Category Archives: Uncategorized

Council of Christians and Jews Initiative to be Welcomed

Now that the dust has settled on the decision of the Church of Scotland to withdraw their report, The Inheritance of Abraham, temporarily, so that the foreword can be rephrased after complaints from some Jewish groups, the initiative of CCJ to call a meeting of both sides to resolve misunderstandings and find common ground is to be welcomed.

Some of the reporting has been intemperate to say the least. In the Jewish Chronicle, for example, we read ‘This church report on Israel sets the clock back 70 years’ , ‘A damaging document‘ and SCoJeC Rebukes Church of Scotland Over Report. Sadly, Scottish Friends of Israel claim ‘Once again racism raises its ugly head in the form of anti-Semitism at the Church of Scotland.’

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Christ is Risen – the Encounter with Mary at the Tomb

Read the sermon here

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Christ Church Hosts Jews for Jesus

On Palm Sunday we are delighted to welcome Yoel Ben David again as our guest speaker. Yoel was raised by his Jewish Moroccan Mother and Scottish father in England and France. After school in England, Yoel moved to Israel where he met Adel. When they married, Adel and Yoel were Orthodox Jews. A year later, when he was serving in the Israel Defence Force, they became believers in Jesus in Jerusalem.  Yoel joined Jews for Jesus staff in 2004 and since has led several outreaches in France, Israel and the USA and served in the UK during 2009. He returned to the London office of Jews for Jesus in July 2010 to assume his present responsibilities as Head of Evangelism.

See also Yoel on Y’Shua and the Harvest

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Bahrain: When Civil Disobedience is Morally Justified

Thomas Jefferson once asked:

“Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath?”

In the 18th Century, on both sides of the Atlantic, there would likely have been a consensus that the answer was self-evident – civic responsibility was but the outworking of a higher responsibility to God.

Not so today. In a largely secularized West, while we value our democratic heritage which balances the role and responsibilities of politicians and citizens, many fail to appreciate these values are rooted in eternal truths and immutable laws.

Unless there are moral absolutes by which we judge society, society becomes absolute.

Every person is created equal in the image of God and therefore worthy or dignity and respect. The Christian scriptures insist we have clear responsibilities to both God and the state.

This was taught by Jesus: ‘Give … to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.’ (Matthew 22:21). The religious leaders of his day had tried to expose Jesus as either a collaborator with, or rebel against, the hated Roman Empire. Jesus insisted he was neither.

Our responsibility is to obey God for those who rule do so only under His authority.

We must first, obey our political leaders as God’s servants. Second pray for our leaders that God will give them wisdom and selfless impartiality in their role. Third, hold them accountable when they depart from their divinely appointed role.

The Christian scriptures teach: “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities” (Romans 13:1a). The state’s authority is derived from God. So whether we enjoy good or bad government, the state is a divine institution with God’s authority.

But this also means we can say to rulers what Jesus said to Pilate at his trial, ‘You would have no power [authority] over me if it were not given to you from above.’ (John 19:11).

This is because the role of government is to commend those who do right and punish those who do wrong. (Romans 13:3). This means we should submit up to the point where obedience to the state would result in participation in evil, or disobedience to God. If the State ever commands what God forbids, or forbids what God commands, then our moral duty is to resist the government.

We must disobey the State in order to obey God. In this way we can contribute, with our lives if necessary, to the return of good government and secure a better future for our children than the one we inherited.

In the early Church, the Apostles were forbidden by the Jewish authorities to speak in the name of Jesus. They replied, “We must obey God rather than human beings.” (Acts 5:29).

This is the Christian justification for civil disobedience. Whenever human laws contradict God’s law, civil disobedience becomes a sacred, religious duty.

There are notable examples in British history of those who opposed slavery, who campaigned for trade union rights, who lobbied for an end to the use of child labour, and called for the emancipation of women. But this civil disobedience must be peaceful and non-violent.

Martin Luther King once said, “Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon. It is a weapon unique in history, which cuts without wounding. It is a sword that heals.”

So, while we are to submit to the state’s God-given authority, we must remain opposed to both tyranny and anarchy. Our responsibility as citizens, whether here or in Bahrain, is to cooperate with, but hold governments accountable to fulfill their God-appointed role. That will lead not only to better government but also a more peaceful and stable society.

That is why I support the pro-democracy movement in Bahrain. The arc of history bends toward justice. May God give the people of Bahrain, justice, liberty and security before we meet to celebrate the 3rd anniversary of Bahrain’s Pearl Revolution.

Presentation delivered at the conference organized by the Bahrain Pro-Democracy Group ‘Understanding the Roots and Prospects of Bahrain’s Revolution’ held at King’s College, London, 6th February 2013.

A few photos of the early part of the event can be seen here

See also:

Press TV UK seminar sheds light on Bahrain’s revolution
Bahrain Freedom Movement
Frontline Club Bahrain Revolution 2nd Anniversary

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Street Kids United

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What does Real Reconciliation in the Middle East Look Like?

For directions to Christ Church, Viginia Water see here

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Laidlaw Principal Rod Thompson interviews Stephen Sizer

Laidlaw College Principal Rod Thompson interviewed me about some of the criticisms made against me, TEAR Fund NZ and the College for sponsoring my lecture tour.

Steve Tollestrup, CEO of TEAR Fund NZ has also issued the following statement defending their position on Israel-Palestine and decision to sponsor my lecture tour in New Zealand.

May I begin by stating categorically that TEAR Fund:

1. Supports the right of the Jewish people to have a national homeland with safe and secure borders.
2. Considers anti-Semitism as abhorrent and evil.
3. Rejects unconditionally violence and takes seriously Christ’s call to be peace-makers and good Samaritans.

I have had the opportunity to spend time with Stephen Sizer and his wife Joanna over the last week and have repeatedly heard him at length support a Jewish homeland, reject anti-Semitism and urgently calling on the church to be praying for peace.

I was raised by a Jewish parent ( my step-father ) with both holocaust survivors and victims’ in my family. I know anti-Semitism when I see it. I have never heard Stephen Sizer say something that would make me feel he is anything but repulsed by anti-Semitism or that he is antagonist to TEAR Fund’s position stated above.

TEAR Fund over the last eighteen years has been transparent with our supporters about our work with Palestinian refugees and poor families. In fact the very first grant TEAR Fund awarded in the 1960’s, was for Palestinian refugees. This is nothing new. I also work very closely with Messianic Jews in Israel as partners in local and international projects and peace-building witness.

Stephen Sizer has been in New Zealand hosted by TEAR Fund and Laidlaw College. Likewise he works in association with World Vision and was interviewed on both Shine TV and Radio Rhema. Do you seriously think that TEAR Fund, Laidlaw, World Vision and Rhema, all Christian ministries committed to the Gospel, would support anti-Semitism?

Stephen’s message is not complicated: Christian’s have a mandate to see that Palestinians as well as Israeli’s are also provided with rights and a secure future for their families. Further he ( and TEAR Fund ) affirm that the Palestinian church be supported and equipped to be a witness of Christ and a peace-maker in the region.

In Christ whom we love and serve,

Steve Tollestrup
Executive Director TEAR Fund.

Steve Haas, Vice President of World Vision USA, has made this statement in support of TEAR Fund NZ.

“I am thrilled that TEAR Fund NZ is serving as host for the very important visit of Rev’d Dr. Stephen Sizer. Stephen is clearly aware of the hurdles to Middle East reconciliation and serves as a tireless spokesman for peace in the Middle East and one that is shared by the Israelis and Palestinians that live there. Stephen has my utmost support and admiration.”

Steve Haas
Vice President, Chief Catalyst, World Vision US

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TEAR Fund NZ: Christian Action in Palestine

Steve Tollestrup, CEO of TEAR Fund NZ has issued the following statement defending their position on Israel-Palestine and decision to sponsor my lecture tour in New Zealand.

May I begin by stating categorically that TEAR Fund:

1. Supports the right of the Jewish people to have a national homeland with safe and secure borders.
2. Considers anti-Semitism as abhorrent and evil.
3. Rejects unconditionally violence and takes seriously Christ’s call to be peace-makers and good Samaritans.

I have had the opportunity to spend time with Stephen Sizer and his wife Joanna over the last week and have repeatedly heard him at length support a Jewish homeland, reject anti-Semitism and urgently calling on the church to be praying for peace.

I was raised by a Jewish parent ( my step-father ) with both holocaust survivors and victims’ in my family. I know anti-Semitism when I see it. I have never heard Stephen Sizer say something that would make me feel he is anything but repulsed by anti-Semitism or that he is antagonist to TEAR Fund’s position stated above.

TEAR Fund over the last eighteen years has been transparent with our supporters about our work with Palestinian refugees and poor families. In fact the very first grant TEAR Fund awarded in the 1960’s, was for Palestinian refugees. This is nothing new. I also work very closely with Messianic Jews in Israel as partners in local and international projects and peace-building witness.

Stephen Sizer has been in New Zealand hosted by TEAR Fund and Laidlaw College. Likewise he works in association with World Vision and was interviewed on both Shine TV and Radio Rhema. Do you seriously think that TEAR Fund, Laidlaw, World Vision and Rhema, all Christian ministries committed to the Gospel, would support anti-Semitism? Stephen’s message is not complicated: Christian’s have a mandate to see that Palestinians as well as Israeli’s are also provided with rights and a secure future for their families. Further he ( and TEAR Fund ) affirm that the Palestinian church be supported and equipped to be a witness of Christ and a peace-maker in the region.

In Christ whom we love and serve,

Steve Tollestrup

Executive Director TEAR Fund.

Steve Haas, Vice President of World Vision USA, has made this statement in support of TEAR Fund NZ.

“I am thrilled that TEAR Fund NZ is serving as host for the very important visit of Rev’d Dr. Stephen Sizer. Stephen is clearly aware of the hurdles to Middle East reconciliation and serves as a tireless spokesman for peace in the Middle East and one that is shared by the Israelis and Palestinians that live there. Stephen has my utmost support and admiration.”

Steve Haas
Vice President, Chief Catalyst, World Vision US

See also:

See more photos of TEAR Fund NZ here

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Is God a Delusion? John Lennox

Read more about John Lennox.

The Lennox-Dawkins Debate.

Christ Church, Virginia Water. GU25 4PT.

Phone 01344 844946 for tickets

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Christianity Explored Launch in Burundi

This week, Craig Dyer (training director of Christianity Explored), Jim McAnlis (of Fields of Life and East Africa coordinator of Christianity Explored) and I are in Burundi to launch the new Kirundi translation of Christianity Explored.

CE is a popular ten week evangelistic course, based entirely on Mark’s gospel which includes talks, group Bible discussion and personal reflection. Now available in more than 20 languages and being used in more than 70 countries, CE is designed to help participants answer three simple questions around which Mark’s gospel is structured: Who is Jesus? Why did Jesus come? What is his claim on my life? It is literally a walk through Mark’s gospel to explain, through the teaching, the miracles, the death and resurrection of Jesus, the incredible claim made in the very first verse, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” (Mark 1:1).

The course is also designed to help give church members confidence in the Word of God and learn how to share their faith as well as train new church leaders. The strategy is to train hundreds to equip thousands to reach millions. CE is distinctive among other similar courses because it simply allows the gospel to teach the gospel.

This is the fourth year we have visited East Africa to train pastors and clergy to use Christianity Explored. In previous years we have held conferences at Carlisle College in Nairobi, Kenya, at Kiwoko Bible Week, and for clergy in Luwero and Masindi Dioceses in Uganda. Working closely with the Anglican Bishops, Pentecostal leaders, the Uganda Bible Society, Kiwoko Hospital and Fields of Life, we have launched translations in Luganda and Swahili and trained several thousand clergy to use the course. It is estimated that tens of thousands have completed the course in Uganda and we know of new churches that have been planted as a result.

At the invitation of the Anglican Archbishop of Burundi, the Right Revd Bernard Ntahoturi, this week we visited Matana Cathedral and trained about 70 of his clergy to use the course. In Makamba Diocese, with the blessing of Bishop Martin Blaise Nyaboho, the Diocesan centre hosted a similar conference for over 200 pastors and clergy from 35 different denominations. This was the first time many of them had experienced a small group bible discussion. They discovered the value of group study to personalise, compliment, reinforce and apply Biblical teaching.

Returning to Bujumbura, through the beautiful mountain scenery of Burundi, we stopped by the shores of Lake Tanganyika at the large stone making the place where in 1874, Livingstone, coming from the coast of Tanzania, met Stanley coming from the Congo.

The world has changed dramatically in the last 140 years, but the heart of the human problem remains the problem of the human heart. Transcending the barriers of language and culture, people are discovering through CE and the teaching of Jesus, that we are more sinful that we ever realised but more loved that we ever dreamed.

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