Tuesday, March 24, 2009

War Criminals on the Loose

Hamas militants must be sniggering at latest news reports of Israel coming under fire for deliberately targetting civilian infrastructure in Lebanon.

It was reported that human rights group Amnesty International has called for a UN investigation on Israel's indiscriminate attacks on homes, bridges, roads and water and fuel plants.

Apparently, if Israel intelligence cannot accurately direct their highly sophisticated firepower to pick off militants holed up in the suburbs of normal peace-loving civilians, then every Israeli attack becomes a war crime.

What is puzzling is Amnesty International doesn't find it criminal that the militants were using civilian suburbs as a safe base to launch attacks into Israel territory.

Common logic dictates that if gunman holds a family in a car hostage (whether the family in the first place consented to being held hostage or not) and drives around shooting pedestrians on the streets, the police will have to take out the gunman as quickly as possible, even if it means potentially harming that family.

Some people may argue that the safety of that abducted family is paramount. But while the debate goes on, more pedestrians are being mowed to the ground by sporadic gunfire. By which time, if the police fail to act swiftly, more people would have died on the streets than the family of three or four in that car.

What is interesting is, the police is seen as the criminal, but the gunman who holds that family hostage doesn't become the issue at all.

Perhaps my simplistic perspective of this state of affair does not adequately explain the international scenario that spills over every day for the past decades. But then again, what's the point?

Should Amnesty International call to attention Hamas militants and their associates' war crimes or is is perfectly acceptable that these freedom fighters continue to hide behind the skirts of every daughter, mother, and grandmother in Lebanon, as they fire away in relative safety?

In any case, perhaps that the ploy of the militants. To draw the ire of the international world everytime civilians die. At the expense of Israel.

Do I sound like a zionist?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Almost Five Months

It's been almost five months since we made our move to Melbourne. Almost unbelieavable that our first month of vacationing in the Yarra valley and bushland regions have eased through a scorching summer into the routine of everyday life in cool autumn.

I am thankful our three girls have taken in the breadth and length of their initial transition so well. Janielle played the first time in church on her violin with the worship team at Casey Life International led by Charlene, who introduced a song she wrote. Really a beautiful piece that I can't see any less than those done by professional Christian song composers.

And Janna has also started on her violin and what is wonderful is she's enjoying the experience.

Jirene is just soaking in all the fun in school and the new learning curve that is unlike her previous homeschool.

We are praying naturally for them to move on either to select schools when they could focus on music and other pursuits that would prepare them for life and ministry instead of going through the usual regiment of earning their degrees to earn a better living.

And so we will anticipate God's further providence as His promises unravel down the path this year.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Real or Plastic Olive Branch

US President Obama Barrack hands the olive branch to Iran in a move to seek "the promise of a new beginning," appealing to the people and leaders of the Islamic Republic since taking office on Jan 20.

His major shift seems to overlook Iran's hard line stance and former president George Bush's isolation policy - targetting new grounds based on mutual respect and concerns - that does not take into account previously irreconciliable differences.

How he hopes to bridge this divide is yet to be seen, but he is banking on the noble intents of a great civilisation - that is, if Iran chooses do demonstrate this "true greatness."

And should Iran agree to continue down that path of nuclear progress, with the promise to build rather than destroy, would that agreement itself be enough, and how would this progress be moderated should it's final end lead to anything but destruction - particularly that of Israel?

Bearing in mind, Obama's departure from Bush's "cowboy diplomacy" is not accompanied by any specifics as yet; on the contrary, it is punctuated by his sombre acknowledge of the dire situation that "won't be resolved easily."

Can peace be achieved when it is tied to the existence of Israel's future?

Will this be the pre-cursor to an attempt that will turn awry?

Or it is simply one insignificant gesture that may slip into nothing by the end of Obama's first 100 days in power.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

No Deal

A sombre Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, said: "We have red lines, we won't cross them."

Earlier, Israel had offered to free HUNDREDS of Palestinian serving life sentences for suicide bombings in exchange for the release of ONE captured Israeli soldier, who was seized by Palestinian militants in 2006.

But the proposals were rejected by Hamas who demanded the release of 1400 prisoners including hard-core militants deviously instrumental in previous terror attacks on the nation.

Olmert said: "The proposals were rejected. No others will be offered Hamas."

Already, Israel's offer was ridiculous considering the fact that many of those they were prepared to free were a threat to national security. If they had agreed to the list demanded by Hamas in addition to the hundreds earlier offered, Israel would have faced a bleak future knowing that many of the murderous militants would return to inflict severe loss and terror to the already beleaguered nation.

This would be Olmert's last stand, a final effort that would mark his last days in office two weeks away.

The collapse in peace talks could deal a serious blow to Egyptian-mediated negotiations to cement a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas following the Jewish state's 22-day offensive in the Gaza Strip that ended two months ago.

Olmert must soon hand over to incoming right-wing leader Benjamin Netanyahu, who is widely assumed to be less generous than Olmert on the matter, having pledged a tougher line against Hamas.

Meanwhile, Olmert comes under fire for vacillating on his pursuit to free St.-Sgt. Gilad Schalit.
What would you do if you were him?

One soldier for hundreds of militants? Hardly a fair deal. But Hamas believes Israel would bow to its demands as it had in the past under similar conditions. So the impasse continues.

Monday, March 16, 2009

What makes you angry?

US President Barack Obama chocked with anger in a rare flash of public anger at a White House event with owners of small businesses, vowing to block multi-million-dollar bonus payouts by bailed-out insurer AIG as he confronted intensifying public anger against Wall Street excess.

He demanded: "It's hard to understand how derivative traders at AIG warranted any bonuses, much less 165 million dollars in extra pay," when Massive losses at a London trading division have already forced the US government to pump some 150 billion dollars into AIG, leaving the company 80 percent owned by the taxpayer.

Although there was little that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner could do legally to stop the bonuses, because they were promised under AIG employment contracts before the insurer was bailed out, Obama said Geithner has been asked to pursue every single legal avenue to block the bonuses.

What makes you angry?

In the Gospels, Jesus was recorded to have made a whip of cords to drive out of the temple courts those selling cattle, sheep and doves, and exchanging money.

To those who sold doves he said, "Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!"

(Jn 2:17) His disciples remembered that it is written: "Zeal for your house will consume me."

Here is a glimpse of when Jesus was angry.

What consumes you?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Financial Woes the Least of Our Problem

Most people caught up in their own little web of worries think - naturally - that money, or the lack of money, is the source of their migraine and stomach ulcers.

But little do they know it is the least of their problem.

What IS the problem?

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke concludes on CBS's 60 Minutes that "We can't count on recovery." He says, "We don't have the political will - the commitment - to solve this problem."

Is he speaking about the United States or the rest of the world? In any case, this is the problem.

But even this problem is the least of our problem, simply because it is one that may lead to the ultimate problem - the solution - if indeed we will live through it in our generation.

Incidentally, The Nostradamus Code: World War III (an interesting read that I am not necessarily vouching as truth) says earth changes will take place that will help the Antichrist's drive for world conquest with serious economic problems persisting along great social unrest, contributing to the ease with which he can seize power.

So what do you think is our problem?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Sons of Fortune

Started a couple of days back on Jeffrey Archer's Sons of Fortune. Inspiring. The idea of destiny and fate arising from simple choices we make and those others execute leaving lasting imprints in our lives.

Courage, Wisdom, Conviction. Clearly a scarce value in today's political arena of survival of the shrewd and ruthless.

The days ahead of us are numbered. And we best learn to come to Him who assigns the stars in the sky and breathes life into mere mortals. That we may learn what truly matters and choose what is left of life's outcome beyond what we can choose that we may decide what can still be decided and not hand over that last shred without a care, without a fight.

2 Cor 3:18 says, "And we who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

We can choose like Moses to walk with God. We can choose to go up to the mountain of the Lord and behold Him who is the great I AM.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Food Food Food

(Front left to Right) Pastor Ken Teo, Yasmine Tan, Marc Chow, Yours Truly, Chong Fu, Ambrose Cho, and Henn Drik Low.
OCF President, Tara Ong Vi Ling, was the photographer.
Last Thursday, Pastor Ken and I, together with church leader, John Tan, and youth leaders Nick and Voon, met up with a bunch of 20 odd returning and new students at Monash University Berwick for delicious piping hot Vietnamese cuisine at Springvale.

As we chowed down the food with lots of chit-chat and laughs, I couldn't help but think about the bunch of youth leaders and friends that we left back home. How we used to meet over food and laughter as well.

And Wednesday cell with Pastor Geoff's group revolved around pot-bless dishes. Food again!

On Friday, we joined another of the church's cell at Melvin's house. And guess what - pot-bless again! Food, Food, Food!

On Sunday, after service, we went out with a different group of other students to Sofia that served huge, and I mean huge, helpings of pasta and pizza. This time, Jessica and our three girls join the feast. The girls ended the meal with foot high multi-flavour ice-cream which they scooped down in no time with Claire, Ken's daughter, in the lead.

This Thursday, we are going to have fun with the varsity's Overseas Christian Fellowship group playing some outdoor games. I wonder, if there'll be more food again.

And this Saturday, we're going to chill out over Asian BBQ at Ken's house. Would you believe it, the Monday after, the church is going have a picnic at Lysterfield Lake during Labour Day holiday! More food!

In fact, that's how it has been the past couple of months.

Now that brings us to the obvious question: Does food matter? Can we do without it in our Christian get-togethers? Did you wonder that the Lord's Feast was also called the Agape Feast? Back then, it wasn't with a wafer and tiny weeny tumbler of ribena? It was a sumptuous meal with wine and real food!