Saturday, June 27, 2009

The 3 - June 27, 2009

Enjoying the sunny beaches of Northwest Florida and keeping an eye on developments for the latest installment of "The 3"...The Southern Baptist Convention has concluded for another year, which affects many American Christians, plus a new denomination has been born this week. Also, a significant youth gathering makes its every-3-year impact. So, let's roll out another edition.

3 - DCLA points the way

The student gathering known as DCLA kicked off this week in Los Angeles - one of two cities that hosts the event every 3 years. The event actually reconvenes in Washington next month. Noted speaker Francis Chan rallied the youthful crowd on Thursday night with an overview of God's plan for humanity. Read The Christian Post story here.

2 - Anglicans aim high

The new Anglican Church in North America was unveiled this week, an effort to unify a number of Anglican groups and dioceses, many of whom emerged from the U.S. Episcopal Church due to differing views on the authority of Scripture. Bishop Robert Duncan of the Pittsburgh area was named the first Archbishop of this new denomination, which has been said to mark the largest launch of a denomination since the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) started in the 70's.

One of the supporting groups is the American Anglican Council, which released this information. Robert Lundy, Communications Director for the AAC, will appear on my radio show, "The Meeting House" on Monday, June 29th between 4:15 and 4:45 Central Time. Audio will be posted at

1 - The Convention and our Commission

Southern Baptists gathered in Louisville in a 2-day meeting that drew over 8700 "messengers" representing various churches and denominational entitites. Leading up to the convention, there was some discussion of the Great Commission Resurgence document that had been released. Many saw this as a reaffirmation of the denomination's purpose, but there was some concern that its call for reform could adversely affect state conventions and local associations. While not voting on the document itself, messengers gave President Johnny Hunt the authority to appoint a task force, that would make recommendations for fulfilling the Great Commission at next year's convention in Orlando. The 19-member force, headed by Arkansas pastor Ronnie Floyd, included representatives of churches, seminaries, state conventions, and other Southern Baptist entitites.

The convention also passed a number of resolutions, including a calling on Southern Baptists to pray for President Obama, despite differences on policy. Other resolutions dealt with adoptive care and a Biblical view of sexuality.

The Baptist Press did an excellent job of covering the event, and you can find the wrap-up here. BP's blog can be found here.

Honorable mention:
National Association of Evangelicals names replacement for Richard Cizik.
S.C. Governor Sanford admits affair, quotes Scripture.

Friday, June 19, 2009

The 3 - June 19, 2009

This week, "The 3", which highlights 3 news stories of relevance to the Christian community, looks at the response of Christians to arguably the top headline of the week - the political situation in Iran. Also, the Senate anticipates a vote on "hate crimes" legislation, and the Federal "Defense of Marriage Act" tops the news.

3 - Iranian interest

The tug-of-war between factions supporting candidates Mussavi and Ahmadinejad continues in Iran, as massive gatherings have been held in the capital of Tehran for the past week. Some are likening the current waves of protest to the time surrounding the Iranian Revolution in 1979. Christians in the country have endured persecution under the current regime, and apparently were supportive of Mussavi as a possible agent of change. Read more in this press release from the ministry of Open Doors USA.

2 - Protection or intimidation?

The U.S. House of Representatives has already passed a hate crimes bill, and this week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid stated that passage of that legislation in the Senate was a top priority before the August recess. This bill, S. 909 provides for greater punishment for crimes that could be identified to be based on a person's hateful intent, including those committed based on a victim's sexual orientation or gender identity. This legislation would also write into federal law protection for individuals based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

But classifying crimes based on the motive or intent of the criminal opens up a door that could leave preachers and other Christians unprotected. The bill could lay the foundation for those who share a Biblical perspective on homosexuality to be criminally liable, if it could be proven that a crime was committed against another person based on the speech of someone that could have influenced the alleged criminal. This leaves a chilling open door for people of faith.

For some interesting information about the potential effect of this legislation, you can check out this link to a page at CitizenLink's web site. Also, the view of National Religous Broadcasters can be seen here from a Christian Newswire release.

1 - DOMA and domestic partnerships

Days after receiving criticism about his Administration's perceived affirmation of the Defense of Marriage Act (click here for Christian Post account), President Obama stepped forward to offer domestic and same-sex partners of federal workers certain benefits. Some experts, like Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, see this as a violation of the provisions of DOMA. Click here to read the FRC's press release.

This comes at a time when support for same-sex marriage could possibly be waning, according to a new CBS News/New York Times poll. The poll found that 33 percent of those surveyed favor marriage for same-sex marriage, down from a high of 42 percent in April. Here is that CBS News story.

Honorable mention:
The intersection of politics and pop culture - the Palin-Letterman dispute and some response from female, pro-family leaders

Friday, June 12, 2009

The 3 - June 12, 2009

Welcome in to another installment of "The 3”, highlighting relevant news to the Christian community. Subjects today: religious symbols and the courts, a college student's freedom of expression restored, and a Supreme Court non-decision on military policy toward homosexuals. Here we go...

3 - Boxed in...

There's a storm in the desert that has been brewing, and religious liberties legal organization Alliance Defense Fund filed a friend-of-the-court brief to the U.S. Supreme Court this week in a case of a Veteran's memorial monument in the shape of a cross that has been, well...covered by a plywood box, if you can believe that! Various forms of the cross have existed at the location ever since 1934 when the Veterans of Foreign Wars, a private organization, placed it on what was then its own property. In 2001, the ACLU filed suit against the National Park Service. In 2004, Congress authorized the transfer of the one acre of land under the cross back to the VFW in exchange for five acres of other land, but the ACLU said the land transfer was unconstitutional, a federal district judge agreed, and that was upheld by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, setting the stage for an appeal to the nation's highest court, which has agreed to hear the case.

Click here to read ADF's account.

Want to see the monument in question? Also, you can go to to learn more.

Also, this week the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against a 10 Commandments monument in Oklahoma. In this case, the judge writing for the majority said the monument violated the "Establishment Clause" due to the motive of the private individual who donated the structure.

Alliance Defense Fund is considering an appeal. Here are the details.

2 - Bruin bravery

A UCLA student was offered an opportunity to have a personal statement read at graduation. However, the faculty member due to read those words apparently took offense to a reference to Jesus Christ and said that could not be done. Well, after pressure from former Navy chaplain Gordon James Klingenschmitt (Pray in Jesus' Name Project) and others, the school reversed its decision. This clears the way for Christina Popa's statement to be read.

Here is the story from The Christian Post.

Christina set up a Facebook page, and you can view it here. You can see the university's statement as of 6/9/09.

1 - Don't ask, don't tell, don't rule

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear a case challenging the military's policy on homosexuality, better known as "Don't ask, don't tell". This non-decision leaves the current policy intact. If the high court would have accepted the case, the Obama administration would have been forced to defend a policy that the President actually opposes. Allowing open homosexuality in the military would have detrimental and distracting consequences, and numerous military leaders have spoken out against reversing the policy. Matt Barber of Liberty Counsel had some strong and pertinent statements, and he is quoted in this article from LifeSite News.

You can download a copy of Matt's comments 6/12/09 on The Meeting House by going to the Intersection Download Center at

Also, receiving honorable mention:
Carrie Prejean dismissed as Miss California USA.

Friday, June 05, 2009

The 3 - June 5, 2009

This week’s “The 3” focuses on a religious liberties situation, a Presidential proclamation, and a tragic death that garnered response in the pro-life community.

#3 - San Diego Pastor exonerated

Perhaps you heard the story of Pastor David Jones from San Diego. Seems he and his wife have conducted a Bible study in their home for a number of years. Recently, a county authority came to his door, asked some questions about the meeting they were having, and told the Jones they would have to have a costly permit to conduct future studies in their home. This resulted in an outcry by a number of concerned citizens, and the chief administrator of the county rescinded the order, and issued an apology earlier this week.

Just what set off the initial contact is a subject of debate. Perhaps it was a complaint about a parking problem resulting from the study meeting in the neighborhood. It may have even been a small accident, which resulted in some damage, which the pastor said he paid for. Nevertheless, because it was apparently framed as an issue involving a “religious meeting”, it became a religious liberties issue. But at this point, all seems resolved.

Click here for a summary article about this incident.

#2 - Evangelical leaders respond to President’s proclamation of LGBT month

A proclamation issued earlier this week by President Obama seeks to recognize the rights of not only lesbians and gays, as President Clinton’s orders had done, but also to include bisexuals and transgender individuals. This has brought concern from a number of evangelical leaders. The proclamation features a laundry list of issues important to the gay community, including rescinding the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gays in the military, emphasizing support for civil unions, and assorted “equal rights” initiatives.

For more information and response, click here.

#1 - Pro-life response to abortionist’s death

He was a noted abortionist, offering late-term abortions in his Wichita clinic. But pro-life leaders stressed this week that the taking of a life is not an acceptable course of action toward those who perform abortions, condemning the murder of George Tiller, who was shot in the foyer of his church. Even though there were those in the pro-abortion movement who sought to link Tiller’s death with the vocal criticism he has received, nevertheless pro-life leaders were united in their strong condemnation of the acts of the murderer. Scott Roeder, who is apparently not affiliated with any pro-life group, is charged with Tiller’s death.

For a summary of some pro-life reaction, click here. To read comments from Dr. James Dobson, click here.

Honorable mention this week includes:
Thousands come to hear Franklin Graham in his crusade in Estonia.
President Obama reaches out to the Muslim world.
Pop culture watch: Stephen Baldwin goes on NBC series on behalf of organization combating trafficking.
Stryper band member and former prostitute hear wedding bells.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Tweet, Tweet

This is my monthly column from "River Region's Journey" magazine, the June 2009 edition. You can follow me on Twitter at

Jerry was enthralled by the worship at his local church. The worship leader helped the congregation connect with God’s presence, and Jerry really liked to sing the strains of “How Great is Our God” at the top of his lungs. As the worship time transitioned to other things, Jerry took his cell phone out of his holster and typed out a simple message, “Worship was AWESOME today. Psalm 22:3”. Those 36 characters were fewer than the required 140-character limit for Twitter, a new social networking service that is being used in a number of rather creative ways, especially within the world of Christianity.

I admit, I got caught up in the Facebook craze – for a few weeks. It was fun to see who I went to high school or college with that was on the site, and to reconnect with some old friends. However, when the format changed to put a greater emphasis (in my opinion) on the status updates, I found that a few people basically dominated the conversation, and I didn’t care to jump through the hoops to regulate the banter. Plus, I grew weary of seeing who had played Celebrity Agent, or who had Easter Eggs hidden on their page.

I had, in the meantime, signed up for a Twitter account and discovered that by receiving these “tweets” (nickname for the short messages generated), I could keep up with a host of people and organizations of interest, including news and information sources, ministry leaders, and more. For my content-driven radio show, this became helpful to me in keeping up with the pulse of what was taking place in Christianity and the culture. I could also post information about “The Meeting House”, send it out, and embed it in my website, So, I became Twitterized – not sure if the founders of Twitter, Evan Williams (creator of Blogger, which was bought by Google) and Biz Stone (originator of the cool name) envisioned what could be done with this catchy little service, but they, along with Jack Dorsey, have people across America “tweeting”, and in very unique ways of interest to people of faith.

TIME Magazine has picked up on this, and in a recent article, “Twittering in Church, with the Pastor’s O.K.”, writer Bonnie Rochman highlights a church in Jackson, Michigan, where the pastors educated their congregation about Twitter and began to encourage banter – during the service – with selected “Tweets”, pasted across the church’s video screens. The article mentions that those attending Mars Hill Church in Seattle regularly tweet during the service. At Trinity Church in New York City, attendees used Twitter messages during their Passion Play, detailing the story of Christ’s crucifixion in short bursts. Next Level Church in Charlotte is encouraging tweeted prayer as a means of expression to God.

Now, I am by no means endorsing this form of communication during your Sunday worship service. I am not planning to pull out my cell phone and start Twittering points of the pastor’s message, at least not anytime soon. I would imagine that this type of behavior could become a distraction, and you might miss a sermon point if you’re tweeting the previous one. But, I do believe that God has given us the Internet as a tool for our individual spiritual growth, and as a means of communicating what He has done in our lives. In that context, a Twitter message in a service might work, as long as it has the pastor’s blessing.

There are hosts of other ways that Twitter can be used for God’s glory. I located recent tweets from Max Lucado, who was in Honduras with evangelist Mike Silva – Max asked for prayer as he sensed the people’s hearts were not receptive to the message, then later on, gave God praise for a spiritual breakthrough…what a tremendous opportunity to ask for prayer, and track the hand of God!

Then, there’s the case of a young man named Scott Harrison – he left the high life in New York City to sign up for volunteer service with Mercy Ships, which takes free medical care to poor nations. After that experience, charity was part of the fabric of his life and he founded a charity to bring clean, safe drinking water to developing nations. In February of this year, the organization, charity: water sponsored “Twestivals” in a reported 202 cities around the world to build awareness and raise money for the effort, and in April, the first Twestival well was dug in Ethiopia. Twitter participants communicated offline and in-person to raise over a quarter of a million dollars!

Imagine how we can use this and other technological tools to communicate prayer needs, ministry updates, devotional thoughts, and ways we’re seeing God working in our midst - encouraging one another and reaching people for Christ!