ve received.
I was in Tamil Nadu, India, 5 years ago, visiting the project and home of a child I sponsored. While at the project I was asked if I had a word for the children gathered there. I was put on the spot, but still wanted to encourage the children. I asked one of the staff to translate and read where Jesus allowed children to come near to him and be blessed. I said to them a little something about how God wanted us to have the faith of a child and that they could come to God at the age they were at. The staff were surprised at how well I seemed to understand the Bible and mentioned that to me a few times. After that, they honoured me with several opportunities to speak: at a pastors’ meeting, at a homeless outreach, and at a school assembly quickly arranged just for me!
Giving a small talk at the project
I had never felt that learned or able to speak well in front of people, but their confidence in me enabled me. It made me think about how studying the Bible under wise and studied pastors had been something I took for granted. While I certainly didn’t compare to the passionate faithfulness of the Indian people I met on my trip there, I certainly had better biblical training than many of them.
The manager for the child sponsorship and survival program there took an opportunity to tell me how she spent time with the Bible each day. She said she started the day with the Bible and ended the day with the Bible. Her faithfulness to daily growth stood out to me. Christians like her are remaining faithful despite many difficulties, and so I’m spurred on to remain faithful, too.
We need to be supporting our struggling brothers and sisters in India. Persecution continues to increase in India, being 11th in the Open Doors World Watch list, and pastors continually need good training and support. Organisations like Overseas Council are bringing lasting and quality support to strategic Bible Colleges in India. Make sure to check out how you can impact the work in India.
For myself, this experience challenged me to use what I’ve learned for the sake of others and God’s Kingdom.
A mountain range in Tamil Nadu
Thanks for reading! I’m looking forward to sharing more about what I’ve learned from India in the future. If you have any questions, feel free to ask them below.
There are many ways to encourage a fellow sibling in Christ. I just discovered one that utilizes an app and a few minutes of your time. Open Doors seeks to support the persecuted church around the world. Many Christians face extreme pressure for their faith, and OD provides help with training, practical support, and bibles and literature.
Imagine there is someone you know in Syria who is a dear sister in Christ and is in need. How would you contact her safely? How about for her church or wider Christian community? The world of technology continues to grow and can provide for unique situations. OD has produced an app called Hope For ME that can be accessed by thousands of believers in the Middle East. They say it’s in order “to connect you with the persecuted church. We’re asking Christians around the world to write messages of hopethat will appear on the app, encouraging persecuted believers.”
Have you ever received a letter or message from loving family or a friend and not been greatly encouraged? I can imagine this is how people might view a message from you on this app. I made a happy discovery of this service last night, and wanted to share it with you. So make some time, just like you have in reading this, and send a brief message to encourage your family in the Middle East. Click here to go over to the Open Doors website and leave a message.
Thanks for reading! Pete
Please note some requests by Open Doors:
Write in English
Be brief and encouraging
Please don’t mention Open Doors
Please don’t criticise a country or make proposals to help
Pic: A couple enjoys the bay in Alexandria, Egypt.
“James talks about a woman who spent 2 years in a metal shipping container for her faith. Mike shares some audio he recorded from an underground church in China. But they both ask the same question: Can Jesus be seen in my life, and is it a blessing to be persecuted?”
I know Tarryn as a battler of a woman. She went through so much with her accident and her recovery. I met her on a beach mission and was so encouraged to see her attend 6 months after her near-death experience. She is a practicing nurse now.
Last year I was on the team to Lebanon with Justine. She is an amazing woman with a great ministry and passion. She is heading off to Jordan in October on a Muskathlon. Her story is well worth the listen.
“As a Christian husband, you are not left wondering or speculating about what it means to carry out your role in a way that pleases God and blesses your wife. To the contrary, the Bible provides clear guidance: You are to love your wife as Christ loves his church.”
“…it seemed to me I should go in the direction of, “What are the most important things I would do at 22?” Not in the abstract, but the real me where I was and who I was in 1968. What if I started over with all the same circumstances in place?”
Curry’s sermon during the royal wedding of Harry and Meghan has many people buzzing for all sorts of reasons. Regardless of your opinion, it’s worth hearing it so you can use it as a springboard for conversation about the gospel. I’m now of mixed feelings about the content and delivery, but it’s doubtlessly entertaining, and hopefully useful.
‘Relient K frontman Matt Theissen stated he was hopeful that this cereal would further the band’s career in a changing music industry. “I really hope this product will be my escape from the pop punk scene into a wider mass market audience.”’