Archive for February, 2011


Leadership is male?

The Complete Collection (R2 DVD)

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In the Anglican Church, the seemingly endless debate on first women priest and lately women bishops has perhaps clouded the public perception of Christians in general. While giving a premise for the comedy series “The Vicar of Dibley”, the majority of people still think that the Church is largely irrelevant despite it’s attempt to get up to date.

 

Many independent christian fellowships in the UK have gone down the route of having women elders … while ignoring the outline of the role given by Paul to Timothy. Some have tried to manufacture a compromise position whereby married couples become eldership teams with both Husband and Wife becoming church elders.

 

Why has the church travelled down the road of equality decades after the rest of society? Was the Church wrong in the past? Does the church blame Paul for being too paternalistic?

Is it the Holy Spirit who is leading and guiding? Or is it the spirit of the age we live in?

 

Pastor Rick Warren at Saddleback Church.

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From the Apprising Ministries website:

http://apprising.org/2011/02/22/the-rise-of-chrislam/

Quote of the Day: “Before we “shake your hand” in responding to your letter, we ask forgiveness of the All-Merciful One and of the Muslim community around the world.” – Rick Warren in a speech to Muslims. This weekend, the Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church in Houston along with Christian communities in Atlanta, Seattle, and Detroit will initiate a series of sermons that have been designed to produce an ecumenical reconciliation between Christianity and Islam. In addition to the sermons, the Sunday school lessons will center on the inspired teachings of the Prophet Mohammad. Qurans will be placed in the pews next to the Bibles. (Online source)

 

oh dear … instead of rescuing people from spiritual darkness, are we to follow Rick Warren in promoting Islamic Religion and teaching? Are Christianity and Islam ‘sister’ faiths or are they mutually exclusive? Is only one of them correct and the other completely wrong?

If Christianity is the only true faith, what does that say about Rick Warren’s ecumenicism?

 

Bsa-religion-question-1983-2006

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I am known to be a bit doom’n’gloom but while the graph shows a decline in Christianity (it may actually be an increase in honesty!) maybe things aren’t as bad as we imagine?

I add an article from the BBC News website with a link below.

What do you think?

Census: How religious is the UK?

Hands round a bible

A publicity drive has started for the census, now just five weeks away, but the survey is being criticised for its question on religion. So is it even possible to accurately measure how religious the UK is?

According to the Gospel of Luke, it was a Roman census that sent Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem, where she gave birth to Jesus Christ.

And more than 2,000 years later, the same kind of counting exercise is being used to gauge the religious make-up of the UK.

According to the last census 10 years ago, more than two-thirds of people in Britain regarded themselves as Christian – 72% in England and Wales, and 65% in Scotland.

More than 1.5 million in England and Wales, more than 3% of the population, said they were Muslim and nearly eight million ticked “no religion”. There were also 390,000 self-proclaimed Jedi.


 

Is it a leading question?

Sample Census form

“It fairly allows you to answer it because you can say ‘no religion’ but if you wanted to make it as neutral as possible, you might ask ‘Which of these would you describe yourself as?’ says Stephan Shakespeare of YouGov.

“It does have a slight assumption, although not a strong one, but these wordings do make a difference.”

But five weeks before the next census day, Sunday 27 March, some groups are questioning whether the religious numbers are at all accurate, and could ever be.

They prefer to use the British Social Attitudes survey, carried out annually by the National Centre for Social Research, which paints a picture of a less-religious country, with 51% describing themselves as non-religious and 43% as Christian.

The religious question in the census was first introduced in 2001, as a voluntary option. In some other countries such as France, state questions about race, ethnicity or religion are not permitted.

But in the UK, the vast majority of people answered it despite not having to, although the reappearance of the same question in the forthcoming census has prompted complaints.

Question 20 in England and Wales will say: “What is your religion?” In Scotland, question 13 will ask: “What religion, religious denomination or body do you belong to?”

The British Humanist Association (BHA) believes they are leading questions that actively encourage people to tick a religious answer, thereby inflating the numbers, especially among Christians because many people hold a weak affiliation.

If you were baptised but had not been to church since then, you might be inclined to say you were still Christian, says Naomi Phillips, the head of public affairs at the BHA. She says the actual number of secular people is probably double the number the census recorded.

“Many people tick Christian but wouldn’t consider themselves to be religious if you asked them otherwise. And this is used to justify maintaining faith schools and used by local authorities to make their planning decisions to allocate resources to public services.

“It means more budgets go to Christian groups and the needs of non-religious groups are not taken into account.”

The BHA begins a poster campaign next week on buses and at railway stations that urges people who are non-religious to “for God’s sake, say so”.

Ms Phillips says it would be preferable not to have the question, because it’s hard to get an accurate picture.

“It’s very difficult to measure. There are so many different things to measure – by belief, practice, whether you believe in God, whether you attend places of worship, whether you pray.”

The census question pre-supposes you have a religion, she says, and a two-part question like they have in Northern Ireland would be fairer, which differentiates between your faith at birth and your faith now.

The humanists are not alone in wanting the question changed. The Foundation for Holistic Spirituality (F4HS) wants it easier for those people who have a spiritual but non-religious tendency to answer the question.

But the Office for National Statistics, which collects the data, says the question is one of a number that allows people to fully express their identity in the way they consider most appropriate.

“The religion question measures the number of people who self-identify an affiliation with a religion, irrespective of the extent of their religious belief or practice,” says a spokesman.

It’s a question that is worded in the most sensitive way possible, says historian and broadcaster Nick Barratt, especially with the subtle change of emphasis introduced in the new census – respondents are now faced with “no religion” as the top option to tick, rather than “none”.

“This [change] makes it more secular, and easier for people to identify with the question and where they are coming from. There’s the question of faith and belief as opposed to religion. It allows other beliefs to get in. If you said ‘none’, it is like you have no belief or faith, but ‘no religion’ means you may have.”

He expects this change could mean fewer Christians this time, but it’s an important question, he says, because it shows how richly diverse some communities are.

It also has a practical purpose, says the ONS. The results are used to improve understanding of communities, it says, and to provide public services, monitor discrimination and develop policy to best cater for people’s religious backgrounds.

But what is the true picture? Whichever survey is accurate, it’s clear that many people in Britain still feel an affinity with Christianity, even if they haven’t attended church in many years.

Average Sunday attendance in the Church of England was 960,000 in 2008, a figure which has been falling for a number of years. A survey by Christian charity Tearfund suggested it was one in 10.

Yet nearly 40 million people in England and Wales, 72%, identified themselves as Christian. Other surveys suggest the majority of people pray and believe in God, even if they don’t regularly go to church.

Christianity should not be measured simply in terms of Sunday worshippers, which are falling in number, says a Church of England spokesman, because the numbers of people going at other times remains high.

“The 72% figure seems to be constant and not decreasing. What’s interesting for us is the social mobility and social change. People might not go on a Sunday to church any more but might go on a Saturday or Thursday or they might go less often. It’s a change in how much time they have available.

“We have made worship available online, in the morning and in the evening. There’s probably more people engaging with the church than ever before.”

Christianity is a religion that people identify with, he adds, regardless of their level of church-going.

But it’s impossible to quantify the numbers, says pollster Stephan Shakespeare, founder of YouGov.

“It’s very hard to make an absolute measurement. You have to get an ideal definition about what being a Christian means or what being religious means. But what is useful is to ask the same question as last time and see the change.”

So even if a question is slightly flawed, it’s better to stick with it.

A Christian’s view

The question does seem to imply that you have a religion already, says Anne Atkins, author and contributor to BBC Radio 4’s Thought for the Day.

“But that’s ameliorated by the very first option being ‘none’, so it’s not something I’d get very exercised about.

“The 72% figure for Christians is higher than I initially expected. If I had shut my eyes and considered how many people in my street are Christians, I probably wouldn’t have realised it was more than half.

“But if I had actually asked them in person then perhaps it would have been. Who am I to say if someone is Christian or not?”

Holier than thou

Bible
  • Outside London, the counties with the highest proportion of Christians were Durham, Merseyside and Cumbria, all with 82% or more
  • The districts with the highest proportions of Christians were all in the North West: St Helens, Wigan and Copeland (Cumbria) each with 86% or more
  • The number of people who stated Jedi was 390,000

Source: 2001 census

See the actual article below. The comments on the BBC website are closed so you can comment here instead.

This set of images was gathered by User:Dcoetz...

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from:
http://www.apibs.org/chs/2196.htm

Beloved, we must not forget that it is a token of God’s having come to his church and of his having given her a joyful day, when the children share in it. Luther was greatly encouraged when he found that the children met together for prayer. He said, “God will hear them. The devil himself cannot defeat us now the children begin to pray.” It is very beautiful to read Mr. Whitefield’s remarks about his sermons at Moorfields and elsewhere in London, when mud and stones were cast upon him, and yet a group of children always surrounded his pulpit; and though some of them were hurt, yet he noticed how bravely they stood by him through the service. He thought it a token for good that children drank in his words. When God moves the children to earnestness, he will soon move their fathers and mothers. When boys and girls meet to praise God, do not despise their little meetings, nor say, “It is only a parcel of children.” The children are in God’s esteem the most precious portion of the race. He sets high store by his little ones, and he has set a special curse upon those who offend one of the little ones that believe in him. Jesus, Master, come, we pray thee! Come in thy lowly pomp, in all thy gentleness, and grace, and then will the children of these modern days sing loud Hosannas to thy name, like those in thy temple of old.

I want you to notice in our text, that our Savior was received with the shout of Hosanna! The best interpretation I can give is—”Save, oh, save! Save, oh, save!” Different nations have different ways of expressing their good will to their monarchs. A Roman would have shouted, “Io triumphe!” We sing, “God save our gracious Queen.” The Persians said, “O King, live for ever.” The Jews cried, “Hosanna!” “Save,” or, “God save the King!” The French have their “Vivas,” by which they mean, “Long live the man.” Hosanna is tantamount to all these. It is a shout of homage, welcome, and loyalty. It wishes wealth, health, and honor to the king. In the Saxon we say, “Hurrah”; in Hebrew, “Hosanna.” That mighty shout startled all the streets of the old city: “Hosanna, Hosanna, the King is come. Save him, O Lord! Save us through him! Long live the King!” While it was a shout of homage, it was also a prayer to the King. “Save, Lord; save us, O King! O King, born to conquer and to save, deliver us!” It was, moreover, a prayer for him—”God save the King, God bless and prosper his majesty.” Prayer also shall be made for him continually; and daily shall he be praised.” We never cease to pray, “Thy kingdom come; thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” Let us then cry, Hosanna, making it at once a loyal shout; a prayer to our King, and a prayer for him. All these things appear in the benediction which follows: “Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.”

Would it be amiss if we were to indulge in a hearty shout for our King? May we never grow enthusiastic? May we never overleap the bounds of prim propriety? Shall we never cry Hallelujah! Shall no Hosannas burst from our lips? Surely, if our King will come into the midst of his church again, and end these black days of doubt, we must and will shout, or else the very stones will cry out, Yes, O Lord Jesus, thou shalt have our Vivas: we will shout, “Long live the King!

“All hail the power of Jesus’ name!

Let angels prostrate fall.”

Nor will we cease to pray to thee! Some of you that have not yet been saved by him will, I trust, say, “Save me, Lord! O Jesus, save me!” You will not disturb but delight the present meeting if you will in your hearts cry, “Lord, save me!” Remember the cry of two blind beggars on this very journey of our Lord, and how he opened their eyes when they cried, “Thou son of David, have mercy on us.”

Will we not also put up prayer for our Lord this morning? Will not each one in his pew now breathe a petition to God, saying, “Father, glorify thy Son”? Thou hast said that the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand: make it so. O Jehovah, thou art well pleased with Jesus; show thy good pleasure towards him by giving him to conquer ten thousand times ten thousand hearts. Let a nation be born in a day. May he reign for ever and ever! Hosanna! Hosanna!

C. H. Spurgeon

Mice with different coat colors.

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Mice were genetically engineered to be super-stressed. The poor mice were soooo stressed they lost the hair on their backs. So, some scientists at UCLA  produced a drug that could sort out their stress problems.

Lo and behold, it sorted out their stress problems. However, these mice were mixed in with ordinary mice. The scientists came back a week later and couldn’t tell the difference! The bald mice had regrown their hair.

Wow. That is really GOOD NEWS!

They kept their hair for 4 months. When that is converted to a human life span it equates to 15-20 years!!!

That’ll do me. 😉

Wha’dya think Greg?

 

Benny Hinn Training for Ministry Conference. C...

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Have the discernment brigade been wrong about Benny Hinn all along?

The man in a white suit who has crusades all over the world and has an estimated income into his ministry of between $100 Million and $200 Million every year has a large number of critics who spend large amounts of time online and have acres of printed text against him.

From unproven faith healings, the extravagant expenses through to the alleged affair with Paula White, were they all wrong about him?

Whichever Christian TV channel you watch, it is almost inevitable that somewhere in the schedules, you will find “This is Your Day” which televises Benny’s crusades while also interviewing other Christian celebs in the studio. They usually have a book or other product to plug too.

I was surprised to see Benny absolutely slam Todd Bentley last year on his TV show. Who’d have thought it?

So … were they all wrong about Benny?

Let’s be honest … he has a very large income every year into his ministry. No one takes in as much money as Benny from poor African Christians. 😦

tozer quote

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Pragmatism Goes to Church by A.W. Tozer,

God Tells The Man Who Cares”, from The Best Of A.W. Tozer, 1980, pgs. 254-256

It is not by accident that the philosophy of pragmatism around the turn of the century achieved such wide popularity in the United States. The American temperament was perfect for it, and still is. Pragmatism has a number of facets and can mean various things to various people, but basically it is the doctrine of the utility of truth.

For the pragmatist there are no absolutes; nothing is absolutely good or absolutely true. Truth and morality float on a sea of human experience. If an exhausted swimmer can lay hold of a belief or an ethic, well and good; it may keep him afloat till he can get to shore; then it only encumbers him, so he tosses it away. He feels no responsibility to cherish truth for its own sake. It is there to serve him; he has no obligation to serve it. Truth is to use.

Whatever is useful is true for the user, though for someone else it may not be useful, so not true. The truth of any idea is its ability to produce desirable results. If it can show no such results it is false. That is pragmatism stripped of its jargon.

Now, since practicality is a marked characteristic of the American people they naturally lean strongly toward the philosophy of utility. Whatever will get things done immediately with a maximum of efficiency and a minimum of undesirable side effects must be good. The proof is that it succeeds; no one wants to argue with success.

It is useless to plead for the human soul, to insist that what a man can do is less important than what he is. When there are wars to be won, forests to be cleared, rivers to be harnessed, factories to be built, planets to be visited, the quieter claims of the human spirit are likely to go unregarded. The spectacular drama of successful deeds leaves the beholder breathless. Deeds you can see. Factories, cities, highways, rockets are there in plain sight, and they got there by the practical application of means to ends. So who cares about ideals and character and morals? These things are for poets, nice old ladies and philosophers. Let’s get on with the job.

Now all this has been said, and said better, a few dozen times before, and I would not waste space on it here except that this philosophy of pragmatism has had and is having a powerful influence upon Christianity in the middle years of this century. And whatever touches the faith of Christ immediately becomes a matter of interest to me and, I hope, to my readers also. The nervous compulsion to get things done is found everywhere among us. We are affected by a kind of religious tic, a deep inner necessity to accomplish something that can be seen and photographed and evaluated in terms of size, numbers, speed and distance.

We travel a prodigious number of miles, talk to unbelievably large crowds, publish an astonishing amount of religious literature, collect huge sums of money, build vast numbers of churches and amass staggering debts for our children to pay. Christian leaders compete with each other in the field of impressive statistics, and in so doing often acquire peptic ulcers, have nervous breaks or die of heart attacks while still relatively young. Right here is where the pragmatic philosophy comes into its own.

It asks no embarrassing questions about the wisdom of what we are doing or even about the morality of it. It accepts our chosen ends as right and good and casts about for efficient means and ways to get them accomplished. When it discovers something that works it soon finds a text to justify it, “consecrates” it to the Lord and plunges ahead. Next a magazine article is written about it, then a book, and finally the inventor is granted an honorary degree.

After that any question about the scripturalness of things or even the moral validity of them is completely swept away. You cannot argue with success. The method works; ergo, it must be good. The weakness of all this is its tragic shortsightedness. It never takes the long view of religious activity, indeed it dare not do so, but goes cheerfully on believing that because it works it is both good and true. It is satisfied with present success and shakes off any suggestion that its works may go up in smoke in the day of Christ.

As one fairly familiar with the contemporary religious scene, I say without hesitation that a part, a very large part, of the activities carried on today in evangelical circles are not only influenced by pragmatism but almost completely controlled by it. Religious methodology is geared to it; it appears large in our youth meetings; magazines and books constantly glorify it; conventions are dominated by it; and the whole religious atmosphere is alive with it. What shall we do to break its power over us?

The answer is simple. We must acknowledge the right of Jesus Christ to control the activities of His church. The New Testament contains full instructions, not only about what we are to believe but what we are to do and how we are to go about doing it. Any deviation from those instructions is a denial of the Lordship of Christ. I say the answer is simple, but it is not easy for it requires that we obey God rather than man, and that always brings down the wrath of the religious majority. It is not a question of knowing what to do; we can easily learn that from the Scriptures. It is a question of whether or not we have the courage to do it.

At last! Some GOOD news!!!

Well, maybe.

I can readily be accused of being a bit doom’n’gloom.

Well, this thread is for good news. The church I go to is growing! Not as quickly as we’d like maybe but it’s growing.

People are definitely moving on in their faith and indeed many recently got baptised and joined in full membership … this is really very good news.

I hope to see some of them in the members meetings … 😛

If you have some good news, something to encourage us all … please send a link or post a little testimony!

I look forward to hearing the news!

The Shrinking Church

Distribution of Christianity

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In some parts of the world, we find that Christians are suffering for their faith. In others, we find that the Church is living very comfortably, but is declining in numbers. Many movements have begun to try and stem the tide, and even make it go in reverse.

From seeker sensitive, purpose-driven through the Hillsongs of this world all the way to extreme prophetic, many Christians have jumped on the various bandwagons that have trundled by with perhaps the best motives, but with very little thought. Indeed, thinking is often left up to Church Leadership. When it comes to church attendance, with the best will in the world, Leaders who depend on a church salary will be very keen on all the “church growth” strategies promoted by the sizable mega-church organisations from the United States.

Which type of church is the normal type of church we should aspire to be a part of?

  1. A persecuted Church.
  2. A mega-church.
  3. A comfortable, well-off, growing church.

What is most important to us when we choose a church fellowship? (for example when we move into a new town or city)

  1. Systematic Bible-teaching
  2. Hospitality/fellowship
  3. The practise of spiritual gifts such as healing/prophecy/tounges
  4. Evangelism
  5. Discipleship

Does it matter or is it all down to personal preference?

Jesus is considered by scholars such as Weber ...

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In 1904 there was the world famous Welsh Revival. 1000’s were saved, but all we are left with now are songs. But even the songs have gone out of fashion.

With 2 world wars more than decimating the church of manpower between 1914 and 1945, it is no wonder that churches became “lifeboat” churches … women and children first … but is it only because of this? The permissive 60’s didn’t exactly encourage church going either but it is something more. I believe that lazy bible teaching married to a complete disregard for the person and work of the Holy Spirit has led to a decline in relevance of and respect for the church and therefore God Himself.

In our day, we are faced with some very difficult choices. In an attempt to be relevant and credible, the church has compromised with society. Non-christian agendas dominate thinking to the extent that the word “fundamentalist” is a dirty word when applied to people of faith. Followers of Islam are considered to be terrorists who want to kill any non-muslim. Followers of Christ who are fundamentalist are clearly to be feared and hated as they are obviously extremist, homophobic, sexist, religious bigots.

The minute you tell someone you are a Christian, that is now the typical mental picture that someone forms of you.

Unfortunately, recent court cases relating to how Christians and the Gay community relate to one another has emphasised this kind of attitude in the minds of bystanders. Christians cannot now expect to obey their consciences if they run any kind of business that caters to the public directly. From B&B owners to relate councillors, Christians in the United Kingdom are being slowly pressurised to compromise or quit.

There comes a time, according to the Apostle Peter when you have to stand up to the civil authorities for what is right. In our church, we are discussing the operation of the Church in the book of Acts. I believe that focus is too narrow, and we should not only look at the very early Church in Jerusalem (which had stunningly quick growth) but also the early gentile Churches that Saint Paul established on his missionary journeys. He got himself into all sorts of trouble, but he kept his eyes on Jesus the whole way.

We are so used to retreating on all fronts and backing down rather than stand up for what is right that it is little wonder that the Church is in sharp decline. The trouble is, we like an easy life. We don’t want to cause trouble. We are comfortable. We are lazy. We are lukewarm.

Is anyone from the Church in Wales ready to stand up for God and say that Sin is still Sin and we all need to repent to Father God?