Archive for June, 2013

Hewn People

Sunday, June 16th, 2013

“What shall I do with you, O Ephraim? What shall I do with you, O Judah? Your love is like a morning cloud, like the dew that goes early away. Therefore I’ve hewn them by the prophets; I’ve slain them by the words of my mouth, and my judgment goes forth as the light. For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” (Hosea 6:4-6)

Have you ever been hewn by God’s word? Have you ever felt God cut you open during a sermon? Good. God hews and slays through his word. But here’s his purpose? “I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice…” He wants to bring you home. He uses his word to take cold, dead, hearts, cut them open, and make them tender again.

How does hewing and slaying do that? The same way a cut from surgeon’s scalpel brings healing to a failed heart. God’s word, sharper than any scalpel, pierces to the soul, dividing to joint and marrow, uncovering the thoughts and intentions of your heart.

Until you see and feel in your bones that you’re very far gone. Until you believe that your sacrifices and offerings, the good works you’ve piled up over the course of your life mean nothing and will get you nowhere because you’re full of pride, full of self—full of love for things that are not God and cannot save—until you hear that cutting word, and that word applies to each and every one of us—you have no hope.

But if today you hear this word and believe it, and know that there’s no cure in Syria, no cure from Rimmon, no cure in Binghamton, no cure in yourself, but only in the Great Physician, Jesus, the Word of God who has come to save sinners, if you hear that, and go to him, he will heal you, he will save you and come to live with you and in you. And then you will see that God slays you with hard words so that his Word can heal you.” From a sermon on the healing of Naaman

Anglican Bishop says President Obama will veto any bill giving religious protection to the Military

Sunday, June 16th, 2013

Obama Hates Christians and Religious Liberty, says ACNA Armed Forces Bishop Derek Jones

By David W. Virtue
www.virtueonline.org

The bishop overseeing military chaplains in the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) says President Obama is targeting Christians and hates Religious Liberty when he says he will veto any bill that seeks to strengthen religious protections for military members.

The Rt. Rev. Derek Jones who is the Bishop of the Armed Forces and Chaplaincy, a soon to be diocese of the ACNA said, “I state without reservation that Mr. Obama and this administration is the most corrupt we have seen in modern history. He continues to bypass Congress by using expanding government, executive orders and directives to accomplish his objectives; and he dismisses those who speak against his anti-republic agenda as though we are extremists and out of step.

Adolph Hilter used armed radicalism and propaganda to accomplish his agenda. Mr. Obama has been using the apathy of our culture and a radical liberal media that adores him to accomplish his objectives. Our legislature is completely befuddled. Our military is at the weakest it has ever been in our history – with worse “readiness” assessments than when Carter was in office.

“What is clearly at stake is whether our military members will be allowed to continue exercising our most basic freedom – Religious – a right that has been defended and celebrated since the founding of this nation. Mr. Obama has sought to remove Religious Liberty from the military lexicon and now hopes to prevent legislation that would limit his ability to take away from our men and women serving in the Armed Forces a Constitutional right. He does not want any limitations on his ability to tell a service member that they can’t read or have a Bible in the workplace, or what spiritual counseling a chaplain can or can not give to a service member.

“Our Congressional leadership is trying to stop such actions by reinforcing standing Constitutional rights through further legislation,” according to Bp Jones. Bishop Jones finished meetings with Congressional leaders no less than two weeks ago in working to strengthen the language in Section 533 of the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) passed by Congress last year. At that time, it garnered comments from Mr. Obama when he said as part of his signing statement that this particular section was “ill-advised.”

“When the DoD did not take action to implement the new law because of what Bishop Jones calls “casual interpretation of Congress’ intent by the President and his DoD appointees,” he, along with the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, the Becket Fund, ADF, TVC, and other prominent groups focused on Religious Liberty, went to work to encourage Congressional leaders to strengthen the law further.”

“This is the most compelling expression yet of the aggressive approach of the Obama-Hagel Defense Department to soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines who are observant Christians or devout members of other peaceful faiths, as seen in Breitbart News’ previous reports regarding the unconstitutional infringements of one of America’s most treasured, fundamental rights.

“All eyes are on House and Senate leadership to see if they stand firm on the bill for those in the military who are facing this new form of pressure.”

Breitbart News reported last week that Rep. John Fleming (R-LA) passed an amendment in the House Armed Services Committee protecting religious speech of service members in the military. President Barack Obama has now threatened to veto the bill if it passes the full House and Senate.

The Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, an organization of chaplain endorsers representing more than 2,000 current chaplains actively serving the armed forces, is calling on the U.S. House of Representatives to firmly reject President Obama’s attempt to minimize the importance of religious conscience.

Rep. John Fleming (R-LA) authored an amendment to the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act which would ensure religious liberty for service men and women in the armed forces. The House Armed Services Committee approved the amendment last week. President Obama then declared, “The Administration strongly objects to section 530, which would require the Armed Forces to accommodate, except in cases of military necessity, ‘actions and speech’ reflecting the ‘conscience, moral principles, or religious beliefs of the member.'”

“The president’s objections to many other provisions of the 2014 NDAA–including Purple Heart awards for Americans wounded by in-U.S. terrorists–demonstrates his utter disdain for the views of elected representatives and endangers the free exercise of religion in the Armed Services,” said retired Chaplain (Brig Gen) Douglas Lee, USAR. “The chilling effect of his current objections on religious conscience is chilling in and of themselves.”

Lee said that the president’s rejection of protections for American religious conscience and First Amendment principles has awakened many to the dangers of his agenda.

The White House released a Statement of Administration Policy (SAP) on H.R. 1960, the National Defense Authorization Act of 2014. Among other items, the SAP includes as an objection to the bill: “Expansion and Implementation of Protection of Rights of Conscience of Members of the Armed Forces and Chaplains of Such Members: The Administration strongly objects to section 530, which would require the Armed Forces to accommodate, except in cases of military necessity, “actions and speech” reflecting the “conscience, moral principles, or religious beliefs of the member.” By limiting the discretion of commanders to address potentially problematic speech and actions within their units, this provision would have a significant adverse effect on good order, discipline, morale, and mission accomplishment.”

The SAP includes a veto threat, “…if the bill is presented to the President for approval in its current form, the President’s senior advisers would recommend that the President veto the bill.”

“We ARE on the precipice of a full-on persecution of Christians and loss of all Religious and Civil Liberties – all in the name of “fairness” “security” and any other good sounding word they think they can use. EVERYTHING Mr. Obama does is to gain power, strength, and authority over Religious and Civil Liberties,” Bishop Jones stated.

END

Catholic Bishop: The ‘Twilight of Christian England’ Demands that Faithful Speak Out

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

 

In the Catholic Herald:

 

Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury has said the “twilight of Christian England” is not “entirely negative” as it puts demands on Christians to be clearer about what their faith is and how they should stand up for it.

In a homily at the Northern Catholic Conference at Liverpool Hope University on Sunday the bishop said that in a decade Christianity will be the faith of a “significant minority” in Britain.

This momentous change, he said, “may not be an entirely negative development as it dispels any ambiguity and requires of Christians a greater clarity in both teaching and witness”.

He pointed out that debates about marriage showed an “incomprehension” about the Christian foundations of society and urged Christians to challenge the social consensus.

The bishop said: “I know many voices may urge us to leave well alone, not to disturb what appears dead in our society. Should we not be realistic and concede that the defence of human life, the identity of marriage and the integrity of the family is all but lost? Should we best remain silent so as not to weaken the Church’s increasingly, precarious standing in society?

“We might, indeed, be tempted to speak only of those concerns which accord with the social consensus around us. Pope Francis, however, shows us a different approach by his startlingly, direct way of speaking and the clear witness of his actions. In the North of England we certainly understand plain speaking!

“The contemporary world, Pope Francis has shown us, is often more ready to listen and take notice than we as Christians are ready to speak or give witness. Amid the twilight of a Christian England this witness will shine out more clearly.”

SOUTH CAROLINA: Federal Judge Remands Diocese of SC Case to State court

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

Court finds that “tacit” First Amendment issues not in the Diocese’s complaint are not a basis for federal court jurisdiction

CHARLESTON, SC, June 10, 2013 – U.S. District Judge C. Weston Houck today remanded the case to the South Carolina Circuit Court. In informing the parties, Judge Houck said,

“If this Court determined that a case may be removed based on federal question jurisdiction whenever a defendant attributed a federal constitutional issue not alleged or advanced in a well-pleaded complaint, federal question jurisdiction could potentially be expanded to all cases containing tacit First Amendment issues.”

Diocesan officials expressed their gratitude for the decision.

“We are very pleased that Judge Houck remanded the case to state court,” said Jim Lewis, Canon to Bishop Lawrence. “The issues involved are essentially those of legal identity and are wholly determined by state law, so the most appropriate place to settle is clearly in state court, where we first took the matter.”

With the case remanded, it returns to the court of South Carolina Circuit Judge Dianne S. Goodstein.

The Diocese disassociated from the Episcopal Church after the denomination attempted to remove Bishop Mark Lawrence. Following the Diocese’s decision, 49 churches representing 80 percent of the Diocese’s 30,000 members have confirmed their disassociation from TEC.

The Diocese has consistently disagreed with TEC’s embrace of what most members of the global Anglican Communion believe to be a radical fringe scriptural interpretation that makes following Christ’s teachings optional for salvation.

IN OTHER NEWS The Episcopal Church’s Executive Council agreed June 10 to increase the church’s aid to continuing Episcopalians in South Carolina and in the Diocese of San Joaquin. Answering a request from the Episcopal Church in South Carolina, council agreed to expand a promised line of credit by $300,000, which will make available a total of $550,000 through the end of 2013.

D.C. gay pride parade includes contingent from Washington National Cathedral

Monday, June 10th, 2013

By Steve Hendrix and Stefanie Dazio
http://www.washingtonpost.com/

Gary Hall’s pressed blue dress shirt and white clerical collar wasn’t the most head-turning look in a crowd that featured a lot of drag queens with towering bouffants, but his presence in Saturday’s gay pride parade through Washington was still a stunner for some.

The Very Rev. Gary Hall, as he is formally known, led the first ever official contingent from Washington National Cathedral in the annual celebration of gay life in the District.

“I won’t be walking bare-chested. I’m kind of a reserved person,” Hall said with a laugh before setting out from the staging area just west of Dupont Circle. “But if my being seen in the parade is a visible sign that God loves and accepts people across the full spectrum of human sexuality, it will have achieved its purpose.”

Hall’s attendance is only the latest public embrace of gay equality by mainstream Protestant denominations, and by the National Cathedral in particular. Under Hall’s leadership – he was named dean less than a year ago – the church has launched an LGBT ministry group and announced that it would begin hosting same-sex marriage ceremonies in the Gothic edifice famous for society weddings and presidential funerals.

(Sara h L. Voisin/The Washington Post) – Gary Hall, center, Dean of the National Cathedral, is pictured at the parade. On the left is Richard Weinberg, Director of Communications at the National Cathedral and Robert Boaz, of D.C. who is dressed as Barbara Streisand.She is part of the Gay Men’s Chorus of WashingtonBut the cathedral was one of more than a dozen faith-based institutions represented in the parade for the first time this year, a sign of the continuing evolution of the parade itself, which was once known for its shock factor. Near nudity, displays of affection that left little to the imagination and Speedos that left even less have given way, in part, to lots of hand-holding, the Geico lizard and T-shirted groups from Baptist, Methodist and Presbyterian congregations around the region. (But still, a lot of Speedos.)

“It means so much to me to see all these straight people from church out here showing us love,” said Christopher Terry, 24, wearing a “Stop H8” T-shirt as marchers from Twinbrook Baptist filed by.

“In D.C. now, a large proportion of people who come out to watch and enjoy the parade would not even identify as gay,” said Ryan Bos, executive director of Capital Pride, the organizer of the event. “It’s just a fun time.”

Pixie Windsor has watched the growth of the parade since she arrived in Washington in 1985 from Cambridge, Md. She has attended most years and marched several times, including last year when she rode a vintage bicycle.

“In the ’80s it was really crazy,” Windsor said. “Drunken debauchery kind of crazy.”

This year, the parade has expanded, literally, to her front door. The newly extended route takes marchers an additional four blocks up 14th Street directly in front of the shop that she has owned for five years, Miss Pixie’s Furnishings and Whatnot.

Like many storefronts along the 19-block route – which wound around Dupont Circle, New Hampshire Avenue, and 17th and P streets – Windsor’s front windows were decked with hanging rainbows and, in her case, spray-painted Peeps. She planned to close at 5 p.m. so employees could mount newly built Mardi Gras-style ladder chairs along front windows and watch the cavalcade of feather boas and the occasional Episcopal priests.

“It just seems to get bigger and more inclusive every year,” said Windsor, who remembers some of the early parades as more outrageous but less well attended. “The drag queens and the Dykes on Bikes are still really crazy; it’s still a lot of fun. But it’s a little more serious somehow.”

The parade was also the unofficial launch of the mayoral campaign season. Candidates Muriel Bowser, Tommy Wells and Jack Evans each led dozens-strong coteries of supporters. And the council’s openly gay members marveled at how the parade had changed.

“I never thought we would be so normal,” said Jim Graham (D-Ward 1), a council member since 1999.

“It was a very different environment 25 years ago,” said David A. Catania (I-At Large), who became the council’s first openly gay member in 1997. He recalled topless women on bicycles and more overt sexuality in an era when gay culture was further out of the mainstream.

“Now it’s really a family affair,” he said, “and I like it.”

Standing on the steps of the Dupont Circle fountain, park ranger Natasha Arnold, in uniform and wearing an equality pin, gave a talk to the parade crowd about the neighborhood’s history as a center of gay life in Washington, a first this year.

Not everyone was glad to see the increased presence of church groups walking in the lineup. “The modern-day churches are talking the word of God and walking all over it,” said a man from McLean Bible Church who was debating with parade-goers. He spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to speak freely about a controversial subject. “It’s not about me, it’s about Jesus.”

Hall and the more than 30 church staffers and congregation members walked behind a National Cathedral banner. They seemed unfazed by the more exuberant displays of sexual identity marching around them, which included Mr. D.C. Eagle (who was wearing a black-leather kilt and little else) and a dancing troop of cross-dressers. Hall is a veteran of Gay Pride events in Los Angeles, where he worked before coming to Washington, and he once lived in one of the most established gay districts in the country, San Francisco’s Castro.

“I was probably the only straight guy in the neighborhood,” he said. “I’m sure I’ll get some angry letters for participating in something this flamboyant. But you know, I think the flamboyance might actually loosen up some uptight people.”

Mr. D.C. Eagle, Nigel Williams, marveled at the growth in religious groups. “I think it’s wonderful,” he said as he prepared to climb up on his flatbed. “We’re proud to walk with them.”

Mike DeBonis contributed to this report.

Dean in civil partnership is tipped to be the UK’s first openly gay bishop

Monday, June 10th, 2013

 

by Jonathan Petre, Mailonline

 

  • Jeffrey John is a strong contender to become bishop of Monmouth
  • Dr John is in a civil partnership with hospital chaplain Rev Grant Holmes
  • Friends believe 60-year-old is too outspoken to get a post in England

 

A controversial Church of England dean could become Britain’s first openly gay bishop.

 

Senior insiders believe the Very Rev Jeffrey John, the dean of St Albans, is a strong contender to become the next bishop of Monmouth.

 

If elected next month, the Welsh-born cleric would be the UK’s first Anglican bishop in a civil partnership, a development that would send shockwaves through the Church worldwide.

 

However, insiders said the mood in Britain was changing and many worshippers would accept a gay bishop as long as he was celibate, as Dr John is.

 

The dean, a respected theologian, is said to have been unfairly treated because of his sexuality.

 

Dr John, a prominent advocate for gay marriage, was at the centre of a storm over gay clergy in 2003 when he was forced to step down as bishop of Reading by the then Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams after a backlash by conservatives, particularly in Africa and Asia.

 

Read here

Church of England gives up fight over marriage

Monday, June 10th, 2013

 

The Church of England has announced that it will no longer fight the same sex ‘marriage’ Bill.

The statement was made by the Bishop of Leicester, who is the Convenor of the Lords Spiritual.

You can read the full statement here >
or the report in the Telegraph here >

This effectively signals the end of the Church of England’s official opposition to the Bill.

Archbishop of Canterbury’s speech

Despite voting against the Bill (by voting for Lord Dear’s “fatal motion”) the Archbishop’s position was unclear until he made his speech in the House of Lords. However, in his speech the Archbishop referred to “the strong and welcome contribution by the Bishop of Salisbury.” This is a reference to the Bishop of Salisbury’s letter to Lord Alli, in which he explains why he is sympathetic to “equal marriage.” (See the letter here.)

It is extremely disappointing that Archbishop Welby commended him for this contribution rather than rebuking him for advocating a position contrary to Scripture and the Church’s teaching.

The Archbishop also approved of the idea of same sex relationships in his speech, contrary to the Bible’s teaching on homosexuality. He said: “It is clearly essential that stable and faithful same sex relationships should, where those involved want it, be recognised and supported with as much dignity and the same legal effect as marriage”.

A full transcript of the Archbishop’s speech is available here >

Read the rest of this entry »