Saturday, August 06, 2005

On the Transfiguration
From a homily by Saint Gregory Palamas

Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up a high mountain where they were alone. There before them he was transfigured; his face shone like the sun.

Now is the favorable time; this is the day of salvation, God's new and eternal day, which is not measured by hours, which does not get longer of shorter, which is not interrupted by night, since it is the day of the Sun of Righteousness with whom there is no alteration nor shadow of change.

Through this day, by the Father's decree and the Holy Spirit's cooperation, he benevolently shed his radiance on us and led us out of darkness into his wonderful light; and since he is the Sun that knows no setting, he will continue to shine upon us for ever.

But because he is the Sun of Righteousness and of truth, he will not shine upon or be clearly recognized by those who admire falsehood or who are unrighteous in the way they address God or in their actions. He shows himself, however, to those who act righteously and love the truth and believe in him, and he gladdens them with his splendor. As Scripture says; Light dawns for the righteous, and joy for the upright. And so, prophesying, the Psalmist also sings to God: Tabor and Hermon will rejoice in your Name, foretelling the joy which the transfiguration on the mountain would one day bring to those who witnessed it.

Now Isaiah says: Loosen every unjust bond, untie the knots of forced transactions, tear up every unjust contract. Then what will happen? Your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your health rapidly return; your righteousness shall go before you and the glory of God shall cover you. Moreover, if you put and end to the yoke of oppression, the pointing finger and the complaining word and generously give bread to the hungry and relief to the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness and your night be as bright as midday. For this Sun makes all those it shines upon into other suns; The righteous shall shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.

Let us have done with the works of darkness, then and practice the works of light, in order not only to live decently as we should on such a day, but also to become children of the day. And come, let us go up the mountain where Christ became resplendent to see what took place there; or rather, when we have become children of the day and are worthy of such a day, at the appropriate time the Word of God will himself lead us up. But now I exhort you to make every effort to raise the eye of your mind toward the light of the gospel message, so that you may in the meantime be transformed by the renewal of your minds and, by drawing the divine radiance down upon yourselves from heaven, come to share in the glory of the Lord whose face shone like the sun today on the mountain.

link

Call to Prayer

Let’s go up the mountain.
Let’s go up to the place where the land meets the sky
where the earth touches the heavens,
to the place of meeting,
to the place of mists,
to the place of voices and conversations,
to the place of listening.

Prayer

O God,

We open our eyes and we see Jesus,
the months of ministry transfigured to a beam of light,
the light of the world,
your light.
May your light shine upon us.

We open our eyes and we see Moses and Elijah,
your word restoring us, showing us the way,
telling a story,
your story, his story, our story.
May your word speak to us.

We open our eyes and we see mist,

the cloud of your presence
which assures us of all we do not know
and that we do not need to fear that.
Teach us to trust.

We open our eyes and we see Peter’s constructions,
his best plans, our best plans,
our missing the point,
our missing the way.
Forgive our foolishness and sin.

We open our eyes and we see Jesus,
not casting us off,
but leading us down,
leading us out -to ministry, to people.
Your love endures forever.

We open our ears and we hear your voice,
‘This is my beloved Son, listen to him!’
And we give you thanks.

Amen.


Prepared by William Loader

Culture Clash: Muslims in Europe
By Dale Hurd

CWNews

CWNews.org – The most common name for baby boys in Brussels is Mohammed. There are as many as 15 million Arabs and Muslims living in Europe. Europe needs babies and immigrants, because its birthrate has imploded, but Europe's not sure it wants these immigrants, because it fears the rise of Islam.

The political temperature is rising in Europe. Arabs and Muslims already felt like outsiders before France banned the headscarves in schools. The Dutch parliament voted to expel 26,000 asylum seekers, many of them from the Third World. Some are wondering if it is the beginning of an anti-immigrant backlash.

Many Europeans are nervous. They like to think that they are more enlightened and tolerant than the rest of the world, but that tolerance is being tested by a wave of immigration that could change the face of Europe.


story


The Transfiguration

Irmoi
Lightning flashes of divinity proceeded forth from Thy flesh: therefore the chosen prophets and apostles sang and cried aloud: Glory to Thy power, O Lord.

Thou hast parted the light from the original chaos, that Thy works might celebrate Thee in light, O Christ, as their creator: do Thou direct our paths in Thy light.

Thou hast shown us on Mount Tabor the live coal of the Godhead that consumes sins while it enlightens souls, and Thou hast caught up in ecstasy Moses and Elijah and the chief disciples.

Exapostilarion

Today on Tabor in the manifestation of Thy Light, O Word, Thou unaltered Light from the Light of the unbegotten Father, we have seen the Father as Light and the Spirit as Light, guiding with light the whole creation.

Aposticha

Having Ascended this mountain with Thy disciples, O Savior, and having been transformed, Thou didst make the dark nature of Adam shine again, by transforming it into the glory and splendor of Thy Godhead.

May we each be so blessed. Amen.

the Transfiguration

Friday, August 05, 2005

O Gracious Light
pure brightness of the everlasting Father in heaven.
O Jesus Christ, holy and blessed!

Now as we come to the setting of the sun,
and our eyes behold the vesper light,
we sing praises, O God:
Father Son and Holy Spirit.

You are worthy at all times
to be praised by happy voices,
O Son of God, O Giver of life,
and to be glorified through all the worlds.

Book of Common Prayer

Christianity is not a voice in the wilderness, but a life in the world. It is not an idea in the air but feet on the ground going God's way. It is not an exotic to be kept under glass, but a hardy plant to bear twelve months of fruits in all kinds of weather. Fidelity to duty is its root and branch. Nothing we can say to the Lord, no calling Him by great or dear names, can take the place of the plain doing of His will. We may cry out about the beauty of eating bread with Him in His kingdom, but it is wasted breath and a rootless hope unless we plow and plant in His kingdom here and now. To remember Him at His table and to forget Him at ours, is to have invested in bad securities. There is no substitute for plain, every-day goodness.

... Maltbie D. Babcock

is marriage old fashioned?
Thursday, July 28, 2005
By MAKEBA SCOTT HUNTER
HERALD NEWS

Despite a seemingly endless parade of celebrity brides gracing tabloid covers this summer, a recent report out of Rutgers University asserts that, back in the real world, fewer people are walking down the aisle these days.

The report, "The State of Our Unions 2005," by The National Marriage Project at Rutgers, cites the growing popularity of cohabitation, or "shacking up," as the main culprit for the downtrend.

Nationwide, the marriage rate has fallen from 1976, when 77 out of every 1,000 single women were wed, to fewer than 40 per 1,000 last year. The number of opposite-sex couples living together has risen dramatically to more than 5 million today, up from 439,000 in 1960. In New Jersey, the never-marrieds rank 14th and ninth in the nation for men and women respectively, according to 2003 Census estimates.

Story (don't miss this-read what the Episcopal priest has to say!)

'Connecticut Six' Rector Formally Denies Charges
The rector of an Episcopal church in Connecticut, who was temporarily stripped of his ministerial credentials for opposing the oversight of his local bishop, issued a ''good faith denial'' of the charges that resulted in his inhibition.


Friday, Aug. 5, 2005 Posted: 2:13:37PM EST

The rector of an Episcopal church in Connecticut, who was temporarily stripped of his ministerial credentials for opposing the oversight of his local bishop, issued a “good faith denial” of the charges that resulted in his inhibition.

The Rev. Mark Hansen, former rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Bristol, on July 28 said he had not “abandoned the Communion of the Episcopal Church” in a formal declaration sent to Bishop Andrew Smith of Connecticut. The Bishop, who is currently on vacation, removed Hansen from service two weeks earlier for taking a vacation without formally applying for one.

"I am concerned for the life and ministry of St. John's,” Bishop Smith said on July 13. “In the past few months Fr. Hansen has made decisions that left the parish without sustained clergy leadership.”

Although Hansen repeatedly denied the charges – he says a temporary leader was set up during the time he took his leave – he had not done so formally until the late July letter.

The rest

The Church has no mission of its own.
All we can have by ourselves is a club or a debating society; and our only hope, left to ourselves, is to win as many members for our own club and away from other clubs as we can. And whatever this is, it is not Mission. Mission belongs to God. The Mission was His from the beginning; it is His; it will always be His. He has His purposes from the foundation of the world, and the means to fulfill them; and the only part the Church has in this is obedience -- a share in the eternal and life-giving obedience of the Son of God... And the most terrible judgment on the Church comes when God leaves us to our own devices because He is tired of waiting for our obedience -- leaves us to be the domestic chaplains to a comfortable secular world -- and goes Himself into the wilderness of human need and injustice and pain. This judgment does come on churches and nations, when they forget that God is in command, that He does the choosing.

... Stephen F. Bayne, Jr., An Anglican Turning Point

It's finally here …'The Marketing of Evil' 'How Radicals, Elitists, and Pseudo-Experts Sell Us Corruption Disguised as Freedom'
August 2, 20051:00 a.m. Eastern

One of the most anticipated books of the year – David Kupelian's blockbuster
"The Marketing of Evil" – is now available at WorldNetDaily.

Already receiving wide and enthusiastic acclaim, the book, published by WND Books, is subtitled "How Radicals, Elitists, and Pseudo-Experts Sell Us Corruption Disguised as Freedom."
According to "The Marketing of Evil," Americans have come to tolerate, embrace and even champion many things that would have horrified their parents' generation – from easy divorce and unrestricted abortion-on-demand to extreme body piercing and teaching homosexuality to grade-schoolers. Does that mean today's Americans are inherently more morally confused and depraved than previous generations? Of course not, says veteran journalist David Kupelian. But they have fallen victim to some of the most stunningly brilliant and compelling marketing campaigns in modern history.

Fascinating!

There's a wideness in God's mercy
like the wideness of the sea;
there's a kindness in his justice,
which is more than liberty.
There is welcome for the sinner,
and more graces for the good;
there is mercy with the Savior;

there is healing in his blood.

There is no place where earth's sorrows
are more felt than in heaven;
there is no place where earth's failings
have such kind judgment given.
There is plentiful redemption
in the blood that has been shed;
there is joy for all the members
in the sorrows of the Head.

For the love of God is broader
than the measure of man's mind;
and the heart of the Eternal
is most wonderfully kind.
If our love were but more faithful,
we should take him at his word;
and our life would be thanksgiving
for the goodness of the Lord.

link

Editorial: Inadequate Ideologies
Chuck Colson
August 3, 2005

Recently, a Wall Street Journal poll announced that both political parties-Republicans and Democrats-are now held in low regard by the American people Usually if the fortunes of one party decline, the other party increases-sort of a zero sum game. Now, however, for the first time in polling history, both parties come up in negative territory.

Why would this be? Well, the driver who took me to do a CNN broadcast recently gave me a hint. He didn't know who Karl Rove was, and he didn't know who all the people up on Capitol Hill were who were calling for his scalp. Nor did he care. He dismissed it as just politics, that is, ideologically driven politics.

When ideology begins to replace revealed truth as the basis for governing a society, you inevitably have the kind of polarization we have in America today, Reds vs. Blues. Ideology is a man-made political formulation for how people should live their lives together and is, therefore, from our perspective as Christians, inherently flawed. And it's dangerous when a society becomes so polarized over ideology that it lacks a frame of reference for agreeing on the common good.

the rest

A Statement on the Church of England response to Civil Partnerships by the Primate of All Nigeria
Titusonenine

I read with utter dismay the pastoral statement recently issued by the Church of England House of Bishops with regard to the Civil Partnership Act scheduled to come into force on 5 December 2005.

While I was pleased to note the reaffirmation of the Church’s historic teaching on both marriage and sexual intercourse [1], [4] I was sorely distressed that these words are not matched by corresponding actions.

The language of the Civil Partnerships Act makes it plain that what is being proposed is same-sex marriage in everything but name. This is even acknowledged in the statement [10]. I find it incomprehensible therefore that the House of Bishops would not find open participation in such ‘marriages’ to be repugnant to Holy Scriptures and incompatible with Holy Orders.

The proposal that the bishops will extract a promise from clergy who register that there will be no sexual intimacy in these relationships is the height of hypocrisy. It is totally unworkable and it invites deception and ridicule. How on earth can this be honoured? For the Church of England to promote such a departure from historic teaching is outrageous.

The rest at titusonenine

Press Ignores Astonishing Reenlistment Rate
August 5, 2005
Michael Medved

Recent media coverage has given extended time to the Army's difficulties in signing new recruits while largely ignoring the phenomenal recent success in getting combat veterans to reenlist.

The Army is already far ahead of the pace needed to reach its goal of persuading 64,162 current enlisted men, from privates to top sergeants, to commit to additional service. Among elite units bearing the brunt of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, overwhelming numbers want to return to the fight: the 82nd Airborne, for instance, reached an astonishing 97 percent of its yearly reenlistment goal by the end of May! These numbers show that alarming press coverage of fighting in Iraq may scare away some civilians from military service, but those who know the situation first hand feel disproportionately eager to continue the struggle.


Despite any stateside skepticism, the rising numbers of reenlistments prove that our men and women in uniform overwhelmingly believe in their mission, and want to insure its ultimate success.

commentary

Reenlistment rate remains high

Thursday, August 04, 2005

The God of Light
by
C. H. Spurgeon

"Who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will." "The Lamb is the light thereof."
--Revelation 21:23

Quietly contemplate the Lamb as the light of heaven. Light in Scripture is the emblem of joy. The joy of the saints in heaven is comprised in this: Jesus chose us, loved us, bought us, cleansed us, robed us, kept us, glorified us: we are here entirely through the Lord Jesus. Each one of these thoughts shall be to them like a cluster of the grapes of Eshcol. Light is also the cause of beauty. Nought of beauty is left when light is gone. Without light no radiance flashes from the sapphire, no peaceful ray proceedeth from the pearl; and thus all the beauty of the saints above comes from Jesus. As planets, they reflect the light of the Sun of Righteousness; they live as beams proceeding from the central orb. If He withdrew, they must die; if His glory were veiled, their glory must expire.

Light is also the emblem of knowledge. In heaven our knowledge will be perfect, but the Lord Jesus Himself will be the fountain of it. Dark providences, never understood before, will then be clearly seen, and all that puzzles us now will become plain to us in the light of the Lamb. Oh! what unfoldings there will be and what glorifying of the God of love!

Light also means manifestation. Light manifests. In this world it doth not yet appear what we shall be. God's people are a hidden people, but when Christ receives His people into heaven, He will touch them with the wand of His own love, and change them into the image of His manifested glory. They were poor and wretched, but what a transformation! They were stained with sin, but one touch of His finger, and they are bright as the sun, and clear as crystal.

Oh! what a manifestation! All this proceeds from the exalted Lamb. Whatever there may be of effulgent splendour, Jesus shall be the centre and soul of it all. Oh! to be present and to see Him in His own light, the King of kings, and Lord of lords!

link

Pentecostals are Spirit-Filled, Spirit-Led
What is a Pentecostal? According to the top leader of the world’s largest Pentecostal denomination, there are seven characteristics that define a Pentecostal believer.
Thursday, Aug. 4, 2005

Posted: 2:17:17PM EST

What is a Pentecostal? According to the top leader of the world’s largest Pentecostal denomination, there are seven characteristics that define a Pentecostal believer.

He or she is one who has been called by God, to be a voice before God,” said Thomas E. Trask, the General Superintendent of the 53-million-member Assemblies of God.

Trask was sharing his message during the opening ceremony of the 51st A/G General Council on Tuesday. The Council, held every two years, is the business session of the church, and this year, some 5,000 delegates and 30,000 visitors came out to Denver, Colo., for the weeklong event.

From the start of his message, Trask reminded the audience that while the A/G has been growing, “the task for this church is not complete.”

“The Assemblies of God is at a critical juncture in its 91-year-old history,” he said. “The Church as grown by over two million in the last year alone…however, let me remind us all there are over two billion men and women around the world who have yet to know the saving grace of Jesus Christ.”

The rest

Eastern Orthodox Rebel Against Liberal Church Council
Mark Tooley

The Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America is not exactly known for cutting a high profile in American religion.

But the 400,000 member communion is quite spunky. Last month the church voted unanimously to leave the reflexively left-wing National Council of Churches (NCC). It is the first religious body to quit the NCC in years, and one of the few ever to do more than just talk about it.

According to one church spokesman, one reason fueling the departure was a recent
NCC fundraising letter, asking supporters to fight “right-wing attacks” against the controversial church agency. Specifically, the letter named President Bush, Rush Limbaugh, James Dobson and the Heritage Foundation as insidious forces that must be opposed.

“It got to be too much,” Antiochian spokesman Rev. Thomas Zain told Ecumenical News Service. “It’s lost its goal of Christian unity on a doctrinal basis. The goal seems to be including everybody and [promoting] niceties.”

Homosexuality, increasingly the bellwether issue that divides religious traditionalists from liberals, was also a big factor for the Antiochians. The Episcopal Church and United Church of Christ, both NCC pillars, have largely accepted same-sex unions and openly gay clergy.

the rest at IRD

David Virtue: EASTERN MICHIGAN BISHOP DEPOSES ORTHODOX PRIEST
Replay of Connecticut and Philadelphia sanctions

SAGINAW, MI (8/4/2005)--The invitation of "sentence" arrived in the mail. Fr. Gene Geromel, 57, a priest in the Episcopal Church for 31 years, was told he was being deposed by the bishop of Eastern Michigan, Edwin Leidel at precisely 10.00am.

At 8.45am Fr. Geromel drove up to his parish, St. Bartholomew's in Swartz Creek where he met with 30 parishioners. With him was Fr. Bill Ilgenfritz, V-P of Forward in Faith, NA (who is based in the Diocese of Pittsburgh) and together they drove to diocesan headquarters in downtown Saginaw.

When he arrived he asked if he could take with him his senior and junior warden to see the bishop but was told he could not. The bishop and two presbyters then emerged from their officers and escorted Fr. Geromel and Fr. Ilgenfritz into the chapel where the Paschal Candle was burning brightly. "The lit candle was for my requiem," he told VirtueOnline. There was a brief pause and then Bishop Leidel solemnly read a statement of deposition talking up his generosity and then moved towards the altar where he formally signed it. He gave a copy to Fr. Geromel turned on his heels and left the chapel.

Fr. Ilgenfritz rose and made a statement in the presence of Fr. Geromel and the Rev. D.O. Smart Mid-Atlantic Dean of the Mid-Continental Convocation of the Anglican Communion Network then met in the hallway with the local press, TV and radio. The Rev. Smart, told reporters, “Bishop Leidel has asked Father Geromel to be disobedient to Holy Scripture and the Tradition of the One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, and to embrace a counterfeit Gospel.”

The rest at Virtueonline

We must face the recognition that what the early Christians saw in Jesus Christ, and what we must accept if we look at him rather than at our imaginations about him, was not a person characterized by universal benignity, loving God and loving man. His love of God and his love of neighbor are two distinct virtues that have no common quality but only a common source. Love of God is adoration of the only true good; it is gratitude to the bestower of all gifts; it is joy in holiness; it is "consent to Being." But the love of man is pitiful rather than adoring; it is giving and forgiving rather than grateful. It suffers for them in their viciousness and profaneness; it does not consent to accept them as they are, but calls them to repentance. The love of God is nonpossessive Eros; the love of man pure Agape; the love of God is passion; the love of man, compassion. There is duality here, but not of like-minded interest in two great values, God and man. It is rather the duality of the Son of Man and Son of God, who loves God as man should love Him, and loves man as only God can love, with powerful pity for those who are foundering.

... H. Richard Niebuhr, Christ and Culture

Doctor Claims RU-486 Can Cause Lethal Septic Shock
By Alexa Moutevelis

CNSNews.com Correspondent
August 04, 2005

(CNSNews.com) - A Brown University professor has issued fresh allegations about the dangers related to the abortion drug regimen RU-486, asserting that one of the ingredients - mifepristone -- can produce fatal septic shock in a woman in the course of ending her pregnancy.

Dr. Ralph P. Miech discusses the link between mifepristone, which is marketed in the U.S. as Mifeprex, and lethal septic shock in an
article published in the September issue of "The Annals of Pharmacotherapy.

"RU-486 combines two drugs -- mifepristone and misoprostol - and allows women to chemically abort their unborn children at any time during the first seven weeks of pregnancy.

Story

Video: al-Qaida Vows More Attacks Vs. West
Aug 4, 11:18 AM (ET)
By MAAMOUN YOUSSEF

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) - Al-Qaida's No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahri threatened more destruction in London, saying in a videotape broadcast Thursday that British Prime Minister Tony Blair would be to blame.

Al-Zawahri also threatened the United States with tens of thousands of military dead if it does not withdraw its troops from Iraq immediately.

The tape, aired on the pan-Arab satellite channel Al-Jazeera, was delivered exactly one month after the July 7 bombings in London that killed 56 people, including four suicide attackers. In the excerpts aired by Al-Jazeera, al-Zawahri did not directly claim that al-Qaida carried out the July 7 or July 21 attacks, instead saying they stemmed from Blair's decision to deploy troops in Iraq.

"Blair has brought to you destruction in central London, and he will bring more of that, God willing," al-Zawahri said in the broadcast excerpts.

The rest

Brief Filed in New Hampshire Parental Notification Law Case
Supporters for a parental notification law in New Hampshire filed a brief on Tuesday, urging the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the law for the protection of minors.

Thursday, Aug. 4, 2005 Posted: 2:17:28PM EST

Supporters for a parental notification law in New Hampshire filed a brief on Tuesday, urging the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the law for the protection of minors.

In November 2003, the New Hampshire Parental Notification Prior to Abortion Act was challenged by Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. The act requires that doctors notify parents of minors at least 48 hours before performing an abortion. Doctors who fail to do so would face criminal penalties.

Planned Parenthood claimed that the new law was unconstitutional because it lacked an exception for cases when the mother’s life or health may be in danger. However, the law does stipulate that notification may be waived in emergencies.

A federal court agreed with Planned Parenthood’s challenge and blocked the law from taking effect, saying that the law places undue burden on a woman’s right to choose. The First Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the decision.

In May this year, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the case, making this the first abortion case to be heard by the court since 2000. The case will decide whether abortion laws must include an exception for the mother’s health, and is also expected to set standards for judging the constitutionality of abortion laws.


the rest

"Being 13"--TIME Takes a Look at the New Adolescents
Albert Mohler
Author, Speaker, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Thursday, August 4, 2005


"What does it mean to be 13, back stage adults, watching on tiptoe, waiting to go onstage?" That question sent TIME Magazine and a team of its reporters into an extended investigation of the lives of America's youngest teenagers--contemporary 13-year-olds. The magazine's report will at times shock, inform, and interest America's parents and all others concerned with the nation's young.

The age of 13 has always held a special and symbolic significance. In many traditions, reaching age 13 represents something like an initiation into the world of adulthood. At the same time, any sane parent recognizes that a 13-year-old boy or girl is more child than adult. What's going on here?

TIME gets right to the heart of the issue. In the magazine's cover story, "Being 13," reporter Nancy Gibbs suggests that the age of 13 is about magic, mystery, sexuality, innocence, and a host of other conflicting experiences. As she explains, the 13th year "is the age of childhood leaning forward and adulthood holding back, when the world gets suddenly closer, the colors more vivid, the rules subject to never-ending argument."

commentary

BRAVE NEW SCHOOLS
Father faces trial over school's 'pro-gay' book
Arrested after objecting to kindergartner's reading material

Posted: August 4, 20051:00 a.m. Eastern

A Massachusetts man faces a court trial over a dispute about the teaching of homosexuality in his son's kindergarten class.
David Parker, of Lexington, spent a night in jail and was charged with criminal trespassing after refusing to leave a scheduled meeting with school officials April 27, unless they gave him the option of pulling his child out of certain classes.

the rest

THE BRAVE COMRADESHIP OF GOD

"Then He took unto Him the twelve." Luke 18:31

The bravery of God in trusting us! You say - "But He has been unwise to choose me, because there is nothing in me; I am not of any value." That is why He chose you. As long as you think there is something in you, He cannot choose you because you have ends of your own to serve; but if you have let Him bring you to the end of your self-sufficiency then He can choose you to go with Him to Jerusalem, and that will mean the fulfilment of purposes which He does not discuss with you.

We are apt to say that because a man has natural ability, therefore he will make a good Christian. It is not a question of our equipment but of our poverty, not of what we bring with us, but of what God puts into us; not a question of natural virtues of strength of character, knowledge, and experience - all that is of no avail in this matter. The only thing that avails is that we are taken up into the big compelling of God and made His comrades (cf. 1 Cor. 1:26-30). The comradeship of God is made up out of men who know their poverty. He can do nothing with the man who thinks that he is of use to God. As Christians we are not out for our own cause at all, we are out for the cause of God, which can never be our cause. We do not know what God is after, but we have to maintain our relationship with Him whatever happens. We must never allow anything to injure our relationship with God; if it does get injured we must take time and get it put right. The main thing about Christianity is not the work we do, but the relationship we maintain and the atmosphere produced by that relationship. That is all God asks us to look after, and it is the one thing that is being continually assailed.

link

The Great Divide
By Gregory A. Borse
Thursday, August 04, 2005 06:08:43 AM

In his belated concession speech, John Kerry spoke of his conversation with President Bush, in a phone call made earlier in the day to let him know the race was officially over. Kerry said they spoke of the "deep divisions" in the country and the need for "healing."

Later in the day, accepting his victory, President Bush referenced this conversation and reached out to all who voted for Mr. Kerry, saying that he would work to earn their trust and support.But what Mr. Kerry and liberals mean by "division" and "healing" is far different than what President Bush and conservatives mean.

Essay

C.S. Lewis and the Tao of "The Island"
Dr. Marc T. Newman


AgapePress
In writing to the church in Rome, the Apostle Paul noted that people who know God, yet suppress the knowledge of their Creator, are driven to worship creatures. Such people become debased in their thinking and are given over to all manner of sin. In time, people regress from a belief in God to a belief that they are God, and once that belief becomes entrenched in significant elite cultural power bases the results are devastating – they are willing to do anything.

Michael Bay's new film,
"The Island," represents his first real foray into thoughtful action films. He gives us a glimpse into that Romans 1 world.

The Island" begins as a kind of post-apocalyptic/utopian story of a facility where survivors of a world-wide contamination are cared for until they can be moved to the one remaining uncontaminated, idyllic island – a pristine paradise for lucky lottery winners to repopulate. But the illusion is shattered when an inquisitive citizen, Lincoln Six Echo, discovers the truth – he and the other residents are actually human clones, "insurance policies" for their wealthy sponsors looking for a ready supply of biologically-compatible spare parts. The truth, in this case, does not set Lincoln, or his friend, Jordan, free. It makes them targets for elimination. Bay has admitted in interviews that the film's premise touches on the current embryonic stem-cell debate, but the actual implications go far beyond any particular current event directly to the heart of what happens when a culture abandons God.

Excellent essay

Church of England's Homosexual 'Marriage' Compromise Has Theologian Concerned
By Jim Brown
August 3, 2005

(AgapePress) - While the Episcopal Church USA continues to affirm and bless homosexual relationships, the Church of England is now allowing homosexual clergy to marry if they promise to abstain from sex.

Last week the Church of England's House of Bishops issued a statement approving "sexless marriage" for homosexual clergy. The church says it will treat these marriages as civil partnerships without giving them the status of marital relationships. However, conservative Anglican theologian Dr. Kendall Harmon fears the Episcopal Church and other liberal Anglicans will use the policy to further their cause.

Harmon, who serves as Canon Theologian of the Diocese of South Carolina, feels the Church of England's new stance has created a bizarre and awkward situation that is poised to foster deception. "First of all, on the clergy side," he says, "people who are in partnerships that are in fact sexual partnerships as well as personal partnerships are not necessarily going to have strong incentive to tell the bishop that they are, in fact, in a sexual partnership because, if they do, they are potentially subject to discipline."

The rest

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

O for a closer walk with God,
A calm and heavenly frame,
A light to shine upon the road
That leads me to the Lamb.

Return, O holy Dove, return,
Sweet messenger of rest!
I hate the sins that made Thee mourn
And drove Thee from my breast.

The dearest idol I have known,
Whate'er that idol be,
Help me to tear it from Thy throne,
And worship only Thee.

So shall my walk be close with God,
Calm and serene my frame;
So purer light shall mark the road
That leads me to the Lamb.

... William Cowper

Egocentric Culture Losing the Purpose of Marriage
By Kathryn Hooks
August 3, 2005

(AgapePress) - The supremacy of autonomy in our society pervades every avenue of the culture -- including the institution of marriage. Same-sex marriage debates heat up the political and cultural front lines as homosexual activists argue for their rights to express their sexual feelings and normalize them through redefining marriage. While same-sex marriage claims center stage in the marriage debate, the homosexual's view of marriage as a self-serving institution is manifesting itself in heterosexual marriage trends as well.

Traditionally, society has viewed procreation and the raising of children as a central purpose for the institution of marriage, and family-centered communities have represented an integral part of the American way of life. However, this view is in decline as the national birth rate decreases and culture caters to divorce and cohabitation with little regard for the detrimental consequences children face in broken and fragile families. In July, The National Marriage Project -- an initiative located at New Jersey's Rutgers University -- released its
The State of Our Unions 2005, an analysis of the state of marriage in America, and a key finding highlighted this decline in the child-centeredness of our nation's homes.

The rest

Is Harry Potter Merely Entertainment?
Phil Boatwright
Baptist Press

"I love Harry Potter. I think it would be so cool to be a witch," Sharon, age 11, says.

That's my answer to anyone who says J.K. Rowling's adventure series is harmless fantasy.

While the Harry Potter book and film series has held a hypnotic fascination for youngsters, its thematic foundation is troubling. Arguably, perceptive children can view such material without succumbing to the snare of the occult, but it would be naive to think that movies and TV programs containing witchcraft are not aiding the rise of Wicca in our culture.

In a television special titled "Hollywood Spirituality" which aired several years back on E! Entertainment, Raven Mounauni, a professing witch and owner of an occult paraphernalia store, credited the 1996 movie "The Craft" with inspiring young women to explore the world of witches. "I get a lot of teenage girls in here. You can always tell when 'The Craft' has been on TV, 'cause we get a big influx of girls looking for supplies."

The rest

It is absolutely unimportant in the eyes of God how many people follow the "Anglican tradition" of belief and practice. It is of the greatest importance how many people there are who have come to know and love our Lord because of what we Anglicans have said and done.

... Stephen F. Bayne, Jr.

Decline in Number and Rate of U.S. Abortions Continues, New Analysis Shows
Meanwhile ,UK Rates Increase

NEW YORK, August 2, 2005 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A new analysis from a pro-abortion group, The Alan Guttmacher Institute, shows that U.S. abortion rates continued to decline in 2001 and 2002, although the rate of decline has slowed since the early 1990s. The Institute estimates that 1,303,000 abortions took place in the United States in 2001—0.8% fewer than the 1,313,000 in 2000. In 2002, the number of abortions declined again, to 1,293,000, or another 0.8%. The rate of abortion also declined, from 21.3 procedures per 1,000 women aged 15–44 in 2000 to 21.1 in 2001 and 20.9 in 2002.

The rest

Bush Remarks On 'Intelligent Design' Theory Fuel Debate
By Peter Baker and Peter Slevin
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, August 3, 2005

President Bush invigorated proponents of teaching alternatives to evolution in public schools with remarks saying that schoolchildren should be taught about "intelligent design," a view of creation that challenges established scientific thinking and promotes the idea that an unseen force is behind the development of humanity.

Although he said that curriculum decisions should be made by school districts rather than the federal government, Bush told Texas newspaper reporters in a group interview at the White House on Monday that he believes that intelligent design should be taught alongside evolution as competing theories.

"Both sides ought to be properly taught . . . so people can understand what the debate is about," he said, according to an official transcript of the session. Bush added: "Part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought. . . . You're asking me whether or not people ought to be exposed to different ideas, and the answer is yes."

Story

United Survey Reveals Continued Anglican "Conspiracy of Silence'
By David W. Virtue
DALLAS, TX

(8/2/2005)--A survey of more than 2,000 Episcopalians by Anglicans United reveals that there is a still a 'conspiracy of silence' over the true state of the Episcopal Church, with thousands of Episcopalians not communicating their concerns to their priests and bishops.

Thirty-five percent of the surveys returned revealed that 74 percent of the respondents were still in the Episcopal Church with some 24 percent in orthodox parishes in orthodox dioceses. Some 26 percent have officially left the Episcopal Church since General Convention in August 2003. They voted with their feet was the dominant protest.

Of those who have left, 91 percent have gone to Anglican parishes. They are Anglican Communion "heartwood." They started their own parishes or found good "Continuing" parishes to join. Most expect to be affiliated with the Communion in the near future.

Some 96 percent of respondents want the Primates to require ECUSA to express regret for V. Gene Robinson's consecration, the survey showed.

Some 69 percent of respondents have not spoken with or written to their priest about these issues. Of the 10 percent clergy respondents, only 8 percent have spoken with their bishop about these issues. All are orthodox clergy in orthodox parishes within orthodox dioceses.

The Rev. Todd Wetzel, executive director of Anglicans United reported, "the others said there was no reason to try and do this. And so, the 'conspiracy of silence' continues: Priests don't talk with their parishioners OR their bishops; and bishops only hear from the homosexual activists and fellow liberals in their dioceses. Their decisions is on these issues are based on this input, not in the true picture of those who fill the pews."

The rest at Virtueonline

We’ve Created a Monster
Rainbow Party
August 3, 2005

Note: This commentary was delivered by Prison Fellowship President Mark Earley.
Warning: This commentary contains graphic information not suitable for younger readers.

You may have heard the uproar over a new teen novel called Rainbow Party. The controversial book by Paul Ruditis concentrates on one afternoon in the lives of thirteen high-school sophomores. One of them, a girl named Gin, is planning a sex party. The other kids are trying to decide whether to attend.

The book takes explicitness to a whole new level. Several different sex acts are described. Even before the party starts, two sex acts take place, one of them in the school bathroom.

Several of the teens are innocent, but others have more experience than a lot of adults. The sexual power plays going on among these tenth-graders would make Machiavelli’s head spin. And though the afternoon doesn’t unfold exactly as planned, the book’s outcome can be seen a mile away: a class-wide outbreak of disease.

The rest

Faith is not an opinion, but a certitude. "The substance of things hoped for," says the Apostle--not the phantasies of empty conjecture. You hear the substance. You may not dispute on the faith as you please; you may not wander here and there through the wastes of opinion, the byways of error. By the name, "substance," something certain and fixed is placed before you; you are enclosed between boundaries, you are restrained within unchanging limits.

... St. Bernard of Clairvaux, Treatise on the Errors of Abeilard

Compelling Reason for Rigorous Training of the Mind
John Piper
Desiring God

I was reading and meditating on the book of Hebrews recently, when it hit me forcefully that a basic and compelling reason for education—the rigorous training of the mind—is so that a person can read the Bible with understanding.

This sounds too obvious to be useful or compelling. But that’s just because we take the preciousness of reading so for granted; or, even more, because we appreciate so little the kind of thinking that a complex Bible passage requires of us.

The book of Hebrews, for example, is an intellectually challenging argument from Old Testament texts. The points that the author makes hang on biblical observations that come only from rigorous reading, not light skimming. And the understanding of these Old Testament interpretations in the text of Hebrews requires rigorous thought and mental effort. The same could be said for the extended argumentation of Romans and Galatians and the other books of the Bible.

The rest

Encountering Rick Warren

An article about Rick Warren can easily become a list of facts and figures - so let’s get them out of the way. He’s the founding pastor of America’s largest church, Saddleback, in California, which began with one family in 1980 and now averages over 20,000 on a 120-acre campus each weekend. Ten per cent of churches in America have followed the course 40 Days of Purpose and another 10,000 to 15000 will go through it this year. His book The Purpose Driven Life outsells both Harry Potter and the Da Vinci Code. And Time Magazine has named him the most ‘influential pastor in America’.

I was expecting to speak to a prima donna. My interview had been cancelled once because he’d lost his voice and the only other time he could speak to me was by phone on the first day of a short break in South Wales. My suspicions were unfounded. His voice sounded shot to pieces because he was halfway through a 30-day speaking tour through Europe. But he was warm and unrushed and, in fact, I was the one who eventually ended the interview when it was obvious that my children couldn’t be restrained any longer from interrupting us. He’s a man of big ideas and a surprising amount of humility. The ‘Purpose driven strategy’ which dominates his thinking, comes, he says, from no original ideas on his own part. In fact, he says the five purposes of being church have been articulated throughout the history of the Church. It’s just that the church in general hasn’t always been good in putting these purposes into practice. “The Five Purposes are best expressed in the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. I don’t know a single church in the world that doesn’t believe in these churches so the ‘purpose driven church’ is just about helping churches organise themselves.”

The rest at titusonenine

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

"Spices for anointing oil."
Exodus 35:8

Much use was made of this anointing oil under the law, and that which it represents is of primary importance under the gospel. The Holy Spirit, who anoints us for all holy service, is indispensable to us if we would serve the Lord acceptably. Without his aid our religious services are but a vain oblation, and our inward experience is a dead thing.

Whenever our ministry is without unction, what miserable stuff it becomes! nor are the prayers, praises, meditations, and efforts of private Christians one jot superior. A holy anointing is the soul and life of piety, its absence the most grievous of all calamities. To go before the Lord without anointing is as though some common Levite had thrust himself into the priest's office-his ministrations would rather have been sins than services. May we never venture upon hallowed exercises without sacred anointings. They drop upon us from our glorious Head; from his anointing we who are as the skirts of his garments partake of a plenteous unction. Choice spices were compounded with rarest art of the apothecary to form the anointing oil, to show forth to us how rich are all the influences of the Holy Spirit.

All good things are found in the divine Comforter. Matchless consolation, infallible instruction, immortal quickening, spiritual energy, and divine sanctification all lie compounded with other excellencies in that sacred eye-salve, the heavenly anointing oil of the Holy Spirit. It imparts a delightful fragrance to the character and person of the man upon whom it is poured. Nothing like it can be found in all the treasuries of the rich, or the secrets of the wise. It is not to be imitated. It comes alone from God, and it is freely given, through Jesus Christ, to every waiting soul. Let us seek it, for we may have it, may have it this very evening. O Lord, anoint thy servants.


-Charles Spurgeon link

Evolutionist Admits False Assertions Against CriticJim Brown
August 1, 2005

(AgapePress) - The head of a pro-evolution think tank has issued a retraction for factual misstatements and false allegations she made in an article attacking a California man who wants the scientific weaknesses of Darwin's theory of evolution taught in public school science classes.

In her retraction, director Eugenie Scott of the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) conceded that she wrongly accused Roseville attorney Larry Caldwell of submitting two books on young-Earth creation to the local school board for adoption -- one of which was published by the Jehovah's Witnesses. Scott also admits to erroneously claiming that a science expert found Caldwell to have "a gross misunderstanding of the nature of science."

Scott's retraction comes after Caldwell filed a libel lawsuit against the director and against the NCSE over the recent article she wrote, which was published in California Wild: the Magazine of the California Academy of Sciences, and which contained the false statements at the heart of the lawsuit. Caldwell says he was gratified to learn that the California Academy of Sciences was willing to publish the retraction. He feels even pro-evolution scientists must realize that the integrity of their position is at stake when false allegations and misinformation take the place of fair, rational, and well-informed debate.

The rest

Colo. Springs' evangelical image out of focus, officials believe
By Erin Emery
Denver Post Staff Writer

Colorado Springs - U.S. News has dubbed Colorado Springs the "Vatican of evangelical Christianity." The Los Angeles Times proclaimed it "ground zero" for the religious right, and Harper's magazine characterized the city as a "utopia in the making" for evangelicals.


While Colorado Springs is home to more than 100 evangelical Christian groups, from mom-and-pop outfits to the powerful Focus on the Family led by James Dobson, longtime residents and city insiders say the perception of evangelical domination is an oversimplification that has harmed the community economically, keeping businesses, medical professionals and tourists away.

Even the Rev. Ted Haggard, the pastor of the 11,000-member New Life Church who as president of the National Association of Evangelicals frequently talks to White House officials, thinks the perception is off the mark.

Story

Elective Bible Course Attacked by Christians
Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2005
Posted: 12:32:52PM EST

Elective courses in public schools that teach the Bible and its historical implications came under attack yesterday in Texas. This time, however, the opposition came in the form of "far left" Christians who said the courses promote a fundamentalist view and violate religious freedom.

The Texas Freedom Network, which includes clergy of several faiths, complained that an elective Bible Course offered by the Greensboro, N.C-based National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools is full of errors.

“When taught with credible materials and from a nonsectarian perspective, such courses are an appropriate and even laudable way to help students learn about history and literature,” the group stated. “However… the country’s most aggressively marketed - and perhaps most widely used - Bible curriculum fails on both counts.”

The National Council on Bible Curriculum offers its elective course in high schools and junior highs by more than 300 school districts in 37 states.

Story

Connecticut Bishop's Church Takeover Prompts Warning from Conservative Diocese Leaders
By Jim Brown
August 2, 2005

(AgapePress) - The seizure of a dissenting orthodox congregation's property by an Episcopal Church (USA) bishop in Connecticut has prompted nine conservative Episcopal bishops to write him a second open letter, this time threatening to take him to ecclesiastical court.

The conservative bishops wrote the letter to Connecticut's Bishop Andrew Smith after he ignored their pleas in April to cease persecution of six orthodox clergy members he had indicted for "abandoning the communion" after they opposed his stances on homosexual marriage and ordination of practicing homosexual priests. Last month Smith and 12 assistants took over the offices of St. John's Episcopal Church in Bristol, changing the locks, confiscating the computers, and replacing Rector Mark Hansen with a homosexuality-affirming female priest.

One of the aforementioned conservative church leaders, Bishop Bob Duncan of Pittsburgh, says the takeover of St. John's is evidence that the ECUSA is succumbing to secular and cultural pressures and further separating itself from the worldwide Anglican Communion. "What we're dealing with here in this parish," Duncan says, "is a battle for the soul of the Episcopal Church."

The rest

You may fancy the Lord had His own power to fall back upon. But that would have been to Him just the one dreadful thing. That His Father should forget him! -- no power in Himself could make up for that. He feared nothing for Himself; and never once employed His divine power to save Himself from His human fate. Let God do that for Him if He saw fit. He did not come into the world to take care of Himself... His life was of no value to Him but as His Father cared for it. God would mind all that was necessary for Him, and He would mind the work His Father had given Him to do. And, my friends, this is just the one secret of a blessed life, the one thing every man comes into this world to learn.

... George Macdonald, Annals of a Quiet Neighborhood

Discovery Astronauts Prepare for Repairs
Aug 2, 9:10 AM EDT
By PAM EASTON
Associated Press Writer

SPACE CENTER, Houston (AP) -- Discovery's astronauts are preparing for a high-stakes task that's never before been attempted: sending a spacewalker beneath the craft to repair filler sticking out from ship's thermal tile belly.

NASA says the protruding material could cause dangerous overheating during re-entry and lead to another Columbia-type disaster.

The agency will put astronaut Stephen Robinson on the space station's 58-foot robotic arm Wednesday as part of an unrehearsed maneuver. The arm will be operated by astronauts inside the station, who will bend and wrap Robinson around so he can reach the shuttle's belly.
Once there, he'll tug out the ceramic-fabric filler with his gloved hands. If that doesn't work, he'll cut away the material, which is sticking out about an inch from two spots near Discovery's nose.

Story

Lord of the heavens, we ask Your protection and blessing over the astronauts as they do what is necessary to insure their safety. We know all is in Your hands and we plead for their safe return to earth. In Jesus' name. Amen.


Iranian president praises suicide terror

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: 'Is there art more beautiful, more divine than... martyrdom?' ; vows: 'Islamic revolution will conquer world'
By Ynetnews

MEMRI , the Middle East translation service, has translated a video from Iranian state television in which the Iranian president-elect glorifies suicide terrorism, and expresses his desire to see Islam “conquer” the world.

Is there art that is more beautiful, more divine, and more eternal than the art of martyrdom?” said the new Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, on Iran's Channel 1 television station.

The rest

Terminally Ill Patients Can Be Starved to Death, UK Court Rules
Nicola Brent
Correspondent

(CNSNews.com) - An appeal court has denied a terminally ill British man the assurance that his wish not to be starved to death once he becomes incapacitated will be respected to the end.

Former mailman Leslie Burke, 45, has a progressively degenerative disease that although leaving him fully conscious, will eventually rob him of the ability to swallow and communicate.He petitioned the High Court last year to ensure that he would not be denied food and water once he was no longer able to articulate his wishes.

The rest

Physical Fitness: A Creepy Obsession?
August 2, 2005
Michael Medved

The always inventive Los Angeles Times recently discovered a new reason to despise President Bush: his personal commitment to physical fitness. Suggesting the chief executive's daily exercise routine represents an "obsession ... that borders on the creepy," columnist Jonathan Chait describes the notion of any connection between physical and mental fitness as "silly," comparing Bush to the "perfectly toned airheads in Hollywood."

Actually, the president's demanding exercise schedule reflects the key element of his mature personality, which is self-discipline. He runs or bicycles with the same reliability with which he prays and studies the Bible every morning, arrives early for every appointment and gets to bed by 10 p.m.

Most Americans consider such discipline a virtue, but liberal hatred for Bush is so intense that even his most admirable characteristics--consistency, determination, cheerfulness, deep religious faith, self-deprecating humor and, yes, remarkable physical fitness--become, for them the basis for contempt and derision.

Beyond The News

The Episcopal Church in Tatters
By Ben Joyner

I believe the Episcopal Church has already completely unraveled but it has not been acknowledged as yet. We witness bishops, in the name of preserving diversity and inclusiveness, using authoritarian tactics that would disgust all but a few of the most malicious among us.

These bishops act not as Shepherds of the Master they claim to serve but as petty lords over fiefdoms whose sole purpose is to maintain ham-fisted control over their real estate empires. This entitlement without responsibility mindset is exacerbated and encouraged by the timidity or outright silence of the vast majority of the House of Bishops.

It's a diocesan dole. They get paid handsomely but don't produce anything. Instead of preaching the Gospel they spend their time parsing canons to enhance their authority and run up an obscene amount of legal bills to justify their behavior. Some of them really would make Joseph Stalin proud.

When atrocities such as that which Bishop Andrew Smith of the diocese of Connecticut has committed against Fr. Mark Hansen and the parish of St. John's, Bristol, are tacitly tolerated by the HOB, respect for bishops is further eroded. Respect is not gained by employing despicable bully tactics in the name of a merciful Savior.

Nor is it enhanced by using a convoluted interpretation of canon laws that I dare say would even make Henry VIII blush with acute embarrassment. I pray that a spiritual awakening occurs to inspire these Bishops to behave as the chief pastors that they are supposed to be rather than as CEOs of corporations accountable to no one.

The rest at Connecticut Six

Monday, August 01, 2005

I love my God, but with no love of mine
For I have none to give;
I love Thee, Lord, but all that love is Thine,
For by Thy life I live.
I am as nothing, and rejoice to be
Emptied and lost and swallowed up in Thee.

... Mme. Guyon

Millions Are at Risk in Niger
August 1, 2005
by Pete Winn, associate editor

Drought, locusts combine to destroy crops in world's second-poorest country.
International aid ministries and organizations are working to avert a possible catastrophe in Africa.
More than 800,000 children in the nation of Niger are malnourished and in danger of starving to death over the next few months—in a nation where 3.5 million people are hungry or starving. It's all part of a natural crisis which has left crops and food at dangerously low levels in the North-African country.
Jules Frost, director of emergency response and disaster mitigation for World Vision, said the crisis in Niger is the result of several issues.
"In the last 12 to 18 months," Frost said, "they have suffered from a significant drought, as well as a locust invasion that basically resulted in the decimation of last year's crops."
Local food supplies have run out, government stocks of grain are exhausted and there are not enough seeds to plant for this year's harvest. Twenty percent of the country's inhabitants are already hungry.

the rest

'Fatwa’ by Muslim leaders against terrorism should address 100 verses in the Koran sanctioning violence, expert says
Jul 29, 2005
By Art Toalston

WASHINGTON (BP)--A “fatwa,” or religious edict, against terrorism by a council of Muslim scholars is something “we do indeed welcome,” a leading Baptist expert on Islam said, though noting that it falls short of effectively addressing the death and destruction wrought by Islamic radicals.

Anis Shorrosh, author of several books on Islam who, as an evangelist, has debated Muslim scholars in the United States, England, Canada and other countries, noted: “Muslim scholars worldwide must agree that the nearly 100 verses in the Qur’an [Koran] which promote fighting and killing can no longer be valid. Otherwise, terrorism by Muslim fanatics will continue until the end of time.”

Shorrosh cited one such Koranic verse: "I will strike terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Smite, then, the upper part of their necks and smite off all fingertips" (Surah 8:12 in the Koran).

Story

Bombay continues cleaning up from historic monsoon; Christians are on the front lines
August 1, 2005

India (MNN) -- More than 650 people have died as a result of monsoon rains that deluged western India last week, flooding the street of Bombay, a city of more than 17-million. The hardest hit part of the city was in the slums where the poor lost everything they had in the raging flood waters, the result of 37 inches of rain in 24 hours.

Hopegivers International's Samuel Thomas says while the flooding was terrible, what's to come will be even worse. "The worse part of the rain is that it will just mix up with the sewage water of the city. But, you will see all these orphan and abandoned children that live on the streets. To them, it's like having an Olympic sized swimming pool. But, as a result many sicknesses will be there. One of the things that really kills the people after a monsoon is cholera." Thomas fears that thousands of children will die because of this exposure.

Story

State Court Rules Backs Benefits for Domestic Partners
By John Spano, Times Staff Writer

A country club that granted married couples benefits it denied to gay couples registered as domestic partners was in violation of California civil rights laws, the California Supreme Court ruled this morning.

The wide-ranging ruling means that any benefits that California businesses provide to married couples must be offered to registered domestic partners.

The court struck down a policy by the Bernardo Heights Country Club in San Diego against admitting gay couples as members.

The decision, written by Justice Carlos R. Moreno, the court ruled that California's "policy favoring marriage is not served by denying registered domestic partners protection from discrimination under the Unruh Act," the state anti-discrimination law.

The ruling was a victory for Birgit Koebke and Kendall French. The two have been partners since 1993 and registered in California since 2000, according to the opinion.

Moreno wrote that "permitting a business to discriminate against registered domestic partners by denying them benefits or services it extends to spouses violates the comparable public policy favoring domestic partnership."

Story

30,000 Pentecostals Brace for General Council
More than 30,000 Pentecostals from around the nation are traveling to Denver, Colo., to prepare for the upcoming 51st Assemblies of God General Council, which opens tomorrow.
Monday, Aug. 1, 2005
Posted: 12:38:03PM EST

More than 30,000 Pentecostals from around the nation are traveling to Denver, Colo., to prepare for the upcoming 51st Assemblies of God General Council, which opens tomorrow.


The General Council is the business meeting for the U.S. Assemblies of God, which is part of the largest Pentecostal denomination in the world with nearly 53 million members. This week’s delegates will represent nearly 3 million members in over 12,000 churches in the States.

While the Council officially opens Tuesday night, early-attendants began registering on Sunday afternoon. Many of them will be taking part in the several pre-conference activities offered today, including a writer’s seminar for potential writers for church publications; the District Women’s Missionettes’ seminar, which seeks to train girls in the ministry; and the Festival of Fine Arts.

The Festival, one of the largest attractions at the Council, is expected to draw some 12,000 teens to participate. Throughout the Festival, teens will present their art and compete for the merit-based awards that will be presented at a rally on Saturday, August 6 at the Colorado Convention Center.

Rest of the story

Locating the Question
Anglican Essentials Canada

Feature Article: Locating the Question How are we to think about the present controversies in our Church and Communion? The presenting issue of same-sex blessings has given rise to ecclesiological issues about communion and schism and both these issues, in turn, relate to matters of scripture and doctrine. What follows is an attempt to provide a way of thinking about these concerns faithfully and respectfully.

The Connecticut Six Website

New alliance of traditionalists threatens truce
Number: 5779 Date: 29/07

The Anglican Church's uneasy truce could be broken by the formation of a new alliance for conservative Anglicans in the Americas and Caribbean. Two Primates from the region this week announced the plan to bring together conservative Anglicans from across the region in a deliberate snub to the liberal-leaning provinces of the Episcopal Church of the USA, the Anglican Church of Canada and the Brazilian Province. They argue that the initiative is to share in common mission and ministry, but state that it has become necessary “because of the confusion and theological chaos that has been introduced in the region by the unilateral actions” of the two North American provinces.

Church of England News

In the World, but Not of It
by Henry T. Blackaby

Excerpt:

"Sin, as God has defined it, unrestrained by the presence of godly people (when they cease to be salt and light) will be the ruin of a nation. However, God's people, when actively present and expressing freely their faith, are life that preserves a nation. The open and free witness of God's people is the key to a great nation, for it is then that God blesses a nation. History is witness to the nations and peoples who were richly blessed by God as they actively lived out their faith "in the world." God's people, freely sharing God's Good News, are like light that continually dispels the darkness. Americans have been that light, and America has been blessed because of it."

Meditation

NEVER PUT A WOOL SWEATER IN THE DRYER:THINGS YOUR CHILD NEEDS TO KNOW BEFORE THEY GO TO COLLEGE
Author Adam Erwin Reveals Wisdom for the Road Ahead

Minneapolis (July 27, 2005) – If recent statistics are any evidence, many of the 2.9 million high school graduates in 2005 are not ready for college life. Thirty-two percent of college students drop out within their first year. For those that survive, about 70 percent of students at four-year colleges have at least one credit card with an average balance of more than $2,000.

In his book “Wisdom for the Road Ahead: Walking with God While Walking on Campus,” author Adam Erwin provides Christ-centered wisdom to college-bound students on everything from credit cards to accountability. Based on advice Erwin received from more than 200 interviews with college students, “Wisdom for the Road Ahead” is several students’ answer to one question: If you had 30 minutes with a high school senior, what would you tell them about college?

Story

Hollywood disconnect
As we approach the fourth anniversary of 9/11, not a single major motion picture has been released that honors those fighting the Global War on Terror.
by Hugh Hewitt

The summer of '05 continues to be one big stretch of quicksand for Hollywood, as picture after picture disappoints then disappears. Dreamworks' The Island (see "
Movie review: The Island"), which cost $124 million, opened to a dismal $12.1 million box office on a weekend that saw all movies in theaters gross 9 percent less than the same period last year (see boxofficemojo.com).
Perhaps studio execs, flummoxed (and even panicked?) by an eroding appeal, should convene a big think and ask what is going on. One speculation: The public knows there's a war going on, but Hollywood doesn't. As we approach the fourth anniversary of 9/11, not a single major motion picture has been released that honors the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines who are fighting the distant battles, or the terrorist trackers at home.

Commentary

A Place for the King: The Biblical Foundation for Worship
Jack Hayford
The Living Way

Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. ~~ 2 Peter 2:4–5

The living God dwells where His people worship, and life happens where He dwells. It is my conviction, therefore, that the life-flow of a church congregation will rise only as high as their worship of the Godhead. We cannot underestimate the importance of teaching the Word of God, but the Word itself reveals that worship is what the Church is all about.

The book of Ephesians says that we who trust in Christ are to be “to the praise of His glory” (1:12), “built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit” (2:22). Peter describes the people of God as “living stones . . . being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood” (1 Peter 2:5). Each member of the Body is a part of the temple of the Lord, summoned to be a “living stone” of His dwelling.

The rest

Don't Add Yoga to Christian Prayers
by J. Grant Swank, Jr.
Sunday, July 31, 2005 02:26:45 AM

If yoga were a part of Christian prayer life, the Bible would have instructed Christians in yoga. But the Bible does not do that. Therefore, taking yoga into a so-called Christian prayer is nonsense and may be worse. It could open the spirit to demonic spirits. Yoga is not of Judeo-Christian origin. It is of other religions origin. Not good.

If that sounds too way out, consider this: In the Bible, the Lord has provided every bit of information necessary regarding communicating with Him. There is absolutely no mention of yoga. There is mention of meditation, intercession, agonizing in prayer as Jesus did in all-night prayer, praise in prayer, practical praying such as mentioning specific needs and expectations, and so forth.If God had meant for yoga to be a divinely recognized prayer exercise, He would have included that mode in His revealed truth. However, God has not done that. Because of that, biblical Christians call the matter over and out. Done with. No more discussion necessary.

The rest

Bishops Challenge Seizure of Connecticut Parish
27th July, A.D. 2005

A Second Open Letter to the Bishop and Standing Committee of Connecticut:
(The first letter, sent April 14th, is available
here)

Dear Bishop Andrew and Brothers and Sisters of the Standing Committee,

Seventeen bishops, thirteen of them diocesans, wrote you on the 14th of April. We wrote you about the very public conflict between you, the Bishop and Standing Committee, and six Connecticut parishes.


In April we pled that you might turn back from this conflict. We asked whether it was not Bishop Andrew's actions that had abandoned the (Anglican) Communion: participation in the New Hampshire consecration, ordination of same-sex partnered clergy, and refusal to allow appeal to the Panel of Reference. We called on you as Bishop and Standing Committee to turn back from continued abuse and mis-application of the Canon on Abandonment of Communion [Title IV, Canon 10] in dealing with these six parishes and their clergy.

On July 13th Bishop Andrew led a team who invaded St. John's, Bristol, confiscated their buildings and accounts, and -- without vestry consultation -- installed a priest-in-charge. All of these things were done under the pretext of abandonment of communion, the Standing Committee having indicted the clergy of all six parishes on that charge on April 29th.

The rest at the ACN website

Model Presentment Against Bishop Andrew Smith of Connecticut
Brad Drell @ 8:20 pm

While not in the form of a presentment (although if you need one, you can get a form
here), here is my legal analysis of the various violations on the Canons by Bishop Smith in his recent actions as regards St. John’s, Bristol, Connecticut. None of these violations are doctrinal (due to Stanton v. Righter), and so this isn’t a very exciting document, to be sure. But, if you recall the movie, the Untouchables, while tax evasion isn’t sexy, it put Capone away. While these offenses aren’t as sexy as holding a doctrine contrary to the church, they might actually stick.
All Canonical cites are from
Canon IV of the Canons of the Episcopal Church, unless otherwise stated.

Canon 1, Section 1, lists offenses.

Subsection (f) is the violation of the canons of a local Diocese.
Canon I of the Diocese of Connecticut provides in part: “Section 9. The property and all business affairs of the Parish shall be subject to the direction, management, and control of the Vestry; except that the election of a Rector, the disposition of the real estate of the Parish and the borrowing or lending of money shall not he within the control of the Vestry, unless by special vote of the Parish: provided, that in accordance with Title III, Canon 14, Section 1(c.) of the “Canons of the General Convention, the Rector shall at all times, be entitled to the use and control of the Church and Parish buildings, with the appurtenances and furniture thereof, for the purposes of his office and for the full and free discharge of all functions and duties pertaining thereto.” Bishop Smith has unlawfully interfered with the vestry in the discharge of their duties as regards the buildings of the parish by taking possession of same, changing the locks, and interfering with access (the security guards).

The rest @ Drell's Descants