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Sunday, July 31, 2011

'Love one another as I have loved you.' John 15:12

Reading: 1 John 3: 1-12
“This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.” (John 15.12)
Christ’s command is that we should love one another, which seems such an obvious thing for us to do, and yet even at that we so often fail. It sometimes seems that it’s easier to be judgemental than it is to be loving. People say that they long for Revival, and yet fail to be revived themselves enough to follow Christ’s commandment in this respect. It’s so easy to love the people whom we know and like, but when it comes to loving those who we don’t like we have a problem. Yet Christ’s commandment is that we should love one another in the same manner in which he loves us.
When we accept Jesus Christ as our Saviour then we are also called to acknowledge Him as our Lord, and that means following His commandments and following His life-style. In other words, we are to become more like Christ as we mature in the faith.
When we are reconciled to God through Christ we become children of God and fellow heirs with Christ (Romans 8:16/17). This privileged position is open to every believer.
The Christian life is never going to be the ‘easy option’. There are many aspects of it which are easy for us to do, that’s for sure. We can read the Bible, pray, mix with other Christians, do our best to keep the commandments, and so on, but when it comes to facing up to the world in which we live it becomes much harder.
“Love on another as I have loved you”. That’s the Christian thing to do, because that’s what Christ Himself has commanded us to do. In a perfect world it would be so easy! However, we live in the real world, where resentment, anger, grudges and violence often dominate the daily news and impinge on our daily lives. We are told to love people as Christ loves us, and that means loving them sacrificially, not just on the surface. Christ loved us so much that He gave up His life that we might be reconciled to God by believing on Him and acknowledging Him as our Saviour and Lord. The love of Christ is a sacrificial love.  It doesn’t come easy.
Every day we hear stories of people not being loved. We hear of people being  killed, raped, bullied, terrorised, abused, divorced, sued, and these things happen to everyone, in the home, in the office and in the school, whether or not they are Christians. Even in churches there are examples of hypocritical attitudes, and areas of dissension. When you read the Bible, you’ll quickly find that what happens in the real world also happens in the lives of Christian. People are not getting along with each other as they should. Many are living with hatred, which the Bible equates as murder in their hearts. It seems like our world is overrun with the Cain syndrome. In short, real Christian love is rare. That’s a real problem. We have so few models of real Christian love. We hardly know what real Christian love is all about. Jesus Christ demonstrated and taught what real Christian love is: We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” (1 John 3:16). Jesus meant business when he showed us what love is. Mankind broke the rules laid down by God, and Jesus chose to forgive, coming and die in our place. In his sacrifice we see the greatest example of love in action that is possible to see. The Bible teaches us in 1 John 2:2 “He Himself is the propitiation (the satisfaction) for our sins; and not only for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.”
Love means allowing for growth through failure, looking towards future potential. Love means not expecting that other people will get it, the first time, and maybe not even the second time or third time. Love means forgiving people and knowing in your heart that people are worth it. Love is understanding that different people are at different stages of their journey, whether it be their journey through life in general or their Christian journey, and understanding that they will often need help along the way. Yet for so many people in and out of the church, their expectation is that real Christian people should get it right the first time. There is no allowance for failure. There’s no room to learn to grow, and this is how we get into trouble.  In the absence of real Christian love love the way that Christ loves the church becomes restricting and graceless. Rules of how people are expected to behave dominate, and every failure, however slight, becomes ammunition to nail the perpetrators to the door. People may be shown the door instead of being welcomed through the door, simply because they don’t seem to fit the expectations of the rule-makers inside. Instead of the church seeking the lost sinner, it tells the sinner to get lost. This is doing things according to the world and not according to the love demonstrated by Christ, despite claiming to follow Him. How easily some people can become as exacting and calculating as the Pharisees, noting every infraction of the law, to the minutest detail.
In such a congregation the real experience of love, acceptance and forgiveness is almost non-existent, with the result that their version of Christianity becomes joyless and devoid of real hope. The example we have in this passage from 1 John is of Cain who murdered his brother because his brother was righteous.
The truth is that because of Christ’s sacrificial love we have the opportunity to be reborn. When we love Christ then we pass from the death of sinfulness into new life in Christ. His is the example that we have and His is the example that we must follow.
We are children of God! What a wonderful love God has bestowed on us that He should call us His children and we call Him our Father. Once we really get our heads around this concept then we start to understand what real love is all about. The love of Christ is a love that takes hold of us entirely, and allows us to share it equally with others, putting the concerns of others before our own for the sake of Christ. Jesus laid down His life for you. Are you prepared to do the same for Him? If you are then you will experience the amazing power that such love releases.
We are told ‘to love in action and in truth.’ Do you love others as Christ loves you? how are you laying down your life for others?
Could it be that we have not really tasted richly of God’s love? A heart that has not tasted the truth of Christ’s passion and the thrill of the prospect of the transformation that will be(3:2), will have little to give to transform what was hatred into love. 
Look at others through Christ’s love. Love is always building up another person. Maturity is living with the tension of what people can be and what they are now. “Be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.” Ephesians 4:2 (NLT). Love has the goal of looking after another’s welfare - by doing something tangible. It’s far more than words. We must see others but see each other as new creations (2 Cor.5:16-17) and not measure them by what the world thinks.
When we can learn to love as Jesus loves us then revival will be seen in us, and from this personal experience of revival can come the desire to spend more time with God in prayer. When we do this, constantly maturing in the faith, then we can pray for revival to break out in our midst, but to see this happen there need to be an even greater change of heart.
Whilst I firmly believe that Revival is a miraculous outpouring by God of His Spirit upon a people, I believe that the Church is responsible  to facilitate it in the sense that it is when believers are totally serious about the call for Revival. The church must be in deadly earnest about praying for Revival, and must gather together in prayer as well as praying in private to call upon God to send His Spirit down. It is probable that none of us have seen Revival because we are content with things the way they are. We are content to live without Revival! What is needed now are Christians praying for Revival who are on fire for the Lord. Whilst there may be many who are smouldering I don’t believe that there are enough who are truly on fire. There is a complacency that stands in the way. The riches of the world shine too brightly so that people want to collect them like magpies collecting shiny baubles, and as long as such attractions are dominant then the Lord’s work falls into second place.
So can we hope to see Revival? Can we hope to see our nation rescued from the downward spiral that is gripping it, dragging it deeper and deeper into the pit of despair?
We can when we start to be obedient to all that God demands.
When we:
· Learn to love one another as Christ Himself loves us.
· When we insist on the true gospel being preached in our churches and chapels, and not the watered down, cheapened versions that are so   often offered.
· When we value the privileges that come with being the children of God, and honour the responsibilities that accompany them.
· When we are prepared to pray in earnest; prayer that is accompanied by brokenness and pleading before God.
· When we give God the glory that belongs to Him, rather than seeking to take some of it upon ourselves.
Revival comes when people prepare themselves for it, pray earnestly for it and expect it. The first stage  in such preparation is being obedient to all that we are commanded to do, and a priority in that is to love one another with a sacrificial love. Not only because we like someone, but even when we find it hard to like them Not because we want them to love us back, but because we want to improve their lives as a result of our loving them. Completely and unconditionally.
When we can do that then not only will our lives be changed but we will see the lives of those around us changed too.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

A hymn for the Sunday School: 'Little Children'

Little Children   7777 
Tune: Jesus Loves Me
Little children pure and sweet,
Worship at the Saviour’s feet;
He looks down at them to say,
Walk My straight and narrow way.
      Yes! Jesus loves them!
      Yes! Jesus loves them!
      Yes! Jesus loves them!
      The Bible tells us so.
Jesus seated on the ground,
Called the children, gather round;
Drew them close to be with Him,
Gave them life, pure, free from sin.
Yes! Jesus loves them!
Yes! Jesus loves them!
Yes! Jesus loves them!
The Bible tells us so.
Promised them that He’d be there,
And would hear their every prayer;
He’d supply their every need,
All His little lambs He’d lead.
Yes! Jesus loves them!
Yes! Jesus loves them!
Yes! Jesus loves them!
The Bible tells us so.
© 2011 :  Colin Gordon-Farleigh

Friday, July 29, 2011

Sheila Jackson-Lee and Al Green make a spectacle of themselves!

Round 3: House Homeland Security Committee Hearing 
“Al Shabaab: Recruitment and Radicalization within the Muslim American Community and the Threat to the Homeland”

by Lisa Piraneo, Director of Government Relations

Yesterday, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter T. King (R-NY) continued to follow through on the promise he made at the start of the 112th Congress—to address the threat of radical Islam in America. Yesterday, he held his third in a series of hearings on Muslim-American radicalization, this one entitled: “Al Shabaab: Recruitment and Radicalization within the Muslim American Community and the Threat to the Homeland.” I attended the hearing so that I could offer you a first-hand report.

As I noted after Chairman King’s second hearing (covering radicalization within the U.S. prison system), we didn’t see the full-blown circus that attended his first discussion on radical Islam. However, I have to say that the behavior of some congressional members of the Committee was appalling. This is a serious subject that demands serious examination, and it is deeply disappointing to watch some of the members of the Committee act with the disrespect they showed yesterday.

The discussion yesterday was based on the result of what Chairman King called a “lengthy investigation the Committee has conducted into the threat the U.S. homeland faces from al-Shabaab, the Somalia affiliate of Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda and Anwar al-Aulaqi’s al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).” The report found, among other concerning things, that over 40 Muslim-Americans and 20 Canadians have been recruited and radicalized by al-Shabaab. Click HERE to read the Committee’s full report.

The purpose of yesterday’s hearing by Chairman King was clear: We see a problem developing that has severe implications for our national security; we take this seriously; we need to address it NOW.

The witnesses for this particular hearing had varied but formidable backgrounds:

Mr. Ahmed Hussen – National President, Canadian Somali Congress. Mr. Hussen stated that his group is a “national advocacy organization that advocates on issues of importance to the 200,000 strong Canadian Somali community.” He told the Committee that as a Canadian Muslim he is “proud of his heritage” and thanked Chairman King for holding a hearing on this critical issue as, he said, it helps the Somali community, both in the U.S. and Canada, fight against those who wish to do either nation harm. Further, he said that it is important that the leaders in the Somali-Canadian and Somali-American communities “emphasize integration and the adherence to and respect for American and Canadian values and not those that promote separation, extremism and victimology.” See Mr. Hussen’s full testimony HERE.

Mr. Thomas Joscelyn – Senior Fellow, Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Mr. Joscelyn noted that a majority of Somali-Americans do not support al-Shabaab, nor its agenda. That said, he believes that there is a serious danger to our nation from al-Shabaab and though there is “great confusion here in the U.S. as to whether or not Shabaab is really a part of al Qaeda’s international terrorist network…my view is that the link is much stronger than some counterterrorism analysts realize.” See Mr. Joscelyn’s full testimony HERE.

Mr. William Anders Folk – Former Assistant United States Attorney, District of Minnesota. Mr. Folk agreed with the other witnesses that al-Shabaab is a serious threat to the United States and that to fight them and their supporters, the U.S. “must engage in a multi-faceted approach that utilizes all of the United States’ abilities, including military, intelligence, law enforcement and diplomatic options. Further, this effort must be carried out in Somalia, the Horn of Africa, and the United States.” See Mr. Folk’s full testimony HERE.

Mr. Tom Smith – Chief of Police, Saint Paul, Minnesota. Chief Smith updated the Committee about efforts taking place in St. Paul to combat al-Shabaab’s impact on the Somali-American community there. During his testimony, he noted another problem with which they are dealing: Somali girls not only in Saint Paul and Minneapolis, but also in Tennessee and other states are being sexually trafficked. See Chief Smith’s full testimony HERE.

The discussion during yesterday’s hearing was a critical one. Again, what was tremendously disappointing to me was the recurring rude and disrespectful behavior (both to the Chairman and the witnesses) by certain Members of the Committee. This has happened at each of Mr. King’s hearings on Islamic radicalization. Though national security should be a non-partisan issue, once again, the perpetrators were all Democrats. To me, it demonstrated a serious problem: how unknowledgeable, disconnected and disinterested some Members of Congress are about a very real and dangerous threat to our nation.

Some examples:

Rep. Shiela Jackson-Lee (D-TX) – as usual, was bent on making a show out of her comments instead of adding substance to the dialogue and learning from the experience of the witnesses. As during prior hearings, she made formal requests that the Chairman instead hold hearings on right-wing extremist organizations, as well as one on Rupert Murdoch. When her comment period expired and the Chairman informed her that it had, she continued speaking over him. It took several attempts of “the gentle lady’s time has expired” to get her to settle down. The cameras were rolling and she knew it.

Rep. Laura Richardson (D-CA) – commented that the scope of the Chairman’s series of hearings is discriminatory.

Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY) – argued that radicalization is “cross-cultural, cross-religious, and cross-ethnic” and that if we focus on only one group we open ourselves up to “the disdain of others.”

Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA) – noted to Chairman King that this was his third hearing on the issue of Islamic radicalization within the U.S. and said “point made. Let’s move on.”

But the most outrageous comments during the hearing, came from Rep. Al Green (D-TX), who does not serve on the Committee but asked (and was granted) time to speak. [NOTE: The Chairman did not grant the same, this time, for Rep. Keith Ellison, another legislative showman, who dramatically broke down in tears during King’s first hearing.] Early in his comments, Mr. Green asked all of the witnesses if they had ever heard of Jihad Jane. When they replied that they had, he continued his line of questioning, asking them what her hair color was, her eye color, her height, and finally, her complexion. He asked the witnesses if acknowledging that she was “as she is called in America, a white woman” took them “out of their comfort zone.” Clearly, he was insinuating that the Chairman and the committee were racist by focusing on Somali-Americans. When Chairman King responded that the questions had absolutely no basis and made no sense to him, Rep. Green shot back, “I didn’t expect it to make sense to you.”

I do think it is worthwhile to watch the full hearing, so you can see how the issue was taken seriously by the witnesses and some Members of Congress, such as Rep. Chip Cravaack (R-MN), Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC), Rep. Mike McCaul (R-TX) and Rep. Dan Lundgren (R-CA), as well as those I mention above, who were only interested in distractions. This hearing took place at the courtesy of your tax dollars and you have a right to know what your elected officials are doing on Capitol Hill. You can view the full hearing HERE or by going to the House Homeland Security website HERE and clicking on “Webcast.” If you like what your Member of Congress is doing remember to let him or her know—and the very same if you don’t.

As the Chairman noted in his Opening Statement, which we sent out to our full membership shortly after it was released (click HERE to view it in its entirety) “I will not back down from holding these hearings. I will continue to hold these hearings so long as I am the Chairman of this Committee. I…owe it to all the friends, neighbors, and constituents I lost on September 11th. I will not back down.

We need to be appreciative of Mr. King’s past and future efforts in the U.S. Congress on identifying and addressing radical Islam within the U.S. Contrary to what some Members of the Committee claim, he never has and never will focus on the peaceful Muslims living in America. This is not about them and, frankly, these hearings will benefit them. These discussions are about identifying and immobilizing those individuals who follow an ideology that is contrary and dangerous to the freedoms afforded by our U.S. Constitution—those who strive to do harm to our nation and our citizens.

Finally, we need to let Chairman King and all other Members of Congress who continue to speak out about this issue know that a grateful nation—certainly including the 170,000 members of ACT! for America—is behind them 100 percent.

As for those Members of Congress who do not take this seriously, who seem intent only on making a mockery of these hearings, they need to hear from their constituents too. They need to be told that they took an oath to defend the Constitution and they need to start taking these discussions about Islamic radicalization seriously.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

John Stott passes on to Glory.

I was saddened to learn of the death yesterday afternoon at 3.15 pm (GMT) of John Stott, a truly global Christian of immense influence in the lives of countless people. He served as President of Tearfund for fourteen years from 1983 to 1997. He will be sorely missed by people from around the world. He was a man of whom it can truly be claimed that the world's loss is heaven's gain. The following report is from Inspire Magazine (

'Architect of 20th century evangelicalism' John Stott dies at 90

Former vicar of All Souls Langham Place in London, and a key leader among evangelicals worldwide, John Stott died at 3.15pm yesterday (27 July) in his retirement home at St Barnabas College.

He was with close friends, reading the Scriptures and listening to Handel's Messiah when he died peacefully. A memorial service is being planned for St Paul's Cathedral and details will be announced shortly.

The obituary in Christianity Todaydescribed him as "an architect of 20th-century evangelicalism [that] shaped the faith of a generation", and staff at All Souls have made their own tributes here.

Rev Hugh Palmer, Rector at All Souls, said: "John Stott was a very remarkable Christian leader with an international reputation but his church home was here at All Souls for nearly all his life, so his death will be felt by us at a very personal level.

"John came to the church as a child, and I can well remember him telling our family of his first visits to the Rectory as a member of the Sunday School. He was to spend more than 50 years as Curate, Rector and then Rector Emeritus in a remarkable ministry here. In every sense he was one of the church family, so his death leaves us with a real sense of loss as well as the confidence that he is with his Lord and ours."

Richard Bewes, Rector at All Souls from 1983-2004, commented: "John Stott was, under God, my 'insurance policy' against anything going wrong. I had known him ever since I was 13 years of age, when he drove me to the Scripture Union houseparty at which I made my teenage decision for Christ. Ever since, I thought of him as always 'there' to befriend, guide and inspire ... his works will follow him into all eternity."

And Michael Baughen, vicar then Rector of All Souls from 1970-82, added: "Vast numbers of us, all over the world, from the African village to the American penthouse feel we have lost a father, a brother, a counsellor, a friend, a model, a teacher, a strategist, though deeply thankful we have had the privilege of knowing this holy man of God, this faithful servant of Christ."

Doug Birdsall, executive chairman of the Lausanne Movement, put his global influence in context: "John Stott impacted the church around the world in many ways.  Perhaps his greatest contribution was to articulate clearly and to defend robustly the evangelical faith which he always understood to be biblical faith, grounded in the New Testament.  Evangelicalism was to Stott an expression of historic, orthodox Christianity.

"The Cross of Christ was central to the message. Stott preached the Cross as the sole means by which men and women could be made right with God.

"The resurrection of Christ was the great hope of his life, as it is for all mankind, and the hope for life beyond death. This is the great reality he is now experiencing as the reward and vindication for all he preached and for which he lived during the many years of his ministry in London and around the world.

"Perhaps more than any other person in the last century, John Stott restored confidence in the authority of God’s Word and in the centrality of biblical preaching and teaching. He inspired many evangelicals around the world to make a robust and clear affirmation of biblical truth while at the same time emphasising that this must be backed up with a distinctive, godly Christian life.

"He was able to hold together, in constructive biblical tension, a passionate commitment to evangelism along with a profound commitment to ministering to the needs of people in the context of suffering and brokenness. This is best expressed in The Lausanne Covenant, of which he is the chief author, and which is seen as the defining evangelical document of the 20th Century.

"Everywhere John Stott travelled to teach, he encouraged 'double listening'. This was a listening to the voice of the Spirit of God through his Word, and listening to the voice and the needs of our broken world.

"Stott was known for his love for the Majority World and for students. He gave himself tirelessly to assisting and encouraging pastors and students in Africa, Latin America, Asia, the South Pacific and the Middle East. He leaves friends everywhere."

Converted at Rugby School in 1938 after hearing a sermon from Rev Eric 'Bash' Nash, Stott received crucial mentoring from Nash before studying at Cambridge, and going on to train for the ministry. Ordained in 1945, he became a curate at All Souls before serving as Rector from 1950-75.

John Stott played a vital role as a leader of evangelicalism within the Church of England and famously opposed a call from Dr Martin Lloyd-Jones for evangelicals to leave their denominations and unite together as an evangelical community, made at the National Assembly of Evangelicals in 1966. This rejection of a separatist approach for evangelicals was hugely influential in the path taken by UK evangelicals for decades to come.

His views on hell attracted criticism from some evangelicals. Stott leaned towards annihilationism, seeing hell as incineration into non-existence, rather than eternal conscious torment, the more traditional evangelical approach.

A prolific author, Stott founded the Langham Partnership International in 1974 and theLondon Institute for Contemporary Christianity in 1982, of which he remained honorary president.

He was appointed chaplain to the Queen in 1959, and Extra Chaplain on his retirement in 1991. He received the CBE in the 2006 New Year's Honours list. In 2005, Time magazine ranked him as among the 100 most influential people in the world.

He remained single throughout his life, and said: "The gift of singleness is more a vocation than an empowerment, although to be sure God is faithful in supporting those he calls" (Albert Hsu, Singles At The Crossroads, IVP, 1997).

A memorial website has already been set up at

Illegal posters declare Shariah Law zones in London

Islamic extremists have put up posters in an east London borough declaring it a “Sharia controlled zone”.
The posters boldly claim: “You are entering a Sharia controlled zone. Islamic rules enforced.”
Underneath are images indicating that smoking, alcohol and music are banned.


The posters are understood to have been discovered in the borough of Tower Hamlets last week, and they are identical to ones found in the boroughs of Waltham Forest and Newham.
A police spokeswoman said: “Officers are working closely with the local authority to have the posters removed as soon as possible.”
Tower Hamlets council said: “The posters have been brought to our attention and with our partners, we have been removing them as and when they have appeared, and will continue to monitor the situation.”


The posters come as a Bill in the House of Lords seeks to stop Sharia law taking root as a parallel legal system.
The Arbitration and Mediation Services (Equality) Bill, introduced by Baroness Cox, would make it a crime for Sharia courts to falsely claim legal jurisdiction.
It would also protect Muslim women from sex discrimination at the hands of Sharia courts.


Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, who grew up in Pakistan and is the former Bishop of Rochester, is backing the Bill.
He said: “The problem with Sharia is that it is inherently unequal for certain kinds of people.”

Rep. King’s opening statement at today’s congressional hearing on al Shabaab

Rep. Peter King’s opening statement at today’s House Committee on Homeland Security hearing (highlights added) underscores why ACT! for America presented him our highest legislative award at this year’s National Conference and Legislative Briefing.

Make sure you scroll down to the end to read what he says about the New York Times.

King Opens Third Committee on Homeland Security Hearing on Radicalization, Focusing on al Shabaab

Washington, D.C. (Wednesday, July 27, 2011) – This morning, U.S. Rep. Peter T. King (R-NY), Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, convenes the hearing entitled “Al Shabaab: Recruitment and Radicalization within the Muslim American Community and the Threat to the Homeland.” The prepared opening statement of Chairman King follows:

“Good morning. Today, we hold the third in a series of hearings on radicalization in the Muslim-American community.

Our focus is the result of a lengthy investigation the Committee has conducted into the threat the U.S. homeland faces from al-Shabaab, the Somalia affiliate of Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda and Anwar al-Aulaqi’s al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

The Committee has been briefed by intelligence agencies and we have interviewed dozens of experts on al-Shabaab.

I welcome our distinguished panel of witnesses. They have some of the most extensive insights into the problems uncovered by our Committee’s investigation and we are grateful they are sharing their knowledge.

You will hear how al-Shabaab, who bin Laden called “One of the most important armies” of Islam, is engaged in an ongoing, successful effort to recruit and radicalize dozens of Muslim-American jihadis, who pose a direct threat to the U.S.

Some argue that al-Shabaab is only a Somali problem, and that the group will never strike outside of the Horn of Africa region.

That kind of thinking is a glaring example of what the 9/11 Commission called a failure of imagination.

With al-Shabaab’s large cadre of American jihadis and unquestionable ties to al-Qaeda, particularly its alliance with AQAP, we must face the reality that al-Shabaab is a growing threat to our homeland.

Our investigation into this threat has led to alarming findings: Notably, that al-Shabaab has successfully recruited and radicalized more than 40 Muslim-Americans and 20 Canadians, who have joined the terror group inside Somalia.

Of those, at least 15 Americans and 3 Canadians are believed to have been killed fighting with al-Shabaab, the Committee has learned.

Not al-Qaeda, nor any of its other affiliates, have come close to drawing so many Muslim-Americans and Westerners to jihad.

Three Muslim-Americans became suicide bombers, such as Shirwa Ahmed from Minneapolis -- the first confirmed American suicide bomber in our history.

There also are radicalized converts like al-Shabaab commander Omar Hammami who was raised a Baptist in Alabama, and who has repeatedly threatened the U.S. homeland.

Three American al-Shabaab fighters have been arrested after returning home and one was collared in the Netherlands.

Other radicalized Muslims have been arrested in the U.S. and Canada before they reached Somalia, which is now much easier to get to for jihad than Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan or Yemen.

But as many as two-dozen Muslim-Americans with al-Shabaab -- who in many cases were trained by top al-Qaeda leaders -- remain unaccounted for.

The Committee found that al-Shabaab-related federal prosecutions for funding, recruiting and attempting to join al-Shabaab are the largest number and most significant upward trend in homegrown terror cases filed by the Justice Department over the past two years.

At least 38 cases have been unsealed since 2009 in Minnesota, Ohio, California, New Jersey, New York, Illinois, Missouri, Alabama, Virginia and Texas.

Al-Shabaab is recruiting inside American mosques in Somali communities like Minneapolis and San Diego, according to the Justice Department.

This month, an al-Shabaab recruiter pleaded guilty to recruiting a large group of Muslims in Minneapolis, “At mosques,” and without any known protest by mosque leaders. A top al-Shabaab leader in Somalia supervised this recruiting.

One Minnesotan recruited was suicide bomber Shirwa Ahmed whose 2008 attack in northern Somalia sent a shockwave of alarm through U.S. homeland security agencies, because of its implications.

Another would-be bomber from Minneapolis was shot and killed in Mogadishu by peacekeeping troops on May 30, moments before detonating his suicide vest.

When one cleric spoke out against al-Shabaab inside the Minneapolis mosque where many of the missing young Somali-American men had once worshipped, he was physically assaulted, according to police.

For those still skeptical that there are still jihadi sympathizers inside that community, it’s worth mentioning that the Committee learned of the mosque assault when an audiotape of the incident was posted on overseas jihadi Internet forums before authorities in Minneapolis even knew about the incident.

There is an enormous amount of travel by Somali-Americans between U.S. cities and East Africa. While most of this travel is legitimate senior U.S. counterterror officials have told the Committee they are very concerned about individuals they have not identified who have fallen in with al-Shabaab during trips to Somalia, who could return to the U.S. undetected.

They fear an al-Shabaab fighter operating under law enforcement’s radar – someone like a Zazi, a Shahzad, an Abdulmutallab – may attempt an attack here.

It is deeply troubling that from the very beginning, the Muslim-Americans in Somalia were trained by top al-Qaeda operatives, including several who were tied to Yemen’s al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which is now generally considered our biggest homeland threat.

Al-Shabaab operative Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame was charged this month for doing weapons deals and explosives training with AQAP in Yemen, and to, “Provide AQAP with material support including... personnel.”

Al-Shabaab has long harbored top al-Qaeda leaders, such as the mastermind of the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in East Africa, who was gunned down this month in Somalia after a 13-year manhunt.

Al-Shabaab has paraded in Somalia in support of AQAP and sent fighters to battle the weakened Yemeni government this year -- as well as flying the battle flag of al-Qaeda-in-IRAQ.

Finally, an al-Shabaab bombing in neighboring Uganda one year ago that targeted Westerners killed 74 people including one American.

President Obama’s Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, has said the Administration remains, quote, “Vigilant that al-Shabaab may expand its focus from fighting to control Somalia to plotting to attack the U.S. homeland.”

That convinced me of the necessity to launch a careful examination of that threat.

Dozens of experts the Committee interviewed agreed this threat is real, and that al-Shabaab leaders’ public calls for attacks against America -- including in retaliation for killing bin Laden -- must be taken seriously.

With a large group of Muslim-Americans willing to die as “martyrs,” and a strong operational partnership with al-Qaeda leaders in Pakistan and in Yemen, al-Shabaab now has more capability than ever to strike the U.S. homeland.

We look forwarding to hearing more about the rising al-Shabaab threat from our exceptional witnesses, as well as the Minority’s distinguished witness.

Finally, I note that certain elements of the politically correct media — most egregiously the vacuous ideologues at the New York Times — are shamelessly attempting to exploit the horrific tragedy in Norway to cause me to refocus these hearings away from Muslim-American radicalization.

If they had even a semblance of intellectual honesty the Times and the others would know and admit that there is no equivalency in the threat to our homeland from a deranged gunman and the international terror apparatus of al-Qaeda and its affiliates who are recruiting people in this country and have murdered thousands of Americans in their jihad attacks.

Let me make this clear to the New York Times and their acolytes in the politically correct, moral equivalency media --- I will not back down from holding these hearings. I will continue to hold these hearings so long as I am the Chairman of this Committee.

Apart from all the strategic and moral reasons why these hearings are vital to our security, they are liberating and empowering to the many Muslim-Americans who have been intimidated by leaders in their own communities and are now able to come forward.

I also owe it to all the friends, neighbors, and constituents I lost on September 11th. I will not back down.”

Joanne Lowe's Meditations

"Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."
 Proverbs 3:5,6 (King James Version)
      I wonder how many times we have made plans to do something without first consulting Jesus to see if that is what He wanted us to do.  It may have been a good thing to do but it wasn't what He wanted us to do at that time.  We need to learn to trust Jesus to direct our paths.  His ways are much better than our ways.
      What about you?  Have you decided to change jobs or move without first asking Jesus if that is what He wants you to do?  We will have a lot less stress and a lot more peace in our life if we will only allow Jesus to lead us down the path He wants us to take.  Are you trusting Jesus to lead you?
      Missionary Edgar Page Stites wrote a beautiful hymn "Trusting Jesus".  O that you and I would learn to trust Jesus all the time.  I love these words in this hymn "Simply trusting every day,  Trusting through a stormy way; Even when my faith is small, Trusting Jesus, that is all."
      Heavenly Father, please forgive us for not trusting Jesus to direct our paths.  Many times we rebel like little children.  We think that we know best and we want our own way.  How we must hurt You and break Your heart.  Help us to trust Jesus instead of insisting on doing things our way.  Amen.
Joanne Lowe

New release due from Krystyn Murphy, the Barefoot Soprano.

My friend Krystyn Murphy, the 'Barefoot Soprano, will be releasing her new album very shortly, and it will be a treat for all of you to share. I've already had the benefit of a sneak preview and can thoroughly recommend it. Keep a watch out for it at iTunes and other major on-line music stores. The on-line release will feature a special bonus track "Carrickfergus"

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Trip to 'The Cheshire Bake House'

There's a new eatery opened up in what used to be  the local Post Office. It's called The Cheshire Bake House, and it bakes the most wonderful pies and cakes. This morning we went along to sample their wares, and I had a piece of Lemon Drizzle Cake which is one of my favourites. Mind you. like many people, I love nice cake, and I have a long list of cakes that are called my favourites. 
This is an experience that I can see will be repeated on many future occasions, so I had better watch my waistline! 

Monday, July 25, 2011

Greg Scheer --- Soaring to the dizzy heights!

 My song-writing partner from across the pond, Greg Scheer, has reached # 7 in the NCM UK Charts with his take on our song Love Away the Hate. I wait with baited breath to see if it will climb up even higher!
The song is featured on his forthcoming album, Simply Greg which will finally be released by the end of July. There are some great songs on it, most of which have been recorded for the first time, so get ready to check it out on CD Baby and iTunes!

Joanne Lowe's Meditations

"The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee: and shall say, Destroy them."
Deuteronomy 33:27 (King James Version)
      Pastor Tracy Dartt wrote a gospel song that never fails to bring tears of happiness to my heart and to my eyes "God on The Mountain".  When I hear Lynda Randle sing this, I feel like I am literally in Heaven.  What an inspiring song that fills our hearts with hope and gratitude to our Heavenly Father!
      "For the God of the mountain is still God in the valley When things go wrong, He'll make them right And the God of the good times is still God in the bad times The God of the day is still God of the night."  It doesn't matter if we are on the mountain top or in the valley, He is still God.
      It's easy for us to trust God when we are on the mountain top of happiness but it is a lot harder to trust Him when we are in the valley of discouragement and despair.  We have to make the decision to trust Him especially when things look hopeless.  There is nothing too hard for God.  He can do anything.
      "Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there anything too hard for me?" (Jeremiah 32:27)  When your food is almost gone and you don't have money to buy more food, trust God.  He will never fail you.  He will make a way for you to be able to buy food.  I know this is true from personal experience.
      Heavenly Father, there have been many times when You have picked me up from the valley of discouragement and set me on the mountain top of happiness.  Thank You for loving me and for everything You have done for me.  Amen.
Joanne Lowe

John Payonk sings 'The Journey'

Here's an alternative version of Meryl Heasman's song, The Journey, sung by John Payonk. You can love this one too!

More Great Christian Quotes

"A person repents when he comes to the place where he discovers that the  will of God is the government of his life and the glory of God is the reason for his life. He only has repented who has changed his mind about his reason for being."
- Paris Reidhead

"A prayerless soul is a Christless soul. Prayer is the lisping of the believing infant, the shout of the fighting believer, the requiem of the dying saint falling asleep in Jesus. It is the breath, the watchword, the comfort, the strength, the honour of a Christian"
- Charles H. Spurgeon

"Prayer is so simple. It is like quietly opening a door and slipping into the very presence of God. There, in the stillness, to listen to His voice, perhaps in petition or only to listen. It matters not. Just to be there in His presence is prayer."
- Author unknown

"Ministers often preach about the Gospel instead of preaching the Gospel. They often preach about sinners instead of preaching to them."
- Charles Finney

"I have now concentrated all my prayers into one, and that one prayer is this: that I may die to self, and live wholly to him."
- Charles H. Spurgeon

"Our lives are to be indisputable evidence of the resurrection of Jesus Christ."
- Carter Conlon

"Those who complain that they make no progress in the life of prayer because they "cannot meditate" should examine, not their capacity for meditation, but their capacity for suffering and love. For there is a hard and costly element, a deep seriousness, a crucial choice, in all genuine religion."
- Evelyn Underhill

"What I have seen in the past 10 years of traveling - performing at a church one day and a casino the next - is that a lot of people in the church want to be entertained, and people in casinos want to be ministered to. That's hard to understand, but I see a hunger in the world that I don't see in the church."
- Ricky Shaggs (musician)

'The Journey' --- a beautiful Christmas song!

I've just discovered this beautiful Christmas song written by talented UK song-writer, Meryl Heasman, and sung by Mandy Strain who is a former contestant from the UK TV show Stars in Their Eyes. This is a song which deserves the widest possible audience, so why not help it to achieve the aim by telling all of your friends about it. Send them emails, post it on Facebook and on your Blog, and badger the Radio Stations to play it!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Laura Stapert sings 'Be Your Everything'

Here's a rendition by Laura Stapert of my song-writing partner Greg Scheer's song, Be Your Everything. Hope you enjoy it!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

A Time of Shaking

Hebrews 12: 18-29
18 You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; 19 to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them,20 because they could not bear what was commanded: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death.” 21 The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, “I am trembling with fear.”
 22 But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, 23 to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
 25 See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? 26 At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” 27 The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.
 28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29 for our “God is a consuming fire.”

      We are in a time of great shaking. The financial institutions of the world are in free-fall and there are increasing problems across the globe with disasters on a catastrophic scale. With increasing wealth has come increasing apathy and rebellion against God. His ways are rejected in favour of the ways of the world.
      With the sexual immorality, violent crime and a general turning away from God, it must often seem to many people that the winning side is the world, but the victory against sin has already been won by Jesus Christ when he became sacrificial Lamb.
      Are we now in the end time prophesied in Holy Scripture? I believe that the signs point to the fact that we are. Scripture has prophesied that eventually the world will crumble and that only God's kingdom will last. Are you part of the unshakeable Kingdom of God? If you are a true follower of Jesus Christ then you have a place in the Kingdom, and you will stand firm in the shaking, but all of those who choose to reject Christ will be lost to the burning fires of satanic hell from which there is no escape.
     Many people have placed their confidence for their future in the transient things of the world, but in the end these things will let them down. No matter how powerful or how wealthy anyone might be, neither power nor wealth can bring about salvation. The gift of salvation is in the hands of Christ alone. Within the last few days we have seen the perfect example with the fall from power of one of the most powerful and rich men in the world, Rupert Murdoch, and his fall from grace has almost certainly not finished. There are further threats against him waiting in the USA.
     We live in a time when businesses that are well-known household names are closing down, financially bankrupt. High Street name that have been around since before many of today's adults were born are ruined and in tatters.
      The media also brought news this past week of more massive bonuses for employees in the financial sector, despite the economy of several countries being in free-fall. The Greek economy is the latest Greek Tragedy, and along with many other countries in Europe that signed up to the Euro as their national currency, is being propped up in a vain attempt to rescue the unsaveable.
      Where will it all end? Well, I believe that the answers are there to be found in the Bible. It will end with the destruction of the world as we know it and the establishment of God's everlasting Kingdom, peopled by those who have accepted Christ, claimed the gift of salvation and pledged their allegiance to His Lordship, and who have remained firm in the Christian faith.
      The signs are all around us. Businesses and nations financially bankrupt and countless people who are morally bankrupt. Sexual depravity promoted daily as being normal, violence and crime increasing, yet national security and policing being compromised by the cuts imposed as a result of the financial disasters brought about by greed and avarice.
      Thankfully, there is an escape route which is open to all who choose to take it. The choice is simple. Either you accept Jesus Christ or you reject Him. In rejecting Him it matters little whether you place your trust in material things such as property, land, money or the things that wealth can purchase, or whether you place it in any of the false gods that abound. The result will be the same, for you will not inherit the keys to the Kingdom. Delay your decision at your peril. Make the right choice and repent today of all that is wrong in your life, acknowledge Christ as your Lord and claim the gift of salvation that He, and He alone, offers.
      His is the victory! Praise the Lord! And we can share in that victory when we trust in Him and reject the shiny baubles that the world dangles in front of us.