According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Rob Bell - Abide in God's Annointing (1 John 2.26-27)


HELICOPTERS, ALICIA KEYES, AND A WOMAN IN AN ART MUSEUM http://marshill.org/teaching/2011/06/26/1-john-2v26-27-helicopters-alicia-keyes-and-a-woman-in-an-art-museum/

  (click here to hear sermon) 


Helicopter lands on Michigan Street in downtown Grand Rapids
for EMS Expo at DeVos Place (an aerial mobile hospital)

The University of Michigan Medical Center Survival Flight helicopter comes in for a landing on Michigan Street NW in front of the downtown post office Thursday afternoon. The helicopter came to town for the Michigan EMS Expo which is at DeVos Place April 16-19.







Duane Hanson's "Woman with a Purse"


America's Got Talent: Anna Graceman
If I Ain't Got You (Atlanta Audition)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yQJLM6xyO_M
Air Date: June 21, 2011


America's Got Talent: Anna Graceman
Wonderful World (Vegas Audition) (hd)



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2oGsW67zJz4&feature=related
Air Date: August 1, 2011





Christ Our Advocate
1My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. 3And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. 4Whoever says "I know him" but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, 5but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: 6whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
The New Commandment
7Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. 8At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because[a] the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. 9Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. 10Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him[b] there is no cause for stumbling. 11But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

 12I am writing to you, little children,
because your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake.
13I am writing to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning.
I am writing to you, young men,
because you have overcome the evil one.
I write to you, children,
because you know the Father.
14I write to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men,
because you are strong,
and the word of God abides in you,
and you have overcome the evil one.
Do Not Love the World
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16For all that is in the world— the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
Warning Concerning Antichrists
18Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. 20But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge.[c] 21I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth. 22Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also. 24Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. 25And this is the promise that he made to us[d] eternal life.

26I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you. 27But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him.
Children of God
28And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming. 29If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.

Footnotes:
  1. 1 John 2:8 Or that
  2. 1 John 2:10 Or it
  3. 1 John 2:20 Some manuscripts you know everything
  4. 1 John 2:25 Some manuscripts you

More than 500 Free from Slavery in IJM’s Largest Operation Ever


Friday, May 13, 2011

CHENNAI – Today, 514 children, women and men are living in freedom after being rescued from a brick kiln in IJM’s largest anti-slavery operation ever. Sparked by a brother’s desperate plea, the operation brought freedom to nearly 400 forced to work in the kiln – including 23 children, the youngest only 8 years old – and their dependents, either too old and frail or too young and weak to work, but still held captive within the factory’s walls.

A call for help, three states away





Laborers were still at work making bricks when IJM and the local government entered the facility.
The whispered words of a forbidden phone call set in motion the force that would eventually topple the kiln’s brutal slave system. Boola, 27, managed to contact his brother, who listened with increasing horror as Boola described 18-hour forced workdays without enough food or rest, refusals to provide promised payment – and vicious beatings by the owner and his henchmen.

Determined to save Boola, his brother made a report to the government, stating that he believed there could be many more trapped along with him in the massive brick factory. The government referred the case to IJM for support. Together, they prepared for a major operation – but no one imagined the magnitude of the crimes they would find.

'Who wants to come out?'

Asked “who wants to leave?” the laborers raise their hands.
On the afternoon of Wednesday, April 27, 2011, a team of government officials and IJM staff, accompanied by police, entered the brick kiln, intent on liberating any laborers held there by force.

With a local government representative, Kandasamy, leading the way, the rescue team began to gather the surprised laborers from the brick ovens and huts into an open area. As the rescue team explained the reason they had come, excitement built among the laborers, who quickly began to call their loved ones to join the growing crowd.

It soon became apparent that the initial estimate of 200 people fell far short: A sea of people clad in tattered, but colorful, mud-flecked clothing stretched nearly 30 yards from where the team’s rallying point had been established. The sight was overwhelming.

IJM Chennai Director of Aftercare Pranitha Timothy turned to the throng and shouted in Hindi, "Who wants to come out?" Immediately, hundreds of hands shot up into the air.

Accommodating the 500

More than 500 children, women and men were brought out of the brick kiln to freedom.
The IJM team and Kandasamy and his staff began making preparations for the massive group desperate to leave. In a matter of hours, Kandasamy – an incredible advocate for the victims – had secured dinner, lodging and breakfast for all 514 people, a group comparable in size to that of a very large wedding.

He arranged for four trucks to transport the freed laborers to a nearby school, where they would stay for the next several days. When those trucks proved not enough, he used one that belonged to the brick kiln owner; already arrested, he was in no position to refuse. A medical camp was set up to administer check-ups and medication; a water tanker was brought in to provide clean drinking water; police provided 24-hour protection; and classrooms were cleared to accommodate the new arrivals.


Through the night until early the next morning, the freed laborers poured out their stories to local officials in order to be documented as released slaves. Through their recounting of cruel beatings, restricted movement and brutal labor, a common sentiment emerged: "Even if they pay us 10,000 rupees, we would not come back."

A certificate of freedom and a ticket home

As the operation stretched from one day to five, Kandasamy came up with more and more ways to benefit his 514 guests: by day two, a pair of television sets had been brought in to broadcast cricket and Oriya-language programs. At the same time, IJM staff supported the victims and assisted with the government with preparation of the 371 official Release Certificates, which would be presented to each of the adults and children who had been working in bonded labor at the kiln, along with the initial installment of the government rehabilitation funds owed to them. While it often takes months for released laborers to see any of these funds, the money for these laborers had been withdrawn before they had even left the kiln.

By the operation’s third day, a high-ranking government official arrived to hold a special ceremony to celebrate the laborers’ freedom. He assured the laborers that the government would provide not only the required rehabilitation funds, but train transport and accompaniment home. The crowd erupted in cheers and applause; for the first time since they were enslaved, home was truly in sight.

"This is the most impressive display we have seen to date of the government being proactive in combating bonded labor and being sensitive to the needs of the victims," remarked Saju Mathew, IJM South Asia Regional Director. "It is a huge encouragement to work with talented, dedicated officials like these, who clearly demonstrate the potential of the government to lead the charge against bonded labor in India." For the next two days, Kandasamy stood on the platform of the local train station to send off the free children women and men in groups, watching as they boarded train cars that he had ordered to be attached on their behalf. IJM aftercare staff are making plans to ensure the families have the training they need to establish new lives in freedom. They have now returned home – more than 1000 miles from the place where they were enslaved – where they can live in safety.

IJM Rescue Operation featured in the New York Times


Thursday, 26 May 2011

Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Nicholas Kristof accompanied IJM and local authorities on a rescue operation at a Kolkata brothel. After entering the site to locate one girl, Nicholas, law enforcement and the IJM team "emerged from the brothel with five lives that had just been transformed."


What happens next? Answers to readers’ most common questions:
 
Kolkata red-light district
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prostitution_in_Kolkata
What happens to the girls and women now?
 
After girls and trafficked women are rescued, IJM’s in-country social workers partner with local aftercare organizations on the ground to secure shelter, medical care, psychological assistance, and schooling or job training. IJM social workers will continue to provide support to help ensure that these survivors do not become vulnerable to being re-trafficked.

What happens to the perpetrators?

In this case, one pimp has been arrested, and warrants have been issued for two more. Holding perpetrators accountable is absolutely critical to both protect their victims and to create a deterrent will stop others from committing the same crimes. In IJM’s work around the world, we have seen that even a small number of significant arrests and convictions can have a major effect on the behavior of would-be perpetrators.

Currently, there are approximately 100 suspects facing charges for trafficking crimes in Kolkata as a result of IJM-supported operations. In 2009, 9 traffickers and pimps were convicted for their crimes in Kolkata in IJM-supported cases.

Can rescuing individual victims really make a difference?

While the rescue of each survivor obviously makes a difference for her, IJM’s mission is to transform entire communities so that vulnerable people are protected from abuse through their justice systems. We pursue this transformation by using what we learn in each individual operation to partner with local governments, communities, NGOs and other major stakeholders to pursue training, capacity building and other critical changes. We are seeing incredible proof that this strategy is actually working – including a stunning 79% decrease in the number of minors available for commercial sexual exploitation in metro Cebu, the Philippines after four years of IJM work there. Learn more.

What's the role of the local authorities in this kind of operation?

Local governments – including law enforcement – have the only legitimate authority to conduct such an operation. Engagement with law enforcement is the best and only sustainable way to protect victims and apprehend perpetrators of sex trafficking. It is a strategy supported by virtually every credible anti-trafficking organization – including UN agencies, NGOs and responsible governments.

Who actually conducts these operations? Locals? Foreigners?

IJM staff are locals – more than 90% of IJM staff worldwide are nationals of the countries in which they work, including the Kolkata-based staff who conducted this operation. IJM is building the world’s largest indigenous force of justice professionals – sensitive to the needs of their own communities.

Is there a way I can hear about other rescue operations?

Last year alone, more than 800 people were freed from sex trafficking and forced labor slavery in IJM operations. Don’t miss out on breaking news: You can get the latest updates on IJM rescues, convictions and arrests with our free mobile app, available on all smartphones and optimized for Android, iPhone and Windows Phone, or by following us on Twitter @IJMHQ.

Is there a way I can help make more rescues happen -- and support aftercare for girls like these?

Absolutely – your financial support is vital in making the work of rescue and aftercare possible.






Loving the Foreigner and Alien in Your Land

Lest we as Christians think, as some do and behave, that God's love is only for our friends and fellow church members, our cliches and special few relatives, let us be reminded again that God's love is to be given through us to all men - to those outside one's church fellowship, to the homeless, the foreigner and alien working and living in our lands, to the stranger and the unlovely, to those who give us pain and harm, to any and all men and women and children that we meet.

To remember, that we were once "foreigners and aliens" to the very God who loved us and made us his sons and daughters, adopting us into his blood-bought family as his own. It is love that removes barriers between men and women, nations and countries, gangs and ghettos, colours, ethnicities, cutlures, and nationalities. We are bearers of a "New Country" without borders, without armed guards, without barbed walls, without bigotry and racial hate.

We are to be mindful to help and give and share in our lives even in the little things, the things we may overlook, that may be a blessing to someone else - our speech, our tone of voice, how we would look to someone in respect or disrespect, our mannerisms and airs. What we own or throw out, what we spend or should withhold in spending, where we go or would avoid going, and how we use our time or how we should better use our time.

Let the Christian not live vain, meager, mean and selfish lives... let us learn to live in a richness and fullness that bears the very love God has given to us - without measure, abundant, beyond gold and silver, selfless, serving, sacrificial.

- skinhead
***********

Biblical injunctions regarding aliens in our midst


by Roger Olson
June 23, 2011

Thanks to my colleague and dean David Garland for compiling the following list of biblical injunctions regarding


I. How God’s People are to Treat Aliens and Strangers Among Them

Exodus 22:21 (NRSV)
21. You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.

Exodus 23:9 (NRSV)
9. You shall not oppress a resident alien; you know the heart of an alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.

Leviticus 19:33 (NRSV)
33. When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien.

Leviticus 23:22 (NRSV)
22. When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest; you shall leave them for the poor and for the alien: I am the Lord your God.

Leviticus 24:22 (NRSV)
22. You shall have one law for the alien and for the citizen: for I am the Lord your God.

Numbers 15:16 (NRSV)
16. You and the alien who resides with you shall have the same law and the same ordinance.

Deuteronomy 1:16 (NRSV)
16. I charged your judges at that time: “Give the members of your community a fair hearing, and judge rightly between one person and another, whether citizen or resident alien.

Deuteronomy 24:20-21 (NRSV)
20. When you beat your olive trees, do not strip what is left; it shall be for the alien, the orphan, and the widow.
21. When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, do not glean what is left; it shall be for the alien, the orphan, and the widow.

Deuteronomy 27:19 (NRSV)
19. “Cursed be anyone who deprives the alien, the orphan, and the widow of justice.” All the people shall say, “Amen!”

Jeremiah 7:4-12 (NRSV)
4. Do not trust in these deceptive words: “This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord.”
5. For if you truly amend your ways and your doings, if you truly act justly one with another,
6. if you do not oppress the alien, the orphan, and the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own hurt,
7. then I will dwell with you in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your ancestors forever and ever.

Zechariah 7:10 (NRSV)
10. do not oppress the widow, the orphan, the alien, or the poor; and do not devise evil in your hearts against one another.

Malachi 3:5 (NRSV)
5. Then I will draw near to you for judgment; I will be swift to bear witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired workers in their wages, the widow and the orphan, against those who thrust aside the alien, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts.

II. We are all Aliens and Foreigns

Psalm 39:12 (NRSV)
12. “Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear to my cry; do not hold your peace at my tears. For I am your passing guest, an alien, like all my forebears.

Ephesians 2:12 (NRSV)
12. remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.

Ephesians 2:19 (NRSV)
19. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God,

1 Peter 1:1-2 (NRSV)
1. Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To the exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2. who have been chosen and destined by God the Father and sanctified by the Spirit to be obedient to Jesus Christ and to be sprinkled with his blood: May grace and peace be yours in abundance.

1 Peter 2:11-12
11. Beloved, I urge you as aliens and exiles to abstain from the desires of the flesh that wage war against the soul. 12. Conduct yourselves honorably among the Gentiles, so that, though they malign you as evildoers, they may see your honorable deeds and glorify God when he comes to judge.


III. Show Hospitality to Strangers (a command, not advice)

Romans 12:13 (NRSV)
13. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.

Hebrews 13:2 (NRSV)
2. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.

1 Peter 3:9 (NRSV)
9. Be hospitable to one another without complaining.