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How to Dis Discontent – The Secret

Contented BabyEphesus was a wealthy city, and the Ephesian church probably had some prosperous members.

Paul advised Timothy to instruct them about how to regard and use their resources.  But he also warned Timothy to be on his guard against those whose involvement in the church was based on greed.

Paul’s counsel fits our era just as well.

Interact with God’s Word

1 Timothy 6:5-11, 17-19

  1. If religion shouldn’t be seen as a way to get rich, how can it be the source of great wealth?
  2. How can the perspective of verses 7-8 help you distinguish between needs and wants?
  3. To what extent can advertising to stimulate demand in our consumption-driven economy undermine the contentment urged in these verses?
  4. How much do you think your outlook has been affected by this advertising?
  5. How have you seen greed ruin marriages, friendships, or business relationships?
  6. Why is trusting in the security of savings (v. 17) a trap?
  7. What is the antidote for relying on accumulated wealth (vv. 18-19)?
  8. Do you really share Paul’s confidence (v. 17b) about how God relates to His children?

Spend Time in Prayer

Ask God for satisfaction when your basic needs are met, acceptance of what He’s doing in your life, and fulfillment in relating to others in His work.

1 Timothy 6:5b-11, 17-19

5 These people always cause trouble. Their minds are corrupt, and they don’t tell the truth. To them religion is just a way to get rich. 6 Yet true religion with contentment is great wealth. 7 After all, we didn’t bring anything with us when we came into the world, and we certainly cannot carry anything with us when we die. 8 So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content. 9 But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is at the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows. 11 But you, Timothy, belong to God; so run from all these evil things, and follow what is right and good. Pursue a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness.

17 Tell those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which will soon be gone. But their trust should be in the living God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. 18 Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and should give generously to those in need, always being ready to share with others whatever God has given them. 19 By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may take hold of real life.

Prayer for the Week:  Lord, make me grateful for Your past blessings, confident of Your future provision, and at peace with my current circumstances.
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Imagine No Malaria – People in pews and big donors net millions to fight malaria

Matilda Ndanema displays the insecticide-treated mosquito net she received from the United Methodist Church's Imagine No Malaria campaign in 2010 at her home in Bumpe, near Bo, Sierra Leone.

Matilda Ndanema displays the insecticide-treated mosquito net she received from the United Methodist Church’s Imagine No Malaria campaign in 2010 at her home in Bumpe, near Bo, Sierra Leone.

As the Imagine No Malaria campaign enters its home stretch, United Methodists can look with satisfaction at $60 million already raised in gifts and pledges, and with hope and confidence toward surpassing the $75 million goal by the end of 2015.

Most of the money raised has been from grassroots efforts like bake sales, car washes and children donating birthday money. “Now, gifts of $1 million are coming in, and there are opportunities for more of these,” said Pittsburgh Area Bishop Thomas Bickerton, chairperson of the executive committee for Imagine No Malaria.

“This is what it means to be connectional,” said Bishop Bickerton. “Everyone in the pews contributes to the success of Imagine No Malaria. This is selfless, joyful giving. This is generosity that will save thousands of lives. I am so proud of my United Methodist brothers and sisters in Christ.”

Habibatu Fugbawa sits with two of her children in front of the insecticide-treated mosquito net she received in 2010 from the United Methodist Church's Imagine No Malaria campaign at her home in Bumpe, Sierra Leone.

Habibatu Fugbawa sits with two of her children in front of the insecticide-treated mosquito net she received in 2010 from the United Methodist Church’s Imagine No Malaria campaign at her home in Bumpe, Sierra Leone.

Malaria has been killing for thousands of generations, but improved prevention, sanitation and healthcare have all but eliminated it from the developed world. Despite this progress, however, malaria continues to kill at a rate of almost one death every minute in Africa — millions of children infected each year.

These needless deaths have galvanized United Methodists, particularly those who have been to Africa and have witnessed the extent of malaria’s devastation. Donnellson United Methodist Church in Iowa has fewer than 50 people in worship on Sundays, yet, on average, church members have donated $187 per person.

Donnellson United Methodist Church’s pastor, the Rev. Peggy Ellingson, said her church’s active mission focus has led members to visit Africa several times.

Imagine No Malaria - Global Partners Standing Together“It really hits home,” Ellingson said. “That connection, that real connection of people who have been there, have seen it, have done it, the end result of their making a difference and then sharing it with the rest of the group, really makes all the difference in the world.”

The United Methodist Church has operated hospitals and clinics in Africa for more than 200 years. Imagine No Malaria takes decades of good work a step further. The campaign allows the church to offer a comprehensive plan that relies on full partnerships with African communities, focusing equally on four efforts: prevention, treatment, education and communications.

“Where better can you make a difference than channeling through The United Methodist Church to attack a global issue?” asked Jerre Stead. “There’s not a lot of places that allow investments like leadership gifts to maximize the return, and (the church is) clearly one. It’s an excellent one.”


How to Dis Discontent – Gear Glut

Hiking with a Large PackKey Bible Verse:  True religion with contentment is great wealth. 1 Timothy 6:6

Bonus Reading1 Timothy 6:5b-11, 17-19

I entered a shelter along the Appalachian Trail late one afternoon after witnessing incredible overlooks and enjoying nature’s beauty up close.  But there was one problem—my pack was too heavy.  My shoulders were aching, and my neck felt like it needed one of those thick, padded braces.

I’d packed way too much food and dreaded lugging the heavy pack the next day.  So I started giving away dried fruit and granola bars to the other hikers settling in for the night.  They probably thought it odd, but accepted the provisions I’d (unknowingly) been carrying for them.  I’d never been such a cheerful giver!

Today’s verse reminds me that if I carry too much bartering power, my journey will suffer.  Understanding my limitations has become the most efficient, least painful way to carry my pack.

Some of us are stronger than others.  A friend of mine carries large bank accounts in his “life pack,” and it seems to never slow him down.  However, for others of us, our loads are lighter because our heavenly Father knows what we’re able to heft.

Seeking to fill our packs and pockets is a grave mistake.  As we learn to trust God more fully, we know He’ll meet all our needs—so there’s no need to overpack!

—Nathan Chapman in With God on the Hiking Trail

My Response:  To lighten my “life pack,” I need to …

Thought to Apply: God doesn’t call upon us to give up a single thing that adds to our happiness; all He wants us to give up are the things which blight our lives.—D.L. Moody

Adapted from With God on the Hiking Trail (Doubleday, 2001)

Prayer for the Week:  Lord, make me grateful for Your past blessings, confident of Your future provision, and at peace with my current circumstances.

How to Dis Discontent – Reach for Less

Half-built TowerKey Bible Verse: Better one handful with tranquility than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind.  – Ecclesiastes 4:6, NIV

Bonus Reading:  Luke 14:28-30

The third weapon of contentment is a realistic reach.  Before you set a goal, candidly assess the time, the talents, and the resources you have.

Jesus rebuked those who started a tower without calculating what it would take to finish it.  We must know our strengths, and limitations.

Our lives were meant to be built on the capabilities and personality strengths a good God has given us.  We don’t need to strain to be somebody else.  There’s great satisfaction in focused energy and completed towers.  If your reach will compromise a quiet center or push you beyond the boundaries of peace, consider it too expensive.

King David revealed the secret of his relaxed spirit: “Lord, my heart is not proud; my eyes are not haughty.  I don’t concern myself with matters too great or awesome for me.  But I have stilled and quieted myself” (Psalm 131:1-2).

To be content with our life position cancels out the reach for more.  It means that who we are is okay—our looks, our abilities, our singleness.  Where we are is okay too—our address, our school, our job, our position.  And contentment includes how we are, even in a sickbed or with an empty wallet.

—Ron Hutchcraft in Living Peacefully in a Stressful World

My Response: When has my appetite for more created the stress I deplore?

Thought to Apply:  To feel that one has a place in life solves half the problem of contentment.—George Woodberry (college professor & poet)

Adapted from Living Peacefully in a Stressful World (Discovery, 1985, 2000)

Prayer for the Week:  Lord, make me grateful for Your past blessings, confident of Your future provision, and at peace with my current circumstances.

How to Dis Discontent – Equalize the Pressure

GoliathKey Bible Verse:  Now I can rest again, for the LORD has been so good to me. Psalm 116:7

Bonus Reading:  Psalm 78:18-28

Our outside environment pushes us to compare, complain, compete, and conquer.  To avoid chronic discontent, we need to counter with three kinds of inside pressure.

First, we need to renew our confidence in our secure Source.  When something happens to our paycheck or our best friend, we feel fearful and restless.  But those are only vehicles of God’s supply, not the Source.  He’s infinitely creative in finding other ways to send what we need.  After all, our Father invented manna in the wilderness, water from a rock, and food delivered free by ravens.  If we belong to Him, our Source is beyond the reach of any recession, depression, or hydrogen bomb.

Second, we fight discontent with a grateful memory.  David’s memory was working well when he told King Saul, “The Lord who saved me from the claws of the lion and the bear will save me from this Philistine [Goliath]!” (1 Samuel 17:37).

God sends His gifts to us daily, but because we’re too busy to notice or say thanks, we lack David’s poise.  Regular, specific thanks warms our Father’s heart, and reconfirms our contentment.  If He’s done it before, He’ll do it again!” [continued tomorrow]

—Ron Hutchcraft in Living Peacefully in a Stressful World

My Response:  Is my ultimate security based on savings, investments, or insurance?

Thought to Apply:  We should spend as much time in thanking God for His benefits as we do in asking Him for them.—Vincent De Paul (French clergyman)

Adapted from Living Peacefully in a Stressful World (Discovery, 1985, 2000)

Prayer for the Week:  Lord, make me grateful for Your past blessings, confident of Your future provision, and at peace with my current circumstances.

Update – Prayer Concern – American’s Wife Faces Sudan Death Penalty for Not Renouncing Christian Faith

Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Gives Birth in Sudan Prison as 1 Million Protest Christian Mother’s Death Penalty

Wedding photo of Meriam Ibrahim and Daniel Wani

Wedding photo of Meriam Ibrahim and Daniel Wani

Christianity Today reports this afternoon that, as advocates for the Sudanese mother sentenced to death for not renouncing her Christian faith topped more than 1 million, Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag gave birth early this morning to a baby girl in a Khartoum prison hospital wing.

So reports Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), as well as her lawyer Elshareef Ali to the BBC.  The 27-year-old mother sentenced to death for apostasy named her little girl Maya, according to The Telegraph.

Sudanese authorities are allowing Ibrahim two years to nurse her daughter before they will carry out the death sentence.  Ibrahim’s lawyers lodged an appeal last week, according to CSW.

Meanwhile, advocates decry the actions of the Sudanese government in convicting Ibrahim of apostasy and adultery, punishable by hanging and 100 lashes.  So far, more than 620,000 actions have been taken via Amnesty International to appeal Ibrahim’s death sentence.  A Change.org petition has gathered more than 414,000 signatures, while the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) has gathered more than 236,000 signatures.

The Sudanese Embassy in Washington, D.C. released a statement:

This case remains a legal issue and not a religious or a political one.  It is unwise and dangerous to politicize the issue at hand to spur religious tension between the two peaceful faiths with similar foundations.  Notably, It is important to emphasize that freedom of choice is the cornerstone of both Islam and Christianity.

Her husband, Daniel Wani, who is wheelchair-bound and suffers from muscular dystrophy, immigrated to New Hampshire with his brother, Gabriel, in 1998.  He became a U.S. citizen in 2005, reports the New Hampshire Union Leader.  However, Daniel has been in Khartoum for the past year in support of his wife and son.

The U.S. embassy released its own statement May 15, the day Ibrahim appeared before the court and refused to recant:

We are deeply disturbed over the sentencing today of Meriam Yahya Ibrahim Ishag to death by hanging for apostasy.  We are also deeply concerned by the flogging sentence for adultery.  We understand that the court sentence can be appealed.

We continue to call upon the Government of Sudan to respect the right to freedom of religion, a right which is enshrined in Sudan’s own 2005 Interim Constitution as well as international human rights law.

We call on the Sudanese legal authorities to approach this case with the compassion that is in keeping with the values of the Sudanese people.

Additionally, four U.S. senators have officially condemned Sudan’s charges against Ibrahim: Marco Rubio from Florida, Jim Inhofe from Oklahoma, Chris Coons from Delaware, and Bob Menendez from New Jersey.  In a U.S. Senate resolution, they encouraged the State Department and the United States Agency for International Development “to continue their support for initiatives worldwide that support religious freedom.” They call on the Sudanese government to include protection for religious freedom in a new constitution that President Omar Hassan al-Bashir pledged in January to write.

Other U.S. senators, including Roy Blunt of Missouri and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, penned an open letter asking John Kerry, U.S. Secretary of State, to offer political asylum to Ibrahim.

“We also urge you and President Obama to reappoint an Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, whose primary purpose is to monitor, prevent, and respond to this exact type of incident,” the letter stated.

U.N. human rights experts have condemned the death sentence and its rejection of international law.

“According to international law,” they said, “The death penalty may only be imposed for ‘the most serious crimes’, if at all.  Choosing and/or changing one’s religion is not a crime at all; on the contrary, it is a basic human right.

Globally, the Netherlands, Canada, and England have also decried Sudan’s treatment of Ibrahim, reports CNN.

Details surrounding why Ibrahim’s half-brother and half-sister filed suit against her in the first place have emerged from the Daily Mail.

Here is the Government of Sudan’s full statement:

The Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan in Washington DC has noticed with regret some of the official statements and media coverage on the case of the Sudanese citizen Mariam Ibrahim Yahia; as some of them have mistakenly accused the government of Sudan of violating human rights by depriving Mariam of her civil rights as a Sudanese citizen.  In this regard, the Embassy would like to confirm the following:

The official records of the Government of Sudan indicates that the real name of the lady mentioned in this case as Mariam Ibrahim is actually ‘ Abrar Elhadi Muhammad Abdallah Abugadeen’ and there is no official record shows that her name was changed to Mariam Ibrahim Yahia.  Abrar was born in um Shagrah in Algadarif state on Jan. Ist. 1986 to Muslim Sudanese parents and the claim that the mother is an Orthodox Christian from Ethiopia is untrue.

There was no Government agency behind the case; rather her immediate family had reported their daughter as missing, later and after she was found and claimed that she is Christian, the family filed a case of apostasy against her.

The ruling of the judge was made at the primary court after hearing all parties involved since February 2014, and it is subject to be implemented in at least two years if confirmed by three levels of courts which are: Appeal Court, Supreme Court and finally the Constitutional Court.  The Judiciary System in Sudan is independent, and the Sudanese Judges are qualified and dignified.

This case remains a legal issue and not a religious or a political one.  It is unwise and dangerous to politicize the issue at hand to spur religious tension between the two peaceful faiths with similar foundations.  Notably, It is important to emphasize that freedom of choice is the cornerstone of both Islam and Christianity.

While reaffirming the commitment of the Government of Sudan to all human rights and freedom of beliefs, the Embassy of Sudan in Washington DC would like to thank all those who have raised their concern and sympathy on this issue.

Please continue to remember this mother and child, as well as her husband, in your prayers.

How to Dis Discontent – Virus Protection

Contented LionsKey Bible Verse:  I have learned to get along happily whether I have much or little.  – Philippians 4:11

Bonus Reading:  Philippians 4:10-20

Life is never good enough for some people, while others have great joy even though their lives are plagued by problems.  According to the apostle Paul, the problem for those who are never happy is that “their minds and consciences are corrupted”  (Titus 1:15, NIV). It’s as if a bad computer virus has corrupted all their spiritual files.

We’re all created to enjoy this brief life by finding the marks of the Creator in everything He’s made.  Yet sin has distorted our vision, making it hard for us to see God’s good work.  Instead we see only a world that’s not good enough, a family that’s imperfect, or friends and colleagues who don’t appreciate us.

It’s tempting to just get new friends, change jobs, and bombard our family members with criticism.  Yet the problem doesn’t lie out there.  It lies in our own corrupted minds and guilt-ridden consciences.

Until we deal with these corrupted files through confession, the invitation to joy won’t compute for us.  That’s because joy is essentially an expression of gratitude, and nothing makes us as grateful as believing we’re forgiven. When we’re overwhelmed by the grace we’ve received, it’s hard to be judgmental of the world around us.

—Craig Barnes in An Extravagant Mercy

My Response:  Today, I’ll thank God for my most basic blessings.

Thought to Apply:  Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out. —John Wooden (basketball coach)

Adapted from An Extravagant Mercy (Jossey-Bass, 2004)

Prayer for the Week:  Lord, make me grateful for Your past blessings, confident of Your future provision, and at peace with my current circumstances.

How to Dis Discontent – 4-Wheel Dream

TruckKey Bible Verse:  Those who love money will never have enough.  How absurd to think that wealth brings true happiness.  – Ecclesiastes 5:10

Bonus Reading:  Ecclesiastes 2:10-11

In a class I taught on money, I asked one husband, “Peter, if you could drive any car you wanted and didn’t have to pay for it, what would it be?”

With a wide grin, he replied, “A Ford F-250 V-8 pickup truck, every option, extended cab, four-wheel drive with a topper and a ski rack.”

“Should we make it diesel?” I asked.

Bigger grin. “Yeah, let’s make it diesel.”

“Peter,” I followed up, “Say you may have a new Ford like that every year for the rest of your life.  However, the trade-off is that you’ll never be content.  Or you can drive a 1996 Ford Taurus that’s seen better days.  The trade-off is that you’ll always be content.  Which do you choose?”

Peter sat there stunned and undecided.  He’d always thought, When I get to this level and have these things, then I’ll be content.

Was that his conscious thinking?  No. Was it his practical behavior?  Yes.  As is true for most of us.

Our culture has conditioned us to believe our contentment is something “out there.”  “When I get the right job …” “When we can afford to move to a larger house …” “When we can afford to retire …”  “When” never gets here.

—Neil Atkinson in The Shrewd Christian

My Response:  To move the basis of my contentment from “out there” to “in here,” I need to …

Adapted from The Shrewd Christian (WaterBrook, 2004)

Prayer for the Week: Lord, make me grateful for Your past blessings, confident of Your future provision, and at peace with my current circumstances.

Memorial Day

We Remember Those Who Protect Us, On Memorial Day And Always…

No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.  – John 15:13

Memorial DayToday we honor those who have served and those who continue to serve, while remembering all those who have laid down their lives so we can continue to enjoy the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Thank You for the men and women who protect us and preserve Your gifts of life, country, and freedom at home and abroad, even at the sacrifice of their own lives.  They and their families are the true heroes among us.

Please send Your angels to protect all those who serve our country, and keep us free from injustice and harm.

In Jesus’ Name we pray.

Amen.

How to Dis Discontent – “There’s Your Model”

Church PewWho Said It…Richard Bewes

Richard is rector of All Souls Church, Langham Place, London.  He grew up as a missionary kid in Kenya.

His love of tennis began there and continued during secondary school in England, where he represented the combined Public Schools of Britain against the All-England Club at Wimbledon.

Richard says his family’s gospel tradition began in 1882, when his grandfather, then 14 years old, responded to a sermon by American evangelist D.L. Moody.

What He Said…”There’s Your Model”

Missionary Ken Ogden used his skills as a carpenter to good effect in one of the developing countries.  At one point he’d shown his local pupils how to build a church.  They did it together.

They were just about to embark on the final lesson of making the seating when the blow fell.  The totalitarian government of the day found fault with Ken and ordered him out of the country with 24 hours notice.

What would you have done?  Run ’round to the bank and try to extricate what funds you could?  Frantically gather your most precious belongings for a hasty exit?  Ken did none of that.

Those last hours he spent with his pupils, and made one seat for the new church.  “There!” he said when it was done. “There’s your model.  Now I’m going, but you finish the rest.”

He left them, not only with the prototype for a church seat, but also with a standard of how an integrated Christian behaves under pressure.  It was the lesson of contentment.

Adapted from Words that Circled the World (Christian Focus, 2002)

Prayer for the Week:  Lord, make me grateful for Your past blessings, confident of Your future provision, and at peace with my current circumstances.

Memorial Day

Memorial Day 2 “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13

Please join us in praise and thanks to God for those who have sacrificed to preserve our freedom.

Central Church would like to thank those who have given so much through their military service; and we remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”  – Psalm 34:18

 

May God bless you this Memorial Day weekend!

National Council of Churches condemns the death sentence of Sudanese woman sentenced to die for marrying a Christian

U.S. State Department U.S. embassy in Khartoum

U.S. State Department
U.S. embassy in Khartoum

Officers of the National Council of Churches today condemned “in the strongest possible words” the death sentence in Sudan for a woman whose only crime was to marry a Christian man.

The sentence of Meriam Yahya Ibrahim Ishag is also reproached by the U.S. government, American Baptist Churches USA, and many other churches and religious groups.

Jim Winkler, President and General Secretary of the NCC, said the sentencing of Ishag for associating with Christians “is inhuman and an act of unspeakable religious ignorance and bigotry.  It is a fundamental violation of the most basic religious precepts that declare God’s love and openness to all people.”

The Rev. A. Roy Medley, chair of the National Council of Churches governing board and general secretary of American Baptist Churches USA, said American Baptists “and all persons of faith and good will” join in the censure of the Sudan court.

A statement by American Baptists condemned the sentence “as a violation of the fundamental human right to religious liberty.”

Dr. Antonios Kireopoulos, NCC associate general secretary, Faith & Order and Interfaith Relations, said, “All our interfaith partners and member communions stand in solidarity with Ms. Ishag. Until all persons are safe to express their faith anywhere, even in areas where they are in the minority, freedom of religion will remain an elusive ideal.”

National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said the U.S,. strongly condemns the sentence and called on Sudan “to meet its obligations under international human rights law.”

Hayden said, “Since 1999, Sudan has been designated as a Country of Particular Concern for its ongoing, egregious, and systematic violations of religious freedom. We continue to urge Sudan to fulfill its constitutional promise of religious freedom, and to respect the fundamental freedoms and universal human rights of all its people.”

– See more at: http://nationalcouncilofchurches.us/news/2014-05Sudan.php#sthash.pkRnroVb.dpuf

 

National Council of Churches condemns the death sentence of Sudanese woman sentenced to die for marrying a Christian

Washington, May 15, 2014 – Officers of the National Council of Churches today condemned “in the strongest possible words” the death sentence in Sudan for a woman whose only crime was to marry a Christian man.

The sentence of Meriam Yahya Ibrahim Ishag is also reproached by the U.S. government, American Baptist Churches USA, and many other churches and religious groups.

Jim Winkler, President and General Secretary of the NCC, said the sentencing of Ishag for associating with Christians “is inhuman and an act of unspeakable religious ignorance and bigotry. It is a fundamental violation of the most basic religious precepts that declare God’s love and openness to all people.”

The Rev. A. Roy Medley, chair of the National Council of Churches governing board and general secretary of American Baptist Churches USA, said American Baptists “and all persons of faith and good will” join in the censure of the Sudan court.

A statement by American Baptists condemned the sentence “as a violation of the fundamental human right to religious liberty.”

Dr. Antonios Kireopoulos, NCC associate general secretary, Faith & Order and Interfaith Relations, said, “All our interfaith partners and member communions stand in solidarity with Ms. Ishag. Until all persons are safe to express their faith anywhere, even in areas where they are in the minority, freedom of religion will remain an elusive ideal.”

National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said the U.S,. strongly condemns the sentence and called on Sudan “to meet its obligations under international human rights law.”

Hayden said, “Since 1999, Sudan has been designated as a Country of Particular Concern for its ongoing, egregious, and systematic violations of religious freedom. We continue to urge Sudan to fulfill its constitutional promise of religious freedom, and to respect the fundamental freedoms and universal human rights of all its people.”

– See more at: http://nationalcouncilofchurches.us/news/2014-05Sudan.php#sthash.pkRnroVb.dpuf

National Council of Churches condemns the death sentence of Sudanese woman sentenced to die for marrying a Christian

Washington, May 15, 2014 – Officers of the National Council of Churches today condemned “in the strongest possible words” the death sentence in Sudan for a woman whose only crime was to marry a Christian man.

The sentence of Meriam Yahya Ibrahim Ishag is also reproached by the U.S. government, American Baptist Churches USA, and many other churches and religious groups.

Jim Winkler, President and General Secretary of the NCC, said the sentencing of Ishag for associating with Christians “is inhuman and an act of unspeakable religious ignorance and bigotry. It is a fundamental violation of the most basic religious precepts that declare God’s love and openness to all people.”

The Rev. A. Roy Medley, chair of the National Council of Churches governing board and general secretary of American Baptist Churches USA, said American Baptists “and all persons of faith and good will” join in the censure of the Sudan court.

A statement by American Baptists condemned the sentence “as a violation of the fundamental human right to religious liberty.”

Dr. Antonios Kireopoulos, NCC associate general secretary, Faith & Order and Interfaith Relations, said, “All our interfaith partners and member communions stand in solidarity with Ms. Ishag. Until all persons are safe to express their faith anywhere, even in areas where they are in the minority, freedom of religion will remain an elusive ideal.”

National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said the U.S,. strongly condemns the sentence and called on Sudan “to meet its obligations under international human rights law.”

Hayden said, “Since 1999, Sudan has been designated as a Country of Particular Concern for its ongoing, egregious, and systematic violations of religious freedom. We continue to urge Sudan to fulfill its constitutional promise of religious freedom, and to respect the fundamental freedoms and universal human rights of all its people.”

– See more at: http://nationalcouncilofchurches.us/news/2014-05Sudan.php#sthash.pkRnroVb.dpuf

National Council of Churches condemns the death sentence of Sudanese woman sentenced to die for marrying a Christian

Washington, May 15, 2014 – Officers of the National Council of Churches today condemned “in the strongest possible words” the death sentence in Sudan for a woman whose only crime was to marry a Christian man.

The sentence of Meriam Yahya Ibrahim Ishag is also reproached by the U.S. government, American Baptist Churches USA, and many other churches and religious groups.

Jim Winkler, President and General Secretary of the NCC, said the sentencing of Ishag for associating with Christians “is inhuman and an act of unspeakable religious ignorance and bigotry. It is a fundamental violation of the most basic religious precepts that declare God’s love and openness to all people.”

The Rev. A. Roy Medley, chair of the National Council of Churches governing board and general secretary of American Baptist Churches USA, said American Baptists “and all persons of faith and good will” join in the censure of the Sudan court.

A statement by American Baptists condemned the sentence “as a violation of the fundamental human right to religious liberty.”

Dr. Antonios Kireopoulos, NCC associate general secretary, Faith & Order and Interfaith Relations, said, “All our interfaith partners and member communions stand in solidarity with Ms. Ishag. Until all persons are safe to express their faith anywhere, even in areas where they are in the minority, freedom of religion will remain an elusive ideal.”

National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said the U.S,. strongly condemns the sentence and called on Sudan “to meet its obligations under international human rights law.”

Hayden said, “Since 1999, Sudan has been designated as a Country of Particular Concern for its ongoing, egregious, and systematic violations of religious freedom. We continue to urge Sudan to fulfill its constitutional promise of religious freedom, and to respect the fundamental freedoms and universal human rights of all its people.”

– See more at: http://nationalcouncilofchurches.us/news/2014-05Sudan.php#sthash.yQJygvdd.dpuf

Fast Facts on Our New Joint Charge and Pastor

 

Rev. Wayne Cleary, 2nd row at right, with confirmation group from Zion Elton UMC.

Rev. Wayne Cleary, 2nd row at right, with confirmation group from Zion Elton UMC.

• Beginning on July 1, 2014, Central Church will become part of a new Joint Charge consisting of Homewood, Koppel, Clinton, and Central Churches.

(Riverview UMC will become part of a new 3-Church Joint Charge with Rochester UMC and “Faith on 68” UMC (formerly Zion UMC).)

• Central’s Sunday Worship time will return to 11:00 on July 1. The other three Churches will retain their current worship times (Clinton–8:45; Koppel-8:30; and Homewood-9:30).

• Our new pastor will be Rev. Wayne Cleary, who is currently serving Zion UMC in Elton, PA. For the past four years, Pastor Cleary has helped Zion Church minister to those in poverty in their community through the “Bridges Out of Poverty” program.

(His wife, Pat, will be appointed to serve as pastor at Ellwood City UMC, and the couple will live in the Ellwood City parsonage.)

• In addition to our new pastor, Jan Davis is being appointed as a Preaching Assistant to share the weekly preaching duties between the four Churches. (Rev. Cleary will determine the schedule.)

Prayer Concern – American’s Pregnant Wife Faces Sudan Death Penalty for Not Renouncing Christian Faith

Christianity Today reports this afternoon that an American’s wife in Sudan has been sentenced to 100 lashes for adultery and death by hanging for apostasy.  She is a Sudanese doctor who will give birth to her second child this month.

Confirmed: American's Pregnant Wife Faces Sudan Death Penalty for Not Renouncing Christian FaithU.S. State Department
U.S. embassy in Khartoum

Given until today to recant her faith by a Sudanese court, Meriam Yahia Ibrahim instead declared she remained a Christian at today’s hearing. The judge at the Public Order Court in El Haj Yousif Khartoum then confirmed her sentence of 100 lashes for adultery and death by hanging for apostasy.

“I am a Christian, and I have never been a Muslim,” Ibrahim told the judge after a Muslim scholar spent 40 minutes persuading her to recant, reports Morning Star News, which first broke the news of Ibrahim’s case. In response, the judge told her, “The court has sentenced you to be hanged till you are dead.”

However, the sentence is to be carried out two years after her second child’s birth later this month, not shortly after the birth as previously reported.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide confirmed the death sentence in the case drawing international attention, calling the ruling a “violation of the Sudanese Constitution and of international conventions to which Sudan is party.”

Middle East Concern reports that Ibrahim’s lawyer is appealing the ruling. Ibrahim’s husband was also not permitted to witness the hearing, and has been denied visitation rights to see his wife and son while they are detained in prison.

Ahead of today’s hearing, Amnesty International condemned Ibrahim’s death sentence and called for her immediate release. According to Manar Idriss, Amnesty International’s Sudan researcher:

The fact that a woman could be sentenced to death for her religious choice, and to flogging for being married to a man of an allegedly different religion is abhorrent and should never be even considered. ‘Adultery’ and ‘apostasy’ are acts which should not be considered crimes at all, let alone meet the international standard of “most serious crimes” in relation to the death penalty. It is flagrant breach of international human rights law.

World Watch Monitor reports more background on Ibrahim’s case, including how her brother first notified authorities about her alleged adultery.

Please hold up this Christian woman in your prayers.

Sierra Leone: A Mother’s Day Story

Mother's Day 1A Hallmark card rarely makes it into the hands of a mother in Sierra Leone.  In fact, across a very wide world, messages of gratitude aren’t delivered via mail.

Mother’s Day for most of in the developed world is usually a time of celebration.  But, in Sub-Saharan Africa where nearly half of the world’s maternal deaths occur, giving birth can be very dangerous.  This is especially true in rural, underserved areas where health care is often lacking and preventable complications during childbirth are often undiagnosed and untreated.

In West Africa, Sierra Leone’s First Lady is addressing the issue of maternal and child mortality and she’s turning to The United Methodist Church and other faith communities to help.  In Africa and beyond, United Methodists reach out to mothers and mothers-to-be by bringing life to their children – vulnerable children whose lives are fragile and short-lived because of malaria and other diseases.

Your heart will be touched when you take a moment to watch love in action in a special Mother’s Day video feature from United Methodist Communications.

New Christian Film – Alone Yet Not Alone – June 13, 2014

 

Alone Yet Not Alone 1 Alone Yet Not Alone 2

“I’ve seen this film 3 times. It’s outstanding!
Don’t miss this movie!”

– Dr. James Dobson, Founder and President of Family Talk

FIND A THEATER NEAR YOU HELP BRING THIS MOVIE TO YOUR TOWN!

IN THEATERS JUNE 13

FATHER’S DAY WEEKEND

City Council Prayers – U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Prayer at Town Meetings

US Supreme CourtA narrowly divided Supreme Court upheld decidedly Christian prayers at the start of local council meetings yesterday, declaring them in line with long national traditions though the country has grown more religiously diverse.

The content of the prayers is not significant as long as they do not denigrate non-Christians or try to win converts, the court said in a 5-4 decision backed by its conservative majority.

Though the decision split the court along ideological lines, the Obama administration backed the winning side, the town of Greece, N.Y., outside of Rochester.

The outcome relied heavily on a 1983 decision in which the court upheld an opening prayer in the Nebraska Legislature and said prayer is part of the nation’s fabric, not a violation of the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of religion.

Writing for the court on Monday, Justice Anthony Kennedy said that forcing clergy to scrub the prayers of references to Jesus Christ and other sectarian religious figures would turn officials into censors. Instead, Kennedy said, the prayers should be seen as ceremonial and in keeping with the nation’s traditions.

“The inclusion of a brief, ceremonial prayer as part of a larger exercise in civic recognition suggests that its purpose and effect are to acknowledge religious leaders and the institutions they represent, rather than to exclude or coerce nonbelievers,” Kennedy said.

Justice Elena Kagan, writing for the court’s four liberal justices, said, “I respectfully dissent from the court’s opinion because I think the Town of Greece’s prayer practices violate that norm of religious equality — the breathtakingly generous constitutional idea that our public institutions belong no less to the Buddhist or Hindu than to the Methodist or Episcopalian.”

Kagan said the case differs significantly from the 1983 decision because “Greece’s town meetings involve participation by ordinary citizens, and the invocations given — directly to those citizens — were predominantly sectarian in content.”

Kennedy himself was the author of an opinion in 1992 that held that a Christian prayer delivered at a high school graduation did violate the Constitution. The justice said Monday there are differences between the two situations, including the age of the audience and the fact that attendees at the council meeting may step out of the room if they do not like the prayer.

In her dissent, Kagan said the council meeting prayers are unlike those said to open sessions of Congress and state legislatures, where the elected officials are the intended audience. In Greece, “the prayers there are directed squarely at the citizens,” she said.

Kagan also noted what she described as the meetings’ intimate setting, with 10 or so people sitting in front of the town’s elected and top appointed officials. Children and teenagers are likely to be present, she said.

Kennedy and his four colleagues in the majority all are Catholic. They are: Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.

Kagan was joined by Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor. Of the four, three are Jewish and Sotomayor is Catholic.

Senior counsel David Cortman of the Alliance Defense Freedom, which represented the town, applauded the court for affirming “that Americans are free to pray.”

Ayesha Khan, legal director for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said the court disregarded the interests of religious minorities and nonbelievers. But Khan said she saw a “silver lining” in the outcome because the court rejected a more sweeping ruling that would have made it even harder to prove a violation of the Constitution.

A federal appeals court in New York had ruled that Greece violated the Constitution by opening nearly every meeting over an 11-year span with prayers that focused on Christianity.

From 1999 through 2007, and again from January 2009 through June 2010, every meeting was opened with a Christian-oriented invocation. In 2008, after residents Susan Galloway and Linda Stephens complained, four of 12 meetings were opened by non-Christians, including a Jewish layman, a Wiccan priestess and the chairman of the local Baha’i congregation. Galloway and Stephens are described in their court filings as a Jew and an atheist.

A town employee each month selected clerics or lay people by using a local published guide of churches. The guide did not include non-Christian denominations, however. The appeals court found that religious institutions in the town of just under 100,000 people are primarily Christian, and even Galloway and Stephens testified they knew of no non-Christian places of worship there.

The two residents filed suit and a trial court ruled in the town’s favor, finding that the town did not intentionally exclude non-Christians. It also said that the content of the prayer was not an issue because there was no desire to proselytize or demean other faiths.

But a three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said that even with the high court’s 1983 ruling, the practice of having one Christian prayer after another amounted to the town’s endorsement of Christianity.

Kennedy, however, said judges should not be involved in evaluating the content of prayer because that could lead to legislatures requiring “chaplains to redact the religious content from their message in order to make it acceptable for the public sphere.”

He added, “Government may not mandate a civic religion that stifles any but the most generic reference to the sacred any more than it may prescribe a religious orthodoxy.”

The case is Greece v. Galloway, 12-696.

City Council Prayers – U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Prayer at Town Meetings

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 today that public prayer before town hall meetings does not violate the First Amendment.

 

US Supreme CourtExplicit and nearly-uniform Christian prayers before government functions that mention “Jesus Christ on the cross” and ask spectators to stand for worship are permissible under the U.S. Constitution, the Supreme Court ruled today.

The case, called Greece v. Galloway, asked the court to decide whether a local government, the Town of Greece, N.Y., needed to restrict the content of the prayers before monthly town board meetings, or take special measures to ensure that a broad range of faiths were represented in prayer.

In another sharply divided 5-to-4 opinion, the court’s conservative justices, with the help of longtime swing-vote Justice Anthony Kennedy, ruled that as long as the prayer preceded the start of official government business there was no need for additional precautions under the First Amendment.

“Ceremonial prayer is but a recognition that, since the Nation was founded and until the present day, many Americans deem that their own existence must be understood by precepts far beyond the authority of government to alter or define.  As practiced by Congress since the framing of the Constitution, legislative prayer lends gravity to public business, reminds lawmakers to transcend petty differences in pursuit of a higher purpose, and expresses a common aspiration to a just and peaceful society,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority. “The prayer in this case has a permissible ceremonial purpose. It is not an unconstitutional establishment of religion.”

Indeed, the U.S. Constitution makes no mention of God or Jesus Christ, but throughout American history, the government it established has not refrained from evoking those names before events.

 

Marty Miller In Concert – May 18!

Marty Miller 2Come on out and meet Marty and his wife, Janet, and enjoy a musical concert of acoustic, encouraging, original songs…. mixed with an easy blend of well-known songs and worship music.

Let the Father’s Spirit use the music and lyrics to open your hearts to a deeper walk with Jesus, and to step a little beyond our comfort zones into an opportunity to grow and give praise!

Place: Central United Methodist Church
1229 Sixth Ave., Beaver Falls, PA 15010
Date & Time: Sunday, May 18, 11:30 am

Info: Email: CentralUMChurch@gmail.com Marty Miller
Web: http://www.CentralUMChurch.org
Phone: (724) 846-3474

http://www.MartyMillerMusic.com