Thursday, April 21, 2011

Holy Saturday: O LORD, God of my salvation...

43019038 FRD - John 19 38 - Joseph of Arimathaea prepares Christ for burial.jpg
O Lord, God of my salvation;
I cry out day and night before you.

Let my prayer come before you;
incline your ear to my cry!

For my soul is full of troubles,
and my life draws near to Sheol.
I am counted among those who go down to the pit;
I am a man who has no strength,
like one set loose among the dead,
like the slain that lie in the grave,
like those whom you remember no more,
for they are cut off from your hand.
You have put me in the depths of the pit,
in the regions dark and deep.
Your wrath lies heavy upon me,
and you overwhelm me with all your waves.

 You have caused my companions to shun me;
you have made me a horror to them.
I am shut in so that I cannot escape;
my eye grows dim through sorrow.
Every day I call upon you, O Lord;
I spread out my hands to you.
Do you work wonders for the dead?
Do the departed rise up to praise you?
Is your steadfast love declared in the grave,
or your faithfulness in Abaddon?
Are your wonders known in the darkness,
or your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?

 But I, O Lord, cry to you;
in the morning my prayer comes before you.
O Lord, why do you cast my soul away?
Why do you hide your face from me?
Afflicted and close to death from my youth up,
I suffer your terrors; I am helpless.
Your wrath has swept over me;
your dreadful assaults destroy me.
They surround me like a flood all day long;
they close in on me together.
You have caused my beloved and my friend to shun me;
my companions have become darkness.
...Psalm 88  image

Good Friday: Wonder of wonders! On the cross He dies!

Wonder of wonders!  On the cross He dies!
Man of the ages, David's mighty Son,
The Eternal Word who spake and it was done,
What time, of old, He formed the earth and skies.

Abashed be all the wisdom of the wise!
Let the wide earth through all her kingdoms know
The promise of the Lamb of God, whose blood should flow-
For human guilt the grand, sole sacrifice.

No more need altar smoke, nor victim bleed:
'Tis finished! the great mystery of love.
Ye sin condemned, by this blood, 'tis decreed.
Ye stand absolved; behold the curse removed!
O Christ! Thy deadly wounds, Thy mortal strife
Crush death and hell and give immortal life.

'Tis finished all: the veil is rent,
The welcome sure, the access free:
Now then we leave our banishment,
O Father, to return to Thee!
...Horatius Bonar image

Holy Thursday: And when they had sung a hymn...

And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. Mark 14:26

How fitting that on this very night Christ, the coming King, would give voice to songs penned centuries earlier just for Him....Imagine the Son of God singing these words as the seconds ticked toward the cross...."The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?...The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; The Lord has done this and it is marvelous in our eyes."

Whatever Christ sang as the Passover meal concluded that night, the words had significance for Him that the others could never have comprehended. I wonder if His voice quivered with emotion. Or did He sing with exultation? Perhaps He did both, just as you and I have done at terribly bittersweet moments when our faith exults while our sight weeps. One thing we know: Christ, above all others, knew that He was singing more than words. That night He sang the score of His destiny. ...Beth Moore

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The faithful torn apart

Holy Week will be marred by bitterness and despair as Anglicans defect en masse to the Roman Catholic Church, says Jonathan Wynne-Jones.
By Jonathan Wynne-Jones

Dressed in their black cassocks, the three Anglican bishops had hoped to pass unnoticed as they emerged from the Vatican into the shadows lengthening across St Peter’s Square.

Having just assured one of the Pope’s key advisers of their momentous decision to defect to Rome, they walked along the cobbled streets fearful of being recognised, hoping to keep these discussions to themselves.

But they were betrayed even before they had returned to England, with word of their meeting spreading from one rectory to another, angering and alarming clergy loyal to the Archbishop of Canterbury, who feared he was being undermined by this papal gambit tempting disaffected Anglicans to join the Roman Catholic Church.

This week, the plots hatched behind closed doors in the Vatican last year will be played out in the open as the former bishops lead dozens of clergy and hundreds of worshippers in taking up this historic offer. the rest

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Free Speech, Academic Freedom, and First Amendment Rights of College Faculty

David Moshman
Professor of Educational Psychology

College faculty and First Amendment advocates are heralding a recent legal decision supporting the First Amendment rights of college faculty. Many see it as a major victory for freedom of speech and academic freedom in higher education.

A careful reading of the decision, however, shows that it does not protect academic freedom. The decision does protect faculty speech but only when that speech falls outside the scope of the faculty member's academic duties.

The decision (Adams v. Trustees of the University of North Carolina-Wilmington) is thus fully consistent with many others indicating that, as I explained in an earlier post, the First Amendment no longer protects academic freedom. The decision may be the best that fans of the First Amendment could have hoped for, given the dismal state of First Amendment law in this area, but we must recognize its severe limitations.

Michael S. Adams is a tenured associate professor of criminology at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington (UNCW) who was denied promotion to full professor. He brought suit in federal court arguing, among other things, that the denial violated his First Amendment right to free speech because it was based on objections to the views expressed in his writings and appearances as a conservative Christian columnist and commentator. the rest

ADV Saddened over Separation Mandate in Church of the Word Settlement

April 19, 2010

Anglican District of Virginia member parish Church of the Word in Gainesville, Va., has voted to take a settlement option presented by the Diocese of Virginia and The Episcopal Church in the matter of their property. The settlement results in Church of the Word’s outright ownership of its property for future ministry. However, it will require Church of the Word to disaffiliate from the Anglican District of Virginia (ADV), the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), and any other Anglican entity for a period of at least five years.

“It is heartbreaking that The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Virginia were unwilling to explore out of court settlement options with Church of the Word unless it severed all ties to its orthodox Anglican family. Church of the Word and all within ADV have been seeking the Lord in prayer as we search for the best path forward. In spite of the separation mandate, we support the members of Church of the Word and they will remain our dear brothers and sisters in Christ,” said ADV Chairman Jim Oakes.

“There’s no question: This litigation is a distraction from our mission and the good work our churches are doing every day to change lives. We never wanted a court battle in the first place and were saddened when amicable negotiations over properties that we purchased and maintained by our congregations were abruptly cut off. the rest

Press release from Church of the Word
...“Our goal is to return to the ACNA fold when the disaffiliation period is completed as a stronger Christian body,” he said. “We’ll continue to worship in our accustomed manner, and for most of our members, this provision will not even be something they’ll notice in our day-to-day church ministry.”...

Turkey’s cautionary tale

Turkey's AKP used democracy to gain power. Now that they have power, they are systematically destroying freedom in their country.

Today’s Turkey is a cautionary tale for the West. But Western leaders are loath to consider its lessons.

Ever since Turkey’s Islamist Justice and Development AKP party under Recip Tayip Erdogan won the November 2002 elections, Western officials have upheld the AKP, Erdogan and his colleagues as proof that political Islam is consonant with democratic values. During Erdogan’s June 2005 visit to the White House, for instance, then-president George W. Bush praised Turkish democracy as “an important example for the people in the broader Middle East.”

Unfortunately, nine years into the AKP’s “democratic” regime it is clear that Erdogan and his colleagues’ embrace of the language and tools of democracy was a mile wide and an inch thick. They used democracy to gain power. Now that they have power, they are systematically destroying freedom in their country.

Turkey ranks 138th in the international media freedom group Reporters Sans Frontieres country index on press freedom. Sixty-eight journalists are languishing in Turkish jails for the crime of doing their job. The most recent round-up of reporters occurred in early March. And it is demonstrative of Turkey’s Islamist leaders’ exploitation of democratic freedoms in the service of their tyrannical ends. the rest

TURKEY’S DESCENT into Islamist tyranny has not simply destroyed freedom in Turkey. It has transformed Turkey’s strategic posture in a manner that is disastrous for the West. And yet, in this arena as well, the West refuses to notice what is happening.

How the 'London Taliban' is threatening women and trying to ban gays in bid to impose sharia law

By Daily Mail Reporter
18th April 2011

Women who do not wear headscarves are being threatened with violence and even death by Islamic extremists intent on imposing sharia law on parts of Britain, it was claimed today.

Other targets of the 'Talibanesque thugs', being investigated by police in the Tower Hamlets area of London, include homosexuals.

Stickers have been plastered on public walls stating: 'Gay free zone. Verily Allah is severe in punishment'. the rest
Mr Rumaysah said: 'Christmas is a lie and as Muslims it is our duty to attack it.

'But our main attack is on the fruits of Christmas, things like alcohol abuse and promiscuity that increase during Christmas and all the other evils these lead to such as abortion, domestic violence and crime.

'We hope that out campaign will make people realise that Islam is the only way to avoid this and convert.'

The hidden exodus: Catholics becoming Protestants

Any other institution that lost one-third of its members would want to know why
Apr. 18, 2011
By Thomas Reese

The number of people who have left the Catholic church is huge.

We all have heard stories about why people leave. Parents share stories about their children. Academics talk about their students. Everyone has a friend who has left.

While personal experience can be helpful, social science research forces us to look beyond our circle of acquaintances to see what is going on in the whole church.

The U.S. Religious Landscape Survey by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life has put hard numbers on the anecdotal evidence: One out of every 10 Americans is an ex-Catholic. If they were a separate denomination, they would be the third-largest denomination in the United States, after Catholics and Baptists. One of three people who were raised Catholic no longer identifies as Catholic.

Any other institution that lost one-third of its members would want to know why. But the U.S. bishops have never devoted any time at their national meetings to discussing the exodus. Nor have they spent a dime trying to find out why it is happening. the rest image by Michael Price

Dissatisfaction with how the church deals with spiritual needs and worship services dwarfs any disagreements over specific doctrines. While half of those who became Protestants say they left because they stopped believing in Catholic teaching, specific questions get much lower responses. Only 23 percent said they left because of the church’s teaching on abortion and homosexuality; only 23 percent because of the church’s teaching on divorce; only 21 percent because of the rule that priests cannot marry; only 16 percent because of the church’s teaching on birth control; only 16 percent because of the way the church treats women; only 11 percent because they were unhappy with the teachings on poverty, war and the death penalty.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Devotional: The Savior knew that men would be unkind to him...

The Savior knew that men would be unkind to him, he knew it all beforehand, and when men were ungrateful he did not merely hear their words, but he read their hearts, and he knew that their hearts were yet more opposed to him, yet he never turned aside from his course of love, he pressed on still through reproaches and shame and derision and every form of human evil till he had finished the redemption of his people. Admire his love and let it kindle in you love in return. ...CH Spurgeon
image by Steve Snodgrass

Stampede of Cuteness

Surprise! Obama wants to ration your health care

Examiner Editorial

.Little more than a year has passed since President Obama signed his national health care law, but several of his key claims have already proven false. And following his much-publicized fiscal speech last Wednesday, we can add another claim to the list. As it turns out, Obamacare will ration care to contain costs.

Obama's speech, intended to be a response to House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan's debt reduction plan, provided little in the way of actual reforms to our nation's entitlement programs. But among the crumbs Obama did offer was a proposal to "slow the growth of Medicare costs by strengthening an independent commission of doctors, nurses, medical experts and consumers who will look at all the evidence and recommend the best ways to reduce unnecessary spending, while protecting access to the services seniors need."The reference to the Independent Payment Advisory Board, which was created by Obamacare, seemed harmless enough. But in reality, it continues our path toward a society in which medical decisions are centralized.

During the health care debate, Obama and his supporters often noted that other countries manage to cover everybody while spending less than America. Yet these countries don't use sorcery -- they ration care to the sick. Britain's National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (which has the Orwellian acronym NICE) is a board of experts that routinely makes decisions about how much money it's worth to extend somebody's life over a given time period. the rest

WSJ: Obama targets the middle class while pretending to tax only the rich

S & P Affirms US AAA Rating, Cuts Outlook to Negative

Monday, 18 Apr 2011

Standard & Poor's on Monday downgraded the outlook for the United States to negative, saying it believes there's a risk U.S. policymakers may not reach agreement on how to address the country's long-term fiscal pressures.

"Because the U.S. has, relative to its 'AAA' peers, what we consider to be very large budget deficits and rising government indebtedness and the path to addressing these is not clear to us, we have revised our outlook on the long-term rating to negative from stable," the agency said in a statement.

In an interview with CNBC, David Beers, S&P's global head of sovereign ratings, said the agency has been "struck increasingly by the difference in how other governments are dealing with fiscal consolidation." the rest

Philip Turner: The Achilles Heel of Anglicanism (In North America and the United Kingdom)

by: Rev. Dr. Philip Turner
Friday, April 15th, 2011

For many years I studied in England or worked within the British sphere of influence; and during that time I learned to look forward to Alastair Cooke’s, “Letter from America.” I enjoyed his broadcasts immensely because of their positive presentation of American life. I was surrounded by the British media that portrayed America as a cautionary tale warning the British people that, if they were not careful, they might become like their American cousins. A positive word about my “homeland” provided a welcome antidote to compliments from my English friends that were in truth insults. “You’re so nice,” they would say. “You don’t seem like an American at all”

I am tempted to entitle this essay also “A Letter from America.” This time, however, the letter would comment on how these fears have been realized. From afar, Britons look increasingly like their American cousins, and the change in appearance has not been for the better. How is this so? The difference in English usage remains and increases daily. Public manners remain (marginally) more civil in England, and the English Bobby still provides a welcome alternative to “The Wire.”

However, these differences are superficial. Under the surface the two societies grow increasingly similar. Both peoples seem fixated on the same things–birth, death and sex. Read the English tabloids and then take a look at the magazine stands in America’s supermarkets. No real difference! The important matter for present purposes, however, is that the change in the character of social relations typical of both societies to one degree or another has begun to migrate into the life of the church. As a result, the same issues have come to dominate relations both within and between the churches, with the result that the culture wars have migrated into the very heart of church life.  the rest

A.S. Haley: Fresno Court Affirms Its Denial of Motion to Consolidate

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Fresno Superior Court, which had issued a tentative ruling denying the motion to consolidate nine separate cases against individual San Joaquin parishes into one court, has now adopted that ruling as its final decision on the matter. Pending further moves by the rump diocese and its bishop, the nine cases will continue to remain before the courts of six different counties -- Kern (3 cases), Tuolumne, Fresno, Stanislaus, Tulare (2 cases), and San Joaquin. The rump diocese brought the suits in an attempt to hasten its planned takeover of all of the property and assets of the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin and its parishes. The strategy thus far, however, has served only to multiply its already stretched litigation budget many times over, and to burden its attorneys with keeping up with motions and status conferences spread all over the southern half of the State. The denial of the motion to consolidate means that, for the time being, at least, the rump diocese and its attorneys will have to lie in the bed they have made for themselves.

The Fresno Court's ruling offered an interesting take on the claims the rump diocese was seeking to advance in their complaints against the individual parishes. the rest

New Zealand rejects Anglican Covenant

Taonga News
18 Apr 2011

The central North Island hui amorangi (Maori diocese) of Te Manawa o Te Wheke has become the first New Zealand episcopal unit to formally give the thumbs-down to the proposed Anglican covenant.

It has rejected the covenant not so much because of the presenting issues, but because it sees the covenant as a threat to Maori rangatiratanga (sovereignty).

It believes the church in Aotearoa New Zealand should place greater priority on working for the fulfilment of the promises made to Maori in 1840 when New Zealand’s founding document, the Treaty of Waitangi, was signed. the rest

Chinese authorities arrest Beijing megachurch pastor

Police arrested the senior pastor of one of the largest unregistered churches in Beijing on Saturday and have put many congregants under house arrest for trying to hold Sunday service outdoors, said a rights group focused on religious freedom in China.
by Ethan Cole, Christian Post
Monday, April 18, 2011

Senior Pastor Jin Tianming, who founded the 1,000-member Shouwang Church in the 1990s, was detained yesterday after his church intended again to attempt to hold worship service outdoors, according to Texas-based China Aid Association.

Last week, hundreds of church members were arrested and then released when they tried to hold service at an open-air venue.

Leaders of Shouwang Church have repeatedly asserted that the outdoor gathering is not politically motivated. They claim that their members are forced to worship outdoor because the Chinese government has prevented them from securing a permanent space for service. the rest

UK Schools Show Euthanasia Propaganda

Saturday, April 16, 2011
Wesley J. Smith

I love the UK. I really do. But it is going to hell, literally or figuratively–take your pick. Latest example: Schools are showing Australian assisted suicide fanatic, Philip Nitschke’s, euthanasia film to children as young as 14. From the story:

Pupils are being taught about euthanasia with a video featuring a notorious assisted suicide campaigner nicknamed Dr Death. Dr Philip Nitschke is shown demonstrating his machine that delivers lethal injections in the film, which is already being shown to pupils as young as 14 across the country. There is also footage of him giving workshops on assisted suicide methods, which church leaders have criticised as an ‘invitation to commit suicide’. the rest

Pope Benedict: "Technology can't replace God"

By Philip Pullella
Apr 17, 2011
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Benedict led Roman Catholics into Holy Week celebrations, telling a Palm Sunday crowd that man will pay the price for his pride if he believes technology can give him the powers of God.

Under a splendid Roman sun, the German pope presided at a colorful celebration where tens of thousands of people waved palm and olive branches to commemorate Jesus' entry into Jerusalem the week before he was crucified.

The pope, who turned 84 on Saturday, wove his sermon around the theme of man's relationship with God and how it can sometimes be threatened by technology.

"From the beginning men and women have been filled -- and this is as true today as ever -- with a desire to 'be like God', to attain the heights of God by their own powers," he said, wearing resplendent red and gold vestments.

"Mankind has managed to accomplish so many things: we can fly! We can see, hear and speak to one another from the farthest ends of the earth. And yet the force of gravity which draws us down is powerful," he said. the rest