Wednesday, July 15, 2009

U.S. Anglican Bishops End Gay Ban

New York Times
July 15, 2009

ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Episcopal Church voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to open the door to consecrate more bishops who are openly gay, a move that is likely to send shock waves throughout the Anglican Communion, the global network of churches to which the Episcopal Church belongs.

By voting to affirm that “any ordained ministry” is open to gay men and lesbians, the Episcopal Church effectively ended what many regarded as a moratorium on ordaining gay bishops, which the church passed at its last convention three years ago.

The moratorium was adopted in what proved to be a largely unsuccessful effort to calm conservatives in the Anglican Communion, which has torn itself apart in the last six years since the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire elected the communion’s first and only openly gay bishop, Bishop V. Gene Robinson.

The battle over homosexuality in the Episcopal Church has been watched closely by other mainline Protestant churches. They are looking to the Episcopal Church as a bellwether that could foretell whether their denominations can survive the storm over homosexuality intact.

Many delegates to the church’s convention here characterized the action not as an overturning of the moratorium, but as simply an honest assertion of “who we are.” They note that the church, which claims about two million members, has hundreds of openly gay laypeople, priests and deacons, and that its democratic decision-making structures are charged with deciding who merits ordination.

“It’s not an attempt to fly in the face of the Anglican Communion,” said Bonnie Anderson, who as president of the House of Deputies, which represents laypeople and clergy members, is one of the church’s two top officers. “It’s an attempt to deepen relationships with the rest of the communion, because real relationships are built on authenticity.”

But some at the convention warned that the Episcopal Church could pay a price for snubbing its global partners.

The Rev. Shannon S. Johnston, coadjutor bishop of the Diocese of Virginia, who will take office as bishop on Oct. 1, said in an interview that he voted against it because “I thought we would be seen as uncooperative and not a team player in the Anglican Communion.”

Zack Brown, a youth delegate from the Diocese of Upper South Carolina, begged the House of Deputies just before their final vote, “Please don’t vote in a way that makes more conservatives feel the way I do now: like I’m the only one left.”

The vote in the Houses of Bishops and Deputies was more than two-thirds in favor and one-third opposed or abstaining.

The House of Bishops also took up a measure that would create a liturgy to bless same-sex couples. Such blessings are already being done in many dioceses, without official sanction. “It is time for our church to be liberated from the hypocrisy under which it has been laboring,” Bishop Stacy Sauls of Lexington, Ky., told his fellow bishops on Tuesday.

The Episcopal Church acted despite a personal address at the start of the convention from the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, who as head of the Church of England is considered “first among equals” among the communion’s archbishops. “Along with many in the communion,” the archbishop said, “I hope and pray that there won’t be decisions in the coming days that will push us further apart.”

The resolution passed Tuesday was written in a way that would allow dioceses to consider gay candidates to the episcopacy, but does not mandate that all dioceses do so. It also emphasizes that the Episcopal Church has “an abiding commitment” to the Anglican Communion.

It says that many gay men and lesbians are already ministering in the church and that “God has called and may call such individuals, to any ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church, and that God’s call to the ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church is a mystery which the church attempts to discern for all people through our discernment processes acting in accordance with the constitution and canons of the Episcopal Church.”

Pamela Reamer Williams, a spokeswoman for Integrity USA, an advocacy group for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender members of the church, said: “The church has stated very clearly that all levels of the ministry in the Episcopal Church are open to the L.G.B.T. baptized. It is a change in the sense that it supersedes the effective moratorium.”

Conservative provinces in the Anglican Communion, especially some in Africa, broke their ties with the Episcopal Church after it consecrated Bishop Robinson.

The moratorium adopted three years ago urged Episcopal dioceses to restrain from consecrating bishops whose “manner of life” posed a challenge to the rest of the Anglican Communion. In fact, a few openly gay candidates were considered for election in the last three years, but none won sufficient support, and the moratorium was never tested.

In the end, the moratorium pleased no one: neither conservatives who observed that some in the church did not really intend to abide by it, nor liberals who saw it as a codification of discrimination and injustice to gay clergy members who otherwise were qualified to be considered as bishops. The moratorium also did little to forestall the fracturing both within the Episcopal Church and in the Anglican Communion. Conservatives in both bodies have formed their own alliances in the last three years, asserting that they represent the true Anglican tradition.

In the United States, four dioceses — Fort Worth; Pittsburgh; Quincy, Ill.; and San Joaquin, Calif. — have voted to split from the Episcopal Church (although some parishes within those dioceses elected to remain).

Last year, they joined with other disaffected parishes and groups that had splintered from the Episcopal Church over many years to form the Anglican Church in North America. That group held its first convention, in Texas, last month. They claim 100,000 members.

The new group says that Scripture clearly prohibits homosexual relationships. Church liberals, meanwhile, insist that the Anglican tent is large enough to tolerate multiple approaches.

The debates at the convention in Anaheim over the last few days have made it clear that the liberals increasingly have the upper hand within the Episcopal Church. At a debate over whether to develop formal rites for same-sex weddings, 50 people testified in favor and 6 against.

“It’s a clean sweep for the liberal agenda in the Episcopal Church,” said David Virtue, editor of, a conservative Web site. “The orthodox are finished.”

Thursday, July 9, 2009

How Does the Evil and Suffering in the World Align with the Idea of a Loving God?

The most ancient and persistent objection to God’s existence is the problem of evil. How can a loving, powerful God allow so much evil and suffering in the world? Believers and nonbelievers alike must wrestle with this difficult question. Nonbelievers struggle with the atheist conclusion that morality is an illusory and ungrounded evolutionary artifact, in which case there may be no basis to complain about the unfairness of suffering, and believers battle with the apparent contradiction between God’s goodness and the suffering in the world.

The problem of evil has no simple answer, but many philosophers, theologians and others have developed helpful insights. This issue is addressed in chapter 2 of The Language of God, “The War of the Worldviews”. This response combines Dr. Francis Collins’s thoughts with insights offered by Timothy Keller in his book, The Reason for God.

Freedom in the Universe
As we grapple with the question of evil, we must first recognize that humans cause much of it. Humans, not God, murder, torture, defame, persecute and rape. Because humans have free will, they can do terrible and immoral things. But free will is essential if humans are to relate meaningfully to God. For humans to truly love God, they must be free to choose or reject that love. For God to stop all evil in the world, our freedom would have to be removed, and with it our capacity to truly love God. God cannot give us free will while at the same time restraining us from evil acts.

It is more difficult, however, to understand why a loving God would allow suffering from natural disasters or diseases. The Rev. John Polkinghorne refers to these as a consequence of physical evil. These cause incredible destruction and pain, but are not linked to human agency. As Dr. Francis Collins writes, “Science reveals that the universe, our own planet, and life itself are engaged in an evolutionary process.”3 The mechanisms that God used to create humans — like the misspelling of a gene during cell replication — can also produce pain and suffering — if that misspelling leads to cancer. Likewise, the same forces that produced a life-sustaining planet including the laws of physics, chemistry, weather and tectonics, can also produce natural disasters. As with the free will of humans, God cannot constantly intervene in these areas without disrupting the inherent freedom of his creation and disrupting his consistent sustaining of all the matter and energy in the universe. Without this consistency, science would be impossible, and moral choices would be subverted. If God blocked the consequences of human moral choices, like committing murder, and natural events, like tsunamis, every time they led to evil results, then moral responsibility would disappear and the natural world would become incoherent.

Although evil challenges the existence of a good and loving creator, complaints about the unfairness of evil can also be interpreted as support for God existence. If there are no external standards of morality, what is the basis for moral claims? Why can we say that torturing children is wrong?

A God Who is Great but Mysterious
One response to the problem of evil that is necessary but ambivalent is to acknowledge that God’s ways are not our ways. God is greater than we are, with purposes that may differ greatly from ours. Even though we may not be able to see any reasons for our suffering, it is always possible that a God of such wisdom and creative power might have reasons for the existence of evil that are simply beyond human understanding.

A provocative Biblical story of suffering is the tragic tale of Job, a righteous man greatly blessed by God and successful in all that he did. Satan challenges God with the claim that Job only worships God because he is so blessed. So God allows Satan to torment Job to prove Job’s faithfulness. Job tragically loses his property, his children and finally his health. Long after one would expect, Job finally cries out to God to explain his suffering, a call that goes unanswered. Instead, God simply reminds Job of God’s divine majesty and power. Job withdraws his complaint, returns to trust in God, and his bountiful life is fully restored. Job’s story offers no answer to why he suffered so much, beyond the apparent discussion God was having with Satan about Job’s faith. The story does offer a powerful example of someone who remains faithful and acknowledges the limits of his own understanding:

"Then Job answered the Lord and said, "I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge? Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. Hear, now, and I will speak; I will ask You, and You instruct me. I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; but now my eye sees You; therefore I retract, and I repent in dust and ashes."

Through his suffering, Job came to know the reality of God in a new and more personal way.

The Biblical story of Joseph also reveals that suffering can lead to good. Joseph is sold into slavery by his brothers, wrongfully accused of sexual assault and thrown into prison. God uses these events to make Joseph a great leader in Egypt. As a result of his leadership, Egypt and the surrounding countries are saved from starvation in a terrible famine. Joseph makes this point to his brothers: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Gen. 50:20). Joseph’s story illustrates how God can use suffering for good purposes.

C.S. Lewis wrote: “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: its is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”5 Keller describes a man from his church who lost his eyesight when he was shot in a drug deal that went bad. The blindness humbled the man and led to spiritual transformation.6 Reflecting on the experience, the man said, “It was a terrible price to pay, and yet I must say it was worth it. I finally have what makes life worthwhile.”

Our tragedies are often terrible: losing a child, watching an elderly parent suffer, being betrayed by those we trust. But if we are open, we can often see ways that our pain is being at least partially redeemed by God working purposefully through these experiences. As Keller suggests, God can no doubt see ways to bring some good out of our pain.

Suffering is Also a Problem for Atheists
Evil also poses problems for the nonbeliever. Claims that torture is wrong even though the victims of torture might be terrorists with useful information appeal to some external standard. But what is this standard? Such claims need to be grounded in something if they are to be asserted with such confidence. So, while some naturalistic philosophers have developed ethical systems without God, many other naturalists acknowledge this doesn’t work and that such ethical systems are entirely arbitrary.9 If God does not exist and there is no grounding for how things ought to be, then moral — as opposed to emotional — outrage at horrendous evil has no basis. The fact that we cannot escape our sense of horror and outrage at evil actually points us to God’s existence.

The Christian Consolation: A God Who Suffers
Christians have a powerful consolation in the face of evil: the God they worship became human and suffered like us in the historical person of Jesus. Jesus lived a human life and experienced a physical death. But this physical suffering was only a part of his full suffering. The greatest agony for Jesus was the temporary loss of relationship with God. He went from experiencing the closest possible relationship with God to a state of total separation on the cross. This is became evident when he cried out his final words, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46, Mark 15:34). Jesus underwent this suffering out of love for humanity and obedience to God, knowing that his terrible death could restore our relationship to God. Keller attests to the significance of this:

"Christianity alone among the world religions claims that God became uniquely and fully human in Jesus Christ and therefore knows firsthand despair, rejection, loneliness, poverty, bereavement, torture, and imprisonment. On the cross, he went beyond even the worst human suffering and experienced cosmic rejection and pain that exceeds ours as infinitely as his knowledge and power exceeds ours. In his death, God suffers in love, identifying with the abandoned and godforsaken."

We cannot fully explain evil, but we can say that it is not an indicator that God does not love us. In Jesus, God has suffered, and we can rest assured that that God shares our pain and knows our sufferings.

The Christian Hope: Final Restoration
Christianity does not only offer consolation but also offers hope. Christians believe that God defeated death by raising Jesus from the dead. Christ’s resurrection points to our ultimate hope of final restoration when we are finally united with God for eternity.

This hope ultimately illuminates our sufferings and the seemingly meaningless agonies of our temporal existence. One day all wrong will be set right by the all-powerful God who made us and loves us. As C.S. Lewis writes, “Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory.”13 This transformation is the ultimate answer to the problem of evil.

Fyodor Dostoevsky writes in The Brothers Karamazov:

"I believe like a child that suffering will be healed and made up for, that all the humiliating absurdity of human contradictions will vanish like a pitiful mirage, like the despicable fabrication of the impotent and infinitely small Euclidean mind of man, that in the world’s finale, at the moment of eternal harmony, something so precious will come to pass that it will suffice for all hearts, for the comforting of all resentments, for the atonement of all the crimes of humanity, of all the blood that they’ve shed; that it will make it not only possible to forgive but to justify all that has happened."

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The “Michael Jackson” In All of Us

By Akin Ojumu
Owings Mills, Maryland
On the day of Michael Jackson's Memorial

The news of Michael Jackson’s death touched me – a deep part of me – in ways I never imagined. Ordinarily, I shouldn’t give two hoots about the demise of an unbelieving entertainer. There was nothing about him that should have made my soul so downcast, and my spirit, feel empty. If you had asked me, a couple of weeks ago, who and what he meant to me. I would have been emphatic in my response, “Nothing!!!”

So why I do care so much now that he is dead? What’s this regret I feel knowing he’s departed this realm for yonder? The answer is simple. In each of us there is a “Michael Jackson”. In the deep crevices of our being there lives a Michael Joseph Jackson. This man was part of us – a deep and buried part – that has been suppressed since the time we got born again and ceased being of this world. Regardless this part of us still moves to the beat of “Beat It” and is still thrilled every time “Thriller” is played.

This is not about the songs. Indeed the guy could sing. He sold close to 1 million albums and that’s not counting all the pirated copies……..and most of us wouldn’t even be considered for a place in a 1-person local church’s choir. It is not the moon walking – or the “backsliding” as we knew it back then. Oh yes, been there and done that. Michael Jackson was a genius……….a phenomenal achiever that you only find once in a generation, but not a whole lot of us will be remembered in that regard. Do we consider ourselves fan of Michael Jackson? Not by a long shot. In fact secular music – of any beat or rhythm – is no longer our thing: we don’t buy ‘em and don’t listen to ‘em anymore.

Michael was a consequence of the greed and deeds of a lecherous and exploitative father. An abusive and overbearing parent, Joseph Jackson’s entry in Wikipedia reads as follows:

When he managed his family, he ordered each of them to call him "Joseph", which led to several siblings being estranged from their father. Michael Jackson claimed that from a young age he was physically and emotionally abused by his father, enduring incessant rehearsals, whippings and name-calling, but also admitting that his father's strict discipline played a large part in his success. In one altercation—later recalled by Marlon Jackson—Joseph held Michael upside down by one leg and "pummeled him over and over again with his hand, hitting him on his back and buttocks.” Joseph would also trip up or push his male children into walls. One night while Michael was asleep, Joseph climbed into his room through the bedroom window. Wearing a fright mask, he entered the room screaming and shouting. Joseph said he wanted to teach his children not to leave the window open when they went to sleep. For years afterward, Michael suffered nightmares about being kidnapped from his bedroom.

At the tender age of 8, Michael Jackson literarily became the bread winner for the entire Jackson’s household. For a morsel of bread his father threw him out to the wolves – all alone in the woods of the Hollywood. In exchange for fame, Joseph Jackson shamelessly sold his son into the slavery of show business. And the vicious and wicked world of showbiz used and abused him. In their greed they squeezed out of him every bit of life, leaving him in pain, misery, and empty.

Michael, deprived of normal childhood, lived his adult life in search of that stolen childhood. For most of his life he struggled with identity crisis – for he was never allowed him to define himself, rather he was turned into a money making caricature of what he really loved to be.

So he went and built Neverland – a castle and habitation for unimaginable and unbridled fantasies. Neverland is a world, originally, featured in the fictional books written by J.M. Barrie. It is the dwelling place of Peter Pan, Tinker Bell, the Lost Boys, and others. The residents of Neverland refused to grow up, and it is often used as a metaphor for eternal childhood (and childishness), immortality, and escapism.

You see Michael had to build a fictional world to escape a world that has been so cruel and unfair to him. He sought refuge in the sincerity and innocence that exude from a child’s heart. In the world of a child he felt safe and secured. So he had them all around him in great numbers.

He grew up a man who despised everything his father represents. As a result he had a face and skin reconstruction. From being a man endowed with Negroid features he became one with the craniofacial resemblance of a Caucasian.

Did he ever attain the joy and peace that he sought in life? I have my doubts and that saddens me greatly. I’ve often found myself praying for this man, that he may one day come to the knowledge of Christ. Was my prayers answered? It’s hard to tell – and that again is a source of the sorrow I feel for his death.

A lot of us who mourn him today wished that Michael would never die – at least not at the age of 50. Having been intricately woven into the fabric of our youth, his passage into eternity of uncertain destination leaves a stain on our conscience. Because it’s now too late to pray for him.

Adieu Michael. What else is there to say?

I Refuse

The following are lyrics of the song titled Outro by Kirk Franklin

I refuse to be another black statistic
A black man who can wine and dine in the sin of the world and still be considered a Christian
I plan on being great
I care not to be less
I refuse to wear a barcode across my chest
I refuse to let a black tee or throwback jersey define me
I refuse to let my children witness divorce
Or make mature decisions in court
I refuse to grow up carrying the generational curse
I refuse to feel the need to curse in my verse
I hate being automatically looked at when someone asks can anyone rap
I wanna be a black man that can flip it from urban to corporate measures
A black man who doesn't gain knowledge from the world for his own pleasures
A black man who reps Christ to the fullest with no regrets
My only regret is the stigma that many black statistics in the past have set
Like going to jail, bragging about bail, leaving our kids, cussing at church, married and you still flirt, no father present at birth Animosity within the ministers of our church
I refuse to let my people be viewed as temporary
I plan on planting a seed not for the moment but for one that’s legendary
As for statistics
My father broke the mode
And I feel it’s my job for the next generation to continue in it
Because I refuse to be another black statistic

What Is a Soul Mate?

Finding true, soulful love is not a destination, its a journey. A real and lasting relationship with a spiritual soul mate requires inner work and outer preparation. But what is a "soul mate" really? What does the term mean in an age of online dating and a fast-paced life? Rev. Laurie Sue Brockway, an interfaith minister and relationships counselor, asked the members of her vibrant Beliefnet group "The Soul Mate Project" to define the term. The 8 definitions that follow reveal the true depth and complexity of love, as well as its simple beauty.

Soul Mates Complement Each Other
You don't have to agree on politics, but you better have compatible ideas on the nature of G-d (even if you practice different religions). You don't have to like the same comedians, but you have to understand each other's humor.You may give to different charities, but you have to share a generosity of spirit.One can be Felix and one can be Oscar, but you both better be on the same page when it comes to running the household moneywise.The man doesn't have to be Brad Pitt and the woman doesn't have to be Angelina Jolie, but the man needs to see his soulmate as HIS Angelina Jolie and the woman needs to see her soulmate as HER Brad Pitt.Most of all, you have to feel a connection -- a connection so strong that you say, "This may be the most remarkable person I have ever met in my life." Where you look forward just as much to conversations and activities out of bed as the other way around (although you want both).And where it's a connection that defies time -- that you know you may raise a family together and will definitely grow old together, and the prospect excites you rather than scares you.

Soul Mates Come from God
God is my soul mate. God plays the music and calls the dances. I'm dancing to God's tune. I can feel God's rhythm in my feet and the way the bass line resonates in my core. Now, I have a dance card. Right now, I can't read the names, but I have one. God filled it out with men who would make good parteners for me. If a dancer who is not listed tries to dance with me, we won't dance well because we are not suited. The men on the card will do well because God thinks that we would do well. Not that we would be flashy, but that we would enjoy dancing together. We would make that joyful noise.

Soul Mates Have a Different Kind of Love
I believe a soul mate is not necessarily a love interest. A soulmate is someone that will mirror you, show you everything that is holding you back...a person who will bring you to your own attention so you can change your life.A true soul mate is probably the most important person you will ever meet. They will come into your life to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then they leave.

Soul Mates Navigate Differences
I think that if soulmates exist, and I am not convinced they do or rather they do for everyone, BUT assuming they do, I think soulmates can navigate differences. It isn't the least bit important that they agree on anything but that they can still love, respect, and yes, even appreciate the differences of each other. I have dated a guy that was too much like me. There were advantages of that relationship but what I learned is that even though we were so much alike, we still could not navigate the very few, slight differences we had. I have come to the conclusion that differences never matter, it is what you do with those differences that matters. It is the differences of other people that cause us to grow. Differences also smooth out the edges on our own personalities. A good relationship changes people for the better or rather facilitates an evolution that is both spiritual and personality wise. It is the whole grain of sand/pearl thing.

Soul Mates Complete Each Other
My definition: Entering friendships/relationships for what one can put into them instead of what can be gained from them. NOT to find another who might complete you, but to have another with whom you might share completeness.

Soul Mates Feel Like 'Home'
I see it as a connection that defies explanation. Where you can look at each other and no words need to be exchanged. I am currently in a relationship with my soul mate. There is no other feeling like it. The connection is physical, emotional, spiritual, and any other "al" that is possible. It just feels like "home". And I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.

Soul Mates Are Cosmically Connected
I just want to tell you about my soul mate, who has passed on. I understand what this one song means when it says "I miss you, like the deserts miss the rains." I knew her since I was 5 and she was 7. We knew we had some connection even then. We said it was like electricity inside us when we were together. Once when we had been away from each other for some time there was this dance for alumni. I was just standing watching everyone dance, and I suddenly had the warmest most wonderful feeling come over me. We both turned around at the same time and saw each other. She said she had the same feeling. It always seemed to be like that.Ever had a puzzle of a picture of a most wonderful place in the world, and there was one piece missing? That puzzle isn't complete without it. When she died of cancer, her last words to me were "I'll come and find you, I'll come get you when you get to Heaven." Others may have more than one, but I know who and where my soul mate is.

Soul Mates Learn from Each Other
My soul mate is someone who walks beside me not in front, because I may not follow. He's someone who listens when I speak and speaks while I listen. He supports me physically, emotionally, spiritually, and financially if I let him. He doesn't have to agree with me but be on my side (watch my back while I watch his). Someone who doesn't execute authority over me, because only my Creator has that right, but someone who accepts me as the person I am. I was created in the Creator's image, not anyone else's. My soul mate knows this and accepts it, he walks a mile in my moccasins, then we discuss what has been learned.

Words Spoken In Season

By Ivy Umanah
Tennessee, USA
July 7, 2009
Today, the world remembers an icon, gone too soon, in a public and private memorial that promises to be an unprecedented historic occasion. Am sitting here, glued to CNN coverage of the Staple center and other clips of this star whose light went out unexpectedly but not unannounced. Unlike many of the baby boomers who have thronged the memorial grounds but admitted that his music was before their time, i was a part and parcel of the "thriller " craze back then and connected with the millions of people mourning Micheal Jackson's death ever since it was announced.
Nevertheless, i marvel at the frank outpouring of love and appreciation on a man once villified by this same crowd, AFTER his demise.
Why did none of these folks in his hometown in Indiana, his fellowstars now clamouring to sing at his memorial, the black hollywood artistes now claiming him as their 'own', and millions of regular folk sending flowers and leaving mesages like 'Micheal, i will always love you', not say so this loudly when he was alive? Especially when he was condemned by public opinion for unspeakable crimes even though a court of law acquitted him of all charges (leaving him a shadow of himself )? Why wait till he is dead? All that comes to me is what the preacher in Eccles 11v8 said,"Vanity of vanities,all is vanity".
Why do we as humans often pour out our hearts and sincere appreciation when the subject is long dead letting posterity do all the good work as usual? When my earthly father, a strict disciplinarian died, i wrote a small epitaph for his obsequies. It was written in the third person.Due to logistics, it was never printed alongside the others, but i noticed that all the others were written in the first person , as if he would get to read it. Many said those three words, i love you, for the first time. He went to his grave never hearing those words from these kids.
In a bid to earn some money , Micheal jackson died and is selling more albums in death than he probably could have dreamed off alive.Except for the lone vicious comments of Rep Peter King, the whole world of young and old, hip and not-so-hip, black and white, unanimously express their love for a man that is now viewed simply as any other man with human frailties like the rest of us. I am no judge as to the innocency or guilt of MJ, leaving that job to His Maker, but feel a great sense of loss for this tragic figure who is blissfully unaware of the outpouring of emotions on his behalf . Let us , especially in Africa, learn to show timely appreciation.
"A word spoken in season , how good is it" Pr 15v23. Today, amidst the media blitz of Micheal jackson memorial, this message rings out to me and you.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Our Deepest Fear

I was once again moved after reading the following poem, by Marianne Williamson, found at the very bottom of this blog. So I thought to post it again for all to read remind us all how special we are in the eyes of our Creator.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us
We ask ourselves
Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous
Actually, who are you not to be
You are a child of God
Your playing small does not serve the world
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
So that other people won't feel insecure around you
We are all meant to shine, as children do
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us
It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone
And as we let our own light shine
We unconsciously give other people permission to do the same
As we are liberated from our own fear
Our presence automatically liberates others

Controlling the Tongue

Creative discipline for noisiness, disrespectful words and outbursts

By Lisa Welchel

If your kids need helping remembering to be respectful with their words, take a look at these ideas:

1. You've heard the reprimand "Hold your tongue!" Make your child do it — literally. Have her stick out her tongue and hold it between two fingers. This is an especially effective correction for public outbursts.

2. My kids often lose the privilege of talking. I explain that being able to express yourself is a gift. If they abuse that privilege, either by hurting someone's feelings, speaking inappropriately, or just making needless noise, they cannot speak for a predetermined amount of time. This is especially painful if during that time they have something important to say. It underscores the privilege of speaking and makes them think more carefully about their words.

3. My friend Becki tried a variation on this idea in the car. If things got too raucous or there was too much fussing between siblings, she would cry, "Noses on knees!" Her children then had to immediately touch their noses to their knees until she determined that they had learned their lesson. If your older child is arguing that a punishment is unfair, be willing to back down. But explain, "I will rescind the correction if you can show me in the Bible where what I required of you was out of line." This usually cuts off anymore argument, and even better, it yields a little Bible study.

4. Thank goodness for "do-overs"! If someone has the grumpies, he is allowed one "do-over." He can take a deep breath, leave the area, re-enter, re-try, re-ask, or respond differently from the first time, and we can all pretend that the first one never happened.
5. Do your children ever call for you from the other room and try to carry on a conversation through the walls? Mine do. I've finally learned to stop answering them. Not only that, but every time they yell from the other room, I count how many times it takes them to realize I'm not talking back before they finally come looking for me and engage in a face-to-face conversation in a normal tone of voice. Then, for each time they yelled, they must wait five minutes before they can ask me the question they were so impatient to ask from the other room.

6. Haven has recently started this shrill, squealing thing. I'm sure she does it for dramatic effect, to emphasize some wrongdoing Tucker has committed. But Steve reached his caterwaul limit one day. Thankfully I had just received an e-mail from a mom who was having the same problem with her young daughter. She came up with a clever way to teach her daughter the importance of being considerate of other people's ears-she made her daughter wear her husband's earplugs during her favorite TV show. I think I'll try that!

7. Our children need the freedom to express their feelings, but there's often a fine line between open communication and disrespect. As your kids get older and you perceive their need to tell you how they're feeling, give them the chance to do it respectfully, while you listen without interrupting. If they're too angry or frustrated to speak respectfully, tell them to write you a letter and say whatever is on their heart. The only requirement is that they reread the letter before giving it to you. The majority of the time, this exercise will help them vent their feelings, but they won't end up giving you the letter because they don't feel that strongly anymore.

Adapted from Creative Correction by Lisa Whelchel, a Focus on the Family book published by Tyndale House Publishers. Copyright © 2000, Lisa Whelchel. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Michael Jackson Born Again? Apparently Not.

Amidst the hoopla that's arisen after the death of Michael Jackson are Christians questioning Jackson's spiritual beliefs and whether or not he was a Christian.

According to news reports, Jackson had converted to Islam recently, but apparently some rumors have been circulating that gospel singer Andrae Crouch recently met with Jackson and prayed with him to receive Christ.

Andrae Crouch and his sister Sandra released this statement today, clarifying those rumors:

"It has been brought to our attention that several media outlets have been erroneously reporting that we met our dear friend Michael Jackson several weeks prior to his death so he could accept Christ. This is incorrect and absolutely not true.

"We loved and respected Michael enormously and we've been friends with him for many, many years, and are deeply saddened by his sudden and tragic death. We recently met with Michael to discuss recording two songs with our choir for his newest recording project.

"Michael always had a respect and curiosity for spiritual things. During our meeting, not unlike many other creative/music meetings we've had with him in the past, we sang together, prayed together and had a wonderful time.

"We are praying for Michael's family and desire nothing less than God's best for them."

What was in Jackson's heart when he died is really between him and God. But for Christians who are concerned about his spiritual state, I would recommend that they take a look around them right now, where there are hurting people who need to hear about Jesus. Rather than spend time wondering about Michael Jackson in hindsight, spend some time today talking to someone who's still here and praying for the Jackson family, and especially his children, who don't need this media circus as they grieve the loss of their father.