Monday, November 29, 2010

Food Banks Struggle To Meet Demand

Carolina Food Banks Stressed By Growing Need
By MEG KINNARD - The Associated Press

While their donors continue to give generously heading into the holiday season, food bank managers throughout the Carolinas say they constantly struggle to meet the demand of more and more hungry families.

“I am very thankful that more people are becoming engaged,” said Denise Holland, executive director of Harvest Hope Food Bank in Columbia, which has seen its donor rolls and fundraising go up by 10 percent and 21 percent, respectively, this year. “Donations have not quite kept up with what the increase has been, but certainly an increase in donations is very, very helpful.”

But the sheer numbers of those in need have been staggering in a state like South Carolina, where unemployment marked its second straight monthly decrease in October — 10.7 percent — but still measured the sixth-highest in the nation.

On Monday, the two emergency food pantries at Harvest Hope — which distributes food and household products to more than 400 nonprofit agencies in 20 South Carolina counties — served 750 families, a one-day record.

In the past year, Holland said the number of families served by Harvest Hope has increased by 29 percent, with more than 740,000 families served so far this year. The agency gave more than 2 million prepared meals to soup kitchens, and, in just the first nine months of this year, distributed 13 percent more pounds of food than in all of 2009.

“It really brings it full scope when everybody sees what people just like all of us are experiencing and waiting in line just to be given — they don’t have the freedom of a choice to walk into a grocery store and buy what they would like,” Holland said. “Because hunger is such a travesty, they are willing to take whatever we have that we can give to them.”

In Charleston, Lowcountry Food Bank executive director Jermaine Husser reported similar news. Particularly during the holiday season, Husser said his organization sees more giving from individuals and businesses that are able to fit generosity into their own fiscal plans.

“It’s really a tough time for those families to have to go back through this cycle again, especially around the holidays, when they’re supposed to be cheerful and giving and in that kind of spirit,” Husser said. “People who are fortunate to have a job or are fortunate to be running a small business or a corporation understand what a blessing it is to even be in this environment, the ‘new normal.’ They’re stretching as much they possibly can.”

The situation is similar in North Carolina, where the current unemployment rate mirrors national figures, down slightly to 9.6 percent in October. At Raleigh’s Catholic Parish Outreach in North Carolina, food pantry director Terry Foley said she has seen no drop-off in donations at the center, which over the month of October doled out a week’s worth of groceries to more than 8,000 people.

At Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina, a Charlotte-based organization that provides food for 19 counties in both Carolinas, executive director Kay Carter said her generous donors still can’t keep up with the demand.

“We haven’t seen a slowdown in the request for assistance,” said Carter. “And we’re certainly not bringing in enough donations to take care of the escalating need. I think people are giving all they can give. I think we just have a lot of people that are in a very different financial circumstance than they may have been a year ago or two years ago.”

Heartened by images of heavily laden dinner tables, family festivities and cheerful celebrations, many people may feel most generous during the sprint from the Thanksgiving to Christmas season, organizing family and friends to volunteer a shift at the soup kitchen or food pantry. Both food providers and advocates say they need that generosity to spill over into other parts of the year.

“Hunger doesn’t go away after Christmas and after Thanksgiving,” said Sue Berkowitz, executive director of the South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Foundation. “What I’m frustrated with is why we’re not recognizing that there are just real policy changes that are going to need to be made.”

To do that, Berkowitz encourages state-level leaders in the new year to take real strides at improving state government’s approach toward tackling hunger, even as economic times continue to be tight.

“Nobody wants to look at their child and say, ‘I’m sorry, this is all we’ve got. We’ve got to make it last for the week, and I’m not sure we can make it happen,’” Berkowitz said. “Why are we not opening our hearts and our minds that there are policies that we need to be thinking about and programs that need to be continued to be funded?”

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving 2010

I hope you all have a blessed and wonderful Thanksgiving in the States! Below, you will find the meal you have come to expect. I have been serving it up for three years now on this blog. Enjoy the holiday (preferably with a real meal with all the fixins)!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Young People Leaving The Faith

Below is an excerpt of a very interesting article listed on Christian News Headlines, concerning why a significant amount of young adults are leaving the Church; that is leaving the Christian faith. I am only posting a small portion of it here as the article is quite lengthy; a link is provided at the end of this post to the original website.

The Leavers: Young Doubters Exit the Church
by Drew Dyck

Some striking mile markers appear on the road through young adulthood: leaving for college, getting the first job and apartment, starting a career, getting married—and, for many people today, walking away from the Christian faith.

A few years ago, shortly after college, I was in my studio apartment with a friend and fellow pastor's kid. After some small talk over dinner, he announced, "I'm not a Christian anymore. I don't know what happened. I just left it."

An image flashed into my mind from the last time I had seen him. It was at a Promise Keepers rally. I remembered watching him worship, eyes pinched shut with one slender arm skyward.

How did his family react to his decision? I asked. His eyes turned to the ground. "Growing up I had an uncle who wasn't a Christian, and we prayed for him all the time," he said wistfully. "I'm sure they pray for me like that."

Click here to continue reading the article.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Temptation And Facebook

Thou Shalt Not Facebook, Says Reverend
NEPTUNE, N.J.— The Associated Press

Thou shalt not commit adultery. And thou also shalt not use Facebook.

That's the edict from a New Jersey pastor who feels the two often go together.

The Rev. Cedric Miller said 20 couples among the 1,100 members of his Living Word Christian Fellowship Church have run into marital trouble over the last six months after a spouse connected with an ex-flame over Facebook.

Because of the problems, he is ordering about 50 married church officials to delete their accounts with the social networking site or resign from their leadership positions. He had previously asked married congregants to share their login information with their spouses and now plans to suggest that they give up Facebook altogether.

“I've been in extended counselling with couples with marital problems because of Facebook for the last year and a half,” he said. “What happens is someone from yesterday surfaces, it leads to conversations and there have been physical meet-ups. The temptation is just too great.”

Rev. Miller is married and has a Facebook account that he uses to keep in touch with six children, but he will heed his own advice and cancel his account this weekend.

On Sunday, he plans to “strongly suggest” that all married people to stop using Facebook, lest they endanger their marriage.

“The advice will go to the entire church,” he said. “They'll hear what I'm asking of my church leadership. I won't mandate it for the entire congregation, but I hope people will follow my advice.”

Rev. Miller said he has spoken from the pulpit before about the dangers of Facebook, asking married couples to give each other their passwords to the site.

“Some did. Others got scared and deleted their accounts right away. And some felt it was none of my business and continued on,” he said.

Rev. Miller said he has gotten a mostly positive response so far among the leaders subject to his edict, which was first reported by the Asbury Park Press.

Pat Dawson, a minister at the church, uses her Facebook account to see photos of her relatives. She is unmarried and therefore not required to delete her account, but she agrees with Miller about the dangers such sites can create.

“I know he feels very strongly about this,” she said. “It can be a useful tool, but it also can cause great problems in a relationship. If your spouse won't give you his or her password, you've got a problem.”

The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers says 81 per cent of its members have used or been faced with evidence plucked from Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and other social networking sites in divorce cases over the last five years.

About one in five adults uses Facebook for flirting, according to a 2008 report by the Pew Internet and American Life Project. And a do-it-yourself divorce site in the United Kingdom, Divorce-Online, reported late last year that the word “Facebook” was appearing in about one in five of the petitions it was handling.

Rev. Miller says there are legitimate uses for Facebook, which is why he started an account a few years ago.

“People use it as an opportunity to invite others to social gatherings, to share Scripture or talk about what went on at church,” he said. “Those are all positive, worthwhile things. But the downside is just too great.”

Facebook did not immediately respond to a before-hours interview request left at its California offices.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Woman Charged With Blasphemy

*Originally spotted on Christian News Headlines

Christian woman sentenced to death in Pakistan 'for blasphemy'
The Telegraph

Asia Bibi, a 45-year-old mother-of-five, denies blasphemy and told investigators that she was being persecuted for her faith in a country where Christians face routine harassment and discrimination.

Christian groups and human rights campaigners condemned the verdict and called for the blasphemy laws to be repealed.

Her supporters say she will now appeal against the sentence handed down in a local court in the town of Sheikhupura, near Lahore, Pakistan.

Ashiq Masih, her husband, said he had not had the heart to break the news to two of their children.

"I haven't told two of my younger daughters about the court's decision," he said. "They asked me many times about their mother but I can't get the courage to tell them that the judge has sentenced their mother to capital punishment for a crime she never committed." Mrs Bibi has been held in prison since June last year.

The court heard she had been working as a farmhand in fields with other women, when she was asked to fetch drinking water.

Some of the other women – all Muslims – refused to drink the water as it had been brought by a Christian and was therefore "unclean", according to Mrs Bibi's evidence, sparking a row.

The incident was forgotten until a few days later when Mrs Bibi said she was set upon by a mob.

The police were called and took her to a police station for her own safety.

Shahzad Kamran, of the Sharing Life Ministry Pakistan, said: "The police were under pressure from this Muslim mob, including clerics, asking for Asia to be killed because she had spoken ill of the Prophet Mohammed.

"So after the police saved her life they then registered a blasphemy case against her." He added that she had been held in isolation for more than a year before being sentenced to death on Monday.

"The trial was clear," he said. "She was innocent and did not say those words." Earlier this year, Pakistan's internet service providers were ordered to block Facebook to prevent access to supposedly blasphemous images.

Human rights groups believe the law is often used to discriminate against religious minorities, such as the country's estimated three million Christians.

Although no one has ever been executed under Pakistan's blasphemy laws – most are freed on appeal – as many as 10 people are thought to have been murdered while on trial.

Ali Hasan Dayan, of Human Rights Watch, said the blasphemy laws were out of step with rights guaranteed under Pakistan's constitution and should be repealed.

"It's an obscene law," he said. "Essentially the blasphemy law is used as a tool of persecution and to settle other scores that are nothing to do with religion.

"It makes religious minorities particularly vulnerable because it's often used against them."

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Golden Ephod

I am not familiar with the following author's ministry; but I certainly agreed with a lot in this article by Stephen Crosby. I did not post the article in entirety, but at the end of the post there will be a link to a website where you can continue reading it.


The Golden Ephod of Success - Part 1
by Stephen Crosby

The emerging news regarding Eddie Long has stirred the usual flurry of blog commentary. There are those who haven't read 1Corinthians 13 lately who seem to rejoice in Eddie's difficulties. On the other hand there are those who seem ready to excuse anything, even if the allegations should be proven true. Their attitude seems to be: "Well, he may be a scoundrel, but at least he's our scoundrel, and we will defend him to the end." Until proven guilty, Eddie deserves the benefit of the doubt. But if proven guilty, he should receive reproof, rebuke, discipline, and restoration.

However it may play out, the situation with Eddie Long is symptomatic of a much deeper, broader, and long abiding problem that I have been meditating on for some time, and will address here. The problem is not with Eddie Long, nor Earl Paulk, nor Ted Haggard, nor Todd Bentley, nor Jimmy Swaggart, etc. These individuals are merely the public faces of a much deeper systemic problem. The problem is not a lack of this or that program of accountability, nor this or that form of church government. The problem is: us-you and I, the Church in America, and to some extent, the entire Western Church.

There's a corrupt value system that permeates the fiber of American Christianity. It's a beast supported by the time, talent, and treasure of people like you and me. It's hidden from public awareness until the beast spits out one of its own, to be mocked and derided by the public (Christian and otherwise) who worship the beast. If not for our support of this beast, these individuals would never have had the platform to fall from in the first place. We built the platform and gave it to them. We made them kings. We feed the beast. The beast is the worship of success.

A theology of success has replaced a theology of the Cross.
A methodology of pragmatism has replaced death and resurrection life.


A theology of success is inherently and eternally incompatible with the Cross of Christ. We demand it anyway. It's what we are willing to pay for. It promises to deliver everything we want and demands only our loyalty and money, not our lives or our rights to ourselves, things the Cross demands. The American cultural value of success (size, money, significance) is promoted every Sunday from pulpits across the land as a kingdom virtue. It is not. Success and the "anointing" are all that matters to us. We embrace the notion that more money, media exposure, and posteriors in seats equals God's endorsement of a man, message, or ministry. By that standard, neither Jesus nor Paul would qualify as successful.

We sing: "Not by might, not by power," but we operate with the might and power of money, size, and significance. We read: "Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have give I thee . . . but we operate under: "Silver and gold we must have, and the only way to have it, is to be "successful." There are even those who claim to be apostles in this day who are promoting the necessity of being a millionaire in order to be considered as an apostle. Paul would be shocked to hear that. They conduct "wealth building seminars" rather than preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. They think the spiritual bankruptcy of the Western church can be solved by more success and money.

The danger to our spiritual welfare is threatened far more by our success than our failures. If our adversary cannot use our weaknesses and failures to drag us down, he will use our success.

In Judges 8:22-27, Gideon successfully defeated the Midianites on behalf of Israel. He refused their offer of kingship, but took the fruit of success, their gold earrings, (money, wealth, the fruit of victory) and made a golden ephod (breastplate/vest) of them, which then became an object of idolatrous worship for them. They worshiped the benefits of their success. The biblical language is strong: they prostituted themselves.

To me, there is not a clearer metaphor for the prostitution of the American/Western church. We worship success and money, and we make kings/celebrities out of the ones who lead us to success. We have worshiped the idol of success for so long that we have lost all spiritual abilities to recognize anything but our idolatry. Our idolatry has been normalized. Dare to call the golden calf of success what it is, and you will be accused of having a judgmental, critical or Pharisaical spirit, or not on board with the latest "cutting edge" revelation.

Click here to continue reading the rest of this article.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Christian Beaten In Iran

Iranian Christian Dies After Being Beaten by Relative
By Marshall Ramsey II, Worthy News Correspondent

TEHRAN, IRAN (Worthy News)-- A believer with a Muslim Background (BMB) died in Iran after being severely beaten by a relative, according to Christian Human rights group.

According to Middle East Concern, he left behind a wife and two young children. Due to security concerns to the surviving family, the man's name was not able to be released.

A number of Christians continue to be held in jail in Iran for their faith in Jesus Christ. According to Farsi Christian News Network, three of 15 believers arrested near Mashhad on July 8th of this year are still in detention. They are under pressure to renounce their faith in Jesus Christ, but have refused to do so.

In the city of Ahvaz, another believer, the assistant pastor of a fellowship, remains detained after having been arrested during a raid on his home July 24th. His wife and daughter were also arrested and detained, but were released shortly after.

According to a report on Iranian State television in early September, nine Christians were arrested in the town of Hamedan on charges of evangelism. Any religion other than Islam is forbidden in Iran.