Thursday, September 27, 2012

Ahmadinejad: Arab Spring will spread to Asia, Europe, Africa and America

Transcript here:

Muslim Leaders Make Case for Global Blasphemy Ban at U.N.

( – True to their word, the leaders of the world’s two most populous Muslim countries used their speeches at the United Nations General Assembly Tuesday to call for a legally-binding, global anti-blasphemy protocol.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his Pakistan counterpart, Asif Ali Zardari, both argued that insults against Mohammed, Islam’s prophet, incite violence and are not legitimate free speech.

Yudhoyono noted that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says the exercise of rights and freedoms is subject to “the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.”


Church van crash victims cope through worship

A congregation in mourning turns to their faith and one another for comfort one week after it lost two youth group members in a fiery crash.

The accident happened last Sunday morning on Chapman Highway. Members of the Cedar Grove Baptist Church's youth group were returning to Maryville for a Sunday morning church service after their weekend retreat in the Smokies.

An SUV crossed the center lane and hit the church van head on. The van flipped and landed in ditch before catching on fire. Two church members died in the crash: the van's driver and church youth director Jeff Trussell,45, and Courtney Kaliszewski,16, who was seated behind him.
Ten other youths were injured. One is still recovering in the hospital.

Regular worship at the church resumed this morning for the first time since the accident.
"Our pristine world and lifestyle was forever changed. Just like that," said Pastor Bob Lynch. "This is one of those storms that come in life that really kicked everybody in the stomach."

Sunday morning the broken congregation mourned together and asked God to make it whole again.
"This is a loving church, we're a hugging church.  And the love we have for each other will help us heal," said Pastor Lynch.

Pastor Lynch believes strangers' prayers are part of the healing process.

"I personally have had over 100 calls from other churches in upper East Tennessee and other states. It's given us a chance to see that the church is larger than just this little body," he said.


FactChecker: Divorce Rate Among Christians

"Christians divorce at roughly the same rate as the world!"
It's one of the most quoted stats by Christian leaders today. And it's perhaps one of the most inaccurate.
At bottom, it is used to explain that Christians are not doing well in living out their faith. But it could also be taken as a statement that redemption by and real discipleship under Jesus makes no real difference when it comes to marriage.  But mainstream sociologists would tell us that taking one's faith very seriously---in word and deed---does indeed make a marked positive difference in the health and longevity of marriage. Based on the best data available, the divorce rate among Christians is significantly lower than the general population.
Here's the truth...
People who seriously practice a traditional religious faith---whether Christian or other---have a divorce rate markedly lower than the general population.
The factor making the most difference is religious commitment and practice.
What appears intuitive is true. Couples who regularly practice any combination of serious religious behaviors and attitudes---attend church nearly every week, read their bibles and spiritual materials regularly; pray privately and together; generally take their faith seriously, living not as perfect disciples, but serious disciples---enjoy significantly lower divorce rates than mere church members, the general public, and unbelievers.
Professor Bradley Wright, a sociologist at the University of Connecticut, explains from his analysis of people who identify as Christians but rarely attend church, that 60 percent of these have been divorced. Of those who attend church regularly, 38 percent have been divorced.[1]
Other data from additional sociologists of family and religion suggest a substantial marital stability divide between those who take their faith seriously and those who do not.
W. Bradford Wilcox, a leading sociologist at the University of Virginia and director of the National Marriage Project, finds from his own analysis that "active conservative Protestants" who regularly attend church are 35 percent less likely to divorce compared to those who have no affiliation. Nominally attending conservative Protestants are 20 percent more likely to divorce, compared to secular Americans.[2]
The following chart shows the relative risk of divorce by religious affiliation among Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish adherents. (Wilcox controlled for other socio-economic factors that impact marital health, thus providing a clearer, cleaner measure of the actual religious dynamic on marriage.)


Six Ways Churches Reverse a Decline

I don't particularly like the "quick-fix" formula some pundits offer to leaders of churches that are plateaued or experiencing a decline. The approaches often appear to be man-centered and methodological. Indeed, many times I think the solutions offered could just as easily apply to a civic organization as they could a church.

Nevertheless, I have had the wonderful opportunity to research churches across America, as well as to have literally hundreds of conversations with church leaders in a variety of settings. What I have learned is that many churches are plateaued or declined. Many leaders are frustrated and seeking God's solution to the situation. And a number of churches exhibit common patterns when they break out of their numerical slump. Allow me to share six of the more common ways I have seen churches reverse a decline.

1. They enter a time of corporate prayer and fasting. Sometimes the period is a short duration, such as 24 hours. But in that time, many members of the body agree to pray and fast to seek God's face for His will for His church. In some churches the number of members who participate is relatively small compared to the whole membership. In other situations, a large number may participate. In each case, those who do pray and fast understand that only God can ultimately give the increase to a congregation.

2. They start new groups. Churches that start new small groups, new Sunday school classes, new home groups, new discipleship groups, and a plethora of other possible groups often experience turnaround growth. More often than not, the approach to starting these groups is more strategic than haphazard, and more intentional than incidental.

3. They start new worship services. These worship services may be on Sunday morning, but they could be on other days and times as well. They could be new campuses or new venues. Like those that start new groups, many of the breakout churches strategically and intentionally make the starting of new worship services a vital part of the present and future of the congregation.

Netanyahu Blasts Iran & al-Qaeda in U.N. Speech: ‘The Medieval Forces of Radical Islam…Want to End the Modern World’

This afternoon, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu addressed the United Nations General Assembly, spending the bulk of his time warning the world against a nuclear-equipped Iran. He challenged global powers to draw a “red line…before Iran completes the second stage of nuclear enrichment to make a nuclear bomb,” and spoke fervently against radical Islam.

While Iran was the overarching focus, Netanyahu opened the speech by proclaiming that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel — a fact that the Obama administration has come under fire by critics for continuously failing to acknowledge. But rather than poking at his Western ally, Netanyahu used the opportunity to deride the Iranian regime, which has repeatedly called for Israel’s destruction.

Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel, uses a chart as he speaks about the Iranian nuclear program during the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly September 27, 2012 at UN headquarters in New York.Credit: AFP/Getty Images

“I say that to all those who proclaim that the Jewish state has no roots in our region and that it will soon disappear,” he said of the Jerusalem mention, going on to herald his nation’s ability to survive the odds. ”The people of Israel live on.”

The prime minister staked claim to Israel’s placement in the Middle East and said that “the Jewish people have come home” and that they “will never be uprooted again.” Similar to what Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did with his own country on Wednesday, Netanyahu praised Israel’s successes in technology, medicine, agriculture and other spheres, while taking aim at more draconian nations.