Saturday, January 11, 2014

It is only by being grafted into Christ...

It is only by being grafted into Christ that we produce good fruit. Other religions say, “Do good and you will become good.” Christianity says, “Be in Christ, and you will do good.” The meaning of the Atonement and the Blood that washes away our sins is that we are grafted into Christ, I in Him, and He in me. It is a bitter sprig which is grafted into the tree, but, once it is grafted in, the sweet juice of the tree flows through the bitter sprig and makes it sweet. ...Sadhu Sundar Singh image

ACNA College of Bishops Communique

10 Jan 2014

“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.” Isaiah 60:1

The bishops of the Anglican Church in North America met in Orlando, Florida from January 6th, the Feast of the Epiphany, to January 10th. We were blessed to be joined by the Rt. Rev. Humphrey Peters, Bishop of Peshawar, Pakistan. This has been our largest meeting, with only a few bishops absent due to inclement weather or overseas assignment. The bishops of the Anglican Church in North America have made it clear that it is a high priority to be together to pray and meet in council to carry forward the apostolic ministry of the Church. This week we again met in an atmosphere of mutual support and affection, with much prayer for one other. Bishop William Ilgenfritz, Missionary Diocese of All Saints, served as Chaplain for the College.

In our opening Eucharist, the Rt. Rev. Todd Hunter was invested as the first Bishop of the Diocese of Churches for the Sake of Others, commonly called “C4SO.”

We were blessed by Biblical teaching each morning from Dr. Wesley Hill, Associate Professor of Biblical Studies at Trinity School for Ministry. In this season of Epiphany, we were encouraged by Dr. Hill’s teaching on the nature of our triune God as both transcendent above his creation and present with us in our suffering.

It was a thoroughly productive gathering in which the bishops were able to address a range of topics, working to establish consensus and maintain fraternal relations. We were encouraged by our times of sharing about the fruitful ministries in our dioceses and by testimonies of God’s grace and answered prayers...  Full Communique here

Arial Sharon Dead at 85; Obamacare mandate; Texas homeschoolers continue battle; Updates on Jahi McMath...more...

Christians killed for faith nearly doubled in 2013, group finds
...Musa, according to the group, was one of 2,123 Christians killed last year due to their faith, compared to 1,201 in 2012. More than half of those reported killings (1,213) occurred in Syria, followed by Nigeria (612) and Pakistan (88).

But North Korea — a country of more than 24 million, with an estimated 300,000 Christians — remained the most dangerous country worldwide for Christians for the 12th consecutive year, followed by Somalia, Syria and Iraq...

Ariel Sharon Dead at 85
Israel's 11th premier passes away eight years after a stroke left him comatose; Sharon was one of Israel’s legendary politicians and military leaders; Sharon's son Gilad: "He went when he decided to go."

Why HIV, syphilis, and gonorrhea are rising among homosexuals
...Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM) represent approximately 2% of the United States population, yet are the population most severely affected by HIV. In 2010, young MSM (aged 13-24 years) accounted for 72% of new HIV infections among all persons aged 13 to 24, and 30% of new infections among all MSM. At the end of 2010, an estimated 489,121 (56%) persons living with an HIV diagnosis in the United States were MSM or MSM-IDU...

'Hand of God'
...The cosmic "hand of God" photo was produced when a star exploded and ejected an enormous cloud of material, which NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, glimpsed in high-energy X-rays, shown in blue in the photo. NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory had imaged the green and red parts previously, using lower-energy X-rays...

Family-Run Business Tells Supreme Court: Stop Obama’s HHS Mandate
...The brief filed Friday explains that the Obama administration’s “argument is inconsistent with the reality of religious activity in Americans’ daily lives. There is no separating the Hahns’ faith from their business or its actions. The members of the Hahn family, as Mennonite Christians, practice their faith in everything they do, including the running of their business…. The Mandate…forces them to choose between violating their religious convictions and incurring ruinous fines and lawsuits. No compelling interest justifies imposing such a Hobson’s choice, particularly given the government’s exclusion of thousands of other employers from the Mandate’s scope.”...
Are There Any Parts of Obamacare the President Can’t Suspend?

Obama admin. announces it will recognize Utah gay ‘marriages’ after state says it won’t
...U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has announced that the federal government will recognize same-sex “marriages” contracted during the brief period between December and January when such unions took place legally in Utah, before the U.S. Supreme Court put a halt to them...

Christian Couple Fights Texas Officials After Homeschooled Children Forcibly Removed From Home
...During a second hearing this week, a local judge once again considered the Tutt family’s case. According to an update from friends of the family, the judge admitted that there was no evidence of abuse or neglect found in the Tutts’ home and conceded that the children should not have been removed from their home in the first place. She thus overturned Olvera’s ruling, which was not based on abuse findings, but rather complaints about homeschooling.

As a result, four of the children have now been returned to their parents, but are required to attend public school while officials conduct an educational evaluation. The other three children have not yet been returned home, according to reports. Supporters of the Tutt family describe this latest development as “not a victory or defeat” but rather “a sidestep,” and they confirm that “home schooling was the main issue” with the legal proceedings...

Albert Mohler: “Downton Abbey” and the Modern Age—What Are We Really Watching?
...There are countless lessons for American Christians to observe as we watch Downton Abbey. But we ought not to miss the larger story of which tales like Downton are only a part. The world that was passing away was not only a world of footmen, but also of faith. Britain would never be the same again, and that loss of faith and certitude would eventually become a tide that would sweep across every aspect of British culture...

Lawyer: Brain-dead teen Jahi McMath stabilizing after move from hospital
Under the care of "optimistic" doctors, Jahi McMath -- whom a judge and other doctors have declared brain-dead, over her family's objections -- is "improving" days after her release from an Oakland, California, hospital, her family's lawyer said...

Wesley Smith: Reflections on the Jahi McMath Tragedy

Almost a tenth of babies and toddlers in England and Wales are Muslim, census figures show
Census figures reveal a ‘startling’ shift in Britain’s demographic trend with almost a tenth of babies and toddlers born in England and Wales being Muslim.

The percentage of Muslims among the under-fives is almost twice as high as in the general population. Less than one in 200 over 85s are Muslims – an indication of the extent to which birth rate is changing the UK’s religious demographic...

Parliament hears call to make attacks on clergy 'hate crimes'
...Some 200 attacks over the last five years have been uncovered so far. They range from low level cases of assault, to cases of stalking by obsessive parishioners, priests being beaten in their own churches, as well as dog and on at least one occasion human bites...


Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Transcript of Justin Welby's remarks on Nigeria

Transcript of the Archbishop of Canterbury's interview with BBC World Service's Newsday for its special programme on the Nigerian economy
08 Jan 2014

BBC World Service Newsday interview, Monday 6 January 2014, approx. 7.30am

Interviewer: Just tell us a bit about your history with Nigeria.
Justin Welby: Well, I first went to Nigeria in I think either the end of 1978 when I was in the oil industry and visited there for several years, working on a particular project there; and then have been going back quite regularly over the last, many years now as a clergyman working in areas both of reconciliation and also issues of development in the Delta in the north and in the Middle Belt.

Interviewer: Archbishop, how big a deal is the problem of security in Nigeria, because you regularly speak to people because of course there’s an insurgency in the north.
JW: Well, I think what we heard illustrates a very typically Nigerian response to this. There was the courage, the determination, the realism, but also the sort of vigorous approach, which means that people are not deterred by it. It’s a real problem, a very serious problem; people don’t travel so much at night, and the sort of violence is used to intimidate, as the Finance Minister was saying, to try and intimidate her. But we also heard in those two interviews the reality of the Nigerian determination, which is not to be overcome by that.

Interviewer: And with colleagues you’ve been speaking to in northern Nigeria, because quite often it’s very difficult to get information from northern Nigeria, especially in the far north-east where there are troubles. What are you hearing from there? the rest at Anglican Ink

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

A Charismatic Invasion of Anglicanism?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014
Dale M. Coulter

In December Peter Berger wrote a brief reflection on Archbishop Justin Welby’s inviting four members of the Catholic Charismatic community Chemin Neuf to live and pray at Lambeth Palace. His reflection was based on a story in The Tablet. For Berger, this development was a pleasant surprise and represented a kind of invasion by global Pentecostalism into the heart of Anglicanism. I have a strong appreciation for Berger’s sympathetic interest in the dynamics and spread of Pentecostalism, which he uses as a short hand for the entire Pentecostal and charismatic movement. As I have said before, Pentecostals need friends like Berger who combine sensitivity with constructive dialogue.

Having said that, from my vantage point the event at Lambeth was neither an invasion nor surprising. It was, instead, a natural extension of a growing charismatic movement within the Church of England. In some ways, it could be seen as the fruition of a relationship between Pentecostals and Anglicans forged in 1907 when the Anglican vicar Alexander Boddy invited Thomas B. Barratt to speak at his parish, All Saints’ Church in Sunderland just outside of Newcastle upon Tyne in the north of England. Boddy had already been impacted by the Welsh Revival (1904-1905) and the preceding conventions at Keswick. Barratt, on the other hand, was a Methodist who had experienced a Pentecostal-type Spirit baptism through the Azusa Street Revival (1906-1909). From Barratt’s ministry, Boddy had his own Pentecostal experience. Beginning in 1908, he sponsored annual Whitsundtide Conferences at All Saints’, which became the epicenter of early Pentecostalism in England. He also began publishing Confidence, a periodical that served as the voice of British Pentecostalism...  the rest at First Things

Monday, January 06, 2014

What star is this, with beams so bright...

What star is this, with beams so bright,
More lovely than the noonday light?
’Tis sent to announce a newborn King,
Glad tidings of our God to bring.

’Tis now fulfilled what God decreed,
“From Jacob shall a star proceed”;
And lo! the Eastern sages stand
To read in heaven the Lord’s command.

While outward signs the star displays,
An inward light the Lord conveys,
And urges them, with force benign,
To seek the Giver of the sign.

True love can brook no dull delay;
Nor toil nor dangers stop their way
Home, kindred, father land and all
They leave at their Creator’s call.

O, while the star of heavenly grace
Invites us, Lord, to seek Thy face,
May we no more that grace repel,
Or quench that light which shines so well!

To God the Father, God the Son,
And Holy Spirit, Three in One,
May every tongue and nation raise
An endless song of thankful praise!
...Charles Coffin image

Birds at the feeder on a cold winter morning

Sparrows swarming the feeder
Male cardinal
I love watching the birds at the backyard feeder.  Raymond got some great shots by setting his camera on a tripod outside about 20 feet away and then using a radio- controlled shutter trigger from inside the house to capture these photos. -PD
 (click on pictures to enlarge)

Church of England Removes “Sin” from Baptism Rite

Brian Miller
January 6, 2014

The Church of England has once again rewritten the rites of the Church by no longer requiring a rejection of sin before performing a Christening. In the old version, the parents would be asked before the baptism, “Do you reject the devil and all rebellion against God?” and “Do you repent of the sins that separate us from God and neighbor?”

However, in the new version that is being promoted as an “alternative,” the parents are only asked “Do you reject evil…and all its empty promises?”

According to the Daily Mail, a senior member of the General Synod explains, ‘the trouble is that large parts of the Church of England don’t believe in hell, sin or repentance.” Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, who opposed the revisions, argued that “Rather than the constant ‘dumbing down’ of Christian teaching, whether for baptism, marriage or death, we should be spending time preparing people for these great rites of passage.” He closed by suggesting “to call a halt to this perhaps well-meant effort before it further reduces the fullness of the Church’s faith to easily swallowed soundbites.”

The revisers, who are supported by the Archbishop of Canterbury, however, only claim that they want to be more relevant and “use the language of EastEnders rather than Shakespeare in services.” the rest

Church of England accused of 'dumbing down' christening service
The Church of England has been accused of “dumbing down” its traditional christening ceremony after rewriting the service for a modern congregation.

Parents and godparents are no longer asked to “reject the devil”, “repent of sins” or “submit” to Christ under the new wording, aimed at making the service easier to understand...