Monday, January 12, 2009

Gay NH Bishop to Offer Prayer at Inaugural Event

The first openly gay Episcopal bishop will offer a prayer at the Lincoln Memorial at an inaugural event for President-elect Barack Obama.

The selection of New Hampshire Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson for Sunday's event follows weeks of criticism from gay-rights groups over Obama's decision to have Pastor Rick Warren give the invocation at his Jan. 20 inauguration.

Pastor Warren backed the ban on same-sex marriage that passed in his home state of California on the November ballot.

Robinson said last month the choice of Rick Warren was like a slap in the face. In an interview with the Concord Monitor, he said he doesn't believe Obama invited him in response to the Rick Warren criticism but said his inclusion won't go unnoticed by the gay and lesbian community.

"It's important for any minority to see themselves represented in some way," Robinson told the newspaper for a story in Monday's editions. "Whether it be a racial minority, an ethnic minority, or in our case, a sexual minority. Just seeing someone like you up front matters."

Clark Stevens, a spokesman for the inaugural committee, said Robinson was invited because he had offered his advice to Obama during the campaign and because of his church work. When asked whether Robinson was included to calm the Rick Warren complaints, he said Robinson is "an important figure in the religious community. We are excited that he will be involved."

Robinson, 61, said both Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden will attend the event, and Obama is expected to speak. As for himself, Robinson said he doesn't yet know what he'll say, but he knows he won't use a Bible.

"While that is a holy and sacred text to me, it is not for many Americans," Robinson said. "I will be careful not to be especially Christian in my prayer. This is a prayer for the whole nation."
Robinson said his prayer will be reflective of the times.

"I think these are sober and difficult times that we are facing," he said. "It won't be a happy, clappy prayer."

Robinson's 2003 consecration has divided the church in the United States and abroad, causing local churches to separate from the mother church, resulting in law suits over church properties. Last month, theological conservatives upset by liberal views of U.S. Episcopalians and Canadian Anglicans formed a rival North American province.

[Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved.]

The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit

I. The Holy Spirit as a Person
A person is characterized by consciousness, rationality, moral and ethical qualities.
A. (Lk. 12:12) He is a teacher
B. (Ac. 8:29) He speaks
C. (Ac. 5:32) He is a witness
D. (Rom. 8:26) He is a helper and intercessor
E. (Ac. 15:28) He determines the value of decisions
F. (1 Cor. 2:11) He is constantly in touch with the mind of God
G. (Ac. 20:28) He chooses church leaders
H. (Ac. 5:3) He can be lied to

II. Symbols/Figures of Speech used of the Holy Spirit
A. Clothing (clothed with power) Lk. 24:49
B. Dove Matt. 3:16; Mk. 1:10; Lk. 3:22; Jn. 1:32
C. Fire Ex. 3:2; Lev. 9:24; 1 Kgs. 18:38; 2 Chron. 7:1; Zech. 2:5; Mal. 3:3; Ac. 2:3; Heb. 12:29; 1Pet. 1:7; Rev. 1:4
D. Oil Matt. 25:3-8; cf. Ps. 45:7 with Heb. 1:9
E. Seal 2 Cor. 1:22; Eph. 1:13; 4:30
F. Water Jn. 4:14; 7:37-39
G. Wind Jn. 3:8; Ac. 2:1-2; 2 Pet. 1:21
H. Mouth/Word of God Isa. 34:16; Ezek. 1:3
I. Breath of God Gen. 2:7; Job 27:3; 33:4; 34:14-15; Ps. 33:6; Jn. 20:22
J. Finger of God Lk. 11:20, cf. with Matt. 12:28
K. Hand of God Ezek. 1:3
L. Earnest 2 Cor. 1:22; 5:5; Eph. 1:14
M. Seven Eyes Rev. 5:6

III. The Deity of the Holy Spirit
A. Divine Attributes:
1. Omnipresence Ps. 139:7
2. Omniscience Isa. 40:13-14; 1 Cor. 2:10
3. Omnipotence Isa. 11:2; Jn. 3:6
4. Eternality Heb. 9:14
5. Holiness Rom. 1:4
6. Transcendence Ps. 51:12
7. Agent of Salvation Heb. 10:29: Zech. 12:10
8. Perfection Rev. 1:4; 3:1
9. Unity of Spirit Eph. 4:4
10. Divinity of Spirit 2 Cor. 3:3
B. Various references to the Holy Spirit are interchangeable with references to God:
1. Ac. 5:3-4
2. 1 Cor. 3:16-17, see also 6:19-20
C. Holy Spirit performs certain works which are commonly ascribed to God:
1. Creation Gen. 1:1, 3; Job 26:13; Ps. 104:30
2. His work with humansa. Regeneration Jn. 3:5-8; Titus 3:5b. Resurrection Rom. 8:11

D. The Holy Spirit’s association with the Father and the Son: ( Mat. 28:19; 1 Cor. 12:4-6; 2 Cor. 13:14; 1 Pet. 1:2)
1. He is called both the Spirit of Yahweh (Isa. 61:1) and the Spirit of Christ (Rom. 8:9; 1 Pet. 1:11)
2. Jesus ascribes the working of the Holy Spirit to both the Father and Himself (Jn. 14:16; 15:26)
3. The Holy Spirit is sent by both the Father (Jn. 14:16, 26) and Christ (Jn. 16:7).
4. The Son is the revealer of the Father by incarnation (Jn. 14:7-10), while the Holy Spirit is the revealer of the Father by inspiration (Eph. 1:17, NIV).

IV. Titles Attached to the Holy Spirit
1. Spirit of God Gen. 1:2; Mat. 3:16
2. Spirit of the Lord Lk. 4:18
3. Spirit of our God 1 Cor. 6:11
4. His Spirit Num. 11:29
5. Spirit of Yahweh Judges 3:10
6. Thy Spirit Ps. 139:7
7. Spirit of the Lord Isa. 61:1
8. Spirit of your Father Mat. 10:20
9. Spirit of the Living God 2 Cor. 3:3
10. My Spirit Gen. 6:3
11. Spirit of Him Rom. 8:11
12. Spirit of Christ Rom. 8:9; 1 Pet. 1:11
13. Spirit of Jesus Christ Phil. 1:19
14. Spirit of Jesus Ac. 16:7
15. Spirit of His Son Gal. 4:6
16. Spirit of the Lord Ac. 5:9; 8:39
17. One Spirit Eph. 4:4
18. Seven Spirits Rev. 1:4; 3:1
19. The Lord the Spirit 2 Cor. 3:18
20. Eternal Spirit Heb. 9:14
21. Spirit of Glory 1 Pet. 4:14
22. Spirit of Life Rom. 8:2
23. Spirit of Holiness Rom. 1:4
24. Holy Spirit Ps. 51:11; Mat. 1:20; Lk. 11:13; Jn. 14:26
25. Holy One 1 Jn. 2:20
26. Spirit of Wisdom Ex. 28:13; Eph. 1:17
27. Spirit of Wisdom and Understanding Isa. 11:2
28. Spirit of Counsel and Might Isa. 11:2
29. Spirit of Knowledge and Fear of the Lord Isa. 11:2
30. Spirit of Truth Jn. 14:17
31. Free Spirit Ps. 51:12
32. Spirit of Grace Heb. 10:29
33. Spirit of Grace and Supplication Zech. 12:10
34. Spirit of Faith 2 Cor. 4:13
35. Spirit of Adoption Rom. 8:15
36. Paracletos Jn. 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7
37. Spirit of Judgment Isa. 4:4; 28:6
38. Spirit of Burning Isa. 4:4
39. Holy Spirit of Promise Eph. 1:13
40. Power of the Almighty Lk. 1:35
41. Promise of my Father Lk. 24:49
42. Promise of the Father Ac. 1:4

V. Works Attributed to the Holy Spirit
1. Perfecting of the Saints 1 Pet. 4:14
2. Agent of Regeneration Rom. 8:2; Jn. 3:5-8
3. Sanctifier Rom. 1:4
4. Gives Wisdom Jn. 2:20; Eph. 1:7
5. Agent of Application of Grace Heb. 10:29
6. Reveals our Adoption Rom. 8:15
7. Helper Jn. 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7
8. Executes Judgment Isa. 63:10; Ac. 5:3-9
9. Ordains Ac. 13:2-4
10. Directs Christian Witness Ac. 10:19; 16:6
11. Guides the Church in Decisions Ac. 15:28
12. Distributes Spiritual Gifts 1 Cor. 12:11
13. Reveals the Lordship of Christ 1 Cor. 12:3
14. Provides Gifts of Ministry 1 Cor. 12:27-29
15. Provides Access to the Father Eph. 2:18
16. Agent of Incarnation Mat. 1:18-20; Lk. 1:35
17. Agent of Inscripturation 2 Tim. 3:16
18. Teaches Jn. 14:26
19. Intercedes Rom 8:26
20. Bears Witness Jn. 15:26
21. Convicts Jn. 16:7-8
22. Strives/Judges Gen. 6:3
23. Anointed the Anointed One Lk. 3:21-22; Ac. 10:38
24. Has a Role in the Resurrection 1 Pet. 3:18-19
25. Agent for Justification 1 Cor. 6:11
26. Enlightens the Believer Jn. 16:12-13
27. Glorifies Jesus Jn. 16:14-15
28. Enables/Empowers the Believer Ac. 1:8
29. Baptizes the Believer into the Body 1 Cor. 12:13

[from SOMETHING TO CONSIDER by Phil Hoover]

Today's Quote

"I believe that pastors are the most strategic change agents to deal with the problems society faces. If I didn’t believe pastors have the best chance of making a difference in our world, I’d be doing something else." - Rick Warren

Most Americans Pick'n Choose Religious Beliefs

The majority of American adults pick and choose their religious beliefs to create, in essence, a “customized” religion rather than adopting the set of beliefs taught by a particular church, a new study found.

By a three to one margin (71 percent to 26 percent), Americans say they are more likely to personally develop their own set of religious beliefs than accept a comprehensive set of beliefs taught by a church or denomination, a Barna study, released Monday, shows.

Among those who describe themselves as Christians, for instance, nearly half believe that Satan does not exist, one-third say that Jesus sinned when He was on earth, two-fifths say they do not have a responsibility to share the Gospel with others, and one-quarter dismiss the idea that the Bible is accurate in all of its teachings – beliefs that are contrary to most church teachings.

George Barna, founder of The Barna Group, commented on the findings saying that a growing number of people are serving as their own “theologian-in-residence,” resulting in Americans embracing an “unpredictable and contradictory body of beliefs.”

He pointed out that millions of people who consider themselves as Christians who believe the Bible is totally accurate in all its teaching also contend at the same time that Jesus Christ sinned.
Others, the researcher noted, say they believe they will receive eternal salvation because they confessed their sins and accepted Christ as their savior, but they also believe that a person can do enough good works to earn eternal salvation.

Americans today, Barna observed, are “more likely to pit a variety of non-Christian options against various Christian-based views.”

“This has resulted in an abundance of unique worldviews based on personal combinations of theology drawn from a smattering of world religions such as Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, Hinduism, and Islam as well as secularism,” he said.

Leading the pack of pick and choose your religious beliefs are people under the age of 25. More than four out of five (82 percent) of them say they develop their own combination of beliefs rather than adopt a set offered by a church.

Born-again Christians were among the groups least likely to adopt an a la carte approach to religious beliefs, but even most in this group say they have mixed their set of beliefs (61 percent).

In other words, the Barna survey’s findings show that people no longer look to denominations or churches for a complete set of theological views. Rather, combining beliefs from different denominations, and even religions, is becoming the norm.

Another finding in the survey is that Christianity is no longer viewed as the default religion in America. More than 50 percent of the adult respondents say that Christianity is no longer the faith that Americans automatically accept as their personal faith.

Previously, many assumed that if one was born in America than one would automatically be affiliated with the Christian faith.

Evangelical Christians (64 percent) and Hispanics (60 percent) were the strongest supporters of the idea that Christianity is no longer the automatic religion of Americans. Residents in the Northeast and West were also more likely than those living in the South and Mideast to say that Christianity has lost its place as the first faith option people consider.

A slight majority of political conservatives, however, still believe Christianity remains the natural choice of most Americans.

Despite the changes and shift in religious beliefs, an overwhelming portion of Americans still say religious faith is an important source of personal moral guidance. Nearly three out of four (74 percent) American adults say their faith influences their moral judgments.

The report is based upon telephone interviews conducted by The Barna Group with a random sample of 1,004 adults selected from across the United States, ages 18 and older, in August 2008.

[By Jennifer Riley - Christian Post Reporter]

Life in the Fishbowl

Right or wrong, when you’re a pastor, people’s expectations of you change.

- Some believe you are holier than you could humanly achieve. Others are skeptical, secretly hoping you’ll fail.
- Some sincerely hope your family is materially blessed. Others think your family should barely be above the poverty line.
- Many will have very high expectations of your kids. Some will privately (or publicly) gloat when your kids fail.
- Some people will want to be close to you simply because you’re a pastor. Others will be too nervous to be themselves around you.
- Some will extend irrational love toward you and your family. Others will be easily offended (and dislike you) over something you would consider a minor misunderstanding.
- Some will almost worship you (even though you don’t want it). Many of those same people will leave your church before the end of this year.

The joy of intimate Christian relationships for pastors couldn’t be greater. The pain and loss of broken relationships will haunt you throughout your ministry.

Welcome to the real world of pastoring in the 21st Century.

[from : swerve by Craig Groeschel]

Is Domestic Abuse an Acceptable Reason for Divorce?

According to the Christian Post: "Physical abuse by one’s spouse is not a biblical reason for divorce," says a pastor at Saddleback Church in southern California. Tom Holladay, teaching pastor at the megachurch founded by best-selling author Rick Warren, says the Bible only gives two cases where divorce is acceptable: abandonment and a physical affair.

“I wish there were a third in Scripture having been involved as a pastor with situations of abuse," Holladay said in an audio clip posted on Saddleback Church’s Web site. "There is something in me that wishes there were a Bible verse that says, 'If they abuse you in this-and-such kind of way, then you have a right to leave them.'"

Physical abuse, he defined, is someone “literally” beating another person up regularly...
Holliday does believe that couples involved with domestic abuse should separate; and find counseling.

You can read the whole article here.

So … what do you think? Is Domestic abuse grounds for a Biblical divorce? What’s your scripture?

Click "comments" below.

[from MMI Weblog by Todd Rhoades]

Rick Warren: No Preaching & No Politicking in the Inaugural Invocation

The other day I emailed a few questions to Rick Warren, who has accepted Barack Obama’s invitation to give the inauguration prayer, and he’s now responded. Warren says, among other things, that the invitation was “completely unexpected” and that “several dozen” other pastors would do “a better job.”

It’s apparent that he knows a great deal about inaugural prayers -- he actually has a binder containing them all -- and he says he’s going to reread them all before he settles on what shape his will take.

I don’t think he’ll be backing away from praying in the name of Jesus. On the other hand, he won’t be using his prayer to preach or take a political stance -- "that’s the fastest way to kill a prayer," he says.


[by Terry Eastland - The Weekly Standard]

Day 12 of a 21-Day Fast

The Holy Spirit Is Using Our Fast

The Holy Spirit is using your fast to reveal your true spiritual condition, resulting in brokenness, repentance and a transformed life. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, Neither shall any man pluck them out of your hand.” (John 10:27-28)

On your twelfth day of fasting, remember:
- Drink water and juice
- Rest to maintain your energy
- Prayer in your designated place
- Journal your daily thoughts
- Continue to focus on God
- Chew sugar free gum
- Speak with a partner from your group

Physical Effects:
- Weight loss continues
- Bad breath is still apparent
- God’s presence is apparent and heightened
- Hunger is still an issue, but keep focused

Today’s Quote: “God looks throughout the earth looking for those faithful few that He can pour out His blessing on in extraordinary ways. God wants to use you in ways you cannot begin to imagine. All He is looking for is a life completely focused on Him. When you fast, you attract His attention as one willing to venture beyond the norms of religion and into the great adventure.” (Jentezen Franklin)

Thoughts for your Journal:
- Has God revealed anything to you personally?
- Reflect on what it means to present your body as a living sacrifice through your time of fasting.

Today's Prayer

Dear God, I want to thank you for being such a loving father.

You know the challenges of parenting. You know the needs of children. I pray that you will help every parent have the right balance of love and discipline. I pray that you will give wisdom in parenting skills and problem-solving.

While every child needs love, each one needs correction to fit them and their offenses, according to their actions, their unique personalities, and their ages. I pray for biblical values and guidance in each parent's heart, mind, and spirit.

I pray an extra special touch for single parents who must parent alone. They have their own unique battles to face.

Thank you for hearing my prayer on behalf of parents everywhere. And thank you for being such a great father.

In Jesus' name, amen.