Archive for November 15th, 2006

The LORD Watches Over the Way of the Righteous

Wednesday, November 15th, 2006

1 Blessed is the man
who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
or stand in the way of sinners
or sit in the seat of mockers.

2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers.

4 Not so the wicked!
They are like chaff
that the wind blows away.

5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

6 For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.

Psalm 1:1-6 (New International Version)

Leaves little to the imagination, doesn’t it?
God loves everyone, but He delights in those who try to follow Him, who try to do His will and stay away from sin and wicked things.
As I write this, it seems almost strange to use words like “sin” and “wicked”. In our attempts to make everyone “feel” good, to pander to the political correct crowd, we have almost obsoleted these words.
But God has not.
As Christians and followers of God, we should always try to do what pleases God.
How are we to know what pleases God?
Open your Bible. Read it every day. Search it for God’s will for your life. Know it and contend for God with the Bible as the source of your words.
Remember that the Lord watches over His people; those who have accepted Him as their Lord.
Don’t be like “like chaff that the wind blows away”, but be like “a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither”.

3 Christian Groups Move To Condemn Gay Sex

Wednesday, November 15th, 2006

BALTIMORE, Nov. 14 — Faced with rising public acceptance of same-sex relationships, three U.S. Christian denominations are taking strong measures this week to condemn homosexual acts as sinful.

The nation’s Roman Catholic bishops, meeting in Baltimore, declared Tuesday that Catholics who minister to gays must firmly adhere to the church’s teaching that same-sex attractions are “disordered.” Catholics with “a homosexual inclination” should be encouraged to live in chastity and discouraged from making “general public announcements” about their sexual orientation, the bishops said.

The largest Baptist group in North Carolina, meanwhile, moved to expel any congregation that condones homosexuality, adopting a policy that allows the Baptist State Convention to investigate complaints that member churches are too “gay-friendly.”

And on Wednesday in Pittsburgh, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), a mainline Protestant denomination with about 3 million members, will put a minister on trial for conducting a marriage ceremony for two women.

The decisions are part of a mounting backlash in many U.S. denominations against church groups whose stated goal is not only to welcome but also to “affirm” gay congregants. For many religious groups, the biblical injunction to hate the sin but love the sinner is no longer sufficient, because many believers do not view homosexuality as a sin.

The impulse to restate traditional teachings against same-sex activity is complicated by the simultaneous desire to minister to gays. Thus, Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli of Paterson, N.J., chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ committee on doctrine, stressed that the tone of the bishops’ statement was intended to be “positive, pastoral and welcoming,” even as it compared same-sex attractions to the temptations of “envy, malice or greed.”

Asked how he could square those two messages, Serratelli told reporters that “the truth is always welcoming.”

The bishops’ statement came in the form of new guidelines for Catholic ministries aimed at gay men and lesbians. Bishops must take care, it says, “to ensure that those carrying out the ministry of the Church not use their position of leadership to advocate positions or behaviors not in keeping with the teachings of the Church.”

It is not sufficient, the document adds, for those ministering to gays to take a position of “distant neutrality” toward the church’s teachings.

Donald W. Wuerl, Washington’s new archbishop, said the document should not be seen as a crackdown on pro-gay ministries. Rather, he said, “the starting point is the church living in a culture in which these things are being promoted, and our task is to keep saying: ‘Remember, here are the true teachings of the church.’ “

———-

In North Carolina, the state Baptist Convention voted to broaden its fight against homosexuality by moving to expel churches that “affirm,” “approve,” or “bless” same-sex relationships.

The measure targets as many as a dozen Baptist churches in the state that position themselves as actively welcoming gays, but it could exclude any church that enrolls openly gay members.

The growing acceptance of gays in popular culture and the fact that homosexuality has powerful advocacy groups made the stance necessary, Baptist leaders said.

“In our day and time, no other sin marches so defiantly across our national landscape,” Mark Harris, the head of the committee that introduced the measure, told the 2,600 delegates, or “messengers,” assembled at a convention hall in Greensboro, N.C.

But while the proposal was approved by the required two-thirds majority, hundreds held up their hands to object. Some worried that churches would spy and report on one another. Others said the measure impinged on local church autonomy and reflected an unfounded obsession with homosexuality.

“It seems so contrary, at least to me, to the picture and posture of Jesus in the gospels,” Nathan Parrish, from a church in Winston-Salem, N.C., told the assembly. “Jesus’s life and ministry were marked by radical hospitality, openness, vulnerability, humility. By contrast, the Baptist State Convention is recommending that we . . . magnify the message that certain types of people, as well as their friends and perhaps their fellow believers and family members, are neither welcome nor worthy of a place at the table of this community.”

What made the measure extraordinary, church members on both sides said, is that for what may be the first time in the convention’s 176-year history, membership in the group would be contingent upon a specific policy — that is, treatment of gays.

“This issue has emerged as a litmus test,” said Andrew Wakefield, professor of biblical studies at Campbell University, in Buies Creek, N.C., which is affiliated with the Baptist State Convention.

On Wednesday in Pittsburgh, the Rev. Janet Edwards will go on trial before a Presbyterian Church tribunal for officiating at a same-sex marriage ceremony. Earlier this year, the Redwoods Presbytery in Northern California acquitted a minister in a similar trial, ruling that ceremonies for same-sex couples are not “contrary to the essentials of the Reformed faith.”

Jimmy Creech, who was defrocked as a United Methodist minister in 1999 for performing a marriage ceremony for two men, said the number of U.S. churches that welcome openly gay members has been rising steadily, including many congregations in the Methodist Church, the Episcopal Church and the United Church of Christ.

“But it’s a social change that, for many, has theological implications they just are not willing to accept,” he said.

Original Link.

IAEA finds traces of plutonium in Iran

Wednesday, November 15th, 2006

I forgot to blog about this yesterday, so it’s old news, but guess what? The IAEA found traces of enriched plutonium in Iran. Wow…now that’s a big surprise…NOT!! At least it may be a surprise to anyone who has had their head buried in the sand for the last year.

VIENNA, Austria – New traces of plutonium and enriched uranium — potential material for atomic warheads — have been found in a nuclear waste facility in Iran, a revelation that came Tuesday as the Iranian president boasted his country’s nuclear fuel program will soon be completed.

The International Atomic Energy Agency report detailing the discovery also faulted Tehran for not cooperating with the U.N. watchdog’s attempts to investigate other suspicious aspects of Iran’s nuclear program.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in a two-hour news conference in Tehran, asserted the world has no choice but to “live with a nuclear Iran,” although he conceded his country was “still in the first stages” of its uranium enrichment program.

So far, Tehran has been able to activate only two small experimental pilot enrichment plants that U.N. officials say have frequently broken down and have produced only small amounts of material suitable for nuclear fuel.

But Iran has progressed enough since resuming enrichment activities in February to provoke a U.N. Security Council demand that it freeze its program — a call Tehran has ignored. It says it intends to move toward large-scale uranium enrichment involving 3,000 centrifuges by late 2006, then expand the program to 54,000 centrifuges.

Iranian nuclear officials say 54,000 centrifuges would produce enough enriched uranium to fuel a 1,000-megawatt reactor, such as the one being built by Russia that is near completion at the southern city of Bushehr. Experts have estimated Iran would need only 1,500 centrifuges to produce a nuclear weapon.

Tehran insists it is only seeking to generate low-enriched uranium for nuclear fuel and not the highly enriched variety needed for weapons. It also denies it is building a heavy water research reactor at Arak in order to obtain plutonium for nuclear arms, asserting it only wants to produce radioactive isotopes for medical research and treatment.

Still, when finished — probably early in the next decade — Arak could produce enough plutonium for about two bombs a year.

The Arak plant, along with the discovery of a secret Iranian enrichment program in 2003, Tehran’s refusal to cease uranium enrichment and findings by IAEA inspectors have increased suspicions about Iran’s program.

The IAEA board in February referred Iran to the Security Council, suggesting it had breached the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and might be trying to make nuclear weapons.

The U.S. and its European allies are negotiating with Russia and China over a draft Security Council resolution that would penalize Iran for its refusal to respect an Aug. 31 deadline to halt enrichment.

Ahmadinejad remained defiant. “I’m very hopeful that we will be able to hold the big celebration of Iran’s full nuclearization in the current year,” he said. Iran’s calendar year ends March 20.

But he acknowledged Iran still has a long way to go before it can produce enough enriched uranium for the reactor at Bushehr. “We need time to produce enough fuel for one complete nuclear power plant,” he said.

Does anyone else wonder why Iran, which is sitting on one of the largest oil reserves in the world, would need nuclear energy for power?
Oh, they need it for power all right. Just not the power one needs to run electrical appliances in homes. The type of power Iran needs from nuclear sources is the power one feels when one completes the first nuclear warhead.
Wake up world!!

Original Link.

Abrupt US Withdrawal Would Be ‘Utterly Disastrous’

Wednesday, November 15th, 2006

It goes without saying, but this is exactly what the Dems have in mind. Remember, they are driven by the “anything to make Bush look bad” mentality. They don’t really care if it’s the right thing to do or not, just as long as it makes the President look bad.

Baghdad (CNSNews.com) – An abrupt withdrawal of American troops from Iraq would be a “disaster for Iraqis and for the region,” Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister for National Security Dr. Barham Salih told Cybercast News Service in a one-on-one interview in his offices in Baghdad on Sunday.

“Iraqis want to assume the lead in the defense of the security of the country,” Salih said. “This is something that should be celebrated. But I think we will need American military support for some time to come.”

From his perspective as an Iraqi government official, Salih admitted that the current strategy in Iraq is “not working fast enough” for the Iraqis or for the United States. “Unless the natives of the land take charge, be responsible and defend the interests of the nation, the United States cannot help us,” he said. He sees the U.S. role as helping Iraqis help themselves.

Salih repeated that an abrupt U.S. troop withdrawal “would be utterly disastrous,” but he also said he doesn’t think that will happen.

“The pain and frustration that many Americans feel about Iraq is understandable…The reality of the situation is that Iraq is going through a very, very tough transition. If anything, this has been tougher than we expected,” he said.

“The stakes are very high here. I think it’s fair to say that the overwhelming majority of Iraqis reject the violence…they want to utilize the resources of their country and live in a democracy. We have tasted freedom, we have witnessed freedom, and despite the violence, despite the difficulties . . . we would not be willing to go back under the old dictatorship.”

Original Link.

Iran Turning Gaza into Terror ‘University,’ Israeli Official Says

Wednesday, November 15th, 2006

I just can’t understand how anyone could have thought at the time of the “disengagement” that the result was going to be any different. The Arabs and Muslims of the world have vowed to destroy Israel. They’re not going to change no matter how much land they are given in exchange for “peace”.

Jerusalem (CNSNews.com) – Iran and Hizballah are working together with Hamas to transform the Gaza Strip into a “university” for studying terrorism, a senior Israeli defense official said.

The head of Israel’s Shin Bet security services, Yuval Diskin, told Israeli lawmakers on Tuesday that Palestinians had smuggled 30 tons of military-grade explosives as well as large quantities of weapons, including anti-tank missiles, into Gaza since Israel withdrew its troops and evacuated settlements there last summer.

The smuggling posed a “real challenge” because the weapons could be used against Israel and to destabilize the regime of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, said Maj. Gen. Amos Gilad, director of the military/political and policy bureau at the Defense Ministry.

What was even more serious, however, was the transfer of terror know-how, Gilad told a meeting of diplomats at the Institute for Contemporary Affairs in Jerusalem.

He said the Iranians and Hizballah were collaborating with Hamas to transfer expertise. This would enable terrorists to perpetrate worse attacks, causing more casualties.

“[Gaza] is like a university of terror knowledge,” said Gilad.

Although he declined to offer details on how the transfers were taking place, Gilad said they were occurring through Rafah, the official crossing point between Egypt and the Gaza Strip.

Original Link.

“The smugness of the war’s opponents” By Dennis Prager

Wednesday, November 15th, 2006

In this week’s New York Times Book Review, a historian reviewing a major new work of 20th-century history, Oxford and Harvard Professor Niall Ferguson’s “The War of the World,” notes that “Ferguson argues that the Western powers should have gone to war in 1938, which would most likely have avoided much of the horror of World War II . . . . ”

Imagine that. The New York Times publishes a favorable book review of a book arguing that a pre-emptive war in 1938 would have saved tens of millions of lives aside from preventing the Holocaust, “without parallel . . . the most wicked act in all history.”

You have to wonder if the Times’ editors and all their allies on the Left, who have spent the last four years mocking the very notion of pre-emptive war, read this review.

Whatever incapacity for self-doubt George W. Bush’s critics charge him with, it has been more than matched by his political enemies. They are as certain as human beings can be that the invasion of Iraq was wrong from the outset because no nation should ever engage in a pre-emptive war, since such wars, they contend, are inherently immoral, not to mention illegal.

They know that Saddam never had weapons of mass destruction, and they know that even if he were working on acquiring such weapons, he would never have used them or shared them with Islamic terrorists. They know this despite these facts:

Virtually every intelligence service believed that Saddam either had or was working on attaining WMD.

Saddam Hussein had already used biological weapons against his own people.

Saddam refused to allow UN inspectors unfettered access to Iraq, even when he had every reason to believe that America would attack him.

Saddam gave $25,000 to the families of Palestinian terrorists who blew up Israelis.

Saddam had already invaded two countries, attempting to eliminate one from the map (Kuwait) and killing a million in the other (Iran).

President Bush had very good reason to believe then, and we have very good reason to believe now, that Saddam was indeed seeking uranium from the African country of Niger.

Given these facts, George W. Bush believed that a pre-emptive strike was the moral thing to do, just as any moral person now understands it would have been moral to do against Hitler’s Germany in 1938.

Given the same facts, his critics were/are at least as certain that such a war has been wrong strategically and morally.

They now argue that obviously they are right.

But it is not so obvious. It is overwhelmingly likely that even if we had found WMD in Iraq, The New York Times, Michael Moore and nearly all college professors would have still opposed the invasion. After all, they would have argued, it was still a pre-emptive war and therefore wrong by definition; and besides, Saddam had nothing to do with 9/11.

Original Link.

Young Adults Disengaging From Church

Wednesday, November 15th, 2006

I have found this to be true among the youth I know. Quite a few of them do stay on, but a majority of them feel that they can’t be part of church and still “spread their wings”. I believe that most of these youth do come back, after life’s priorities have changed, usually in their mid to late 20’s, often after they get married and start families.

(AgapePress) – Findings from a new study by The Barna Group reveal a frightening disengagement from Christianity during young adulthood. The study, based on data collected from 2,124 teenagers and 22,103 adults, including 3,583 twentysomethings, “shows that despite strong levels of spiritual activity during the teen years, most twentysomethings disengage from active participation in the Christian faith during their young adult years — and often beyond that,” a Barna report said.

Specifically, 61 percent of today’s young adults, who, as teenagers, were churched at one point, are now spiritually disengaged. Spiritual disengagement is identified as being inactive when it comes to church attendance, Bible reading, or prayer. Only 20 percent of twentysomethings have maintained spiritual activity consistent with that of their high school experiences, the study revealed.

“In total, 6 out of 10 twentysomethings were involved in a church during their teen years, but have failed to translate that into active spirituality during their early adulthood,” Barna said.

And for most adults, this disengagement seems to extend further into the stages of adulthood, specifically parenthood. Despite parental desires to give children spiritual guidance, the new study noted “that just one-third of twentysomethings who are parents regularly take their children to church, compared with two-fifths of parents in their thirties and half of parents who are 40 years old or more.”

David Kinnaman, director of research for the study, believes these findings lend significant insight into the current state of youth ministry and young adult ministry.

“There are certainly effective youth ministries across the country, but the levels of disengagement among twentysomethings suggest that youth ministry fails too often at discipleship and faith formation,” Kinnaman explained.

Original Link.

MovieGuide on “The Nativity Story” By Dr. Ted Baehr

Wednesday, November 15th, 2006

(AgapePress) – Following are information and comments from Christian movie reviewer Dr. Ted Baehr on the upcoming New Line Cinema movie The Nativity Story, which open in theaters on December 8. More details about this film and others are available at Dr. Baehr’s website, MovieGuide.org.

TITLE: THE NATIVITY STORY
Genre: Biblical epic
Intended audience: All ages
Quality*: 4 stars
Acceptability**: EXEMPLARY: Biblical, usually Christian, worldview, with no questionable elements whatsoever

VIEWER WARNINGS:
Language: None
Violence: Brief or action violence
Sex: None
Nudity: None

The Nativity Story is one of those very rare movies that brings the Gospel alive in a compelling, soul-stirring, entertaining, and inspiring manner that shatters expectations. It is a sacred movie and a divine revelation in the best sense of these words. It is a human story with depth and breadth and height and all the right elements to capture the audience.

The movie opens by quoting Jeremiah 23:5-6: “‘The days are coming,'” declares the LORD, ‘when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The LORD Our Righteousness.'” The rest of the movie references and quotes Scripture throughout.

———-

The Nativity Story has one of the best scripts ever for a biblical story. What makes a movie compelling is a sense of jeopardy, and that sense of jeopardy is present throughout this movie. The dialogue, the plot development, the turning points are refreshingly dramatic, so good in fact that they will elicit tears at certain points. The Nativity Story is compelling drama that carefully avoids gruesome, graphic violence. Even the slaughtering of the ox at the temple does not show the blade entering the animal, yet it causes the audience to wince.

Catherine Hardwicke’s direction is superb. Joseph and Mary are very human, very Jewish and very much in love. Each character has a terrific character arc. Probably the best part of the movie is the costuming and the settings. Having spent some time in Israel researching other movies, I can attest to the authenticity of even the smallest details of life in Israel in the first century. The crucifixions, the agriculture, the ephods, everything is done exquisitely. There is one moment where Mary has an attitude, but it is very brief and natural. A later statement, however, declares that Mary is always trustworthy, that she keeps her promises and therefore she is honored by God. Her complexities add depth to her character and make the story of Mary and Joseph more profound.

The Nativity Story is a nearly perfect movie. It should be a movie that every Christian would want to see. It is certainly a movie that every Non-Christian should see. It testifies in every way to Jesus the Messiah and is clearly and consciously evangelistic. Such statements that this baby is the “greatest King” and “God made flesh,” that the gold is for the King of the world, that the frankincense is for the greatest priest of all, and that the myrrh is to honor the sacrifice, and many, many more pointedly proclaim the story of the Christ and the great news that there is salvation in none other.

Original Link.