Showing posts with label Libya. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Libya. Show all posts

22 February 2012

From the archives...

Sometimes it's fun to look back. Here's what I was blogging in February in previous years. From trouble in the Middle East to ancient photographs.

The archivesA year ago - The trouble was starting in Libya a year ago, just as it now has in Syria. As we thought and prayed for the people and government of Libya a year ago, so we should also do for Syria now.

COMMENT: How things have moved on! History will not repeat itself, the situation in Syria is different, probably far more dangerous internationally than the upheavals in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya. We can also now pray for the development of stable democracies in those countries, it's not a foregone conclusion for any of them. Don't forget the smaller countries too - Dubai and Yemen for example.


Two years ago - A word from the Spirit. He tells us to follow him, not one another. Our callings are different so if we are all obedient we will be doing different things. We shouldn't persuade others to do what we do, we should encourage one another, not criticise.

COMMENT: This is the key to peaceful hearts and minds as we share our lives together in Christ.


Ten years ago - I was just starting the adventure of blogging. Here's the third post I made, a brief thought about photography following a chat in the office with friends.

COMMENT: Photography records the past for us in a very special way. We can see what was present in a place up to 186 years ago - the oldest surviving image was made in 1826. When photography was invented it was a novelty, but now some of those early efforts are a source of historical information.

02 May 2011

RESPONSE: The death of Osama bin Laden

We live in a violent world. Today's news that United States forces have killed Osama bin Laden in a reinforced hideout in Pakistan just emphasises that. What are we to make of it?

Osama bin LadenViolence seems to be everywhere. A civil war is under way in Libya, pirates are active off the Somali coast, in Iran retribution is quick and severe for those who dare to oppose the authorities, the battle continues in Afghanistan and Iraq is racked by shootings and bombings. Closer to home trouble is stirring again in Northern Ireland and in Bristol there have been clashes between protesters and police over (of all things) the opening of a small, local Tesco shop.

Let's face it, there's nothing new about violence, it's as old as the human race. But it certainly hasn't gone away!

The latest news about Osama bin Laden's death is astonishing and raises many questions. You can read some of the background in an article by the BBC's Mark Mardell. No doubt more detail will emerge over the coming days and weeks. There is also likely to be strong reaction from Pakistan and perhaps from Russia and China too.

The principles - But what about the principles involved? For those with no faith it just comes down to a matter of morality and personal opinion. Is it reasonable to kill someone who has done bad things? Is it acceptable to mount a raid into another country, even if the purpose seems noble? Everyone will have opinions on these matters and we will not always agree.

Many religions teach that violence is wrong or that it is justifiable only in certain circumstances.

Love and forgive - But what for those who follow Jesus? Three things, I think.

First, it's clear that we are to love the Father. We are to be like him, pouring out love on one another and even on our enemies. Yahshua told Peter that those who choose to live by the sword will die by the sword. It is surely better for us to die by love than to die by the sword. As we judge, so will we be judged. 'Be like your Father in heaven', is not a suggestion - it's a command. But be warned, loving may cause us to die. If we truly love we will certainly die to self. But we may also die physically in situations where violence might have 'saved' us. It's better to be saved by grace than to be 'saved' by violent action.

And secondly, we are to forgive as we have been forgiven. If someone murders my wife or my child I am to forgive them. That's hard, isn't it? We are not called to seek revenge or punishment. We are not even called to seek justice. We are called to forgive.

Forgiving a wrong often seems like excusing evil. In fact forgiving and loving our enemies pours fire upon them. Forgiving is harder than lashing out with the tongue or with the fist or a firearm. Grace and patience lead us to love and forgive. Anger leads us into sin.

The actions of others - And the third point is this. Not only are we to forgive our enemy, we are not to judge others who make different choices.

So what about Osama's death? It's not for me to say. All I can say is that it would have been entirely wrong for me to kill him, but others must decide for themselves. My Father gave us freedom of will, freedom to choose. He expects me to extend the same freedom to others. I may not judge, I may only love and forgive.

30 March 2011

An open letter to Muammar al-Gaddafi

Muammar al-GaddafiDear Mr Gaddafi,

Assalamu alaikum,

You are currently the leader of the nation of Libya, but not all the people of Libya support you. Not all of them see you as a brother. Few people have really understood you.

But there is another leader who understands you well. The King of heaven, the Most High, the Creator and Ruler of the Universe understands you because he too does not have the support of all the people in his realm. He knows what it is like to stand alone, to be despised and overlooked, to be thrown down and rejected and opposed.

He has chosen to speak with you, man to man, leader to leader. He wants to hear your answer while there is still time. He says,

I will deal with your personal problems and with your political problems in full, but I can only do this if you willingly and immediately put them into my hands. Give me your loneliness, your fear, and your shame and I will take them away and destroy them. I can see what is in your heart and I will know if you withhold anything from me. You must meet the future with me or without me, the choice is yours.

You must ask Isa to help you, this is most important. Without Isa's help and guidance you will not survive - either in this world or in the next. He is the key to seal your past and unlock your future. He will tell you what to do. He will explain everything you need to know.

I think Isa will call you to draw back your armies and allow supplies and assistance to reach the suffering people in your towns and cities. All good leaders act quickly to help their people. But these are merely my thoughts and he will tell you about these things himself.

Here is one of Isa's sayings, 'Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.' (Matthew 11:28)

(See also: Jesus in the prison cell)

28 March 2011

THOUGHT - Blessing or curse?

With all that's been happening in Libya recently (and in the wider Middle East and North Africa) I was deeply impressed while reading Matthew 5 this morning.

Have you ever wondered what happens if you reverse Yahshua's statements about blessing?


Church of the Beatitudes in GalileeHe had headed up the mountain because the crowd was pressing in. Yahshua always had compassion on the crowds, he saw them as lost sheep in need of a shepherd.

But he also clearly saw that it was essential to spend time teaching his closest followers. That is what he did on this particular day, leaving the crowd in order to teach the disciples (verse 1).

And what teaching it was!

Backwards beatitudes? - On this occasion he tells them what will bring blessing; it's the simple, basic, kind and loving things that are blessed. It was true then and it's still true today - a fundamental fact about the nature of the kingdom of heaven.

Looking at the opposites of these statements is instructive because it's a list of what will not, and cannot, be blessed. Here's the list...

  • The super spiritual
  • The ones who think everything's fine (so do not mourn)
  • The arrogant
  • Those who have no appetite for righteousness
  • The merciless
  • The impure in heart
  • The peace destroyers
  • Those who are not righteous enough to attract persecution
And there is no blessing in being praised, championed, and having good things said about us if Yahshua is not in us!

Salt and light - We are salt and light, in other words we need to have flavour and not be hidden away. Yahshua is clear that he is not here to abolish the Law or the Prophets, (the Old Testament). These writings speak of him over and over again and he is here to be and do and say what they have set out in words. The law cannot be set aside, it must instead be fulfilled (fully filled, fully met). This is what he came to do.

The demands of love go further than the demands of the Law. In other words anger is embryonic murder and reconciliation is more important than an offering. We have a choice, settle our accounts with Yahweh now (the Son has made that possible) or wait until we are thrown into a place from which there is no escape! Looking at a woman lustfully is embryonic adultery, we must get rid of everything that causes sin. Divorce is wrong unless the circumstances are extreme, swearing an oath comes from the evil one.

We are not to struggle with evil people, we are to love even our enemies and pray for them.

Love in action - The last verse sums it all up, we are to be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect. Is that a tall order or what? We are called to lives of love for Father and for those around us. It seems to me that the worst figures in history did few of the things that lead to blessing and all the things that do not. Yet still we must love our enemies.

Pray for the people suffering in Libya at the hands of Mr Gaddafi, but also pray for Muammar Gaddafi himself. Even now it's not too late for him to turn away from the things that do not bring a blessing. While there is still time, pray that he will even seize a chance to meet and honour Isa (Jesus). It may be an opportunity that is finally slipping away.

(See also: Being radical)

20 March 2011

RESPONSE - Comments on BBC News from Libya

Here are clippings from two BBC viewers writing in. They can't both be right...

Jamal, from Bradford, UK, writes: "I am originally from Libya and I am outraged that the foreign forces are bombing Libya. They say they want to protect lives but I think hundreds more will die. The rebels are nothing but a bunch of murderers, they are undisciplined and are the real threat so if you want to attack anyone it should be the rebels."

Khaled, in the UK, writes: "I just have been told (on Sunday 20 March) by my sister who lives in Misrata that Gaddafi forces are shelling residences and homes with massive force. Everyone is hysterical and there is lots of screaming. I am very worried."

See more as it happens from the BBC's Middle East page.

Continue praying for the people of Libya.

21 February 2011

THOUGHT - Pray for the people of Libya

I have watched events in Tunisia and then Egypt with great interest, and more recently events in Yemen, Bahrain, Morocco and particularly Libya. What is happening in Libya is of an altogether worse kind. All followers of Isa (Jesus) should be praying for those suffering people.

A mosque in LibyaI considered writing earlier to congratulate the people of Tunisia and then Egypt. They have brought about change in their lands and done it with remarkably little loss of life. They now stand a good chance of going forward into better times, influencing the nature of their own government.

But now Libya is in the news and some appalling things seem to be going on. It is likely that the Libyan air force has been ordered to carry out strikes on civilians, Apache helicopter gunships have already been used, as have army units with heavy weapons such as machine guns, mortar bombs, and missiles.

It's difficult to know how to respond; if the reports are correct it's savagery of the worst kind, usually limited to all out war.

I'm praying for the people in Libya right now and I urge everyone else to do the same. Men, women and children are dying in Libya tonight. They are guilty of nothing more than trying to replace a corrupt and brutal government that has been in power for decades.

Pray that these terrible times will be cut short. Pray that many who might otherwise die will be somehow protected and kept safe, even in the middle of the violence. Pray for the armed forces and the security and police forces, that many of them will disobey orders to fire on civilians. And yes, pray for those clinging to power including Mr Gaddafi and his family, that they will quickly see the folly of continuing as they are. Pray that many will be surprised by Isa himself appearing to them in their time of need, speaking comfort and peace and life into their hearts. And if you doubt that such a thing is possible, read this earlier post and then pray.

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