Archive for February 23rd, 2006

Saul’s (Paul’s) Conversion

Thursday, February 23rd, 2006

Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.
As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”
And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting, but get up and enter the city, and it will be told you what you must do.”
The men who traveled with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one.
Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; and leading him by the hand, they brought him into Damascus.
And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.
Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and the Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.”
And the Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him, so that he might regain his sight.”
But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he did to Your saints at Jerusalem; and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.”
But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake.”
So Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”
And immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he regained his sight, and he got up and was baptized; and he took food and was strengthened.

Acts 9:1-19 (New American Standard Bible)

Americans Favor Israel

Thursday, February 23rd, 2006

I blogged about this a week or so ago. It appears that Americans, as a whole, are starting to realize that Israel is not “evil incarnate” that the arab world and main stream media (MSM) want everyone to believe it is. The Gallup poll indicates that people who follow the events in the Middle East closely are more likely to favor the Israelis.

A Gallup poll shows that Americans are very pessimistic about Middle East peace, more sympathetic to Israel, and less favorable to the PA. Sympathy towards Israel increases with news-awareness.
The annual Gallup Poll on World Affairs was conducted on a random sampling of 1,002 adults on Feb. 6-9, some two weeks after the Hamas terrorist organization won power in the Palestinian Authority (PA). Some findings:

A plurality of Americans – 44% – believe the United States should conduct diplomatic relations with the PA only if Hamas recognizes Israel. Half that number believe the United States should deal with the PA regardless of its stance toward Israel, and one-quarter of Americans say the United States should not conduct any relations with the PA at all.
Ignorance on the Middle East conflict does not work to Israel’s advantage, according to Gallup. Americans who say they follow news about world affairs “very closely” are more likely to sympathize with the Israelis (66%) than Americans who follow foreign news only somewhat closely (59%) or who do not follow it closely (52%).
Americans are much less favorable to financial assistance to the PA than they are towards a diplomatic relationship. A majority, 57%, oppose giving any financial aid to the Palestinian Authority while Hamas is in power, while 30% would give aid if the PA recognizes Israel. Just 5% favor giving aid even if the PA does not recognize Israel.
Gallup also asked whether American sympathies lie more with the Israelis or with the Arabs of the Palestinian Authority. The numbers this year: 59% are with Israel, and only 15% with the PA. These figures represent one of the most lopsided margins in favor of the Israelis ever recorded by Gallup.
When not compared with each other, Israel received a “favorable” rating from 68% of Americans, and the PA received the same from 11%. Last year at this time, Israel received 69% approval, and the PA – 27%. This year’s readings are the most negative Gallup has found since it began asking about the Palestinian Authority in 2000, while last year’s were the most positive.
The poll found that Republicans (77%) are significantly more likely to sympathize with the Israelis than are Democrats (50%) or independents (50%).
By a 2-1 margin, Americans now say there will never come a time when Israel and the Arab nations will live in peace. The 65% to 32% split compares with a roughly 50-50 split last year.

British Pol Advises American Christians to Get Involved in Politics

Thursday, February 23rd, 2006

Many of us in the blogshere have felt that someday sermons, relating to homosexuality and other sins that are considered by society to be “normal” actions, will be outlawed. I know, at this time, that seems quite a stretch, but look how far things have come in that direction in just the last 10 years. Christians need to be active in the political arena if we are to keep our right to practice our faith as the Bible teaches.

(AgapePress) – A member of the British House of Lords has told the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) convention in Dallas that biblical preaching could be outlawed unless Christians become more politically active.
Recently the British Parliament nearly passed legislation that would have amended that nation’s Racial and Religious Hatred Bill and outlawed incitement to religious hatred. The measure lost by a single vote — the vote of Prime Minister Tony Blair, who left early, confident that the bill would pass without him.
John Taylor, a member of the House of Lords, spoke at this week’s NRB gathering in Texas. Taylor said passage of the bill could have led to pastors being arrested for so-called “hate speech.” Unless Christians take action, says Taylor, clergy in his country — as well as in the United States — could fall victim to such statutes, should they be enacted.
“There’s an old saying that things won’t change until people change,” Taylor says. “So we can moan about these [political] institutions and so forth, or we can basically get in there. We are called to be salt and light — so why don’t we take over the Senate and Congress and so forth?”
According to Taylor, Christians in Britain have virtually abandoned politics. He says there is a “kind of lethargy” in Christians that often causes them to retreat from the political arena, saying “Well, that’s politics; we don’t get involved in politics.” But try telling that to Muslims, he adds.
“There are Muslim Members of Parliament who are sponsored by mosques. They are there to preach Islam,” he says. “In the House of Lords, there’s a room where you can pray to Mecca — but there’s no room where you can pray to Christ.”
Taylor calls it a “miracle” that the prime minister was absent for the final vote. Earlier, members of Parliament had voted 288-278 to back the amendment to the bill.
A BBC report quotes one member of Parliament as saying “the government just failed to understand that they can’t take liberties with freedom of expression. This [vote] has showed … that we will stand up for freedom of expression.” That report notes this was only the second defeat of government-backed legislation in almost ten years.

Ohio Drops Science Education Standards Requiring Critical Analysis of Darwinism

Thursday, February 23rd, 2006

One more time…Darwinism is a theory, not a fact, but a theory. Eveyone, all together now…Darwinism is a theory, not a fact.

(AgapePress) – Students in Ohio public schools will no longer be taught the controversy surrounding the theory of evolution. The Ohio Board of Education has voted to repeal both its “Critical Analysis of Evolution” lesson plan and the benchmark in the state science standards that required critical analysis of evolution.
Casey Luskin with the Seattle, Washington-based
Discovery Institute, a leading intelligent design think tank, says a group of Darwinists convinced members of the Ohio Board of Education that critiquing evolution is equivalent to bringing intelligent design or creationism into the classroom.
Somehow, the board members failed to recognize the fact that the original state-approved science standards “explicitly stated that the Ohio science standards did not require the teaching of intelligent design,” Luskin says. Still, he insists, the argument that critique of evolutionary theory must necessarily involve bringing religion into the classroom is a “Darwinist charade” that will not succeed forever.
After all, the Discovery Institute spokesman notes, evidence suggests the majority of Ohio citizens would prefer to see students across the state receive a balanced science education. A recent poll found 69 percent of Ohioans want the strengths and weaknesses of evolutionary theory taught in schools.
“You would think that the board members would be sensitive to what the public wants and the fact that there are many legitimate scientific critiques of evolution that would be educationally beneficial for students to know about,” Luskin laments. “I just find it very unfortunate that a majority of the Ohio State Board of Education essentially did not recognize what the people of Ohio clearly want.”
Luskin believes the Ohio education officials were unfairly pressured and browbeaten into a bad decision by proponents of Darwinism. “In my opinion, what took place was the result of people who oppose objective evolution education using, basically, false fears and fear tactics to bully the board into dropping what is a very good policy,” he says.

International health experts express concern over unprecedented bird flu spread

Thursday, February 23rd, 2006

If this continues to grow and mutate, it could be a very great concern for all of us.

GENEVA – International health experts have expressed concern over the unprecedented spread of bird flu from Asia to Europe and Africa, but said the spotlight is on Indonesia because of its continuing high infection rate among people and poultry.
Fourteen countries – from India to Nigeria and Egypt – have reported their first cases of birds infected with the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu since the beginning of February, the World Health Organization said.
“It’s absolutely unprecedented,” WHO spokeswoman Maria Cheng told The Associated Press on Tuesday. “We’ve never seen so many outbreaks of the same virus in so many different regions, and our concern obviously is that humans could potentially come into contact with birds infected with H5N1, which would mean populations worldwide are potentially at risk.”
WHO says it remains difficult for humans to catch H5N1. The agency has confirmed 170 human cases, including 92 deaths, since 2003 – mostly in east Asia. But WHO experts fear that the virus could mutate into a form that is easily transmitted from person to person, and that that could set off a flu pandemic.
Many of the locations of recent outbreaks were in Europe, where wild birds have tested positive for the disease. But poultry cases in India, Egypt and Nigeria are causing international health authorities more concern because of the close contact chickens and other domestic fowl can have with humans who keep them around their homes, increasing the chance of the disease jumping the species barrier.
“At the moment we don’t have very good information about how extensive these outbreaks are,” said Cheng. “Certainly cases like India and Egypt where population density is quite high and people tend to keep birds at home, that’s a concern.”

Read the rest here.

Mosque Attack Pushes Iraq Toward Civil War

Thursday, February 23rd, 2006

Amazing how far the “haters of democracy” will go in order to get what they want.

Insurgents posing as police destroyed the golden dome of one of Iraq’s holiest Shiite shrines Wednesday, setting off an unprecedented spasm of sectarian violence. Angry crowds thronged the streets, militiamen attacked Sunni mosques, and at least 19 people were killed.
On Thursday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad blamed the United States and Israel for the destruction of a Shiite shrine’s golden dome in Iraq, saying it was the work of “defeated Zionists and occupiers.”
Speaking to a crowd of thousands on a tour of southwestern Iran, the president referred to the destruction of the Askariya mosque dome in Samarra on Wednesday, which the Iraqi government has blamed on insurgents.
“They invade the shrine and bomb there because they oppose God and justice,” Ahmadinejad said, referring to the U.S.-led multinational forces in Iraq.

Meanwhile, with the gleaming dome of the 1,200-year-old Askariya shrine reduced to rubble, some Shiites lashed out at the United States as partly to blame.
The violence _ many of the 90 attacks on Sunni mosques were carried out by Shiite militias _ seemed to push Iraq closer to all-out civil war than at any point in the three years since the U.S.-led overthrow of Saddam Hussein.
Many leaders called for calm. “We are facing a major conspiracy that is targeting Iraq’s unity,” said President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd. “We should all stand hand in hand to prevent the danger of a civil war.”
President Bush pledged American help to restore the mosque after the bombing north of Baghdad, which dealt a severe blow to U.S. efforts to keep Iraq from falling deeper into sectarian violence.
“The terrorists in Iraq have again proven that they are enemies of all faiths and of all humanity,” Bush said. “The world must stand united against them, and steadfast behind the people of Iraq.”
British Prime Minister Tony Blair also condemned the bombing and pledged funds toward the shrine’s reconstruction.
U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and the top American commander in Iraq, Gen. George Casey, called the attack a deliberate attempt to foment sectarian strife and warned it was a “critical moment for Iraq.”
No one was reported wounded in the bombing of the shrine in Samarra.

Read the rest here.

‘Gospel of Judas’ to Be Published

Thursday, February 23rd, 2006

Take this one with a grain of salt. It would be interesting reading, but won’t change anything about how I feel about the Bible or Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross.

The first translation of an ancient, self-proclaimed “Gospel of Judas” will be published in late April, bringing to light what some scholars believe are the writings of an early Christian sect suppressed for supporting Jesus Christ’s infamous betrayer.If authentic, the manuscript could add to the understanding of Gnosticism, an unorthodox Christian theology denounced by the early church. The Roman Catholic Church is aware of the manuscript, which a Vatican historian calls “religious fantasy.”
According to scholars who have seen photographs of the brittle manuscript, it argues that Judas Iscariot was carrying out God’s will when he handed Christ over to his executioners. The manuscript could bring momentum to a broader academic movement that argues Judas has gotten a bum rap among both historians and theologians, as well as in popular culture.
The manuscript’s owner says he has cut a deal with the National Geographic Society to release the English translation with a multimedia splash after Easter.
Monsignor Walter Brandmuller, president of the Vatican’s Committee for Historical Science, called it “a product of religious fantasy.”
In an interview, he said the manuscript would not have any impact on church teaching.
“We welcome the (manuscript) like we welcome the critical study of any text of ancient literature,” Brandmuller said.
He said that despite some reports to the contrary, the drive to improve Judas’ reputation does not have the support of the Vatican.
“There is no campaign, no movement for the rehabilitation of the traitor of Jesus,” said Brandmuller.
Brushed onto 31 pages of papyrus in Coptic, an Egyptian script, the manuscript has become tattered after spending centuries buried beneath the sands of middle Egypt and decades on the gray market.
According to Mario Roberty, a Swiss lawyer who currently owns the manuscript, the document, known as a “codex,” has undergone restoration and translation by a team of researchers headed by the Swiss Coptic scholar Rodolphe Kasser.
“They’ve put each page under glass. It’s incredibly brittle and in bad shape,” Roberty said in a phone interview from Geneva.
Results of the research, Roberty said, will be released after Easter, when Christians around the world traditionally mark the official version of Christ’s death as told by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Roberty would not discuss the contents of the codex and a National Geographic spokeswoman in Washington, Mary Jeanne Jacobsen, would not comment at all. But scholars independently following the project have already begun to anticipate some of its findings.
Working from photographs of the codex, Charles Hedrick, a retired professor of Coptic studies at Missouri State University, has translated six pages of the manuscript into English, including the codex’s title “The Gospel of Judas.” Roberty confirmed that Hedrick’s photos were genuine
reproductions of the codex.
Some of the manuscript’s passages echo descriptions in the New Testament of Christ’s arrest, recalling how Roman authorities aimed to “seize (Christ) in the act of prayer” and how Judas “took some money and he delivered (Christ) over to them,” Hedrick said, quoting from his translation.
Although Judas cooperates in the arrest of Christ, Hedrick said, the codex does not depict him as a villain.
“Judas is not a bad guy in this text,” Hedrick said in an interview. “He is the good guy and he is serving God.”

Read the rest of the article here.