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Archive for May, 2011

Albemarle Road church fined $100 per branch for excessive tree pruning

Posted by faithandthelaw on May 31, 2011

Every two to three years, Eddie Sales trims and prunes the crape myrtles at his church, Albemarle Road Presbyterian Church. But this year, the city of Charlotte cited the church for improperly pruning its trees. “We always keep our trees trimmed back because you don’t want to worry about them hanging down in the way,” said Sales, a church member. The church was fined $100 per branch cut for excessive pruning, bringing the violation to $4,000. “I just couldn’t believe it when I heard about it,” Sales said. “We trim our trees back every three years all over our property, and this is the first time we have been fined.” The fine will be dropped if the church replaces each of the improperly pruned trees, said Tom Johnson, senior urban forester for city of Charlotte Land Development Division. “When they are nonrepairable, when they have been pruned beyond repair, we will ask them to be replaced,” Johnson said. “We do that for a number of reasons but mainly because they are going to come back unhealthy and create a dangerous situation down the road.” Charlotte has had a tree ordinance since 1978, and when trees are incorrectly pruned or topped, people can be subject to fines, Johnson said. Trees planted as a result of the ordinance are subject to the fines if they are excessively trimmed or pruned. These include trees on commercial property or street trees. They do not include a private residence. “The purpose of the tree ordinance is to protect trees,” Johnson said. “Charlotte has always been known as the city of trees. When we take down trees, we need to replace these trees.” Individuals who would like to trim their trees should call the city foresters to receive a free permit to conduct the landscape work. Foresters will then meet with the person receiving the permit and give instructions on how to properly trim their trees, Johnson said. The state Division of Forestry recommends that anyone trimming trees should be certified by the National Horticulture Board, but certification is not required to receive a permit. On private property, fine amounts are based on the size of the tree improperly pruned. For small trees such as cherry trees or crape myrtles, the fine is $75 per tree. Excessive cutting can increase that fine to $100 per branch. For large trees such as oaks or maples, the fine is $150 per tree. Because there is a widespread lack of understanding on how to prune crape myrtles in the Charlotte area, Johnson said, residents found in violation regarding these trees are asked to simply replace them, and the fine will be lifted. Sales said trees found in violation at the church must be cut down and replaced with new trees by October, but the church plans to appeal. Sales doesn’t know how much it would cost to replace the trees. “We trimmed back these trees in the interest of the church,” Sales said. “If we were in violation, we certainly did not know we were.” Typically during the course of a year, Johnson said, about six private residents are found in violation of improper topping or pruning. “We are trying to be pro-active and not trying to fine people excessively,” Johnson said.

Read more: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2011/05/28/2333197/church-fined-for-improper-tree.html#ixzz1NxHRi114

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Veterans Administration Agrees Not to Interfere with Memorial Day Prayers

Posted by faithandthelaw on May 28, 2011

The nation’s agency for military veterans has agreed to stay out of religious refereeing for now, backing down from its attempt to tell a minister how to craft a prayer for a Memorial Day invocation.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Fred Hindrichs told federal District Judge Lynn Hughes that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs will not demand that Memorial Day prayers at Houston National Cemetery Monday be as non-denominational as possible.

“(The agency) will let the prayer go on this Monday,” Hindrichs told Hughes.

The change of heart came one day after the judge granted the Rev. Scott Rainey a temporary restraining order against the agency after officials told the pastor to edit his prayer to make it as general and non-denominational as possible. Rainey’s prayer, submitted for review at the agency’s request included the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer and thanked Jesus Christ, the Christian savior, in closing.

“The … prayer/message is specific to one belief,” wrote Arleen Ocasio, director of the Houston National Cemetery.

“I’ve never said a prayer in my life that didn’t end with Jesus Christ,” Rainey said after Friday’s hearing. “It was unrealistic expectation for me not to include the name of Jesus Christ.”

Veterans Affairs officials informed Rainey that if he wanted to give the invocation, he would have to keep the language in his prayer “general” and “non-denominational.”

Rainey filed a lawsuit against the agency Thursday, claiming the government was censoring his speech and asked the judge to stop the agency from doing so.

Judge warns agency

Hughes granted a temporary restraining order which will stay in place through Monday’s Memorial Day. The judge said that while he was not doubting the government’s word, he was “an experienced optimist” who didn’t want to leave room for the government to change its mind before Monday.

Yesterday, the judge warned the agency it had stepped too far, saying officials were essentially “decreeing how citizens honor their veterans.”

“The government cannot gag citizens when it says it is in the interest of national security, and it cannot do it in some bureaucrat’s notion of cultural homogeneity,” Hughes wrote.

For the past two years, Rainey has given the Memorial Day invocation at the cemetery to honor U.S. soldiers who have fought and died. The invocation is sponsored by a private group, the National Cemetery Council for Greater Houston, but held at the Houston National Cemetery, which is public property.

This year, however, the cemetery director asked to see the prayer beforehand. She then asked Rainey to edit it.

“… While it is very well written, I must ask you to edit it,” Ocasio wrote on May 19. “The tone of all messages must be inclusive of all beliefs, need to be general and its fundamental purpose should be specific to those we are honoring, and non-denominational in nature.”

Rabbi comments

Rabbi Roy Walter, senior rabbi at Congregation Emanu El, said he agrees with Rainey’s free speech position.

“I do believe the government doesn’t have the right to tell him what he can and cannot do,” Walter said.

But the rabbi said Rainey’s prayer doesn’t reflect that all veterans are not Christians.

“I don’t think it’s sensitive to the fact that a great many people who are veterans, who gave their lives or lived through service, are not Christian.”

terri.langford@chron.com

Read more: http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/life/religion/7583145.html#ixzz1Nf5jtUgA

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Provincial Official in Algeria Orders Churches to Close

Posted by faithandthelaw on May 26, 2011

ISTANBUL, May 25 (CDN) — Seven Algerian churches face closure this week after the governor of their province sent them written notice that they were operating “illegally.”
 
The notice on Sunday (May 22) from Police Chief Ben Salma, citing a May 8 decree from the Bejaia Province governor, also states that all churches “in all parts of the country” will be closed for lack of compliance with registration regulations, but Christian leaders dismissed this assertion as the provincial official does not have nationwide authority.
 
“All buildings permanently designated for or in the process of being designated for the practice of religious worship other than Muslim will be permanently closed down in all parts of the country, as well as those not having received the conformity authorization from the National Commission,” Salma stated in the notice.
 
On Sunday (May 22) the governor of Bejaia sent a statement to the president of the Protestant Church of Algeria (EPA) informing him that all churches in the province were illegal because they were unregistered. Registration is required under controversial Ordinance 06-03, but Christians report the government refuses to respond to or grant their applications for registration.
 
The controversial law was introduced in 2006 to regulate non-Muslim worship. In 2008 the government applied measures in accordance with Ordinance 06-03 to limit the activities of non-Muslim groups, ordering the closure of 26 churches in the Kabylie region because they were not registered. No churches had been closed down since then.
 
EPA members argue, however, that the law is impossible to implement as officials refuse to register their churches despite efforts to comply. They said the authorities apply the law when they want to harass churches.
 
“It’s always the same thing,” Mustapha Krim, president of the EPA, told Compass. “They use this law when they want to pester us.”
 
On Monday (May 23) members of the EPA were scheduled to visit the Minister of Religious Affairs. Instead, however, they were received by one of his deputies, who told them the ministry was not aware of the decision of the Bejaia governor. The meeting was not constructive, according to Krim.
 
Krim, a resident of Bejaia, sounded relaxed and pragmatic on the phone, but he was adamant that the EPA members had no intention of closing their churches. The letter from the governor did not include a closure date, nor did it give any further reasons local authorities made this decision.
 
The governor of Bejaia is not particularly religious, according to Krim, making his order to close the churches of his province even more bemusing, he said.
 
The churches of Bejaia have submitted the documentation the controversial law requires, and the government’s unwillingness to give official permission for the churches to operate is a matter for officials, not churches, to resolve, asserted Krim.
 
“There are no precise reasons given [for the order to close],” Krim said. “They said we have to be in conformity to the law. We’ve always tried to do this and have submitted all that they requested. Now it’s up to them to give us the authorization and do what they need to do.”
 
According to the governor’s statement, if the churches do not comply, authorities may use force. The leaders of the churches in Bejaia have decided to conduct church services this weekend as scheduled and “see what happens,” said Krim, who also expects police to show up.
 
“For now, on Friday and Sunday there will be church meetings like always, but we expect that we may encounter the police,” he said. “They have the authority to intervene.”
 
He and the leaders of the other Protestant churches of Bejaia will meet on Thursday (May 26) to discuss a plan in the event of a police presence and force. He said some of the Christians have expressed fear and have many questions.
 
Asked if he thought this could mean the beginning of more closures of churches across Algeria, Krim said, “It is possible they are capable of doing things like this. We have no intention to close, and we have mobilized people to pray so that God can intervene.”
 
Despite efforts to comply with the ordinance, no churches or Christian groups have received governmental approval to operate, and the government has not established administrative means to implement the ordinance, according to the U.S. Department of State’s 2010 Report on International Religious Freedom.
 
Though no churches have closed since 2008, their status remains questionable and only valid through registration with the EPA.
 
There are more than 99,000 Christians in Algeria, less than 0.3 percent of the total population of 35.4 million people, according to Operation World. Muslims make up more than 97 percent of the population. 
 

Courtesy of http://www.compassdirect.org/english/country/13314/article_113076.html/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+delicious%2Fgqlf+%28Christian+Headlines+Top+Headlines%29

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Saying ‘Jesus’ In School Faces Court on Monday

Posted by faithandthelaw on May 25, 2011

This Monday, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments on if students in elementary schools have the protections of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The case surfaced in the Plano Independent School District in Texas where Thomas Elementary School Principal Lynn Swanson and Rasor Elementary School Principal Jackie Bomchill were sued for restricting student speech when it referenced “God” or “Jesus.”

According to the Liberty Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting freedoms and strengthening families, in a prior incident, officials banned 8-year-old Jonathan Morgan from handing out candy with Jesus’ name on them to classmates at a school party. “Then they confiscated a little girl’s pencils after school because they mentioned ‘God,’” the Institute reported. The group also reported that: “They even banned an entire classroom from writing ‘Merry Christmas’ on cards to our troops serving in Iraq.”

The disagreement began in district court then progressed to a three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit where school officials’ efforts to have the complaint rejected because of their “immunity” failed. Now the 5th Circuit appeals court has arranged an en banc hearing in which 17 judges will listen to arguments and decide the dispute.

The school officials are arguing, “that the First Amendment does not apply to elementary school students,” explains the appeal brief submitted by Liberty Institute. They are claiming that the case is a dispute of “first impression,” – that is, the first time the question has been raised. Swanson and Bomchill are urging, “that the First Amendment does not apply to elementary school students.” According to school officials, “neither the Supreme Court nor this Court has ever extended First Amendment ‘freedom of speech’ protection to the distribution of non-curricular materials in public elementary schools,” the brief explains.

Liberty Institute asserts, “The First Amendment is not implicated by restrictions on student-to-student distribution of non-curricular materials by elementary school students to their classmates.” Kelly Shackelford, the president and CEO of Liberty Institute, Stated that the fundamental question that remains is whether the appeals court will “strip away the First Amendment rights of kids and their parents in the schools.”

Shackelford believes this could quickly turn into slippery slope; If an elementary school student has no First Amendment rights, what about a middle school or junior high student. What if this later extends to the adult collegiate level? “This is chilling. What this means if they have no First Amendment rights is that they have no right to have a viewpoint different from the government,” he said.

Shackleford said he is pleading with Christian organizations and groups to be in prayer this weekend over the arguments and the outcome. According to his statement, “Whatever confusion may exist about student speech and the Religion Clauses, the confusion does not extend to the fundamental principle that school officials may not discriminate against student speech solely because it expresses a religious viewpoint.”

Courtesy of http://www.christianlawjournal.com/news/saying-jesus-in-school-faces-court-on-monday/

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Prescribing Jesus Gets Doctor Censured

Posted by faithandthelaw on May 24, 2011

NewsCore) – MARGATE, England — A Christian doctor in England has been threatened with an official warning from his professional body for discussing Jesus with a patient, The (London) Sunday Times reported.

Richard Scott, a doctor for 28 years, is under investigation by the General Medical Council (GMC) and faces disciplinary action after he suggested to a 24-year-old man that he might find solace in Christianity.

Scott, who practices at a medical center in Margate, east of London, well known for having Christian doctors, insists he only raised his spiritual beliefs after carrying out a thorough and lengthy consultation, during which medical checks and referrals for further care were arranged.

When the man’s mother inquired of the consultation, however, her son apparently replied, “He just said I need Jesus.” This prompted his mother to refer Scott to the GMC, claiming that he had not offered medical advice during the consultation but instead talked about Jesus.

The young man, who has been described as “in a rut and in need of help” grew up in a different religion but his faith had lapsed. He has continued to seek treatment from the practice despite the complaint filed by his mother.

The GMC has written to Scott suggesting he accept an official warning but the GP (family doctor), who has an unblemished record as a medic, has decided to fight the allegations and stand up to what he believes is a politically correct trend in Britain to persecute Christians for expressing their faith in the workplace.

Scott fears that if he accepts the warning, and discusses his Christian beliefs with other patients, he could be struck off.

He maintains he acted professionally and says the complaint was made against him in the knowledge that professional bodies are nervous about claims of a religious nature.

Scott said, “I only discussed my faith at the end of a lengthy medical consultation after exploring the various interventions that the patient had previously tried, and after promising to follow up the patient’s request for an appointment with other medical professionals.

“I only discussed mutual faith after obtaining the patient’s permission. In our conversation, I said that, personally, I had found having faith in Jesus helped me and could help the patient. At no time did the patient indicate that they were offended, or that they wanted to stop the discussion. If that had been the case, I would have immediately ended the conversation.

“This complaint was brought to the GMC not by the patient, who has continued to be a patient in this practice, but by the patient’s mother.”

Scott is a partner at the Bethesda medical center in Margate, Kent. The six partners at the practice are all Christians and it has taken a biblical name. Practice leaflets and message boards publicize the doctors’ religion and invite patients to raise Christian beliefs with them.

Scott is being advised by the Christian Legal Center. Paul Diamond, the leading human rights barrister, has been instructed in the case.

Courtesy of http://www.myfoxny.com/dpps/news/offbeat/prescribing-jesus-gets-doctor-censured-dpgonc-km-20110522_13318742

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The American Flag Is ‘Offensive’ in Schools Now

Posted by faithandthelaw on May 20, 2011

By Selwyn Duke

Increasingly, it seems that the American flag is joining toy guns and dodgeball on the banned-from-school list.  And the latest story on this front involves The Butterfield Elementary in Orange, Massachusetts, where a teacher told an eleven-year-old boy that he may not hang his depiction of Old Glory because it might “offend” another student.

The boy, Frankie Girard, had drawn the picture in art class but then found that his teacher didn’t share his patriotism.  Says his father, John, “He was denied hanging the flag up.  And he asked if he could just even hang it on his desk, and he was told no.  He could take the picture that he drew and take it home and be proud of it there.”

I guess patriotism has joined piety as a “private matter.”  (Leftists tend to confuse closets with shelves.  Everything that should be in the former, they display; everything that should be on the latter, they hide.)

There is a bit of a back story here, too.  It is claimed that this incident followed an altercation in which the offended one struck Frankie after Frankie asked him why he didn’t recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

As for the accusation leveled against the teacher, it’s denied by the school superintendent, Dr. Paul Burnim.  He refused to go on camera, but, reports WWLP.com’s Matt  Caron, he “told 22News over the phone that nobody ever told Franklin the drawing was offensive, and said the only reason it wasn’t hung was because Franklin was supposed to be doing other work; [sic] not drawing a picture.”

Nose growing much, doctor?

The reason why I don’t believe this man for a second is this: What eleven-year-old is going to concoct a story that his teacher said his flag drawing was “offensive”?  Oh, I understand that kids can lie almost as well as educators, but such a fabrication would require a level of cultural knowledge and sophistication beyond the grammar-school set.  No, what we have here is a guilty teacher and a superintendent doing damage control and hiding under his desk.

As to this, Frankie’s father, John — who has contacted the ACLU (which makes me wonder about his cultural knowledge) and gotten a lot of press — said that Dr. Burnim asked him if this would “go away” if his son were allowed to hang the flag now.  Obviously, this educator is worried about being hanged himself.  Doctor, the time for that is past.

And you are a coward. 

If you were any kind of man, you would have been offended that a teacher would look askance upon the flag.  If you were any kind of a man, you would have leapt into action without hesitation.  If you were any kind of man, you would have defended our culture.  But you’re something other than a man.

It’s called a leftist.

And this is typical of leftists.  They persecute traditionalist students in thousands of schools and universities nationwide (see Campus-Watch.org), and, when they are occasionally caught with their hands in the commie jar, they don’t even have the guts to come on camera and defend their “beliefs.” 

This is because they operate based on popularity, not principle.  They are pack animals, fawners over the fashionable.  In 1936 Germany, they would have been doing the goosestep, and in 1917 Russia, they would have sported the hammer and sickle.  This malleability isn’t surprising, either.  “Left,” like “right,” is a relative term.  Left of what?  In the case of these folks, the only constant is that they’re left of sanity.

Now, in the comments section under Caron’s article, someone in the community accused Frankie of being a bully.  But this is irrelevant.  It would be a mistake to conflate a defense of the flag with a defense of a flag-waver.  If the boy misbehaved, punish him, but you don’t prohibit the flag’s display because it’s “offensive.”  You hang the flag — and then “hang” the child if necessary.

Speaking of which, was the little offended offender punished for striking Frankie?  Or is that allowed now when someone has the temerity to express patriotic sentiments?  

And who is offended by the flag, anyway?  Is this classmate a budding al-Qaeda member?  A La Raza Reconquista type?  Is his last name Chavez?  (Actually, Frankie’s sister claims he’s a Jehovah’s Witness.)  Whatever the case, if the American flag offends him, I suggest that he’s in the wrong country.

The thing I find most irritating about this story is the ridiculous idea that “offensiveness” should be a guide for anything.  And it not only shouldn’t be…

…but it cannot be.

This is because offensiveness is completely relative and subjective: most everything offends someone and most everyone is offended by something.  Yet we won’t prohibit everything.  Would we kowtow to a child who was offended by sitting next to a black classmate?  In short, we have to discriminate among people’s feelings.  And what will be the yardstick that we use to judge?  Unless it is the “feelings” of the given authority figure — in which case the judgments are completely arbitrary — the standard of right and wrong must be applied.

Once you recognize this, the offensiveness argument goes out the window.  It passes muster only in a relativistic universe in which, without a conception of Truth as a yardstick for making decisions, people use the only thing they have left: emotion.  Yet this reduces society to the law of the jungle: we fight, using fists, votes, or words (maybe lies), and those who prevail see their will done.  And that higher one, and civilization, are casualties.

The truth is that when people take offense, it’s usually just a ploy.  They’re not really offended.  

They just don’t happen to like what you’re saying.

But if they were honest and said just that, they’d seem intolerant.  So they try to seize the moral high ground by putting the onus on you and claiming you’re “offensive.”  Yet they usually have neither the high ground nor anything moral.  If they had the latter, they’d likely be able to mount an argument as to why you’re wrong in a real, absolute sense.  Instead, all they’re saying, properly translated, is that they don’t like how you taste.  If they looked to Truth, however, they might find that the problem actually lies with their palate.

Something else that can exist only in a relativistic universe is the spiritual disease that today wears the label “liberalism.”  Get people to believe in Truth, and this disease will die as surely as will a fungus exposed to the light.

Courtesy of http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/05/the_american_flag_is_offensive.html


 

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Arizona protecting religious students

Posted by faithandthelaw on May 6, 2011

Arizona2The Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) is applauding Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (R) for recently signing a bill to protect the religious expression of college students. 

Jeremy Tedesco serves as legal counsel for ADF, a legal alliance that defends the right of people to live out their faith. He tells OneNewsNow this law comes at a time when it is much needed.

Jeremy Tedesco (ADF)“The bill was really inspired by the Supreme Court’s unfortunate decision in Christian Legal Society vs. Martinez, where a Christian student group was kicked off campus because of its religious membership restrictions, and the Supreme Court upheld that,” Tedesco explains. “So this bill addresses that; it provides…protection for religious student groups that select leaders and members based on shared religious values.”

He says the law will also protect Arizona students. He notes a counseling student in Michigan who was dismissed from her graduate program when she refused to counsel a student who asked for advice on how to improve his homosexual relationship. The American Counseling Association (ACA), which agreed with the school’s action, objects to the Arizona law.

“We’ve got this momentum building on the wrong side of the issue, basically saying that Christians have no place in the profession,” Tedesco points out. “So having a law like this in place allows Christians to at least get the education to enter their profession. And now we’ve got to make sure that these licensing boards don’t turn around and do the ACA’s bidding and start revoking the licenses of Christians.”

The ADF legal counsel adds that the Arizona law is in line with America’s history of commitment to religious liberty and freedom.

Courtesy of http://www.onenewsnow.com/Education/Default.aspx?id=1341540

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Short fuse on Long Island for religious student clubs

Posted by faithandthelaw on May 5, 2011

CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. — Alliance Defense Fund attorneys filed a lawsuit Monday on behalf of a student-led Christian club against the Hicksville Union Free School District for denying recognition to the group because of supposed “budgetary concerns.” More than 35 other clubs are officially recognized at Hicksville High School, where the principal stated, “other schools may have [a Christian club], but I don’t want this in my school.” The new case is the third one filed by ADF attorneys over the last three years against Long Island school districts for unconstitutionally banning student-led Christian clubs. The other two suits resulted in ADF gaining official recognition for clubs at Lindenhurst Union Free School District and Half Hollow Hills Central School District. “Public schools cannot ban Christian student clubs simply because they are religious,” said ADF Senior Counsel David Cortman. “If officials at government-run schools did their homework, they’d know that students have a constitutionally protected right to express their beliefs. It’s ridiculous that Hicksville High School says it has no budget for a Christian club but somehow has enough for a ping pong club.” In October of last year, two students requested official recognition for the Frontline Club at Hicksville High, notifying officials that they had 12 students willing to be active members in the Christian club and a teacher willing to serve as its required faculty advisor. Principal Brijinder Singh denied their request and said she would not allow any religious clubs to receive official recognition. When students noted that 12 other schools in Nassau County had Christian clubs, Singh replied, “Other schools may have it [Christian clubs], but I don’t want this in my school.” In response to a letter from the students’ parents, Singh claimed that limited finances at the school district, which has a budget of $117 million, precluded any religious club from being recognized. Yet, the district had sufficient finances to continue to grant full benefits to clubs such as the Ping Pong Club, Key Club, Interact Club, Ski Club, Model United Nations Club, and Mock Trial Club. Unlike the Frontline Club, the other clubs are all able to access facilities before and after school, make announcements, post fliers and ads for club activities, conduct field trips during the school day, raise funds, and participate in Homecoming Week activities, among other activities. Over the years, numerous students have sought to have a Christian club established at the school but have been repeatedly denied by Singh. In a 2008 request denial, she said that any religious club must be “multi-faith,” open to all religions, and must allow non-believers to lead the club. Robert W. Dapelo, one of more than 2,000 attorneys in the ADF alliance, is serving as local counsel in the lawsuit Frontline Club v. Board of Education of the Hicksville Union Free School District, which was filed with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family. http://www.adfmedia.org | twitter.com/adfmedia

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Atheists Seek Chaplain Role in the Military

Posted by faithandthelaw on May 3, 2011

By Jim Dao

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — In the military, there are more than 3,000 chaplains who minister to the spiritual and emotional needs of active duty troops, regardless of their faiths. The vast majority are Christians, a few are Jews or Muslims, one is a Buddhist. A Hindu, possibly even a Wiccan may join their ranks soon.

But an atheist?

Strange as it sounds, groups representing atheists and secular humanists are pushing for the appointment of one of their own to the chaplaincy, hoping to give voice to what they say is a large — and largely underground — population of nonbelievers in the military.

Joining the chaplain corps is part of a broader campaign by atheists to win official acceptance in the military. Such recognition would make it easier for them to raise money and meet on military bases. It would help ensure that chaplains, religious or atheist, would distribute their literature, advertise their events and advocate for them with commanders.

But winning the appointment of an atheist chaplain will require support from senior chaplains, a tall order. Many chaplains are skeptical: Do atheists belong to a “faith group,” a requirement for a chaplain candidate? Can they provide support to religious troops of all faiths, a fundamental responsibility for chaplains?

Jason Torpy, a former Army captain who is president of the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers, said humanist chaplains would do everything religious chaplains do, including counsel troops and help them follow their faiths. But just as a Protestant chaplain would not preside over a Catholic service, a humanist might not lead a religious ceremony, though he might help organize it.

“Humanism fills the same role for atheists that Christianity does for Christians and Judaism does for Jews,” Mr. Torpy said in an interview. “It answers questions of ultimate concern; it directs our values.”

Mr. Torpy has asked to meet the chiefs of chaplains for each of the armed forces, which have their own corps, to discuss his proposal. The chiefs have yet to comment.

At the same time, an atheist group at Fort Bragg called Military Atheists and Secular Humanists, or MASH, has asked the Army to appoint an atheist lay leader at the base. A new MASH chapter at Fort Campbell, Ky., is planning to do the same as are atheists at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida.

Such lay leaders can lead “services” in lieu of chaplains and have access to meeting rooms, including chapels.

Chaplains at Fort Bragg near here have seemed open to the idea, if somewhat perplexed by it.

“You’re not a faith group; you’re a lack-of-faith group,” First Lt. Samantha Nicoll, an active atheist at Fort Bragg, recalled a chaplain friend’s saying about the idea. “But I said, ‘What else is there for us?’ ”

Atheist leaders acknowledge the seeming contradiction of nonbelievers seeking to become chaplains or receive recognition from the chaplain corps. But they say they believe the imprimatur of the chaplaincy will embolden atheists who worry about being ostracized for their worldviews.

Defense Department statistics show that about 9,400 of the nation’s 1.4 million active-duty military personnel identify themselves as atheists or agnostics, making them a larger subpopulation than Jews, Muslims, Hindus or Buddhists in the military.

But atheist leaders say those numbers are an undercount because, they believe, there are many nonbelievers among the 285,000 service members who claim no religious preference on military surveys. Many chaplains dispute that interpretation, and say that most people in that group are religious, just not strongly so.

Those same statistics show that Christians represent about one million, or 70 percent, of all active-duty troops. They are even more dominant among the chaplain corps: about 90 percent of the 3,045 active duty chaplains are Christians, most of them Protestants.

Military atheist leaders say that although proselytizing by chaplains is forbidden, Christian beliefs pervade military culture, creating subtle pressures on non-Christians to convert.

As an example, they cite the Army’s Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program, created to help soldiers handle stress and prevent suicide. The program requires soldiers to complete surveys assessing emotional, social, family and spiritual well-being. Based on their answers, some soldiers are asked to take “resiliency” training.

Atheists say the survey and training are rife with religious code words that suggest a deity or afterlife. The Army counters that the program is intended to determine whether a soldier has “a strong set of beliefs, principles or values” that can sustain him through adversity — and not to gauge religiosity.

Atheist and secular humanist groups in the military are hardly new. But at some bases, they have become better organized and more vocal in recent years.

Last fall, atheists at Fort Bragg objected to an event by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association called Rock the Fort. The base command, at the urging of its chaplains, provided some money and manpower for the event as well as a choice location on the post’s parade grounds.

A communication sergeant, Justin Griffith, argued that the event was an Army-sponsored platform for the Graham organization to recruit converts. The post commander, Col. Stephen J. Sicinski, denied that, saying soldiers were not pressured to attend. In a recent interview, the colonel said Rock the Fort was intended to boost morale as well as “bolster the faith.”

In response, Sergeant Griffith has recruited a star lineup of atheist musicians and speakers, including the writer Richard Dawkins, to headline a secular event, possibly for the fall. He calls it Rock Beyond Belief and has asked Colonel Sicinski to provide resources similar to what he gave Rock the Fort.

Colonel Sicinski has refused, saying the event will not draw enough people to justify using the parade grounds and that money from religious tithes, which helped finance Rock the Fort, cannot be spent on it. Sergeant Griffith has appealed.

A high school dropout raised near Dallas, Sergeant Griffith, 28, was a passionate Christian and creationist until his teens. Now his dog tags list his religious preference as atheist, and he is pushing to create MASH chapters on as many bases as possible.

He is also giving thought to becoming a chaplain himself, though it would take years: He would have to earn a graduate degree in theology and then be commissioned an officer. He would also need the endorsement of “a qualified religious organization,” a role Mr. Torpy’s organization is seeking to play.

Sergeant Griffith said he believed there were already atheist chaplains in the military — just not open ones.

“I support the idea that religious soldiers need support from religious chaplains,” he said. “But there has to be a line between supporting religious soldiers and promoting religion.”

Courtesy of http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/27/us/27atheists.html

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Is God Dead to our Generation? The Desperate Need for an Awakening

Posted by faithandthelaw on May 2, 2011

By Tim Rowe

Do you believe God has changed since Bible times? Do you believe that God can still be God and bear His mighty arm in our generation? Do you believe that God can do mighty works and awesome wonders that fill page after page of the Bible? Why are we not seeing these awesome displays of the power and majesty of God? Is God on vacation? Is God taking some time off? Has God stepped down off His throne? Has God’s power short circuited?  

Leonard Ravenhill: One of these days some simple soul will pick up the Book of God, read it, and believe it. Then the rest of us will be embarrassed… Perhaps God never had such a set of unbelieving believers as this present crop of Christians. How humiliating!

Isaiah 50:2a,4,5 (NIV): When I came, why was there no one? When I called, why was there no answer? Was my arm too short to ransom you? Do I lack strength to rescue you?

The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught.

The Sovereign Lord has opened my ears, and I have not been rebellious: I have not drawn back.

In our generation when God comes, no one is there to meet Him.  In our generation, when God calls, no one is listening, and no one answers. God has not changed; He still has the power to rescue, to deliver, to redeem, to restore and to revive, but in our generation we just don’t believe it anymore in the depths of our hearts. The greatness of our God is fading in the minds of men, women and children with a relentless increase and fervency. We have stopped our ears to truth and have drawn back from God with a rebellious attitude and spirit. In this generation we have become lovers of self more than lovers of God. We do not know the Word of God that sustains the weary as our generation has rejected the Bible with an open contempt and disgust. God longs to waken us every morning with the gentle whisper of His voice: “Come back to me; come back to me. I will be your God; I will instruct, lead, protect and love you more than anything in the heavens and earth.” But our generation and rolled over in bed and fallen back to sleep refusing to be awakened by the voice of Almighty God.   

Isaiah 45 (selected verses Message Bible):

That I’ve singled you out, called you by name,
   and given you this privileged work.
   And you don’t even know me!
I am God, the only God there is.
   Besides me there are no real gods.
I’m the one who armed you for this work,
   though you don’t even know me,
So that everyone, from east to west, will know
   that I have no god-rivals.
   I am God, the only God there is.

Who told you, and a long time ago, what’s going on here?
   Who made sense of things for you?
Wasn’t I the one? God?
   It had to be me. I’m the only God there is—
The only God who does things right
   and knows how to help.
So turn to me and be helped—saved!—
   everyone, whoever and wherever you are.
I am God,
   the only God there is, the one and only.
I promise in my own name:
   Every word out of my mouth does what it says.
   I never take back what I say.

Do you know God has singled you out; called you step forth out of the line of the world and has a whole list of privileged work that He wants you to do for Him? But we have so often failed and turned away because we do not know Him. We do not believe that He can still perform His word like He did when He parted the Red Sea, rained down manna from heaven and brought down the walls of Jericho. These are nice stories to entertain our kids, but do we believe God can do those mighty acts in our lives? Daniel 11:32 says that when we know our God, we will be strong beyond measure and He will do exploits, mighty wonders, awesome works and wondrous deeds in our lives. Do you believe it? Does your life reflect it? As a whole modern day Christianity to a great extent simply does not know God beyond a surface and often artificial acknowledgment of Him. This is why to a great extent God has become dead to our generation because the failure of the Christian church to know Him and believe Him. 

No matter what the college professors or news media or religions of the world say, there is only one God and His Word revealed in the Bible is the most powerful, faithful and life-changing thing in all the earth. God backs His Word with a 100 percent guarantee. He does not take it back. God did not stutter when He breathed out His Word. It is as reliable as God’s name for He backs it with a heavenly guarantee and stands behind every jot and tittle of His Word. He will always perform His Word when it is believed. Always. His Word cannot fail; His Word cannot be broken; His Word cannot be overcome. His Word always comes to pass when it is believed.

One of the saddest sections in Scripture is in Jeremiah which describes the current state of Christianity in our generation.

Jeremiah 2 (NIV-selected passages):

2 “This is what the LORD says:   “‘I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved me and followed me through the wilderness, through a land not sown.

5 This is what the LORD says:  “What fault did your ancestors find in me, that they strayed so far from me? They followed worthless idols and became worthless themselves.

6 They did not ask, ‘Where is the LORD,  who brought us up out of Egypt and led us through the barren wilderness, through a land of deserts and ravines, a land of drought and utter darkness, a land where no one travels and no one lives?’

8 The priests did not ask, ‘Where is the LORD?’ Those who deal with the law did not know me; the leaders rebelled against me. The prophets prophesied by Baal, following worthless idols.

 10observe closely; see if there has ever been anything like this:

11 Has a nation ever changed its gods? (Yet they are not gods at all.) But my people have exchanged their glorious God for worthless idols.

13My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.

14 Is Israel a servant, a slave by birth? Why then has he become plunder? Consider then and realize
   how evil and bitter it is for you when you forsake the LORD your God and have no awe of me,” declares the Lord, the LORD Almighty.

 20 “Long ago you broke off your yoke and tore off your bonds; you said, ‘I will not serve you!’ Indeed, on every high hill and under every spreading tree you lay down as a prostitute.

21 I had planted you like a choice vine of sound and reliable stock. How then did you turn against me into a corrupt, wild vine?

23 “How can you say, ‘I am not defiled; I have not run after the Baals’? See how you behaved in the valley; consider what you have done. You are a swift she-camel running here and there,

24 a wild donkey accustomed to the desert, sniffing the wind in her craving—in her heat who can restrain her? Any males that pursue her need not tire themselves; at mating time they will find her.

25 Do not run until your feet are bare and your throat is dry. But you said, ‘It’s no use!
   I love foreign gods, and I must go after them.’

27 They say to wood, ‘You are my father,’ and to stone, ‘You gave me birth.’ They have turned their backs to me and not their faces; yet when they are in trouble, they say, ‘Come and save us!’

28 Where then are the gods you made for yourselves?  Let them come if they can save you
   when you are in trouble!
For you, Judah, have as many gods as you have towns.

 29 “Why do you bring charges against me? You have all rebelled against me,” declares the LORD.

31 “You of this generation, consider the word of the LORD: “Have I been a desert to Israel or a land of great darkness? Why do my people say, ‘We are free to roam; we will come to you no more’?

32 Does a young woman forget her jewelry, a bride her wedding ornaments? Yet my people have forgotten me, days without number.

We have lost our first love as Christians and have strayed after worthless idols. Our leaders do not know God or teach His truth. We worship our self-made idols with a fervent passion and lost our awe of God and His wondrous works and nature. We have become mixed in with the world and give our devotion and time to things that are wasting away our lives in frivolousness and trivial matters that mean nothing in His eternal kingdom. We have forgotten God and turned our backs to Him, hour after hour, day after day, week after week, and year after year.  

Look at the cry of the Psalmist to our generation:

Psalm 12:1 (KJV): Help Lord for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men.

Where are the men and women who will once again believe that God is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do? Where are the men and women who will believe God can be just as mighty, powerful, true, faithful and earth shattering as He was in the times of the Bible? Few still stand as godly. Few still believe. Few still stand as faithful to God. Truth has fallen in the streets and God is seeking for a man, a woman who will believe who God says He is and with relentless devotion commit their lives to the integrity of His Word.

Look and consider the greatness of our God and what He can still do in our generation.    

Jeremiah 31:35 (NIV): 

This is what the LORD says, he who appoints the sun
   to shine by day,
who decrees the moon and stars
   to shine by night,
who stirs up the sea
   so that its waves roar—
   the LORD Almighty is his name

Job 5:9 (HNV): Who does great things that cannot be fathomed, Marvelous things without number.

Job 37:4,5 (Message): In their wake, the thunder echoes his voice, powerful and majestic. He lets out all the stops, he holds nothing back. No one can mistake that voice-His word thundering so wondrously, his mighty acts staggering our understanding.

Job 37:14 (NKJV): Listen to this O Job; stand still and consider the wondrous works of God.

Psalm 86:7,8,10-13a (ESV):

In the day of trouble, I call upon you, for you answer me. There is none like you among the gods, O Lord, nor or there any works like yours. For you are great and do wondrous things; you alone are God. Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear thy name. I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify thy name forever.

Nothing compares to our awesome God and His wondrous, mighty and breathtaking works that cannot be counted. We need to still our heart and reflect on the greatness of our God. He is not unemployed or disabled. He still wants to work His mighty and marvelous, wondrous works today in our generation.

God has spoken countless words and promises over your life that determine whether your life will reflect a mighty demonstration of His glory or your destiny will falter because you have let His words fall to the ground and have not believed them.

Exodus 34:10 (NIV)- Then the LORD said: “I am making a covenant with you. Before all your people I will do wonders never before done in any nation in all the world. The people you live among will see how awesome is the work that I, the LORD, will do for you.

Do you believe that God will do wonders and awesome works for you? He has made a covenant, a heavenly promise sealed in the blood of Jesus Christ, that He will work a work in your life like nothing the world has ever seen? Do you believe it? Or are we one with little faith toward our God?

Ephesians 3:20-Now to Him Who, by (in consequence of) the [action of His] power that is at work within us, is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly, far over and above all that we [dare] ask or think [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams].

God still can do. God still can work. God still is able. His power is activated by our faith. He can do infinitely beyond anything we have ever dared ask or thought to ask Him. He is the fulfillment of our dreams, thoughts, hopes and desires in Him. Do we dare to ask? Do we dare to dream? God loves someone who dares to take Him at His Word and simply believe it, no strings attached. God said it and that settles it. Believe it!!!

Luke 1:37 (KJV): For with God nothing shall be impossible.

This is God’s standard and the infallible word of God speaking. Believe it!!

Isaiah 51:9a

Awake, awake, put on strength O arm of the Lord; awake as in the ancient days, in the generations of old.

Eric Ludy: The arm of the Lord in scriptures is the means by which God accomplishes His exploits and does His wonders. We can relate to this Scripture in our modern day because we can read the Bible but we don’t see the Bible necessarily evidenced in our generation. We can believe that it happened back then, but we don’t quite know how to deal with the discrepancy that it happened then but we don’t see it happening today. This is where all the new fangled doctrines come from to try to explain away the fact that God ever intended to be God in our generation. We hear “O that has ceased. We don’t need that anymore because we have the completed Canon of Scripture.” If we don’t see the outflow of the life and power of God in the church, all we have is a dead religion. We are not interested in just speaking truth, but we are interested in living truth. There is a discrepancy that takes place between the just knowing about something and the living of it and that difference is the power of Almighty God. So we as the church of Jesus Christ cry out, “Awake, awake, put on strength O arm of the Lord; awake as in the ancient days, in the generations of old.” If the arm of the God does not awaken in our generation, we will be no different that the generation before us and the generation before that. We are on a downward spiral and decline and truth has fallen in the streets and there is an erosion taking place on a faster level and degree than at any time that I know when I have been alive; an ever diminishing of truth in our generation. It is not pretty. However, God is at work and it is often under the banner of obscurity. NBC, Fox News and CNN don’t notice it. God has a work He is doing and He is stirring the heart of His saints to say “Come back to me; come back to me and believe again like little children.” What would happen if we had the faith of little children again and took the Word of God and said I for one believe it. I believe it even if I haven’t seen it and believe God will do the impossible if we simply believe. Will we once again allow God to return us to the simple word of truth that if He said it we can take it to the bank?   

Eric Ludy: Do we know the power and grandeur of God in our day? Does our generation comprehend that the God of the Bible is without “shadow of turning” and that He is “the same yesterday, today, and forever.” There is a vast shortage of believers who simply believe with child like faith that God will do what He says He will do and is worthy of our trust and is always faithful to His Word. We have far more faith in the power of the enemy to defeat us than we do in the power of God to deliver us, change us, empower us, and demonstrate His mighty nature in and through us.

Jacob-When he takes a hold of God and finds out what he needs he will not let go-Genesis 32:36-“I will not let go until you bless me.” Jacob saw His need and saw His only answer in Almighty God. He grabbed a hold of Him and he would not let go. God changed Jacob’s name to Israel which means “contender, soldier of God, the prevailing power of God, the power of God unto victory.” Do you have this same tenacity to grab a hold of God and not let go, believing the power of God will prevail unto victory in every circumstance, challenge and problem? The secret of Christianity is grabbing a hold of our God as the only source of rescue, you are the one that has it and I can’t find it anywhere else. I won’t let go until you have every bit of me. You cling to Him, you cleave to Him with everything you have and everything you are and you refuse to let go of God for anything, for nothing compares to our awesome God.

Isaiah 64:7a: And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee.

So few ever stir themselves up daily to take a hold of God and not let go.

Do you know that God longs to display His splendor in you?

Isaiah 49:3 (NIV): He said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will display my splendor.

We are His sons and daughters, not just servants, and O how much more does God want our lives to display His splendor. Have you ever seen the department stores, especially in cities like New York, that have the huge display windows that show products, clothes or scenes that represent what the store has to offer? We are to be like the display window to the world of our God, displaying what God has to offer in all the splendor, all the power, all the wonder and all the love of our Almighty God.

The Hebrew word for “splendor” means “to be beautiful, to be ornamented, to adorn to have a heated glow and would be used to describe the rosiness and heat of the face.” It is to display and adorn the beauty of God with a warm glow like an ornament glistening with the glory of God. We are to boil over and have a radiance of the beauty of our God in everything we say or do.  This word has an element of honor, pride (in a good sense) and boasting about the awesome beauty of God and the privilege to display it?

How is your display window? Do you believe God still desires to display His splendor like He did to Moses, David, Elijah, Elisha and Joshua and so many giants of faith in the Bible? Why are the display windows of our lives so darkened today and the curtain closed?  

The mighty God wants to use our lives to live His purposes through us so that we can utter the great truth in Isaiah 49:9 to all the people: “To say to the captives, “Come out,” and to those in darkness, “Be free.”  Have we silenced God in our lives and our generation through our unbelief? 

Genesis 18:1 (KJV):   And the LORD appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day;

What an extraordinary record. If the Lord appeared to us at our front door, most of us would faint, have a heart attack or shut the door in His face.

9And they said unto him, Where is Sarah thy wife? And he said, Behold, in the tent.

 10And he said, I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. And Sarah heard it in the tent door, which was behind him.

 11Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women.

 12Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?

 13And the LORD said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old?

Haven’t we in essence laughed at the exceeding great and precious promises of His Word, our Lord’s own precious speaking to our heart, by failing to believe and see them evidenced in our lives.  

 14Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.

Hebrew word for “hard” means “to be marvelous, be wonderful, be surpassing, be extraordinary, separate by distinguishing action, to be beyond one’s power, to be difficult to do.”

Can God still show Himself distinguished and without rival in this generation by doing marvelous, wonderful, extraordinary, surpassing and impossible works of extraordinary power? Has God’s power faded over the ages? Has God aged and no longer capable of appearing at anytime and at anyplace and showing his mighty arm in the most impossibility and difficult circumstances? Absolutely not as God has never changed and He is still the Almighty, the All-powerful, the All-knowing and the Everywhere-present God.!!!! This is inherent in His very name Yawheh.

Yahweh is the proper name by which God revealed Himself to His covenant people. It represents God in a loving, committed covenant relationship with His children. It is a God who is reaching out for us to know him. Yahweh is the God who promises to be with us, to continually unfold Himself to us in new and deeper ways of understanding, and to protect and deliver us from every form of oppression. Yahweh is the God who communicates with us and reveals to us His awesome Word and Will. Yahweh means the Eternal One, the Immutable One, He who WAS and IS and IS TO COME.

  Yahweh is a form of the verb “to be” meaning He is: He is alive, active, and present. Yahweh also means, “He who will be, the Coming One,” who will fulfill his original covenant promise in Genesis 3:15 of the crushing the head of the serpent (devil) and bringing to full completion the salvation of His people. Yahweh’s name is the pledge, the commitment and the unbreakable bond of this covenant promise to His people. He is also the Coming One who is always ready to intercede and intervene in any obstacle or problem of His children.  Yahweh is the God of action for His people, getting intimately involved in every phase of their lives. Yahweh is the great deliverer, the wonderful redeemer, and the firm rescuer who transforms our life with the touch of His mighty hand. The name Yahweh denotes a very special and unique relationship with his treasured children. Yahweh is the God who supplies all the needs of His people. Yahweh is able to be whatever His people need. As Yahweh, the Immutable One, He is unchangeable in His promises and His heart of love for His people. He is steadfast, faithful, and sure even in the most desperate hour.

Jeremiah 32:17, 27 (Amplified): Alas, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! There is nothing too hard or too wonderful for You. 27Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; is there anything too hard for Me?

O God I cry out for your extraordinary power to be awakened in the heart and lives of your church and demonstrated in this world. O God I cry out like in the ancient days, that you are known in all of your wonder and marvelous works that will once again shake the world to its core demonstrating that is only one God, the Almighty, Yahweh, who was, is and will ever be.

O God how we have failed you in this generation! O how we have failed to simply believe you that you can still be God in our generation. We have trusted worthless things and about everything else but you. We have turned to things that have no power to change, no power to heal, no power to help, no power to restore, no power to revive and no power to transform. We love the temporary fix; we love to numb our heart to what is going on around us; we love to turn to things that make us a happy for a day or two, but have no eternal worth or value. We have so made our God way too small, way too weak, way to powerless, way to unfaithful and way too insignificant. We are His children, paid by the blood of Jesus Christ, and we still do not know our God and His ability to save, to make whole, to deliver, to restore and to revive to the uttermost. 

Another amazing word from this Almighty God concerning Abraham

17And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do;

 18Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?

 19For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.

How awesome that God was not hiding from Abraham what He was going to do, and said He was going to bring to pass what He had spoken about Abraham because Abraham believed. He truly is the father of all us who believe.

Romans 4:19-21 (KJV)- 19And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah’s womb:

 20He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;

 21And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform

Vs 20- Amplified: Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God.

Promise (epaggelia form epí  = intensifier or upon + aggéllo = tell, declare) describes an announcement made with certainty as to its performance.  In secular Greek it was primarily a legal term denoting summons or a promise to do or give something. In the NT, epaggelia is with rare exception (except Acts 23:21) used only of the promises of God, referring to a thing promised, gift or graciously given, and not a pledge secured by negotiation.

Not (ou) absolute negation. Abraham absolutely did not waver. We simply cannot waver in our minds and hearts concerning the promises of God. We must once again become fully persuaded that what God has promised He is able to perform.

Waver (diakrino from diá = separation + kríno = judge, decide) means literally to separate one from another.

Metaphorically, diakrino means to distinguish, discern, judge, decide, and came to mean to be divided in one’s mind, to hesitate and to doubt. In the present verse diakrino means to to think that something may not be true or certain and thus to waver, doubt or be divided in one’s own mind.

Godet explains diakrino, noting that it…

properly signifies to be parted, or to be divided into two men, one affirming, the other denying; one hoping and giving himself up, the other waiting to see: “but in regard to the promise, there was no division in him.”

The idea of diakrino is that Abraham was not divided, did not vacillate between two opinions, between belief and unbelief or between faith and doubt like many believers do. When from the human viewpoint things are going well, it is easy to trust God. But when things seem impossible, it is often easier to not to trust Him.

Do you know what the first recorded words that came out the serpent’s mouth in Genesis? “Did God really say…” (Genesis 3:1). That has become the banner of our generation as we have no faith, trust or belief in what God says in His Word. 

When you drop your shield of faith in God and His Word every other part of your spiritual armor becomes vulnerable.

Habakkuk 3:2; Lord, I have heard the report about You. Lord, I stand in awe of Your deeds. Revive Your work in these years.

God is who He says He is and He can do what He says He can do. You are who God says you are, not who your friends, family, world or even your mind says you are. You can do what God says you can do. Do you really believe this or do you just weakly assent to hearing this, but have not seen the power of these two truths vibrantly alive in your life? Stand in awe of our God, trust Him and watch Him work. He is amazing!!!

Unbelief is the great enemy of everything in our Christian life including our relationship with God.

Matthew 13:52 (KJV): And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.

Beth Moore: I love new beginnings. Don’t you? I am honored to embark on this new beginning with someone like you. Let’s count on God to take us places with Him we’ve never been and accomplish a work we didn’t know he could. As James and John cast their nets on the sun-kissed waters of the Galilee, they had no idea the Son of God was casting His net for them. Soon they’d find themselves caught by his call and compelled by his love. Let’s allow the same affection to catch us as we, too, are called to be the disciples of Jesus Christ.

Listen to the words of David Wilkerson, a true hero of the faith, who sadly passed away this week:

O God come and speak. God says, “The word that I’ve sent to you, I didn’t send it out to be void. But the word I have given to you is going to accomplish the very thing I said it would.” You see our faith can’t be based upon emotion. We have to have a foundation for the faith we are going to need. And this has to be laying claim of God’s own claims of who He is. In your faithfulness answer me. Here’s what you told me you are. You said that you are faithful; that you are just; that you are holy. You cannot lie. And you can’t be God if you are not faithful. You said you are long-suffering; you said you are the God of peace; you said you are the God of my strength. Now I am coming to you. I am going to lift up my hands to you. I am going to believe what you said about yourself. And I am coming on the merits of nothing I have done. No righteousness of my own. But on the promise of God. What you told me. Remember the word unto thy servant that you have caused me to hope in. O Lord God I have lifted my hands to you. I have trusted you. I have claimed your promises. You are who you said you are. From now on, from this day on, I am going veil myself (hide myself) in you. I am going to cut myself off from all confidence in my flesh, or in people, or in anyone else. I am going to throw myself at your mercy, your grace, your power, your glory.  I am going to veil myself in Christ.   

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