Month: January 2014

Academy strips ‘Alone Yet Not Alone’ of its Oscar nomination

UPDATED Jan 31/2014: The Board of Governors for the Academy Awards have just stripped, “Alone Yet Not Alone,” a faith-based film, of its Oscar nomination for Original Musical Score. The nomination prompted a huge backlash in the Hollywood community much of it centered around the movie’s faith-based message. According to the Academy, the song’s music composer Bruce Broughton, a former Academy governor, e-mailed board members to have them consider the song for a nomination.

Sun has gone quiet, scientists concerned mini ice age is looming

The sun has gone quiet and this has not only puzzled scientists but concerned them as well, as it could signal the earth is entering a mini ice age. The ‘quiet’ they are talking about is an unexpected drop in sunspots and flare activity on the sun. When it comes to these types of solar activities, the sun has a regular 11 year cycle where it goes from a solar maximum — lots of sunspots and solar storms — to a solar minimum with very few. But the sun is breaking all the solar rules. The sun was supposed to be at its maximum in 2013, but instead it is strangely quiet. In fact, this is the quietest the sun has been in 100 years.

Northern wolf Wikipedia/Gunnar Ries (Amphilbol)

It’s time to get dangerous

Years ago, I read a story told by a missionary ministering in an Eskimo village in Canada’s high Arctic in what was then called the Northwest Territories. While on a hunting trip, one of the Eskimo men came across a young female wolf pup and brought it back to the village. The other dogs in town immediately recognized it was different and terrorized the poor animal.

Crow attacks a dove released by the Pope on January 26, 2014 as part of a prayer for peace.

Did a remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1963 horror flick, ‘The Birds’, descend on the Vatican?

Taking a page out of Alfred Hitchcock’s classic horror flick, The Birds, a seagull and a crow attacked two doves released by the Vatican on January 26, 2014 before tens of thousands of people in Vatican Square. Referred to as the Pope’s caravan of peace, two children, a boy and a girl, released the doves as part of the Angelus Prayer. The Pope was calling for peace in the Ukraine where violence has erupted from people protesting the countries growing ties with Russia. The dove often portrays the Holy Spirit in Scripture and the two were set free from a window in the Vatican as a symbolic gesture of the prayer. Almost immediately, the two doves were viciously attacked.

A Byzantine church discovered in Israel, complete with a secret.
Photo Byzantine Church in Egypt Wikipedia/Marc Rycharert

1,500-year-old church discovered in Israel comes complete with a mystery

The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced the finding of an ancient church in Israel. The Byzantine church was discoverd 20 kms southwest of Jerusalem in the Judean Hills in a place known as Hirbet Madras. Archaeologists discovered the ruins after looters disturbed the ground while looking for antiquities to sell in the black market. The area was already under going salvage excavation as developers planned to use the land to construct a new neighbourhood for Moshav Aluma. 

Do you live in the most Bible-minded city in the U.S. or the least?

The American Bible Society and the Barna Group, a national research and surveying company, joined together to measure the spiritual temperature of some of America’s largest cities. The survey conducted in August 2013 asked 46,274 adults of 100 cities questions determining how often they read the Bible and how accurate they believed the Bible was. This was the second year in a row, Barna has tried to measure the Christian spirituality of American cities. This year, Chattanooga, TN topped the list as the most Bible-minded city knocking off Knoxville, TN, who headed the list last year.

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The Project of Life: Extreme Simplicity

So what are you working on in this new year; a church, a family, a career, a business? Success is simple, we are building a brick house and we only want good bricks. In the last few decades, developers have learned new ways to start new projects. One of the most successful project models is “Extreme Programming” that emphasises simplicity. Developers noticed that large super projects failed too often; years of hard work by large teams of experts could end in spectacular and expensive failure.

Study shows church goers commit less crime

Researchers at Manchester University in England discovered church goers commit less crime, particularly when it comes to illegal drug use, music piracy and shoplifting. The research group led by PhD student Mark Littler surveyed 1,200 people ranging in age from 18 to 24. The researchers asked the study group about their history of criminal activity in eight specific areas and what the possibility was they would commit future crimes. 

Controversy erupts as musical score for Christian movie nominated for an Oscar

The Academy Awards has nominated the lead song of a Christian film for an Oscar as Best Original Score. The song, Alone Yet Not Alone, from the movie by the same name received the nomination over such heavy-weight pop stars as Taylor Swift and Jay-Z who wrote songs for movies last year. The film is based on a novel by Tracy Leininger Craven who researched and wrote the story about her ancestors. It is the true account of the Leininger family in 1700’s Pennsylvania. A Christian family, their faith was tested when Delaware warriors captured their two daughters, Regina and Barbara, in 1755 during the French Indian war.

The fathers of atheism?

In 1999, Catholic psychologist Paul Vitz caused a stir when he published his book — Faith of the Fathers: The Psychology of Atheism. In it, Vitz attributed a person’s atheistic views to poor and/or absent fathers.  Vitz — a professor at the Institute for the Psychological Sciences based in Arlington, Virginia, a Catholic graduate school — recently released an updated edition of his book In an interview with Religion News, Vitz said, “We need to understand atheism has a lot to do with our emotional attitudes towards life, other people and a lot of other things. I think that is an important thing for atheists and believers alike to take into consideration.” Vitz studied the childhood of a number of radical atheists such as Madalyn Murray O’Hair, Voltaire and Nietzsche and noticed each came from homes with abusive fathers. Vitz says this affected their ability to develop a relationship with God, their Heavenly Father. When his book was first published there was a swift reaction from the atheistic community. Many were incensed their beliefs had …

Keith Green — Asleep in the Night

Keith Green (1953-1982) and his wife Melody were products of the Jesus People movement as the Holy Spirit swept through the Hippie generation during the late 60s and early 70s. Keith and his wife, both Jews, were radically transformed by the Gospel of Christ in 1975, 18 months after their marriage on Christmas Day in 1973. Keith was one of the most radical Christians I knew at the time — he and his wife were totally sold out to the Kingdom of God. 

Doctors diagnose a broken heart

Researchers at John Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland came up with a phrase  “broken heart syndrome” to describe a peculiar type of patient. They developed the phrase as a result of their diagnosis of 20 people (18 were women) who had come to the hospital complaining of a heart attack. In each case, the person displayed classic heart attack symptoms such as shortness of breath, pains in the chest, accumulation of lung fluid and a noticeable reduction in the heart’s ability to pump blood. 

The divided mind of worry

In the New Testament, the Greek word for worry is an interesting word and understanding its definition provides a clue on how to deal with worry. The word for worry most often used is “mirimnao” (Matthew 6:25, 28, Luke 10:41). It combines two Greek words ‘merizo’ which means ‘divide’ and ‘nous’ which means ‘mind.’ ‘Mirimnao’ literally means ‘divided mind.’ 

Thick-headed Christians?

If someone calls you thick-headed because of your Christian beliefs, agree with them. It’s not only Biblical as Jesus tells us to agree quickly with our adversary (Mathew 5:25) , but it’s also true. And, it’s not a bad thing. Myrna Weissman — a professor of psychiatry and epidemiology at Columbia University in the U.S. — said her research shows people of faith have a thicker cortex compared to those who are not. 

What we see and what satan sees.

What the devil sees

In the book of Zechariah, the prophet relays a series of visions that give brief glimpses into the spiritual realm. However, there is one that does more than that. It not only tears away the veil covering the spiritual realm, it also shows how angels and demons view people in the natural world. They see us differently. In chapter 3:1, the prophet Zechariah notices Joshua — who was the high priest in Jerusalem — standing before the Angel of the Lord. Zechariah also observed Satan standing at Joshua’s right hand uttering a barrage of accusations against the High Priest. 

Oh Happy Day — Edwin Hawkins

This is one of my favourite Christian songs and I don’t think I am alone. Oh Happy Day, written by Edwin Hawkins in 1968, is the all-time best-selling Gospel song to date. The above video which features Edwin Hawkins does not have the best video quality, but I wanted a clip with Edwin singing his hit.

End time plagues: How easily and quickly they can happen

It was frightening how easily it happened and Canada’s medical and scientific community was powerless to stop it. Dr. James Talbot, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, reported North America’s first fatal case of H5N1 (a lethal bird flu) in Alberta, Canada on January 3, 2014. H5N1 is a deadly disease transmitted via contact with birds — alive or dead — and can include under-cooked bird meat and even bird feces. The death rate for H5N1 is nearly 60%.

Credit: Sara/Flickr/Creative Commons

The Charter: Stepping out of the Dream

So what is your dream, something you want to see, or something you desperately need? Do you want something for yourself or your family, or other people; like a new career, an education, a business, or a mission for God? And you know that all dreams die right? All those great sentiments floating through our heads are just whiffs of electrical energy, and they are born to die. The good news is there are two ways to kill a dream. You can cycle that rosy thought for years and some day it will be a story to bore the grandchildren. I’ve got a few of those. The other way is to the kill the dream and make it into reality. Jesus said a grain of wheat remains alone unless it falls into the ground and dies (John 12:24), and I believe that principle applies to our hopes and dreams. My Grandfather, in Scotland was an expert on religion and theology. He read all the books and had all the answers, except someone told him to …

Slaying the worry monster

So how much do you worry? There are so many things to worry about — finances, kids, jobs — and because of that it is difficult to tell how much a persons worries in a day. But one of the big worries for all of us is finances. In 2010, Freescore.com conducted a survey to discover how much Americans worry about finances and in particular their debt. They discovered that of the 1,000 Americans (aged 18 and over) who were surveyed, 57% considered themselves in debt.

Tel Aviv, Israel Credit: Elanna/Flickr/Creative Commons

Miraculous healing causes a stir in Tel Aviv, Israel

Found along the Mediterranean sea in Israel, this area has witnessed miracles in the past. Tel Aviv is located on the old port city of Joppa (also called Jaffa), where Peter raised Tabitha from the dead in Jesus’ Name (Acts 9:36-43). Two centuries later, Jesus healed again and this latest miracle caused a buzz in the city. Even Tel Aviv radio and TV stations broadcasted the incredible healing of Therese Daoud, a Messianic Jew. Doctors at Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital did not have good news for Therese when she showed up complaining of pain in her ankle and leg. MRI scan revealed an orange-sized tumour in her leg. A biopsy indicated it was sarcoma cancer which according to specialists is one of the worst forms of cancer tumors because of its aggressiveness. Concerned, the Israeli doctors sent the tests to specialists in the U.S., who confirmed the diagnosis. To save her life, the doctors told Therese the only course of action was amputation. She had her first appointment for amputation scheduled a few days later, but when …

Mansion Builder — ‘Second Chapter of Acts’

“Cause I’ve got a Mansion Builder Who ain’t through with me yet.” This post will date me, but I believe Second Chapter of Acts was one of the most unique and arguably best Christian singing groups of the last 50 years. The group was composed of two sisters Annie Herring and Nellie Greisen and brother Mathew Ward. The above song is one of their hits — Mansion Builder — performed live in 1987 in California. After their last parent (dad) died in 1970, the younger children Nellie (14) and Mathew (12) moved in with Annie and her husband Buck Herring, a music producer and recording engineer.

Barbaric Muslim ritual reported in persecution of Christians

Sister Hatune Dogan reports Muslim jihadists are performing barbaric atrocities against Christians in Syria. Sister Dogan is a nun with the Universal Syrian Orthodox Church and spends much of her time documenting Muslim extremists persecution of Christians. In this graphic interview (be warned), Dogan speaks of Muslim persecution of Christian men and women in Syria. One involves the purging of blood from martyred Christians, so it can be sold to Muslim extremists for a bizarre ritual.

Study: Worry leads to increased risk of a stroke

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh found a connection between worry and strokes. The group led by Maya Lambiase followed 6,000 people for about three decades starting in the mid-70s. They ranged in age from 25 to 74. Lambiase’s team asked the participants a series of questions and then tested them to determine their levels of anxiety and related depression. From that point on, researchers tracked the rates of stroke for the group. 

The Project of Life in 2014

At the beginning of the New Year most of us have resolutions for a better life. According to experts with the Bank of Montreal, 80% of Canadians plan for the New Year with resolutions: 51% want better health and fitness 36% want better finances 31% want personal improvement 19% want a better love life 17% want career improvements That’s the picture on January 1, and apparently we keep about 60% of our financial resolutions, which works out to about 17% of the population. Otherwise, Canadians are mostly unsuccessful in their struggle to make life better.