Saturday, April 28, 2012

"Angry Queers" Damage Mars Hill Church in Portland

A satellite church affiliated with controversial Seattle pastor Mark Driscoll was vandalized early Tuesday (April 24) and a group calling itself the “Angry Queers” has reportedly taken responsibility.
Stained glass and other windows were broken at the Mars Hill Church, according to a post on the Facebook page of Pastor Tim Smith.

“Neighbors of the church reported seeing several young adults in black masks throwing large rocks into the windows,” a church news release said. “Police stated that a bank in the area was also vandalized in the same way and that they believe the vandalism was planned ahead of time, most likely by an activist group.”

On Tuesday, KPTV FOX 12 reported it had received an email from someone using the name "Angry Queers" and claiming responsibility.

Mars Hill Portland opened last October. During the first service, protesters gathered in front of the church and yelled obscenities at worshipers to speak out against the church’s stance on homosexuality. Mars Hill Church was founded in Seattle about 15 years ago by Pastor Mark Driscoll, who preaches against homosexuality and believes it's a sin.
In his Facebook message, Smith encouraged church members to continue their work.
“The good news is our church is off to a great start,” he wrote. “A few piles of broken glass doesn't change anything for us.”

The Rev. Chuck Currie, a liberal Portland pastor who has criticized Mars Hill's theology, nonetheless urged that the vandalism be treated as a hate crime.
"If Mars Hills Church represents the worst of Christianity, and I believe it sadly does, those response for this attack represent the worst of Portland," Currie said.

Friday, April 27, 2012

iChurch: Do You Digital Praise?

I've seen a number of stories on the increasing popularity of e-worship. Church websites, live streaming services, podcast preaching and iPad apps have revolutionized the way people fellowship and learn. But is it the best way? Albert Mohler is cautious:

"... There is something good, healthy, and Great Commission-minded about the eager use of new communication technologies. Digital technologies and social media have transformed our world, redefining how human beings engage one another and how we all access information. A church without a digital presence is a church that, to many people, simply doesn’t exist.

I am very thankful for the ability to access massive sermon libraries in audio or video form from preachers of the past and from pulpit titans of the present as well. Go online and you can read the sermons of Charles Spurgeon, Martin Luther, and a host of others. Preachers in churches of any size can establish a global reach for their ministry. Digital technologies allow the collapse of distance and time and these platforms also allow the Gospel to jump geographical and political barriers.

For all this we should be thankful. I eagerly use online Bible programs and do research through digital media. I am thankful for the platforms for ministry and communication represented by social media. I am grateful for these new tools and technologies and I make use of them to reach people around the world.

At the same time, there are dangers. John Mark Reynolds of Biola University is cited within the article, and he addressed the danger inherent in these technologies: “How can the Christian church utilize the tools media has given us without being subsumed by them? You don’t want delivery to become everything.”

That is a crucial issue. But the challenge should not be addressed only to churches. Research indicates that a significant number of Christians are tempted to allow these technologies to serve as a substitute for participation in a local church. This is deadly and dangerous for believers.

Christ clearly intends for his people to be gathered together into congregations. The fellowship of the saints is a vital means of grace for the disciple of Christ. We can be enriched by means of listening to sermons online and by delving deeply into the ocean of knowledge found within Christian websites, but these cannot replace the authenticity that comes only by means of the local church and its ministry.

Believers need the accountability found only within the local church. We need to hear sermons preached by flesh-and-blood preachers in the real-time experience of Christian worship. We need to confess the faith together through the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper. We need to confess our sins and declare forgiveness by the blood of Christ together. We need to be deployed for service in Christ’s name together."
 Read the rest here. What do you think?

Want to know more? Try these links:

The Digital-Church Manifesto
A New Church Rising- The Digital Church
Your Church: Is There An App For That?
Do Churches Really Need Their Own iPhone Apps?

Or watch this segment on Religion & Social Media from PBS' "Religion & Ethics Newsweekly":

Thursday, April 26, 2012

So I've been sparse of late...

...far too busy taking Instagram pics of myself. And caring for Zoe. And celebrating Easter. And resigning my job.

Yes. I resigned. I'm officially a Stay at Home Mom. My focus is now on my family and stabilizing my health.

But not to leave you sans good reads, here are some interesting stories I wanted to pass on:

Nothing About Life & Death is Fair

Why Church: On Crying in Church Bathrooms

In Defense of Chastity

10 Tips for Dealing With Criticism Online

If Atheists Talked Like Christians

10 Signs You Were A Christian Kid in the 90s

Man Spends 12 Months Practicing 12 Different Religions

Those should tide you over quite nicely. And here are a few more Instagram pics!

 The fam on Easter.

Yup, I'm an addict. Don't judge me.

She's already into computers, just like Daddy.

President Obama Slow Jams the News

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Atheist Activist Who Threatened to Sue to Stop Texas Nativity Has Become a Christian

 Patrick Greene

From The Blaze:

This is one of those stories that seems too good to be true.

 Last month, we told you about Patrick Greene, an atheist activist who threatened to sue over the presence of a nativity scene in Athens, Texas.

Despite his actions against the religious symbol, Christians came together to raise funds for him and his wife to purchase groceries after he fell ill. Now, as a result of the kind gesture, Greene has reportedly announced that he has become a Christian — and that he wants to enter ministry.

It’s only been two months since the atheist was threatening to wage a legal war against the nativity scene in Henderson County. But something changed over the past 60 days. After residents found out that Greene was suffering from a serious eye condition that could lead to blindness and he was forced to retire, Christians‘ kindness transformed Greene’s worldview.

n the end, they offered him $400 for groceries and other needs (atheists raised additional funds). This simple gift, which was given despite ideological and theological differences, apparently caused Greene to re-think his atheistic inclinations. The Christian Post recaps his transformation from non-belief to an adherence to Jesus Christ:
“There’s been one lingering thought in the back of my head my entire life, and it‘s one thought that I’ve never been able to reconcile, and that is the vast difference between all the animals and us,” Greene told The Christian Post on Tuesday, as he began to explain his recent transformation from atheist to Christian. The theory of evolution didn’t answer his questions, he says, so he just set those questions aside and didn’t think about them anymore.
But when the Christians in a town that had reason to be angry with him showed him a gesture of love, he began reconsidering his beliefs altogether. He eventually began to realize that evolution would never have the answer to his questions, he says, and it was at that time he began to believe in God.
“I kind of realized that the questions I [was] asking you just had to accept on faith without doubting every period and every comma,” he said. He later began studying the Bible, both the Old Testament and the Gospels, and also discovered his belief that Jesus is the Son of God.
Greene says his wife, who remains an atheist, is surprised by his conversion. That being said, he claims the two are able to cope with their differences without putting one another down or bashing the other’s beliefs.
Read the rest here.

H/T: Catholic & Enjoying It!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Ten Ways to Pray for Your Husband

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

One Million Hijabs for Shaima Alawadi

From Huff Po:

Jean Younis won’t be wearing an Easter bonnet at church this Sunday. Instead, the office manager at Bonita Valley Adventist Church in National City, Calif., will don an Islamic headscarf to support the family and friends of Shaima Alawadi, the Iraqi immigrant and mother of five who died March 24, three days after being beaten in her home in El Cajon, Calif.

"I do expect a reaction, but that's the point. It needs to be discussed," said Younis, 59, who predicted that most church members would be supportive or respectfully inquisitive.

She is one of many non-Muslim women to post photos of themselves wearing a headscarf on "One Million Hijabs for Shaima Alawadi," a recently created Facebook Page that had nearly 10,000 likes on Monday (April 2) and hundreds of photos. Others posting on the page have identified themselves as Catholics, Quakers, Mennonites, Jews, Pagans, and atheists.

Alawadi, 32, fled Iraq in 1993 and settled in Dearborn, Mich., before she moved to California where she and her husband worked for the U.S. military, providing cultural training.

Supporters worry that because of anti-Muslim sentiment in the U.S., Alawadi's murder, which many believe was hate crime, would be overlooked. Alawadi's killer has not been caught.

"I am a devout Christian and will be wearing hijab as a prayer in April," wrote Karen Streeter of Pasadena, Calif., next to her photo of herself in a hijab. "Growing up, I was bullied because I was different from others, so I have had a taste of what it is like to be harassed because of how you look."
"It's really sad also that some people will look at you mean just because you're wearing one," said Judith Castro, another Facebook poster, describing her experiences wearing a hijab in a 6-minute YouTube video.

Lauralyn Welland Taylor, a Detroit school teacher, wore her hijab for six days, and wrote about it on her Facebook page. "Wearing the hijab promotes conversation unlike anything else. Each day I have had meaningful conversations with individuals whom I have frequent contact, but often little dialogue," Taylor wrote.

The hijab has been seen as a mark of modesty, oppression, religious identity, and controversy -- and now it is becoming a universal symbol of solidarity, much as the hoodie has become a sign of support for Trayvon Martin, the unarmed Florida teenager killed by a neighborhood security guard.
There have also been "hijab and hoodie" rallies at several U.S. universities, including the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina State University, the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, and University of California at Irvine.

"They were both killed because of the way they looked," Younis said of Alawadi and Martin, "and that is so wrong."

 Check out photos of women wearing hijabs in support of Shaima Alawadi

Pastor Puts Stripper Pole on Pulpit for Sermon

From WLWT:

 A local pastor said he put a stripper pole on his pulpit to help preach his message.

It may raise some eyebrows, but Pastor Mike Scruggs said he's hoping it will save some marriages.Scruggs admits he's anything but a traditional pulpit preacher."We try to make it relevant, straightforward. We don't sugarcoat anything," he said.On Friday, Scruggs' sermon series drew a packed house at the Light of Word Ministries on Colerain Avenue."We talk about sex. We talk about drugs. We talk about faith. We talk about relationships…, things that people are dealing with on a day-to-day basis," Scruggs said.

The series of sermons is called the "Battle of the Sexes," with some rather interesting visual props."On one side, (we'll have) what men want or desire: your stripper pole, your video games, your sports," Scruggs said. "The woman's side (is) orderly, neat. It's all about love, candy, teddy bears, roses and being wined and dined and cherished."

Scruggs said his church focuses on real situations and brings godly solutions."We push the envelope, that's true," he said. "Don't take it out of context. Some people say, 'He's going to hell. He's wrong.' We want to talk about it. We don't want them to guess at it, assume it's wrong. It's right. We want to talk about it."The church has also been involved in interesting outreach programs, like a free gas giveaway and a gun buyback project.Scruggs said his mother is a member of his church and she approves of his message.
Um... yeah. I dont know what to say. What do you think?

Seven Killed at Christian University in Oakland, California

From ABC News:

The former student who authorities say gunned down and killed several people at an Oakland nursing college held a grudge against school officials, according to Oakland police, was deeply in debt with tens of thousands of dollars in federal tax liens against him and had two deaths in his immediate family last year.

One L. Goh, a 43-year-old Korean national, was apprehended Monday at a local supermarket about an hour after he allegedly killed seven and injured three people during a shooting rampage at Oakland's Oikos University. Five victims died at the scene, while another two died after being transported to a local hospital. There is no information on the other three victims.

"We've learned that the suspect was upset with the administration at the school," Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan said today on "Good Morning America."
"He was also upset that students in the past, when he attended the school, mistreated him, disrespected him, and things of that nature. He was having, we believe, some behavioral problems at the school and was asked to leave several months ago.

"We've learned that this was a very chaotic, calculated and determined gentleman that came there with a very specific intent to kill people, and that's what his motive was and that's what he carried out," Jordan added.

Goh left behind a string of debts and minor traffic citations in his former home state of Virginia and was evicted from one apartment complex in the state, according to ABC News Bay Area affiliate KGO. Goh had been kicked out of Oikos University several months ago, according to the San Francisco Chronicle

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An unidentified source also told the paper that Goh might have been involved in a dispute with campus officials.

Also, two of his family members died in the past 13 months, according to the Chronicle. His brother, U.S. Army Sgt. Su Wan Ko, died in March 2011 in an auto wreck in Virginia while on special forces training, the Chronicle reported. His mother, Oak Chul Kim, died a year ago in Seoul, according to a neighbor who told the Chronicle that she had moved there after deciding to leave Oakland. Goh's father, Young Nam Ko, had been living in Oakland but recently moved, neighbors said.

Goh also had federal tax liens in 2006 and 2009 totaling more than $23,000, the Chronicle
reported, adding that he managed to pay off some amount of his tax debt.

Police in Oakland have released a timeline of the chaotic events that took place Monday at the Christian university that focuses on nursing.

"Right now, we do not have a motive for this shooting," police chief Jordan said Monday evening. "Today's unprecedented tragedy was shocking and senseless. Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims, their families, and their friends; I offer my deepest condolences. No words can express the gravity of these crimes and the pain caused by them."

At 10:33 a.m. Monday, the Oakland Police Department received a 9-1-1 call regarding a woman on the ground bleeding at Oikos University, according to the Oakland police. Police arrived on the scene at 10:36 a.m. to find the victim with a life-threatening gunshot wound. In the meantime, several other calls were received regarding other victims.

Believing the suspect to still be inside, police initially established a perimeter around the building in use by Oikos University, a post-secondary vocational school that offers courses of study in Asian medicine, theology, music and nursing and has strong ties to the Korean-American community.
Breaking a window, Oakland Police and Oakland Unified School Police gained access to the school and coordinated an emergency evacuation and search.

"Officers found several victims throughout the classroom; throughout the building," Jordan said Monday. "There were several people hiding in locked buildings, locked doors, behind desks. As you can imagine, very frightened. Very scared. Some of them were injured, so we had to rescue them out."

Thirteen people were removed from the building by authorities. All the shooting victims were adults, according to Jordan. The victims were six women and one man, ranging from 21 to 40 and originally from Korea, Nigeria and Nepal, according to Jordan.

Read the rest here. Please keep everyone involved in prayer.
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