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Should Christians Pray For Obama?

Thursday, February 26, 2009 3 comments

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.

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Submission To Authority


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."

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Contending Without Being Contentious

Tuesday, February 24, 2009 5 comments

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)

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Two Denominations Make Doctrinal Compromises

Monday, February 23, 2009 2 comments

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.


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Oklahoma Dept. of Corrections Refuses to Allow Bibles & Religious Materials to be Sent to Prisoners

Sunday, February 22, 2009 3 comments

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.


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6 Things You Should Know About The "Stimulus"

Thursday, February 19, 2009 3 comments

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.

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Bristol Palin On Abstinence

Tuesday, February 17, 2009 4 comments

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?

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Should Christians Offer Unconditional Political Support To Israel?

Thursday, February 12, 2009 9 comments

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.


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When To Leave Your Church

Tuesday, February 10, 2009 3 comments

I thought this was an interesting article. The question of leaving a church and having a biblical justification is something I have thought about before. I think he gives good reasons and I think there might be some more, but I also think people try to justify to themselves their own reasoning. Anyway, here is the article and as always I look forward to hearing the responses.

When To Leave Your Church
By: Bob Carpenter

Last year our church focused on the Bible's instruction to love harmony and unity. As the Bible says in Philippians 2:2, "Make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose." We tried to teach our church members that the laissez-faire commitment to church membership which characterizes our times is not God's way of thinking.

In response, I occasionally heard a question like this, "OK, I get it that we shouldn't just up and leave our church, but is there ever a time to leave?" The answer is "yes, there are times one should leave a church."

Let me suggest some cases in which a person should change churches:

–- False teaching. In Jude 3b, the Bible says "... I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints." God's people must "contend" for the faith clearly revealed in the Bible. When God's church ceases to teach/preach faithfully the Bible, it loses the anointing of God and all spiritual authority. It's expected that well-meaning believers may have minor points of difference in interpreting God's Word. That's not the point. When the pastor and Sunday School teachers distort the obvious meaning of the Word for some preferred idea, they must be confronted. If they will not repent and return to God's Word, get out (2 John 9-11).

-– Unaddressed sin. If there is open sin, especially among the pastors, the church is in danger. If the pastors are the offenders, then deacons or other mature leaders in the church must confront them and call them to repentance (1 Timothy 5:19-20). When others are the offenders, those same leaders must join the pastors in confronting offenders (Matthew 18:15-17). God's blessing will not last for long on the church that will not confront open, unrepentant sin. If the church leaders will not confront the sin, you should shake the dust off your shoes as you go out the door.

-– Dysfunctional church life. As with families, churches can become dysfunctional. Sadly, the landscape of American church life is littered with people meeting in church-type buildings that long ago ceased to be church. When the vision dies, the agenda degrades to how we pay the bills, what we need to do to keep people happy, or arguing over who's in charge of the operation. In this state, God's church usually divides into little "fiefdoms" with people fighting over control and power. It's ugly. A church almost never recovers from this point. One must be cautious in calling a church "dysfunctional," as only God ultimately knows when He's done with a church. But when a believer finds himself/herself in that kind of church, he/she should move on to a church in which God is working. One cannot expect a perfect church but one can expect a church with evidence of God's presence (1 Corinthians 1:10-11).

In addition to these negative reasons a believer might need to leave his/her church, there are other circumstances that may lead a believer to do so that are not negative. For instance:

-– Moving. If the will of God leads one to move too far away to have meaningful involvement in one's church, he/she must move on to another church (Hebrews 11:25). Believers need to think twice about how leaving a good church might affect their walks with God when considering a move. Some should choose not to move so as to remain in the fellowship of one's church. At other times, God's leading is clear and the commute would be unwise or impossible.

There's a related application to this point: When a church member marries a believer from another church, one of them must leave his/her church and move to the spouse's church. Though the Bible doesn't specifically address this scenario, my experience points toward holding the wedding service with the woman's church. She then leaves her church to join his since he is responsible as the spiritual leader of the home. On occasion, God will direct the new family to stay in the woman's church.

–- Mission. Sometimes God calls a believer to a mission that will mean he/she must leave the church (Acts 17:2). Our church is working to plant a church, and we expect God will call believers from our church to join in that mission. We shall give our blessing to those going to serve in the planting of a new church.

There may be other reasons to leave one's church. If so, I think they would fall into one of these broader categories. The point is, many American believers who change churches do so for the wrong reasons.

When people leave churches often it is over relationship issues -- too often it's with the pastor. We need to work through any brokenness in relationships so they may be healed. We cannot forsake truth or morality just to "keep the peace" but we surely can lay aside grudges, bitterness or lack of forgiveness.

As Paul admonished Euodia and Syntyche in Philippians 4:2, "Live in harmony in the Lord." May it be so in your church!


Bob Carpenter is pastor of Cedar Street Church in Holt, Mich., and a member of the Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee.

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Pro-Life Ranking By State

Sunday, February 8, 2009 3 comments

Americans United for Life (AUL) released its sixth annual ranking of the most and least pro-life states. Pennsylvania, Louisiana, and South Dakota top the ranking, while California, Hawaii, and Vermont ranked lowest.

While AUL's criteria covers states' treatment of all life issues, final rankings depend largely on each state's enactment of prudent and well-supported laws. Such laws fence in the abortion license granted by the U.S. Supreme Court in its 1973 decision, Roe v. Wade. Among the laws AUL looks for are informed consent, parental involvement for minors, medically-supported regulation of abortion providers, and limitations on the use of taxpayer dollars for abortion.

Defending Life 2009 State Rankings

1. Pennsylvania
2. Louisiana
3. South Dakota
4. Oklahoma
5. Mississippi
6. Texas
7. North Dakota
8. Nebraska
9. Arkansas
10. Indiana
11. Georgia
12. Kentucky
13. Michigan
14. Kansas
15. Virginia
16. Missouri
17. Wisconsin
18. Ohio
19. Alabama
20. South Carolina
21. Minnesota
22. Utah
23. Colorado
24. Florida
25. Rhode Island
26. Idaho
27. North Carolina
28. Delaware
29. Arizona
30. Tennessee
31. Maine
32. West Virginia
33. Wyoming
34. Iowa
35. New Hampshire
36. Montana
37. Alaska
38. New Mexico
39. Massachusetts
40. Maryland
41. Illinois
42. Washington
43. New York
44. Oregon
45. Nevada
46. Connecticut
47. New Jersey
48. Vermont
49. Hawaii
50. California


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Mandatory Class Teaches All Religions Are True

Thursday, February 5, 2009 3 comments

Students in Quebec, Canada are being required to take a new Ethics and Religious Culture class that teaches that "all religions -- including pagan animism and cults -- are equally 'true.'"

It is not a religion instruction course. It is religious culture," Stephanie Tremblay, a spokeswoman for Quebec's education department, told Canada's National Post newspaper. "We introduce young people to religious culture like we introduce them to musical culture. The goal is to better know and understand others."

But school boards across Quebec reported in December that they had received and rejected more than 1,400 requests from public school parents seeking to have their children exempted from taking the course, which requires about two hours per week and also is mandatory in private schools.

Not only did students at one Quebec high school have their exemption requests turned down, but they were suspended and threatened with expulsion for not attending the class they said violates their freedom of conscience. At least one set of parents is challenging the class in court, the newspaper said.

"All the parents are doing is claiming a right that is recognized, the right to educate one's child in conformity with one's religious or philosophical convictions," Jean-Yves Cote, a lawyer representing the family, said.

Paul Donovan, the principal at Loyola High School in Montreal, told the National Post his school has initiated a court challenge against the class, which he said does not ask students to distinguish between right and wrong.

"What it essentially says is that religion is just, 'You like tomato soup and I like pea soup, so don't be all offended because someone likes tomato soup. It's really just a matter of preference,'" he said. "Religion could be Wiccan or Raelian or any of the new movements or atheism or agnosticism."

A Voice of the Martyrs blog post commended the students for their opposition to state religious teaching.

"We believe that the state has no right to mandate religious education, force students to learn the content of other religious and to deliberately seek to undermine the religious convictions of those who refuse to accept a relativistic view of truth," VOM said.

"It is the right and responsibility of parents to train their own children according to their own religious beliefs, not those of the state," the persecution watchdog group said. "Religious courses, if offered, should be optional or alternatives provided. But the state must not mandate what religious content will or will not be taught to children, especially against the wishes of their parents."

Erin Roach - Baptist Press

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Obama Admits Freed GITMO Detainees Could Attack Us

Tuesday, February 3, 2009 6 comments

President Obama said he is worried that detainees freed from the military prison at Guantanamo Bay might resume attacks on this country - but argued that its closure had to be done in order to "uphold" what he called "our values."

"Can we guarantee that they're not going to try to participate in another attack? No," Obama said in an NBC interview that aired today.

"But what I can guarantee is that if we don't uphold our Constitution and our values, that over time that will make us less safe. And that will be a recruitment tool for organizations like al-Qaeda."

In one of the first acts of his new administration, Obama signed an executive order directing that Guantanamo be closed within a year.

Some 250 terrorists are being held there - many of them detained following the Sept. 11 attacks without charge and some subjected to interrogation that human rights groups say amounted to torture.

But critics fear some of the detainees may again plot to attack the US once they are released.

"Is it going to be easy?" Obama said in the interview. "No, because we've got a couple hundred of hard-core militants that, unfortunately, because of ... problems that we had previously in gathering evidence, we may not be able to try in ordinary courts but we don't want to release."

Obama also expressed confidence that his administration would ultimately find a solution balancing security and US legal values.

"I have to make the very best judgments I can make in terms of what's going to keep the American people safe and ... what's going to uphold our Constitution and our traditions of due process," he said. "And what I'm convinced of is [that] we can balance those interests in a way that makes all of us proud, but also assures that we're not attacked."

February 2, 2009
NY Post Article

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Obama To Meet With Chavez

Monday, February 2, 2009 4 comments

President Barack Obama will have a face-to-face meeting with his Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chavez in April in Port of Spain, when the two leaders will be among three dozen heads of government and state at the three day Summit of the Americas. This information was confirmed by Summit Secretariat Communications Co-ordinator, Felipe Noguera.

Top of the agenda of the Summit will be burning energy issues in which both the United States and Venezuela have a keen interest. The Trinidad Express reported that Noguera told newsmen that Secretariat Chairman, Ambassador Carlos Luis Alberto Rodriguez indicated that Venezuela and the USA were at loggerheads on energy issues to be highlighted in the Declaration of Port of Spain. The declaration -- outlining policy goals in coming years for the 34 countries in the Americas in the fields of energy, education, environment and health -- will be signed by the leaders during the April 17-19 summit.

Chavez has been at loggerheads for months with former US President George W Bush accusing him of being a warmonger. Two months ago he expelled the US Ambassador to Venezuela. Since Obama took office on January 20, however, Chavez has toned down his anti-US rhetoric, even saying he has great expectations of the new US President.


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Robert Schuller Empire Collapsing

Sunday, February 1, 2009 3 comments

I posted about Rev. Robert Schuller back in October when he decided that his son would not be his successor (post). Now the 82 year old pastor is watching his work fall apart. This included the Hour of Power broadcast which has been on the air for over three decades.

The church is in financial turmoil: It plans to sell more than $65 million worth of its Orange County property to pay off debt. Revenue dropped by nearly $5 million last year, according to a recent letter from the elder Schuller to elite donors. In the letter, Schuller Sr. implored the Eagle's Club members - who supply 30 percent of the church's revenue - for donations and hinted that the show might go off the air without their support.

The church blames the recession for its woes. But it's clear that the elder Schuller's carefully orchestrated leadership transition, planned over a decade, has stumbled badly.It's a problem common to personality driven ministries. Most have collapsed or been greatly diminished after their founders left the pulpit or died.

Members often tie their donations to the pastor, not the institution, said Nancy Ammerman, a sociologist of religion at Boston University. "Viewers are probably much less likely to give when it's not their preacher they're giving to," she said. "There's something about these televised programs where people develop a certain loyalty."

The elder Schuller, who called his weekly show "America's Television Church," founded his ministry in a drive-in theater after moving to Southern California in 1955. He studied marketing strategies to attract worshippers and preached a feel-good Christianity, describing himself as a "possibility thinker" and spinning his upbeat style into a 10,000-member church and a broadcast watched by millions worldwide.

In between my last post and this news the church announced on Nov. 29 that Schuller Jr. had resigned as senior pastor, just a month after he was removed from the church's syndicated broadcasts. In a news release, Schuller Sr. said: "Robert and I have been struggling as we each have different ideas as to the direction and the vision for this ministry."

The church has since instituted a rotating roster of high-profile guest preachers, including Bill Hybels of Willow Creek Community Church, the Chicago-area megachurch, and evangelist Luis Palau.

On the church Web site, concerned members and TV fans have posted hundreds of comments protesting the upheaval, with some indicating they have stopped giving or will leave altogether. Several angry viewers have launched petitions to get the younger Schuller back. Others said they felt betrayed that the Schullers couldn't put God before their family spat.


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