Sunday, 30 December 2012

The Maggots Are Coming Out

From Here...

Claim seeks $100 million for child survivor to Connecticut school shooting.

A $100 million claim on behalf of a 6-year-old survivor is the first legal action to come out of the Connecticut school shooting that left 26 children and adults dead two weeks ago.
The unidentified client, referred to as Jill Doe, heard “cursing, screaming, and shooting” over the school intercom when the gunman, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, opened fire, according to the claim filed by New Haven-based attorney Irv Pinsky.
“As a consequence, the … child has sustained emotional and psychological trauma and injury, the nature and extent of which are yet to be determined,” the claim said.
 
Pinsky’s claim said that the state Board of Education, Department of Education and Education Commissioner had failed to take appropriate steps to protect children from “foreseeable harm.”
It said they had failed to provide a “safe school setting” or design “an effective student safety emergency response plan and protocol.”
 
But from another perspective,
At the time Adam Lanza showed up at the school that day, the doors were locked an visitors could only be let in by someone in authority in the school office. When the incident started, teachers and aides did everything they could to evacuate the building or get the children into areas where they’d be hidden and safe. One teacher lost her life protecting her children from Lanza’s murderous spree. What, exactly, is it that this family asserts the school could have reasonably done differently? Perhaps they need to count their blessings, be glad their child is safe, and stop looking for a pot of gold out of this horrible tragedy.
 
Why buy lottery tickets when you can capitalize on something like this.

Take Care


An Interesting Way of Looking At It


* U.S. Tax revenue: $2,170,000,000,000
* Fed budget: $3,820,000,000,000
* New debt: $ 1,650,000,000,000
* National debt: $14,271,000,000,000
* Recent budget cuts: $ 38,500,000,000

Let’s now remove 8 zeros and pretend it’s a household budget:
* Annual family income: $21,700
* Family exspenses: $38,200
* New debt on the credit card: $16,500
* Outstanding balance on the credit card: $142,710
* Total budget cuts so far: $38.50

Just sayin'

Take Care

h/t The Green Room

Saturday, 29 December 2012

What About Those Who Have Never Actually Heard the Gospel?

Although I can't claim to agree with Hank Hanegraaff on every issue he addresses, I think this is a good view of this subject. I have posted before on this, and I confess that I take a somewhat more, "generous" view of God's grace than some of my evangelical brothers. Take Care

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Is There More to Life Than This? - Nicky Gumbel

Or the original title,
"Christianity: Boring, Untrue, Irrelevant?"

Introductory video to the Alpha Course.

During the times when I seem to post sporadically, this is what I want people to see when they come here.

Take Care

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Am I a Libertarian?

According to Wikipedia, "libertarianism" is defined as
a [personal] philosophy that upholds individual liberty, especially freedom of expression and action. (I substituted the word 'personal' for Wikipedia's 'political')
Which is as good a definition as any, I suppose. As I understand it, as it relates to my way of thinking, it involves radical individual rights, individual freedom of choice and individual freedom of conscience.

Let me start by saying then, for example, that if I owned a bed and breakfast, even though I consider myself a fairly fundamentalist Christian, if a gay couple wanted to stay overnight, I would welcome them. I would not turn them away. It just so happens that that would be my choice. But if someone else wishes to operate their own business, according to the dictates of their own conscience, I believe they have that right. Or if a person of faith (any faith) who owns a printing business feels uncomfortable in printing invitations for a gay wedding, I believe they have the right to decline that business. I understand that this is not the law as it stands, but I think the law as it stands is wrong in this area.

If someone wants to open a business and offer their services only to albino midgets over the age of 60, I believe they have that right.

If a group of Native Canadians want to form a Native Healing Society, and restrict membership only to First-Nations people, I believe they have that right. Heck, if they want to restrict it to exclusively male Native Canadians, or exclusively female, I believe they have that right.

If a women's fitness club doesn't want to admit male members I believe they have a right to deny them.

And if a Muslim wants to open a barber shop and tell his customers that because of his religious beliefs he cannot cut women's hair, I believe he has that right. And I think any reasonable person should respect that religious perspective and travel another block or two to another barber shop. I believe that anyone with the attitude that would force someone to contravene genuinely held religious beliefs for his or her convenience demonstrates a high degree of intolerance, self-centeredness and sense of entitlement.

And I believe that only such an intolerant, self-centered busybody would launch a suit against him.

And, as I say, I wonder if that suit would even be launched if the complainant had to fund it him or herself.

Take Care

PS: In my next post I will attempt to address how I can reconcile this personal philosophy with my Christian faith.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Battle of the Winners

Toronto woman denied haircut files human rights complaint

This should be interesting.
From Here...

A Toronto barbershop has found itself at the centre of a human rights complaint after its barbers refused to cut a woman's hair.
Faith McGregor, 35, went to the Terminal Barber Shop on Bay Street, back in June looking for a haircut.  
The barbers, who are all Muslim, told her their religion didn't allow them to cut the hair of a woman who is not a member of their family.
 
So,,, we have here two protagonists, each from an identifiable group which rarely if ever loses a human rights case. Not only is Ms McGregor a woman, but also, apparently, a lesbian. That's two tick marks in her favour. However, in the opposite corner, the accused are Muslims, which fact is also probably worth at least two.

Were the barbers Christian, of course there would be no contest. But in this case, it will be interesting to see the human rights people twist themselves into pretzels to justify whatever decision they make.

Take Care

PS: I have no idea who will win, but, as a person who believes in freedom of conscience, I'm with the barbers.

Friday, 16 November 2012

2013 Mayan Calendar Found


The world can breathe a sigh of relief today as archeologist Dr Hart Fardley has discovered, deep in the jungles of Central America, a long-lost 2013 Mayan Calendar.

Experts had feared that the fact that the previous Mayan calendar ended at Dec 21, 2012, signaled that the end of the earth was imminent. Speculation is rife as to why the only previously known Mayan calendar ended when it did.

Among the reasons historians postulate are

  • The Mayan calendar maker ran out of calendar-making supplies at that date.
  • Creation of the calendar was running behind and Dec 21, 2012 was as far as they got by press time.
  • The calendar creative department was unionized and 12/21/12 was as far as the calendar was developed by 5:00 on the Friday before a long weekend. During the weekend, the Spanish invaded and wiped out the entire population before work could continue.
  • The 2013 calendar was being prepared by a separate government department and was lost in shipping before it could be joined to the previously finished work.
In any case, readers of this blog can now be assured that there will be further blogs post Dec 22.

Take Care

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

The World We Knew Has Passed, and It's OK

I had a few discussions with Warren a few posts back. What it comes down to, though, is this: I really do believe things have changed, not for the better, and the Western, North American, (call it what you will) society is in irreversible decline. The glory is leaving the temple, or the continent, so to speak, and life as many of us experienced it will fade gradually into a dusty fog. It sounds pessimistic, but that is what I believe.

I came across The Anchoress Blog through another site I enjoy, First Things, and I instantly enjoyed her writing. It reminds me of Chesterton, one of my favourite authors.
I know some say “America cannot end.” But that is the first illusion we must put away, because it is all about pride — all about idolatry. It says America is eternal, when nothing is but God. Some say “we just need the right message,” but who had the right-er message than Christ, and the crowd still called for Barabbas. Who was more blessed than the apostles and saints, but they still were set upon and slain.
 
God’s blessing, if it is truly upon America, does not mean she survives forever,... if she is truly blessed, it means she gets to suffer for the sake of clarity — to spend some time in the crucible, in order to be refined.
People of faith, take a good hard look at the new landscape  and do not be afraid; do NOT be afraid.
Changes are going to come, and they’re going to come quickly, so now is the time to work on strengthening the atrophied muscles of our spiritual lives... look at that election in Massachusetts and see the emptiness, the aching void that the masses have unwittingly invited in to lead them.
We must be ready to help them; the remnant must be ready when the people who have invited the void into their lives become... “unspeakably lonely.” And they will. “If they have completely lost sight of God, they will feel the whole horror of their poverty. Then they will discover the little flock of believers as something wholly new. They will discover it as a hope that is meant for them, an answer for which they have always been searching in secret.”
 
Doors have been opened, corners have been turned, directions have been set. And I'm not that bothered by it all.

I'm just sayin'.

Take Care

Where are the Women?


(CNN) - Thousands of supporters of various Egyptian Salafi groups gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Friday calling for the immediate implementation of Islamic (Sharia) law.
From Here...

Do you see any women protesting for sharia? I wonder why.

Take Care

Monday, 12 November 2012

An Atheist Attends Church

 I happened upon This post on the Edmonton Atheists(!) website. It recalls a visit by a member of that society to Southminster-Steinhauer United Church in Edmonton
...Rev. Charles Bidwell sat down with us to answer questions we had about the church and what to expect.  
...he mentioned (within hearing distance of other church members) that he considers himself an atheist Christian. And then went on to explain that within the church, Jesus is considered someone who had some useful things to say, and wasn’t related to God (if there is a god) in any way.

...I would feel comfortable recommending Southminster-Steinhauer United.
That's some recommendation. What more can I say?

Take Care

Thursday, 8 November 2012

The Wheel of History Turned and We Saw It Turn

America is in decline. It may be an inevitable decline but Obama's reelection will just hasten the process.
From Here

Pondering President Obama’s reelection, I can’t help remembering that in the course of my adult life, the Britain I first knew half a century ago has run through its allotment of ruin and is now almost unrecognizably transformed from the stiff-upper-lip, never-say-die redoubt of fair play and free-born Englishmen of very recent stereotype. Now it is the land where snarling, shaven-headed louts beget still more louts upon a succession of compliant, abused sluts as clueless as they about what makes a meaningful and decent life;
 
Read the whole thing. I believe it speaks the truth eloquently.

Take Care


A Prophecy


This would be chilling if I had not already become reconciled to its inevitablilty.

And it leads me to these thoughts...
 
And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:14)
The Gospel spread from Jerusalem through Judea and Samaria. From there into Europe, then west across the Atlantic and across North America. It is now spreading and bearing fruit even further west, across the Pacific. I believe there will be a great wave of Christianity arise throughout China and South Asia.
 
It will continue westward back to the Middle East to where it started. Then, when it has been preached, "...in the whole world... the end will come."
 
There will be no one without excuse.  God has been patient with us. People will not only have had the witness of the physical world and its wonders around us, and the witness of reason which must lead to the undeniable conclusion that there is a Creator responsible for it all. They will have had the opportunity to have heard directly, with their own ears, about this God who created them and wishes them to seek and know Him.

Take Care

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

The Force Must Have Been With Him

Obama has another 4 years to complete his deconstruction of America.

I love America. I am not an American, but I am America’s neighbour (note my spelling of, “neighbour”). And it pains me to see it heading down the path, seemingly blindly, it is on. What happened? A few random thoughts:
  • I think their focus on certain social conservative issues hurt them – abortion, gay marriage, goofy statements about rape and pregnancy. I tend to be rather libertarian on these issues. I could not ever counsel a woman to have an abortion, whatever the circumstances. But neither would I prevent her from doing so. Similarly, gay marriage is a fact in our society, and growing more and more accepted, even applauded. But, as much as its opponents claim it signals the downfall of marriage and the family, I’ve said it before, I believe that much more damaging to the fabric of the family as the cornerstone of our society was the acceptance of common-law as equivalent to marriage. How can I reconcile my positions here? I turn to the Bible:
    “Let him who does wrong continue to do wrong; let him who is vile continue to be vile; let him who does right continue to do right; and let him who is holy continue to be holy.” (Rev 22:11)
    Moral decline? That bus left a long time ago.
  • It was interesting to see all the young people jumping in glee in the crowd in Chicago. I thought, “These poor people are the ones who will have to pay for the debt that Obama is running up now.”
  • A fundamental shift has occurred in the social order cosmos. America is transitioning from a nation of makers to one of takers, or at least receivers. People have turned from an outward, "service to others" focus, to a more selfish, "What about my rights?" attitude. We are becoming a morally and economically entitled society. People seem in many cases to be isolated from their neighbours and wrapped in their own self-absorbed bubbles.
  • In the debate on foreign affairs debate, the issue of the Obama administration’s outright lies and coverup of what happened in Benghazi was never even brought up. What was Romney thinking? It’s almost like someone on the Obama team waved their hand, like Obiwan Kenobi in Star Wars and said, "You don't need to raise this issue." And Romney thought to himself, “I don’t need to raise this issue.”
  • Obama’s policy as it relates to the Muslim world, both within and outside his country will be disastrous. For some reason, he and Hilary are behaving as if they think that if they are nice to radical Islamists, the nice treatment will be returned. There is much focus on bullying these days. Well, I predict that Obama’s wrong-headed policies will be seen as the weakness they are, and that bullying by radical Muslim groups will increase around the world because the US will be seen as too weak, or too weak-willed, to stop it. Terrorism, or at least terrorist boldness, will increase, not decrease.
Just my thoughts.

Take Care

Is the Pope a Catholic?

Does MSNBC have a totally biased agenda? Chris Matthews can hardly contain his glee over Hurricane Sandy. Is the re-election of Obama more important than the suffering of millions of people? I'm sure that deep down, Chris Matthews thinks so, even though, obviously, he could never admit it.

Was it a slip? Or did it betray his true feelings?

Take Care

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Well, OK..., You Wanted it, You Got It

Talk about cans of worms...

Transgender woman says she was discriminated against at Olympia college.

I confess have a certain sympathy for those who may feel so tortured as to think they have been born into the wrong gendered body. I can't relate, but I don't necessarily judge. I have known and have perhaps worked, even in church, with them.

But this person is completely self-centered, even arrogant, certainly inconsiderate about the whole situation. He/she,  apparently, has not had the necessary surgery to complete the transformation to female and so still has all his original male equipment. But he/she still thinks he/she has the right to lie naked in a sauna in front of minor girls! And because he calls himself a woman, this makes it alright? What would happen to me if I exposed myself to high school girls (besides, perhaps, my feelings being hurt by their uncontrollable laughter)?

I guess I could insist to the arresting officer that I considered myself a woman, for the moment at least.

This is what happens when we make changes without thinking them through. Although who knows? Perhaps those who push for this agenda are quite prepared for this kind of consequence, and think anyone who objects is being terribly narrow-minded.

Take Care

Sunday, 14 October 2012

You Deserve...


A number of themes have converged in my thinking, as I survey several stories currently in the news.

One concerns the tragic story of Amanda Todd, who took her own life shortly after posting an on-line video of herself telling the story of her being bullied. Most comments on this story focus on bullying. Some focus on the culture we are in that encourages girls to live up to a particular standard of beauty for their sense of self-worth.

Now, I would not condemn any of these admirable points of view, but there is something else that struck me about Amanda’s very touching video, that I think represents a far deeper and disturbing problem. That is the phrase, “He hooked up with me…” (about the 4:50 mark of the video)

Briefly, as I gather it, there was a boy whose girlfriend was away and he called up Amanda and invited her over. She went (huge mistake, she realizes). They, “…hooked up,” – had sex. The next card she shows said, “I thought he liked me.” And this was her second mistake in the area of over-sexualization. The first, and the beginning of her pain, was that she was persuaded to flash her breasts on a previous on-line occasion.

So, practically all the media seem to be playing the tragedy here as one of bullying. But I think there is a far greater tragedy than that. Or even than that of the particular look that young girls are encouraged to live up to. It is the early- and over-sexualization of our young people, and the notion forced upon our kids that their popularity can depend on their making themselves sexually available. Amanda was a beautiful girl, yet even looking at her images in the media one could sense a certain innocent vulnerability about her.  But there is a steady and consistent pressure on teens and even pre-teens today that practically forces them to surernder their bodies in the interest of popularity, or at least convinces them that it is necessary, and I think Amanda caved in to this pressure. I attribute a great deal of this pressure to:
     
      ·         Entertainers like (but not limited to) Madonna, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry.

·         Television shows like (but not limited to) Glee and many sit-coms that I cannot name specifically because I don’t watch them.

·          Media and celebrities who seem to have an agenda of pushing for the satisfaction of individual sexual desires regardless of traditional morality.

Well, “traditional morality” has done us well for a lot of years, and society now seems determined to rush headlong downhill toward its abandonment. It’s just interesting to me how this push and its consequences seem to be quite in parallel with a rise in everything that even the so-called liberals think is going wrong with our world – bullying, single parenthood, child poverty.
The other thing that relates here is a commercial I just watched on television. It was, as I recall, for some kind of cosmetic that, “…reduces the look…” of brown spots on your skin. Several times, the phrase, “you deserve” was used. The people who produce these commercials do loads of market research to find what words or phrases have the greatest impact on their prospective customers. You will hear the phrase, “you deserve…” over and over again. In other words, researchers have established that this phrase strikes a chord with consumers today. I find that extremely telling, and I really believe the mindset that makes it so appealing is exactly what binds the themes of this post together.

We are a completely self-absorbed society, generally speaking, and a nation of people of entitlement. Examples are all around us and too abundant to mention. But it all ties together, I believe, and unless we can change (which I don’t see happening) we are like lemmings stampeding, quite happily, apparently, toward the sea.

Take Care
Check This Out as well.

 

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Islamist Violence is Intentional, Not Spontaneous.

Rejecting the "Spark-and-Fire" Metaphor
From here...
The Western reaction is... familiar, particularly in its understanding of the Middle East as a bonfire waiting to happen and criticism of Islam as the spark that ignites it. Descriptions of the YouTube film (a trailer, actually) that “sparked protests in many Muslim countries”—as the New Yorker put it in a typical formulation—rely on this false metaphor. It suggests that the protests are spontaneous occurrences that would not have come about without such a spark, and that the demonstrating Muslims are primitive savages governed by passion, not responsible for their own actions. The only parties with control over their actions are the filmmakers.

 
The American State Department, various celebrities, news media and even Anglican clerics are condemning the video trailer in question and blaming it for the mobs' behaviours throughout the Middle East. I heard that Bette Midler even went so far as to claim that the makers of the movie should be tried as accessories to murder!

I have heard it argued that the current situation is tantamount to crying, "Fire!" in a crowded theater (the standard argument for limits on free speech.) Well first of all, expressing an opinion (criticism of Islam), whether true or not, is hardly the same as shouting Fire when there is none. Secondly, those who hear the word, "Fire!" in a crowded theater would quite naturally have one reaction - to head as quickly as possible toward the exits. Muslims who feel insulted have a choice how to respond, don't they?

Frankly, this liberal attitude should be an insult to all moderate Muslims. To assume that the only possible reaction to an insulting movie is to riot, burn and kill, as if these mobs had no control over their behaviour, is nothing short of incredibly condescending. It's almost as if to say, "These people, after all, are savages, they can't help their reaction."

Many on the liberal side are now dropping their pants and bending over calling for the curtailing of free speech; to make it against the law to blaspheme a religion, but of course, what they mean is not any religion, but Islam. Because what other religion behaves like Islam in response to a perceived insult. You would be hard pressed to find one.

What happened was anything but spontaneous:

Al-Qaida already has claimed that the Benghazi killings were motivated not by the film, but by a desire to avenge the drone killing of an al-Qaida leader. The Egyptian unrest was no less premeditated. On August 30, the terrorist group Jamaa al-Islamiya called for 9/11 riots in Cairo, and Egypt’s large Salafist party, Al Nour, followed suit. The film seems to have been used as a pretext. Egyptian prime minister Hesham Kandil now claims that “a number” of demonstrators admit they were paid for their efforts.
We are playing right into the extremists' hands.

Take Care

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Freedom of Conscience? Not for long.

Ontario Christian Minister Forced to Conduct Same-Sex Ceremonies or Be Fired

From Here

A Church of Christ minister who has been responsible for civic marriage ceremonies at Cambridge city hall for the past 15 years is facing the axe if she doesn’t agree to perform same-sex “marriages.”
Rev. Jay Brown told LifeSiteNews that city council voted 8 to 1 Monday night on a motion, brought forward by Councillor Donna Reid, that Brown be forced to officiate at homosexual “marriages” or they would issue a “request for proposal” to find a replacement.
 
Frankly, I'm not going to campaign for this minister to keep her job. I post this merely as an observation of how things are going and where they are surely headed. If I were that minister, I think I would just see the writing on the wall and resign. Same-sex "marriage" is legal in Canada and I think that the Cambridge city council has the right to set her conditions of employment. It's just interesting to see how far the pendulum has swung in how short a time. Cambridge City council obviously has no room for freedom of conscience, at least as far as Christian faith is concerned, and in that they are just reflecting a view that is quickly becoming more and more common.

Where I will draw the line as far as what I think is truly wrong is concerned, is when (not if) clergy in churches are forced to  act against their consciences in this matter.  It is one thing for a city council to direct an employee (if that is what she is) in the performance of her duties to her employer; quite another to force private citizens who are not public servants to toe a moral line contrary to their religious beliefs - especially when there are probably plenty of others quite willing to perform the service. However, it is only a matter of time, in my opinion, before some poor pastor or priest is hauled up before some human rights commission and convicted of hate crimes.

It seems to me that earlier in the SSM debate, all assurance was given that clergy would not be forced to act against their consciences.

We'll see how long that lasts.

Take Care

Monday, 17 September 2012

US State Dept. Defends Right to Insult Religion (Sometimes)


From Here...

On August 17, Victoria Nuland, spokeswoman for Hillary Clinton’s State Department, issued the following press release in response to the two-year prison sentences handed down to Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Yekaterina Samutsevich for desecrating the altar of a Russian Orthodox Cathedral:

“The United States is concerned about both the verdict and the disproportionate sentences handed down by a Moscow court in the case against the members of the band Pussy Riot and the negative impact on freedom of expression in Russia.
We urge Russian authorities to review this case and ensure that the right to freedom of expression is upheld.”

By contrast, on September 14, Clinton, speaking about the YouTube video “Innocence of Muslims” that allegedly sparked the protests and attacks on U.S. diplomatic posts, sang a very different tune:

“The United States government… absolutely reject[s the] content and message [of the video]… to us, to me personally, this video is disgusting and reprehensible. It appears to have a deeply cynical purpose: to denigrate a great religion and to provoke rage.”
So. The U.S. government lectures the Russians about “freedom of expression” in defense of freaks who engage in public sex, public vandalism, and the denigration of a “great religion,” the Russian Orthodox Church.

But when Americans exercise First Amendment freedoms that Muslims dislike, the Secretary of State reproaches them, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs calls them to encourage them to cease and desist, and federal law enforcement officers haul them in for questioning.

Once again, just sayin'

Take Care

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Once More the Game's Afoot (Bumped)

(Originally posted March, 2011)
For what it's worth...

Regarding This...
.....US and UK vessels launch missile strike against Gadhafi's limited air defences in Libya

Iraq, Afghanistan, now this?

Without editorializing, I found my self thinking of this passage of Scripture, even though the context is not exactly the same.
That day will be darkness, not light.
It will be as though a man fled from a lion only to meet a bear,as though he entered his house and rested his hand on the wall only to have a snake bite him.
Will not the day of the LORD be darkness, not light— pitch-dark, without a ray of brightness? (Amos 5:18b-20)


I wonder what we're getting ourselves into this time. As I said, just thinkin'

Take Care

(Updated with further thoughts)
What I mean is this; we (the West) have gone into Iraq and Afghanistan and been stuck there in what we may have called a, "transition period," until stability can be restored in these areas. But even if we don't end up physically occupying them, what are we going to see in the various countries of North Africa in which we are seeing such change and turmoil recently. Is what replaces the status quo going to be better or worse than that which is being replaced? What is going to fill these vaccuums, freedom or increased tyranny and repression? More tolerance for the rights of minorities or less?

We don't yet know, do we?

Take Care

(Updated Sept 13/12)
But we plunged in anyway,didn't we?
See also here..



"Into the valley of Death rode the six hundred..." - Tennyson - The Charge of the Light Brigade.


I believe it is time to stop interfering around the world, however noble we feel is the motive. The white man's burden is passe. Let's stop trying to export democracy to those who either don't want it or who have no clue how to use it.

Take even more Care


Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Monkeys With Keyboards?

From here...

...Evangelism is the spiritual practice of opening ourselves to engage the image of God in others. Through this spiritual practice of seeking and serving Christ in all persons, we are drawn into the Spirit’s reconciling and transforming passion. This passion drives us to mission, the gathering of spiritual communities in which we can experience each other and ourselves as the Beloved of God. This experience of Belovedness makes us want more. We want to expand and deepen our capacity to practice the kinds of evangelism and mission through which we participate in the Spirit’s revelation of God’s love.

...Together we will explore: engaging people and communities generatively across lines of difference, forming missional leaders who can nurture others’ pursuit of their authentic vocation, and discerning the Spirit’s movement in our worship, in our spiritual communities and in our local contexts. In all these explorations, we will seek to follow the Spirit’s lead together.
Participants will experientially and collaboratively engage topics in the following areas:...
 
And on it goes - one incomprehensible phrase or buzzword of the middle-aged pseudo-intelligensia after another.

And young people are leaving the church? Wow! Who'da thunk!

Now, I would have many objections to the way the Episcopal church in the US, and the Anglican church in Canada, is going, but that is not the point of this post. I am actually making them a serious suggestion.

One would think that a church wanting to attract new members would at least speak in a language understood by those it is hoping to reach. The only people to whom this kind of pseudo-intellectual baby-boomer nouveau-theological bafflegab appeals are already there.

Take Care

h/t themcj

Saturday, 8 September 2012

The God Who Does Stuff


Or... The God Who Opens Doors

From Here...
Yousef Nadarkhani, the Church of Iran pastor sentenced to death for apostasy, has been released and is at home with his family.
 
What more can we say? What a mighty God we serve.
Nothing is impossible. Pray without ceasing for things that seem to be.

Take Care

h/t Stand Firm

Just Sayin'

New York's Archbishop Timothy Cardinal Dolan prayed a prayer at the close of the Democratic National convention.
Apparently none of the major TV networks carried it. Well, of course they didn't.

I just finished my Apha training conference today, and part of my own message was how society's attitudes have changed dramatically in just a very short time. Where Christianity even less than a generation ago was at least acceptable, today it is spat upon and cursed in the public square.

If I were less a person of faith, I would find this disturbing, but frankly I just shake my head in sad amusement at the new left's rabid anti-faith agenda. We Christians are the ones often accused of intolerance, but without fail, the true intolerance comes from that other side of the fence. One of the things Cardinal Dalton snuck into his prayer, rather innocouosly yet cleverly I thought, was a prayer for, "...those waiting to be born."

The response of the supposedly tolerant left demonstrates just who are the truly intolerant ones. If you can grit yout teeth and stand the language, the typical vocabulary of angry atheists, check this out.  I have found, even on my own blog, that the F-bomb seems to be a favourite debating strategy of those who have no better way of answering someone with whom they disagree.

Take Care
h/t the mcj

Friday, 24 August 2012

Eternity in the Hearts of Men, The Human Need For Ritual

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. Ecc 3:11
 

You may have heard the expression, "...a God shaped hole in every human heart." This colloquialism is a reflection of exactly this verse from Ecclesiastes. God has built into every one of us a desire to find Him. It is a desire that can only be satisfied by Him; by His Holy Spirit. As Saint Augustine of Hippo wrote in his, "Confessions";

Our hearts are restless until they rest in You
  

If only people could realize this. Instead they attempt to satisfy this God-given vacuum in any number of different, yet ineffective ways. Without this rest spoken of by Augustine, we have a natural propensity to seek ritual. Ritual must be an attempt to satisfy this longing for God that he Himself has planted within us. But ritual never satisfies, at least not for long. Not permanently. If ritual is merely meaningless, for the sake only of itself, merely to make its performers feel good, or fulfilled, then it must be repeated over and over again. Like a drug, once the initial euphoria has receded, a new fix is craved. And like a drug, the one addicted to these rituals must create ever more elaborate ones.

From here...
...[a]Service of Light was celebrated. Clergy, servers and lay representatives gathered around the Altar and in a brief yet moving liturgy 8 candles were lit signifying: light in the face of fear, light in the face of violence, light in an age of AIDS, hope, healing, courage, community and resurrection.
 
It is as if the entire, or at least the most important point was that the liturgy was moving. If it was moving it accomplished its purpose. Whether it actually had anything to do with Christ or the historic Christain faith was irrelevant.

"What about the Eucharist?" you may ask, "Isn't that a ritual?" Well, yes, I suppose it is. But it is a ritual commanded by Christ himself. And it is a ritual that is directed at God, so it is a ritual that actually participates in the satisfaction of our spiritual hunger legitimately.

But back to the article - another quote:
 ...when we don’t have the words or don’t know how to pray, a small candle burning brightly expresses our prayer that is always with us –and becomes more powerful with each candle lit.”
 
Perhaps I read too much into this quote, but it's almost as if they had never read Romans 8;
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.  And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. (Rom 8:26-27)
 
A small candle burning brightly is supposed to replace the Holy Spirit? Please!

These are probably the same people who go around setting up roadside monuments.

Take Care

h/t Anglican Samizdat


 

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Openly Gay As A Non-Issue

The new openly gay moderator of the United Church, who is openly gay, sees being openly gay as a non issue.
From Here...
 Rev. Dr. Gary Paterson was elected Moderator of The United Church of Canada by the 41st General Council on August 16, 2012. Paterson becomes the first openly gay leader of a major Christian denomination. At a news conference following his election, he rejoiced that his sexual orientation has been a non-issue.

And then six of the first nine paragraphs go on to mention sexual orientation. Interesting treatment of a non-issue.

One other thing I found interesting - this quote from his bio:

How do we reshape our “outreach ministry,” so that people will also say, “See how much they love the world...”
Which seems strangely at odds with this quote from a dusty old book that may not be considered all that important in some circles anymore:

   Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (1 John 2:15)
I know that may not be what he meant, but I just found the choice of words interesting.

On the other hand, a quote from the Church Father Tertullian, on what the people of the world will really find attractive about the Christian community:
"Look," they say, "how they love one another" (for they themselves hate one another); "and how they are ready to die for each other"

Take Care

Monday, 13 August 2012

Dawkins Admires Speech by Atheist Chaplain's Assistant


From Here...

I am writing this post, not because I wish to insult or cause hurt to the young soldier making the presentation, but because of the site on which it is posted - that of Richard Dawkins, whom I consider to be the most overblown, pompous and illogical thinker one could imagine. Mr Dawkins, or someone under his authority, obviously thought it must have been somehow meaningful.

The speech itself struck me as being rather adolescent, in writing, in delivery and in intellectual depth. Yet the atheists posting and commenting on it found it extremely emotional, soaring to heights of effusive praise, and some even almost to the point of tears. Oddly enough, the part considered most emotional is when he quotes the Bible (around 4:40)

But even if emotion can be explained by purely naturalistic means, why does it matter? If mankind has no spirit, no soul, then feelings must surely be ultimately meaningless. If we are no more than masses of material made up of various elements and running on electrical impulses, what is emotion at all?

Atheists speak of evil, and right, as if they are things they can define, which of course they can't, other than by applying their own subjective opinion to the terms. In the end the atheist position collapses because it is built on intellectual sand. Because no matter how far the atheist argument goes, there is always one more question to be asked. And eventually, even if we can imagine an infinity of questions, there comes a time when the final one cannot be answered.

Take Care

Sunday, 5 August 2012

There Are None So Blind...

... as those who refuse to see.

From here...

Another report confirms what should be obvious, but what certain leaders and opinion-makers cannot, because of either their biases or their blinders, cannot seem to admit: that morality has consequences, and that the breakdown in morality, resulting in the breakdown of the family, may quite possibly lead to a breakdown in our entire society. 

The report is one based on interviews with a number of families and individuals in Great Britain with histories with social service agencies. It shows the generational repetition of sexual abuse, sexual promiscuity, alcoholism and violence.
In one sense, they are victims, not of a social care system in no real position to address their problems, but of a culture which radically overemphasises personal freedom, especially in the sexual sphere, and sold the lie that personal commitment and biological ties were secondary to “self-actualisation”. As the evidence rolled in that this wasn't true, our media, political, academic and cultural elites doubled down on the delusion...
I believe the report (it is rather long) reinforces the obvious - that serial and common-law relationships are far more damaging than what we narrow minded conservatives would call, "traditional marriage." In fact, I've probably said it before, but in my opinion far greater damage has been done to our society by the acceptance of common-law arrangements as equivalent to marriage than has or will be by the issue of gay marriage.

And yes, there are some common-law marriages that work out, but so are there some people who smoke heavily and die at 100.

But so what?

Take Care.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

A PerfectCircle

A comment from First Things, on a post on the New Atheists, perfectly sums my own thinking as I attempted to express it in one of my previous posts:
If there is no incorporeal component to the human intellect (a “rational soul”) then ultimately all we think and do is deterministic, the inevitable consequence of antecedent material causes. If that is the case then there really is no such thing as a free will. “New Atheists” who are “certain” of this should then also conclude that:

-- They have no choice but to think that, as they have no free will with which to change their minds about thinking that.

-- Their minds may change, but that happening or not happening is beyond their control – they don't have a free will with which to control anything.

-- Any conclusion they reach about anything is meaningless because experiencing “certainty” is just a biological phenomenon that happens occasionally – they have no choice about it; it just happens regardless of whether their “certainty” is rational or not.
Do atheists really think this way, or do they just not think this far? In any case, if they actually believe in rational thought and the ability to choose between options, they must admit to something beyond the purely natrual. If their point is that there is no such thing as rational thought, then that very belief proves itself admirably. It's a perfect circle.

Take Care

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

We Are a Myopic People

I just finished reading Are We Rome?, a book comparing the present day United States to the Roman Empire. It is a book that takes a lot of words to say not too much and arrive at seemingly no definite conclusion, but it was a rather interesting read nevertheless.
But a few words in the epilogue, a chapter entitled, "There Once Was a Great City" caught my interest.
First, a quote from Charles Darwin:
There is apparently much truth in the belief that the wonderful progress of the United States, as well as the character of the people, are the results of natural selection."
Would we agree with this statement today? Probably not - we would probably be accused of some sort of racism. So, just thinking, if we believe Darwin might have been wrong in that area, what about elsewhere? Like I said, just wonderin'

Another quote, this time a mid-nineteenth century opinion from a Bishop Berkeley, for whom the California city was named:
The world's scepter passed from Persia to Greece, from Greece to Italy, from Italy to Great Britain, and from Great Britain the scepter is today departing. It is passing to 'Greater Britain,' to our mighty West, there to remain, for there is no further West.
Interesting that he felt there was nothing of any consequence west, across the Pacific, of  North America. This, in my opinion, illustrates the propensity among humans, for a certain arrogance that assumes that whatever is current, whatever is now, is ultimately what is right; that whatever we firmly believe is right is indeed right, and that anyone throughout history who ever thought differently was just plain wrong. It ascribes the certainty of 'truth' to prevailing opinion. We have seen it all throughout history; in geocentrism,  in slavery, in the eugenics movement of early twentieth century liberals, in the global warming movement today; even in areas of science where people of a particular time were so certain, but later shown to be wrong. It is the, "Nine Out of Ten Doctors Recommend Camels" syndrome.

Well, today we know different, don't we?

Take Care

Gore Vidal No Longer an Atheist

Gore Vidal has died.
I once actually was a fan of his. Not that I ever read any of his books, but he was a regular token intellectual on the talk show circuit a generation back and I enjoyed listing to him express his thoughts in an intelligent and often biting style. This was all before I became a believer, so as he was a confirmed atheist, and although I have not seen or heard him in many years, I am sure that now I would disagree with many things he would have said.

Here, from one report of his death...
...age and illness did not bring Vidal closer to God. Wheelchair-bound in his 80s and saddened by the death of Austen [his former live-in companion, JK] and many peers and close friends, the author still looked to no existence beyond this one.  
"Because there is no cosmic point to the life that each of us perceives on this distant bit of dust at galaxy's edge," he once wrote, "all the more reason for us to maintain in proper balance what we have here. "Because there is nothing else. No thing. This is it. And quite enough, all in all."
There is a time to die for all of us, and either there is something for us after that time or there is not.

It brings to mind what is known as 'Pascal's Wager'. It is not a proof for the existence of God, but it is an interesting thought. It might be expressed something like this:
Either God exists or He doesn't. Upon death, then,
  • If God does not exist, but you erroneously believed in God, you lose nothing.
  • If He does exist and you correctly believed in Him, you gain everything (eternal life).
  • If God does not exist and you disbelieved in Him, you gain nothing (death ends all),
  • But if He does exist and you disbelieved in Him, you lose everything (eternal damnation).
RIP Gore Vidal. It was interesting having you around. In any case, either you are now no longer an atheist, or you are now no longer; period.
We'll see.

Take Care

Thursday, 5 July 2012

From the Past

Trip From Australia to Canada
July 1 - August 3, 1898
Minnie Avery, Age 14
For any interested, this is the text of a, "What I did over the summer" composition written by my grandmother upon her return to class in September of 1898. Her father was a rep for McClary stoves and had been transferred from Canada to Australia some years before. This is the account of their return trip. The original is still in our family and it is interesting to see it in the handwriting of a 14-year-old girl by someone I only ever knew as my grandmother. She died in 1983 in her 100th year.

We had a very pleasant trip over. the weather was uncommonly good and the sea was very calm most of the time.
We left Melbourne on the Arawatha, which had the name of being the best boat, but it turned out to be a very slow one, and landed us in Sidney just as the other boat was sailing and Father had to jump off before the boat was tied up and run to the other warf (sic) to see the captain of the San Francisco boat who promised to wait 15 minutes for us as it was then just the time to sail. We all managed to get on board but left our largest box behind and it was five months before we got it.

The officers on board the Mariposa were a splendid lot of men. We were very comfortable and every possible care was taken of the passengers. There was not much to see on the voyage - a few porpoises near Sydney, some sea gulls following us most of the time and flying fish which look like small white birds at a distance but are really thin fish about 5 inches long with fins. They rise up like a flock of birds but as soon as their fins get dry they fall back into the water which makes their flights very short..

The fifth day from Sydney we stopped at Auckland for 24 hours. I had a walk through the city with Father but I did not think it was as nice as Melbourne.

In 10 days we reached Apia where we stayed about 8 hours. The natives came out in their canoes with a great many native ornaments and coral to sell. They also dove for money. The sea was very hot and we did not leave the boat but we saw the wreck of the German warship which was capsized a few years ago.

On the 14th day we met the transport ship, "Rio de Janiero" with American troops going to Manila. They stopped and sent a boat to us and gave us some papers about the war. [Spanish-American War - JK]

On the 16th day we reached Honolulu where we stayed 24 hours and had a walk through the town. Father said it had greatly improved since he saw it 12 years ago. The place was all decorated with American flags as it had just been annexed by the Americans.

The streets were narrow and crooked but there were beautiful flowers everywhere you looked. We saw the late Queen's palace but it was not as large nor as nice as Government House in Melbourne.

We sailed through the Golden Gate at San Francisco on the 23rd day and after the health officer came on board and examined all of us we were permitted to land. Mother and Father were pleased to be on land again but I preferred to travel on water. San Francisco is a very busy city. It is very compact. There are no vacant spots and a great many of the buildings are very high - 8 or 10 stories. One newspaper office, "The Call" is 15 stories. I did not like the arrangement of the stores as well as those in Melbourne. We left "San Fran" the evening of the same day and started on the train to Brantford.
When we came to the Sacramento River the train was divided into two parts. The scenery was very different. Every minute there was something new - mountains, rivers, valleys and bridges. It kept me running from one side of the train to the other. The cars here are like large rooms with windows all around with doors at each end - not the little boxes as in Australia.
On the second day we came to some mineral springs where the train stopped to let us get some water to drink. A little way out of Portland on the third day we came to the "Bridal Veil Falls" where the train stopped a short time. It was a very pretty and grand sight to see so many streams flowing over the rocks, some very high. The water did not reach the ground but went up again in spray and mist. In a short time we came in sight of Mount Hood which you told us about in school being always covered with snow. Mount Hood was south of us. On the north side was the Columbia River. We were close to its banks for a long way and we saw the nets set for catching salmon. The nets were fastened to boats anchored in the river. Fishermen came around once or twice a day to empty the nets.
Our next stop was at Spokane, Washington. Then at Bonners Ferry in the northwest corner of Montana almost into British Columbia. From there we went almost directly east and crossed the Rocky Mountains at Bear Creek. We crossed the Mississippi at Minneapolis on a very large stone arch bridge. Then to Chicago and around the end of Lake Michigan in view of the largest flouring mills in the world. At Port Huron we crossed into Canada and were soon home to Brantford.
Just thought it was interesting.

Take Care

Monday, 2 July 2012

Walking the Bible and Knowing God

I have been reading an intersting book, Walking the Bible, by Jewish author Bruce Feiler. It is Feiler's telling of his odyssey by foot, Jeep, rowboat, camel and horse, retracing the steps of his ancient ancestors throughout the first five books of the Bible. I say the book is interesting, and that is all I will say. I will recommend it as reading, I actually quite enjoyed it, but there are areas in which a Reformed Christian, such as myself, will disagree theologically. Having said that, it contains an interesting quote attributed to Israel Hershkovitz, a professor at Tel Aviv University,
"Science is never going to prove the divine, but it's never going to disprove it either."
I thought it was a very good quote, and it started me thinking. As I have heard elsewhere, "God is more known than proven." And that is the case. There is much evidence, in my opinion, for the existence of God, and very little evidence against it. But that is not the atheist's point. An atheist like Dawkins, for instance, might present all the evidence he likes, but it is not evidence that God does not exist. It is, in his mind, evidence that God is unnecessary. And any evidence a Christian might present cannot be, in my opinion, ignored as, "not evidence," but merely as not acceptable evidence to the atheist.

Unfortunately, in my experience, and as one may see by comments on various posts throughout this blog, many discussions with atheists degrade, on the atheists part, into angry rants filled with profanity and strawman pictures such as rotting corpses in tombs and old magic men in the sky.

But in the end, God is unknowable except for personal revelation of Himself, by Himself. But He has also promised that any who seek will find, and in that way He has given every person a fair chance to come to know Him.
.
Take Care

Sunday, 24 June 2012

A Prayer by A. W. Tozer

I come to you today, O Lord,
To give up my rights,
To lay down my life,
To offer my future,
To give my devotion, my skills, my energies.
I shall not waste time deploring my weaknesses
Nor my unfittedness for the work.
I acknowledge your choice with my life
To make your Christ attractive and intelligible
To those around me.
I come to you for spiritual preparation.
Put your hand upon me,
Anoint me with the oil of the One with Good News.
Save me from compromise,
Heal my soul from small ambitions,
Deliver me from the itch to always be right,
Save me from wasting time.
I accept hard work, I ask for no easy place,
Help me not to judge other who walk a smoother path.
Show me those things that diminish spiritual power in a soul.
I now consecrate my days to you.
Make your will more precious than anybody or anything,
Fill me with your power
And when at the end of life’s journey I see you face to face
May I hear those undeserving words,
“Well done, you good and faithful servant”.
I ask this not for myself
But for the glory of the name of your Son.
Take Care

Friday, 8 June 2012

Those who honor me I will honor,...

...but those who despise me will be disdained. (1 Samuel 2:30)

I know there are some who will think I am fixated on this, but it has come to my mind again, through various recent events and circumstances, that China will be the next great Christian nation, and the sooner it becomes Christian, the sooner it will become great and the greater it will be.

Again, I believe the torch of greatness is being passed, blindly yet deliberately, even willingly, from our North American, western, society, westward, across the Pacific. Ours is a long slow suicide; a death by many small cuts, yet a death that seems inevitable, however many generations it takes, if each generation follows the apparent path of its predecessor.

But there is a great ferment in that country across the sea, yet underground, but unrestrainable; sure one day to erupt through the surface. To try to restrain it is like trying to keep by hand the lid on an unlocked pressure cooker.

God is opening doors there, and a door that God opens, no one can shut. (Rev 3:7)
The sooner that nation's leaders recognize this, and embrace it, the sooner they will find the blessing that is sure to come there.

"...(the) Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him..." (Romans 10:12)

Take Care

Monday, 4 June 2012

Western Civilization and Marriage - the Decline of Both

Coincidence; I think not. A fairly long, but informative article from Here...
...the knowledge economy have wrenchingly changed the working-class world. Still, Coming Apart is correct: you can’t grasp what’s happening at the lower end of the income scale without talking about family breakdown. In fact, the single-mother revolution, as I’ll call it, takes us a long way toward understanding the socioeconomic problems on everyone’s mind these days: poverty, inequality, and the inability of those at the bottom to move up. The single-mother revolution shouldn’t need much introduction. It started in the 1960s, when the nation began to sever the historical connection between marriage and childbearing and to turn single motherhood and the fatherless family into a viable, even welcome, arrangement for children and for society. The reasons for the revolution were many, including the sexual revolution, a powerful strain of anti-marriage feminism, and a superbug of American individualism that hit the country in the 1960s and ’70s.


...As of 1970, 11 percent of births were to unmarried mothers; by 1990, that number had risen to 28 percent. Today, 41 percent of all births are nonmarital. And for mothers under 30, the number is 53 percent.


...it has been an economic catastrophe for those women. Poverty remains relatively rare among married couples with children; the U.S. Census puts only 8.8 percent of them in that category...But over 40 percent of single-mother families are poor...

...low-earning men have lost ground, too. Knowing that women are now expected to be able to raise children on their own, unskilled men lose much of the incentive to work, especially at the sometimes disagreeable jobs that tend to be the ones they can get... ...scholars consistently find that unmarried men work fewer hours, make less money, and get fewer promotions than married men do.


...Decades of research show that kids growing up with single mothers (again, even after you allow for the obvious variables) have lower scholastic achievement from kindergarten through high school, as well as higher rates of drug and alcohol abuse, depression, behavior problems, and teen pregnancy. All these factors are likely to reduce their eventual incomes.


The positive solution to all this?...
“If young people do three things—graduate from high school, get a job, and get married and wait until they’re 21 before having a baby—they have an almost 75 percent chance of making it into the middle class.” Those are pretty impressive odds.
Read the whole article, if you have the time. There seems to be much talk and even protest these days regarding the gap between rich and poor, but, as harsh as it seems to say, the poor have contributed, in many cases, to that very gap.

Take Care

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Doc Watson

Doc Watson has died at the age of 89. I have always liked Doc Watson, although listening to him or any other extremely talented musician has always filled me with mixed feelings; at once, great admiration at his skill, and at the same time a little bit of sadness that I cannot play like that.

I remember a time (Don, if you see this you may remember too) when Kim's uncle, I think it was, a Northern Ontario fiddling champion, was playing for a bunch of us in the rec room. I could only sit in awe, mesmerized by his talent. I sort of played the guitar at the time, as I sort of do even now. He wondered if I wanted to join him, but I declined. All I wanted to do was sit and listen to him.

But this is how I would love to be able to play the guitar.

Take Care

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

The Glory is Leaving the Temple

The torch is being passed...
Some civilizations fade, others rise. For any number of reasons our western society is shooting holes in the bottom of its own boat. I have long maintained, and still do, that China will be the next great nation on earth. And it will, coincidentally, be a Christian nation. Now these two occurrences may be in parallel, or it may be cause and effect, but both will be. I can see no doubt. Our great-grandarents came west seeking a better life; our great grandchildren will continue that move of emigration, for the same reason. And as China rises, and at the same time becomes more Christian, what we know as western civiliaztion will decline, coincidentally as it insists on becoming less so. The decay of North American and European society, morally and otherwise, seems irreversible. It is a long slow suicide, a death through many small cuts. I don't really want to argue the point; I just say, "Wait and see."

In recent news:
WEA Leaders Meet with Chinese Government Minister and Church Representatives during China Visit.
From Here...
On May 10th, Dr. Geoff Tunnicliffe, Secretary General of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) which represents some 600 million Evangelical Protestants, met in Beijing with a senior minister of the Chinese government, General Minister Wang of the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA). WEA leaders explained the core beliefs of the Evangelical Protestant community and their desire to be productive citizens contributing to the well-being of families, communities and nations.
In other news,
Illegal immigration [from Mexico] hits net zero
From Here...
As many people are leaving the United States to return to Mexico as are emigrating north. The glow is off the American Dream.
Some are just too blind to see.

Take Care

Thursday, 12 April 2012

So True

I was discussing Alpha courses in general with our Associate Pastor. Specifically, I was thinking about our current coffee shop course where, in my small group I have a few "not-yet-believers," as I like to say. I mentioned that this was the type of group I like to have, with some real skeptics aboard, and that some Alpha courses just have too many Christians on them.
"Those darned Christians," I said, tongue in cheek of course, "...you just can't get away from them in some churches!"
Pastor Lori replied, not so tongue in cheek, "And in some churches you can't even find them."

Take Care

My Easter Newsletter

The Lord is Risen
Easter, 2012
How do we Know?

 
How do we know that Jesus is alive today? Aside from the irrefutable historical evidence, we know by the fact that he is still changing lives by his Spirit. Story after story is written in Alpha courses around the Province and across the country.

Resurgence of Alpha.
Many churches are rediscovering Alpha. I have spoken to many that either used to run Alpha, and now wish to get back into it, or where it has waned to a point where those in charge now hope to see it revived. Alpha is being remembered as a program where wonderful things have happened. It’s amazing just how many churches I call on where the response is something like, “We have done Alpha in the past. It’s a wonderful program.” To which the obvious response is, "Well...?" As well, many courses are being run, “under the radar,” so to speak, in small home groups not officially registered.

It’s not your grandfather’s Alpha.
One such church who ran its first Alpha after a hiatus of several years recently baptized two members of its current course. Both were young people, a young man in his teens, and a 22-year-old woman. Her testimony was especially powerful. In it, she describes how Nicky (Gumbel) makes Christianity so easy to understand. I was told there might be a third person, but, “…there are still some issues to be worked through. I found this encouraging, because it indicates that the two baptized were genuine conversions. (Sometimes, one might be tempted to think baptisms are counted like notches on a belt, but this caution indicates to me a true spirit of discernment on the part of the church leadership.) They are beginning another course immediately. But the main thing is that youth are the future of the Church, and Alpha, run well, is as relevant as ever, and relevant to all ages.

Alpha and Kingdom Growth.
Alpha is being run in growing, vibrant churches; churches, for instance, who have 700 young people at a weekly evening service; churches who have had to expand to accommodate growing congregations. It is being run in venues such as coffee shops, fitness clubs, university campuses and seniors homes where guests who might never come to a church setting can be introduced to Jesus.

Now, to be clear, Alpha is not primarily an individual church-growing program. It is a Kingdom building tool. But church growth is a natural outcome; a practically inevitable consequence.

And I’m not saying that Alpha is responsible for the growth of these churches. There are many other factors as well, of course, but their enthusiasm for Alpha may just be a sign of the attitude of outreach that has led naturally to such growth.

And Finally
My prayer for everyone is that you rejoice in your knowledge of the resurrected, glorified and living Saviour, Jesus Christ, and that we all be open to the prompting of God to see His will be done here on earth. May we be obedient to however He wishes to use us, His fellow workers, in our whatever respective corners of this world He has placed us.

Blessings to all, The Lord is risen indeed,
In Christ,
John Kivell
Associate Regional Director, Alberta,
Alpha Ministries Canada

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Pearls Before Swine

“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces..." (Matthew 7:6)
From Dietrich Bonhoeffer...
The world upon whom grace is thrust as a bargain will grow tired of it, and it will not only trample upon the Holy, but will also tear apart those who force it on them. For its own sake, for the sake of the sinner, and for the sake of the community, the Holy is to be protected from cheap surrender. The Gospel is protected by the preaching of repentance which calls sin sin and declares the sinner guilty.
The preaching of grace can only be protected by the preaching of repentance.
Ane yet this is the point that many churches today, in their quest to be 'relevant', miss completely.

In my travels, I see many shrinking churches. There are a couple of main reasons, in my opinion. One, and perhaps the saddest, is the problem of aging congregations seeking to cling despately to their old ways, mainly in the area of music. The hair in these congregations is mostly gray, and the music is mostly dismal. I am talking style here, not content. Many of the old hymns are wonderful, theologically, and can be just as relevant and attractive today, even to young people, if played in a more current style with more contemporary instrumentation. It may be my own personal bias, but I think that any church today that wants not only to survive, but to flourish and grow, should be adding guitars and drums, and introducing contemporary worship songs to their music mix.

But the second main reason is the one addressed in the Bonhoeffer quote above. Anyone attracted to a church through such compromising tactics; the excusing of sin in the name of modernity, will probably not last. But if they do, they will probably pull such a church further away from the truth and further down the broad road that leads to destruction. It is happening before our very eyes.

But sadly, those who most need to hear such a message will probably be the least likely to heed it.

Take Care

Monday, 26 March 2012

There Are No Dead Atheists

Atheists are either right, that there is no God, or they are not. An atheist, upon death, is no longer an atheist. If he was right in his assumption, then he is no longer an atheist because he is no longer, period. If he was wrong, then he is simply no longer an atheist.

Take Care

Monday, 12 March 2012

Knock on the Right Door

Every man who knocks on the door of a brothel is looking for God. (G.K. Chesterton.)
You have made us and drawn us to yourself, and our heart is unquiet until it rests in you. (St Augustine)
Each of us was built for relationship. The highest and ultimately most important relationship; the only one truly fully and permanently fulfilling, is one with God. This is the one for which God Himself has placed a hunger in every human heart. But people try to fill this need by looking for love in all the wrong places, to paraphrase a country song.

The young girl who, in her quest for approval and acceptance, gives in to a boyfriend's sexual demands, is really looking for what only God can provide.

The junkie, when he first pushed a needle in his arm may have been looking for peace, or escape, but he was really looking for God, whether he knew it or not.

The alcoholic who with a heart full of the ache of lonliness and despair returns again and again to the comfort of the bottle, ultimately is seeking what can only be satisfied by God.

These are all manifestations of man's futile attempt to satisfy a thirst that only God can quench.

Christ said,
"I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture." (John 10:9)
Only in Christ will we find that pasture, that peace for which we yearn. If you see yourself or anyone you know in these situations, consider an Alpha course. There you will find friendship, acceptance, and eventually, Lord willing, the relationship with the God who loves you and, in the end, wants to have that relationship with you.

Take Care

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Pure Naturalism

So it occurred to me, this picture.

If all there is is natural, no place for the supernatural, then one must believe this: picture a billiard table, dimensions - infinity by infinity, perfectly flat. And imagine there is no such thing as friction, rolling or air. And imagine every atom and molecule in the universe represented by a billiard ball. And then imagine, for the sake of simplicity, one of these balls set in motion. It contacts another, glancing off in whatever direction, but setting that ball in motion, as well as continuing on its own in a new direction. These balls contact others, and so on... Sooner or later, all the balls will be in motion, bouncing off one another in a purely predictable fashion. Do any of these balls have a choice of which direction to go? No. In fact, the perpetual path of any ball, and all thereafter, is governed exclusively by the original path of the first ball. Every collision, the direction and speed of every single ball, is completely determined by that first event.

So this is how the complete atheist, the pure naturalist, must view the universe. There can be no room for rational thought, for independent decision making. There can be no free will. All reality must be completely deterministic, an immutable result of that first, "big bang."

Do atheists really believe this? I expect, if they were to examine their view strictly, ask every question and follow their logic to its natural conclusion, they might find it difficult to accept.

Take Care

Thursday, 23 February 2012

We Heard This Before?

The insanity of the Christian doctrine of redemption really doesn't fit into our time. Nevertheless there are learned, educated men, occupying high positions in public life, who cling to it with the faith of a child. It is simply incomprehensible how anybody can consider the Christian doctrine of redemption as a guide for the difficult life of today...
A church that does not keep step with modern scientific knowledge is doomed.
Joseph Goebbels, explaining the thoughts of Adolph Hitler, (Bonhoeffer, Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy; p166)

A few years ago, I spent time on the very active discussion boards of a quite militant atheist website whose aim was to debunk Christianity. It is now defunct (smilie), but the quote above could very well come from thator any other current atheist site.

Take Care

Monday, 20 February 2012

Dawkins' Religion Poll Undercuts His Own Argument

Richard Dawkins' outfit, the Foundation for Reason and Science (UK), published the results of a poll into the attitudes of British Christians towards politics, science and morality as well as their knowledge of their own faith. Professor Dawkins reckons the result[s] buttress his secular agenda, showing as they do the waning influence of religion on British public life. But there is a sense in which the results undercut one of his main theses, namely that religion is something dangerous to society.

The majority attitudes listed above as regards the law, politics etc are ones that Dawkins would deem as rational and tolerant and it is self-confessed Christians who espouse these opinions.
But doesn't this rather undercut his thesis that religion is the everlasting foe of “rationality”, as Dawkins defines it? In his view, religion [is] a delusion and precludes reasonable thinking altogether.
[But]His poll actually reveals that in their attitudes to law and politics, Christians aren’t so different from other Britons. Therefore, why does he work himself into such a lather about them?
Frankly, I think Dawkins is so single-focused, so tunnel-visioned, so blind to his own contradictory logic, that, whatever proves to be reality, he will find a way to spin it to fit his own biased presuppositions.

Take Care
From Here...

An Alpha Reunion

I was standing at the sales counter Raven Truck Accessories, my 'other' employer last Wednesday night, waiting for closing time, 5:30. It was Alpha night at my own church so I wanted to get out on time. At about 5:20 the front door to the store opened and a man walked in. I rolled my eyes, thinking, "Oh no! Not a customer at this time of night." As he came toward me, he held out his right hand to shake mine, and as he got quite close I recognized him. "Ralph!" I exlcaimed. It was the Ralph who had been in my prison Alpha course about ten years ago, (link below) and because of the story related on my blog, as well as other reasons, I still think of him often. He obviously remembered where I work, although now I am in a different location.

He told me he is working on the pipelines and doing well. His long-ago girl friend (who at the time was 'working the streets' is now a receptionist at a social development office. I remember trying to help both of them through various struggles, back in the day. They are still together. It was pure joy to see him, and a real encouragement.

But then he asked me for a ride -- to the casino. Somehow, (you will see my point if you read my previous story at the link below) I remember thinking, with a smile, Ralph, you haven't changed a bit, have you." Ah well, it was still a wonderful thing to see him. And to see that he and his girlfriend are still alive. So many in 'that world' no longer are.

It also opened, or re-opened, the door to the possibility of doing an Alpha course at a Native Healing Centre with which I had contact through him all those years ago. I went and spoke to the admin team at the center and there is a possibility we can do a course there. I have e-mailed several 'Alpha' churches in the area and got some response.

Pray that it may come to pass.

Take Care
Original story here...

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Still the Same

If it is I who determine where God is to be found, then I shall always find a god who corresponds to me in some way, who is obliging, who is connected with my own nature. But if God determines where He is to be found, then it will be in a place which is not immediately pleasing to my nature and which is not at all congenial to me. This place is the Cross of Christ. (Bonhoeffer, Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy p.137)
In other words, Bonhoeffer is speaking of exactly the kind of god that modern liberal christians still worship; a god who, "accepts me as I am." A god who makes no demands, requires no repentance. A god who approves of our every self-centered whim.

A god who allows us to remain the center of our own universe, threatened not even by Him. One we can keep in a cage and bring out to pet whenever we want a little cuddly comfort.

Take Care

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Unequally Yoked - the Classic Example

Whitney Houston was found dead in a Beverly Hills hotel room today. She was 48. I have some thoughts, appropriate or not.

I have enjoyed Whitney Houston's music, but wouldn't count myself a great fan. It was just there and it was nice.

But I remember seeing her relationship with Bobby Brown, culminating in their marriage, back around the time I became a Christian. I remember reading that she had grown up singing in church, and I believe she said at that time that she was a Christian, and wanted a Christian husband. But then along came Bobby. I am sure that, morally, he was her exact opposite. At the time, she insisted he be a Christian for their relationship to progress. And I remember his claiming, at some point, to have become born again, so he could have her as his wife. I had an uneasy feeling even then, that this marriage would be a disaster.

I remember these details so clearly because I had two teenage daughters, and the concept of being unequally yoked was very much on my mind at the time. It was so transparent to me, but not, apparently to an innocent and gullible Whitney. She was conned, or she was too weak or timid to say, "No."

As you can read in any of her biographies, her life degraded into one of addiction and misery. I'm guessing it was largely due to her feeling trapped in the mistake she had made.

Well, it's over now, and if she really was that innocent Christian girl who was led away and trapped in a life she regretted until it was over, then she is now with her Lord, and will ever be with Him.

RIP Whitney.

Take Care

Coincidence? I Think Not

This will be a completely partisan and biased post. I freely admit that.

I travelled to the City of Lloydminster (pop. 26,502) the other day, on behalf of Alpha Canada. My purpose was to introduce myself as the Associate Regional Director for Alberta (I decided to annex the Saskatchewan side of the city as my own as well), and find out what interest there might be among churches there for the Alpha Course.

I was very warmly received by all the churches I was able to visit, (10 out of about 15 churches I was able to identify in the city). Many were familiar with the Alpha course and some had actually worked with it in the past.

There is one church currently presenting Alpha in Lloyd, Lloydminster Gospel Fellowship, affiliated with the PAOC. I first met Kevin, the Church's Alpha coordinator, at his home for lunch, and had the opportunity to speak with him at length and share what we discovered was our common passion for Alpha as a tool for reaching the unsaved for Christ. Visiting with him, I saw myself several years ago, when I would personally be involved in as may as six or seven Alpha courses a year, so on fire was I for what I still view as a most wonderful means of evangelism.

Later that day I visited the church itself and met its lead pastor, Lyle Berg. He gave me a tour of his facility, which they've just recently had to expand. The new sanctuary seats up to a thousand people. Average Sunday attendance, I was told, is over 600. Pastor Lyle spoke highly of Kevin and his wife, basically saying that he just let Kevin take the ball and run with it. This is the type of 'Triple e' (enabling, empowering, encouraging) leadership, in my opinion, that can really let a community flourish and grow.

But now, let's do some rudimentary math. A city of 26,000 people, with 15 churches, should allow fewer than 1800 people per church. If about 10% (a number I have heard) of the population regularly attend any church at all, then each church should average somewhat less than 180 people. Yet here is a vibrant, growing church averaging over three times, and as many as five or six times that.

And they are doing Alpha in a passionate and enthusiastic way. Go figure! I'm not saying Alpha is responsible for these numbers; not at all! What I'm saying is that here is a vibrant, growing, thriving church, and it is that in part because they have a heart to reach out into the community with the saving message of Jesus Christ. And Alpha is only one indication of that attitude. But is it any coincidence that the one church in town using Alpha also happens to be such a thriving place?

As wonderful a reception as I received at many of the other churches in town, well, I'm not really sayin', y'know, ...just sayin'.

Take Care