Saturday, October 18, 2014

Ayatollah Khamenei tweets that ISIS was created by wicked US, Zionist, & British governments to sow discord between Muslims

The Ayatollah Khamenei tweeted this today. The Ayatollah is the 'Supreme Leader of Iran'.



Yes. By all means let's let Iran have the bomb.

Remember the bomb? Iran? Nuclear enrichment? Nuclear talks?

ISIS, Ebola, tensions at the Temple Mount, and short attention spans have driven that issue off the media's table. But it is still front and center for Iran. Especially because the final deadline for nuclear talks is November 24. Just a day or so ahead of Congress' get out of town mentality before the holidays and end of year recess

Iran's Nuclear Program: A Thousand Times More Dangerous than ISIS
Left unasked are key questions. Why should the Number One state sponsor of terrorism in the world be allowed to develop any nuclear capacity? Even without an atomic bomb, the radioactive waste that is produced by every nuclear power plant could easily be used to create a so-called dirty bomb. That would be an explosive device that spreads deadly radioactivity in any Western capital city. Another key question is this: Why should one of the world's leading oil producers be allowed the fiction that they need nuclear energy for peaceful purposes? Iran's record since 1979 abundantly shows the ruling mullahs have no peaceful purposes.
Israel's Ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, recently put the Mideast turmoil in perspective. "A nuclear Iran would be a thousand times more dangerous than ISIS," the envoy told guests at his suburban Maryland home.
Ambassador Dermer is right. This administration is simply not serious about stopping Iran from getting the bomb. The fact that Mr. Obama has set November 24th as his artificial deadline for progress in the nuclear arms talks is most illuminating. That is Monday before the traditional get-out-of-town fever hits Washington. Congressmen and staffers will be focused on Thanksgiving Recess, not on talks in Europe about Iran's endless and monotonous negotiations. Iranians have long since mastered the technique of talking their opponents to death
So...how long will it be until Iran arms one usable nuclear bomb?

Nuclear-armed Iran would pose a far bigger threat than Islamic State
"...the Gulf region has a well-organised, well-resourced radical Islamist regime with hegemonic ambitions that commands a formidable army, has abundant funds, equips several proxy armies and terror groups abroad, and reportedly is also ­occupying and oppressing swaths of Iraq. Most disturbingly, it has reached the advanced stages of developing a nuclear weapon and an intercontinental ballistic missile delivery system. That nation is the Islamic Republic of Iran, and the long-term threat it poses to regional stability, global energy supplies and global non-proliferation efforts remains more disconcerting than the dangers posed by the Islamic State.

Yes, I agree it would be really bad if they got it. So how close are they?

Charles Krauthammer: Obama Surrendered To Iran on Building Nuclear Bomb
Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer has claimed that 2014 will be remembered as the year that President Barack Obama surrendered to Iran by allowing the Islamic republic to build a nuclear bomb.
Yes I agree that Obama seems to be dragging his feet on decision-making in this area. But how close is Iran to actually being able to use a nuke they created?

Fact Sheet: Iran’s Nuclear and Ballistic Missile Programs, from the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation
On November 24, 2013, the P5+1 and Iran agreed to the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA) a historic, six-month first-step deal that verifiably freezes Iran’s nuclear program and begins to roll back its most proliferation-sensitive aspects. The purpose of the deal is to build time and trust to negotiate a more comprehensive final agreement that ensures Iran cannot develop a nuclear weapon. Key provisions of the agreement include:
--Halting all enrichment above 5%, diluting or converting the existing stockpile of 20% uranium to a form that cannot be further enriched, and restricting any further increase in the stockpile of 3.5% uranium.
--Prohibiting the installation and activation of new centrifuges, devices that enrich uranium to a higher grade.
--Suspending construction at Iran’s heavy water reactor near Arak.
--“Unprecedented transparency measures” in the form of daily IAEA inspections at Iran’s Natanz and Fordow facilities, along with regular access to centrifuge assembly, component and storage facilities.

In return for these concessions, Iran will receive limited, reversible sanctions relief in the amount of approximately $7 billion. The relief will primarily amount to a release of sanctions on oil assets, gold and precious metals and Iran’s auto sector, while leaving the much stronger sanctions on Iran’s oil and banking.
Thanks for the facts, which only make me believe that Iran is doing ALL they can do to get a bomb before November 24. So are they that close?

Netanyahu warns Obama: Iran must never be a 'threshold nuclear power'
Benjamin Netanyahu has made a public appeal to President Barack Obama, urging him to reject any agreement that would leave Iran as a “threshold nuclear power”. During a meeting with Mr Obama in the Oval Office on Wednesday, the Israeli prime minister voiced his unease over the talks designed to settle the confrontation over Iran’s nuclear ambitions by a deadline of Nov 24. Mr Netanyahu fears that a final agreement might leave Iran a few months away from being able to make enough weapons-grade uranium for one nuclear bomb.

At present, Iran has about 9,500 operational centrifuges and another 10,000 standing idle. If all these machines were used, they would be able to convert Iran’s existing stockpile of low-enriched uranium into enough weapons-grade material for one nuclear bomb in less than two months.

Oh. A few months. Allrighty then. Plus, according to the Ayatollah, it's all Israel's fault anyway.

November 24 nuke talks deadline is not that far away. We do not know what tomorrow holds. It may be filled with Ebola pandemics, a violent flash mob at the corner convenient store, a nuke against Israel sparking the Ezekiel war, (or the Psalm 83 war), collapsing megachurches ... or it may be filled with mundane work, babies born, sunshine, purring cats, fixing broken down cars, wiping noses, and cooking dinner.

God knows. We trust His plan and His will. Praise Him that His will includes protecting His sheep from the Tribulation via rapture, and that we have it to look forward to.

The Coming of the Lord

13But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord,d that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18Therefore encourage one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).


No treaty with Rome! War!

As more and more formerly solid but now straying teachers, and other false brethren associate with and cuddle up to Rome, (I'm speaking of Beth Moore, Kirk Cameron, James Robson, Joel Osteen, Kenneth Copeland... and others) it becomes a concern. Amid their unbiblical calls for unity with Catholics and with Rome, we forget the blood that the Reformers shed to keep the Gospel alive and undiluted by Rome's false doctrines. Here is Charles Spurgeon using plain language to state the truth. O, for such a one at a time like this to say the same.



It is all very well with that Church when it is separated from her heretical sons, and a great gulf fixed, but all that helps to bridge that gulf must mar her glory and destroy her power. We must have no truce, no treaty with Rome. War! war to the knife with her! Peace there cannot be. She cannot have peace with us—we cannot have peace with her. She hates the true Church, and we can only say that the hatred is reciprocated. We would not lay a hand upon her priests; we would not touch a hair of their heads. Let them be free; but their doctrine we would destroy from the face of the earth as the doctrine of devils. So let it perish, O God, and let that evil thing become as the fat of lambs. Into smoke let it consume: yea into smoke let it consume away.


 
War! War! War! A Sermon,
Delivered on Sabbath Morning, May 1st, 1859, by the
REV. C. H. Spurgeon
at the Music Hall, Royal Surrey Gardens.


Vatican City

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Further Reading

Evangelicals Praise Pope Francis' Visit to Pentecostal Church, Apologize for Evangelical Discrimination Against Catholics


Pope meets with American televangelists

Joel Osteen Responds to Critics, [Pope visit] Explains Pastoral Approach: ‘This Is the Path I’m Supposed to Take’

7 Questions God Asks, Losing Kirk Cameron trying Save Christmas, Doctrine, Mark Driscoll resigns, Hillsong & Vatican on gays

Here are some dribs and drabs for you. Links, news, and thoughts.

Sermon Series: Alistair Begg:  Seven Questions God Asks
Many of us are familiar with the questions that individuals regularly bring to God. Yet how many of us are aware of the questions that God brings to individuals? In this series, Alistair Begg examines seven conversations that begin with one of God’s disarming questions. From Adam and Eve in the Garden to the rich young ruler in Judea, the Lord engages these individuals with striking accuracy and exposes their mistaken notions about him.

These questions are as arresting to us today and are as able to penetrate our hearts as they were two-thousand years ago. In this study, we are invited to discover the truth of God’s nature and the reality of our condition as it is revealed in these surprising encounters.
Below is the entire series, click on the link above to get to all of them. Sermons range between 20-25 minutes. I listened to "Why Do You Call Me Good?" and "Where are You?" this morning and I loved them.

Where are You? Genesis 3:9
What is This You Have Done? Genesis 3:13
Why Do You Call Me Good? Mark 10:18
Who Do You Say I Am? Mark 8:29
Do You Think I Came to Bring Peace? Luke 12:51
What Will It Profit A Man ...? Matthew 16:26
What is Your Life? James 4:14

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Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry reminds us of what doctrine is and why it's important, And no, it's not complicated. If you say "I'm a sinner" you just stated the Doctrine of Sin. Doctrine:
The word "doctrine" comes from the Greek word "didaskolos," and it basically means "teaching." It is used many times in the New Testament. Doctrine is extremely important in Christianity. By it we know who God is, what He has done, what the Trinity is, the deity of Christ, His resurrection, salvation, justification, etc. Doctrine is what defines the who's and what's of Christianity. In fact, you can't be saved without doctrine.

It is a doctrinal statement that you are a sinner (Rom. 3:23). It is also doctrinally true that the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23). In fact, the doctrine of salvation teaches us that Jesus bore our sin in His body on the cross (1 Pet. 2:24) so that we could be justified by faith (Rom. 5:1) and escape the righteous wrath of God (John 3:36). Doctrine. It is important. It is vital to our relationship with God and our salvation. Good doctrine is like an anchor that prevents us from drifting into teachings that are false.
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We're losing Kirk Cameron...


You might be surprised to see a negative review of any of Kirk Cameron's projects. Known as a child actor in the 1980s on secular television, and later as a Christian actor in the Kendrick Brothers' Christian movies such as the excellent Fireproof, Cameron has been the Christian poster boy for atheist-turned-Christian boy done good.

However, there has been a noticeable slide in him over the last five years, with several indicators rising to the top and causing concern in the discerning people who notice these things. His movie Monumental was more secular than Christian, and further it was not biblically, theologically or even historically totally accurate. His partnerships with Mormon Glenn Beck, with a Catholic Priest Father Dwyer on the Busted Halo radio show, and now Cameron's complete disaster of a movie "Saving Christmas," have raised the alarm bells to strident proportions.

Just to show that even the secular people get it, here is a hilarious but on the nose review of Kirk's movie Saving Christmas by AV Club

Kirk Cameron to make Christmas safe for Christians
After having bravely made America safe for Christians, Kirk Cameron’s newest movie, Saving Christmas, similarly promises to rescue the Christian holiday for Christians, delivering it from the continued terrorist assault by euphemisms. “Do you ever feel like Christmas has been hijacked by all the commercialism, and those who want to replace ‘Merry Christmas’ with ‘Happy Holidays’ or ‘Seasons Greetings’—whatever that means?” Cameron says. He remains baffled by these crazy atheist codes for wishing you happy holy days and seasonal hellos without specifically invoking Jesus—all while decrying commercialism, in the opening line of a trailer advertising a Christmas movie he wants you to pay to see. 
On a more serious note though, there are many people, including myself, who are very sad to see his theological drift and his unholy partnering with Mormons and Catholics, even going so far as to call them brothers in the faith.

A critical mass of sorts has been reached. Michael John Beasley wrote an Open Letter to Cameron two weeks ago,

Open Letter and Appeal To Kirk Cameron, But Also to Glenn Beck, Father David Dwyer, and all Their Respective Employees and Listening Audiences

At Christianity Today, Sunny Shell gracefully and biblically reviewed the Saving Christmas movie, Kirk Cameron's 'Saving Christmas' Belittles Christians. Here is an excerpt:
On Friday, November 14, 2014 Kirk Cameron's "Saving Christmas" will be opening in select theaters across the country for only two weeks.

This movie is all about making fun of any Christian who doesn't think like or agree with Kirk Cameron and his company. According to Kirk and friends, one of the main purposes of "Saving Christmas" is to dispel the beliefs that most of our traditional Christmas practices e.g., decorating Christmas trees, feasting, mistletoe, gift exchanges, etc., are from pagan origins or fabricated myths about actual people who lived during the fourth-century—namely Saint Nicholas of Lycia, commonly known in the United States as Santa Claus.
Here is the part about belittling Christians. Mrs Shell wrote,
To ensure I was clear regarding one of the main purposes of this film, Darren Doane who not only plays the lead character, but also scripted, produced and directed the movie, tweeted this to me the other day, "but the film does make fun of Wannabe Berean [sic] unimaginative Christians who need to lighten up."

Source
By this we know that Doane and Cameron don't take atheists to task, but take fellow Christians to task who are concerned about the excesses of Christmas consumerism and traditions, and bemoan the lost focus on Jesus, and they do so in a belittling, mocking way.

Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. (Colossians 2:16)

I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. (Romans 16:17)

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Appropos of nothing except I liked the quote (becuase it used to apply to me before I was saved)...speaking to University Students recently, Alistair Begg said of the sin-drenched mind,

"Human reason and intellectual capacity forms the basis for their unbounded confidence. I said to them, I'm not sure they liked it, "Do you realize your intellect is not a citadel that unaffected by sin? Do you realize you can't think properly?"

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Mark Driscoll, Mars Hill Church
Yes I know the Mark Driscoll thing has been discussed to death. Driscoll resigned from Mars Hill as pastor, but the interesting thing to me was the circumstances of the resignation. His elders said he was not disqualified from ministry because he didn't perform "heresy, immorality or criminal activity." While the bible does list those as disqualifying events from ministry, those are not the ONLY disqualifying events. Sola Sisters explains at the following link.

Mars Hill Pastor Mark Driscoll Resigns, Claims He Is Not "Disqualified From Future Ministry"

As devastating as this is issue is to the Driscoll family, the Mars Hill congregants, to the faith and to God, the problem this indicates is much larger. It is my opinion that Western Christianity (and maybe all of Christianity) is undergoing a monumental collapse. The church has been inflated with so many tares that it has become bloated with false members. Like a helicopter trying to rise with too many hanging on, many are falling away (or sovereignly revealed to have been false all along).

Source
[True Christianity will never be overcome. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Matthew 16:18]

For example, Hillsong Pastor Brian Houston said this week that he will not take a biblical stand on Homosexuality issues. He said "it is an ongoing conversation" and "we're on a journey with it". NY Times reported,

Brian and Bobbie Houston of Hillsong

Megachurch Pastor Signals Shift in Tone on Gay Marriage
The pastor of one of the more influential global megachurches has declared that his church is in “an ongoing conversation” about same-sex marriage — saying that it is appropriate to consider the words of the Bible alongside the changing culture and the experience of people in the pews.
This blogger stated it more specifically- Hillsong grooming its members to embrace Queerstianity? (Part 2)

And you know what? So is the Vatican.

Vatican stuns Catholic world with greater openness toward gays and lesbians
VATICAN CITY — The world’s Catholic bishops on Monday (Oct. 13) signaled a move toward greater tolerance of gays and lesbians, an about-face so unexpected that leaders of the church’s right wing called it a “betrayal.”
By no stretch of the imagination can Hillsong, Mars Hill or the Catholic Church be considered true churches. Not when the Mars Hill Pastor has failed the benchmarks for qualified ministry so repeatedly and so obviously. Not when the Mars Hill elders dispense with half the scriptures for pastoral qualifications- either demonstrating massive ignorance of scripture (in which case they themselves are disqualified from eldership) or by having willfully set them aside (again, an act which disqualifies them from eldership).

Not when Hillsong's prosperity gospel infects the global church, and Hillsong conferences touting spiritual teaching and personal renewal include such rank heretics as TD Jakes, Kong Hee, Joel Osteen, Victoria Osteen, Judah Smith, Rick Warren, Jesus Culture, Steven Furtick, Louie Giglio, Christine Caine, Bethel Live, Bill Hybels, Louie Giglio, Joyce Meyer and Joseph Prince! Those names are poster children for heresy itself.

And of course the Catholic Church we already know is false.

Yet how large are just those three entities? Considered Christian by most of the world, their size and membership means their leaven is spoiling the entire loaf. The bread inflates with rank leaven.

A little leaven leavens the whole lump. (Galatians 5:9)

How is it that you fail to understand that I did not speak about bread? Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees. (Matthew 16:11)

Catholic Church: 1.2 billion members worldwide. Vatican is the world's sole absolute monarchy. One of the oldest hierarchical religious organizations in the world, and the longest successive monarchy.

"We must have no truce, no treaty with Rome." Charles Spurgeon

Hillsong: 30,000 members in Australia; extension churches also in London, Cape Town, Paris, Kiev, Stockholm, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Copenhagen and New York, there are 680,000 Twitter followers of Hillsong music and more than 4 million Facebook fans. President of LifeWay Research Ed Stetzer, says of the Houstons’ impact, “I’d guess that globally, they’d be in the top 10 influential evangelicals in the English-speaking world."

And this is the "church" that will NOT take a stand on homosexuality...

Mars Hill: a multi-site church based in Seattle, Washington with 15 locations in 5 U.S. states, 260,000 sermon views online every week, from 2004-2012 Outreach Magazine ranked Mars Hill #4 in overall "Top Churches to Watch in America". In 2011, Preaching magazine named the founding pastor Mark Driscoll 'one of the 25 most influential [English-speaking] pastors of the past 25 years.' 10 Million views on Youtube and almost half a million followers for Mark Driscoll and another 63,000 for Mars Hill Church.

And this is the church whose elders say that plagiarism, twisting scriptures, lying, and bullying are not disqualifying events for its pastor.

Never fear. No matter what seems to be happening to the church is only happening to the false church and only happening because God is allowing it. Jesus keeps His sheep unspoiled. He will take His true church out of the world to be living bread for His name forever.

Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” 37He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. 38The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, 39and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. 40Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. 41The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, 42and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear. (Matthew 13:36-43)


Friday, October 17, 2014

TX AG to Houston Mayor: "Stop Bullying Christians;" also, what to do if you're bullied by gov't

In the last few days there has been a furor over the information reported from Houston, that the lesbian Mayor Annise Parker has litigiously demanded several of Houston's pastors' sermons and the pastors' personal correspondence with congregants. The fracas is ongoing, and has been for a few years. I did write on Wednesday about the recent issue of the wide-net subpoena, here.
Dr Albert Mohler

I'll recap, quoting excerpts from Al Mohler's excellent synopsis. Albert Mohler is an "American theologian and the ninth president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky" according to Wikipedia.
When news broke earlier this week that the attorneys working for the City of Houston had issued subpoenas to pastors for sermons, I was fairly certain that some mistake had been made. When the actual text of the subpoena came to me, I could hardly believe my eyes. Here was a legal demand, sent to Christian pastors in the name of one of America’s largest cities, to surrender “all speeches, presentations, or sermons related to HERO (an anti-discrimination ordinance), the Petition, Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity prepared by, delivered by, revised by, or approved by you or in your possession.”

The controversy started when Mayor Parker, often described as the first openly gay mayor of a major American city, led the effort to adopt an anti-discrimination law that, among other things, allows transgender persons to file a complaint and bring charges if they are denied access to a bathroom. Several Houston-area pastors were involved in an effort to rescind the ordinance. They participated in a petition drive that would have put the question before voters, mobilizing their congregations on the issue. They were able to get more than the required number of signatures on the petition, but the city attorney ruled many of the signatures invalid due to technicalities. The city attorney intervened after the appropriate city official had already certified the petitions as adequate. This set the stage for the lawsuit, and the lawsuit set the stage for the subpoenas.

The subpoenas set the stage for the current controversy. The very fact that the subpoenas were issued at all is scandal enough — none of the pastors is even party to the lawsuit. But the actual wording of the subpoenas is draconian — almost unbelievable. The attorneys working for the city demanded all sermons “prepared by, delivered by, revised by, or approved by you or in your possession” on matters that included, not only the mayor and the ordinance, but homosexuality and gender identity.
Dr Mohler said it is a 'breathtaking violation of religious liberty.' I agree. The horses are out of the barn and there is no recalling them. Now, any or all pastors can be bullied, threatened, or otherwise coerced into producing work product for out-of-control government thugs.

TX Attorney General Greg Abbott
I'm going to put on my citizen hat for a moment. The government is supposed to serve us. To that end, many states have an Open Records policy. Texas does. It is called the Public Information Act. The purpose of such acts are described by the Texas Attorney General,

"The purpose of the Public Information Act is to maintain the people’s control “over the instruments they have created.”

The People are not without resources. Government records are open precisely to push back against such bullying against the citizenry. Annise Parker has said that if any "pastor used the pulpit for politics, their sermons are fair game".

The Public can also request records. The Public does not have to lodge a suit, hire a lawyer, or go hat in hand. They may even examine records for FREE, if doing so inside the premises. There may be some REASONABLE costs for labor or copying fees.

The Public may demand any legally covered work-product from Annise Parker in her office as Mayor, or any Council member, or other elected or government official, to examine. The Public does not have to say who they are, or why they want it, or what they plan to do with it.

How do I know this?

I read the Texas Open Records Law.

The litigation lodged against the pastors is worded thus, again from Dr Mohler's essay:

'The attorneys working for the city demanded all sermons “prepared by, delivered by, revised by, or approved by you or in your possession” on matters that included, not only the mayor and the ordinance, but homosexuality and gender identity.

What if the public demanded, following Open Records protocols, in similar language, "all work-product, speeches, emails, correspondence, and other matter in the Houston Mayor's Office held by, produced by, overseen by, delivered by or otherwise retained in the Houston Mayor's possession or adjunct storage, on matters that include, references or discuss homosexuality and gender identity' ? If such a request legally falls under open records, the Mayor's office would have to produce it. PROMPTLY.

From Texas Attorney General Office FAQ:
What types of records are subject to the Public Information Act?
Any information collected, assembled, or maintained by or for a governmental body is subject to the Public Information Act. The format (paper, electronic, microfilm, etc.) of the record does not affect its status as a public record.

What is a "governmental body"?
For purposes of the Public Information Act, the term "governmental body" encompasses all Texas public entities at the state and local levels.
I believe a City Mayor's office qualifies as a 'local government body' don't you?

The FAQ further states that the Mayor (or other government body) does not have the right to withhold records nor to make their own determination of what constitutes an open record.

For example, one time I requested under Open Records the products related to an issue in the School Department. In one illegally held document, eventually discovered, contended for, and produced, the School Department had bought a stamp and stamped in large red letters across the document, CONFIDENTIAL'. Simply self-stamping an open records document Confidential doesn't make it confidential, lol. But that kind of monkeying with language is going on in the fracas in Houston. The Mayor yesterday changed her demand from sermons to "speeches." Yes, this is an out-of-control government.

There are some exclusions from Open Records. The Judiciary, some personnel records, or negotiations/contracts are often excluded. This is reasonable. Other exclusions are listed specifically in the TX Handbook, linked below.

Again, Open Records are, by law in place to help the Public push back against aggressive or overly-authoritarian government bodies or elected officials. Its purpose is to help the citizenry keep the government transparent, and to educate the citizenry on issues in which the government is addressing on their behalf. I'm not speaking just about Houston but of all local and State and Federal public entities. Citizens (so far) still have rights. Whether the Government entity will adhere to the demands is a different story. A unexercised muscle will atrophy. Here is an example I was involved with.

In Maine, the Maine Society of Professional Journalists decided to test the muscularity of the Freedom of Access law by setting up an audit. (Detractors called it 'a sting').

The findings were depressing. The last audit had been in 1978. Between 1978 and 2002, governments had closed up considerably, and not to the benefit of the citizen.

From the Audit results: "A public records audit is a test of government compliance with public access laws, otherwise known as sunshine laws or right-to-know laws".

They trained us reporters in the Law, created three simple requests (one, I remember for example, was for local expense reports from the mayor or town Administrator, the police were asked to produce a police log, I think), and we were trained in what to say and not say. We were to leave if we were denied, and we were to make notes on whether we were asked who we were or why we wanted it. Requests were made to School Departments, Municipal Governments, and to Police.

In some cases, full compliance was given, in more cases though, access to records was denied. The findings plus comments and notes from the reporters were made public. Embarrassed and chastened, the State of Maine formed the Compliance Committee and tasked 12 people selected from around the state and employed by different public and private entities, to participate. I was one of the 12 appointed to this committee. We were to review Maine's FOA law and submit the report to the Legislative House and Senate for their denial or approval as an amendment to Maine's existing FOA law. We did so and the overhaul was accepted by the State Legislative body. Because of the Journalists'  audit, and resulting action on the State of Maine, Maine's Freedom of Access law was strengthened on behalf of the citizens.

Government that is supposed to serve the public in transparent honesty had become very, very closed, guarded, and sometimes downright hostile to the people they were supposed to be serving. The audit had become necessary. Again, an unexercised muscle atrophies. Citizens, know your rights and use them from time to time.

So. Open Records, Houston. FAIR GAME.

Here are three resources which explain the Texas Open Records Law (Public Information Act). The first one is at the UTexas and is short. The second one is the FAQ from the TX State Attorney General. The third one is THE 2014 Handbook explaining the PIA from the AG's Office. It is 329 pages, but it has a Table of Contents, and segments of the law are stated then explained in real language.

If a person decides they want to obtain open records from any government office, there are a few things to remember, and I address this to the public at large and especially to Christians.

The personnel at the copy machines and secretaries and administrators who carry out the PIA requests are people. They deserve politeness and consideration.

Do your homework. If a person makes an Open Records request, know what is and is not legally available to you. Be considerate by having read the pertinent parts of the law and not making extra work for the people in the offices by having to figure out your request. As is stated in the FAQ, the receiving office does not have to answer your questions, interpret the law for you or otherwise provide information other than your specific, written request. One must not make make ridiculous or frivolous requests.

Records requested have to actually exist. General requests such as "Anything the Town Manager might email next week" will not fall under the Law.

Any person requesting information under PIA should be legible, specific, and polite. I've said polite three times now.

The citizenry has rights. We do have resources that protect us against aggressive governments. Though we as Christians do submit to our government leaders, as long as there are mechanisms in place to legally help the citizenry monitor our government, we should use them. When Apostle Paul was accused in Judea, as a Roman citizen he had a right to appeal to Rome and be tried there instead of Galilee or Jerusalem. Paul employed a mechanism that was available to him. (Acts 25:11, Acts 25:21, Acts 28:19). That is what these mechanisms are there for- to help the citizen obtain justice or for relief from an unjust or oppressive government.

Aggressive government is a pet peeve of mine. I'm speaking more as a temporary citizen of earth and less so as a Christian. But as a Christian, we should remember eventually in this age, it looks more and more like western Christianity has had its day. The threat of jail just for preaching the bible has become very real.

Here are the links:

Open Records Act / Texas Public Information Act

Frequently Asked Questions Relating to the Public Information Act

Public Information Handbook 2014: Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott


RECENT NEWS:


Sermons Are “Fair Game” in Houston — The Real Warning in the Subpoena Scandal

Mayor Parker revises, narrows sermon subpoena request 

Houston to pastors: Forget your sermons, now we want your speeches

Texas Attorney General tells Houston city hall: Stop bullying Christians 
[AG] Abbott called the subpoenas “aggressive and invasive” and said they show “no regard for the very serious First Amendment considerations at stake.”  “Whether you intend it to be so or not, your action is a direct assault on the religious liberty guaranteed by the First Amendment,” Abbott wrote, demanding that the subpoenas be rescinded.  “You should immediately instruct your lawyers to withdraw the city’s subpoenas,” he added.


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Daily Mail: Man without a hazmat suit helps second Ebola nurse board plane; "Who's the idiot with the clipboard?"

UK Daily Mail reports,
Disbelief and panic as mystery man WITHOUT a hazmat suit helps second Ebola nurse board her plane to Atlanta, disposes waste and then climbs aboard
As news helicopters swarmed over Dallas' Love Field this evening to watch the second U.S. nurse to contract Ebola board a private plane bound for Atlanta, one lone mysterious man stood out from the pack. Holding a clipboard and directing the transfer, the unidentified man seemed to be the only person on the tarmac without protective clothing, wearing just a button down shirt and trousers.

While Ebola is not an airborne disease, his presence so close to patient Amber Vinson's medical team sparked fears after he was seen grabbing a container and hazmat trash bag from one of the workers' in full-protective gear and later boarding the flight. It is believed he flew with Vinson and the other hazmat-suited medical staff to Atlanta and local television crews spotted him with the stricken nurse as she disembarked at the airport in Georgia to be transferred to Emory University Hospital. When the plane landed in Atlanta, the man had still not donned any protective clothing and was seen openly interacting with Vinson and the other medical professionals caring for the nurse
.
Clipboard man appears to have flown on the same flight as infected Miss Vinson,
as he is seen in footage of her getting into an ambulance at an airport in Atlanta
Video at link.

CDC has been telling us that 'extra margins of safety' have been followed, yet we learn that the first patient in Dallas was turned away from the hospital, even after reporting he had just returned from Liberia.

We're told that the CDC is on it, but then we learn that 2nd Dallas nurse Amber Vinson had a fever when she flew, but was allowed to fly by the CDC (whom she called) because the fever was 99.5 and not 100.4, putting her into the 'low risk' category.

We are told that an 'abundance of caution' is the watchword, yet our border and inbound air flights are wide open to all comers.

We are told that Ebola is not and can't be caught through the air, yet this doctor says it can be

We can go on and on pointing out the inconsistencies the Government and other Authoritative Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) tell us, but one fact remains, we cannot control disease and it goes where God wills or allows.

God's goal in pandemic diseases is always restoration and repentance. He did before and He still does display His wrath through disease to show His power and might and holiness. As Ebola has instilled fear in the world population, one would hope that the fear of the disease would turn to fear of God accompanied by repentance. A repentant person with God will live forever. An unrepentant person fearing only the disease will die and die forever, over and over and over throughout all eternity.

This ongoing Ebola fear also shows us another thing, the only One we can fully trust is God.

God showed His love through Jesus, and through illnesses such as devastating pandemics, (which Ebola is not yet) God also shows His wrath and His power. Please read the following essay.


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Further Reading

What Does The Bible Say about Pandemic Diseases?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Lesbian mayor of Houston demands Houston pastors' sermons

In this piece of news,

61st Mayor of Houston,
Assumed office 1/2/2010. Wikipedia.
City of Houston demands pastors turn over sermons
The city of Houston has issued subpoenas demanding a group of pastors turn over any sermons dealing with homosexuality, gender identity or Annise Parker, the city’s first openly lesbian mayor. And those ministers who fail to comply could be held in contempt of court.

The subpoenas are just the latest twist in an ongoing saga over the Houston’s new non-discrimination ordinance. The law, among other things, would allow men to use the ladies room and vice versa. The city council approved the law in June.

The Houston Chronicle reported opponents of the ordinance launched a petition drive that generated more than 50,000 signatures – far more than the 17,269 needed to put a referendum on the ballot.

However, the city threw out the petition in August over alleged irregularities. After opponents of the bathroom bill filed a lawsuit the city’s attorneys responded by issuing the subpoenas against the pastors. Mayor Parker will not explain why she wants to inspect the sermons. I contacted City Hall for a comment and received a terse reply from the mayor’s director of communications. “We don’t comment on litigation,” said Janice Evans.

Among those slapped with a subpoena is Steve Riggle, the senior pastor of Grace Community Church. He was ordered to produce all speeches and sermons related to Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality and gender identity. The mega-church pastor was also ordered to hand over “all communications with members of your congregation” regarding the non-discrimination law.

[Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council said] This is the moment I wrote about in my book, “God Less America.” I predicted that the government would one day try to silence American pastors. I warned that under the guise of “tolerance and diversity” elected officials would attempt to deconstruct religious liberty. Sadly, that day arrived sooner than even I expected
We know that the way that society is going here in America that this day would arrive. I believe we have all seen a dramatic acceleration in soft hostility against Western Christianity in just the last few years. That the State would begin to bully Christians in a harder persecution would not be long in coming. I personally believe this act from the Houston Mayor is a kind of bridge step in going from soft pressure to hard persecution.

Russell Moore, speaking on behalf of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, wrote yesterday,

Houston, We Have a Constitution
Reports coming out of Houston today indicate that city attorneys have issued subpoenas to pastors who have been vocal in opposition to the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO), a measure which deals with gender identity and sexuality in public accommodations. The subpoenas, issued to several pastors, seek “all speeches, presentations, or sermons related to HERO, the Petition, Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity prepared by, delivered by, revised by, or approved by you or in your possession.”

I am simply stunned by the sheer audacity of this.

The preaching of sermons in the pulpits of churches is of no concern to any government bureaucrat at all. This country settled, a long time ago, with a First Amendment that the government would not supervise, license, or bully religious institutions. That right wasn’t handed out by the government, as a kind of temporary restraining order. It was recognition of a self-evident truth.

The churches, and pastors, of Houston ought to respond to this sort of government order with the same kind of defiance the Apostle Paul showed the magistrates in Philippi...
MORE AT LINK, please read. It is good and it's not long.

Dr Steve Riggle
Dr. Steve Riggle of Grace Community Church of Houston was mentioned by name in the article. Here is Dr Riggle speaking two years ago of the need for pastors to be the moral, prophetic voice in their communities and about the reason pastors need to continue speaking of these cultural issues. The excerpt below is from the 6-minute clip below:

If I don't speak up for the people at Grace, then who are they listening to? Because what other voice is out there? And the voices that they're being inundated by all around them are not the voices of righteousness nor are of a stance that adheres to biblical fidelity. It's imperative for me because I'm trying to to shape their worldview in a biblical sense. If I don't speak out on issues like homosexuality - what the bible really says - in a way where why God said 'no' is seasoned with mercy and grace for the person, but not countenancing the sin, then how do they know that? Because who else is going to say it? ... We raise up authentic followers of Christ who walk in righteousness and see themselves as salt in the culture. And to do that, they have to have a solid biblical foundation.


He speaks on the need for pastors to stand with each other. In seminary, regardless of the degree level a seminarian is at, the legal complexities are not taught, Riggle said. It can be overwhelming for a shepherd to be confronted with legal complexities and legal pressure from the worldly culture.

He also speaks of the difference between pastors who respond to their work as a calling and pastors who see their job as a vocation. Pastors who are in a calling will do anything to further the cause. The difference is that one is a leader and another is not. One will speak up and the other will not.

In an interesting turnabout, two years ago during an earlier contretemps with Dr Riggle, Mayor Parker said,
"...it’s her duty “to uphold the state Constitution and the U.S. Constitution. I swore an oath to that. I take that oath very seriously, but I have my First Amendment rights to free speech. We all have the right to do that and I’m sorry that they [Riggle and his supporters] don’t understand the Constitution. I’m going to continue to follow my oath of office, lead the city well but speak out on issues that I care about.”
It might be wise for Ms Parker to remember that freedom of speech to promote 'issues that she cares about' goes both ways in this Constitution she cited two years ago when it suited her.

Pastors need prayer. Even if the Houston Mayor backs down, this shot across the bow has opened the Pandora's Box for all manner of evil to come flying out. Once the demand has been made, it cannot be unmade. Other towns and cities will follow suit in Houston's precedent, and quickly too. One of those times, the demand will stick. Pastors, are you prepared to go to jail? THE QUESTION IS NOT RHETORICAL in the US any longer!


However, in the mythological Pandora's Box, when all the other evil had flooded the world after being released, what remained behind? Hope. In real life, not myths, Jesus tells us that we always have His hope.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)

He IS hope. He gives us His hope AND His power so that we may overflow in it. In John 16:32 Jesus said the hour was coming when all will scatter and He will be left alone. He concluded by saying,

"Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me."

The Father is with us all. Unite in prayer and like-mindedness so that the Houston pastors are emboldened, energized by the Spirit as they abound in hope. The Houston Mayor is not the enemy. We all have a common enemy and he is satan. But this enemy has already been defeated. Let's pray for the Mayor, her cohorts, as we should be praying for our leaders. And always remember that against the Father, who can stand?

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Further reading

Joel Osteen gives blessing prayer at Annise Parker's Inauguration