In terms of lives lost, last night's terror attack on an Orlando night club is the worst on U.S. soil since 9/11. Was this a hate crime or has ISIS struck in the U.S.? Was this lone wolf attack the new dimension of terror we are facing?
The Islamic belief is that the sacrifice during Ramadan can be considered more valuable than made at other times. Recent announcements by ISIS and Hamas have warned of increased attacks during the month of Ramadan. How do we successfully prevent these attacks when one of the biggest hurdles is one created by by ourselves. Bureaucracy.
On Saturday afternoon the U.S. Diplomatic Mission to South Africa issued a warning to US citizens about the threat of a possible ISIS attack at shopping malls in South Africa. This is the second such terror alert in less than a year issued to U.S. citizens residing in or travelling to South Africa.
So is South Africa potentially a ground for ISIS, or any other extremist group, to launch an attack against the West?
Jack Bauer from 24 spent numerous episodes chasing down nuclear terrorists. Red from Blacklist chased down nuclear terrorist trying to get their hands on a tactical nuclear weapon and NCIS: Los Angeles regularly has nuclear terror as a plot. But how real is the threat of a nuclear terror strike outside of Hollywood?
The recent lifting of the Iran nuclear sanctions will have little benefit to any US companies. Instead, European, Asian and Russian companies will now be able to feast on the mammoth economic boom which will hit Iran.
As the year draws to a close, we tend to review our year. We tend also wish we had it better. By viewing other peoples highlights on social media we tend to compare ourselves to them and it seems that their life perhaps looks like a beer commercial compared to yours. The new cars, houses, overseas trips, they seems to have it all, right?
eep hearing about Syria and not sure what the fuss is about?
You’re not alone. It’s hard to grasp the complexity of the Syrian civil war which officially began a couple of years back but has been brewing for longer than some of us have been paying attention. And it’s even difficult to understand countries such as Iran, Russia and the USA's desire to intervene, or what role other countries may have played in this conflict.
Seems like wherever I walk these days I either get that look or get asked the question:
You’re serious? You’re a Christian?! After all that?
And the answer is and will always be:
Yes. I am.
It got me thinking that why do people believe that you need to be of certain caliber or certain type of person to become a Christian. Is there a disbelief that it's not possible for anyone? Or do people think you jump on the Jesus wagon to shield yourself from the world?
Growing up I heard, “Believe in Jesus and live a moral life = Go to heaven”. Simple enough.
Sometimes I feel that people might have the wrong impression of what it is like being a Christian. Some might think it involves you to never struggle, or for some always struggle, never being allowed to be blessed (i.e. have money) and that you should live like a pauper. Some might think you are not allowed to get angry or frustrated or any "bad" emotional experience and that Swearing, drinking and listening to secular music is a sin.
Let me tell you this. I learn every day. I get angry some days. Some days I am frustrated. Some days I cuss because I am frustrated. Some days I need to hustle to put money in my account. Some days i can listen to anything from Linkin Park to Martin Smith.
It's called being a human being. We are all human beings no matter what your belief or non belief is.
Being a Christian doesn't involve you being a moral Nazi and living by a set of strange rules.
My past is not your past. My story is not your story. However, you also have a past. You also have a story. We all have. Each one is different but we can adapt and change. Dying spiritually and then resurrecting spiritually as a Christian is nothing short of a miracle.
Here I am. Living proof.
For me, being a Christian is not about just being good to people. I know a lot of non Christians doing more good than some people sitting in the front row of church every Sunday. It's about realizing that I, as a person, need someone to save me from myself.
As Ben Sledge mentioned in a post:
Christ teaches that his goal within the resurrection is to transform the world. Not that we convert people to our tribe and wait for God to nuke this place but that we’re in the business of restoration. That we bring hope to the hopeless. That we help the needy, poor, and oppressed. That we give generously, freeing the captives and the addicted. That we transform the world where disease and suffering are alleviated. That we treat others different than us better than ourselves..
No, I didnt become a Christian at an Altar call in church or converted by a missionary in Cameroon or by donating money to a "Christian charity" and all suddenly changed for me.
I became a Christian in a rat, lice and cockroach invested 15 x5m jail cell shared with 60 other people. I became a Christian when my chips were down, I had no more "contacts" to call to get me out of my own mess. I became a Christian when I realized that the only "contact" I never had was God.
Only then, I realized that I am all in. I am now part of them.
So far its been pretty damn cool journey with its own valleys and mountains.....
So, why am I a Christian?
Because I know I’m a train wreck in a dumpster fire. But I also know that God loves me 100% as is, right now, in the midst of the burning carnage that is often my life. I know that if I were to stack up my cards against most church people I’d fold every time.
I’m not that good at following rules and I run my mouth a lot. And yet, God loves me and is cheering for me as I get better and especially when I fall down. Where I see failure he sees opportunity for growth. Where I see addiction he sees an opportunity to take a step. Where I’ve given up, he whispers, “You can make it”.
So maybe if we can all accept the idea that God’s love is wholly separate from our actions, receive it, and give it to others maybe then we’d have more Christians that look like Christ. Christians that don’t feel it’s important to beat people down with their theology and doctrine, but instead spend their lives in the gutter bleeding alongside other people.
I think maybe then, we might just see Christ’s kingdom here on earth.
- Ben Stanley
As long as people still continue to have different beliefs, there is bound to be terrorism.
Terrorism cannot be eliminated unless every single person in the world has the same beliefs and there is nothing to fight about. There will always be conflict until the world becomes a single, Utopian society.
How do we protect ourselves against the next 9/11? It will be bigger and it will most likely be more bloody.
The men and women of the US intelligence agencies are working their butts off to protect you and me from the next attack often to the detriment of their own families, they work tirelessly to protect ours.
After hundreds of billions of dollars spent on homeland security, America clearly is safer and more aware of the threats surrounding it. Likewise, the U.S. military, the CIA, and the FBI have eliminated most of the terror leadership in recent years, diminishing its operational capacity through relentless drone strikes and captures.
Let's take a look at two possibilities that might be used in the next terror attack.
The Lone Wolf
They are hiding among us. They hide in plain sight by disguising themselves. They carry American or European passports. They can hide bombs in all sorts of places, in plain sight. It's the sick ambitions of a caliphate bent on carnage which we need to be on the lookout for.
Terrorism has also now been monetized. ISIS have become an employment agency for anyone wanting to join their convoluted society. Lone wolves or sleeper cells, they all get paid to continue their beliefs against the West. They run brothles with free wives, tagerting Yazidi women and rape has become an ideal in some cirles. For some, this is the Utopia.
However, the lone wolf attacks, inspired by ISIS, is something that can happen at anytime, anywhere.
So, what can America do to protect itself? We need to continue our focus on human intelligence (HUMINT). Both from an infiltration persepective by using informants and by initiatives recently launched by Homeland Security, "If you See something, Say something."
A further threat than a mass sleeper cell or lone wolf attack is the detonation of an atomic warhead, not physically on US soil, but about 25 miles up in the air called an Electro Magnetic Pulse Weapon (EMPW). Should a detonation like this happen, it will darken America triggering a series of electromagnetic pulses, frying everything electronic. You can just imagine the chaos it will create. No electricity, no celllphone towers in operation, no computers working. It sounds like Armageddon, but the likelyhood of plunging America back to the dark ages is there.
At least we can be comforted by the fact that the Government is speding billions of dollars within the intelligence industry to gather info that will deter these type of attacks. If that means that I need to give up some of my privacy so that they can listen to conversations of citizens, I am willing to give that up.
The men and women protecting the borders of the US, give up way more.
Ask a man how he defines success in life, and chances are his answer will include variations on three themes: money, sex, and power. If a man has a job, a woman, and a skill that makes him stand out from the crowd, people consider him successful. It's probably the three greatest temptations of our lives and referred to by some as the unholy trinity or the counterfeit gods.
"No issues touch us more profoundly or universally,' writes Richard Foster. 'No topics cause more controversy. No human realities have greater power to bless or curse."
No three things have been more sought after.
We live in a world obsessed with finding it, passionate to enjoy it, and desperate to maintain it. Money, Sex and Power are unrivalled in their power to captivate our attention, demand our worship, and drive us to hide or to despair.
We tend to worry about drugs, drinking, and pornography. But it's not the bad and nasty things that are our biggest problems. Sex, work, and money are great goods. They are intrinsic to our being made in God's image. If God is second place in your life and one of them is first, you're screwed, pardon the pun.
These things are candidates for first place because they are so addictive. Hey, i'm not saying lets zip up our pants or cross our legs, give away all our money and let's move out to the desert and pray and read our Bibles.
If we're honest with ourselves honest, some of the defining features of our identity has been our desire to put something else – popularity, money, influence, sex, success – in place of God.
Money provides us with resources and allows us to live better.
Money can’t buy you love and a whole lot of other things. All the research shows no increase in happiness with increased income above the middle class level. The richest people I know are often pursued by others for money and spend too much time actually thinking and worrying about their money. We need to enjoy our life whether we are driving a Kia or a Ferrari and we shouldn't forget what really matters.
Sex is not a dirty word. Sex is an expression of love and commitment. TV images of swinging bachelors and bachelorettes might say otherwise, but being in a solid relationship actually tends to be good for your sex life. I think that we have been told that God and sex don’t go together too many times which results in feelings of guilt to even talk about the subject. Its all too hush-hush.
If you have been blessed enough to have discovered something that brings satisfaction, pleasure, closeness, and climax, in the realm of your exclusive relationship, then I don't see where we are getting our feelings of guilt. It's something special, that needs to be shared, between two people, in an exclusive relationship.
When it comes to your own power, you have to learn how to project it. The quest is simply discovering how to make your dominant side shine, for the Kingdom and not for the world. This power has always been with you, even if you’ve never realized it.
Naturally, people like to make a difference, we like to influence and persuade. When we have a position of power we get to make a difference in a bigger way. We have a bigger sandbox to play in and who doesn't like to have the biggest sandbox? The key is to use this power effectively. Not to abuse it but to use it to serve others, for the greater Good.
Ask a Christian man how he defines success in life, and he should say, “By repentance and faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the kingdom of God.”
As a Kingdom man, he will spend money generously, cultivate purity of heart sexually, and use his power in service to others. The great need of the present hour — in which we see so many men abusing money, sex, and power — is for Christian men to be Kingdom men and show the world a better way.
You will never know your limits until you push yourself through them.
Last Man Standing 2014. My first ever CrossFit Competition...
It was awesome, it was awful, it was extreme, it was challenging, it was painful, it was exhilarating, it was everything a CrossFit competition should be.
Going into the 2 day individuals competition in the intermediate category I didn't have any expectations of making the finals, but I did, and I ended in 16th place out of 208 athletes.
I was proud and I was hooked....
Here are a few things I learned from my first CrossFit Competition:
1. BIGGER IS NOT ALWAYS STRONGER..
With an event of more than 550 athletes competing, Beginner, Intermediate & Elite categories, you pretty much have a big spread of individuals walking about and in temperates of 33C+ the shirts do come off quickly during WOD time!
It is pretty easy to get intimidated by the "big boys" in your heat.
Nevertheless, I did fairly well on all 5 WOD's competing against guys much bigger than me, way less body fat and much more defined. However, time and time again it showed that in CrossFit, you need to be good in all the ten aspects of CrossFit:
Being "good' on all ten these aspects will make you a STRONG athlete.
"Big ain't strong, strong is strong"
2. EVERYBODY IS GOOD AT SOMETHING:
I will be the first to admit that I fall short in a lot of aspects of CrossFit.It is easy to get overwhelmed by the different CrossFit movements. Gymnastic movements for instance is not my forte and neither are burpee's (dont think burpee's are anyone's forte!)
I like to row and I like Olympic Lifting. I am pretty good at those.. Luckily for me, there were a few of these incorporated during the WOD's of the weekend.
However, watching different heats and looking at the leaderboard after each WOD, names shift up and down like a ping pong ball. No one is good at everything. You might love pull ups or be good at Snatches while the person next to you will thrive on double or single unders. The beautiful thing of CrossFit is that you will find one thing at least that you are good at, then move on to work on your weaknesses which will then become another strength and you can pursue another weakness. Its a vicious circle but it will make you a stronger athlete brimming with confidence
3. CROSSFIT IS A COMMUNITY
With so many spectators filling the stands and grass areas at Supersport Park Cricket Stadium this weekend it once again became clear to me that the CrossFit community does care. I saw great feats of camaraderie, strangers shouting their lungs out for people they don't even know, helping them pushing through their physical and mental boundaries.
Athletes were high five'ing the very ones they were competing against the lane next to them, nervous laughters were shared and hands of support were thrown out when the bodies hit the floor, literally, after each WOD
Once again it showed me....Anything is Possible.
CrossFit is a sport of skill, not just of fitness. You need the strength of a Silverback Gorilla, the speed of a Cobra, the flexibility of a gymnast and dogged determination!
Thanks to LMS 360 Staff and Organizers and a special Shout out to the excellent Judges at each heat!