Monday, 19 February 2018

James Goll: 15 Essential Keys for Dream Interpretation

Walking in dream language and tapping into the mind and heart of God can be an exciting and exhilarating journey. But understanding and interpreting the revelation He gives in dreams can often be a complex and even confusing process.

These 15 keys will help you to simplify the process of dream interpretation:

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Palestine asks Vatican to defend Jerusalem’s status quo

Ryadh al Maliki
The Palestinian Foreign Affairs minister, Ryadh al Maliki, met officials of the Vatican Secretariat of State Feb. 16, asking the Holy See to amplify its voice defending the status quo in Jerusalem.

“It is important to understand that the situation of Jerusalem also deals with Christians,” the minister told CNA after the meeting, during a short briefing with journalists in the State of Palestine’s recently opened embassy to the Holy See.

“We would like the Holy See lead a conference of Christians in the Middle East, in order to make their voice stronger.”

Chronic shortage in Religious Education teachers could fuel prejudice

Religious Education is facing a chronic shortage in teachers prompting warnings of an increase in prejudice and stereotyping because pupils will grow up with knowing about other faiths.

The Department for Education is failing to recruit enough religious studies teachers, the Religious Education Council (REC) said, after government statistics revealed it was one of the worst subject for attracting new teachers.

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Lust and Being in This World but Not of It

The concept of being in the world but not of it has been interpreted in different ways. There are those who believe that you need to physically move away from society and put yourself in a monastery or some other isolated place in order not to be of this world. I don't believe that this is biblical even though some people may temporarily go to an isolated place for prayer.

The biblical alternative is found in 2 Peter 1:4, which speaks of "having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust." Lust is what makes us participants in the corrupting influences of the world. Lust is a form of desire, which makes us believe that our happiness or contentment depends upon acquiring a certain thing. It could be a person or any material object. The world presents us with many false promises of happiness. Our primary source of peace and contentment should be from God.

Florida school shooting: America must 'call on the Lord' after 17 killed in deadly attack

At least 17 people are dead in yet another horrific school shooting in the US after a teenage gunman opened fire on Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in Parkland, Florida, with an AR-15 assault rifle.

The suspect has been named as 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, a former pupil who was expelled from the school. It is the 18th school shooting incident in 2018 alone and the deadliest since 26 people were killed at Sandy Hook school in 2012.

Emergency services attend to one of the victims outside the school. Another 12 were shot inside the school building.

Three were shot dead outside the school when the attack began at 14.30 local time (19.30GMT) before the attacker went inside the building and killed another 12, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel told reporters. Another two later died in hospital. Some victims are still being identified and three people remain in a critical condition while three others are in stable condition.

South African bishops welcome president's resignation

Catholic leaders in South Africa applauded news of President Jacob Zuma’s resignation, stressing the need to root out corruption at all levels of government.

A Feb. 14 statement from the South African Catholic Bishops’ Conference welcomed news of the resignation, calling it “long overdue.”

“While for some it may be a painful event, we call on all to accept his decision as part of our democratic process,” said the statement, signed by Archbishop Stephen Brislin, president of the bishops’ conference.

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

9 Churches Burned to the Ground In New Wave of Attacks

In Nigeria, a new wave of attacks has seen dozens killed in Christian communities across the country.

The violence has hit the northeastern state of Adamawa, one of the most affected by Boko Haram, and also the Middle Belt states of Nasarawa and Benue, where Fulani herdsmen have caused havoc in recent years.

In Adamawa state, a Christian student was killed, and others injured, in an attack by Muslim students at the Modibbo Adama University of Technology (MAUTECH) of Yola, the state capital, on Feb. 4.

A local source, who wanted to remain anonymous, told World Watch Monitor that the incident started around 7 p.m., as some students were in their classes, studying for their exams scheduled the following day.

Why Churches and Religious Organizations Should Celebrate This New Law

Previously we have told you how churches and places of worship were being discriminated against and were prohibited from even applying to receive grants from the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) in the wake of natural disasters.

Thankfully, FEMA announced in January of 2018 that they would put an end to these discriminating policies and that churches and places of worship would no longer be prohibiting from receiving these grants.

Are Selfies Evidence of the 'Last Days'? John Piper Answers

Theologian and Desiring God founder John Piper is weighing in on selfies, urging Christians and social media users to recognize that in a self-obsessed culture their self is actually meant to point to God.

In response to a question he was asked Monday about whether the large presence of selfies and self-centered social media is an indication that the last days are near — where 2 Timothy 3:1-2 speaks of "difficult times" and people being "lovers of self" — the theologian said yes and no.

Muslim teens sentenced to studying Qur'an references to Virgin Mary after mocking Christianity

In a refreshing twist on blasphemy sentences from the Middle East, three Lebanese teenagers who were charged with insulting Christianity have been given the unusual sentence of studying the references to the Virgin Mary found in the Qur'an.

It is relatively little-known that Muslims believe in the Virgin birth of Jesus Christ. And in a move that is being hailed as a progressive step towards interfaith relations, a Christian judge, Joceline Matta, found the Muslim boys guilty of 'contempt of religion' for insulting Mary.

Monday, 12 February 2018

Why Your Jealousy Might Be a Sign You Have a Poverty Mindset

What's the thing in your life that you desperately want God to change? Is it a cycle of insecurity, your personal health and fitness, the courage to get over your fear of speaking in front of people? Perhaps it's that you're longing for reconciliation in a particular relationship? I know that when you're in a season of waiting and holding onto God's promises, that one of the most painful things is seeing someone else walking in the very breakthrough you'd give anything to have. It feels like salt in a wound, and if you're not careful, you can allow this to magnify your perceived lack.

Today I want to tell you that this thinking is not helping you in any way, and in fact, it could be keeping you from your breakthrough. What if I told you that the thing you're jealous of might very well be the answer you're looking for?

Pope, Bangladesh Prime Minister discuss Rohingya crisis at Vatican

Just two months after his recent visit to Bangladesh, Pope Francis Monday welcomed Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to the Vatican, where they discussed positive inter-faith relations in the country and the need to find a lasting solution to the ongoing Rohingya refugee crisis.

According to a Feb. 12 Vatican communique, the conversation was cordial and highlighted the positive bilateral relations between the two and the success of Francis' recent, Nov. 30-Dec. 2 visit to Bangladesh.

Friday, 9 February 2018

Winter Olympics already setting records with 110k condoms available to athletes

Both men and women Olympic athletes at the Winter Games in South Korea will be given an average of 37 condoms each.

Olympic officials are distributing 110,000 prophylactics in grab-as-many-as-you-want baskets at athlete bathrooms, apartments, medical clinics, media rooms, and wherever the competitors gather, according to the South China Morning Post.

CNN asked if Olympic organizers are “expecting the most promiscuous Winter Games in modern history?”

Spirit-Filled TV Station Reaches Even More Viewers

GEB continues to expand its availability to viewers across the country. The Faith-and-Family Network is now on Amazon Fire TV. Viewers just need to search for GEB to watch live 24/7.

"We want viewers to find great faith and family programming on every platform possible," said GEB's Chief Executive Officer Ossie Mills. "Amazon Fire TV joins a long list of options for viewers to find GEB's inspirational programming."

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Cardinal Marx: Bill banning circumcision in Iceland a threat to religious freedom

A new bill proposed in Iceland that would make circumcision punishable by up to six years in prison is a “dangerous attack” on religious freedom, Cardinal Reinhard Marx has said.

“Protecting the health of children is a legitimate goal of every society, but in this case this concern is instrumentalized, without any scientific basis, to stigmatise certain religious communities. This is extremely worrying,” Marx said in a statement.

Mike Pence Will Be Replaced By This Famous Face at National Prayer Breakfast

It has been quite the hectic week for star quarterback Carson Wentz, and it looks like it just got even more exciting.
After the Eagles took home the Lombardi trophy at the weekend, Wentz announced his engagement to long-term girlfriend Madison Oberg. Here's the third piece of the trifecta: Wentz is reportedly replacing Vice President Mike Pence as the keynote speaker for the National Prayer Breakfast, taking place Thursday in Washington D.C.

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Baptist Theologian Likens Football to 'Gladiators Killing Each Other'

While much of America was watching Super Bowl LII and hailing the Philadelphia Eagles' championship win, a Baptist theologian argued that the sport causes brain damage and likened its celebration to people cheering on gladiators fighting to the death.

Roger E. Olson, professor of Christian Theology of Ethics at George W. Truett Theological Seminary of Baylor University, wrote in a blog post Saturday, the day before the Super Bowl, that the facts are "irrefutable" when it comes to "long-term and irreversible brain damage in many players."

"Anyone who doesn't know this simply hasn't been paying attention. And in some cases, that brain damage has probably led to violent behavior, including suicides and murders, that probably would not have happened otherwise," he argued.

RISE up and be a man – 30 day challenge builds masculine and Catholic habits

A new 30-day challenge maps out daily actions for men hoping to live authentic masculine Catholicism by reclaiming the identities of sons, brothers, fathers, and spouses, its creators say.

“This program is rooted in four primary identities that sum up masculinity … that all men share in the call to fatherhood, all men are sons, all men are brothers, and all men are spouses,” said Chris Stefanick, host of EWTN’s “Real Life Catholic” and co-creator of RISE.

Friday, 2 February 2018

Mass Graves of Rohingya Refugees Discovered in Myanmar Reveal Shocking Horror of Faces Burned by Acid

Mass graves where Rohingya Muslims refugees have been buried in Myanmar reveal the shocking extent of the genocide that has been taking place, an investigative report has found.

"The faces of the men half-buried in the mass graves had been burned away by acid or blasted by bullets," began an Associated Press report documenting the graves on Thursday.

The 21 Day Challenge: How 3 weeks could revolutionise your spiritual life

Christian commitment to a year of spiritual resolve can be a daunting prospect, but three weeks may be all it takes to revolutionise your life. YouVersion, the team behind the popular Bible App, is once again inviting users to undertake the 21 Day Challenge, starting February 1.

The task is to commit to a Bible-reading plan (or several), of which there are many hosted by the app, for 21 consecutive days. Succeeding at this relatively modest commitment is believed to be the path to establishing a long-term habit.

YouVersion wrote: 'Just three weeks of consistent behaviour can carry you well on your way to a new habit. That's why we created the annual 21-Day Challenge: to help you engage with the Bible every day. Start a new plan now... and start each day in this new year with a fresh perspective.'

The approach draws on the popular notion, drawn from the thought of Dr Maxwell Maltz, that 21 days of resolve are what it takes to form a habit. It may also be a complete myth that the idea belongs to Maltz or that it reliably works, but it remains influential. Like the progressive stretching of a muscle, daily, dedicated exercise of the human will can train and expand its potential.

Thursday, 1 February 2018

One Dead After Train Carrying GOP Members Crashes Into Dump Truck

An Amtrak passenger train carrying Republican members of the U.S. Congress from Washington to a retreat in West Virginia slammed into a garbage truck on Wednesday in Crozet, Virginia, killing one person aboard the truck, authorities said.

There was one confirmed fatality and one serious injury in the collision, the White House said. Republican Senator Bill Cassidy, who was aboard the train, said on Twitter that three people were in the truck and one was killed. Of the other two, Cassidy said, one sustained major injuries and one had minor injuries.

The Rise of Generation Z

It was 1971 when I was a young teen like my grandson. Back then, we wrote our assignments in cursive, went home to houses that cost about $25,000 to build. Our parents paid 35 cents for a gallon of gas, while they earned about $10 thousand per year. No kid imagined having an iPhone.

There's another change since then. More Americans have no religious identity—many have no need for God.

This is especially true in my grandson's generation—the so-called Generation Z. The Barna Group recently published their findings about those born between 1999-2015. While you couldn't pick a better time to live in a technologically advanced society, it looks grim for the American faith community. Only 4 in 100 teens in this group have a Biblical worldview. Generation Z is the least Christian generation in American history.

Does this matter?

‘Google Home’ refuses to answer ‘Who is Jesus,’ but has lots to say about Muhammed, Buddha, Satan

While 'smart' technology gives the impression that it knows just about everything, it appears that Google Home cannot answer the question, "who is Jesus?"

Author and television producer David Sams conducted an experiment and streamed it live on Facebook. He noted answers from the most popular “smart” machines when asked, “Who is Jesus Christ?”

When he asked Google Home “Who is Jesus Christ?” the reply he received was, “I’m not sure how to help you with that.”

Monday, 29 January 2018

This One Area Can Make or Break You in the Spiritual Realm

I have counseled with many men over the years who have doubled or more than doubled their income shortly after cleaning up the area of sexuality in their lives.

Sex can make or break your spiritual realm and other areas of authority that God has given to you. Both contemporary and biblical examples demonstrate the connection between sexuality and authority.

Why Do So Many Christians Overlook This Common Way God Answers Prayer?

Gazing at creation, all around we see the results of the power of God, who flung the stars into place, the planets into alignment and brought about life—all out of nothing. Reading our Bibles, we see stories of dramatic encounters with God and His miracle-working power to heal, deliver and protect. We are assured of promises that through Him, all things are possible.

Have you ever wondered, then, "Why do we have doctors and medicine if God can heal?" "Why security if God can protect?" Or even, "Why preachers if God can reveal Himself?" Ever felt guilty for using some of these manmade creations, fearing a lack of trust or patience in God? I have.

God Partners With People

Although the Bible clearly illustrates God is all-knowing and all-powerful, and that He did and continues to perform mighty miracles, it also uncovers what may be an equally astonishing truth: God uses people.

Consider just a few examples from Scripture. To protect His people from impending disaster, God used Noah to build a boat. When Israel needed deliverance from captivity in Egypt, God used Moses to bring them out. To reveal Christ to people who did not know Him, He used the preaching of Peter and Paul. In each instance, God chose to partner with people for feats that He was more than capable to do all by Himself.

As God is certainly aware His choice to use people brings plenty of limitations. In almost every case, it means His desired outcome takes much longer to come to pass. Or, unfortunately, because of human missteps and mistakes, that it doesn't come to pass at all. At times, it means people get hurt, they pass on, and consequently, that God's reputation gets tarnished by it all.

We Are Christ's Body on Earth

But as an example of a perfect delegator, God is willing to take these risks and more as an act of love for us. In using people to do what He could otherwise do instantly and flawlessly, He gives us a sense of worth, purpose and affirmation. In the process of obedience, we are fine-tuned and perfected. But perhaps most of all, God knows that flesh best relates to flesh. That is, after all, why He came to earth through Jesus as a human being. He knew He needed to become one of us, with all the human limitations, in order to show us the way out of our brokenness. Now today, as the body of Christ on this earth, in all kinds of ways, God chooses to use people as His hands, feet, mouth and heart.

Certainly, pray for God's instant breakthroughs and the manifestations of His miracle power. But be careful not to reject the people He puts on your path to help you. The answers to your prayers might come through community, the talent of a God-gifted person or the story of someone who's "been there, too."

Thursday, 25 January 2018

The Disgusting Thing 'Shape of Water' Reveals About Our Culture

The Shape of Water received 13 Academy Award nominations yesterday, one short of the record. The plot follows a mute custodian who develops a sexual relationship with a humanoid-amphibian creature.

Due to the film's graphic nudity, I will not see it. As to why it received so many nominations, I defer to a film critic who noted: "Perhaps the best argument in its favor is that, in a weird way, it's a film that speaks to our times. One could interpret The Shape of Water as being about a mute woman who finds her voice with the help of her gay and African-American friends to take down the sexually predatory, bigoted patriarchy."

Doomsday Clock: We're Two Minutes From Midnight

The atomic scientists behind the doomsday clock just bumped the ticking hands to two minutes before midnight.

According to their latest bulletin:
2018: The failure of world leaders to address the largest threats to humanity's future is lamentable—but that failure can be reversed. It is two minutes to midnight, but the Doomsday Clock has ticked away from midnight in the past, and during the next year, the world can again move it further from apocalypse. The warning the Science and Security Board now sends is clear, the danger obvious and imminent. The opportunity to reduce the danger is equally clear. The world has seen the threat posed by the misuse of information technology and witnessed the vulnerability of democracies to disinformation. But there is a flip side to the abuse of social media. Leaders react when citizens insist they do so, and citizens around the world can use the power of the internet to improve the long-term prospects of their children and grandchildren. They can insist on facts, and discount nonsense. They can demand action to reduce the existential threat of nuclear war and unchecked climate change. They can seize the opportunity to make a safer and saner world.

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Let's brush up our animal theology

I saw a very touching news item. A cancer charity is investing in donkey therapy for young survivors of cancer. For a few months the youngsters get to spend time with their donkey. Animal and human get to know each other. In fact, donkeys are incredibly empathetic to human suffering.

Over the weeks, alongside other young cancer survivors, as they nurture and look after the donkeys the youngsters find time to talk about their problems and begin their road to emotional recovery.

The charity is so thrilled by the results that it is looking to extend the project.

In my parish we have a donkey in a field next to us. Or we had one. His name was Herbie and he was a beautiful creature. If I was having a bad day I would go over and pet him. Herbie used to have a partner. They were friends for years. When his friend died, Herbie stood next to the body for a day, mourning the loss of his mate.

Donkeys are incredibly sensitive and gentle creatures. I wonder if that's why Jesus rode on one. But this opens us up to think about the creative universe and how iit reveals God. The ancient Celts understood this very clearly – seeing God in the whole of creation.

I own three cats. Cats are graceful and gentle creatures and they have extraordinary powers of empathy. Ten years ago my wife had a brain haemorrhage. She had to lie flat for a whole year at home. It was torture. But my lovely tom cat Lance spent each and every day on her pillow and would cheer her up, groom her and give her a good purr. She says she would never have got through the year without him. Now she is better he has gone back to sleeping all day. Job done! Mission accomplished.

My little cat Luna has become a pastoral star as well. People come to see me and sometimes they are dealing with very upsetting issues in their lives. One big fella came last week and he was crying. The next minute Luna had jumped up onto his lap and began licking his bald head.

Damascus bombing kills 9 in Christian districts

An estimated nine people were killed in a bombing on Monday afternoon in Damascus. The shelling targeted the Bab Touma and al-Shaghour districts, which are historically Christian areas, and several churches were damaged as well.

At least 18 additional people in Old Damascus were injured in the bombings.

Nobody has yet claimed responsibility for the attacks.

A bomb reportedly caused “severe damage” to the Maronite cathedral in Damascus. According to Archbishop Samir Nassar, the bomb also knocked out water and electricity.

This is not Archbishop Samir’s first brush with death this month: a bomb hit his bedroom Jan. 8. He survived unscathed due to an extremely well-timed trip to the bathroom before the bombing began.

The Maronites are an Eastern Catholic Church that is in full communion with Rome. There are about 3 million Maronites in the world. Although the church originated in the Levant, there are now significant Maronite populations in Brazil, Argentina, and the United States. The Maronites have faced persecution throughout their history.

The Syrian civil war began nearly seven years ago, in March 2011. More than 400,000 people have been killed. At least 4.8 million have become refugees, and another 8 million have been internally displaced.

What began as demonstrations against the nation’s president, Bashar al-Assad, has become a complex fight among the Syrian regime; moderate rebels; Kurds; and Islamists such as Tahrir al-Sham and the Islamic State.

Monday, 22 January 2018

Bolivia's ban on evangelism causing mounting concern around the world

Concern is mounting rapidly among Christians over a new law that threatens to ban evangelism in Bolivia.

The World Baptist Alliance is the latest in a number of prominent organisations to protest the legislation that brackets criminal groups with religious organisations and bans people trying to 'recruit' others to take part in 'armed conflicts or religious or worship organisations'.

It means that those holding evangelistic events could face imprisonment.

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Why do some young people leave the Church? A new study investigates

A national two-year study released this week offers a look at why young people are leaving the Church as early as age 13.

The study was released yesterday by St. Mary’s Press and the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University (CARA).

Of those who left the Catholic Church, the median age for doing so was 13 years old, the study found. Seventy-four percent of the 214 former Catholics interviewed said that they decided to leave the Church between the ages of 10 and 20.

“We heard young people describe the beginnings of their questioning and doubts as early as fifth grade, some even younger,” said John Vitek, one of the principal authors of the study.

Peace and progress start with education, Francis says at Chilean university

Speaking to Chilean university students and academics Wednesday, Pope Francis said Catholic educational institutions play a prophetic role in helping future generations tackle problems with an integrated, inclusive approach.

“In our day, the mission entrusted to you is prophetic,” the Pope said Jan. 17 to a crowd of  some 2,400 students and academics at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile in Santiago. “You are challenged to generate processes that enlighten contemporary culture by proposing a renewed humanism that eschews every form of reductionism.”

This prophetic role on the part of Catholic universities is a key motive in seeking out “ever new spaces for dialogue rather than confrontation,” he said.

Christ statue in Peru suffers smoke damage

Last weekend, just days before Pope Francis’ visit to Peru, a fire was set that damaged part of Cristo del Pacifico, a 120 foot tall statue located in Lima, the nation’s capital.

According to RPP News, five fire department units responded and put out the fire Jan. 13, which caused noticeable smoke damage to the back part the the statue.

“So far the motive leading to the incident is unknown; but the theory has come up that this may have been done  because of Pope Francis’s upcoming visit,” RPP stated.

Cristo del Pacifico is a 70 feet tall sculpture set on a 50 foot base and can be seen from several areas of the capital. It was dedicated June 29, 2011.

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Man Undergoes 167 Gender-Reassignment Surgeries, But Peace Still Eludes Him

Recently I interviewed a person whose experience with gender-change surgeries was so extreme, it gained him entry in the Guinness World Records book for the most gender-reassignment surgeries for an individual person.

Blair Logsdon's story is a cautionary tale for anyone today who is considering the use of cross-gender hormones and gender-change surgery to feel better about themselves.

Logsdon underwent 167 surgeries from 1987 to 2005 in his quest to resolve gender dysphoria with surgery. On a cold, snowy December morning in a Maryland coffee shop, he shared with me his story.

Ear Buddies

The company water cooler, a symbolic gathering post for employee chatter disguised as a refreshment center, has gurgled into a resting place for analog office tools.

I read a brief story about digital chatter in the Jan/Feb edition of The Atlantic.

While reading the story, I could only respond with a deep "Duh!" This is the sentence that evoked my guttural response:

     "Workplace technology is revolutionizing how we communicate in the office."

The horse left that barn many years ago.

Companies discovered open office structures in the 1950s. Walk through any collection of cubicles or divider-free tables and you'll find digital walls guarding the mind-space of knowledge workers. The walls bear striking resemblance to earbuds or, perhaps, headphones.

Should You Be Able to Select Your Child's Sex?

A model and former Miss Great Britain has defended her decision to select the sex of her next baby on BBC Radio 5 Live.

Danielle Lloyd spoke with presenter Emma Barnett about her desire to mother a girl alongside her four boys. Admitting her decision to pursue sex-selection would be seen by some as "a little bit selfish,"  Lloyd expressed her "dream to have a little girl" and how she feels "a bit lonely with having four boys because it's all football and boy stuff." When Lloyd said she "would like to do girly stuff" as well, Barnett challenged this by asking "But what if she's not a girly girl? You can't decide their personality, you can decide their gender, but she could be into football as well." Lloyd admitted this, but said "It's about having a little mini me as well."

65 years after it closed for worship, Bristol church will reopen with a new evangelistic vision

A Bristol city centre church is to open for worship for the first time in 65 years with a mission to engage young and unchurched people.

St Nicholas church has been leased to Bristol City Council and has been used as a museum and tourist information office.

However, this autumn it will reopen under the leadership of Rev Toby Flint, currently serving at Holy Trinity Brompton in London, home of the Alpha course.

What is Jerusalem syndrome?

A Christian tourist from Northern Ireland is missing in the Israeli desert, having left a trail of pages from the Bible behind him, with search teams believing that he may have been suffering from delusions known as 'Jerusalem syndrome'.

So, what is Jerusalem syndrome?

Let's face it: Jerusalem, with its political place as the divided city at the heart of the world's most intractable conflict, and its role as the Holy City for the three monotheistic religions, can be a maddening place to stay, let alone live.


But sadly, for some its maddening nature is literal, as those with either no history of mental illness get swept up delusionally by the atmosphere of the ancient souks, and those with a history of psychological problems have them exacerbated by their trip, with some troubled people making it their mission to visit in the first place.

Saturday, 13 January 2018

This False Gospel Pervades American Culture—But Can Kill Your Soul

"But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare and into many foolish and harmful lusts, which drown men in ruin and destruction" (1 Tim. 6:9).

How easy it is to desire to be rich. We certainly do not desire to be poor, do we? But here in the Scriptures, Paul issues a sobering warning to Timothy that those who desire to be rich run afoul with all sorts of disaster. I don't know about you, but this causes me to pause and examine my heart because "ruin and destruction" are certainly not part of my long term financial goals.

Threats to Pope Francis on Chile visit next week as three Catholic churches bombed

Three Catholic churches in the Chilean capital of Santiago have been bombed just days before Pope Francis begins his tour of the country.

The perpetrators placed incendiary devices in all three churches, and in one left a direct threat to the Pope, saying the next bombs would be 'in your cassock'.

Chile's outgoing president Michelle Bachelet said the events were 'very strange, because it is not something that can be identified with one specific group', the Catholic Herald reported.

She added: 'What I've been told is that, for example, [when the Pope visited] Colombia, there were groups there with a little sign [in protest]. In a democracy, people can express themselves as long as they do so in a peaceful and appropriate way.'

Although authorities expect some protests over clerical sexual abuse during the Pope's visit, this is the first direct threat of violence.

Google Manipulating Searches of Conservative Sites, Leaving Liberal Sites Alone, Analysis Finds

Evidence continues to mount that the world's most powerful search engine is deliberately manipulating search results they deem objectionable by providing sketchy fact-check reviews of conservative websites while leaving liberal sites untouched.

Thursday, 11 January 2018

China May Soon Rescind its Population Control Policy

For decades, China's population control policies have led to the slaughter of millions of unborn children, promoted a culture of death, aggravated discrimination on the basis of sex and punished parents for having children. But in recent years, that has begun to change.

Between 1979 and 2015, the one-child-per-couple policy was one of the fundamental state policies in China. This policy was enforced through three different methods: abortion, fines and loss of employment. Forced abortions in China have killed approximately 400 million unborn children in the past 40 years, and created an extremely disproportionate sex-ratio—as many families aborted daughters because of a cultural preference for sons. Enormous fines were also imposed on the second or subsequent pregnancies. These fines sometimes amounted to as much as six times the annual household income from the previous year. Cumulatively, the fines brought in the equivalent of over two trillion U.S. dollars to local governments in China. As a result, the China Academy of Social Science has estimated that by the year 2020 China will have 30 million more men than women.

The most effective method of the three punishments was the loss of employment. Most local regulations required local governments and state-owned enterprises to terminate the employment of employees who violated the one-child policy and deprive them of their right to access to social benefits. Private enterprises were encouraged to do so as well, and most complied.

Francis-appointed cardinal: Pope could ‘name a woman cardinal’

In the short span of three weeks, Cardinal Joseph Tobin has made startling statements regarding the role of women within the Catholic Church in a pair of interviews reported in high profile left-leaning publications – The New York Times (NYT) and Jesuit America Magazine.
Nicholas Kristoff kicked off the NYT interview by zeroing in on a favorite term, “gender,” in what amounted to a slight against Catholicism.  “One area where the Catholic Church seems to me antiquated is gender.” Kristoff continued, “If Jesus trusted women like Mary Magdalene, if Phoebe could be a leader of the early church, then why can’t women be priests or cardinals today?”

Has the World Gone Nuts? Christianity and Civility

How do you talk with someone who thinks talking itself is an attack? That's a question that Americans need to ask of our institutions of higher learning. One great way to worsen our already gaping political divisions is to engage in what Internet chatroom denizens call "nutpicking." That is, the deliberate search for the "nuts" on either side of the political aisle to use as unflattering representations of opponents.

It should go without saying that nutpicking is unfair and dishonest. After all, we Christians don't like it when those in the media portray Westboro Baptist members as typical churchgoers. Picking out "nuts" only reinforces false prejudices and makes us less likely to give those we disagree with a fair hearing.

But when it comes to many American college campuses, the nuts seem so plentiful, you practically need a bushel basket—even in the heartland. And they're peddling ideas that directly contradict what education itself should be.

Nebraska governor plans to block federal funds from abortion clinics

Unveiled on Wednesday, Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts’ new state budget proposal would block federal funds from going to health clinics that provide abortion services.

Ricketts said that the move makes sense because of the values of Nebraska voters.

“Nebraska is a pro-life state, and the state’s budget should reflect those values,” Ricketts said in a statement on Monday.

The governor’s proposal takes advantage of a newly relaxed policy from Congress last year that gives states more leeway in determining the distribution of Title X funds, which are federal funds earmarked for providing family planning and related health services such as contraception.

“Thanks to action by Congress, Nebraska can now take new steps to protect unborn life by ensuring that these dollars are not used to fund abortion,” Ricketts said.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Gender Is Not a Societal Construct, Study Confirms

A recent study authored by John A. Barry of Institute for Women's Health at University College London found that children overwhelmingly chose to play with toys typed to their gender. Boys played with male‐typical toys more than girls did, and girls played with female‐typical toys more than boys did.

The study, "Sex differences in children's toy preferences: A systematic review, meta-regression and meta-analysis," which was published in Infant and Child Development, reviewed 16 studies, from 1980 to 2016, of 787 boys and 813 girls ranging in age from one to eight years.

City hall to review all-ages naked swimming party after petition goes viral

Calgary city council will decide Wednesday whether or not to cancel a private all-ages nude swim party at its Southland Leisure Centre after a petition to stop the event went viral.

CBC reported last Friday that Calgary Nude Recreation rented the city-run recreation center for a “Naked Water Slides and Wave Pool” event on January 14.

But the nudist group encourages children at its gatherings, according to its Meetup page.

“This group is family oriented and kid friendly and open to people of all ages, body types, all genders, sexual orientations, and anyone else in between,” it states.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

What Climbing the Social Ladder Does to Your Levels of Compassion

I stopped to look at a particular man the other day. But then I kept walking. I saw him from a distance and kept my eyes on him until I stood before him.

I was walking with a friend and we wanted to get home. We had just gone to church and were busy talking to each other and thinking about food.

He was sitting in front of an affluent shop. He was of an average size, and sat cross-legged with his head hung low – so much so that it nearly sat in his lap. A pile of books was on his right, a blanket on his left.

Fly Jesus: Planes to take 'Jesus loves you' banners around UK festivals this summer

Banners with the message 'Jesus loves every 1 of u' will be flown over the UK this summer, with four pilots from across the country commissioned by Christians especially to target large secular events.

The 'Fly Jesus' initiative will be facilitated by Escalls Methodist Church in Sennen, Cornwall, where the idea also originated of a 'Praise Bus' to follow the Olympic Torch around Britain in 2012.

The new plan is the brainchild of church activist Christine Bonfield, who says she had a vision from God who told her: 'Get a plane, tie a banner with my message on it and fly the length and breadth of the country.'

The estimated cost of the project is £150,000, with four pilots set to fly the banners, which have been ordered from the US, on single-engine planes across the UK starting from the South West, London, Yorkshire and Lancashire over six weeks. Secular festivals will be particularly targeted, along with Cornwall, which sees some 4 million visitors every summer.

Monday, 8 January 2018

How to recognise spiritual abuse: 8 warning signs for churches

Two-thirds of Christians responding to a survey from the Churches' Child Protection Advisory Service say they've been the victims of 'spiritual abuse'.

The figure comes with a health warning, partly because the respondents might have been self-selecting – taking the chance to share their stories for the first time – and partly because there's no agreed definition of what spiritual abuse is.

Nevertheless, the study says, there are clear characteristics, including coercion and control, manipulation and pressuring, control through misusing religious texts and providing a 'divine' rationale for behaviour. Often it's church leaders who do this, or people with influence in the church. And it's not all one-sided – church leaders can be abused too.

So how do we recognise spiritual abuse? The study doesn't go into details, but here are some suggestions about what might count as abuse.

Computers Are Not Spirit-Filled

We are surrounded by artificial intelligence.

Though I often question Siri's IQ, I'm quick to acknowledge that something powerful happens when I ask her a question.

Bits and bytes fly from my phone like a carrier pigeon that returns in seconds with an array of answers sans feathers.

There's plenty of discussions these days about the development of computer reasoning. We've learned to program the IQ of computers, and reasoning has advanced quickly as demonstrated by computer chess victories over grandmasters.

Austrian bishop signs statement calling Pope’s reading of Amoris Laetitia ‘alien’ to Catholic faith

Bishop Andreas Laun, Emeritus Auxiliary of Salzburg, Austria, today put his name to the “Profession of Immutable Truths about Sacramental Marriage,” bringing the number of signatories to six bishops and one cardinal, a reliable source confirmed.

On Monday, Bishop Athanasius Schneider, auxiliary of Astana, Kazakhstan, Archbishop Tomash Peta, Metropolitan of Astana, and Archbishop Jan Pawel Lenga of Karaganda, Kazakhstan, issued a “public and unequivocal profession of the truth” regarding the Church’s teaching on the indissolubility of marriage as a “service of charity in truth” to the Church of today and to the Pope.