Aug 2, 2015

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Jul 26, 2015

Ragbag Headliners

Christians Launch 'Sin-Free' Facebook Alternative
Brazilian Evangelical Christians have launched a new site that intends to be a “sin-free” alternative to Facebook. The site, called “Facegloria,” attracted over 100,000 users in its first month of operation.

The Christian Post reports that Facegloria will not allow curse words, as well as about 600 other banned words. Violent content is prohibited, in addition to sexual content, whether gay or straight.

Web designer Atilla Barros said, "On Facebook there is a lot of violence and pornography, so (we) thought we'd found a network where we could talk about God, love and share your word.”

Barros also said that the company aims to be “morally and technically better than Facebook. We want all Brazilian Evangelicals to shift to Facegloria.”

The creators of Facegloria hope to see 10 million users on the site in the next two years.

Facegloria is a social media site similar to Facebook, but offers Christian differences, including an “Amen” button instead of “Like.” -Christian Headlines

TIME Columnist Suggests Ending Tax Exempt Status For Churches
In the aftermath of a Supreme Court decision that legalized gay marriage nationwide, TIME Magazine published a piece by columnist Mark Oppenheimer recommending that tax exempt status for churches and religious institutions should be put to an end.

“Rather than try to rescue tax-exempt status for organizations that dissent from settled public policy on matters of race or sexuality, we need to take a more radical step. It’s time to abolish, or greatly diminish, their tax-exempt statuses,” Oppenheimer wrote.

According to Oppenheimer, the IRS should not have to decide which institutions are religious in nature. He also argued that religious charities that help those in poverty would be unnecessary because the government would have the money to provide for the needy.

He wrote, “Defenders of tax exemptions and deductions argue that if we got rid of them charitable giving would drop. It surely would, although how much, we can’t say. But of course government revenue would go up, and that money could be used to, say, house the homeless and feed the hungry. We’d have fewer church soup kitchens — but countries that truly care about poverty don’t rely on churches to run soup kitchens.”

Oppenheimer said that the Supreme Court’s gay marriage ruling could very well spark a reexamination of tax exemptions for churches, and when it happens, “it will be long overdue.” -Christian Headlines


Question: "What does the Bible say about legalism? How can a Christian avoid falling into the trap of legalism?"

Answer: The word “legalism” does not occur in the Bible. It is a term Christians use to describe a doctrinal position emphasizing a system of rules and regulations for achieving both salvation and spiritual growth. Legalists believe in and demand a strict literal adherence to rules and regulations. Doctrinally, it is a position essentially opposed to grace. Those who hold a legalistic position often fail to see the real purpose for law, especially the purpose of the Old Testament law of Moses, which is to be our “schoolmaster” or “tutor” to bring us to Christ (Galatians 3:24).

Even true believers can be legalistic. We are instructed, rather, to be gracious to one another: “Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters” (Romans 14:1). Sadly, there are those who feel so strongly about non-essential doctrines that they will run others out of their fellowship, not even allowing the expression of another viewpoint. That, too, is legalism. Many legalistic believers today make the error of demanding unqualified adherence to their own biblical interpretations and even to their own traditions. For example, there are those who feel that to be spiritual one must simply avoid tobacco, alcoholic beverages, dancing, movies, etc. The truth is that avoiding these things is no guarantee of spirituality.

The apostle Paul warns us of legalism in Colossians 2:20-23: “Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: ‘Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!’? These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.” Legalists may appear to be righteous and spiritual, but legalism ultimately fails to accomplish God’s purposes because it is an outward performance instead of an inward change.

To avoid falling into the trap of legalism, we can start by holding fast to the words of the apostle John, “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17) and remembering to be gracious, especially to our brothers and sisters in Christ. “Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand” (Romans 14:4). “You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God's judgment seat” (Romans 14:10).

A word of caution is necessary here. While we need to be gracious to one another and tolerant of disagreement over disputable matters, we cannot accept heresy. We are exhorted to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints (Jude 3). If we remember these guidelines and apply them in love and mercy, we will be safe from both legalism and heresy. “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). –Got

Christian Flag Facts

This flag, like an unplanned baby, was born into the Christian fellowship one hundred years ago, where open arms gave it a loving welcome. Today, it is no longer an infant. Some 244,000 churches display one or more Christian flags in their sanctuaries and classrooms.

In answer to the need for basic information concerning the Christian flag and guidance for its correct usage, this page has been prepared. May it be a blessing to all Internet surfers in fulfilling this purpose.


The featured speaker failed to arrive for the Sunday School Rally in a Coney Island Chapel in 1897, and - the Christian flag was born:

Like so many of the great and memorable things of history, a Christian flag was not contemplated or predesigned. A fortuitous happenstance gave it birth. The Sunday School was holding an old-fashioned Rally Day of the kind which was so much the custom in years past. For this occasion, a favored speaker had been engaged, but for some reason undisclosed did not show up. Superintendent Charles C. Overton, in the emergency, called upon his own gifts of innovation to fill in the time. An American flag lay there across the pulpit. Overton addressed his words to the flag and its symbolism. Then like a flash came the thought, why not also a Christian flag? His impromptu but constructive ad-libbing was to produce a verbal picture of what is today, and for the past one hundred years has been, the Christian flag.

Today the Christian flag is one of the oldest unchanged flags in the world. It was conceived at Brighton Chapel, Coney Island, New York, Sunday, September 26, 1897, and was presented in its present form the following Sunday by its originator. Call it chance, or providence, serendipity, or the plan of God. On that day, the Christian flag was born.


The Christian flag is the only free flag in the world. It is different from every other flag, religious or secular, ancient or modern. It is uncontrolled, independent, and universal. Unlike all national flags and all denominational flags of various churches, it has no earthly bonds or allegiances. Christ and Christ alone is its Master. Without limitation, it exists for all the world's people regardless of sex, race, national boundary, economic condition, affluence, or poverty, politics, slavery or freedom. It cannot be restricted by any nation or denomination. This unique, universal quality makes it like the air we breathe, belonging to all and yet owned by none. For those who want it, wherever and whenever, it is freely theirs.

All church flags are organizational symbols of specific corporate, legal, religious entities. The Roman Catholics, Episcopalians, United Methodists, Baptists, United Church of Christ, and others have flags, official or otherwise, but limited to their use and ruled by them. Not so with the Christian flag. This flag stands in its own right, shines by its own spiritual light, true, free, untrammeled, uncompromised. It belongs only to Christ and the Cross which symbol it bears.


Why is the cross so emphatically magnified in the new Affirmation of Loyalty?

The Cross in size is the smallest component of the total flag. And yet the whole message, theological and ecclesiastical, lies in that small but eternal symbol. Without this Cross, this flag would be little more than a decorative piece of cloth. The force of this fact is climactic. If there were no Cross, there would be no post-resurrection Christ, there would be no church. All hinges upon that Cross. This syllogism lifts up and boldly states the historical and eternal fact: the Cross is at the heart of it all.

Many are the theories of the atonement of God and persons through the sacrifice of Christ upon the Cross, and many are the theological nuances meticulously spun out by the Christologists. There is one thing, however, upon which all of the interpretations of the atonement agree, namely, the indispensable centrality of the Cross. Because of that Cross, Jesus is not just another miracle worker recorded in the passing pages of Roman history. He is Christ, the Son of God, sacrificial and triumphant, the Savior of the world, the world God so loved.

So understood, the Cross of Christ on the Christian flag is the summation of it all. And to be adequate to its high purpose, the new Affirmation of Loyalty to the Christian Flag expressly includes that Cross.


The Affirmation of Loyalty to the Christian Flag is a sacred commitment. Let the congregation celebrate its loyalty to the Christian flag and the Cross which it bears by extending to it appropriate recognition and honor.

The minister or lay person will proceed as follows, saying:

1. Let us stand facing the Christian flag.

2. Let us repeat the Affirmation of Loyalty in unison.

    "I affirm my loyalty to the Christian Flag and to our savior whose cross it bears, one spiritual fellowship under that cross, uniting us in service and love."

3. Let each person conclude the Affirmation with a slight but positive nod to the Flag. The congregation may now sing one or more verses from a hymn of its choice, such as Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus, or other appropriate selection.

4. Let us now participate in our Christian Fellowship by holding hands in an inclusive chain from person to person and pew to pew during the concluding prayer. The minister or lay person presiding will offer here a brief appropriate prayer, marking the conclusion of this celebration of the Affirmation of Loyalty to the Christian Flag.


Quite universally, when churches install new Christian and American flags, they hold a special ceremony for this purpose during the worship service. The author has been asked on occasion for suggestions in this behalf and is glad to incorporate the following installation rituals. These brief but comprehensive rituals may be enlarged and revised as the need may require.

Dedication of the Christian Flag

The minister or lay person presiding will have the congregation rise. Together they will then proceed with the dedication celebration. A separate copy of the ritual should be in the hands of the worshippers or incorporated in the bulletin.

The Leader: Let us now dedicate this Christian flag. Truly this is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad it.

The People: The heavens declare your glory, O Lord. We bless your holy name. Your name is above every name.

The Leader: The supreme symbol of Christian faith is the Cross. Serenely it stands above the centuries bearing testimony to the love of God for his children.

The People: God so loved people that he gave his Son in sacrifice upon the Cross to bring true life to all.

The Leader: The Christian flag bears his sacred symbol of God's love. Its folds of white are clean and pure. Its fields of blue are truth universal and eternal. Its Cross of red tells of the shed blood of Christ and of the martyrs, then and now.

The People: Truly this is a holy flag. We will honor and cherish it in our personal hearts and in the public worship of this congregation.

The Leader: I now solemnize the dedication of this Christian flag in the name of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Here shall the presence of the Christian flag and its Cross remind us that we stand on holy ground. Let us ever be worthy, faithful, and thankful. Amen.

The congregation may here repeat the Affirmation of Loyalty to the Christian flag, or, if so desired, repeat the Apostles' Creed, or sing an appropriate hymn.

If both the Christian and national flags are to be dedicated, the congregation will remain standing and the leader will directly proceed.

Dedication of the American Flag

The Leader: Let us now dedicate this American flag. The foundations of this republic are built on the teaching that every person is of infinite value in the sight of God.

The People: On these shores our forebears have established, and we their children have preserved, a worthy nation. Let our great land forever be committed to promote and preserve the holy liberties of people and their inherent right to the pursuit of the abundant life.

The Leader: The symbol of our national idealism is this gracious flag of stars and stripes. Beneath its colors let us rejoice in the greatness of our beloved nation and pray for the wisdom to use this greatness, under God, for the cherished ideals of our precious heritage.

The People: Here we dedicate ourselves anew to the ageless principles for which this emblem stands. Faithfully we will live them, resolutely defend them, and courageously preserve them as our sacred trust.

The Leader: I now dedicate this American flag to stand here before us as an unfailing reminder that we are one nation under God. May our nation be blessed forever with righteousness, freedom, and peace. Amen.

At the conclusion of this dedication, if desired, the congregation may repeat the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America or sing an appropriate hymn such as O God, Our Help in Ages Past and conclude with Our Fathers' God to Thee, or other selection.


The code for honorable placement of the Christian flag arose out of crisis. A highly motivated young preacher fresh from Yale University Graduate School was serving his first full-time appointment. The year was 1938. The clouds of World War II darkened Europe and hung like a shroud over the world. American youth were being registered. It was a flag-conscious time.

In this setting, an unexpected problem arose for the young minister. To his mind the motto "Christ Above All" and the "Name Above Every Name" meant all honor at all times to Christ and the Cross. With no hesitancy he placed the new Christian flag, which had just been purchased, at his right in the chancel, and the American flag symmetrically opposite. All the laws of heraldry, the Apostles' Creed, New Testament references and social usage designated honor to the right-hand side. He had not anticipated the stir this was to cause. He was confronted by some sincere and questioning members. They showed him a pamphlet put out by a patriotic group that pictured the national emblem in the place of honor, whereas he had put the Christian flag in the place of honor. His explanations fell on deaf ears. One of the questioners holding a pamphlet then said to him, "We have the diagrams right here in print. What do you have in writing?"

There was nothing in writing to turn to concerning the correct usage of the Christian flag in 1938. Furthermore, the nation was gearing for war. Civilians were flag-sensitive and overreactive. The American and Christian flags were secretly switched during the week. What did he have in writing? At that time, nothing. All he had was a deep conviction that Christ and His Cross should never come second. (His name was James Russell Pollock, your author.)

The young minister took the whole question to his annual church conference. He prepared and presented the written regulations which he felt would comprise a true Christian Code. It was immediately adopted. That was 59 years ago. Like the Christian flag itself, it has not changed.


The Bill of Rights, Article 1, The Constitution of the United States:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

The United States Navy:

During the Service of Divine Worship led by the Fleet Chaplain, a triangular Pennant of White with a blue Latin Cross is flown at the masthead above the American flag.

The State of California:

Excerpted from Stars, Stripes and Statues, National Flag Foundation, p. 66, item 2. No flag or pennant shall be placed above, or if on the same level, to the right of, the United States flag, except flags flown during church services. (Bold type and italics added)


1. When the Christian flag is on the floor level, the Christian flag is placed to the right, front, of the congregation and outside of the communion railing.

2. When the Christian flag is placed within the chancel, communion railing or choir loft, the Christian flag is placed to the right side of the altar, of the clergymen, and of the choir as they face the congregation.

3. When the Christian flag is displayed with the American flag and/or other flags:
  • The American flag and/or other flags may be placed symmetrically on the opposite side of the sanctuary and on the same level as the Christian flag. 
  • If desired, it is also proper to place the Christian and national flags side-by-side wherever stationed in the church, thus symbolizing both the spiritual and patriotic loyalties of the congregation.
  • When the flags are placed side-by-side, the Christian flag is always stationed on the right of all other flags.
  • The Christian flag never dips to any other flag. It may properly dip to the altar Cross.
4. Use of the Christian flag in other situations:
  • Where a Cross is carried in a processional, the Cross leads, followed by the Christian flag.
  • In a single-column processional, the Christian flag precedes all other flags.
  • In a double-column processional, the Christian flag is on the right.
  • When the Christian flag is on the same flagpole with any other flag, the Christian flag receives the top position.
  • Where the Christian flag and another flag are on separate poles, the Christian flag is on the right as it faces the street or audience.
  • In placing the Christian flag staff in its supporting base, it should be adjusted so that the blue canton and Cross are turned toward the congregation.
  • No other symbol or flag should ever be placed above the Cross.

1. In the Church Worship Service:
  • Have a minute speaker on the Sunday nearest the September 26th One Hundredth Birthday of the Christian flag.
  • Let the minute person present from the pulpit a brief, positive word about the history, or uniqueness, or proper display of the Christian flag.
  • At least once a year, schedule a spiritual renewal celebration. The would be shared by all in stating the Affirmation of Loyalty to the Christian Flag.
  • A sermon on Martyrs of the Faith, with special reference to the Cross on the flag, would be appropriate.
  • Light a birthday candle on the One Hundredth Birthday Anniversary, a Sunday nearest the 26th of September, 1997. A member of the youth group, a family with one of the children lighting the candle, or one of the elderly members whose age might come close to paralleling the age of the flag, or a dozen other colorful procedures could be utilized.
2. In the Church School:
  • Celebrate the flag's anniversary with presentations of the historic birth of the flag, why it bears the Cross, the proper display of the Christian flag, and how to honor and respect it.
  • For hand work, make an actual Christian flag, cutting the cloth and sewing the parts together carefully and accurately. With small children, use paper, paste and scissors.
3. In the Children's Sermon:
  • Often exciting conversations with the children illuminate subjects which the congregation also enjoys. Let the pastor or associate devote a talk with the children about the Christian flag with a small flag for each child.
4. For the Youth:
  • At summer camp, erect a flagpole and let the Christian flag fly high and clear. Let this be a bold symbol of identification as a Christian youth group.
  • At the campfire ring, celebrate youth's dedication by sharing together the Affirmation of Loyalty to the Christian Flag.
5. In the Pastor's Confirmation Class:
  • Lift up the history of the Christian flag's unusual origin and why the flag bears the Cross.
  • Encourage love and respect for the Christian flag in the hearts of the confirmands.

From its inception in 1897 to this present day a full century later, with a proud one-hundred-year anniversary, the Christian flag has quietly and beautifully graced an ever-increasing number of church sanctuaries, religious schools, national and world conferences, and a host of additional situations. The flag means much to many people. It belongs. Instinctively it is cherished. Its symbolism, liturgical and ecclesiastical, utters no words, yet speaks to the hearts of millions.

The way that this unique flag came into being, not by laborious, intellectual planning but by a flash of inspiration ignited by the necessity to fill in for an absent speaker; the subsequent history and authority for its primacy among flags; the new Affirmation of Loyalty to the Christian Flag as an inevitable religious development; the emphasis upon the Cross it bears; the necessity for a code of correct display; plus the desire of so many Christian people to know what this flag is all about; all of these combined have been the motivation for the creation of this one hundredth anniversary volume.

Let the Christian flag be known and honored for what it truly is. Let it be correctly displayed with boldness and pride. Let its colors, Cross and symbolism lift high an expression to the name which is forever above every name, the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 13:7 "Render therefore tribute to whom tribute is due":

Much of  the information used on this Christian Flag Page is from the book, "Congratulations to The Christian Flag" by Author James R. Pollock, Ph.D., D.D., a United Methodist minister, pastored churches in Michigan, Connecticut, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, and then retired in Florida. During World War II, he was a front-line military chaplain in the US Army, serving with combat engineers and the 2nd Armored Division. The absolute primacy of the unfettered Cross of Christ, wherever placed, remained a life-long unyielding, consuming conviction of the author. His efforts resulted in creation of the Christian flag code.The author passed away on March 25, 1996, two days after completing this 4th edition. –Montney

The Names Of Money

Did you know that money actually has different names depending upon the circumstance or reason? For instance ...
  • Money given in church or temple is called tithe or offering.
  • To a beggar, it is alms.
  • To a charity/relief effort or organization, it is donation.
  • To a school, it's matriculation or tuition fee.
  • In certain marriages, it is dowry.
  • In divorce, it is alimony, and for each minor child, it is child support.
  • When one owes someone else, it's debt.
  • When one is required to pay the government, it's tax.
  • When levied as a penalty in court, it's a fine.
  • When one rides public transportation (e.g., a bus, plane, taxi, train), it's fare.
  • At retirement, it's pension.
  • At work, it's salary, but if one punches a time clock, it's wage.
  • For a parent to her/his child, it's allowance.
  • When it is borrowed (e.g., from a bank), it's loan. . .a mortgage for a home buyer/homeowner. . .but rent when one leases a home or apartment.
  • When given for extraordinary service rendered (e.g., to a waiter in a restaurant), it's gratuity or tip.To a kidnapper, it's ransom.
  • For an illegal transaction or "shady" deal, it's bribe.
And when a husband gives money to a housewife, well ... it is called DUTY because a wife is on DUTY 24/7 during the entire marriage. –Author Unknown/Contributed by Ralph

Vote On Ordination: Majority Says “No” To Women As Adventist Ministers

By AT News Team, Updated Twice July 9, 2015:   The delegates gathered at the General Conference Session in San Antonio took the vote that was scheduled nearly a year ago and has been the focus of much discussion, many hopes and even greater apprehension. “Is it acceptable for division executive committees, as they may deem it appropriate in their territories, to make provision for the ordination of women to the gospel ministry?” The official ballot count was 977 yes and 1,381 no. Or, 41% to 59%, which is a significantly greater yes vote than the last time the same idea was put forward in 1995 at the session in Utrecht, Holland.

As the clock neared the agreed time for the vote, some 34 delegates made points of order, seeking more time for the discussion, complaining that the reports from the study committee took the entire morning. Pastor Raymond Hartwell, president of the Pennsylvania Conference, stated that some people have been waiting in line at the microphones since the morning and moved that there be two more hours of discussion. The parliamentarian ruled that such a motion is out of order since Hartwell was making a point of order which cannot be used for such a purpose under the Rules of Order. Pastor Armando Miranda, one of the GC vice presidents, said that was because so much time was taken in the morning for the committee.

At 4:30 pm, the time previously mandated, the chairman, Dr. Michael Ryan, a retiring GC vice president, announced that there would be a season of prayer before the balloting started. All over the Alamodome delegates knelt together in prayer. He ended the season of prayer by praying for the entire delegation and the decision before them.

The GC Secretariat, in consultation with Nancy Lamoreaux, chief information officer of the GC, had prepared an alternative plan for the vote in case the electronic voting system did not work. This proved to be important because the delegates voted on the first day of the session to abandon the electronic voting system after it failed test runs.

“We have tried to be transparent, honest and thoughtful, and to ensure the privacy of the vote to the best of our ability,” Lamoreaux stated in a GC news release this morning. The paper secret ballot system was explained to all of the delegates when the time came to vote.

Delegates were dismissed by row and lined up at 14 stations situated around the seating area on the main floor of the Alamodome. Each delegate has a badge with a barcode and these were scanned by a staff member from the denomination’s Auditing Service who then handed them a ballot. This was designed to make sure that only delegates voted.

The ballots were printed on special paper 5.5 by 8.5 inches in size with a “Yes” in five languages on one half and a “No” in the same five languages on the other half. Delegates marked a box with a pen to indicate their vote.

There were four collection boxes where the ballots were deposited, each locked with clear sides so that it could be seen that there were ballots in the boxes. After all of the delegates had marked and deposited their ballots, the boxes were opened on work tables at the front of the auditorium and the auditors, together with the GC secretaries, opened the boxes and counted the ballots.

Dr. Jan Paulsen, the retired former GC president, made an appeal for the delegates to vote yes which brought a handful of angry reactions. Many church members around the world have expressed a strong antipathy to the disrespect that they feel was shown toward him in this reaction.

Dr. Ted Wilson, the current GC president, pledged to go with either outcome. He said, “I think it is well known what I think about this issue,” evidently referring to the opposition to women’s ordination that he has privately expressed for a number of years. Ironically, his father, Pastor Neal Wilson, who served as GC president until 1990, supported extending ordination to women pastors.

Natasha Nebblett, the president of the independent youth organization, Generation of Youth for Christ (GYC), made a statement against women’s ordination claiming that many young adults in the denomination share her view. A young woman immediately sent a Twitter; “The female leader of GYC decides to say no to confirming the leadership of other women in ministry? You can’t make this stuff up!”

After the vote, the delegation from the North American Division met in Room 103 in the Convention Center to discuss the outcome. One of the major problems with this decision is that (so far as all polls show and in the opinion of the vast majority of the youth workers contacted by Adventist Today) young adults in the northern hemisphere are very negative about the refusal of the denomination to ordain women serving as pastors.

Three lines of thought emerged from the comments made during the discussion that went all afternoon. In each case the speakers addressed more than the specific question to be voted on and gave their opinions about the larger issue of whether women can have a role in pastoral ministry as the spiritual leader of a congregation.

Many of the speakers who lined up at the “No” microphone focused their comments on the Bible and expressed the view that the Bible does not permit women to be ordained ministers. They said Adventists hold the Bible as the only foundation for our teachings and it must be the basis for deciding any controversies; the Bible teaches that God’s word applies to all cultures; the Bible teaches that God created men and women with different roles; the Bible teaches that an elder must be of noble character and the “husband of one wife” in a New Testament passage; the Bibles is clear that no woman ever functioned as an elder; the Bible shows Jesus and the apostles as a model for church governance and women did not exercise this leadership. At least one speaker stated that allowing women’s ordination undermines three of the denomination’s Fundamental Beliefs. Some speakers stated that God used women to lead spiritual revivals and as prophets, and they are encouraged to participate in gospel work, but that does not necessitate ordination.

Many of the speakers who lined up at the “Yes” microphone expressed the view that it is important to include women and men equally in the ordained ministry. They stated that the Bible teaches that men and women were equal in all things at Creation with no female submission to male headship mentioned until after the fall as a result of sin; women are used as leaders in multiple ways by God throughout Scripture; Jesus made no reference to gender, just service; the Holy Spirit give spiritual gifts to all believers for the fulfillment of the mission of the church with particular mention that in the last days spiritual leadership will be poured out on men and women and ordination is the church’s official recognition of the choices that the Holy Spirit has made. Some speakers pointed out that certain Bible passages have been misunderstood by those who oppose women’s ordination. The text in Timothy is not about ordination but learning from teachers. The text in 1 Corinthians is not about ordination but improper dress. The text in 1 Timothy 1:12 applies to both elders and deacons and there clearly were women serving as deacons. It was also pointed out that Ellen White never used these passages to limit women functioning as leaders. These speakers agreed that there is no divine command in favor of or in opposition to ordaining women and Ellen White has written nothing opposing it, so the basis for it is the gifting of the Holy Spirit. It would be theologically wrong to impose an interpretation on people since Biblical truth cannot be decided by vote. Adventists in various situations must decide the matter based on what is best for God’s work where they are.

A few speakers tried to bridge the two opposing views. Some suggested that the GC should affirm that men can be in headship in the home and follow the traditional pattern of church leadership although it is not presented as an imperative in the Bible; that the church should recognize that leaders were chosen to further the mission and unity of God’s people and if that can be better met by women in leadership then it should be allowed. At least one speaker pointed out that in the Bible, God called Deborah to lead His people and did not require circumcision of the Gentiles in the New Testament church, demonstrating instead unity amongst differences. The church cannot take it upon itself to impose what God does not clearly impose.

Natasha Nebblett, the president of the independent youth organization, Generation of Youth for Christ (GYC), made a statement against women’s ordination, claiming that many young adults in the denomination’s North American Division share her view. A young woman immediately sent a Twitter; “The female leader of GYC decides to say no to confirming the leadership of other women in ministry? You can’t make this stuff up!”

A youth pastor in New York City sent a Twitter comment: “The next time someone wants to know why the youth are leaving the church, show them a tape of this meeting.” ….

At the “No” Microphone

One of the first speakers made a motion to first “deal with the disobedience of the union conferences that went ahead” with the ordination of women pastors. The chair declined to take this motion and the delegate complained that his motion was not respected, but nothing came of it. The exchange seemed to indicate that some of those against women’s ordination wanted to take a very hard line on the topic.

Dr. Frank Hasel, a Bible scholar at Southern Adventist University, stated that is shows wisdom to not to treat the issue “as if it is a pillar of our faith. It never has been in the past. It is not now and it won’t be in the future.” He seemed to accept that ordination of women was happening and would continue to happen at least in some areas, because his main concern was “how do we preserve the rights of those who do not think women should be ordained?”

The next speaker stated, “Jesus is the truth [and] we practice the truth. … He didn’t ordain any woman to the gospel ministry than [and] we need to follow Jesus.”

An older delegate said that “since 1973 I’ve been part of the committees that dealt with this issue. There has not been much change since the first time. The same Bible texts, the same paragraphs from the Spirit of Prophecy always come up, and we always come to conclusion that we are based on the Scriptures and will abide by the Scriptures. Someone asked me what the strongest argument against the women’s ordination is and I said, I’m not looking for arguments; I’m looking for attitudes. My concern is to keep the body together, so I plead with the delegates to accept the same way of reading the Scriptures; not having two ways of reading the Scriptures, one biblical and one cultural.”

Doug Batchelor, a pastor from Sacramento, California, who directs the Amazing Facts media ministry, spoke against women serving as pastors and on behalf of male headship theology, which he believes the Bible requires. In the last year he raised large amounts of money to print a book and send several copies to each of the 6,000 local churches in the North American Division, as well as quantities overseas.

Dr. Gullermo Biaggi, the president of Euro-Asia Division, who was elected a GC vice president on Tuesday this week, indicated that as he reads the Bible and the writings of Ellen White it appears to him that women’s ordination is against God’s will. “I consider that it is better for our church to have only one body of ordained pastors,” instead of allowing ordination in some divisions and not others. He appealed for the need to stay away from women in the Adventist ministry “because of mission” barriers. In Russia, “I’ve been told that we are an American sect. The Orthodox Church in our region says don’t ordain women because it’s not biblical.”

Khanyisani Malufu, a delegate from Zimbabwe, also spoke against having different policies for ordination in different parts of the world. “When someone is ordained into ministry they are ordained for the world church.” Woman can still be very useful even if they are not ordained, he said.

Colleen Zimbeva, a delegate from the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division, advocated maintain the status quo. She said women “have been teaching, preaching and evangelizing. Things have been running smoothly with no problems. I looked at the Spirit of Prophecy which is very silent about [the topic]. It is better to be conservative, to keep the present situation and the unity of the worldwide church.”

Kevin Nwagwe, a delegate from Nigeria: “A committee was set up to find the position of the church [and] it is not clear on women’s ordination. This means the church is still open to further study and if we take a decision today and then find another way [later], what will we say?” He expressed concern that it would confuse people if one division ordained women and others do not. “I ask the delegates to vote no not because women are inferior. We need our sisters. God created a divine order at creation. Sin did not change this. God gave Adam headship.”

David Poloche, a pastor from Venezuela, said “there was a time [in the Old Testament] when there were no judges and everyone did as they pleased. That will not happen to the Adventist Church. We have been united until today. For more than 30 years specialists have sought Scripture to support women’s ordination and the church has been united in not adopting women’s ordination. We haven’t found a new manuscript of the Bible that says differently. The last two years study by our theologians has proven the same as we believe today. We need to be united. There cannot be divisions that say one thing and divisions that say another thing. That is not unity.”

Samuel Larmie, a pastor from Ghana, stated, “The devil is against the truth. What we are talking about is not just about allowing women to teach. We are not talking about prophets. We are talking about the initiation of women into ministry. The Holy Spirit is our infallible guide. Ellen White was never ordained. Jesus and Paul never ordained women.”

Frederick Nyaga, a delegate from Kenya, said “at all the past GC Sessions this issue has not been approved. Does this mean that we don’t need unity? If there is a time that we needed unity, it is now. We are not against women doing ministry, but if we are going to say No, let’s say No as a church. It is not an issue of life or death, so I’d rather we say No to maintain unity.”

At the “Yes” Microphone

Pastor Raymond Hartwell, president of the Pennsylvania Conference, asked a multipart question: “If Ellen White wrote that the Lord ordained her, and wrote that the Holy Spirit ordains both men and women to be pastors, and in Joel, God’s word states, ‘I will pour out my spirit on all flesh … for sons and daughters,’ then is it possible we are not honoring God by refusing permission for women to be ordained?”

Dr. John Brunt, a well-known Bible scholar and senior pastor in California, shared that he has worked with five women as associate pastors and has seen them work with more than 14 men as associate pastors. He has seen them work well together. They just want to minister alongside the men. “For my ministry to be recognized in a way the world church is not willing to recognize these women makes me feel unclean, as if there is segregation. It is my deep moral conviction that unity of mission is achieved through diversity of practice, not requiring or forbidding.” He spoke of his experience in segregated South Africa when black members of the church were not permitted on “white only” beaches. He considered the segregation issue to be a moral issue. He rejected segregation on moral grounds because of his commitment to equity. Likewise, with women’s ordination, he cares because it also involves a commitment to equality. To not care about women’s ordination is to ignore the moral issues.

Dr. Lawrence Geraty, a Bible scholar and retired former president of La Sierra University in California, stated that there is no Biblical basis for ordination by gender. “We in North America are appealing for the world church to recognize the need in our division, to allow us to use women since men have already been granted recognition. It is a matter of justice in harmony with Fundamental Belief Number Four. We are not forcing other divisions to have ordained females. We are asking for the graciousness to be allowed to make our own choice. The mission field in the 20th century was the global south and the global north facilitated that. We now ask that the global south help the global north in mission in the 21st century.”

Pastor Bradford Newman, secretary of the Pacific Union Conference, said women as pastors are here to stay and they have been a blessing to those whom they have reached. “We do not specify gender and there is nothing in the Bible regarding women’s ordination that the Church agrees upon. YES is the key to finishing the work: Y is for youth and reaching them. E is for evangelism; 7 billion men and women need every spiritual and ministerial calling for mission. The Holy Spirit does not distinguish gender when giving gifts. S is for submission to one another in love. It is the time to reach out and ask what will assist other parts of the world.”

Marc Woodson, a pastor from Concord, California, pointed out that this issue is not found in the Fundamental Beliefs, in the GC Working Policy, in the constitution and bylaws, or in official church statements. It is not included as a testing truth nor does it involve any other major Adventist belief. It is not a moral issue. If we do not move forward with women’s ordination, we will gain a false sense of unity. Unity must be based on mission not on uniformity. As a world church we are based on diversity which is why we have 13 divisions.

Pastor Jeroen Tuinstra, president of Belgian-Luxembourg Conference, said the reality is that God is calling women to pastoral ministry and leadership in my part of the world. They can nurture and guide spiritually our youth and immigrants that come from other cultures. They only want to respond to God’s calling, not to cause a controversy. They feel they seen as less capable only because of their gender. If we move forward with WO, we will keep the church “real.”

Caleb Jara, a delegate from North America, stated that God calls us to preach the gospel and in Job the Bible says, in the last days the Holy Spirit will pour out on all flesh the power to preach; it will go to everybody. Your daughters will have the gift of prophecy and spiritual gifts will be given without regard to gender. In Revelation it says that we as a people have already been made a “priesthood.” Ellen White has written that the Holy Spirit prepares workers of both genders to become pastors for the flock. The Bible does not prohibit women’s ordination.

Pastor Lowell Cooper, a GC vice president, made six points. Number one, a Yes vote best aligns with theology of ordination report; a No vote puts practice in conflict with our theology of ordination. (2) A Yes vote best aligns with the Biblical teaching about spiritual gifts; a No vote denies the God-given teaching on spiritual gifts. (3) A Yes vote is an expression of permission to allow the Church to react to varying situations around the world; a No vote blocks opportunity for mission. (4) A Yes vote indicates trust in our brothers and sisters; a No vote shows distrust. (5) A Yes vote is entirely consistent with earlier decisions to permit women to be ordained as local elders; a No vote is inconsistent. (6) A Yes vote enables the world church to move forward with an agenda of more than 50 years.

James Standish, communication director for the South Pacific Division, said this issue is distracting to the church’s mission. There are Bible following Seventh-day Adventists who believe women should and should not be ordained. What should we do with this distraction? It’s not a matter of salvation. There is no Biblical distinction between pastors and elders; it is a manmade distinction. It is not worth splitting the church or imposing one view on another person. We need to let each other live in peace.

Roger Robertson, a delegate from North America, stated that this is not an issue based in the Fundamental Beliefs or the pillars of the faith of the early pioneers. This is an issue of the world. “I want to follow the Lord the way He is presented in the Bible. Paul and Barnabas also had disunity. Please allow us to go in the direction we think we need to because we believe it is based on the Word of God; we are preaching the same gospel message as you are.”

Roscoe Howard, a delegate from the NAD: “We all see the world through different cultural lenses that affect every aspect of life. It cannot be escaped. Culture invades everything and it will continue as the world grows larger. I used to be against women’s ordination until God gave me a text; Ephesians 6:5. Slave owners used this text to support slavery in the United States. This Bible text can be misconstrued and used to suit any diabolical or holy perspective.” Other texts can be misused the same way.

Pastor Marvin Wray, a pastor from California, stated that this issue is about methods of enhancing the work of spreading the gospel, not about theology. From North America, “we strove to give you what you needed to meet the needs of the global south. Would you please allow us the same privilege that we gave you even when we did not agree with everything that was needed to help you? We must allow for variance by division, otherwise it will be destructive of the church and of the mission.”

Pastor Glenn Townend, the newly elected president of the South Pacific Division, said we are united in mission. If the church for the last 40 years has been discussing the issue of the role of women in the church and there is no consensus, then it obviously does not unite us. We don’t need uniformity. We need the Spirit of God to unite us. We don’t dictate how people worship and we should not dictate who leads.

Charles Sandefur, the former president of ADRA currently working for a health care ministry, shared how he knew a woman who waited 40 years to be ordained and was better qualified than he, yet he was ordained as a young man. There are differences of conscience. Circumcision and non-circumcision were allowed to be a matter of choice in the New Testament church. We can do the same thing here with conscience and ordination. We don’t need permission, but blessing to fulfill the mission of the church.

Pastor Bruno Vertallier, president of the Inter-European Division. said we are concerned about the doctrine of creation, but we continue to discriminate on the creations of the Creator. These are His creations. The women were created by God and are precious to God. If we want to be consistent, we need to recognize women in their full dimensions. Glorify the Creator by respecting those whom He created.

Dr. Cheryl Doss, a faculty member in the seminary at Andrews University, pointed out that two thirds of the TOSC agreed that ordination should be opened to women. This is an indication of the Holy Spirit’s leading. Just as the body requires different parts to function, the church requires different parts to function to the best of its ability. Ordination is functional not sacramental in Adventist theology. We need the freedom for divisions to make decisions to help their part of the body function well.

Pastor Ricardo Graham, president of the Pacific Union Conference, reminded the delegates that the GC created Regional Conferences in 1944 because of segregation of races and these conferences have proved beneficial for the church. Accommodations have been made to allow people to worship and minister appropriately. Why can’t this be done again? Even a new Fundamental Belief [on the doctrine of brotherhood] was created to allow for the needs.

After the vote, the delegation from the North American Division met in Room 103 in the Convention Center to discuss the outcome. –Adventist Today

Why Did Muhammad Wear Women's Clothing?

Army Of God?

6 Modern-Day Christian Terrorist Groups You Never Hear About

Just because they don't get as much coverage as ISIS or Boko Haram doesn’t mean that they don’t exist.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) recently released an in-depth report on terrorism in the United States. Covering April 2009 to February 2015, the report (titled “The Age of the Wolf”) found that during that period, “more people have been killed in America by non-Islamic domestic terrorists than jihadists.” The SPLC asserted that “the jihadist threat is a tremendous one,” pointing out that al-Qaeda’s attacks of September 11, 2001 remain the deadliest in U.S. history. But the study also noted that the second deadliest was carried out not by Islamists, but by Timothy McVeigh in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995—and law enforcement, the SPLC stressed, are doing the public a huge disservice if they view terrorism as an exclusively Islamist phenomenon.

The report, in a sense, echoed the assertions that President Barack Obama made when he spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast in February and stressed that Muslims don’t have the market cornered on religious extremism. In the minds of far-right Republicans, Obama committed the ultimate sin by daring to mention that Christianity has a dark side and citing the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition as two examples from the distant past. Obama wasn’t attacking Christianity on the whole but rather, was making the point that just as not all Christians can be held responsible for the horrors of the Inquisition, not all Muslims can be blamed for the violent extremism of ISIS (the Islamic State, Iraq and Syria), the Taliban, al-Qaeda or Boko Haram. But Obama certainly didn’t need to look 800 or 900 years in the past to find examples of extreme Christianists committing atrocities. Violent Christianists are a reality in different parts of the world—including the United States—and the fact that the mainstream media don’t give them as much coverage as ISIS or Boko Haram doesn’t mean that they don’t exist.

Below are six extreme Christianist groups that have shown their capacity for violence and fanaticism.

1. The Army of God

A network of violent Christianists that has been active since the early 1980s, the Army of God openly promotes killing abortion providers—and the long list of terrorists who have been active in that organization has included Paul Jennings Hill (who was executed by lethal injection in 2003 for the 1994 killings of abortion doctor John Britton and his bodyguard James Barrett), John C. Salvi (who killed two receptionists when he attacked a Planned Parenthood clinic in Brookline, Massachusetts in 1994) and Eric Rudolph, who is serving life in prison for his role in the Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta in 1996 and other terrorist acts. Rudolph, in fact, has often been exalted as a Christian hero on the Army of God’s website, as have fellow Army of God members such as Scott Roeder (who is serving life without parole for murdering Wichita, Kansas-based abortion doctor George Tiller in 2009), Shelley Shannon (who attempted to kill Tiller in 2003) and Michael Frederick Griffin (who is serving a life sentence for the 1993 killing of Dr. David Gunn, an OB-GYN, in Pensacola, Florida).

Although primarily an anti-abortion organization, the Army of God also has a history of promoting violence against gays. And one of the terrorist acts that Rudolph confessed to was bombing a lesbian bar in Atlanta in 1997.

2. Eastern Lightning, a.k.a. the Church of the Almighty God

Founded in Henan Province, China in 1990, Eastern Lightning (also known as the Church of the Almighty God or the Church of the Gospel’s Kingdom) is a Christianist cult with an end-time/apocalypse focus: Eastern Lightning believes that the world is coming to an end, and in the meantime, its duty is to slay as many demons as possible. While most Christianists have an extremely patriarchal viewpoint (much like their Islamist counterparts) and consider women inferior to men, Eastern Lightning believe that Jesus Christ will return to Earth in the form of a Chinese woman. But they are quite capable of violence against women: in May 2014, for example, members of the cult beat a 37-year-old woman named Wu Shuoyan to death in a McDonalds in Zhaoyuan, China when she refused to give them her phone number. Eastern Lightning members Zhang Lidong and his daughter, Zhang Fan, were convicted of murder for the crime and executed in February. In a 2014 interview in prison, Lidong expressed no remorse when he said of Shuoyan, “I beat her with all my might and stamped on her too. She was a demon. We had to destroy her.”

Eastern Lightning’s other acts of violence have ranged from the killing of a grammar school student in 2010 (in retaliation, police believe, for one of the child’s relatives wanting to leave the cult) to cult member Min Yongjun using a knife to attack an elderly woman and a group of schoolchildren in Chenpeng in 2012. Christian groups are not exempt from Eastern Lightning’s fanaticism: in 2002, cult members kidnapped 34 members of a Christian group called the China Gospel Fellowship and held them captive for two months in the hope of forcing them to join their cult. Although mainly active in the communist People’s Republic of China, Eastern Lighting has been trying to expand its membership in Hong Kong.

3. The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA)

The mainstream media have had much to say about the Islamist brutality of Boko Haram, but one terrorist group they haven’t paid nearly as much attention to is the Lord’s Resistance Army—which was founded by Joseph Kony (a radical Christianist) in Uganda in 1987 and has called for the establishment of a severe Christian fundamentalist government in that country. The LRA, according to Human Rights Watch, has committed thousands of killings and kidnappings—and along the way, its terrorism spread from Uganda to parts of the Congo, the Central African Republic (CAR) and South Sudan. The word “jihadist” is seldom used in connection with the LRA, but in fact, the LRA’s tactics are not unlike those of ISIS or Boko Haram. And the governments Kony hopes to establish in Sub-Saharan Africa would implement a Christianist equivalent of Islamic Sharia law.

4. TheNational Liberation Front of Tripura

India is not only a country of Hindus and Sikhs, but also, of Muslims, Buddhists, Catholics and Protestants. Most of India’s Christians are peaceful, but a major exception is the National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT). Active in the state of Tripura in Northeastern India since 1989, NLFT is a paramilitary Christianist movement that hopes to secede from India and establish a Christian fundamentalist government in Tripura. NLFT has zero tolerance for any religion other than Christianity, and the group has repeatedly shown a willingness to kill, kidnap or torture Hindus who refuse to be converted to its extreme brand of Protestant fundamentalism.

In 2000, NLFT vowed to kill anyone who participated in Durga Puja (an annual Hindu festival) And in May 2003, at least 30 Hindus were murdered during one of NLFT’s killing sprees.

5. The Phineas Priesthood

White supremacist groups don’t necessarily have a religious orientation: some of them welcome atheists as long as they believe in white superiority. But the Christian Identity movement specifically combines white supremacist ideology with Christianist terrorism, arguing that violence against non-WASPs is ordained by God and that white Anglo Saxon Protestants are God’s chosen people. The modern Christian Identity movement in the U.S. has been greatly influenced by the Ku Klux Klan—an organization that has committed numerous acts of terrorism over the years—and in the 1970s, new Christian Identity groups like the Aryan Nations and the Covenant, the Sword and the Arm of the Lord (CSA) emerged. Another Christian Identity group of recent decades has been the Phineas Priesthood, whose members have been involved in violent activities ranging from abortion clinic bombings to bank robberies (mainly in the Pacific Northwest). On November 28, 2014, Phineas Priesthood member Larry Steven McQuilliams went on a violent rampage in Austin, Texas—where he fired over 100 rounds at various targets (including a federal courthouse, the local Mexican Consulate building and a police station) before being shot and killed by police.

6. The Concerned Christians

One of the ironic things about some Christianists is the fact that although they believe that Jews must be converted to Christianity, they consider themselves staunch supporters of Israel. And some of them believe in violently forcing all Muslims out of Israel. The Concerned Christians, a Christianist doomsday cult that was founded by pastor Monte “Kim” Miller in Denver in the 1980s, alarmed Colorado residents when, in 1998, at least 60 of its members suddenly quit their jobs, abandoned their homes and went missing—and it turned out there was reason for concern. In 1999, Israeli officials arrested 14 members of the Concerned Christians in Jerusalem and deported them from Israel because they suspected them of plotting terrorist attacks against Muslims. One likely target, according to Israeli police, was Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa Mosque—the same mosque that was targeted in 1969 (when a Christianist from Australia named Denis Michael Rohan unsuccessfully tried to destroy it by arson) and, Israeli police suspect, was a likely target in 2014 (when Adam Everett Livix, a Christianist from Texas, was arrested by Israeli police on suspicion of plotting to blow up Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem).

In 2008, Denver’s KUSA-TV (an NBC affiliate) reported that members of the Concerned Citizens had gone into hiding and that Miller hadn’t been seen in ten years. –AlterNet

'Ransacked' Roman Temple Has Hidden Medieval Secrets

Despite damage from war, looters and agricultural activity, a Roman temple and settlement high in the Lebanese mountains still hold clues about the ancient and medieval people who once lived there, a new study finds.

Until now, little was known about Hosn Niha, a Roman-Byzantine village located in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon, the researchers said. Built in approximately A.D. 200, the village was home to a Roman temple and a small settlement, they said.

In the early 1900s, German archaeologists studied the remains of the temple but paid little attention to the neighboring settlement, which they described in a 1938 study as "a picture of complete ransacking," adding that hardly a trace remained of the settlement's inhabitants.

 During the Lebanese Civil War (1975 to 1990), military activity and looting took a heavy toll on the remains of Hosn Niha. In the late 1980s, treasure hunters riding bulldozers scraped through the village, moving and damaging ancient clues buried in the ground, according to the new study.

But "even though the core of the village has been irreparably damaged, a significant amount of the site remains in situ [in its original place] and with enough surviving features and structural evidence to warrant further investigation," the researchers wrote in the new study, detailed in the April issue of the journal Antiquity.

Their diligence paid off. An analysis of pottery shards scattered around the village shows evidence of a large Greco-Roman settlement and a later medieval occupation, likely during the 13th or 14th centuries, the researchers said.

"What we were trying to do is show that sites that have been quite badly damaged by conflict shouldn't just be ignored and forgotten," said study researcher Ruth Young, a senior lecturer of archaeology at the University of Leicester in England. "I think that what we have now is a lot more knowledge about how villages operated and [their] connection with the temple."

'Blimey, what a mess'

When the researchers arrived at Hosn Niha, they found bulldozed piles — some reaching 13 feet high (4 meters) — of pottery fragments mixed with dirt, the researchers said.

"When you first look at the site, you think, 'Blimey, what a mess. Where do we even start?'" Young told Live Science.

 But the bulldozers hadn't pushed the pottery fragments far from their original spots, usually less than 164 feet (50 m), the researchers said. They quickly got to work, using a precise form of global positioning system (GPS) called differential GPS to map architectural fragments, such as door thresholds, columns and stone walls.

The researchers' understanding of the settlement grew as they carefully mapped the structures and dated the pottery fragments. They suggest a settlement was firmly in place by A.D. 200, with a dense area of dwellings in the central village and more dispersed courtyard dwellings skirting the village, the researchers said.

The village likely diminished by the 600s during the early Islamic period, though it's unclear why, they said. Today, the most complete remains of the site belong to the Roman temple, which still has walls standing 33 feet (10 m) high, the researchers said.

The early inhabitants likely farmed in the valley, possibly growing grapes for wine, the researchers said. "This might explain why they were able to build such big temples," said study co-author Paul Newson, a professor of history and archaeology at the American University of Beirut in Lebanon. "If they were doing wine, they could do it as a cash crop."

The researchers also found glazed pottery shards, characteristic of the early medieval period, scattered around a stone structure, suggesting the structure was a medieval development, he said.

Looters had robbed a cemetery to the east of the settlement, but the archaeologists still studied the tomb types, including stone sarcophagi, individual cist (stone-lined) tombs and communal rock-cut tombs, they said.

The study is a "very good piece" of survey work "that could have been carried out at any archaeological site/landscape that had been damaged, or partially damaged," said Peter Stone, a professor and head of arts and cultures at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom, who was not involved with the study.

Many archaeological sites have been damaged over the ages. "So there is a positive that shows that sites believed to have been made totally useless specifically as a result of conflict do, or at least might, in fact still have valuable information to provide," Stone said. –Live Science

HOPE - Fountainheads - Yom Haatzmaut

A Cure For Stuttering

A man with a really bad stutter hoping for a cure went to a doctor and said: "D-D-D-Doctor, I h-h-h-have a r-r-really b-b-b-b-b-b-b-bad s-s-s-stut-t-t-t-t-t-t-ter. W-w-w-w-what c-c-c-c-an b-b-b-b-be d-d-d-d-done t-t-t-t-t-t-to g-g-g-g-get r-r-r-r-rid of it?"

After thoroughly physical examining the patient from head to toe told him that the most likely cause of his problem were his unusually massive, extremely well-hung privates, and it would be best to take out the guy's super-size balls and part of his really ultra-large scrotal sac. The procedure would be simple and could be done right then and there.

Without hesitation, the fellow said: "L-L-L-Let's d-d-d-d-do it!"

The operation went successfully. The guy went home delighted to be cured of his stutter. But after telling his partner what happened, the partner was not very happy and urged him to have the surgery reversed.

The next day, the man went back to the doctor's office saying, "Hi, Doc thank you very much my stutter is completely gone but unfortunately my partner is not happy and wants the surgery reversed."

The doctor replied, "OK, b-b-b-but are y-y-y-y-y-you s-s-s-sure?" -Author Unknown/Contributed by Ralph

Letter To A Dying Church

With the latest Pew Research report, we’ve seen lots of bloggers either wringing their hands over it or trying to prove it doesn’t signal the end of the Church. I think it is clearly a sign of a dying Church – and I think that’s a good thing.

To the Dying Church,

I hardly know what to say. Watching someone you love, who helped raise you, who cared for you when you weren’t well, who partially defined who you would be, slowly perish before your eyes is difficult to say the least.

I love you. I don’t want to lose you.

But, this is life. These things happens. Those you love do die. It’s just how it works. I mean, there were Churches before you. They may not have looked like you or sung songs like you or taught exactly what you do, but they all had Love – just different ways of expressing it. They changed people’s lives. They made some people better people and, sometimes, they made people worse people. Then, they died.

In all of it, Love was there somewhere hoping to be valued, hoping to be expressed, hoping to be shared.

Standing at the foot of your bed as you struggle to hold on, as you fight to catch a few last breaths, is uncomfortable and wonderful, all at the same time. Remembering the twinkle in your eye from my childhood, the liveliness of your step, is as beautiful and heartbreaking a thing as I can think of in this moment.

Death sucks.

But, there’s this one thing that you taught me. It’s something that I think really, truly, deeply matters.

In this moment, I don’t think it could matter more: when there is God, when there is Love, there are no endings, only new beginnings.

I’m going to miss you – so much – but I refuse to mourn you.

You will always be with me. The Love that has aways sought to be known is still with us. The spirit that is the Church will go on – thrive, even. It will just look different and sing differently and teach differently – but it will go on.

Because, while death sucks, Jesus us taught us that is does not get to have the final word.

The reality is that your reason for being, your very purpose, is to teach us about a living God.

How marvelously playful and mischievous of God (and quite frankly, how very God-like of God) to figure out how to do that over and over again through a dying Church. Like I said, this isn’t the first time you’ve died.

How perfectly upside-down of God to show us exactly how alive God is through a dying Church.

I really will miss you, truly, but I must admit I cannot wait to see what you will become on the other side. I’m so excited just thinking about the folks who will find new life in your new life. I get just a bit giddy thinking about the new places and space that Love will be shared. I get overwhelmed with joyfulness just thinking about the new ways you will learn to share Love.

But, right now, I watch you on your deathbed and I hope to sort out how to be the one sharing that Love with you.

You must be a little bit scared. I know I would be.

You must worry about the work that’s still to be done. I know it difficult, but try to trust in the work you’ve already done. You have planted some pretty remarkable seeds. Trust that they will grow in new and beautiful ways.

I love you. I do.

I will be here with you until you are ready for what’s next and then we will dance in those new fields and share Love in ways we’ve never imagined.

Maybe this kind of death is a blessing after all. It’s so belovedly human to hold on so tightly to what we know that we constantly miss the opportunity to catch hold of something that might lead us to wider fields.

How very God-like of God to make death the beginning of a blessing.

So, just know, I am here. We are here. You can let go. We will water the seeds. We will nurture the fields and then we can dance in them again, together.



The Temple's Silent Construction

“And the house, when it was in building, was built of stone made ready before it was brought thither: so that there was neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron heard in the house, while it was in building.” (1 Kings 6:7)

Here is a remarkable testimony to the engineering and construction skills of the ancients. In order to erect the magnificent temple of Solomon, every portion was so carefully fabricated, far away from the construction site, that the building could be completely erected in reverent silence.

Furthermore, the stones were not small and rough. “They brought great stones, costly stones, and hewed stones, to lay the foundation of the house” (1 Kings 5:17). They were quarried from limestone beds beneath the city and had to be fabricated and brought to the temple site, all ready to be laid in place. “And Solomon’s builders and Hiram’s builders did hew them, and the stonesquarers” (1 Kings 5:18).

In both its unique beauty and its silent assemblage, the temple is a striking type of the spiritual temple now being erected by the Holy Spirit. “Now therefore ye are . . . built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord; In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:19-22).

In this spiritual temple, each new believer is a costly stone, carefully cut from the world’s dark quarry, then silently placed in the growing structure by the Holy Spirit on the foundation of Jesus Christ, “to whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house” (1 Peter 2:4-5).

“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16). HMM