by Ian Munro
given Wales UK 28 March 2015
|In John 15:12-15 Christ makes clear that He regarded His disciples as friends - even laying His life down for them. We need to view our brethren in a similar way: showing ourselves friendly in a truly loving way. (1.9 Mb)|
by Jon Bowles
Christ - Our Footwashing Example
given Wales UK 28 March 2015
|After Christ washed his disciples' feet, He asked, "do you know what I have just done to you?" This sermon attempts to answer the question by examining how He had been with the Father; as the Living Word; with agape character; who loved his enemies; with all divine power; as the supreme example of servant leadership. (14.0 Mb)|
Why would the British make a film that lauded the escape of a Nazi enemy ... a German prisoner of war?
A week or so ago, Judy and I watched an old black and white movie called "The One that Got Away". It puzzled us at first why the British would go to the trouble and expense to highlight the escape of a German, i.e.. enemy pilot during WW2, but as the plot of the true story unfolded, we were amazed and impressed by Franz von Werra, the "hero" of the film.
Von Werra's overriding passion, after he had been shot down in Britain in September 1940 was to return to Germany. Not only to fight again, but also to warn the powers that be of the subtle British interrogation methods, which were proving very successful. This goal burnt so brightly in his mind that he went to incredible lengths to achieve his escape.
The first attempt was from a prisoner of war camp in the Lake District, and he barely survived 5 days of exposure and starvation on the fells, until he was recaptured. Twenty one days of solitary confinement failed to dent his passion and he masterminded an escape tunnel at the next camp to which he was transferred. After escaping, he brazenly claimed to be a Dutch pilot, bluffed his way onto the tarmac of one of the airfields in use, and was only arrested while he was attempting to learn the controls of a British fighter plane, which he planned to fly back to Germany.
Transferred again, this time to Canada, and with his goal still uppermost in his mind, he jumped out of a window of the moving train, and found himself, in deep mid-winter, 30 miles from the St. Lawrence river. At this time, the USA was still neutral, so he decided to attempt walking across the frozen river. He was thwarted on his first effort by a wide stretch of deep, icy running water in the centre. So he returned to the shore and with the aid of a stolen row boat which he painstakingly dragged to the open water, he did in fact achieve this dangerous feat, and landed, half-frozen, on neutral US territory. But while the Canadian authorities were seeking his extradition, he managed to get over the border to Mexico, and proceeded in stages to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Spain, and Italy. He finally arrived back in Germany 6 months after his capture. Indeed, by the end of the film, we found ourselves willing him to achieve his goal!
Von Werra faced some incredible difficulties and trials during his time of imprisonment, but he never gave up, and never lost sight of that goal of freedom. We too long for the freedom that the Kingdom of God will bring, and find ourselves more and more aliens in a foreign land.... subjected to all kinds of trials and pressures, especially it seems at the run up to Passover, possibly because Passover pictures not only the protection of the first born but also the birth — and birth pangs — of the very first of the firstborn... Jesus Christ Himself.
I should imagine that the Israelites of old were in real trepidation as the time of their Passover drew near. But in hindsight, we can see that this was to be the greatest victory of all time for them. This would have been the story they could tell their children's children's children. The greatest nation on earth, destroyed in an unprecedented way, for the sake of the children of Israel — giving real meaning to the name "Israel" which literally translates as "God prevails" or "the Mighty One prevails". That Individual — the Rock that went with them — was Jesus Christ (1Corinthians 10:4). And that Individual, God's Living Word — the Rock on which we too must build (Matthew 7:24), also goes with us, never leaving nor forsaking us, regardless of circumstances, (Hebrews 13:5, Romans 8:31-39) — and remains the same "yesterday, and to day, and forever" (Hebrews 13:8).
But ancient Israel failed to fulfil the goal that God set before them. Psalm 78 clearly shows that in spite of the fantastic miracles that God performed on their behalf, they still did not put their trust in Him:
The problem with the Israelites, is they took their eyes off the goal. Yes, they faced some harsh difficulties in their sojourn in the wilderness, but instead of looking to the One who had recently released them from Egyptian bondage, they complained and even discussed returning to the land of the enemy! They ceased to have faith in the Holy One who was dealing with them (Hebrews 3:19), and from a purely human mindset the goal became impossible to achieve. Not so with Caleb and Joshua!
Out of the twelve spies, only these two men had faith in God that He would deliver them from any problems and trials up ahead. The others saw the seemingly overwhelming physical issues and lost heart.... lost their goal. On the cusp of entering into the Promised Land, God gave Joshua this rock-solid promise, which in effect also applies to us today, as we walk ever closer to our inheritance:
We are told in Daniel 7 that there is to be a certain "wearing out of the saints of the most High" (verse 25) and all of us can be subject to being totally worn down and discouraged at times. Sometimes this discouragement can even be the result of pre-Passover self-examination by seeing sins that are still with us, years down the line. Or correction from another source brings us down, not remembering that :
There is an old Arab proverb along the lines of "too much sunshine makes a desert", giving the inference that we all need some "storm-clouds" in our lives from time to time, if we are to be worth anything. No one really welcomes trials, but one thing we must remember is that they are not unique to us in God's church.... the whole world is suffering horrendously at this time — but unlike us, without a Resource, unable to get the kind of help that is available to us, through the blood of the Passover.
Unlike the Israelites, we need to remember Who it is we are actually dealing with — or rather, who is dealing with us! Trials for us are not purposeless, as they are vital elements in the building of faith and character. We now find ourselves at the start of the sequence of annual reminders that God has given His people — to remind them of His greatest creation ever! The creation of minds, and then beings, who are as He is. The reproduction of Himself! The problem is, evolution has corrupted much more than just the study of biology. The satanic aim is to get us to take our eyes off the goal — off the One who leads us toward that goal — just as happened within Israel of old. God knew this human weakness, and gives us not only the annual Holy Days, but also the weekly Sabbath to point us back to creation — and forward to the arrival of His Kingdom on earth.
While we can easily get worn down by pre-Passover trials, or trials at any time, we need to get them into perspective, realising we have an incredible resource ....a heavenly Father, who with the Living Word, Jesus Christ, is the Creator and Sustainer of this stunningly beautiful and complex world.... who encourages us to take our burdens to Him.
He's the Potter, we're the clay (Isaiah 64:8) and as heartbreaking and difficult as some of these trials may be, we need to remember their purpose in our spiritual growth and the admonition given by Paul, who had vast experience in coping with trials!
Franz von Werra became a hero on his return to Germany, and was awarded the Knights Cross of the Iron Cross by Hitler. He was assigned the task of improving German techniques for the interrogation of captured pilots based on his own exposure to the British system and also helped improve the treatment of POWs in Germany, based on his own experiences. He achieved his goal, in that respect, but on returning to the Luftwaffe, he suffered engine failure on a practice flight and crashed into the sea. His body was never found. And this was only 6 months from arriving back in Germany, and at just 27 years old!
We have an incredible goal before us, far more enduring that von Werra's, as ours is one that will achieve far-reaching results out into eternity!
… inter-religious dialogue… seeking common values in religions… a UN of religions… Are we about to see the formation of…
The concept of uniting this world’s major religions in a bid to create world peace is nothing new. Back in early 1981, President Anwar Sadat of Egypt told Mr Armstrong that he wanted to build a ‘World Peace centre’.
“The Egyptian president gave me details of his proposed $70 million World Peace Center to be erected at the base of Mt. Sinai, symbolic of peace between nations and between religions. Religious antagonisms have caused many wars through world history. His new peace center will consist of a walled-in complex including a mosque, a synagogue and a church, emblematic of peace between the three major religions predominant in the three nations involved in the Camp David talks.” (Worldwide News - 1981-02-09)
On 6th October, 1981, President Sadat was assassinated by fundamentalist army officers who were enraged when Mr Sadat signed the Sinai peace treaty with Israel. But the idea of a centre for world peace lived on.
Shimon Peres, the ninth President of Israel retired in July, 2014 after a long and distinguished career in Israeli politics. In a private meeting with Pope Francis on 4th September, 2014, he made a startling proposal:
“Retired Israeli President Shimon Peres has proposed a new global peace initiative to Pope Francis: A ‘United Nations of Religions,’ given that most wars today have religious, not nationalistic, undercurrents.
The Vatican said Peres pitched the initiative during a 45-minute audience on Thursday in the Apostolic Palace. The motivation, Peres told the Catholic weekly Famiglia Cristiana, is that religion is the prime trigger for world conflicts today.
‘The UN has had its time,’ Peres said, according to Famiglia Cristiana. ‘What we need is an organization of United Religions, the UN of religions’.” (haaretz.com)
The following article comes from “Catholic Family News - A Monthly Journal Preserving our Catholic Faith and Heritage”.
Peres’ proposal to Francis to set up a UN of religions
4th September, 2014 - “The Middle East and the current turmoil there were at the centre of two separate audiences which Francis held this morning. First the Pope received the former president of the Republic of Israel, Shimon Peres and then the Prince of Jordan, Hassan bin Talal.
Both were directly involved in Pope Francis’ recent visit to the Holy Land; Francis developed cordial relations with both of them, beyond protocol formalities. Prince Hassan bin Talal is known for his efforts in fostering interreligious dialogue. Peres was one of the key figures present at the historic meeting of prayer for peace in the Middle East, held in the Vatican Gardens.
The former president of the Republic of Israel had a very specific proposal to make at this meeting. He talked about it in an interview with Famiglia Cristiana before the meeting: his proposal was essentially to create a UN of religions. ‘The UN has run its course, what we need is an Organisation of United Religions, a UN of religions,’ Peres said in his interview with Famiglia Cristiana. ‘This would be the best way to fight against these terrorists who kill in the name of faith, because the majority of people are not like them, they practice their religion without killing anyone, without this thought ever crossing their minds.’
91-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner Shimon Peres underlined that ‘today we are faced with hundreds, possibly thousands of terrorist movements that aim to kill in the name of God.’
Due to the power of religions and the Pope’s charisma, Peres would like Pope Francis to lead the proposed UN of religions: ‘When I look around me I notice one thing: perhaps for the first time in history the Pope is a leader who has the respect of many people as well as the most diverse religions and their representatives. Indeed, he may actually be the only leader they really respect. Hence the idea I proposed to Francis.’
Francis welcomed the idea with interest and encouragement; he did not commit to it personally but assured Peres that there are Vatican dicasteries [Departments of the Roman Curia] that deal with these kinds of initiatives. ‘The Pope,’ the Holy See’s spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi said, ‘The Pope spent a long time talking with Mr Peres whom he sees as a man of peace and even though no official statements were issued as these were not audiences with heads of state or of government, the long duration of the talks shows that the Pope took an interest in Peres’ proposals and the information the Jordanian prince gave him on his interreligious centre for peace, expressing his encouragement.’
The Pope explained that ‘there are Holy See dicasteries in charge of such initiatives: the dicastery for interreligious dialogue and the dicastery for Justice and Peace. Cardinals Kock and Turkson will consider this proposal carefully,’ Lombardi said.
The second audience Pope Francis held in the Vatican this morning was with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan’s Prince El Hassan bin Talal and it lasted about half an hour. Father Lombardi said this was recalling the prince’s efforts in the field of interreligious dialogue as the founder of an interreligious centre for peace and human rights. ‘He spoke to the Pope about the work done to combat violence and in favour of human dignity, of brotherhood and of assistance to the poor in a globalized world. This is done by drawing on the common values religions hold, doing unto others as you would have them do unto you, in other words’.” (cfnews.org)
World leaders think that the only way to world peace is some form of united religion. One of the best ways to unite diverse groups it to “create” a common enemy – in this case – terrorism. Yet again, fear is being used to push forward a contentious agenda.
Being somewhat “economical” with the truth is another issue. Mr Peres said that: “ …we are faced with hundreds, possibly thousands of terrorist movements that aim to kill in the name of God. ” The truth is, most of the terror in today’s world is committed by Muslims, but it’s not “politically correct” to say so!
The Pope is being proposed as the leader of the Organisation of United Religions by the highly respected Jewish elder statesman. Also note: the Roman Catholic Church is “considering the proposal carefully”!
In another article in the “Catholic Family News”, there was further encouragement for the “United Religions concept.”
Pope Francis Encourages the One-World Church?
9th September 2014 - “In 2007, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Cardinal of Buenos Aires, Argentina, invited the visiting Episcopal Bishop of California, William Swing, to bring his assorted syncretist colleagues to the Cathedral for an interfaith service with him. Swing’s group was part of the United Religions Initiative, and the purpose of the syncretic worship was to celebrate the URI’s 10th anniversary of its installation in Latin America.
“Religious syncretism exhibits blending of two or more religious belief systems into a new system… This can occur for many reasons, and the latter scenario happens quite commonly …when a culture is conquered, and the conquerors bring their religious beliefs with them, but do not succeed in entirely eradicating the old beliefs or, especially, practices. The early Roman acceptance of other cultures’ religions into their own made it easy for them to integrate the newly encountered religions they found as a result of their expansion.” (wikipedia.org)
What was so important about this group that the future Pope Francis wanted to celebrate their anniversary in his cathedral?
To answer this question we start with the goal of Freemasonry: a New World Order, a pantheistic global community, comprising a one-world government and one-world religion or church. By definition, a pantheistic world community must have a unified religion; whilst uniting people under one religion helps them to peacefully accept world government.
New Age spokesman Robert Muller, a former UN Assistant Secretary-General, forecast that by 2013, ‘based on the common spirituality,’ we should have entered ‘a new age of … all-encompassing synthesis’.
In 1919, New Age leader and occultist Alice Bailey, in her book, ‘The Externalization of the Hierarchy’, revealed the plan for a ‘Church Universal,’ described as a union of occultism, Masonry and Christianity, whose ‘definite outlines will appear towards the close of this century.’
Well, this ‘Church Universal’ or one-world church, in the making for over 150 years, materialized in June 1997 as the United Religions Organization. Chief partners in its establishment were Bishop Swing; the Communist Gorbachev Foundation/USA; and the syncretic World Conference on Religion and Peace, known today as Religions for Peace. Also associated were the British World Congress of Faiths and its American counterpart, the Temple of Understanding.
The UR is a United Nations project. It was heralded in June 1995 by Bishop Swing at the occult, earth-worshipping interfaith service he was invited to conduct for the UN, honoring the 50th anniversary of the signing of the UN Charter. Attending the service in San Francisco’s Episcopal Grace Cathedral were political luminaries and representatives of all religions, including Britain’s Princess Margaret, Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, Polish President Lech Walesa, UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Archbishop Renato Martino (Vatican nuncio to the UN), and Archbishop John Quinn of San Francisco.
The UR is meant to be for religions what the UN is for nations. Its purpose is to be the world religious authority, ‘a UN for religion’ in order to foster peace.
[Bishop] Swing, who is also an anti-population and pro-homosexuality activist, discussed the UR with many religious leaders. He stated Mother Teresa was ‘thrilled,’ and promised to pray for it and speak to the Pope about it. But although dedicated to interfaith dialogue, the Vatican coyly stayed aloof because the United Religions ‘would give the appearance of syncretism.’ However, many Catholics, including the upper hierarchy, work with its partners, especially Religions for Peace.
Religions for Peace, co-founded by Catholic ecclesiastics, is a Non-Governmental Organization, headquartered at the UN in New York. It seeks the cooperation of religions for the global church. It helped organize the syncretic Assisi Peace Meeting in 1986. In 1994, the Vatican hosted part of its Sixth General Assembly, the first interfaith conference ever held at the Holy See. Speakers included John Paul, several cardinals, Hans Küng and liberation theologian Gustavo Gutierrez.
Unlike Pope John Paul’s indirect support of the one-world church, Cardinal Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, the future Pope Francis, in the style we have now come to expect, had no qualms about ignoring the existing Vatican position. He openly encouraged the United Religions — an ominous harbinger of the direction of his papacy?” (cfnews.org)
Another article in the “Catholic Family News” revealed that this idea was not “new” at all; it had started fourteen years previously at the United Nations!
10th November 2014 - “Isn’t it extraordinary how something long in existence can be suddenly re- proposed as a brilliant new idea? Politicians and educators, hoping we have memory problems, often do this to fool us into thinking they are working hard to improve a situation. Another audacious example of this strategy was recently provided by the Holy See’s support of a proposal for a ‘United Religions’.
The problem: Mr Peres proposed something that has been running for fourteen years, promulgated by the UN itself, with a signed Charter, and with the same goals he’s promoting!
Pope Francis should have reminded him of this, especially since the UR is not a new idea for Francis. As Archbishop of Buenos Aires he invited its founder and head to an interfaith service in his cathedral to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the UR in Latin America. Furthermore, the Holy See has been aware of the United Religions from its conception, and has been working for its goals through its founding partners.
But more importantly, it’s also ‘an attempt to bring accountability to the religious forum’. As the world’s religious authority, it aims to wipe out ‘fundamentalism,’ which is blamed for wars and conflicts.
Teilhardian Robert Muller, a former UN Assistant Secretary-General and New World Order designer, declared that fundamentalism’s ‘inflexible belief systems play an incendiary role in global conflicts.’
‘Peace will be impossible,’ he said, ‘without the taming of fundamentalism through a United Religion that professes faithfulness “only to the global spirituality and to the health of this planet”.’ This is also the basic theme of the Peres proposal.
The URI Charter was finally signed on June 26, 2000, during a six-day Summit in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, making the one-world church a reality (June 26th is also the anniversary of the signing of the UN Charter). The wording of the URI Charter suggests that ‘proselytizing’ and upholding Christian morality could be considered threats to peace.
This interreligious Summit was opened by native spiritualists invoking ‘the great spirit,’ and closed by a member of the URI Global Council who performed a Wiccan ‘blessing’. He invoked Hecate and Hermes, whilst Bishop Swing raised his hands in invocation. At least eight ‘highly respected’ Catholic priests attended the Summit as supporters. Rev P Gerard O’Rourke, Director of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs for the Archdiocese of San Francisco, declared he was there in an official capacity.” (cfnews.org)
Note well the statement: “Peace will be impossible without the taming of fundamentalism through a United Religion that professes faithfulness only to the global spirituality and to the health of this planet. This is also the basic theme of the Peres proposal.”
In other words, anyone who does not fall into line with the “United Religions” – “the Global Spirituality” – is branded a threat to world peace. This is the foundation for the justification of the persecution of all those who do not agree with the Great Universal Church! This is what the Bible refers to as the Great Tribulation! (Matthew 24:21)
Note that this “Summit” was opened by native spiritualists invoking “the great spirit,” and closed by a member of the URI Global Council who performed a Wiccan “blessing”. Can there be any doubt about the source of the inspiration for this “Summit”?
There is one insurmountable problem, and the Bible makes it very clear! “The way of peace they have not known, and there is no justice in their ways” (Isaiah 59:8 NKJV). They know what they want, they want peace, but are totally unable to achieve it!
President Sadat wanted to build a “World Peace Center”…
The Prince of Jordan, Hassan bin Talal has set up an “interreligious centre for peace” in Jordan…
Mr Peres is promoting the Pope to head a “United Nations of Religions,” thus creating a “Universal Church”.
So does the Pope have ambitions of setting up a one world religious centre in Jerusalem – the “City of Peace”? We also understand from Bible prophesy that at the time of the end, an European army goes down into the Middle East, surrounds Jerusalem, and stops the daily sacrifices, as Mr Armstrong points out in the Good News Magazine of January, 1980.
“But, Daniel 12:11 …from the time the daily sacrifice shall be taken away. Consider this a moment. This does NOT imply a material temple to be built in our time in Jerusalem. It does seem to imply the Israelis may restore the daily (twice daily) sacrifice – possibly at the Wailing Wall. The indication is the armies of the ‘beast’ of Revelation 17, entering Jerusalem (Daniel 11:41, Zechariah 14:2) will stop this daily sacrifice.” (Good News - January, 1980)
Having stopped the daily sacrifices, it seems that the Pope then sets himself up in Jerusalem. “…he shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain… ” (Daniel 11:45).
But even this effort will not work! “And he shall plant the tents of his palace between the seas and the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and no one will help him” (Daniel 11:45).
“We are living in the most tremendous days of world history– the very end time, the end of this present evil, unhappy, violent world – just prior to the second coming of Jesus Christ in supreme almighty power and great glory, as king of kings to take over rule over all nations in a new one-world government establishing peace, righteous living, with eternal salvation offered to all!” (Co-Worker Letter - June 20, 1982)
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