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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Book under fire in Westport

What's OK for 14-year-olds to read? A parent is asking a Westport middle school to remove the book The Lovely Bones from the school library.

Lynne Shain, assistant superintendent for curriculum and staff development, said the parent of a sixth-grade girl at Coleytown Middle filed a challenge form requesting the book be removed from the library.

The committee, of which she is chair, interviewed the school library media specialist, the challenging parent, and a Westport resident who used to be an American Library Association member with experience in challenged materials, she said....

The parent, Shain said, read “The Lovely Bones,” and thought it was right for an adult audience but was not appropriate for a sixth-grader.

In the first chapter of the book, published in 2002, she said, a 14-year-old girl is walking home from school when she is abducted, raped and killed by a neighbor.

“The author shows amazing restraint considering the graphic nature of the events,” she said.

The parent felt it could upset her daughter, Shain said, and it was beyond her maturity level.

The parents have acknowledged the students at Coleytown Middle have a range of reading skills, she said, and have considered with the committee other ways to flag the book so readers could be counseled if the “frightening material” upset them.

“The Lovely Bones” is also available at the Westport Public Library, but Library Director Maxine Bleiweis said the book has not been challenged there.

Shain said she and others cannot remember a book in a school library being challenged.

Of course, I'm not very surprised that no one can remember a challenge to a book. After all, this is Connecticut! Notice the placement of the words "frightening material" within quotes. That tells you all you need to know...

Read more here at Westport Now.

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Monday, December 18, 2006

What Was The Star of Bethlehem?

I was sent this site by a friend and found it very interesting - a scientific examination of the Star of Bethlehem, or at least a candidate for the title. What was the Star? Not sure if this site gives the answer but it is real food for thought, including a conclusion that the Birth of Jesus did actually take place on December 25, 2 B.C.

The problem with a planet stopping is not what you might think. The problem is not that planets can't stop. Just the opposite. The problem is that all planets are always stopped to the eye of a human observer. The sky moves above Earth at half the speed of the hour hand on a common clock. Its movement is imperceptible to the naked eye. So, if all stars are always stopped, what can Matthew have meant?

Perhaps you have already anticipated the key to this final mystery: retrograde motion. An astronomer tracking the movement of planets through the star field watches not so much on the scale of minutes, but on the longer scale of days, weeks and months. On this scale of time, Jupiter did stop. On December 25 of 2 BC as it entered retrograde, Jupiter reached full stop in its travel through the fixed stars. Magi viewing from Jerusalem would have seen it stopped in the sky above the little town of Bethlehem.


Worth reading...

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Quiet blogging until January

Hey Loyal Readers, we'll be doing light blogging until the end of the year owing to the demands of the season. What season, you ask? You know which one... the Holiday That Dares Not Speak Its Name.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Holocaust

You must take time out of your busy day and read an incredible piece of personal reflection by a Jewish man about the Holocaust and what is happening in Iran. The madness is happening again and we must work and pray against it.

My grandfather and his sister had many relatives. The exact count is not known. My grandfather used to know, but, as time went by and his mind weakened, his estimates started to vary. Somewhere around 20 seems to be about the right number. You can count 16 in the group photo from 1940, or is it 1941, that I have seen. You only get 8, I think, if you count the names mentioned in the yellowed letter. Yes, I think it’s 8 names that the neighbor lists as my grandfather’s relatives who were lined up outside the village and shot by Germans and Ukrainians in 1941. It’s 8 if you just count the names, but then the letter does refer to “and everyone else.” I don’t remember the names. I haven’t seen the letter for a while. My grandmother had it, but she has given it to a museum. I live on a different continent now. This doesn’t mean these people never were. First, they lived, and then they were dead. It is a fact. I had relatives, before I was born. It is a fact. I have seen the letter.

Read the whole thing here; it's called "How My Grandfather Invented the Holocaust."

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Connecticut Town Defies Atheists' Demands

Another misuse of the First Amendment, as atheists seek to stop the Town of Griswold from ringing church bells on a property owned by the town. One of the people protesting the bells said:

"If you read your Constitution, government is not supposed to promote any religion... [w]hat are the bells in the Baptist Church doing? Promoting religion."


This is what 70 years of revisionist education have produced. If one were to actually read the First Amendment to the Constitution, one would find that it prohibits Congress from making any law respecting an "establishment of religion."

If one were to actually read American history and not the "official" versions of it, one who find that the Congress, in 1787, encouraged religion in the Northwest Ordinance, saying:

Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.


Before you jump on me, the history buffs and atheists out there need to know that I am aware that this legislation was passed under the old Articles of Confederation and not our current Constitution. But it's a good expression of the mindset of the generation who drew up the Bill of Rights.

So would you like to read something that was written by President Washington during the first Administration under the current Constitution? It's his Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1789:

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; —for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; —for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; —for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; —for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; —and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; —to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; —to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; —to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; —to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; —and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best. (Emphasis added.)


Notice that Washington: (1) clearly is talking about the God of the Bible and not Allah or Amaterasu; (2) asks us to pray for the promotion of true religion - obviously in context he means Protestant Christianity (sorry to our Catholic friends of whom there were so few here in the US in 1789); (3) says it is the duty of all to worship this God; and, (4) asks us to pray for the forgiveness of our national sins by this same God.

We could also talk at length about the evolution of church-state jurisprudence in contravention of the plain language of the Constitutional text. Those interested in reading more on this can see David Barton's article on the separation of church and state here at the Wallbuilders website. A great resource at this time of year.

Cheers to Griswold, and a Merry Christmas while I'm at it!

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Monday, December 11, 2006

A punk for God

Here's an interesting profile of Jay Bakker, the son of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker of PTL fame.

More recently, he started his own church called Revolution, which met in an Atlanta barroom with its own attitude. It's the subject of a new documentary series, "One Punk Under God," subtitled "The Prodigal Son of Jim and Tammy Faye," starting Wednesday on the Sundance Channel.

Starting a church may be the last thing expected of Bakker, who was profoundly disillusioned by what happened to his parents.

"For a while, I thought God hated me, and the church hated me, seeing everything that my parents went through and going through prison," Bakker says. "I left the ministry completely and didn't want anything to do with Christianity or the church because I just felt judged all the time. I didn't feel comfortable with God in my life."

Eventually, he "started realizing that there's so much more in the Bible about love and hope than there is about condemning and judging," Bakker says. "It drove me to want to make a difference. "

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Saturday, December 09, 2006

Who will be Connecticut's new Chief Justice?

The weekly legal newspaper The Connecticut Law Tribune is running a story on the various judges who may possibly be the next Chief Justice of Connecticut's Supreme Court. Please pray for this very important decision.

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What's going on with the State Police?

This press release from the Attorney-General's office is nothing short of shocking. With help from the New York State Police, Mr. Blumenthal investigated the Connecticut State Police internal affairs system and it looks like heads are going to roll, or at least be incarcerated...

The full report, detailing some sixty cases, is viewable here as a PDF - and it's a safe bet you'll be hearing about the fallout from this throughout 2007.

Pray for the 1200 men and women of the State Police, the majority of which are of course dedicated public servants and guardians.

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Friday, December 08, 2006

Trends for '07: Learn From Connecticut's Mistakes!


Will our popular Governor expend any political capital to reduce taxes?

Learn from Connecticut's mistakes? Sure, we're always happy to provide the other 49 States the benefit of our accumulated wisdom!

Here's an editorial urging people in Tennessee not to repeat the mistakes of Connecticut. What did we do that was so bad? Oh, yeah - it was that temporary income tax we adopted way back in 1991. Here's a slice:


In 1991, Connecticut adopted a broad-based tax on wages and salaries-the most recent state in America to do so. Fifteen years later, it is clear that adopting the tax was a major blunder. Contrary to promises made by income tax advocates, Connecticut's income tax failed to produce long-term fiscal stability. Instead, the Nutmeg State plunged into a brutal recession that continues to this day.

In response to the recession, the state borrowed heavily and policymakers drained the state's reserve fund. Connecticut legislators then broadened the sales tax base, inflated cigarette taxes, imposed surcharges on Connecticut's corporate tax, hiked energy taxes, implemented a new death tax and increased the income tax itself.

Connecticut's spiraling increase in taxation, started by the addition of an income tax, led to a dismal economy over the last 15 years. Between 1976 and 1991, job growth in the state topped 29 percent. But between 1991 and 2006, job growth was nonexistent. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation recently concluded that since the early 1990s, "no other state has had such stagnation in employment."


Is the new Democratic supermajority going to listen to this sort of thing or are they just going to worry about civil unions and bashing Wal-Mart? What about our extremely popular Republican Governor... would she be willing to expend some political capital to give the people back some of their capital?

Here's another slice:

To make matters worse, young people flee the state in droves. U.S. Census Bureau data shows that in the 1990s, no state in America lost a greater percentage of its 18-to-34-year-olds.

Finally, the harshest condemnation of Connecticut's income tax came from the states that chose not to follow Connecticut's disastrous lead. When the tax passed, Harley T. Duncan, Executive Director of the Federation of Tax Administrators, predicted that "three or four other states" would adopt a state income tax in years to come. Fifteen years later, not one of the nation's income tax free states has followed Connecticut's lead. In fact, Texas, Florida and Tennessee, boast robust economies and remarkable growth largely as a result of remaining free of an income tax.

In the three and half centuries between its founding and 1991, Connecticut became the wealthiest state in the nation per capita without an income tax. Over the last decade and a half, the state's economic fortunes have plummeted. Despite its prime location, highly educated workforce and tradition of innovation, the state has been unable to overcome a tax burden that has ballooned since the adoption of a state income tax.

It's official... Connecticut is now the poster child for "Don't Do This Unless You Want Your State Economy to Tank!"

However, because of the politicization of nearly all aspects of modern life, almost no one in Hartford will dare to act on such an analysis or even mention it... it's not progressive enough. The Courant would rather run pieces about the economic good times that may be ahead because Hartford is now one of the "gayest" cities in the country.

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Thursday, December 07, 2006

Have A Harry Potter Christmas! (Not)

Can anyone tell me why Harry Potter movies are run on TV at "Holiday Time," the Holiday Formerly Known As Christmas? I must have missed the connection between Harry Potter and the Incarnation of God the Son. Frosty's one thing, but now we associate Christmas with Harry? Cut it out.

I quote the immortal American philosopher C. Brown, who said in 1965,

"Isn't there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?"

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Rights of Connecticut Churches Upheld

Interesting decision from the Connecticut Appellate Court (the State's second-highest court) upholding the power of religious institutions over religious employees. In a case in which a Roman Catholic priest was locked out of a church after he claimed he was passed over for promotion because of his race, the Court said,

The constitutional guarantee of the free exercise of religious authority requires secular institutions to defer to the decisions of religious institutions in their employment relations with their religious employees. In broader terms, administrative and judicial intervention in religious employment relationships would violate the constitutional prohibition against civil entanglement in ecclesiastic disputes.... The ministerial exception prevents courts or government agencies from exercising jurisdiction over a religious institution’s actions regarding the employment of its ministers.


This is significant in a day and age when we see increasing encroachment on religious liberty.

Background story here from the Stamford Advocate. Hat tip to the Religion Clause Blog.

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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Christianity Moves South



Christianity Today is running a lengthy excerpt from Philip Jenkins's new book, The New Faces of Christianity: Believing the Bible in the Global South. This is well worth your time as an exploration of how the global center of the faith is moving to the Southern Hemisphere, and how Christians there read the Scriptures. Here's a piece:

In many ways, then, Christian communities in global South nations share certain approaches to the Bible and to biblical authority, and these are sufficient to mark real differences with the outlook common in Europe and North America. Divisions over the nature of biblical authority matter because the weight of numbers within Christianity is shifting so decisively to the churches of the global South. Partly, this is a matter of demographic change and the rapid growth of the relative share of the world's population living in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Since the 1960s, populations have fallen or stagnated in Europe and North America, while global South birth rates have remained far higher—spectacularly so in Africa. Today, there are about two billion Christians, of whom 530 million live in Europe, 510 million in Latin America, 390 million in Africa, and perhaps 300 million in Asia, but those numbers will change substantially in coming decades. By 2025, Africa and Latin America will vie for the title of the most Christian continent. A map of the "statistical center of gravity of global Christianity" shows that center moving steadily southward, from a point in northern Italy in 1800, to central Spain in 1900, to Morocco by 1970, and to a point near Timbuktu today. And the southward trajectory will continue unchecked through the coming century. As Todd Johnson points out, Spanish has since 1980 been the leading language of church membership in the world, and Chinese, Hindi, and Swahili will soon play a much greater role. In our lifetimes, the centuries-long North Atlantic captivity of the church is drawing to an end.

The figures are startling. Between 1900 and 2000, the number of Christians in Africa grew from 10 million to over 360 million, from 10 percent of the population to 46 percent. If that is not, quantitatively, the largest religious change in human history in such a short period, I am at a loss to think of a rival. Today, the most vibrant centers of Christian growth are still in Africa itself, but also around the Pacific Rim, the Christian Arc. Already today, Africans and Asians represent some 30 percent of all Christians, and the proportion will rise steadily. Conceivably, the richest Christian harvest of all might yet be found in China, a nation of inestimable importance to the politics of the coming decades. Some projections suggest that by 2050, China might contain the second-largest population of Christians on the planet, exceeded only by the United States. More confidently, we can predict that by that date, there should be around three billion Christians in the world, of whom only around one-fifth or fewer will be non-Hispanic whites.

The effects of these changes can be witnessed across denominations. The Roman Catholic Church, the world's largest, was the first to feel the impact. Today, two-thirds of its adherents live in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, and that total does not include people of the global South residing in the North. By 2025, that proportion should rise to 75 percent, a fact that will undoubtedly be reflected in future papal elections. The Anglican Communion —historically, the "English" church—is becoming ever more African dominated, so that the Nigerian branch will soon be its largest representative. The Seventh Day Adventist Church also epitomizes these trends. In the 1950s, the church had around a million members, mainly concentrated in the United States. Today, the church claims some fourteen million members, of whom only one million are located in the United States; and among even that American million, a sizable share are of immigrant stock. Of the churches with Euro-American roots, those that are expanding do so by becoming rapidly more Southern in composition. Those that fail to expand retain their Euro-American identity, but they are shrinking perilously in terms of market share. The Orthodox Communion, still firmly rooted in Eastern Europe, offers a worrying model of apparently irreversible demographic decline. Christianity worldwide is booming, but at least in relative terms, "Western" Christianity is stagnating, while the old Eastern Christianity may be facing terminal crisis.


Read the whole thing here.

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Getting off the public housing merry-go-round

The richest 2% of people in the world own half the world's wealth, according to a new study. Obviously studies of this type can be politically motivated, but we are in any case a long ways away from every man sitting under his own vine and his own fig tree.

Is capitalism a problem or an answer for people trying to better their economic conditions?

If you live in public housing, what's the incentive to do more when your rent goes up as your earnings do? Came across this interesting piece about public housing in Greenwich, of all places, where they are trying new ways to lift people out of the public housing cycle.

When [one resident] took up a six-month temp job to help pay off $6,000 in student loans a few years ago, her rent leaped from $50 to $500 per month. She's held jobs as a cashier at Target and CVS, a sorter at the post office, hotel receptionist and packager at Federal Express. During those times, she often asked her eldest child, Joseph, now 16, to mind the four younger children.

'The kids don't complain but it gets hard,' she said. 'It's a small place here for us but everything can get mixed up so fast.'

Under the new program, participating residents see no rent increases. Instead, the housing authority itself antes up the additional money and puts those funds into an escrow account that participants may withdraw upon moving out of public housing.


Let's hope it works.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

New blog from Family Institute of Connecticut

Those troublemakers (wink) over at the Family Institute of Connecticut are at it again with an updated look to their blog, Connecticut in the Crosshairs. Well done, guys.

I ask our readers to pray for these men and women who are doing a great job in a difficult arena of Christian service. Blessings of the season to Brian Brown, Peter Wolfgang and everyone at FIC.

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The Curse of Obedient Parents

Came across this piece called "The Curse of Obedient Parents" from writer Gladys Villnow talking about something we've all seen in action - the indulgent parent.

If you want your children to grow up to be godly adults, there’s something you must do every single day. The bad news is that it’s hard and it won’t make your children happy at first. The good news is it will help your children turn out far better in the long run. And it will work well even if you mess up on a lot of other parental responsibilities.

Our society has encouraged us not to harm our children’s self esteem. We have interpreted that to mean that they should get their own way and have unlimited choices at a very early age.

During the day, the child chooses between what color cups to drink out of. And a wail of crying can erupt if you don’t give him the right color. The obedient parent walks around in fear of upsetting the newly created tyrant. Moms spend more time dressing a child, as they go through endless outfits, than they do preparing them to worship when they arrive at church – all to make the child happy.

I noticed a mom doing this just the other day while I was serving refreshments at a mom’s and children’s play group in our church. I observed with curiosity while this mom asked her two year old repeatedly to sit down while drinking juice. She explained how it could spill and cause stains on the carpet or on someone’s clothes. The two year old spun on her heels and walked away spilling her drink as she went. The mom looked at me and sheepishly said, “Well, they’re just children.” That day the little child learned she can get her own way.

How can we reverse this hurtful way of parenting? The answer lies in the dusty pages of the Bible.

The account of Eli, the high priest and his two sons is very enlightening. His sons were behaving immorally. 1 Samuel 3:13 tells us that Eli knew of their iniquity. The word “iniquity” means to bend or to deviate from the right way. The Bible says that Eli did not rebuke them. That word means, “He frowned not upon them.”

It becomes apparent from these definitions that Eli had accepted their perverse behavior and did nothing to stop their actions. In fact, I think Eli wasn’t even surprised, since they had deviated from the right way for quite a while. The account mentions how they took sacrificial meat for their own purposes. They always got their way.

However, God will not be mocked. “Whatsoever a man sows, that also shall he reap.” It was through the mouth of a young obedient Samuel that the prophecy of judgment came. Eli’s sons would be slain, Eli's death would come by the breaking of his neck, as he heard the sad news of his sons’ deaths, and finally, his family would be dispersed. And the prophecy occurred just as it was spoken.

Often when I read this part of scripture, I rehearse how different it would have been if Eli had not been an indulgent parent.

Ecclesiastes 8:11 – Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed quickly, therefore the hearts of the sons of men among them are given fully to do evil.

Reprinted by permission from www.wisdomsedge.com, which puts out an interesting e-newsletter.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

New Christian search engine page delivers customized results




Recently Google has launched a "co-op" program which in essence lets people to make custom search engines, searching only those sites they select. You'll notice in our links at right a new, Bible Search Engine, from KingdomEngine.com. Just enter a term and you can search the Bible as well as some standard commentaries. It's a good jumping off place for additional research.

At KingdomEngine you'll also find specialized search engines for apologetics, creeds & confessions, and worship music. Check it out, and happy searching!

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One more reason to be thankful during the holidays

We cover some heavy topics around here, so in the spirit of lightheartedness, I offer you this important information. In Connecticut we do have our share of economic and social problems, considering how wealthy we are. And, of course, news outlets always seem to put a negative spin on everything, so I was happy to learn that we're still #1 in an very important category of societal well-being. It turns out that if you live in Connecticut you have the best chance of not losing all your teeth. What a relief!

The five best places to keep your teeth are:

1. Connecticut, 12.4%
2. Utah
3. California
4. Minnesota
5. U. S. Virgin Islands

Where are you most likely to lose all your choppers?

1. West Virginia, 42.8% (!)
2. Kentucky
3. Tennessee
4. Alabama
5. Louisiana

See them all here. The states, not your teeth.

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Monday, November 27, 2006

Christian Events in Connecticut This Week


Canadian worship leader and recording artist Dan Macaulay

Now that we've digested everything, here's what's happening this week:

Tuesday, November 28
***Christmastime with Michael W. Smith (Hartford)

Thursday, November 30
***Hopeline Prayer Meeting (Norwalk)

Friday, December 1
***Conference begins with Anglican Archbishop Chung (Fairfield, Danbury)

Saturday, December 2
***Midpoint Cafe, featuring the Dan Macaulay Band (Greenwich)

For additional details on these and other events, visit the CT Christian Events Calendar, powered by Google!

Want to submit an event? Write us at info@prayct.org.

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Saturday, November 25, 2006

Putting the "C" back in the YMCA

It stands for Christian, in case you forgot...

Here's an interesting piece from the L. A. Times about a movement to put Christianity back into the Y. Says the Times:


About 13% of the more than 2,600 YMCA branches across the country have set up special committees to promote Christianity. Hundreds of Y leaders convene each year to swap ideas on how to "lift up the C in the YMCA."

Some Ys in Georgia now display pictures of Jesus and post the Ten Commandments. In North Carolina, YMCAs post Bible verses on their websites; in Tennessee, some play Christian rock in the workout rooms. In Alabama, Florida and Washington, YMCAs have hired full-time chaplains to provide pastoral care for staff and members: weddings, marriage counseling, hospital visits, Bible studies.

"People are beginning to rediscover the meaning of salvation," said Leonard Sweet, professor of evangelism at Drew University in New Jersey. "They are awakening to the idea that the body is part of spiritual life, that you can't separate the mind, the body and the spirit."

But the blending of faith and fitness unsettles some members who have grown accustomed to thinking of the Y as a purely secular gym.

"It seems a little bit squirrelly to me," said Tom Brittingham, a 49-year-old physician sweating on a Nautilus machine here. "There's already too much Christian stuff in the news. I don't really want to think about it when I work out."

I'm curious to know - has anyone experienced this trend in the Northeast?

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Light blogging

Thanks for your readership and participation. I pray you and your families will have a wonderful Thanksgiving. We'll be back in a few days!

Lincoln's Thanksgiving Proclamation (1863)



In the spirit of the season, here is some stirring eloquence from the leader of a nation involved in a terrible war. Notice the many politically incorrect references to the Deity, His doings and feelings toward the American nation. (Hat tip to ClassicalLibrary.org)

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years, with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington, this third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the independence of the United States the eighty-eighth.

A. Lincoln

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

New Haven Register spotlights growing churches

From Sunday's Register, here's another article showing us that the mainstream newspapers in Connecticut remain interested in evangelical and charismatic groups. The story features quotes from the pastors of the Vineyard Church in Guilford and St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Madison, as well as some discussion about church attendance trends in general.

And a follow-up piece yesterday.

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Monday, November 20, 2006

If you read this blog...

You've probably sung his songs...

See this Time magazine piece on Chris Tomlin.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Francis Frangipane on "The Two Wings"

You may balk at his finding the U. S. in Revelation 12 or his interpretation of the eagle prophesied there, but these are good thoughts in this season. Please be sure to pray for all our leaders, not just the ones you like!

As American elections close, many Christians have felt discouragement with the outcome. Yet, let me remind you that, even in what seems like loss, God continues to work all things for good. Yes, we've been praying for our nation, desiring to see the country return to a moral, God-fearing culture. Yet, I hope we all know that the kingdom of God is not limited to a political party!

What encourages me is that among those Democrats who won Republican seats, most were either moderate or very conservative in their moral outlook; they were not liberals. In other words, the Democratic party, which for years seemed to resist any advance toward traditional moral values, picked conservative Democrats to run against Republican conservatives. Indeed, in a number of contests, pro-life Democrats ran against pro-life Republicans.

I personally interpret this as a good sign. The reality is, both political parties realize America has a strong percentage of God-fearing people whose views and convictions cannot be ignored. Today, both parties recognize the increasing influence people of faith have to determine our nation's future.

America in the Bible

"The two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman, so that she could fly into the wilderness to her place, where she was nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent" (Revelation 12:14).

For many years this verse has served to help define my vision for America. I wouldn't call my view an unbendable doctrine, but more a faith-text: a revelatory adaptation that adds to my already God-inspired motive to pray for the USA.

In the above text, two symbols need explaining: The woman and the eagle. Who is the woman? According to verse 17, she "and her children" hold "the testimony of Jesus." Thus, her confession of Jesus reveals that the woman is a symbol of the church. But what does the eagle represent? It is quite possible that this text points to the eternal destiny of God for the USA, whose national symbol is, in fact, the "great eagle."

Consider also that at the core of America's self-identity is its role as a place of refuge for persecuted peoples. We have not always lived up to our standards here in the States, but our ideal remains true. In many ways, America was actually founded by people fleeing persecution. Thus, it is not unreasonable that America will again offer protection to persecuted Christians and peoples in the last hours of this age.

Would such action be inconsistent with the historic vision of America? Not in the least. Consider the Stature of Liberty and its famous poem, The New Collossus, written by Emma Lazarus (a Jewish American poet/author).

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

The Statue of Liberty, here called the "Mother of Exiles," welcomed the world's persecuted. This is not a political issue, but something deeply embedded into the DNA of the American psyche. John says "the two wings of the great eagle" were given to the woman: the right wing (Republicans) and the left wing (Democrats).

Thus, I welcome the increase of godly leaders into the left wing of the great eagle. May the Spirit of God increasingly be represented in every level of government! I am also thankful that thirty Jewish politicians were elected (an all-time high).

Yes, some things might have gone better in certain elections and trends, but we must never doubt God's plan nor His ability to work all things for good. Let us keep the vision of a holy nation, cleansed by the blood of the Lamb. Let us believe our nation can be made pure by the fires of revival, fanned by the presence of a holy God.

Regardless of which side of the political divide you fall, let us pray that both wings of the great eagle shall be lifted to the service of God.

Permission: http://frangipane.org

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Saturday, November 18, 2006

New Bible Search Engine

New: we've just placed a custom search engine, powered by Google, in our right-hand column. This search engine is designed to help you research the Word better and without unnecessary clutter by searching only certain specified websites containing commentaries, articles, word studies and the like.

Enter any Bible term, name or word and see what comes up.

The Bible Search Engine, as we've called it - rather uncreatively - also has its own home page on the Web right here.

Write us at info@prayct.org if you'd like to suggest a site to include in the search engine, and thanks!

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Friday, November 17, 2006

Is Rick Warren the Antichrist?

Of course he isn't, and for many reasons - not the least of which is that the Antichrist is unlikely to wear Hawaiian shirts.

However, the best-selling author of The Purpose-Driven Life has become a lightning rod for Christian critics who dislike some of his proposals and get nervous at what they think is his cozying up to people they see as New Age-y or disreputable. The past week has brought another flurry of anti-Warren talk as he was said to have been a dupe of the Syrian government, making some favorable comments about it during a trip there. Here is a sample of the kind-hearted commentary:


Rick Warren is turning out to be a mouthpiece for the devil himself. (From: Slice of Laodicea.)

It is sad story, repeated often. Big-name U.S. preachers, often otherwise sensible and orthodox in their faith, visit despotic regimes and naively curry favor with police state thugs. The preachers supinely believe that their cozy ties with the dictatorship will facilitate greater preaching access to the oppressed populations. (From: Front Page Magazine)

There's lots more, but I won't subject you to it. Good grief. Whatever happened to this nugget of Scriptural wisdom, "Does our law judge any man before it hears him and knows what he does?" (John 7:51)

Warren, through a Pastors.com mailing, released a letter to his Saddleback Church congregation and a press release explaining his side of things and - do I need to say it? - his account differs from that of his detractors. I'm giving it to you in full:

ABOUT SYRIA

Dear Saddleback Family,


Tomorrow our team heads home from a three-nation P.E.A.C.E. plan tour of Germany, Syria, and Rwanda. Our trip began with a P.E.A.C.E. Plan briefing for 44 Christian missions organizations we’d gathered in Atlanta.

In hindsight, I wish we’d been better prepared for our visit to Syria. We would have handled some meetings differently, watched our words more closely, and been more aware of the agenda of their state press. We wanted to just slip in and out, but that’s nearly impossible for me to do anymore. It’s been a learning experience. Be sure to read the press release at the end of this note that gives you all the details.

Why did we go to Syria? The simple truth is that I was invited by my neighbor, Yassar. When we arrived, our first event was a home cooked meal with 20 of Yassar’s family. Then, we were shown many of the historical Christian sites in Syria: the road to Damascus where Paul was converted, Straight street where the Holy Spirit led Paul, the house where Ananias prayed for his healing, the wall where Paul was let down in a basket to escape the Romans, the tomb of John the Baptist and the oldest Christian church building in existence.

Next, my neighbor arranged for us to meet some key Christian leaders, Muslim leaders, and government leaders - including the president of Syria. Franklin Graham has had years of experience with Lebanon and Syria, so I asked him what to say to the Syrian President. Franklin told me, “Thank him for protecting the freedom of Christians and Jews to worship there.”

As we left, the official state-controlled Syrian news agency issued some press releases that sounded like I was a politician negotiating the Iraq war by praising the Syrian President and everything else in Syria! Of course, that’s ridiculous, but it created a stir among bloggers who tend to editorialize before verifying the truth. Does it seem ironic to you that people who distrust Syria are now believing Syrian press releases?

In our meeting with the president, I explained (as usual) the Saddleback P.E.A.C.E. Plan, and he gave us permission to send teams to Syria.

Friends, I am aware that inaccuracies, misquotes, and misperceived motivations get reported about me in the press daily. Most of the time, I just ignore them. Jesus said, "If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first.” (John 15:18 - NCV)

I love the paraphrase of Matthew 5:11-12 (Msg): “Count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—for though they don't like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.”

Just don’t believe everything you read on the Internet or hear in the media.

I love you all and I’m praying for this weekend’s FOR THE NEXT GENERATION OFFERING. I’m excited about getting back home to see you!

Pastor Rick

PRESS RELEASE
A. Larry Ross

Kigali, Rwanda, November 16 – Dr. Rick Warren, best-selling author of The Purpose Driven Life and founding pastor of Southern California’s Saddleback Church, concluded a four-day pastoral visit to Syria earlier this week as part of a three-nation pastoral training and PEACE Plan tour. The trip began last week in Germany, where more than 5,000 church leaders gathered to hear Dr. Warren give an overview of a plan to mobilize local churches to attack the global problems of poverty, disease, illiteracy, corruption and spiritual emptiness. Similar training with church leaders in Rwanda continues this week.

Contrary to reports by the official state-controlled Syrian news agency, Dr. Warren was in Syria to meet with and encourage the country’s key Christian leaders; dialogue with top Muslim leaders; and promote religious freedom. Leaders who met with Dr. Warren included the Patriarchs of the Greek Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church; the leader of the coalition of Evangelical Churches of Syria; and the pastor of the world’s oldest standing church dating back to 315 AD; and Mufti of the Arab Republic of Syria Sheikh Ahmad Badr Al-Din Hassoun.

> Dr. Warren’s visit to Syria was neither official nor political, but rather came out of a promise to his Muslim neighbor in California. While discussing over their backyard fence Warren’s frequent international travel, the neighbor asked him to visit his home country of Syria, with its many sites sacred to Christians and church history that date back 2,000 years.

Many Americans don’t realize that both Christianity and Judaism are legal in Syria. In addition, the government provides free electricity and water to all churches; allows pastors to purchase a car tax-free (a tax break not given to Muslim imams); appoints pastors as Christian judges to handle Christian cases; and allows Christians to create their own civil law instead of having to follow Muslim law. Every Christian with whom Dr. Warren’s team met -- including those in the city of Malula, where they represent two-thirds of the population -- expressed gratitude for the government’s protection of their right to worship.

“Let there be no doubt about our support for President Bush, our troops in Iraq and the war on terror,” he told the Mufti. When asked if American opinion had turned against the Iraq war. Warren replied, “Yes --The New York Times reported that 80 percent of Americans indicated in Election Day exit polls they now oppose keeping troops in Iraq.” Later, Dr. Warren’s team was told by a Syrian official that it would be a mistake for American troops to immediately pull out.

Because Dr. Warren often meets with presidents of nations he visits, his neighbor also arranged a meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Dr. Warren sought counsel in advance from Syrian experts in Washington, and was told that Syria’s state-controlled media would likely distribute press releases after the meeting, which they did.

“The Syrian government has long had a bad reputation in America, but if one considers a positive action like welcoming in thousands of Christian refugees from Iraq, or the protection of freedom to worship for Christians and Jews in Syria, it should not be ignored,” Dr. Warren said from Rwanda. He further explained that in terms of religious freedom, Syria is far more tolerant than places like Burma, Cuba, Iran, Iraq, and nations identified in the U.S. Commission Report on International Religious Freedom. "Muslims and Christians have lived side by side in Syria for more than a thousand years, often with mosques and churches built next to each other,” he added. “What can we learn from them?

“I believe it is a mistake to not talk to nations considered hostile -- isolation and silence has never solved conflict anywhere, whether between spouses or between nations,” Dr. Warren concluded. He further shared his experience in Rwanda, a country that is experiencing peace after years of conflict by emphasizing reconciliation instead of retaliation. He noted that, as a pastor, he always urges couples in conflict to keep talking to each other -- no matter how angry they are. As long as they keep talking, there is hope for a resolution; but if they refuse to even talk, divorce is inevitable.

Other issues Dr. Warren discussed with Syrian religious, academic and governmental leadership included the importance of civil dialogue among religions; possible student exchange and academic cooperation with Christian universities; and Saddleback Church’s “P.E.A.C.E. Plan” to train local churches to attack poverty, disease, corruption, illiteracy, and spiritual emptiness in cooperation with businesses and governments.

-End-

So there you have it. That may not make people much happier, but it does shed some light on a number of things and should at least cause some people to rethink their position.

Blogging and the Web in general are wonderful tools but many Christians need to apply New Testament principles (or even principles of fair play) before they start whacking their keyboard. I'm growing weary of seeing attack websites come up on the top of the page every time I search the name of virtually any high-profile Christian leader... often from self-appointed Christian watchdogs without any leadership roles in the Body of Christ. Enough already.

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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Pray for Massachusetts

...where the State Legislature has used strong-arm tactics to prevent a vote on same-sex "marriage," even though the people of the State signed a petition for the vote and the State Constitution required the Legislature to deal with it.

The Massachusetts Family Institute explains:

What Happened During the Nov. 9 UNConstitutional Convention

On November 9, the Massachusetts legislature voted 109 to 87 to recess the Constitutional Convention without taking a vote on the people's amendment on marriage. This shameful, cowardly act has drawn the ire of on-air personalities, media outlets and commentators throughout Massachusetts and around the county, not to mention the 170,000 disenfranchized Massachusetts citizens who signed the petition. Many of those speaking out against the legislature support gay marriage, but they recognize the larger implications for democracy and public accountability of the legislators' deception in not taking a vote on the people's business.

Each of the 109 legislators who voted to recess with the intention of never coming to a vote violate Article 48 of the Constitution, which says that the legislature shall vote on all initiative petitions duly brought forth by the people. Those leading this effort were House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi and the presiding officer of the Constitutional Convention, Senate President Robert Travaglini.

As of the morning of the Convention, VoteOnMarriage.org and Mass. Family Institute learned that a majority of the legislators did not want to vote to recess. However, Speaker DiMasi, effectively arm-twisted lawmakers in his caucus to support a recess vote. For his part, Senate President Travaglini did not have to allow a vote to recess and in doing so was a co-conspirator to denying the 170,000 petition signers and every citizen in Massachusetts their right to a vote on marriage.

Newspaper editorials from Lawrence to Quincy and beyond condemned the recess. Governor Romney and Howie Carr said they disgraced their oath of office.

As of this writing, MFI is working with VoteOnMarriage.org strategists to review all possible options going forward, as is Governor Romney. Because of the nature of the "recess," the anti-amendment legislators provided little recourse-by design-to those of us who believe in the rule of law and obeying the Constitution. Additionally, House Minority Whip George Peterson is calling for an Ethics Commission investigation on the recess vote. We thank him for this courageous stand.

In addition, CNN reports that Governor Romney will appear at a rally this Sunday to demand a vote.

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Connecticut by the number$

The economic outlook for the State isn't too bad at the moment, at least when compared to our neighbors, but still needs help.

From the "You've Got To Be Kidding Me Department," the new Winvian resort opens up soon in Morris. Price tag: up to $2000 a night for double occupancy! And, it looks awesome. This is a great boost for the Litchfield County economy... when I was a kid Morris only had... ummm, one of anything.

Speaking of luxury, Mohegan Sun is planning a massive expansion. How big? $740 million.

Let's continue to pray for the State economy and for the relationship between the Governor and the new Legislature as they deal with taxes and policy in the coming year.

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

More on "Obsession" movie and jihad

Hat tip to Sue for this link to a 12-minute, good quality video abridgement of the Obsession documentary on the global jihad movement. Particularly chilling to hear young children talk about hoping that people die in flames and seeing them learn how to handle an AK-47.

Also, CNN host Glenn Beck, who is rapidly rising in popularity, has a special tonight on Islamic extremism. Surprised they still are running Mr. Beck.

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Biggest drug bust in Connecticut history

How big, exactly? Fifteen million dollars' worth of pure heroin, in New Milford. Story and video here from Channel 8.

Let's continue to pray for our towns and cities, specifically praying for the exposure of crime. God answers prayer!

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The end of New England Republicans

It may be an exaggeration, but not by much: New England Republicans are becoming extinct, at least according to this AP analysis:

The Democratic tidal wave in Tuesday's elections claimed several victims in seats that had long been in Republican hands. Scholars say the losses may be the death knell for the traditional "rock-ribbed" New England Republican.

Perhaps the best example is Sen. Lincoln Chafee, whose family has represented Rhode Island in the Senate for 30 years.

Both of New Hampshire's seats in Congress switched parties. Six-term Rep. Charles Bass, also part of a political family whose father held the same seat in Congress and whose grandfather was a governor, lost to a Democrat, as did Rep. Jeb Bradley, who served 12 years in the state legislature before winning election to Congress in 2002.

Twelve-term Rep. Nancy Johnson, Connecticut's longest-serving congresswoman, lost by 12 percentage points to a Democrat. Another Connecticut moderate, Rep. Rob Simmons, is fighting for his political life. With a recount under way, Simmons trailed Democrat Joe Courtney by fewer than 200 votes.

Yankee Republicans like Chafee's father, the late Sen. John Chafee, former Sen. Lowell Weicker of Connecticut, or even President Bush's father, former President George H.W. Bush, once were the base of the party. Not anymore.

The defeat of Chafee, arguably the most liberal GOP senator, and Ohio Sen. Mike DeWine, who at times aligned himself with GOP moderates, leaves Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, both of Maine, and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania as perhaps the only reliably centrist Republicans in the Senate.


Amazingly, assuming no changes by way of recount, U. S. Rep. Christopher Shays of Connecticut's 4th District isn't simply the only Republican Congressman from Connecticut - he's the only one in all of New England! A Greenwich Time writer refers to Shays as "unbeatable." How does he do it?

Shays' 7,060-vote victory was so impressive that many politicians and observers are questioning whether Democrats can ever find a way to unseat him.

"I just don't see how (the Democrats are) going to do it in 2008," said state Republican Party Chairman George Gallo. "Congressman Shays fits the 4th District to a T ideologically. He's a moderate, social liberal, fiscal conservative that mirrors the district perfectly."

Democratic state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said "nothing is impossible" in politics, but acknowledged why Shays is tough to beat.

"He is respected and dedicated," Blumenthal said. "His intelligence, insight and devotion to his district is very rare in a public servant. That puts him at a terrific advantage, whatever the political climate is. People may feel hostile toward the Bush Administration, but they still elect the individual."

That speaks volumes about Mr. Shays, but perhaps it also speaks volumes about the failure of Republicans as well.

What does the future hold? Here's an interesting note: the Family Institute of Connecticut (FIC), certainly far to the right politically of Mr. Shays, is very pleased that pro-family candidates it endorsed did well in state elections. The FIC thinks that Connecticut Republican candidates weren't conservative enough, and their old-fashioned pavement-pounding might actually have helped to send a number of conservative Democrats to the State Legislature.

FIC President Brian Brown says, "We won 40 races and lost in 26. That's a 61% success rate in an election year where we saw massive losses in state houses across the country."

This may be more hard evidence that evangelicals and conservative Catholics are now more ready to support people of either party as long as their values are being upheld.

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Monday, November 13, 2006

Christian events in Connecticut this week


Josh McDowell

Well-known Christian apologist and youth speaker Josh McDowell returns to Connecticut. Here's the rest of what's happening here this week:

Tuesday, November 14
***Josh McDowell Youth Seminar (Trumbull)
***Josh McDowell Parent/Adult Seminar (Trumbull)

Wednesday, November 15
***Raymond Mooi (Greenwich)

Friday, November 17
***New Canaan Society Breakfast with Tim Clinton (Stamford)
***Chynna Phillips, Bernie Williams (before you ask me, yes, it is that Bernie Williams) in Concert (New Milford)

Saturday, November 18
***Hartford Intercessors Strategic Meeting (Hartford)
***Kutless in Concert with Red, Disciple, and Run Kid Run (Meriden)
***Christian Coffeehouse (Danbury)

For additional details on these and other events, visit the CT Christian Events Calendar, powered by Google!

Want to submit an event? Write us at info@prayct.org.

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Connecticut 2nd District race still unclear

The AP and Channel 8 are reporting that a town official in Lebanon has discovered an error which gave Democrat Joe Courtney 100 extra votes. Mr. Courtney is already headed to Washington for orientation. Stay tuned and continue to pray...

By the way, if a Congressional race can be decided by 60 or 70 votes, don't let anyone ever tell you that your vote doesn't count.

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Oh, there's good Christians, too?

I almost forgot until I saw an editorial in the New London Day, of all places, called "It's A Distortion To Stereotype Evangelicals." Here's a piece:


It was in 1976 — the “year of the evangelical,” according to Newsweek — that conservative Christians burst upon the political landscape. Critics have been warning about the theocratic takeover of America ever since. Thus the plaintive cry of a Cabinet member in the Carter administration: “I am beginning to fear that we could have an Ayatollah Khomeini in this country, but that he will not have a beard ... he will have a television program.”

This election season produced similar lamentations — Howard Dean's warning about Christian “extremism,” Kevin Phillips' catalog of fears in “American Theocracy” and brooding documentaries such as “Jesus Camp,” to name a few. This theme is a gross caricature of the 100 million or more people who could be called evangelicals. But the real problem is that it denies the profoundly democratic ideals of Protestant Christianity, while ignoring evangelicalism's deepening social conscience.

Evangelicals led the grass-roots campaigns for passage of the abolition of slavery and women's suffrage. Even the Moral Majority in its most belligerent form amounted to nothing more terrifying than churchgoers flocking peacefully to the polls on Election Day. The only people who want a biblical theocracy in America are completely outside the evangelical mainstream, their influence negligible.

So as Jerry Falwell and other ministers were jumping into politics, leaders such as Charles Colson — former Nixon aide turned born-again Christian — were charting another path. In 1976 Colson launched Prison Fellowship, a ministry to inmates, to address the soaring crime problem. Today it ranks as the largest prison ministry in the world, active in most U.S. prisons and in 112 countries. “Crime and violence frustrate every political answer,” he has said, “because there can be no solution apart from character and creed.” No organization has done more to bring redemption and hope to inmates and their families.

Well, thanks, although I think the phrase "deepening social conscience" is code language for "Evangelicals do some stuff that I like, too, not just crazy right-wing stuff like trying to block partial-birth abortions." If Charles Colson launched Prison Fellowship in 1976, is it really "deepening?" However, it's worth reading the whole thing if only to gaze in wonderment at a Connecticut newspaper allowing an editorial to tell people to chill out about those crazy Christians.

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Saturday, November 11, 2006

Who is standing for the faith?

Jude tells us in his letter to contend for the faith once and for all delivered to the saints. Every day around the world, Christians are persecuted for their faith and even suffer rejection from what the first apostles would have called false brethren. So, it's refreshing to read about how African Christians are refusing to worship at the altar of the dollar, choosing instead remain true to a biblical vision of life. The Connecticut Six blog talks about the Anglican Church in Uganda and the stands it is taking:

The church in Uganda, along with churches in Rwanda and Kenya, no longer accepts financial support from the Episcopal Church. Ugandan church leaders said they had declined more than $1 million in contributions since 2003 from U.S. churches that didn't back their rejection of homosexuality.

Without that money, the church has shuttered some theological education programs and has been forced to make other budget cuts, church officials said. In the bishop's offices, the telephones rarely work and electricity is sporadic.

The church still accepts money from congregations that support its stance on gays, however. [Bishop Samuel] Ssekkadde said American money helped with upkeep on the century-old St. Paul's Cathedral, a stately redbrick building perched on a hill, where U.S. priests are now sometimes ordained.

Read it all here.

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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Blogging Marine Returns Home

We give thanks that First Sergeant Grainger and his Marines have returned home from Iraq. The good 1st Sgt. was writing a fascinating blog for the Courant and was the subject of an earlier post of ours.

Read the "homecoming" blog entry here, and continue to pray for all those serving our nation abroad.

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

U.S. Christians Guilty of "Political Idolatry," says New Zealand evangelist

New Zealand Andrew Strom is a revivalist with a strong message and, after living in the US for a bit, I think he's had enough of us. I don't recommend all his writings, but in the wake of the elections yesterday I thought you would find his comments today thought-provoking. Ignore the caps if you can:

Something I find a little distressing in America is that the Christians are so often relying on POLITICS to accomplish SPIRITUAL results. Thus they ally themselves fervently with one particular party and treat it like "God has won" if that party wins - and "God has lost" if it doesn't. I almost see this as a kind of BLINDNESS.

The fact is - most of America's problems today are SPIRITUAL problems that can only be solved by a sweeping move of God's Spirit. Yet we are relying on Politics and Politicians to accomplish many of these things?? How bizarre!

How bizarre that we strive and strive to get the "right (worldly) guy" elected. How bizarre that we treat the President like some kind of mega-preacher or mega-minister. We put our "hope" in him and his Political party for all kinds of SPIRITUAL things! What is wrong with us?

I don't know of any other country where the Christians put such hope in worldly political parties for things that ONLY GOD CAN DO. Is this not a kind of IDOLATRY??

Yes - there are issues of righteousness to be concerned with - and it is good to vote. But what is with this OBSESSION with Politics amongst the Christians? Do we not realize it is a kind of "phony war"? Imagine if we spent all that time PRAYING instead of STRIVING for Political victory. We might be actually having a Revival right now!

Can Politics make America truly righteous? NO! Only GOD can do that!

I want to issue a call to all true Christians right now: "REPENT of trusting in MAN instead of God. REPENT of trusting in Politics to do things that only God can do. REPENT of striving and striving to get the "right party" in power - and thinking that will solve this country's SPIRITUAL problems. REPENT of making an IDOL out of any party or any PRESIDENT. The Presidency does NOT equal God's move! REPENT of putting so much energy and effort into things that WILL NOT SOLVE the PROBLEM!

If only the Christians of this nation would PRAY instead of running to POLITICAL ACTIVISM - everything would be different.

What if all of this is a false trust - a false hope - a false gospel? What if our worship of Republicanism is out and out IDOLATRY??

God help us all.

How much truth is there in this? What do you think?

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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

After the election, there will still be jihad

Looking past the election, there will still be a War on Terror, no matter how differently it may be conducted or what pressures may be brought to bear upon the President.

Like many people, I watched the Obsession documentary which was shown on Fox - probably the first in-depth exposure to what jihadist leaders are actually saying and doing in translations from their own languages. This is an important film because these threats are not going away no matter who controls the Hill or the White House. Watch this clip from Hannity and Colmes:



Get a copy of the film and continue to pray about this! (Clips from the film can be watched on YouTube as well.)

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