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Category Archives: News stories

Another non-apology apology

The exploits of Ryan Lochte have been well chronicled over the past week. Unfortunately, he became more infamous for his behavior out of the pool than famous for his accomplishments in the pool.

In reading his apology, I was more surprised by what he didn’t say than what he did say. He led off by stating,

Lochte apology 1

He apologized for “not being more careful and candid.” He didn’t apologize for vandalizing a service station, lying to cover up his actions, leaving town to avoid facing the consequences, or waiting to come forward until his teammates were able to leave the country.

His apology went on to say,

Lochte apology 2

Lochte didn’t apology for creating the traumatic situation. Instead, he shifted the blame to the security guards for stopping the vandalism and for the station attendant asking him to pay for the damages. He played the victim card and called it a “traumatic” situation “with a language barrier – and have a stranger point a gun at you and demand money to let you leave.”

He closed his apology by stating,

Lochte apology 3

His last paragraph sounds curiously like, “Stop calling attention to my sins and let’s go back to talking my athletic achievements.”

While he said, “I accept responsibility for my role in this happening and have learned some valuable lessons,” it has the feel of when parents caught me doing something wrong and asked, “Are you sorry for what you did or just sorry you got caught?” His apology has the ring of the latter rather than the former.

 
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Posted by on August 20, 2016 in Culture, News stories, Quotes, Sports

 

Religion in the news

Three news stories about religious issues caught my eye this week. The first two are ones I’ve followed with great interest. The third one struck me as amusing because of the reasons given for the decision.

Preserve Faith-Based Higher Education – “Yesterday, the presidents of California’s faith-based higher education institutions received news from Kristen F. Soares, president of the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities (AICCU), about Senator Lara’s intent to amend SB 1146 to only include disclosure requirements and add a new item requiring institutions to disclose reasons for student expulsions to the California Student Aid Commission. He intends to inform the Assembly Appropriations Committee of these amendments later today. Pending review of this new language, Biola will change its position on this legislation from “oppose unless amended” to “support.” Biola has long held to the importance of transparency in explaining their policies and the reasons for them.” If you’ve been following the story, this is very good news and cause to praise and thank God.

First Russian Charged Under Controversial Anti-Missionary Law – “A Krishnaite in southern Russia’s Cherkessk has been charged under the “Yarovaya Law” for handing out religious books on the street, the SOVA Center for Information and Analysis reported Thursday. This is the first time that charges have been pressed under the anti-missionary part of the controversial law.” And so it begins …

Cannes Mayor David Lisnard Bans Burkinis on City’s Beaches – The seaside French city of Cannes has banned burkinis, full-body swimsuits worn by some Muslim women, from its beaches. Mayor David Lisnard cited the recent tragedy in Nice and a subsequent attack on a church in Northwest France in an ordinance forbidding swimwear that doesn’t respect “good morals and secularism.” While I’m sensitive to the concern about terrorism, I found it amusing that swimsuits and beaches are places for “good morals and secularism.” With logic like that, France is on its way towards a similar law like Russia prohibiting beach evangelism.

 
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Posted by on August 12, 2016 in Culture, News stories

 

Packing so much into a short time

“There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.”  Vladimir Ilyich Lenin

Jon, thanks for posting this quote. It sums up the news over the past few weeks.

 
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Posted by on July 16, 2016 in News stories, Quotes

 

Pray for our brothers & sisters in Russia, part 2

Last week, I learned that the Russian Duma was considering legislation on anti-terrorism that would severely curtail religious activity. The organization, Barnabas Aid reported that President Putin signed the law on July 3.

Last week we reported that President Vladimir Putin had until 20 July to decide whether to enact an anti-terror bill into law – which, despite protests from churches, includes many clauses that are strongly anti-Christian. In fact the bill, which is primarily aimed at anti-terrorist activities, was signed into law by President Putin on Sunday 3 July. Protestant Christians in Russia fear that the new law will be chiefly enforced as a weapon against them and not used against the Orthodox Church, which Mr Putin has favoured in the past.

The new law will require any sharing of the Christian faith – even a casual conversation – to have prior authorisation from the state. This includes something as basic as an emailed invitation for a friend to attend church. Even in a private home, worship and prayer will only be allowed if there are no unbelievers present. Churches will also be held accountable for the activities of their members. So if, for example, a church member mentions their faith in conversation with a work colleague, not only the church member but also the church itself could be punished, with individuals facing fines of up to 50,000 roubles (£580; USD770; €700). There are also restrictions on the extent to which churches can have contact with foreigners; for example, any non-Russian citizen attending a church service would be required to have a work visa or face a fine and expulsion from Russia.

Christianity Today reported the news in this article, “Russia’s Newest Law: No Evangelizing Outside of Church.” Mission Network News offered their view in an article, “Big Brother passes bill in Russia.”

How will this affect the pastors I know in Russia–Vanya, Sasha, Sandzhik? How will this affect the missionaries our church supports in Russia? How will this affect my missionary friends who invest, train, and mentor Russian pastors? How will this affect my future ministry in the country? How will this affect the Christ followers in Russia? Will the church be stamped out? Or will it flourish and grow even though it is driven underground?

I admit that I have more questions than I have answers right now. As several articles explain, a lot depends on how the law is enforced. If nothing else, we need to pray even more fervently for the Christ followers and global servants in Russia.

 
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Posted by on July 8, 2016 in News stories, Russia

 

Stop Dying!

Another article from The Moscow Times for the OIR file (Only In Russia) – “Russian Health Ministry Bans Patients from Dying to ‘Not Ruin Stats'”

Who knew that too many deaths spoiled the health statistics?

Thanks go to Norm Eddy and John Musgrave for posting the original article. It certainly gave me a reason to chuckle and roll my eyes.

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 23, 2016 in News stories, Russia

 

How far does your conscience stretch?

An Alabama county official refused to lower flags to half-staff this week in honor of the victims of the mass shooting at a gay club in Orlando, saying that doing so would signal a lack of resolve in the face of terrorism. While his “soul ached for the victims” and his family prayed “for them and for the world,” he did not feel it was a “valid circumstance” for lowering the flag to half-staff.

A student is given the assignment of writing a term paper defending evolution. As a Christ follower, they feel it will violate their convictions.

An employee is told to fly a rainbow flag at half-staff in front of their office building to signify mourning for the victims of the massacre in Orlando, FL. While they mourn the tragedy, they wonder if the action means they approve of a lifestyle that goes against their biblical convictions.

In the 1981 movie, Chariots of Fire, Olympic athlete Eric Liddell is scheduled to compete in the 100 meters during the 1924 Paris Olympics. However, he discovers that the preliminary heat is scheduled for a Sunday. Being a Sabbatarian, he refuses because it goes against his Christian convictions. The dialogue below reveals how the British athletic leaders try to convince him otherwise.

Lord Birkenhead: Liddell, he is your future king, are you refusing to shake his hand? Does your arrogance extend that far?

Eric Liddell: My arrogance, sir, extends just as far as my conscience demands.

Lord Birkenhead: Fine, then let’s hope that is wise enough to give you room to maneuver.

Lord Cadogan: Don’t be impertinent, Liddell!

Eric Liddell: The impertinence lies, sir, with those who seek to influence a man to deny his beliefs!

HRH Edward, Prince of Wales: There are times when we are asked to make sacrifices in the name of that loyalty. And without them our allegiance is worthless. As I see it, for you, this is such a time.

Eric Liddell: Sir, God knows I love my country. But I can’t make that sacrifice.

As a Christ follower, how do we practice our beliefs in an increasingly antagonistic culture? When do we stand firm and when do we compromise? How far can our convictions stretch before they break altogether and mean nothing?

Fortunately for us, the book of Daniel in the Old Testament provides some insights as to how we can live out our convictions in a culture that either ignores or rejects God.

  • Daniel was a teenager when he was taken as a prisoner to Babylon (Daniel 1:1-4, 6)
  • The Babylonian leaders wanted to change Daniel’s education, diet, and name (1:4-7).
  • Rather than eat the king’s food (which had probably been first offered to idols, or went against Jewish dietary laws), Daniel proposed a compromise (1:8-16). For ten days, he and his friends would submit to the education and name change, but follow Jewish dietary laws. The steward could then evaluate the results and Daniel and his friends would abide by the decision.
  • King Nebuchadnezzar builds a statue of himself and enacts a law that everyone has to bow down to the image. Daniel’s three friends—Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego—refuse and face the fiery furnace as a result (3:1-30).
  • Government officials who oppose Daniel enact a law outlawing prayer to anyone but the king (6:1-9). Rather than change his habits, Daniel continues to pray at the same time and same place as he had previously (6:10). Daniel is cast into the lion’s den as a consequence of disobeying the law (6:11-24).

Based on the example of Daniel and his friends, there is a time to suggest a compromise (ch. 1) and there is a time to stand firm in our convictions (chs. 3 & 6). If necessary, we must face the consequences for our choices. And God may, or may not, rescue us from the punishment. Regardless of the outcome, however, we need to be obedient and follow God (3:16-18).

I counseled the student writing the paper on evolution to present what the teacher asked for. The student could quote the teacher’s sources and give what was required. At the end of the paper, the student could then present what Scripture says on the subject. It was a compromise designed to meet the requirements while at the same time declaring their personal convictions.

The worker attached the hardware for the rainbow flag to be raised, but did not participate in any further ceremonies. They performed their duty without endorsing the decision.

As time goes on, Christ followers will face more and more situations where we will have to decide how far our conscience can stretch. May we have the wisdom of Daniel to know when to compromise and when to stand firm.

 
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Posted by on June 20, 2016 in Culture, News stories, Scripture

 

A time to weep

After reading the news over the past 30 days, I’ve come to the conclusion it is time to weep. We should weep for a culture where …

  • People live secret lives
  • We think that violence is the answer to our problems
  • Individuals kill others because they are different or hold different values
  • Evil appears to be winning
  • Politicians use tragedies to push political agendas
  • Politicians are more concerned about assigning blame than finding solutions and fixing problems
  • Political candidates are more focused on accusing the opposing candidate of wrongdoing than they are on stating what they truly believe
  • Animal life is valued higher than human life (On May 31, Ed Stetzer tweeted “In 5 days: 700 refugees drowned off Greece, 9000 babies were aborted in U.S., 68 were shot in Chicago … and a gorilla dominated the news)
  • Tolerance is elevated to the highest virtue, and if you disagree with my statement, you must be a “hater” because you are obviously intolerant
  • Christ followers are marginalized because we believe that the Bible speaks to the issue of right and wrong and not everything should be tolerated
  • We are so focused on vilifying religion that we miss when a company with conservative values like Chik-Fil-A goes out of their way to demonstrate compassion to those serving the victims of the recent shooting in Orlando
  • We have become so desensitized to violence and cynical about politicians that we no longer recognize when it is time to weep

 

 
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Posted by on June 17, 2016 in Culture, News stories

 
 
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