Saturday, December 10, 2005

Come Away By Yourselves

“Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” (Mark 6:31a) These words of Jesus are very challenging in today’s world. He said this to His apostles during His earthly ministry when the demands of the ministry were so great that the Scripture says, “For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.” (Mark 6:31b)

Meditation continues at MannaWord


MannaWord is a new blog started by Iris Godfrey, whom I always call "my" Bible teacher. I have sat under her teachings for many years now and I know you will be blessed by her writings and will want to bookmark her site.-PD

Friday, December 09, 2005

Though Christ a thousand times
In Bethlehem be born,
If he's not born in thee
Thy soul is still forlorn.

The cross on Golgotha
Will never save thy soul;
The cross in thy own heart
Alone can make thee whole.

anonymous, 3rd century

Catholics forming more megachurches to deal with priest shortage
December 9, 2005

SAN ANTONIO - The noise of chatting parishioners saturates the foyer after the five weekend Masses at St. Mark the Evangelist Catholic Church.

Busy parents sympathize with one another. Kids find new playmates. And singles meet other singles.

The foyer helps the 5,000 worshippers each weekend preserve their sense of community. The fast-growing congregation decided five years ago to expand into a 1,500-seat sanctuary instead of splitting into two separate congregations and search for an available priest among a shrinking pool.

Catholic churches are joining their Protestant counterparts across the country in creating megachurches - where thousands, sometimes tens of thousands, of parishioners worship together. But unlike the Protestant churches that use high-profile, evangelistic campaigns to grow, dioceses say it is too few priests and too many worshippers that drives their expansion.
The rest

Former Bishop of Durham gives backing to clergy civil partnership
Date: Dec 9
By Alex Delmar-Morgan

ON THE first day homosexual couples will be able to ‘marry’ legally, the former Bishop of Durham, the Rt Rev David Jenkins, will publicly support a blessing given to a priest entering into a civil partnership. Speaking at a celebratory church service on December 21 he will ‘praise up’ the couple whom he has known for many years. Bishop Jenkins’s decision to formally support a blessing of a gay civil partnership is out of kilter with the instruction made by the House of Bishops that civil contracts should not be confused with a religious ceremony. Bishops have also ruled that gay couples cannot have their civil union blessed in church. Although Bishop Jenkins is only backing the blessing in his church sermon, many will still see this as crossing the boundaries of what is acceptable in the eyes of bishops. He did express his desire to give a full blessing when the right opportunity arose. While whipping up fresh debate over civil partnerships, the move is likely to enrage traditionalists.

the rest

Target, Sears boycotts end
Retailers agree to bring back Christmas themes this season
Posted: December 9, 20055:00 p.m. Eastern

In a mid-season turnabout, Target stores have pledged to re-introduce Christmas themes into marketing efforts, prompting the
American Family Association to officially drop its boycott.

"We are pleased to learn that Target has heard our concerns and decided to use Christmas in their advertising and marketing efforts," said AFA Chairman Donald E. Wildmon. "Since the company has responded positively, we see no need to continue the boycott."

U.S. Losing Control of Internet
December 09, 2005 09:30 AM EST
by Cliff Kincaid

"U.S. Keeps its Control of Internet" was a typical headline when stories appeared about the end of the U.N.'s World Summit on the Information Society. A UPI story put it this way:

"The United States kept control of the Internet at an international meeting about how cyberspace should be run." But such stories and headlines were extremely misleading. It wasn't emphasized that the conference agreed to put U.N. boss Kofi Annan in charge of an "Internet Governance Forum" to decide the future of the World Wide Web.

You had to read to the end of the stories and understand the fine print. For instance, the UPI story noted that the "deal" left the current regime in place but established "two sets of multilateral talks, one focused on oversight and public policy issues, the other on problems like spam, security issues and viruses…" That's U.N. doublespeak designed to conceal what will be going on behind the scenes.

Rediscovering a Gripping Gospel Through The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
By Dr. Marc T. Newman
December 9, 2005

(AgapePress) - The Church of the Cinema does at least one thing better than most evangelicals: it remembers how to bring to life a passionate drama. While disputes over doctrine are important, some churches have become so preoccupied with in-house debates that they have forgotten that Christianity begins with a story. Before we can care about the Deity of Christ, we must first come to believe the narrative of His incarnation, life, death, and resurrection. His story is true, and it should grip the soul. But sometimes, in our desire to get to the graduate-level theological detail, we rush over the story -- and our tale of the Gospel has all the allure of a badly-written history text.

C.S. Lewis recognized this tendency within his own denomination, so he crafted a story designed to slip past the "watchful dragons" of church-enforced "sanctimony" and restore the Gospel's innate passion, potency, and sense of adventure. Lewis wanted children (and adults with the eyes to see) to meet Jesus in fiction so that when they encountered Him in fact they would not merely acknowledge Him, but love Him.
The rest

Israelis to be allowed euthanasia by machine
By Tim Butcher in Jerusalem
(Filed: 08/12/2005)

Machines will perform euthanasia on terminally ill patients in Israel under legislation devised not to offend Jewish law, which forbids people taking human life.

A special timer will be fitted to a patient's respirator which will sound an alarm 12 hours before turning it off.

Normally, carers would override the alarm and keep the respirator turned on but, if various stringent conditions are met, including the giving of consent by the patient or legal guardian, the alarm would not be overridden.

Similar timing devices, known as Sabbath clocks, are used in the homes of orthodox Jews so that light switches and electrical devices can be turned on during the Sabbath without offending religious strictures.
The rest

Schiavo's Widower Starts PAC
By Tamara Lytle,
Orlando Sentinel

WASHINGTON — Michael Schiavo, who fought for years to remove his wife, Terri, from a feeding tube that kept her alive, has turned his anger over Congress' intervention into political action.Schiavo announced Wednesday that he had opened TerriPAC to strike back at politicians who tried to keep his brain-damaged wife alive through legislation that he termed a "sickening exercise in raw political power."

Throughout the years, Schiavo maintained that his wife would not have wanted to be kept alive artificially after being robbed of her brain function. Her parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, had sought to keep the feeding tube in and had rallied antiabortion forces to their side.

Judge throws out Quran oath lawsuit, saying suit lacks standing
Associated Press

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - A judge threw out an ACLU lawsuit aimed at allowing the use of non-Christian religious texts in courtroom oaths, saying the civil liberties group had no active case to argue.

Superior Court Judge Donald Smith, who is based in Raleigh, revealed his decision to lawyers in the case on Thursday. A written ruling was to follow.

The North Carolina chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union sued in Guilford County in July, saying it was acting on behalf of members statewide who prefer to swear courtroom oaths on religious texts other than the Bible.
The rest

How can we know that what Jesus has shown us of God is the truth; or how do we know when we look into the face of Jesus that we are looking into the face of God? The answer is so plain and simple that it is a marvel how intelligent men can manage to miss it as they do. Look at what Christ has done for the soul of man: that is your answer. Christianity is just Christ --nothing more and nothing less. It is a way of life, and He is that way. It is the truth about human destiny, and He is that truth.

... R. J. Campbell, The Call of Christ

Worth revisiting: The Pattern of Christian Truth
by Timothy George
First Things, June/July 2005

Excerpt: "A Church that cannot distinguish heresy from truth, or, even worse, a Church that no longer thinks this is worth doing, is a Church which has lost its right to bear witness to the transforming Gospel of Jesus Christ who declared himself to be not only the Way and the Life, but also the Truth."

This essay is a brilliant discussion of how three heretics of the early church, Marcion, Arius and Pelagius, made the Church respond to their heresies with the truth of the Christian faith, mainly through its confessions and creeds. This is not only ancient history, but rather something that could be compared to the Church's struggles today to assert the orthodox faith. -PD

Article here

Thursday, December 08, 2005

The Fullness of Time
Betsy Childs

God does not abhor waiting as most of us do. He doesn't rush the seasons, and his vision is so far-sighted that He is willing to spend generations unfolding his plans, the symmetry and justice of which can often only be seen in hindsight.By human standards, it took God a very long time to fulfill his promises to send a redeemer to his people. We first get an inkling that God has a redemptive plan in motion when he prophecies that the descendant of Adam would crush the head of the serpent's offspring. Slowly, over centuries, God revealed bits and pieces of what this person would be like. The feast of Passover, the Temple sacrifices, and the words spoken by the prophets all build a cumulative idea of The Anointed One who would be the hope of Israel.

Meditation continues. Art

To wait open-endedly is an enormously radical attitude toward life. So is to trust that something will happen to us that is far beyond our imaginings. So, too, is giving up control over our future and letting God define our life, trusting that God molds us according to God's love and not according to our fear. The spiritual life is a life in which we wait, actively present to the moment, trusting that new things will happen to us, new things that are far beyond our own imagination, fantasy, or prediction. That, indeed, is a very radical stance toward life in a world preoccupied with control.
Henri J. M. Nouwen Nouwen Centre

Walgreens Demands Dispensing of Abortion Drugs, Pharmacists Allege
Thursday, Dec. 8, 2005
Posted: 12:12:37PM EST

Walgreens has been charged with alleged unlawful religious discrimination after firing three Illinois pharmacists who requested to be accommodated for their religious objections when dispensing the “morning after pill.”

The pharmacists say that because of their religious beliefs they cannot give out drugs such as the “morning after pill” and “Plan B.” Because they believe life begins at conception, they say such drugs would cause them to participate in an act equivalent to abortion, according to the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), the group representing the plaintiffs. The group filed the charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in St. Louis.
The rest

Woman Sues Scottish Abortionists for Support of Surviving Twin
By Hilary White
PERTH, December 7, 2005

( - A Scottish court has set a date for the case of a woman seeking damages from her abortionist for failing to kill both of her twin daughters. Stacy Dow is suing the Perth Royal Infirmary after the hospital sent her home still pregnant with the surviving child, Jayde, now four.

“I have got a child now that I wasn't planning to have and I believe the hospital should take some responsibility for that,” Dow told a London newspaper in April.

Perth Sheriff Court set has set March 2006 as the date for the case in which Dow is seeking £250,000 for the “financial burden” of her surviving child. Dow had been told that no “live material” had survived the procedure.
The rest

Christian conservatives push U.S. companies on gay rights
By The Associated Press

One conservative Christian group's crusade against corporate support of gay rights appears to be ending while another is just beginning.

The American Family Association, based in Tupelo, Miss., says it is cancelling a proposed boycott of Ford Motor
(F), which the organization announced in May but suspended until this month. The group had criticized Ford for recruiting gay employees and offering benefits to same-sex couples.

Meanwhile, the conservative Christian group Focus on the Family, based in Colorado Springs, says it is withdrawing its funds from Wells Fargo
(WFC) because of the San Francisco bank's support of gay organizations. the rest

Darkness At Noon: The Commission of a Post-Compliant Church
Thursday, December 08, 2005

As the late Allan Bloom noted, a mind resolutely determined to be absolutely open is often, in actuality, quite closed. The closing of the postmodern mind will present a challenge for the church in this post-Christian age. Swirling worldviews and a reflexive relativism come together to form a mentality often closed to all substantive truth claims. Gathering clouds of darkness and the eclipse of truth present the believing church with a great challenge – will we surrender in a spirit of cultural compliance?

We must recognize that the church has been compliant for far too long, and if we are effectively to challenge the prevailing worldview of postmodern culture, the church must become a post-compliant people. What will it take for Christians in this generation to be awakened out of complacency and compliance? If we are complacent in this culture, if we are compliant in the face of its demands and expectations, then there will be no preaching of the gospel. There will be no authentic church. There will be no authentic Christian witness. We will withdraw into our Christian cave, and we will cower there. We will not witness, we will not work--we will simply retreat.

The rest:
Albert Mohler-Excellent!

School Okays 'Christmas Witch,' Menorahs; Rewrites 'Silent Night'Secularized Lyrics 'Mock' Christian Christmas Carols, Says Liberty Counsel
By Jim Brown
December 8, 2005

(AgapePress) - The "war against Christmas" rages on. A Wisconsin elementary school has changed the song "Silent Night" to "Cold in the Night," and secularized the lyrics.

Ridgeway Elementary School in Dodgeville may be taking a cue from the White House, which as been sending out greeting cards in the last few weeks, wishing recipients a happy "Holiday Season" rather than "Merry Christmas." The school's "Winter Program" features a secularized version of the traditional Christmas carol "Silent Night" with the following lyrics:
Cold in the night, no one in sight;Winter winds whirl and bite.How I wish I were happy and warm,Safe with my family out of the storm.

A concerned parent whose child attends Ridgeway Elementary contacted the Florida-based
Liberty Counsel, which has contacted the school. The legal group's president and general counsel, Mat Staver, explains that as part of its program, the school has also included decorations from other holiday themes. the rest

From the burnt wreckage of a church, a sign of hope in one Islamic nation
The Times
December 08, 2005
Rowan Williams

LAST MONTH the longstanding tensions between Christians and Muslims in the Punjab erupted yet again into violence. The small rural community of Sangla Hills witnessed the burning of churches and Bibles and the terrorising of the (mostly Catholic) Christian population. The village’s name is on everyone’s lips in Pakistan.

In itself the violence was not as bad as some other incidents in recent years, when there have been savage killings — though it was probably only a matter of chance (or providence?) that things did not get further out of hand. What has made it exceptional is not the level of brutality but the significance it has acquired at a sensitive moment in Pakistan’s history.
The rest

Ruth Gledhill Commentary: Here
Blessed are the peacemakers
Excerpt: "When Rowan Williams first came to the attention of the world's media as the most likely candidate for Archbishop of Canterbury, the image that most captured international imagination was that of the bearded peacenik, stopping to talk to and dole out cash to the homeless on the streets of Oxford and Cambridge. Although graphically Christ-like in its self-humbling embracing of poverty and low-status lifestyle, the thought of such a man sitting in the ancient throne of St Augustine at Canterbury was not something that met with totally unmitigated joy in some of the more elevated echelons of the established Church. Yet now the early promise shows by Dr Williams is being fulfilled. Nowhere was this better witnessed than in the extroardinary success of his visit to Pakistan. He has written about it in The Times oped columns
today.Call me hopelessly optimistic, but could we have a future Nobel peace prize winner heading the Church here? "

Mass. Changes Emergency Contraception Rules
Posted on 12/08/2005

BOSTON -- Gov. Mitt Romney abandoned plans Thursday to exempt Roman Catholic and other private hospitals from a new law requiring them to dispense emergency contraception to rape victims.

Romney had initially backed regulations proposed earlier this week by his public health commissioner, Paul Cote Jr., who said the new law conflicted with an older law barring the state from forcing private hospitals to dispense contraceptive devices or information.

The Republican governor, who is considering a run for president in 2008, said at a news conference Thursday morning that he asked his legal advisers to review the matter after members of both parties criticized the regulations. He said the lawyers determined that the new law superseded the old law and that all hospitals should be required to offer the so-called "morning after pill."
The rest

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

"Conviction of sin is one of the rarest things that ever strikes a man. It is the threshold of an understanding of God. Jesus Christ said that when the Holy Spirit came He would convict of sin, and when the Holy Spirit rouses a man's conscience and brings him into the presence of God, it is not his relationship with men that bothers him, but his relationship with God - "against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Thy sight." The marvels of conviction of sin, forgiveness, and holiness are so interwoven that it is only the forgiven man who is the holy man, he proves he is forgiven by being the opposite to what he was, by God's grace. Repentance always brings a man to this point: I have sinned. The surest sign that God is at work is when a man says that and means it. Anything less than this is remorse for having made blunders, the reflex action of disgust at himself. "
Oswald Chambers

We can be assured that each step deeper into the Lord's Presence will reveal areas in our hearts which need to be cleansed. Do not be afraid. When the Spirit shows you areas of sin, it is not to condemn you, but to cleanse you.
Francis Frangipane

Canada: House of Bishops told: Anglicans in steep decline
Sue Careless

A retired business consultant warned the Canadian House of Bishops, “Your church is in crisis. It can’t be business as usual.”

Keith McKerracher, the creator of Participaction, told the Canadian House of Bishops recently that membership in the Anglican Church of Canada has been in “steep decline” and that this decline is “accelerating.”

McKerracher noted there had been a 52 percent decline in the parish rolls in the 40-year-period between 1961 and 2001. Attendance figures for the United, Presbyterian and Lutheran churches also plunged but “In the race to the bottom, we’re leading.” The Pentecostals reported phenomenal growth, while the Baptists had a modest decline.

In 1961 there were 1,358,459 Anglicans on parish rolls but in 2001 only 641,845. In the decade 1981-1991 there had been a sharp drop of 13 percent. As serous as this was, during 1991-2001 there was an alarming 20 percent decline. In the 2001 census, 2,035,500 Canadians claimed Anglican affiliation but most never entered an Anglican church.

The rest:
The Anglican Planet

Holy family, Magi nixed from nativity
Library says figures would be 'inappropriate,' action leaves just farm animals, shepherd boy

Posted: December 7, 20051:00 a.m. Eastern

Saying it would be "inappropriate" to include them,
Memphis, Tenn., library officials have banned Mary, Joseph, Jesus and the wise men from a promotional nativity scene – leaving only the stable animals and a shepherd boy.

Attorneys from the
Alliance Defense Fund say they are working to "educate" the officials about their action, saying the exclusion of the figurines is blatantly unconstitutional.


My Soul's Dark Night
The best of evangelicalism didn't prepare me for this struggle.
By Charles Colson with Anne Morse

I am a product of the best in evangelicalism: converted 32 years ago in a flood of tears after hearing the gospel, discipled by a strong prayer group, taught by great theologians. I know the strength of evangelicalism in bringing people to an intimate relationship with Jesus.

But what happens when you have relied on this intimacy and the day comes when God seems distant? What happens in the dark night of the soul?

I found out this past year. Weeks after finishing The Good Life, my son Wendell was diagnosed with bone cancer. The operation to remove a malignant tumor took 10 hours—the longest day of my life. Wendell survived, but he's still in chemo.

I had barely caught my breath when my daughter, Emily, was diagnosed with melanoma.
The rest

St. Ambrose

Where a man’s heart is, there is his treasure also. God is not accustomed to refusing a good gift to those who ask for one. Since he is good, and especially to those who are faithful to him, let us hold fast to him with all our soul, our heart, our strength, and so enjoy his light and see his glory and possess the grace of supernatural joy. Let us reach out with our hearts to possess that good, let us exist in it and live in it, let us hold fast to it, that good which is beyond all we can know or see and is marked by perpetual peace and tranquillity, a peace which is beyond all we can know or understand.
Meditation continues. Art

Important Meetings Begin in Chicago and London

The future of the Anglican Communion and the Episcopal Church’s place within it may become a little clearer following important meetings which began today in Chicago and London.

An ad hoc group of bishops from the Episcopal Church are meeting in Chicago from Dec. 6 to 8. The meeting is expected to continue conversation which began among 19 invited bishops from across the theological spectrum who reported “frank, respectful” discussion “on a variety of issues that have caused pain and dissension within the Episcopal Church” at the conclusion of a July 18-21 meeting in Los Angeles. Information on the bishops attending the meeting in Chicago was not available at press time.

In London, the Lambeth design group, a group of eight primates, bishops and lay people from across the Anglican Communion, met today to develop an invitation list and an agenda for the 2008 Lambeth Conference of Bishops.

the rest

Darkness At Noon: The Closing of the Postmodern Mind
Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The prophet Joel spoke of a day when the sun would be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood. This picture--besides giving us a glimpse of that terrible, coming Day of the Lord in judgment--is also a graphic picture of our own times. Even today, in the gathering clouds of our culture, we see darkness at noon.

One of the central realities of this darkness is the dawning of a post-Christian culture – and a central reality of our emerging culture is the closing of the postmodern mind. Something is happening to the worldview, the mentality, and the consciousness of this age. If we listen closely, we can hear something like the closing of a steel door -- a solemn, cataclysmic slamming of a door. We have been watching the postmodern mind in its development, and it is now well developed. Not only do we see the themes of postmodernity taking hold of the larger culture, but we understand the challenge this pattern of thinking poses to Christian truth and Christian truth-telling. Tolerance is perverted into a radical secularism that is anything but tolerant. There is little openness to truth, and growing hostility to truth claims. Indeed, the postmodern mind has a fanatical, if selective, dedication to moral relativism, and an understanding that truth has no objective or absolute basis whatsoever.

Continued from yesterday-excellent! Albert Mohler

Bay State ECUSA Bishop Draws Conservative Anglican Condemnation
Canon Decries Massachusetts Cleric's Involvement in Same-Sex 'Wedding' Celebration
By Jim Brown
December 6, 2005

(AgapePress) - A conservative Anglican theologian is denouncing the Episcopal Bishop of Massachusetts, Bishop Thomas Shaw, for presiding over a so-called "nuptial mass" for a homosexual couple immediately after their "wedding." Shaw recently celebrated the Eucharist, the Episcopal rite of Holy Communion, at the same-sex wedding of two men who, reportedly, had their first date in a monastery.

According to Anglican insider David Virtue, Bishop Shaw is "a leading contender to replace Frank Griswold as Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church." But Anglican theologian Dr. Kendall Harmon says the Massachusetts church leader has chosen to ignore a document addressing the crisis in the worldwide Anglican Communion, the "Windsor Report," which calls on the Episcopal Church to stop blessing same-sex unions.

"The Bishop of Massachusetts, by doing this, is again showing tremendous disrespect for the rest of the Anglican Communion, who have been pleading for restraint on the part of the Episcopal Church," Harmon says. "It's just another example of the Western arrogance that is underneath so much of the Episcopal Church's actions, and they're making a bad situation much worse."
The rest

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

'God has set a Savior against sin, a heaven against a hell, light against darkness, good against evil, and the breadth and length and depth and height of grace that is in Himself for my good, against all the power and strength and subtlety of every enemy.'" John Bunyon

When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. (Isaiah 43:2)

No Gay Marriage in the Church of South Africa

The Anglican Church of the Province of Southern Africa will not conform its liturgy to a new law legalizing civil same-sex marriage, according to the Primate, Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane of Cape Town.

In a statement released on Dec. 1, Archbishop Ndungane said the ruling by the Johannesburg-based Constitutional Court “does not compel any religious denomination or minister of religion to approve or perform same-sex marriages.”

The court decision, which directs the South African Parliament to amend its marriage laws within 12 months, makes South Africa the fifth country, after the Netherlands, Canada, Spain and Belgium to broaden its definition of marriage to include same-sex couples.
The rest

Courts confused on state-church issues
Russ Pulliam

Federal Judge David Hamilton has shown why the U.S. Supreme Court needs to take a new look at its rulings on freedom of religion.

Hamilton has put the federal judiciary in the awkward and dubious position of censoring the prayers used to open daily sessions of the state House of Representatives. He has ordered House Speaker Brian Bosma to make sure the opening prayers don't mention the name of Christ. His ruling came in response to a lawsuit by the Indiana Civil Liberties Union, which contended that prayers in the name of Jesus would alienate some citizens.

Judge Hamilton has skated onto thin judicial ice with this ruling, in terms of the separation of powers among the three branches of government.
The rest

Student Banned from Giving Bible Studies in Dorm Sues University
Monday, Dec. 5, 2005
Posted: 7:48:46PM EST

A student who was banned from teaching Bible studies in his dorm room sued the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire for free speech and religious freedom violations, according to a lawsuit filed in a U.S. District Court.

Darkness At Noon: A Post-Christian Age
Tuesday, December 06, 2005

We are an affluent and comfortable people. We live in the midst of freedom as championed by those who established this nation and defined by successive generations, not only in terms of the originating vision of freedom, but now an ever-expanding understanding of liberty. We live in a time of prosperity; we live in a time of trouble. It all depends upon how you look at the world around us.

It is good for Christians to take some time to look at the trouble, for all around us are a darkening sky and gathering clouds. As we engage this culture and look at it honestly, we must sense that something has happened -- and is even now happening -- in our culture. These major shifts and changes will change everything we know about ministry in terms of the challenge before us and will draw out the reality of who the church is in the midst of a gathering conflict. Clouds are darkening.

We are no longer seeing the first signs of cultural trouble, but rather the indicators of advanced decay. The reality is that people now do not even know what they have lost, much less that they themselves are lost.

Don't miss the rest! Albert Mohler-excellent

Teaming up for prayer
By Nancy Armour
December 6, 2005

There are signs of faith and prayer everywhere you look in sports these days.

Players kneeling in prayer on the field after NFL games. Fingers pointed skyward after home runs, touchdowns and victories. Signs for chapel services in baseball clubhouses. Bible study and Christian fellowship groups at high school and college campuses across the country.

"I don't think a relationship with the Lord only occurs in church or only in your own private lives," says University of Washington basketball coach Lorenzo Romar. "Every moment you walk, you want to live in such a manner that you are acknowledging God's presence. ... I don't think we turn it on and off."

But not everyone is comfortable getting God into the game. Five years after the Supreme Court reaffirmed a ban on officially sponsored prayer in public schools with a ruling that said students couldn't lead crowds in prayer before football games, the question of who can pray together -- and how -- is far from settled.

Mom seeks to euthanize girl she gave up
By Adam Gorlick
December 6, 2005

WESTFIELD, Mass. -- Allison Avrett's photos show her daughter Haleigh as a smiling little girl with brown bangs hanging over her squinting eyes.

Those pictures were taken before Mrs. Avrett gave up Haleigh for adoption five years ago, and long before the purported beating that landed the 11-year-old in a hospital attached to the ventilator and feeding tube.

Now, with Haleigh's doctors saying she will never recover from her vegetative state, the child is at the center of a life-and-death legal struggle.

The state Department of Social Services, which has had custody of Haleigh since she was hospitalized Sept. 11, wants to remove her from life support.
the rest

Kitschmas gifts for the faithful

Religious believers looking for the perfect gift to give their loved ones can this year choose between the Miracle Wheel that “turns water into wine”, the Mosque Clock that delivers a muezzin chant at prayer times or Thongs of Praise underwear adorned with slogans such as “No Vow No Sex” or “I’m Saving It”. The Top 12 “ Kitschmas” gifts have been assembled by Ship of Fools, the satirical Christian website.

Check out the rest here at the Ship of Fools Website

Red crystal to be adopted as new symbol protecting medical staff on the battlefield
By Anton La Guardia Diplomatic Editor
(Filed: 06/12/2005)

The decades-old row over humanitarian symbols is likely to be resolved as early as today, with the "Red Crystal" approved for use alongside the Red Crescent and the Red Cross.

Opening a special conference of the 192 signatories of the Geneva Conventions, the Swiss foreign minister, Micheline Calmy-Rey, yesterday expressed confidence that delegates would recognise the diamond-shaped sign.

"The adoption of an
additional emblem free of any national, political or religious connotation will put at our disposal an additional instrument for the protection of both civilian and military health services on the field of battle," she told the gathering in Geneva.

She said that the new emblem - a thick red square tilted on its edge - would protect humanitarian workers where the existing symbols "are not sufficiently recognised and respected".
The rest

Christmas carols banned, but Hanukkah songs OK
District axes 'dogmatic religious statements,' yet suggesting Jewish themes more cultural
Posted: December 6, 20051:00 a.m. Eastern

Religious-liberty attorneys have contacted a Wisconsin school district that consistently forbids Christian Christmas carols from being sung in music programs but finds nothing wrong with Hanukkah songs.

According to law firm
Liberty Counsel, the Glendale-River Hills School District of Glendale, Wis., has a written policy saying songs with "dogmatic religious statements" are strictly forbidden. Story

UK: School ban on girl wearing cross 'discriminatory'
By Nick Britten
(Filed: 06/12/2005)

A mother accused her daughter's school of discriminating against Christians yesterday after the teenager was suspended for refusing to take off a crucifix necklace.

Sam Morris, 16, was sent home from Sinfin Community School in Derby for breaking a school policy that bans jewellery.

Last night her mother, Debra, said that Sikh children were allowed to wear a steel bracelet, known as a kara, for religious reasons and said her daughter had every right to express her faith.

Education officials were unrepentant, however, and said that Sikhs are required by religion to wear items of jewellery, whereas Christians are not.

Law Firm Helps Michigan Family Win Fight Over Yard Nativity Scene
By Allie MartinDecember 5, 2005

(AgapePress) - A Michigan family threatened by the company that manages their housing subdivision with hundreds of dollars in fines for placing a Nativity scene in their yard will be allowed to keep the holiday display after all.

Diocese of CNY
From Fr. Tony Seel's Blog- Orthony
Parish-St Andrew's, Vestal, NY

Sunday, December 04, 2005

From the Bishop of Central New York:"If only in the Church we had more dialogue, even argument, even convention resolutions and biblical wrangling over these matters of justice which seem most important to Jesus, then perhaps I could take more seriously and be more tolerant of our seeming fixation on matters of sex." 2005 Diocesan Address

Fixation on matters of sex? Did the bishop really say that? Yes, in his convention address, he said that. Now, let us ask, over the last 40 years, who in ECUSA has been fixated on sex? Of course, it has been liberals, like our bishop, led by Integrity, the homo-sex lobbying group in ECUSA.

Let's consider the words "take more seriously." Is this an admission by the bishop that he doesn't take orthodox Christians seriously? There have been convention resolutions and biblical wrangling on human sexuality for many years now. As has been said frequently since the General Convention 2003, the dialogue and arguments came down to the Anglican Communion telling ECUSA not to proceed with the consecration of VGR or the blessing of same sex unions. Did our bishop really need to vote for both of these, particulary since he characterizes the issues surrounding human sexuality the way that he does in his convention address? Possibly he was in his not taking orthodox Christians seriously mode when he voted against the express position of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Primates, the Lambeth Conference and the Anglican Consultive Council. What point is there in dialogue when one side (the liberals like our bishop)do not listen - do not even take us seriously?

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Raised as Catholic in Belgium, She Died as a Muslim Bomber
Published: December 6, 2005

MONCEAU-SUR-SAMBRE, Belgium, Dec. 5 - Muriel Degauque, believed to be the first European Muslim woman to stage a suicide attack, started out life as a good Roman Catholic girl in this coal mining corner of Belgium known as the black country. She ended it in a grisly blast deep inside Iraq last month.

Ms. Degauque, 38, detonated her explosive vest amid an American military patrol in the town of Baquba on Nov. 9, wounding one American soldier, according to an account received from the State Department and given to the Federal Police in Belgium.

Her unlikely journey into militant Islam stunned Europe and for many people was an incomprehensible aberration, a lost soul led astray. But her story supports fears among many law enforcement officials and academics that converts to Europe's fastest-growing religion could bring with them a disturbing new aspect in the war on terror: Caucasian women committed to one of the world's deadliest causes.
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Monday, December 05, 2005

The birth of Christ in our souls is for a purpose beyond ourselves: it is because his manifestation in the world must be through us. Every Christian is, as it were, part of the dust-laden air which shall radiate the glowing epiphany of God, catch and reflect his golden Light. Ye are the light of the world – but only because you are enkindled, made radiant by the one Light of the world. And being kindled, we have got to get on with it, be useful. As Christ said in one of his ironical flashes, “Do not light a candle in order to stick it under the bed!” Evelyn Underhill Art

There are lovely Advent meditations, prayers and links over at Lent and Beyond. Take some time to refresh and focus yourself on Christ!

Archbishop Sentamu Attempts to Calm Warring Anglicans over Homosexuality
The new Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu has acknowledged that the Anglican Church is facing a possible schism over the issue of homosexuality in the Church.
Posted: Monday, December 5 , 2005, 6:50 (UK)

The new Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu has acknowledged that the Anglican Church is facing a possible schism over the issue of homosexuality in the Church. The first black Anglican Archbishop in Britain gave a sharp warning to the two sides to “cool it”.

In a Reuters interview, Dr Sentamu spoke about racism in the UK and advised people to be vigilant and stamp out racism. The Ugandan-born Archbishop was officially enthroned into his new position as the Church of England’s number 2, on the same day as the murderers of black teenager Anthony Walker were convicted of a racist attack.

Although the Anglican Church is 450-years old it is now facing one its most testing times in its history. When Reuters asked Dr Sentamu whether he believed that the Church was heading for a schism, he answered, “It may happen. I have got to be realistic.”
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Theological Education That Transforms, Part Two
Monday, December 05, 2005

Excerpt: "Theological education stands at a crossroads. There are inescapable choices to be made, and these choices will determine whether evangelical institutions will remain recognizably Christian or fall into the same pattern of intellectual, theological, and moral collapse seen in so many colleges, universities, and divinity schools.

Historians have traced the progressive accommodation and intellectual surrender of Christian institutions in the face of a secular culture, and one of the most astonishing facts is how quickly the decline took place. Colleges, universities, and seminaries established for the training of faithful ministers and resoundingly committed to biblical truth forfeited those commitments in a breathtakingly brief period of time. Within just a few generations, the worldview of Christianity had been supplanted by the secular worldview of modernity."

The rest: Albert Mohler-Excellent!

Mainstream Media Now Merely a Propaganda Tool
December 04, 2005 08:02 PM EST
by Doug Patton

Liberals have been doing a great deal of harrumphing over revelations that the Pentagon may have paid Iraqi newspapers to publish positive stories about the American presence in their country. To paraphrase Sen. John McCain to Tim Russert on “Meet the Press,” if the stories are true and that is what it takes to get the news out in Iraq, so what?

Indeed. In fact, a much more sinister form of propaganda is being spread right here in the land of the free. It has become almost an article of faith among conservatives (myself included) that the so-called mainstream media are about as biased in favor of the Left as they can be and still call themselves American. But occasionally, one of them stuns me with a statement so blatant that it takes my breath away. A recent example was so palpable that it could provide the cornerstone for yet another sequel to Bernie Goldberg’s best-selling media exposes` “Bias” and “Arrogance.”
The rest

Cleric attacks 'gay weddings' law
A senior churchman has warned that civil partnerships for gay people will undermine the institution of marriage.

The Civil Partnership Act gives gay couples the same tax and inheritance rights as heterosexual married couples.

A Swansea couple will be one of the first in Wales to register for a new gay civil partnership when legislation comes into force on Monday.

Former priest will be one of first to register
By Ruth Gledhill

A FORMER Church of England priest who was one of the first to “come out” when he declared that he was sharing his rectory with a gay man is to be one of the first men in England to register his civil partnership this month.

The Rev Simon Long, who is still listed in the Anglican Crockford’s Clerical Directory, even though he no longer has a licence and has converted to Roman Catholicism, will visit his local register office with his partner, Kevin Crowe, today to register his intention to “marry” on December 21.

Mr Long, who is divorced with three grown-up children, was responding to the plea of the Archbishop of Canterbury, now Lord Carey of Clifton, for the church to “listen to the experience of homosexuals” when, in 1998, he spoke publicly about his relationship with Mr Crowe, whom he met at a gay club after his divorce.

T-Shirt Flap Pits Jihadists Against Sunday School Teachers
By Sherrie Gossett Staff Writer
December 05, 2005( - Three Indonesian women sentenced to prison for the "Christianization" of Muslim children have lost their appeal, and observers of the courtroom drama blame Muslim extremists who threatened to kill the judges if they didn't hand down a guilty verdict.

The case is seen as a disturbing sign of the spread of radical Islam in Indonesia, a popular tourist destination known for having a large, moderate Muslim population and for being an important ally of the United States in the war on terror.
The rest

Sunday, December 04, 2005

"Now burn, new born to the world,
Double-natured name,
The heaven-flung, heart-fleshed, maiden-furled
Mid-numbered He in three of the thunder-throne!
Not a dooms-day dazzle in his coming
Nor dark as he came;
Kind, but royally reclaiming his own;
A released shower, let flash to the shire,
not a Lightning of fire hard-hurled."
Gerard Manley Hopkins

We must have the glory sink into us before it can be reflected from us. In deep inward beholding we must have Christ in our hearts, that He may shine forth from our lives.
Alexander MacLaren

Priest dying of AIDS pleads for new drug
B.C. man first Anglican cleric in Canada to come out
Peter O'Neil, Vancouver Sun
Published: Saturday, December 03, 2005

To listen to story, click

A gay Vancouver priest went public Friday to admit he's dying of AIDS and needs Health Canada to allow him and four other men quick access to a proposed new treatment that could save their lives.

Rev. Michael Forshaw spoke out after obtaining the blessing of Vancouver Anglican Bishop Michael Ingham, who has been involved in a bitter battle with conservative Anglicans in Canada and around the world over same-sex blessings.

Forshaw, 64, is believed to be the first Anglican priest in Canada to go public to say he is a gay man with HIV/AIDS.

Diocese of Central NY:
Bp. "Skip" Adams' Diocesan Address to the 137th Convention

Here: Convention Address

Central African Anglicans Reject Leadership of Pro-Gay Bishop in Malawi
Saturday, Dec. 3, 2005
Posted: 11:44:05PM EST

A bishop supporting homosexual rights has been rejected as a top leader in the Anglican Church in Malawi.

On Friday, the Anglican Church of Central Africa released a statement following a special church court of confirmation dealing with the objection of the Anglican Church in Malawi against the appointment of the liberal British vicar Nicholas Henderson as the country’s three bishops, according to Reuters.

The Central Africa Province includes Botswana, Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, with over 600,000 members. In Malawi, there are three dioceses – Lake Malawi, Northern Malawi and Southern Malawi – with the Diocese of Birmingham in England as their companions.

"The court declined to confirm Reverend Nicholas Henderson as bishop of the Lake Malawi diocese on grounds that ... (his) active association as general secretary of the Modern Church People's Union made him unsuitable for confirmation," the statement read, as reported by Reuters. The rest

Human Rights Group Urges Release of Indonesian Christian Women
CFI: Sunday School Teachers Innocent of Coercing Muslim Conversions

"Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest ...." (2 Corinthians 4: 9-11)

By Allie Martin and Jenni Parker
December 2, 2005

(AgapePress) - The president of an interdenominational human rights group that advocates for religious freedom says the justice system in Indonesia is a disgrace. For an example, he points to the recent arrest and conviction of three female Sunday school teachers charged with "attempting to coerce children to change their religion."

Convicted under Indonesia's "Child Protection Act," the women -- Dr. Rebekka Zakaria, Eti Pangesti and Ratna Bangun -- were each sentenced to three years in prison and are currently serving their sentences in the Indramayu district of West Java. But officials with
Christian Freedom International (CFI), a group advocating for the release of the prisoners, are saying they were wrongly convicted and should go free. Nevertheless, according to CFI president Jim Jacobsen, the three Sunday school teachers recently lost an important appeal. The rest

Letter Advises Against Gay Seminary Teachers
Experts Split on How It Will Affect Priests
By Alan Cooperman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 2, 2005; Page A03

In a letter accompanying its directive against the ordination of men with "deep-seated homosexual tendencies," the Vatican has told bishops that gay priests should not teach in Roman Catholic seminaries.

The Rev. Donald B. Cozzens, a Catholic author and former seminary rector, called the letter a "bombshell" because it affects current priests, not just future ones.

Some experts on church law said yesterday that the letter is nonbinding and can simply be ignored by bishops. But others predicted that it will usher in a gradual purge of gays from leadership positions in the church, even if they have kept their vows of celibacy.

Because priests who teach in seminaries are frequently transferred to serve in parishes and vice versa, "it could be implemented gradually, without anybody knowing" for certain why a clergyman was moved, said Sister Katarina Schuth, a professor at University of St. Thomas in Minnesota who is a leading researcher on Catholic seminaries.
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Narnia's lion really is Jesus
Christopher Morgan

AN unpublished letter from the novelist C S Lewis has provided conclusive proof of the Christian message in his Narnia children’s books.

In the letter, sent to a child fan in 1961, Lewis writes: “The whole Narnian story is about Christ.” It has been found by Walter Hooper, literary adviser to the Lewis estate.

It has emerged ahead of this week’s release of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. The film, starring Tilda Swinton and Jim Broadbent, cost £75m to make and has been at the centre of a tug of war between Christians and secularists.

Brian Sibley, author of Shadowlands, the book which describes Lewis’s marriage to Joy Gresham, said: “This is the most specific explanation of Narnia I have heard.”

The new film depicts one of the seven novels in Lewis’s series, which tell the story of four children journeying through a wardrobe into Narnia, a world of talking animals that is plunged into endless winter by a witch. The children and animals rally to Aslan, a noble lion.

Longing for Narnia: Why We Yearn for the Good End
by Marc T. Newman, Ph.D.

The house is old and full of mystery. Wooden stairways rise, beckoning exploration. Against a wall in an abandoned room stands a curiously carved wardrobe. The door cracks open and from the interior issues a blinding white light. And somewhere deep inside you something stirs.

Narnia is calling. And you are desperate to answer. Why, in a culture that prizes scientific materialism, are grown men and women discovering a catch in their throats and tears of longing welling up in their eyes as they watch the trailer for The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe? The answer to that question may well explain why the first film installment of The Chronicles of Narnia could be one of the most powerful spiritual conversation starters ever to hit the screen.

It lies in a desperate longing for wonder, rescue, and the triumph of good over evil that many are discovering today through a remythologizing of the Gospel found in Narnia.
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