Thursday, December 24, 2009
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
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?
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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%.
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
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
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
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!