Mere Links 08.12.14
Tuesday, August 12, 2014, 10:00 AM

The Centurions’ Intercessors
Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon, Preachers Institute

Among those sections that the gospels of Matthew and Luke-independent of Mark-have in common, almost all are directly didactic. That is to say, those sections almost invariably consist of the explicit teachings of Jesus, with no attention to events in his life.

Ginsburg Wants to Make Abortion “Right” Equal to Second Amendment
Wesley J. Smith, LifeNews

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader] Ginsburg believes adamantly that women are denied “equal citizen stature” by boundaries placed around access to abortion. Not only that, but in an angry dissent to the 2007 Supreme Court ruling upholding the federal ban on partial birth abortion, she (joined by Justice Breyer among the current justices) railed against the majority allowing “moral concerns” to “override fundamental rights.”

Christians Feel Abandoned in Spite of Obama’s Action in Iraq
John Burger, Aleteia

Patriarch Sako “disappointed” by limited response from US.

Why missionaries put their lives on the line
Daniel Burke and Ashley Fantz, CNN

Christians have long debated the effectiveness of missions, with some arguing that they can, at times, cause more harm than good – both to missionaries and the people they are trying to help.

Mere Links 08.11.14
Monday, August 11, 2014, 10:00 AM

You can’t have a Culture of Life if you have no culture at all
Anthony Esolen, LifeSite

It should be obvious to anyone who thinks about it for a moment that it is always far easier to destroy than to create. One bomb or wrecking ball can shatter in an instant the cathedral that it took human hands and minds fifty years to build. What is true of buildings is true of culture generally.

What Kind of Support Should We Expect for Persecuted Christians?
David Curry, Christian Post

At what point will the intentional targeting and cleansing of Christians, especially in the troubled Middle East, be not just a story, but the story, in the media and elite circles of government? This one is easy; it won’t happen. Persecution of Christians will not become a major humanitarian crisis for a couple of key reasons.

Stop Calling Sex Safe
Chad Bird, The Federalist

As long as we continue to describe intercourse as safe or unsafe, we perpetuate the very problems we seek to avoid.

Coercive Sterilization: An On-Going Crime Against Humanity
Arina O. Grossu, Aleteia

For eugenic goals and population control, governments continue to coerce the disadvantaged into undergoing temporary and permanent sterilization.

Ebola Crisis Brings West Africans to Church
Monday, August 11, 2014, 9:54 AM

Many of us remember the aftermath of the Islamist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001.  In the weeks following the attacks, churches throughout the United States were packed, at least for a time.  During our national time of desperation and sadness, and the loss of thousands of murdered Americans by al-Qaeda, many Americans sought solace from God against the forces of evil.  In a similar way, many West Africans filled churches this past Sunday seeking God’s mercy and salvation.  They gathered together in worship and prayer despite official warnings to avoid public gatherings.

Since I asked for prayer last week for the victims and families of those afflicted by the Ebola virus, hundreds more have died.  Both Sierra Leone and Liberia have declared states of emergency to face the highly contagious and incurable Ebola disease that kills up to 90 percent of those infected.  Pastor Martee Jones Seator of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Monrovia, Liberia, said, “Everyone is so afraid.  Ebola is not going to shake our faith in any way because we’ve been through difficult times.”  The Reverend Marcus MacKay said, “We are in trouble here.  We are in trouble.  But you know what?  There is no way this devil is going to do its work!”  Bishop Abu Aiah Koroma of the evangelical Flaming Bible Church of Freetown, Sierra Leone, called Ebola “a devil.”  Pastor Enoch Adeboye of the Redeemed Christian Church of God in Nigeria and many other clergy around the world have offered prayers for a “quick divine intervention” against the Ebola.

Sadly, as in any crisis, charlatans, false prophets and teachers, and other unscrupulous persons prey on vulnerable victims and their families.  Elements of the Nigerian government have warned the public to be wary of some clergy who claim to have a cure for Ebola.  Pastor Ituah Ighodalo, Senior Pastor of Trinity House Church in Nigeria, sparked outrage for posting recently on his Facebook page his solution to Ebola, which involved the laying on of hands for those infected.  The senior pastor of the Synagogue Church of All Nations of Nigeria, T. B. Joshua, said that he would donate 2,000 bottles of his “Anointing Water” to the affected countries of West Africa.  There is no information that the special water has been sent to West Africa.

Please continue to pray for the thousands of living victims of Ebola.  Please also pray that an outbreak of Ebola does not come to the United States.  Media reports indicate that in the event of a widespread Ebola outbreak, our nation’s doctors, hospitals, and medical system is not prepared.  But when it does come here, as was the case after 9/11, I suspect that our churches will again be packed to overflowing.  At least until the crisis subsides.  May God save us all.

Mere Links 08.08.14
Friday, August 8, 2014, 10:00 AM

When the Baby Carriage Comes Before the Marriage
Laurie DeRose, Family Studies

Couples who didn’t marry before having a child opted out for a reason—so their relationships face tough odds.

The Evangelical Academy
Richard Mouw, First Things

The Jesuits, in setting up their colleges and universities, have typically not required their non-Jesuit colleagues to share their vows. But there is nothing about their sense of academic propriety as such that would prohibit that kind of boundary-setting.

Law and Morality in Public Discourse: How Christians Can Rebuild Our Culture
Charles J. Chaput, Public Discourse

It’s in seeking Jesus Christ with all our hearts that culture is built and society is renewed. It’s in prayer, the sacraments, changing diapers, balancing budgets, preaching homilies, loving a spouse, forgiving and seeking forgiveness—all in the spirit of charity—that, brick by brick, we bring about the kingdom of God.

Assemblies of God Turns 100 and Looks to a Multiethnic Future
Adelle M. Banks, Religion News Service

The U.S. denomination has some 3.1 million faithful — with a membership that is 41 percent nonwhite, up from 31 percent a decade ago.

Mere Links 08.07.14
Thursday, August 7, 2014, 10:00 AM

Gay, Christian and … celibate: The changing face of the homosexuality debate
Sarah Pulliam Bailey, Religion News Service

For years, those who were gay or struggled with homosexuality felt like they had few good options: leave their faith, ignore their sexuality or try to change. But as groups like Exodus have become increasingly unpopular, Rodgers is among those who embrace a different model: celibate gay Christians, who seek to be true to both their sexuality and their faith.

ISIS Is on the Verge of Expelling Northern Iraq’s Religious Minorities
Nina Shea, The Corner

While much attention is being given to the destruction of Nineveh’s ancient monuments, the suffering of the province’s religious minorities at the hands of the jihadists is being given short shrift by both the media and our political leaders. Individual lives and entire civilizations are being destroyed, not in conflict – there hasn’t been much — but through the deliberate convert-or-die policies of the Islamist extremists.

How Government Threatens Religious Charity: Lessons of New York’s ‘Met Council’ Scandal
Howard Husock, Forbes

In other words, the Council—and non-profits all across the country—have great incentive to curry favor with elected officials but no legal means to do so. Thus, we should not be surprised that when an illegal means of doing so comes to light.

Hobby Lobby’s Liberty, and Ours
Robert Sirico, RealClearReligion

Religious liberty has long been considered our “first freedom” in America. So why are we spending so much time defending this freedom in court now?

Pastor Saeed Abedini Urges Christians to Stay Strong for His Glory
Thursday, August 7, 2014, 9:24 AM

On these pages over the past several years, I have written about the plight of Pastor Saeed Abedini.  Pastor Abedini, an American citizen, has been imprisoned under the Islamic mullahs of Iran since September 2012.  He is presently serving an eight year sentence for his Christian activities in one of the most brutal hell-hole prisons in Iran.  Although his case has garnered international attention and many have advocated on his behalf, he remains in prison for his Christian faith.  Pastor Abedini’s wife, Naghmeh, has said, “Nothing has given Saeed and our family more strength than knowing that we are not forgotten, and that many are praying for us and taking the time to write letters and encourage us.”  We are admonished in Hebrews 13:3 to “Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.”  But in addition to Pastor Abedini, there are numerous other Christians who are imprisoned in Iran for their Christian faith.

Over the past several months, the United States and a number of European nations have released billions of dollars of frozen Iranian funds to the mullahs based upon their assurances that Iran would “halt” some aspects of its nuclear program and continue to “negotiate” their nuclear program in exchange for easing of international sanctions.  Although I am skeptical that the Iranian mullahs will ever want to give up their nuclear program, no efforts was made to release Pastor Abedini as a precondition to release of the frozen funds.  Mr. Obama has only made one public statement regarding Pastor Abedini at a National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., last February.  In his remarks, Mr. Obama said the following:

We pray for Pastor Saeed Abedini.  He’s been held in Iran for more than 18 months – sentenced to eight years in prison on charges relating to his Christian beliefs.  And as we continue to work for his freedom today, again, we call on the Iranian government to release Pastor Abedini so he can return to the loving arms of his wife and children in Idaho.

However, the Iranian mullahs ignored Mr. Obama’s appeal.  But they sure took the billions of cash.  Pastor Abedini’s young children have pleaded with Mr. Obama to help bring their dad home.  You can watch the poignant video of heartbroken children here.  Pastor Abedini also wrote a deeply powerful and beautiful letter to his wife, which you can hear in this video.

Please pray for this beautiful and great saint of God and for his family.  Please also pray for the many other Christians imprisoned in Iran.  And during this congressional recess, when your elected representatives are holding town halls in your community, please ask them what they are doing to bring back Pastor Abedini, an American citizen, held by the butchers of Teheran.

Mere Links 08.06.14
Wednesday, August 6, 2014, 10:00 AM

Cultural Engagement
Russell Moore, Ligonier Ministries

All I knew how to do, though, was preach the gospel. Yes, I knew what was happening on MTV, and I’d often contrast biblical reality with that, but I fit nobody’s definition of cool—including my own.

Haggling with the Almighty
Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon, Preachers Institute

As types of Christ our Intercessor with the Father, the Old Testament speaks of several men who were efficacious in intercession. Three of these are Abraham, Moses, and Job.

The Down Syndrome Community’s Death Debate
Matthew Hennessey, First Things

No college or university would tell potential students not to enroll. No lung cancer organization would tell people smoking is a fine thing to do. And no group that purports to represent the interests of people living with Down syndrome should present abortion of unborn babies with Down syndrome as a perfectly legitimate option. It just doesn’t make sense.

Nuns on the Bus vs. ISIS?
Mark Tooley, Juicy Ecumenism

The liberal Catholic activist group Network, headed by Sister Simone Campbell, famous for “Nuns on the Bus,” is asking supporters to urge President Obama to exercise strong “diplomacy” against the “violence” in northern Iraq.

Mere Links 08.05.14
Tuesday, August 5, 2014, 10:00 AM

Aborting in the Name of Jesus
Russell Moore , Moore to the Point

It is one of the most disturbing articles I’ve ever read. The current issue of Esquire magazine profiles the “abortion ministry” of Willie Parker, a doctor who flies in and out of my home state of Mississippi to perform abortions at the state’s only abortion clinic. The word “ministry” isn’t incidental. Dr. Parker says he aborts unborn children because Jesus wants him to.

IRS Strikes Deal With Atheists To Monitor Churches
Investor’s Business Daily

Government’s assault on religious liberty has hit a new low as the IRS settles with atheists by promising to monitor sermons for mentions of the right to life and traditional marriage.

The Repeating of Christian History
Shannon Holzer, The Imaginative Conservative

Though Christianity is currently legal in the United States, its enemies still use the same tactics as their ancient predecessors did when it was legally banned.

Why Doesn’t Living Together Before Marrying Decrease the Risk of Divorce?
Scott Stanley, Family Studies

Why isn’t cohabitation before marriage associated with a lower divorce risk? Two big factors: selection and inertia.

Mere Links 08.04.14
Monday, August 4, 2014, 10:00 AM

There is nothing modern about euthanasia
Helen Andrews, Centre for Independent Studies

The first time that a legislator in an English-speaking country introduced a bill to legalise physician-assisted suicide was in 1906, when a member of the Ohio state legislature in the US tabled such a bill on behalf of a woman whose mother died from cancer. The British Parliament saw its first euthanasia bill introduced in 1936. The Euthanasia Society of America was founded in 1938.

Jesus, Elvis & Bishop Spong
Mark Tooley, Juicy Ecumenism

Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong used to be a big deal. In the 1980s he appeared on talk shows and wrote provocative books suggesting the Virgin Mary was impregnated by a Roman soldier, or Jesus’ body was torn apart by wild dogs instead of resurrecting.

Russell Moore answers all you wanted to know about sex (but were afraid to ask)
Adelle M. Banks , Religion News Service

Though he often grapples with contentious political issues — the Hobby Lobby case, religious persecution and, most recently, the immigrant border crisis — Moore has spent much of his first year at the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission writing blog posts on Christian sexual ethics.

Mega-Churches and Worshipping Incognito
R.C. Sproul Jr., Ligonier Ministries

Though it may be counterintuitive, it is nevertheless true—we have more privacy in the big city than we do in the country. There is actually a converse ratio between people per square mile and anonymity levels.

Let Us Pray for the Victims of Ebola Outbreak
Monday, August 4, 2014, 9:37 AM

It is now 38 years since the first recorded outbreak of Ebola virus in 1976.  Today, we are experiencing the worst Ebola virus epidemic in world history.  According to the World Health Organization, more than 826 people have died in the African countries of Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone since the outbreak began in the forests of eastern Guinea in February.  Among those who have died was an American of Liberian descent from Minnesota.  In addition, more than 60 physicians, nurses, and other health workers assisting Ebola victims have died.  My friends from Liberia have written to me asking for prayer for their fellow citizens as they live in great fear.  Containing the virus is made more complicated because the disease has spread across different countries.  On Saturday, Dr. Kent Brantly, a 33-year-old missionary doctor with Samaritan’s Purse and the first Ebola victim brought to the United States, arrived in Atlanta to be treated at Emory University Hospital.  His Samaritan’s Purse colleague, Nancy Writebol, is scheduled to arrive from Africa on Tuesday.  Dr. Brantly’s wife, Amber, said in a statement, “It was a relief to welcome Kent home today.  I spoke with him, and he is glad to be back in the U.S.  I am thankful to God for his safe transport and for giving him the strength to walk into the hospital.”  Press reports indicate that Dr. Brantly was flown from Africa to Dobbins Air Reserve base outside Atlanta in a small jet equipped with a special, portable tent to contain highly infectious diseases.  Accompanied to Emory University Hospital by a small police escort, upon arrival at the hospital, Dr. Brantly climbed out of the ambulance dressed completely in white protective clothing.  Although some have questioned the federal government’s wisdom and motivation in bringing Ebola victims to the United States, Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, said that Dr. Brantly’s condition is “improving.”  Nevertheless, Dr. Frieden also stated that it was too soon to tell whether Dr. Brantly would survive.

There is presently no known cure for Ebola, and in Africa, the virus kills up to 90 percent of infected people.  Ebola virus causes hemorrhagic fever, headaches, and weakness that can escalate to vomiting, diarrhea, and then kidney and liver problems.  Often patients will bleed both internally and externally, including from their eyes.  Fighting Ebola is difficult in Africa as people who become ill are often stigmatized by others in their towns and villages, and so there is often reluctance to come forward until it is much too late.  Further, in parts of Africa, some believe that the disease is caused by witchcraft.  The president of Liberia has closed his nation’s schools and government offices.  People are no longer shaking hands, and chlorinated water is now used for people to wash their hands regularly in an effort to stem the epidemic.  This is now the practice in churches as well.

Please pray for the end of this terrible outbreak of Ebola.  Please also pray for the victims and their families of this terrible disease, including our brother and sister in Christ, Dr. Brantly and Ms. Writebol.  Let us also pray for the Christian and other charity workers who courageously serve those affected by this dreadful disease with the love of Jesus Christ.  The Lord Jesus warned us in Luke 21 and Matthew 24 that among the signs of His imminent return were pestilences in diverse places.  Please pray for God’s protection over our brothers and sisters in Christ in accordance with Psalm 91, which serves as a promise and blessing against pestilence for those who “dwell in the shelter of the Most High.”  Maranatha!

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