I am taking a break from blogging. I know I haven't been active, but I guess I wanted to make it official. I don't want to delete the blog, so I am just going to stop posting for a few months. I expect to be back near the end of the year.
1 “Cry aloud, spare not;
Lift up your voice like a trumpet;
Tell My people their transgression,
And the house of Jacob their sins.
2 Yet they seek Me daily,
And delight to know My ways,
As a nation that did righteousness,
And did not forsake the ordinance of their God.
They ask of Me the ordinances of justice;
They take delight in approaching God.
3 ‘ Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and You have not seen?
Why have we afflicted our souls, and You take no notice?’
“ In fact, in the day of your fast you find pleasure,
And exploit all your laborers.
4 Indeed you fast for strife and debate,
And to strike with the fist of wickedness.
You will not fast as you do this day,
To make your voice heard on high.
5 Is it a fast that I have chosen,
A day for a man to afflict his soul?
Is it to bow down his head like a bulrush,
And to spread out sackcloth and ashes?
Would you call this a fast,
And an acceptable day to the LORD?
6 “ Is this not the fast that I have chosen:
To loose the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the heavy burdens,
To let the oppressed go free,
And that you break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out;
When you see the naked, that you cover him,
And not hide yourself from your own flesh?
8 Then your light shall break forth like the morning,
Your healing shall spring forth speedily,
And your righteousness shall go before you;
The glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
9 Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer;
You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’
“ If you take away the yoke from your midst,
The pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
10 If you extend your soul to the hungry
And satisfy the afflicted soul,
Then your light shall dawn in the darkness,
And your darkness shall be as the noonday.
11 The LORD will guide you continually,
And satisfy your soul in drought,
And strengthen your bones;
You shall be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.
12 Those from among you
Shall build the old waste places;
You shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
And you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach,
The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In.
13 “ If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath,
From doing your pleasure on My holy day,
And call the Sabbath a delight,
The holy day of the LORD honorable,
And shall honor Him, not doing your own ways,
Nor finding your own pleasure,
Nor speaking your own words,
14 Then you shall delight yourself in the LORD;
And I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth,
And feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father.
The mouth of the LORD has spoken.”
58:3-5 - The people voiced their concern that they were in difficulty though they seemed to be doing what the Law required. They fasted and humbled themselves, but they feared that God had not seen it or noticed. Apparently they thought that by going through the "motions" of religion they would be blessed.
The Lord responded by pointing out that He was more interested in their obedience than their rituals. Unfortunately they, like many people, had confused rituals with relationship, outward acts with true obedience.
Their fasts did not alter their poor relationship with others. They were disregarding other peoples' needs by quarreling and fighting. Therefore their prayers would not be heard, for their kind of fasting was not what the Lord accepted.
58:6-7 - Fasting was to encourage a person to respond positively to God's commands. Ironically, on the other hand many specific commands were not being followed. So the Lord reminded the people that they should be just (v. 6) and openhanded with those in need - the hungry (v. 10), the poor...the naked (v. 7). The Israelites were to consider themselves members of one family who at one time had been slaves in Egypt. Therefore they were not to neglect each other. When someone shared with one in need, it was a reminder that everything he owned belonged to the Lord.
58:8-12 - If the people had inner righteousness then the Lord would bless them (Deut. 28:1-14) with light, healing, righteousness, protection from trouble, and answered prayer. If they would do away with oppression and gossip and would help others in need, then the Lord would bless them. He would give guidance, satisfaction, strength, fertility and physical restoration.
58:13-14 - Sabbath observance was a barometer of one's faithfulness to the Mosaic Covenant. By following the rules for the Sabbath a person acknowledged the importance of worshiping God and showed that he depended on God to bless him materially for that time he took off from work. By putting God first and not seeking to do as he wished, a person would have joy, not only in spiritual salvation but also in prosperity.
Written by Tony Woodlief
It’s a tough row to hoe, making the case that Jesus is a capitalist. For example, there is the fact that the first church appears to have adopted voluntary socialism. And that business about seeking not the treasures of this world—that hasn’t stopped conservatives from spilling gallons of ink to refine our understanding about the camel, the eye of the needle, and the rich man until that discomforting verse almost seems to cry out for leveraged buyouts and complex derivatives. When we put our minds to it, we can work the Bible around to supporting just about anything we like.
This is all to say that it’s a bit unseemly to use religion to justify one’s policy preferences. This observation would have been less welcome at the height of the Christian Coalition’s power. After all, isn’t a believer in the flat tax and a strong missile defense a believer in truth, which is another way of saying a follower of the Truth? It requires a bit of smug self-assurance, this logic, but let’s be honest: We conservatives know we’re right. And while Jesus never released a comprehensive economic plan, we can be pretty sure he didn’t favor self-delusional economic thinking and the waste of resources.
Still, we have to admit He has more important things on his mind. Whether or not we get global warming legislation is probably toward the bottom of the list. This isn’t stopping a new coalition of leftist organizations from taking their case to the pulpit, arguing that failure to enact sweeping environmental regulations is an act of poor stewardship, i.e., sin.
It’s hard to imagine, inside the echo chamber of the right, how global warming could be a real phenomenon. I mean, we all just know it’s junk science. Likewise, it’s hard for anyone inside the left’s echo chamber to imagine how global warming could be anything other than a dire emergency. We know, of course, that we’re right and they’re wrong, that we’ve considered the matter objectively while they’ve just listened to Al Gore. But still, it’s hard to fault them for making a biblical case out of this and other policy matters, given the precedent conservatives have set over the past 30 years. When prominent self-styled Christian leaders opine on everything from health care reform to “taking out” Venezuelan thug Hugo Chavez, it’s hard to put the genie back into the bottle now that liberals want to get in on the if-Jesus-were-a-presidential-cabinet-member routine.
All of which, I think, serves the name of Christ poorly. By bringing policy disputes into the faith arena, we bolster the notion that Christianity is just a bunch of self-interested talkers using the Bible to get what they want. We create divisions among brothers and sisters who ought not to be divided. This is evidenced in our affinity for political comrades over faith comrades. By way of illustration, consider whether conservative Christians you know are more favorably disposed toward Ann Coulter or Jimmy Carter. Nothing in Coulter’s behavior suggests Christian love, whereas Carter endeavors to live it out, even when this means giving a hug to every tin-pot dictator he can reach by chartered flight. When politics get elevated to the level of faith, it’s no wonder that we begin to forget who are our real brothers and sisters.
All this is not to say that Christians should be silent about public policy, especially those policies where there is a strong case for biblical guidance (e.g., protecting life, treating prisoners with humanity, caring for the elderly). In fact, maybe it’s a good thing that leftists are coming out now to argue that Christian ethics demand this or that policy prescription. It would be nice, however, if we could all do so with a bit more reverence for the flaming sword that is the Word of God, and with a good deal more charity toward people who are, after all, striving toward the same home as we.
I thought this was an interesting thought...
Tell Your Wife Everything?
Written by Anthony Bradley
Should wives and husbands tell each other everything? I am inclined to say no. Here’s why: Suppose John and Sam have an accountability relationship with each other. John decides, based on the principle of “truth with his wife no matter what,” breaches confidence and tells his wife about Sam’s struggles without Sam’s knowledge. John feels justified in telling his wife about Sam’s sins and struggles because their marriage is built on honesty.
One day Sam noticed that John’s wife began acting weird around him but he didn’t know why. At first, he simply chalked it up to the fact that she might not like him. A few months later, however, it all made sense when John finally told Sam, “Hey, I told my wife all that stuff you told me a few months ago.”
I wish this were a hypothetical situation, but it recently happened to someone I know. For many guys this kind of story puts men in a position where they may always need to ask accountability friends a series of questions: “Are you going to tell your wife what I just you, and if so, what are you going to tell her?” Some guys, it seems, have no filter even with their wives.
I learned that some wives actually badger their husbands until the guy folds saying, “Well, I am not supposed to tell anyone, but. . . .” It seems that there can be a healthy level of withholding information between husbands and wives that does not violate vows of honesty. Does she need to know everything? Does she have a right to know everything about your friends? Should she even ask to know everything? The answers to all these questions are “no,” right?
Sam and hopefully his other friends know that John is the type of guy who cannot be trusted. If you confess something to him, expect him to go home and tell his wife. With John, then, be prepared for the possibility that she too will say to someone else, “I’m not supposed to tell anyone, but. . . .” This situation helps me understand better why most guys do not have friends with whom they can be completely honest, vulnerable, and accountable. This may also explain why some guys are willing to pay a professional friend $120 per hour to listen to them because they do not know any men whom they can trust.
In the end, your friend telling his wife things you confess to him may be part of the risk of being vulnerable, because your friend may have no information boundaries, or his wife will badger him until what you thought was confidential is on a PowerPoint presentation. Perhaps it is good at least for men to ask each other about boundaries with wives before deciding if trust can be assumed. Otherwise you may be setting yourselves up for pain and conflict down the road.
Community members and their pets gathered outside East Lansing's University United Methodist Church Sunday afternoon for a Blessing of the Animals ceremony.
This is the first time the church has held such a ceremony, which included prayer, song and a moment of remembrance for pets that have died, said Pastor John Ross Thompson.
About 40 people attended, bringing with them around 25 animals - mostly dogs, some cats and a few more exotic animals from the Potter Park Zoo.
"They're part of our family," Thompson said of the animals. "They are God's creation, and we pray for all of God's creatures."
As part of the ceremony, animals received individual blessings, and their owners received small St. Francis of Assisi medallions.
- What do you think of this?
In case you haven't heard, Jimmy Fallon is trying to start a Saved by the Bell reunion. I have to say, even though it is a bit embarrassing, I wouldn't mind seeing that happen. Here is a clip from his show.
- What do you think of a reunion?
- Are there any other shows you would like to see have a reunion?
This happened a few months ago, but I just heard about it.
A second member of the rock band Korn has written a book on how becoming a Christian helped him overcome his drug addiction.
Reginald “Fieldy” Arvizu, the basist of Korn talks in his book about how he was a strong drug addict and a womaniser until his born-again Christian father told him that his dying wish was that his son would find God.
In the book, Got the Life: My Journey of Addiction, Faith, Recovery and Korn, Arvizu states that Jesus Christ and the Bible where his only rehab, and that the change in his life is “an amazing and powerful thing”, reports the Associated Press.
In 2005 Brian “Head” Welch” left the band after becoming a Christian and in 2007, released a book on his journey from drug addiction to faith - Save Me From Myself: How I Found God, Quit Korn, Kicked Drugs, and Lived to Tell My Story.
After only one week, the book became one of the top 20 books on the New York Times Bestsellers list.
I think Romans 6 explains it best.
"What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.
For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
2 Corinthians 5:20-22
"Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."
"James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad: Greetings. My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways."
Too often our response to trials is to complain. This response does not reflect a Christian attitude. James gives sound advice on how to respond during these times.
First, trials should be faced with an attitude of joy. Trials should not be viewed as a punishment, curse or calamity. Do not be mistaken, James is not implying to be joyful for the trial, rather be joyful in or during the trial.
In addition, there is profit from trials. Trials produce patience, which can also be translated as endurance or perseverance. Through tests a Christian will learn to withstand the pressure of a trial until God removes it at His appointed time. For example, 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 talks about Paul having a thorn in his flesh. Paul longed for relief, but God would not remove the thorn as Paul requested. However, God continually supplied him with grace to endure it. There is no gain in endurance without some investment in trials.
Do not misinterpret verse 4, "perfect" does not mean sinless perfection. A better translation would be mature. Thus, if perseverance goes full-term it will develop a thoroughly mature Christian.
James' argument may seem logical, but it is still difficult to see how trials can be welcomed with an attitude of joy. Verse 5 describes the assistance God gives. Only divine wisdom enables believers to be joyous and submissive in trials and God will not only provide wisdom, but will do so generously. However, God's provision has some prerequisites. First, the believer must ask in faith and not doubt. This refers to a distrust in God. God compares someone who doubts His ability or willingness to provide wisdom to a "wave of the sea". This person is "double-minded", meaning that their mind or soul is divided between God and the world. A hypocrite, who who occasionally believes in God but fails to trust Him when trials come and thus receives nothing.
Written by Dave Burchett
Once the word gets out that I am a practicing “evangelical,” I get lots of comments about the church. I hear about hypocrites in the church and about national leaders whose lives fall far short of their rhetoric. A lot of the comments are true. So how do you handle those accusations? Ideally you can reach a point where you can explain the Christian theology of original sin and that redemption is only because of Christ and not because of works. But the old bumper sticker argument that “I am not perfect . . . just forgiven” is not a compelling defense for those who don’t understand the gospel and who witness the daily shortcomings of Christians.
I thought about a church in my town that decided last fall to own up to their failures. They made a bold decision to confess in humility and see what might happen.
The headline in an ad that ran in The Dallas Morning News screamed out in big, bold letters:
We Were Wrong
We followed trends when we should have followed Jesus. We told others how to live but did not listen ourselves. We live in the land of plenty, denying ourselves nothing, while ignoring our neighbors who actually have nothing. We sat on the sidelines doing nothing while AIDS ravaged Africa. We were wrong; we’re sorry. Please forgive us.
That is a powerful and sobering admission. I was shocked. And I was greatly encouraged by the courage and the humility needed to admit such an embarrassing message to the public.
REST OF ARTICLE
As many of you know, my favorite musical group is the O.C. Supertones. Last week I was listening to them and one particular song caught my attention. The song is Return of the Revolution. I have heard this song hundreds of times, but this time it really resonated with our current times.
Morally, we are going backwards. In addition, times are difficult economically. The unemployment and foreclosure rates are extremely high. Companies that were once giants are now considering bankruptcy.
Who do Americans turn to? President Obama. People are putting their trust in President Obama to help the poor and bring peace in the world. This is not a personal attack on Obama, I don't care who is president. He will not succeed. He will not bring true peace and what does Jesus say about the poor? Answer: Matthew 26:11. We will always have the poor. We should only place our trust in God. 1 Peter 5:6-7 says we need to cast all our cares upon Him because He cares for us.
Furthermore, Luke 12:22-26 says "Then Jesus said to his disciples: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?"
This is where the song Return of the Revolution fits in. What are Christians doing today? The Bible says study the word (2 Timothy 2:15). Hebrews 5:13-14 talks about advancing in knowledge. Here are excerpts from the song:
"See wisdom and knowledge is one thing that we lack
You’ve been a Christian how long and you’re still on similac"
"And we can’t defend our faith ’cause we don’t even know it
We say we love His word but pick a funny way to show it.
And the world walks by and we don’t have a thing to say
I call ’em like I see ’em
And that’s what I see today"
The song mentions people who started a surge in the faith such as Martin Luther and John Edwards. There is a battle going on. We need to pick a side and not sit on the bench. The song fittingly ends by asking "So what about you? Will you join us?
Hawaii's state Senate has overwhelmingly approved a bill to celebrate "Islam Day," despite the objections of a few lawmakers who said they didn't think the state should honor a religion connected to Sept. 11, 2001.
The resolution to proclaim Sept. 24, 2009, as Islam Day passed the Senate on a 22-3 vote Wednesday. The bill was previously passed by Hawaii's House of Representatives.
The bill recognizes what it calls "the rich religious, scientific, cultural and artistic contributions" that Islam and the Islamic world have made.
But the Senate's two Republicans argued that radical Islamists cheered the 2001 attacks. They also noted that other religions didn't have a special day honored.
The lone Democrat voting in dissent opposed it on church-state separation grounds.
The U.S. military is confirming that it has destroyed some Bibles belonging to an American soldier serving in Afghanistan.
Reuters News says the Bibles were confiscated and destroyed after Qatar-based Al Jazeer television showed soldiers at a Bible class on a base with a stack of Bibles translated into the local Pashto and Dari languages. The U.S. military forbids its members on active duty -- including those based in places like Afghanistan -- from trying to convert people to another religion.
Reuters quotes Maj. Jennifer Willis at the Bagram Air Base, north of Kabul, who said "I can now confirm that the Bibles shown on Al Jazeera's clip were, in fact, collected by the chaplains and later destroyed. They were never distributed."
According to the military officials, the Bibles were sent through private mail to an evangelical Christian soldier by his church back home. Reuters says the soldier brought them to the Bible study class where they were filmed.
The Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, told a Pentagon briefing Monday that the military's position is that it will never "push any specific religion."
What are your thoughts about this article?
Calling vs. Desire
by Anthony Bradley
Many Christians consistently misuse the word “calling,” which leads to a person who has a “desire” to do something being wrongly viewed as unspiritual or “fleshly.” Is it accurate to say “I feel called to be pilot” or “We feel called to live in the city”? Not really. I guess God could “call” people to vocations and ZIP codes, but that’s not the main emphasis of the concept in the Bible. Calling has more to do with becoming a member of the people of God and living a holy life rather than deciding which job to take or whom to marry. Those items are actually choices.
The Greek word that Paul uses to describe his “calling” to be an apostle is the same word he uses to express the divine calling to be in union with Christ (Romans 1:1, 1 Corinthians 1:1) and is only used 10 times in the New Testament. To say that you’re called to missions or to parenting like Paul says he was called to the office of the apostle is to grossly misuse the term or concept.
As a matter for fact, the Bible primarily explains that when God “calls” people, he calls them to intimacy with Him, union with Christ, join the Kingdom, get saved, live holy lives, and so on (Matthew 22:14; Romans 1:7, 8:28-30, 9:26; 1 Corinthians 1:9, 1:24, 1:26, 7:15-24; Galatians 1:6, 1:15, 5:13; Ephesians 1:18, 2:11, 4:4; Philippians 3:14; Colossians 3:15; 2 Thessalonians 2:14; Hebrews 9:15; 1 Peter 2:21; etc.).
We spiritualize our desires as if wanting to be a missionary, cop, pastor, seminary student, or mom, or wanting to live in Peru, Kenya, Spain, the city, the suburbs, and the like, for a season, were all unspiritual as personal preferences. If it’s true that God gives us the desires of our hearts, and it’s true that all good things come from God, why is not OK to say, “I want to be a missionary for a while.” Why add “calling” to a choice or desire as if one were speaking in ways consistent with the Bible’s use of the concept.
The Holy Spirit can equally compel preferences, desires, and choices, but this is different from “calling.” The misuse of the word “calling” can lead to painful theological crises whenever situations don’t turn out as expected. “But I thought I was called to this,” we wonder. You weren’t called. You freely chose what you did and it didn’t work out. So what? Move on something else. Your decision was not necessarily wrong, and God’s not punishing you (unless it was clearly a sinful choice).
Since a Christian’s “calling” is to live in righteous harmony with God, this can be done in any vocation or geographic area. I’m cautious now when I write checks to people who say they are “called” to “this” or “that” ministry, vocation, region, because I would hate to send people off with a bad functional theology. The good news about freedom in Christ is that desires and preferences change, but callings do not.
Today is "Equal Pay Day" for women -- but not all women agree the day is necessary.
Equal Pay Day -- started in 1996 by the National Committee on Pay Equity -- is allegedly the day in the year when women have worked far enough to make up for the pay discrimination they faced the previous year. According to government statistics, women only make 78 cents for every dollar a man earns.
Allison Kasic with the Independent Women's Forum comments on those findings.
"Now while that is technically correct if you look at the Department of Labor statistics, it's only a single variable comparison. It's only comparing the median wage of the full-time working woman to the median wage of the full-time working man," she notes. "It doesn't take into account a variety of other factors that need to be taken into account if we're going to have a realistic conversation about wage issues."
She says the study does not consider other factors such as workplace experience, education level, or occupation. Once such factors are taken into account, she says, any "wage gap" shrinks away.
Kasic believes equal pay is mostly a non-issue, and that new legislation -- like the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, or the Paycheck Fairness Act -- is not needed to tackle any perceived problems. She argues that sponsors of such measures are "exploiting" the wage gap to advance their own agenda.
Responding to a federal judge's directive, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday that it will now allow 17-year-olds to get the controversial "morning-after" birth control pill without a doctor's prescription.
In 2006, the FDA said it would limit over-the-counter access to the pill, also known as Plan B, to women 18 and older. But U.S. District Judge Edward R. Korman ruled last month in a New York lawsuit that the FDA had to reconsider whether to make the drug available to all women, regardless of age, without a prescription.
Plan B is an extra high dose of regular birth control that needs to be taken within 72 hours of unprotected intercourse to be effective. Essentially, the drug prevents pregnancy by delaying ovulation. It does not interrupt an already implanted pregnancy.
Religious conservatives object to Plan B, saying it is the equivalent of an abortion pill because it can prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus, and could also encourage premarital sex.
Supporters of broader access to Plan B argue that it is safe and effective in preventing unwanted pregnancy, and could also help reduce the number of abortions. They also contend that the FDA's decision to limit access to the drug to women 18 and older was a concession to the conservative views of then-President George W. Bush and his administration.
The FDA originally approved Plan B as a prescription drug in 1999. It is manufactured by Duramed Research Inc. of Bala Cynwyd, Pa.
Social conservatives tolerated John McCain as the party's nominee, but never trusted him, and he now appears to be facing a serious primary from the right in Arizona next year.
Chris Simcox the founder of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps and a prominent figure in the movement to clamp down on illegal immigration, will be announcing tomorrow at an event on the Mexican border that he's resigned from the group to run in the 2010 Senate primary.
From a forthcoming release:
"John McCain has failed miserably in his duty to secure this nation's borders and protect the people of Arizona from the escalating violence and lawlessness," Simcox said. "He has fought real efforts over the years at every turn, opting to hold our nation's border security hostage to his amnesty schemes. Coupled with his votes for reckless bailout spending and big government solutions to our nation's problems, John McCain is out of touch with everyday Arizonans. Enough is enough."
McCain was forced to abandon his own immigration reform legislation during last year's Republican Primary, a move that may have cost him substantial Hispanic support to which his record could have given him access.
So he's basically getting it from both sides on this one.
Simcox, with a national base and a high profile on the right, is well positioned to give McCain a serious local headache. He'll find some allies among the conservatives who recently took over the Arizona Republican Party from McCain's allies, and he has a national fundraising base.
I remember seeing Chris Simcox at an event and multiple protesters were arrested. I must say that Chris Simcox was very polite and calm. I would like to hear him discuss other issues besides immigration. What would the perception be of the Republican Party be if the presidential candidate lost the following election? It would be a primary so I guess it would show either no leadership in the party or shifting more conservative or both.
SIMCOX CAMPAIGN WEBSITE
Even with the president on its side, the Democratic National Committee's (DNC) fundraising woes continued in March as the party earned fewer individual donations than did its GOP rivals.
The Republican National Committee, under new Chairman Michael Steele, pulled in $6.7 million in March, padding the committee's swollen bank accounts and ending the month with $23.9 million cash on hand. That's higher than the $5.26 million the RNC raised in February, Steele's first month as chairman.
The DNC, which hosted President Obama's first fundraiser since being sworn in in January, posted just $5.57 million raised from individual donors, down from the $6.6 million raised in February. Obama's fundraiser brought in $3 million, a DNC source told The Hill.
Still, the party got a boost from Obama's presidential campaign, which transferred $2 million to the DNC in March. In total, the DNC will report $7.57 million in contributions last month, with $9.7 million cash on hand.
But Democrats still face a pile of unpaid debt. The committee reported $6.9 million in debt at the end of February, and a DNC spokesman estimated that the number for March would be about the same. Exact figures were not immediately available Monday morning.
Republicans, meanwhile, remain debt-free.
Democrats said their February numbers were artificially lower thanks to the committee's new chairman, Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine (D), who was barred by state law from raising money while the state legislature was still in session. But money did not start flowing once legislators adjourned from their regular session Feb. 28.
And Republicans apparently went on a spending spree in March. In a press release Friday, the committee claimed it would report $23.9 million on hand, $100,000 less than the party had in the bank at the end of February. Though operating expenses remained largely static, the RNC transferred $1 million each to the National Republican Congressional Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee in March.
Fundraising numbers for both parties' congressional and senatorial campaign committees, as well as for the national committees, are due by the close of business Monday.
In these difficult economic times many stores are cutting back. Yet Hobby Lobby a craft store known for using biblical principles in their business practice is now giving pay raises to their employees. Some things I noticed about Hobby Lobby is the Christian music being played in the store. Also, the store is not opened on Sundays. Here is their statement of purpose:
"In order to effectively serve our owners, employees, and customers the Board of Directors is committed to:
Honoring the Lord in all we do by operating the company in a manner consistent with Biblical principles.
Offering our customers an exceptional selection and value.
Serving our employees and their families by establishing a work environment and company policies that build character, strengthen individuals, and nurture families.
Providing a return on the owners' investment, sharing the Lord's blessings with our employees, and investing in our community.
We believe that it is by God's grace and provision that Hobby Lobby has endured. He has been faithful in the past, we trust Him for our future."
There are 416 stores in the Hobby Lobby chain. Employees at all of the stores were gathered to be notified of pay raises. The privately owned store chain said it was increasing pay for more than 6,900 of its employees because business has been good in the past few years. The company plans to hire 1,000 new workers this year and continue store expansion plans. "Our employees are the backbone of our company, and we believe that giving them the opportunity to share in our success is the right thing to do," said David Green, CEO and founder of Hobby Lobby. Frame shop Manager David Perry said he wasn't shocked the company issued the pay raise. Hobby Lobby has a history of caring for employees, he said, as evidenced by the chain's policy of remaining closed on Sundays so employees can have family time.
Better to abandon the Christian label than make it meaningless | Tony Woodlief
Consider this in light of charges that America is becoming, according to a Trinity College survey, less Christian. It's not that Americans are converting to other religions, it's that they are more willing to avow nothing. One researcher blames Christianity's association with conservative politics for turning people away. Sexual abuse by Catholic priests also tarnished us, he says. Underlying it all is a cultural shift that makes atheism more publicly acceptable. Recognizing this trend, President Obama became the first president to pay homage to nonbelievers in his inaugural address.
Regardless, Christianity is still hip among Americans. Although those claiming to be Christian have decreased from 86 percent in 1990 to 75 percent today, that's still a sizeable portion. What we ought to care about, however, is not what labels people choose, but what they believe and do. In surveys aimed at discerning Christian worldview (e.g., whether respondents believe that absolute truth exists, that Christ was sinless, etc.), Barna Research Group finds the portion with consistent biblical beliefs holding steady the past dozen years, around 10 percent. Similar surveys reveal disturbing ignorance of dogma among professing Christians.
While the vast majority of Americans claim to be Christian, in other words, a good many of us don't seem capable of explaining what that means. Little wonder the comically vicious Bill Maher had such a field day filming a mockumentary wherein he accosted Christians about their faith. Not knowing what we believe makes it awfully hard to answer why we believe it. It shouldn't surprise us if Christians who can't articulate what they believe have children and grandchildren who don't even bother to try. And this is exactly what we are seeing, as large numbers of young people stop attending church altogether upon leaving home.
The way many churches respond to declining public interest exacerbates the problem. The Christian church grew when its leaders stressed biblical study and fervent prayer, each of which was considered, in the early church, a means of knowing God. The modern feel-good church, meanwhile, de-emphasizes both in favor of "messages" that are "relevant to my life." (Don't tell me what Job said about the imponderable glory of God, tell me how to have fulfilling personal relationships.) That kind of offering can only be as stimulating as its deliverer, which explains why telegenic showmen find their congregations swelling, and so many other churches are shrinking. Eliminate the theologies of Word and prayer, and all you have left is a competition to see who can provide the best circus.
What we are in danger of—in our country, in our churches, in ourselves—is practical atheism. This is not a considered embrace of godlessness. It is instead the slow slide into lives where God is irrelevant. The people who walk away from churches likely haven't pondered Christian theology and rejected it; they simply haven't been exposed to theology in the first place. Absent knowledge of—and communion with—the living God, why would anyone in his right mind keep coming back?
Practical atheism isn't limited to people who abandon church; it extends to all we who drift from Christ, even as we dutifully attend Sunday services. It's in the brief morning prayer that eventually becomes no prayer at all. It's in the way we emulate men rather than the God-man. It's in the way we brood, as if the things that vex us don't pass through the hands of a loving God. I don't know if practical atheism afflicts you, but I slip into it every day. Surveys tell us more people are forgoing the Christian label. What ought to concern us is how many—perhaps most of all ourselves—are willing to keep the label without fully living the life it requires.
Jennifer Aniston, 40 Actress
Alex Rodriguez, 33 Baseball player
Kelly Ripa, 38 TV host
Britney Spears, 27 Singer
Patrick Dempsey, 43 Actor
Tiger Woods, 33 Pro golfer
John Grisham, 54 Author
Rod Blagojevich, 52 Ex-governor of Illinois
Will Ferrell, 41 Actor/comedian
Sarah Palin, 45 Governor of Alaska
Chesley Sullenberger, 58 Airline pilot
Beyoncé, 27 Singer
Taylor Swift, 19 Singer
Carolyn Murphy, 33 Supermodel
Jay-Z, 39 Rapper
Barbie, 50 Doll
Michael Bloomberg, 67 Mayor of New York City
Tyler Perry, 39 Actor/director
Danica Patrick, 27 Racecar driver
Rush Limbaugh, 58 Radio host
Tina Fey, 38 Actress/comedian
A college student in Michigan has been formally dismissed from a graduate program based on political correctness gone awry.
Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) senior counsel Jeremy Tedesco explains that Julea Ward encountered resistance from Eastern Michigan University when she refused to affirm a counseling client's homosexual behavior.
"What we have here is a Christian who is a student in a master's counseling degree program who was dismissed, kicked out of the school, simply because she was unwilling to violate her own religious beliefs in not advocating for homosexual behavior within the context of the counseling relationship," he points out.
When Ward's supervising professor suggested she refer the client to another counselor who did not take issue with homosexual behavior, she followed the advice. However, the school said she could stay in the counseling program if she would undergo a "remediation" program to reconstruct her belief system and help her "see the error of her ways." Ward refused.
Tedesco believes the school is guilty of religious and viewpoint discrimination. "Any orthodox Christian ought to look out if they try to apply for admission to the counseling program at Eastern Michigan University because they're not going to get a degree there," Tedesco contends.
Ward underwent a formal hearing that concluded with her dismissal from the counseling program on March 12. She appealed the decision to the dean of the College of Education, who upheld the dismissal on March 26.
Alliance Defense Fund has filed suit on her behalf.
Monday night on CNN's Larry King Live, Pastor Rick Warren apologized for his support of Prop. 8, California's voter-approved marriage protection amendment, saying he has "never been and never will be" an "anti-gay or anti-gay marriage activist."
"During the whole Proposition 8 thing, I never once went to a meeting, never once issued a statement, never -- never once even gave an endorsement in the two years Prop. 8 was going," Warren told the CNN audience on Monday. "The week before the -- the vote, somebody in my church said, 'Pastor Rick, what -- what do you think about this?' And I sent a note to my own members that said, I actually believe that marriage is -- really should be defined, that that definition should be -- say between a man and a woman."
However, just two weeks before the November 4 Prop. 8 vote, Pastor Warren issued a clear endorsement of the marriage amendment while speaking to church members. "We support Proposition 8 -- and if you believe what the Bible says about marriage, you need to support Proposition 8," he said.
The following is a complete transcript of Warren's comments just weeks before the Prop. 8 election:
"The election's coming just in a couple of weeks, and I hope you're praying about your vote. One of the propositions, of course, that I want to mention is Proposition 8, which is the proposition that had to be instituted because the courts threw out the will of the people. And a court of four guys actually voted to change a definition of marriage that has been going for 5,000 years.
"Now let me say this really clearly: we support Proposition 8 -- and if you believe what the Bible says about marriage, you need to support Proposition 8. I never support a candidate, but on moral issues I come out very clear.
"This is one thing, friends, that all politicians tend to agree on. Both Barack Obama and John McCain, I flat-out asked both of them: what is your definition of marriage? And they both said the same thing -- it is the traditional, historic, universal definition of marriage: one man and one woman, for life. And every culture for 5,000 years, and every religion for 5,000 years, has said the definition of marriage is between one man and a woman.
"Now here's an interesting thing. There are about two percent of Americans [who] are homosexual or gay/lesbian people. We should not let two percent of the population determine to change a definition of marriage that has been supported by every single culture and every single religion for 5,000 years.
"This is not even just a Christian issue -- it's a humanitarian and human issue that God created marriage for the purpose of family, love, and procreation.
"So I urge you to support Proposition 8, and pass that word on. I'm going to be sending out a note to pastors on what I believe about this. But everybody knows what I believe about it. They heard me at the Civil Forum when I asked both Obama and McCain on their views."
During his CNN interview on Monday, Warren expressed regret for backing Prop. 8. "There were a number of things that were put out. I wrote to all my gay friends -- the leaders that I knew -- and actually apologized to them. That never got out," he admitted.
Additionally, Pastor Warren said he did not want to comment on or criticize the Iowa Supreme Court's decision last week to legalize same-sex "marriage" because it was "not his agenda."
Video of Warren endorsing Prop. 8
With Easter week upon us, Newsweek's April 13 cover proclaims "The Decline and Fall of Christian America." The new American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) shows that the proportion of Americans who claim to have no religion has increased to 15% today from 8.2% in 1990. The Christian right has lost yet another battle, this time in the heartland state of Iowa, with its Supreme Court voting unanimously to legalize gay marriage. The proportion of Americans who think that religion "can answer all or most of today's problems" is now at a historic low of 48%.
Betting against American religion has always proved to be a fool's game. In 1880, Robert Ingersoll, the leading atheist of his day, claimed that "the churches are dying out all over the land." In its Easter issue in 1966, Time asked "Is God Dead?" on its cover. East Coast intellectuals have repeatedly assumed that the European model of progress, where modernity equals secularization, would come to the U.S. They have always been wrong.
Look closer and the new poll numbers are not quite as simple as headlines suggest. For one thing, they show that America remains remarkably religious by the standards of other advanced countries -- with three-quarters of the country still firmly Christian. And a significant number of Americans are becoming more godly, not less so: The increase in the number of atheists is going hand in hand with ever more conservative Christians and Pentecostals.
Looked at from a celestial perspective, the American model of religion, far from retreating, is going global. Pastorpreneurs are taking their message around the world. In Latin America, Pentecostalism has disrupted the Catholic Church's monopoly. Already five of the world's 10 biggest churches are in South Korea: Yoido Full Gospel Church, which has 800,000 members, is a rival in terms of organization for anything Messrs. Warren and Hybels can offer. China is the latest great convert. There are probably close to 100 million Christians in China, most of them following a very individualistic American-style faith. Already more people attend church each Sunday than are members of the Communist Party. China will soon be the world's biggest Christian country and also possibly its biggest Muslim one.
The Christian right has certainly stirred up an angry reaction to its attempt to marry religion to political power. But it would be a mistake to regard this reaction as evidence that America is losing its religion.
Any Thoughts, Comments or Concerns?
The Institute on Religion & Democracy is blasting the religious denomination of President Barack Obama for its recent stance on condom distribution inside houses of worship.
Recently, the HIV and AIDS Network of the United Church of Christ (UCC) said condoms should be handed out at places of worship. The statement was issued during a presentation to the denomination's Wider Church Ministries Board and also advocated making condoms available at faith-based educational settings.
A UCC executive said that condom distribution is a matter of life and death and that condoms should be made available to save the lives of young people.
Calling it the denomination's "moral responsibility" to make condoms available, the UCC's executive for health and wellness advocacy said "people of faith make condoms available because we have chosen life so that we and our children may live."
Alan Wisdom, with the Institute on Religion & Democracy, believes the UCC's statement is dangerous. "It sends a message to youth particularly, the kids who meet in their Alan Wisdom (IRD)Sunday schools, that the church really has no expectation of them in terms of sexuality, that it expects them to enter into multiple sexual relationships in the same way the world does, and that its only concern is they not pick up diseases," he notes.
The UCC's condom distribution is the latest step in the denomination's departure from its Puritan roots, Wisdom concludes.
"Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless. As goods increase, so do those who consume them. And what benefit are they to the owner except to feast his eyes on them? The sleep of a laborer is sweet, whether he eats little or much, but the abundance of a rich man permits him no sleep."
This reminds me of game shows. Such as Deal or No Deal, where a contestant has already earned a lot of money, yet continues to risk it all for more. Or Wheel of Fortune, the answer is obvious, but they keep spinning the wheel to try and add their winnings only to end up spinning on bankrupt.
It is easy to sit back in your chair watching them on television and criticize. But,would you make the humble and content decisions? Better yet, how do you react to your own finances? (That is a rhetorical question, I do not expect people to comment about personal matters.)
A poll of 2,000 women aged 18-34 reveals that they find it hard to choose between brains, beauty and being nice.
* 25 percent would rather win America’s Next Top Model than the Nobel Peace Prize.
* 88 percent would give up their cell phones, jewelry or makeup to keep a friendship.
* 75 percent would shave their head to save the life of a stranger.
* 25 percent would make their best friend fat for life if it meant they could be thin.
* Half of the 18-24 year olds would marry an ugly man if he were a millionaire.
Link to Poll
I made a post about this issue before. I am just glad that Joyce Meyer is making an effort and maybe it will clear her name from suspicion. I am still skeptical. Story below:
A US Senator says televangelist Joyce Meyer has shown a "good faith" effort to comply with a congressional review of nonprofit laws affecting churches and religious ministries.
Last week the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) announced it granted accreditation to Joyce Meyer Ministries and Oral Roberts University. Joyce Meyer is one of six televangelist ministries under investigation by the Senate Finance Committee for alleged violations of their tax-exempt status.
Meyer has been accused of lavishly spending ministry money on, among other things, a $23,000 marble-topped commode and an $11,000 French clock. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, who initially launched the probe, says he is encouraged that Meyer has accepted ECFA oversight.
"She wants to reassert to her givers that she's using the money in the fashion of which they intended it when it was given to her," he explains. "And that's important to me because when an organization has nonprofit status, they are a trustee for that money, and then it also backs up another goal that I have [which] is maintaining the credibility of the tax-exemption that goes with charitable and church giving."
Grassley says four of the six ministries he has been scrutinizing have chosen to continue stonewalling his investigation -- Randy and Paula White of Without Walls International Church, Eddie Long of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, Kenneth and Gloria Copeland of Kenneth Copeland Ministries, and Creflo and Taffi Dollar of World Changers Senator GrassleyChurch International.
Although he is still holding out hope the four ministries will voluntarily comply with his probe, Grassley admits he is "getting close" to asking Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus to issue subpoenas.
Atheists have sued downtown Detroit for including churches in a local community improvement project.
Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) attorney Dale Schowengerdt says downtown Detroit wanted image repairs in preparation for the 2006 Super Bowl, so the City of Detroit Downtown Development Agency struck a deal with local establishments.
"Here the city of Detroit wanted to spruce up its downtown in anticipation of the Super Bowl and to spur some economic development, and so they offered all property owners downtown a matching grant to spruce up the exterior of their buildings," he explains.
According to an ADF press release, the contract between the city and local property owners said the city would reimburse half of the exterior improvements, up to $180,000. Dozens of properties entered into agreements to do just that, including three churches.
"Before the churches could be [reimbursed], even though they had already spent the money, American Atheists sued to enjoin the payment saying that it violated the so-called separation of church and state," Schowengerdt adds.
Schowengerdt is representing St. John's Episcopal Church in the case of American Atheists v. City of Detroit Downtown Development Agency. He contends the reimbursement contracted to the church was for non-religious purposes, does not establish religion, and therefore does not violate the Constitution.
He also notes that separation of church and state is not a part of the Constitution. Schowengerdt took the case to the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati.
Charlie Butts and Marty Cooper - OneNewsNow - 3/10/2009
It was the question that preoccupied President Ronald Reagan: Was Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev a religious believer? Reagan held a series of summits with Gorbachev from 1985 to 1988, and as their meetings proceeded, Reagan sometimes speculated to his aides that Gorbachev's use of phrases such as "God bless" might be an expression of religious faith. Many of the summit sessions involved large groups of U.S. and Soviet officials, discussing issues like arms control and regional conflicts. But in one-on-one talks with Gorbachev outside the presence of other senior officials like Secretary of State George Shultz, Reagan sometimes ventured off in directions of his own. The eternal optimist, Reagan was convinced that Gorbachev was capable of changing the Soviet system, and he thought the key to such a turnaround might be religion. Finally, during their fourth summit meeting in 1988, Reagan launched into a private conversation with Gorbachev, one that he promised the Soviet leader he would deny had ever taken place.
It was during the first one-on-one session in Moscow that Reagan engaged in a bold but questionable endeavor well beyond his mandate as president of the United States. According to the memo of their conversation, which was based on notes taken by two Reagan aides and has now been declassified and made available at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, Calif., Reagan secretly attempted to persuade Gorbachev of the existence of God.
REST OF ARTICLE
Concerned Christians in Kalamazoo, Michigan, are being asked to call city officials and urge them not to approve an ordinance that would grant special rights for homosexuals.
Last year, city commissioners in Kalamazoo approved an ordinance granting protections to homosexual, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people. However, the commission rescinded it after petitions were filed in protest.
Now, a public forum will be held Monday on the issue. Mary Balkema, Kalamazoo County treasurer, says it is vital for people to speak out about the issue.
"We're excited that we got enough signatures to overturn the ordinance and had enough commissioners to vote that way," she admits. "But we're afraid they're just going to vote in a bigger and better ordinance, so we certainly want people to come to the meeting and have their voice be heard."
The city has opened a telephone hotline for people to record their comments about the proposed ordinance.
This is a very funny video. There is much truth to how people complain and they have no reason to. I myself am guilty of it sometimes. With all of the luxuries it is easy to overlook what we do have.
Philippians 2: 14-16
"Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain."
With all of focus on theology and doctrinal issues, many times the governance of the local church is overlooked. All of the different titles can be confusing. However, the most important position to know is that Christ is the head of the church (Ephesians 1:22; Colossians 1:18). This post will hopefully help clear up any confusion anyone may have.
Before I began looking at each position, lets look at what positions are actually biblical. Philippians 1:1 says "Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons" From this verse we see the people of the church are the saints, bishop(s) and deacons. I will look at these each individually.
By calling the Philippian believers saints, Paul was not saying his readers were sinless. The Greek word he used, hagioi, means "those set apart." This is a reference to everyone who by salvation has been sanctified (set apart from sin in Christ). 1 Corinthians 1:2 "To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours"
The first thing to understand about the title Bishop, is that it is also called other names. The Bible uses Pastor (Ephesians 4:11), Elder (Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5), and Bishop (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:7). All of these titles mean the same. In Philippians 1:1 Bishop is plural. My understanding is that the plurality is dependent on the size of the congregation.
The primary duty for a Pastor is to instruct the congregation in God's truth (1 Timothy 4:13-16; 2 Timothy 4:2). They are also to be overseers and shepherds (Acts 20:28). The qualifications for this position can be found in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9.
Many reference Acts 6: 1-7 as to the purpose of deacons. Deacons provide a voluntary leadership position under the Pastor to assist him. The qualifications found in 1 Timothy 3:8-13 are similar to that of a Pastor. Notice verse 8 starts with "Likewise." I find it odd how some churches are correct by not supporting female pastors, but allow female deacons.
Lastly I will look at different styles. There is much debate over Pastor led, plurality of elders, and congregation led forms of government. After looking at the roles of each position, my conclusion is that a congregation led church has the least amount of biblical support. I tend to favor a Pastor led style. How I came to this conclusion is based on the role of the Pastor. How is he suppose to be an overseer and a shepherd if he is not leading? Do not misunderstand me, I am not advocating a dictatorship. As far a a plurality, I only find this necessary if the congregation is very large. I will end by making a comment in regards to denominations, the early churches were autonomous and did not report to any central office.
Most Christians are not happy with Obama' policies. The fact that in his first week of taking office he used an executive order to use reverse the Mexico City Policy. Issues like this can make it difficult for someone to pray for someone with that character. However, praying for our leaders is pleasing to God. 1 Timothy 2:1-3 "Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior" For those unaware, Paul said this in the rising of Nero's growing hatred for Christians. Just do a google search of "Nero persecution of Christians" and you will see the horrible things he did.
In addition to pleasing God, we must remember God's sovereignty. Proverbs 21:1 "The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, Like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes." There is evidence of this with Pharaoh (Exodus 10:1-2), Tiglath-Pileser (Isaiah 10:5-7), Cyrus (Isaiah 45:1-6), and Artaxerxes (Ezra 7:21; Nehemiah 2:1-8).
Notice that I did not mention obedience. Such as, God appointed authorities (Romans 13:1-2), it should be a part of our attitude (Titus 3:1-2), or that it is God's will (1 Peter 2:13-17). For it is much easier for us to be law abiding citizens than to pray for someone who enacts law contrary to our beliefs.
1 Peter 2:18-25
"Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh. For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps:
“ Who committed no sin,
Nor was deceit found in His mouth”;
who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls."
With everything today such as atheism, easy believism and prosperity gospel, Christians need to defend the Word of God. Let me start by saying that the Bible is very clear that we need to contend for the faith. Jude 3 says "Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints."
Moreover, how can we as Christians not? 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 proclaims "For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again." The love that Jesus has for us should move any believer to defend Him at any cost.
However, we are not to be contentious. The Bible is consistent in this area as well. Ephesians 4:15-16 states "but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love." This does not only apply to fellow Christians, but everyone. Titus 3:2 "to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men." This can certainly be a challenge at times. Sometimes people can be bit contentious and others can be too soft and miss an opportunity to defend the faith.
Often times I see people weary and apprehensive that somehow their action will not be viewed as contending, but rather contentious. Let me end by quoting John MacArthur from his book Hard To Believe.
"No matter how many features or enticements you add, and how many difficulties you remove, all except the true believers will turn you down in the end. But as Jesus' example so compellingly shows, that very rejection is proof of the power of the gospel. To the degree it is watered down, it ceases to be a threat to a sinful and self-absorbed world; to the degree it remains powerful, the unrepentant and proud will flee from it in fear. And rightly so." (page 162)
Two mainline denominations have announced decisions indicating a further move away from Bible-based Christianity.
In Michigan, the new bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan is an ordained Zen Buddhist. Northern Michigan's Episcopal congregations and delegates overwhelmingly elected the Rev. Kevin Thew Forrester at their convention on Saturday.
The diocesan website says Thew Forrester "has practiced Zen meditation for almost a decade," and the Buddhist community welcomed his commitment by granting him "lay ordination." The website also says Northern Michigan's new bishop "resonates deeply" with "his own interfaith dialogue with Buddhism and meditative practice."
Meanwhile, Presbyterian Church (USA) representatives in Arkansas and central North Carolina have endorsed amending the church constitution to allow non-celibate homosexuals to be ordained as ministers, elders and deacons. The votes were taken at regional presbytery meetings on Saturday.
Homosexual men and women can be ordained in the PCUSA, but church standards currently forbid sex outside of traditional marriage between a man and woman.
The amendment goes into effect if a majority of the denomination's 173 presbyteries approve it. So far, 24 presbyteries have voted for the amendment and 39 have voted against it, according to the Presbyterian Lay Committee, a group that opposes ordaining non-celibate homosexuals.
Attorneys for The Rutherford Institute have filed a civil rights lawsuit in federal district court against the Oklahoma Department of Corrections for its refusal to allow a Christian prison outreach ministry to send Bibles and other religious materials to prisoners. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma, argues that restrictions imposed by the Dept. of Corrections upon Wingspread Prison Ministries' correspondence with prisoners violate the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution and Oklahoma's Religious Freedom Act.
Founded in 1986, Wingspread Prison Ministries is a Christian ministry that reaches out to individuals incarcerated in prisons, penitentiaries, and correctional institutions throughout the United States. The ministry relies upon personal communications with prisoners in order to assure them that God and people outside their penal institutions care about them and want to assist them in changing their lives. Thus, as part of its outreach efforts, Wingspread mails Bibles, books about Jesus Christ and Christianity, newsletters on religious topics, teaching audiotapes, and other religious materials to prisoners who want to learn more about Christianity. Wingspread volunteers correspond with prisoners about their own life stories in the hopes that by doing so, they can help the prisoners understand the Bible's relevance to their own lives.
However, in March 2008, officials with the Oklahoma State Penitentiary informed Wingspread that it was prohibited from sending Bibles or religious books to prisoners in accordance with a policy allowing prisoners to receive books only from a publisher, book store, or book dealer. Wingspread was also allegedly informed that while individuals could write letters to inmates, ministries could not do so. Wingspread has only encountered such restrictions in Oklahoma.
Attorneys for The Rutherford Institute subsequently contacted the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, urging them to lift the restrictions, which are in violation of the U.S. Constitution and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act ("RLUIPA"), as well as being contrary to existing regulations of the Department of Corrections. No response was forthcoming.
Six Things You Should Know About the “Stimulus”
1.) The House of Representatives has broken a commitment to posting the legislation online for no less than 48 hours before a vote.
Only a few hours after the U.S. House of Representatives passed a motion to instruct conferees on H.R. 1 mandating that the conference report be posted online in a searchable and downloadable form for no less than 48 hours before it may be voted on, negotiations began under the cover of night behind closed doors with no representatives of the Congressional minority present. Ultimately, the Democratic House leadership did not make the bill's language available until around 11:00 p.m. on Thursday, giving the public a mere 15 hours to scrutinize the bill (mostly overnight hours during which most Members of Congress were no doubt sleeping), of which only 5 hours were working hours. Congressional Record, page H1096.
2.) In signing this bill today, President Obama is violating his own transparency pledge.
Consider his campaign promise: “No more secrecy. … when there's a bill that ends up on my desk as president, you, the American voter, will have five days to look online and find out what it is before I sign it, so that you know what your government's doing.” Manchester, New Hampshire, June 22, 2007 http://tinyurl.com/dl2wog (time: 20:20) Today, the bill will have been posted for only four days – not five.
3.) No Member of Congress voting for the bill confirmed prior to the vote that they had read the bill.
Americans for Tax Reform had asked all Members of Congress intending to vote for the conference report to sign and fax back/email to ATR the following form:
I, _____________________________, commit to the taxpayers of the (___________________ district of the) State of _______________________, that my vote in favor of the conference report on H.R. 1 will be an informed vote, because I will have read the full text of the bill and the conference report by the time I cast my vote.
All Members who voted for the package refused to make this commitment. http://atr.server278.com/even-one-democrat-read-bill-a2887
4.) No Member of Congress voting for the bill confirmed that they were not looking to personally benefit corruptly from the bill with their vote.
Americans for Tax Reform asked all Members of the U.S. House of Representatives who voted in favor of the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009” and U.S. Senators planning to support the package to commit to their constituents in writing that they will not accept political contributions from any recipient of “stimulus” funds, nor will seek or accept employment with any recipient.
All Members who voted for the package refused to make this commitment. http://atr.server278.com/atr-challenge-pelosi-obama-reid-spending-a2858
5.) In signing the bill, President Obama also breaks his promise to enact net spending cuts.
During a discussion about government spending in the second presidential debate on October 7, 2008, Obama said “So we’re going to have to make some investments but we’ve also got to make spending cuts, and what I’ve proposed -- you’ll hear Senator McCain say ‘he’s proposing a whole bunch of new spending’ --but, actually, I’m cutting more than I’m spending. So that it will be a net spending cut.”
6.) The “Stimulus” package will undo much of the progress of the 1996 welfare reform.
The package contains language that would essentially abolish the accomplishments of the 1996 welfare reform which drastically reduced welfare rolls and child poverty. Further, it would add large amounts in new welfare spending over the next decade. http://tinyurl.com/dax6xf
ATR president Grover Norquist said: “President Obama hasn’t even been in office for a full month yet – but, aided by the Democratic majority in Congress, he has already managed to break a series of promises in an effort to burden taxpayers with a massive spending package that will do nothing to promote economic growth, but will permanently grow the size of government undo much of the progress made in the mid-1990s in the area of welfare reform. If this first month is a sign of what’s to come, then taxpayers will be in for a rough ride.”
Conveniently, that pledge was later massaged to only extend to “non-emergency” bills, however even by that standard, the President has already twice violated that commitment with the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the S-CHIP reauthorization bill that contained a tax increase (and broke another one of his campaign promises not to raise taxes on anyone making less than $250,000).
The picture was taken from fiscalaccountability.org and the article was taken from ATR.org.
GRETA: I don’t want to pry too personally, but obviously contraception is an issue here. Is that something that you were lazy about or not interested in, or do you have a philosophical or religious opposition to it, or –
BRISTOL: No, I don’t want to get into detail about that. But I think abstinence is like … I don’t know how to put it, like … the main … Everyone should be abstinent, but it’s not realistic at all.
BRISTOL: Because — I don’t want to get into detail about it.
GRETA: [crosstalk] Just big picture, not about you –
BRISTOL: Because it’s more and more accepted.
As much as that video makes me cringe, there is some truth to what she said. Premarital sex is very much accepted if not encouraged. Even though many are pushing for abstinence, I don't see a change anytime soon. You can't have a sex oriented culture and expect teens to practice abstinence.
Lastly, what do you think of the interview itself? Is it appropriate? Why would she do the interview?
According to RBC Ministries the answer is no. In case you are unaware, RBC Ministries puts out "Our Daily Bread." Below is their answer to the question.
Why shouldn’t evangelicals offer unconditional political support to either Israel or the Palestinians?
As we view Israel/Palestine today, we must be as concerned for the physical and spiritual well-being of her ethnic Jewish people as for the well-being of her ethnic Arabs (both Muslim and Christian). We must do all we can to awaken both Jewish and Arab people to the reality of the Messiah who gave His life for them.
But before we can effectively present the gospel to Israelis or Palestinians, we must cultivate their respect. All ethnic/religious/cultural groups have “skeletons in their closets.” We Western Christians are no exception. Jews have cultural memories of persecution by nominally Christian peoples in Europe. Muslims, on the other hand, have similar memories of wrongs committed by Christian armies crusading in the name of God, and of Western “Christian” colonial powers exploiting Muslim division and weakness. If we hope to be heard clearly, we must not be perceived as biased or unjust. Unfortunately, far from being unbiased and just, many Christian evangelicals today demonize Palestinian and Israeli Arabs while ignoring or rationalizing Jewish injustice and violence. There are numerous reasons that Evangelicals tend to be heavily biased in favor of Jewish Israelis rather than Arab Israelis and Palestinians. But rather than getting into the reasons for this bias, let’s go to Scripture to see why it is wrong.
At the very beginning of His ministry, just after His baptism by John, “Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil” (Matthew 4:1 NIV). This time of testing wasn’t incidental. The temptations Satan set before Jesus were specifically designed to exploit any vulnerability in His human nature. Satan appealed to the selfishness, distrust, and personal pride that are at the root of all human sin, forcing Jesus to make deep and radical decisions regarding His calling. What kind of Messiah would He be?
* Would He exploit supernatural power to change stones to bread, as a first act in avoiding the path of suffering that had been set before Him? Would He then feed the poor with the same satanic motivation, seeking their support for His personal agenda?
* Would He coerce his Father’s endorsement (force His hand) by casting Himself from the pinnacle of the temple?
* Would He cultivate earthly political power to overthrow Rome and establish an earthly kingdom in Jerusalem under His personal control by alliance with the principalities and powers of this world?
Rather than acting in selfish ambition, Jesus chose submission, servitude, and suffering. The miracles He performed were just as spectacular as those Satan proposed, but they were done through the power of the Holy Spirit in obedience to His Father.
Jesus refused to feed Himself miraculously, but guided by the Holy Spirit He miraculously fed thousands, changed water to wine, and filled the nets of faithful fishermen with fish. He refused to draw attention to Himself or give miraculous signs to those who demanded it, but walked on water, calmed the sea, healed the sick, and raised the dead to glorify His Father. Although He could have requested supernatural deliverance from the agony of humiliation, scourging, alienation, and death (Matthew 26:53), He submitted to them meekly, like a perfect sacrificial lamb.1
Perhaps He faced these tests early on because of the tremendous pressure that would soon come to bear on Him to conform to the false expectations of His countrymen regarding what He (as Messiah) should do on behalf of national Israel. The expectation that Messiah would militarily deliver the Jews from pagan (Roman) rule and establish Jewish rule over the whole world was at fever pitch in the first century. Even Jesus’ disciples reflected this expectation (Matthew 16:20-22; 20:20-23; Luke 19:11).
Over the course of the first century, enthusiasm for a delivering Messiah resulted in numerous false messiahs, the horrific war of AD 70, and apocalyptic writings that continued to predict a delivering messiah even after the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple by Titus (4 Ezra; 2 Baruch). Eventually, the endorsement of the false messiah, Bar Kochba, by the most venerated rabbi of the post-70 period (Akiba) led to the final catastrophe of AD 135 under Hadrian.
The remarkable Jewish historian of that period, Josephus, described the foundation of Jewish messianic fervor and militant nationalism among his contemporaries:
But what more than all else incited them to the war was an ambiguous oracle, likewise found in their sacred scriptures, to the effect that at that time one from their country would become ruler of the world. This they understood to mean someone of their own race, and many of their wise men went astray in their interpretation of it . . . For all that, it is impossible for men to escape their fate, even though they foresee it. Some of these portents, then, the Jews interpreted to please themselves, others they treated with contempt, until the ruin of their country and their own destruction convicted them of their folly. (Josephus, War, 6.312-315)
N. T. Wright builds a strong case that the “ambiguous oracle” referred to by Josephus is the book of Daniel—specifically the second, seventh, and ninth chapters. (See Wright’s The New Testament and the People of God, pp. 312-320.) The book of Daniel was one of the most popular works in circulation among the Jews during the first century,2 and it is likely that Jewish “wise men went astray in their interpretation of it,” apparently forecasting dates, “times,” and “seasons” for the coming of the expected Messiah into His kingdom in a manner that nurtured popular support for a military confrontation with Rome. (See Matthew 24:36; Acts 1:6-7; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-2.)
Israel had already given in to temptations Jesus resisted.3 Jesus knew that national Israel had formed an alliance with Satan and was hell-bent to carry out Satan’s agenda. Out of love for Israel and her true calling, He confronted her with the fact that she had turned nationalism into an abominable parody of the covenant relationship God intended.4 Like the prophets who preceded them (Matthew 11:20-24; 12:38-42; Luke 13:1-5), John the Baptist and Jesus declared that unrepentant Israel was outside the covenant relationship, and needed to return like a humble proselyte to be considered a son of Abraham (Matthew 3:9; Luke 3:8; 15:11-32). In the past, Israel had been delivered from the judgment that fell upon the pagan kingdoms that oppressed her and held her captive (Egypt, Babylon). But now, Jerusalem herself was persecuting true Israel. The true Israel, that Israel that was holding firm (Mark 13:13), was a small remnant—Jesus’ disciples. Jerusalem had taken on the role of Egypt and Babylon, aligned with Satan and facing judgment.
The old covenant had come to an end, replaced by a new covenant, “his blood” (Matthew 26:28 NKJV; 1 Corinthians 11:25; Hebrews 9:15). Israel’s old covenant story of exile and deliverance (Egypt, Assyria, and Babylon) was over. No longer in exile, Israel had been permanently restored in the person of Jesus Christ.5
* The family of God would no longer be defined by ethnic and national Jewish categories, but would be made up of all of those willing to trust in Jesus and follow Him (Matthew 7:21; 12:50; Luke 11:27-28; John 6:29,40; Acts 3:22-23).
* The Torah, which constituted a central symbol of identity for those under the old covenant, would be replaced under the new covenant by the Sermon on the Mount. The new covenant would be characterized by mercy, forgiveness, inclusiveness, and love rather than a quest for legal and ritual purity.
* The Jerusalem temple and the system of worship based around it was obsolete and the destruction of the temple immanent, to be replaced by the resurrected Christ (Mark 14:58/Matthew 26:61; Mark 15:29-30/Matthew 27:39-40; John 2:19; Acts 6:14).6 When Jesus was crucified, the veil of the temple was torn and its holiest chamber exposed. The epistle to the Hebrews—written to a culturally Jewish Christian audience—declares:
“He entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption” (9:12).
“By one sacrifice [Jesus] has made perfect forever those who are being made holy” (10:14).
“The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says: ‘This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.’ Then he adds: ‘Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.’ And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin” (10:15-18).
Because of the horrific consequences of date-setting and speculative interpretation of prophecy, the rabbis surviving the second war with Rome committed themselves to the principle that Torah-observing Jews should never again seek a return to the land until the appearance of Messiah himself. Orthodox Jews remained committed to this principle for nearly 2000 years, but secular Zionists began a movement to return to a national homeland in the late 19th century. Approximately at the same time, some evangelical Christian leaders began to speculate that the Zionist-initiated return to the land was the beginning of the national return prophesied in Scripture.
For evangelical Christians to use prophetic speculation as a basis for providing unbelieving Israel with political and military support is to repeat the very same error that Israel committed when it sought to use military and political means to bring in the messianic kingdom. It is to join unbelieving Israel in its surrender to the same temptations Satan offered Jesus in the desert.
* It is an attempt to exploit supernatural power.
* It is an attempt to force God’s hand.
* It is an attempt to carry out God’s plan through alliance with the (satanic) principalities and powers of this world.
To think that nurturing national Israel’s political and military power will expedite God’s program of redemption makes no more sense today than in the first century. Jesus said:
“Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord’ ” (Luke 13:35).
Some evangelicals genuinely hope to befriend Jewish or Palestinian people and win them to faith in Jesus Christ. While this aspect of their motivation may be legitimate, any unconditional support of either side of an ethnic and religious conflict decides against a group of people for whom Christ died. Followers of Christ cannot afford to win converts by supporting violence and aggression.
Although major actors on the political stage, many evangelicals view themselves as detached observers with a biblical key to understanding unfolding world events. They think they are assisting the fulfillment of prophecy, the soon return of the Lord, the culmination of the church age, the great tribulation, and the millennial reign. Like the zealous nationalist Jews of the first century and today’s religious Zionist Jews (Gush Emunim and others), they think they can give the Lord a helping hand in bringing about His Day. In actuality, evangelicals who unconditionally support the establishment and defense of a Jewish state founded upon the rejection of Jesus Christ are nurturing the rise of anti-Christian power throughout the world.
Just as it was folly for Jewish leaders of the first and second century to believe they could have certainty regarding unfolding future events, it is folly for modern evangelicals to think they can predict how current events will fit in with the events of the endtime. (See the ATQ, How often in the history of the church have people mistakenly believed they were acting in fulfillment, or observing the fulfillment, of prophecy?) Jesus himself declared the folly of such speculation (Matthew 24:44; 25:13; Mark 13:35; Revelation 3:3).
Many Christians in the past have mistakenly supported violence on the basis of a conviction that they were participating in endtime events. Granted that our pretribulation view of the rapture is true, do we have any more real certainty about when the rapture and the tribulation will occur than first-century Jews had regarding the manner and time of Messiah’s coming? If we are heavily complicit in the violence of our age, isn’t it more likely we will reap the whirlwind (Hosea 7:7) we have sown?
The day of the Lord is not a time when the devil has his way with an ethnic Israel he hates. Rather, it is a time of God’s judgment on wickedness, both in Israel and the world:
“Woe to you who long for the day of the Lord! Why do you long for the day of the Lord? That day will be darkness, not light” (Amos 5:18).
“‘See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,’ says the Lord Almighty. But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap” (Malachi 3:1-2).
“Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the Lord cometh, for it is nigh at hand; A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations” (Joel 2:1-2 KJV)
“The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble: the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining” (Joel 2:10).
“The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come” (Joel 2:31).
“The great day of the Lord is near—near and coming quickly. Listen! The cry on the day of the Lord will be bitter, the shouting of the warrior there. That day will be a day of wrath, a day of distress and anguish, a day of trouble and ruin, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness” (Zephaniah 1:14-15 NIV).
“‘Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and that day that is coming will set them on fire,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘Not a root or a branch will be left to them’ ” (Malachi 4:1).
If evangelicals think God will permit them to continue to throw fuel on the fire of violence and hatred and suddenly snatch them out of the conflagration just before it engulfs the world, it is only because they are under the spell of satanic illusion.
The New Testament makes it clear that the kingdom of God is based on justice and love, not violence, ethnic privilege, and possession of “holy land.” The kingdom of God is based on the Sermon on the Mount, not on speculation about unfolding events. The actions of the church must be consistent with purposes of the kingdom of God, or the church may share national Israel’s judgment in the day of the Lord.