Daily Archives: May 1, 2013

Will The New Housing Bubble That Bernanke Is Creating End As Badly As The Last One Did?

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has done it. He has succeeded in creating a new housing bubble. By driving mortgage rates down to the lowest level in 100 years and recklessly printing money with wild abandon, Bernanke has been able to get housing prices to rebound a bit. In fact, in some of the more prosperous areas of the country you would be tempted to think that it is 2005 all over again. If you can believe it, in some areas of the country builders are actually holding lotteries to see who will get the chance to buy their homes. Wow – that sounds great, right? Unfortunately, this “housing recovery” is not based on solid economic fundamentals. As you will see below, this is a recovery that is being led by investors. They are paying cash for cheap properties that they believe will appreciate rapidly in the coming years. Meanwhile, the homeownership rate in the United States continues to decline. It is now the lowest that it has been since 1995. There are a couple of reasons for this. Number one, there has not been a jobs recovery in the United States. The percentage of working age Americans with a job has not rebounded at all and is still about the exact same place where it was at the end of the last recession. Secondly, crippling levels of student loan debt continue to drive down the percentage of young people that are buying homes. So no, this is not a real housing recovery. It is an investor-led recovery that is mostly limited to the more prosperous areas of the country. For example, the median sale price of a home in Washington D.C. just hit a new all-time record high. But this bubble will not last, and when this new housing bubble does burst, will it end as badly as the last one did? (Read More….)

Me, myself, and my selfie – The craze of snapping self-portraits and posting them on social media appeals to a generation enamored with disposable identities

Cinema may be the outstanding art form of the 20th century, but in the 21st, the pinnacle of creative expression could emerge as something entirely different: the selfie.


America’s moral collapse continues to accelerate: US Government lowers ‘morning after pill’ age to 15, to be sold over-the-counter

In a surprise twist to the decade-plus effort to ease access to morning-after pills, the government is lowering the age limit to 15 for one brand – Plan B One-Step – and will let it be sold over the counter.

Today, Plan B and its generic competition are sold behind pharmacy counters, and people must prove they’re 17 or older to buy the emergency contraception without a prescription. A federal judge had ordered an end to those sales restrictions by next Monday.

But Tuesday, the Food and Drug Administration approved a different approach: Plan B could sit on drugstore shelves next to condoms, spermicides or other women’s health products – but to make the purchase, buyers must prove they’re 15 or older at the cash register.


ESPN Apologizes for Commentator’s Christian Worldview on Homosexuality

In talking to some people around the league, there’s a lot Christians in the NBA and just because they disagree with that lifestyle, they don’t want to be called bigoted and intolerant and things like that. That’s what LZ was getting at. Just like I may tolerate someone whose lifestyle I disagree with, he can tolerate my beliefs. He disagrees with my beliefs and my lifestyle but true tolerance and acceptance is being able to handle that as mature adults and not criticize each other and call each other names…


The Internet Sales Tax: Another Assault On The Constitution

The reason so many senators favor the Marketplace Fairness Act is simple: State governments are desperate for revenue to fund their ever-escalating expenditures, and their allies in the U.S. Senate are trying to help them collect it. Internet sales in the US totaled $226 billion last year, and a revenue stream that large easily becomes a tempting target for big spenders.

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Pentagon Taps Anti-Christian Extremist for Religious Tolerance Policy

“Today, we face incredibly well-funded gangs of fundamentalist Christian monsters who terrorize their fellow Americans by forcing their weaponized and twisted version of Christianity upon their helpless subordinates in our nation’s armed forces.”

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Does America have a prayer?

Thursday, May 2, 2013, is the National Day of Prayer. Yet things are not right in the land. We pray, “May God bless America.” But perhaps it should be, “May God have mercy on America.”

As we survey the modern American landscape, we see many examples that things are not right: more than 55 million abortions in America since 1973, rampant pornography, mass shootings, promotion of “gay marriage,” dissolution of marriage in general, runaway debt that will enslave our children and grandchildren, threats to our religious liberty like never before.

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Looming Mood Shifts among America’s “Middle” Class?

From The Atlantic:

In all, the survey suggests that after years of economic turmoil, most families now believe the most valuable–and elusive–possession in American life isn’t any tangible acquisition, such as a house or a car, but rather economic security. Asked to define what it means to be middle class, a solid 54 percent majority of respondents picked “having the ability to keep up with expenses and hold a steady job while not falling behind or taking on too much debt”; a smaller percentage defined it in terms of getting ahead and accumulating savings. “It seems like that class of the people just live from paycheck to paycheck,” said Dale High, a trucker from near Idaho Falls, Idaho, who responded to the poll. “Everything is going up, but wages are staying the same. And people can’t live like that.”

The backdrop for these sober assessments is a darkening of the national mood since President Obama won reelection. The share of Americans who say the country is on the right track reached a four-year high of 41 percent in the Heartland Monitor survey conducted just after his victory in November. But that optimism plummeted in the latest survey to less than three in 10. The number of people who expect the economy to improve over the next year also skidded.


How teenagers communicate [infographic]

Fascinating infographic on how our younger generation communicates.  Take note people… this is the church or tomorrow.  Change or die.

Here is our weekly infographic.  I am always curious how teenagers are communicate in a digital world.  Teenagers are adapting quickly to new forms of communication.  This is one reason why it is so important for youth workers to stay relevant, and current on what they use, and how they communicate to teenagers.

Here are a few things that stand out to me from this infographic called: How American Teens Communicate.  

1. 93% of teens use a phone.  I am starting to understand hot crucial it is to develop a texting strategy for your youth ministry.  I use to think that facebook and twitter was crucial, but I am now realizing how effective and important it is to have a strategy to mass text your youth ministry.

2. Email is still king.  This is still a shocker to me.  I didn’t think anyone used email any more.  Especially not 93% of teenagers.


8 Characteristics of Healthy Church Systems

Because your organization is unique, there’s no way I can tell you specifically what systems you need in place to accomplish the vision God has for your church. I can, however, share some common characteristics of healthy systems that may point you in the right direction. With that in mind, here are eight characteristics of healthy systems for churches: 1. …

April 29   Monday –  http://pastors.com/8-characteristics-of-healthy-church-systems/

Will the Pentagon Prohibit the Great Commission?

[Note: This is the first in an occasional series examining and assessing potential threats to religious liberty in America and around the world.]

The Situation: According to the Associated Press, a group called the Military Religious Freedom Foundation is urging the Pentagon to court martial officers whose subordinates feel they’re being proselytized. MRFF founder Mikey Weinstein says even a Christian bumper sticker on an officer’s car or a Bible on an officer’s desk can amount to “pushing this fundamentalist version of Christianity on helpless subordinates.” Weinstein and other leaders of his foundation met with top officials at the Pentagon last week.

The Backstory:  Weinstein and his group met privately with Pentagon officials on April 23. He told Fox News that U.S. troops who proselytize are guilty of sedition and treason and should be punished to stave off what he called a “tidal wave of fundamentalists.” “Someone needs to be punished for this,” Weinstein told Fox News. “Until the Air Force or Army or Navy or Marine Corps punishes a member of the military for unconstitutional religious proselytizing and oppression, we will never have the ability to stop this horrible, horrendous, dehumanizing behavior.”

“If a member of the military is proselytizing in a manner that violates the law, well then of course they can be prosecuted,” he said. “We would love to see hundreds of prosecutions to stop this outrage of fundamentalist religious persecution.”

“[Proselytizing] is a version of being spiritually raped and you are being spiritually raped by fundamentalist Christian religious predators,” Weinstein told Fox News.

The Pentagon confirmed to Fox News that Christian evangelism is against regulations. “Religious proselytization is not permitted within the Department of Defense, LCDR Nate Christensen said in a written statement. He declined to say if any chaplains or service members had been prosecuted for such an offense.

Threat Level: Unclear. Michael L. “Mikey” Weinstein, who served as White House Counsel in the Reagan administration and general counsel to H.Ross Perot, is an anti-religion extremist who is not taken seriously by anyone that is not on the secular political left. But if Pentagon officials become convinced that his peculiar anti-evangelism perspective is indeed within the bounds of military regulations, it could mean that members of the military could be prosecuted from sharing their faith—or even having a faith-based bumper sticker on their car.

Why It Matters: In a recent article for The Huffington Post, Weinstein provides an example of his bizarre hatred of Christianity . . .


Religious Freedom in Our Military; This Is What Intolerance Smells Like

President Obama’s new “religious tolerance” consultant to the  Pentagon, Mikey Weinstein, wants Christian military service members who openly  talk about their faith in uniform to be charged with treason, which is a crime punishable by death according  to military law.

By employing his consulting services, and as Commander-in-Chief, President  Obama is effectively endorsing Weinstein’s recently voiced and written views  such as: “Today, we face incredibly well-funded gangs of fundamentalist  Christian monsters who terrorize their fellow Americans by forcing their  weaponized [sic] and twisted version of Christianity upon their helpless  subordinates in our nation’s armed forces.”

Weinstein’s inflamed word picture helps the rest of us understand what the  world looks like to those who live with their eyes wide shut and sort of sounds  like that old cereal commercial… except this time Mikey doesn’t like it –  Christianity, that is, so no one else should. And Mikey’s giving the rest of us  an object lesson in intolerance by showing us  what liberal secularists are about: “It’s our way, or we shut you down.” In this  case, Obama’s anti-Christian hit man, Weinstein, proposes that honorable men and  women in the military who speak about their faith should be charged with a crime  worthy of capital punishment. Smells like bull to me.

In recent months, there has been a push against Christianity in the military.  A few notables include a military training instructor labeling Jews, Christians,  Catholics and Mormons as extremists alongside al Qaeda. The Army blocked a  Southern Baptist website, citing it displayed “hostile content,” (the Pentagon  has since blamed it on a malware glitch), and an Army email was distributed  warning fellow soldiers to beware of Christian ministry “hate groups.” Each of  these incidents could be reasoned-away individually, but they all have one thing  in common: Intolerance has an unmistakable stench.

News has it that Mr. Weinstein endorsed the Southern Poverty Law Center’s recent statement listing  certain Christian organizations as hate groups. He also whole-heartedly agreed  with comments made by radical Army Lt. Col. Jack  Rich, who told his subordinates to be on the lookout for dangerous  Christian soldiers who should be expelled from the military for their  beliefs.

Lauding the Lt. Colonel’s statement in a Huffington Post anti-Christian hit  piece April 16, Weinstein said, “We should as a nation effusively applaud Lt.  Col. Rich,” and said America should go further to “vigorously support the  continuing efforts to expose pathologically anti-gay, Islamaphobic, and rabidly  intolerant agitators for what they are: die-hard enemies of the United States  Constitution. Monsters, one and all. To do anything less would be to roll out a  red carpet to those who would usher in a blood-drenched, draconian era of  persecutions, nationalistic militarism, and superstitious theocracy.”

Gee, if I didn’t know better, I’d think he was speaking about why we are  fighting the war on terror.

Religious intolerance reached the proverbial Foggy Bottom in the same article  when Weinstein described Christians as “those evil fundamentalist Christian  creatures” who hide behind the “facades” of “family values” and “religious  liberty.” The same attributes could be also pinned to America’s founders, whom I  suppose Mr. Intolerance would also deem as subversives.

It is obvious, foamy-mouthed Mikey has a bone to pick with Christians, and  he’s found an effective way to get what he wants by working for the president  and the president’s new military “yes man” Secretary Chuck Hagel.

Our fine men and women of the military, who are part of a historically noble  institution, deserve so much better but are once again the punching bag at the  expense of this intolerant administration.

Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/religious-freedom-in-our-military-this-is-what-intolerance-smells-like-95058/

Pentagon: Religious Proselytizing is Not Permitted

Religious liberty groups have grave concerns after they learned the Pentagon is vetting its guide on religious tolerance with a group that compared Christian evangelism to “rape” and advocated that military personnel who proselytize should be court martialed.

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation is calling on the Air Force to enforce a regulation that they believe calls for the court martial of any service member caught proselytizing.

President Mikey Weinstein and others from his organization met privately with Pentagon officials on April 23. He said U.S. troops who proselytize are guilty of sedition and treason and should be punished – by the hundreds if necessary – to stave off what he called a “tidal wave of fundamentalists.”

“Someone needs to be punished for this,” Weinstein told Fox News. “Until the Air Force or Army or Navy or Marine Corps punishes a member of the military for unconstitutional religious proselytizing and oppression, we will never have the ability to stop this horrible, horrendous, dehumanizing behavior.”

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, told Fox News he was stunned that the Pentagon would be taking counsel and advice from the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.

“Why would military leadership be meeting with one of the most rabid atheists in America to discuss religious freedom in the military,” Perkins said. “That’s like consulting with China on how to improve human rights.”

The FRC has launched a petition drive urging Defense Sec. Chuck Hagel to protect the religious freedom of troops “and not to proceed with the purge of religion within the ranks called for by anti-Christian activists.”


Homosexuality: six ways to love the sinner, hate the sin

Monday’s announcement by Jason Collins that he is gay is the latest example of the homosexual “issue” being elevated into the secular marketplace. The new normal is for homosexuals to announce their sexual identity, and then receive affirmation for their bravery, boldness, and honesty from their co-workers and clients (or, in the case of Collins, journalists).

This puts Christians with secular jobs in a predicament. Most believers understand perfectly well the concept of hate the sin and love the sinner. But that concept is more and more being seen as inadequate simply because homosexuals often perceive their sexual orientation as their identity, thus rendering any attempt to love the sinner while hating the sin as contradictory.

The difficulty is compounded for believers who work with, for, or around those who are openly homosexual. How should Christians respond to those in the work place who are homosexual? If you manage a company with homosexual employees, or if you have homosexual co-workers, how do you find the balance between hating the sin and loving the sinner? Here are six suggestions:


The Pharisees: My Response to the New Barna Study

The new Barna study asks this question: “Are Christians more like Jesus or more like the Pharisees?” Historians know this question is a question about the Torah practice of Jesus vs. the Torah practice of the Pharisees. In other words, it’s a question about how best to observe Torah — Jesus’ Torah theology vs. the Pharisees’ Torah theology. Unfortunately, the word “Pharisee” in this survey means “hypocrite” so the real question is Are Christians less or more hypocritical and more or less loving toward those who are different? Those are better questions.

Here’s the big idea: there are no fewer hypocrites among Jesus’ followers than there are among Jews, than among Muslims, than among Hindus, than among atheists. Hypocrisy is a human problem not a Jewish problem or a Christian problem. Because it is a human problem it is a problem for all of us.

What does the word “Pharisee” mean in your church?

Every time someone calls someone a Pharisee ask two questions: Are you talking about a specific form of Torah observance? Are Christians just as prone to hypocrisy as Jews?

Here’s my response, which reposts some revised an earlier post because we need to get better at the use of this term “Pharisee.” It seems I need to remind us of this problem three or four times a year.


Are Christians More Like Jesus or More Like the Pharisees?

April 30, 2013  – One of the common critiques leveled at present-day Christianity is that it’s a religion full of hypocritical people. A new Barna Group study examines the degree to which this perception may be accurate. The study explores how well Christians seem to emulate the actions and attitudes of Jesus in their interactions with others.

The research project was directed by David Kinnaman, president of Barna Group, in conjunction with John Burke, author of Mud and the Masterpiece, a book exploring the attitudes and actions of Jesus in all of his encounters.

Assessing Christlikeness In this nationwide study of self-identified Christians, the goal was to determine whether Christians have the actions and attitude of Jesus as they interact with others or if they are more akin to the beliefs and behaviors of Pharisees, the self-righteous sect of religious leaders described in the New Testament.

In order to assess this, Barna researchers presented a series of 20 agree-or-disagree statements. Five actions and five attitudes that seem to best encapsulate the actions and attitudes of Jesus Christ during his ministry on earth. The researchers did the same for the Pharisees (10 total statements, five reflecting behaviors and five examining attitudes).


Eight Symptoms of False Teaching – J.C. Ryle

Here are Bishop J.C. Ryle’s 8 symptoms of false teaching:

1. There is an undeniable zeal in some teachers of error–their “earnestness” makes many people think they must be right.

2. There is a great appearance of learning and theological knowledge–many think that such clever and intellectual men must surely be safe to listen to.

3. There is a general tendency to completely free and independent thinking today–many like to prove their independence of judgment by believing the newest ideas, which are nothing but novelties.

4. There is a wide-spread desire to appear kind, loving, and open-minded–many seem half-ashamed to say that anybody can be wrong or is a false teacher.

5. There is always a portion of half-truth taught by modern false teachers–they are always using scriptural words and phrases, but with unscriptural meaning.

6. There is a public craving for a more sensational and entertaining worship–people are impatient with the more inward and invisible work of God within the hearts of men.

7. There is a superficial readiness all around to believe anyone who talks cleverly, lovingly and earnestly, forgetting that Satan often masquerades himself as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14).

8. There is a wide-spread ignorance among professing Christians–every heretic who speaks well is surely believed, and anyone who doubts him is called narrow-minded and unloving.

All these are especially symptoms of our times. I challenge any honest and observant person to deny them. These tend to make the assaults of false doctrine today especially dangerous and make it even more important to say loudly, “Do not be carried away with strange doctrine!”


Getting to the Heart of Glorifying God

What does it mean to glorify God with your life? How do you do that? Really, take at least 60 seconds to think about your answer…

Ok, what did you come up with? Maybe your response was something like: “I glorify God by praising Him with my words, both in conversation and sincerely singing at church (especially last Sunday).” Or, “I glorify God because I believe in, speak, and defend sound doctrine.” Or even, “I glorify God by the actions of my life, so by serving others and serving in my church.”

All of these are good things and things that anyone who is glorifying God must be doing, but there’s a problem: all of these things–as essential as they are–can be done by an unregenerate professing believer (Lk. 18:11, 18-27; Ps. 106:12-13), a true believer with a wrong heart (1 Cor. 3:13-15; 4:6), or a true believer with a right heart. Notice a theme? Its a matter of the heart.

Read More Here . . .