A Polar bear walks into a bar and says to the bartender, "I'll have a gin......... .-. .-. .-. .-. .-. .-. .-. .-. .-. .-. .-. .-. and tonic". The Bartender says, "What's with the big pause?" Bear says, "I dunno...I've always had them !
I ask you to please, join me in parayer. One of my daughters does not have a job and is looking for one. May the Lord help her. I also would like to ask you to pray for my country. This is election year, the country needs a good president but the candidate that seems to be more popular has communist ideas. We are in a bad economic condition, the terrible immigration problem is a reflection of it, so we need somebody with other kind of ideals. Please, help me praying for my country. The article you sent us about the tough immigration laws is amazing I know but, it was written in a time when those laws were necessary but, they should have been modified, however, nothing has been done about it. But many things have not been done either. Many mexicans live in an extreme poverty, and the government does not do anything or maybe not enough. I feel bad for asking you to help me pray for all these but we need God's mercy.
Easter behind Bars The Transforming Power of Christ
April 20, 2006
Note: This commentary was delivered by Prison Fellowship President Mark Earley.
This Easter, Chuck Colson and I, along with several dozen volunteers, spent Sunday in the Ohio Reformatory for Women just outside of Columbus, Ohio. It was a remarkable day; so remarkable, that Chuck and I felt we had to share what we witnessed. And what we witnessed was simply this: the transforming power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
When we arrived at the prison, Warden Pat Andrews met us at the gate. She was incredibly helpful, and her attitude throughout showed us that she truly cared for the women in her charge. As she led us through the dining hall, Chuck and I were able to talk with literally scores of inmates, sharing with them the Good News of Jesus' resurrection, inviting them to the service that would be held in the gymnasium. Most of them reacted politely, but few seemed excited. But that was about to change.
By the time we got to the gym, some five hundred prisoners had packed the place; Warden Andrews opened up a nearby chapel to handle the overflow crowd.
My message to them was simple: We were there because we loved them. Chuck and I were not there because they were so very bad. No, we were there because we believe that God is raising up a new generation of leaders for His Church—right there behind prison bars. I told them how Moses was a murderer, a fugitive from justice before God turned him into one of the greatest prophets of all time. I shared with them how Paul was a self-admitted man of violence, a co-conspirator to murder, before Jesus made him the great apostle that he was.
These women prisoners got it, and their reaction was powerful. They realized that the God of Moses and Paul was their God, too; that He makes great servants out of great sinners; and that when they leave prison, God holds out to them the promise of a life worth living, to be used mightily for His kingdom.
You've heard the expression, "God showed up today." Well, He certainly did on Easter Sunday in that women's prison in Ohio.
The Spirit came suddenly upon the place and the women. As Chuck and I spoke, inmates were weeping, moaning. Tissues were being passed through the crowd—imagine that in a church today! I invited the women to turn around and kneel by their chairs if they wanted to receive Christ. One of our colleagues said it was an amazing sight, with at least seventy to eighty women kneeling to give themselves to the Lord.
Chuck says that this Easter's joyous celebration was revival—the kind of outpouring he hadn't seen since his visit to an Atlanta penitentiary in 1976, the year Prison Fellowship got started. There, the Holy Spirit broke down the most hardened convicts Chuck had ever encountered. And that experience was so intense that, perhaps for the first time, Chuck fully realized that God had sent him into the prisons to reach the forgotten in our society.
And now, thirty years into the ministry of Prison Fellowship, God is still showing us the signs of His amazing sovereignty, raising up the least of these, transforming them into Pauls and Moseses and Esthers, into leaders of the Church and society.
You know, that, in a nutshell, is what Prison Fellowship is all about. No, that's what God is all about. What a powerful Resurrection Sunday. He is risen. He is risen, indeed!
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Europe's Chastisement? -- How the Abandonment of Christianity May Be Leading to Disaster By Ed Vitagliano AgapePress April 13, 2006
(AgapePress) -- Anyone know where we can find some Etruscans? You know, members of the Etruscan civilization that existed in ancient Italy, predating even Rome?
Well, there aren't any. The Etruscans were absorbed by the Roman civilization and ceased to exist as a distinct people.
Ominously, if a growing number of experts and cultural observers are right, it's entirely possible that the same question may be asked 100 years from now -- only about Italians or Spaniards or Russians.
As writer Mark Steyn glumly put it in The New Criterion, "Much of what we loosely call the Western world will not survive this century, and much of it will effectively disappear within our lifetimes, including many if not most Western European countries."
A Birth Dearth
What could possibly cause such a cataclysm? Another world war? A nuclear confrontation? The devastation of a plague, similar to that caused by the Black Death in the 14th century? Nothing quite so dramatic, say the experts. Rather, Europe is slowly dying simply by refusing to have enough children to replace the people who die each year.
Catholic scholar George Weigel, a senior fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center and author of The Cube and The Cathedral, says Europe is "committing demographic suicide, systematically depopulating itself."
For any population to remain stable, it must maintain a birthrate of 2.1 births per woman. That rate provides a replacement for both mother and father, while the .1 covers infant and child mortality. When the birthrate falls below that number, a population goes into decline -- unless it invites in large numbers of immigrants.
"The 'birth dearth' is what demographers call plummeting birth rates in most of the industrialized world," says culture critic Chuck Colson. "Throughout Western Europe and East Asia, the birth rate is well below 2.1 births per woman ..."
Sociologist Ben Wattenberg, author of Fewer: How the New Demography of Depopulation Will Shape Our Future, puts this birth dearth in historical perspective. "Never in the last 650 years, since the time of the Black Plague, have birth and fertility rates fallen so far, so fast, so low, for so long, in so many places."
According to U.N. figures and other projections, Patrick Buchanan states in The Death of the West that by 2050 Europe (from Iceland to Russia) will see its population drop from 728 million (in 2000) to 600 million -- and perhaps 556 million. And if current trends continue, by the end of the century Europe's population will stand at 207 million.
Collapse of Family Values
Why has this happened? As it turns out, a variety of factors and trends have combined to create, as it were, the "perfect storm."
World magazine's Gene Edward Veith sums it up this way: "Why the population decline? The worldwide collapse of what are, literally, family values. Thanks to contraceptive technology, sex has become separated from childbearing. With women pursuing careers of their own and men getting sex without the responsibility of marriage, why bother with children? For many women and men, pregnancy has become an unpleasant side effect, something to prevent with contraceptives or easily treated with a trip to the abortion clinic."
Abortion comes in for particular blame in Veith's view. "The dirty little secret of the population implosion, one seldom mentioned by demographers, is that the world is aborting its future generations," he says.
Pro-family groups in the U.S., for example, rightly bemoan the abortion rate here, where Veith says one-third to one-fifth of all pregnancies end in abortion. Some European nations are far worse, however. "In Russia, the average woman may have as many as four abortions in her lifetime," he says. "There are two abortions for every live birth. That is to say, Russians kill two-thirds of their children before they are born."
All this is symptomatic of a pervasive hedonism that permeates the West, "a complete philosophy of pleasure," according to Allan Carlson, president of The Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society.
"Everywhere in the European Community and Anglo-America, real attention focuses on the consumption of food (alternately rich and fat-free), frequent sex, and raucous fun," Carlson says. "Relatively few are pestered these days by children. Fertile young adults rely on mechanical devices and chemical agents to thwart the designs of nature. In places as culturally different as Spain, Italy, Denmark and Germany, the sexual experimentation starts early, but hardly anyone brings forth a child."
Despite efforts on the part of some European nations to increase the desire of adults to have children -- such as tax breaks or cash incentives -- some experts think the pursuit of personal fulfillment will triumph.
Joseph Chamie, director of the U.N. Population Division, says, "No demographers believe birth rates will rebound. How much will it take to convince a woman to have four children? People are concerned about their appearances, their education, their careers."
What's ironic, however, is that this pursuit of personal pleasure and personal wealth may result in economic ruin.
"When it comes to forecasting the future, the birthrate is the nearest thing to hard numbers," Steyn argues. "If only a million babies are born in 2006, it's hard to have two million adults enter the workforce in 2026 ...."
Veith lists but a few of the ramifications of population decline. "Citizens are not just consumers but producers," he says. "Having fewer people can wreak havoc on an economy, creating both a labor shortage and a shortage of buyers. A government with a shrinking population faces a smaller military and fewer taxpayers. Dwindling populations have always signaled cultural decline, with less creativity, energy, and vitality on every level of society."
These explanations do not go far enough to suit culture critic and columnist Don Feder, who sees Europe's abandonment of its Christian heritage as the true root cause of its population problems.
"It's no coincidence that central to the new Europe ... is a refusal to acknowledge the continent's origins," says Feder, who is Jewish. "The proposed constitution for the European Union (a document of over 70,000 words) contains not a single reference to Christianity. Thus more than a millennium of European history is effectively erased."
The abandonment of Christianity in most European countries has been well-documented. For example, author and journalist James P. Gannon says that in five key European countries -- France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Italy -- over the last 30 years regular church attendance has fallen from roughly 40% of the population to about 20%." As Weigel says, Western Europe has become a "post-Christian society."
Feder believes there is a clear link between a lack of faith and the loss of that sense of duty to the future that leads people to conceive and bear children. "Having lost their faith and embraced an ethic of radical autonomy," he says, "Europeans stopped going to church, stopped taking the Bible seriously, stopped believing in the future and stopped having children."
Maria Burani, president of the Parliamentary Commission for the Family and Infancy in Rome, told Citizen magazine that faith is a foundation for the kind of lifestyle that parenting requires. "If you don't have inside your head great religious and ethical principles," she insists, "you're just not going to want to go and have these kids because it's a sacrifice."
Beyond that, of course, is the fact that religious principles also restrain the often selfish behavior that grows out of the "radical autonomy" that permeates Europe. "Among the consequences of Europe's abandonment of its religious roots and the moral code that derives therefrom is a plunge in its birth rates to below the replacement level," says Gannon. "Abortion, birth control, acceptance of gay marriage and casual sex are driving the trend."
Islamification of Europe
However, the prognosis for Europe gets even worse because many of the nations there have chosen a risky path for making up for their population shortfalls: immigration. Because North Africa and the Middle East represent a relatively convenient source of cheap labor, millions of Muslim immigrants have been flooding the continent for a half century.
"Western Europe has gone from a Muslim population of 250,000, 50 years ago, to 20 million today," says Feder.
Unlike Westerners, however, Muslims typically have large families. According to Robert S. Leiken, director of the Immigration and National Security Program at the Nixon Center, higher Muslim birthrates combined with Muslim immigration have led the U.S. National Intelligence Council to project that Europe's Muslim population will double by 2025.
As a result, Colson says flatly, "[d]emographics may bring about what the Moors and Ottoman Empire couldn't: a Muslim Europe."
But so what? Isn't such hand-wringing about Muslim immigrants nothing more than utter bigotry?
Hardly, say concerned Westerners. The Islamification of Europe would bring incredible cultural changes to Europe. "In 50 to 100 years, the Europe of Shakespeare and Victor Hugo, the Europe of Rembrandt and Bach, the Europe of Churchill and Karol Wojtyla will exist only in textbooks and museums," Feder says. "Or, perhaps the remnants of Christian Europe will be subjected to the fate of Afghanistan's Buddhist statues, demolished by the Taliban regime."
Political changes would also be inevitable, Steyn insists. "Can a society become increasingly Islamic in its demographic character without becoming increasingly Islamic in its political character?"
It is a rhetorical question, of course, and Steyn predicts that by 2050 many European nations will be forced to apply Sharia -- Muslim law -- to Muslim communities. He notes the results of a 2004 poll that found that over 60 percent of British Muslims want to live under Muslim law -- while living in the United Kingdom.
At first, most European governments would probably resist the demands of an increasingly assertive Muslim population. But in response, it would not be surprising to see an escalation of what has already begun to transpire: terrorist bombings in London and Madrid; the 2002 assassination of conservative Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn, who campaigned on a platform of limiting Muslim immigration; the murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh in 2004 for allegedly insulting Islam; rioting by Muslim youths throughout France in 2005; and rioting this year in response to political cartoons that were deemed offensive to Muslim sensibilities.
Steyn thinks Europe will see more such unrest -- and soon. "It seems more likely that within the next couple of European election cycles, the internal contradictions of the [European Union] will manifest themselves in the usual way," he says, "and that by 2010 we'll be watching burning buildings, street riots and assassinations on American network news every night."
In any case, Carlson says, "the Great Party [of Western hedonism] will not last much longer. There is an iron law in history: the future belongs to the fertile. Just as the clan-centered, child-rich barbarian tribes of the Germans swept away the sensuous and sterile Western Roman Empire, so shall new barbarians arise."
Scripture teaches that God rules over the nations, and the future of Europe looks increasingly like that of Israel when its prophets warned of impending chastisement and judgment. Are we on the brink of God's chastisement of Europe, even after a century of wars and other atrocities failed to bring the continent back to Christianity?
How ironic it would be that a European culture that demanded unlimited personal freedom might wind up living under the repressive heel of Muslim totalitarianism. Or that a culture that rejected its Christian heritage might, instead, be subjected to Islamic fundamentalism.
Cultures have disappeared before. Just ask the Etruscans. If you can find one.
Evolutionist's have mounted a full scale assault to hopefully slow the rapidly spreading cracks in the facade of evolution. Knowing that many readers have a short attention span, the common tactic used in reporting these finds is to begin with a forceful headline such as the following:
"Ethiopian fossils link humans to 4.4 million-year-old apelike creatures, researchers say."
[The next step is to lead with a strong opening statement]:
"Fossil hunters scouring Ethiopia's harsh and rocky Afar desert have uncovered fresh evidence linking our human ancestors of 3.5 million years ago with more primitive apelike forebears who lived a million years earlier and had not yet emerged from woodland habitats.
"The scattering of fossil teeth and bones 'represent unambiguous evidence for human evolution,' says Tim White, a UC Berkeley paleoanthropologist and leader of the international Middle Awash research project."
[TBC: Finally, the "bad news" is hidden near the end of the article, a place where relatively few readers go. Here is what is deemed "unambiguous evidence" by the researchers]:
"As for the fossil hunters, scraping the sand and rocks of the Afar region requires tireless backs, sharp eyes and tough hands, and some of the most significant hominid finds by the expedition came during this winter's field season.
"Among those discoveries were a canine tooth found by Ferhat Kaya from the University of Ankara in Turkey; a single molar and a tiny tooth fragment unearthed by Kampiro Kayranto, an Ethiopian veteran of five seasons with the Middle Awash team; and a molar fragment and the toothless fragment of a lower jaw spotted by Moges Mekonnen, an Ethiopian field cook assistant with the expedition who has been trained as a skilled fossil collector"
BANGLADESH (Compass Direct) An angry mob set fire to a church in a remote area of Bangladesh on March 30th, capping a year of extreme hostility toward villagers who had converted from Buddhism to Christianity. While Bangladesh is a majority Muslim country, Buddhism flourishes in small pockets like Pancchari sub-district, where the attack took place. Immediately after the attack, a Bangladesh army contingent was deployed to Kinamonipara village in Pancchari to prevent further violence, according to local media reports. Christians attacked in Pancchari have been told not to contact higher authorities or seek hospital treatment or they would face greater persecution.
Pray God will surround this area of Bangladesh with His protecting angelic hosts. Pray the courageous faith of the believers as they continue to meet together will lead many to their Savior. Pray the Holy Spirit will overcome the spiritual darkness in Bangladesh with the light of Christ's love.
BURMA (ASSIST News Service) Burma's military dictatorship has launched a new wave of attacks against predominantly Christian Karen villages, as reported by Christian Newswire on behalf of Christian Freedom International (CFI). "In Burma this time of year is known locally as the 'killing season' and this year is no exception," said the CFI story. "During the dry season soldiers can move easier in the dense jungles of Burma, and this year the military junta has stepped up its genocidal attacks on the Karen, an ethnic minority in Burma." More than 700 displaced men, women and children recently arrived in Ko Kay village. "When the new soldiers arrived in Toungoo and Nyaunglebin districts, they spread their soldiers around the area. They try to find Karen villages. If they see the villagers, they try to capture and persecute them. Therefore, people who are living there dare not face the Burma army. They fled their villages and are hiding in the mountainside and jungle in safe places to save their lives," said Aro. This is creating a humanitarian emergency. Aro is reported to have said, "The Burmese came and destroyed everything so all the villagers having nothing to eat and cannot grow food for the year."
Pray God will comfort His suffering people with His presence and strength in these evil days. Pray Christians worldwide will respond to the needs of our brothers and sisters in Burma. Pray the Holy Spirit will move powerfully to lead the military leaders to seek the God of love and peace.
CHINA (China Aid Association) CAA learned an anonymous party has submitted a petition on behalf of Pastor Gong Shengliang to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. Meanwhile, Pastor Gong's family members and legal representatives filed an appeal for medical parole due to the pastor's poor health. Pastor Gong, imprisoned since 2001 for his religious beliefs, is an evangelical Christian pastor and founder of the South China Church. He was falsely charged with rape, but every woman whom the government cited as accusing him has recanted the accusations, saying they were made under threat of torture.
Pray God will use these petitions to secure Pastor Gong's release. Pray Jesus will comfort this faithful believer and touch his body with His healing hand. Pray the Lord will move in the hearts of Chinese authorities, drawing them into a relationship with Christ.
INDIA (VOM-Canada) Dr. Samuel Thomas of Hopegivers International is still in jail. Requests for bail made on April 1st and 10th were denied. The next bail hearing is schedule for April 24th. Letters of encouragement may be sent to him at www.prisoneralert.com
Pray Jesus will comfort and encourage Dr. Thomas with His presence. Pray the next bail hearing will result in his being released from custody. Pray God will continue to protect the Christian orphanage in Kota that is continually on Dr. Thomas' heart.
(Compass Direct) The Rajasthan state assembly is considering a bill approved in principle that would prohibit "forced or fraudulent" conversions. Christian groups fear Hindu elements will use this against people who have legitimately decided to follow Christ. In other states in India, government officials and religious groups have used such legislation to curb voluntary, legal conversions. The bill was approved in principle on March 24th, but has not been adopted yet as law. In a press release, the All India Christian Council said the Rajasthan bill would be "a stick used to harass minorities in a state where they already feel insecure."
Pray God will protect His followers and grow His Kingdom in spite of any political moves to hinder the growth of Christianity. Pray Christians will remain loving witnesses of the One who died for all. Pray God will soften the hearts and open the minds of Hindus who are under the control of the enemy.
NIGERIA (Compass Direct) Two female Christian students remain missing after seven Muslims, also young women students, attacked them on March 18th, at Ahmadu Bello University in Kaduna state. The two students were about to bathe at the women's residence when the Muslim women emerged from a mosque and attacked, beating them until they were unconscious. The women, identified only as Joy and Priscilla, were treated at the university health clinic but were not seen again before the university closed for a break shortly after; nor have they been seen since it reopened on March 28th. Their disappearance has raised religious tensions on campus. James Kagbu, the university's Joint Chapel Council secretary, said, "Muslim students under the auspices of the Muslim Students' Society have been terrorizing Christians in the university without provocation."
Pray Joy and Priscilla will be found and returned to their families. Pray they will be strengthened by the presence of their Savior. Pray Christians at the university will be the fragrance of Christ to fellow students.
PAKISTAN (VOM sources) VOM contacts in Pakistan reported on April 8th that Pakistani Christian, Parvez Masih, who was arrested and jailed under false blasphemy charges five years ago in April 2001, was released. After years of inhumane treatment, threats, beatings and trials, the headmaster of a private Christian middle school was found not guilty of violating Law 295c (blaspheming the prophet Mohammed). When Parvez Masih's Iqbal Memorial School (comprised of 25 Christian and 125 Muslim students in 2004) was gaining influence in a village near Lahore early in 2001, the jealousy of a Muslim group running a rival school was roused. Shortly thereafter, some of Parvez's students asked him if it was true Mohammed had a 9-year-old wife. Parvez graciously mentioned her name, "Aisha," while telling them to learn more about her from their religious leaders. Based on the testimonies of two of the questioning boys, Parvez was arrested on April 1, 2001, and accused of blaspheming Mohammed under Law 295c. He was taken to a nearby river and told to deny his faith in Jesus at gunpoint on this date, but he would not.
Give thanks and praise to God for Parvez's release. Pray our loving and powerful Father will protect him from any attacks from disgruntled Muslims. Pray publicity concerning this case will cause many moderate Muslims to question their faith.
How it all began, begat or whatever......... In ancient Israel, it came to pass that a trader by the name of Abraham Com did take unto himself a young wife by the name of Dot. And Dot Com was a comely woman, broad of shoulder and long of leg. Indeed, she had been called 'Amazon Dot Com.' And she said unto Abraham, her husband, "Why dost thou travel far from town to town with thy goods when thou can trade without ever leaving thy tent?" And Abraham did look at her as though she were several saddle bags short of a camel load, but simply said, "How, dear?" And Dot replied, "I will place drums in all the towns and drums in between to send messages saying what you have for sale and they will reply telling you which hath the best price. And the sale can be made on the drums and delivery made by Uriah's Pony Stable (UPS)." Abraham thought long and decided he would let Dot have her way with the drums. And the drums rang out and were an immediate success. Abraham sold all the goods he had at the top price, without evermoving from his tent. But this success did arouse envy. A man named Maccabia did secrete himself inside Abraham's drum and was accused of insider trading. And the young man did take to Dot Com's trading as doth the greedy horsefly take to camel dung. They were called Nomadic Ecclesiastical Rich Dominican Siderites, or NERDS for short. And lo, the land was so feverish with joy at the new riches and the deafening sound of drums that no one noticed that the real riches were going to the drum maker, one Brother William of Gates, who bought up every drum company in the land. And indeed did insist on making drums that would work only with Brother Gates' drumheads and drumsticks. And Dot did say, "Oh, Abraham, what we have started is being taken over by others." And as Abraham looked out over the Bay of Ezekiel, or as it came to be known "eBay" he said, "We need a name that reflects what we are." And Dot replied, "Young Ambitious Hebrew Owner Operators." "YAHOO," said Abraham. And that is how it all began. Al Gore had nothing to do with it!