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Category Archives: Current Events

For Your Consideration 7.12.13

I received “God’s Favorite Place on Earth” by Frank Viola today! Very excited to dig in and offer a review in the coming days.

In the meantime,here are a couple of blog posts published at Desiring God that challenged and encouraged me this week:

If you have not read anything by Rosaria Champagne Butterfield, you really must. This piece will give you a taste of not only her story, but her exceptional writing style. An excerpt:

The Bible is not some pragmatist’s paradigm. It is the double-edged sword that chiseled truth into my stony heart, rendering it new and with it, recreating me as a new creature in Christ, a daughter of the King. I have no personal sexual orientation to call my own after Christ chisels my heart anew — and neither do you. We have Christ orientation, an alien identity to which we claim no rights. Do we struggle with sin? Yes. Is temptation a sin? No. What distinguishes temptation from sin? Temptation clobbers you from the outside and lures you to do its bidding. Sin makes temptation a house pet, gets it a collar and leash, and is deceived to believe that it can be restrained by impositions of civility. What you do with temptation reveals Who owns your heart. How you talk about other people’s sin patterns reveals Who owns your heart.

Read the rest here in her post called, DOMA and the Rock.

The second, written by Jonathan Parnell, is Three Things We Should Know About God. And I confess, “Creator” was one of my three. Think of three things that come to your heart and mind when you think of God then read this post. I promise you will be thankful and encouraged. Here’s a sample:

When you think of God, do you think happy? Or do you think stern? Sadly, it is common for us to think of God as a negative caricature would depict him. Do you think of him frowning? Is he seething with anger like a capricious despot? Or do you see him who is glad at heart — glad in the glory of his Son and the communion that they share? Do we see him as the Father who said of Jesus, with no hesitation, “This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17)? Do we see him as the Father who delights to give us the kingdom (Luke 12:32)? Do we see him as the God who overflows with joy when a sinner repents (Luke 15:7)?

So long as sin exists, he feels indignation every day (Psalm 7:11). But at heart — who he is in himself — God is happy. To grasp this truth will work wonders in our souls.

Keep feeding your mind and soul with GOOD things. Drink deeply from God’s rich word, and never stop learning, seeking, growing, thirsting, following hard after Him.

Blessings on you this weekend!

 

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For Your Consideration 7.9.13

Hi friends,

A few items I’d like to bring to your attention this week:

A 33 minute audio message on “The Dangers of the Gospel of Accommodation,” a sermon given by David Wilkerson at a chapel service at the Assemblies of God national office on March 10, 1998 with a focus on the “seeker sensitive” church model. I believe it is even more relevant to the American Church today. Prepare to be challenged.

Christians are among America’s most compassionate people. But we can do a better job responding to the complexity of poverty. Christianity Today published a very good article on how American Christians can approach the problem of poverty world-wide. It is entitled, Solving Poverty is Rocket Science.

There has been a lot of discussion in many corners of my world about serving, from Sunday messages at church, to discussions in my small group, to current articles and blogs, including this one published last week by Created4Health.org. I think the Spirit is emphasizing something. Serving Others, Your Path to Wellness discusses the scriptural benefits of service.

Finally, anything by Frank Viola is great, but I wanted to share these two posts on John Lennon on Jesus: The Untold Story and Bono on Jesus. I’m not a huge fan of the music of either of these men, but I really found these pieces super interesting and fresh.

The Gospel According to the Beatles   - By: Steve Turner

 
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Posted by on July 8, 2013 in Current Events, Society

 

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American Christians and the Government

There is no doubt that we are watching textbook tyranny unfold before us. The rights and liberties of American Christians, Americans without a voice, and now American conservatives in general, have been slowly and steadily stripped over the last two decades. Laws reflecting moral decline are in place largely because Christians and God-believing conservatives have done nothing, or at least not enough.

Perhaps some feel that a Christian’s business is about the Church and not the government. Politics are dirty business and we don’t want to go there. Some stick their head in the sand hoping it will all go away and God will wave His hand and make it all right some day. (He certainly will, but how terrible will be that wave!)

The country was founded on Christian principles by God-fearing men. Our constitution is not outdated and is meant to protect our freedom from tyranny, but there are those in power today who would like to label it antiquated and wipe it away.

MP900432988

We are called to be salt and light, yet where are we in this season, in these debates? We are told to be gentle as doves yet wise as serpents. Are we obeying? Do we know what is at stake? It seems clear to me that satan is behind the sinister goings on in our government and administrative pawns are playing in his hands. The battle is not with men and women, but with spiritual principalities and powers of darkness. We must pray. Pray for revival. Only a heart-change in the leaders of this country and its citizens will right this listing ship.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.  ~1 Timothy 2:1-6

But prayer is key but it is not the only thing we should do. We must not be silent. Our examples in God’s word show Jesus and His disciples speaking loudly and clearly to religious leaders and government officials. We speak by voting, we speak by writing and calling our elected representatives, we speak by sharing truth with others. We speak by refusing to go along with laws or mandates that are contrary to God’s word. We speak by defending the defenseless. We speak by our actions: Caring for the sick, poor, homeless, imprisoned as if each of them were Christ Himself.

This world is not our home. Let’s not be comfortable with it. May we not be found sleeping on the job!

 

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Tragedy. Angst. Evil. Justice. Love.

I have no wisdom in response to today’s senseless violence and loss of life at the little elementary schools in Connecticut and central China (nor the daily violence in the middle east, nor the hideous and silent suffering of millions of women and children enslaved this very moment across the world and in our own neighborhoods…) but I’ve been reading a lot, and here are some words from much wiser individuals…

An Insufficient Answer to the Shooting in Connecticut

Three Ways Christians Should Respond to the Horror of a Broken World

Responding to the Problem of Evil

A Day for Hatred

Where Was God?

Rachel Weeping for Her Children

A Lesson for All from Newton

Implosion update: The demons of violence are on the loose in America. But why? And where do we go from here?

I wish I could hug a mom whose arms are empty tonight. I wish I could hug a mom whose child is safe in bed and she wonders why hers was spared. I wish I could hug the child whose mom’s arms will no longer hold them in this world and I wish I could save every single woman and child who are being held against their will, in slavery for someone else’s sick “pleasure.” Yet I know that the angst I feel is but a drop in the bucket to what my Father feels — and His justice will prevail because He is a God of love — He IS love. And tonight He is surely grieved about our fallen state yet loving on those little Kindergartners who are in His wonderful arms forever.

Boy holding onto his mother

Post Script: A friend just posted this on Facebook — a good resource for comforting those grieving the loss of a child:

Dealing With Grief: Five Things NOT to Say and Five Things to Say In a Trauma Involving Children

And here is a very good book on losing on a child written by parents who lived it:

Written in Tears: A Grieving Father’s Journey Through Psalm 103

 
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Posted by on December 15, 2012 in Current Events, Sin, Suffering

 

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O Come, O Come Emmanuel!

“Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep…”

Israel is the name God gave to Jacob: “And God said to him, ‘Your name is Jacob; no longer shall your name be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name.’ So he called his name Israel. And God said to him, ‘I am God Almighty be fruitful and multiply. A nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall come from your own body. The land that I gave to Abraham and Isaac I will give to you, and I will give the land to your offspring after you’.” — Genesis 35

For those who are ready for some Christmas music (and for those who are not, but have a passion for Israel) may I offer this beautiful arrangement of “O Come Emmanuel”?

This is my sister…

O Come, O Come Emmanuel

(Note: If the above link does not play well, please visit www.lisareiff.com, click on Music, then O Come Emmanuel.)

And while you are listening to her beautiful voice, think of Israel, and think of her Savior:

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o’er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, O come, Thou Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai’s height,
In ancient times did’st give the Law,
In cloud, and majesty and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

 

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For Your Consideration 3.17.12

I love the blogs to which I subscribe and the bloggers who take the time to write them. Here are some good and challenging reads this lovely Saturday afternoon for your consideration and edification:

I read Stephen Altrogge’s blog yesterday morning, Churches Are Going to Be Messy Places, and agree 100%. Also reading the book, Glorious Mess by Mike Howerton, which clearly shows that messy churches are filled with messy people. I like that this is NOT an excuse for believers to avoid committing to a local church. My supported opinion: There is NO excuse for a believer to avoid becoming part of a local church AND getting there regularly! In this post by Phil Johnson, Providence is Sweet, he tells a story that illustrates one more reason to be connected to the body of Christ.

Earlier this week I posted a few links discussing the Kony 2012 controversy. I’ve updated it with a couple of new links that are very compelling. Here is the post on my other blog, Collect Yourself.

Heath Lambert lays out a most excellent pattern for holding one another accountable without harshness in Gracious Candor: A Tutorial in Speaking Truth in Love.

This an older post by John Piper, but a topic that has been my focus for a few months, so thought I’d share here: How to Glorify God at Work.

Finally, since it’s St. Patrick’s Day, here is a great post by Mark Driscoll on the REAL Patrick’s life–it’s nothing like the advertisements (go figure!): Happy Greatest Missionary Who Ever Lived Day!

 
 

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For Your Consideration 1.24.12

Six or seven inches from OK-to-kill to murder if you kill her… Many blogs and articles have been posted this past week due to the infamous Roe vs. Wade ruling 39 years ago. Justin Taylor posts one of the best in Attacks on Incremental Pro-Life Legislation: Unfair and Dangerous.

Do we really trust God in all situations? Mark Altrogge says, “We’re funny creatures, us humans. We ask our heavenly Father to provide for us then we try to figure out how he’s going to do it,” in his post, Don’t Rent That Clown Suit Just Yet…

If you are a parent, this is a must-read from Barnabas Piper: Vehicle, Obstacle, or Passenger?

And if you are a women with regrets, you have to read this – Kristina Haury trusted God in a very difficult situation and shares how He responded. Get out your tissue — she posts on Gracefull WomenGod’s Grace in My Great Loss Part One and Part Two.

If you missed my FB post of this movie trailer, it’s worth the watch: 200 Million Girls Missing in the World Today. Can you say “gendercide”?

An then sometimes, you just gotta laugh. Mark also offers a great alternative to the lyrics of “American Pie” with “Bye, Bye Mrs. Chicken Pot Pie.”  :-)

 

~ Blessings on your week!

 

 
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Posted by on January 24, 2012 in Current Events, The Journey

 

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For Your Consideration

There is some pretty great stuff to be read by today’s bloggers who are Christ-followers. Here are some good and challenging reads this week for your consideration:

 

Tim Challies on Keeping Your Resolutions

Can We, But Should We? Travis Allen’s blog on technology and the Church

Was the Teen Mom Wrong to Kill and Intruder? Read what Denny Burke has to say.

Justin Taylor asks, Can Christians Trust the Reformed Theology of a Slave Owner?

Guest blogger, Tammy Durrence posits that Maybe It’s Not Your Storm on Gracefull Woman

Just a really nice new article about being reunited with a daughter given up for adoption — 82 years later.

 

This list could be easily tripled, but I hope you find something here that edifies, encourages and/or admonishes.

 

 
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Posted by on January 5, 2012 in Current Events

 

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Snakes and Ostriches

My head has been in the sand. (Well not really, but sorta.) I recently read a the December issue of a financial newsletter to which my husband subscribes. This one is less about market research and more about the vast decline of our government, our businesses, our communities, and our society. It is about ethics, or the lack. It is an even-handed article, citing immense corruption and wrong-headed thinking on both sides of the aisle. Some quotes from the piece:

“I do agree that the nation will soon face a choice between heading down the path towards fascism… or turning back the power of government and restoring the limited Republic that was our birthright. I continue to believe Americans will choose personal liberty.

“Please realize, I’m not taking a political side here. I’m not saying the Democrats are singularly responsible for the state of our country. I’m not saying the Republicans are all to blame. And I’m not saying this is a black problem or a white problem. The problem is rooted in the corrupt belief that you can live at the expense of your neighbor… that we have become a nation where the vast majority of people believe their well-being is primarily, someone else’s responsibility.

“This bankrupt belief has taken complete control of our government, educational system, medical industry, and our corporations. And unless we demand better from each other and our political leaders, our society is doomed to collapse under the crushing weight of the Corruption of America.

It’s time we got back to our traditions as Americans and started doing more to take care of our families, communities, and ourselves.”

Here is the full text, shared with permission from the author:

http://www.stansberryresearch.com/pub/reports/201112PSI_issue.html

It’s about as clear as day that we’re headed for disaster, but what is the Christian’s response? It’s clear we have a responsibility to speak up, to vote, to educate ourselves about what our local, state and federal governments are up to, and we should line up all responses with the word of God. I share this here because the church SHOULD be in the State’s business insofar as we are called to be light and salt. Let’s not check our brains at the door when it comes to politics, public education, business or social programs.

Let’s be wise as serpents yet gentle as doves: Not mean as snakes and stupid as ostriches.

 
 

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Why I Won’t Do Yoga

Seems that Americans will try to do just about anything these days, so I guess it is no surprise that I get funny looks when I tell friends I won’t go to a yoga class with them, let alone even consider it as an acceptable form of “exercise” for myself.  And with so many church-going folk spending more time on a yoga mat than in church (or maybe even in the word) without even a second thought to it, we don’t have to wonder long why the American church is in such disrepair.

The word yoga is derived from the Sanskrit root yuj, meaning “to bind, join, attach, and yoke – to direct and concentrate one’s attention on, to use and apply.” It also means “union” or “communion.” It is generally translated as “union of the individual atma (loosely translated to mean soul) with Paramatma, the universal soul.” This may be understood as union with the divine by integration of body, mind, and spirit. In essence, one who attempts yoga may loosely be referred to as a yogi.

Yoga is a path for transcending the ordinary mind (basically suspending thought) in order to merge with your “higher self” or “God self.” So when yoga means “to yoke,” this is to yoke with Brahman (i.e., the “Infinite,” the “Universal Spirit,” the impersonal force that the Hindus call “god”) via the realization of an altered state of consciousness, thereby theoretically releasing oneself from the bondage of endless reincarnation. Yoga comes out of the Hindu Vedas. It can be traced back to a religious leader, Patanjali. Shiva, one of Hinduism’s three most powerful gods, was known as “The Destroyer” and he’s called Yogi Swara or the “Lord of Yoga.”

There are many forms of yoga today. Of roughly the 10 most common in America, hatha-yoga is one of the most popular practiced by those looking for relaxation and stretching exercise. But there is a common misconception in the West that hatha-yoga is just a neutral form of exercise, an alternative for those who hate to run or lift. But hatha-yoga is one of the six recognized systems of orthodox Hinduism and is at its roots most definitely religious and mystical. It is also one of the most difficult and potentially spiritually dangerous forms of yoga.

While there a number of translations, the term hatha is derived from the verb hath, which means ‘to oppress.’ Hatha-yoga is designed to suppress the flow of psychic energies through channels (symbolic, or psychic passages on either side of the spinal column), thereby forcing the ‘serpent power’ or the kundalini force to rise through the central psychic channel in the spine (the sushumna) and up through the chakras, the supposed psychic centers of human personality and power.

Yoga scholar Hans Rieker declares, “Kundalini [is] the mainstay of all yoga practices.” Swami Vivekananda summarizes the kundalini experience as follows: “When awakened through the practice of spiritual disciplines, it rises through the spinal column, passes through the various centres, and at last reaches the brain, whereupon the yogi experiences samadhi, or total absorption in the godhead.”

Despite the health benefits it proponents claim, there are numerous warnings in authoritative yoga literature which caution that yoga can be physically, mentally, and spiritually harmful if not practiced correctly.For instance, many yogis warn that yoga practice can endanger one’s sanity. In describing the awakening of “kundalini” (coiled serpent power) Gopi Krishna records his own experience as follows: “It was variable for many years, painful, obsessive…I have passed through almost all the stages of…mediumistic, psychotic, and other types of mind; for some time I was hovering between sanity and insanity.”

Westerners mistakenly believe that one can practice hatha-yoga apart from the philosophical and religious beliefs that undergird it. This is an absolutely false belief. … You cannot separate the exercises from the philosophy. … ‘The movements themselves become a form of meditation.’ The continued practice of the exercises will, whether you … intend it or not, eventually influence you toward an Eastern/mystical perspective. That is what it is meant to do! … There is, by definition, no such thing as ‘neutral’ Yoga” (Like Lambs to the Slaughter, pp. 93-95).

Yet a significant number of American Christians either experiment with yoga or become adherents of some yoga discipline. Most seem unaware that yoga cannot be neatly separated into physical and spiritual dimensions. The physical is the spiritual in yoga, and the exercises and disciplines of yoga are meant to connect with the divine.

Douglas R. Groothuis, Professor of Philosophy at Denver Seminary and a respected specialist on the New Age Movement, warns Christians that yoga is not merely about physical exercise or health. “All forms of yoga involve occult assumptions,” he warns, “even hatha yoga, which is often presented as a merely physical discipline.” While most adherents of yoga avoid the more exotic forms of ritualized sex that are associated with tantric yoga, virtually all forms of yoga involve an emphasis on channeling sexual energy throughout the body as a means of spiritual enlightenment.

Dr. Albert Mohler cites in a recent blog, “When Christians practice yoga, they must either deny the reality of what yoga represents or fail to see the contradictions between their Christian commitments and their embrace of yoga. The contradictions are not few, nor are they peripheral. The bare fact is that yoga is a spiritual discipline by which the adherent is trained to use the body as a vehicle for achieving consciousness of the divine. Christians are called to look to Christ for all that we need and to obey Christ through obeying his Word. We are not called to escape the consciousness of this world by achieving an elevated state of consciousness, but to follow Christ in the way of faithfulness. . . . The embrace of yoga is a symptom of our postmodern spiritual confusion, and, to our shame, this confusion reaches into the church.”

If you are interested in physical exercises that are designed to improve your health, you should not consider yoga, which is designed for death, and teaches how to reach this state of consciousness where you achieve a better reincarnation. Even the physical yoga positions come directly from Hindu scriptures, and are designed to put you into a state of consciousness where you imagine that you are God. If you are a Christian who thinks you are getting relaxation or exercise, you are really getting Hinduism! If you think you are getting science, you are actually getting religion. This is NOT a practice that should be embraced by Christians or anyone who wishes to remain free from seducing spirits.

 

References:

http://www.rapidnet.com/~jbeard/bdm/Psychology/yoga.htm

http://www.swamij.com/yoga-meaning.htm

http://www.inplainsite.org/html/yoga_and_christianity.html

http://www.hinduwebsite.com/yoga.asp

http://www.albertmohler.com/2010/09/20/the-subtle-body-should-christians-practice-yoga/

 
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Posted by on December 22, 2011 in Belief, Current Events, Society

 

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