Friday, April 10, 2015

Prayer and a holy life are one...

Bench Silhouette
Prayer and a holy life are one. They mutually act and react. Neither can survive alone...We are in danger of substituting churchly work and a ceaseless round of showy activities for prayer and holy living. A holy life does not live in the closet, but it cannot live without the closet. If, by any chance, a prayer chamber should be established without a holy life, it would be a chamber without the presence of God in it. ...E.M. Bounds image

ISIS Burns US Food Donations Intended for Syrian Refugees; Omnivorous Liturgy...more

Naive Young Evangelicals and the Illiberal DNA of the Gay Rights Movement  ...I have sometimes said that the central question facing our society is whether there can be mercy in the gay marriage debate. I am not the only person to ask it, nor was I the first to think of it. But it captured me the moment I first heard it, and it haunts me still. It is mercy that is at stake in our current moment. For mercy is a response to a wrong done, and I have no doubt that conservatives have in the past occasionally fallen prey to hubris in their zeal to maintain norms that they think are true. There are few more liberal qualities than mercy, for mercy is a kind of permissiveness where judgment is owed. And mercy refuses to treat the status quo as determinative: it recognizes the freedom of humanity to rise above our current state of wronging each other, a freedom which is itself constituted by the giving of mercy in the first place. Such a mercy is what Andrew Sullivan defended in the excommunication of Brendan Eich from the Church of Silicon Valley.
The surest and easiest way the LGBT community could prove me wrong would be to begin extending mercy toward those of us who are hopelessly and cheerfully lost on the wrong side of history, and to somehow convince themselves that the usefulness of the fiction for their cause that religious conservatives are intrinsically bigoted in their views has come to an end. Whether they will remains to be seen. But regardless of how implausible such a reversal seems or how the structural forces of our society are opposed to it, as long as the possibility of conversion remains I will continue to stay foolish in my hope...

ISIS Burns US Food Donations Intended for Syrian Refugees ISIS militants have reportedly intercepted packages of food sent from the U.S. for Syrian refugees and burned them. Christian Today reports the terrorist group posted photos of the packages burning social media, sparking widespread outrage.

The food was intended to be distributed to Syrian refugees, as the nation is experiencing a food crisis due to the ISIS takeover and its civil war...

New York Times Columnist Suggests Rewriting Bible to Embrace LGBT Community
In a column for the New York Times, Frank Bruni writes that the view of “gays, lesbians and bisexuals as sinners is a decision” based on “ancient texts.”
Bruni argues in the opinion column that the Bible keeps Christians stuck in ancient beliefs and suggests rewriting the Bible to be more accepting of the LGBT community. 
“It’s a choice,” Bruni says. “It prioritizes scattered passages of ancient texts over all that has been learned since — as if time had stood still, as if the advances of science and knowledge meant nothing...

No Babies, Please, We’re Europeans
 ...It is all part of a not-so-subtle push in Europe to encourage people to have more babies. Denmark, like a number of European countries, is growing increasingly anxious about low birthrates. Those concerns have only been intensified by the region’s financial and economic crisis, with high unemployment rates among the young viewed as discouraging potential parents.

The Italian health minister described Italy as a dying country in February. Germany has spent heavily on family subsidies but has little to show for it. Greece’s depression has further stalled its birthrate. And in Denmark, the birthrate has been below the so-called replacement rate needed to keep a population from declining — just over two children per woman — since the early 1970s...

Omnivorous Liturgy ...We are trained, Griffiths says, in “radical gratitude.” The liturgy trains us as recipients, as “being one who who has received” and received gratefully (234). The liturgy doesn't leave any corner of life untouched by its habituation. What Griffiths calls “the liturgy's imperialistic omnivorousness” involves “a complete embrace of those who undertake it.” We die and rise n baptism, having received a “renaming, reclothing, the gift of something radically new” (234-5). Other liturgical acts “depict and endlessly repeat the subsumption of the individual into, first, the community, and then, second, the LORD.”

Griffiths means this quite literally: “The individual's language is overtaken and framed by the language of the canon of Scripture: he is written into its margins as an ornament to the illustrated capitals of its pages. And the individual's very physical life is shown to him to be given its meaning by his membership in the communion of saints, a body of people extending far in time and space beyond what he can directly sense.”

The liturgy “constantly signals that there is nothing external to it, nothing belonging to the individual that cannot be taken p into it, and nothing anywhere that will not, finally, be embraced by it.”...

Obama: Ban Parents from Having Children Counseled Not to be ‘LGBTQ+’  President Barack Obama, through a statement posted Wednesday night on the White House website by adviser Valerie Jarrett, backed legislation that would ban parents from having their children counseled not to be what Jarrett called "LGBTQ+".

“As part of our dedication to protecting America’s youth, this Administration supports efforts to ban the use of conversion therapy for minors,” Jarrett said in the White House statement...

Thursday, April 09, 2015

In the resurrection of Jesus from the dead...

Lamb of God
In the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, we see God’s decisive victory not only over death but over all God’s other enemies as well. In that one climactic event, we see the certainty that someday, in the kingdom of God, there will be no more violence, war, jealousy, or death...These forces are still alive and at work in the world, but because of the victory that God won at Easter, their doom is certain. One day death will die.
...Stephen T. Davis image

Douthat: Interview with a Christian; Our Push for ‘Passion,’ and Why It Harms Kids...more

...We have come to believe that only those who have passion find fulfillment and success professionally. It’s as if passion is life’s magic pixie dust. We want success for our children and believe that only passion can lead them there. We hold on to this myth despite considerable evidence that millions of people have lived long, happy, useful lives filled with joy and contentment and devoid of a defining passion.

And if passion is what makes our children look as special to colleges as they are to us, it’s also what lets us off the pushy parent hook. If a child has a “passion,” we’re not overdoing it in our zeal, or pursuing our own agenda. We’re just making their dream possible. Really, it has nothing to do with us.

If passion were just a matter of semantics, a word heedlessly thrown around in place of interest or pastime, this might not be a problem. But seeking a passion in childhood or adolescence has become an obsession in itself, and it is not without costs.

When children can’t find their elusive passions, yet feel compelled to proclaim one, they grab onto an interest, label it a passion and buy the requisite instrument or equipment. This is not a harmless charade, because fake passions crowd out real ones. When you are busy playing on the lacrosse field six days a week because in seventh grade you liked going to practices with your friends and your coach once mentioned you might have some talent, you may never discover that computer graphic design is your calling. When you take every opportunity to play piano daily in a band, orchestra and private lessons, you could easily miss the once-in-a-lifetime joy of being a member of a field hockey team. Pseudo passions can eat up our days and lay waste to any chance of finding a real ones...

Judge Officially Declares Open Season on Children
...A California judge has reduced a child rapist's mandatory 25-year sentence down to only 10 - saying anything longer would be 'cruel and unusual punishment'.

Superior Court Judge M. Marc Kelly told an Orange County jury that 20-year-old Kevin Jonas Rojano-Nieto 'did not intend to harm' the three-year-old girl he raped at his family home in June...

   ...Nevertheless, the grand mufti - who is also the head of the Supreme Court of Ulema (Islamic Scholars) and of the Standing Committee for Scientific Research and Issuing of Fatwas – said that as part of the Arabian Peninsula, it is necessary that Kuwait destroy all of its churches...

Tikrit mass grave may contain bodies of 1,700 Iraqi soldiers killed by ISIS

Nebraska newspaper overdoes it on 'injustice' faced by gay Catholic teacher ...Mr. Eledge must have known when he applied to teach at this school that certain behaviors would be required of him. The key question, as always, is whether the school had any kind of written covenant signed by teachers as they accepted jobs at what is clearly a Catholic school that, to some degree or another, is under the authority of Catholic teachings.

This is a no-brainer, folks. When I taught for a year at a Baptist university, I was asked to sign a statement agreeing to live a moral lifestyle and not drink alcohol, even in the privacy of my home. Brigham Young University requires applicants for teaching positions to adhere to Mormon teachings forbidding the consumption of coffee. Eledge may have been a poor choice for a tearjerker piece in that no one is forcing him to teach at a Catholic school plus there are options for him at public schools.

True, it’s idiotic for the Omaha diocese to refuse to comment. With them being ripped apart in social media, putting one’s head in the sand is not the way to go. But couldn’t the reporter have tried a bit harder to find a valid voice that could be used to accurately insert Catholic teaching on this issue? Was there no one who could comment about a Catholic school needing its staff to adhere to Catholic teachings?...

Douthat: Interview with a Christian
...O.K., enough pleasantries. You’re a semi-reasonable Christian. What do you think about the terrible Indiana “religious liberty” bill?
I favored the original version. Based on past experience, laws like this protect religious minorities from real burdens. As written, the Indiana law probably wouldn’t have protected vendors from being fined for declining to work at a same-sex wedding. But I would favor that protection as well.

Seriously? Shouldn’t businesses have to serve all comers?
I think they should be able to decline service for various reasons, religious scruples included. A liberal printer shouldn’t be forced to print tracts for a right-wing cause. A Jewish deli shouldn’t be required to cater events for the Nation of Islam.

But those are issues of belief, not identity. Denying service to gays is like denying service to blacks under Jim Crow.
None of the businesses facing sanctions are saying they wouldn’t serve gay people as a class; they just don’t want to work at nuptials. This isn’t a structural system of oppression, a society-wide conspiracy like Jim Crow; we’re talking about a handful of shops across the country. It seems possible, and reasonable, to live and let live...

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Guilty Verdict Reached in Boston Bombing Trial...other news

Guilty Verdict Reached in Boston Bombing Trial
A federal jury has returned a guilty verdict against Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, almost two years after the attack he and his brother orchestrated killed three people, including an 8-year-old boy, and brought the city to a standstill.

The jury found him guilty on the first nine counts to be returned, charges that carry the death penalty. The jury is in the process of delivering its decisions on 30 separate counts...

Judge Slams Justice Department For “Misconduct” In Immigration Case ...In granting additional discovery on Tuesday night, Hanen harshly criticized the federal government’s actions — clearly siding with the states on this side-issue.

“[E]ven under the most charitable interpretation of these circumstances, and based solely upon what counsel for the Government told the Court, the Government knew its representations had created ‘confusion,’ but kept quiet about it for two weeks while simultaneously pressing this Court to rule on the merits of its motion,” Hanen wrote.

Later, he noted, “Fabrications, misstatements, half-truths, artful omissions, and the failure to correct misstatements may be acceptable, albeit lamentable, in other aspects of life; but in the courtroom, when an attorney knows that both the Court and the other side are relying on complete frankness, such conduct is unacceptable.”...

PCUSA Stalling Korean Church's Effort to Leave Denomination?
A Presbyterian Church (USA) regional body located in California has been accused of putting a Korean congregation's effort to leave the mainline denomination to a standstill.

Last year, Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church of Rowland Heights voted overwhelmingly to seek dismissal from PCUSA over the denomination's growing acceptance of homosexuality...Despite that, the PCUSA Presbytery of San Gabriel has not apparently finalized the dismissal as of this month, according to the Korean-American Christian publication Christianity Daily...Despite that, the PCUSA Presbytery of San Gabriel has not apparently finalized the dismissal as of this month, according to the Korean-American Christian publication Christianity Daily....

Albert Mohler: This is How Religious Liberty Dies-The New Rules of the Secular Left

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

he vast high-velocity moral revolution that is reshaping modern cultures at warp speed is leaving almost no aspect of the culture untouched and untransformed. The advocates of same-sex marriage and the more comprehensive goals of the LGBT movement assured the nation that nothing would be fundamentally changed if people of the same gender were allowed to marry one another. We knew that could not be true, and now the entire nation knows.

The latest Ground Zero for the moral revolution is the state of Indiana, where legislators passed a state version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which Gov. Mike Pence then signed into law. The controversy that followed was a free-for-all of misrepresentation and political posturing. Within days, the governor capitulated to the controversy by calling for a revision of the law — a revision that may well make the RFRA a force for weakening religious liberty in Indiana, rather than for strengthening it.

Business, political, and civic leaders piled on in a mass act of political posturing. The federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act became law in 1993 in a mass act of bipartisan cooperation. The Act passed unanimously in the House of Representatives and with 97 affirmative votes in the Senate. President Bill Clinton signed the bill into law, celebrating the Act as a much needed protection of religious liberty. Clinton called religious liberty the nation’s “first freedom” and went on to state: “We believe strongly that we can never, we can never be too vigilant in this work.”

But, that was then. Indiana is now.

Hillary Clinton, ready to launch her campaign for President, condemned the law as dangerous and discriminatory — even though the law in its federal form has not led to any such discrimination. Apple CEO Tim Cook took to the pages of The Washington Post to declare that the Indiana law “would allow people to discriminate against their neighbors.” For its part, The Washington Post published an editorial in which the paper’s editorial board condemned a proposed RFRA in the state of Georgia because the law would prevent the state government “from infringing on an individual’s religious beliefs unless the state can demonstrate a compelling interest in doing so.”

So, The Washington Post believes that a state should be able to infringe on a citizen’s religious liberty without a compelling interest? That is the only conclusion a reader can draw from the editorial... the rest
One key indicator is found in the editorial pages of The New York Times. That influential paper has appointed itself the guardian of civil liberties, and it has championed LGBT causes for decades now. But the paper’s editorial board condemned the Indiana law as “cover for bigotry.” The most chilling statement in the editorial, however, was this:

“The freedom to exercise one’s religion is not under assault in Indiana, or anywhere else in the country. Religious people — including Christians, who continue to make up the majority of Americans — may worship however they wish and say whatever they like.”
Widdecombe: Christians DO suffer persecution in the UK

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Boko Haram disguised as preachers kill at least 24 in Nigeria; Washington Florist Fined, Ordered to Create Gay Wedding Arrangements...more

After Islamist attack, armed guards shield Kenyan churches ...Kenya's Christians, who make up 83 percent of the population of 44 million, have been horrified by survivors' tales of how the militants sought out Christian students to kill while sparing some Muslims...

Boko Haram disguised as preachers kill at least 24 in Nigeria

Why Are These Christians Dying? ...Although the world may once again have briefly turned its attention to Kenya, it is turning its back on the victims of this violence. In the same way that the President of the United States does not want to admit the religious impetus that leads to "random folks" being shot dead in a kosher supermarket in Paris, the entire Western world is reluctant to admit the reason why Christians are at the front line of this global conflict. When Boko Haram kidnapped 300 schoolgirls in Northern Nigeria last year, almost none of the world's press -- and none of the Western world's leaders -- identified the simple fact that these schoolgirls were kidnapped because they were Christian.

Likewise, when ISIS paraded 21 men along the shoreline of Libya in February and cut off their heads, allowing their blood to stain the Mediterranean Sea, most of the world's press and almost all of the world's leaders -- including the leader of the free world -- referred to the victims as "Egyptian." But what singled these men out, and singled them out in the eyes of ISIS, was not that they were Egyptian, but that they were "Copts" --- that they were Christians. What would the President of the United States say if the blacks lynched in America's old South were referred to as "random folks" or "Americans"?...

Fund raises $840,000 for Memories Pizza after attacks over same-sex marriage views
An online fundraising effort has raised more than $840,000 for an Indiana pizza shop hounded by critics after one of its owners said she would decline to cater a gay wedding because of her religious beliefs.
Memories Pizza temporarily closed its doors after the Walkerton business came under intense criticism following comments made by one of its owners, Crystal O'Connor, to a news station as controversy raged over Indiana's "religious freedom" law this week...
Washington Florist Fined, Ordered to Create Gay Wedding Arrangements  A Washington state great-grandmother was ordered to pay $1,001 to the state last week for violating its Consumer Protection Act (CPA) when she refused to create a flower arrangement for a long-time customer’s same-sex wedding. The court has yet to impose an award for the gay couple.
Barronelle Stutzman, 70, sold flowers to Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed for more than nine years, and considered Ingersoll a friend. But when he asked her to create the flower arrangements for the couple’s wedding in 2013, Stutzman said she couldn’t because of her “relationship with Jesus Christ.” She referred them to another business for assistance...

Monday, April 06, 2015

Kenyans Agonize Over Student Massacre; The Dead End of Sexual Sin...more

Kenyans Agonize Over Student Massacre  ...Students at the Garissa University College said militants burst through the campus gates and began to indiscriminately shoot people, both Muslims and Christians. By nightfall, a least 147 students were dead along with the four assailants. More bodies were being recovered on Friday, said officials in Garissa and students who survived.

The massacre came despite the Kenyan government’s awarding of a private contract to install thousands of security-surveillance cameras around the country. But the project is incomplete. And aside from their installation, two senior Western diplomats said they believed Kenyan security forces don’t have the know-how or manpower to actually monitor and analyze the footage collected by those cameras...

The Dead End of Sexual Sin ...It was only after I met my risen Lord that I ever felt shame in my sin, with my sexual attractions, and with my sexual history.

Conversion brought with it a train wreck of contradictory feelings, ranging from liberty to shame. Conversion also left me confused. While it was clear that God forbade sex outside of biblical marriage, it was not clear to me what I should do with the complex matrix of desires and attractions, sensibilities and senses of self that churned within and still defined me.

What is the sin of sexual transgression? The sex? The identity? How deep was repentance to go?

Meeting John Owen

In these newfound struggles, a friend recommended that I read an old, seventeenth-century theologian named John Owen, in a trio of his books (now brought together under the title Overcoming Sin and Temptation).

At first, I was offended to realize that what I called “who I am,” John Owen called “indwelling sin.” But I hung in there with him. Owen taught me that sin in the life of a believer manifests itself in three ways: distortion by original sin, distraction of actual day-to-day sin, and discouragement by the daily residence of indwelling sin.

Eventually, the concept of indwelling sin provided a window to see how God intended to replace my shame with hope. Indeed, John Owen’s understanding of indwelling sin is the missing link in our current cultural confusion about what sexual sin is — and what to do about it... 
Overcoming Sin and Temptation pdf.

Who Will Stand?
The lynch mob came for the brilliant mild-mannered techie Brendan Eich.

The lynch mob came for the elderly florist Barronelle Stutzman.

The lynch mob came for Eastern Michigan University counseling student Julea Ward.

The lynch mob came for the African-American Fire Chief of once segregated Atlanta Kelvin Cochran.

The lynch mob came for the owners of a local pizza shop the O'Connor family.

The lynch mob is now giddy with success and drunk on the misery and pain of its victims. It is urged on by a compliant and even gleeful media...

Albert Mohler: The Empty Tomb and the Risen Christ-

Opening of roadside tomb_0654
-The Centrality of the Resurrection to the Christian Faith
April 4, 2015

Resurrection Sunday is the central event in the church year–the climax of worship, expectation, and celebration. This celebration is also an acid test of the Church’s faithfulness and conviction.
The secular world has done its best to make a mess of Christmas, but it has largely ignored our celebration of the Resurrection. Where commercialism intrudes, it comes in the forms of eggs and chicks and rabbits–none of which claim any connection with the Resurrection. The fact is, the secular world will attempt to domesticate, commercialize, and tame the babe in the manger–but it will run at breakneck speed from the cross and the empty tomb.
That cross stands as condemnation on all human attempts at self-righteousness, and the fallen world will do all within its power to hide the cross from sight. The empty tomb is the seal and confirmation of the cross, and the world will shield its eyes.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead separates Christianity from all mere religion–whatever its form. Christianity without the literal, physical resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is merely one religion among many. “And if Christ is not risen,” said the Apostle Paul, “then our preaching is empty and your faith is in vain” [1 Corinthians 15:14]. Furthermore, “You are still in your sins!” [v. 17b]. Paul could not have chosen stronger language. “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable” [v. 19].
Yet, the resurrection of Jesus Christ has been under persistent attacks since the Apostolic age. Why? Because it is the central confirmation of Jesus’ identity as the incarnate Son of God, and the ultimate sign of Christ’s completed work of atonement, redemption, reconciliation, and salvation. Those who oppose Christ, whether first century religious leaders or twentieth century secularists, recognize the Resurrection as the vindication of Christ against His enemies.  the rest image

That tomb is still empty

Apr 4, 2015
Levi and Lia recount the story of Easter.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Easter Sunday 2015

Morning 'breaks upon the tomb;
Jesus scatters all its gloom.
Day of triumph through the skies;
See the glorious Savior rise.

Ye who are of death afraid
Triumph in the scattered shade.
Drive your anxious cares away;
See the place where Jesus lay.

Christians, dry your flowing tears
Chase your unbelieving fears;
Look on His deserted grave,
Doubt no more His power to save.
-Will­iam B. Coll­yer image