8.1.03

Blogging will be light this week. I'm attending a conference, (link in post below) which runs all day and until 9:30. By the time I get home and have some sleep, prepare things for the next day and make something for my husband to eat, there is not much time left for blogging. Conference runs till Friday.

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I've been attending the Spirit and Word conference organised by Tabor College. It's held quite close to me and runs till Friday evening. Last night I had the privilege of hearing Bishara Awad, the principal of Bethelehem Bible College.. He is a Palestinian and one of the most compassionate, warm-hearted men I have ever heard. While his sympathies were obvious, he did not speak of politics, but encouraged us to make sure that we were following God's agenda for our life, rather than our own. Or perhaps better said, to make sue these two were the same.

The college has been operating under dificulties with the latest troubles in Bethlehem.. Usually they have a ministry of offering coffee and refreshments etc to the Christian tourists at Christmas time. In 2002, there were curfews and no tourists. Curfews are unpredictable and he has been caught away from home and unable to return becaue of a suddenly placed curfew.

He described the joint meetings held between Messianic Jews and Palestinian Christians in Bethlehem. In the group he attends, every one has had a family member killed or injured.

His love for God shone through all he said. I had tears in my eyes for a large part of it. He looks forward to the return of the Prince of Peace, as only then will there be peace.

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6.1.03

Let's hear it for the apostrophe. Have a look at the Apostrophe Protection Society.

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Fear, our greatest foe

Because the Herald has introduced a charge for searching, I will quote this letter here. Well written and argued,(apart from mixing pigs and birds). Remember that New Year's Eve is usually a wild celebration in the city of Sydney, culminating in two enormous displays of fireworks. Crowds were down this year and other things suffered as well. St John Ambulance usually has between 90-100 volunteers at first-aid stations through the city. This year, my friend who organised it, could raise only 37.

I was one of the many who shuffled through the silent streets of Sydney on New Year's Eve. one of those with downturned gaze and stony face.

There was no joy in the air. No shouts of pleasure, no greeting of strangers, no camaraderie.

Have we all changed so much since we welcomed with open arms people from all over the world at the Olympics? All I saw was the guilt and shame in us all for falling victim to the weaknesses withinn us. We aren't scared of terrorists; we have become scared of each other.

Not long ago, I was part of the blame element, targeting the politicians, talk-back radio, media manipulation and the rest. But now, as I look into the mirror of faces of my fellow men on the street, I see it is us.

We have lost our individual directiom, our ideals and ethics. We have been kept happily quiet with our snouts in the trough of economic bliss, not wanting our moral feathers ruffled on social matters.

Integrity has a cost and we are too mean spirited to expend it. We have allowed fear and distrust of our fellow man to override what we know is fair and generous.

The "help your mate" attitude has changed to "dob them in."

Let us test our courage, our principles and morality. Let us be brave people of conviction, standing our ground and not be scared into reaction.

Let us extend the hand of trust and friendship to our neighbours, not the fist of a bully. It takes guts not to fight.

Dr Michael Azzopardi.

SMH, Monday January 6.

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Somebody, somewhere in inner city Sydney will have a rude shock. A professional snake catcher had a red-bellied black snake, ( one of the many venomous creatures in this country), in a bag on the front seat of his car. While stopped at traffic lights, someone opened the door and grabbed the bag and made off down the street. Nasty shock, I would imagine for that thief.

Snakes don't bother me, although I would not go out of my way to find one. Certainly they are relatively scarce in the inner city. When we had a country property, we recognised that we were on their territory and took precautions. Black snakes are venomous, but do not usually cause death in an adult. Certainly illness. Brown are much worse as are death adders. We had all of these on our property, but we treated each other with respect (?) and managed to avoid each other most times. In several years we killed only one snake. It was a black snake. We had many young, inexperienced children around that day and the snake was determined to come near the house.

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5.1.03

And now for some encouragement at the beginning of the year. Sometimes we are so caught up in life and its events, that things we know get pushed to the back of our minds. Other times we can be almost completely overwhelmed by our circumstances.

(Originally spoken to those in exile in Babylon) For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for your harm, to give you a future with hope. Then, when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. Jeremiah 29:11,12.

For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life. Ephesians 2:10 Another translation says We are his workmanship. I find it interesting that the word translated "workmanship" is the Greek word from which we get "poem." We are crafted by God.

Both scriptures from the NRSV.

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The Sydney Morning Herald has Column 8, a column devoted to such things as bloggers love. Little twists in life, bad typos, the "apostrophe man" and so on. Yesterday it reported a sighting of a Canadian cousin to our Aussie Koala. This was found in a gift/souvenir shop at Niagara Falls by an Australian tourist. Along with Canadian memorabilia such as maple leaves and moose, the toy koala sat on a shelf. It had a red ribbon around its neck and a maple leaf embroidered on its stomach! No doubt a closer examination would have revealed a small tag which read "made in China."

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No blogging yesterday. A flare up of arthritis from the increased humidity, made my right hand so sore that typing was difficult. Much better today.

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Bene Diction, writing on blogs at connexions: weblog of theConnexion.net, is a good read. I have been enriched by my reading of many blogs from bloggers with backgrounds entirely different to mine. I have gained insight into "how the other half lives." Even reading blogs from those in different geographical areas to me has been somewhat of an eyeopener as I see others struggle with snow and ice, while I am on the beach. Of course, I knew about these differences. However, to read of others celebrating a real white Christmas is "different." I don't read just geographically different blogs. I read from traditions quite different to my own and gain immense benefit through doing so.

A blogroll is a wonderful way of linking others. Many times I have spent a great deal of time surfing blogs far removed from the first one I looked at. Many have been wonderful, serendipitous discoveries. All are interesting.

The only concern I have is that such rolls do not become mutual admiration societies or small holy huddles. Sometimes. a roll seems to consist of a great number of others who hold remarkably similar opinions. Some almost seem to exist to uphold the "safety in numbers" theory. I don't think that is really a good thing. My blogroll has blogs from people of many places and traditions. I probably don't agree with all they say, nor they me, for that matter. That's fine. I enjoy their writing and they make me think and pray.

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