Albert Einstein on Jesus

Albert Einstein was offered the job of being first prime minister of Israel, a lot of people thought he was an atheist although from Jewish background, thought this was a fascinating glimpse of something he said though!

(saw this on a blog called DailyMinyan – hope you don’t mind me quoting it :o)
Interviewer: To what extent are you influenced by [the teachings of Jesus]?
Einstein: As a child I received instruction both in the Bible and in the Talmud. I am a Jew, but I am enthralled by the luminous figure of the Nazarene.
Interviewer: You accept the historical existence of Jesus?
Einstein: Unquestionably! No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life. How different, for instance, is the impression which we receive from an account of legendary heroes of antiquity like Theseus. Theseus and other heroes of his type lack the authentic vitality of Jesus.
Interviewer:  Ludwig Lewisohn, in one of his recent books, claims that many of the sayings of Jesus paraphrase the sayings of other prophets.
Einstein: No man can deny the fact that Jesus existed, nor that his sayings are beautiful. Even if some them have been said before, no one has expressed them so divinely as he.
(From interview with G.S. Viereck)

Singleness amongst the church

There seems to be a worrying increase in the number of single Christians I know that simply disappear from church life.   There is a lot of pressures for singles to confirm to society’s patterns for relationships, to just live together, if it doesn’t work out, you just move onto someone else, and that marriage is an old fashioned institution.   I think this something that Christians are not immune to.

There is not a lot spoken about what’s ideal  for single Christians.  I  know dating a non-believer is a bad idea, but its not something spoken about much in church.   I think I can count on two hands good friends that have vanished from church life because of this.   But the scriptures only tends to brought up when someone has got into this situation.  Should churches invest more time and resources into these people?

Often issues for non attached Christians are not always about dating and looking, its about your identity.  You get tired of being asked things like “oh, you will meet someone someday..”  “You need to be more holy..”   or being in between teenagers/students and couples isn’t always much fun.   Granted I am friends with couples in churches as well though, but very few of my close friends are single now.

I think this must be much harder here in Israel for both local Jewish and Arab believers in Jesus who are single, as the numbers of other believers are not that many. Most of the social circles in churches in my city seems to be around kids and youthwork, or in college or university and I think nearly all Christians that I know that are recently married met this way.   I am not really into youth/kids ministry, feel the Lord has wanted me to be a first point of contact with new adults in the church, with people in the secular work place, etc.   My work here in Israel has meant this particular season of my life means that meeting someone isn’t likely to happen at the moment.

Doing volunteer work has been good for me in terms of  stretching out and being challenged in meeting new people.  Should churches provide teaching specifically for single Christians that are post-education with fear of any kind of stigma?   Should cell groups speak about issues that affect single people?   Do churches want to invest all that time in young people that are not attached only to find they disappear post-education adult life? How did single Christians meet people from other congregations before the internet?

Christian books for singles.   Some of these do make me want to cringe.   For instance this popular one.  I kissed dating goodbye. The title just seems to scream a nannying kind of attitude.  Ok I will be honest and say I haven’t read this, so maybe this is unfair, there is differing opinions on the Amazon reviews.

Please note I am not interested in being recommended Christian dating sites, nor am I asking for sympathy, I am just looking for a modern and relevant biblical perspectives for today’s Christian singles.

Galilee road trip part 3 : Miracles of Jesus on location

Parts 1 2 3 – more soon…

Back to continue the camping trip I did in the Galilee in May.  The towns surrounding this lake are where Jesus spent most of his ministry.

With the aid of a few supplies we took on our expedition, I decided to do some photos to recreate some of the miracles the Lord did on this very place.

Water into Wine.   As mentioned in John 2 : 9.  Jesus did this at a wedding in Cana which is a town some distance away from the west side of the sea, although I am the east side.

The sea and the coast can look quite foggy at times. The places where we camped has this amazing view, this wall is great to sit on and view until the sun goes down.

Five loaves and two fishes.  I have used some tinned pilchards, as I think using fresh fish in a car with 5 people and loaded with other stuff on a hot day would not be very a popular.

The scriptures here mention this was done by Jesus in a place called Gennesaret on the north west of the sea.  Check Matthew 14.

This sign is famous for its comedy value, I saw this is a park in a far up north part of Israel.  Some of my friends said they had seen this in national parks in other parts of the country.

The middle symbol looks like its saying ‘No walking on water’!

Parts 1 2 3 – more soon…

Garden of Gethsemane

On Saturday morning, I went up to the Mount of Olives.  I have several pictures and writings from visits here before.  Here and here.

I wanted to go to the town of Bethany to see Lazarus’s tomb, a location of a miracle Jesus did, one of many of bringing people back from the dead.

On top of the Mount of Olives is an Arab district of the city and the dividing wall runs along the top of here.  Sadly after much searching, and I tried to ask a few people who all seem to give me different ideas, I was not able to find it, and I gave up and went home.   It seems from a taxi driver you have to go through the dividing wall, walking through there is not an option.   I decided to logistics of this seem awkward as seems that the taxi driver has to hang around outside to take you back, or get several taxis one to the dividing wall and another one on the other side in East Jerusalem.

I was originally hoping to meet my Arab believer friend (he is an ex-Muslim) who lives up here, but was not able to get hold of him.   Instead I decided I would pay a visit to the Garden of Gethsemane at the bottom of the Mount of Olives, but this was closed on Saturday afternoon, so headed off home.  This reminded me I have some pictures of when I visited this place before late last year I thought I would share these from a previous visit.

The entrance in the side.   This box on the left was from a Arab trader selling camera film, memory cards and batteries.  The garden is free to visit and is always busy with tour groups from all over the world.

Where Jesus sweated and spent time in prayer.  These olive trees are apparently 900 years old!

This place is mentioned by Matthew and Mark, after Peter denied Jesus and the cockerel crowed, the last supper, and before Judas pointed out Jesus to the guards that arrested him.

Matthew 26 : 36 and Mark 14 : 32 specifically mention this place.  I did have some pictures of the insides of the church but not sure where I put them.  The outside of the church with its bright coloured muriels above the pillars as well as the beautiful gardens are really striking.   This is a must see place in Jerusalem.

Multifaith room in Heathrow Terminal 5

Just reading a friend Jon B’s visit to Turkey on Islamic culture, reminds me of something.  At Heathrow airport I had a long wait for my flight, and I saw a sign about a multifaith room, a kind of politically correct euphemism for a one size fits all church for any faith.

There is a church in at least one of the hospitals in Portsmouth, there is also a multi faith centre in the recently built £40m Lymington hospital in the New Forest I worked at sometimes about 18 months ago, when I visited this, I was pleased to see judging by the literature put out it was mostly had Christian books and bibles there.

Here is this one in the shiny new and hopefully post-problematic Heathrow Terminal 5, is one of these places, so I decided to take a look, as there’s only so long you can spend reading books and magazines you aren’t going to buy in WH Smiths. 🙂

Firstly apologies to the chap bending over, it was hard to get a quickie shot of this place without appearing to be disrespectful. 🙂  When I went in there and first of all unlike any religious establishment there is no symbol on the wall of any deity, or any centre point to make the room significant apart from the screen reminding passengers of upcoming departures.  There is a wooden cabinets with labels for Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh and other holy books.  There are signs asking people to be respectful and not use it as a place to sleep or do baby changing.  The place also smells like a gym changing room as people take their shoes off at the door.   I didn’t bother at first, but there were five Islamic worshippers here at one point and one of the pointed out I should do the same to be respectful so I likewise decided to comply.

Out of the ten people I saw that went in and out of this place nine of them were Muslim, each borrowing a prayer mat from the cupboard, at least two of them were employees of the airport, one was an Indian gent (I think Hindu) with a piece of rope being held in both hands.   With some praying aloud in Arabic, it was a little hard to concentrate when I was reading a bible at one point, but it got me thinking.  There was a message from a Chaplin about that people should ask permission before leaving any literature in the cabinet to avoid causing offence.  I am not sure if the Chaplin has a sit-on-the-fence attitude to the Christian God to try and ‘not offend’,  just a general admin bod employed to keep the places clean and tidy, or someone with a real zeal and love for Christ but wants to be a servant to people not following the Lord.

Where as we could get alarmed at the number of worshippers of faiths other than Christianity being practised in the UK changes our culture, (and oh how the BNP and similar fascist groups and their ilk love to rub this in) but how many of us Christians actually make the effort to go to one of these places and maybe spend time in prayer before a journey or silently pray for the other users of the room for them to find the loving acceptance of Jesus?  Maybe if we did we would have very different faith landscape in the UK.

If anyone in church leadership is reading this, I would like to know what you think.  Is it a spiritually difficult to pray in a room with people with other beliefs or is worshipping Jesus here could be a good way to pray for others, or are these rooms pointless.  Those of you who are Christians travelling to other lands blogging on airport things too.  Please let me know your comments.

Zionism – a bad word to some?

I have always wondered why some people think Zionism is a dirty word.

Many times in the news its kind of used as a slur for the way the way Jews have been returning to Israel from all across the diaspora, occasionally its even Christians, some that have studied all kinds of theology but appear to be perhaps lacking in what was taught in Isaiah and Jeremiah maybe.  When speaking to people about my interests and visits to Israel, a couple of times I have been responded “Oh so you are a Zionist are you?  ah yes these sorts of people hate Palestinians, Arabs and Iranians…” This is sad when people make rash and quick judgments like this.

There is plenty of authors of books critical of Israel, plenty are on sale on Amazon (even including some Jews, including people like Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein etc) ex-US president Jimmy Carter and former TV newsreader celebrity nutter David Icke like to look at Zionism being the worst kind of evil organisation ever.    Likened to the Freemasons or some other paranoid organisation which has a corrupting influence on the world, and that Jews in some way are controlling.   Really this is and should be quite laughable.   There were famous books printed like the Elder protocols of Zion and founder of the blue oval motor maker, Henry Ford wrote some similar poisonous material, some of these nasty propaganda manuals are still treated as legitimate reference material today, as part of other modern day hatred such as holocaust denial.   Its part of what I think make Anti-Semitism a bigger problem than people think and worse than other hatred of any specific racial group.

In reality these views can be held completely nonsense, when you look at the wide number of ethnic people in Israel, and different types of Jews worldwide.   If you look at Aliyah, its true people emigrated to Israel, especially around the early 1990s with going with ideal of all Jews going into one nation closely to what the Torah said, but at the same time many Jews also made Aliyah because they had to, albeit sometimes reluctantly, as persecution in their previous homelands of nations like Yemen, Iran, Kazakhstan, Ethiopia etc, was unbearable or meant they could of faced death.   For some other Jewish people the idea to go may have been purely economic, the promise of a job and financial security.  For this reason many Israelis I have met can be secular or atheistic.

Where as Israel gets sizable amounts of money from the US government, its no secret so has the Palestinian authority.  The Magon David ambulance organisation in Israel has all its fleets of vehicles donated by Jewish organisations mostly in the US but sometimes also from Canada and France.   There are many Christian organisations in the US that have supplied money to charities and needy people in Israel, mostly because a good proportion of tax Shekels have to go to the military defending Israel against frequent threats from terrorism or war with its neighbours.   Despite this and than poverty in Israel is high, Israel has made a high contribution to the rest of the world in terms of its exports, large amounts of fruit and vegetables, technology (IT, telecoms, renewable power, water treatment, etc) medicine and healthcare innovations are just a small example of these.

I am a supporter of Israel and the Jewish people, this could mean I could be considered to be a Christian Zionist, but would like to clarify things first.  I believe God still has a plan for the Hebrew as outlined in the scriptures, that as Christians we are grafted in as his people.  Sadly because of the false doctrine of what often known as replacement theology, people assume that Israel in the bible is more of a metaphorical ‘Israel’ for the modern day church.  Paul says clearly in Romans 11 : 1 about this common misconception.   I believe Jesus will still return to Jerusalem one days as promised in the scriptures, this is why Israel is never not in the mainstream news, as Satan attempts to twist and alter things in order to change unsuccessfully what God is planning.

Christians that support Israel are not always one particular breed or denomination.  I have seen quite a few Christians visit Israel, from all over the place including Nigeria, South Korea and Japan.   I have even seen a small group of people (they had name tags) at the Kotel recently from the Faeroe Islands, an extremely small little known Nordic island nation between Scotland and Iceland.

As a Christian I think its vital we don’t become complacent, and speak up and pray against hatred and lies spoke in governments around the world and in the media.  I think God loves the Palestinian and the Arab and Persian people, its true also in recent times there have been large numbers of people in Islamic nations (do some searches on Youtube) come to Christ, normally this is secret as they can be in extreme danger, for this reason its hard to gauge how many Moslems, Hindus, Sikhs, etc come to Christ each year around the world.

The newspapers in the UK most definitely want to pick someone to blame for current world problems, whether its overpaid bankers, foreign immigrants coming in and wanting to change things to suit them, change the way our children are taught in British schools, worryingly extremist political groups like the BNP or Islam4UK, a kind of ‘bogeyman’ we can all blame.   The scriptures in Ephesians 6:12 says “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Here its sin which can manifest into many different things that causes worry and distress.

For me, I only identify myself as a regular Christian, I may contribute in my church in welcome team, or being in prayer groups in some IT businesses I have worked at and in looking after the computer systems for Christian charity in Jerusalem.  I am purely here as a servant to do whatever God leads me into doing, the only incentive or reward being able to see help go to the people that need it, make some new friends and get to study biblical places in more detail.  I am not in Israel to convert people as this is greatly frowned upon and is illegal, its more of case of just a loving attitude in terms of me serving out there in terms of the context of my official volunteer job and spending time with some of my native Israeli friends.

When I see other Christians I know volunteer in nations like South Africa, Chile, Uganda, China etc, I don’t usually ask about politics, as its not fair to make assumptions based on what the media say, its not always easy to sum up what is right or wrong from casual observance.  I also avoid mentioning political stuff to friends back in the UK (both Christian and non-Christian) due to antagonistic questions I have been asked and such.

For me, Israel is where almost all of the events of the bible happened, and where Christ himself will come again, and many things prophesied in the scriptures have become reality, the reformation of the modern state of Israel, a lot of its neighbours being its enemies, the way the Hebrew language which was something only ever kept for reading religious books has now made it into a usable language in business and every day, all of this in little over sixty years.  It is only by sticking to a roadmap of what the Lord outlined in the bible will there be peace, as opposed to any artificial plan created by any other authority.