Month: August 2015

Is the key to revival in Denmark bringing down the strongman in Christiania?

Though the name almost sounds Christian, Christiania is anything but. The quaint, strange village with over 1,000 residents exists only minutes away from downtown Copenhagen, the capital city of Denmark. Started in 1971 at the height of the hippie movement, it is almost a country within a country. It has its own flag and currency and minimalist rules. Basically it started as hippie squatters took over an abandoned Danish army base and despite several skirmishes with the government, it has grown to become a self-governing village. Today the town’s inhabitants, who refer to themselves as Christianites, are made up of hippie pensioners, left-wing extremists and anarchists, environmental activists, many new age and occultist practitioners, alternative rock bands and kids just passing through. The village is inundated with eastern religious influences including a Buddhist temple and meditation center. It also has an occult center and even a New Age pyramid. Cars are not allowed in Christiania and for a time it was even illegal for community members to own one as members frowned on private property. …

Gospel of Jesus' wife fragment. Background photo: Jame Marvin Phelps/Foter/CC BY NC

‘Gospel of Jesus’s Wife’ a fake: the murky world of antiquity forgeries

The 2012 discovery of a business-card sized piece of papyrus by Harvard University professor Karen King has led to speculation Jesus was married. King received photo copies of the papyrus along with a second piece that included parts of the Gospel of John from a person who purchased the two papyri several years back. The buyer, who remains anonymous, later provided access to the original papyrus. What caught everyone’s attention was text on one fragment possibly referring to Jesus’s wife. Written in Egyptian Coptic, the text reads “Jesus said to them, My wife….” and then it stops as the papyrus is torn at this point. Since Mary is also mentioned on this same fragment, some concluded this was a reference to Mary Magdalene who they believe was the wife of Jesus. King dated the fragment to the fourth century and believed it was a copy of text written in the second century. She suggested it was evidence that some in the early church thought Jesus had a wife. King does point out that because of …

Don't pass your children through the fire. Photo Jasonyurgelevic/Flickr

As food for them?

The prophet Ezekiel uttered a strange prophetic word condemning Israel’s practice of sacrificing their children: 37 for they have committed adultery and blood is on their hands. They committed adultery with their idols; they even sacrificed their children, whom they bore to me, as food for them. (Ezekiel 23:37 NIV) Ezekiel was referring to the worship of Molech, a god found among the Canaanites and Phoenicians. It went by different names — Molech, Kronos and Chemosh are a few. King Solomon in his downward spiral even set up an idol to these gods in a high place in Israel (1 Kings 11:7). Leviticus 18:21 condemned the practice and gave more information:  “and thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech.” Diodorus Siculus, an ancient Greek historian, reported it as an idol with arms sticking out in front at a bit of an angle. The families would place their child on the arms and the baby or infant would roll down into a fire inside the idol. The historian adds the …

An Orthodox Jew Allied with Evangelical Christians

“You believe that because you are an Orthodox Jew allied with Evangelical Christians.” Those words offend many people, especially Jews and Christians. Recently a Jewish man named Steve Maman, originally from Morocco, was interviewed by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). The interview was in Montreal, and in French. The CBC is the state funded broadcaster in Canada. Also note, this is an election year in Canada and people are choosing sides. Steve Maman represents a charity that rescues women from terrible slavery under ISIS in the Middle East. He identifies the female victims as Yazidi and Christian. Most of the world believes he is a good man doing a good thing. To me, the CBC is bland and boring, a government-funded news source that never takes sides. It’s an expense for the taxpayers, and financial cuts are always possible. A brief interview in French, about an obscure charity, could not go wrong, but it did. Steve Maman praised the Government of Canada for its support of his charity and said that Canada was their most …

What is the gift of faith? Photo: Len Matthews/Flickr

God gave me a Gift of Faith for $6,895

A couple decades back, my wife and I had moved out of the city we had lived in most of our life due to a work transfer.  We were there about a year and a half, when I received a phone call from my boss asking if we wanted to return home. A lot of good things happened while we were gone, but both of us felt it was time to go back. Of course, we had bought a house and needed to sell it before we could move. As we pondered the sale, we considered the possibility of selling it ourselves instead of using a real estate agency that would charge us a few thousand dollars for their service. While in the throes of making the decision, a brother, who knew we were moving, called. The Lord impressed on him that we should consider selling the house on our own rather than using a real estate agency. The phone call confirmed what we had been feeling and we decided to try selling the house ourselves. …

Can you share your emotional burden? Photo: Tian Yake/Flickr

A woman’s perspective: Are you willing to share your burden?

Fear gripped me.  Attending this seminar meant I would be honest with myself  and others about the circumstances that created the emotional upheaval in my life. I had chosen to forgive or so I thought, but continued to live with  anger and bitterness. I desperately needed relief from the emotional torment. The  seminar, designed for people like myself, taught principles to  help those struggling with unresolved issues in their life.   I had suppressed them and tried to deny their existence for a long time. On the first day, I met the small group with whom I would share my darkest secrets. They were apprehensive just like me. We stood in a circle and one by one shared one thing that had crushed and wounded us. My turn came.   Guilt, shame, anger and bitterness flooded in.   It took all the strength  and courage I could muster to get through it. “I cannot change or heal what I don’t acknowledge, was the principle we were applying. I took my first steps towards  healing  my damaged …

Photo Trent Roche/Flickr

European study shows faith and church attendance key to happiness

According to a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology faith plays a key role in warding off depression and in providing “sustained happiness.” In their study reported by NBC, researchers with the University Medical Center in Holland and the London School of Economics compared the involvements of 9,000 Europeans aged 50 and over across 10 countries to find out what activities produced the best emotional benefit. The four areas compared included participation in religious organizations, political or community organizations,  charity groups and taking educational classes. The researchers found that only one — involvement in religious organizations — produced “sustained happiness” in the people studied. The study also showed that church participation gave people a sense of fulfillment and purpose and enabled people to make lifestyle choices that bettered their life. They also found the benefit extended across all countries included in the study. They even noticed a reduction in depression symptoms over a four-year period through increased church attendance. However, the research team was unable to find if it was faith in God …

How forgiveness stopped a riot. Photo: Flickr/scottmontreal

The Compassionate Widow

1968 was a troubled year for race relations in the United States – in particular, April of 1968, when Martin Luther King Jr.’s life was cut short by an assassin’s bullet. In the two weeks following King’s murder, race riots broke out in Washington, DC, Chicago, Baltimore, Kansas City, Detroit, and Wilmington, Delaware. Rioters reached within two blocks of the White House, and President Johnston ordered thousands of federal troops into the streets to restore order. The day of the King funeral, a white bus driver in San Francisco named Martin Whitted picked up four young men in a black ghetto called Hunters Point. Whitted had taken the run for a co-worker who wanted to take the day off to honour King’s memory. He was nearing the end of his run when he was robbed and shot by the youth. Sniper fire prevented the police from getting to Whitted in time, and he was dead by the time he reached the hospital. Hunters Point, a black-dominated ghetto that had gone through riots just two years …

Frank and Kathie Lee Gifford Photo: YouTube Capture

NFL star Frank Gifford’s greatest trophy was a small stone

Frank Gifford, 84, former NFL star and sports broadcaster died Sunday morning, August 9, 2015 sitting in his chair waiting to go to church. He was husband to Kathie Lee Gifford co-host of NBC’s Today Show and on Monday she shared a testimony of Frank’s faith and the impact a small stone had on him. Frank grew up in abject poverty during the Dirty 30s where at times his family ate dog food to survive. But his mother and father believed in God and faithfully attended church through these hard times. When Frank went on to play college ball at USC, he showed up with one white shirt and one pair of jeans. He went on to become a star in the NFL where he played as a running back and receiver. He played in eight Pro Bowls, was installed in six halls of fame, was the NFL’s most valuable player in 1956 when his team won the Super Bowl. Frank was nominated the come-back player of the year and was the only person to …

Is divorce a contributing factor to homelessness? Photo Ted McGrath/Flickr

The impact of divorce on adult children

I have posted two articles already on a 2001 report on the impact of divorce on children written by Rebecca O’Neill. In the previous articles I looked at how divorce negatively affects children and teens. In this post, I want to look at how divorce affects children as they become adults. At the time she wrote the report, Rebecca worked for the Institute for the Study of Civil Society based in London, England. In her paper, entitled Experiments in living: the Fatherless family, she compiled the statistics of many studies that analyzed the impact of absent fathers on children. While many of these studies looked at the consequence of divorce on children others simply researched the fallout of mothers raising children on their own — some being unwed mothers. Since divorce usually ends up with a mother raising a family alone, the consequences are often the same in both cases. In this last in my three-part series I look at how divorce negatively affects children once they become adults. In many instances the researchers tried …

Archaeologists digging into Gath, the hometown of Goliath Photo: Flickr/orientalizing

The giant gates of Gath, Goliath’s home town, found

Archaeologists say they have discovered the ancient Philistine city of Gath, home to one of the Bible’s most notorious characters — a giant named Goliath. King David’s slaying of the Philistine Giant in 1 Samuel 17 with a sling is a metaphor today of overcoming incredible odds. And today archaeologists are also uncovering evidence the city and the giants living there were very real. Perhaps it was just a coincidence, but archaeologists from Bar Ilan University working at the Tell es-Safi site have not only uncovered pottery at the site with the name of Goliath etched on it, but recently announced they have found the massive gates to the city. They are considered the largest set of gates ever found, perhaps fitting for a city known for its giants. At this point they have just uncovered the top of the gates and massive walls and it will take several years to fully uncover the gates. However, the size of stones at the top suggest the walls were massive. Archaeologists have been working at the Tell …

Three Sadhus in Kathmandu, Nepal. The author notes they were not the strictist observers. Photo Markus Koljonen/Wikipedia

The Apostle of the bleeding feet

Sundar Singh (1889-1929?) was born into a Sikh family in Rampur, Ktaania, Ludhiana (Punjab state), Northern India. Common in this part of India, Sikhs differ from Hindus in that they believe there is only one God and they don’t accept Hindu’s caste system. The fifth largest religion in the world, Sikhs are often confused with Muslims because the men traditionally wear turbans. Though Sundar’s mother desired her son to be a Sadhu or Sikh holy man and sent her son to a guru to be trained as a Sadhu, she also wanted her son to learn English and sent him to a Christian school. After his mother died, Sundar, then 14, became very angry and began to take out his frustration on Christians. He not only mocked them but once in a fit of anger burnt a Bible page by page in front of his friends. His anger and frustration boiled over and he contemplated suicide by throwing himself in front of a train. After praying that the “true God” would reveal Himself, Jesus appeared …

Photo: Flickr/Miroslav Petrasko

Bruce the Bunny and Bratislava Frowns

You may have heard about this; a news anchor in Florida, John Brown, had a loud tantrum on the set when he had to report that Kylie Jenner had a pet rabbit named Bruce. Kylie is a half sister of the Kardashians, and she just turned 18. The tantrum is now world news, and John Brown is a hero. He wanted to report news and he believes the Kardashians are not newsworthy. John Brown made it clear; some in the media will publish any nonsense that improves ratings. And we should know that we, the public, will consume anything that entertains. A British journalist once reported from Bratislava Slovakia, about the local news headline “Bratislava Frowns.” Citizens of Bratislava may have been mildly concerned about some obscure item in U.S. foreign policy, and this generated a headline. I pity the journalist assigned to a charming European country. Some days there is no news, except for comments on the bad reporting from other bored journalists. Even serious stories on important issues become old news in about …

A time for solitude. Photo: Martijn Roos/Flickr

A Woman’s Perspective: Solitude

There are times when I enjoy solitude. With no distractions, I can get lost in whatever I am doing and time just flies. Simply defined, solitude is the state of being alone. I always feel more refreshed and peaceful after such times. But I believe there are benefits to solitude other than just having ‘alone time.’  Author, Sue Monk Kidd has been writing books since 1990. In her early years of writing on contemplative prayer, she wrote ‘God’s Joyful Surprise.’ In it she says: ‘Solitude is a time for ‘God and God alone’. Who knows what can happen when we focus only on God. In solitude we sense our deep oneness with God and keep company with him. Solitude is breaking through my isolation into sharing and being in touch with my Creator. In fact we can begin to heal our loneliness by transforming it into solitude.’ Even Jesus practiced solitude during his life and invited his closest friends to do the same: Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He …

When ‘cool’ kids lose their ‘cool’

When our children attend school parents are in immediate competition with the ‘cool’ kids for influence. It can be a tough battle. At other times, it is hard to watch your children facing the rejection that comes with not being part of the school’s ‘in’ group. A new study is showing that being ‘cool’ in school does not translate into success when you are older. The study conducted by Psychology professors Joseph Allen and Hugh Kelly from the University of Virginia found that kids perceived to be ‘cool‘ in their early teens lost much of their sheen by the time they reached their early 20s. In their study, published in the Journal of Child Development, the researchers followed 184 13-year-old teens (grades 7 and 8) for ten years until they were age 23. They found in the early teen years ‘cool’ kids gained their popularity by hanging around with the good-looking kids at the schools. The ‘cool’ kids also acted older than they really were, which their peers found strangely appealing.  This included earlier participation …

McDougall Memorial United Church, Morley, Alberta

Can an atheist pastor a church?

This is a problem facing the United Church of Canada (UCC). During the 1950s, the UCC was a growing evangelical church. Things started falling apart when one of the church’s lead evangelists, Charles Templeton (1915-2001), walked away from the faith in 1957 embracing Liberalism — rejecting Christ’s Deity and the Bible as the inerrant Word of God. The fall of Templeton shook the United Church to its core. Templeton who also worked with Youth for Christ was a close friend of Billy Graham and they even preached together during evangelistic crusades. Graham believed God intended Templeton to be the evangelist that Billy Graham ended up becoming. Templeton was God’s first choice according to Graham. In fact, Templeton, who had attended a Liberal seminary, tried to convince Graham the Bible was no longer the inspired Word of God. This led to a crisis of faith for Graham, but one he passed and Billy went on to become one of the greatest evangelists the world has ever seen. But the United Church never recovered from Templeton’s fall. …

Photo: jbdodane/Flickr

Impact of divorce on teens

I was reading an article about a young teen, William Cornick, 15, from England who stabbed his teacher to death in front of his classmates in 2014. The incident shocked people across England. William was doing exceptionally well academically. He seemed like a normal, well-adjusted boy. Police found the family to be loving, caring and involved in William’s life. They could find no reason that would explain the murder of a teacher. I had to read several articles before I discovered a single line, buried at the bottom of an article that said his parents had divorced. Is it possible, this one fact hidden in dozens of pages written on this horrific attack was the reason for this violent murder? In a previous article, Studies reveal the negative impact of divorce on children, I looked at the impact of divorce on children from a report written by Rebecca O’Neill in 2001 for England’s Institute for the Study of Civil Society based in London. O’Neill looked at the vast amount of research on the profound impact absent fathers …

Bibles pouring into Cuba for the first time since 1969

According to a report by Christian Today, in July 2015 the International Missions Board sent 83,000 copies of the Bible into Cuba. In 2014, the Cuban government, for the first time in nearly five decades, allowed the American Bible Society to bring Bibles into the country. So far it has distributed 60,000 Bibles, printed in Korea, through multiple ministry partners. The opening of the door to the Bible was due in part to negotiations leading to normalization of Cuba’s relationship with the US. The arrival of the Bible in Cuba is profound considering there is nearly a 100% literacy rate in the country. However, though they can read most people can’t afford to buy books which opens the door for free Bible distribution. Ministries are finding even those who don’t consider themselves Christians are interested in a copy of the Scriptures. Other than a brief experiment with the idea in 1969, this was the first time Bibles were legally allowed into the communist country since Fidel Castro’s revolutionary forces conquered Cuba in 1959. Castro ruled …

Las Cruces, New Mexico, Photo: Flickr/Joseph j7uy5

Two New Mexico churches bombed

It hasn’t received much press. I guess if there is no blood or gore, most in the media are not that interested. Two churches in La Cruces, New Mexico had bombs explode outside their buildings a half an hour part on Sunday morning, August 2, 2015. With a population of 101,000, La Cruces also called the “City of the Crosses” is the second largest city in New Mexico. The first bomb exploded in the mail box of Calvary Baptist Church at about 8:20 am. The service hadn’t started yet and though there were 30 people inside, no one was injured. The second bomb exploded about a half an hour later at the nearby Holy Cross Catholic Church. This bomb detonated in front of the church’s heavy glass doors shattering the glass as a communion service was underway attended by Monseigneur John Anderson. Dennis Llewellyn who attends Calvary Baptist is a former member of the US Marine’s special forces. He knew immediately it was bomb stating, “it was a real bomb, I saw all the parts,” …

St Louis, MO photo: Ron/Flickr

Holy Spirit speaks to St. Louis police officer saving his life from an ‘ambush’

When the magi came to Judah looking for the Messiah, they first dropped in to visit King Herod to find out more information about a new king, who’s star they had seen. After hearing their story, Herod sent them on their way but asked his visitors to drop back to report on their findings. After tracking down Jesus in Bethlehem, God warned the magi through a dream not to return to Herod (Matthew 2:12), so they took a different route home. God spoke to them and by simply obeying this prompting, it provided a very practical way of avoiding danger to both themselves and even Christ from a king who many consider a psychopath. In an interview with NewsChannel 5, the unnamed St. Louis police officer told his story of how the Holy Spirit prompted him to do something and because the officer obeyed he is alive today. During the interview the policeman’s identity was purposefully hidden to avoid retribution on his family as a case is pending in court. On July 14, 2015, the …

Middle East hit by apocalyptic heat wave? Photo: Bedouins crossing Liwa desert, United Arab Emirates/Flickr/Globovision

Did the Bible predict the searing heat in the Middle East?

On July 31, 2015, temperatures in the city of Bandar Mahshahr, Iran hit a blistering 165F (74C), once you factored in the humid “feels-like” index. The air temperature was  (115F) or 46C. In terms of actual temperatures the hottest spot that day was Kuwait City where the temperature reached 118F (48C). Despite the Middle East’s largely desert-like condition, most countries have high humidity due to the Persian Gulf. The heat blast covered several Middle Eastern countries including  Iraq, Egypt, Unite Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and even Israel. After 8 days of heat exceeding 120 degrees, the Iraqi government declared a four-day holiday for all employees, no exceptions. In an interview with the New York Post, AccuWeather meteorologist Anthony Sagliani described the unusual heat this way: “That was one of the most incredible temperature observations I have ever seen and it is one of the most extreme readings ever in the world.” The Middle East is not the only regions experiencing extreme heat. In June, a heat wave resulted in 600 people dying in Pakistan. …

Planned Parenthood director discusses providing intact baby cadavers

In its fifth undercover video, produced by Center for Medical Progress (CMP), recording conversations with officials at Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast (PPGC) suggests the organization may be providing intact baby bodies for scientific research. In the videos, CMP uses actors pretending to be representatives of a biologic company who approach officials from different branches of PP about purchasing body parts of aborted babies. Be warned this recent video is probably the most disturbing released so far. Towards the end of the video, the group is in a laboratory picking through body parts of 20-week old baby ripped apart by its abortion — you can see full arms. Some medical researchers believe that babies as young as 20 weeks (perhaps even younger) can feel pain. The fifth video features negotiations with Melissa Farrell. She serves as a research director for Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast. In this video the conversation takes a disturbing turn. Instead of providing body parts, the discussion turns to providing fully intact baby cadavers. Farrell says: “If we alter our process, and we are …

The Cult of the Victim

A few days ago I saw something that shocked me. I was walking near a large supermarket, when I saw a distraught young woman. She was very drunk and holding the remains of a beer six pack, and she kept shouting at people and falling down. I saw my neighbors passing her as they went for groceries, some with children, and I immediately took out my phone and called police 911. The police dispatcher promised to send a car and I waited for a while, but that never happened. Thinking back, the woman became less drunk when she saw me on the phone. She walked in a straight line off the property and onto a public space. I stayed shocked and appalled until the next day, when I realized that I and my neighbors had been scammed. The police weren’t interested, because they knew. The young woman was just acting out in a public place, we may never know why, but she was not seriously drunk. My question now is, why did we believe her, …

Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India Photo: Amit Gupta/Flickr

Christian Heroes – Dr. Paul Brand

Paul Brand was a Christian doctor who dedicated his life and his skills to the people of India. He was the son of missionaries to India and, from the age of nine, was schooled and trained in England while his parents remained. After Brand graduated as an orthopaedic surgeon, he was recruited to serve at the Christian Medical College in Vellore. However, history remembers him most for his work at a nearby sanatorium for victims of Hanson’s Disease – leprosy. Little was known or understood about the crippling effects of leprosy on its victims. Brand realized that some of the same techniques used to rehabilitate the motor functions of victims of diseases such as polio held promise for treating leprosy. After a year of research and study, Brand began a series of surgeries on Krishnamurthy, a young man whose hands were completely atrophied and useless, his fingers curled into a claw position. Patiently, over time, Brand split moved healthy muscles and tendons to serve in place of paralyzed muscle. The claw gradually was restored to …

Matthew McConaughey and Camila: Getty Images

Matthew McConaughey: A modern day covenant

[by Linda Wilson and Barb Smith] There was an intriguing article in The Christian Post last fall about Matthew McConaughey and his girlfriend Camila making a covenant with God. McConaughey and Camila Alves, a Brazilian model, had been together since 2006 and they had two children by the time they married in 2012. McConaughey admits that Camila put some pressure on him to get married.  He says he was open to getting married but not because it was expected of him. “We talked about it spiritually” McConaughey explained to GQ magazine,  “We did a lot of reading and talked to a lot of people that had been divorced, a lot of people that had been happily married.  We talked to our pastor.  In the end our understanding was, let’s go make a covenant, with you, me, and God.” Matthew has Christian roots. According to reports the reason you never hear him referred to as “Matt” is because his mother named him after the Gospel writer Matthew in the New Testament. Because of that, she told …

Flying sand and dense mist leads to a water baptism in Iraq

It’s a stirring account of an unusual water baptism that took place in the Euphrates River on January 21, 2006 in Iraq. On this day, the unit’s chaplain baptized an American soldier stationed at Rawa, Anbar province, in Northern Iraq. He was dressed in his typical sea-foam green camouflaged uniform. It was a dangerous time in that country. After the defeat of Iraq in 2003, militants were starting to re-assert themselves throughout the country. ISIS reportedly now controls this territory. The soldier was baptized in the Euphrates, an ancient river mentioned in the last book of the Bible — Revelation. In his vision of the end-times, the Apostle John saw the great river was completely dried up (Revelation 16:12) allowing a massive army from the East easy access to the area. We don’t know if John intended this passage to be interpreted literally or spiritually. You can tell from the video it is a massive river. One of the reasons the baptism could take place that day was due to the high wind that whipped …