Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas--2009!

Merry Christmas to all out there! I hope you all have a wonderful holiday. Below you will find a nice video presentation, accompanied by the song "Mary Did You Know?". I probably will not post until January. Have a great time celebrating the birth of our Savior!

Luke 2:10-11
10)But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
11)
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Seasonal Musings

I grew up watching the Charlie Brown Christmas special; and found its pink and aluminum Christmas trees amusing as a child. Now fuchsia colored trees have taken off. I have also seen blue and purple ones in various department stores. Increasingly, some of the tree ornaments look like multi-horned gismos. I guess on the bright side a person can sell them off to a farmer to scare off crows from munching on their hard grown produce.

Listening to the radio, I hear 95% ho ho ho, Santa baby, and so forth. Infrequently, songs about the Savior are played. Now I am talking specifically about stations which are not marketed as Christian radio.

I cannot recall exactly where, but people have been putting up billboards saying something to the effect "Reason is the reason for the season". You know, I don't celebrate holidays I do not believe in. If people do not believe in God, why do some devote so much time organizing against Him? Ironically, It becomes a religion in itself. Most of these tactics are devised simply to evoke controversy, but I can tell you as a former atheist, Christians and their beliefs never bother me. I had no need to "disprove" God, or intentionally upset people with different beliefs.

The non-believer will never fill the void that nags them, for indeed they are wrong. He--the Living God--the Lord Jesus Christ is REAL! We will one day stand before Him, and we will live eternally in one of two places. Why does a person cringe at His name--Jesus? In their spirits, which is void of Him, something is wrong. But existential philosophies, reasonings, and fellowship with God-hating believers will never completely remove this uneasy feeling.

Yet, as He did in my case, He calls out to them.

Could He be calling out to you today?

John 3:16-17

16) For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
17) For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him
might be saved.


Isaiah 9:6
For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Time of Tribulation

II Corinthians 5:17-21

17) Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
18) And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
19) To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
20) Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us; we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.
21) For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

Below, an article by Corrie Ten Boom recently distributed by revivalschool.com. Christians will face persecution, and this message is just as relevant today as when she wrote it in 1974.

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TIME of TRIBULATION
-Corrie Ten Boom.

The world is deathly ill. It is dying. The Great Physician has already signed the death certificate. Yet there is still a great work for Christians to do. They are to be streams of living water, channels of mercy to those who are still in the world. It is possible for them to do this because they are overcomers.

Christians are ambassadors for Christ. They are representatives from Heaven to this dying world. And because of our presence here, things will change.

My sister, Betsy, and I were in the Nazi concentration camp at Ravensbruck because we committed the crime of loving Jews. Seven hundred of us from Holland, France, Russia, Poland and Belgium were herded into a room built for two hundred. As far as I knew, Betsy and I were the only two representatives of Heaven in that room.

We may have been the Lord's only representatives in that place of hatred, yet because of our presence there, things changed. Jesus said, "In the world you shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." We too, are to be overcomers – bringing the light of Jesus into a world filled with darkness and hate.

Sometimes I get frightened as I read the Bible, and as I look in this world and see all of the tribulation and persecution promised by the Bible coming true. Now I can tell you, though, if you too are afraid, that I have just read the last pages. I can now come to shouting "Hallelujah! Hallelujah!" for I have found where it is written that Jesus said, "He that overcometh shall inherit all things: and I will be His God, and he shall be My son." This is the future and hope of this world. Not that the world will survive – but that we shall be overcomers in the midst of a dying world.

Betsy and I, in the concentration camp, prayed that God would heal Betsy who was so weak and sick. "Yes, the Lord will heal me,", Betsy said with confidence. She died the next day and I could not understand it. They laid her thin body on the concrete floor along with all the other corpses of the women who died that day.

It was hard for me to understand, to believe that God had a purpose for all that. Yet because of Betsy's death, today I am traveling all over the world telling people about Jesus.

There are some among us teaching there will be no tribulation, that the Christians will be able to escape all this. These are the false teachers that Jesus was warning us to expect in the latter days. Most of them have little knowledge of what is already going on across the world. I have been in countries where the saints are already suffering terrible persecution. In China, the Christians were told, "Don't worry, before the tribulation comes you will be translated – raptured." Then came a terrible persecution. Millions of Christians were tortured to death. Later I heard a Bishop from China say, sadly, "We have failed. We should have made the people strong for persecution rather than telling them Jesus would come first. Tell the people how to be strong in times of persecution, how to stand when the tribulation comes – to stand and not faint."

I feel I have a divine mandate to go and tell the people of this world that it is possible to be strong in the Lord Jesus Christ. We are in training for the tribulation, but more than sixty percent of the Body of Christ across the world has already entered into the tribulation. There is no way to escape it. We are next.

Since I have already gone through prison for Jesus' sake, and since I met the Bishop in China, now every time I read a good Bible text I think, "Hey, I can use that in the time of tribulation." Then I write it down and learn it by heart.

When I was in the concentration camp, a camp where only twenty percent of the women came out alive, we tried to cheer each other up by saying, "Nothing could be any worse than today." But we would find the next day was even worse. During this time a Bible verse that I had committed to memory gave me great hope and joy. "If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you; on their part evil is spoken of, but on your part He is glorified." (I Peter 3:14) I found myself saying, "Hallelujah! Because I am suffering, Jesus is glorified!"

In America, the churches sing, "Let the congregation escape tribulation", but in China and Africa the tribulation has already arrived. This last year alone more than two hundred thousand Christians were martyred in Africa. Now things like that never get into the newspapers because they cause bad political relations. But I know. I have been there. We need to think about that when we sit down in our nice houses with our nice clothes to eat our steak dinners. Many, many members of the Body of Christ are being tortured to death at this very moment, yet we continue right on as though we are all going to escape the tribulation.

Several years ago I was in Africa in a nation where a new government had come into power. The first night I was there some of the Christians were commanded to come to the police station to register. When they arrived they were arrested and that same night they were executed. The next day the same thing happened with other Christians. The third day it was the same. All the Christians in the district were being systematically murdered.

The fourth day I was to speak in a little church. The people came, but they were filled with fear and tension. All during the service they were looking at each other, their eyes asking, "Will this one I am sitting beside be the next one killed? Will I be the next one?"

The room was hot and stuffy with insects that came through the screenless windows and swirled around the naked bulbs over the bare wooden benches. I told them a story out of my childhood.

"When I was a little girl, " I said, "I went to my father and said, "Daddy, I am afraid that I will never be strong enough to be a martyr for Jesus Christ." "Tell me," said Father, "When you take a train trip to Amsterdam, when do I give you the money for the ticket? Three weeks before?" "No, Daddy, you give me the money for the ticket just before we get on the train." "That is right," my father said, "and so it is with God's strength. Our Father in Heaven knows when you will need the strength to be a martyr for Jesus Christ. He will supply all you need – just in time…"

My African friends were nodding and smiling. Suddenly a spirit of joy descended upon that church and the people began singing, "In the sweet by and by, we shall meet on that beautiful shore." Later that week, half the congregation of that church was executed. I heard later that the other half was killed some months ago.

But I must tell you something. I was so happy that the Lord used me to encourage these people, for unlike many of their leaders, I had the word of God. I had been to the Bible and discovered that Jesus said He had not only overcome the world, but to all those who remained faithful to the end, He would give a crown of life.

How can we get ready for the persecution? First we need to feed on the word of God, digest it, make it a part of our being. This will mean disciplined Bible study each day as we not only memorize long passages of scripture, but put the principles to work in our lives.

Next we need to develop a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Not just the Jesus of yesterday, the Jesus of History, but the life-changing Jesus of today who is still alive and sitting at the right hand of God.

We must be filled with the Holy Spirit. This is no optional command of the Bible, it is absolutely necessary. Those earthly disciples could never have stood up under the persecution of the Jews and Romans had they not waited for Pentecost. Each of us needs our own personal Pentecost, the baptism of the Holy Spirit. We will never be able to stand in the tribulation without it.

In the coming persecution we must be ready to help each other and encourage each other. But we must not wait until the tribulation comes before starting. The fruit of the Spirit should be the dominant force of every Christian's life.

Many are fearful of the coming tribulation, they want to run. I, too, and a little bit afraid when I think that after all my eighty years, including the horrible nazi concentration camp, that I might have to go through the tribulation also. But then I read the Bible and I am glad.

When I am weak, then I shall be strong, the Bible says. Betsy and I were prisoners for the Lord, we were so weak, but we got power because the Holy Spirit was on us. That mighty inner strengthening of the Holy Spirit helped us through. No, you will not be strong in yourself when the tribulation comes. Rather, you will be strong in the power of Him who will not forsake you. For seventy-six years I have known the Lord Jesus and not once has He ever left me, or let me down. Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him, for I know that to all who overcome, He shall give the crown of life. Hallelujah!

-Corrie Ten Boom, 1974.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Oral Roberts Dies At 91

Evangelist Oral Roberts Dies At Age 91
(newson6.com)

TULSA, OK -- Dr. Oral Roberts died Tuesday in Newport Beach, California due to complications from pneumonia.

According to a news release from the family, his son, Richard, and daughter, Roberta, were at his side. The founder of Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association and Oral Roberts University was 91.

The release says there will be a private family internment and that arrangements for a public memorial service in Tulsa will be announced soon.

The 91-year-old was taken to the hospital this weekend, after he fell and broke several bones. That's when doctors noted his pneumonia.

12/14/2009 Related story: Oral Roberts Hospitalized After Fall

Oral Roberts was an international spiritual leader and certainly a local newsmaker.

Born the youngest child of a rural Oklahoma preacher, Oral Roberts himself was a pioneer, one of the first to bring his message of salvation to television.

Roberts said he heard the voice of God at 17 and started his ministry at revivals around America.

Before he was 30, he founded Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association.

His 300 crusades crossed the country and the globe. He preached on six continents, and his ministry estimates Roberts personally laid hands on two-million people.

Roberts' reach expanded even further in 1954 when he first gave television audiences what he called "a front-row seat to miracles." Millions still watch broadcasts of worship services on a daily basis.

Oral Roberts says he was obeying a command from God when he founded Oral Roberts University in 1963. The school's first students arrived two years later. Roberts served as ORU president into the 1990's and remained university chancellor until his death.

Touched at an early age by the gospel of healing, Roberts began a new crusade in 1977 to build an evangelical hospital.

Oral Roberts claimed a 900-foot-tall Jesus appeared to him in a vision, instructing him to build a hospital that merged medicine and prayer. When the City of Faith Medical Center was finished, it was one of the largest health facilities on the planet.

Another vision in 1987 raised eyebrows and controversy, when Roberts said God would "call him home" unless he raised $8-million in two months. The worldwide outpouring help raised even more than that.

In his life, Oral Roberts authored more than 130 inspirational books, and the prayer ministry he founded still fields phone calls around the clock.

His legacy also lives on at his university.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Religion, Race, And Politics

*This is a very interesting article concerning a recent Gallup poll, analyzing religion, race and politics.

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Religious Intensity Remains Powerful Predictor of Politics
by Frank Newport


PRINCETON, NJ -- Americans' religious intensity continues to be a major predictor of party identification. A new analysis of more than 29,000 interviews Gallup conducted in November finds that Republicans outnumber Democrats by 12 percentage points among Americans who are classified as highly religious, while Democrats outnumber Republicans by 30 points among those who are not religious.


The current analysis is based on 29,192 interviews conducted as part of Gallup Daily tracking during the month of November. Party identifiers include those who initially identify with one of the two major parties plus independents who, in a follow-up question, say they lean toward one party or the other.

Gallup has developed the religious segments based on responses to questions measuring the personal importance of religion and church attendance. Details on the classification process are available at the end of this story.

The basic relationship between religiosity and party identification is quite strong and quite straightforward. The percentage of Americans who identify with or lean toward the Republican Party drops from 49% among the highly religious to 26% among those who are not religious. The percentage who identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party rises from 37% among the highly religious to 56% among those who are not religious. For comparison, the party figures for November among all adults in these data are 40% Republicans/Republican leaners and 45% Democrats/Democratic leaners.

Thus, Republicans are in the plurality among highly religious Americans. For each of the other three groups, Democrats are equal with or higher in number than Republicans. The Democratic edge expands as religiosity decreases. Among the not-religious group, Democrats have a 30-point edge over Republicans.


Differences by Race and Ethnicity

There are significant differences in the relationship between party identification and religion within racial and ethnic groups.

Black Americans are highly Democratic, regardless of their religiosity.



Hispanics also are significantly more likely to identify as Democrats than as Republicans across religious groups, although not as much so as is the case with blacks.


There is a modest tendency for Hispanic identification with the Democratic Party to increase as religiosity decreases. Democratic identification rises from 46% among highly religious Hispanics to 54% among not-religious Hispanics. The percentage of Hispanics who identify as Republicans or who are independents falls slightly as religious intensity decreases. (These data are based on all Americans who identify as Hispanic, regardless of their race.)

The relationship between religiosity and party identification is most pronounced among non-Hispanic white Americans.


Identification as Republican drops from 62% among highly religious white Americans to 28% among whites who are not religious. On the other hand, white identification with the Democratic Party rises from 28% among the highly religious to 56% among those who are not religious.

Looked at differently, the data make it evident that Republicans are in the clear majority among non-Hispanic white Americans who are either highly religious or religious. Republican and Democratic identification are at rough parity among those classified as less religious. Democrats are clearly in the majority among whites who are not religious.

Although the country in general has become less Democratic over the last 12 months, a comparative analysis shows that almost exactly the same relationship between intensity of religion and party identification among non-Hispanic whites existed last November as exists now.

Obama Approval

Given the strong relationship between party identification and presidential job approval, it is not surprising to find that religious intensity is also highly related to Obama job approval. Previous analysis has shown that Obama has higher disapproval than approval among whites in general.



As was the case with party identification, whites who are highly religious are more than twice as likely as those who are not religious to disapprove of Obama's job performance, 65% to 32%, respectively. Those who are not religious are, in contrast, about twice as likely as those who are highly religious to approve of Obama, 61% to 29%.

Implications

The current analysis underscores the degree to which religion and politics continue to be highly intertwined in today's America, a state of affairs that has substantial implications for elections and policy issues.

The religious connection is most apparent among non-Hispanic white Americans. Blacks are strongly Democratic in their orientation, regardless of their religiosity. Hispanics also skew significantly Democratic, and while there is a tendency for less religious Hispanics to be more Democratic in orientation than more religious Hispanics, it does not alter Hispanics' basic skew in the Democratic direction.

The pattern is quite different among whites. Identification with the Republican Party overwhelms identification with the Democratic Party by more than a 2-to-1 margin among highly religious whites, and by a still-substantial margin among those who are religious. Exactly the opposite pattern obtains among whites who are not religious, with a 2-to-1 margin in favor of Democratic versus Republican identification.

About 33% of whites are highly religious, and another 16% are religious. Thus, about half of the white population in the U.S. is both highly religious and significantly oriented toward the Republican Party.

The degree to which religion causes or drives political attitudes and voting behavior among whites is unknown. For some white Americans, religion and political orientation may be accidental bedfellows. These individuals could be Republican for a variety of reasons (e.g., agreement with the GOP's economic policy, or their state of residence) that are not at all directly related to their being highly religious. For other whites, however, there may be a direct relationship. For these individuals, religious convictions form the basis for their political and ideological positions, as would be the case for those highly sensitive to social issues such as abortion and gay marriage. Highly religious people can bring an emotion and certitude and intensity of conviction to the political marketplace that can make them a formidable force well beyond their basic numbers.


*Click title to read further on the appendix, and surveying methods.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Lesbian Bishop Elected

*The Word of God must be accepted in totality. People choose parts they like, and toss out the parts they don't like. He said Himself, "I am the Lord, I change not". Malachi 3:6

Election of lesbian bishop reopens Anglican wounds
LOS ANGELES (AFP) – The election of a second openly gay bishop in the Anglican Church drew a stern warning from the Archbishop of Canterbury, head of the 77 million Anglicans worldwide.

The move from the Episcopal diocese of Los Angeles to elect 55-year-old Reverend Canon Mary Glasspool, who has been in a relationship with another woman since 1988, comes months after the US church lifted a ban on gay bishops.

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, wary of the schism that threatened to break the Church when the first gay bishop was ordained six years ago, issued a statement apparently aimed at making the Los Angeles diocese rethink.

Glasspool's election "raises very serious questions not just for the Episcopal Church and its place in the Anglican Communion, but for the Communion as a whole," Williams said in a statement released by Lambeth Palace.

"The process of selection, however, is only part complete," he cautioned.

"The election has to be confirmed, or could be rejected, by diocesan bishops and diocesan standing committees. That decision will have very important implications."

The Anglican Church faces the same kind of turmoil that erupted in 2003 when openly gay Reverend Gene Robinson of New Hampshire was elected bishop, sparking joy from liberals but outrage among traditionalists, particularly in Africa.

"I am very excited about the future of the whole Episcopal Church, and I see the Diocese of Los Angeles leading the way into that future," said Glasspool, a native of Staten Island, New York, after the election.

"But just for this moment, let me say again, thank you, and thanks be to our loving, surprising God. I look forward, in the coming months, to getting to know you all better, as together we build up the Body of Christ for the world."

The more liberal stance of the Episcopalian leadership has increasingly divided congregations within the United States in recent years, prompting some conservative parishes and dioceses to leave the national church.

It has also had wider implications on the worldwide Anglican Communion, which for years has struggled to unite liberal and conservative fringes that are diametrically opposed on the issue of gay bishops.

A 2007 summit of Anglican leaders in Tanzania had urged the Episcopal Church to bar the consecration of openly gay bishops as well as official blessings of same-sex unions.

Around 200 bishops, including those from Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda and Uganda, boycotted the once-a-decade Lambeth Conference last year in response to what they saw as the church's "moral decline."

Clergy from Africa, Australia and the United States meanwhile have pushed for a breakaway group in protest at Robinson's election.

The breakaway church includes eight North American Anglican groups and bishops and congregations linked to conservative churches in Kenya, Uganda, and South America.

With an estimated 100,000 members, the breakaway movement represents a small fraction of the global Anglican Communion, which is estimated at 77 million adherents, including 2.2 million in the United States.

The preamble to the new church's constitution said its leaders were "grieved by the current state of brokenness within the Anglican Communion prompted by those who have embraced erroneous teaching and who have rejected a repeated call to repentance."

Glasspool's election to fill one of two openings for bishops of the diocese followed the selection Friday of the Reverend Canon Diane Jardine Bruce, 53, the rector of a San Clemente church.

The two became the first women elected as bishops of the diocese in its 114-year history.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Nationwide Food Insecurity

A new report released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture confirms that almost 50 million Americans had a hard time putting food on the table in 2008 -- one in seven American households, an increase of 13 million people from the year before.


Hungry in America:
New Food Insecurity Numbers Are A Wake Up Call

The total number of Americans who are having a tough time affording nutritious food includes 17 million children —22 percent of all children in the United States. The report asserts that the number of young people who sometimes were outright hungry rose from nearly 700,000 to almost 1.1 million.

These new numbers do not reflect a starvation problem but rather describe a growing trend in American families called "food insecurity": a condition in which people lack basic food intake to provide them with the energy and nutrients for fully productive lives.

The new figures are the highest since data collection began in 1995 and the Agriculture Department predicted the numbers for this year, 2009, are likely to be still worse.

Unemployment and the economy hurting families

Although global food production has been increasing substantially for the past several decades, 800 million people around the world still go hungry.

In the United States one of the largest factors of food insecurity is unemployment. At the beginning of 2008, unemployment was at 4.9 percent. By the end of 2008, it was almost 8 percent, and now it is in double digits: 10.2 percent.

"All the food banks have said that, over the last 12 months, they have seen an increase of about 30 percent statewide. So, we can expect those numbers to go up against next year," J.C. Dwyer of the Texas Food Bank Network told the NewsHour.

Just who is "food insecure"?

These new figures do not mean that millions of people in the United States have absolutely no food in the house or are constantly hungry. The report shows American families struggling to find enough nutritious food for all members of the family and turning to food stamps or other government aid, or getting food from food pantries and soup kitchens.

Local food banks are seeing more working families needing assistance. In some cases, families who donated to food banks last year are showing up at the same doors now in need themselves.

"This is unthinkable," says Vicki Escarra, president of Feeding America, the largest organization representing food banks, "It's like we are living in a Third-World country."

Most of the families facing “food insecurity” contain at least one adult with a full-time job. The highest hit are single-parent families: more than one in three single mothers reported that they struggled to feed their children.

Food insecurity can affect learning and performance

In some nations where famine is widespread, children are visibly sick. In the United States, however, hunger manifests itself in a less severe visible form but can have great consequences in school and social development.

Food insecurity can affect social skills and behavior, reading performance, mathematical skills, and weight gain.

Not only does the brain need vitamins, minerals and protein, but physical hunger and worrying about money problems can distract students from their work, as well as cause depression and anger, recent studies show.

Congress and schools respond to increased need

In response to rising need, the federal stimulus package passed at the beginning of the year provided money to raise the average per-person food stamp benefit, which provides vouchers that people can use to pay for food, instead of money.

The families of 50 percent of children in this country have been on food stamps at one time or another in their lives, according to the New York Times.

In addition, lawmakers are set to reconsider the recently expired Child Nutrition Act, which lays out the rules for school breakfasts and lunches. Senators are debating ways to make the meals more accessible, tasty and healthy.

“The scale of these programs means that reforms can have a major impact on tens of millions of school children,” said Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

The final reauthorization bill is not expected to be passed until after the holidays.

Meanwhile, Feeding America, the national network of food banks, has set up Kids Cafe programs nationwide to provide free meals and snacks to low-income children through Boys & Girls Clubs, churches and public schools.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A Paradox

*From a revivalschool.com email:

PARADOX of OUR TIME
-by B. Moorehead.

The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings, but shorter tempers; wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints.

We spend more, but have less; we buy more, but enjoy it less.

We have bigger houses and smaller families; more conveniences, but less time; we have more degrees, but less sense; more knowledge, but less judgment; more experts, but more problems; more medicine, but less wellness.

We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry too quickly, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too seldom, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom. We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values.

We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.

We've learned how to make a living, but not a life; we've added years to life, not life to years. We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbor.

We've conquered outer space, but not inner space.

We've done larger things, but not better things. We've cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We've split the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less.

We plan more, but accomplish less. We've learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information to produce more copies than ever, but have less communication.

These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion; tall men, and short character; steep profits, and shallow relationships.

These are the times of world peace, but domestic warfare; more leisure, but less fun; more kinds of food, but less nutrition.

These are days of two incomes, but more divorce; of fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throw-away morality, one-night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer to quiet, to kill.

It is a time when there is much in the show window and nothing in the stockroom; Indeed, these are the times!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Billy Joe Daugherty Dies

*It is very sad that Billy Joe Daugherty's life was cut short by cancer. I got saved at Victory Christian Center in Tulsa, and attended the church for six years. Billy Joe Daugherty was such a kind man, and my heart goes out to his family. He was a doer of the Word type of fellow. Although I left the church four years ago, and I do not share all of it's theology; I deeply feel the world lost a truly unique individual who loved God with all his heart. He never lost his passion to reach the lost, and help the poor in the community. Although he sometimes taught prosperity, he never appeared to be motivated by greed, nor lived a lavish lifestyle--he seemed very down to earth. He will always hold a special place in my heart and memory. An article about him is directly below:

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Billy Joe Daugherty Dies Of Cancer

Founding Pastor Of Victory Christian Center Had Lymphoma
by AP

TULSA, Okla. -- The Rev. Billy Joe Daugherty, the founding pastor of Victory Christian Center, died Sunday after a short battle with lymphoma. He was 57.

Church officials announced the pastor's death during Sunday morning services. Associate pastor Bruce Edwards told the congregation that Daugherty "graduated into heaven" at 4:40 a.m.

Tests uncovered the cancer after Daugherty was hospitalized in October with a viral infection in his throat. A message on the church's Web site said Daugherty died of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston early Sunday morning.

"We don't sorrow as the world sorrows, as one without hope," Edwards told members of the church, some of whom gasped when Daugherty's death was announced. "We celebrate his life, but at the same time there is sorrow, there is grieving."

Many people sobbed as son-in-law Adam Sanders talked about Daugherty's final hours.

"We miss him, but he's with Jesus," he said. "His entire life was about one thing, loving God, and out of that love, he loved people. We will continue in his legacy, loving people."

Originally from Magnolia, Ark., Daugherty graduated from Oral Roberts University with a bachelor's degree in Christian education. He was a youth minister in the 1970s at Sheridan Christian Center, and became senior pastor at the church in 1976 when the pastor retired.

In 1980, he founded Victory Christian Center, which met in a former car dealership at one point. Membership bloomed. In 2007, the church moved into its current $32 million, 5,000-seat worship center.

Daugherty made national news in 2005, when a parishioner walked up to him during altar call and punched him in the face. As the man was escorted out of the facility, Daugherty, his face smeared with blood, continued the service, publicly forgiving the assailant and praying for him.

Daugherty later wrote a book about the experience, "Knocked Down But Not Out."

He was named interim president of Oral Roberts University in 2007 after president Richard Roberts resigned amid accusations of lavish spending at donors' expense and illegal involvement in a local political campaign.

Daugherty also founded Victory Christian School, Victory Bible Institute and Victory World Missions Training Center. His television show, Victory in Jesus, was televised throughout the United States. Daugherty and his wife, Sharon Daugherty, have written more than a dozen books.

Along with his wife, he is survived by his mother, Iru Daugherty, and four children. A memorial service is planned for Nov. 30.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving 2009!


I hope you all have a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving day! As the picture below indicates, I wrestled up leftovers--as I posted the same picture up last year on this blog. This saves at least one step--preparation. All kidding inside, I hope everyone enjoys this day!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Many World Views-- But Only One God

*Here are a couple of interesting videos about what the world believes to be the "assertion" (believers know it as the truth) of Jesus Christ being the path to eternal life. I think it will be very insightful to those who are curious about Jesus and the plan of salvation, as well as people who already belong to other religions.


Part I




Part II

Friday, November 20, 2009

Abuse By Two Leaders

*This is truly a pathetic and evil crime: Two spiritual leaders assocaited with Greek and Coptic Orthodox churches--raped women needing curses removed from the lives of their families. These thugs made women undressed to supposedly acheive results of casting out devils and removing curses. Note the involvement of an "angel" here--does this story remind you of a certain group out there about proclaiming angelic anointings? One NAR guy out there today, still highly esteemed in his prophetic circles--also "once" ordered women to get naked to acheive spiritual results. It is the last days, and bad leaders and self-appointed leaders abound. And let me say, if they are manipulating for sexual purposes, you will find them manipulating for other reasons as well: money, recognition, and for other objectives which serve them.

Folks, if somone commands you to go against the Word of God, or any notion of human decency--do not do it. A spiritual leader suggests an act which permeates boundaries of modesty and decency, or an act which is criminal, or lacks integrity--do not question yourself as being at fault. Such manipulative attempts involve deceiving others and is always-- although not evident, self serving. Ok, now to my first cup of coffee for the day. The article below:

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Black magic rape a cure, court hears

By Larissa Cummings, the Daily Telegraph

THEY were told to bring clippings of body hair to prayer sessions in hotel rooms, where self-professed angel "King Russell" was to rid them of an evil curse that hung over their families.

But the two women were not to tell the angel's wife or anyone else about the secret healing sessions, which he said had to occur while they were naked.

Details of the bizarre rituals Tony Golossian, 62, and Arthur Psichogios, 39, allegedly subjected their victims to before drugging and raping them can now be revealed, after the men were yesterday committed to stand trial in the District Court. They are accused of almost 100 sex offences relating to the two women, who believed they were leaders in the Greek Orthodox and Coptic Orthodox churches.

The first victim was allegedly raped by the men at hotels in Sydney and the Central Coast between 2001 and 2005, while the second woman said she was assaulted during three prayer sessions in 2008.

Psichogios's wife Frances is also charged with three counts of aggravated sexual assault and using an intoxicating substance to commit an offence in relation to the second victim.

Golossian and Psichogios allegedly pocketed between $70,000 and $100,000 from the first woman for the "therapy" which she believed would rid her family of a black magic curse.

Crown documents tendered to a committal hearing for Psichogios at Burwood Local Court said both women were told to shave and bring the clippings to prayer sessions, where Golossian burnt the hairs before giving the women food and drink which was allegedly drugged.

They were allegedly blindfolded and told not to fight whatever happened to them during the prayers and that it would feel "100 per cent real, but it was 100 per cent a dream".

Golossian, Psichogios and his wife will stand trial in the District Court. All remain on bail.

*Read an additional article for more details on these crimes here:

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Spirit of Control In Leadership

*A lot of good points in this article from Lee Grady. I have great hope that this brother in Christ will eventually see through the NAR, and re-examine some of their theology. As I read his article, I found a lot of the points he made actually apply to the Lakeland fiasco and the structure of the NAR; although he may differ on such a perspective. Still, Grady saw through some of the error occurring in the Lakeland Revival meetings held in 2008.

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Breaking Free From the Spirit of Control

By Lee Grady

Here are six ways to identify an unhealthy leadership style in a church or ministry.

My world was shaken 20 years ago this week. On Nov. 10, 1989, one day after German protesters tore down the Berlin Wall, a Christian ministry I had been a part of for 11 years also fell apart.

Maranatha Campus Ministries was a vibrant outreach to college campuses. It was founded in Kentucky during the Jesus movement by a passionate charismatic couple, Bob and Rose Weiner, who eventually started churches on more than 50 American universities. In its heyday in the Reagan era, students from Maranatha took the gospel around the world.

But with all our good intentions and youthful zeal for evangelism, the ministry did not survive. We had a flawed, authoritarian leadership model, which was made worse by a lack of mature advisers. When Maranatha's young pastors grew up and realized the ministry had an unhealthy and oppressive structure, they voted to disband. The churches either went independent, merged with other groups or closed.

Meanwhile, the many young people who had been discipled in Maranatha had to deal with their own unique form of post-traumatic stress disorder. They woke up and realized that Maranatha had been influenced by the Shepherding Movement, which taught that all Christians should be submitted to personal shepherds who dispense advice and approve all decisions.

The Shepherding movement, which had broad influence in many charismatic churches, collapsed around the same time. Because I lived through that era, I am hypersensitive to the way a spirit of control works in a church. And I can assure you that controlling attitudes will destroy a ministry. Here are six obvious signs that a spirit of control is at work:

1. Little or no accountability. There is safety in the multitude of counselors (see Prov. 11:14). There is much less safety—perhaps even danger—when a leader does not bother to seek counsel from a diverse group of his peers, as well as from gray-haired men and women who have the wisdom that comes with age. If a pastor or church leader isn't open to correction, he is headed for a train wreck.

2. Spiritual elitism. If there is a spirit of control in a church, people are usually told that their group is superior. Supposedly they have special spiritual privileges from God, along with "exclusive" revelation. If people choose to leave, they are shunned or branded as renegades. Sometimes, in extreme cases, people are even cursed if they leave. (Last week when I was in Hungary I learned of a charismatic church that publicly curses people when they quit the congregation.) This cultic behavior inflicts unimaginable emotional suffering and also divides families.

3. An oppressive atmosphere. Authoritarian leaders know how to control people through manipulation. In some cases, this control may simply take the form of subtle suggestions and persuasion. In the most abusive situations, it may come in the form of threats, legalistic demands, unreasonable requirements or false doctrines. In some cases, especially in charismatic circles, it can come through misguided personal prophecies or mystical visions.

In such a church no one is allowed to ask questions. Spiritual heaviness lies like a thick cloud over the congregation, and few believers manifest genuine joy because they are overburdened by feelings of guilt and fear.

4. Angry domination. Tyrants are surprisingly similar. Because they want to control their surroundings, they often blow up when people do not conform to their demands. Yet the Apostle Paul taught that church leaders should not be "violent" or "quarrelsome" but "self-controlled" and "gentle" (see 1 Timothy 3:2-3). Later he instructed Timothy that the Lord's servant "must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone" (2 Timothy 2:24). You will always find lots of anger wherever there is a controlling spirit.

5. Individual guidance is discouraged. The Bible teaches that every Christian has direct access to God through one mediator, Jesus Christ. Every believer can hear God's voice personally and should expect to receive God's guidance.

In authoritarian church situations, however, members are not encouraged to seek God's guidance themselves. Rather, they are urged to conform to the preferences of the leader or the group. In some cases, leaders have actually taught their congregations to seek counsel and specific approval from a pastor before making major decisions. Thus church members develop an unhealthy dependence on a man in order to function spiritually, and their ability to trust God is diminished.

This kind of control is emotionally crippling. For many who submitted to the philosophy behind the Shepherding movement, it took years to recover from the loss of decision-making ability. They relinquished their wills and lost their identities because they viewed absolute obedience to their spiritual leaders as a Christian virtue.

6. Women viewed as inferior. Some churches today permit the ordination of women, even as senior pastors or bishops, while others maintain that Scripture does not permit women to hold these positions. Apart from these differences of opinion on biblical interpretation, it should be noted that authoritarian churches usually discourage women from pursuing any genuine role in ministry. Women are viewed as useful only in their functions as wives and mothers, and they are not encouraged to step beyond these confines to pursue ministry opportunities.

Such a low view of women leads men to treat them as God-ordained sex objects or drones equipped to perform only menial tasks. Women who have leadership gifts are branded rebels or "Jezebels."

When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, similar walls of communist control fell in rapid succession until the entire Soviet Union broke apart. Yet walls of spiritual bondage still exist today in so many parts of the church—and the ghosts of the Shepherding movement still haunt us. We are called to be emancipators, not enslavers. As we seek to build healthy churches, let's remember these words from Galatians 5:1: "It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery" (NASB).

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Janitor Dies Trying To Save Students


*The following news account is really sad as it is beautiful.


Christian janitor died saving Muslim students
By Ivan Watson, CNN


Islamabad, Paksitan (CNN) -- Life is slowly getting back to normal at the women's campus of Islamabad's International Islamic University.

The young women who study here chatter on the school's well-manicured lawns, their brightly-colored scarves and Pakistani dresses blowing in the wind on a sunny autumn day.

Barely three weeks ago, this quiet place of learning was the scene of a nightmare. On October 20, two suicide bombers launched near simultaneous attacks on both the men's and women's side of the campus.

Afsheen Zafar, 20, is in mourning. Three of her classmates, girls she describes as "shining stars," were killed on that terrible day.

Still, she says the carnage could have been much worse if not for the actions of a lowly janitor, who was also killed.

"If he didn't stop the suicide attacker, there could have been great, great destruction," Zafar says.

"He's now a legend to us," says another 20-year-old student named Sumaya Ahsan. "Because he saved our lives, our friends' lives."

The janitor's name was Pervaiz Masih. According to eyewitness accounts, the attacker approached disguised in women's clothing. He shot the guard on duty, and then approached the cafeteria, which was packed with hundreds of female students.

Masih intercepted the bomber in the doorway, however, and the bomber self-detonated right outside the crowded hall, spraying many of his explosive vest's arsenal of ball bearings out into the parking lot instead of into the cafeteria.

"The sweeper who was cleaning up here saw someone outside and went towards him," said Nasreen Siddique, a cafeteria worker who was wounded in the head, leg and arm by the blast. "[Masih] told him that he could not come inside because there were girls inside. And then they started arguing. And then we heard a loud blast and all the glass broke."

"Between 300 to 400 girls were sitting in there," said Professor Fateh Muhammad Malik, the rector of the university. "[Pervez Masih] rose above the barriers of caste, creed and sectarian terrorism. Despite being a Christian, he sacrificed his life to save the Muslim girls."

Masih was a member of Pakistan's Christian minority, traditionally one of the poorest communities in the country.

When the attacker struck, Masih had been on the job for less than a week, earning barely $60 a month.

Masih lived with seven other family members, in a single room in a crowded apartment house in the city of Rawalpindi. Until the attack his mother, 70-year old Kurshaid Siddique, worked as a cleaning lady at a nearby house to help make ends meet. Now, she makes a daily pilgrimage to the cemetery where Masih is buried.

Siddique is inconsolable. Asked if she was proud that some people were calling her son a hero, Siddique waved a hand in the air dismissively, answering, "My hero is dead now."

She pulls out a framed photo of her son, pictured wearing a button down white shirt and a thick mustache. When Masih's three-year-old daughter Diya sees his photo, she reaches for it, saying, "Mama, I want that picture."

From time to time, Diya turns to her mother and repeats one word, "Papa."

The Islamic University offered to give Diya a free education and employ Masih's widow, Shaheen Pervaiz.

Meanwhile, the Pakistani government has promised to award Masih's family 1 million rupees (about $12,000) for his bravery.

"He is a national hero because he saved the life of many girls," said Shahbaz Bhatti, minister of minorities in the Pakistani government. "As a Christian, a person of minority, he stood in front of the Taliban to protect the university."

But the grave of this national hero is a sorry sight. It is located in the poorer, garbage-strewn Christian half of a neighborhood cemetery, less then three feet from a muddy road.

Masih's mother and widow visit every day. One of his sisters crosses herself, then stoops down to pick up an empty pack of cigarettes someone threw onto the little mound of earth.

The family had to borrow money to pay for Masih's funeral and they are now behind on paying the rent. If the government money comes through, Masih's mother would like to decorate her son's grave.

"I would like him to have his name in cement with a nice poetry verse," she says. "And there should be a fence surrounding his grave."

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Graham Celebrates 91st Birthday

Billy Graham Gives Thanks on 91st Birthday

World renowned preacher Billy Graham is spending the weekend receiving several family members at his home in North Carolina to celebrate his 91st birthday.

"I've experienced God's gracious love in a personal way all these years," Graham said in his reflection. "Today my heart is filled with gratitude to the Lord for all He has done for me, and for all the prayers from so many people over the years."

According to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Graham is still in good health though dealing with various age-related conditions such as macular degeneration and hearing loss.

He exercises daily, taking short walks at his mountain home with the aid of a walker to keep his balance.

He also remains involved in the work of the BGEA, the ministry he founded 60 years ago and that is now led by his son, Franklin.

"Although my health now keeps me mostly at home, Franklin and our BGEA team continue proclaiming God's love and the Gospel of Jesus Christ to lost people in many places around the world," said Graham.

Graham is also still involved in writing projects and spends time each morning and evening in prayer with friends, family and BGEA staff.

His pastor, Dr. Don Wilton of First Baptist Church, Spartanburg, S.C., also visits weekly for times of prayer and encouragement.

As he enters his tenth decade, Graham said he continued to miss his late wife and lifelong partner Ruth Bell Graham, who passed away in June 2007.

"While I know God keeps me here for a purpose, I look forward to the time when I will be reunited with Ruth in Heaven," Graham said.

"However, I am enjoying this season of life, watching my children and grandchildren - and now even my great-grandchildren - grow more fully into their own ministries. It is another blessing of these senior years," he added.

Having preached to over 210 million people in over 185 countries, Graham is believed to have spoken face-to-face with more people in more places than anyone in history. Hundreds of millions more have been reached through television, video, film, and webcasts.

The evangelist has been regularly listed by the Gallup organization as one of the "Ten Most Admired Men in the World," making an unparalleled 51 appearances and 44 consecutive appearances since 1948. He has also appeared on the covers of Time, Newsweek, Life, U.S. News and World Report, Parade, and numerous other magazines and has been the subject of many newspaper and magazine feature articles and books.

Graham officially marks his 91st birthday on Saturday.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Haggard Starts Prayer Group

Note in this article, C. Peter Wagner exclaims Ted Haggard may not be ready to start a prayer group, for he has not received APPROVAL by apostolic overseers!! Oh my! Are you kidding? Haggard was hooked up with Wagner and Company before his moral failures became public. Where was this supposed necessary apostolic influence, wisdom, and transference of NAR prophetic anointing before, when Haggard was in their midst? I will tell you. It was in his face. If he gets it out of his face, he will have a better chance at recovery. The NAR is a corruptive influence upon the Church. Many are trapped in its ideology. Look into the Word of God, and see if this group leans to His Word—or—unto men. The NAR seeks the glory of men, as opposed to God’s glory and purposes; yet many in it believe they are glorifying Him with their churned up personal revelations. The theology behind this movement frequently contradicts the scriptures. Darkness will continue to increase on this earth, wars will not come to an end, and all earthly “kingdoms” will not be subdued before the Lord Jesus Christ returns. …The article below concerns the establishment of a home prayer group by Haggard.


Ted Haggard to Begin Home Prayer Group


Ted Haggard, who in 2006 resigned from the Colorado megachurch he founded in the wake of a sex and drug scandal, announced Wednesday that he plans to host a prayer meeting in his living room.

The first meeting will be held Nov. 12. at Haggard's Colorado Springs home and could evolve into a church, though Haggard said that is not his aim. He said he and his wife, Gayle, have been traveling almost weekly since the HBO documentary The Trials of Ted Haggard debuted in January, and they thought they needed prayer support.

"This is a Thursday night prayer meeting in our home," Haggard said. "What we want to do is be able to tell our schedule and our story and know that we're covered in prayer. And we want to hear their stories and give them the assurance that they're covered in prayer as well."

Haggard announced the prayer meeting roughly three years to the day he resigned as pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs. He said he was not aware of the timing, but acknowledges the prayer group is starting much like his former church. He founded New Life Church in his basement in 1985, and saw it grow from 25 members to 14,000.

Haggard told the Colorado Springs Gazette on Wednesday that the prayer meeting could be described as a church. He made a similar comment to the Denver Post, calling the prayer gathering "an exploratory meeting."

But Haggard told Charisma Thursday that he wouldn't call the prayer group a church.

"Any time you have two or more believers together, you have the church ... but it's not a church like a church with a Sunday school and a children's department and a board of elders," he said.

He expects only a handful of people to show up, but said if the group grows and wants to become incorporated, he would be open to that.

"It may never go that way," he said. "I'm so blessed with my service at New Life. That church is healthy and vibrant and continues to grow in Colorado Springs, and that's a wonderful blessing. I'd be content if that were the extent of my service in that capacity in Colorado Springs."

Haggard's ties to the New Life ended abruptly in November 2006 after a male prostitute told media Haggard had been a client for three years and that the pastor sought his help procuring meth. After denying the allegations, Haggard confessed to sexual immorality in an apology read to the New Life congregation Nov. 5, 2006.

Haggard, former president of the 30 million-member National Association of Evangelicals, had resigned from the church a day before. New Life agreed to pay his $138,000 salary through December 2007, provided he would move away from Colorado and participate in a restoration process. Haggard was also prohibited him from opening a church within a 100-mile radius of Colorado Springs.

Haggard said he was released from those requirements in February 2008 when he broke ties with New Life Church.

At that time, New Life leaders released a statement saying Haggard's restoration process was "incomplete." And former Foursquare President Jack Hayford, who was part of Haggard's original restoration team, said it was unfortunate that Haggard was going his own way.

"Having joined with the many leaders who earnestly and patiently sought to graciously serve Ted amid the crisis born of his own admitted struggle and failure, it is both incredible and regrettable to hear ... of his choice for such a self-distancing pathway," Hayford said last year.

Brady Boyd, who became pastor of New Life Church in 2007, did not comment on Haggard's plans directly, but told the Gazette: "New Life Church will always be grateful for the many years of dedicated leadership from Ted Haggard, and we wish him and his family only the best."

Ministers who have worked with Haggard say it is premature for him to launch into ministry.

C. Peter Wagner, who co-founded the World Prayer Center with Haggard, told the Gazette that Haggard should receive approval from apostolic overseers before leading people in prayer and worship.

"My reservation is that he has not followed through completely on apostolic protocol," Wagner told the Gazette.

Other leaders question whether Haggard has been restored after falling into sexuality immorality. Gary Black, whose Rock the Nation youth ministry was once affiliated with New Life, told the Gazette he was taken aback by the news of the prayer group. "I would be shocked to think he's ready to lead a church," he said.

Haggard said he continues to see a counselor and holds himself accountable to an informal group of pastors. He said he gives their names and numbers to ministers who invite him and Gayle to speak, but he did not identify the ministers for Charisma. He said publicizing the identities of the leaders previously involved in his restoration process compromised their effectiveness.

When he told his current accountability team of his plans to launch the prayer group, Haggard says they told him to follow the Holy Spirit's leading.

"If any of them would have raised a red flag, I certainly would have responded to that," Haggard said. "I have never been, nor am I now, a man out from under authority."

At the prayer gathering Haggard said there will be music, and he will talk about prayer. He will also set out a basket for offerings, which will be given to New Life Church and the Triangle Cross Ranch, a Colorado ministry that cares for developmentally delayed individuals. Haggard's son Jonathan is a rancher there.

"We don't have expenses ... but the reason we'll have [the basket] there is because, typically, or very often, when people worship and pray or read the Bible together they like to give," he said. "So we want to give them that opportunity."

Haggard said he doesn't view himself as a pastor or Christian leader. "I see myself as a brother in the Lord that loves the Scriptures and loves God and loves His faithfulness and is super excited about being a blessing to people as a brother in the Lord," he said. "But I don't sign my letters as Pastor Ted or exercise spiritual authority over anybody or claim to do that or anything like that."

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Mass Wedding Of Moonies

*Article below on mass wedding ceremonies across the world recently, “performed” by Reverend Sun Myung Moon of Unification church fame. You have to wonder, if there will be a mass statistical surge in divorces worldwide in the next couple of years...“I’d like to place an order: a spouse, large fries and a medium Coke”... Ok, I will stop. But one "order" they better get right---that is knowing Jesus Christ.

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Rev. Moon Marries Thousands In Global Mass Wedding
By HYUNG-JIN KIM, Associated Press


ASAN, South Korea – From South Korea to South America, the bride wore white for the Unification Church's largest mass wedding in a decade, with some 40,000 people participating in dozens of cities around the world.

The "blessing ceremony" was the church's largest since 1999, and may well be the last on such a grand scale officiated by the 89-year-old Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the controversial founder of the Unification Church.

More than twenty-thousand people gathered at Moon's Sun Moon University campus in Asan, south of Seoul, for the main event Wednesday morning while some 20,000 more joined simultaneous ceremonies Tuesday night in the U.S., Brazil, Venezuela and elsewhere.

Some were new couples who met for the first time recent months in unions arranged by the church; others were married couples renewing their vows. The brides wore veils and wedding dresses, or their national dress; the men wore black suits with red ties, with white scarves wrapped around their necks.

The mass wedding comes as Moon moves to hand day-to-day leadership over to his children, though the Rev. Moon Hyung-jin, the 30-year-old tapped to take over religious affairs, insists his father remains in charge of the church and in good health.

The massive global ceremony is meant to mark two key anniversaries in the leader's life: his 90th birthday and the 50th anniversary of his marriage to Han Hak-ja, church officials said.

Row after row of brides in veils and grooms in white gloves — hailing from South Korea, the U.S., Japan, Europe and elsewhere — posed for photos, sang and practiced shouting "Hurrah!" at a pre-ceremony wedding rehearsal.

"I'm a little bit nervous," admitted Rie Furuta. She had her groom, Tadakuni Sano, both 25-year-olds from Japan, have met only three times since their marriage was arranged in March.

During the ceremony, Moon sprinkled holy water toward the crowd before the couples exchanged rings. After blessing the newlyweds, he led them in a loud cheer amid a shower of white confetti.

"I pray that you become good husbands and wives, and men and women who can represent the world's 6 billion humankind," he told them as he clasped his wife's hands, sobbing at times. Many in the crowd shed tears as well.

In the past, the Moons wore elaborate, high priest-style white gowns and headpieces for the blessing ceremonies.

On Wednesday, Moon was dressed in a simple black suit, a rose pinned to his lapel; his wife wore a white blouse and skirt. Their austerity reflected the church's toned-down stance in recent years as it seeks to dodge the controversy that dogged it in past decades.

"I think my wife is the most beautiful bride here," said Lee Dong-seok, a 32-year-old computer programmer from South Korea who tied the knot with Japanese office worker Fumi Oshima.

His 28-year-old bride replied: "I'm so happy. I like my husband because he's very trustworthy."

Critics who accuse the church of engaging in cultlike practices say the mass weddings prove it brainwashes its followers. In the past, Moon routinely paired off couples, many of whom met for the first time at their wedding.

These days, even arranged couples have the chance to meet at least a few months before the ceremony, church officials said. But none are expected to skip off to a honeymoon; couples are required to observe a 40-day waiting period before they cohabitate to prepare for the marriage spiritually.

Many said they would celebrate with lunch afterward, and a select group was invited to a luncheon with Moon on Thursday at the church's waterside complex.

Moon, a self-proclaimed Messiah who says he was 15 when Jesus Christ called upon him to carry out his unfinished work, has courted controversy and criticism since founding the Unification Church in Seoul in 1954.

He held his first mass wedding in the early 1960s, arranging the marriages of 24 couples himself and renewing the vows of 12 married couples.

Over the next two decades, the weddings grew in scale; the first held outside South Korea was at New York's Madison Square Garden in 1982. That one drew tens of thousands of participants — and protesters.

In many cases, Moon paired off many couples from different countries as part of his aim of creating a multicultural religious world.

"My wish is to completely tear down barriers and to create a world in which everyone becomes one," Moon said in his recent autobiography.

In New York, 22-year-old Krystof Heller said his parents married in a 1982 mass wedding. He has known his new wife, 23-year-old Maria Lee of South Korea, for about four months.

"It's something you grow up with. It something you anticipate through your whole life," he said. "It's not just about a mass wedding; there is the moral emphasis. The big crowd is just the perk."

In Washington D.C., children played in the back as churchgoers watched the ceremony on a large screen flanked by the flags of South Korea, Japan and the United States.

"This is the best way to make peace," said Fumi Oliver, a native of Japan who married an American, the Rev. Zagery Oliver, 12 years ago. "International, intercultural, interracial marriage is the best way to make peace."

Hundreds of brides and grooms gathered in churches in Australia, said Enrique Ledesma, Australian director of the church-affiliated Family Federation for World Peace and Unification.

"It was very, very nice," Ledesma said. "It's a serene mood, but it's also a very joyful mood."

The ceremony in Honduras marks a new start for the movement in the Latin American nation, said Omar Valle, president of the Unification Church in Tegucigalpa. He said 25 couples will renew their vows.

"Through this ceremony, we join a large global family, all as brothers," he said.

In Brazil, Laudicea Corina de Padua called her wedding a dream come true.

"It's the realization of a dream I've had for so long. Taking part in a mass wedding only adds to the profoundness — I barely have the words to describe what I feel," the 40-year-old said in Sao Paulo.

Dressed in a shimmering white gown, she was among some 2,000 people in 40 Brazilian cities who took part in the ceremony via simultaneous broadcast. Her husband, Manoel Marcelino dos Santos, a 38-year-old metalworker, was chosen for her by national church leaders.

"Marrying in this way, with so many other people around the world, will give more strength to our union," he said. "It feels like they are all a part of us."

Monday, November 2, 2009

Sounds Like A Cult

*Idolatry always surrounds cults. Whether it be a “man” or man-made doctrine; something attempts to be positioned above the truth of the Word of God. And those partaking in such falsity have opened the door to idolatrous sin in their lives. The article below describes the ongoings of what really constitutes a cult.

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Tamaki's 700 'Sons' Swear Oath of Loyalty
By Garth George

The leader of Destiny Church, Brian Tamaki, who not long ago anointed himself bishop of the church he founded, has now proclaimed himself the church's "spiritual father" and designated the male members of the church as "spiritual sons".

At a special service during the church's annual conference in Auckland at the weekend, about 700 male members of the church swore a "covenant oath" of loyalty and obedience to Mr Tamaki and were given a "covenant ring" to wear on their right hands.

A church document describes the covenant as "a solemn oath of commitment that is binding, enduring and unbreakable. You are bound to covenant ... Covenant is an irrevocable, undissolvable oath of commitment".

The document, entitled Protocols and Requirements Between Spiritual Father & His Spiritual Sons, contains the text of the "covenant oath", the guts of which is that "Above all, we stand here today in the presence of God to enter into this sacred covenant with our man of God, Bishop Brian Tamaki".

It says: "To you Bishop we pledge our allegiance, our faithfulness and loyalty. We pledge to serve the cause that is in your heart and to finish that work. Success to you and success to those who help you - for God is with you."

In its introduction, the church document says that proof of a man's covenant with God is how they "submit to God's chosen man ... We are blessed to our spiritual father through whom this principle is being restored. The fruit of his ministry is self-evident, so much so that his call and influence is discerned at many levels in both the Christian and non-Christian communities here in New Zealand ... Spiritual fathers are extremely rare ... For us it is about discerning the special anointing and function God has put on Bishop's life ... "

The requirements of sonship, the document says, are to give Mr Tamaki obedience and honour, to imitate him and follow his faith and to give him "your loyalty and your strength".

A church statement last night said the initiative was launched by Bishop Tamaki.

He said the covenant ceremony was witnessed by several thousand church-goers, and marked the culmination of a six-month programme aimed at "helping men to become better husbands and fathers and standout contributors to local community".

The Destiny Church statement said many of the men had emerged from social dysfunction, crime, alcohol or drug-related problems and domestic violence to become functional members of society.

Protocols

In the document comes a section entitled "Protocols towards our spiritual father", which takes 1300 words to describe in jaw-dropping detail how the "spiritual sons" shall behave towards their "spiritual father".

Under "Public Conduct", the sons will in all conversation always speak of Mr Tamaki in a favourable and positive light; and in formal and/or public occasions, they will always address him and his wife, Hannah, first in acknowledgments and addresses at meetings "as a sign of respect to the father of the movement".

If any "son" is honoured either by the church or secularly, he is to mention his "mentors and role models" - Mr and Mrs Tamaki - "because Bishop is one of God's best-known representatives in our country".

Under "Conduct Towards Bishop", the "sons" are told that "Bishop is the tangible expression of God", so they need to understand how to properly approach their man of God "to protect the anointing and not transgress this special relationship".

They are always to be respectful and honourable in Mr Tamaki's presence. "Even though he is very sociable and open - remember who he is!" They must never be "in his face" and must protect him from outsiders who attempt to do that.

They must ensure that Mr Tamaki and his wife are both honoured, cared for and given appropriate respect. "Bishop is a people person. Often it is better we offend others than him."

And since "Bishop carries our vision and our anointing for the future and hope of our families and offspring, we ought to guard, protect and watch out for him and Ps [Pastor] Hannah".

Under "Discernment", the "sons" are told they must "feel Bishop's flow and be attentive to his thoughts and directions", which "gives unity and power to what God is saying and doing through him".

They must endorse what Mr Tamaki endorses, fully support what he promotes and ensure that what he is involved in is supported and successful.

"Whenever Bishop speaks all other talking stops: give him your full attention. Be careful not to cut in on him when he is speaking and ensure others don't either.

"Don't start talking or gesturing to somebody else while Bishop is speaking."

The "sons" must never openly disagree with Mr Tamaki in front of others and must "be careful not to become familiar (which can lead to contempt)" with him "due to his friendliness and openness".

Under "Etiquette", the "sons" are told that when Mr Tamaki and his wife enter a room, they must stand and acknowledge their presence. They may sit only after the Tamakis are seated.

And if they dine with him they wait until he has started eating before they start eating, unless he indicates otherwise.

Vocal

Under "Church Service (in house) Protocols" the men are encouraged to sit as close as possible to the front of the church to be nearer to Mr Tamaki and to be vocal during his preaching, affirming what he has to say with "amen" and "that's right", clapping, shouting and laughing. This sort of participation is said to build "an atmosphere that is conducive to supernatural events".

They are told to bring Bible, pen, paper or laptop to note down Mr Tamaki's sermons which "shows how highly you value the Word of God from Bishop's mouth".

They should come to church anticipating that God will speak through Mr Tamaki and should always be dressed well at all meetings with him. "His dress code is your dress code." They should also look happy and smile and be friendly to all and encourage people.

Under "Supporting Bishop's Function & Ministry", the "sons" are encouraged to find out Mr Tamaki's speaking itinerary and travel to other churches and engagements to support him, because a team of men around their bishop "reflects his importance to them".


They must never tolerate anyone (regardless of who they are) speaking or talking critically of Mr Tamaki and his wife/family or the church. "You are not only to stop them in their tracks but warn them that they criticise you when they criticise Bishop."

They should celebrate Mr Tamaki's special occasions with him with surprises on birthdays, anniversaries and special occasions or achievements.

"Don't wait for others to do it. It is a sign of your love and respect for him: at times give gifts to him and/or Ps Hannah. A gift means many things - love, honour and blessing them: they will feel appreciated."

The men are exhorted to be protective of Mr Tamaki and his family. The protocol says he "will be more criticised, scrutinised and demonised than most others because of who he is and what he carries".

"You will hear all sorts of statements and opinions but you must be prepared to ignore them and consistently hold him in the same high regard no matter what you hear."

Somewhat surprisingly, the protocol says that Mr Tamaki is human and does make mistakes.

However, the sons must "be prepared to defend against any problems arising out of his mistakes.

A loyal man is supposed to 'cushion' the effect of a mistake on Bishop and to protect him. NEVER intentionally expose his weakness."

It says Mr Tamaki may downplay and even discourage "sons" in overtly honouring him, "BUT that should never stop the men from doing what is honourable and what is in their heart to do".

"The bishop's discomfort with honour should never rob the people of the spiritual rewards for such honourable and respectful actions towards him.

It is appropriate, says the protocol, for men to tell others of their love for Mr Tamaki, who is "one of the most well-known representatives of God in our country". The "sons" must reinforce and emphasise what he says and preaches and quote him as often as possible in favourable terms.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Sobering Truth!

*Lee Grady of Charisma wrote well in this article below. It needs to be heard by so many in the Church today; particularly those expressing to be Spirit filled. Hat’s off to Mr. Grady for a great article!

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Sloshed in the Spirit? It's Time to Get Sober
by Lee Grady

Getting "drunk in the Holy Spirit" has been a popular concept in some churches. But is it biblical?


Sloshed in the Spirit? It's Time to Get Sober

Getting "drunk in the Holy Spirit" has been a popular concept in some churches. But is it biblical?

A few years ago a traveling charismatic minister from the West coast passed through Florida to conduct a series of renewal meetings. I'd never heard of the guy, but the rumor was that he carried a "special" anointing. It was unique, that's for sure-especially when he took the microphone, slurred his words as if intoxicated and leaned to the left of the pulpit as if he were about to fall over. Then, in between some bizarre spasms, he would shout what sounded like "Walla walla bing bang!"

His message didn't make sense. But if he had just said "Ding Dong Bell" or "Yabba Dabba Doo" over and over, some people in his meetings would have run to the front of the room and swooned, even though he never opened his Bible during his message. They wanted what this man claimed to possess—an anointing to become "drunk in the Spirit."
"Let's put the childish things behind us. It's time for us to grow up and sober up."

Spiritual intoxication has been a trend in charismatic circles for a while. Some respected preachers, citing Acts 2:13, defend the concept that Christians might feel drunk when they are filled with the Holy Spirit (because the early disciples were accused of being drunk when they spoke in tongues). This teaching led to lots of disorderly conduct in revival meetings—including nosebleeds, bruises and more serious injuries.

Some people began to manifest what looked like seizures during renewal services, and the bizarre behavior was defended as "manifestations of the Spirit." Some pastors even encouraged wobbly saints to find "designated drivers" if they felt too drunk to operate a vehicle when it was time to go home. Meanwhile, some worship leaders introduced "Holy Ghost drinking songs" that encouraged people to slosh around in the joy of the Lord while uncorking more of His new wine.

The spiritual drunkenness craze led to other charismatic fads, including an infatuation with angels, an obsession with golden dust and the strange teachings of John Crowder—a confessed "new mystic" who compares the infilling of the Holy Spirit to smoking marijuana.

Crowder, who is planting a church in Santa Cruz, Calif., this fall, sometimes calls his meetings "sloshfests" and refers to himself as a bartender for God. He teaches that God wants all Christians to be continually drunk in the Holy Spirit—and he provides resources to help you do just that, including an electronica recording that will help you, in Crowder's words, "trance out," and a teaching that encourages stigmata and levitation.

I'll let the theologians sort out all the obvious reasons why Crowder and other "new mystics" are treading on dangerous ground. Meanwhile I have a less complicated concern. With all of this emphasis on Holy Ghost intoxication, did anybody notice that the Bible clearly commands us to be spiritually sober?

If soberness wasn't mentioned in the New Testament, then I wouldn't be beating this drum so loudly. But I find numerous references, from both Peter and Paul. "But you, be sober in all things," is Paul's admonition to Timothy (2 Tim. 4:5, NASB). He tells the Thessalonians, "But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation," (1 Thess. 5:8).

Peter hammers the same point. He wrote, "Prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1 Pet. 1:13) and "The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer" (1 Pet. 4:7).

The soberness here is not primarily a reference to abstaining from alcohol (although it's worth mentioning that believers who drink will find it more difficult to obey these commands). To be sober can be defined "to show self-control," "to be sane or rational," or "to be free from excess or extravagance." A sober Christian knows the heights of God's inexpressible joy, but he is never ruled by emotions, passions, lust or any other category of temptation that has the power to dull the spiritual senses.

When I look at the state of our nation today, and consider our spiritual challenges, it's obvious the last thing we need are Christians who are so sloshed in emotional euphoria that they can't pray intelligently and work diligently.

This is not a time for God's people to be incapacitated. We need to be thinking, planning, strategizing, researching and building—all using the Holy Spirit's wisdom. Yes, we need to be filled with the Holy Spirit like never before—but He is not going to fill us so we can act like giddy freshmen at a frat house keg party. Let's put the childish things behind us. It's time for us to grow up and sober up.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Foliage Shots On A Beautiful Weekend

*This is a great tree! I try to visit it every Fall now to take a shot of it.


*What a cluster of trees!


*A lovely surprise awaits while walking in the park Saturday morning!


*This just may get better, and grow more colorful before the season ends.