Wise Idea: Rick Warren, Reader’s Digest part ways

Rick Warren, Reader’s Digest part ways on publishing project

The Associated Press
LAKE FOREST, Calif. (AP) — A joint publishing venture between influential pastor Rick Warren and Reader’s Digest magazine has collapsed less than a year after it was announced with great fanfare.

The multimedia project, called the Purpose Driven Connection, will continue in a different form but be operated solely by Warren’s Saddleback Church in Southern California starting next spring, church officials said Wednesday.

A quarterly print magazine of the same name will publish for the last time in mid-November, and its content will move to a free, expanded Web site starting in January, Warren said in a statement.

“The positive response from readers was so overwhelming we didn’t want the content to be limited only to Americans who could afford a subscription to a magazine,” Warren said.

The announcement comes months after Reader’s Digest Association Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as it faced falling print circulation and looming debt payments. The Warren project, when unveiled, was portrayed as a partnership of two powerhouses — and a way for Reader’s Digest to find new revenue. Company officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday.

The recession and changing reader habits have prompted cutbacks at many magazines, and some have folded.

Warren, author of the best-selling “The Purpose Driven Life,” said subscriptions to the print magazine were lagging. For $29.99 a year, subscribers received the magazine, a workbook, DVD curriculum for church small group meetings and access to special features on a Web site.

Brian Bird, managing editor of the magazine and Web site, said subscriptions were between 2,500 and 5,000 per month.

“I imagine (Reader’s Digest officials) were hoping for this to explode, and it didn’t explode,” Bird said. “But it’s had slow, steady growth. It takes a long time for anything to really grow, especially in a competitive media culture.”

The First Thanksgiving ~ Greg Laurie

The First Thanksgiving

November 2nd, 2009 Posted in Parables, holidays, video Video: “Parables from the Cove: Something to Think About”

NOT ANOTHER SANHEDRIN.....(Shaking head)

Its hard for me to not smile about a "sanhedrin" statement since it holds about as much sway as a papal edict. If you are Catholic and devout, a papal edict is serious unless in America which still argues over Papacy Control.

Same is true about Sanhedrin, there are more Jews in America not under Sanhedrin influence or authority as well as more non religious Jews in Israel NOT INFLUENCED AT ALL by this "precursor" of any real sanhedrin. Like the Herodians of old who tried to control "temple politics" but were not representative, so too this is the same age old "jewish" in house graping of Religio-Politico Authority that Jesus Hated.

Sanhedrin to UN: Goldstone Will Bring Judgment Upon You

by Hillel Fendel

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(IsraelNN.com) The Sanhedrin has warned the UN General Assembly not to hold a plenum debate this Wednesday on the anti-Israel Goldstone Report.

In a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and the UN's member states, the Sanhedrin warns that continued consideration of what it calls the "hostile, fallacious, and malicious" Goldstone document will bring upon the world the catastrophic events described in the Bible's Book of Joel, Chapter 4.  

The Goldstone commission found Israel guilty of committing war crimes during its anti-terror Cast Lead offensive in Gaza early this year. Many in Israel feel that the commission's purpose was to categorize Israel's attempt to fight the same terrorist threat that threatens the entire world as "war crimes."

The Sanhedrin is an initiative of recent years to recreate the traditional supreme legal tribunal in Judaism.
The letter reminds the UN that when it was decided in Geneva two weeks ago to have its Security Council discuss and approve the Goldstone Report, "we sent you a copy of the injunction issued by the Sanhedrin’s Court that prohibits any of the UN institutions from deliberating on this matter."

The Sanhedrin then explained by what authority it issues injunctions to the United Nations: "The International Court of the Sanhedrin operates by the power of the Bible, the only Holy Writ whose essence was handed over to mankind at Mt. Sinai [the Torah], and of the Prophets, sent to all nations of the world and universally held in respect by them. By virtue of this delegated authority, passed down from one generation to the next ever since the time of Moses our teacher, the master of all of prophets, and by virtue of the succession of authority in Jewish tradition, we appealed to you that you might not fail and thus fail the world, bringing upon it catastrophe."

The letter states that the Goldstone Report is an "attack on the State of Israel, and thus an attack on the Jewish People, in order to try to remove it from the stage of history by an unprecedented shedding of blood - tacitly encouraging Iran and those like it to continue to develop weapons of mass destruction while the rest of the world sits by and looks on... We are convinced that the continued discussion of this report, which is lacking all moral basis, will lead the nations of the world, and all of mankind, to the judgment that will take place in Jerusalem in the Valley of Jehoshafat, as written in the Prophets and Torah of Israel."
Joel 4 is then cited:

"I will gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshafat; and I will enter into judgment with them there for My people and for My heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and divided My land... And the children of Judah and the children of Jerusalem you have sold to the children of the Jevanim, in order to distance them from their border.  Behold I will arouse them from the place where you sold them, and I will return your retribution upon your head. And I will sell your sons and daughters into the hands of the children of Judah... Announce this among the nations: Prepare war, arouse the mighty men... Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears... Gather and come, all you nations from around - and they shall gather; there the Lord shall break your mighty men... for their evil is great...

"And the Lord shall roar from Zion, and from Jerusalem He shall give forth His voice, and the heavens and earth shall quake, and the Lord is a shelter to His people and a stronghold for the children of Israel. And you shall know that I, the Lord your God, dwell in Zion, My holy mount, and Jerusalem shall be holy, and strangers shall no longer pass through there.... And Egypt shall become desolate, and Edom shall be a desert waste, because of the violence done to the children of Judah, because they shed innocent blood in their land. But Judah shall remain forever, and Jerusalem throughout all generations."  

The Sanhedrin suggests that instead of considering the one-sided report, "you should establish an investigative committee agreed upon by the Jewish people and the Government of Israel, to investigate the background to the outbreak of Operation Cast Lead and the UN’s contribution to its outbreak, together with additional factors... This could be your  blessed initiative, accepting uopn yourself and your organization the original spirit that formed its basis: to establish peace in the world acting for the King of the universe."

The Sanhedrin concludes by advising that the verse from the Prophet Isaiah - “Let them beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks and they shall not learn war anymore”-  that is engraved on the United Nations wall "will never be realized via the Goldstone Report and the traditional policy of the UN regarding the State of Israel. [Instead,] your welcome action [as advised above] is anxiously awaited by all mankind. You have the power to help contribute to the prevention of wars."

The letter is signed by Rabbi Dov Stein, Secretary of the Sanhedrin, and Rabbi Prof. Hillel Weiss, spokesman.

Forgiveness—Forgive Or Forget It ~ Keith Green

Forgiveness—Forgive Or Forget It
By Keith Green

There I was, seated in row 17, flying from Dallas to Los Angeles. I began to day-dream, thinking about a friend of mine who had once treated me (what I thought was) unfairly in a financial dealing we'd had. As I turned the whole incident over in my mind, I remembered how I had originally consoled my bruised feelings by thinking to myself, "Well, that's okay, it's God's money anyway-God'll deal with him."

But flying on that jet through the night, I started to get an uneasy feeling inside, almost like vengeance. All of a sudden, it wasn't enough to put the whole thing in God's hands. I found myself thinking, "I sure hope the Lord brings that whole thing up when so-and-so stands before Him on the day of judgment."

And then, immediately, the Lord broke into my thoughts and said to me, "I'll be glad to bring it up - as long as you don't mind Me bringing up all the stupid things you've done!"

I burst out laughing, right there in row 17. All at once I saw the sad hilarity of it all. I had never really forgiven him at all! Even with all my spiritualizing about the Judgment Seat, what I was really saying in my heart was, "He'll get his!" With one sentence, the Holy Spirit showed me gross unforgiveness in my heart - not only toward this brother, but toward many others who had hurt or offended me.

In an instant, I completely understood Jesus' words, "If you do not forgive men, then your[heavenly] Father will not forgive your transgressions." (Matt. 6:15)
The Unmerciful Slave
In the 18th chapter of Matthew (vs. 23-35), there's an incredible tale about this guy who owed the king a whole lot of money. "And... there was brought to him one who owed him 10,000 talents" (worth more than ten million dollars today). "But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made.

"The slave therefore falling down, prostrated himself before him, saying, 'Have patience with me, and I will repay you everything.' And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt."

I think the most beautiful part of this story is the fact that the king forgave him the debt... over ten million dollars worth!! The main reason he canceled it was that even though the slave promised to eventually repay it, it was obviously an impossible amount of debt to ever work off in one's lifetime. Therefore, in his compassion, showing that when the king released him from it forever... or did he? Let's read on...

It says immediately in the very next verse (vs. 28), "But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denanii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, 'Pay back what you owe.' So his fellow slave fell down and began to entreat him, saying, 'Have patience with me and I will repay you.' He was unwilling, however, (to forgive him) but went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed."

Can you imagine the nerve? You've just been forgiven ten million dollars, and instead of going out and celebrating, you go and find some poor Joe who owes you 18 bucks! He's probably heard about your good fortune through the grapevine and thinks you're gonna invite him to the party, when all of a sudden you start strangling the daylights out of him. And when he asks you to be patient and give him a few days to repay you, you refuse and throw him in jail.

It might not sound like something you'd do, but I bet you've done it before. You see, if your sins have been forgiven by Jesus, you've had an incredible debt erased. Any bitterness or unforgiveness in your heart, after the total amnesty you've received, makes you as bad as the unmerciful slave. His unforgiveness was not only stupid, it also blew the whole deal with the king!

"When his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord... Then summoning him, his lord said to him, 'You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you entreated me. Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, even as I had mercy on you?'

'And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him." Then Jesus adds the stinger... "So shall My heavenly Father also do to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart."

Jesus certainly couldn't have made Himself any clearer about how upset our Father in heaven gets when, after forgiving us for an eternal debt of sin, we hold some little five-and-dime grudge against someone else "for whom Christ died."

I think it's also important to note that the debt the king had originally called off was now on again - and in full! This has many theological implications; but, since I'm no theologian (and the implicated subjects are perhaps some of the stickiest and most heavily debated in the Church today), I will safely say, "Whoever has ears, let him hear."
"If You Have Anything Against Your Brother..."
At any rate, all this goes to warn us that if we have anything in our hearts against anyone, we should go to that person quickly and get the whole thing totally cleared up. It might be our parents, or an employer, a teacher, or even a husband or wife. But in the light of this parable, we can see that however much anyone has hurt us, it doesn't even compare to the free gift of God's pardon for our sins. We must not put that forgiveness in danger of being made void by our refusal to "go and do likewise." For the Word of God says, "If possible. ..be at peace with all men... [for] these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation." (Rom. 12:18; II Cor. 5:18)

A Root Of Bitterness
Bitterness is a deadly thing - a real cancer. In Hebrews 12:15, it says, "See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled." According to this Scripture, bitterness cannot only hurt you, but it can spread like gangrene to others!

When you trace the life-histories of men like Adolph Hitler, for example, you find that the great evils they engaged in later in life had their roots in deep-seated hurts from early in their childhood.

The mass-murders of the Charles Manson family stemmed from Manson's bitterness toward a record producer who didn't like his music. Outraged, Manson sent his "family" to the producer's house (not knowing that he had moved) and told them to kill anyone they found there. The appalling result was that all of the victims ended up to be people who Manson had never even met, showing that when bitterness runs unchecked in our hearts, it can spill over into other people's lives, and "by it, many be defiled."

Cults can even develop when the leaders get bitter towards the main-line churches or denominations. The life stories of such men as Joseph Smith, Moses David (Children of God), John Todd, and Jim Jones all have one thing in common - their hatred for hypocrisy in the Church. But when their hatred turned to self-righteousness and intense resentment, it ruined the faith of many others - destroying whole families and even lives.

"For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened." (Rom. 1:21)

An Incredible Woman of God ( Epilepsy gives her opportunity)

Some people are just incredible, which only makes Jesus greater.

This woman does that....,

If you do not know Jesus,
if you suffer from any disability(seemingly),

if you haven't met Hetty.

You are really missing out on incredible womans web based ministry

Forgiveness with God's help

Forgiveness is amazing... as we listen to God's perfect timing... the Holy Spirit leads us.... love all... yet trust still has time to take--- while still loving them... boundaries for your faith's safety-- put up armor... yet love all...

How Do We Love God Practically - Part 3 (Way of Agape) ~ Nancy Missler

How Do We Love God Practically - Part 3
by Nancy Missler
In Part One we began a series of articles on loving God. This time, we are concentrating on "practically" what it means to love Him. Do we love God daily by simply having deep emotional affection for Him? Are we loving God by going to Church regularly, by saying many prayers, by doing good deeds for others? Is this what He wants? Is this what He means when He says love Me, moment by moment? (Matthew 16:24) 

I was a Christian 20 years before I finally figured out what it meant to love God. The way, I believe, God wants us to love Him is by constantly laying our wills and our lives down before Him. This is what it means to love God. But, the question still remains: How do we do this, moment by moment? What practical steps can we take to assure us that we are "daily" loving Him as He desires? 

In Part Two we began to explore the "Inner Court Ritual" which, I believe, are steps that God has laid out for us in Scripture to help us, moment by moment, love Him--to totally give ourselves over to Him. These were the actual steps that the Priests' went through in the Inner Court of Solomon's Temple in order to deal with their sin, thereby assuring them of God's Presence. 

Inner Court Ritual
Here's an overview of these four essential steps:
  1. Recognize, acknowledge, and experience the negative thoughts, emotions, and desires (self-life) that have just occured. Don't vent these feelings and don't "stuff" them. Learn to give them to God. Get alone with God and experience your emotions. Name how you are feeling. Ask God to expose the real root cause of your ungodly thoughts and feelings (pride, unbelief, fears, insecurities, etc.).  
  2. If you know that you have held on to these negative thoughts and feelings for awhile, then you need to confess them as sin. They have quenched His Spirit in you. Choose to repent of them (which simply means, change your mind about holding on to them) and choose to follow what God is telling you to do instead. Also a part of this step is to unconditionally forgive others involved. God then will forgive your sins.
  3. Give over to God all that He has shown you, not only the conscious negative thoughts and emotions, but also their root causes. God then will purge your sin and reconcile you to Himself.
  4. Immerse in God's Word. Be sure to replace the lies with the Truth. God then will cleanse and heal your soul with "the washing of the water of the Word."
In Part Two we expanded on the first step of the Inner Court Ritual, recognizing our negative and self-centered thoughts, emotions, and desires. Now we will explore the second step of, moment by moment, loving God: confessing and repenting of our own sin. (If you have not read it, I would strongly recommend reading Part Two, as each of these steps builds upon the last.) 

Confess and Repent
Along with step #1 (recognizing and experiencing our feelings), we must also confess and repent of all that the Holy Spirit has shown us. In addition we must, by faith, unconditionally forgive anyone who has wronged us, just as God has unconditionally forgiven us. (This is what the Priest's did at the Lavers of Bronze in Solomon's Temple.) 

This step of confession and repentance is our own responsibility. As 1 John 1:9 says, "If we confess our sins, [then] He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins."
It's critical to acknowledge that what we have done has quenched God's Spirit in us. We need to confess ownership of our negative thoughts and emotions and then, simply choose to "turn around" from following them. 

Example: "I Confess I Am Depressed"
For example, if we are depressed (and I am assuming that the depression is emotional and mental and not physiologically caused), and we have been following this emotional way of thinking for some time, we can't just say to the Lord, "Help me with my depression," and expect Him to take our sad and brooding thoughts away. 

We must say, "Father, I confess I am depressed (I own these feelings). I confess I have chosen to follow these morose feelings over what You would have me do (give them to You), and it has quenched Your Spirit in me. That's sin. I now choose to turn around (I repent) from following what these things are telling me to do."
Remember, we are not responsible to change our feelings. We can't do that. We are only responsible to put in charge the Person who can change our feelings, and that's God. And we do that by confessing we "own" the feelings and then repenting of them. God, then, is free to begin to change our feelings and align them with our faith choices. 

Forgive Others
In this second step of the Inner Court Ritual, we are not only to confess and repent of our own sins, but we are also to unconditionally forgive others of theirs. God is not free to work on us, or on the other party, until we have released them. And we release them by unconditionally forgiving them, whether they ask for it or not! (John 20:23) 

Sometimes, however, it's impossible to forgive others in our own strength. 2 Corinthians 2:10 tells us that if that is the case, the way we forgive them is "in the person of Jesus Christ." Through Jesus, we can extend that unconditional forgiveness--because of what He has done for us. In other words, if we love Him, He will enable us, strengthen us, and give us the grace to forgive others. 

Example: Justified Wrongs
Let me tell you a beautiful example of how it is possible to forgive and love someone with God's Love even in the toughest of trials. If we can just choose to lay our wills and our lives down to God, he can enable us in His strength to unconditionally forgive that other person. 

I have a friend named Bill. Several years ago, Bill called and wanted to speak to Chuck. However, since Chuck wasn't home that day, the two of us began to share. He told me about his life, his family and how he came to know the Lord. 

After that initial one-hour call, Bill began to call me every three or four weeks to bring me up to date on his walk with God and on his family. He loved the Lord and was truly seeking His abundant Life.

When his wife, Marie, became pregnant you would have thought Bill had found a million dollars. He was so excited! The morning his daughter Kristen was born was the most important day of his life! He called me from the hospital and talked for almost an hour describing his precious new gift from God. 

I have never seen a dad so excited about his baby's birth. Kristen became "his life" and from then on, all the phone calls revolved around her, her growth (to the inch), her development, her eating habits, and so on. She was the light of his life. 

A year or so later, Bill called and said he and his wife were having marital problems and he asked if I would please send Marie the Agape tapes. I immediately sent them. 

A few months after that he called again. This time, however, he sounded absolutely devastated. Marie had suddenly left him and had given him temporary custody of Kristen. "Having Kristen is all that's keeping me going," he said. He sounded very angry and bitter, emotions I had never heard in Bill before. 

When I asked him how he was handling it, Bill said he had such overwhelming resentment and bitterness towards Marie that he couldn't think of anything else but getting back at her. Mentally, he said, he was "keeping a long list of all the wrongs she had done to him and the baby." He said he was consumed with hatred for her. I tried to share with him some principles from the Way of Agape, but he was in no mood to hear. 

So I just listened to him. 

I didn't hear from Bill for a couple months after that. But when he finally did call, he sounded like a new man. I couldn't believe it was the same bitter and resentful person I had talked to just two months previously. I listened as Bill began to tell me some of the incredible things that had happened to him. 

Marie had evidently conspired with her brother and some of her friends. They had kidnapped Kristen and had taken her to another state. The police couldn't find a clue as to their whereabouts, the searching went on for months. 

Bill, at this point, was destroyed. He was absolutely consumed with hatred, bitterness, and the thought of revenge. He justified his own hatred and anger because he had real cause, by the world's standards, to despise Marie.

In the meantime, when Bill went to church seeking counsel and help, his friends constantly asked him, "Is Marie ever going to come home?" "Is there any hope for reconciliation?" He couldn't believe they would ask him such things. Mentally, he said, he would bring out his long list of justified wrongs Marie had done to him, and think to himself, "There is no way in the world I'd ever take her back after what she has done to me!" Revenge was all he could think about. 

One night, feeling such complete loneliness and despair, he spotted the Way of Agape tapes sitting on the shelf in the kitchen. Marie, evidently, had never even touched them. Bill was driven in desperation to pick them up and to listen. 

One of the first things he heard was 1 Corinthians 13:5: "Agape Love never keeps track of injustices done to it (it doesn't keep lists); God's Love thinks no evil; is not easily angered; always protects, always trusts, always hopes and always perseveres."
As he listened, God began to pierce his own heart and expose his own self-centeredness and his own sin. Bill had never realized how his bitterness, hatred, resentment, and unforgiveness had covered his own heart and had prevented God's Love from coming forth.

He saw that he had been blocking God out of his life in the very moments he needed Him the most! Crying for hours, totally broken and repentant, he confessed that he had been entertaining those negative thoughts and mulling them over and over in his mind. He confessed those things were sin and he asked God to purge them from him and make him an open vessel. 

Bill said he felt a freedom that night like he'd never had in all his life! It was as though God had taken a 1,000 pound weight off his shoulders. God answered his prayer and he began to experience the supernatural ability to pray for Marie and to genuinely forgive her.
Slowly, God began to instill in Bill a new supernatural Love (God's Love) for Marie. God also took the veil away from Bill's eyes, and Bill began to see and understand the reasons why Marie had acted the way she had. 

By this time, the police had discovered a lead as to where Marie and the baby were. Bill anxiously traced it down and through a series of events (which I know God directed), he found Marie and they were reunited. 

I wish I could tell you that they "lived happily ever after."

Some of God's miracle stories do end that way, but others don't. Marie and Bill tried to work out their problems for over a year, but she finally decided that she didn't want to be married and obligated with a family.

So she chose to leave Kristen and divorce Bill. 

Kristen stayed with her dad, who had learned the Way of Agape and who was now free from any bitterness, resentment, hatred, and so on. He had learned how to love and forgive Marie unconditionally, in spite of her reactions and in spite of the circumstances.

And, because he was a free man (not only maritally, but also spiritually), he was then able to pursue God's best for his life.
Three years later, God brought Bill another beautiful Christian girl who, like Bill, wanted a family. They were married two summers ago. His new wife continues to write me about all the beautiful things God is doing in their relationship. 

A Miracle
So often we take for granted the miracle that God really does take our sins away "as far as the east is from the west," when we confess and repent of them. 

Do we realize what this really means?

It means that we are allowed to begin each day with a clean slate a fresh start. Chuck and I were talking last night what an incredible gift this is. It allows us to "blow it badly" with each other and yet, if we confess and repent of those things and forgive each other, God does totally cleanse us--even with the memory of that sin wiped away. What a miracle this is! 

As Christians we take this so for granted. Just think of it. If you were a nonbeliever, all your fights with loved ones, all your guilt, your failures, mistakes, ungodliness, errors, wrongs, immorality, every sin, would always be with you. You would bury them in the "hidden chambers" but they would always be there to motivate your actions. 

You could never get away from them or have a fresh, new start. No wonder so many relationships "without Christ" are doomed to failure. I weep at the thought, because that miracle is there for the asking.
"He who covers his sins will not prosper, But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy. (Proverbs 28:13)
In Part Four we will continue our study on loving God "practically," by exploring the final two steps of the Inner Court Ritual, giving over to God all that He has shown us and then, reading God's Word.

The Name of God (YhVh)

Often people get "hung up" on favorite ideas about God. Sacred Namers are one group. Yahwists are another.
The Bible is easy to read in Hebrew/Aramaic/Greek as well as English/ (not aramaic only or hebrew only or Greek only)

(Click on to enlarge)

(Click to enlarge)

(Click to Enlarge)

Christian Women Challenged to Contend for New Level of Faith

Christian Women Challenged to Contend for New Level of Faith

By Audrey Barrick|Christian Post Reporter

Thousands of women from around the world were challenged to upgrade their faith as they face battles and see the world shaken.
"We have entered perhaps the most challenging time we have [ever] faced," said Jane Hansen Hoyt, president and CEO of Aglow International. "We are seeing the kingdoms of this world shaken. [God's] warning us to become established in the kingdom that cannot and indeed will never be shaken."

Algow's 2009 Worldwide Conference in Louisville, Ky., drew a diverse crowd of women as well as men from countries where dozens of Aglow chapters are active. The transdenominational ministry is one of the largest international women's organizations with local groups in 170 nations.

Some 200,000 men and women meet together monthly and an estimate 17 million people are ministered to annually through Aglow, Hansen Hoyt reported.

Even in Nigeria Islamic militants are coming to Christ and the church is growing, an Aglow representative said Friday. Thousands are attending Aglow conferences even in heavily Muslim areas.

"All of this is taking place in an everchanging world," Hansen Hoyt noted, as she listed globalism, the economic crisis, pandemics, the constantly changing exchange of information, terrorism, and the growing prominence of Islam as some of the factors contributing to tough times.

"All the things that [people] looked to and depended upon are like shifting sand," the Aglow president said.
But in the midst of the everchanging world and shaken worldly systems, the ministry leader told the thousands of women that God was calling them to a higher level.

"I believe we as God's people are contending for a new level of faith," she said. And she reminded the crowd that it's in the valley where the individual "upgrade" gets formed.

"When you go through hell, you must prosper because that's the point of going there," she added. "You have a spirituality that permits us to thrive, not just survive."

At the conference on Friday, Promise Keepers President Dr. Raleigh Washington announced a partnership between his men's ministry and Aglow International. Promise Keepers was relaunched this year under the new leadership of Washington and founder Bill McCartney, who had retired. Washington said the vision they received from God in relaunching the once popular men's ministry was to heal the divide, including the one between men and women.

"Promise Keepers is taking up the mantle to lead the charge. We're going to honor women all across this nation and around the globe," Washington told Aglow attendees.

This past summer, the men's ministry invited Hansen Hoyt to speak at their stadium event, which marked the first time a woman delivered a message at a Promise Keepers conference.

"If we're going to honor women, we got to make room on our platform for women," Washington said.
Hansen Hoyt was invited to join Promise Keepers at their upcoming conferences to continue to address thousands of men as they learn how to honor God's women.

The Aglow Worldwide Conference concludes Sunday.

Besides building Mega-Churchs and Mega attendance, Where did Christianity Go?

Half of US Children Will Get Food Stamps

CHICAGO (Nov. 3) - Nearly half of all U.S. children and 90 percent of black youngsters will be on food stamps at some point during childhood, and fallout from the current recession could push those numbers even higher, researchers say.
The estimate comes from an analysis of 30 years of national data, and it bolsters other recent evidence on the pervasiveness of youngsters at economic risk. It suggests that almost everyone knows a family who has received food stamps, or will in the future, said lead author Mark Rank, a sociologist at Washington University in St. Louis.
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"Your neighbor may be using some of these programs but it's not the kind of thing people want to talk about," Rank said.
The analysis was released Monday in the November issue of Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. The authors say it's a medical issue pediatricians need to be aware of because children on food stamps are at risk for malnutrition and other ills linked with poverty.
"This is a real danger sign that we as a society need to do a lot more to protect children," Rank said.
Food stamps are a Department of Agriculture program for low-income individuals and families, covering most foods although not prepared hot foods or alcohol. For a family of four to be eligible, their annual take-home pay can't exceed about $22,000.
According to a USDA report released last month, 28.4 million Americans received food stamps in an average month in 2008, and about half were younger than age 18. The average monthly benefit per household totaled $222.
Rank and Cornell University sociologist Thomas Hirschl studied data from a nationally representative survey of 4,800 American households interviewed annually from 1968 through 1997 by the University of Michigan. About 18,000 adults and children were involved.
Overall, about 49 percent of all children were on food stamps at some point by the age of 20, the analysis found. That includes 90 percent of black children and 37 percent of whites. The analysis didn't include other ethnic groups.
The time span included typical economic ups and downs, including the early 1980s recession. That means similar portions of children now and in the future will live in families receiving food stamps, although ongoing economic turmoil may increase the numbers, Rank said.
An editorial in the medical journal agreed.
"The current recession is likely to generate for children in the United States the greatest level of material deprivation that we will see in our professional lifetimes," Stanford pediatrician Dr. Paul Wise wrote.
Wise said the Archives study estimate is believable.
"I find it terribly sad, but not surprising," Wise said.
James Weill, president of Food Research and Action Center, a Washington-based advocacy group, said the analysis underscores that "there are just very large numbers of people who rely on this program for a month, six months, a year."
"What I hope comes out of this study is an understanding that food stamp beneficiaries aren't them — they're us," Weill said.
The analysis is in line with other recent research suggesting that more than 40 percent of U.S. children will live in poverty or near-poverty by age 17; and that half will live at some point in a single-parent family. Also, other researchers have estimated that slightly more than half of adults will use food stamps at some point by age 65.

Good Bye James Dobson....Well Done: James Dobson to Go Off the Air

James Dobson to Go Off the Air

By Audrey Barrick|Christian Post Reporter

Influential conservative leader James Dobson is planning to go off the air, his ministry reported Friday.
In an announcement, Focus on the Family announced Dobson’s intention to remove himself as the primary radio voice of his daily radio broadcast at the end of February but made clear that the move was not prompted by health concerns.

Dobson remains "a man of health and vigor," Focus on the Family president and CEO Jim Daly reported.
"The Bible tells us that to everything there is a season – and Dr. Dobson's season at Focus on the Family has been remarkable," Daly added.

Dobson, who founded Focus on the Family, has been with the ministry’s radio program since it began airing in 1977, providing daily encouragement and advice to families worldwide and speaking out on moral issues.
The 73-year-old conservative leader resigned as president of the prominent organization in 2003 and later as chairman in February of this year as part of a plan to pass on the leadership to the next generation.
"One of the common errors of founder-presidents is to hold to the reins of leadership too long, thereby preventing the next generation from being prepared for executive authority," Dobson said in a statement earlier this year.

Dobson is the latest among older conservative evangelical leaders who have let go of the reigns of their influential ministries.

Widely respected Dr. Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ; Dr. Jerry Falwell, who rallied conservatives to the political arena; and Dr. D. James Kennedy, founder of Coral Ridge Ministries, are a few of those who have passed in recent years, and evangelist Dr. Billy Graham has left his evangelistic association to the leadership of his son, Franklin Graham.

Concerned about the future of the conservative Christian movement, Dobson – during Kennedy's funeral in 2007 – posed the inevitable question of who will carry on the work of defending biblical values, the unborn, the institution of marriage and traditional morality.

He expressed hope that the younger generation would heed the call.

Today, Focus on the Family's radio program reaches more than 220 million people in over 155 nations.

Billy Graham by Greg Laurie

Lunch with Billy Graham

I was speaking last week at the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove when I received the message that Billy wanted my wife Cathe and me to come visit him at his home in Montreat. We were excited to see him again, and quickly agreed.

Around 11:00 A.M. on that day, we made the familiar drive up the winding road that leads to the home of the man who I believe to be the greatest evangelist in human history. I’ve had the privilege of being alone with Billy on many occasions, but have always had a bit of trepidation. 

After all, he is Billy Graham!

That’s not to say that Billy acts like a “famous person.” In fact, he’s one of the most humble and down-to-earth men I have ever met. He’s the kind of person who will ask you how you are or what you think about a certain thing, and then actually listen to your answer with great interest.

It always surprises me when he does that. I think to myself, “What could I possibly say to Billy Graham that he hasn’t already heard?” But one of this great man’s qualities is that he is always hungry to know more, to grow more spiritually, and to become more like Jesus.

When we arrived, we were given a seat at the table where we sat on a previous occasion with his beloved wife Ruth (now in heaven) and his son Franklin. The food was arranged on the same lazy susan, placed so that you could turn it and get what you wanted.

The last time I sat at that table, however, Ruth herself had prepared the meal—and washed the dishes beneath a little sign that hung over her sink: “Divine service will be conducted here three times daily.”
Her presence was greatly missed.

Some tasty BBQ and all the fixings were placed on the table, and we waited for Billy to come join us. He was brought into the room with some assistance, and there was that familiar face—the gentle smile and piercing eyes we’ve all come to know so well.

Billy is 91 now. His hearing isn’t what it once was, and his hand shakes a bit. But he is still every bit Billy Graham. My wife described him as “a lion in winter.”

He asked me to pray over our food, and we chatted a bit about different things. I brought up Ruth, and recalled the happy memory I had of being with her here at this same table.
“Thank you for remembering her,” he said.

This is something that people tend to forget when someone is grieving over a loved one who is gone. The one left behind still thinks about their departed loved one all the time, but others seem to forget—or at least they don’t bring up their name, for fear of adding to their friend’s sorrow. In fact, remembering a loved one who has died may bring joy and a smile to the bereaved person.

I told Billy about our son Christopher going to heaven the previous year, and that he was in heaven with Ruth now. Billy remembered and told us he had prayed for us. One of things that had so touched us was a letter he had written shortly after Christopher died, and the way he spoke of Christopher’s “sudden departure to heaven.” I liked the way he said that, and have used that same phrase myself many times in the days since.
Billy’s daughter Gigi joined us, and we chatted about many things, but Billy said very little. He hasn’t lost his sense of humor, however, and would occasionally say something amusing, including the moment when he looked at me and said, “Never get this old!”

He asked me my age, and I told him (56).

“You’re still a young man!” he said.

I liked hearing that, too!

When Gigi asked me what I was going to speak on that night at The Cove, I told her that my topic was heaven. I mentioned how heaven is a lot different than many people think, and that the Bible says quite a bit about it. Billy asked me to tell him more, so I gave him a four-minute overview of my message.
I said that in heaven, we will worship the Lord, serve Him, and eat together. I talked about how heaven is a city, a country, and a paradise. These are all things that have become far more real to me with my son Christopher now in heaven.

Billy was totally tuned in, listening carefully. I could see that familiar twinkle in his eyes as he drank in these biblical truths.

When I was done, he repeated each point I made back to me and then said, “That is wonderful! Thank you for sharing that with us!” Then he said that he didn’t know who he would see first when he got to heaven, Ruth or Jesus. Perhaps both, I told him.

The time had come for us to leave, so we said our goodbyes. I told Billy that I loved him and would see him again. He looked me in the eyes and said, “I will see you again in heaven!”

I told him I would see him before that, I was sure, but he said nothing else about it. He told us that he prayed for us often and listened to me speak on the radio and TV, and thanked me for my ministry.

We hugged, said our goodbyes, and then made our way back down the driveway of his mountain home.
I thought to myself that Billy Graham is the most godly man I have ever met. And his wife Ruth was the most godly woman I had ever met. What a honor it has been for me to know them.

And even if I do see him again on this earth, I know that I will see Billy in heaven, along with my son Christopher, Billy’s wife Ruth, and many others who have gone before us. That is our hope that Billy has so faithfully preached about all these years. And he has lived it as well. What a wonderful legacy!

Thank God for Billy Graham.

The Age of Nostradamus ~ Chuck Colson

Chuck ColsonThe Age of Nostradamus

By Chuck Colson|Christian Post Guest Columnist

If you are the credulous type, there has never been a better time to treat yourself to some luxuries, at least if the terms of the deal are right. If the merchant or manufacturer says “no payments or interest through 2012,” go for it.

At least that what you conclude watching the History Channel.

For many years, the network was nicknamed the “Hitler Channel” because of all the shows it ran on World War II and the Nazis. Today, a better nickname would be the “Nostradamus Channel.” Hardly a day goes by without at least one show touting some doomsday scenario and how it was foretold.

At the center of this programming strategy lies Nostradamus, the 16th-century French apothecary whose devotees claim foresaw everything from the rise of Napoleon to 9/11. Everyone who has ever written book on Nostradamus gets extended face time on the History Channel, where their claims are treated with the utmost seriousness.

It isn’t only Nostradamus. Name a doomsday prediction made by some long-dead person or group and chances are the Nostradamus Channel has given it a respectful airing, no matter how unhinged the claims might be.

The latest and greatest example is the new series The Nostradamus Effect. That’s the name the producers have given to the “convergence” of “doomsday prophecy” and “current events.”

We are told that for “5,000 years, prophets around the world”-including, of course, Nostradamus-“have predicted the end of days.” Operating “independently,” they have concluded that 2012 will be a “time of extraordinary shift.”

One so-called expert told viewers that “we’re on the verge of the biggest riot of all time.” Another said that “we are reaching a confluence of tipping points.” These tipping points include climate change, financial upheaval, political unrest, crop failures, terrorism, and nuclear war, to name but a few.

That sounds ominous. Of course, nobody can cite anything that sounds like an actual prediction, such as, “In 2012, the world blows up.” It’s speaking nonsense, rank speculation.

It’s not much to go on, but then again, this isn’t about facts or reason-it’s about fear. It’s about understandable anxiety made worse because in rejecting Christianity, the West has rejected the basis of its hope. A world in which God’s purposes are being fulfilled for our good has been replaced by one that leaves man in charge, mostly for ill.

The world has become literally senseless to us. We live in, as theologian Robert Jensen once put, a meaningless world wishing we could believe in something-the more we succumb to superstition and irrationality. And of course there’s always a media conglomerate ready to sell the credulous what they crave.
There’s no better example than the subject of tomorrow's commentary, which will give you the date of December 21, 2012. Please tune in. And in the meantime, please pay your bills on time.

You a Jew?

'New Jews' stake claim to faith, culture

By Jessica Ravitz, CNN

October 30, 2009 5:20 p.m. EDTSTORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Some Gen X and Y Jews are staking creative claims to identity, religion and culture
  • They don tattoos, blend Jewish sounds with hip-hop, write edgy blogs and own their spirituality
  • "They want to re-engage in the world as Jews, but not solely for Jewish causes," one says
  • Where traditional synagogues fail to touch them, independent groups and alternatives step up
(CNN) -- When Moses came down from Mount Sinai about 3,300 years ago, he couldn't have seen these Jews coming.
A blogger writes about how one of Judaism's holiest days ended, for her, in a strip club, while elsewhere a guy strolls into a tattoo parlor requesting a Star of David. Two women exchange wedding vows in a Jewish ceremony, and hipsters toss back bottles of HE'BREW, The Chosen Beer. A full-time software developer prepares to lead a group in Jewish prayer, as a PhD candidate in Jewish thought pens a letter criticizing Israel's policies.
Meet the "New Jews," as some call them: pockets of post-baby boomers -- or more accurately Generation X and Millennial (Gen Y) Jews -- who are making one of the world's oldest known monotheistic faiths and its culture work for them and others in a time when, more than ever, affiliation is a choice.
"I could wake up tomorrow and say, 'I don't want to be Jewish.' There would be no social, political or economic consequences," said Shawn Landres, the 37-year-old co-founder of Jumpstart, a Los Angeles-area organization that pushes forward out-of-the-box ideas in the Jewish world. "It's true for the first time in thousands of years that we can build the identities we want."
Many of those at the forefront of innovative Jewish construction are rabbis, religious educators, people who know their stuff. But they're not interested in foisting labels on people -- like the denominational terms Reform, Conservative or Orthodox -- nor do they want to perpetuate the pressures that come with fitting into religious, political and social molds.
For Atlanta, Georgia, punk-rock musician Patrick A, or Aleph (the first letter in the Hebrew alphabet), this means he can seamlessly blend who he's been with his newly embraced religious observance.
They want to re-engage in the world as Jews, but not solely for Jewish causes.

--Ari Wallach, social entrepreneur and consultant
"When I'm on stage screaming, hitting my face with a microphone and pouring beer on my head, at least I'm singing about the Torah," said the 26-year-old founder ofPunkTorah, an outreach effort to inspire Jewish spirituality.
Turns out the traditional synagogue model doesn't have a lock on religious offerings. One alternative that's sprouted up: independent prayer groups that invite the spiritually hungry to study text, as well as shape and lead their own services.
"It's tapping into a need that stems from people wanting to take hold of their Jewish life," said Rabbi Elie Kaunfer, 36, executive director of Mechon Hadar, a New York-based organization that tracks and empowers such groups. He said there are about 60 nationwide. "When the institution wasn't serving the need, people stood up to create their own communities."
It's this kind of innovation that Jonathan Sarna, of Brandeis University and a leading scholar of American Jewish history, can get behind.
"When there's religious complacency, when there's boredom, we're much more likely to see people check out," said Sarna, who is a member of an Orthodox synagogue. The more pressing issue, he added, is whether cultural ties alone can keep Jewish life going.
That concern is a real one, said Steven Cohen, a sociologist at Hebrew Union College in New York. He said about half of young Jews are not marrying Jews, and that only 25 percent of children born to interfaith couples grow up to see themselves as Jewish.
But by making Judaism and its rituals more accessible and meaningful, "Emergent Jews," as they're also often referred to, hope they can inspire a long-lasting connection to their faith.
It's why volunteer-driven educational retreats, sponsored by a group called Limmud (Hebrew for learning), are cropping up in Colorado, Illinois, Georgia and across the globe. It's why Jewish Milestones in Berkeley, California, is helping interfaith, same-sex and other couples have Jewish weddings. And it's why another Bay Area group, Wilderness Torah, hosts Passover in the desert, where participants combine Jewish traditions with their commitment to the outdoors and sustainable living.
Unlike their parents and grandparents, who may have gathered to fight anti-Semitism, remember the Holocaust, rally around Israel and liberate Soviet Jews, many Gen X and Y Jews see their worlds as wide open.
These Internet and media savvy Jews are behind what Ari Wallach, a 34-year-old social entrepreneur and consultant in New York, likes to call "Judaism 2.0."
"They want to re-engage in the world as Jews, but not solely for Jewish causes," said Wallach, who was one of the forces behindThe Great Schlep, an online push, featuring comedian Sarah Silverman, that encouraged young Jews to fly to Florida and convince their grandparents to vote for Barack Obama.
"If asked, 'Would you rather fund raise for trees in Israel or for solar-powered ovens for refugees in Darfur,'" he said, "they're more likely to go with Darfur," which is why the American Jewish World Service, an organization that fights poverty, disease and hunger in the developing world, resonates with many of them in a way other Jewish organizations don't.
In fact, they may not have a relationship with Israel. And if they do, it's often complicated. They might support the country and people while being critical of the government's policies and wanting a Palestinian state, too, as evidenced by J Street, a new left-leaning lobbying group in Washington.
Jay Michaelson, a 38-year-old writer, activist and scholar received a torrent of responses when he recently wrote in The Forward, a daily Jewish newspaper, about his ambivalent love for Israel, where he lived for three years.
When I'm on stage screaming, hitting my face with a microphone ... at least I'm singing about the Torah.

--Patrick A, founder of PunkTorah
The reactions that interested him most came from rabbis and Jewish Federation leaders who wrote, "You've said what I cannot say," said Michaelson, who was the founding editor of Zeek, an online journal to push discussions about the Jewish tomorrow. "There's a climate of fear, and they cannot speak out on this issue."
But many of these "New Jews" aren't afraid to be who they are, say and show how they feel.
Heeb magazine, a hipster quarterly based in Brooklyn, does this and leaves some cringing. The magazine recently raised a collective "oy" -- and stirred outrage -- when it published a photograph of Roseanne Barr standing at an oven, dressed as Hitler, holding a tray of burnt-Jew cookies. The intention, said publisher Josh Neuman, was to force a conversation about how pervasive Hitler references are in modern culture.
"We aim to elicit responses, even if they're illicit responses," said Neuman, 36, who formerly taught Jewish culture and thought, and worked at the Museum of Jewish Heritage -- A Living Memorial to the Holocaust.
If they can't easily find what inspires them, some create it themselves.
Sarah Lefton, 36, of San Francisco, California, said she developedG-dcast, weekly cartoon webisodes -- narrated by a wide cast of characters, including an indie rocker -- to make Jewish learning more engaging, "because God knows we all grew up in boring Sunday school classes."
Allowing younger Jews to connect with their faith while living in a secular world is what drives Aaron Bisman, 29. Inspiration came for him at a 1996 Phish show, when the rock band busted out with a performance of "Avinu Malkeinu," a Jewish prayer. Hearing a non-Jew sing in Hebrew a song to thousands of fans showed this rabbi's son that Jewish expression could go mainstream, without being limited to Larry David shtick.
So he formed JDub Records, the original label for Matisyahu, the Hasidic Jewish reggae phenom. Bisman's New York nonprofit promotes cross-cultural understanding by putting out innovative Jewish sounds, like hip-hop meshed with Israeli folk songs. JDub also recently adopted Jewcy, an online media outlet rich in blogs and discussions, to help build more bridges.
And mixed in with all this are those who -- irrespective of where they are religiously or in the Jewish community -- advertise their identities with Jewish-themed tattoos, as Andy Abrams, who is behind "Tattoo Jew," a documentary in development, found out.
They're not swayed by the long-perpetuated myth that Jews with tattoos cannot be buried in Jewish cemeteries. While tattoos are prohibited by Jewish law, Rabbi Joel Roth, a professor of Talmud and Jewish law at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York said he knows of "no Jewish legal source that would prohibit the burial of a Jew who violated that law." If such a prohibition existed, added Florence Pressman, executive director of Jewish Funeral Directors of America, "how would we honor our Holocaust survivors?"
When they're getting inked with Hebrew letters or Jewish symbols, these Jews are not fretting about laws followed by the most observant. Nor are they haunted by the numbers tattooed on arms during the Holocaust, said Abrams, the 40-year-old filmmaker of St. Louis, Missouri. They're taking a bold stand today that they'll carry with them, permanently, into the future.
"They're being overtly Jewish," Abrams said. "They're saying, 'I'm Jewish. I'm proud. And I'm willing to wear it on my skin.' "


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