Saturday, February 28, 2009

Home Ministry rescinds gazette on word ‘Allah’

Why the U-turn? The BN govt has too many instances in revoking their own decisions. "Allah" is Arabic, not Bahasa Malaysia. Everybody has the right to use the word.


KOTA KINABALU, Feb 28 — The Home Ministry has rescinded a government gazette that allowed conditional use of the word "Allah" in Christian publications with immediate effect.

Admitting that there was a mistake in enacting the gazette that resulted in confusion over the word in question, Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar said the government's decision to ban the use of the word “Allah” in Herald-The Catholic Weekly remained in force until the court decided otherwise.

The government had recently ordered a ban on the Herald's Malay edition until the court makes its decision, as part of conditions for it to be allowed to continue publishing in English, Chinese and Tamil.

"There is a judicial review on the matter and we leave it to the court to decide. I think there was a mistake in enacting the gazette. When we made a mistake I must admit that there is a need look at it thoroughly.

"As there was a mistake... so it is better we make a correction," he told reporters today.
Syed Hamid was commenting on the call by the Malaysian Islamic Da'wah Foundation (Yadim) earlier today, urging the government to withdraw permission for the conditional use of the word "Allah" in Christian publications.

Its chairman Datuk Mohd Nakhaie Ahmad said the government had not acted wisely in allowing the use of the word in Christian publications which he said could anger Muslims not only in the country but also throughout the world.

A government gazette dated Feb 16 has stated that documents and publications relating to Christianity containing the world "Allah" are prohibited unless the words "FOR CHRISTIANITY" was written on their front cover.

The condition was contained in an order entitled “Internal Security (Prohibition on Use of Specific Words on Document and Publication) Order 2009”.

Paragraph 2(1) of the order reads: The printing, publication, sale, issue, circulation and possession of any document and publication relating to Christianity containing the words Allah, Kaabah, Baitullah and solat are prohibited unless on the front cover of the document and publication are written with the words "FOR CHRISTIANITY". — Bernama

Friday, February 27, 2009

But other churches do use 'Allah'

Malaysian Christian | Feb 26, 09 4:37pm

I refer to the letter "Other Christian denominations not using 'Allah'" ( See below.

The writer’s allegation that the Malaysian Catholic Church hides ulterior motives vis a vis the use of the word ‘Allah’ in the Herald magazine is, at best, a conjecture not grounded on facts.

Here I would like to invite readers to consider the writer’s allegations and the replies. Judge for yourselves:

1. ‘The decision to use the word 'Allah' can only mean that the Church, which is in a competition with other Catholic denominations including America's Church of the Latter Day Saints, or the Mormons to enlist new members, is trying to target Muslims in this country.’

While we cannot determine how the writer came to his conclusion, perhaps he should take cognisance of the fact that the Herald magazine is only meant for Catholics. It is not for sale to the general public.

A rather feeble way of trying to propagate the faith among the masses if ever the writer’s allegation is true.

2). ‘For instance, since the Catholic Church believes in the 'Trinity' ie, God, the Holy Son and the Holy Ghost, is it going to use the term 'Anak Allah' for the ‘Son of God’?’

To answer this question, one has to only refer to the Alkitab, which is the BM/Indonesian translation of the Bible. ‘Anak Allah’ is the BM/Indonesian translation of the term ‘Son of God’.

3. ‘The Muslims here may find it quite palatable if the Orthodox Church of Russia, Serbia, Greece, Cyprus or Romania want to use the word ‘Allah’ because these churches do not believe in the concept of the Trinity’.

If the writer were to do a little homework, he would realise that the doctrine of the Trinity is an integral part of the Orthodox Church. Try telling otherwise to any Orthodox Church member!

4. ‘I believe the Orthodox Church also believes in the Unitary of God and regards other Catholic denominations as ‘deviant teachings’.’

I’m not sure what the writer means by his use of ‘the Unitary of God’. If the writer is referring to Unitarianism, then he’ll be pleased to know that both the Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church are in agreement in rejecting such belief.

As for the name-calling alleged to by the writer, I believe such an issue, if it exists, plagues other religions too, no?

5. ‘I would also want to ask the Malaysian Catholic Church if whether the word ‘Allah’ is being used by all Catholic countries like Ireland, France, Italy and all the Catholic churches in the US, UK, Australia and those in Latin America. Hello, I don't think so.’

Neither do I. God is referred to in the language used by the people. In Malaysia, the people of Sabah and Sarawak especially, have long used ‘Allah’ for God in Scripture and worship, way before the formation of Malaysia.

6. ‘If the Catholic Church of Malaysia still wants to pursue this matter, have they consulted other Catholics and also the Pope because all the Catholic teachings must come from the Vatican.’

The writer could enquire of Catholic Church in Malaysia and enlighten the rest of us, yes?

7. ‘And finally, if the Anglicans, the Methodists, the Southern Baptists, the Mormons, the Lutherans, and the myriad of other Christian denominations are not using the word ‘Allah’ for God, why are Malaysia's Catholics insisting on using it?’

For the writer’s benefit, not only do the Bahasa Malaysia-speaking Catholics use the word ‘Allah’ for God, but so do the BM-speaking members of the Anglican, Methodist, BCCM and SIB churches.

Why deny the right of these peace-loving Malaysians to use the word ‘Allah’ when it is not exclusive to Muslims even in the Middle East? Palatable or not, it is something to chew on.

Other Christian denominations not using 'Allah'
Saad Hashim | Feb 25, 09 4:08pm

With regards to Malaysia's Catholic Church wanting to use the term 'Allah' for God in its mouthpiece, the Herald, I must say that the organisation's intention is far from godly and Muslim organisations have every reason to get angry.

The decision to use the word 'Allah' can only mean that the Church, which is in a competition with other Catholic denominations including America's Church of the Latter Day Saints, or the Mormons to enlist new members, is trying to target Muslims in this country.

My question is does the Catholic Church realise that by insisting on the word ‘Allah’ for God, it is going to get into a deeper muddle.

For instance, since the Catholic Church believes in the 'Trinity' ie, God, the Holy Son and the Holy Ghost, is it going to use the term 'Anak Allah' for the ‘Son of God’?

The Muslims here may find it quite palatable if the Orthodox Church of Russia, Serbia, Greece, Cyprus or Romania want to use the word ‘Allah’ because these churches do not believe in the concept of the Trinity.

I believe the Orthodox Church also believes in the Unitary of God and regards other Catholic denominations as ‘deviant teachings’.

I would also want to ask the Malaysian Catholic Church if whether the word ‘Allah’ is being used by all Catholic countries like Ireland, France, Italy and all the Catholic churches in the US, UK, Australia and those in Latin America. Hello, I don't think so.

If the Catholic Church of Malaysia still wants to pursue this matter, have they consulted other Catholics and also the Pope because all the Catholic teachings must come from the Vatican.

And finally, if the Anglicans, the Methodists, the Southern Baptists, the Mormons, the Lutherans, and the myriad of other Christian denominations are not using the word ‘Allah’ for God, why are Malaysia's Catholics insisting on using it?

Herald allowed to use the word ‘Allah’

It is a good news that after much prayers, God in His sovereignty moved in justice - Allen.

Catholic Herald magazine is permitted to use the word Allah... All man has right to use any language, be it Arabic, Eng, Mandarin, Tagalog, Tamil, French, Tieng Viet, Urdu, etc. It is given by God. The crux of this case: the (cabinet) minister made a mistake. (via sms) - Loh Seng Kok, former MP of Kelana Jaya, Selangor.

Friday February 27, 2009

KUALA LUMPUR: The Catholic Herald magazine is permitted to use the word Allah provided the publication clearly states the words “For Christians only” in its masthead.

Herald editor Father Lawrence Andrew said this was stated in the recently gazetted Internal Security Act signed by the Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar on Feb 16.

“The next edition of the Herald will contain the word Allah, and we will print the words “For Christians only” on the masthead so as not to contravene the Act,” he said.

It is learnt the Act also forbids the use of the words Kaabah, solat and baitullah.

Meanwhile, the Home Ministry’s Quran Publication Control and Text Division secretary Che Din Yusoh confirmed the content of the gazetted Act.

The High Court will today hear the mention of the case about the use of the word Allah in the Herald.

The Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur, who is the plaintiff, had applied for a judicial review of a Home Ministry directive last year forbidding the Herald publisher from using the word Allah as a synonym for “God.”

The plaintiff’s counsel Porres Royan had argued that the directive was unlawful and that the word was not exclusive to Islam.

On Dec 5, the publisher filed a writ of summons in the Kuala Lumpur High Court to seek a declaration on the use of the word.

The other respondents were the Home Ministry, the Government and the state Islamic Councils of the Federal Territory, Terengganu, Penang, Selangor, Kedah, Johor, Malacca and the Malaysia Chinese Muslim Association.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

China Trip 中国行程

I will be away in China from March 2 - 15. My destination will be Hangzhou, Shaoxing and Shanghai. Hope that I could read your emails at the Internet Cafes. Do pray for me.


Why the British Aren’t Boarding the Atheist Bus

Feb 25, 2009

British atheist Richard Dawkins wants to stamp out Christian faith in England. But that faith is still very much alive.

When I arrived in London last week I fully expected to see one of the city's celebrated "atheist buses" racing past Gatwick Airport on its way to Victoria Station. I had read about how Oxford University professor Richard Dawkins, author of the book The God Delusion, helped raise more than 140,000 British pounds from donors in January to plaster the city's famous double-decker buses with signs that read: "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life."

Dawkins, who has publicly compared religion with the smallpox virus, is quite evangelistic when it comes to his doubts. But his London bus experiment was a dud, if you ask me. Early 2009 was not a good time to mount an atheist campaign. With British banks in crisis and companies laying off workers all over the U.K., most people would prefer to believe divine help is a possibility. "There's probably no God" is a depressing message to share with anxious Londoners who are weathering the Great Recession.

"During my visit I found many encouraging signs that faith is still very much alive in the land that gave us John Wesley, John Bunyan and C.S. Lewis."

Although I boarded several buses in downtown London last Saturday, I never saw Dawkins' offensive advertisements. (I later learned that his campaign ended Feb. 1.) I did, however, see a bus plastered with a competing message, placed by Christian politician George Hargreaves. It said: "There definitely is a God. So join the Christian Party and enjoy your life."

A British Bible society has since joined this battle of the buses. It spent $50,000 to put up signs that quote Psalm 53:1: "The fool has said in his heart, 'There is no God.' " And a Russian TV channel is partnering with the Russian Orthodox Church to post messages on London buses that say: "There is God. Enjoy your life."
This ruckus prompted the atheists to rethink their strategy. Now they plan to post more of their signs in April—just in time for Easter. Who knows—before this is over maybe the queen will step out of Buckingham Palace and weigh in on the matter.
I'll admit I tend to think of England as a godless country. We've all heard the stories of British churches being turned into mosques. But during my visit I found many encouraging signs that faith is still very much alive in the land that gave us John Wesley, John Bunyan and C.S. Lewis. I am sure Richard Dawkins is not alone in his atheism, but he has a lot of work to do if he thinks he can wipe out Christianity in England with a few billboards.

When faith is challenged here, British believers are known to fight back. Just recently a born-again nurse, Caroline Petrie, was fired from her job because she asked a patient if she could pray for her. At first her employer, the North Somerset Primary Care Trust, said that Petrie acted unprofessionally. But when the Christian Legal Center got involved and challenged the decision, Petrie was quickly reinstated.
When I arrived in England I spent three days ministering to a group of Pentecostal pastors from various parts of the U.K. Among them were immigrant church leaders who moved to England from Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Ivory Coast and Congo. One young minister from Ghana lives in a town near Oxford (where Dawkins taught evolutionary theory) that has become a stronghold of New Age occultism. The young Ghanaian believes God sent him to the U.K. to help dismantle the spiritual darkness that has settled over this nation.

On Sunday morning I preached in a church in the east London suburb of Leytonstone. The pastor of the church is from Ghana, his wife is from Guyana, and his church members are from 15 nations. This is the new face of British Christianity. These immigrants, most of them now British citizens, are passionate in worship and aggressive in evangelism. Their vibrant faith is something Dawkins and his atheist friends never imagined they would contend with on British soil.

Also over the weekend I spoke to a group of Christian men in Littlehampton, a city on the southern coast of England not far from Brighton. After the meeting I learned that one of the guys in the audience was Martin Smith, lead singer of the Christian band Delirious. Smith is the author of the popular praise chorus "I Could Sing of Your Love Forever." He says he wrote the song in five minutes while on a vacation with his wife at a farmhouse in Devon.

Meeting Smith reminded me what a valuable contribution British Christians are still making to the global Christian scene. There is definitely a battle raging here for the hearts and minds of people, and evangelical believers are a minority facing a looming threat from both secularism and Islam. But in pockets of this country, Christian faith is strong, worship is passionate and many are eager to take the gospel into a hostile environment. If their fervor keeps building, they could become Richard Dawkins' worst nightmare.

J. Lee Grady is editor of Charisma.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

1982 God's Anointed Reunion - Feb 20, 2009

We had graduated from Bible Institute of Malaya (Now Bible College of Malaysia) in 1982. After almost 27 years we still could meet up with such a big attendance was a miracle. We had 18 + 6 persons. Petra came with her spouse, Simon Cheong. Lee Yun came with her spouse, Chin Sin Sui, two children, elder sister and a church member.

We had a buffet luncheon at Shogun Restaurant at 1-Utama Shopping Mall. The restaurant was having a promotional offer, i.e. buy 2 and get 1 free. Each of us only paid RM33.00.

I was the coordinator, while collecting money a little drama transpired. My wallet "was lost" and I asked around if anyone had seen it. Then Moses said it was under my armpit. There was much laughs. Then they wanted to know about my age. Ya, mockery. I was old, and James denied he was as old as I. True, he was the youngest one amongst us.

For those of you who did not join us, don't be dismayed. We will meet again 27 years later! No lah! We can meet any time though we will not get a 100% turnup.

If I could get a Win-zip software, I will send the photos to you. Meanwhile you can download them here.

I encourage you to use Mozilla Firefox for your Internet. You can zoom in and out to view the sites.

Back L-R: Henry Soo, Robert Chai, James Wong, Stephen Kong, Parry Tang, Moses Loo, Jimmy Leong, Allen Tan
Front L-R: Yong Lee Yun, Helen Yip, Linda Khoo, Helen Chan, Katherine Goh, Lisa Ng, Indranie, Fong Wai Lin, Yow Kit Yen. Not in the picture: Petra

L-R: Jimmy, Stephen, Parry, Robert, Allen James, Sin Sui, Moses, Henry

L-R: Wai Lin, Kit Yen, Lisa, Henry

L-R: Moses, Indranie, Jimmy

L-R: Lee Yun, Helen Yip, Parry, Petra

L-R: Linda, Katherine, Helen Chan

L-R: Lisa, James, Moses

L-R: Helen Chan, Petra

L-R: Parry, Helen Yip, Linda

L-R: Moses, Indranie, Jimmy

L: Lee Yun's children, R: elder sister (window), member


L-R: James, Stephen, Robert

L: Petra

R-L: Helen Yip, Lee Yun, Sin Sui, Simon

L-R: Lisa, Helen Chan

L: Wai Lin, Kit Yen, Henry

Friday, February 20, 2009

Liver Stones / Gallstones 肝石 / 胆石

Method for Flushing Out of Liver Stones / Gallstones

My health improves steadily by the day. I disciplined myself by doing exercises regularly. Every evening except Sundays I walked and jogged at a playground for 3 Km. Perspiring helps in the removal of toxins from my body.

The above picture shows a colander holding some liver stones / gallstones which I flushed out on 10th Feb. I have been going through a series of detoxification programs.

The liver is the largest internal organ which is our main cleansing machine. There are no symptoms for our livers and gall bladders when they are infected until all sorts of sicknesses begin to prop up.

Everybody has liver stones. A dead bit of parasites might have started the stone forming. Liver stones, being porous, can pick up all the bacteria, viruses, cysts and oils and become bigger each day. When the gall bladder is bloated with stones, the stones are, in fact, big enough to be seen by an X-ray. By then it would be too late, thus an operation will be performed to get the gall bladder removed. Some may have developed into hardening of liver.

For people who suffered chronic back-pain and stomach ulcers, many of them won’t be cured until liver-stones / gallstones are flushed out from their bodies.

Prevention is better than cure. You can try this method which I did:

First five days: Normal diet but minus the oily and spicy foods. Avoid strong drinks like tea and coffee. Each day take 4 to 5 big apples, or better still, drink 4 to 5 cups (size of cup is 250 ml) of organic apple juice.

The sixth day: Light diet. No solid food after 2.00 pm. Drink 5 cups of apple juice for the day. At 6.00 pm take 250ml of warm water with one teaspoon of Epsom salt (available in pharmacies or organic food stores). At 8.00 pm repeat the same thing. It is good if you empty your bowel for one last time before 10.00 pm. (Drink more water over these 6 days.)

At 10.00 pm take half to three-quarter cup of lemon juice or 3 lemons or 1 big grapefruit and half cup of organic virgin olive oil. Go to bed and sleep by lying flat and raise your pillows higher. You must be able to sleep or else there will be fewer stones.

Apples help to soften stones; lemons and Epsom salt help to soften bile ducts; olive oil helps to activate secretion of large amount of bile for flushing out the stones.

The next morning, put a porous colander at the toilet bowl when you open the bowel. Since you had a light meal and had cleaned the bowel the day before, there will be no or little feces. Flush away the feces and the stones will remain.

When I sent out this testimony, I received some friends' encouragement. There was a Minister who wrote this, "Glad to know you are getting stronger by the day. Most pastors/ministers are in poor physical health...because they do not exercise and eat right. I do my hourly exercises 3-5 times a week." It is true. As a Minister, I hope all those who are in Ministry will enjoy good health. Live long and healthy that God's Kingdom will have enough soldiers in the battle fields.

The method should be effective. A sister told me a brother in China followed the method, he too passed out gallstones.

(Recommendation: Do a flushing twice a year.)

Allen Tan │ 17th Feb, 2009



头5天正常饮食,避免刺激性的饮食,如油腻的,辣的,茶和咖啡。每天吃4 至5粒大苹果。更好是喝4至5杯有机苹果汁(用250毫升的杯)。

第6天少吃,过了下午2时不可吃固体食物。整天喝4至5杯苹果汁。傍晚6时喝一杯温水加一茶匙泻盐(Epsom salt,药剂行或有机食品店有出售)。晚上8时重复上述的。最好晚上10时前再清肠一次。(这6天里多喝水。)





陈亚伦 │ 2009年2月17日

Staying Pure in a Fornication Nation

February 18, 2009

You don't have to compromise with our sex-saturated culture. By God's grace you can stay in the sexual safety zone.

There were some raised eyebrows last week on the campus of Southeastern University in Lakeland, Fla., when I hosted a special meeting—the day before Valentine's Day—on the subject of fornication. That's not a word you normally associate with a lecture topic, but hey, I had to get attention. And since the hormones on most college campuses are as dense as Florida humidity, I figured the kids would be all ears when I attacked the subject.

I was right. At times you could hear a pin drop in the auditorium, especially when I talked about how most American young people aren't even sure how to define sexual activity anymore. (Today's college seniors were nine years old when President Clinton tried to redefine sex during the Lewinsky scandal.) At other times the students burst into nervous laughter, especially when I told how I gave my son-in-law a lecture about sexual boundaries in front of 700 of his classmates when he was dating my oldest daughter.

"Losing one's virginity used to be a serious issue, but today fornication is just a standard sitcom plot device."

I thought it might be helpful to share these key points with a wider audience, since many of the readers of this column are single. And even if you are married, it would be good to take a quick refresher course in self-control—since we live in a nation that is losing all moral restraint. Here's what I told the group at Southeastern:
1. Don't redefine your morality. I've seen Christian young people roll their eyes when I say the word "fornication" because it sounds so much like King James English—sort of like "sodomy," another word we avoid in our PC culture. But we need to be careful how we bend the meaning of words. Terms that are in the Bible should not vanish from our modern vocabulary just because they offend some of the hosts of The View.

When "fornication" is used in 1 Thessalonians 4:3 ("For this is the will of God ... that ye should abstain from fornication" KJV), the Greek word is porneia. It's the root word for pornography, but it means a lot more than sexually explicit material. It includes sex between unmarried people, homosexuality, bestiality, prostitution, incest and adultery.

According to the apostle Paul, sex as God intended is limited to marriage between one man and one woman. Period. The Episcopal Church has no right to broaden the definition. Neither do Bill Clinton, Newsweek, Oprah or HBO. Don't let moral relativism infect your brain.

2. Don't sell your birthright.
Losing one's virginity used to be a serious issue, but today fornication is just a standard sitcom plot device. It's considered normal. People are considered weird if they didn't have sex by age 14; and if anybody dares to teach abstinence in a public school he is labeled a Neanderthal.

In TV shows like Desperate Housewives, Nip/Tuck or Grey's Anatomy, life revolves around who's in bed with whom. There's even a TV series on Showtime called Californication that follows the life of a sex addict. What TV producers don't usually explore are the consequences of immorality. Audiences probably wouldn't laugh if the couples hooking up on these shows had to deal with genital warts, gonorrhea, AIDS, abortions, post-abortion trauma or clinical depression—all real fallout from illicit sexual behavior.

If you are a single person today—whether you have lost your virginity or not—it's time to reclaim your purity and save sex for marriage. We've forgotten the story of Esau, who forfeited his birthright through one stupid act. He traded his inheritance for a bowl of stew. You really can throw your life away through one act of fornication.

3. Get ruthless with your weaknesses. Jesus sounded stricter than a Catholic school principal when He talked to His disciples about self-discipline. He told them: "If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell" (Matt. 5:29, NASB).

Jesus was not advocating self-mutilation. He was using sarcasm to emphasize how serious sin is—and He urged His followers to take radical steps to avoid the snares of temptation. In our sex-soaked society, it is more imperative than ever that we draw boundaries.

Got a problem with pornography? If you can't discipline yourself to avoid offending Web sites, get rid of your computer. Do you end up engaging in heavy petting or intercourse with your girlfriend or boyfriend after a few minutes of kissing? Draw lines and stick to them. And if you can't stick to the rules, ask for intervention. If you don't you are headed for spiritual shipwreck.

4. Live a transparent life. The Bible never advocates that we battle sin alone. We need each other. James 5:16 says: "Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed." In some cases you will never get victory over temptation until you share your struggle with another Christian and seek counsel and prayer.

So many believers today are living with secrets. Many women (and men too) were molested as children by a relative or friend—yet they have never shared their pain. Many young guys are trapped in a dark world of pornography and masturbation but are too ashamed to admit it. Many Christians struggle with same-sex attraction yet they fear that if they confess their thoughts they will be rejected.

You will never discover the abundant life Christ promised until you clean out your spiritual closets and deal with all your dirty laundry. Total forgiveness and cleansing is available, but confession and repentance must come first.

5. Develop the fear of God. Paul had sober words for the Thessalonians who ignored his admonitions about sexual sin. He told them: "He who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you" (1 Thess. 4:8). It couldn't be clearer: If you disregard sexual boundaries, you are on thin ice.
What we desperately need in the church today is a conscience awakening. Too many Christians have warped judgment—and they don't even feel godly remorse when they break God's law. If you have any form of sexual sin in your life, flee it immediately and make a 180-degree turn. He will grant you the grace to live a life of purity.

J. Lee Grady is editor of Charis

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Strange Fire in the House of the Lord

February 10, 2009

We need to be careful. Current fads involving angels, ecstatic worship and necromancy could push us off the edge of spiritual sanity.

No one fully understands what Nadab and Abihu did to prompt God to strike them dead in the sanctuary of Israel. The Bible says they loaded their firepans with incense, ignited the substance and "offered strange fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them" (Lev. 10:1, NASB). As a result of their careless and irreverent behavior, fire came from God's presence and consumed them.

Zap. In an instant they were ashes.

When Moses had to explain to Aaron what happened to the two men, he said: "It is what the Lord spoke, saying, ‘By those who come near to Me I will be treated as holy, and before all the people I will be honored'" (v. 3). Although we don't know the details of what Nadab and his brother did with the holy incense, we know they were careless and irreverent about the things of God.

"We want the miracles of God, but we also want the fear and reverence of God. We cannot allow this strange fire to spread unchecked."

This ancient story has relevant application for us today. We don't use incense or firepans in our worship, but we are expected to handle God's Word with care and minister to His people in the fear of the Lord. In other words: No funny business allowed. We aren't allowed to mix God's Word with foreign concepts or mix our worship with pagan practices.

Yet as I minister in various churches around this country I am finding that strange fire is spreading in our midst-even in churches that call themselves "Spirit-filled." Pastors and leaders need to be aware of these trends:

1. Deadly visitations. In some charismatic circles today, people are claiming to have spiritual experiences that involve communication with the dead. One Michigan pastor told me last week that some church leaders he knows promote this bizarre practice and base it on Jesus' experience on the Mount of Transfiguration. The logic is that since Jesus talked to Moses and Elijah on the day He was glorified, this gives us permission to talk to dead Christians and our dead relatives.

Although little is said about these experiences from the pulpit (since the average believer is not ready to handle this "new revelation"), people in some streams of the prophetic movement are claiming to have visitations from Aimee Semple McPherson, William Branham, John Wimber or various Bible characters. And we are expected to say, "Ooooooo, that's so deep"-and then go looking for our own mystical, beyond-the-grave epiphany.

That is creepy. Communication with the dead was strictly forbidden in the Old Testament (see Deut. 18:11), and there is nothing in the New that indicates the rules were changed. Those who seek counsel from the dead-whether through mediums and séances or in "prophetic visions"-are taking a dangerous step toward demonization.

2. Ecstatic rapture. Not long after ecstasy became known as a recreational drug, someone in our movement got the bright idea to promote spiritual ecstasy as a form of legitimate worship. The concept evolved from "spiritual drunkenness" to the current fad in which people gather at church altars and pretend to shoot needles in their arms for a "spiritual high." Some preachers today are encouraging people to "toke the Holy Ghost"-a reference to smoking marijuana.

I hate to be a party pooper, but the Bible warns us to "be of sound judgment and sober spirit" (1 Pet. 4:7). There is plenty of freedom and joy in the Holy Spirit; we don't have to quench it by introducing people to pagan revelry. Christian worship is not about losing control. Those who worship Jesus do it "in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24), and our love for God is not measured by how violently we shake or how many times we fall on the floor.

Recently I told a friend in Pennsylvania that when people get tired of this drug imagery it won't be long before we see some Christians having sexual experiences at the altar. "It's already happening," my friend said. He described a recent "worship concert" in which one of the musicians simulated sex while stroking a microphone and whispering sensual phrases to Jesus. What is next-orgasmic worship? God help us.

3. Angels among us. Angels have always played a vital role in the life of the church. They are "ministering spirits" sent to protect, guide and strengthen believers (Heb. 1:14). But suddenly angels have become the rage in some segments of our movement. People are claiming to see them everywhere, and often the stories don't line up with the Word of God.

During the Lakeland Revival last year in Florida, a man from Germany took the stage and claimed that an angel walked into a restaurant while he was eating a hamburger, took his intestines out and replaced them with a gold substance. Others have testified that angels took them to heaven and operated on them. And many are claiming that angels are dropping feathers, gold dust and precious gems on worshippers.

I know God can do anything. He can make an iron axe head float, hide a coin in a fish's mouth and use a little boy's lunch to feed a multitude. Those were genuine miracles that He can still do today. But we still have to use caution here. There are counterfeits. If we promote a false miracle or a false angel in the Lord's house, we are participating in strange fire.

I know of a case where a man was caught planting fake jewels on the floor of a church. He told his friends he was "seeding the room" to lift the people's faith. I know of others who have been caught putting gold glitter on themselves in a restroom and then running back in a church service, only to claim that God was blessing them with this special favor. Where is the fear of God when Christians would actually fabricate a miracle?

This is a time for all true believers with backbones to draw clear lines between what is godly worship and what is pagan practice. We want the miracles of God, but we also want the fear and reverence of God. We cannot allow this strange fire to spread unchecked.

J. Lee Grady is editor of Charisma.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Real Scandal of Religion

by Michael Gerson
Friday, February 06, 2009

WASHINGTON -- I recall sitting at a Kigali restaurant with a Tutsi woman who described the death of her younger sister, a university student, during the Rwandan genocide. The girl had been given up for murder by one of her own teachers, who was a nun. The survivor across from me, previously a Catholic, had never attended church again. In the sacrifice of the Mass, she could only see the sacrifice of her sister.

Many items on the list of horribles laid at the door of religion are libels or exaggerations. But this charge -- the indifference or complicity of many Christians during the great genocides of modern history -- is one of the genuine scandals.
In Hitler's Germany, Christians responded to mass murder with general acquiescence and only isolated defiance. Protestants earned the most shame. In the Evangelical Lutheran Church elections of 1932, so-called "German Christians" won two-thirds of the vote -- and later praised the fight "against the political and spiritual influence of the Jewish race." Catholic leaders were less overt in their anti-Semitism, but hardly heroic in their resistance -- usually accommodating rather than confronting the Nazi regime. "Charity is well and good," said one Vatican official at the time, "but the greatest charity is not to make problems for the church."

During the Rwandan genocide, writes Timothy Longman, "Numerous priests, pastors, nuns, brothers, catechists and Catholic and Protestant lay leaders supported, participated in, or helped to organize the killings." Two Benedictine nuns collaborated with Hutu militias in the murder of 7,000 people just outside their convent grounds. A priest participated in the burning and bulldozing of a church with 2,000 men, women and children inside.

It is very difficult to understand how those who worship a man on a cross could help to drive the bloody nails themselves. But the record is clear: When religion is infected by racism, ideology or extreme nationalism, it can become a carrier of hatred instead of conscience. And when churches are concerned mainly for their institutional self-preservation, they often end up neck-deep in compromise or paralyzed by cowardice.

This is the historical context for the Catholic Church's recent lifting of the excommunication against Richard Williamson, a bishop of the ultra-conservative Society of St. Pius X. Williamson claimed last month, "I believe that the historical evidence is strongly against, is hugely against 6 million Jews having been deliberately gassed in gas chambers as a deliberate policy of Adolf Hitler. ... I believe there were no gas chambers."

There is no reason to believe that Pope Benedict XVI has backtracked on the admirable Catholic engagement of the Jewish community under John Paul II. Benedict was obviously distressed and surprised by the Williamson controversy, using his audience last week to affirm his "full and indisputable solidarity" with Jews. His attempted reconciliation with dissidents such as Williamson was intended to be a statement about church unity, not about Holocaust history.

But it was a large, insensitive error. The Vatican admitted that Williamson's Holocaust denial was "unknown to the Holy Father at the time he revoked the excommunication." Not only the Obama administration struggles with an incompetent vetting process.

The stakes of such failure, however, are higher for the Vatican. Christianity -- still accused by the anger of genocide survivors and haunted by the unquiet ghosts of Auschwitz and Kigali -- cannot tolerate leaders who deny the Holocaust without adding to its greatest scandal and further discrediting its deepest ideals.
Benedict has ended up at the right place, demanding that Williamson recant his statements. But serious damage has been done because the wounds are so recent, and the historical offense so massive.

While Christian resistance to the Holocaust was rare, there were exceptions. Bernhard Lichtenberg, the provost of St. Hedwig's Cathedral in Berlin, was convicted of violating the Sedition Law after two parishioners informed on him to the Nazis. The judge summed up his crime as follows: "On 29 August 1941, the defendant held evensong ... before a large congregation. He closed the service with a prayer in which he said, among other things: 'Let us now pray for the Jews and for the wretched prisoners in the concentration camps.' ... He states that he has included the Jews in his prayers ever since the synagogues were first set on fire and Jewish businesses closed."

Lichtenberg served two years in prison and died on the way to Dachau. A church dedicated to his ideals cannot be the church of Bishop Williamson.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Air Asia and Labu Airport

This blog was an email from someone:

1. EPF to fund KLIA East@Labu airport estimated at min RM1.6b and bear the RISK with min return....thanks to EPF member's cheap money!

2. Sime Darby will pocket at least RM500m profit from land revaluation (min 3000 acres from agri to commercial Cost RM
600m) which otherwise will take 20-30 years to materialise.
3. Air Asia (Tony + Gang) will get what they want

4. ECM Libra (Kalimullah and Khairy-KJ) could make RM 300m with ~2%
commission as middleman broker

5. Brunsfeld will be the other beneficiary being main contractor

6. Finally, EPF members (funding PFI intiative) would probably be UNHAPPY

Why the rush to approve the Labu LCT? Wee Choo Keong, MP for Wangsa maju,
has submitted 18 questions for Some Darby to answer. I have highlihted in
bold the more pertinent ones.

1. Why the hurry to rush through the approval to build KLIA East @ Labu?
Has it got anything to do with Abdullah Badawi's term as the prime
minister coming to an end in March 2009?

2. Is the construction of KLIA East @ Labu a purported attempt to shore
up and safeguard the political future of a young and ambitious

3. Why build KLIA East @ Labu when KLIA is still grossly under-utilised
until today? (KLIA was originally designed to handle 125 million
passengers a year but is now only handling about 25 million.)

4. Why build KLIA East @ Labu when the government has already built LCCT
in Sepang and spent a total of almost RM244 million for the seeming
exclusive use of AirAsia? (The sum includes the RM123.9 million used for
its extension and upgrade as recently as 2008 last year.)

5. Why build KLIA East @ Labu when it will be a threat to public safety
when its location is dangerously close to busy KLIA and LCCT in Sepang
with a straight-line distance of only 10 km between them when ICAO
(International Civil Aviation Organisation) strictly recommends that the
minimum distance between two airports should be at least 40 km?

6. Why build KLIA East @ Labu when it will be at a much further distance
away from the Klang valley where far more passengers will hail from?

7. Why build KLIA East @ Labu at such great cost for the exclusive use of
one airline - AirAsia?

8. After the construction of KLIA East @ Labu is completed, will LCCT in
Sepang be abandoned?

9. What is the synergy between the businesses of Sime Darby (a GLC) and
AirAsia (a private company) that makes good sense for both companies to
consider coming together to build KLIA East @ Labu and making a success
of it?

10. Sime Darby does not own enough land in Negeri Sembilan for building
KLIA East @ Labu which will require about 3,000 acres. So from whom will
Sime Darby be buying land? Who are the owners of this land? Are they
cronies, family members and/or people who are friendly and personally
connected with Sime Darby and AirAsia?

11. If KLIA East @ Labu is apparently a joint-venture between Sime Darby
and AirAsia, does AirAsia have the fund for this massive RM1.6 billion
project when the company has suffered heavy losses for hedging aero fuel
price and has to take delivery of 150 Airbus planes at an average of 1
plane per month?

12. Is it too far-fetched to consider that KLIA East @ Labu is perhaps
built to help accommodate the parking need of AirAsia's Airbus planes as
they are delivered?

13. AirAsia sells air tickets in advance as far ahead as 1 to 2 years
which is equivalent to deposit-taking. What will happen to this money
which belongs to the public in the event AirAsia goes under because of
its heavy commitment and undertaking in the construction of KLIA East @

14. If AirAsia is purportedly doing well and has the fund to build KLIA
East @ Labu, what are the reasons then behind all the foreign investors
selling off their shares in AirAsia?

15. What is the reason for EPF to be the biggest investor of AirAsia, a
JV partner in the construction of KLIA East @ Labu with Sime Darby, and
why does EPF continue to buy shares in AirAsia when its share price
continues to dip south?

16. Does Sime Darby and AirAsia have the fund to sustain the maintenance
of KLIA East @ Labu when it will cost on average about RM40 million a
year to maintain an airport?

17. Is the reason for EPF to be a major shareholder in AirAsia, which has
entered into a JV with Sime Darby to build KLIA East @ Labu at great
cost, so that when this massive project needs to be bailed out EPF will
be there to do so with the rakyat's money?

18. Even though the construction of KLIA East @ Labu is claimed to be a
Privately Funded Investment venture, should the authority throw caution
to the wind and compromise on public safety by giving its approval?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Challenging Oprah in the Gay

February 4, 2009

Last week Ted Haggard's wife, Gayle, dared to defy the high priestess of America's new morality.

Last week former Colorado pastor Ted Haggard hit the talk show circuit to promote the new HBO documentary about his fall from grace, The Trials of Ted Haggard. I'll admit I wasn't too excited about Haggard going public with the story of his relationship with a male prostitute, but there was a bright spot amid the awkward interviews. When Ted and his wife, Gayle, appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show Jan. 28, Gayle dared to defy Oprah and her audience.

Oprah tried her best to pin Ted down and get him to admit he is a homosexual. Ted balked, saying that his sexuality is complicated. He explained that he had sexual experiences in the seventh grade that confused him. He spoke of sexual impulses that he struggled with but didn't act on until he hit 50.

"Oprah is the closest thing we have to a high priestess of America's new morality, and she seems obligated to push the politically correct idea that it's OK to be gay.”

Oprah told Ted, who is now 52, that he should just accept his "identity" rather than hiding it or running from it. Then Gayle, who has raised five kids and knows a lot about discipline, struck a nerve. She told Oprah that just because a person has certain inclinations doesn't mean he has to act on them.

Oprah got upset at that point. She even got out of her chair and said to Gayle: "That's where I disagree with you"-and her audience cheered. (I couldn't help but wonder if they had been cued.)

I was cheering for Gayle-not just because she has modeled Christian forgiveness during this embarrassing scandal but also because she clearly articulated the gospel during the interview. She stuck her neck out and defied the false religion of our times.

Oprah is the closest thing we have to a high priestess of America's new morality, and she seems obligated to push the politically correct idea that it's OK to be gay. She is paid a lot of money to promote this agenda, and she's good at it. She is articulate in her arguments and velvety smooth in her affirmation. Just come to Oprah, all you who are weary and burdened, and she will console you.

Oprah's feel-good doctrine is the same one adopted in the last 30 years by mainstream psychologists, Hollywood producers, gay rights organizations and some mainline churches. It basically says that if a person struggles with any level of same-sex attraction, they shouldn't fight the urges or label this a sin or a sexual disorder. They should simply accept their gayness, celebrate their new sexual identity and then hop in bed with whomever they please (unless of course they want to settle down into a same-sex marriage, which all state governments should legalize).

This "just accept who you are" argument certainly doesn't make sense for other categories of sinful behavior or emotional dysfunction. Consider these examples:
* I've prayed with countless people who struggle with addictions to alcohol, marijuana or prescription drugs. In most cases they were using the substances to numb their emotional pain and they hated their condition. When they received prayer ministry and counseling they found the grace to break free from these addictions. Can you imagine a counselor telling these people: "Why fight it? God gave you an addictive personality! Embrace it!"

* I know several single straight guys who struggle to stay sexually pure. They want to honor God and save sex for marriage, but sometimes they give in to the temptations of pornography or they cross barriers they shouldn't when they're dating. If I embrace Oprah's philosophy, I should just tell my friends to accept these temptations as their "identity"-as in, "Go ahead, God created you to be a fornicator! Let your hormones control you!"

* This week I met a man who spent more than 10 years in prison and is officially classified as a sex offender in police records. He found Christ during his first year of incarceration, and today he is a strong Christian. He has been out of prison for 10 years, and has had no further criminal incidents, yet he occasionally struggles with lustful thoughts. Should I tell him to stop trying so hard and just accept perversion as a way of life?

It would be absurd to discourage these people from seeking change. The very essence of the gospel is that Christ gives us the power to live a holy life. We are helpless to overcome sinful urges on our own, but when we have the presence of Jesus in our lives we discover the truth of Romans 6:14: "Sin shall not be master over you (NASB)."

God does not want us to stay the way we are! The apostle Paul told the Corinthians: "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come" (2 Cor. 5:17). That is the hallmark of genuine Christianity.

The issue on the table in this debate is whether homosexuality is (1) a sinful condition that can be overcome by the grace of God; or (2) an inborn genetic quality that should be accepted like skin color or a personality trait. Oprah and the majority of the mainstream media today are obviously pushing the second viewpoint. "Sin" is not in their vocabulary.

We cannot be silent while this debate rages. Let's tell our culture that Jesus Christ's amazing grace has the power to transform people whether they are gay or straight or anything in between.

J. Lee Grady is editor of Charisma.

The World’s Worst Persecutors

by Adrienne Gaines │ Feb 04, 2009

North Korea again topped Open Doors' list of the world's 50 worst persecutors of Christians.

The world has become a more dangerous place for Christians.

So says Carl Moeller, president of Open Doors USA, which Tuesday released its annual World Watch List naming the 50 countries that are the worst persecutors of Christians.

Topping the list for the seventh consecutive year is North Korea, an isolated, communist nation that has a long history of religious repression and human rights abuse. But Moeller said he was surprised to see a surge in anti-Christian violence in nations that had been considered relatively stable, such as India and Algeria.
"Militant religious fundamentalism worldwide is the biggest problem facing Christians today," said Moeller, whose Southern California-based organization advocates for the persecuted church.

"Twenty [or] 30 years ago the ... atheistic philosophies of communism dominated the discussions of Christian persecution. Today the challenge is not to defend the existence of God and Christianity and our right to worship Him, but it's the challenge of Islam and other fundamentalist perspectives that challenge us on who is God. And that challenge is one that the Christian church is answering, but it's answering it in the face of great opposition and great persecution in many places."
India rose from No. 30 to No. 22 on the World Watch List after Hindu militants torched churches and attacked Christian villages, killing more than 100 people and leaving thousands homeless.

In Algeria, which rose from 31 to 19 on the list, government officials in the predominantly Muslim nations have been closing churches and arresting Christians, sometimes for simply carrying a Bible, Moeller said.

In Iraq, which rose from 21 to 16, churches were bombed, and several Christians were kidnapped and/or murdered in a series of attacks in Mosul last year. And in northern Nigeria, clashes between Christians and Muslims led to more than 100 deaths and the destruction of several churches.

"So many of our liberties here in the United States and throughout the West are under threat ... as they are in many of these countries around the world," Moeller said. "These lists serve to warn us, to cause us to watch what is happening and to determine from those signs the course of action we should take as a church."
In North Korea, Christians are routinely tortured, imprisoned and even murdered for resisting Kim Jong Il's communist ideology. Suzanne Scholte, chairman of the North Korea Freedom Coalition, said Kim Jong Il's regime fears losing its ability to control access to the outside world. More and more, outsiders are using radios and balloons to send messages into the isolated nation.

"In order for them to keep people under control, they have to keep the people in the dark-spiritually and literally," said Scholte. "There will be a crackdown because of Kim Jong Il's fears about people knowing about what's going on in the outside world."
Despite reports of the dictator's declining health, Scholte believes the persecution will continue. "Christians are always going to be on the front lines of persecution in North Korea because they are the ones to believe that Kim Jong Il is not god," said Scholte, who was awarded the Seoul Peace Prize last year for her work assisting North Korean defectors.

Open Doors compiled its World Watch List based on responses to a questionnaire sent to missionaries and indigenous church leaders around the world.

Ranking second and third, respectively, were Saudi Arabia, where a young girl was killed by a religious police officer for writing about her faith online, and Iran, where a major crackdown on house churches led to dozens of arrests.

Afghanistan moved up three spots to No. 4 as a result of increased pressure on religious minorities from Taliban militants. Somalia and the Maldives ranked fifth and sixth, respectively, with Yemen at No. 7, Laos at No. 8, Eritrea at No. 9 and Uzbekistan at 10.

Although they are still repressive of Christianity, Bhutan and China dropped out of the top 10 and ranked at No. 11 and 12, respectively. Last year, Bhutan was fifth and China was 10th on the list. (Read the entire list.)

Moeller said he was encouraged that Vietnam fell from No. 17 last year to No. 23, a sign that fewer believers are being harassed. Open Doors also recorded fewer reports of persecution in Colombia, causing the longtime violator to fall completely off the list.

Moeller urges Christians in the West to pray for the world's persecuted church, particularly those in North Korea. For the last three years, Open Doors has been leading a 24/7 prayer effort for the nation that will culminate with North Korea Freedom Week April 25-May 2.

Although she encourages advocacy, including sending letters of support to North Koreans, Scholte agrees that spiritual warfare is the most effective action Christians can take.

"Ultimately what we're facing in North Korea is spiritual warfare," she said. "We're attacking a stronghold-really, a principality over that nation. When we say words like ‘North Korea freedom' and ‘North Korea human rights,' we are directly attacking that principality. Where do freedom and human rights come from? They come from God."

Tuesday, February 3, 2009