What’s Next?

February 24, 2013

So I was thinking the other day, idols are everywhere.

When radio was invented, it was considered an idol.

When TV was introduced, it was considered an idol.

Now that the Internet has arrived, and the smartphones have included TV and radio (and phones), the question is what’s next?

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O Most Hostile

February 24, 2013

WASHINGTON – A conservative expert on religious freedom issues believes that President Barack Obama has headed “the most hostile” administration to religious freedom in American history.
Ken Klukowski, director of the Center for Religious Liberty at the Family Research Council, told The Christian Post at an FRC event on Wednesday that he believes the administration has been unprecedentedly hostile to religious liberty.
“I think the record is clear that this president and this administration are the most hostile towards religious liberty in all of American history,” said Klukowski.
“I say that without exaggeration. There are all sorts of lines that previous presidents have just not crossed…political operators around the president strongly encouraged him with regards to this HHS mandate that this is just a bridge too far. And yet the president chose to go after it anyways.”
Klukowski’s remarks came as he was part of a panel event sponsored by FRC titled “Religious Liberty in America,” which focused on pressing issues surrounding the freedom of religion in the United States.
“Religious liberty in America has long been a cherished freedom. In recent decades, reaction to displaying that religion in the public sphere has grown increasingly hostile,” reads the event summary on FRC’s website. “It is imperative that we make ourselves aware of the battle fronts and support those who stand as sentinels against encroachment on our first freedom.”
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In addition to Klukowski, the other two guest speakers were Adele Keim, legal counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and Kellie Fiedorek, litigation counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom.
Keim spoke about the religious liberty issues surrounding the controversial HHS “preventive services” Mandate. “I think it’s one of the most significant threats to religious freedom that we’ve faced in decades. I can’t really think of a more significant one right now,” said Keim.
Fiedorek spoke to those gathered about the various legal suits coming up against Christian businessmen by gay rights groups. These included a photographer sued for refusing to take photos at a gay union ceremony and a baker sued for refusing to provide a cake for a gay union reception.
When asked by The Christian Post about whether there was a way gay rights could be advanced without harming religious freedom, Fiedorek answered that there would always be an issue.
“Experts on both sides agree that there is tension and I think that there always will be tension because obviously in terms of people of faith that have specific viewpoints and deeply held convictions on what is marriage and that’s not going to change,” said Fiedorek.

Homeschooling Freedom

February 15, 2013

This is so scary. Our gov’t is way out of bounds. Stand up to this evil giant.

Do Christian Parents Have a Fundamental Right to Homeschool?

The Story: In a political asylum case involving a German family that fled to the United States to be able to homeschool their children, the U.S. Justice Department is arguing that the freedom to choose to educate one’s own children is not a fundamental right.

The Background: In 2010, Uwe and Hannelore Romeike, who lived with their five children in the German state of Baden-Württemberg, were faced with a choice: abandon their Evangelical Christian religious beliefs or lose custody of their children. The Romeikes had withdrawn their children from German public schools in 2006, after becoming concerned that the educational material employed by the school was undermining the tenets of their Christian faith. After accruing the equivalent of $10,000 worth of fines and the forcible removal of their children from the home, they chose to flee their homeland and seek asylum in the United States.

On January 26, 2010, a federal immigration judge granted the Romeikes political asylum, ruling they had a reasonable fear of persecution for their beliefs if they returned to their homeland. The judge also denounced the German policy, saying it was, “utterly repellent to everything we believe as Americans.”

However, President Obama’s Justice Department disagreed. They argued that the family should be denied asylum based on their contention that governments may legitimately use its authority to force parents to send their kids to government-sanctioned schools. The case is currently pending in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Why It Matters: As in the abortion-contraceptive mandate case, the Obama administration’s primary argument is that as long as a government mandate or ban is constituted broadly and equally (i.e., not directed toward any particular group) then there is no violation of religious liberties. In other words, as long as Evangelicals or Catholics or other specific groups are not directly targeted by a particular law, then they have no basis for seeking an exemption based on conscience.

Additionally, the Obama administration has been arguing that religious liberties are a “group right.” If all members of a religious group hold a belief then it should be considered for protection, otherwise no exemption should be made. For example, the U.S. government contends that the Romeikes’ failed to show that they were being discriminated against based on religion because they did not prove that all homeschoolers were religious, and that not all Christians believed they had to homeschool.

As Mike Farris, founder of the Home School Legal Defense Asssocaition (HSLDA), the group that is defending the Romeikes, says:

This argument demonstrates another form of dangerous “group think” by our own government. The central problem here is that the U.S. government does not understand that religious freedom is an individual right. One need not be a part of any church or other religious group to be able to make a religious freedom claim. Specifically, one doesn’t have to follow the dictates of a church to claim religious freedom—one should be able to follow the dictates of God Himself.

The United States Supreme Court has made it very clear in the past that religious freedom is an individual right. Yet our current government does not seem to understand this. They only think of us as members of groups and factions. It is an extreme form of identity politics that directly threatens any understanding of individual liberty.

As Farris makes clear, this case is not just about a German family seeking asylum but about the parental and religious rights of American families. The Obama administration believes that the rights of parents to educate our children is conditional on the government’s approval, a right that is not fundamental but exercised at the whim of government bureuacrats.

“It is important that Americans stand up for the rights of German homeschooling families,” says Farris. “In so doing, we stand up for our own.”

Joe Carter is an editor for The Gospel Coalition and the co-author of How to Argue Like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History’s Greatest Communicator.

VD Eve

February 13, 2013

We have a generation of children today who desperately need to look into the eyes of Mom and Dad and see two people deeply in love with each other, committed to one another for life and honoring God in their relationship. If God has blessed your life with children, make sure your children know and see your love regularly. Make the marriage they see in you the same type of relationship they’ll want one day for themselves.

Discuss
If your children were asked to describe your relationship, what would they say? Why not ask them.

Pray
Pray that your children see real love between two real people for a lifetime.

Rainey

Cross Carrying

February 10, 2013

February 10

Keep Going
Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.
Luke 14:27

We don’t talk a lot about cross carrying. That’s more the fine print of being a follower of Christ–the part we don’t generally go around advertising to those we’re hoping to draw into Christian faith. But as I understand Jesus’ words in Luke 14:27, you and I cannot truly follow Him unless we are carrying a cross.

The cross is not just a popular piece of jewelry but also a unique Christian symbol that represents suffering and sacrifice. So it is with the cross He has asked you to carry. Your cross will undoubtedly extract pain and a price.

Cross carrying is not a one-time decision. No, we must choose daily to pick up our cross, again, and follow Him. We are to continue carrying it over the long haul.

Do you know what your cross is? Think with me for a moment. When the Savior asks you, “Pick up your cross and follow Me,” what exactly is it that He is asking you to carry?

Is your cross:

A chronic health issue–physical or emotional?
Giving up fame, prestige and popularity?
Giving up material wealth, financial security and living a lifestyle that you’ve become accustomed to?
The loss of a dream–infertility, a past divorce, infidelity or the betrayal of a friend?
The bottom line? Cross carrying represents death. Death to the easy way–the world’s way. Death to desires. Death to self.

Cross carrying demands focus on Christ (see Hebrews 12:1-3), coming after Christ with faith (see Hebrews 11:6), and perseverance.

Keep carrying your cross–through the balance of the work week, through the long months of a family crisis, through the hard-fought seasons of moral struggle.

Keep carrying your cross.

Discuss
What does carrying your cross mean to you right now? What cross has God called you to carry right now as you follow Him?

Pray
Pray that you won’t rebel against what God is asking of you but that you’ll submit willingly to His claim on your life and pick up your cross and follow Christ.

Dennis Rainey

Be Naughty

February 6, 2013

Robert Capon writes:

I think good preachers should be like bad kids. They ought to be naughty enough to tiptoe up on dozing congregations, steal their bottles of religion pills…and flush them all down the drain. The church, by and large, has drugged itself into thinking that proper human behavior is the key to its relationship with God. What preachers need to do is force it to go cold turkey with nothing but the word of the cross–and then be brave enough to stick around while [the congregation] goes through the inevitable withdrawal symptoms. But preachers can’t be that naughty or brave unless they’re free from their own need for the dope of acceptance. And they wont be free of their need until they can trust the God who has already accepted them, in advance and dead as door-nails, in Jesus. Ergo, the absolute indispensability of trust in Jesus’ passion. Unless the faith of preachers is in that alone–and not in any other person, ecclesiastical institution, theological system, moral prescription, or master recipe for human loveliness–they will be of very little use in the pulpit.

May God raise up a generation of preachers who storm the the gates of worldliness with “It is finished” and “He is risen!”

Cyberloafing

February 6, 2013

The study that found out about the inefficiency of the American work force was conducted by a researcher at Kansas State University. Joseph Ugrin, an assistant professor of accounting at KSU, reportedly teamed up with John Pearson, an associate professor of management at Southern Illinois University, to look into the matter.

And when they investigated, they found that all employees – old and young alike – are deviating from work tasks during the day at alarming rates.

“Older people are doing things like managing their finances, while young people found it much more acceptable to spend time on social networking sites like Facebook,” Ugrin was quoted as saying.

Younger employees were especially prone to deviating from work-related activity, most frequently to check social networking sites during work hours, Newswise learned.

“We found that for young people, it was hard to get them to think that social networking was unacceptable behavior,” Ugrin observed. “Just having a policy in place did not change their attitudes or behavior at all. Even when they knew they were being monitored, they still did not care.”

Researchers also noted that the looming threat of managerial reprimand and the perceived presence of “Big Brother” could negatively affect office morale. However, without consequences, employers allegedly may not get anything out of their staff.

Ugrin pondered, “We don’t want to make everyone at work upset because the corporate office is watching over their employees’ shoulders … but what if workers are wasting all of their time online? Where’s the balance?”

Receipts

February 1, 2013

Careful what you do.

An Applebee’s waitress who posted a receipt with a note from a pastor complaining about the automatic gratuity added to the bill on the Internet was fired on Wednesday after the pastor complained to her manager.

Chelsea Welch, the waitress, wrote in an email to Yahoo News that the pastor (who has since been identified as Alois Bell) told Welch’s manager at the St. Louis-area Applebee’s that the ensuing firestorm had “ruined” her reputation.

“I give God 10%,” Bell wrote on the receipt, scratching out the automatic tip and scribbling in an emphatic “0” where the additional tip would be. “Why do you get 18?” (There were more than eight people in Bell’s party, triggering the auto-tip.)

Welch, who snapped a photo of the bill from a fellow server and uploaded to Reddit, defended her right to post the receipt. “I thought the note was insulting, but also comical,” she told Consumerist.com. “And I thought other users would find it entertaining.”

Bell, a pastor at Truth in the World Deliverance Ministries Church, was not amused, and she called Welch’s manager to complain.

“[It was] a lapse in my character and judgment,” Bell told the Smoking Gun, adding she did not expect her easily recognizable signature would be, as her friend informed her, “all over Yahoo. You went viral!”

“My heart is really broken,” Bell added. “I’ve brought embarrassment to my church and ministry.”

A spokesman for Applebee’s said it apologized to Bell for violating her “right to privacy” and confirmed that Welch “is no longer employed by the franchise.”

Welch was surprised that Applebee’s fired her, “especially because there was nothing specific in the employee handbook admonishing this behavior.”

“I had no intention of starting a witch hunt or hurting anyone. I just wanted to share a picture I found interesting,” she said. “I come home exhausted, sore, burnt, dirty and blistered on a good day. And after all that, I can be fired for ‘embarrassing’ someone who directly insults their server on religious grounds.”

Welch also isn’t buying Bell’s embarrassment. “If this person wrote the note, obviously they wanted it seen by someone,” she said. “I’ve been stiffed on tips before, but this is the first time I’ve seen the Big Man used as reasoning.”