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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Condom distribution at church

The Institute on Religion & Democracy is blasting the religious denomination of President Barack Obama for its recent stance on condom distribution inside houses of worship.

Recently, the HIV and AIDS Network of the United Church of Christ (UCC) said condoms should be handed out at places of worship. The statement was issued during a presentation to the denomination's Wider Church Ministries Board and also advocated making condoms available at faith-based educational settings.

A UCC executive said that condom distribution is a matter of life and death and that condoms should be made available to save the lives of young people.

Calling it the denomination's "moral responsibility" to make condoms available, the UCC's executive for health and wellness advocacy said "people of faith make condoms available because we have chosen life so that we and our children may live."

Alan Wisdom, with the Institute on Religion & Democracy, believes the UCC's statement is dangerous. "It sends a message to youth particularly, the kids who meet in their Sunday schools, that the church really has no expectation of them in terms of sexuality, that it expects them to enter into multiple sexual relationships in the same way the world does, and that its only concern is they not pick up diseases," he notes.

The UCC's condom distribution is the latest step in the denomination's departure from its Puritan roots, Wisdom concludes.


Here is the link to the original story: Condoms
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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Knowing Philosophy





















Last night I saw the movie, Knowing. It offers the audience a lot to think about! Near the beginning, the lead character played by Nicolas Cage is giving a lecture. He offers two main points during his lesson, Randomness and Determinism.

I posted an article about this at the Wordview blog. Here is the link:
Movie
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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

John Cotton (1585-1652)

The Reverend John Cotton (December 4, 1585 – December 23, 1652) was a highly regarded principal among the New England Puritan ministers, who also included John Winthrop, Thomas Hooker, Increase Mather (who became his son-in-law), John Davenport, and Thomas Shepard. He was the grandfather of Cotton Mather, who was named after him.

Born in England, he was educated at Derby School, in buildings which are now the Derby Heritage Centre, and attended Cambridge University, where he also taught, and became a long-serving minister in the English town of Boston, Lincolnshire before his Puritanism and criticism of hierarchy drew the hostile attention of Church of England authorities. In 1633, William Laud was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury, and like numerous other Puritan nonconformist figures, Cotton soon came under his close "eye of scrutiny". In the same year Cotton, his family, and a few local followers sailed for the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

The Brownist congregational movement within the Church of England had by this stage, in effect at least, become a separate church. Because of his early views on the primacy of congregational government, his was an important role in Puritan aspirations to become the "city on a hill" which might help reform the English church. He is best known among other things for his initial defense of Anne Hutchinson early in her trials during the Antinomian crisis, during which she mentioned him with respect, though he turned strongly against her with the further course of the trial. He is also remembered for his role in the banishment of Roger Williams regarding the role of democracy and the separation of church and state in the Puritan theonomic society, both of which Williams tended to advocate. Cotton grew still more conservative in his views with the years but always retained the estimation of his community.

He was invited to attend the Westminster Assembly of Divines. He was keen to attend, though Winthrop said that he couldn't see the point of "travelling 3,000 miles to agree with three men?"[1] Cotton's desire to attend changed with the events leading up to the English Civil War with the split between the King and Parliament. Cotton believed that he could be more effective in influencing the Assembly through his writings.[2] Cotton's written legacy includes a body of correspondence, numerous sermons, a catechism, and in 1646 a shorter catechism for children titled Milk for Babes,[3] which is considered the first children's book by an American and was incorporated into The New England Primer around 1701 and remained a component of that work for over 150 years. His most famous sermon is probably Gods Promise to His Plantation (1630), preached at the departure of John Winthrop's fleet for New England.

Cotton is buried in the King's Chapel Burial Ground in central Boston, MA, in the same grave as John Davenport (d. 1670), John Oxonbridge (d. 1674) and Thomas Bridge (d. 1713).
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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Secrets of the Wizard of Oz

Sunday in my sermon I mentioned how the movie, The Wizard Of Oz was really about politics and economics. When I said that, I had no idea that today the BBC would do an entire story on the subject. I have posted all the information at the Worldview blog. Here is the link: Oz
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Monday, March 16, 2009

Boom-years borrowing hits churches

By RACHEL ZOLL-AP Religion Writer
Posted: 03/15/2009 12:00:00 AM PDT



From a group of freed slaves in Civil War-era Washington, Metropolitan Baptist had grown into a modern-day megachurch and community service powerhouse. In 2006, construction began on the congregation's dream complex in Largo, Md. — a $30 million campus with a 3,000-seat church, an education center and an 1,100-car parking lot.

Last year, the congregation sold its church in Washington. Preparations began for the move to what leaders had taken to calling "God's land in Largo."

But on Oct. 20, their plans were abruptly put on hold.

The Rev. H. Beecher Hicks learned that financing for the project had dried up. Construction stopped. And the congregation found that it was homeless — reduced to renting space and struggling to find new financing.

Read entire story:
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Scholar Claims Dead Sea Scrolls 'Authors' Never Existed

Biblical scholars have long argued that the Dead Sea Scrolls were the work of an ascetic and celibate Jewish community known as the Essenes, which flourished in the 1st century A.D. in the scorching desert canyons near the Dead Sea. Now a prominent Israeli scholar, Rachel Elior, disputes that the Essenes ever existed at all — a claim that has shaken the bedrock of biblical scholarship.

Elior, who teaches Jewish mysticism at Jerusalem's Hebrew University, claims that the Essenes were a fabrication by the 1st century A.D. Jewish-Roman historian Flavius Josephus and that his faulty reporting was passed on as fact throughout the centuries. As Elior explains, the Essenes make no mention of themselves in the 900 scrolls found by a Bedouin shepherd in 1947 in the caves of Qumran, near the Dead Sea. "Sixty years of research have been wasted trying to find the Essenes in the scrolls," Elior tells TIME. "But they didn't exist. This is legend on a legend."

Elior contends that Josephus, a former Jewish priest who wrote his history while being held captive in Rome, "wanted to explain to the Romans that the Jews weren't all losers and traitors, that there were many exceptional Jews of religious devotion and heroism. You might say it was the first rebuttal to anti-Semitic literature." She adds, "He was probably inspired by the Spartans. For the Romans, the Spartans were the highest ideal of human behavior, and Josephus wanted to portray Jews who were like the Spartans in their ideals and high virtue."

To read the rest of the article follow this link:

Dead Sea
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Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Motions









Matthew West - The Motions
From the album Something To Say

This might hurt
It’s not safe
But I know that I’ve gotta make a change
I don’t care If I break

At least I’ll be feeling something
‘Cause just ok
Is not enough
Help me fight through the nothingness of life

Chorus
I don’t wanna go through the motions
I don’t wanna go one more day
Without Your all consuming passion inside of me
I don’t wanna spend my whole life asking
What if I had given everything?
Instead of going through the motions

No regrets
Not this time
I’m gonna let my heart defeat my mind
Let Your love
Make me whole
I think I’m finally feeling something

Take me all the way
Take me all the way
Take me all the way
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The most precious thing in heaven or earth

The most precious thing in heaven or earth

In giving Christ to die for poor sinners, God gave the
richest jewel in His cabinet; a mercy of the greatest
worth, and most inestimable value.

Heaven itself is not so valuable and precious as Christ
is! Ten thousand thousand worlds—as many worlds as
angels can number, would not outweigh Christ's love,
excellency and sweetness! O what a lovely One! What
an excellent, beautiful, ravishing One—is Christ!

Put the beauty of ten thousand paradises, like the garden
of Eden, into one; put all flowers, all smells, all colors, all
tastes, all joys, all sweetness, all loveliness into one; O
what a lovely and excellent thing would that be!

And yet it should be less to that loveliest and dearest well
beloved Christ—than one drop of rain to all the seas, rivers,
lakes, and fountains of ten thousand earths!

Now, for God to bestow the mercy of mercies, the most
precious thing in heaven or earth, upon poor sinners;
and, as great, as lovely, as excellent as His Son was—what
kind of love is this! JOHN FLAVEL
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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Does Satan Exist?














The devil -- also known as Satan, Lucifer and Beelzebub -- has become the primary antagonist in almost every major religion. He is seen as the rebel, a serpent and a fallen angel who tempts mortals into committing sin, and preys upon their despair. But does Satan really exist?



That question will be debated Friday, March 20, when "Nightline" tackles the controversial and sensitive issue in the third installment of the "Face-Off" series.

The "Nightline Face-Off" launched two years ago by asking the question "Does God Exist?" The Face-Off aired on ABCNews.com and more than 15,000 comments were posted on the Web site as viewers engaged in the debate.

The conversation will pick up with a debate on the devil in Seattle at the Mars Hill Church, moderated by Dan Harris, who covers faith issues for the network.


You can read the rest of this story at this link: Devil
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Friday, March 13, 2009

Sex claims against US Church rise

The number of new claims of sexual abuse made against US Roman Catholic priests rose by 16% to more than 800 last year, a Church report says.

It says the Church paid more than $430m in 2008 for abuse cases. Most of the money was used to compensate victims.

The study covered almost 200 dioceses and religious orders across the US.

It found that more than one in five victims were under the age of 10 when they were abused.

Although the number of claims made against the Church rose in 2008, the total cost dropped by 29% compared to the previous year.

The Associated Press news agency said 2007 was an unusually high year, when the Archdiocese of Los Angeles began paying a $660m settlement to about 500 people.

The annual review tracks progress made in implementing the Charter for the Protection of Children, adopted by US bishops following a scandal in Boston in 2002.

Cardinal Francis George of Chicago said the Church was "on the right path" in its quest to better protect "all children in society".



Story from BBC NEWS:
Church
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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Where is everyone?

Where did everyone go?





If you are trying to figure out why this blog is so quiet right now, visit the Worldview blog.
I have been busy at that blog and have posted all kinds of things. Today the big post is, Powerful sandstorm hits Riyadh. I am approaching 200 visits to the blog becasue of that post. So take a few minutes and stop by the Worldview blog and leave a few comments. Here is the link: Worldview
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Monday, March 9, 2009

Amazing Grace by Il Divo

An outstanding rendition of Amazing Grace by Il Divo in Rome's Coliseum.



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America becoming less Christian, survey finds

The following was found at Cnn.com

CNN) -- America is a less Christian nation than it was 20 years ago, and Christianity is not losing out to other religions, but primarily to a rejection of religion altogether, a survey published Monday found.

Three out of four Americans call themselves Christian, according to the American Religious Identification Survey from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. In 1990, the figure was closer to nine out of 10 -- 86 percent.

At the same time there has been an increase in the number of people expressing no religious affiliation.

The survey also found that "born-again" or "evangelical" Christianity is on the rise, while the percentage who belong to "mainline" congregations such as the Episcopal or Lutheran churches has fallen.

One in three Americans consider themselves evangelical, and the number of people associated with mega-churches has skyrocketed from less than 200,000 in 1990 to more than 8 million in the latest survey.

The rise in evangelical Christianity is contributing to the rejection of religion altogether by some Americans, said Mark Silk of Trinity College.

"In the 1990s, it really sunk in on the American public generally that there was a long-lasting 'religious right' connected to a political party, and that turned a lot of people the other way," he said of the link between the Republican Party and groups such as the Moral Majority and Focus on the Family.

"In an earlier time, people who would have been content to say, 'Well, I'm some kind of a Protestant,' now say 'Hell no, I won't go,'" he told CNN.

Silk also said the revelation that some Catholic priests had sexually abused children -- and senior figures in the church hierarchy had helped to hide it -- had driven some Catholics away from religion.

And, he said, it is now more socially acceptable than it once was to admit having no religion.

"You're not declaring yourself a total pariah. The culture has changed in a way that makes it easier to say, 'No, I don't have a religion. Even in the past year, Mitt Romney and Barack Obama feel obliged to talk about 'those of no faith,'" he pointed out. Obama mentioned people without faith in his inaugural address in January, making him the first president to do so.

In the survey, one in five Americans said they have no religious identity or did not answer the question, and more than one in four said they do not expect to have a religious funeral.

The rise in what the survey authors call "nones" is the only trend reflected in every single state in the study, Silk said.

"We don't see anything else in the survey that is nationwide," he told CNN.

Other findings include:

• The percentage of Catholics in the United States has remained steady at about one in four since 1990, while the percentage of other Christians has plummeted from 60 percent to 50 percent.

• The percentage of Muslims has doubled since 1990, but remains statistically very small, only 0.3 percent in the original survey and 0.6 percent today.

• Mormons have remained steady as a percentage of the population, even as the number of people in the United States has grown. They make up 1.4 percent of the population.

• The number of Jews in the United States is falling if the category includes only those who define themselves as Jews religiously, but has remained the same if the category includes people who consider themselves ethnically Jewish.

The survey polled 54,461 Americans between February and November of last year. Pollsters conducted the research in both English and Spanish.

The survey is the third in a series, following polls in 1990 and 2001.


Here is the link to the report: Religion
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Sunday, March 8, 2009

Famed pastor predicts imminent catastrophe

A respected pastor, best-selling author and founder of a major ministry to teens predicts an imminent "earth-shattering calamity" centered in New York City that will spread to major urban areas across the country and around the world – part of what he sees as a judgment from God.

David Wilkerson, author of "The Cross and the Switchblade," a book about his ministry to troubled New York street kids that was later made into a movie starring Pat Boone, tells readers of his blog this weekend that he is "compelled by the Holy Spirit to send out an urgent message" about his prediction.

"An earth-shattering calamity is about to happen," he writes. "It is going to be so frightening, we are all going to tremble – even the godliest among us."

Wilkerson's vision is of fires raging through New York City.

"It will engulf the whole megaplex, including areas of New Jersey and Connecticut. Major cities all across America will experience riots and blazing fires – such as we saw in Watts, Los Angeles, years ago," he explains. "There will be riots and fires in cities worldwide. There will be looting – including Times Square, New York City. What we are experiencing now is not a recession, not even a depression. We are under God’s wrath. In Psalm 11 it is written, "If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?"

Here is the link to the rest of the story: Warning
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Saturday, March 7, 2009

Baxter Pharmaceutical Mixed Avian Flu with Flu Vaccine

When ever the Preaching Today blog is slow you can usually be sure the Wordview blog is active. I have been busy posting stories to the Worldview blog. Today the big story is:

Baxter Pharmaceutical Mixed Avian Flu with Flu Vaccine

Baxter, an International pharmaceutical company based in America, has just been caught mixing live Avian Flu virus (H5N1) with common flu virus, in a flu vaccine. Baxter International’s research facility in Orth-Donau Austria was the facility that shipped the contaminated flu vaccine to other facilities in the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Germany. The incident was discovered by a technician in a facility in the Czech Republic, who injected ferrets with the vaccine as a normal test procedure. The ferrets died.


I have been searching like crazy for more information and I have posted everything I have found at the Worldview blog.

You can read all the information at: www.worldvieww.blogspot.com

Have a great day.

Trevor
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Catholic hospitals may close under new federal abortion legislation...

A proposed bill promising major changes in the U.S. abortion landscape has Roman Catholic bishops threatening to close Catholic hospitals if the Democratic Congress and White House make it law.

The Freedom of Choice Act failed to get out of subcommittee in 2004, but its sponsor is poised to refile it now that former Senate co-sponsor Barack Obama occupies the Oval Office.

A spokesman for Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said the legislation "is among the congressman's priorities. We expect to reintroduce it sooner rather than later."

FOCA, as the bill is known, would make federal law out of the abortion protections established in 1973 by the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe vs. Wade ruling.


The legislation has some Roman Catholic bishops threatening to shutter the country's 624 Catholic hospitals — including 11 in the Archdiocese of St. Louis — rather than comply.

Speaking in Baltimore in November at the bishops' fall meeting, Bishop Thomas Paprocki, a Chicago auxiliary bishop, took up the issue of what to do with Catholic hospitals if FOCA became law. "It would not be sufficient to withdraw our sponsorship or to sell them to someone who would perform abortions," he said. "That would be a morally unacceptable cooperation in evil."


You can read the rest of the report at this link: Abortion
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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

New Manuscripts of the New Testament!

For those who are fascinated with the immense textual support for the New Testament, here is an interesting bit of info. The Center for New Testament Manuscripts has an update on some recent events of interest. Here is what they said:

Here’s a brief update concerning our present expeditions:

On February 23rd, a team led by Dr. Wallace left Dallas for Athens, Greece. They are staying at the Greek Bible Institute in the suburb of Pikermi, approximately an hour’s travel time from the Benaki Museum where they are photographing MSS. Despite the distance, the Center was able to save financial resources by staying at the Institute. So far the Center has identified seven manuscripts that were previously unknown to scholars! That’s equal to what typically turn up in two years’ time worldwide, and it brings the number to nineteen that the Center has discovered in this season of expeditions. Remarkably, one out of five MSS that CSNTM photographs is a new discovery.

Please be praying for the team as they continue serving the Lord through this unique ministry.
Two other ways you can help CSNTM:

1) We would love to come and give a presentation at your Church. Presentations are informatory and give the practical implications our work has for the local Church. Contact me at Robk@csntm.org if you are interested.

2) We need volunteers to help with indexing the manuscripts we photograph. This is a long and laborious task, though a great need. Contact info@csntm.org if interested.

Thanks for your support for our organization!

Rob KashowChurch Liaison; Manuscript Collator

I've been in touch with Dr Wallace and some others at the CSNTM and am planning to help with the manuscript indexing...hopefully my atrophying Greek skills will sharpen and I'll become stronger in exegeting God's Word...maybe you are able to help?
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Monday, March 2, 2009

Walk Before The Lord






Psalm 116:9 reads, I will walk before the Lord, in the land of the living.

Here is a simple challenge. Make that your prayer all this week.
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Sunday, March 1, 2009

If God is so powerful and so good, why do bad things happen?

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Ohio pastor charged with stealing $1M from church

COLUMBUS, Ohio — An Ohio pastor has been charged with stealing more than $1 million from his former church.

A jury on Friday indicted David Thompson on 23 counts, including money laundering, theft and filing false tax returns. Prosecutors say Thompson stole money from World of Pentecost Church in Columbus between 1998 and 2007 and spent it on his home, two expensive vehicles and other items.

Prosecutors say Thompson also sold church property to the city and kept the $900,000 payment.

Church leaders have filed a lawsuit seeking repayment. Attorney Craig Scott, who represents the church, says the charges have saddened members of the congregation and some have left as a result.

Thompson faces up to 87 years in prison if convicted.

Here is the link to the original story

Stealing
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