CHRISTMAS 2014

Christmas tree

PICTURE: Tony Kerrigan (Taken at Geelong, Australia)

WISHING ALL OUR READERS A BLESSED CHRISTMAS!

ESSAY: ENCOUNTER JESUS THIS CHRISTMAS - AND NEVER BE THE SAME AGAIN

CandleOne hundred years ago this year, during World War I, the Christmas truce took place between British, German and French soldiers in the trenches on the Western Front. On Christmas Eve, 1914, soldiers from opposing sides, who were stationed there to kill each other, instead got to know one another, shared photos of loved ones, and even had a game of soccer.

     This of course made their superiors furious, not just because the troops were disobeying orders, but because it is much harder to harm someone with whom you have formed some sort of relationship. The enemy is to be faceless and nameless.

     The same holds true for millions of people living in poverty around the world this Christmas. They are the faceless and nameless ones. In reality, though, the enemy that is poverty is not faceless. Poverty is about people, it is not about statistics. Poverty is also not just about a lack of material goods; it is more about a lack of dignity, a lack of a sense that you are important. We are reminded that poverty is always personal because it is about relationship.

     NILS VON KALM reflects on the meaning of Christmas...  | more...|

 

MORE CHRISTMAS STORIES...

KNOW IT ALL: THE CHRISTMAS STORY

    DAVID ADAMS separates some of the Christmas story traditions from what's recorded in the Bible...  | more...|

SIGHT-SEEING: KEEP CHRISTMAS A "SHOP FREE" ZONE

Mal FletcherIt's an issue that regularly comes up around Christmas time in Australia - should shopping laws be further relaxed on Christmas Day or should it remain a day "set apart" from the usual? Writing from the UK where the issue is also being debated, MAL FLETCHER puts the case for why Christmas Day should be a shopping free day...  | more... |

THIS LIFE: THE SENSES OF CHRISTMAS

      In a This Life Christmas special, ALAN TAYLOR fondly recalls a Christmas past... | more... |

Updated 19th December, 2014

SIGHT'S 2014 CHRISTMAS GIFT LIST

Looking for a last minute Christmas gift idea that could also impact someone in a powerful way? Over the coming week, we'll be unwrapping two Christmas gift ideas everyday - but we know you've got some great ideas to share too... |  more... |

 

 

NEWS REPORTS...

19th December, 2014

CHURCHES WELCOME NEWS OF RESTORATION OF RELATIONS BETWEEN CUBA AND THE US AFTER 50 YEARS OF HOSTILITY

Christian leaders around the world have welcomed moves to restore relations between the US and Cuba with the head of the World Council of Churches saying "we have hoped and prayed that this day would come".

US President Barack Obama announced this week that he was looking to normalise relations with the Caribbean island state after diplomatic relations with the country were cut off - and an embargo of Cuba commenced - more than 50 years ago.

Mr Obama said the US would re-establish an embassy in Havana, review Cuba's designation as a 'State Sponsor of Terrorism' and take steps to increase travel, commerce and the flow of information between Cuba and the US.

DAVID ADAMS reports... |  more... |


THE DAILY STATISTIC:

22nd December, 2014

Number of northern white rhinos in existence after the death Anglifu at the San Diego Zoo earlier this month:

5

Source: National Geographic

For more of The Statistic... |  more... |

NEWS...

• Nigeria: Boko Haram kills at least 33, kidnaps 200 in north-east... |  more... |

• Iran: Four evangelical Christians unexpectedly freed from prison... |  more... |

• Nigeria: Islamist herdsmen, mercenaries attack Christians in Benue... |  more... |

• Australia: "The heart of our city is broken", says Catholic Archbishop of Sydney... |  more... |

Last updated 11.45am, 16th December, 2014

• Australia: Two hostages and gunman dead after early morning confrontation at Sydney cafe... |  more... |

• Ethiopia: International concern over detained Christians... |  more... |

| MORE NEWS...|

 

22nd December, 2014

WORLDVIEW: NEW ROMANIAN PRESIDENT SWORN IN AMID CHALLENGES

Romania's Parliament has sworn in the first ethnic German as president of the former Communist nation, at a time when the country remembers the 25th anniversary of a bloody revolution that ended decades of Communist dictatorship. Former mayor Klaus Iohannis promised a different style from the combative outgoing president Traian Basescu.

     Romanian Orthodox Patriarch Daniel prayed for his presidency as the country faces major challenges. The blessing in front of parliament in Bucharest came after the 55-year-old pro-Western Iohannis was sworn in as Romania's president on Sunday.

     The centre right politician told the joint session of the lower house and senate that he becomes president following "an election that was a triumph for democracy, 25 years after communism ended" when devoted Christians and ethnic minorities, including ethnic Germans and Hungarians, faced persecution.

BosNewsLife reports...  |  more... |

 

FOR THE SIGHT SOAPBOX...  |  more... |


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FOR THE ISSUE/YOUR SAY... | more...|

 

Christmas cardsLOOKING FOR A CHRISTMAS CARD THAT GETS TO THE HEART OF WHAT THE CELEBRATION IS REALLY ALL ABOUT?

Sight has released its first Christmas cards - with two different designs - which are available for purchase.

Click HERE to see the designs and for ordering details...

 

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INDIA: CHRISTMAS "EVOKES NOT JOY BUT FEAR" FOR CHRISTIANS

 

Christmas is an occasion mostly associated with joy and celebration. But since the start of the holiday season, India’s minority religious groups of Christians and Muslims have been especially under pressure.
     The Indian Parliament has hardly functioned since the start of December because several opposition lawmakers have been protesting a series of attacks against the nation’s religious minorities. The protagonists are Hindu nationalists emboldened by India’s largest political party Bharatiya Janata Party, BJP.

     India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a member of the BJP. The party controls a majority in Parliament and expresses a commitment to Hindutva, an ideology that defines Indian culture in terms of Hindu values.

     On the morning of 1st December, St Sebastian’s church at Dilshad Garden - a large Catholic church in a crowded middleclass area of Delhi - went up in flames. The interior of the church was destroyed before half a dozen firefighting trucks managed to extinguish the blaze.

     ANTO AKKARA reports for the World Watch Monitor... |  more... |

FOR PREVIOUS:

INDIA: MODI SAYS NOTHING AT HOME OR ABROAD ABOUT RISING SECTARIAN VIOLENCE

ANTO AKKARA and JEFF THOMAS, of the World Watch Monitor, report on the new Prime Minister's silence over rising violence towards religious minorities - including Christians - in the world's most populous democracy... |  more... |

 

 

PAKISTAN: WORLD CONDEMNATION FOR SCHOOL ATTACK WHICH LEFT MORE THAN 140 DEAD - MOST OF THEM CHILDREN

 

More than 140 people - almost all of them children - have reportedly been killed after militants stormed a military school in north-western Pakistan.

     Pakistani military have said at least 145 people died in the Peshawar attack, including 132 children and 10 staff members and three soldiers, which was undertaken by members of the Pakistani Taliban. More than 120 others are reported as having been injured in the attack, many with gunshot wounds.

     Eyewitnesses described at least seven militants entering classrooms and opening fire, indiscriminately killing the occupants, in what is the group's deadliest attack in the country. The raid on the school - which caters for some 500 children of military personnel and civilians who were reported as mostly being aged between 10 and 18-years-old - lasted for at least eight hours before the seven gunmen, all wearing explosive vests, were killed.

     In a statement, the Pakistani Taliban said Tuesday's attack was in revenge against the Pakistani army due to its military operations in North Waziristan that began last June. The group is also known for threatening and attacking Christians.

     DAVID ADAMS reports (with BosNewsLife)... |  more... |

 

 

ESSAY: ARE WE STILL THE 'LUCKY COUNTRY'?

 

In 1964, Australian author Donald Horne wrote a book called The Lucky Country. The book referred to Australia’s natural resources, it’s mild weather, history and distance from problems elsewhere in the world.

     Whilst the title was initially meant to be derogatory, the phrase has now become a nickname for Australia - we know ourselves as ‘the lucky country’.

     As a nation we are used to being confused with Austria and answering questions from overseas visitors asking if there are kangaroos near the Sydney Opera House or crossing the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

     We enjoy our isolation even though it takes us 24 hours to travel to Europe and 15 hours to the west coast of the US. All the Americans I met on a recent trip to Europe couldn’t quite comprehend spending 24 hours in a plane.

     But that’s the price of being from the ‘lucky country’ and no one really complains.

     However the events of the last few days in Sydney, when a mentally disturbed man took hostages in an inner city cafe, claiming to be a member of ISIS, has meant that many of us are wondering if our luck has run out.

      Sydneysider MARTIN JOHNSON reflects on the tragic events of this week... |  more... | 

FOR MORE...

"The heart of our city is broken", says Catholic Archbishop of Sydney... |  more... |

Two hostages and gunman dead after early morning confrontation at Sydney cafe... |  more... |

 

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FOREIGN AID CUTS


CHRISTIAN AND HUMANITARIAN GROUPS CONDEMN FURTHER "UNPRECEDENTED" CUTS

Christian groups have joined with humanitarian agencies in condemning the announcement on Monday that a further $3.7 billion will be cut from the Federal Government's foreign aid budget over the next four years.

     The news follows the earlier announcement of $7.6 billion in cuts and takes the total amount now taken from the foreign aid budget to $11.3 billion.

     Micah Challenge Australia - part of an international movement of Christians speaking out against poverty and injustice in support of the Millennium Development Goals - described the cuts as "unprecedented" and said that when they come into full effect in 2017-18, Australia's development assistance will fall to just 21 cents for every $100 of national income - its lowest ever recorded level.

     "We find it absolutely disgraceful that for the third time in 15 months the Abbott Government has broken its promises on aid and turned to our poorest neighbors to find their budget savings," said Ben Thurley, political engagement coordinator for the group.

      DAVID ADAMS reports on reaction to the announcement of more cuts to Australia's foreign aid budget... |  more... | 

 

ESSAY: THE BIGGEST AID CUT IN AUSTRALIA'S HISTORY

With due deference to the terror and tragedy of unfolding events in Sydney's Martin Place yesterday, the Government delayed by a few hours the release of its mid-year budget update. However, when the Treasurer finally announced his plans, it was terrible news for Australia's aid program.

     On top of the $7.6 billion already ripped out of Australian aid since coming to office, the Government is planning to cut a further $3.7 billion from aid over the next four years. Despite the fact that aid represents just over one per cent of the Federal Government's budget, cuts to aid represent more than a quarter of all the budget cuts this Government has made in the 15 months since coming to office.

     These cuts will take Australian aid to their lowest recorded levels and include the largest single-year cut to aid in Australian history - $1 billion or 20 per cent taken out of the budget from this year to next.

     At a time when Australia's economy is growing, when our debt is 6th lowest among all developed countries, these cuts will plunge our contribution to global development assistance from 34 cents in every $100 of national income (0.34 per cent of GNI) to around just 21 cents in every $100 of national income (0.21 per cent of GNI). This is a far cry from the previously bipartisan target of 0.5 per cent of GNI and even further from the internationally-agreed aid target of 0.7 per cent of GNI.

      BEN THURLEY, political engagement coordinator for Micah Challenge Australia, gives his view of the cuts to Australia's foreign aid budget announced on Monday... |  more... |

 

FOR PREVIOUS:

CHRISTIAN GROUPS EXPRESS DISAPPOINTMENT AT FURTHER FOREIGN AID CUTS IN FEDERAL BUDGET

      In piece which we'll update throughout the day, DAVID ADAMS reports on reaction to Tuesday's Federal Budget announcement...  |  more... |

DISAPPOINTMENT AT FOREIGN AID CUTS

     DAVID ADAMS reports... |  more... |

 

 

ESSAY: HUMAN RIGHTS DAY BUT ARTICLE 18 VIOLATED EVERY DAY

 

“Christmas in a North Korean gulag will be just another day of grotesque suffering."

     Wednesday (10th December) was International Human Rights Day, but the right to freedom of belief is violated each and every single day, especially in North Korea, despite being protected by Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

     A globally recognised campaigner and specialist on North Korea, British Lord David Alton wrote in an 8th December email that “Christmas spent in a North Korean gulag will be just another day of grotesque suffering,” according to California Catholic Daily.

     On 10th December, the British All Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom of Religion or Belief (the latter shortened to FORB) published a report about the findings of its inquiry into persecution in North Korea. The findings of the group encourage countries around the globe to maintain momentum and public pressure on North Korea so that it can no longer systematically oppress religious freedom with impunity.

     The report, entitled Religion and Belief in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, key findings include how the North Korean government systematically oppresses freedom of religion or belief and continues to target Christians in a way that amounts to crimes against humanity.

     The World Watch Monitor reports... |  more... | 

FOR PREVIOUS:

33 TO BE EXECUTED FOR MISSIONARY WORK, SAYS REPORT

The World Watch Monitor reports... |  more... |

REPORT'S FINDINGS OF WIDESPREAD "CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY" NEED TO BE ACTED UPON IMMEDIATELY, SAY HUMAN RIGHTS ADVOCATES

DAVID ADAMS reports... |  more... |

FOR MORE FEATURES... | more...|

 

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Sight
is giving away five DVD copies of the film Son of God, newly released on DVD and Blu-ray, courtesy of Heritage Films.

The award-winning producers of the record-breaking TV mini-series, The Bible, Mark Burnett (Survivor) and Roma Downey (Touched by an Angel) bring us Son of God - the most important chapter of the Greatest Story Ever Told for a whole new generation of families to enjoy.

 

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REGULAR COLUMNS

 

OPEN BOOK - HUNCHES ABOUT JESUS: A YOUNG MAN

A young manOne Bible book I have says that there seems no purpose in these verses unless they refer to Mark himself. But even if this is not Mark we could say that this report would still be relevant to the people for whom it was originally written. They would know who it referred to, or at least would have some ideas about who it could have been.

     Among the group in Gethsemane were those who were not aware of the great danger. Some seem to have come expecting to camp out for the night. And it was not just the group of - now 11 - disciples. The militia tried to seize this young man as well, and thisalso indicates that the militia were also trying to round up Jesus' associates - young and old - as well.

     My Greek Bible says this: "This young man was there. In the midst of the violence he was there with Jesus. The militia tried to grab him and Mark gives us a picture of a young lad in his pyjamas, wriggling free of their grasp and making off, stark naked. The soldiers were left holding his night-shirt."

      BRUCE C WEARNE looks at a curious passage about a "young man" who Mark writes was present at the time of Jesus' arrest...  | more... |

 

LIFE'S TOUGH QUESTIONS: IS PERSONAL FAITH IN JESUS THE ONLY WAY TO GOD? - PART V: GOD IS A BIG GOD. FINAL REFLECTIONS

SunsetWe ended part four by suggesting that there are other possible reasons why the apostles had a passion for evangelism, and we noted how God has always “saved” people: by how they respond in faith, to whatever revelation they have been given by the grace of God. Our final part seeks to bring the discussion to some conclusions.

     Just as all people all over the world, all through time, are ‘saved’ by responding in faith to the revelation they have been given, so too those who encounter Christ are ‘saved’ on the basis of faith. Faith in the revelation they have received, faith in Christ himself, faith that will be evidenced by a changed life and a life of good works.

     But it does beg that other question alluded to briefly above: What happens to people who have never encountered Christ? Who know nothing of Jesus?

     In the final instalment in his five part article, JIM REIHER concludes his look at whether faith in Jesus is the only way to God... | more...|

 

SIGHT-SEEING: KEEP CHRISTMAS A "SHOP FREE" ZONE

The festive season always brings with it fresh questions, especially in a largely secular age, about whether a religious festival should be afforded protected status in terms of shopping laws.

     Currently, large stores in England and Wales (in law, those over 280 square metres in size) cannot open on Christmas Day. Smaller convenience stores often do a brisk trade, providing those last-minute batteries for Christmas toys, or various items for the festive lunch.

     Were regulations to be relaxed further as some would like, large stores would doubtless take advantage of another opportunity to appeal to the last-minute-gift-grab that goes on right up until Christmas Eve.

     In that event, Christmas would quickly become just another shopping day and, for those perhaps unfortunate enough to work in retail, just another working day.

     Surely, say advocates of 24/7-all-year selling, this one day should be seen, in commercial terms, as no different to any other in the calendar. Especially so when we consider how apparently few people will spend any time reflecting on the religious significance of what was once a “holy day”.

Mal FletcherIt's an issue that regularly comes up around Christmas time in Australia - should shopping laws be further relaxed on Christmas Day or should it remain a day "set apart" from the usual? Writing from the UK where the issue is also being debated, MAL FLETCHER puts the case for why Christmas Day should be a shopping free day...  | more... |

 

THIS LIFE: THE SENSES OF CHRISTMAS

Christmas treeA color, a smell, a conversation or environment can trigger memories we thought had faded long ago.

     Then there are Christmas memories. Sure, Christmas comes every year, but not all memories are triggered by the annual celebration.

     Take my fondest Christmas memory, for example. I was around eight-years-old and on one Christmas morning my older brother and I had just left our bedroom while it was still dark.

     We tip-toed down the hallway, past our parent's room, carefully avoiding the creaky floorboard. The floorboard was our 'parent-warning-system' but could easily be a 'child-warning-system'.

     Arriving in the lounge room, the target, the tree, was a shadow in the darkness; the pretty lights extinguished. I was a little afraid but my brother didn't hesitate. I followed him to the tree and, underneath, our plastic Christmas stockings were filled to the top with all kinds of goodness.

      In a This Life Christmas special, ALAN TAYLOR fondly recalls a Christmas past... | more... |

 

CONVERSATIONS: KATE RODWELL, FREEDOM CLIMB

Kate RodwellWhy a Freedom ‘climb'?
     "A climb is something many of us find daunting, and is symbolic of people who cannot climb out of their situations on their own. We figuratively come alongside them. A climb is also an event that people can participate in and raise sponsorship for. As we climb, we have time to think and talk to others climbing with us about the issues; those caught in slavery, exploitation and human trafficking, and pray; while raising funds and awareness across the country."
       While the Freedom Climb concept was kicked off when a group of 48 women first scaled the heights of Mt Kilimanjaro in 2012, you held the first Freedom Climb in Australia last year and have since held six more both here and in New Zealand. Which of those climbs stands out for you and why?
      "They all stand out in different ways; the climb around Sydney’s beautiful cliff walk; two people joining the Brisbane climb as a direct result of hearing a radio interview just two days prior; the mists over the Cathedral Rocks just out of Armidale, and to see the Wodonga climb triple in size in just one year, with schools and churches participating were all amazing. A particular highlight was the Auckland climb, where a group with intellectual disabilities joined the climb as a team.

     Kate Rodwell is the founding director of Freedom Climb Australia, a ministry of OM. She talks to DAVID ADAMS about the initiative which aims to help the millions of people around the world trapped in slavery... | more... |

FOR THIS AND MORE OF OUR REGULAR COLUMNS, GO TO OUR REGULARS PAGE here

 

IN HIS HANDS...

16th October, 2014
VenezuelaThis is the story of a very ordinary person with no claims to any special attributes or exceptional virtues but who is bursting inside to tell what the Lord has done for her.

I am recounting this with a heart full of deep gratitude. I am humbled by the fact that a spiritual being, maybe a guardian angel or the hands of the almighty God, saved me from serious harm on two occasions. I have remained silent for too long and it would dishonour and diminish the work of our Lord if I did not tell the story.

     I was 12-years-old, living in Caracas in Venezuela, when I joined the girl scouts, and remember vividly my first excursion. Armed with all the required scout “gear” - including a medium size machete - we set out to conquer Mount Avila, a 2,740 metre high mountain. In 1977, when this excursion took place there were no such things as mobile phones or GPS equipment.

     TANIA NEALE tells of two occasions in which she credits God with saving her life... | more...|

FOR MORE OF MYSTORY... | more...|

Looking to encourage or inspire others or simply share how meeting God has changed your life? We're looking for your story - perhaps the inspiring story of how you came to know Jesus or an incident in your life in which you saw God's hand at work. MyStory - an addition to our existing LifeStory column - is a new regular feature where we'll publish your story for the benefit of others. Simply write your story in 200 words or less and email it to editor@sightmagazine.com.au and we'll post it here under our MyStory banner. We're looking forward to hearing from you!

 


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REVIEWS

 

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BOOKMARK - BURIAL RITES, A MOVING STORY FROM THE FRIGID NORTH

Burial RitesThis award-winning novel – the debut for South Australian academic Hannah Kent - is based on the story Agnes Magnusdottir, a servant girl who became the last person to be executed in Iceland when she – along with Fridrik Sigurdsson - were beheaded in 1830 for the murders of Natan Ketilsson and Petur Jonsson (a third person, Sigiridur Gudmundsdottir, was sentenced to life in a Copenhagen prison). In the absence of a prison to hold her, Agnes is sent to live with a family on their farm while awaiting her sentence and while there is ministered to by a young priest, Thorvardur Jonsson.

     In the first of a new series of shorter book reviews - Bookmarks, DAVID ADAMS takes a look at Hannah Kent's Burial Rites... | more... |

 

LISTEN

IT'S ABOUT TIME A WELL-BAKED YET JUICY DISH

It's About TimeAs the name suggests, ‘It's About Time’ has been a long time in the making. But the wait was worth it!

     Fans of the Ocean Grove-based singer/songwriter will be well pleased with the results that all that time has produced. This is classic Andrea – understated, carefree, even reluctant yet so pleasurably juicy.

     Bite into It's About Time and the musical juice that will flood your ears is a home-baked blend of rootsy blues, infused with a bit of folk, a dash of soul and even a hint of contemporary rock 'n roll.

     The toe-tapping It’s Not Me is sure to be a live show favourite - if the chorus doesn’t get you singing along, you’re made of stone! The sultry Sweet Baby featuring Chris Wilson on harmonica (Wilson has also been a guest with Paul Kelly and Hunters and Collectors), is a real highlight straight from a 1950’s blues venue.

      ROBBIE TOWNSEND listens to Victorian Andrea Robertson's debut album, It's About Time...  | more... |

Soundbite18th December, 2014

THE TCM UPDATE: THE STORY BEHIND THE FIRST SILENT NIGHT

To hear CAM WANT with this week's edition of The TCM Update, simply click on the link... | more... |

 

WATCH

EPIC IN SCALE BUT EXODUS FAILS TO CAPTURE THE HEART

ExodusDirector Ridley Scott boasts a string of stand-out films to his name. His latest epic – Exodus: Gods and Kings – isn’t one of them.

    While it certainly fulfils the anticipated scale of a Ridley Scott epic with some superb cinematography and interesting CGI effects, the film generally lacks heart thanks to some significant issues with the script and the casting.

     “Inspired” by Biblical story of Moses, the script contains the basic elements of the story found in the Book of Exodus but deviates in many of the details. Which isn't necessarily a problem, except that in this case what ended up on the screen is a somewhat insipid retelling of what is a powerful story.

        Moses (played by Christian Bale) is an important figure in Egypt – a hard-nosed general raised as a "brother" of Pharoah Rhamses (Joel Edgerton) – who knows nothing of his Hebrew heritage. When Hebrew leader Nun (played by Ben Kingsley - one of the wiser casting choices) tells him during a secret meeting of how he came to be saved from the death squads of Rhamses' father - Pharoah Seti - as a baby (floated in a basket down the river to be saved by a member of Pharoah's family), he doesn’t believe him.

      DAVID ADAMS reviews Exodus: Gods and Kings...  | more... |

 

CLICK

GODINTEREST

GodinterestLaunched several months ago, Godinterest is, as the name suggests, a Christian take on the popular social networking site Pinterest. Like the original, Godinterest - a "visual discovery tool" - is based around picture boards and allows users who sign up to pin up images they like for others to see. The site was developed by Londoner - and Christian - Dean Jones and, according to a press release issued at the time of its launch, is aimed at those who love the idea of Pinterest but are looking for place that provides a "safe, family friendly Christian alternative" as they share images of everything from food to devotional posters to pets.

      DAVID ADAMS looks at a Christian take on Pinterest... | more... |

 

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DVODVO (short for 'devo' or devotional) is a Christian daily devotional that provides you with inspiring wallpapers for your device each day. Not only do you receive inspirational wallpapers to share by social media, but they each come with verses and a devotional to reflect on. The devotionals are provided by PKTFUEL which was founded by the husband-and-wife pastor team of the Hope Unlimited Church in Australia.

      ALAN TAYLOR tries out DVO and Bible+... | more... |

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LIFESTYLE

 

KNOW IT ALL: THE CHRISTMAS STORY

ChristmasChristmas is coming and so we thought it was timely to take a look at the Christmas story as it's told in the Bible and separate it from some of the traditions which have grown up around it...

     • Scholars believe Jesus wasn't born in the year zero but probably around 4 or 5BC ("Before Christ") (as a side note, the Gregorian calendar doesn't actually have a year zero but jumps straight from BC to AD). While we celebrate His birth on 25th December, the exact date of His birth remains something of a mystery. But there's plenty of speculation based on things such as the idea that shepherds would only normally be out watching over their flock in warmer months between April and October.

     • Nativity plays often feature an "innkeeper" who informs Joseph upon his and Mary's arrival in Bethlehem that there's "no room at the inn". But Bethlehem was a small village and unlikely to have an inn of its own. It's more likely they were unable to find any space usually set aside for guests in a private house (it was already full) and so had to bed down where animals would normally be housed - although none are mentioned in the Biblical account.

    DAVID ADAMS separates some of the Christmas story traditions from what's recorded in the Bible...  | more...|

 

ORIGINS: DO THEY KNOW IT'S CHRISTMAS? FIRST ASKED 30 YEARS AGO

Do They Know It's Christmas?Last month marked 30 years since Band Aid launched their hit song, Do They Know It's Christmas?, in response to the famine crisis in Ethiopia.

     The song, released on 28th November, 1984, became, what was at the time, the best-selling single in British chart history, went to number one on various charts around the world - including in Australia, and led to what's been called the "show that rocked the world", Live Aid.

     Bob Geldof, then-frontman of the Boomtown Rats, was apparently moved to put the song together after seeing horrific images of the famine in Ethiopia on the BBC evening news on 23rd October that year.

     Shaken by the horrors he had seen on the screen, Geldof and his friend Ultravox's Midge Ure not only managed to write the song but bring together about 40 of what were then the biggest names in the British music industry - everyone from Phil Collins and Sting to Bono, Boy George, George Michael and Bananarama - who recorded it in London's Sarm West Studios in late November, just over a month after Geldof had first seen the news report.

    DAVID ADAMS looks back30 years to the making of Do They Know It's Christmas?...  | more...|

 

TRENDSPOTTER: SPEAKING THE 'LANGUAGE' OF EMOJI

EmojiOriginating from Japan, emoji are "picture characters" used in messaging systems, the use of which has spread to the four corners of the globe. Emerging in the late Nineties, there are hundreds of different emoji ('e', meaning picture in Japanese and 'moji', meaning character) - from cartoon-like faces sporting a variety of expressions to hand signals, popular foods, buildings and more obscure ones like money with wings. The emoji can represent either emotions or activities and interpretation of their meaning isn't always as simple as it may at first appear: as explained in a recent article in New York Magazine an emoji showing a man in a business suite levitating can convey the emotion of 'jumping for joy' or 'mystery'. In other words, context counts.

     DAVID ADAMS looks at the rise - and rise - of our use of emoji... | more...|

 

Silent Night ChapelSEE YOU THERE! SIGHT'S NEW TRAVEL DEALS COLUMN...

Sight is unveiling a new travel deals column for our Australian readers. Every week, we'll try and bring you a new deal that might be of interest.

This week - spend Christmas in Salzburg, Austria, with a side excursion to a memorial service at the Silent Night Chapel on Christmas Eve.

     Follow this link to see this travel deal in full... | more...|

FOR THIS AND MORE, GO TO OUR LIFESTYLE PAGE here

 

20/20

 

THE WEEKLY SNAPSHOT

Fields

    9th December, 2014

    "The fields are white for harvest" by TONY KERRIGAN

In Sight's Weekly Snapshot, we'll endeavour to publish an image from somewhere around the globe every week. To see this image in a larger scale and for details of how you can submit images, follow the link...  | more... |

 

THE BIG PICTURE: WISHING YOU A WHITE CHRISTMAS


Does your non-white Christmas feel a bit B-grade? Do prawns for Christmas lunch feel more like a cultural experiment than real tradition? It may be that centuries of European fairy tales or the middle class American dream are undercutting your confidence in the goodness of a hot, sweaty December. Well...push those feelings away and embrace the heat!
      Think about it. Would you rather play cricket on the beach and frolic in the surf...Or struggle with salt and shovel on a snowy driveway getting your frozen car out of the garage? Would you rather wear thongs and board shorts or layers of thermals? No need to answer.
      Yet, there’s something about a white Christmas. And it’s got everything to do with what Christmas is all about. Before Jesus was born, an angel visited Joseph and declared to him that his wife, Mary, would: “bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins".

     To see Outreach Media's December poster and read the full text, follow the link... | more... |

 

WORDPLAY CHALLENGE #4 (AND THE ANSWER IS)

This wordcloud represents the words contained in a oft-quoted passage from the Bible (with the more frequently used words shown in larger type). The challenge for you is to identify the passage - which book and chapter does it come from? Follow the link to see the answer... | more... |

FOR THIS AND MORE, GO TO OUR CREATIVE

ARTS PAGE - 20/20 here


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SIGHT BOOKSHOP

6th October, 2014

Bookshelf

On the shelf this week are books about life as a missionary in a Bangkok slum; finding Jesus in the Gospel of John; and church leadership in hard times...

The bookshop is now open. Click HERE to go there...

 

SUGGESTION BOX

Thought of a way we could make the site better? Or any other general feedback? Drop us a line here...

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if you wish to help support the work of Sight, you can do so by using the donate tab above for whatever amount you wish (no PayPal account is required). Please note that donations to Sight are not tax deductible. Any queries, please email editor@sightmagazine.com.au

 

WE'RE LOOKING FOR VOLUNTEERS!

If you think you can help out on Sight, then please let us know. We're always looking for new writers and reviewers and the more technically minded. If you'd like to join the Sight team, simply send an email to editor@sightmagazine.com.au

 

 

THEY SAID IT

 

 

"I thought today's service was so beautiful. Because it was all about love. It was about that love, that love of God...the loving example of Jesus that should inspire us all not to be corrupted by hatred and violence, and to remain united as Australians, now and forever."

- Australia's Federal Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull, describing a service he had just attended held at Sydney's St Mary's Cathedral on 17th December, held to be pay tribute to the victims of the Sydney siege (as quoted by SMH on 17th December 2014)

For more of They Said It, follow the link...  more...

 

 

THIS WEEK ON THE WEB

 

 

11th December, 2014

Former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser has hit out at the recent passing of new immigration legislation in Australia, saying it gives Immigration Minister Scott Morrison "dictatorial, tyrannical powers", in a speech delivered in Melbourne this week. You can read the full speech here...


For previous 'This week on the web'... | more... |

Sight now has a Pinterest page where you can see some of our images. To see it, head here...

 

 

MUSINGS   

 

 

CHRISTMAS 2...
19th December, 2014
PAUL CLARK
I've got a friend who's very ambivalent towards Christmas. He's not sure if he likes it or not.

He's happens to celebrate his birthday on the 25th of December. You can imagine what that is like.

He talks about Christmas morning where those close to him are all smiles, coming out to the Christmas tree, and forget to wish him a happy birthday.

They seem too wrapped up in themselves and their presents to remember his special day. Often the pleasantries and best wishes come as an after thought.

Musings is a regularly updated, column featuring short snippets reflecting on daily life from a Christian perspective...  | more... |

 

 

THE WORD EXPLAINED

 

 Wordle

Testimony

Temptation

Tempt


| more... |

 

 

BLOGS

 


A PRESENT FOR SOMEONE WHO HAS EVERYTHING; GANDALF FOR PRESIDENT; AND, NO MORE PHONES...

Looking for the perfect Christmas present for someone who has everything? How about a box of nothing? The creators of a website - You Need Nothing - have been selling "A Box of Nothing" for prices ranging up to 199 Euros (for a deluxe version). Proceeds from the sale of the boxes are donated to Oxfam, according to the website.

DAVID ADAMS writes about the odder side of life... | more... |


CHRISTIAN GENERAL RECALLED IN JERUSALEM EXHIBITION...
The World War I British officer who gave the order to lay down arms in 1918 is the subject of a year-long exhibition in Jerusalem opening this week.

On the 50th anniversary of his death, Lt Gen Sir William Dobbie's life is being celebrated at Christ Church, an Anglican community with strong links to the family and located within the ancient walls of the Old City.

CHARLES GARDNER, of ASSIST News Service, reports...  | more... |


THE MYSTERIES OF KHIRBET EL-MAQATIR
A tiny excavation that started with a handful of people in 1995 has become one of the largest excavations in Israel and may help Bible scholars determine not one but two Biblical locations. The site known as Khirbet el-Maqatir is located about nine miles (14 kilometres) north of Jerusalem.

Bryant Wood, of Associates for Biblical Research, began the excavation to search for evidence to support his belief that Maqatir, and not the nearby site of et-Tell, was the location of Ai, the city conquered by Joshua after the destruction of Jericho.

In an article first published by ASSIST News Service, GORDON GOVIER writes about findings on one of the largest excavation sites in Israel... | more... |


AN END...AND A NEW BEGINNING...

What's on my mind?... Thanks for asking, Facebook.
Time to say goodbye to Just Been Thinking after many years, stops and starts. Thank you for your attention over the years, readers. Thank you for your endless commitment, encouragement and patience, David Adams- editor extraordinaire.
And now...I migrate back across to sightmagazine.com.au to begin a Coach Column, sharing insights in the area of human behaviour and life design.
 The final instalment in ANN WOJCZUK's blog about 'life, the universe and possibly everything'...
  | more... |

FOR SIGHT'S BLOG LINKS, HEAD TO OUR BLOGSPOT PAGE...    

 

 

SIGHT'S FORUMS ARE NOW CLOSED

 



     

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    Comment left by Jim Reiher
    Good questions Robbie.<br /> <br /> I would a...

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