Vatican accepting applications for potential ‘missionaries of mercy’

August 20, 2015 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-lead

MercyVatican city, August 18, 2015: Pope Francis is looking for a few good “missionaries of mercy”, priests who are known for their preaching and their dedication to hearing confessions and granting absolution.

If they have their bishop’s or superior’s support, priests interested in being one of the special communicators of God’s mercy are invited to apply online.

The Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization, the office Pope Francis charged with coordinating the Holy Year of Mercy, which begins Dec. 8, posted a list of desired qualities and the application form on the Year of Mercy website.

The missionaries will be commissioned formally by the pope and sent out Feb. 10, Ash Wednesday.

The council said the missionaries are to be “a living sign of the Father’s welcome to all those in search of his forgiveness”.

They should be “inspiring preachers of mercy; heralds of the joy of forgiveness; welcoming, loving and compassionate confessors, who are most especially attentive to the difficult situations of each person”.

With an invitation from a local bishop, the missionaries will preach and administer the sacrament of reconciliation during special Year of Mercy events, the council said.

When Pope Francis announced the Holy Year of Mercy, he said he would give the “missionaries of mercy” special authority or faculties “to pardon even those sins reserved to the Holy See”.

Bishop Juan Ignacio Arrieta, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, said the reference to “reserved” sins refers to actions that can bring with them automatic excommunication, for example, abortion when the person is aware of the penalty and commits the sin anyway.

If the person is repentant, he said, the missionaries will be able to remove the excommunication and grant absolution in those cases, which normally require the intervention or permission of the local bishop or the Apostolic Penitentiary, a Vatican court.

- ucan

Four ways to deal with pain and suffering

August 13, 2015 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-lead

Pain and sufferingTexas, August 10, 2015: Pastor Levi Lusko of Fresh Life Church in Montana was the guest speaker at Pastor Ed Young’s Fellowship Church in Grapevine, Texas, on Sunday, and he shared four ways of dealing with suffering, just as he and his wife, Jennie, dealt with the death of their 5-year-old daughter, Lenya.

Suffering in life is not an obstacle to being used by God, it’s an opportunity to be used like never before,” Lusko, the author of Through The Eyes of a Lion, told the congregation as he began his message, which was first of the three-part series, Influence, that Fellowship Church has started.

“The influence of Fellowship Church has reached far beyond our walls and stretched across the globe,” the megachurch says about the series. “It is a picture of what God has in store for all of us when we tap into His plan and purpose for our lives.”

Lusko’s message was based on 2 Timothy 1:10, which reads, “But it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel.”

The pastor told the congregation that on Dec. 20, 2012, their second daughter, Lenya Avery Lusko, suddenly had an asthma attack. They thought she would respond to medicines, but it got worse. Soon, she stopped breathing. They begged for God to intervene and save her. But she died.

They wondered what her tombstone should say. And they came up with these words: “Jesus has destroyed death. He has brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel.”

Lenya died days before Christmas, but “death was the reason why there is Christmas in the first place,” Lusko said.

He quoted Hebrews 2:15, “And free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.”

“Christmas exists so that there could be Easter, so that we could live with hope so that we could die without fear,” Lusko said.

However, a hurt is a hurt, he cautioned. “Hurting with hope still hurts.” Even God grieves when we go through pain and suffering, though there’s hope, he added.

It’s okay to cry and feel terrible, but Jesus defeated death by dying and then rising to life, Lusko said.

He shared how he and his wife were able to hold their daughter’s hand with one hand and raise the other to heaven to pray for her as she was dying. They said they knew they were not alone.

You are not alone when you lose a loved one or a job or anything that hurts, the pastor said. “He will walk beside you.”

Lusko said most Christians find themselves in the same situation as Jesus’ disciples the day after His death on the cross. Jesus was crucified on a Friday and rose on a Sunday, and Saturday was the time of trial for His disciples. A promise had been given but not fulfilled yet. The question is, he said, how do we live on “Saturday.”

There are four ways to turn off the dark in your heart, he told the congregation.

One, don’t rely on the naked eye, Lusko said. “Things are not as they seem. We walk by faith, and not by sight.”

You can rely on what you’ve heard, he explained. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing of the Word of God, so don’t just see what you see but believe what He has said.

Two, train for the trial you’re not yet in, the pastor went on to share. “You and I have two Google calendars … one that we’ve put together and we have one that’s really gonna be.”

We can plan, but we can never be sure what the future holds, he explained.

What you’ve done before the trial matters more than what you do in the midst of it, he said.

Three, let God use your pain, he said, adding that it’s an honor to be trusted in trials.

“God trusts His most difficult assignments to His most trusted soldiers. … He puts to use everything He puts us through,” the pastor said.

God allows us to go through pain with a definite plan. “Pain is a passport that would take you to places where you would never have been otherwise,” he stated.

Four, you can cue the eagle, the pastor said, quoting Isaiah 40:30-31, “Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

He reminded the listeners, “Anytime you need, and as often as you need to, all you need to do is call on the name of the Lord, and you can receive new strength.”

Pray and ask for God’s strength when you think you’re failing, he encouraged, quoting Psalm 73:26, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

- christian post

Pope Francis believes the time for resisting change in the Church is over

August 5, 2015 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-lead

vatican 2International, July 30, 2015: Pope Francis is intent on ending resistance to changes that came with the Second Vatican Council that includes a Church that is open to all and building a society that cares for the environment, says the president of the Jesuit Provinces in the Asia-Pacific region, Fr. Mark Raper.

The fundamental difference between Pope Francis and his predecessors is that he is “not just talking to the converted … he is talking to everyone,” Fr. Raper told ucanews.com.

“Fifty years ago the Vatican Council promoted a fundamental change of attitude towards secular society with its concern for the common good and freedom of conscience. The Church was opened up to the world,” said the 73-year old Jesuit.

“While many people in the Church have been trying to live this approach, there has often been resistance, even from within the Church,” said Fr. Raper. “Now Pope Francis will not tolerate resistance to this change of approach.”

Fr. Raper pointed out that Pope Francis is determined to speak to as many people around the globe as possible and cited the encyclical Laudato si’ (Praise be to you — On Care For Our Common Home) that was addressed to every person on the planet.

“It is a tremendous gift. It is not just a boost to those who consider care for our environment important. It is insightful in new ways. He has brought together solid science, deep theology and a quite radical view of the place of human life in creation. It is most inspiring,” said Fr. Raper.

The Jesuit priest said that many people consider that the encyclical was addressed to world leaders in the UN Climate Summit to be held in Paris in November, asking them to take responsibility for climate change and steps to control it.

“Now it is urgent that we mobilize support in preparation for this. It calls for a big change of heart and of consciousness regarding the questions of our human habitat,” Fr. Raper said.

“We do this through our educational institutions, in our preaching, writing and through many other means, joining with others. Of course, Paris is a milestone and the question is a long-term one. But there is no time to lose,” he said.

Fr. Raper, who heads one of the six conferences that coordinate and facilitate the mission of the Jesuits around the world, also talked about what it meant having a pope who is also a Jesuit.

“Certainly we Jesuits may have felt like we were under a bit of a cloud at times. Jesuits were asked by different popes to keep pushing the boundaries. But when we do, we can be misunderstood,” he said.

“Now we have a Holy Father whose way of thinking corresponds with how we were educated. On the other hand, he is not a young man and his time will not last forever.”

Fr. Raper’s conference covers Jesuit life and service in Australia, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Timor Leste, Vietnam, and the countries of the Pacific, notably Micronesia.

The conference serves to help bring an international perspective to and on local initiatives.

“We have a number of priority commitments — care of vulnerable migrants, a focus on the environment, dialogue with Buddhism and Islam,” Fr. Raper said. “The Jesuit mission is to promote a faith that does justice in dialogue with cultures and religions.”

There are about 1600 to 1700 Jesuits in this conference. That does not include the more than 4,000 Jesuits in the Indian subcontinent.

But Raper voiced concern about the declining number of Jesuits in Indonesia and the Philippines, the two biggest provinces of the order in the region, where he said that numbers are contracting slightly each year.

Asked for the reason, he said: “I cannot give one coherent reason for this, but I was talking to a Buddhist monk recently in Chiang Mai and he had the same message. He sees a decline in vocations to the monkhood, especially in the cities.

“He gave similar reasons to what I have heard among our religious, such as an increase of consumerism, rise of secularism, the culture of the cities and what our superior general calls the ‘globalisation of superficiality’. Also, of course, families are smaller, opportunities are greater and there are more distractions.”

On the upside, Jesuit numbers are rising in Vietnam, Cambodia, Timor-Leste and Myanmar.

Fr. Raper pointed out that Catholics in Asia have a disproportionately larger impact than its percentage of the population across Asia would suggest. He said this is because of the Church’s involvement in education, health and social services that serve all.

“We seek to learn from others. But because we often cooperate with many others, our presence can be quite discrete,” he said.

The Church’s education, health and socio-economic programs have highlighted respect for human dignity, safeguarded human rights as seen with its campaigns for reconciliation, peace and justice and concern for marginalized groups such as the Montagnards in Vietnam and the Rohingya in Myanmar.

“We do not take public roles of advocacy in every instance. There are times when it may be more appropriate to ensure that those who have real leadership roles are heard,” Fr. Raper said.

For instance, someone like Cardinal Charles Bo in Yangon is in a better position to speak publicly and to dialogue with authorities about the need for justice in Myanmar, he said.

Also, having a popular pope, the first Jesuit elected to that office, does make the job for Jesuits both easy and difficult at the same time, Fr. Raper said.

- ucan

Sanhedrin warns Pope: Godly judgment may prove “very risky”

July 21, 2015 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-lead

Pope FrancisIsrael, July 17, 2015: A recent Breaking Israel News article about the nascent Sanhedrin’s intention to put Pope Francis on trial in absentia for his recognizing the Palestinian state has caused quite a ruckus.

Though it may seem shocking to many that a group of rabbis would interfere in international policy, or exert authority over the Pope, the Sanhedrin feels compelled to do so. Rabbi Dov Stein, the secretary of the Sanhedrin, explained to Breaking Israel News that he feels it is their duty to bring God’s law into this world.

Thus far, the Vatican has not responded to the Sanhedrin’s letter. “As expected, no.  It would seem that the Pope has chosen to ignore the letter. But a trial will be held anyway, and the result may be very risky for the Pope,” Stein said.

“God in heaven is listening and obeys the Sanhedrin because the Torah interpretation is in the hands of the Sanhedrin here in this physical world, not in the heaven in the hands of the angels.”

Not just a court for Jews, the rabbis on the Sanhedrin believe they are commanded by God to right injustice wherever it appears, regardless of religion or country.

“It has happened in the past that people have ignored the Sanhedrin, which is a mistake, because the Sanhedrin is vital to the proper functioning of the world. Only when the Jewish nation will heed the Sanhedrin of the Torah, will the Torah be one. Today God’s Torah is not the same Torah for all the Jews. Our unity is damaged because of this, because of people ignoring the Sanhedrin,” Stein explained.

In just one example, the Sanhedrin held a trial in 2008 against the Chinese government having to do with the persecution of the Falun Gong. Followers of Falun Gong, a branch of Buddhism, approached the Sanhedrin in 2007, claiming that their fellow practitioners in China were being persecuted. The claims, which have since been substantiated by media sources, were that in 1999 the Communist Party leadership declared Falun Gong a “heretical organization” and began systematically persecuting them, with reported human rights violations.

As of 2009, at least 2,000 Falun Gong practitioners had died as a result of abuse in custody. Some observers put the number much higher, and report that tens of thousands may have been killed to supply China’s organ transplant industry.

“The Chinese embassy tried to prevent it, but the Sanhedrin is not obligated to politics, only to justice,” Stein said. The Chinese embassy in Israel was contacted by the Sanhedrin and responded that the hearing would likely have a negative effect on the diplomatic relations between Israel and China.

Professor Hillel Weiss, a member of the Sanhedrin, responded, “If Armenian representatives would have approached me and complained about the Turks I would support opening a Sanhedrin trial against the Turks. Every regime needs to know that if it hurts another ethnic group it is committing a crime.”

In 2008, the Sanhedrin ruled against China. The Association for Asian research wrote about the judgement, “While many nations and institutions have stayed silent as to the persecution of Falun Gong, the Sanhedrin has gotten it right. It’s time for the world to respond.”

When asked what authority the Sanhedrin has to put foreign leaders and governments on trail, Stein explained, “The Sanhedrin is the Supreme Court with responsibility for the world. All of the people of the world should at least be following the Torah, even if it is only the Seven Laws of Noah, (which are incumbent on all non-Jews). The interpretation of the Torah in each generation is in the hands of the Sanhedrin.”

While the Sanhedrin’s actions of trying Pope Francis in absentia have proven controversial, Stein reveals that the court has received international support for its cause. “We have had many people contact us, Jews and Gentiles, and everyone was pleased with what we are doing and very supportive. They appreciate that there is now one true voice of the Jews and their Torah. There is not even one Beit Din (court) of Jews who dare to say the truth in the world,” he said.

When asked whether the government of the State of Israel has gotten involved, Stein stated, “I do not believe that they will support any such step. The opposite is probably true. The Israeli government is used to being pressured and attacked by the whole world, and therefore the government of Israel is afraid of every political shadow.”

With the Pope soon to address the United States Congress, the boundaries separating religion and state are becoming less clear. It is clear that many international conflicts today are driven more by religious fervor than by economic or diplomatic interests. It may just take a religious court to resolve the Injustices that plague and threaten humanity.

- breaking israel news

Oregon Christian bakers forced to pay $135k by monday or lien may be placed on home; husband now works as trash collector

July 15, 2015 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-lead

Oregon Christian bakers forced to payU.S, July 10, 2015: More than $210,000 has been raised in support of the Oregon Christian bakers who are being forced by the state to pay $135,000 in “emotional damages” to a lesbian couple for declining to bake them a wedding cake in 2013, an act that would have violated their deeply-held religious convictions.

Although an online fundraiser established on GoFundMe.com to support Melissa and Aaron Klein, the owners of the now-closed Sweet Cakes by Melissa bakery in Gresham, raised over $100,009 in nine hours in April, the campaign was taken off the website because the Kleins had been “formally charged by local authorities and found to be in violation of Oregon state law.”

After removing the Kleins’ fundraiser, GoFundMe later revised its user policy to state that the site can’t be used to raise money in “defense of formal charges or claims of heinous crimes, violent, hateful, sexual or discriminatory acts.” The website additionally shut down the fundraiser for Barronelle Stutzman, a Washington florist who’s also facing heavy fines for not working a gay wedding.

After their campaign was removed by GoFundMe, evangelist Franklin Graham’s Samaritan’s Purse stepped in to provide a platform to raise funds for the married couple, through the organization’s donation page designated for persecuted Christians in the U.S.

Another online campaign in support of the Kleins was set up on ContinueToGive.com, which is a “faith based online tithing and giving platform founded on biblical principles” devoted to helping churches, missionaries, nonprofits, individuals and adopting parents.

Although the Kleins fundraiser began with an initial goal of raising $150,000, the website indicates that the goal has been exceeded by 204 percent, which would mean over $306,000 was donated to the campaign.

But according to the website, it charges 3.9 percent and 60 cents per donation for personal fundraisers. The Daily Signal estimates that the Kleins have raised at least $210,000.

“Let’s help the Kleins through this hard time as they fight for religious freedom; which they are not just fighting for themselves but for all of us as our freedoms are threatened,” the fundraiser states. “They have been struggling financially ever since they were forced to close the doors of their bakery in 2013 as their income was basically cut in half. If they are forced to pay the damages to the lesbian couple they will be in much worse shape than they are now.”

“They are pioneers in standing strong for the Lord and have been very courageous and steadfast throughout this whole ordeal,” the fundraiser continues.

In an interview with The Daily Signal, the Kleins said that their income has dramatically decreased since they closed their bakery. Now that they are being forced to pay for emotional damages, their financial situation is getting tighter.

Although they have raised money online, Aaron said he picked up a job as a garbage collector after the closing of the bakery to help make ends meet.

As Oregon’s Commission of Bureau of Labor and Industries, Brad Avakian, upheld last week that the Kleins must pay $135,000 to Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer for mental damages caused by the refusal of service in 2013, the couple has been notified that they must pay by next Monday or risk having a government lien placed on their home.

A letter from BOLI was sent to the Kleins informing them of their payment options.

“The letter informs them that if we do not hear from them, we may turn the matter over to the Department of Revenue, which can place a lien on real property,” a BOLI spokesman told Fox News’ Todd Starnes. “Of course, they can also ask for a stay of enforcement while they pursue their appeal.”

Anna Harmon, the Kleins’ attorney from Alliance Defending Freedom, said the letter is just another sign that the state is sticking to its guns.

“This letter, while its the normal procedure, continues to show the state is not backing down,” Harmon told Starnes. “They don’t think they did any wrong here.”

Although it is likely that the Kleins will ask for a stay of the judgment as the couple is expected to appeal Avakian’s ruling to the Oregon Court of Appeals , Avakian will be the one who rules on whether the Kleins should be granted a stay.

“The judge, jury and executioner are all in one place,” Harmon said. “He is intent on using his office to root out thought and speech with which he personally disagrees.”

- christian post

Justin Bieber says Hillsong NYC Pastor Carl Lentz ‘Changed My Life’

July 8, 2015 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-lead

Pastor Carl Lentz and Justin BieberAustralia, July 1, 2015: Justin Bieber, 21-year-old recording artist and model, was attending the Hillsong Conference in Sydney, Australia, this week and recently shared that the Pentecostal church’s New York City pastor Carl Lentz has made a tremendous impact on his life.

Bieber, who has been known to spend time with Lentz, Hillsong NYC co-pastor and worship leader Joel Houston, City Church Pastor Judah Smith, and other influential young Christian leaders, reportedly interrupted a television network’s interview with Lentz on Tuesday to state: “I’m glad to know him. He’s changed my life.”

Hillsong Church founding pastor Brian Houston commended Bieber, who had a few run-ins with the law last year, for deciding to attend the week-long conference that started on June 29.

“No doubt he’d probably be the first to say he lost his way in a whole lot of ways and, yeah, I think he realizes that it’s now-or-never time to try to build better foundations into his life,” Houston added in the TEN television network interview.

Earlier reports indicated that Bieber flew to Sydney in the company of 18-year-old Hailey Baldwin, daughter of outspoken born-again Christian and actor Stephen Baldwin.

Bieber has been vocal of late about his spiritual journey, especially in sharing messages on his social networks with his mass of followers and supporters.

“I’m not religious nor do i think I have ANYTHING figured out that’s why I call out on God to help me through what I can’t do on my own,” the 21-year-old pop star shared last month with his 31.5 million Instagram followers. “Developing my relationship with God has been the coolest thing I’ve experienced, to know that I’m not alone and I don’t have to live in fear. Never feel like I’m pushing anything on u [sic] but sharing the good news I’ve felt in my own life.”

Bieber was reportedly baptized by Lentz last year, occasionally worships at Hillsong NYC and has shared photos and videos of himself spending time with the hipster pastor, who is known for befriending popular athletes and celebrities.

“I love Justin, he’s a good kid. He’s trying to figure this out,” Lentz told CBN news last year, two months after Bieber had been arrested in Miami for drag racing.

“With Justin, it’s not my job to be his police officer. It’s my job to be a friend to him, and that’s all I am,” Lentz added.

Bieber posted last month a playful video on Instagram of himself, Lentz and Trinity Church pastor Rich Wilkerson singing “Awesome God,” a worship song composed by Richard Mullins and covered by Hillsong United and other contemporary Christian music artists.

- christian post

Franklin Graham says lGBT rainbow-colored white house is ‘slap in the face’ of ‘millions of americans;’ white house calls it ‘victory’

July 3, 2015 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-lead

White House turns to rainbowU.S., June 30, 2015: Evangelical leader Rev. Franklin Graham has said that President Barack Obama’s decision to light up the White House with rainbow colors celebrating the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage is a “slap in the face” of “millions of Americans” who did not agree with the decision.

“This is outrageous — a real slap in the face to the millions of Americans who do not support same-sex marriage and whose voice is being ignored. God is the one who gave the rainbow, and it was associated with His judgment. God sent a flood to wipe out the entire world because mankind had become so wicked and violent. One man, Noah, was found righteous and escaped God’s judgment with his family,” Graham said on Facebook on Monday.

“The rainbow was a sign to Noah that God would not use the flood again to judge the world. But one day God is going to judge sin — all sin. Only those who are found righteous will be able to escape His judgment.”

The White House’s Twitter account, which also changed its avatar to reflect a rainbow-colored White House, said that the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision to legalize gay marriage across all 50 states is a “victory for America.”

The sentiment echoed Obama’s statement following the news on Friday, when he called the decision “a victory for the allies and friends and supporters who spent years, even decades working and praying for change to come.”

“This ruling is a victory for America. This decision affirms what millions of Americans already believe in their hearts. When all Americans are treated as equal, we are all more free,” Obama said.

“I know that Americans of good will continue to hold a wide range of views on this issue. Opposition, in some cases, has been based on sincere and deeply held beliefs. All of us who welcome today’s news should be mindful of that fact and recognize different viewpoints, revere our deep commitment to religious freedom,” Obama added.

Graham said in a separate statement following the decision that this religious freedom will now be challenged. He warned that Christians nationwide should be ready to face persecution if they do not agree with the legalization of same-sex marriage.

“Our nation has a spiritual problem and we need God’s forgiveness and we need to repent of our sins and turn from our sins because I do believe that God’s judgement will come on this nation,” the 62-year-old said.

“When we read in the Scripture, we see how God judged Israel time and time again, when they would turn their back on Him and begin to worship other gods, foreign gods, and God would bring judgement on Israel. I believe God could bring judgment on America.”

- christian post

Megachurch Pastor Joel Osteen: Muslims attend his Church & that his books sell a lot in Muslim countries

June 29, 2015 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-lead

Christians and MusilmsTexas, June 23, 2015: Evangelical Christian pastor Joel Osteen shared in an interview this week that “a whole group of probably about 50 Muslims” recently visited his nondenominational megachurch in Houston, Texas, and indicated that his inspirational messages on “how to live a great life” resonate with people “in Muslim countries.”

“I have Muslims that attend our church and my books sell a lot in Muslim countries as well,” Osteen said during an interview with Jeremy Hobson for the “Here and Now” radio program published online Monday.

Hobson had mentioned that he heard Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel express the opinion that Christianity and Judaism had not done “a good enough job keeping an open conversation with Muslims” in the U.S. He then asked Osteen if he has conversations with Muslims, which prompted the preacher to share that he “certainly” does.

“You know, I don’t know, I don’t get too deep in those kinds of things,” Osteen added, “but our ministry is about reaching out to everybody, and so you know, I do have those conversations.”

“I had a whole group of probably about 50 Muslims here at the service about two weeks ago, sitting right on the front row. They came, and we have good, good relationships. And I think part of our ministry is, our main theme is Jesus says love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as you love yourself. And I don’t try to put people in a box — OK, they’re Jewish or they’re Catholic, they’re this or they’re that. I just say, ‘you know what, they’re somebody that God’s put in our path for us to love,’ and that’s our philosophy,” he added.

Osteen also touched on immigration, the End Times and the intersection of politics and religion in his interview with ‘Here and Now,” which you can listen to in the audio player below:

Osteen previously has shared that his messages are not only attractive to Muslims, but to atheists as well.

In a 2014 “Larry King Now” interview, King asked the megachurch pastor, also known for his megawatt smile: “Why would an atheist be a fan?”

“I think what they like, Larry, the principles that we teach is from the Scripture but they can help anybody you know, to reach dreams or to forgive or to have a good self-image,” Osteen said. “I know that I’m not a traditional pastor in terms of I’m just going down teaching scripture by scripture, because a lot of what I would teach is just how to live a great life.”

Another view on why Osteen might be so popular with those outside of his conservative Christian faith was recently presented in an opinion essay published in the Jewish Journal.

“He does not proselytize in a loud, Bible-thumping sort of manner. Instead, with a calming, reassuring voice, he delivers words of faith, hope and optimism based on a biblical foundation,” wrote the author, who identified as “Jewish, and intend to remain Jewish.”

The writer added: “… I have to admit that there were times when I felt that pastor Osteen had put his finger on the pulse of my current challenges, and offered comments that gave me some degree of immediate solace.”

Osteen’s messages and sermons are not a hit with everyone, particularly other conservative Christians. Critics have for years claimed that Osteen’s messages are too focused on positive thinking and personal prosperity, and light on sin and repentance. The Texas pastor, whose popular inspirational and self-help books include Your Best Life Now, You Can, You Will, Every Day a Friday, and Become a Better You, has responded on more than one occasion to such criticism.

“There’s enough pushing people down in life already. When they come to my church, or our meetings, I want them to be lifted up. I want them to know that God’s good, that they can move forward, that they can break an addiction, that they can become who God’s created them to be,” Osteen said in one television interview.

Osteen welcomes about 52,000 worshippers weekly to Lakewood Church, according to a press release from his ministry. The church also says that it is “one of the nation’s most racially and socioeconomically diverse” and that its pastor reaches millions of people through his television program that airs in more than 100 different countries.

- christian post

Even Hollywood’s cool kids are praising Christianity now

June 22, 2015 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-lead

Matthew McConaughey (from left), Gwen Stefani and Chris Pratt are all devout followers of Jesus Christ.U.S, June 17, 2015: Hollywood is having a Christian renaissance.

Matthew McConaughey, Chris Pratt, Brad Pitt, Gwen Stefani, Mark Wahlberg and even wee bad boy Shia LaBeouf, who seems like the kind of guy who would say he’s bigger than Jesus and John Lennon combined, are talking up their Christian faith.

Pratt, perhaps the hottest actor in town on the strength of the 2014 smash “Guardians of the Galaxy” and the even bigger hit “Jurassic World,” is a Christian who credits praying to God for saving his son Jack when the boy was born nine weeks prematurely to his wife, Anna Faris.

Pratt told Esquire last year, “I gave my soul to Jesus” at age 19 after an encounter outside a liquor store in Hawaii with a man who told him, “I stopped because Jesus told me to stop and talk to you. He said to tell you you’re destined for great things.” A month later, Pratt was spotted by a director who helped get him a part in a horror movie, and his Hollywood career had begun. Raised Lutheran, he now considers himself “a free agent for God.” Every night before going to sleep, he prays, “Now I lay me down to sleep . . .”

Pitt, who grew up in a devout Baptist household in Missouri, in the past has described himself as somewhere between agnostic and atheistic, but apparently he has changed his mind. LaBeouf, his co-star in last year’s World War II movie “Fury,” told Interview, “I found God doing ‘Fury.’ I became a Christian man, and not in a f - - king bulls - - t way — in a very real way. I could have just said the prayers that were on the page. But it was a real thing that really saved me. And you can’t identify unless you’re really going through it. It’s a full-blown exchange of heart, a surrender of control.” LaBeouf added that his director, David Ayer, is a “full subscriber to Christianity” and that Pitt, who hews to an “unnamed spirituality,” was “instrumental” in “guiding my head through this.”

McConaughey, who is named after the apostle, famously gave props to God in his Oscar speech last year: “First off, I want to thank God, because that’s who I look up to. He’s graced my life with opportunities that I know are not of my hand or any other human hand.”

He attends a nondenominational church in Texas that, he told GQ, is “based in the faith that Jesus is the son of God, that He died for our sins, but many different denominations come in.” He says God is “somebody who can help answer my questions. Someone who has a hand in all of this miracle we call life, which I believe is a miracle.”

Gwen Stefani, a Catholic, recently said on “Late Night With Seth Meyers” she wasn’t planning on having any more children, but believes her oldest son has a “direct link to God” and that four weeks after the boy started praying for a little sibling, she discovered she was pregnant.

A fellow Catholic, Mark Wahlberg, told the Catholic Herald, “Being a Catholic is the most important aspect of my life. The first thing I do when I start my day is, I get down on my hands and knees and give thanks to God. Whenever I go outside of my house, the first thing I do is stop at the church. The kids will be mad with me. ‘Daddy! It takes too long!’ I’m saying: ‘It’s only 10 minutes and this is something I really need to do.’ ”

So it’s not just Kirk Cameron and Stephen Baldwin and the kid from “Two and a Half Men.” With A-list stars backing Jesus, who knows? This Christianity thing could catch on.

- newyork post

Henry VIII’s evidence to support break with Rome turns up in Cornish library

June 19, 2015 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-lead

Theories of William of Ockham UK, February 25, 2015: A book which helped changed the course of English history, part of the evidence Henry VIII and his lawyers gathered in the 1530s to help win an annulment from Catherine of Aragon and ultimately to break with Rome, has turned up on the shelves of the magnificent library at Lanhydrock, a National Trust mansion in Cornwall.

The book, a summary of the theories of the medieval philosopher and theologian William of Ockham, has been newly identified by a US scholar and expert on the history of Henry’s library. The book was damaged but escaped destruction in a disastrous fire at the house in 1881, and crucially the fly-leaf survived. It still carries the number 282, written in black ink in the top right-hand corner, which Prof James Carley identified as corresponding with an inventory taken in 1542 of the most important of Henry’s books, five years before the king’s death.

Paul Holden, the house and collections manager at Lanhydrock, said: “It was an amazing moment. The old long gallery here is about the length of a football pitch, and the professor lapped it about six times when we found the book.”

There is nothing of Henry’s handwriting in the book, but Carley is certain it was consulted during the years when the king was desperately seeking a way, with the aid of Thomas Cromwell, of getting rid of his first wife Catherine, and marrying and conceiving a male heir with Anne Boleyn – the drama chronicled in Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall.

Henry’s agents were gathering evidence that could support the move, which may be how the collection of the views of the 14th century priest and philosopher, published in 1495, came to the royal library. Ockham wrote in Latin of the limits of the power of the pope, and the independence of the authority of monarchs. Several pages in the book have key passages marked by secretaries for Henry’s attention, including one crucial section with a heading which translates as: “When it is permitted to withdraw from obedience to the pope”.

In 1532 Henry would begin exactly that process of withdrawal from Rome. In 1533, despite its refusal to annul his first marriage, he married the almost certainly pregnant Anne Boleyn. Pope Clement VII declared that Catherine was still the rightful queen of England, and Henry responded with the Act of Supremacy, establishing himself as the head of the Church of England. The breach with Rome was complete.

Carley described the discovery as thrilling.

“The book is important not only for its provenance but for the notes entered in it by Henry VIII’s advisers and no doubt intended for him to see. They draw attention to precisely the sort of issues that were so relevant to the king’s policies in the years leading up to the break with Rome.”

In the 17th century, when many books were disposed of from the royal collection, it was acquired by a Cornish scholar and chaplain, the wonderfully named Hannibal Gamon, who left his signature on the title page. He in turn left the best of his books to his friend and patron John Robartes, first Earl of Radnor, at Lanhydrock. The book has sat on the shelves, rarely opened and its importance unrecognised, shelves ever since.

The library collection at Lanhydrock is famous, the finest among the National Trust’s properties, and far older than the present imposing granite house, which is almost entirely a Victorian replacement for the Jacobean building gutted by fire, when almost all the books were saved. Although the leather covers are original, the book’s spine was replaced after the fire which helped further disguise it.

Early this year Carley was among many scholars who come to use the collection, and Holden asked him to look at two volumes with the arms of Henry and Catherine of Aragon. Carley concluded they showed royal loyalty but not royal origins, but suggested it might be worth checking the collection for books from Henry’s library.

The two men started taking down every book marked in the Lanhydrock catalogue as older than 1542, and checking them against a copy of Henry’s inventory, and within an hour, when they reached Section C of the shelves, opened the book and saw the neat small number 282.

The book will now be displayed for the first time as a star object, rather than one more brown leather book among thousands, in an exhibition, Monarchy and the Book, when the house reopens to the public on 1 March.

- the guardian

Next Page »