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  • mrqwho 7:30 pm on June 26, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

      By Dave Rogers Pastor, First Chri… 

     

    By Dave Rogers
    Pastor, First Christian Church

    Posted: 06/25/2010 09:22:49 PM MDT

    Click photo to enlarge

    Dave Rogers

    If there is one thing I am sure that most Christians can agree on it is the fact that there is a lot that we do not agree on. Various doctrines, traditions, practices, expectations and customs give a great diversity to the way Christianity looks, feels and is expressed.

    Just look at Carlsbad as a vivid example. Of the approximately 75 churches that make up our religious landscape, one will find the full range of theological perspective, biblical interpretation and worship practice. As a people who proclaim to be united in Jesus Christ, what are we to do when Christians do not agree?

    The 15th chapter of Acts is a vital resource for Christians engaged in disagreement. Whether it is within a particular congregation or across denominational lines, the vivid story told in this chapter has a lot to say.

    As the early expressions of Christianity spread across the Roman Empire diversity exploded in the traditionally Jewish expression of the faith.

    Pagan converts and gentiles from vastly different cultures embraced the message of Christ in unique and spectacular ways. In order to address the challenges this presented, the Apostles called a council in Jerusalem.

    The disciples used prayer and the guidance of the Holy Spirit to guide their discussions. Out of that, they worked hard to allow open, honest and even contradictory dialogue as they approached the divisive issues facing the fledgling church. Individual Christians were afforded respectful hearings and


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    prayerful welcome at this vital meeting of the early church leaders.

    Although there was never universal agreement on essential matters of doctrine, there was a faithful decision to embrace diversity in the unity of Christ with love, grace and respect. Notice that Acts 15 contains no determination to dis-fellowship believers or brand dissenting beliefs as heretical and blasphemous.

    Finally, when believers reached a point where they could no longer agree, there was a parting of the ways with the result that different populations were blessed in ministry in different ways. This is the beauty of diversity in the churches! Often our differences in doctrine or practice may actually be blessed by God as vital means to reach different people for the singular purpose of glorifying Jesus Christ!

    It is for this very reason that I praise and thank God there are churches and pastoral leaders in Carlsbad that do not share my beliefs.

    I believe God is blessing their ministry in ways that I simply could not know. Likewise, I am able to reach people that they could not. In the end, Christ is glorified and I am grateful to be part of the blessed team God has assembled in Carlsbad to minister in the name of Jesus Christ.

    The 14th and 15th chapters of Romans further illustrate this beautiful truth. Disparaging and judgmental behavior on the part of believers toward other believers is dangerous territory indeed. Paul accounts it to sin borne in the weakness of one’s individual faith and reminds us that God — not some pastor or church — will be the one judge.

    Are we perfect? Absolutely not! In fact, I must humbly confess that I recently expressed vehemently ugly judgment against another Christian leader who happened to be in the headlines for expressing a theology I find problematic. Another Christian leader in Carlsbad lovingly, respectfully and appropriately called me to my sin. Yet, in it he did not condemn or judge me. I value his faith, candor and friendship to this day.

    Truly, there is only one Jesus Christ. In all our beautifully different means of experiencing Christ, I can only say, "Thanks be to God for the diversity of the Body of Christ!"

     
  • mrqwho 6:02 am on June 23, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    U2 Bono, Alice Cooper, gay performers, hip hop: What is Christian music? 

     

    June 22, 5:13 PMSt. Louis Christian Music Examiner


    Bono  Photo Source:  Amazon.com

    Is it the lyrics, the style of music, or the lifestyle of the man or woman behind the songs?  Does it need to be played only on Christian stations such as JOY fm or WIBI in the St. Louis area?  Or, is even the contemporary style too much for some wanting only traditional hymns or classical styles?  If it’s a hip hop or rap style, should it be avoided?  Is it only Christian if it is recorded on a Christian label?  What makes Christian music Christian?  What is Christian music?

    Maybe a recent study can shed some light on how Christian music and spirituality is viewed.  In a recent study conducted at Missouri University in Columbia, students defined spirituality with words such as "purpose," "conviction," "self confidence."  Perhaps, these views carry over into how Christian music is defined.

    To the purist, one might say that to be truly Christian music, the lyrics (or message of the song) as well as the singer’s lifestyle need to coincide.  Others may say a musician needs to be signed on a Christian label to be considered a Christian artist.  Still others, may say the music needs to elicit praise in both content and style.

    Many hope to see the musicians’ lifestyles reflect the words of their music, whose songs are sung often during church praise and worship.  For some musicians, the way Christians define what is expected of a Christian musician means that they choose to record on a secular label when they make announcements of embracing a gay or lesbian lifestyle such as Ray Boltz or Jennifer Knapp have recently decided.

    For years, a popular performer, Alice Cooper, was thought of as taboo by many Christian parents wanting their children to listen to only the best and follow only the best influences.  In an interview with the Harvest Show, Alice Cooper explains how he sees it.  It may come as a shock to some.  Others may still disregard Alice Cooper as being anything close to performing Christian music.

    Another well-known musician and member of the band U2, Bono, has been vocal about his beliefs.  Though, performing in a secular band, he makes no bones about his beliefs and the platform he has available to him which those signed to a Christian label may not ever attain simply due to the fact that the Christian label is focused on a smaller, more specific, group of people.  In his speech at the 2008 Presidential Prayer Breakfast, he speaks his heart:

    Whether Christian music is defined by a record label’s name, by the lifestyle of the singer or by a secular musician speaking up for truth lies on how you interpret it.  The ultimate goal, however, in Christian music is to bring glory to Christ whose name is part of the very definition.  Christian, roughly interpreted, means a follower of Christ.  Music is self-explanatory, but one of the definitions from Webster’s dictionary is "an agreeable sound!"  If Christians could come together in agreement to sing songs of praise to their King all the details would fall into place.  The result would be one harmonious symphony to the ears of Christ.

     
  • mrqwho 6:35 pm on June 20, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    Egyptian Couple Shot by Muslim Extremists Undaunted in Ministry 

    Egyptian Couple Shot by Muslim Extremists Undaunted in Ministry

     

    Left for dead, Christians offer to drop charges if allowed to construct church building.

     

    By Wayne King

     

    CAIRO, Egypt – Rasha Samir was sure her husband, Ephraim Shehata, was dead.

     

    He was covered with blood, had two bullets inside him and was lying facedown in the dust of a dirt road. Samir was lying on top of him doing her best to shelter him from the onslaught of approaching gunmen.

     

    With arms outstretched, the men surrounded Samir and Shehata and pumped off round after round at the couple. Seconds before, Samir could hear her husband mumbling Bible verses. But one bullet had pierced his neck, and now he wasn’t moving. In a blind terror, Samir tried desperately to stop her panicked breathing and convincingly lie still, hoping the gunmen would go away.

     

    Finally, the gunfire stopped and one of the men spoke. “Let’s go. They’re dead.”

     

    ‘Break the Hearts’

    On the afternoon of Feb. 27, lay pastor Shehata and his wife Samir were ambushed on a desolate street by a group of Islamic gunmen outside the village of Teleda in Upper Egypt.

     

    The attack was meant to “break the hearts of the Christians” in the area, Samir said.

     

    The attackers shot Shehata twice, once in the stomach through the back, and once in the neck. They shot Samir in the arm. Both survived the attack, but Shehata is still in the midst of a difficult recovery. The shooters have since been arrested and are in jail awaiting trial. A trial cannot begin until Shehata has recovered enough to attend court proceedings.

     

    Despite this trauma, being left with debilitating injuries, more than 85,000 Egyptian pounds (US$14,855) in medical bills and possible long-term unemployment, Shehata is willing to drop all criminal charges against his attackers – and avoid what could be a very embarrassing trial for the nation – if the government will stop blocking Shehata from constructing a church building.

     

    Before Shehata was shot, one of the attackers pushed him off his motorcycle and told him he was going to teach him a lesson about “running around” or being an active Christian.

     

    Because of his ministry, the 34-year-old Shehata, a Coptic Orthodox Christian, was arguably the most visible Christian in his community. When he wasn’t working as a lab technician or attending legal classes at a local college, he was going door-to-door among Christians to encourage them in any way he could. He also ran a community center and medical clinic out of a converted two-bedroom apartment. His main goal, he said, was to “help Christians be strong in their faith.”

     

    The center, open now for five years, provided much-needed basic medical services for surrounding residents for free, irrespective of their religion. The center also provided sewing training and a worksite for Christian women so they could gain extra income. Before the center was open in its present location, he ran similar services out of a relative’s apartment.

     

    “We teach them something that can help them with the future, and when they get married they can have some way to work and it will help them get money for their families,” Shehata said.

     

    Additionally, the center was used to teach hygiene and sanitation basics to area residents, a vital service to a community that uses well water that is often polluted or full of diseases. Along with these services, Shehata and his wife ran several development projects, repairing the roofs of shelters for poor people, installing plumbing, toilets and electrical systems. The center also distributed free food to the elderly and the infirm.

     

    The center has been run by donations and nominal fees used to pay the rent for the apartment. Shehata has continued to run the programs as aggressively as he can, but he said that even before the shooting that the center was barely scraping by.

     

    “We have no money to build or improve anything,” he said. “We have a safe, but no money to put in it.”

     

    Tense Atmosphere

    In the weeks before the shooting, Teleda and the surrounding villages were gripped with fear.

     

    Christians in the community had been receiving death threats by phone after a Muslim man died during an attack on a Christian couple. On Feb. 2, a group of men in nearby Samalout tried to abduct a Coptic woman from a three-wheeled motorcycle her husband was driving. The husband, Zarif Elia, punched one of the attackers in the nose. The Muslim, Basem Abul-Eid, dropped dead on the spot.

     

    Elia was arrested and charged with murder. An autopsy later revealed that the man died of a heart attack, but local Muslims were incensed.

     

    Already in the spotlight for his ministry activities, Shehata heightened his profile when he warned government officials that Christians were going to be attacked, as they had been in Farshout and Nag Hammadi the previous month. He also gave an interview to a human rights activist that was posted on numerous Coptic websites. Because of this, government troops were deployed to the town, and extremists were unable to take revenge on local Christians – but only after almost the entire Christian community was placed under house arrest.

     

    “They chose me,” Shehata said, “Because they thought I was the one serving everybody, and I was the one who wrote the government telling them that Muslims were going to set fire to the Christian houses because of the death.”

     

    Because of his busy schedule, Shehata and Samir, 27, were only able to spend Fridays and part of every Saturday together in a village in Samalut, where Shehata lives. Every Saturday after seeing Samir, Shehata would drive her back through Teleda to the village where she lives, close to her family. Samalut is a town approximately 105 kilometers (65 miles) south of Cairo.

     

    On the afternoon of Feb. 27, Shehata and his wife were on a motorcycle on a desolate stretch of hard-packed dirt road. Other than a few scattered farming structures, there was nothing near the road but the Nile River on one side, and open fields dotted with palm trees on the other.

     

    Shehata approached a torn-up section of the road and slowed down. A man walked up to the vehicle carrying a big wooden stick and forced him to stop. Shehata asked the man what was wrong, but he only pushed Shehata off the motorcycle and told him, “I’m going to stop you from running around,” Samir recounted.

     

    Shehata asked the man to let Samir go. “Whatever you are going to do, do it to me,” he told the man.

     

    The man didn’t listen and began hitting Shehata on the leg with the stick. As Shehata stumbled, Samir screamed for the man to leave them alone. The man lifted the stick again, clubbed Shehata once more on the leg and knocked him to the ground. As Shehata struggled to get up, the man took out a pistol, leveled it at Shehata’s back and squeezed the trigger.

     

    Samir started praying and screaming Jesus’ name. The man turned toward her, raised the pistol once more, squeezed off another round, and shot Samir in the arm. Samir looked around and saw a few men running toward her, but her heart sank when she realized they had come not to help them but to join the assault.

     

    Samir jumped on top of Shehata, rolled on to her back and started begging her attackers for their lives, but the men, now four in all, kept firing. Bullets were flying everywhere.

     

    “I was scared. I thought I was going to die and that the angels were going to come and get our spirits,” Samir said. “I started praying, ‘Please God, forgive me, I’m a sinner and I am going to die.’”

     

    Samir decided to play dead. She leaned back toward her husband, closed her eyes, went limp and tried to stop breathing. She said she felt that Shehata was dying underneath her.

     

    “I could hear him saying some of the Scriptures, the one about the righteous thief [saying] ‘Remember me when you enter Paradise,’” she said. “Then a bullet went through his neck, and he stopped saying anything.”

     

    Samir has no way of knowing how much time passed, but eventually the firing stopped. After she heard one of the shooters say, “Let’s go, they’re dead,” moments later she opened her eyes and the men were gone. When she lifted her head, she heard her husband moan.

     

    Unlikely Survival

    When Shehata arrived at the hospital, his doctors didn’t think he would survive. He had lost a tremendous amount of blood, a bullet had split his kidney in two, and the other bullet was lodged in his neck, leaving him partially paralyzed.

     

    His heartbeat was so faint it couldn’t be detected. He was also riddled with a seemingly limitless supply of bullet fragments throughout his body.

     

    Samir, though seriously injured, had fared much better than Shehata. The bullet went into her arm but otherwise left her uninjured. When she was shot, Samir was wearing a maternity coat. She wasn’t pregnant, but the couple had bought the coat in hopes she soon would be. Samir said she thinks the gunman who shot her thought he had hit her body, instead of just her arm.

     

    The church leadership in Samalut was quickly informed about the shooting and summoned the best doctors they could, who quickly traveled to help Shehata and Samir. By chance, the hospital had a large supply of blood matching Shehata’s blood type because of an elective surgical procedure that was cancelled. The bullets were removed, and his kidney was repaired. The doctors however, were forced to leave many of the bullet fragments in Shehata’s body.

     

    As difficult as it was to piece Shehata’s broken body back together, it paled in comparison with the recovery he had to suffer through. He endured multiple surgeries and was near death several times during his 70 days of hospitalization.

     

    Early on, Shehata was struck with a massive infection. Also, because part of his internal tissue was cut off from its blood supply, it literally started to rot inside him. He began to swell and was in agony.

     

    “I was screaming, and they brought the doctors,” Shehata said. The doctors decided to operate immediately.

     

    When a surgeon removed one of the clamps holding Shehata’s abdomen together, the intense pressure popped off most of the other clamps. Surgeons removed some stomach tissue, part of his colon and more than a liter of infectious liquid.

     

    Shehata could not eat normally and lost 35 kilograms (approximately 77 lbs.). He also couldn’t evacuate his bowels for at least 11 days, his wife said.

     

    Despite the doctors’ best efforts, infections continued to rage through Shehata’s body, accompanied by alarming spikes in body temperature.

     

    Eventually, doctors sent him to a hospital in Cairo, where he spent a week under treatment. A doctor there prescribed a different regimen of antibiotics that successfully fought the infection and returned Shehata’s body temperature to normal.

     

    Shehata is recovering at home now, but he still has a host of medical problems. He has to take a massive amount of painkillers and is essentially bedridden. He cannot walk without assistance, is unable to move the fingers on his left hand and cannot eat solid food. In approximately two months he will undergo yet another surgery that, if all goes well, will allow him to use the bathroom normally.

     

    “Even now I can’t walk properly, and I can’t lift my leg more than 10 or 20 centimeters. I need someone to help me just to pull up my underwear,” Shehata said. “I can move my arm, but I can’t move my fingers.”

     

     

    Samir does not complain about her condition or that of Shehata. Instead, she sees the fact that she and her husband are even alive as a testament to God’s faithfulness. She said she thinks God allowed them to be struck with the bullets that injured them but pushed away the bullets that would have killed them.

     

    “There were lots of bullets being shot, but they didn’t hit us, only three or four,” she said. “Where are the others?”

     

    Even in the brutal process of recovery, Samir found cause for thanks. In the beginning, Shehata couldn’t move his left arm, but now he can. “Thank God and thank Jesus, it was His blessing to us,” Samir said. “We were kind of dead, now we are alive. “

     

    Still, Samir admits that sometimes her faith waivers. She is facing the possibility that Shehata might not work for some time, if ever. The couple owes the 85,000 Egyptian pounds (US$14,855) in medical bills, and continuing their ministry at the center and in the surrounding villages will be difficult at best.

     

    “I am scared now, more so than during the shooting,” she said. “Ephraim said do not be afraid, it is supposed to make us stronger.”

     

    So Samir prays for strength for her husband to heal and for patience. In the meantime, she said she looks forward to the day when the struggles from the shooting are over and she can look back and see how God used it to shape them.

     

    “There is a great work the Lord is doing in our lives, we may not know what the reason is now, but maybe some day we will,” Samir said.

     

    Government Opposition

    For the past 10 years, Shehata has tried to erect a church building, or at a minimum a house, that he could use as a dedicated community center. But local Muslims and Egypt’s State Security Investigations (SSI) agency have blocked him every step of the way. He had, until the shooting happened, all but given up on constructing the church building.

     

    On numerous occasions, Shehata has been stopped from holding group prayer meetings after people complained to the SSI. In one incident, a man paid by a land owner to watch a piece of property near the community center complained to the SSI that Shehata was holding prayer meetings at the facility. The SSI made Shehata sign papers stating he wouldn’t hold prayer meetings at the center.

     

    At one time, Shehata had hoped to build a house to use as a community center on property that had been given to him for that purpose. Residents spread a rumor that he was actually erecting a church building, and police massed at the property to prevent him from doing any construction.

     

    There is no church in the town where Shehata lives or in the surrounding villages. Shehata admits he would like to put up a church building on the donated property but says it is impossible, so he doesn’t even try.

     

    In Egypt constructing or even repairing a church building can only be done after a complex government approval process. In effect, it makes it impossible to build a place for Christian worship. By comparison, the construction of mosques is encouraged through a system of subsidies.

     

    “It is not allowed to build a church in Egypt,” Shehata said. “We can’t build a house. We can’t build a community center. And we can’t build a church.”

     

    Because of this, Shehata and his wife organize transportation from surrounding villages to St. Mark’s Cathedral in Samalut for Friday services and sacraments. Because of the lack of transportation options, the congregants are forced to ride in a dozen open-top cattle cars.

     

    “We take them not in proper cars or micro-buses, but trucks – the same trucks we use to move animals,” he said.

     

    The trip is dangerous. A year ago a man fell out of one of the trucks onto the road and died. Shehata said bluntly that Christians are dying in Egypt because the government won’t allow them to construct church buildings.

     

    “I feel upset about the man who died on the way going to church,” he said.

     

    Church-for-Charges Swap

    The shooters who attacked Shehata and Samir are in jail awaiting trial. The couple has identified each of the men, but even if they hadn’t, finding them for arrest was not a difficult task. The village the attackers came from erupted in celebration when they heard the pastor and his wife were dead.

     

    Shehata now sees the shooting as a horrible incident that can be turned to the good of the believers he serves. He said he finds it particularly frustrating that numerous mosques have sprouted up in his community and surrounding areas during the 10 years he has been prevented from putting up a church building, or even a house. There are two mosques alone on the street of the man who died while being trucked to church services, he said.

     

    Shehata has decided to forgo justice in pursuit of an opportunity to finally construct a church building. He has approached the SSI through church leaders, saying that if he is allowed to construct a church building, then he will take no part in the criminal persecution of the shooters.

     

    “I have told the security forces through the priests that I will drop the case if they can let us build the church on the piece of land,” he said.

     

    The proposal isn’t without possibilities. His trial has the potential of being internationally embarrassing. It raises questions about fairness in Egyptian society during an upcoming presidential election that will be watched by the world.

     

    Regardless of what happens, Shehata said all he wants is peace and for the rights of Christians to be respected. He said that in Egypt, Christians have less value than the “birds of the air” mentioned in the Bible. According to Luke 12:6, five sparrows sold for two pennies in ancient times.

     

    “We are not to be killed like birds, slaughtered,” he said. “We are human.”

     
  • mrqwho 9:59 am on June 18, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    Christian Group Leads Gulf Coast Prayer Walk 

    Charisma News

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    Wednesday, 16 June 2010 04:07 PM EDT Adrienne S. Gaines News Featured News

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    As up to 2.5 million gallons of oil pour daily into the Gulf of Mexico with no end in sight, Christians touring the region this week are offering the one thing they believe will make a difference: prayer.

    The Rev. Mitch Hescox, president of the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN), began the Gulf Spill Prayer Walk Monday in Waveland, Miss., and will journey through the Mississippi Delta before ending Saturday in Venice, La.

    Photo: Evangelical Environmental Network

    "I truly believe that prayer is the answer right now," Hescox said. "The only person that has the wisdom to stop this flow of oil is our Lord. And we need to open a clear channel through prayer that He will influence either directly through some supernatural way or He’ll give some engineer a brilliant idea … that only God can give."

    Throughout the journey, Hescox has been stopping to talk and pray with Gulf Coast residents, many of whom are facing the loss of their livelihoods. He said a woman in Pass Christian, Miss., said she and her husband have laid off most of the employees in the business they’ve run for 25 years. Earlier that day, a fisherman told him: "I’m 59 years and my way of life has just disappeared. I will never be able to oyster again."

    "Post-Katrina people could get in their trucks and fill their trucks full of lumber and come down and board up houses," Hescox said. "People right here now, especially the fisher-people who are being affected, there is nothing they can do. And that sense of hopelessness is just building and building and building. And I know no better way of giving people hope other than the ultimate hope in Jesus Christ. And that’s going to happen by us praying for these people."

    Hescox said the EEN is praying that BP, which owns the rig that exploded April 20 and touched off the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history, does its part to reimburse business owners for losses caused by the oil spill. They are also asking God to allow the weather to remain calm to minimize the amount of oil that hits the beaches and marshlands, where fish breed. 

    Churches in the region also have been rallying in prayer. After the oil leak began, Gulf Coast state prayer leaders prayed and repented during a conference call convened by the U.S. Reformation Prayer Network (USRPN), led by Mike and Cindy Jacobs.

    On May 15, intercessors in Texas, Louisiana, Florida and Mississippi simultaneously blew shofars over the water and asked God to cleanse and heal the Gulf, said Mildred Bean, leader of Prepare His Way Ministries in Ocean Springs, Miss., in a report to the USRPN.

    BP has made several attempts to stop or control the oil spill, but efforts to place domes over the leaking well or shut it down using a top kill have proved ineffective. The company has announced plans to bring in a floating production, storage and offloading vessel to capture the oil and is drilling relief wells into the original well to block the leak.

    But prophetic ministry leaders such as Chuck Pierce of Glory of Zion Ministries and Bob Jones have said only God can plug up the leak.

    "There is no help for this nation apart from God," Jones wrote in a June 3 message. "We must cry out for God to plug the oil well in the Gulf for He’s the only one that can do it! And He’ll only do it when the church cries out."

    Hescox said the disaster has made some churchgoers open to his group’s message that Christians have a responsibility to care for creation, which they say includes reducing energy consumption. He says the crude oil that has leaked into the Gulf represents only a few hours of Americans’ daily oil consumption.

    "This is not a time to fight over who’s at fault over the oil," Hescox said. "This is a time to say, ‘Lord Jesus help us,’ because quite honestly we’re all guilty of [overconsumption].

    "I believe we need the Lord to transform us so we use our resources wisely and we rally around together, not looking to do our own self-interest but looking to do the work of our Lord," he added. "And the only way that can happen is through prayer and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ coming into us."

    Read more: http://charismamag.com/index.php/news/28761-christian-group-leads-gulf-coast-prayer-walk#ixzz0rCIK0CIm

     
  • mrqwho 9:57 am on June 18, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    Subscribe to this newsletter here. Thurs… 

    Charisma News

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    Thursday, 17 June 2010 04:31 PM EDT Compass Direct News News Featured News

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    Moroccan Christians say Muslim extremists in the country are aiding and encouraging the government to pursue them by exposing and vilifying them on social networking site Facebook.  

    Facebook user Gardes Maroc Maroc has posted 32 image collages featuring dozens of Christian converts, calling them "hyena evangelists" or "wolves in lamb’s skins" who are trying to "shake the faith of Muslims." That terminology on the website, which is in Arabic, matches that of Morocco’s anti-proselytizing law, which outlaws efforts to "shake the faith of Muslims."  

    The online images depict Christian converts and their families from across the country and include details about their roles and activities in churches, their personal addresses and anecdotal stories attempting to malign them.   "These are some pics of Moroccan convert hyenas," reads one image.   Since March, the Moroccan government has expelled more than 100 foreign Christians for alleged "proselytizing."

    Authorities failed to give Christians deportation orders or enough time to settle their affairs before they left.   Observers have called this a calculated effort to purge the historically moderate Muslim country, known for its progressive policies, of all Christian elements – both foreign and national. Amid a national media campaign to vilify Christians in Morocco, more than 7,000 Muslim clerics signed a statement denouncing all Christian activities and calling foreign Christians’ aid work "religious terrorism." 

    On the Facebook page, Gardes Maroc Maroc makes a particularly strident call to Moroccan authorities to investigate adoptive parents of children from the village of Ain Leuh, 50 miles south of Fez. The user claims that local Christians under orders of "foreign missionaries" were attempting to adopt the children so missionary efforts would not "go in vain."

    On March 8, the Moroccan government expelled 26 Christian foreign staff members and parents working at Village of Hope in Ain Leuh.  Now efforts against national Christians have gained momentum. One image on the Facebook page challenged the Islamic Ministry of Religious Affairs and Endowments, saying, "Evangelist hyenas are deriding your Ministry." The page with the images claimed that Christians had rented out an apartment belonging to that government ministry.  

    An entire page was dedicated to a well-known Christian TV personality in the Middle East, Rashid Hmami, and his family. The user also inserted pictures of hyenas next to those of Christians, presumably to indicate their danger to the nation.

    National Christians Threatened

    Moroccan Christians told Compass that authorities had begun harassing them even before the forced deportations of foreigners, and that pressure from officials only intensified in March and April.   Since the deportations started in early March, it seems that authorities, extremists and society as a whole have colluded against them, local Christians said. Dozens of Christians have been called to police stations for interrogation. Many of them have been threatened and verbally abused. 

    "They mocked our faith," said one Moroccan Christian who requested anonymity. "They didn’t talk nicely."    Authorities interrogated the convert for eight hours and followed him for three weeks in March and April, he said. During interrogation, he added, local police told him they were prepared to throw him in jail and kill him.  

    Another Moroccan Christian reported that a Muslim had taken him to court because of his Christian activities. Most Moroccan Christians that spoke to Compass said the attitudes of their Muslim relatives had shifted, and many have been kicked out of their homes or chosen to leave "to not create problems" for their families.  

    Moroccan converts meet in house churches. Some of them have stopped meeting until the pressure subsides.   "The government is testing the reactions," said Moroccan lawyer Abdel Adghirni of the recent pressure on Christians.  

    The lawyer, known as one of the strongest defenders of Berber rights in Morocco, said that although the government’s recent reactions seem regressive, they are part of the nation’s societal transformation process.   "The government is trying to dominate," said Adghirni. "They are defending themselves. They feel the wind of change. All of this is normal for me – like a complex chemistry that activates as different elements come into contact. Things are moving."

    Congressional Hearing

    In an effort to alert U.S. Congress to the sudden turn against religious tolerance in Morocco, the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission is holding congressional hearings today on the deportations of foreign Christians from the country.  Earlier today, the National Clergy Council held a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., to congratulate the Moroccan government on religious tolerance. Organizers of the congressional hearings said they view the council’s press conference as an effort to counter the hearings. 

    The Rev. Rob Schenck, who heads the council, has had numerous exchanges with Moroccan Islamic leaders and in early April met with the Moroccan ambassador to the United States. "I have enjoyed a close friendship of several years with the ambassador," Schenck stated on his website.  

    Organizers of the congressional hearings have said they are baffled that the National Clergy Council, and in particular Schenck, would speak so highly of the Moroccan government at a time when it is in such blatant violation of human rights.   "There’s good and bad in every country, but what Morocco has done on the whole to advance religious liberty in that region of the world is extraordinary," Schenck said in a media statement yesterday on Christian Newswire. "We hope to present a fair and balanced picture of this unusual country."  

    Congressman Frank Wolf (R-Va.), co-chairman of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, said that the Moroccan government has deported nearly 50 U.S. citizens.  

    "In spite of this, the U.S. government has pledged $697.5 million to Morocco over the next five years through the Millennium Challenge Corporation," he said. Wolf is advocating that the United States withhold the nearly $697.5 million in aid that it has pledged to Morocco.    "It is inappropriate for American taxpayer money to go to a nation which disregards the rights of American citizens residing in Morocco and forcibly expels Americans without due process of law," he said.  

    Among those appearing at the hearing today is Dutch citizen Herman Boonstra, leader of Village of Hope, who was expelled in March. Boonstra and his wife were forced to leave eight adopted children in Morocco. Moroccan authorities have refused re-entry for the couple, as they have for all deported Christian foreigners.  

    Lawyer Adghirni said he believes Morocco cannot survive and develop economically – and democratically – without national diversity. "We can’t be free without Christians," Adghirni said. "The existence of Christians among us is the proof of liberty."

    Read more: http://charismamag.com/index.php/news/28769-moroccan-islamists-use-facebook-to-target-christians#ixzz0rCHqRlnb

     
  • mrqwho 9:54 am on June 18, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    Ex-Porn Star: ‘Porn Destroys Human Lives and is Destroying Our Nation’ 

    Thursday, June 17, 2010
    By Nick Dean


    Former purn star turned anti-porn activist Shelley Lubben. (Photo courtesy of Pink Cross Foundation)

    (CNSNews.com) – Despite six federal obscenity laws currently on the books, illegal hardcore pornography is running rampant on cable television and the Internet — and federal prosecutions are virtually nonexistent. That needs to change, says a group of researchers and anti-porn activists. 
    At a briefing held at the U.S. Capitol, researchers and activists, including a former porn movie actress, highlighted the finding of leading researchers on the harm and long-term effects that hardcore pornography has on its viewers — especially children — and called on Congress to make the Justice Department to crack down on those who make and distribute illegal pornography. 
    “We are asking that the prosecution of obscenity laws, which seems to be on hold in this administration, be given a high priority because of the widespread harm we now know hardcore pornography is causing to America,” Patrick Trueman, the group’s spokesman, said. “They’re not doing much at all. So we are asking them to make it a priority.”
    The group, which calls itself the Coalition for the War on Illegal Pornography, is calling on the Obama administration, Congress, and the Justice Department to elevate the enforcement of obscenity laws it says are being ignored. 
    "Our efforts today are not partisan because the protection of children, violence against women, addiction and sexual trafficking are not partisan issues. Nor are we here today to quarrel with Attorney General Holder," said Trueman, the former chief of the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, U.S. Department of Justice.
    Trueman said laws already on the books make it illegal to distribute hardcore pornography on the Internet, by satellite or cable television and in sexually-oriented businesses. 
    “We are not asking for new laws. We have enough laws. What we are asking is that those laws be vigorously enforced,” Trueman said. 
    Trueman said the Obama administration isn’t alone – the last s have not spent much time or effort enforcing America’s obscenity laws. 
    “Rather than aggressively enforcing the law, the Justice Department, through the Bush years and the Clinton years before that, has been prosecuting relatively minor producers and distributors and the impact of those prosecutions is very little,” Trueman said. 
    Still, he said, on those rare occasions when prosecutions have been made, the government has been successful. Trueman attributes that success to the “community standard” that he said has to “come into play.”
    “A jury has to decide whether hardcore material is beyond community standards and every community wants to say that their community is better than that material,” Trueman said. 
    Though the laws make its distribution illegal, there has been plenty of study into what constitutes “obscene material” – and researchers no longer wonder what is obscene and what isn’t. 
    “Obscenity is graphic material that focuses on sex or sexual violence,” professor Donna Rice Hughes, the president of Enough is Enough and a lead spokeswoman on keeping Internet safety said during the briefing. 
    “(Obscenity) includes lewd exhibition of the genitals, close ups of graphic sex acts and deviant activities such as group sex, bestiality and excretory functions,” Hughes said. 
    Hughes said that the laws do not criminalize the “soft-core” pornography found in some movies and on TV for adults, but it is not legal for children. 
    “For 15 years, kids have been spoon-fed easy access to Internet pornography; right in the privacy of their own homes or through any electronic device,” Hughes said. “Because obscenity laws have not been enforced, illegal adult pornography has flooded and polluted the Internet.”
    Hughes said the reach of adult pornography has grown and has extended to “epidemic proportions.”
    Research has proven that 40 percent of first-time Internet porn views occur unintentionally while searching the Internet through a search engine. Another 12 percent come from misspelled words in Web site names. The average age when Americans first view pornography is now between 8- and 11-years-old, Hughes said. 
    Despite the unlawful nature of hardcore pornography, the coalition said obscene material has a severely negative affect on consumers – and on the actresses involved. 
    ‘Porn destroys human lives’
    Former porn movie actress Shelly Luben, founder and director of an outreach group to those working in the adult film industry offering a variety of support and a transition out of the industry, said that the adult film industry is a hostile and volatile industry for its performers. 
    Sixty-six (66) percent of actors within the porn industry contract herpes and 70 percent of the sexually transmitted infections contracted in the industry occur in women, she said.
    Luben was a pornography performer for 12 years, during which she contracted herpes, Human Papilloma Virus and battled cervical cancer. She spent eight years recovering from her time in the industry and in 2008 founded the Pink Cross Foundation to minister to others still in the industry. 
    “I have suffered much at the hands of the porn industry,” Luben said. “Porn destroys human lives and is destroying our nation. And I am proof of that.”
    Mary Anne Layden, a psychotherapist and director of education of the Sexual Trauma and Psychopathology Program at the Center for Cognitive Therapy of the University of Pennsylvania has treated several patients suffering from pornography addiction.
    “They would watch things being done to women that they would not want done to the women they love. It psychologically destabilizes them to violate their own innate sense of justice, fairness and the golden rule and reduces their own self-respect,” Layden said. 
    Layden said the American Psychiatric Association has added hypersexual disorder to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) used to diagnose psychiatric and psychological disorders. 
    “Pornography robs men of their masculinity, of their psychological health, of their self-respect, of their greatness. … It then robs their family, their community and their country of all that they could have offered,” she said. 
    The group, meanwhile, is asking every member of the House and Senate to sign a letter to be sent to Attorney General Eric Holder asking him to make obscenity cases a priority for the Justice Department.
    Other speakers at the briefing were: Dr. Sharon Cooper, a forensic pediatrician; Gail Dines, professor of sociology at Wheelock College in Boston; and Laura Lederer, an attorney and leading voice against human trafficking.

     
  • mrqwho 9:51 am on June 18, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    Evangelical leaders say spill raises moral issues 

     

    AP

    BP shares jump on dividend suspension AFP/File – A brown pelican covered with oil from the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, swims at Sandy Point inear …

    By JOHN FLESHER, AP Environmental Writer John Flesher, Ap Environmental Writer Thu Jun 17, 7:53 pm ET

    Leaders of a group that encourages evangelical Christians to care for the environment say the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico raises moral challenges for the country.

    The Revs. Jim Ball and Mitchell Hescox, leaders of the Evangelical Environmental Network, are visiting southern Louisiana to pray with people who have lost jobs because of the spill.

    Joining them is the Rev. Galen Carey of the National Association of Evangelicals.

    Ball says they took a boat ride off the coast Thursday and were saddened by sights of oil-spattered marshes where birds were nesting.

    He says the oil spill is a stain on the nation’s stewardship of God’s creation, and should inspire people of faith to embrace cleaner energy sources. Ball says how the nation responds to the disaster is a matter of values.

     
  • mrqwho 8:16 pm on June 17, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    Beirut — The number of Christians in th… 

    Beirut — The number of Christians in the Middle East is swiftly declining, Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Butros Sfeir warned Nicholas Sarkozy during a meeting with the French president at the Elysee Palace.

    Pope Benedict XVI had warned last week that the Christian community in the Middle East would soon disappear if no solution to regional conflicts was found, while citing rising political Islam and its extreme currents as a threat to Christians and Muslims alike.

    For his part, Sarkozy said Christian presence in the Middle East was a guarantee against the rise extremism.

    Sfeir, who voiced hope for a halt in mass Christian migration, also discussed with the French president the latest developments in bilateral ties between Syria and Lebanon.

    On Tuesday, President Michel Sleiman discussed with his Syrian counterpart Bashar Assad in Damascus the demarcation of Lebanese-Syrian borders and the promotion of bilateral ties underlining the need to "overcome everything that is an obstacle to that."

    The patriarch said France was following up on the Syrian-Lebanese ties as he highlighted French support to Lebanon.

    Last month, Syria and Lebanon kicked off a series of meetings between joint delegations to reassess bilateral agreements between both countries and the role of the Higher Syrian-Lebanese Council.

    Sleiman and Prime Minister Saad Hariri have followed up on the joint committee meetings that led to the ratification of 15 memorandums and two executive programs on Monday.

    Syria and Lebanon only established formal diplomatic relations in October 2008 but maintained the Higher Syrian Lebanese Council.

    Syrian troops entered Lebanon during its 1975-90 Civil War and remained for the next 15 years, with Damascus exercising effective political control on the country.

    The troops were withdrawn in 2005 after the assassination of former Lebanese Prime minister Rafik Hariri. Syria was widely blamed for the killing, but has denied any involvement.

    "France always stood on the side of Lebanon and supported its projects," Sfeir added.

    Sfeir’s visit to France comes ahead of a national dialogue session scheduled for Thursday to discuss a national defense strategy, a disputed issue between March 14 parties and Hizbullah’s led opposition.

    Sfeir, along with March 14 parties, demand that the possession of weapons as well as war and peace decisions be restricted to the Lebanese state, while Hizbullah and its allies insist that the Resistance is needed alongside the Lebanese Army to defend the country against Israeli threats.

    Asked whether he received assurances from the French President against a potential Israeli aggression Sfeir said the issue "is not in Sarkozy’s hands" despite France’s support to Lebanon.

     
  • mrqwho 9:18 pm on May 9, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    Is Gog of Magog the end of the world? 

       Studding prophecies it can be a brain eater went we do not open our minds and do not fallow what people have to said and take it for granted we need to read with our own eyes and let God wisdom speak to us and fallow what God really say is the reality of events .   Their were so many prophets in the past that talk about one Nation Israel to turn to God and stop their sins , one of this prophets was Ezekiel . In times of conquer from Assyrians into the times of roman the situation was confusion even as we read today Also there were other lands and nations as Egypt but those lands did never came be as big . Why ?  Simple their invaders first the Assyrians Babylonians Persians Romans Greek . Today is been hard for bible scholars to make their minds on what really happen and some make conclusions some of this event in the book of Ezekiel is for the future Generation at the end of the world  . Ezekiel 38-39 talks about God of Magots  and the conclusion giving to this interpretation is for the future or end times . Well for me is a different story tale and I have my own conclusion also . I don’t like to study prophecies  listen watch others telling what is going to happen in the future at the end of the world to come with the second coming of Jesus its just like  I m up to a science project and the Bible is not a science project or even hard to understand went we open ours hearth and humble our selves to accept what God talk to us . For me the bible is the living word of God . I like to read story in the old testament because I found very interesting reading about all this kings of Israel  i can have a picture of it in my brains and feel what their feel . So reading in chronological order I make the picture in my mind of the Jews people of that time the more I read the more come more clear this vivid picture .their where the center of the earth  with God to their side in which most the time God punish them for being sinners they want to do what other people around the promise land do but God do not want his people be corrupted by them . God use the prophets not to tell about the future but to warm them about what may happen if they do not turn to God , he want his people love him in freedom and not because they was force to it  to understand he is God and not other God is about God.He (God) want them as pure like a virgin only touch by his creator . Prophets stand between kings and people what God says for the kings it also what the kings say . Because their sin God sent them to exile conquest by Assyrians then Babylonians ect but still they did not change for good .worse they adopt more and more corruption . The cities around the land of Israel they were not organize because the conquer as small they were they multiply in different factions even to the point went the Israel people came back from exile they found this small groups in their land . The Jews people do not want nothing to do with them because God says not . They were from North to south from east to west and in this particular situation their neighbors became a threat to Israel and this is what Ezekiel prophecies are about  in chapter 38-39 . For example descendants of Assyrian mix with Jews became Samarians even into the days of Jesus they do not mix together because they were not pure Jews they were mix and because the time of conflicts between them Jews , Samaritans and others a time for clean the house has come . Another example is the cleansing of wives where was giving orders to reject any woman that is not a Jew  their enemies do not like this and they came from every where every corner of the world jealous of the Jews because they came back star building they own temple again and spell this people none Jews  away  so their conspire to attack Israel from the four corners of the earth . The time was unique because it was not rival as Babylonians for example only prophets as Ezekiel knew this happen because God tell them   . Well the rest is history God give victor to his people while they clean everything away from the holy land of God   . Well this is the end of this story around 38-39 of the Book of Ezekiel I may be wrong or May be not It may be you are right it may be not only God knows not one else.

     
  • mrqwho 5:32 pm on April 26, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

      Whitehall is enslaved by the jarg… 

     

    Whitehall is enslaved by the jargon of management-speak, says Philip Johnston .

    Published: 4:24PM BST 26 Apr 2010

    Comments 18 | Comment on this article

    Link to this video

    What was particularly depressing about the Foreign Office memo concerning the Pope’s visit to Britain was not so much the breathtaking puerility of its contents as the realisation that another great department of state had succumbed to the jargon-filled rubbish imported from the world of management consultancy.

    Given that an invading army of consultants has descended on Whitehall these past 13 years, it is hardly surprising that its language and methods came along in the baggage train. But why on earth so many ostensibly intelligent people in the Civil Service adopted them as their own is anyone’s guess – and you might have hoped for better from the Foreign Office.

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    The fiasco surrounding preparations for Pope Benedict’s state visit, the first to this country by a pontiff (John Paul’s trip here 28 years ago was a pastoral one) stems directly from the steady infusion of this culture into the public sector. Steven Mulvain, the hapless 23-year-old official who has taken the rap for the mess, is in some ways its victim, which is probably why he has avoided the sack. Not long out of university, he must have been the most junior member of a team charged with organising the papal visit. The reason it came up with such outlandish ideas, like asking the Pope to open an abortion clinic or to lend his name to a brand of condoms, was because it was deemed necessary to think, as they say in consultancy-land, "out of the box."

    To this end, the Papal Visit Team conducted a "brainstorming" session at which far-fetched and thoroughly disrespectful suggestions were thrown around when all that was required was some down-to earth, level-headed planning. After all, one of the things this country does well is the state visit, with all the associated pomp and circumstance. There are plenty of people who know what to do without heaping embarrassment upon the country and its prospective guests.

    You only have to look at the chart accompanying the memo to see how far Whitehall has been sucked into the maw of corporate claptrap. Under the heading Papal Visit Stakeholders, is a diagram with two axes. The vertical denotes positive and negative and the horizontal influential and not influential. Along each of these axes are the names of those whom the Pope should meet and those he would be advised to avoid.

    Anyone opening a government policy document from almost any department over the past 13 years will be familiar with this sort of bunkum – the inter-departmental organograms, policy onions, spidergraphs and incomprehensible talk of silos and synergies. Over the years, the public sector has been told it must be leaner, more efficient and more responsive to consumer needs. But all it did was embrace the terminology of the private sector without understanding it. Moreover, a company can indulge itself in a bit of "blue sky thinking" in the hope it might throw up the odd original thought without ruining the business’s international reputation.

    There is always a role in government for people who look at different possible futures (though when Lord Birt was brought into Downing Street to carry out "blue-skies thinking" for Tony Blair, little good came of it). We are poor at long-term planning in this country and too fixated on short-term problems. Politicians are terrified of taking the decisions that need to be taken now to forestall a crisis 20 years hence and which require the sort of thinking that will always be controversial if made public. But such an approach is not needed to organise a papal visit; and it is indicative of how Whitehall has picked up the wrong end of the stick that anyone thought that it might be.

    There was a time when a brainstorm was considered a negative phenomenon; what you wanted an official to have was a brainwave. Brainstorming, a group creative activity invented in the 1950s, is supposed to generate a large number of ideas for the solution to a problem, though research has shown it is actually less effective than individuals working independently. As the Papal Visit Team has demonstrated in spectacular fashion, it is possible to have lots of ideas and for every one of them to be fatuous. But why blame the junior staff if this sort activity is encouraged by senior officials? The results were circulated around Whitehall not as a joke but as the outcome of the task that was set. Certainly, senior officials were appalled when they saw the memo. But they should ask themselves this: who allowed such a culture to get a grip on the Civil Service?

    The biggest irony is that the public sector has adopted management-speak without taking on board any of the financial disciplines that underpin the private sector. So we now have the worst of all worlds: a state sector which has expanded by 800,000 employees since 1997 and costs more than ever to run, but which cannot do the basics right, like arranging the welcome for an honoured guest without causing deep offence and triggering a diplomatic incident.

     
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