Archive for March, 2010

Good News According To Guinness

March 31, 2010

How the faith of Arthur Guinness inspired the vision for his famous beer.

Picture a young man sitting in a large cathedral in Ireland with his wife and small children. He lives around the time of our founding fathers and is a rising entrepreneur in Dublin. His name is Arthur Guinness, and he is a brewer, and it is hard to exaggerate just how important beer was to the people of Guinness’ day.

Guinness lived at a time when no one understood micro-organisms and how disease is spread. They routinely drank from the same waters in which they dumped their garbage and their sewage. Unknowingly, they polluted the rivers and lakes around their cities. People died as a result, and this made nearly everyone in Guinness’ day avoid water entirely. Instead, they drank alcoholic beverages.

Usually, this was done in moderation and all was well. Occasionally, though, excess set in and drunkenness plagued the land. This is what happened in the years just before Guinness was born, in the period historians call “The Gin Craze.” Parliament had forbidden the importation of liquor in 1689, so the people of Ireland and Britain began making their own. It was too much temptation. Drunkenness became the rage. Every sixth house in England was a “gin house,” many of which advertised, “Drunk for one penny, dead drunk for two pence, clean straw for nothing.” It was a terrible, poverty-ridden, crime-infested time.

To help heal their tortured society, some turned to brewing beer. It was lower in alcohol, it was safe—the process of brewing and the alcohol that resulted killed the germs that made water dangerous—and it was nutritious in ways scientists are only now beginning to understand. Monks brewed it, evangelicals brewed it and aspiring young entrepreneurs like Guinness brewed it. And they were respected and honored for their good works.

“Give all you can”
So as Arthur Guinness sat in church on the day we are imagining, he was a successful brewer in Dublin, selling a drink throughout the city that made people healthier and helped them avoid the excesses of the hard liquor that had done so much damage for so many decades.

What makes this Sunday in Guinness’ life so important is who he is about to hear, because on this day John Wesley is in town. Wesley is the founder of the Methodist church, the man who started a small group at Oxford University from which a great revival grew. Wesley and his friends wanted simply to be good Christians—to “perfect holiness,” as they said—and so as they preached the Gospel, they gave to the poor and visited prisoners and raised money to serve the needy. Whole cities were changed by the preaching of John Wesley, his brother Charles and the famous George Whitefield. And now John Wesley had come to Dublin and was preaching at the soaring St. Patrick’s Cathedral. And Arthur Guinness was there.

We do not know exactly what Wesley preached, but we can know a few things. Wesley would have called the congregation at St. Patrick’s to God, of course, but he also would have had a special message for men like Guinness. It was something he taught wherever he went. “Earn all you can. Save all you can. Give all you can,” he would have insisted. “Your wealth is evidence of a calling from God, so use your abundance for the good of mankind.”

On this Sunday and on other occasions when he heard Wesley speak, Arthur Guinness got the message. He also got to work. Inspired by Wesley’s charge, Guinness poured himself in founding the first Sunday schools in Ireland. He gave vast amounts of money to the poor, sat on the board of a hospital designed to serve the needy and bravely challenged the material excesses of his own social class. He was nearly a one man army of reform.

The legacy of Guinness
If the Guinness story was only about Arthur Guinness, it would be a small footnote in the pages of history. But Arthur Guinness added to all his good works by teaching his children the values he learned. His children, then, built the Guinness corporation on the strength of their father’s vision and faith. This is what became the great legacy of the Guinness family.

The Guinnesses decided, first, that they could better society by bettering the lives of their employees. They started by paying better wages than any other employer in Ireland. Then they decided they should provide an entire slate of services to improve the lives of their workers. With the passing of decades, they became one of the most generous, life-changing employers the world had ever known.

At the start of World War II, Guinness promised every British soldier he would have a bottle of Guinness with his Christmas meal. There was a problem, though. Guinness’ manpower was depleted because so many of its workers were serving in the military abroad. Still, they were committed to giving the men and women in uniform a taste of home. The brewery operated around the clock, but there simply weren’t enough employees. Soon, though, retired workers showed up to volunteer their time. Then workers from competing breweries were sent to help. By Christmas, every soldier had his pint, but not until the unselfish efforts of the brewers of Ireland were celebrated throughout the British Isles.

Deeds like these fill the Guinness story and are almost as inspiring as the character of some of the Guinness family members themselves. One Guinness heir received 5 million pounds sterling for a wedding gift, but then moved his new bride into a poor neighborhood to draw attention to the blight of poverty in the land.

Perhaps, though, the greatest lesson to be learned from the Guinness tale of faith is found in a truth that one of the great Guinnesses borrowed from Prince Albert of England. “Gentleman,” he instructed, “find out the will of God for your day and generation, and then, as quickly as possible, get into line.”

This is what Arthur Guinness did when he claimed the highest purpose for his wealth and his beer. It is what Guinness heirs did as they built on their legacy of good and achieved astonishing prosperity through their craft while also doing massive good through their generosity. And it is what is possible today for those who are willing to go outside the four walls of the church and apply a fiery Christian faith to the needs of their times.

The Guinness tale is not primarily about beer. It is not even primarily about the Guinnesses. It is about what God can do with a person who is willing and with a corporation committed to something noble and good in the world.

By Stephen Mansfield – Relevant Mag

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Good News According To Polycarp

March 24, 2010
Should Christians Celebrate Passover Or Easter?

Should Christians celebrate Passover or should they celebrate Easter?  The answer may seem quite obvious to some of you, but in reality this question has become quite a controversy in the Christian community over the past several years.  As Christians have learned more about the history of each holiday, an increasing number of Christians have been choosing to celebrate Passover rather than Easter.

But why would that be? After all, isn’t Passover a “Jewish” holiday and Easter a “Christian” holiday? Well, that is not really the case. In fact, the earliest Christians did not celebrate a holiday called “Easter” at all. Rather, they all celebrated Passover. Even after the original generation of apostles died off, many of the early church leaders still continued to observe Passover as described in the Torah, but other early church leaders of that next generation slowly started to move the celebration of Passover to Sunday.

In a letter to the head of the church of Rome, Irenaeus mentioned the controversy that took place when Polycarp tried to persuade Anicetus (a previous bishop of Rome) that the celebration of Passover should not be moved to Sunday…..

And when the blessed Polycarp was sojourning in Rome in the time of Anicetus, although a slight controversy had arisen among them as to certain other points, they were at once well inclined towards each other [with regard to the matter in hand], not willing that any quarrel should arise between them upon this head. For neither could Anicetus persuade Polycarp to forego the observance [in his own way], inasmuch as these things had been always [so] observed by John the disciple of our Lord, and by other apostles with whom he had been conversant; nor, on the other hand, could Polycarp succeed in persuading Anicetusto keep [the observance in his way], for he maintained that he was bound to adhere to the usage of the presbyters who preceded him. And in this state of affairs they held fellowship with each other; and Anicetus conceded to Polycarp in the Church the celebration of the Eucharist, by way of showing him respect; so that they parted in peace one from the other, maintaining peace withthe whole Church, both those who did observe [this custom] and those who did not.

You see, Polycarp was one of the greatest leaders of the “2nd generation” of the early church. He had been a disciple of the apostle John himself, and Polycarp insisted that the church should continue to celebrate Passover on the 14th day of the Jewish calendar as the apostles had always done. In fact, the church historian Eusebius wrote that Polycarp observed Passover this way because “he had always observed it with John the disciple of our Lord, and the rest of the apostles, with whom he associated” (Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History, 1995, pp. 210-211). After Polycarp, another early church leader named Polycrates argued with Victor, the bishop of Rome, over this same issue.

The following are some excerpts from what Eusebius recorded regarding what Polycrates had to say to Victor:

—–

“There was a considerable discussion raised about this time, in consequence of a difference of opinion respecting the observance of the paschal season. The churches of all Asia, guided by a remoter tradition, supposed that they ought to keep the fourteenth day of the moon for the festival of the Saviour’s passover, in which day the Jews were commanded to kill the paschal lamb”

“The bishops … of Asia, persevering in observing the custom handed down to them from their fathers, were headed by Polycrates. He, indeed, had also set forth the tradition handed down to them, in a letter which he addressed to Victor and the church of Rome. ‘We,’ said he, ‘therefore, observe the genuine day; neither adding thereto nor taking therefrom. For in Asia great lights have fallen asleep, which shall rise again the day of the Lord’s appearing, in which he will come with glory from heaven, and will raise up all the saints”

“Moreover, John, who rested upon the bosom of our Lord; … also Polycarpof Smyrna, both bishop and martyr. Thraseas, … Sagaris, … Papirius; and Melito … All these observed the fourteenthday of the passover according to the gospel, deviating in no respect, but following the rule of faith. Moreover, I, Polycrates, who am the least of all of you, according to the tradition of my relatives, some of whom I have followed. For there were seven, my relatives [who were] bishops, andI am the eighth; and my relatives always observed the day when the people (i.e., the Jews) threw away the leaven.

“I, therefore, brethren, am now sixty-five years in the Lord, who having conferred with the brethren throughout the world, and having studied the whole of the sacred Scriptures, am not at all alarmed at those things with which I am threatened, to intimidate me. For they who are greater than I, have said, ‘we ought to obey God rather than men'”

—–

So although there was an effort by the church of Rome to move the celebration of Passover to Sundays, those who were determined on practicing it as the first apostles had could not be moved off of the original observance. But eventually, during the time of Constantine, the leaders of the institutional church were strong-armed into observing Passover on a Sunday. Later this celebration came to be known as “Easter”.

But why should Christians celebrate Easter? After all, when did Yahshua die on the cross? (On the eve of Passover) When did Yahshua rise from the dead? (On First Fruits During the Feast of Unleavened Bread) What holiday foreshadowed the sacrifice of the lamb of God for hundreds of years before it happened? (Passover) So why do Christians celebrate a holiday known as Easter? In fact, do you even know what the word “Easter” means? Have you ever wondered where the word Easter originated? The truth might just shock you. Many of the old reference books actually contained the truth. The Britannica Encyclopedia (1934) defined Easter this way:

“EASTER (es’ter). Ostara, or Eastre, was the goddess of Spring in the religion of the ancient Angles andSaxons. Every April a festival was celebrated in her honor. With the beginnings of Christianity, the old gods were put aside. From then on the festival was celebrated in honor of the resurrection of Christ, but was still known as Easter after the old goddess.” So if this is the case, then why do Christians celebrate “Easter”? Well, the truth is that the story goes back a long way – all the way back to the ancient Middle East. Perhaps you have heard of “Isis” or “Ishtar” or “Ashtoreth” or “Asherah”.  They are ancient names for the same pagan fertility goddess. In fact, if you trace the various pagan fertility goddesses back far enough, they all trace back to Semiramis of ancient Babylon. Over time, “Ashtoreth” and “Asherah” became “Ishtar” which eventually became “Eastre” and then finally “Easter”. Some other names of “Easter” over the centuries included Aphrodite from ancient Cyprus, Astarte from ancient Greece, Demeter from Mycenae, Kali from India and Ostara, a Norse goddess of fertility.

In fact, pagans and Wiccans celebrate a holiday called “Ostara”to this very day.  In fact, “Ostara” was celebrated on March 20th in 2009. Well what about Easter eggs and Easter bunnies? Easter “eggs” and Easter bunnies are pagan fertility symbols that celebrate this pagan fertility goddess, and they have been used as symbols for her for thousands of years. The truth is stunning, eh? You see, “Easter” has nothing to do with Yahshua (Jesus). Yahshua (Jesus) died on the eve of Passover. In fact, the festival of Passover was a stunning prophetic picture of what would happen to the Messiah. In the “Old Testament”, God had His people go up to Jerusalem three times per year. One of those times was for Passover. During the very first Passover, God had the Jews take the blood of a lamb and put it on their doorposts so that the death angel would pass over their houses.

But why the doorposts? What are doorposts most commonly made of? Wood. Where does wood come from? From a tree. So the message of that very first Passover was that the blood of the lamb on the tree covers us from the wrath of God. Does that sound familiar? It should. It is the message of the cross – the blood of the lamb on the tree covers us from the wrath of God!

So for centuries upon centuries, God had His people gather in the exact city where Christ would die, at the exact time of the year when He would die, and He had them celebrate a holiday that perfectly foreshadowed the sacrifice of Yahshua (Jesus) the Messiah. So why have Christians rejected the festival of Passover? After all, it is a fact that Jesus celebrated Passover.  The Last Supper was actually a Passover meal (just look it up in the Scriptures). During the Last Supper Jesus said that from now on we were to celebrate that meal in memory of Him. And all of humanity will celebrate the Passover during the 1000 year reign of Yahshua. If you don’t believe this, just read Ezekiel chapters 45 and 46 which describe what life will be like during the 1000 year reign of the Messiah. But instead of celebrating Passover, most Christians today celebrate “Easter” just as ancient civilizations such as the Assyrians, the Phoenicians, and the Philistines did.  In fact, ritual pagan sex acts were often involved with the celebration of “Easter” in ancient times.  That doesn’t sound like much of a Christian holiday.

So why have Christians forsaken a holiday which predicted the sacrifice of Jesus, which is full of symbolism about Jesus, which is during the precise time when Jesus died and rose again and which God tells us in the Scriptures to remember? Why have Christians instead been celebrating a pagan fertility festival that is named after a pagan fertility goddess and is filled with pagan symbols and traditions?

We hope that this article has been very eye opening for you.  The reality is that there is a lot more to the holidays that we have been celebrating than we have ever been taught.  Don’t just take “holidays” for granted.  Learn where they came from and why you celebrate them.  Learn what the first Christians did and why they did it. Perhaps there are reasons why we don’t see the same type of power and miracles that the early Christians did.  Perhaps it is time to try to recapture the faith and practices of those early Christians.

Good News According To Mosab Hassan Yousef

March 17, 2010

Former Hamas member who saved Israeli lives and converted to Christianity. Although, in Islamic law one who converts to another religion can be killed for it.

Good News According To Brenda Giles

March 16, 2010

Interesting work giving hugs to victims of terror.

http://www.hugsforisrael.org