Unfold the Evangel before your eyes!

Are you lost?
Are you worn out?
Are you overwhelmed?
Are you rational?

Only rational, non-dogmatic persons can understand and accept this message. Give yourself a try. Nothing will be like before, I promise!

quarta-feira, maio 13, 2009

“Para Cumprir” or “Just Getting It Over With”

By James A. Choury

Haven Ministries, April 2009

Words are excellent revealers of truth and are worth careful analysis and understanding. Of course, words come in different packages we call languages and each language comes saturated with a slightly (or sometimes radically) different culture. Words often come in phrases that convey a very special meaning. Very often a particular culture manages to capture a concept and put it into words better than others. Such is the case with the phrase “para cumprir” in Portuguese.

The Portuguese (and very similar Spanish) phrase “para cumprir” literally means “to fulfill” and usually refers to fulfilling an obligation. But when someone fulfills an obligation in this manner he does it with no genuine interest or concern. He does it so as not to be seen as negligent or irresponsible. He may even do it with apparent enthusiasm and willingness but his heart is not really in it. The enthusiasm and energy are part of the role playing. We are not called on to serve the Lord in any area simply “para cumprir”. What is not heartfelt and motivated by genuine concern and love is not pleasing or acceptable to God. Nor can it be truly effective in the long run.

Many years ago, while living in Denver, I drove by Washington Park on a nice summer afternoon. I was surprised to see a man shouting to passersby in cars and wondered if the man was emotionally troubled. I slowed down to see what he was saying and was interested to hear him preaching the Gospel in little sound bites to fast moving cars as they whizzed by. He apparently didn’t expect anyone to stop and wasn’t looking for personal contact or dialogue. I suspected that he was doing it “para cumprir”, maybe out of frustration for lack of a better approach.

In the intervening years I have witnessed others doing evangelism in very impersonal and non-relational ways. I’ve even done it myself. Many personal evangelism methods are purposely designed to be just that. They show little interest in the person being addressed. You might say they really don’t see the person as a person at all. They are after a “decision”. They have a set content to “get through”. The evangelist is told to avoid “rabbit trails” and get to the heart of the matter. The idea is that people are dying by the thousands or millions and there is no time to lose. They appeal to the guilt feelings of those who never witness to anyone. They promise a sure-fire method of getting it done.

I have been experimenting with a different approach. I talk to people and actually listen to them and address them as special creations made in the image of God. I really do want to know what they think and try not to correct them or contradict them before they even finish their thought. I let them finish the conversation when they want to and walk away if they so desire. I try to clarify a point or plant a seed of truth. I’m finding that people thank me for listening and giving them some new perspectives. Often they want to stay and talk more, even when they have a class to go to or some other obligation to fulfill.

When I enter into dialogue in a genuine person-to-person encounter with someone, I am impacted for hours afterward and sometimes for days. I pray for the person and look forward to further interaction with them. I may never see them again but trust that our sovereign God is able to “finish the work” in His time and in His way. I don’t feel guilty about the hundreds of thousands that are dying each day without Christ. I know my limitations and only want to do my part in God’s way; I want to see people as free agents with minds and wills of their own and responsible for the decisions they make without pressure or manipulation.

Homework Assignment: Make a conscious effort to mingle with unbelievers socially. Show some genuine interest in others. Ask them what they think about life. Don’t push. God will open the doors.

domingo, maio 03, 2009

What are the Lessons of the Holocaust?

From the One Jerusalem Blog newsletter

Israel and the Jewish people have just commemorated the victims of the Holocaust. Sadly, this year's commemoration coincided with Iran's anti-Semitic President addressing a United Nations conference to condemn the State of Israel.

It is clear from the world's reaction to this conference that different people have learned different lessons from the Holocaust. Israel's new Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, speaks for the majority of Jews and most civilized people when he says we must confront bestial hatred that drives people to kill innocent people. This mindset translates into taking seriously the threat to destroy Israel by Iran and its terrorist allies. Netanyahu has taken on the mantle of stopping the radical Islamic regime of Iran from carrying out its threat.

One would hope that the rest of the civilized world would follow Israel's lead. Unfortunately, that has not been the case. The West has been uneven in its response to the saber rattling of Iran and Iran's illegal pursuit of nuclear weapons. There have been half hearted moves to impose sanctions but it is clear that there is not a strong commitment to make sanctions work. German companies still operate full-scale businesses in Iran. And Russia continues to sell Iran military equipment that help Iran fulfill its plans for nuclear weapons.

Even the decision by the British government to attend the Israel hate fest called Durban II shows the failure of many in the West to deal effectively with the Iranian threat. Instead there is a growing consensus that Iran should be treated as a responsible citizen of the international community. After all, no one objected to the United Nations decision to provide Achdeminjad with a platform from which he could attack the civilized world. Yes, some Western countries walked out of Druban when the Iranian President started into his hate-filled rant. But why were they there to begin with? Only Canada showed moral clarity when it dismissed Durban II, even before Achdeminjad said he would attend. Remember, the United States tried to participate but in the end made the right decision to stay away.

Besides Canada and Israel have any other governments learned any valuable lessons from the Holocaust? The inability of the international community to stop the carnage in Darfur suggests the answer is NO. The international communities failure to stop or even criticize the oppression of the Iranian people by its dictatorial rulers suggests the answer is NO. Unfortunately, this list can be extended.

The few nations who understand that Iran must be confronted and forced to abandon its evil ways are the Winston Churchill's of our age. A Churchill's biographer titled the volume covering the years when Churchill was a rare voice in favor of challenging Hitler "The Wilderness Years". Churchill was in the wilderness because the world believed it could appease Hitler and avoid confronting him. They learned the hard way that appeasement only allows the enemies of humanity to get stronger.

While the nations of the world have not digested the lessons they should have from the Holcaust what about America's President?

Recently President Obama spoke at a Holocaust event and his words should be studied. The first to do so is a friend of One Jerusalem, Michael Ledeen. Ledeen urges everyone to read the speech and to contemplate its messages.

Ledeen excerpts significant sections of the speech and offers his commentary. Ledeen writes:

He then gave his version of "never again," and it's a very odd version indeed. First, he draws hope from the survivors of the Holocaust. Those who came to America had a higher birthrate than the Jews who were already living here, and those members of "a chosen people" who created Israel. These, he says, chose life and asserted it despite the horrors they had endured. And then he goes on:

We find cause for hope as well in Protestant and Catholic children attending school together in Northern Ireland; in Hutus and Tutsis living side-by-side, forgiving neighbors who have done the unforgivable; in a movement to save Darfur that has thousands of high school and college chapters in 25 countries and brought 70,000 people to the Washington Mall, people of every age and faith and background and race united in common cause with suffering brothers and sisters halfway around the world.

Those numbers can be our future, our fellow citizens of the world showing us how to make the journey from oppression to survival, from witness to resistance and ultimately to reconciliation. That is what we mean when we say "never again."

So "never again" means that we learn from others how to forgive and forget, and ultimately live happily with one another. But that is not what "never again" means, at least for the generation of the Holocaust and for most of those who followed. For them, "never again" means that we will destroy the next would-be Fuhrer. In his entire speech, Obama never once mentions that the United States led a coalition of free peoples against Germany, Italy and Japan, nor does he ever discuss the obligation of sacrifice to prevent a recurrence. Indeed, his examples suggest that he doesn't grasp the full dimensions of the struggle against evil. Northern Ireland is a totally inappropriate example (nothing remotely approaching a Holocaust took place there), the relations between Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda and Burundi are hardly characterized by forgiveness, even though the president of Burundi is striving mightily to achieve a peaceful modus vivendi, and as for Darfur, well, despite the tens of thousands who demonstrated on the Mall, nobody has done much of anything to stop the Khartoum regime from slaughtering the peoples of the south.

In the history of modern times, the United States has done more than anyone else, perhaps more than the rest of the world combined, to defeat evil, and we are still doing it. Yet Obama says that we must "learn from others" how to move on, forgive and forget, and live happily ever after. But these are just words, they are not policies, or even actions. And the meanings he gives to his words show that he has no real intention of doing anything to thwart evil, any more than he had any concrete actions to propose to punish North Korea.

Given a President with this mindset can we avoid another dark-age?

domingo, abril 19, 2009

He did it again!

What are the odds that someone contributes to change your life not only once, or twice, but three times? Jim Choury did it again! He has just changed my life again.

He has been doing it through books. The first time it happened, he introduced me to Discipling Nations, by Darrow Miller. I had quit being a leftist, or Marxist, if you prefer. I had been a Christian for some years then, but still could not replace the old ideas of my youth in my mind. I mean, I knew they were wrong and vaguely incompatible with my new faith, but I did not know what to put in their place.

Reading Miller's book, I astonishingly found I had everything I needed to bury the Marxist in me. The Christian faith had everything I needed to fundament my worldview. That was liberating! It had not been the first step into that, though. Years before, I had learned with Jim that to be Christian one has to be rational, or a non-dogmatic person. That was quite a surprise for me, who always kept my faith and my rational beliefs in separate compartments.

I have been struggling, ever since, to purify my worldview and influence others with the truth. The problem is even if you possess the truth and you know it, it does not make it automatically easier to transmit it to others. People are too complex for that. And so are their ideas.

This is where Jim came in to change my life again. He sent me an e-mail and told me about his adventures in Denver, Colorado, talking to people about Jesus. I am not sure how exactly, the Lord touched him to send me the books that were helping him in that task. And he was generous enough to just do it!

I have just finished reading the first one, Tactics, by Gregory Koukl and I can tell it changed my life profoundly! The author taught me to be prepared to defend my beliefs like never before! Not only that, his arguments are so powerfully built, that it enables one to oppose virtually anybody's wrong ideas.

May the Lord keep blessing Jim and his wife Barb for all they have been doing to touch others lives like he did with me. I could never express my full gratitude, Jim.

sábado, abril 18, 2009

Basic Instinct, Showgirls & God?

By Rusty Wright

Self-described “Hollywood Animal” Joe Eszterhas, the blockbuster screenwriter famous for steamy eroticism and dark thrillers, says God found him and life’s never been better.

Say what?

Basic Instinct and God? Showgirls and Jesus?

Seems the master storyteller is telling a new story.

My life has turned inside-out,” he wrote in the Washington Post’s On Faith.

Films from Eszterhas’ screenplays have grossed over one billion box office dollars. Time Magazine once called him “America’s king of sex and violence.” Jack Valenti, the late head of the Motion Picture Association, once labeled him "desperately ill and in need of medical attention."

Once Hollywood’s highest-paid screenwriter, Eszterhas has said he’s “been a bad boy all my life. I was the king-daddy of sex and violence, the wild hair, the rogue elephant, the drinking, drugging, wild man, the cocaine cowboy.”

Deadly Addictions

Eszterhas’ Hungarian childhood included almost five years in refugee camps. Acutely poor, he ate pine-needle soup and suffered from rickets. Smoking and alcohol use begun in youth haunted his adulthood. He had surgery for throat cancer; medical experts warned that continued substance use would kill him. With a family he cherished, Joe was desperate to live. But he couldn’t relinquish his addictions.

Finally, feeling hopeless, sobbing alone on a curb, “I cried and begged God to help me,” Eszterhas writes. “I hadn't prayed since I was a boy. I had made fun of God and those who loved God in my writings. And now, through my sobs, I heard myself asking God to help me … and from the moment I asked, He did.”

I didn't at first understand why He did. I didn't deserve His help, I thought. I was unworthy. I ignore Him for forty years and then suddenly I ask Him to help me and He does? It took me some time to understand that God helped me because He loves me. Because even though we don't deserve God's love, God loves us – all of us.”

Eszterhas replaced his excesses with prayer and long walks. He’s written a book, Crossbearer, “as a thank-you to God. Not just for saving my life, but for saving me.”

The front of the book quotes this New Testament statement: “Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Also through Him, we have obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.” Faith, peace, access, hope; sounds as if it could be Eszterhas’ new personal theme.

Will It Last?

Road to Damascus? Perhaps. Skeptics watch. Some feel he’s just swung from one emotional excess to another. But it has been seven years. His wife, Naomi, says the transformation has been gradual but real. It appears to be lasting. They’re living in Ohio, raising their sons and continuing to give thanks:

I am witness to and the beneficiary of God's love for all of us,” Joe writes. “I am witness, too, to the fact that His love is so strong that it was even able to open my rusty old closed heart.”

I will thank Him forever because He gave me new life and a heart which is truly able to love for the first time in my life. His love is mine.”

A hopeful postscript: Eszterhas says his throat surgeon has pronounced him “cured.” The man who removed about eighty percent of Joe’s larynx says the tissue has regenerated such that evidence of the cancer is gone. The surgeon called it “a miracle.”

Amazing medical development. Amazing life changes. Amazing grace.

Rusty Wright is an author and lecturer who has spoken on six continents. He holds Bachelor of Science (psychology) and Master of Theology degrees from Duke and Oxford universities, respectively.

segunda-feira, abril 13, 2009


Schedule update

By Joel C. Rosenberg

(Washington, D.C., April 13, 2009) -- Israeli President Shimon Peres this weekend hinted of a possible coming strike against Iranian nuclear and military sites. According to a report in the Jerusalem Post, Peres said he hoped President Obama's call for dialogue with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would be heeded, but warned that if such talks don't soften the Iranian president's approach, "we'll strike him." The comments come on the heels of Benjamin Netanyahu being sworn in as Israel's new Prime Minister and assembling a war cabinet to prepare for possible eventualities with Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas.

As tensions between Radical Islam and Israel continue to grow, my Joshua Fund colleagues and I remain committed to educating Christians around the world to the threats facing the Jewish people and mobilizing believers to pray for Israel and stand with Israel, come what may. We are also deeply committed to blessing the poor and needy in Israel, blessing victims of war and terrorism, and stockpiling relief supplies ahead of any coming war. Today, I'm flying to Colorado Springs to have dinner with Dr. James Dobson and his wife, Shirley. We will discuss these critical issues and then tape a radio broadcast on Tuesday to help educate millions of Christians to the importance of showing unconditional love and unwavering support to Israel, as well as strengthening the Church inside the Muslim world. I will let you know when the broadcast will be aired.

Over the next few months, my team and I will be traveling extensively to keep building this global movement of evangelical Christians committed to blessing Israel. I will be sharing the work of The Joshua Fund as well discussing the research I did for Inside The Revolution (currently in its fourth week on the New York Times best-seller list at #17).

Tomorrow, I will be at the Focus on the Family headquarters doing a late afternoon booksigning. Other upcoming public events include Edmonton, Canada; Branson, Missouri; Washington, D.C.; a possible trip to Israel; Syracuse, New York; and San Diego, California. This summer, I'll be speaking at several churches in Colorado and will post details on those events when we get a little closer. I hope you can join us at one of these events, and I'd be grateful for your prayers along the way. God bless you.

[For more details on upcoming events, please click below]

To read the rest of this report on Joel's weblog -- including detailed schedule updates -- please click here

To join 90,000 subscribers of Joel's email updates, please click here

To pre-order audio or video copies of the 2009 Epicenter Conference, please click here

domingo, abril 12, 2009

Conversation with a Statistician

James A. Choury of Haven Ministries

April of 2009

I recently read Richard Dawkins’ book “River Out of Eden”, (BasicBooks, a Division of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., 1995). On pages 79 through 83 Dawkins uses a computer simulation experiment of the evolution of an eye (a vertebrate eye) published by two Swedish scientists to demonstrate how easy it was for evolution to produce over 40 different types of eyes within the 600 million years normally given for such a task. I had some real questions.

My undergraduate degree is in Mathematics and Physics and I did study Statistics as well. Dawkins states that it took the computer “only” 400,000 generations to produce the eye by random mutations, each of which brought about a small improvement. It seemed to me Dawkins was talking about independent, joint occurrences (like flipping a single coin four hundred thousand times and always getting heads). It seemed so preposterous that anyone would propose such a thing (400,000 continuous successful mutations in a row) or that anyone would accept such an idea that I thought I would consult an expert.

I made an appointment to talk to someone in the Statistics department at Colorado State University here in Fort Collins. We had a half hour conversation in which I got directly to the point. My question was: “Am I interpreting Dawkins correctly?” “Is he talking about independent joint occurrences and am I using the proper formulas to calculate the probability?” The Ph.D. in probability looked it over, got out his scratch pad, did some figuring and to my happy surprise said “yes”. Dawkins is talking about 400,000 tosses of the natural selection “coin” and coming up with 400,000 heads in a row*. Amazing! I mentioned to the statistician that the Swedish scientists who set up the computer simulation 1) began the simulation with an already existing photosensitive cell, 2) only allowed for favorable outcomes (albeit, small improvements) and 3) didn’t take into consideration that vision requires much more than just a functioning eye. Vision also depends on a very complicated (more complicated than the actual eye), well developed and properly functioning cerebral cortex (part of the brain). This very amiable and, I believe, competent man agreed with what I was saying and my time was up.

The back cover of Dawkins’ book has a quote from the A.L.A. Booklist that says the following about the “Science Masters” series of which Dawkins’ book is a member: “Aimed at busy, nonmathematical readers, this precise series evinces solid quality control and begins under highly favorable auspices.” I believe many “nonmathematical” readers have been and will be persuaded by Dawkin’s books. The math needed to see through Dawkins is not “rocket science” but few people take the time to understand probability. Of course, they are too busy and they are “nonmathematical”.

Many Christians are also quite nonmathematical and busy doing many things. Being prepared to give an answer for the hope that is in us (1 Peter 3:15) may demand more from us than we have grown accustomed to do and to be.

*The probability of tossing a coin and getting a heads is ½ or 50%. The odds in Dawkins’ example were actually much smaller, around 1/200 or about 0.5%.

Haven Ministries, Box 460366, Aurora, CO jamesachoury@yahoo.com

quinta-feira, abril 09, 2009

Evidences Of Jesus Christ's Resurrection

Chuck Missler
from the April 07, 2009 eNews issue
http://www.khouse.org (visit our website for a FREE subscription)

"I claim to be an historian. My approach to Classics is historical. And I tell you that the evidence for the life, the death, and the resurrection of Christ is better authenticated than most of the facts of ancient history ..."
E. M. Blaiklock - Professor of Classics, Auckland University

The Resurrection of Christ is the most powerful event in history. It has affected the last 2000 years of history and politics, from peasants to kings to nations. Christianity has spread across the entire world, into every country and into a vast number of ethnic groups and languages. Billions of people have experienced the life-giving, healing, forgiveness and freedom offered by God because Jesus Christ conquered death and rose again from the grave.

The apostle Paul wrote in 1 Cor 15:12-22 that without the resurrection of Christ, the Christian faith is useless. "And if Christ be not raised," Paul wrote to the Corinthians, "your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable."

There are many skeptics who disregard the resurrection of Jesus Christ of Nazareth as a fable. However, the evidence for Jesus' resurrection is extremely strong, even to the point of converting some who sought to disprove it:

The Empty Tomb: Though well-trained Roman soldiers guarded the tomb of Jesus Christ, it was empty 3 days after Jesus' death as Jesus had repeatedly foretold (Matt 12:40, Mark 8:31). The guards had fled (a death penalty offense). The massive stone had been rolled away, and the body was gone – and was never produced by the enemies of the Christians. The linen grave clothes in which the Jews bury their dead were still in the tomb, undisturbed. From the Jewish historian Josephus to a compilation of 5th-century Jewish writings called the "Toledoth Jeshu", even Jewish sources and traditions admit that the tomb was empty. The body was never found.

Living Witnesses: There were a multitude of witnesses who saw Jesus Christ alive after his death. The disciples, the travelers on the road to Emmaus and a number of women all spoke to Jesus alive. Thomas doubted until he was able to put his fingers into Jesus' wounds (John 20:26-27). He later spread the Gospel all the way to India. The apostle Paul tells of 500 people to whom Jesus appeared at one time, most of whom were still alive and available for questioning when Paul wrote his letter (1 Cor 15:6). When several people testify in a courtroom that they witnessed an event, and their accounts are found consistent with each other, their testimony is considered factual information. Jesus Christ was seen alive many times by hundreds of different people over the course of forty days after his death (John 20-21, Acts 1:3).

The Disciples: Christ's followers, who had been fearful and who had run away when Jesus was arrested, were completely changed after the Resurrection and became courageous witnesses. Peter, who had denied knowing Christ when recognized by a simple servant girl, became the powerfully bold leader of those who had seen Christ alive, speaking to the thousands gathered in Jerusalem for the Feast of Shavuot – Pentecost. A person may die for a lie if they do not know it is a lie. But people do not give their lives up and face severe persecution to spread a lie they themselves invented. The fact that the disciples willingly suffered beatings and persecution and death is strong evidence that they had actually witnessed the resurrection they refused to stop telling people about.

Saul of Tarsus: A devoutly religious Pharisee, who persecuted the Church and had Christ's followers thrown in prison, Paul had his life absolutely changed by his encounter with Christ. He became a devoted follower of Christ himself, spreading the Gospel throughout Turkey and Greece in the face of beatings and shipwrecks and imprisonment and, finally, execution.

"If the New Testament were a collection of secular writings, their authenticity would generally be regarded as beyond all doubt." - F. F. Bruce, Manchester University

Skeptics' Arguments Against the Resurrection:

The Hallucination Theory claims that the witnesses who met the resurrected Jesus were all "seeing things" - they were hallucinating. However, this goes against common sense as well as psychological principles. Five hundred people do not all hallucinate the same thing. Jesus appeared to many people at many different times. Also, the body was never produced.

The Swoon Theory argues that Jesus did not die – that he simply fainted from loss of blood and exhaustion. However, this also goes against common sense. The Romans were professionals who severely whipped Jesus, hung him on a cross, and then stabbed him in the side with a spear to make sure he was dead. He was in the grave for three days, wrapped head to foot in a burial cloth, without food or water or medical treatment. When he appeared to his disciples he was completely whole and healthy and his appearance inspired awe and worship that lasted throughout the rest of the disciples' lives.

The Disciples Faked the Resurrection: Discouraged, fearful fishermen and former tax collectors, whose teacher had been viciously murdered, were in little position to take on a detachment of trained Roman soldiers guarding the tomb. They would have had to create a fantastic plan in order to fight off or bribe the professional soldiers, raid the tomb, unbind the grave clothes from Christ's body, take the body away, and hide it where nobody would ever find it. The Roman soldiers faced death if they failed in their guard duty, and the disciples had little money for bribing anybody. Many people would have had to be involved in the conspiracy, and all those involved would not only have known the truth, but would know that they were risking meeting the same fate as their recently crucified leader. And what purpose could it possibly serve, if Jesus were dead? They would have had nothing to gain. Their leader was gone and they would have only faced persecution and death for their invented resurrection story.

And again, the disciples' attitudes completely changed after the Resurrection and especially after Pentecost. They became bold and courageous in spreading their message, fearless of beatings or imprisonment. They never sought to fight Rome or to establish any position or kingdom or authority for themselves. They had nothing to gain, physically speaking. They simply went about the known world, telling their story in spite of persecution and suffering, poverty and ridicule. Their message quickly spread across the Middle East and Europe and even into Asia without any military conquest or political support involved - and in spite of strong opposition. Only belief and hope based in the reality of their experiences would have produced such dedication in the lives of Christ's followers.

Perhaps the greatest evidence today of Christ's resurrection is the work that he is still doing in the lives of every day people. In the name of Jesus, people are still being healed emotionally and physically and spiritually by the same power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Sinners are being freed from the burden and pain and shame of sin – sometimes immediately, sometimes after long years of steady work by the Holy Spirit in their lives. Hearts are being mended and lives are being turned around. The best evidence today is the faithful follower of Christ who can say, "He saved me, and I am not the person I used to be" just as the apostles testified 2000 years ago.

[For more in-depth coverage of the above arguments, as well as many further evidences and related information, please see the links below.]

Related Links:

Evidence for the Resurrection - Leadership U
Contemporary Scholarship and the Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ - Leadership U
The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? - F.F. Bruce
Evidence and Answers On Many Issues Related to Christianity - CARM - Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry
His Unfamiliar Face - Koinonia House
The Jesus Tomb - Koinonia House
Reflections of His Image: Pride vs. Humility - Koinonia House

terça-feira, janeiro 20, 2009

Li em 2008

  • The One Year Bible - NIV (DEZEMBRO)
  • The Highest for His Utmost - Oswald Chambers (DEZEMBRO)
  • What's Darwin Got to Do With It? - Newman & Wiester (DEZEMBRO)
  • Mente: Conceitos-chave em filosofia - Eric Matthews (NOVEMBRO)
  • Fallacy, the counterfeit of argument - Fearnside & Holther (SETEMBRO)
  • No Princípio... - E. H. Andrews (SETEMBRO)
  • O universo ao lado - James W. Sire (SETEMBRO)
  • Lógica : Conceitos-chave em filosofia - Goldstein, Brennan, Deutsch & Lau (AGOSTO)
  • Sola Gratia - R.C. Sproul (JULHO)
  • A alma do homem sob o socialismo - Oscar Wilde (JUNHO)
  • A falência dos Deuses - Vinoth Ramachandra (JUNHO)
  • O Mistério dos Dinossauros - Norma Whitcomb (MAIO)
  • Fale a Verdade Consigo Mesmo - William Backus & Marie Chapian (ABRIL)
  • Ética nas Pequenas Coisas - Elizabeth C. Gomes (MARÇO)
  • The Books of the Bible - Hight C. Moore (MARÇO)
  • Dando um Jeito no Jeitinho Brasileiro - Lourenço Stelio Rega (MARÇO)
  • Hipnose, Marketing das Religiões - Fabio Puentes (MARÇO)
  • Os Ensinos Secretos da Maçonaria - Ankerberg & Weldon (FEVEREIRO)
  • 10 dias que abalaram o mundo - John Reed (FEVEREIRO)
  • Como Você Explica Sua Fé? - Paul E. Little (JANEIRO)
  • A survey of the New Testament - Gundry (JANEIRO)
  • Porque abandonei as Testemunhas de Jeová - Aldo Menezes (JANEIRO)

domingo, dezembro 28, 2008

Newsweek's Gay Marriage Propaganda Piece

Written by Sue Bohlin

The Dec. 15 (2008) issue of Newsweek features a breathtakingly biased essay called "The Religious Case for Gay Marriage." The author, Lisa Miller, has a high view of homosexuality and a low view of scripture—and an even lower view of those of us who dare trust in God's word. (Managing Editor Jon Meacham supports Ms. Miller's piece in his column: he says the "conservative resort to biblical authority is the worst kind of fundamentalism.")

Both Ms. Miller's logic and her understanding of scripture and theology are riddled with problems. Let's look at a few.

The biblical illustrations of marriage are so undesirable that no sensible person would want theirs to look like it. Abraham slept with his servant because his wife was infertile. Jacob fathered children by four mothers. Polygamy abounded in the patriarchs and the kings. Jesus and Paul were unmarried, Paul regarding "marriage as an act of last resort for those unable to contain their animal lusts."

People have been making this mistake for years, taking the narrative sections of scripture and inferring that this is what God says to do since "it's in the Bible." As my friend Dan Lacich put it, it is the mistake of taking the “descriptive” and making it “prescriptive.” That would be like charging the editorial board of the Dallas Morning News with being pro-murder and pro-steroid abuse because it published news stories about those issues.

It's true that the Biblical account includes a stunning array of ways to mess up God's simple and beautiful plan for marriage. If we keep reading, it also includes the heartbreaking consequences of violating that plan. And, in the Song of Solomon, it also includes a lavish treatment of romantic love between a husband and a wife that illustrates how good it can be.

"[T]he Bible is a living document, powerful for more than 2000 years because its truths speak to us even as we change through history. In that light, Scripture gives us no good reason why gays and lesbians should not be (civilly and religiously) married—and a number of excellent reasons why they should."

It's clear Ms. Miller agrees with Bible scholar Alan Segal that "the Bible was written by men and not handed down in its leather bindings by God." (I've never come across a single individual who actually believed a physical book was plopped in anyone's lap from heaven, but we keep hearing this argument.) Robert Gagnon, professor of New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, points out that while scripture has a human element, it is not merely the compilation of human ideas. The ideas behind the words written down by men come from the mind of the same God who created men and women, and who invented sex and marriage. Ms. Miller is wrong about gay marriage because she disregards the truth of God's word in favor of human philosophies, about which we are warned not to be taken captive (Col. 2:8).

"Most of us no longer heed Leviticus on haircuts or blood sacrifices. Why would we still accept its stance on homosexuality?"

Ms. Miller mentions the two proscriptions against homosexual behavior in Leviticus 18 and 20 as "throwaway lines in a peculiar text given over to codes for living in the ancient Jewish world." This is a common argument for dismissing the Bible's stance on same-sex behavior, but it's not that simple. Both chapters forbid child sacrifice, adultery, incest, bestiality, and homosexuality. Why wrench the one verse on homosexuality out of each chapter's context to throw away and keep all the surrounding prohibitions? We never hear this argument used to normalize having sex with one's child or one's father or one's dog. Nor should we. Ever.

Sexual issues are moral issues. They are not in the same category as laws for haircuts or blood sacrifices. We know this because sexual laws don't change over time, as did civil and ceremonial laws. Moral commands are rooted in the character of God, specifically His purity and holiness. His character does not change over time, and neither do His commands about how we are to express our sexuality.

"While the Bible and Jesus say many important things about love and family, neither explicitly defines marriage as between one man and one woman."

If we're looking for an in-your-face 21st-century kind of Bible verse that says "Marriage is only between one man and one woman," we won't find it. What we do find is an equally in-your-face first-century teaching about marriage from the lips of the Lord Jesus Himself. In Matthew 19:4-5, He puts back to back two important verses from the foundational creation account of Genesis 1 and 2: "Male and female He created them (1:27) and said, 'For this reason a man shall. . . be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh' (2:24)." (Also found in Mark 10:6-8.) This was the creation. This was the original intent. All variations on this are corruptions of God's intent.

Jesus never mentioned homosexuality. . .

He didn't have to, for the same reason we have no record of Him denouncing nuclear war. It was unthinkable in the Jewish culture to which He spoke. If you look in the historical records of the time, references to homosexuality just aren't there. Not that it didn't ever occur in private, but that it was off the "radar screen," so to speak. There were also no advocates for same-sex relationships in the Jewish culture. (But there were in the Gentile culture to which Paul was called as an apostle, which explains why he addresses homosexual behavior and calls it sin.)

Dr. Gagnon writes about Jesus,

"Telling his audience in first-century Palestine that men should stop having sex with other males would have been met with perplexity since the point was too well known, too foundational, and too strongly accepted to merit mention. I myself have never been in a church where the pastor explained why believers shouldn’t be in a sexual relationship with their parent, child, or sibling or shouldn’t enter a polyamorous relationship. I have never thought that the reason for this is that the minister was open to incest or polyamory of an adult-committed sort."

. . .But he roundly condemns divorce.

Again, Dr. Gagnon insightfully points out:

"Jesus takes time to condemn divorce/remarriage not because it is a more serious violation of God’s sexual norms than homosexual practice—or than incest or bestiality, two other sexual offenses that Jesus also never explicitly mentions—but because it, along with lust of the heart, was a remaining loophole in the law of Moses that needed to be closed. The law already clearly closed off any option for engaging in homosexual practice, incest, bestiality, and adultery, whatever the excuse."

The Newsweek article closes with a quote from Ms. Miller's priest friend James Martin. "In his heart he believes that if Jesus were alive today, he would reach out especially to the gays and lesbians among us, for 'Jesus does not want people to be lonely and sad.'" I couldn't agree more. I can easily picture the Lord walking into gay bars with a warm smile on His face and open arms, ready to look straight past the shame that holds so many same sex attracted people in its grip, and offer them the embrace of grace instead. But He wouldn't be officiating at any gay weddings. He would lovingly exhort them, one by one, as He did the woman caught in adultery: "Go and sin no more." It's true He doesn't want people to be lonely and sad. His intention is for the community of His body to provide the sense of legitimate belonging and significance that people are seeking in gay marriage. As is often the case, the joy He offers is so much more than our too-little dreams and hopes. But it's freely available.

I am grateful for the insights of two excellent commentaries on this issue:

Dan Lacich's blog, Provocative Christian Living, http://provocativechristian.wordpress.com/2008/12/12/newsweek-magazine-and-the-case-for-gay-marriage/,
Dr. Robert Gagnon's article "More than 'Mutual Joy': Lisa Miller of Newsweek against Scripture and Jesus," http://www.robgagnon.net/NewsweekMillerHomosexResp.htm

This commentary was originally published on Tapestry, the Bible.org Women's blog, and is used by permission.

About the Author

Sue Bohlin is an associate speaker with Probe Ministries. She attended the University of Illinois, and has been a Bible teacher and conference speaker for over 30 years. She serves as a Mentor Mom and speaker for MOPS (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers), and on the board and as a small group leader of Living Hope Ministries, a Christ-centered outreach to those dealing with unwanted homosexuality. Sue is on the Bible.org Women leadership team and is a regular contributor to TheTapestryBlog.com. She is also a professional calligrapher and the webmistress for Probe Ministries; but most importantly, she is the wife of Dr. Ray Bohlin and the mother of their two grown sons.

What is Probe?

Probe Ministries is a non-profit ministry whose mission is to assist the church in renewing the minds of believers with a Christian worldview and to equip the church to engage the world for Christ. Probe fulfills this mission through our Mind Games conferences for youth and adults, our 3-minute daily radio program, and our extensive Web site at www.probe.org.

Further information about Probe's materials and ministry may be obtained by contacting us at:

Probe Ministries
1900 Firman Drive, Suite 100
Richardson, TX 75081
(972) 480-0240 FAX (972) 644-9664


Copyright information

The History of Christmas Part I

By Chuck Missler
from the December 16, 2008 eNews issue
http://www.khouse.org (visit our website for a FREE subscription)


Christ.mas n.
-A Christian feast commemorating the birth of Jesus.
-An annual church festival (December 25) and in some States a legal holiday, in memory of the birth of Christ, often celebrated by a particular church service, and also by special gifts, greetings, and hospitality. [www.Dictionary.com]

The celebration of Christmas has caused some controversy in recent years, for a variety of reasons. Many have been concerned that Christ is too often left out of Christmas; replaced by trimmings and presents and fudge. Others have battled over whether we should allow manger scenes on public property or allow the school choir to sing Christmas carols that actually contain a message about Jesus Christ. On the other hand, a growing number of Christians have been arguing that we should not celebrate Christmas at all because there is no command to do so in the Bible and because the celebration has pagan roots.

What stand should we take? How should we approach Christmas in the light of history and in the light of the Bible? This week we'll look at the history of the winter solstice and other pagan celebrations, and continue next week with the Jewish and Christian roots of this beloved holiday.

The Pagan History:
Many pagan religions through the millennia have worshipped the sun as the source of light and warmth and life. As darkness deepened in the winter and the shortest day of the year approached, many pagans of yesteryear feared that the light might die altogether. Once the winter solstice hit, however, and the hours of sunlight began to increase once again, there would be great celebrations over the return of the sun and the accompanying hope for a future spring. In the northern hemisphere, these celebrations would occur toward the end of December.

Tammuz, the son of Nimrod and his queen, Semiramis, was identified with the Babylonian Sun God and worshipped following the sinter solstice, on about December 22-23. Tammuz was thought to have died during the winter solstice, and was memorialized by burning a log in the fireplace. (The Chaldean word for "infant" is yule. This is the origin of the yule log.) His rebirth was celebrated by replacing the log with a trimmed tree the next morning.

The Roman god Saturn's celebration fell on December 17 and lasted for seven days. Romans would gaily decorate their homes in evergreen boughs and candles, and would give gifts to one another. It was a time of visiting with family and friends, and of often-rowdy merry-making.

December 25 was also considered to be the birth date of the Iranian mystery god Mithra, the god of light and contracts. A once-minor god of the Persian pantheon, Roman soldiers adopted Mithra as the manly man's hero, a divinity of fidelity, manliness, and bravery. Women were excluded from the caves where men worshipped Mithra through secret rituals.

While quite different in person and mission, there are a few similarities between the legends of Mithra and the story of Christ. Mithra was said to have been born in a cave, with shepherds attending, (although there were no men on earth at the time (?)). Other legends have him being born from a rock by a river under a tree. According to Persian mythology, Mithra was born of a virgin given the title 'Mother of God'. Mithra was a moral god, upholding the sanctity of the contract even when the contract was made with one who was sure to break it. Initiates into Mithraism would be 'baptized' with the trickle of the sacrificial bull's blood that would flow into a pit. This blood was said to cleanse the initiates from any impurities.

Tertullian (AD 160-220), the early Church writer, noticed that the pagan religion utilized baptism as well as bread and wine consecrated by priests. He considered Mithraism to have been inspired by the devil, who wanted to mock Christians and lead others to hell.

Mithra came to be identified with the sun-god Helios and became known as 'The Great God Helios-Mithras.' Several Roman emperors formally announced their alliance with the sun, including Commodus who was initiated in public. Emperor Aurelian (AD 270 to 275) blended a number of pagan solstice celebrations of such god-men/saviors as Apollo, Attis, Baal, Dionysus, Helios, Hercules, Horus, Mithra, Osiris, Perseus, and Theseus into a single festival called the 'Birthday of the Unconquered Sun,' celebrated on December 25th.

Continued next week, the Hebrew and Christian roots of Christmas...

Related Links:

The Origins of Our Christmas Traditions - Koinonia House

The History of Christmas Part II

By Chuck Missler
from the December 23, 2008 eNews issue
http://www.khouse.org (visit our website for a FREE subscription)


Last week we looked at the pagan holidays that were celebrated at the end of December. Because of these pagan roots, many Christians believe we should avoid Christmas as ultimately a pagan holiday. Yet, does the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ itself have anything to do with pagans? Or is it truly a Christian holiday that is simply celebrated at the wrong time of year?

The Hebrew Roots:
Jesus birth was foretold centuries prior in the Hebrew Scriptures. In the fullness of time, God sent His Son to redeem mankind. He sent Jesus as a little baby to become God With Us.

But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting . -Micah 5:2

And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth . -Isaiah 49:6

Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel . -Isaiah 7:14

...When at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations. The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined. For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this . -Isaiah 9:1-2,6-7

The Christian Roots:

And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. - Luke 1:30-35

About 1950 years ago, the well-educated and faithful physician Luke wrote to one Theophilus, detailing the life of Jesus Christ. Luke explained that he had done research on the subject so that Theophilus could know with certainty that the things he had been told about Jesus were true (Luke 1:4). Luke must have spoken with Mary herself, for he tells of things that only she would know.

'But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart,' - Luke 2:19.

Luke tells Theophilus of the birth of Jesus; how he was born in Bethlehem during a time when the entire Roman world was being taxed. Shepherds out in the field were surprised by a host of angels that filled the sky, singing, 'Glory to God in the highest!' and as they were told, went down to find the baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. Those shepherds then told everybody they could find about the incredible things they had seen.

The child grew up and went on to have a short, three-year ministry that ended in his death on a Roman Cross. Yet, the man that was born in Bethlehem rose again from the dead, as witnessed by over 500 men (1 Cor 15:6). And he is still changing the hearts and lives of people living today.

The early Christians are not known to have celebrated Christ's birth, and the actual date of his nativity has been lost in history. The first recorded mention of the December 25 date is in the Calendar of Philocalus (AD 354), which assumed Jesus' birth date to be Friday, December 25, in AD 1. Pope Julius I officially proclaimed December 25 to be the anniversary of Christ's birth in AD 440. Giving December 25th Christian significance has been understood to have been an effort to help the pagan world embrace Christianity and trade in their worship of pagan gods for the One True God. Originally called the Feast of the Nativity, the custom spread to Egypt by AD 432 and to England by the end of the 6th century. By the end of the 8th century, the celebration of Christmas had spread all the way to the Scandinavian countries.

Christmas is celebrated on January 6 in the Orthodox Church, on what is also called Epiphany or Three Kings Day, the day that celebrates the arrival of the wise men who gave the Christ child their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Christmas did largely win out over the pagan holidays, but was still celebrated with rowdy festivities and practical jokes - more like Mardi Gras than anything resembling the character of Christ. Puritans in England outlawed Christmas for years, and the holiday was not popular in early America. In fact, Christmas wasn't declared a federal holiday in the United States until June 26, 1870.

The holiday then underwent a conversion. Christmas was 'reinvented' into the more moderate holiday we know today. Washington Irving and Charles Dickens both wrote tales that presented Christmas as a holiday of caring for the poor and bringing families together. As the angels sang above the shepherds that first night, Christmas was about 'peace on earth, good will toward men.'

The Season is still a mixture of traditions pulled from a multitude of sources. While many of them have little to do with Jesus, most are morally neutral activities. However, even while Santa Claus ho ho ho's down Main St. on a fire truck, and Hershey makes a killing on aluminum-wrapped chocolate bells, the reality of Christ's birth does break through. Nativity scenes in downtown squares and in front of churches bring to mind the great gift of God - the King of kings lying in a manger, attended by shepherds. Christmas carols that cry 'The Lord is come' and 'Come let us adore him' are sung from door to door, reminding us all of what God has done.

It is a time of year when people can speak more freely of Jesus the Savior, and when even the faithless are willing to go to a Christmas Eve church service. It is truly a precious slot of time God has given us during which to spread the Good News of His Son. Glory to God in the highest!

May your celebration of the birth of Christ honor Him who gave Himself to us as the ultimate sacrifice of love. May everything we do reflect the love and compassion of our Savior, and bring glory to His name.

Related Links:

The Origins of Our Christmas Traditions - Koinonia House

domingo, dezembro 07, 2008

Atheists take aim at Christmas


It's beginning to look a lot like -- a war over Christmas.

Alongside a Nativity scene at the Legislative Building in Olympia, Washington, a sign put up by an atheist organization celebrates the winter solstice. But it's the rest of the sign that has some residents and Christian organizations calling atheists Scrooges for attacking the celebration of Jesus Christ's birth.

"Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds," the sign says in part.

Dan Barker, a former evangelical preacher who now heads up the atheist and agnostic Freedom From Religion Foundation, said it was important for atheists to see their viewpoints validated alongside everyone else's.

Read the complete story (Some news sites require registration)

Originally published at the The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life website.

quarta-feira, dezembro 03, 2008

Choosing Abortion

By Rusty Wright


When I met her at a media convention, she seemed so vibrant and alive, full of zest and eager to interact, an attractive woman with a bright smile and sparkling eyes. I would not have guessed the emotional anguish and physical torment that lay in her past. Gut wrenching stuff.

As Luana Stoltenberg told me her story, I learned she’s been haunted by some choices she made earlier in life. Like many women, she had found herself with an unwanted pregnancy and confronting difficult decisions.

It’s a dilemma millions of women around the globe face each year. If you’re in this situation, how will you support a baby? Will the father be responsible and help? What will your parents say? How might a child affect your career? Your social life? Your marriage plans? Ending the pregnancy might eliminate these complexities, or make them more manageable.

Three Choices

Luana faced that decision three times, the first at age seventeen. Each time she made the same choice, to terminate her pregnancy. She says she remembers the experiences vividly.

I lay on the cold table with no anesthetic for the pain,” she recalls, “staring at the ceiling, wishing I were someplace else. It seemed to last forever, and the pain was unbearable. No amount of anesthetic could dull the pain in my heart and mind.”

The types of abortions I had were the vacuum aspirator method. I could hear—by the increased labor of the suction machine—when a part or limb of my baby was being extracted. Each time I tried to look at the jar with my [baby’s] remains they would push me back down. To this day I still hear that haunting suction sound.”

When it was finished I was sent to a waiting room with the other girls. I was given a cup of juice and told I could leave in 20 minutes if I felt alright. I told them I felt fine, when in fact I had never felt worse. I just wanted out of there. On the drive home I was in extreme pain and bleeding profusely. I called them for help, but was told it wasn’t their problem, to call my doctor.”

My life was a mess”

Luana says that later, the reality that she would never see or hold those three children weighed heavily. Anger and depression set in. Alcohol abuse and drugs led to three suicide attempts. “My life was a mess,” she admits, “and it was because of the choices I had made.”

After some years, she made a different choice that turned her life around: She discovered a forgiving God and placed her faith in Him. She married and sought to start a family, but learned the abortions had rendered her infertile. “The suction from the vacuum aspirator destroyed my tubes and ovaries.” She says the suction damage led her to have a hysterectomy.

Her belief system and its certainty of forgiveness have helped her through her nightmare. She points to a statement by an early follower of Jesus that encapsulates her life: “Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”

Today Luana has dedicated herself to helping people understand the implications of decisions like those she faced. She has a passion for offering hope to those for whom life seems hopeless.

Abortion, of course, is extremely controversial. Amid the heated political, legal, medical, social, and philosophical debates, real human experience can lend valuable perspective. How do you react to her story?

Rusty Wright is an author and lecturer who has spoken on six continents. He holds Bachelor of Science (psychology) and Master of Theology degrees from Duke and Oxford universities, respectively.

Copyright © Rusty Wright 2008

domingo, novembro 30, 2008

Students Lie, Cheat, Steal, but Say They're Good

Nationwide survey finds high levels of cheating, stealing by high school students


The Associated Press


In the past year, 30 percent of U.S. high school students have stolen from a store and 64 percent have cheated on a test, according to a new, large-scale survey suggesting that Americans are too apathetic about ethical standards.

Educators reacting to the findings questioned any suggestion that today's young people are less honest than previous generations, but several agreed that intensified pressures are prompting many students to cut corners.

"The competition is greater, the pressures on kids have increased dramatically," said Mel Riddle of the National Association of Secondary School Principals. "They have opportunities their predecessors didn't have (to cheat). The temptation is greater."

The Josephson Institute, a Los Angeles-based ethics institute, surveyed 29,760 students at 100 randomly selected high schools nationwide, both public and private. All students in the selected schools were given the survey in class; their anonymity was assured.

Michael Josephson, the institute's founder and president, said he was most dismayed by the findings about theft. The survey found that 35 percent of boys and 26 percent of girls — 30 percent overall — acknowledged stealing from a store within the past year. One-fifth said they stole something from a friend; 23 percent said they stole something from a parent or other relative.

"What is the social cost of that — not to mention the implication for the next generation of mortgage brokers?" Josephson remarked in an interview. "In a society drenched with cynicism, young people can look at it and say 'Why shouldn't we? Everyone else does it.'"

Other findings from the survey:

—Cheating in school is rampant and getting worse. Sixty-four percent of students cheated on a test in the past year and 38 percent did so two or more times, up from 60 percent and 35 percent in a 2006 survey.

—Thirty-six percent said they used the Internet to plagiarize an assignment, up from 33 percent in 2004.

—Forty-two percent said they sometimes lie to save money — 49 percent of the boys and 36 percent of the girls.

Despite such responses, 93 percent of the students said they were satisfied with their personal ethics and character, and 77 percent affirmed that "when it comes to doing what is right, I am better than most people I know."

Nijmie Dzurinko, executive director of the Philadelphia Student Union, said the findings were not at all reflective of the inner-city students she works with as an advocate for better curriculum and school funding.

"A lot of people like to blame society's problems on young people, without recognizing that young people aren't making the decisions about what's happening in society," said Dzurinko, 32. "They're very easy to scapegoat."

Peter Anderson, principal of Andover High School in Andover, Mass., said he and his colleagues had detected very little cheating on tests or Internet-based plagiarism. He has, however, noticed an uptick in students sharing homework in unauthorized ways.

"This generation is leading incredibly busy lives — involved in athletics, clubs, so many with part-time jobs, and — for seniors — an incredibly demanding and anxiety-producing college search," he offered as an explanation.

Riddle, who for four decades was a high school teacher and principal in northern Virginia, agreed that more pressure could lead to more cheating, yet spoke in defense of today's students.

"I would take these students over other generations," he said. "I found them to be more responsive, more rewarding to work with, more appreciative of support that adults give them.

"We have to create situations where it's easy for kids to do the right things," he added. "We need to create classrooms where learning takes on more importance than having the right answer."

On Long Island, an alliance of school superintendents and college presidents recently embarked on a campaign to draw attention to academic integrity problems and to crack down on plagiarism and cheating.

Roberta Gerold, superintendent of the Middle Country School District and a leader of the campaign, said parents and school officials need to be more diligent — for example, emphasizing to students the distinctions between original and borrowed work.

"You can reinforce the character trait of integrity," she said. "We overload kids these days, and they look for ways to survive. ... It's a flaw in our system that whatever we are doing as educators allows this to continue."

Josephson contended that most Americans are too blase about ethical shortcomings among young people and in society at large.

"Adults are not taking this very seriously," he said. "The schools are not doing even the most moderate thing. ... They don't want to know. There's a pervasive apathy."

Josephson also addressed the argument that today's youth are no less honest than their predecessors.

"In the end, the question is not whether things are worse, but whether they are bad enough to mobilize concern and concerted action," he said.

"What we need to learn from these survey results is that our moral infrastructure is unsound and in serious need of repair. This is not a time to lament and whine but to take thoughtful, positive actions."


On the Net:

Institute: http://josephsoninstitute.org/

quarta-feira, novembro 26, 2008


Chuck Missler
from the k-House eNews Of November 25, 2008


The days of complaining about the socialization of homeschooled students should be over. Not only can home schooled students get involved in a wide variety of activities, from cheerleading to ice hockey, but there is even a National Homeschool Tournament for homeschool soccer teams. A national tournament! Earlier this month the Greenville Upstate Homeschool Co-op Hurricanes came in second behind Summit Soccer Academy of Detroit.

Homeschooling has made a lot of headway over the past few decades.

Not long ago in America , the general public looked on homeschooling with distrust. These days, parents' rights to teach their own children have become so widely respected that a multitude of counties across the United States (not all, but many) offer flexible support to homeschool families. Students might attend chemistry or physics classes at the high school and do the rest of their coursework at home. Only a handful of states have high regulation requirements for homsechoolers, and coops have cropped up in areas where homeschooling is popular.

The same cannot be said of Germany. While the Berlin Wall came down 19 years ago this month, some old ideas about the state-management of children yet linger. German families who choose to homeschool do so at their own risk. Rosemary and Juergen Dudek were sentenced to 90 days in prison this July because they homeschooled their children. Other families have faced huge fines or have had their children taken from them.

The Gorbers:
German parents Johannes and Cornelia Gorber finally won back full custody of their children earlier this month after welfare workers showed up in vans and took the children away to orphanages in January. It was a traumatic 10 months for the family as they fought to be together again.

According to the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), Mrs. Gorber appealed to the judge, saying:

"Look at the children. If the so-called isolation and relationships 'only in the family' is so bad, can you please explain to me, how, after 10 years of homeschooling, they have turned out so well? They are academically on par at their schools. Their teachers are all satisfied with them, and some are even pleased with their work, wishing they had more students like them. Our children have no problems with drugs, alcohol, cigarettes or other addictions which we see with so many children these days. So what do you want to control our kids for?"

The judge required that the children all remain in public schools from now on and said the Gorber's 3-year-old needed to be enrolled in a playgroup, but did not require caseworkers to remain involved. The parents are just glad to have their children back.

The Romeikes
Another German family recently decided to leave their home in Bissingen, Germany and flee to the United States in order to protect their children from German authorities. The HSLDA has filed for political asylum for Uwe and Hannelore Romeike and their six children, who are now residing in Tennessee.

"We love living in Tennessee. It is so beautiful, and the freedom we have to homeschool our children is wonderful," said Mrs. Romeike "We don't have to worry about looking over our shoulder anymore, wondering when the youth welfare officials will come or how much money we have to pay in fines."

The Romeikes still have to wait to see if their application for asylum is approved. The Justice Dept. reports that only four of 20 applications from Germany were granted last year.

God never gave human governments the responsibility of the raising children. That job remains squarely on the shoulders of parents. Parents need to hold tight to their rights and not give them up just because somebody out there thinks the village can do a better job. A government that penalizes parents for teaching their own kids is a government that denies its citizens basic human rights.

Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate. - Psalm 127:3-5

Related Links:
Judge Returns Custody of Children, But Orders Them into Public School - HSLDA
HSLDA Files Asylum Application for German Homeschool Family - HSLDA
Homeschooling State Laws - HSLDA
Homeschool Hurricanes Finish 2nd in Nationals - The Greenville News
The Myth of Socialization - Koinonia House