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europe: climate crunch time


Dear friends,

While the world’s attention is elsewhere, the global negotiations to tackle the climate crisis are finally reaching crunch point. World leaders gather in Poland this week to hammer out a deal that should lead to a new and powerful global treaty, but Italy and Poland are aggressively undermining the talks, while Germany, normally a climate champion, stands idly by.

For our future, we need to urgently influence these 3 European leaders — Merkel, Berlusconi and Tusk — before their negotiators finally sit down at the global climate table. If they don’t change course in these coming days, Europe will fail to reach a unified position, which could literally unravel the entire global process.

That’s why Avaaz has urgently dispatched members of our team to Poland and Belgium, to help stem the tide. We’ve secured urgent face-to-face meetings with key climate negotiators later this week but real numbers are needed to make all our voices heard. Add your name to the urgent global climate petition here and help take our call to action to the heart of the negotiations:

For the last year, the US, Canada, and Japan have been the worst obstructionists in climate talks – as we exposed early in Bali. But now, Bush, Fukuda and Harper are gone or heading out the door. A breakthrough could be near at hand as we approach the final stretch… if only Europe weren’t on the verge of abandoning its ambitious climate program.

Coal and heavy industry lobbies are using the financial crisis as a smokescreen to block progress. Italy and Poland threaten to pull the European Union away from the ambitious goals set last year. Germany is staying silent. As a result, the European Union is deadlocked in Brussels — and ineffective at the United Nations talks. But we must succeed this week to have any chance of building the road map to the final UN meeting in Copenhagen next year.

In all three countries, it’s not too late. We can show these governments that their own citizens and the rest of the world will not settle for anything less than strong climate action. Avaaz is commissioning independent opinion polls on climate in all three countries, building a massive global petition for delivery in meetings and stunts at the UN and EU talks, and launching a major media campaign to shame, cajole, and encourage EU leaders to do the right thing.

Before Obama takes the helm, the next step in the world’s response to climate change depends on European leadership. Here’s what we need Europe to bring to the global table: 30% emissions cut by 2020 if a global deal is reached, 100% auctioning of permits, and a strict compliance regime to ensure targets are met. The EU’s climate policy will electrify or dampen the international negotiations in Poland, while setting the stage for the final meeting in Copenhagen.

For all of us who have ever been concerned about climate change, now’s the time to send a message calling for leadership and vision. By the time we reach the new year, Europe’s policy will be sealed, and with it much of the global response to the climate crisis.

With determination,

Ben, Luis, Iain, Graziela, Brett, Paula, Ricken, Alice, Pascal, Milena, Veronique — and the rest of the Avaaz team

ABOUT AVAAZ is an independent, not-for-profit global campaigning organization that works to ensure that the views and values of the world’s people inform global decision-making. (Avaaz means “voice” in many languages.) Avaaz receives no money from governments or corporations, and is staffed by a global team based in Ottawa, London, Rio de Janeiro, New York, Buenos Aires, and Geneva.

News from Kenya.

I just received news from two friends and colleagues in Kenya regarding the situation there.

Dear Andy,

We greatly appreciate the prayers for our country. Its difficult to say how things are because they keep on changing daily. For example there has been a wave of escalation of violence in the last three days in the Rift Valley parts of Kenya, yet there is relative calm and normalcy in several other parts. What I can say is that there is hope that things will return to normal and the sticky political issues resolved justly. Several of our staff in the Rift Valley cannot move freely and go about their work. One of them has received threats daily that her house will be burned because she comes from a tribe considered alien in that place.

We thank God that most campuses & colleges have began re-opening for their new terms/semesters. Staff have been discussing how best to help the students who are adversely affected emotionally, economically and spiritually.

Keep on praying with us.


Dear Andy,

Thanks for your concern and prayers about our country. It is our first and unpleasant experience of a situation we only watch happening in other countries. We are all praying and keeping optimism that it will not dig deeper, but we shall by each day overcome the plague. Just to give you a general perspective: As at yesterday we noticed that the handshakes of the two protagonists was nothing, but a public consolation. The evidence was clear when in Nakuru, a relatively calm town in the recent past, erupted with violence causing the loss of almost 20 people in a day! The two protagonists (after the handshake) have uttered words that seem to have set them on clear ‘war’ paths. One may not be sure how to interprete the results of their stands. But we keep praying. The amount of suffering psychologically and economically cannot be fully accounted for. So pray for the many ordinary Kenyans who have been affected directly and indirectly.

Thanks for your assistance and may God bless you.

A honey trap.

Sermon notes from Sunday 13 January // Genesis 39

Joseph and Potiphar’s Wife

How would society react to a story like this one today – what would be their attitude to the issues raised?

Whilst this chapter looks particularly at Joseph’s response to sexual temptation, we ought to also consider a wide variety of other examples of lust – uncontrolled desire – not just what we see in Genesis 39.

Joseph’s battle for sexual purity (in this case, adultery) must also be our battle if we want to follow Christ.

Joseph’s rise: despite being sold into slavery, Joseph used this adversity as an opportunity to grow and mature, rather than to shrivel into bitterness. We also have a choice as to how we handle adversity in our own lives.

“The LORD was with Joseph…” – this is recognised at the start of this chapter, as things are going well, and is also also acknowledged by Potiphar. It was the LORD that prospered Joseph. As we live out the small details of our daily lives for Christ, this is what people will notice.

Joseph’s test: we live in a sex-saturated society, and it is often as we are going about our daily business that we can be surprised how this hits us in the face in such a stark way. This was the same for Joseph as he was met with the brevity of his tempter’s demand: “lie with me”.

Joseph’s reply is much longer, as he heaps up the reasons against doing such a thing. But he didn’t just talk, he acted (he got out of there), and against repeated attempts by Potiphar’s wife.

John Piper has put together a very helpful strategy for fighting lust, using the acronym ANTHEM. You can read the article in full by visiting the Desiring God resource library, but in outline form this is:

  • A – AVOID as much as is possible and reasonable the sights and situations that arouse unfitting desire.
  • N – say NO to every lustful thought within 5 seconds. Give it more unopposed time than that, and it will lodge itself with such force as to be almost immovable.
  • T – TURN the mind forcefully toward Christ as a superior satisfaction. Saying “no” will not suffice. You must move from defense to offence.
  • H – HOLD the promise and the pleasure of Christ firmly in your mind until it pushes the other images out.
  • E – ENJOY a superior satisfaction. Cultivate the capacities for pleasure in Christ. One reason lust reigns in so many is that Christ has so little appeal.
  • M – MOVE into a useful activity away from idleness and other vulnerable behaviors. Lust grows fast in the garden of leisure. Find a good work to do, and do it with all your might.

See for many more useful resources.

These temptations can destroy us, or grow us.

The cost of integrity for Joseph: in the short-term, maintaining integrity can come at great cost, sometimes owing to people’s hostility towards this integrity.

Integrity can be costly, but do not yield. This is just a different stage in the same battle.

At home group I was challenged by thinking how, at the point of being put in prison, I would have put a lot of energy into seeking justice – getting out of prison and clearing my name – rather than working my best for God in this new situation, trusting Him for where I was.

In this difficult place, we are reminded that “The LORD was with Joseph…”. God is still working out his plan, in and through Joseph. How much do we trust God’s plans wherever he puts us?

Delectable mountains.

Spent some of this evening talking about C.S. Lewis and John Bunyan – great writers who understood how to engage their audience with big ideas using creative narrative. I’m currently reading Lewis’ Screwtape Letters, and wish there were more writers like him around today.

Some of the things I most appreciate about C.S. Lewis:

  • his perceptive understanding of how the human heart functions;
  • his honesty about struggles with faith;
  • his ability to undermine the ploys of the enemy, showing them for what they are;
  • his engaging style of writing.

It’s refreshing to find a book that doesn’t come in the ‘self-help’ style of many Christian books published today.

Tom was showing me the 1866 collection of John Bunyan’s writing he took delivery of today, and we spent some time reading and reflecting on a couple of the paragraphs on salvation and calling: “he chose us… before the foundation of the world”.

Together with Lewis’ writing on our struggle to comprehend eternity – “Of the present moment, and of it only, humans have an experience analogous to the experience which [God] has of reality as a whole; in it alone freedom and actuality are offered them.” -
I have plenty to be thinking about in the next few weeks.

Delectable Mountains are the mountains covered with sheep in the Pilgrim’s Progress (Bunyan), from which the pilgrim obtains a view of the Celestial City.

A dysfunctional family.

Sermon notes from Sunday 6 January 2008 // Genesis 37

Joseph came from a pretty dysfunctional family. His siblings were the product of four different mothers, one of whom was dead, another hated, and two that were not properly married to the father.

Dysfunctional families were not – and are not – something new. You only have to look at Genesis 4 to see the ‘Cain and Abel’ problem.

And yet, through this family of Joseph’s, God plans to bless all the nations of the earth.

This was an unhappy family – with Jacob showing clear favouritism towards Joseph, firstborn of his beloved Rachel. Now she is dead, Joseph becomes the sole object of these affections.

Familial or generational inherited patterns of behaviour can have a long lasting impact – the sins of a father being repeated in the third and fourth generation. Praise God that gospel people have the Spirit, who can help to break patterns of destructive behaviour.

What patterns of behaviour do I need to beware of? What would I *not* want my children to inherit?

This was a broken family – v12 feels a bit like watching casualty – the scene is set in which you know calamity is going to follow.

Reuben and Judah limit what happens, but nobody stands up to stop what is happening – they are destroying each other.

Look to prevent your own tragedy. Beware of the snow piling up, and let the snow melt helpfully before an avalanche. Cut off the fuel to the engine that is speeding to destruction. Clear the safety channel that prevents the dam wall from collapsing tragically.

This was a family without God – not once is the question asked as to what God thinks of this situation. He doesn’t even get a mention. Reuben is fearful of his father, but not of his Heavenly Father. They were living as practical atheists. But God is there. He gave Joseph the dreams. He had his hand on Joseph.

“God intended it for good…”

There are many stories, even close at hand, of God turning bad family situations around.

Will I be a Godly leader in my ‘family’, praying for Godly fruit in the ‘generations’ that follow?

Given the nature of this sermon, and the importance of family, you might also be interested in the work of Care for the Family – helping those hurting because of family breakdown.

S Novym Godom!

Or, “happy new year” in Russian.

Enjoyed my belated Christmas dinner today, followed by a visit to Caergwrle to see Natasha (working in Russia), and friends (2 Russians, 1 Kazakh, 1 American) over for Christmas and new year.

It was lovely to hear Russian being spoken around me: “our hearts burn for this ministry” – what a great phrase.

What an amazing year it has been, and what a privilege it has been to travel to 2 new continents with IFES this year.

Happy new year.