METTLE Fortnightly Newsletter

METTLE

Volume 4

Issue 2

Monday

19-Jan-2009

Hippolite Musings

Thought for the Day

Gentlemen,

I pray this article finds you fine, fit and fighting!

In this fortnight’s edition, I review a Quantum of Solace.  James Bond has a special hold over me, because of the name, the very proper British upbringing my mother tried to give me, and the sheer thrill of it.

I’ve been exercising over the holidays; however it didn’t take very many games of squash before my wife was once again back to her devastating good form (after carpel tunnel surgery).  I guess boy flicks (predominately sci-fi) are the price I make her pay for being so good at board games as well as my choice of sport!  Ah well, I guess it’s back to the bike to get my fitness back up to scratch.  By the way, did you know that the Bikewise Business Challenge is back on, this time for the entire month of February?  Why not sign up your work colleages?  I find the challenge helps keeps me motivated.

I passed another exam last week (Designing Database Solutions Using Microsoft SQL Server 2005).  I’m 2/3 of the way to another credential (Microsoft IT Professional: Database Developer).  Hopefully the final exam won’t take me quite as long to prepare as the previous one: 11 months!  I find the rigeur of study helps me to (a) stay abreast of current technology; and (b) benchmark my own career goals.

How is your Bible Reading coming along?  Are you following the plan I’m publishing below, or some other one?  I must confess, today I had rather a long catch-up, but finally got there!

If you’re anything like me, then the Main Stream Media’s misguided attempt to "keep things balanced" by equating the actions of Israel and Hamas just really annoys me.  Every time I see another missle strike Israel, it amazes me how they refrain from driving the Palestinians into the sea.  This fortnight’s edition features a letter from an Israelite on the inside.  Judge for yourself whether the MSM is biased.

I hope my own small, simple example of staying healthy in mind, body and soul is of benefit (and not condemnation) to you all.


Foreign Correspondent

January 07, 2009

Dear friends,

It is New Year’s Day and as we see in the New Year we in Israel are at war again. I am aware that the news media abroad often presents a one-sided and inaccurate picture of events at such times. I therefore felt I would write to update you and give you some background, and facts regarding events from an Israeli point of view.

For around 8 years now the town of Sderot, and other settlements near the Gaza Strip, have  been pounded with rocket and mortar fire on almost a daily basis. At first Hamas, and the other terror organizations responsible justified these attacks citing Israel’s occupation of the Gaza Strip. In August 2005 Israel withdrew from Gaza completely, uprooting several well-established towns, farms and businesses, and thousands of people, in the process. Not one Israeli remained in the Strip. Did that stop the rocket fire? No, not at all. Since the pullout over 6,000 rockets and mortar bombs have been fired into Israel (Bibi Netanyahu, Channel 22 News, 31 December 2008).

Below are the statistics as taken from the official website of the Foreign Ministry. You can also see these presented graphically below.

Statistics of Kassam rocket and mortar fire from the Gaza Strip

Total rocket attacks:

Since the first rocket fell on Israel on 16 April 2001: 3,706
Since the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in August 2005: 3,123
Since the Hamas takeover of Gaza in mid-June 2007: 1,685
This year:
  – From 1 Jan through 30 Nov 2008: 1,212

Mortar bomb hits since = April 2001: 3,948

Note: All of these statistics relate to identified hits in Israeli territory. The total number of rockets launched is about 20% more and includes failed launchings as well as rockets that fell short (inside the Gaza Strip) or in the sea.

Below is a graphic representation showing the number of rocket and mortar attacks from November 2007 to November 2008

Graph1

Graph2

Mortar attacks

Rocket attacks

Terrorism – Obstacle to Peace / Palestinian terror since 2000 / Missile fire from Gaza on Israeli civilian targets Aug 2007

Graph3

You can see that there was a considerable drop off of attacks during the so-called ceasefire in effect from July 2008 until mid-November 2008 but the attacks did not cease completely. When the cease-fire period finished in mid-November the attack rate began to climb steeply again. Not only were the quantity of attacks beginning to increase but the type of attack has changed. In addition to the short-range kassam rockets, which can reach only about 13km, Hamas began using Grad missiles, supplied by Iran. The standard Grad can reach around 20km but the newer "improved" version now in use has a range of up to around 40km. These carry a large explosive head packed with large shot about the size of golf balls and they can do much more damage. The major cities of Ashkelon, Ashdod, and more recently Beer Sheva are now in range and have all come under attack. This is an intolerable situation for Israel, and although we have suffered these attacks with incredible patience the time came when it was felt they could be suffered no longer and consequently Israel launched the present attack on Hamas in Gaza.

This map is taken from the website of the Foreign Ministry cited above. It was drawn before the current conflict and the red area, labeled as "potential range of future rockets" is now "actual" since these areas have already come under attack. By the way, Tel Aviv lies just north of the red area.

Israel is being criticized in the foreign press in a number of ways:

  1. Israel is accused of using "excessive force". What does this mean? What is excessive force when you are fighting for your very survival? No war in all of human history has been fought on the basis of using only equal force! Did the allies use equal force to conquer Germany in WWII or did the USA use equal force when it dropped the bomb on Hiroshima? No, one uses all the force at your disposal to win. Yes, Israel has superior military equipment and is using it but Hamas has other advantages, such as its seemingly unending supply of militants keen to die to achieve martyrdom, its lack of moral scruples regarding the twisting of truth in the propaganda war, its positions dug into the rabbit-warren of Gaza city etc. More about this later.
  2. Israel is criticized for causing excessive civilian casualties. We hear little outcry about the fact that Hamas deliberately targets Israeli towns and settlements, that is to say Israeli civilians. While it is true that these attacks by Hamas have been largely unsuccessful, in that there have been astonishingly few Israeli casualties it is not for the want of trying.

    The fact that few Israelis have been killed or injured in these attacks is due to three factors:

    • These rockets and mortars are impossible to aim with any accuracy and around 60% have fallen into open areas. Of the 40% that have landed in built up areas only 2% have actually struck a building.
    • Over the years these towns and settlements have established many shelters to protect the population. When the sirens sound to warn of incoming fire the residents have around 15 seconds to find cover and all by now know what to do and do it – even small children. By the way, many of the shelters have been financed by Christian organizations.
    • More importantly, in my opinion, God is supernaturally protecting the population of Israel. He is our shield and has promised to protect Israel from her enemies.

    I know of no country in the world or in history who has taken more pains to limit civilian casualties than Israel. After all, we know that it is definitely not in our interest to hit civilians. Not only does Israel use the best intelligence methods available and the best pin-point bombing equipment available in order to avoid hitting civilian homes but prior to the present attacks in Gaza, Israel dropped pamphlets over the civilian areas warning people to flee the areas about to be attacked. Not only that, they even called people on cell phones to warn them to flee the dangerous areas. Do you know of any army in the world that would do such a thing?

    One of the reasons that there have been so many civilian casualties is that Hamas uses civilian homes, schools, mosques and even hospitals as bases for their operations and munitions caches. Yesterday around 30 people were killed and 55 injured, including women and children, when Israel fired on the UNRWA school in the Jabalya Refugee Camp where they were sheltering. This was regrettable and terrible but why did Israel fire on this school? Israeli troops were being fired upon with mortars launched from the school. The Israelis fired back with mortars and this triggered secondary explosions caused by the booby-tapped bombs Hamas had planted in the school. Who is really to blame for these civilian deaths? Hamas deliberately uses civilians as human shields. They have no moral compunction about it. Senior Hamas officials have even been seen walking about in the midst of battle carrying a baby in their arms, to protect themselves from attack. Yesterday we saw film of the houses entered by Israeli troops in the northern Gaza Strip. Underneath each house is a network of tunnels used for weapons caches and to move operatives and rockets etc around.

    Yesterday there was another incident resulting in 6 civilian deaths, all members of one family, when Israeli troops fired on a house from which they were being targeted. Interviewed on TV the father wept for his lost children but he said something interesting. He said "we were shut in the house and could not run away". Who shut him in the house? Hamas fighters of course!

    Another issue is how you define "innocent civilian". Clearly babies are innocent but what of the women who gladly send their sons to "kill Jews" or participate in a society that so brainwashes its children that their only desire in life is to grow up enough to hold a gun and kill Jews. Many of the "innocent" civilians are not so innocent. What responsibility does a people have when they vote a terror organization into power, and then cheer it on when it attacks our civilian population? Can they really be considered "innocent".

  3. Israel is criticized by causing a humanitarian crisis in Gaza by blocking supplies of food, water, electricity and medical equipment. This is not true. Israel has continued, even in the midst of the war, allowing truckloads of food and medical equipment to cross into Gaza. They complain that no one has turned up to collect and distribute it. While the terrible suffering of the people of Gaza is without a doubt terrible, much of the humanitarian crisis is generated by Hamas , and some of the reports are simply fabricated. For instance at one stage there were massive power cuts in Gaza blamed on Israel. Israel had sent in oil supplies in plenty but Hamas had simply not allowed them to be brought to the power station. On other occasions Israel had to stop fuel supplies because the trucks were being fired on by Hamas fighters. Why would Hamas do this? Two reasons:
  • Hamas is a terror organization and its self-declared main goal is to destroy Israel. It is not particularly interested in improving the living conditions of the population in Gaza. All the money they receive from the Muslim world and other aid sources goes on purchasing more and more arms to attack Israel. Very little is being used to create jobs, provide food or equip schools and hospitals. It is in Hamas’ interest to keep the Gazans poor and dissatisfied. It is then easier to teach them to hate and convince them to take up arms against Israel.
  • Hamas is faced with the superior military force of Israel. It’s only chance to be seen to win the war, is to either cause massive Israeli casualties (and so far it has failed miserably in this) or to so discredit Israel in the eyes of the outside world that pressure is put on Israel to stop the war. They are masters at this kind of propaganda and have no scruples about manufacturing false news reports, staging "massacres" or using civilians as human shields to make Israel look bad.

What we don’t hear a lot about in the world’s media is the humanitarian crisis in Israel. Though perhaps not as acute as the situation in Gaza right now, it has been a chronic situation lasting for years and exacting a huge cost in physical, emotional and economic terms. I would challenge any critic of Israel’s actions to bring their family to Sderot and live there for just two months. When they see their children jumping at the slightest noise, clinging to their mother, wetting the bed and having nightmares or exhibiting other symptoms of trauma, like the majority of children in Sderot – then they might understand. How do you live when every day, sometimes 10-20 times a day, the sirens sound and you have 15 seconds to find cover? Even the mundane tasks of life, such as driving to work or shopping for groceries become an anxiety ridden activity. You walk down the streets mentally noting all the places to hide should the sirens sound. You hear the thud of the rockets falling. Where are your children? Your husband? Are they safe? Was your house hit? What about your business that cannot operate because your workers cannot get there, and in any case, no one will come and buy your goods. This is not a few days of terror this is months and years of constant suffering. Who can measure the costs of such things? Why does the world not cry out about this???

What does Israel hope to achieve in this war? The ultimate goal is to discredit and disempower Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Most of us know this is all but impossible to accomplish. The world is already pressuring for a cease-fire. But we have had a cease-fire already and Hamas failed to honor it, even for a day. How can we trust them to honor another one? During the last ceasefire they simply used the time to smuggle in arms (through the tunnels under the Eygptian border) and regroup. What we want most of all is a complete and permanent stop to the shelling from Gaza. I think what we Israelis most fear right now is that we will be pressured into a premature ceasefire without first crushing Hamas. This might buy us a few months but then we will be back to square one only they will be even better armed and equipped to fight us. We do know there is no ultimate solution militarily and peace can only be obtained through negotiation. But negotiations require two parties willing to talk and compromise. Hamas is not interested in any compromise or two-state solution. They only want to destroy Israel. Anything less than that does not interest them. For this reason I see no hope of finding a solution using either military or diplomatic means.

The only hope lies in the spiritual realm. It is to be remembered that we do not fight against flesh and blood only but the real battle is against spiritual principalities and powers. The spiritual principality of Islam is Satanic and very strong. It cannot be conquered by force, but only by prayer. And that is where we all come in. We are spiritual warriors and we need to act at this time – not just for Israel’s sake but for the name of our Lord, and for all that is good and right in the world.

The spiritual power behind Islam is a liar and a destroyer and it seeks to destroy the whole Christian and Jewish world. Make no mistake about that. Israel may be first but it will not stop there. Radical Muslims see the entire Western (Christian-Jewish) world as the decadent and corrupt enemy and believe that their God is calling for its overthrow.

So what is our task in this time. In a word, PRAYER. Do the odds seem impossible? Yes, but do not underestimate the power of prayer. It can move mountains and overthrow armies. I have no doubt that God will protect Israel and no force will be allowed to overthrow her. This is not to say we will win every battle nor that we may not suffer grave losses, but God is on Israel"s side – not because we are in any way worthy but because we bear His name and He has promised to establish us in the land he has given Israel and He will not go back on His word.

How should we pray? Wait on the Lord, listen and let the Spirit lead. He will guide us. Here are some specific prayer directions I would like to suggest:

  • Pray for Israel’s leaders that they will stand strong and with courage against all the pressures and threats and make wise and correct decisions.
  • Pray for the people of Israel that they will also call out to God and draw near to Him at this time so that we may stand together and firm.
  • Pray for the protection of innocent civilians (God knows who they are) on both sides. Particularly pray for the children.
  • Pray for our believing brothers and sisters on both sides. Especially remember the believers in Gaza who are in terrible danger from every side. Pray that God will protect them as only he can. Also remember the around 70 believing young men who have been called up to fight in Gaza so far, and the others who are waiting for that phone call. Many of them are very young – only 18-20 years old. Apart from the obvious physical danger they will be experiencing things that are traumatic and shocking, which can cause long-term trauma, emotional and spiritual problems.
  • Pray for your leaders of your country especially that they will have a clear and true understanding of what is going on here and not be swayed by false information and propaganda. Pray that they will support Israel – not only for our sake but for the sake of your country too. Remember that God has commanded a blessing on those that bless Israel, and a curse on those who curse her (Genesis 12:2-3).
  • Pray for truthful and accurate, fair and balanced reporting in the media

Can you do anything else? Yes, speak out. If you have opportunity to inform other believers, your government or your media representatives take it.

I will close now and will try to update if there are any other significant developments.

Yours in Yeshua,

Alison / Talia

Here are some useful websites for authoritative and up to date information:


Sunday Sermon

Songs:

  • Oh Lord, You’re Beautiful (a la Keith Green)
  • Others (I’ve discovered something about myself: I can only remember one song at a time!)

SCRUBS:

  • Seriously Contagious RU Broadcasting Salvation?
  • Six weeks of input to help you be infectious in your faith. Sign up this week for the upcoming contagious Christianity course. In Life Groups studies and Sunday services from 15 Feb to 22 Mar. Check out the pharmacy in the foyer for more details
  • Launch Event: Friday 13 Feb 7pm
  • Come along to receive your very own vaccination pack, be inspired and eat great food

Crunchies:

  • Our visitors from Hobart, Tasmania
  • Another visitor from Aussie
  • A member (I don’t know name) is moving to Oz on Wednesday
  • Georgie’s last weekend singing and last weekend here. Hear her story tonight @ 6pm @ Encounter Service
  • Lydia last Sunday here: Going home to South Africa to finish her degree in early childhood education

Things You Need To Know:

  • Prayer Service, Tuesdays @ 6pm
  • Bake Sale: Today after 10 AM Service: Our teenagers are heading up to Parachute Music Festival next weekend. Buy some of their yummy goodies to help them eat well during their time up north.
  • SEASONS conference for her. 20-21 February. Elim Cathedral of Hope, Christchurch. Register online @ http://www.herevents.org.nz enquiries: jeanniek@wn.elim.org.nz or annej@wn.elim.org.nz
  • KAIROS: 2 Unique Options to Suit You.
    1.  Intensive residential course over Waitangi weekend @ Forest Lakes Camp, 5-9 February, $300
    2.  9 week course here at Elim, Thursday evenings, 7pm-9:15pm, 5 March – 30 April, $60
    • For anyone interested in the big picture of what God is doing in the world. For anyone new to church.
    • “We see Kairos as playing a key role in discipling people in our church to prepare them for local and global mission” – Mike Knott
  • PowerZone Regional Kids Camp, El Rancho, Waikanae 13-15 March. Kid’s camp is for children aged 6 and over, and is a weekend jam-packed with games, fun, challenges, prizes, food, worship and amazing sessions (a Children’s Leaders session will also be offered!). Electives offered include swimming, flying fox, water slide, confidence course, music/band, crafts, horse riding, dinghies, trampolines, etc. Don’t let your child miss out! Registration due by 1 March. Enquires: Mitch@elim.org.nz or 385-9634.

Sermon:

  • Kim Boyce-Campbell
  • Television Director, Vertical Studios
  • Communicating the Truth

Initial Thoughts for 2009

  • Kim is expecting 2nd child
  • Working mum
  • Commission-based
  • Mild dread of the New Year
  • Feeling ineffective in her Christian walk
  • Economic recession

The one thing that will determine how you get through 2009…

  • Attitude?
  • Choices you make?
  • Faith?
  • Tenacity?

It’s not:

  • money in the bank
  • new boyfriend
  • kids well at school
  • marriage goes well
  • government sorts out all problems

Perspective

  • being able to see beyond your own circumstances
  • know the truth

How to get through 2009 well:

  1. Know who God is: Your perspective of GOD
    • It’s not about you, it’s about Him!
  2. Know who we are: your perspective of your LIFE
    • Hebrews 11:13-16
    • This life is a preparation for the life to come
  3. Know your circumstances: Your perspective of the TIMES
    • Hebrews 13: 1-13

Let’s be counter-cultural:

  • In these times of economic recession, what a perfect time to be generous!
  • Philippians: the secret of contentment in all things. “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.”

How do you hold onto the truth?

  • Ella read from The Silver Chair, where Aslan tells Jill what will be her task.
  • Kim continues: “how many of us have had a face-to-face with God, but then found that the air here in Narnia is thicker, and we forget?”

How do we keep a Godly perspective?

  • Write it down
  • Go back to it
  • Cling to it
  • Cling to the people and the places and spaces that remind you that God IS.

Praise Reports

Local

  • No sex please, we’re Wellingtonians – Porn king Steve Crow has vented his naked anger at miserly Wellington residents, saying this year’s Boobs on Bikes parade and sexpo was the first and the last in the city. Woo hoo!  Good riddance!
  • Grants Available for Community Projects – Wellington City Council is urging not-for-profit community groups and organisations to apply for funding through the upcoming rounds of the Tawa Community Grants Fund and the CH Izard Bequest, which close on Friday 30 January.

National

  • National MPs lambasted for being too successful – This is unbelievable. Anita at Kiwipolitico says while it is good they have achieved, it means they are not a sign of social inclusion, because they are now successful. David Farrar’s comment: But more of a concern, is how many on the left might share this viewpoint – that no matter what your background is, if you do well, then you no longer represent “mainstream New Zealand”.  I say: bring it on!  Let’s have successful minorities leading by example instead of "mainstream New Zealand" dragging us all down to the gutter.

International

  • Texas Legislature Starts Session With Pro-Life Push – The Texas state legislature is already looking at two proposed bills on abortion. The first proposed bill aims at making a specialty "choose life" license plate available to Texas drivers. The other bill, if passed, would make ultrasounds mandatory before a woman could have an abortion.
  • 40-day Right to Life Campaign Starts Soon – "As America approaches the 36th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade US Supreme Court ruling that imposed abortion on our nation, pro-life advocates are launching the next wave of a unique pro-life campaign, 40 Days for Life," said David Bereit, national director of 40 Days for Life. "From February 25 until April 5, people will join together for 40 days of prayer and fasting for an end to abortion…"
  • Fatah, Hamas split widens amid Gaza war – Members of the secular Fatah movement, which controls the Palestinian Authority, are divided over how the group should respond to the ongoing Israeli offensive against Hamas.

Prayer Requests

Local

  • My daughter drives me to distraction!

National

  • Give a little to help the Mangere family – A nifty we website to make it easy to donate and fundraise for charitable projects is givealittle. The Evile family are the Mangere family that lost four children in a house fire. Words can’t describe how difficult it must be to lose your house and four children. You can donate through givealittle to help the Evile family rebuild their home.
  • Guilty Upon Accusation becomes New Zealand law on 28th February. Next month, New Zealand is scheduled to implement Section 92 of the Copyright Amendment Act. The controversial act provides ‘Guilt Upon Accusation,’ which means that if a file-sharer any New Zealander is simply accused of copyright infringement he/she will be punished with summary Internet disconnection. Unlike most laws, this one has no appeal process and no punishment for false accusation, because they were removed after public consultation. The ISPs are up in arms and now artists are taking a stand for fair copyright.

International


Other News

Local

  • Strewth! It’s Australia Day in the Botanic Garden – Despite our occasional bouts of parochial banter, Australia and New Zealand are the best of friends, and each year Aussie tourists make a vital contribution to our local economy. To acknowledge this, next Monday 26 January from noon to 2pm, Wellington will join our neighbours from across the ditch to celebrate Australia Day in the Botanic Garden’s Australian Garden.

National

International


Humour by Sparrow

How to waste some time ….. whilst simultaneously cheering yourself up – just in case that is required.

Thanks to David Bogner at Treppenwitz, I have spent a very happy time at the following website

www.televisiontunes.com

You can download themes from your favourite TV programmes, or just listen to them, as an amble down memory lane.

WARNING. Do not go to this site unless you have at least half an hour to recline with some memories.


Movie Review

 

A Quantum of Solace

I grew up with Roger Moore as 007, rather than Sean Connery.  So humour and special effects took precedence over plot and violence.  As I grew, and got to see some of the re-runs, then so too did my appreciation for some of Ian Flemming’s actual genius.

Following immediately on from the "reboot" of Casino Royale, the signature opening sequence is replaced by a chase scene which literally follows on 5 minutes from the end of the previous movie.  Now that’s what I call continuity!

For Christians, there are the usual negative elements.  If you decide (for whatever reason) to view this movie, then I can promise suspense, intrigue and a rollicking yarn.  While being less about gadgets and the usual Bond paraphernalia, it still packs a wallop of action and drama.

As the reviewer for Plugged In Online (above) says, "Bond, like Batman before him, has gone dark."

6/10


Bible Reading

Week to 19 Jan 2009

  1. Genesis 42:1 – 43:34
  2. Genesis 44:1 – 47:12
  3. Genesis 47:13 – 50:26
  4. Exodus 1:1 – 4:31
  5. Exodus 5:1 – 8:19
  6. Exodus 8:20 – 11:10
  7. Exodus 12:1 – 14:31

Week to 26 Jan 2009

  1. Exodus 15:1 – 17:16
  2. Exodus 18:1 – 21:36
  3. Exodus 22:1 – 24:18
  4. Exodus 25:1 – 27:21
  5. Exodus 28:1 – 30:16
  6. Exodus 30:17 – 33:23
  7. Exodus 34:1 – 37:16

Week to 2 Feb 2009

  1. Exodus 37:17 – 40:38
  2. Leviticus 1:1 – 4:35
  3. Leviticus 5:1 – 7:38
  4. Leviticus 8:1 – 10:20
  5. Leviticus 11:1 – 13:59
  6. Leviticus 14:1 – 15:33
  7. Leviticus 16:1 – 19:37

End Notes

  • METTLE is an acronym for Men’s Evangelical Team Together for Learning Experiences. We are primarily Christian businessmen from Wellington, who meet occasionally in the CBD to encourage each other in our daily walk with Jesus. This Fortnightly Collaborative Blog is our primary means of communication.  If you know of anyone who may benefit from this FCB, you are welcome to forward them along. Similarly, if your circumstances are such that membership in this distribution list is no longer relevant, then hit reply and type UNSUBSCRIBE to have it removed.
  • If you choose to respond to any item raised in this FCB, please indicate clearly which items you wish to remain Private, as any correspondence may be considered Public and could be published.
  • If this fortnight’s newsletter has been of benefit to you, why not drop a line and say so.  Or better yet, visit the TVORNZ website to read past issues and add a comment!
  • Published by The Voice of Reason, New Zealand, copyright (C) 2009

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