Thursday, March 13, 2008

Guard Went To Church Prepared For The Worst

[By LANCE BENZEL - THE GAZETTE, Colorado Springs]

Jeanne Assam was prepared for the worst the morning after a gunman killed a pair of missionaries in Arvada, according to a newly released account of the church shootings.

The volunteer security guard was on the hunt for anything unusual at New Life Church on Dec. 9, well before the deadly rampage on the bustling campus.

She memorized a police description of the Arvada gunman, helped fellow members of the church's security team track down suspicious vehicles in the parking lot, and even grabbed one teenager during a sermon and patted him down - only to earn his thanks for her vigilance.

When her fears materialized, Assam was ready for 24-year-old Matthew Murray.
"There he is, Jeanne," someone said as the gunman made his first appearance inside the church after launching his attack outside. "He's right there coming in the doors."

Assam, who was inside when the shooting began, told police she took cover in a doorway with her pistol drawn as he strode down the corridor from the northeast entrance, firing a weapon and muttering to himself.

When the moment was right, she came out shooting. She saw Murray fall to the floor and continued advancing. Assam told investigators that she kept firing at Murray after he went down, wrongly believing the gunman was fumbling for a grenade on his chest. Instead, his hands were "cupped" around a pistol, one of three weapons he carried into the church that morning.

"I'm just gonna shoot myself," Murray said to her, though Assam told police she couldn't be sure of his exact words.

She kept her Beretta 9mm trained on Murray until another guard arrived and confirmed the gunman was dead, according to the police account.

An autopsy determined Murray died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Police determined that Murray was hit by four of the five bullets Assam fired - hitting him with gunshots in the legs and arm and shooting the rifle he carried.

Assam, 42, credited her faith in God even as she was debriefed by police about the incident.
"I shot him," she told one officer. "I don't know how many times. I just knew I had to do it. ... God was with me. I prayed for him to keep me safe."

New Life Pastor Brady Boyd has called Assam a "hero" whose actions averted further bloodshed. She was normally his personal security guard, but on the morning of the shooting she was stationed in the middle of a church rotunda, on the lookout for danger after reports of the shootings at the mission training center in Arvada earlier in the day.

COGOP International Assembly

Are you a timid or tentative leader?

[By Dr. John C. Maxwell]

It's cliche to say that every journey begins with a single step, yet it's true. Leaders don't wait for everything to be perfect before they move forward. They don't wait for all the problems or obstacles to disappear. They don't wait until their fear subsides. Leaders take initiative.

Leaders know the secret of momentum: once you take the first step and start moving forward, everything becomes clearer and easier. If momentum gets strong enough, problems begin to take care of themselves and new opportunities arise. But the benefits of momentum only come into play once a leader takes initiative.

As leaders, why are we sometimes timid or tentative when we should be taking action? In my experience and observation, there are six root causes of our procrastination.

Read the full article...

The Story of One Church

River City Worship Center

Today's Quote

"Relationsahips without trust have no future."

1 in 4 U.S. Teens Has an STD

[By Lindsey Tanner - Associated Press]

At least one in four teenage American girls has a sexually transmitted disease, suggests a first-of-its-kind federal study that startled some adolescent-health experts. Some doctors said the numbers might be a reflection of both abstinence - only sex education and teens' own sense of invulnerabilty. Because some sexually transmitted infections can cause infertility and cancer, U.S. health officials called for better screening, vaccination and prevention.

Only about half of the girls in the study acknowledged having sex. Some teens define sex as only intercourse, yet other types of intimate behavior including oral sex can spread some diseases.

Among those who admitted having sex, the rate was even more disturbing — 40 percent had an STD.

"This is pretty shocking," said Dr. Elizabeth Alderman, an adolescent medicine specialist at Montefiore Medical Center's Children's Hospital in New York.

"To talk about abstinence is not a bad thing," but teen girls — and boys too — need to be informed about how to protect themselves if they do have sex, Alderman said.

The overall STD rate among the 838 girls in the study was 26 percent, which translates to more than 3 million girls nationwide, researchers with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found. They released the results Tuesday at an STD prevention conference in Chicago.

"Those numbers are certainly alarming," said sex education expert Nora Gelperin, who works with a teen-written Web site called She said they reflect "the sad state of sex education in our country."

"Sexuality is still a very taboo subject in our society," she said. "Teens tell us that they can't make decisions in the dark and that adults aren't properly preparing them to make responsible decisions."

Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said the study shows that "the national policy of promoting abstinence-only programs is a $1.5 billion failure, and teenage girls are paying the real price."

Similar claims were made last year when the government announced the teen birth rate rose between 2005 and 2006, the first increase in 15 years.

The new study by CDC researcher Dr. Sara Forhan relied on slightly older data. It is an analysis of nationally representative records on girls ages 14 to 19 who participated in a 2003-04 government health survey.

The teens were tested for four infections: human papillomavirus, or HPV, which can cause cervical cancer and affected 18 percent of girls studied; chlamydia, which affected 4 percent; trichomoniasis, 2.5 percent; and genital herpes, 2 percent.

Dr. John Douglas, director of the CDC's division of STD prevention, said the results are the first to examine the combined national prevalence of common sexually transmitted diseases among adolescent girls. He said the data, now a few years old, likely reflect current prevalence rates.

Disease rates were significantly higher among black girls — nearly half had at least one STD, versus 20 percent among both whites and Mexican-Americans.

HPV, the cancer-causing virus, can also cause genital warts but often has no symptoms. A vaccine targeting several HPV strains recently became available, but Douglas said it probably hasn't yet had much impact on HPV prevalence rates in teen girls.

The CDC recommends the three-dose HPV vaccine for girls ages 11-12 and catch-up shots for ages 13-26.

Chlamydia, which often has no symptoms but can lead to infertility, can be treated with antibiotics. The CDC recommends annual chlamydia screening for all sexually active women under age 25. Trichomoniasis, also treatable with antibiotics, can cause abnormal discharge and painful urination. Genital herpes can cause blisters but often has no symptoms. It's not curable but medicine can help.

The CDC's Dr. Kevin Fenton said given the dangers of some STDs, "screening, vaccination and other prevention strategies for sexually active women are among our highest public health priorities."

Douglas said screening tests are underused in part because many teens don't think they're at risk, but also, some doctors mistakenly think: "Sexually transmitted diseases don't happen to the kinds of patients I see."

Teens need to hear the dual message that STDs can be prevented by abstinence and condoms, said Dr. Ellen Kruger, an obstetrician-gynecologist at Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans.

"You've got to hammer at them," with appropriate information at each stage of teen development to make sure it sinks in, she said.

She said there are a lot of myths out there, too — many sexually active teens think the withdrawal method will protect them, or that douching with Coca-Cola will kill STD germs.
Dr. Margaret Blythe, an adolescent medicine specialist at Indiana University School of Medicine, said some doctors hesitate to discuss STDs with teen patients or offer screening because of confidentiality concerns, knowing parents would have to be told of the results.

Blythe, who heads an American Academy of Pediatrics committee on adolescence, noted that the academy supports confidential teen screening.

[Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved.]

How Much Should A Minister Sacrifice?

[From Guest Blog - Libby Myrin via : swerve by Craig Groeschel]

The idea of sacrifice as part of ministry has often created some uncertainty for me. As we serve Him through ministry, sacrifice is just part of the deal. But my question is to what extent should we sacrifice?

Some are obvious because the sacrifices allow us to put our complete trust in God . . .
  • We sacrifice having a larger income.
  • We sacrifice our energies and efforts.
  • We sacrifice our control.
But when does the sacrifice actually hinder our ministry . . .

  • We sacrifice our time . . . How much time with our family does that include?
  • We sacrifice our personal desires . . . At what point do we disregard our personal desires completely?
  • We sacrifice some of our gifts and passions for the sake of "the call" . . . Could we at times actually be denying His purpose for us?
For me, the sacrifice I have experienced has been life-changing. He’s broken me to build me in Him. My relationship with my Lord is deeper; my marriage is stronger; my view of myself is healthier; my friendships are more real; and my passion to lead people to become fully devoted followers of Christ is almost consuming. But I’m not a pastor. I don’t get calls at all hours of the day. My husband’s schedule is rather flexible. We don’t have children. We only have to support two 25-year-old lifestyles (and two pups’ ). Don’t get me wrong – the Enemy definitely likes to send his efforts my way, but . . .

I see others in ministry and the sacrifices they have made. The fathers of large families. The wives that get the kids ready, work all day, then cook and clean in the evenings. The people that give ALL of themselves to the point of crashing. How do you deal with that kind of sacrifice? How do you make those decisions as to the extent of your sacrifice?

When it comes down to it, nothing we could ever sacrifice is even partially comparable to His Sacrifice for us. Maybe that is the ultimate answer.

Bishop Is Ousted

[By Garance Burke - Associated Press]

National leaders of the Episcopal Church have ousted the bishop of a California diocese for breaking away from the denomination in a fight over the Bible and homosexuality.

Denomination officials voted Wednesday to remove Bishop John-David Schofield from his role as head of the Diocese of San Joaquin in central California. They also have barred him from performing any religious duties. San Joaquin is the first full diocese to split from the liberal-leaning denomination, which in 2003 consecrated the first openly homosexual Episcopal bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire. Wednesday's vote is part of an effort by the denomination to regain control of the San Joaquin diocese and hold onto church property.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, the head of national church, has been working to maintain oversight of the central California church region. Episcopal leaders still consider the diocese part of the denomination. Schofield, however, aligned the diocese with the conservative Anglican Church of the Southern Cone, based in Argentina. The Episcopal Church is the Anglican body in the U.S.

The House of Bishops voted to "depose" Schofield, which removes him as head of the diocese and bars him from performing any religious duties. Schofield, who opposes ordaining women and homosexuals, vowed in a statement to continue leading the diocese as a member of the House of Bishops of the Southern Cone. "I am still an active Anglican bishop," he said.

He warned that any attempt by the denomination to "seize our property" through litigation would violate biblical teachings. The diocese includes 48 church buildings in prime real estate markets throughout California. "It appears as though the real motivation behind all of this is the use of raw power and coveting property," Schofield said.

Jefferts Schori cautioned that "since he is no longer the bishop of San Joaquin, it would be inappropriate for him to retain title."

About 2,000 parishioners in the 8,000-member diocese want to stay in the Episcopal Church and have hoped for Schofield's removal. "We've been waiting for this," said Ron Miller, a former vestry member at a Turlock parish that has split into opposing camps. "Many of us have gone through very hurtful times and vilifications by Schofield supporters. This is the initial step leading us toward healing and reconciliation."

Since last August, dozens of worshippers have been studying the Bible at a parishioner's home and are planning to hold Easter Sunday services in a park because congregants who support the bishop have control of St. Francis parish, Miller said. Jefferts Schori and other leaders plan to travel to Stockton on March 29 for a convention in which parishioners who wish to stay with the national denomination will elect a new bishop.

The global Anglican Communion is a family of churches that trace their roots to the Church of England. The fellowship is on the brink of schism over Robinson's consecration.

Schofield and other conservatives believe Scripture bars same-sex relationships, and he told San Joaquin churchgoers that they risked moral decay by staying with the Episcopal Church.

Several dozen conservative U.S. parishes have split from the national denomination since 2003 and, like Schofield, aligned with like-minded Anglican provinces overseas.

Today's Prayer

Lord, You are the vine, and I am a branch. I want to abide in You and You in me, so that I will bear much fruit, for without You, I can do nothing ... If I abide in You, and Your words abide in me, I will ask what I desire, and it shall be done for me. I pray that Your desires will be my desires; that Your Word will be held close in my heart. By this Our Father is glorified, that I bear much fruit, so I will be Your disciple. Thank You for loving me and accepting me as Your child and disciple. I pray that I will always remain full of Your joy and love others as You have loved me. (Based on John 15:5-12). In Your name I pray, amen.

A Church Launch

[By Chris Blumhofer - Associate Editor]

Almost all congregations, no matter their size or age, share a common past: they were once a "church plant." Church planting began with the earliest assemblies of believers. The concerns of church planters are the reason we have much of the doctrine and teaching that the New Testament gives us.
  • Calling.
  • Preaching and teaching.
  • Leadership development.
  • Conflict management.
These are not just business-as-usual topics. They're church-planting topics. The biblical doctrines and practical skills of church planting are as needed today as they were in the earliest years of the church. For the doctrines, we already have the ultimate handbook. The skills and strategies that go into a successful plant are the focus of a great download: Launching a Church.

  • What goes into a successful launch team?
  • How can leaders build a strong and healthy church culture, especially at the beginning, when they have a clean slate to work with?
  • What are the landmines church planters need to watch out for?
To find answers to these questions—and more—take a look at Launching a Church.

Also this week:

  • Check out all three of these downloads devoted to starting new churches or sites. Click here to get them for a reduced price.
  • Bill Hybels describes the hardest kind of leadership.
  • "Wreck the roof!" That's Mark Buchanan's advice bringing people into your church.