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in the news

“In the News” brings together some of the most interesting content I’ve found online, as it pertains to the church and the people God has called us to reach. Keep in mind, I don’t endorse or agree with everything you’ll see included in the these articles but I find them interesting and worth the read or watch.  Take some time to check out the articles and let me know what you think.

Every Day in Cambodia

Our Executive Pastor recently announced that he and his wife would be moving to Cambodia in January. This came as a shock to many people but to most of us that know his heart we were not surprised what so ever.  One of the hints was when Pastor Pete asked us to watch “Every day in Cambodia”

The Freedom Project documentary, “Every Day in Cambodia”, first broadcast last year, airs again this weekend. The film, presented by actress Mira Sorvino, documents the appalling plight of children sold into sex slavery, sometimes by their own mothers, and the people fighting to stop the practice.

Obama signed Executive Order Protecting LGBT People From Employment Discrimination; No Religious Exemption

The order bars federal contractors from discriminating against their employees based on sexual orientation or gender identity, and protects federal employees from discrimination based on their gender identity.

Lesbian sues Kansas City Catholic Diocese

Colleen Simon was fired from her job a Catholic food pantry at St. Francis Xavier Parish by a Roman Catholic diocese in Kansas City, MO over marrying her partner in Iowa. She has filed a lawsuit against the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City–St. Joseph and its bishop, the Rev. Robert Finn.

Ken Ham Slams NASA Search for Extraterrestrial Life

Creation Museum CEO Ken Ham has criticized NASA’s efforts to search for extraterrestrial life, arguing that God has not created life anywhere outside the Earth, and that the search for such life is driven by “man’s rebellion.” “I’m shocked at the countless hundreds of millions of dollars that have been spent over the years in the desperate and fruitless search for extraterrestrial life,” Ham wrote in a blog post for Answers in Genesis on Sunday.

SCOTUS blocks Obama Care contraception mandate for Wheaton

The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Wheaton College doesn’t have to abide by the Obamacare contraceptive coverage requirement as long as the Christian school tells the Obama administration that it has a religious objection to providing birth control to its employees and students.

Convert, Pay Tax, Or Die, Islamic State Warns Christians

Islamist insurgents have issued an ultimatum to northern Iraq’s dwindling Christian population to either convert to Islam, pay a religious levy or face death, according to a statement distributed in the militant-controlled city of Mosul.

Anglican Church Accepts woman Bishops

Roman Catholic Church leaders have criticized the Church of England’s historic vote to allow women to serve as bishops earlier this week, arguing that such a move is an “obstacle” to Christian unity.

We are fighting for the wrong kingdom!

“It frustrates me how church people discern truth using their politics instead of their Bibles, and it frustrates me that they don’t know the are doing it.”

– Reverend Dr. Derrick Lynch, Blue Valley Baptist Church

As an American and also as an evangelical Christian, I can hardly bear to watch this nightmare unfolding. It’s bad for Christianity, heck it’s bad for America. Here is my take on the sorry spectacle of Christian politics — and how to fix it.

Politicians continue to use and abuse the language and symbols of Christian faith in order to win political support. They speak of God, Jesus, Christian faith and Christian values. They bow their heads in prayer at a million chicken dinners. Then Christian voters — perhaps flattered, perhaps reassured — think that these evocations of Christian symbols and terms actually mean something. Living in the Midwest I I see and hear this kind of foolishness daily. This version of Christian politics is inherently corrupting to Christian faith, ethics and witness. It confuses the message of Christianity with that of the politician of the moment. I’m not sure about your baptism but I do not remember getting handed a card to a particular political party. This conflation damages the moral witness of Christians in culture, it makes it harder for millions to even consider the claims of historic Christian faith. It drives many away from God altogether. Don’t believe me? Let me give you an example.
The whole Obama rodeo clown debacle is repugnant. Some people at the fair see the rodeo incident in which a ringleader taunted a clown wearing a mask of President Obama, played with his lips as a bull charged after him was neither racist nor disrespectful. The hooting and hollering from the crowd that night was because of a fundamental dislike of the president. Immediately we had “Christians” on the Left and Right claiming a foul and I do not want to get into the details but there are somethings I want to point out:
  1. “… but they did it to President Bush”. Again, I don’t know about you but my kids would get into trouble for making an asinine excuse like this.
  2. “[Political Party] is just the lesser of two evils”. Just remember that you are still advocating for evil.
  3. “[Political Party] is closer to my values”. Yes, and they are trying to setup there own [Political] kingdoms that compete with God’s.
Here is a wake-up call:
  • Rush Limbaugh hates Jesus.
  • Sean Hannity hates Jesus.
  • Rachel Maddow hates Jesus.
  • Mark Levin hates Jesus.
  • Kieth Olbermann hates Jesus.
  • Piers Morgan hates Jesus.
  • Anderson Cooper hates Jesus
  • Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, NPR and whomever else I missed all hates Jesus.
  • Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, and [fill in your political party if it was not mentioned] parties are ALL antithetical to the Kingdom of God.

I know you agreed with some of the list and others you disagreed but I want to ask you this, What kingdom are they fighting for? When you listen to them talk/ advocate for their position who are they talking about? A Political party, an ideology, or Christ? Better yet if someone were to listen to you talk/ advocate who would they say you are talking about? Unfortunately, we have sold out to these fiefdoms while the Kingdom of God (you know the one that Christ died in establishing) loses ground. Do not allow your voice to be co-opted by your allegiance to an earthly kingdom or party. We have prostituted ourselves out so much that the outside world does not know the difference between Christ many political parties and that is a shame.

We are fighting for the wrong kingdom, let’s start fighting for the right one because all of the other ones are just [really] ghetto idols. It’s not that much different than when my son puts on my shoes and marches around the house trying to be me. Though its cute, he is a far cry from filling the shoes he’s trying so hard to handle.

A Marathon Bombing, the Broken World, and Our Maranatha Hope

After yesterdays senseless tragedy I once again found myself trying to put into words what my heart was feeling, there seems to be a lot of that lately.  Once again, the trolls came out of the wood work to claim conspiracy, Obama, our lack of repentance, economic faculties, etc.   The truth is so much more simple than any of us want it to be, creation is broken.  While writing a friend of mine sent me this article by Ed Stetzer and instead of trying to outsmart everyone else I just commend this one to you.

Today is another sad day– another tragedy. It will likely not be the last, regrettably. On days like these, commentators will ask “where was God in this?” or “why would God let something like this happen?” There are no easy answers to those questions. And while we may not be offered answers, we are offered hope and a promise in the midst of the brokenness.

Look around. Our world is broken. I’m not talking about the “world” in terms of nature (although creation, too, bears the marks of sin’s blemish and decay). I’m talking about the “world” comprised of the people, structures, and systems that make up society– the moral patterns, beliefs, and behaviors that result in things like unfair business practices, racism, extreme poverty, dishonest government, dirty politics, family breakdown, cheating, stealing, oppression of the weak, and so many other distressors and defilers.

Of course, tragedy is daily living in much of the world. Churches are bombed regularly in Nigeria; sexual violence trafficking is real and growingand poverty is deep and pervasive. The world is broken. Sinfulness impacts everything.

Yet, we are reminded on days like this, our hope is in a new kingdom.

A kingdom reigned by a returning King.

A kingdom with no more terrorist threats or bombings. No more thoughts of death to keep us up at night.

How could there be, since there won’t be any more “night” to experience– absolutely nothing to make us think back on a life that was so regularly troubled by fear, anger, bitterness, anxiety, and lingering doubts? They’re all gone. All the time.

Keep all of this in mind.

Read about it and meditate on it often.

The Kingdom has come because the King has come, but it is not yet fully here. That is why we pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Because the kingdom is not yet fully here and complete– and the world is not yet, well, right.

So, we remember the “not yet” reality we are here to model and live. We live as agents of God’s kingdom, perhaps some ministering today in Boston, and certainly praying where we are.

The current state of life on this planet sure has a lot of brokenness. You’re right to be dissatisfied with it. But it’s not enough for Christians merely to recognize that the world isn’t what it ought to be and that people are suffering in ways they shouldn’t have to suffer. Our sorrow and indignation must lead us into action that subverts the brokenness that is real and present right now. We work to make this world more as God would intend it to be– with justice, peace, and more.

So we pray for His Kingdom to come, “on earth as it is in heaven.” Yet, it does not fully come until Jesus returns to set all things right. We pray for that day to come soon, particularly on days of tragedy.

There is just one use in the New Testament of the Aramaic word phrase, “Maranatha. Paul writes, “Maranatha that is, Lord, come!” (1 Corinthians 16:22). Most translate it as a cry for King Jesus to come soon. Yet, that one word has become a cry for Christians in pain, persecution, and much more.

This marathon tragedy drives us again to our Maranatha cry– “come quickly, Lord” and set things right.

In the meantime, may we live as agents of your kingdom– showing and sharing the love of Jesus– to a broken and lost world. But, days like these make us long for that Day, where the kingdoms of the world become the kingdoms of our God and King.

We pray “maranatha” today– and rightly so.

Checkmate: Same-Sex Marriage Advocates Now in the Game

Since the endorsement by our President of same-sex marriage I have heard some of the most frustrating, and mind numbing arguments.  Honestly, between this issue and the attachment parenting article in Time Magazine, I’ve almost completely checked out of social media.  Everyone has an opinion and wants to make sure that it is not only heard but known to be right though most of them (on both sides) are unintelligible.  This changed a few days ago when I was redirected to yet another article concerning this subject.  This article [finally] looks at this from a unique perspective and shines a light that will [hopefully] get both sides of this debate thinking.

Many are debating the moral and social obligations of the Black church in the wake of President Obama’s recent endorsement of same-sex marriage. The details of what should be the appropriate reaction of the media-crafted monolithic “Black-church vote” are being hotly debated, and well they should be; this is good political discourse. However the limited focus of these debates seems to ignore a much larger picture.

Many wonder about the timing of this announcement. Some have pointed out that it was all too conveniently issued on the eve of Obama’s $40,000 per plate re-election fundraiser among the super rich who might favor such a move.I believe this timing touches on the fringes of the picture we see, yet to gain better perspective we must first reflect on the 2008 election. In the months following Barack Obama’s announcement of his candidacy, Hillary Clinton – with the anointing of the Democratic establishment – was well on her way to being “in it to win it.”

Then we saw a great reversal at the Iowa caucuses, transforming Obama from a Black candidate driven by politics to a mainstream candidate driven by a movement. This caused a convergence of multitude paradigm-shifting factors, resulting in a tipping point. Even African American Democrats who favored Hilary experienced this paradigm shift – a shift that was completed with the South Carolina primary. The rest is history.

A cultural movement will always trump politics when they go head to head; this is culture vs. politics. The “marriage equality” advocates seem to have learned this lesson, but those who advocate for traditional marriage are, like a needle on a record, stuck in the groove of an ineffectual political approach.

With Obama’s recent endorsement as we approach the 2012 election, it seems that the order of the day will be politics vs. politics. This time, there is no euphoric movement on the horizon. In this light we can understand Obama’s pronouncement as a matter of political calculation.

I am mystified by the shocked reactions emerging from various quarters, since as early as 1996 Barack Obamais documented as stating,

“I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages.”

As the dates add up, his talk of “evolving” now seems a ruse.

Without a movement to ride, perhaps Obama felt the need to assemble a winning coalition. He took for granted the Black vote, in spite of their traditional opposition to same-sex marriage. Given the alternatives, perhaps he reasoned that Black folks would “get over it” and still choose him. After all, why buy the cow if you can get the milk for free? Likewise, he counts on the liberal/left vote. It seems to me that this well-timed endorsement of same-sex marriage was aimed at shoring up the enthusiastic support of the LGBT community, with its considerable wealth and clout – a community that was beginning to show signs of antipathy towards him.

In my perspective, same-sex marriage is not the ultimate issue. What disturbs me more is that today’s politicians and judicial activists presume that they can redefine stabilizing institutions that have survived for millennia merely for the sake of short-term gain. Their hubris is rooted in the notion that they are wiser than all the generations that have preceded us. It is this calculated approach that will “fundamentally transform” this nation from a government of laws into a government of men. In such a society, power is applied according to the impulses of flawed leadership. The winds may blow in your favor today, but tomorrow they may tragically reverse, with no recourse.

If our institutions can be redefined at whim for political gain, it makes us all – Black, White, gay, straight, liberal, conservative, or what have you – into pawns in a game in which there are no rules.

You wanted equality, same-sex advocates? Congratulations. You are now a vulnerable piece on the chessboard – just like the rest of us.

I would love your thoughts…

Dr. Carl Ellis Jr. is a cultural analyst, theological anthropologist, minister, husband, father, son and world traveler.  If you would like to read more from him please checkout his blog at http://drcarlellisjr.blogspot.com/

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