Friday, March 31, 2006

Some Reflections offered to the House of Bishops of ECUSA
29 March 2006
From the Bishop of Exeter: The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in America invited the Archbishop of Canterbury to send an English Bishop to attend the Episcopal Church House of Bishops meeting at Kanuga in North Carolina.

I was invited by the Archbishop of Canterbury to attend and was asked by the Presiding Bishop to spend a week listening to the assembled Bishops, and then to offer some reflections setting what I had heard and experienced within an Anglican Communion context and offering a personal perspective of a Bishop of the Church of England.

In consultation with the Presiding Bishop's office, I am making public what I said as follows:

Some Reflections offered to the House of Bishops of ECUSA
Kanuga N.C.
22nd March 2006

It has been really good to be with you this week and I do thank you for your invitation. This is my first visit to the USA, and so means a great deal to me. Visiting here has been on my ‘to do’ list for years now and I have felt increasingly disabled by having no direct experience of American culture so dominant an influence is it in the world today. I do wonder to what extent Americans recognise and understand just how great this dominance and influence really is.

So thank you, thank you for your warm hospitality and for the generous way you have taken me into your life corporately and opened your hearts to me individually. That has been a great privilege.

May I also bring you greetings most especially from the Archbishop of Canterbury who specifically asked me to bring you this message and assure you of his own prayers for you this week and in the run up to General convention. I also bring you the greetings and prayers of my own Diocese of Exeter.

Although this is my first trip across the pond, I have travelled extensively in other directions and know a number of other parts of the Anglican Communion very well. I worked for three years in Nigeria; My own Diocese has strong companion links with the Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf, and Thika in Kenya; As a Trustee of Christian Aid I have travelled frequently in the Middle East, and as Chairman of the Melanesian Mission in the UK I have over the past 10-12 years come to have a very good knowledge of the Church in Australasia and the South Pacific. Inevitably this experience gives me a particular set of filters, and contexts, through which I view a number of the issues facing our communion at the present time.
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God, who is Almighty, Alpha and Omega, First and Last, that God is also Love it self; and therefore this Love is Alpha and Omega, First and Last too. Consider Christ's proceeding with Peter in the ship, in the storm: First he suffered him to be in some danger in the storm, but then he visits him with that strong assurance, "Be not afraid, It is I": any testimony of his presence rectifies all. This puts Peter into that spiritual confidence and courage, "Lord bid me come to thee"; he hath a desire to be with Christ, but yet stays his bidding: he puts not himself into an unnecessary danger, without commandment: Christ bids him, and Peter comes: but yet, though Christ were in his sight, and even in the actual exercise of his love to him, so soon as he saw a gust, a storm, "He was afraid"; and Christ lets him fear, and lets him sink, and lets him cry, but he directs his fear and his cry to the right end: "Lord, save me"; and thereupon he stretched forth his hand and saved him...

God puts his children into good ways, and he directs and protects them in those ways; for this is the constancy and perseverence of the love of Jesus Christ to us, as he is called in this text (Matt. 21:44), a stone.
... John Donne, Sermon preached to the nobility [1619] Art

Captain Yips: A Contrite Heart
This is the thirty-third in a series of daily Lenten devotionals by a
group of Anglican bloggers and friends. Today’s entry is by Captain Yips. You can read other entries in the series here.—-

Earlier in the season, Lent and Beyond uncovered a
Tenth Century Latin Litany for Lent. The accompanying English translation was, I thought, a bit stiff and “churchy,” a little abstract where the original was very active and physical. So I’ve been trying to English it myself. I’m a long way from done, hung up on one poignant phrase that casts new light on one of Thomas Cranmer’s most famous prayers, and incidently highlights how language drifts with time.

The Latin phrase is contrito corde pandimus occulta

This phrase is stunning, spiritually and emotionally. My attempts at translation have sent sparks flying off all over.

The rest at Lent and Beyond

Claiming the Blessing Announces Convention Objectives

Representatives from the advocacy groups Integrity and Claiming the Blessing intend to make their presence known during the 75th General Convention. The steering committee for Claiming the Blessing announced March 25 a series of General Convention objectives at the conclusion of a joint meeting with the board of Integrity at Trinity Cathedral in Cleveland.

The 13-point
platform includes calls for the Episcopal Church to:
• Clarify its theology of marriage, family and human sexuality, and study the role of clergy as civil magistrates in marriage;
• Reaffirm the sacredness of long-term, committed relationships as defined in Resolution D039 of the 73rd General Convention;
• Authorize the development of liturgical rites of blessings where civil marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships are a reality, and elsewhere;
• Engage the international community in a listening process which includes the active voices and full presence of lesbian, gay, transgendered and bisexual (LGBT) persons;
• Reaffirm that all orders of ministry are open to all the baptized who are otherwise qualified; and
• Establish as church policy the commitment not to meet in those places where justice and liberation for all God’s children, including LGBT people, are absent in state law or local ordinance.

the rest at The Living Church

It's All Heresy to Me
by Greg Griffith

The past three years have been, to say the least, trying for orthodox Episcopalians. Since the highly controversial actions of General Convention 2003, it seems barely a week goes by that some new outrage doesn't surface, revealing the attempts of theologically liberal Anglicans to make a mockery of our faith.

The latest example is a new translation of the Bible, this time into Greek, by The Rev. Hector "Freaky" Zazeeki, a street musician and Episcopal priest from San Francisco. Don't Felafel: The Good News in Greek has enraged conservative Episcoplians. Father Zazeeki is unfazed, insisting that Greek is a natural for Scripture.

The rest at Stand Firm

Still ticking
Science: Intelligent design finds new life after Dover defeat
Anthony Paul Mator

Evolutionists have trumpeted an intelligent design (ID) loss in Dover, Pa. (see "
Dover disruption," Dec. 3, 2005) as the beginning of the end for the alternative to Darwinism. Their excitement is understandable, since voters kicked out of office the pro-ID school board members and Judge John E. Jones III knocked out of schools a brief statement acknowledging ID's existence.

It seemed that neither citizens nor a judge were willing to allow the hearing of alternatives to science's sacred dogma. But a Southern California school district on March 21 demonstrated that winter is over and spring is bringing new hope to ID proponents: The Lancaster, Calif., school board of trustees unanimously adopted a science policy that allows teachers to discuss problems in Darwin's theory. The new policy, while not calling for the teaching of ID, discourages a view of evolution as "unalterable fact."
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New Orleans recovery could take 25 years
Friday, March 31, 2006

Much of New Orleans' rebirth from Hurricane Katrina hinges on factors beyond the government's control and could take up to a quarter-century to complete, the Bush administration's Gulf Coast recovery chief said Thursday.

More immediately, as much as $5.9 billion more for work on levees might need to be approved to clear the way for widespread rebuilding, Don Powell said in an interview with The Associated Press.

The call for an additional funding requirement infuriated Louisiana lawmakers who said they fear the levees won't be ready to protect New Orleans by the June 1 start of the 2006 hurricane season.

Three quakes in Iran kill at least 66
Friday, March 31, 2006

Three strong earthquakes and several aftershocks reduced villages to rubble in western Iran early Friday, killing at least 66 people and injuring about 1,200 others, officials said.

At least 13 tremors jolted the mountainous region throughout the night, Tehran University's Geophysics Institute said.

The U.S. Geological Survey reported a 5.7 magnitude quake shortly before 5 a.m. local time., followed by a 4.7 magnitude aftershock about 15 minutes later. The area had been hit by a 4.7-magnitude quake the day before, according to the USGS, which monitors earthquakes around the world.
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Christians Can't Ignore 'Da Vinci' Talk
Friday, Mar. 31, 2006

More than 40 million hardcover copies of The Da Vinci Code have been sold worldwide and just days after the release of the paperback edition, the controversial novel is set to top the bestseller list of the world's largest bookseller - Barnes & Noble.

Soon to hit the movie screen, the New York Times bestseller is challenging Christians to gear up for a wider spread of questions and discussions that the film is expected to provoke.

"It would not be possible for you and your congregation to ignore what people are going to be talking about," said Dr. Erwin W. Lutzer, author of The Da Vinci Deception and senior pastor of The Moody Church in Chicago, according to Tyndale House Publishers. "When you think of the impact of the movie, millions of people going to see the movie and learning about Jesus ... this is something that we cannot ignore."
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Belgian Priest to Stand Trial for Hatred for Citing Fears of Coming Islamic Persecution
Melkite Catholic Patriarch: Since 9/11 There's a Plot to Eliminate All Christians from Arab World
By John-Henry Westen

BRUSSELS, March 30, 2006 ( - A Catholic priest in Belgium known popularly as Fr. Père Samuel is to be brought to trial for hate crimes according to a decision reached last week by the Belgian judiciary. According to the Brussels Journal, the priest, who fled from Turkey under Islamic persecution, is being prosecuted for warning against Islamic fundamentalism.

His offending statement: "Every thoroughly islamized Muslim child that is born in Europe is a time bomb for Western children in the future. The latter will be persecuted when they have become a minority."

After hearing of his upcoming trial the priest, who was suspended by his bishop but nonetheless remains a popular clergyman, repeated his statement and warns against "the islamic invasion" of the West.

Church of England Commissions New Evangelists
Four new Church of England evangelists have been commissioned by the Chair of the College of Evangelists, the Bishop of Lichfield, at a service in Lichfield Cathedral in Staffordshire this week.
Wednesday, March 29 , 2006, 10:47 (UK)

Four new Church of England evangelists have been commissioned by the Chair of the College of Evangelists, the Bishop of Lichfield, at a service in Lichfield Cathedral in Staffordshire this week.Brother Desmond Alban SFF from the Diocese of Birmingham, Rev Janice Harney (Diocese of Manchester), Rev Canon Michael Hart (Diocese of Southwark) and Rev Paul Rush (Diocese of Leicester) were all commissioned into the College of Evangelists by Rev Jonathan Gledhill.

The College of Evangelists was established in 1999 with an aim to provide support and offer the accreditation of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to evangelists within the Church of England.

Those who are looking to qualify into the College must be involved in evangelistic missions, not just training and teaching about evangelism, and also must be operating at a nation or region level.
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Death Marks an Anniversary—Have We Learned Anything?
Albert Mohler
Friday, March 31, 2006

Today, March 31, 2006, marks the one year anniversary of Terri Schiavo's death by starvation. All too quickly, Terri's name and cause disappeared from the national awareness as our attention-deficit culture moved on to other issues and other concerns.

Just in time for the anniversary of her death, publishers have released books written by Terri's former husband, Michael Schiavo, and her parents--each offering competing visions of Terri's life and the meaning of Terri's death. Given the symbolic nature of this sad anniversary, another flurry of news stories, cable news programs, and media commentaries are likely to appear. But, has America learned anything about the sanctity of human life over the past twelve months?

There are signs that Americans may actually be resigning themselves to the inevitability of euthanasia and the Culture of Death. In the aftermath of Terri Schiavo's death, a wave of commentary appeared, offering the suggestion that what Americans should have learned from the controversy was that personal autonomy should triumph over all other moral concerns and priorities. Beyond this, others have been quick to point accusing fingers at political figures, including George W. Bush, who attempted to intervene on behalf of Terri's life.
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A revival of sorts is taking place in Israel
March 31, 2006

Israel (MNN) -- While uncertainty continues in Israel in the wake of this week's elections, Christians are excited about an apparent moving of God's Spirit there. Israeli Prime Minister-elect Ehud Olmert won the election, but failed to win overwhelmingly. That means he'll have to move slowly on his peace plan in order to stabilize his coalition government. The delay has Israelis on edge.

Speaking from Israel,
E3 Partners' Tom Doyle says, "There's a lot of apathy. They are not excited. The winner is clearly talking about dividing Jerusalem. They're going to continue the Sharon mandate, is what is being said. Israelis are desperate for peace, but yet on the other hand some of the concessions they're talking about making, nobody's talking about."

While the future is uncertain, that feeling has done great things for evangelism and renewal. Doyle says, "We have a Jewish driver that I've known. He's been a believer for about three years and he was just telling himself and his family. He said, 'we have so many friends that have come to Christ lately and there's new congregations.' And he said, 'we are now calling it a revival here.'"
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New Yearbook Reveals Trends in U.S. Churches
Friday, Mar. 31, 2006

WASHINGTON – Pentecostal, nondenominational, and ethnic churches are rising in membership while America’s historic mainline churches are continuing to decline, according to the 2006 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches.

Among the largest 25 churches in the United States, the fastest growing were the Assemblies of God at 1.81 percent growth rate, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormon Church) at 1.74 percent, and the Roman Catholic Church at 0.83 percent. Furthermore, the yearbook found that only three mainline churches guarded their historic spots as the nation’s largest churches; All three churches – the United Methodist Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. – declined in membership since last year.

Such findings are not new. Similar figures and conclusions were drawn throughout the past decade as more Americans began flocking toward non-denominational and evangelical churches.
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Where would Jesus hang out?
By Jen Haberkorn
March 30, 2006

Most people wouldn't think of going to church to get a cup of gourmet coffee and a bite to eat, read the newspaper and chat with friends.

One local church is hoping to change that, though patrons may never realize they are in a church building.

The National Community Church, a Capitol Hill nondenominational Christian church, opened Ebenezers Coffeehouse at Second and F streets Northeast this month to further its mission to live in and serve the community where members work, live and shop.

"If Jesus were living in our culture, he would probably hang out in coffeehouses," said the Rev. Mark Batterson, lead pastor at National Community and the leader of the coffeehouse's development. "The coffeehouse is an extension and expression of who we've been the past nine years."
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What's Happening to Boys?
Young Women These Days Are Driven -- but Guys Lack Direction
By Leonard Sax

Friday, March 31, 2006

The romantic comedy "Failure to Launch," which opened as the No. 1 movie in the nation this month, has substantially exceeded pre-launch predictions, taking in more than $64 million in its first three weeks.

Matthew McConaughey plays a young man who is affable, intelligent, good-looking -- and completely unmotivated. He's still living at home and seems to have no ambitions beyond playing video games, hanging out with his buddies (two young men who are also still living with their parents) and having sex. In desperation, his parents hire a professional motivation consultant, played by Sarah Jessica Parker, who pretends to fall in love with McConaughey's character in the hope that a romantic relationship will motivate him to move out of his parents' home and get a life.
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Chaplains Group Opposes Prayer Order
Guarantee on Using Jesus's Name Not Needed, It Says
Alan Cooperman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 30, 2006

An association that represents more than 70 percent of the chaplains in the U.S. military, including many evangelical Christians, is opposing a demand by conservatives in Congress for a presidential order guaranteeing the right of chaplains to pray in the name of Jesus.

The rising calls for an executive order are based on "confusion and misinformation," because Christian chaplains routinely pray in the name of Jesus, in public, thousands of times a week in military chapels around the world, said the Rev. Herman Keizer Jr., chairman of the National Conference on Ministry to the Armed Forces.
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Abuse cost churches nearly $467m in '05
Settlements spiked sharply
By Susan Milligan, Globe Staff
March 31, 2006

WASHINGTON -- The church sexual abuse crisis cost Catholic dioceses and religious institutes nearly $467 million last year in settlements to victims, legal expenses, therapy, and training, a staggering amount in the aftermath of the abuse scandal that surfaced in 2002, according to an independent audit released yesterday by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The data, collected by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University, also showed that 783 new and credible allegations of sexual abuse by clergy were reported last year, down from 1,092 allegations reported in 2004 and bringing the total number of accusations to more than 12,000 nationwide since 1950. the rest

Court: Gays Can't Come to Mass. to Marry


Christopher McCary and John Sullivan still consider themselves married, even if a ruling by Massachusetts' highest court puts their union in legal limbo.

On Thursday, the Supreme Judicial Court, which three years ago made Massachusetts the first state to legalize gay marriage, upheld a 1913 state law that forbids nonresidents from marrying there if the marriage would not be recognized in their home state.

So in the eyes of the law, McCary and Sullivan are just two guys living in a house together in Alabama. That has them contemplating a move to Massachusetts, an idea considered even before their vows.
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Afghan Christian spirited to safety thanks to the Pope
From Anthony Browne in Brussels and Richard Owen in Rome

THE Afghan apostate threatened with execution finally found sanctuary yesterday when the Italian Government granted him fast-track asylum on the ground of “religious persecution”.

Abdul Rahman who had been secretly spirited from Kabul to an undisclosed “secure location” near Rome on Tuesday night, spoke yesterday of his gratitude to Italy and Pope Benedict.

In an interview aired by two Italian television channels, Mr Rahman said he would certainly have been killed if he had stayed in Kabul: “If you are not a Muslim in an Islamic country like mine they kill you, there are no doubts.”
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Albany: Area cleric to mind new flock as bishop
PAUL POST, The Saratogian
LUZERNE -- The Rev. William Love is a bit like Moses, who found reasons not to lead when the opportunity first presented itself.

Then he considered that it was God, not people, asking him to do a job, and that made all the difference.

Love, the pastor at St. Mary's Church in Luzerne, has been elected bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Albany, which covers 19 counties from Pennsylvania to the Canadian border and western New England to Central New York.

'I felt God challenging me in my motivation for saying no,' he said. 'He was saying, 'Have you considered what I might want? If you're obedient, I can work in and through you.' That kind of turned things upside down for me.'

Having served 14 years at Luzerne's tiny parish, he'll soon be administering 130 churches with more than 20,000 parishioners. One of his top priorities, in addition to shepherding the flock, is the development of a new $9.1 million spiritual retreat center in Greenwich, which opened last year at a former 612-acre farm.
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All Saints sues Episcopal diocese
Staff reports

(March 30, 2006) — All Saints Anglican Church has filed suit claiming that the Episcopal Diocese of Rochester and its bishop "abused their discretion and failed to follow their own rules and the law of the state of New York" in declaring the church extinct.

The Irondequoit parish, formerly known as All Saints Protestant Episcopal Church, was voted out of the diocese in November after it withheld $16,000 from the diocese. The parish held back the money because it disagreed with the larger body's support of the ordination of a gay bishop in New Hampshire in 2003. All churches in the diocese are expected to pass along some of their income to the diocese, so withholding the money was seen as breaking communion with the churches in the diocese.
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Thursday, March 30, 2006

It is way too nice to sit and blog today!

Anyone living for any length of time in Syracuse NY knows that when we are graced with an absolutely gorgeous spring day, it is impossible to be indoors.

Syracuse is known as the snowiest major city in the US, perhaps the world (although this past year was a fluke!) See Wikipedia. We also have a very high percentage of cloudy days (much to the dismay of my amateur astronomer husband)

So here is a picture of grecian windflowers and early dutch iris blooming under the Rose of Sharon in my backyard. My dog Herschel and I went for a long walk to enjoy God's creation.

The best things are nearest: breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of God just before you. Robert Louis Stevenson

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The most effective workers I know are those who don't allow themselves a moment's anxiety about their work. They commit it all to Jesus, asking Him to guide them step by step and trusting Him implicitly to provide the wisdom and strength they need for each day's work. To see them, you might almost think that they are too free from care, where such important matters are at stake. But when you have learned God's secret of trusting, you will see that a life yielded up to His working is one of rest as well as power. Catherine Jackson

Pro-gay bishop Ssenyonjo defies Archbishop Orombi
Tuesday, 28th March, 2006

The controversial Dr. Christopher Ssenyonjo, who was excommunicated by the Church of Uganda Bishop Dr. Luke Orombi, and stripped of his title and rights, is defiant.

Ssenyonjo told a press conference at his residence in Bukoto, a Kampala suburb, yesterday that he was still a bishop of the Anglican Church of Uganda despite a letter and a statement from Orombi to the contrary.

Ssenyonjo was once suspended by the church over his sympathies for gays. In the statement, Orombi said the Church was taken aback when Ssenyonjo got "a new Archbishop Howard" in America, formed a new denomination, the Charismatic Church of Uganda and consecrated a bishop.

Christopher Ssenyonjo has now been denied the right to exercise the office of a bishop, or retired bishop, in the Church of Uganda, including the spiritual authority as a minister of the Word and sacraments," he said.
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Presiding Bishop Encouraged by Bishops’ Meeting

Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold told The Living Church he is encouraged that the House of Bishops seemed to be of a common mind by the conclusion of the March 17-22 spring retreat, the last at which Bishop Griswold will preside.

“I am very confident as we look ahead to June that the bishops, together with the deputies, will make wise and faithful decisions that will serve the gospel,” he said. “I pray that what we do will be a blessing both to our Church and to our brothers and sisters across the Anglican Communion.”

Bishop Griswold said one of his most memorable impressions during the retreat was the day the bishops spent with theologians from different parts of the world. He said he and others present came to a deeper understanding of the impact that the actions of the “superpower culture” in the Episcopal Church can have on the rest of the world.
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Augustine or Rousseau?
Kendall Harmon

Are human beings born good or born with a volcanic anti-God allergy in their hearts? Answering this theological question is one of the great challenges for Christians as we stand on the brink of a new millennium.

On one side of the divide stands Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778). Men and women “are born free,” he famously said in his Social Contract, yet “everywhere” they are “in chains.” Rousseau believed that we are born good. His explanation for the deep problems in the world? They came to us from outside us. Error and prejudice, murder and treason, were the products of corrupt environments: educational, familial, societal, political, and, yes, ecclesiastical.

Note carefully that the fundamental problem is located outside men and women, and the means of evil developing comes from the outside in. The nature of the problem is one of environment and knowledge.

Augustine (354-430) saw things very differently. Describing the decision by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, Augustine writes in The City of God: “Our parents fell into open disobedience because they were secretly corrupted; for the evil act had never been done had not an evil will preceded it.” The motive for this evil will was pride. “This is undue exaltation, when the soul abandons Him to whom it ought to cleave as its end, and becomes a kind of end to itself … By craving to be more” we “became less;” and “by aspiring to be self-sufficing,” we “fell away from him who truly suffices” us.
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Tolerant San Francisco

Tolerant of everything it seems except
Christianity. In response to a Christian youth rally, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a resolution condemning the rally as an "act of provocation" aimed to "negatively influence the politics of America's most tolerant and progressive city." The people of San Francisco welcomed the "fascist mega-pep rally" by protesting. Assemblyman Mark Leno told those gathered against the youth rally that although such Christians were outnumbered, "they're loud, they're obnoxious, they're disgusting and they should get out of San Francisco." I wonder what would happen to a Christian politician if he said the same thing at a gay event in the South.


Experiencing Prayer With Jesus
Henry Blackaby & Norman Blackaby


Our Key to Life and Ministry

The twelve disciples whom Jesus chose were no doubt men who prayed. They had been raised in a culture that valued and practiced prayer, and each of their hearts must have been prayerfully tender toward God for each man to leave everything and follow after Jesus when He extended His call to them.

And yet, as the disciple went on to closely observe Jesus, they consistently noticed a stark difference between their way of praying and the prayer life of the Lord.

In the presence of these twelve men, Jesus both taught and modeled a radical life of prayer, and it caught their attention. We see this, for example, in Luke 11:1. Jesus "was praying in a certain place," and when He finished, "one of His disciples said to Him, 'Lord, teach us to pray.'" They wanted something better than they already had; they wanted the same reality and vitality of prayer that Jesus experienced.

So He taught them. And everything He taught, He also lived out before them.
the rest-excerpt from the book

Grace as a License for Sin
Why obedience isn't just for legalists.
Stan Guthrie interviews Robert Jeffress
posted 03/29/2006

Evangelical commentators from Ron Sider to George Barna have bemoaned the apparent disconnect between Christian beliefs and practice. Robert Jeffress, minister at First Baptist Church of Wichita Falls, Texas, looks at the problem from a pastoral perspective in Grace Gone Wild: Getting a Grip on God's Amazing Gift (WaterBrook, 2005). Stan Guthrie, a CT senior associate editor, sat down with him.
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Does Anyone Want to Be an Adult Anymore?
Albert Mohler
Posted: Wednesday, March 29, 2006 at 2:53 am ET

Adam Sternbergh raises a very good question in the pages of
New York Magazine. Why do so many adults want to look like kids?

This is an obituary for the generation gap. It is a story about 40-year-old men and women who look, talk, act, and dress like people who are 22 years old. It's not about a fad but about a phenomenon that looks to be permanent. It's about the hedge-fund guy in Park Slope with the chunky square glasses, brown rock T-shirt, slight paunch, expensive jeans, Puma sneakers, and shoulder-slung messenger bag, with two kids squirming over his lap like itchy chimps at the Tea Lounge on Sunday morning. It's about the mom in the low-slung Sevens and ankle boots and vaguely Berlin-art-scene blouse with the $800 stroller and the TV-screen-size Olsen-twins sunglasses perched on her head walking through Bryant Park listening to Death Cab for Cutie on her Nano.

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INDONESIA: Church Forced to Close by Muslim Mob!

VOM contacts in Indonesia reported that two days ago on, March 26, hundreds of radical Muslims converged on the Church of Pentecost in Indonesia (PTDI) in Gunung Putri, Bogor County, West Java during a Sunday morning service. The mob’s angry protest over the property being “misused” as a church building lasted five hours. Some of the women among the 190 congregants began crying hysterically as a result of the mob’s hostile demonstration, with some falling unconscious and collapsing to the ground.

After law enforcement officers of the Resort Police of Gunung Putri set up a meeting between the church’s pastor, Daniel Fekky, and representatives of the Muslim mob, the pastor agreed to close the church and cease all of its Christian activities. Only then did the Muslim mob of 200 disband. Pastor Daniel has led PTDI’s services for nine years, but the residents of Gunung Putri and the local government did not protest his ministry until a year ago. The concerned pastor exclaimed, “If this church is closed down, where can my congregants and their children worship the Lord?”
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'Designer baby' clinic to charge £6,000 per child
By Beezy Marsh, Health Correspondent
(Filed: 26/03/2006)

Britain's first IVF "designer baby" clinic is to charge about £6,000 for a made-to-order infant.
The £5 million centre will bring pioneering embryo screening techniques for the creation of "saviour siblings" to Britain.

In addition, it will offer testing for up to 100 inherited gene disorders such as muscular dystrophy and cystic fibrosis.

Embryos found to be carrying rogue genes will be discarded and only "healthy" embryos implanted into their mothers.

Controversially, doctors at the centre have already obtained the first British licence to treat a couple with an inherited form of bowel cancer in the hope that their baby will never develop the disease. The centre is to be opened by the private Care at the Park IVF Clinic in Nottingham within three months.

New Cellphone Services Put God on the Line
By SARMAD ALIMarch 27, 2006

In late 2004, an ultra-Orthodox rabbi asked Abrasha Burstyn, the chief executive of a small Israeli cellphone company, for a phone that could put the secular world on hold.

Cellphone companies, at the time, had started to load their products with entertainment features, and the rabbi wanted none of it. He was in search of a phone without Internet capabilities or text messaging. He didn't want cameras, music downloading, or anything else that could "distract" the pious. He was looking for a device that could make and receive calls. Period.

Mr. Burstyn, 58 years old, soon found that many other Jews were hunting for similar, simpler cellphones. "They are listening to the rabbis," Mr. Burstyn says. Last March his company, MIRS Communications Ltd., rolled out its first batch of "kosher" phones stripped down of all features but basic voice service. The company's phones, which are available only in Israel, have attracted 20,000 subscribers.
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Solar Eclipse Greeted With Cheers Across Southern Mediterranean

March 29 (Bloomberg) -- People cheered across the small Greek island of Kastellorizo and Egyptians danced in the Sahara desert as skies across the southern Mediterranean darkened for a few minutes with the first solar eclipse of the year.

Europe's best view of the eclipse was from Kastellorizo, 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) off Turkey's southern coast. Hellas Sat, Greece's sole satellite operator, broadcast live from Kastellorizo to video screens in Athens's main Syntagma Square.

Street lamps were turned on across the island when the sun was totally eclipsed, and cheers and applause were heard when the sunlight returned. In Athens, the capital, locals and tourists gathered around the giant screens and donned special dark glasses to view the event. The next total eclipse visible from Greece will take place in 2088.
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Ruth Gledhill Weblog: ABC - billions face death

The one thing we can all be certain about, atheists and believers alike, is that we will all die. So I suppose for the Archbishop of Canterbury to posit
in an interview with the BBC today that without a "real change in attitude", billions of people will die, is technically accurate. The total world population is presently about 6.5 billion. This makes his warning pretty apocalyptic. But the point is whether what he is saying can be argued to be true or not. And even if is justifiably argued that his forecast represents something of a sensationalist exaggeration, this should not be allowed to detract from the rest of his comments.

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Absorbing Europe's Muslims
By H.D.S. Greenway
March 28, 2006

DURING A discussion about Muslims in Europe at the American Academy in Berlin, where I had the opportunity to spend a few weeks this winter, a young man rose to ask a disturbing question.

''In Germany we have the most liberal constitution . . . and freedom of religion," he said. ''There is perhaps more freedom than is available in any other country of the world. But on the other hand there is a paradox which I have experienced personally as a German of Pakistani descent." For even though he had been born in Germany, spoke fluent German, and had even served in the German Army, he found Germany ''one of the most psychologically hostile countries towards Muslims."

''This is not concerning the state and the government, but concerning the hearts and minds of the German people," he said. ''There is an extremely negative attitude -- a hostile attitude towards Muslims. What can be done to overcome that and to achieve a certain kind of peaceful coexistence?"

Germany is not alone in having difficulties absorbing immigrants, especially Muslims, who make up the fastest-growing minority in Europe. Originally recruited as ''guest workers" who were supposed to go home eventually, these mostly Muslim immigrants stayed on, sent for their families, and now are in their second and third generations. And more are coming every day.

Leader of Chicago's Episcopalians to resign
March 29, 2006
Religion Reporter

Bishop William Persell, leader of the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago, announced Tuesday his plans to resign next year from the post he's held since 1998.

Citing his age and recent health problems, Persell, 62, said he will resign in the fall of 2007 upon the consecration of his successor, the next Episcopal bishop of Chicago's diocese and shepherd to its approximately 44,000 Episcopalians in northern Illinois.

"While my mind and heart are very much committed to helping advance the church's mission here, my stamina is not what it was when you welcomed me into your life in 1998," Persell said in a statement.
the rest

Poll: Americans See, Hear More Profanity

This is a story about words we can't print in this story. You probably hear these words often, and more than ever before. But even though we can't print them - we do have our standards - we can certainly ask: Are we living in an Age of Profanity?

Nearly three-quarters of Americans questioned last week - 74 percent - said they encounter profanity in public frequently or occasionally, according to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll. Two-thirds said they think people swear more than they did 20 years ago. And as for, well, the gold standard of foul words, a healthy 64 percent said they use the F-word - ranging from several times a day (8 percent) to a few times a year (15 percent).
the rest

Dutchman builds modern Noah's Ark

Dutchman Johan Huibers is building a working replica of Noah's Ark as a testament to his Christian faith.

The 47-year-old from Schagen, 45km (30 miles) north of Amsterdam, plans to set sail in September through the interior waters of the Netherlands.

Johan's Ark is a fifth of the size of Noah's and will carry farmyard animals.

Mr Huibers, who plans to open the vessel as a religious monument and zoo, hopes the project will renew interest in Christianity in the Netherlands.

Although Mr Huibers has tried to remain true to the ark described in the Bible, Johan's Ark is constructed with American cedar and Norwegian pine, rather than "gopher wood".
the rest

Afghanistan treads religious tightrope
By Sanjoy Majumder
BBC News, Kabul

The decision to relea se Abdul Rahman, the Christian convert accused of rejecting Islam, came as the Afghan government faced increasing pressure from the international community.

US President George W Bush led the protests and his Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice joined other world leaders in ringing up Afghan President Hamid Karzai over the issue.

It was not surprising, then, that President Karzai personally intervened in the matter, holding a series of meetings over the weekend with top officials from his government and the judiciary to try to resolve the issue.
the rest

Afghan Christian Convert Flees to Italy
Wednesday, March 29, 2006

'Big Love': Real Polygamists Look at HBO Polygamists and Find Sex
Published: March 28, 2006

SALT LAKE CITY — Yuck, she said. A sex scene. And right at the beginning of the show, her friend chimed in.

"Big Love," HBO's new take on a fictional polygamous family in the suburbs of this city, was on the television. The Viagra-popping Bill Henrickson (Bill Paxton) was thrashing in bed with Margene (Ginnifer Goodwin), the youngest of his three wives. The five women watching the show — covering their eyes during the sex scenes, chiding the competitive wives, urging Bill to take control — were critics with special credentials: a current or past polygamous marriage.

'War' on Christians Is Alleged
Conference Depicts a Culture Hostile to Evangelical Beliefs
Alan Cooperman
Washington Post Staff Writer

Wednesday, March 29, 2006 The "War on Christmas" has morphed into a "War on Christians."
Last December, some evangelical Christian groups declared that the religious celebration of Christmas -- and even the phrase "Merry Christmas" -- was under attack by the forces of secularism.

The "War on Christmas" has morphed into a "War on Christians."

Last December, some evangelical Christian groups declared that the religious celebration of Christmas -- and even the phrase "Merry Christmas" -- was under attack by the forces of secularism.

This week, radio commentator Rick Scarborough convened a two-day conference in Washington on the "War on Christians and the Values Voters in 2006." The opening session was devoted to "reports from the frontlines" on "persecution" of Christians in the United States and Canada, including an artist whose paintings were barred from a municipal art show in Deltona, Fla., because they contained religious themes.
the rest

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

"O Thou who art my quietness”

How easy it is for us to be overtaken by life’s events, both great and small, and forget the “rest” in which we are to live. Even when we are not in control of many of the situations we have to deal with, we lose the Sabbath rest that is spoken of in Hebrews when we become worried and stressed.

Hebrews 4:1

“Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it.”

Hebrews 4:9-11
‘So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God's rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.’

Of course, the true Sabbath rest that that the writer of Hebrews speaks of in chapter 4 is our life in Jesus.

I love this quote from Brother Lawrence’s “The Practice of the Presence of God”: “The time of business,” said he, “does not with me differ from the time of prayer; and in the noise and clutter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess GOD in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees at the Blessed Sacrament.”

Amy Carmichael speaks to my heart in this poem-prayer-meditation that a friend gave me a while back and which I always pull out when I’m am having a hard time:

"O Thou who art my quietness, my deep repose,
My rest from strife of tongues, my holy hill,
Fair is Thy pavilion, where I hold me still.
Back let them fall from me, my clamorous foes,
Confusions multiplied;
From crowding things of sense I flee, and in Thee hide,
Until this tyranny be overpast,
Thy hand will hold me fast;
What though the tumult of the storm increase,
Grant to Thy servant strength, O Lord,
And bless with peace."
-Amy Carmichael

Lord, how easily we get caught up in the cares and stresses of everyday life and forget to enter Your rest! Teach us by Your Holy Spirit to quickly run to You when we are frazzled and worn. Thank you for Your promise of rest!

Monday, March 27, 2006

Drawing Near to God

Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. (James 4:8)

The nearer we come to God, the more graciously will He reveal Himself to us. When the prodigal comes to his father, his father runs to meet him. When the wandering dove returns to the ark, Noah puts out his hand to pull her in unto him, When the tender wife seeks her husband's society, he comes to her on wings of love. Come then, dear friend, let us draw nigh to God who so graciously awaits us, yea, comes to meet us.

Did you ever notice that passage in Isaiah 58:9? There the Lord seems to put Himself at the disposal of His people, saying to them, "Here I am." As much as to say—"What have you to say to me? What can I do for you? I am waiting to bless you." How can we hesitate to draw near? God is nigh to forgive, to bless, to comfort, to help, to quicken, to deliver. Let it be the main point with us to get near to God. This done, all is done. If we draw near to others, they may before long grow weary of us and leave us; but if we seek the Lord alone, no change will come over His mind, but He will continue to come nearer and yet nearer to us by fuller and more joyful fellowship. CH Spurgeon Art

Check out the new blog:

The Lobster Pot

The Failure of the Tennessee Swing
Matt Kennedy+

What a wonderful weekend. Despite the vain and desperate attempts of
Albany Via Media and the Albany Times Union, the diocese of Albany elected the solidly orthodox Father William Love to the office of bishop. This is not only a great victory for Anglicanism in the northeast, it is a solid and enthusiastic reaffirmation of bishop Herzog’s leadership and integrity. The scurrilously suggestive articles in the Times Union falsely associating the bishop with financial “irregularities” and “mismanagement” were soundly and utterly rejected. The clergy and people of Albany were not fooled.

There had been some worry. The diocese is nothing if not solid, but the orthodox put up such a large number nominees that some feared the vote would split and the lone Via Media candidate might garner a slim majority by picking off the moderates. Thankfully that did not happen.

The rest at Stand Firm

Making Sense of Tennessee
Richard Kew

We are living through tumultuous times in the Diocese of Tennessee. Had we been a simple majority diocese I suspect that by now Neal Michell would have been bishop-elect, and we would be starting to think about how we move forward together in mission in this weird and wonderful century. But we are not a simple majority diocese, we require 2/3 in each order to elect, which is difficult enough in less troubled times, but given where we are today it seems to be a North Face of the Eiger that needs to be scaled. We gather again on May 6th to give it another try.

But what is behind this? Although the mix is distinctively different, in many ways this is akin to the stand-off that is happening in other parts of all the churches, not just the Episcopal Church. The Diocese of Tennessee has changed enormously in the last dozen years, going from being a jurisdiction whose previous bishop had died in office amidst enormous confusion. Tennessee, despite its ancient name, was, in effect, a new diocese carved out of one that used to cover the whole state, and the previous bishop never really grasped that -- and the dynamics that go with it.

The rest at the Kew Continuum

Rhode Island Bans Abstinence-Only Sex Education from Schools
Melanie Hunter
Senior Editor

( - Rhode Island has banned an abstinence-only-until-marriage program from public schools, saying the program violates students' rights, embraces sexist stereotypes, and isolates homosexual teens.

Education Commissioner Peter McWalters issued a directive last week in a letter to schools ordering them not to use the program or the associated materials. He said classes taught by Heritage of Rhode Island were never approved by state officials and his office would create a panel to review the HIV/AIDS curricula of all schools in the state.
the rest

By John Leo

Sun Mar 26, 8:30 PM ET

The controversy over gay adoptions in Massachusetts is an issue that can be framed two ways. In the conventional liberal narrative, this is a simple issue of bias: The Catholic Church must not be allowed to deny gay couples the right to adopt children. The other frame, generally absent from discussions so far, raises this question: Under what conditions can the state force churches and religious agencies to violate their own principles?

This question has come up again and again, as pressure on churches to accept dominant, secular norms has increased. This pressure includes laws requiring Catholic institutions to provide contraceptive services and "morning after" pills to female employees, attempts to force religious hospitals to do abortions and provide abortion training, and the use of anti-racketeering laws to punish right-to-life demonstrators.

Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Boston, after 103 years of working for adoptions, will retire from those services this June rather than accept the state's mandate. Gov. Mitt Romney, a Mormon, has proposed a religious exemption for the church, pointing out that many other agencies approve adoptions by gay couples. The Boston Globe, as ardently anti-Catholic as ever, sternly reminded him that he is a "governor, not a bishop," which he probably already knew. The state legislature, believed to be three-quarters Catholic, has refused to grant an exemption, in large part out of fury over the church's nonchalant handling of the clerical sex scandals.
the rest

'Marriage Is for White People'
By Joy Jones
Sunday, March 26, 2006

I grew up in a time when two-parent families were still the norm, in both black and white America. Then, as an adult, I saw divorce become more commonplace, then almost a rite of passage. Today it would appear that many -- particularly in the black community -- have dispensed with marriage altogether.

But as a black woman, I have witnessed the outrage of girlfriends when the ex failed to show up for his weekend with the kids, and I've seen the disappointment of children who missed having a dad around. Having enjoyed a close relationship with my own father, I made a conscious decision that I wanted a husband, not a live-in boyfriend and not a "baby's daddy," when it came my time to mate and marry.

My time never came.

For years, I wondered why not. And then some 12-year-olds enlightened me.

"Marriage is for white people."
the rest

Jews, Christians shut from Temple Mount
Muslim access to holy site unrestricted despite Islamic threats to Israeli elections
Posted: March 27, 20069:41 p.m. Eastern
By Aaron Klein

JERUSALEM – One day before national elections here, Jerusalem police this morning closed the Temple Mount to Jews and Christians in response to what officials say are specific threats – mostly by Muslim groups – related to disrupting the voting.

The Temple Mount is the holiest site to Judaism. Muslims today were able to access the Mount without restrictions.

We had information that if the Jews come to the Temple Mount, the Muslims will start violence. So we took the decision to close the Mount to Jews and tourists," Jerusalem police spokesman Shmulik Ben Ruby told WorldNetDaily.
the rest

Standing Behind the Pulpit
How to Preach the Word in a World of Words
By Gary D. Robinson
March 24, 2006

While planting a new church, I wrestled with the concept of preaching. At the time, “seeker services” were all the rage. Everybody knew about the Incredible Shrinking Attention Span, where the remote control is always within reach, the effects are always special, and the image always shifting. In such a climate, preaching—one guy standing in one place talking about one thing—seems anachronistic.

So I began the new congregation, injecting movie clips and funny skits into our services. It wasn’t that I abandoned preaching; preaching was in my blood. But I fretted at first that, if we didn’t offer some novelty, people wouldn’t come back. The interesting thing was that those who did come back—and kept coming back—did so for two reasons: The love of God they found. The Word of God they heard.
The rest

Once target of missionaries, African Christians become most dynamic force in the faith
AP Religion Writer
Sunday, March 26, 2006

LAGOS, Nigeria -- Dawn is near. But the congregation shows no sign of tiring. For more than eight hours -- all through a torrid tropical night -- they have danced, shouted and prayed with a preacher most simply call Daddy.

More than 300,000 have come. But for the Redeemed Christian Church of God, it's just an average turnout.

Think big. Then think even bigger.

This is the face of 21st century Christianity: colossal, restless -- and African. There's no better lesson than the Redeemed Church, and the insatiable ambitions of its guiding hand, Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye. The savvy former mathematician leads the fastest-growing Christian movement on a continent that's rapidly putting its stamp on the faith around the world.
the rest

Boom in African Christianity spills over to America

Conversion a thorny issue in Muslim world
By Rachel Morarjee and Dan Murphy

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN; AND CAIRO – Under pressure from the US, the Vatican, and other Western leaders, Afghanistan's fledgling democracy Sunday sidestepped a politically charged case in which prosecutors had sought the death penalty for a Muslim man who converted to Christianity.

Rather than pass judgment on Abdul Rahman, an Afghan who converted while living abroad 16 years ago, the court declared him mentally unfit for trial Sunday. "He is a sick person," said Mohammed Eshaq Aloko, Afghanistan's deputy attorney general. Afghan officials said Mr. Rahman would be transferred to a hospital for psychiatric evaluation.

The case has not only thrown a spotlight on the laws and practices of an Afghan government that the United States helped to install but is a reminder of the limits - sometimes severely enforced - placed on religious freedoms by many countries in the Muslim world.
the rest

Killing Babies,
The Netherlands follows in Germany's footsteps.
by Wesley J. Smith

AT LAST A HIGH GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL in Europe got up the nerve to chastise the Dutch government for preparing to legalize infant euthanasia. Italy's Parliamentary Affairs minister, Carlo Giovanardi, said during a radio debate: "Nazi legislation and Hitler's ideas are reemerging in Europe via Dutch euthanasia laws and the debate on how to kill ill children."

Unsurprisingly, the Dutch, ever prickly about international criticism of their peculiar institution, were outraged. Giovanardi's critique cut so deeply that even Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende felt the need to respond, sniffing, "This [Giovanardi's assertion] is scandalous and unacceptable. This is not the way to get along in Europe."

As is often the case in the New Europe, what is said matters more than what is done. Thus, the prime minister of the Netherlands thinks that killing babies because they are born with terminal or seriously disabling conditions is not a scandal, but daring to point out accurately that German doctors did the same during World War II, is.

That being noted, one wishes Giovanardi had thought twice before raising the Nazi specter. Partly, this is because nothing we are talking about today matches the scope or magnitude of Nazi crimes. As a result, accusing people of Nazi-like behavior allows those amply deserving of moral condemnation to deflect reproaches. Thus, Giovanardi says that killing disabled babies is what the Nazis did, and the Dutch merely retort (correctly) that they are not Nazis.
the rest

New Ways to Call Over the Internet Debut
Mar 27, 12:23 AM EST
AP Technology Writer

NEW YORK (AP) -- Two Internet telephone services debut Monday with unusual business approaches, hoping to stand out in an increasingly crowded market with intense price competition.
Lycos, the Internet portal owned by Spanish telecommunications company Telefonica SA, is launching a Windows-based program that provides free calls to phones when the user signs up for promotional offers for credit cards or Netflix's DVD service. The software also shows banner ads.

Users who don't sign up for offers will pay 1 cent a minute for domestic calls when they exhaust their initial 100 free minutes.

Some European voice-over-Internet companies, like Voipdiscount, have been providing free calls to countries including the United States. They don't however, provide free U.S. phone numbers for incoming calls, which Lycos does.
the rest

Political Groups Fear Future of Pay-to-Send E-Mail Rules
Monday, March 27, 2006
By Melissa Drosjack

WASHINGTON — Liberal, conservative and political groups in between have joined forces in a rarely documented event, gathering in mass opposition against plans by Internet service providers to charge mass e-mailers to send out messages.

Grassroots organizations are fired up over America Online's and Yahoo's decisions to place a fee on groups that send e-mail to large numbers of users without first being sorted through junk mail filters. Opponents say the new fees will limit their ability to reach their members on legislation, candidates and other issues of importance to them.

"Our biggest concern is that it's going to hamper our ability to get information to our members so that they are able to contact their congressman or senator," said William Greene, president of, a conservative grassroots group with an estimated one million members nationwide. Story

Rising Tide of Applications Lifts Fortunes of Christian Colleges
By G. Jeffrey MacDonald
Religion News Service
Saturday, March 25, 2006

Evangelical Christian colleges are attracting record numbers of applications this year, a trend that bodes well for an educational niche that was struggling to survive a generation ago.

Applications have jumped 8 to 10 percent at the 238 colleges that belong to the North American Association of Christian Admissions Professionals, according to Executive Director Chant Thompson. More applications mean more students on campuses next fall, he says, and that's good news, because 25 percent of those schools are barely breaking even.


UK: B&B law sparks Bible backlash
Denis Campbell,
social affairs correspondent
Sunday March 26, 2006
The Observer

When the Government decided to outlaw people being discriminated against because of their religion or sexuality, it hoped the move would guarantee equal treatment for all of Britain's increasingly diverse population.

But nobody in Whitehall foresaw the backlash that would unfold when hundreds of committed Christians who run bed-and-breakfasts were deprived of their right to ban gays, unmarried couples and people of other faiths from staying under their roof.

Hundreds of B&B owners across the country have been writing to ministers complaining that the new rules will force them to 'betray God' and their consciences by allowing 'undesirables' to enjoy their hospitality.
the rest

Holy comic books!
Saints are the latest superheroes
By Elizabeth Day
(Filed: 26/03/2006)

A chisel-jawed man with flowing chestnut-brown locks, rippling muscles and a penchant for "endless parties" stares from the cover of the latest comic book. This is not Superman or one of the traditional superheroes, but St Francis of Assisi, the pious 13th century monk who became the Roman Catholic patron saint of animals and the environment. This is sainthood: comic book style.

The lives of the saints have been turned into comic books by a publishing company hoping to attract young people to the Catholic Church.

the rest

Sunday, March 26, 2006

But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. --James 1:6

When entering the prayer chamber, we must come filled with faith and armed with courage. Nowhere else in the whole field of religious thought and activity is courage so necessary as in prayer. The successful prayer must be one without condition. We must believe that God is love and that, being love, He cannot harm us but must ever do us good. Then we must throw ourselves before him and pray with boldness for whatever we know our good and His glory require, and the cost is no object! Whatever He in His love and wisdom would assess against us, we will accept with delight because it pleased Him. Prayers like that cannot go unanswered. The character and reputation of God guarantee their fulfillment.

We should always keep in mind the infinite loving kindness of God. No one need fear to put his life in His hands. His yoke is easy; His burden is light. AW Tozer photo

Afghan court drops case against Christian
Sunday, March 26, 2006 09:30:46 AM

An Afghan court on Sunday dismissed a case against a man who converted from Islam to Christianity because of a lack of evidence and he will be released soon, officials said.

The announcement came as U.S.-backed President Hamid Karzai faced mounting foreign pressure to free Abdul Rahman, a move that risked angering Muslim clerics here who have called for him to be killed.

An official closely involved with the case told The Associated Press that it had been returned to the prosecutors for more investigation, but that in the meantime, Rahman would be released.

"The court dismissed today the case against Abdul Rahman for a lack of information and a lot of legal gaps in the case," the official said Sunday, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
The rest

Paganism in Our Churches
By Lee Duigon
Mar 26, 2006

Is a historic Protestant denomination in America falling into neo-paganism? Teetering on the brink of apostasy? And if it is, why should that concern the rest of us?

A little over a year ago, the Episcopal Church USA, already deep in controversy for having America's only openly homosexual bishop, sank deeper when Christianity Today reported that the ECUSA's official website ( sported openly pagan rituals dedicated to a "Queen of Heaven," complete with offerings of raisin cakes.

The ritual begins:
"Mother God, our ancient sisters called you Queen of Heaven and baked these cakes in your honor in defiance of their brothers and husbands who would not see your feminine face."

The Bible specifically condemns such rituals in Hosea 3 and Jeremiah 7.

The ECUSA's Office of Women's Ministries took the raisin cake ritual off its website. But has the denomination learned its lesson?

The rest: First of four parts-links at bottom of the article

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Bishop Dan Herzog of Albany and his successor, Fr. Bill Love- Bishop Coadjutor-elect
March 25, 2006

picture by Raymond Dague

Fr. Bill Love of St. Mary's Lake Luzerne in the Diocese of Albany was elected Bishop Coadjutor on the fourth ballot this afternoon. He has asked us to pray that he will have the strength, courage and faith to be obedient. He said, "I need your help, your support, your prayers. We are all in this together." His election was met with thunderous applause.

*Pray that he will have the strength, courage and faith to be obedient.
*Pray that he will be approved by the General Convention of the Episcopal Church in June.

*Pray that he will receive the full measure of help, support and prayer from all parts of the diocese.
From Albany Intercessor

Michael Schiavo Caught in Serious Distortion of Truth on NBC Interview
By John-Henry Westen

CLEARWATER, FLA., March 24, 2006 ( - Michael Schiavo, who ordered doctors to withhold food and water from his severely disabled wife Terri until she died, and his current wife Jodi were interviewed by NBC's Matt Lauer. Those exclusive interviews based on Schiavo's upcoming book "Terri: The Truth," are to be broadcast on "Dateline," Sunday, March 26 at 7 p.m.. Ironically, despite claiming to speak about 'the truth' concerning Terri, NBC's Lauer catches Schiavo in a serious distortion of truth as the interview begins.

In the interview, Michael responds to Lauer asking why he would not just divorce Terri - since he was already living with another woman with whom he had fathered children - leaving Terri with her own parents who were begging to be allowed to care for her. Michael answered, "When you sit in a courtroom and you hear her father say I'll cut her arms and her legs off, just to keep her alive, why would I want to put their daughter back in their care if he's gonna (sic) do that to her."
the rest

Staver: Teacher's Bible-Based Opinion on Homosexuality No Grounds for Discipline
Attorney Suggests School Wouldn't Win a Court Case If It Comes to That
By Jim Brown and Jody Brown
March 24, 2006

(AgapePress) - A Florida-based Christian attorney says a Miami public high school was wrong to publicly reprimand a teacher for stating her biblical opposition to homosexuality while being interviewed for a student video project that was broadcast throughout the school.

Teacher Donna Reddick was one of several people at the school who were interviewed by students in a television production class who were doing a three-day segment regarding homosexuality. The students' productions are broadcast regularly over the school public address system following morning announcements.
the rest

Rome, 22 March

(AKI) - Abdul Rahman, the man condemned to death for having abandoned Islam, is just one of many Afghanis who decide to convert to Christianity, but most are forced to do so secretly, argues Arab Christian author Camille Eid. In an interview with Adnkronos International (AKI) Eid, author of "The Christians who come from Islam", said during a recent trip to Afghanistan he met many similar cases. "They are Christians who have sprung out of nowhere and it's unclear how they have decided by themselves to convert" he added. The US, Italy, Germany and Canada have all expressed concern over the fate of Rahman who converted to Christianity 16 years ago.

"I also spoke to a priest who had passed through Kabul and he said he was amazed that women sitting on the ground at the local market saw he was a foreigner and a Christian, by the cross he was wearing, and attracted his attention to them by making a sign of the cross with their fingers. He was convinced that they were trying to send him a coded message" said Eid, a Lebanese Maronite who lives in Italy.