Blue Flower

1. A grim outlook for Christianity - Australian editorial  

 2. Cricket, Christians and the Ashes Urn

 3. Korea a Nation Discipled

4. New book on Grace

5. The Most Successful Leaders Do 15 Things Automatically, Every Day

 6. ADF goes down the homosexual path whilst Duck Dynasty has a victory in US

7. An Irish Blessing for 2014

8. Our Christmas lights

  

1. A grim outlook for Christianity - Australian editorial 

  • December 26, 2013

RESEARCH showing Christianity is now the most widely persecuted religious group in the world should be an urgent wake-up call to all who value the principles of religious freedom and tolerance enshrined in the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted 65 years ago this month. Indeed, Christianity could, after 2000 years, be facing the threat of extinction in its birthplace in the Middle East.

The outlook is unremittingly grim for Christians in many parts of the world. In some of the darker corners, there are Christians for whom attending a church service is no longer an act of faithful witness but, as British Labour MP Douglas Alexander has succinctly put it, "an act of life-risking bravery".

At last count, according to the Pew Research Centre, religious groups faced harassment in 160 countries. Christians were the targets in by far the largest number of them.

In Egypt, home to what was once a stable Coptic Christian community, but now besieged by Islamic extremism, 207 churches have been attacked this year and 43 destroyed.

Previously thriving Christian communities are under siege everywhere -- from Syria, where 450,000 Christians have fled the civil war, to Iraq, where a Christian community of one million has been decimated and now numbers barely 200,000, and on to Iran, where hundreds of Christians have been incarcerated and churches open at their peril. Christians now constitute barely 4 per cent of the Middle East's population. The Arab Spring, as the writer William Dalrymple has pointed out, is "rapidly turning into a Christian winter".

In the new, "democratic" Afghanistan, despite the West's largesse, Christians are compelled to worship in secret.

In neighbouring Pakistan, Christians live under growing fear of persecution and discrimination. In Nigeria, Christians are under constant attack from al-Qa'ida linked Boko Haram Islamic terrorists. In North Korea, between 50,000 and 100,000 Christians are in forced labour camps.

In Myanmar, minority Chin and Karen ethnic Christians are being persecuted by the Buddhist majority.

The inventory of attacks is interminable. The German International Society of Human Rights has concluded 80 per cent of all acts of religious discrimination and vilification across the world are directed at Christians.

To his credit, Prince Charles, the future leader of the Church of England, has spoken of his "outrage", ignoring the usual woolly-headed tendency in politically correct quarters to skirt around the issue. He has placed the blame for the attacks where it belongs -- with "fundamentalist Islamist militants" -- and warns of the "acute circumstances" Christianity faces.

Similarly, the Pope, confronted by forecasts of Christianity's demise in the part of the world where it began, has warned "we cannot resign ourselves to think of a Middle East without Christians".

Both are right: Christianity is now quite literally under the gun across a large part of the world. If the international community values the principles of religious freedom and tolerance at the heart of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as it should, it is going to have to do much more to defend it.

Link

 

2. Cricket, Christians and the Ashes Urn

Graham McLennan

As the last test begins here is a reflection on a little known aspect of the Ashes:

The Sports Master where  I attended at Hurlstone Agricultural High School, a boarding school near Sydney, was Brian Booth the only person to Captain two codes of Australian representative sports, hockey and cricket. 

All the students had a great respect for him and we always gave him a big cheer when he played usually coming in late for Dinner. He lead the school Christian Fellowship which I avoided, though later becoming a Christian at Sydney University in third year dentistry through a fellow student, who later was to become a missionary  and Presbyterian minister. He belonged to a missionary organisation named Worldwide Evangelisation Crusade, known as WEC.

Charles T. Studd was a servant of Christ who faithfully served His Saviour in China, India, and Africa."Some wish to live within the sound of Church or Chapel bell; I want to run a Rescue Shop within a yard of hell."—C. T. Studd

WEC was founded a century ago and one of CT Studd's cricket bats  was on display at the WACA during the Third Test. Studd's book impacted me enormouslyas a young Christian especially the aspect of total consecration. "CT" and his two brothers captained the Cambridge X1 in consecutive years 1882, 1883 and 1884, a remarkable feat.

During this time the three Studds ran Bible studies at Cambridge which produced the "Cambridge Seven" missionaries to China profoudly affecting students and their professors in University Campuses  thoughout Great Britain as well as abroad. Studd was regarded as the best English all rounder during this time and he helped defeat the Australians on several occasions including the Australian match against Cambridge.

Studd played in the historic test match when Australia beat England for the first time.

Consequently the Sporting Times published the now famous epitath:

In affectionate remembrance of English Cricket, which died at the Oval on 29th August by a large circle of sorrowing friends and acquaintances.

RIP

N.B. - The body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia.

Studd came to Australia with the next tour to recover the Ashes winning two of the three matches.

After the third match, some Melbourne women put some ashes into a small silver urn presenting it to the English team under the leadership of Ivor Bligh. 

The inscription read:

When Ivo goes back with the Urn, the Urn

Studds, Steel, Read and Tylecote return, return

The welkin will ring loud,

The great crowd will feel proud

Seeing Barlow and Bates with the Urn, the Urn,

And the rest coming home with the Urn.

 There are many links  to CT Studd in Google including http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ashes_urn      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Studd_brothers     as well as this one at  http://www.wholesomewords.org/missions/biostudd.html

 

 

3. Korea - a Nation Discipled

by Darrow Miller    |   December 23, 2013

Miller is co-founder of the Disciple Nations Alliance and a conference speaker on topics that include Christianity and culture, apologetics, worldview, poverty, and the dignity of women. From 1981 to 2007 Darrow served with Food for the Hungry International and spent three years on staff at L’Abri Fellowship in Switzerland where he was discipled by Francis Schaeffer.

At the Disciple Nations Alliance, we often remind people that the Great Commission actually reads “… disciple all nations” (Matthew 28:19). That’s what Jesus said. But people often ask us, “Can anyone really disciple a nation? Can a country really be transformed?” So we are always looking for case studies of how God has raised up Christians to bring about Re-formation, the radical change of a nation.

Last month, for example, we published John Calvin on Discipling the Nations. And, a year ago, Why are NORTH and SOUTH Korea Such Opposites?(which introduced a paper by Luis Bush of Transform World Connection titled Transformation: from Poor to Blessed A Korean Case Study). This post captures more about the Korea story.

I was recently in Senegal where I met Eric Toumieux of the Summer Institute of Linguistics. Eric coordinates  the Beer-Sheba Projectwhose mission is combine “a sustainable agro-forestry program together with holistic training and an agricultural resource center for young Senegalese farmers.” Near the heart of the program is the developmental model of Kim Yong-ki, the founder of the Canaan Farmers School (CFS). When I told Eric of my interest in Kim Yong-ki and the transformation of the nations of South Korea that he ignited, he provided me with more resources on Kim’s life (here is a Methodist pastor’s reflection on Kim’s life and the CFS model.)

Kim Yong-ki (1908–1988) was a South Korean Christian who understood the need to think Biblically about agriculture. In 1962 Kim founded the CFS in Gwangju, Gyeonggi , South Korea to train Koreans in Biblical principles of land and life stewardship. His life mission was to convey a vision for the spiritual and economic transformation of Korea. He was a pioneer in transforming impoverished farmers and wasteland into flourishing lives and fertile lands. It might be said that Kim understood that God was the first farmer (Genesis 1:8) and thus agriculture can be a calling from God. He was committed to not only reclaiming the land, but reclaiming a vocation and a nation as well.

Kim understood, with the Apostle Paul (Romans 12:1-2), that to transform a nation, the mindset of the people must be transformed. Here is a statement of the CFS vision for the eradication of poverty.

While it is true that eradication of poverty through lasting and sustainable development is carried out in terms of projects and programs, it is more important to educate and empower leaders who would lead people in such projects. The first component of leadership training is mindset transformation. It is because a person can change only when his or her mind changes. Once the mindset changes, the person is then able to make decisions, act on them, make those part of the lifestyle, and finally have them embedded in the personality itself. Therefore, we aim to produce model communities of poverty eradication based on mindset transformation and to raise leaders who would practice and live out the changed mindset.

Before poverty can be eradicated in a community or a nation, it must first be eradicated in the mind of the people!

The model is based on the understanding that God, not the state, is sovereign. Human beings are made in the image of God and are not merely animals with mouths to be fed. This leads to a framework of people who are poor taking responsibility for their own development: read self-help. This stands in stark contrast to the modern statist model that makes the government responsible to get people out of poverty. While the CFS model teaches people to take responsibility for their own lives and has seen a whole nation lifted out of poverty in short period of time, the statist model of so much of the world today breeds corruption, a dependency mentality, and greater poverty.

The following matrix, developed by the CFS shows the progression of the transformation of the mind and the corresponding practice of Christian internal self – government that led ultimately to the Re-formation of Korea.

Read more
 

4.  New book on Grace

     

Grace: The Power to Reign by Kenn Legg

A powerful revolution is sweeping across the Church worldwide as Christians are discovering how to put the ‘amazing’ back into grace. Thousands are being set free from legalism and are exchanging the shackles of religion for what they were promised when they were first saved – a love relationship with Jesus.

But this move of God has its critics. Some refer to it as ‘the hyper-grace movement’. Others are criticizing it with old clichés that have been around for years. They refer to it as ‘cheap grace’, ‘greasy grace’, and say that grace is just a license to sin. They obviously believe that grace is really disgrace.

It is true that every doctrine which has been relatively hidden for a long period of time runs the risk of the pendulum principle, i.e. being pushed too far in the opposite direction. When a truth is taken beyond its Scriptural boundaries it becomes error.

The teaching of grace is not exempt from this danger. For this reason we need to look to Jesus and the apostles for the foundations of our faith, and to understand clearly what they taught about grace. Alarmingly, many Christians seem to get their theology from their favourite speakers or internet blogs instead of studying the Word of God.

In Grace: The Power to Reign, Ken expounds grace in its Biblical setting. He shows that far from it being a license to sin or an excuse for laziness, grace is our power to reign in life – both in the midst of our circumstances and over the power of sin.

After reading this book you won’t fall victim to the pendulum principle; but neither will you throw the baby out with the bathwater. You will see grace as God’s ability in the place of your inability. Grace – your power to reign!

Price: Just AUD$19 including postage in Australia!

Ebook: $9 athttp://www.small-groups-ministry.com/GracePowerToReign.html
 

5. The Most Successful Leaders Do 15 Things Automatically, Every Day 

Forbes.com (This article has received 1.5 million views)

 

Glenn Llopis, Contributor

Leadershipis learned behavior that becomes unconscious and automatic over time.  For example, leaders can make several important decisions about an issue in the time it takes others to understand the question.   Many people wonder how leaders know how to make the best decisions, often under immense pressure.  The process of making these decisions comes from an accumulation of experiences and encounters with a multitude of difference circumstances, personality types and unforeseen failures.   More so, the decision making process is an acute understanding of being familiar with the cause and effect of behavioral and circumstantial patterns;  knowing the intelligence and interconnection points of the variables involved in these patterns allows a leader to confidently make decisions and project the probability of their desired outcomes.   The most successful leaders are instinctual decision makers.  Having done it so many times throughout their careers, they become immune to the pressure associated with decision making and extremely intuitive about the process of making the most strategic and best decisions. This is why most senior executives will tell you they depend strongly upon their “gut-feel” when making difficult decisions at a moment’s notice.

Beyond decision making, successful leadership across all areas becomes learned and instinctual over a period of time. Successful leaders have learned the mastery of anticipating business patterns, finding opportunities in pressure situations, serving the people they lead and overcoming hardships.   No wonder the best CEOs are paid so much money.   In 2011, salaries for the 200 top-paid CEOs rose 5 percent to a median $14.5 million per year, according to a study by compensation-data company Equilar for The New York Times.

If you are looking to advance your career into a leadership capacity and / or already assume leadership responsibilities – here are 15 things you must do automatically, every day, to be a successful leader in the workplace:

 

1.  Make Others Feel Safe to Speak-Up

Many times leaders intimidate their colleagues with their title and power when they walk into a room.   Successful leaders deflect attention away from themselves and encourage others to voice their opinions.  They are experts at making others feel safe to speak-upand confidently share their perspectives and points of view.   They use their executive presenceto create an approachable environment.

2.  Make Decisions

Successful leaders are expert decision makers.    They either facilitate the dialogue to empower their colleagues to reach a strategic conclusion or they do it themselves.  They focus on “making things happen” at all times – decision making activities that sustain progress.   Successful leaders have mastered the art of politicking and thus don’t waste their time on issues that disrupt momentum.  They know how to make 30 decisions in 30 minutes.

3.  Communicate Expectations

Successful leaders are great communicators, and this is especially true when it comes to “performance expectations.”   In doing so, they remind their colleagues of the organization’s core values and mission statement – ensuring that their vision is properly translated and actionable objectives are properly executed.

I had a boss that managed the team by reminding us of the expectations that she had of the group.   She made it easy for the team to stay focused and on track.  The protocol she implemented – by clearly communicating expectations – increased performance and helped to identify those on the team that could not keep up with the standards she expected from us.

4.  Challenge People to Think

The most successful leaders understand their colleagues’ mindsets, capabilities and areas for improvement.  They use this knowledge/insight to challenge their teams to think and stretch them to reach for more.   These types of leaders excel in keeping their people on their toes, never allowing them to get comfortable and enabling them with the tools to grow.

If you are not thinking, you’re not learning new things.  If you’re not learning, you’re not growing – and over time becoming irrelevant in your work.

5.  Be Accountable to Others

Successful leaders allow their colleagues to manage them.  This doesn’t mean they are allowing others to control them – but rather becoming accountable to assure they are being proactive to their colleagues needs.

Beyond just mentoring and sponsoring selected employees, being accountable to others is a sign that your leader is focused more on your success than just their own.

6.  Lead by Example

Leading by example sounds easy, but few leaders are consistent with this one.   Successful leaders practice what they preach and are mindful of their actions. They know everyone is watching them and therefore are incredibly intuitive about detecting those who are observing their every move, waiting to detect a performance shortfall.

7.  Measure & Reward Performance

Great leaders always have a strong “pulse” on business performance and those people who are the performance champions. Not only do they review the numbers and measure performance ROI, they are active in acknowledging hard work and efforts (no matter the result).    Successful leaders never take consistent performers for granted and are mindful of rewarding them.  

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Link

6. ADF goes down the homosexual path whilst Duck Dynasty has a victory in US

 

ADF goes down the homosexual path

Defence Minister must dump Army's gay cuff-links

Army Reserve Major, Bernard Gaynor, has called on the Minister for Defence, Senator David Johnston, to halt the Australian Army's plan to issue cuff-links and lapel pins that place the Rising Sun badge on a rainbow backdrop - the symbol of LGBTI political activism.

"The Rising Sun badge is a symbol of the Australian Army and is loved and respected by Australians of all walks of life," Mr Gaynor said.

"It is not appropriate for it to be abused and linked to any political cause."

"The rainbow is used to promote LGBT political causes, including homosexual marriage. It is an insult to all current and former serving personnel for the Rising Sun to be linked with the political campaign for homosexual marriage."

"As a serving member who has deployed on operations three times, I am deeply offended that the symbol of the Australian Army has been politicised in this fashion."

"It is also an insult to the intelligence of all Australians that the Department of Defence is crying poor while wasting taxpayer dollars on jewellery to promote homosexuality."

"The Department was used as a tool of radical social change by the former Labor government. The new Abbott government must end this abuse immediately."

Link

Bill Muehlenberg writes on the Duck Dynasty victory, quoting John Hayward:

“It might be the biggest push-back in the history of the Culture Wars, a defeat of stunning magnitude for political correctness and pressure groups like GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation). It will take a while to judge whether this was the Battle of Midway, a victory that turns the tide in a war, because not many people are in a position to tell the Thought Police to get bent like the Robertson family did. But a precedent has been set, and there willbe shockwaves….

“Media accounts of the A&E (Atheists & Elitists) reversal make it sound like executives slowly learned all of this during nine grueling days of blowback, but anyone in the network boardroom with a room-temperature IQ would have known all of these things before the decision to fire Robertson was made. Reporting over the weekend made it sound like the people who run A&E are only dimly aware of what shows their network carries.

“A more likely explanation is that A&E was rattled by both the number of viewers who convincingly stated they would abandon the network completely – they hadto know they would most likely lose the rest of the Robertson family, and the show – combined with the reputation for weak-kneed intolerance they were developing. The blowback wasn’t onlycoming from the core ‘Duck Dynasty’ audience. It’s a sign of how bad things were going for A&E that they decided looking like a pack of spaghetti-spined nincompoops by eating crow and reinstating Phil was the least damaging course of action at this point. They’re never going to hear the end of this from power players in Hollywood."

Read more

7. An Irish Blessing for 2014  

Click here  to view this special Irish blessing

for you and your family for NewYear  2014

 

The Aaronic Blessing

 The Lord said to Moses,
 “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them:

 “‘“The Lord bless you
    and keep you;
 the Lord make his face shine on you
    and be gracious to you;
 the Lord turn his face toward you