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« Reply #240 on: June 20, 2006, 10:07:58 PM »

Christian Charitable Organization Marks $1 Billion Milestone

by Allie Martin
June 19, 2006

(AgapePress) - - An Atlanta, Georgia-based Christian foundation has reached a major financial milestone. The National Christian Foundation (NCF), which was formed in 1982 as a way for Christians to support various ministries, recently distributed -- along with its 22 affiliates nationwide -- the organization's one billionth grant dollar.

Steve Chapman, vice president of marketing with the NCF, says the Christian grant-making organization distributes 30 or 40 percent of its asset base annually. "We really exist to give money away as rapidly as we can, and we are really blessed to work with individuals and families who share that belief," he explains.

The NCF's high percentage of giving goes above and beyond what the federal government requires of charity groups, Chapman notes. "The IRS has a rule for private foundations that they must give away five percent of their assets every year, and most private foundations give right about that amount," he says.

And, the foundation spokesman points out, the Christian organization has been able to increase its fund distribution in recent years. "Roughly half of the one billion dollars that we have granted out since NCF's inception in 1982 has gone out over about the last three years," he says.

So, while it took the NCF some 22 or 23 years to give away its initial $500 million, Chapman explains, it has taken "just a few years" to give away the next $500 million. "And we anticipate a year very soon here," he adds, "where we'll [begin] giving away one billion dollars every single year."

The National Christian Foundation helps donors give to causes they support while providing tools and services to meet a donor's charitable goals, Chapman notes. As the fund continues to grow, he says, ministries and givers across the United States will continue to benefit from the work of the Atlanta-based organization.

http://news.christiansunite.com/Religion_News/religion04629.shtml

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« Reply #241 on: June 20, 2006, 10:09:42 PM »

FIRE Blasts Johns Hopkins for Letting Conservative Paper Be Censored

by Jim Brown
June 19, 2006

(AgapePress) - - Johns Hopkins University (JHU) in Baltimore, Maryland, is being accused of condoning mob censorship. An academic freedom and individual rights watchdog group is decrying school officials' part in an apparent attempt to silence a conservative newspaper.

In May, the Carrolton Record published an issue critical of a group that brought a pornographic film director to the JHU campus. Afterward, hundreds of copies of the newspaper were stolen; however, according to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), the university administration "turned a blind eye to the theft."

According to the Record's editor, about half of the 600 copies that went missing were confiscated by university administrators. However, the editor of the conservative paper says a campus security officer and the Dean of Student Life both said the seized papers did not constitute theft.

Meanwhile, some members of JHU's Diverse Sexuality and Gender Alliance have filed harassment charges against the Record. The group leveled its complaint against the newspaper for publishing a front-page photo of Alliance members posing with the porno filmmaker.

If that act constitutes harassment, FIRE president Greg Lukianoff comments, at this rate harassment may come to be known as the exception that swallows the First Amendment. He claims the word "harassment" has become a catch-all for anything that makes students or other individuals in the university setting uncomfortable.

"I'm just sick of seeing this," Lukianoff says. "On campus, if you're offended, if you're angry, if there's something you're just uncomfortable with, if there's an opinion you dislike, or if an op-ed comes out that you disagree with, there's an all-too-common tendency to call that harassment," he asserts, "and it happens in case after case, after case."

In a similar example, the FIRE spokesman notes, JHU has a troubling policy that allows its resident assistants (RAs) to arbitrarily ban certain flyers and student publications. "Johns Hopkins has just done so many things wrong," he says, and he believes the school has many areas it needs to address to make amends.

"But the number-one thing that they must do is repudiate this harassment investigation against the newspaper," Lukianoff adds. "And the next thing they need to do is get rid of this policy that essentially gives infinite power to censor to RAs," he says.

Also, one of the most essential things that Johns Hopkins University's administrators must do, Lukianoff insists, is something "they should have done already." He says JHU must immediately condemn, in no uncertain terms, the theft of the Carrolton Record's newspapers.

http://news.christiansunite.com/Religion_News/religion04630.shtml

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« Reply #242 on: June 20, 2006, 10:10:57 PM »

Experts Split Over 'Bizarre' Sexual Orientation Therapy Techniques

by Jim Brown
June 20, 2006

(AgapePress) - - Christian psychotherapist Richard Cohen, board president of the ex-homosexual education and outreach organization known as Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX), is addressing criticism leveled against certain therapy techniques he uses on clients with homosexual desires.

Cohen, a former homosexual and the author of the book Coming Out Straight (Oakhill Press, 2005), insists that no one is born with homosexual desires. He claims his reparative therapy group, the International Healing Foundation (IHF), has helped many men and women with unwanted homosexual desires achieve their goal of changing their sexual orientation and becoming heterosexual.

It is not a choice to have homosexual desires, the IHF director contends, but it is a choice to act upon those desires. He says those unwanted homosexual feelings are the result of temperament, familial influence, and environmental or social conditioning, all of which can be addressed through specific therapeutic principles and practices.

Cohen's methods have raised some questions, however; and he has lately taken sharp criticism over a May 23 appearance on Cable News Network (CNN), in which he demonstrated a technique that involves cuddling a male client in his lap. Another of the unusual therapy techniques depicted involved a client hitting a pillow with a tennis racket while shouting the name of a parent or other individual who elicits painful childhood memories.

Cohen, who refers to himself as a reorientation therapist, explained the "holding therapy" exercise as a means of using "healthy touch" on clients, who very often were "touch deprived" as children. He says this technique is one of the most effective ways to help men and women leave homosexuality.

"They're hungering for that intimacy and that bonding that they didn't experience in primary relationships with parents and/or same-gender peers," the psychotherapist asserts. "So what we have to provide then, in the Christian community, is really mentoring these men and women," he says, "and a lot of them need healthy touch -- hugging, holding, just palling around, buddying around."

Cohen contends it was just such "healthy bonding" that helped to transform his own homosexuality into a healthy heterosexuality. However, a prominent mental health counselor who has acted as a spokesman for PFOX in the past is distancing himself from the group because of this and other therapy techniques of Cohen's demonstrated on the segment of CNN's "Paula Zahn Now" that aired last month.

Colleague Raises Doubts About Cohen's Change Therapy Techniques
Psychologist Dr. Warren Throckmorton, director of college counseling at Grove City College in Pennsylvania, maintains a blog on sexual identity change therapy and related information for interested individuals. He is not a reparative therapist, but he claims Cohen's techniques as demonstrated on CNN are bizarre and are not based on solid research.

Since viewing the "Paula Zahn Now" segment, Throckmorton has notified PFOX that, although he supports its mission and its belief that people are not born homosexual, he will not represent the group as long as Cohen remains its board president.

"Richard means well and has a good heart," Throckmorton acknowledges. "I think he is interested in helping people achieve the change that he himself has achieved. However, I also am concerned that the techniques and the portrayal of them left the wrong impression in the minds of many people in the public."

The impression the psychologist and Grove City College official is concerned about leaving with the public, he explains, is the false notion that all change-oriented therapists engage in the kind of techniques employed by Cohen. Not all reparative therapists use such techniques as Cohen's, the former PFOX spokesman says, nor is their use widespread or mainstream in change therapy circles.

In fact, Throckmorton points out, "It's hard to tell how many people do practice those techniques." But, he asserts, when CNN refers to Cohen -- an unlicensed therapist who uses strange methods like "holding therapy" and bioenergetics -- as a leader in the reparative therapy movement, that statement obscures the divergence of opinion among those who practice sexual orientation change therapy.

One problem with reparative or change therapy practices, Throckmorton explains, is that "there are very few guidelines for therapists working in this area." He says he hopes to address that issue with guidelines he has written recently in cooperation with Dr. Mark Yarhouse of Regent University.

Meanwhile, Cohen has asked Throckmorton to apologize for his "fallacious" remarks, calling him "a brilliant man and a great brother in Christ" who is helping in this area of ministry but who has handled his disagreement with a colleague in the wrong way. The PFOX board president says it is "very unfortunate that, instead of following Matthew 18 protocol for any conflict resolution" and "instead of addressing me directly," Throckmorton "went right to the blog and then posted his comments."

Cohen continues to stand by his reparative therapy techniques and says he has, over the last 16 years, helped hundreds of people change their sexual orientations. He recommends Focus on the Family's Love Won Out conferences, featuring Freudian therapist Joe Nicolosi, as "a wonderful venue for anyone to find out what homosexuality is and what the church can do about it."

http://news.christiansunite.com/Religion_News/religion04630.shtml

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« Reply #243 on: June 20, 2006, 10:13:15 PM »

Evangelistic Radio Show Finds Eager Ears Among Saved, Unsaved Audiences

by Allie Martin
June 20, 2006

(AgapePress) - - A ministry that teaches Christians the art of biblical evangelism through a television show and a website is now finding an even larger audience through its latest extension -- a radio program launched earlier this year.

Each week "The Way of the Master" television program, a 30-minute show hosted by evangelist Ray Comfort and actor-evangelist Kirk Cameron, airs in more than 100 nations. The show's aim is to teach Christians to share their faith using scripture to help lost people recognize their sinfulness and their need for a Savior.

In January, "The Way of the Master" began airing on radio. Joel Anderson, producer of the radio program, says the audio incarnation of this Christian witnessing how-to program has already touched many lives.

"Every day we get over 100 e-mails from people who are listening, and from two segments," Anderson notes. One segment is comprised of people who were not saved when they initially tuned in, he says, but who have listened to the show, "they've heard the gospel soundly preached and taught, and they got saved."

The other group, the radio producer adds, is made up of believers who listen to the show. These Christians are convicted and "really convinced that they need to get out there and share their faith," he says, "and we equip them through the radio show."

"The Way of the Master" radio show is a live, two-hour broadcast, and Anderson says it is in many ways unique. "If anybody has ever seen the TV series," he notes, "it's really taking the TV to a daily radio show, where we get on the streets, share faith with Muslims, college students, your next-door neighbor, even pulling names out of a phone book and witnessing live over the phone."

The broadcast's spokesman says "The Way of the Master" radio show is dedicated to "equipping believers to biblically share their faith using ... moral law, the Ten Commandments, to work the conscience and to break through that pride that many people exhibit."

"Way of the Master Radio" is available on land-based stations, satellite radio, and also on podcast. The broadcast has already demonstrated a tremendous impact on saved and unsaved listeners alike, and Anderson believes its outreach will continue to expand as it helps more and more listeners discover how to share in and extend to others the love of Christ.

http://news.christiansunite.com/Religion_News/religion04633.shtml

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« Reply #244 on: June 20, 2006, 10:16:32 PM »

Potter's Objectionable, Occultic Content Spurs Georgia Mom to Action

by Jim Brown
June 20, 2006

(AgapePress) - - A Christian mom in Georgia is calling on the state board of education to remove Harry Potter books from her children's schools. It doesn't make sense, she says, to take the Bible out of schools, but allow the occult in.

The popular series of books by J.K. Rowling have sold more than 100 million copies worldwide and spawned four movies, with a fifth scheduled for release next year and a sixth in pre-production. But Laura Mallory of Loganville is looking past the worldwide attraction of the books, focusing on the local scene instead. The former missionary is appealing last month's decision by the Gwinnett County School Board to keep the popular children's books on school library shelves. Mallory says among other things, the books promote "evil themes, witchcraft, and demonic activity."

The occult-based storyline of the series has been a lightning rod of controversy among parents and educators since the books first hit the market. Mallory explains why she has strong reservations about Rowling's best-selling books -- and why she feels the books are not appropriate for youngsters.

"Some of the content includes evil characters: death-eaters, dementors, just demon-like creatures," she shares. "The violence and murder in the books -- there's even a five-year-old who's gruesomely murdered -- and the books expose and introduce occult practices to young readers, opening a door to their minds and hearts to this kind of stuff, the casting of spells."

Simply stated, Mallory asserts that "if they're going to take the Bible and prayer out of schools and let the occult in with total liberty, that is wrong -- and it's a violation of our rights."

A panel of community members, parents, and teachers at her children's elementary school voted down a complaint Mallory filed last year. After a public hearing, the county school board upheld the panel's decision. That is why she is petitioning the Georgia Board of Education.

"I'm hoping to find somebody who will really listen," Mallory explains. "The occult is dangerous to our children, and we need to get it out of our schools in all its forms."

Gwinnett School Board members argue that removing the Harry Potter books amounts to improper censorship of a harmless children's fantasy series.

http://news.christiansunite.com/Religion_News/religion04634.shtml

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« Reply #245 on: June 20, 2006, 10:17:53 PM »

Research Firm Launches in October as a Help to Churches

by Allie Martin
June 20, 2006

(AgapePress) - - The largest provider of church and Christian resources will soon provide custom research for churches and ministries.

Dr. Tom Rainer took the helm of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention earlier this year following the retirement of Dr. Jimmy Draper. Rainer says LifeWay will continue to focus primarily on upholding the inerrancy of the Bible. In addition, he says, LifeWay wants to help churches be more effective when it comes to reaching the unchurched.

Toward that end, LifeWay Research will launch in October. Dr. Rainer says LifeWay Research will help churches and other ministries to be more relevant. "We are, quite frankly, funding this and putting the resources into it, where it's going to be one of the most -- if not the most -- significant Christian research firms in the world," he says.

According to Rainer, the company is poised to conduct extensive research on a number of topics.

"We're the world's largest provider of church and Christian resources as it is," he says, speaking of LifeWay Christian Resources. "So we already have so much research that's going on just about our business."

Consequently, he says, having the two companies in close proximity will allow "so much of what we do and so much of who we are" to be centralized. "It's really a culmination of everything that has come up to this point," he notes. "So I think it's going to be an exciting endeavor."

Brad Waggoner is director of LifeWay Research. Waggoner is a former dean at Southern Baptist Seminary's school of leadership and church ministry in Louisville, Kentucky.

http://news.christiansunite.com/Religion_News/religion04635.shtml

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« Reply #246 on: June 20, 2006, 10:19:16 PM »

After Recent Ruling, Schlafly Questions Justice Roberts' Conservatism

by Chad Groening
June 20, 2006

(AgapePress) - - Pro-family activist Phyllis Schlafly of Eagle Forum believes United States Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts has been more interested in bipartisanship and consensus than in taking a strong conservative stand. One of his latest rulings, she notes, was particularly disappointing.


Phyllis Schlafly
Schlafly says she had hoped the appointments of Justices John Roberts and Samuel Alito would help put the Supreme Court back on a conservative course. However, she says Roberts did not take a strong stance on the Solomon Amendment, which forbids colleges and universities that receive federal funding to deny military recruiters access to their campuses.

Conservatives were hoping for a Thomas or a Scalia among Bush's recent appointments to the high court bench, Schlafly asserts, and she would have liked to see a strong pro-military stance here, issuing from an unequivocally conservative jurist. But clearly, she observes, "Justice Roberts is not that." And apparently, the pro-family activist adds, "in this case pertaining to the Solomon Amendment, he thought consensus and unanimity more important than staking out a strong message."

Schlafly believes Justice Roberts was too focused on bringing Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer on board. "The decision was sort of watered down to achieve consensus," the Eagle Forum founder asserts, "and I see no reason why we needed to get Ginsburg and Breyer to sign on to it. They are liberals; they don't like the military."

Justice Roberts' opinion contained "unfortunate language" reminding anti-war liberals that they could protest the presence of U.S. Armed Services recruiters on college campuses if they so desired, Schlafly contends. "Well, big news," she says. "The liberals don't need any reminding that they have free-speech rights. That isn't the point." The point, she insists, is that liberal protesters felt free to do more than protest.

Shortly after the decision, the conservative leader notes, radical students at the University of California - Santa Cruz physically chased military recruiters from the campus. "And the Bush administration has done nothing about it," she laments.

Schlafly believes that incident might never have happened if the Roberts Supreme Court had not watered down the Solomon Amendment's force with its ruling. She suggests that the American people may have been duped by the supposedly conservative justice's appointment to the high court bench.

http://news.christiansunite.com/Religion_News/religion04636.shtml

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« Reply #247 on: June 20, 2006, 10:21:20 PM »

Border Security Advocate Predicts Final Immigration Bill Will Take Time

by Chad Groening
June 20, 2006

(AgapePress) - - The head of a grassroots citizens group says he believes it could take most of the summer for the U.S. Senate-House Conference Committee to come up with a final version of the immigration reform bill. And when that final bill is hammered out, he expects it will closely resemble what the House passed last year.

Colin Hanna is with the group WeNeedaFence.com, which works to promote border security, immigration reform, and enforcement of U.S. immigration laws. He says he believes the House and Senate immigration bills are just too far apart for anyone to expect a quick resolution, and he anticipates a long debate over finalizing the legislation.

"It'll probably take most of the summer, and there will be a whole lot of so-called 'to-ing and fro-ing' during that," Hanna observes. Meanwhile, he says, "Each of the houses will be going back to their respective constituents and talking about various options that are being offered to narrow the gap between those two bills."

But with the mid-term elections looming in the fall and the vast majority of Americans clamoring for better enforcement of existing immigration laws, the citizens' advocate believes the final immigration reform bill will be one that stresses enforcement over amnesty. And what it will not contain, Hanna contends, are "ridiculous" Senate provisions such as requiring the U.S. to consult with Mexico before building a fence on the American side of the border.

Hanna believes GOP senators will support a final bill similar to the House version, even though they voted previously for Senate legislation that pushed a guest worker amnesty plan and was light on enforcement.

"Given the fact that there are Republican majorities in both houses," the WeNeedaFence.com spokesman notes, "isn't it more likely that the Republican majorities from the Senate are looking for ways that they can come up with a bill that they can support?" That, according to his reckoning, is the more reasonable outcome.

"I think you're going to have a Conference Committee report that is closer to the House bill and that winds up getting majority Republican support," Hannah says. He is optimistic that the finalized version of the legislation will provide many of the border security provisions for which his group and other reform advocates have been calling.

http://news.christiansunite.com/Religion_News/religion04637.shtml

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« Reply #248 on: June 22, 2006, 02:43:19 AM »

Bright/Cavanaugh Fiction Calls Holy Spirit to Courtroom Witness Stand

by Randall Murphree
June 21, 2006

(AgapePress) - - Calling the Holy Spirit as a witness in a New York courtroom? That's just one of the creative devices in Proof, first of four novels in "The Great Awakenings" series. Author Jack Cavanaugh is one of today's most gifted authors of historical fiction. This current quartet of titles is co-authored with Campus Crusade for Christ founder Bill Bright. It's impossible to imagine a better team for the task.

Cavanaugh is master of the genre, and the late Dr. Bright was a passionate advocate of revival. The first two titles, Proof (Howard, March 2005) and Fire (Howard, June 2005), are gripping accounts of two distinct periods of revival in the United States. Though qualifying as a series because of the revival theme, the novels are not sequential, so each is a stand-alone story.

In Proof, attorney J. K. Jarves calls the Holy Spirit to the stand as a witness to the spiritual revival sweeping the nation at the time. Jarves is a celebrated and powerful man in New York's legal and social circles in the 1857-58 setting. His courtroom opponent is Harrison Shaw, a young, aspiring attorney whom the arrogant Jarves is determined to discredit for two reasons.

First, Jarves selected the unlikely Shaw over brighter, socially-adept and well-connected Ivy Leaguers for a coveted internship at his prestigious firm. However, circumstances soon forced Shaw to reject the internship when assignments begin to conflict with his Christian faith.

Jarves doesn't take rejection well, and he is further chagrined to discover that Shaw is forging an uneasy romantic relationship with Jarves' beautiful, independent daughter. Proof is a captivating chronicle of the time, with characters of depth and appeal, and clever and suspenseful storylines.

Fire is no less gripping than the first title. It is set in Havenhill, Connecticut, in 1740-41, the period of revival when George Whitefield was known as the "Trumpet of the Great Awakening." Jonathan Edwards was another notable pulpiteer of the period. Both of the great preachers make fictional guest appearances in Cavanaugh and Bright's gripping narrative.

Twenty-six-year old Josiah Rush is the unlikely protagonist as he returns to pastor his home church in Havenhill. Unfortunately, the young pastor returns under the same dark cloud that followed him out of town seven years earlier. He had fled town as a teenager being blamed for a warehouse fire that took the lives of two children.

His return strains old friendships, awakens smoldering bitterness, and finds him implicated in new tragedies -- mysterious accidents, murder and more fires. With authentic, historical detail and spiritual depth reflecting the revival periods, Bright and Cavanaugh offer a readable, instructive and masterful overview of American revival.

Of his collaboration with the late Dr. Bright, Cavanaugh says, "When we started we knew that he would probably be in heaven before the books came out. We got together for a couple of intensive sessions, which resulted in four storylines set in four different historical periods. He signed off on them and left me to do the actual writing."

It is a partnership that works to great advantage for readers. As a minister, founder of Campus Crusade and prolific speaker and author, Bill Bright produced more than 100 books and booklets. The best known is probably the evangelistic booklet "Have You Heard of the Four Spiritual Laws?," which has topped 2.5 billion in print.

Author of 21 books, Jack Cavanaugh pastored Southern Baptist churches before he began writing fulltime in 1993. He has been recognized with the Silver Medallion Award from Evangelical Christian Publishers Association for The Puritans, first volume in the "American Family Portrait" series. His novels While Mortals Sleep and His Watchful Eye won Christy Awards for excellence in Christian fiction. Both are part of his "Songs in the Night" trilogy set in Hitler's Germany.

Storm, the third "Great Awakenings" title was released in Spring 2006. and Fury is scheduled this fall.

http://news.christiansunite.com/Religion_News/religion04639.shtml

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« Reply #249 on: June 22, 2006, 02:44:53 AM »

Plan According to Your Goals -- Invest According to Your Plan

by Austin Pryor
June 21, 2006

(AgapePress) - - A cornerstone of the Sound Mind Investing philosophy is that your investing decisions should always be made on the basis of a personalized, long-term strategy. To emphasize its importance, I make the point repeatedly and in various ways. In my view, it's such a crucial concept that I covered it in the opening pages of my book:

    "In order to find peace of mind in your investment decisions, you need to become an initiator rather than a responder. Initiators have a concrete game plan in mind. They have made the effort to develop a strategy that specifically takes into account both their long-term financial goals as well as their own personal investment temperament. It is shaped around what they hope to accomplish in the future, and it fits who they are 'inside.'

    Make it your goal to become an initiator! Be like a shopper at the food market who buys only those ingredients needed to prepare a specific recipe. Before she goes to the supermarket, Lynn knows what she is looking for. When she is confronted with special promotions for products that aren't on her shopping list, she readily passes them by. Lynn won't need to spend any time at all considering whether to buy them because her shopping is purposeful. Similarly, before you begin to invest, put together a strategy that takes into account the risk of loss you can comfortably carry both financially and emotionally."

I want to state clearly what is only implied above: Your plan should be in writing. If your intentions are not down in black and white, with specifics spelled out, they need to be. For example, who would you say is more likely to realize his dream of taking the family (grown kids and spouses, all the grandkids, the whole clan!) to Bermuda for a two-week vacation? There's Jack, who says he has every intention of doing it someday; and there's Tom, who talks about doing it in 2008 and can show you the cost estimates he's collected and the written savings plan he's started which is going to pay for it all?

A written plan will also make sure you don't forget to undertake all the important steps along the way. I'll tell you one on myself and you can have a good laugh at my ineptitude. A few years ago, I deposited my annual SEP-IRA contribution at Vanguard in order to deploy it in our Just-the-Basics index-fund strategy. But the market seemed overvalued at the time, so my "plan" was to wait until the S&P 500 fell below its 52-week moving average and invest at that time. Meanwhile, it could earn interest in the money market.

I was serious. I was committed. But I didn't put my plan in writing. Why bother? Hey, I teach people how to do this stuff. I certainly knew the steps that were needed. But guess what -- when the event I had been waiting for finally happened, I was busy working on a variety of SMI projects and completely forgot about it. It just totally slipped my mind. The window of opportunity closed and the market rallied furiously up through year-end. When I later realized what had happened, the Vanguard funds I was going to buy had already gone up 15-25 percent. Ooops.

So, it's easy to procrastinate, and it's easy to forget. If it's not in writing, it's merely an idea, a good intention. So, develop your plan and write it down. Keep it visible. You'll be tempted to deviate from it -- like when your brother-in-law calls with a hot stock tip, or the new car models come out and you'd rather spend than save -- but don't do it. Hold yourself accountable for carrying it out as planned. Stay the course.

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« Reply #250 on: June 22, 2006, 02:46:49 AM »

Kansas Pastor Accuses New Age Group of Denying Its Religious Nature

by Natalie Harris
June 21, 2006

(AgapePress) - - A Kansas pastor is raising concerns about a New Age group that he says refuses to acknowledge its religious ties. According to Evangelical Free Church pastor Greg Hubbard, the group attempting to build "peace palaces" in Smith Center, Kansas, is a Hindu missionary effort.

The Transcendental Meditation (TM) movement was founded by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, a man known to many as guru to the British band, the Beatles. Recently, according to an Associated Press report, a group of his followers announced plans to spend $15 million to build a dozen of its marble "peace palaces" in Smith County as part of an effort to disperse what it calls "waves of coherence" across as wide an area as possible. And, AP points out, in an apparent effort to maximize their area of influence, the TM practitioners have selected a spot just 10 miles west of the geographic center of the continental U.S.

Under the direction of the Maharishi, the TM group known as Global Country of World Peace intends to build a broadcast center, a teaching center, and a "coherence-creating center." The organization, which promotes yoga and meditation, says it has no religious affiliation and one can practice these techniques while belonging to any faith.

Pastor Hubbard seriously questions the group's claims, however. In April, he and other pastors sent a signed letter to the local newspaper stating that the TM group's members "are welcome" but must recognize that they and the church are at odds, "competing for the eternal souls of people." Neither freedom of religion nor property rights are at issue, he insists -- the blatant untruthfulness of the New Age group is.

This latest construction plan marks the second time the Global Country of World Peace has tried to build in Smith Center, Hubbard points out. The Kansas clergyman says the group attempted to move in ten years ago but failed, mainly because of a lack of receptivity among the townspeople. The New Agers offered to hold town meetings to address area residents' discomfort, but many local citizens were merely confused by the unfamiliar terminology the group used.

After the Global Country of World Peace vacated and sold the land they had previously purchased, Hubbard and others found a cornerstone. He says the brick was inscribed with a symbol indicative of the Hindu deity Shiva and contained eight fake jewels, which represent Hindu deities. Also, he notes, the TM group has had a Hindu priest chanting for it, he notes.

"Basically, our objection is that this is a religion and a sect of Hinduism," the Christian clergyman says, "and they're not being honest and up front about that with people. We see that as a spiritual danger."

While he does not hate these people, Hubbard says he and other townspeople are opposed to their teachings. "It could be any one of a number of divergent religious groups and we would still have the same problem," he explains. The Global Country of World Peace bought about 1,100 acres this spring for the purpose of building its "palaces" and growing organic produce, AP reports.

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« Reply #251 on: June 22, 2006, 02:49:07 AM »

New Survey Helps Identify Global Evangelism Obstacles, Opportunities

by Allie Martin
June 21, 2006

(AgapePress) - - A global research project conducted by a California-based aviation ministry is providing reconnaissance for other Christian organizations and mission agencies worldwide in an effort to provide information that will help them shape their evangelism and mission strategies.

Six years ago, Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) announced "Operation ACCESS!, an effort to identify and survey areas of the world where transportation, communications, and technology barriers complicate or prevent the spread of the gospel. This landmark study surveyed 364 isolated areas or sectors in 64 countries, focusing on pockets of people that have been long forgotten or who were previously unreachable.

The survey results will now be made available to evangelical ministries in an effort to overcome obstacles to reaching various people groups with the gospel as well as barriers to getting sustained resources needed for community development, healthcare, and education services. Operation ACCESS! surveyors made assessments as to the extent or degree of any ministry going on in an area and the nature and significance of any barriers to ministry and also advised how those barriers might be overcome.

Ghislaine Benney, director of the MAF study, says the project provides some key statistics on the various factors analyzed in the areas the survey covered. "We have digital maps on those locations," she says, as well as "an overview on every sector that we surveyed."

Operation ACCESS! has yielded information that will help MAF determine its future direction for the next 15 to 20 years, Benney asserts. Still, she acknowledges, the six-year project did face some challenges.

"We're finding that 66 percent of all the sectors we surveyed had little or no ministry in place, and 89 percent of the sectors we surveyed have significant communication barriers," the project leader notes. And in 56 percent of those sectors, she adds, those communications barriers are "almost insurmountable -- very difficult to communicate or to sustain anything in place."

Operation ACCESS! research -- found on the web at OperationAccessMAF.org -- is being made available to denominations, ministries, churches, and humanitarian agencies around the world. After being briefed on the study, many leaders have hailed it as groundbreaking data that will affect the focus of their ministry for years to come.

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« Reply #252 on: June 22, 2006, 02:51:06 AM »

New SBC Prez: Good Things OK -- 'Best Thing' Better

by Allie Martin
June 21, 2006

(AgapePress) - - The new president of the nation's largest evangelical denomination says he will encourage churches to seek God's forgiveness for what he says is a loss of focus.

Dr. Frank Page, pastor of First Baptist Church in Taylors, South Carolina, was elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention during that denomination's annual meeting in Greenboro, North Carolina, last week. Page, in a bit of a surprise, was elected by SBC "messengers" in a race against two other higher-profile Southern Baptist pastors. Time Magazine, in fact, describes Page's election as an "upset victory," and notes the unprecedented influence of Internet bloggers on the race.

�   [Compliments of Baptist Press]
Dr. Frank Page
Described during his nomination as "just a soul-winner" and "not a high-flying preacher," Page assumes the SBC presidency at a time when the denomination reports a sharp drop in baptisms. He says that during his term he will visit churches throughout the denomination and encourage pastors to seek God's forgiveness and power.

"I'm going to ask churches to seek the Spirit of the Lord in forgiveness for where we have failed Him," he says, "for doing good things when we're supposed to be doing the best thing. So I'm going to tell churches to seek the forgiveness of God -- and then to seek the filling full of God's Holy Spirit."

Page believes the drop in baptisms throughout the denomination is an indication that many churches need to examine their priorities.

"The Bible says in Ephesians to be filled with the Spirit of God," the new SBC president shares, "and when you are, I believe we start wanting to witness to people and share. So I believe there's a heart problem -- and our hearts need to be woken up."

The SBC has 16 million members throughout 43,000 churches. Page won the SBC's top post on the first ballot when he defeated Ronnie Floyd, pastor of First Baptist Church in Springdale, Arkansas, and Jerry Sutton, pastor of Two Rivers Baptist Church in Nashville, Tennessee.

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« Reply #253 on: June 22, 2006, 02:53:31 AM »

Psychologist Grateful Female Sex Offenders Being Exposed

by Jim Brown
June 21, 2006

(AgapePress) - - A clinical psychologist is praising the news media for its recent coverage of the rash of cases involving female teachers who sexually assault their male students.

Back in March WorldNetDaily published an article on the epidemic of cases involving sexual activity between female teachers and the youngsters entrusted to them by the educational system. While focusing initially on the high-profile case of Florida teacher Debra LaFave, the article notes more than five dozen similar cases across the country -- some of them involving lesbian relationships.

Dr. Julia Hislop, author of the book Female Sex Offenders, says for the first time, the press has caught on to the widespread nature of cases teacher-student sex abuse cases. Hislop says while such cases do not constitute a new phenomenon, ten years ago there was little research regarding female sex offenders.

"On one hand it's great that it's getting some attention, because the victims have had a very, very difficult time coming forth when the perpetrator was a female," Hislop notes. "On the other hand, the cases that have been attended to in the media tend to be teenage boys."

But the public, she contends, still has not been given the full picture. "Of course there are also very young children [both male and female] who are being victimized by females ... and not just [by] teachers, but mothers, relatives, babysitters, and so on," she says. "And so I think a more accurate portrayal of these females would include investigating cases in which there have been much younger children involved."

According to Hislop, male adolescents who have been victimized by female teachers are more likely to have a distorted view of opposite-sex relationships and have trouble trusting adults later in life. She estimates that between two and three million people have been victimized by female sex offenders -- but that the vast majority of them go unreported because society finds it nearly impossible to believe that females, usually seen as nurturing, are capable of sexual abuse.

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« Reply #254 on: June 22, 2006, 08:25:43 PM »

Public Warned About NEA Measure Promoting 'Diversity' of Marriage Alternatives

by Jim Brown and Jenni Parker
June 22, 2006

(AgapePress) - - A conservative activist is concerned over a recent proposal to amend the National Education Association's so-called "diversity" policy. She feels the proposal advocates same-sex "marriage" and polygamy and promotes the idea that these and other non-traditional sexual unions should be regarded as equivalent to traditional, one-man, one-woman marriage.

The proposal submitted for the National Education Association (NEA) annual convention, which begins on June 29 in Orlando, Florida, would add language to the group's diversity policy, making changes many pro-family advocates find troubling. The suggested amendment states, among other things, that "legal rights and responsibilities with regard to medical decisions, taxes, inheritance, adoption, legal immigration, domestic partnerships, and civil unions and/or marriage belong to ... diverse people and individuals," regardless of their age, sexual orientation, or marital status.

Linda Harvey of the pro-family group Mission America believes this NEA proposal could radically change what U.S. school children are taught in classrooms across the country. "It's basically saying any kind of legalized form of anything you're going to call marriage is going to be okay with us," she asserts, "and [that] we will want to, of course, promote that to our students and our faculty."

Harvey calls the proposal "outrageous" and describes it as "simply one more radical move by the NEA to promote anything and everything out there that is immoral." Adding the proposed language, she warns, "definitely would open the door to teaching that polygamy, common-law marriages, marriages [at] all ages" are all equally acceptable.

The Mission America representative says the proposed "diversity" policy amendments advocate "virtually any kind of definition you want to put on marriage" and then suggest, in effect, "that all of these different 'diverse' forms of unions would have to be presented to kids in an equal relationship to one another." And with the NEA's longtime involvement in pro-homosexual activism, she contends, the proposal will likely be approved.

Harvey says Christian teachers who pay dues to this powerful union should reconsider their investment in its efforts. She insists that amending the NEA's diversity policy will only serve to further advance this powerful group's liberal political agenda.

AFA 'Outs' the NEA's Pro-Homosexual Diversity Resolution
The Tupelo, Mississippi-based American Family Association (AFA) notes that the NEA's disturbing resolution endorsing homosexual "marriage" and other non-traditional unions has recently been pulled from the union's website. Reportedly, that move followed in the wake of an alert issued by AFA to its supporters, announcing the resolution and its implications.

AFA chairman Donald Wildmon says the removal of the resolution from the NEA website has the educators union "catching the wrath" of homosexual activists. "The NEA was trying to sneak this resolution past teachers and administrators, as well as the general public," he contends, "but they got caught."

Wildmon says the NEA yanked the resolution from its Internet site within hours after the pro-family organization made the measure public. The teachers union did not return phone calls from AgapePress regarding the proposed amendment or its removal from the website after it was publicly exposed.


Dr. Don Wildmon   
Nevertheless, the AFA spokesman says the liberal educators union is still expected to present the "diversity" proposal in favor of homosexual "marriage" and other alternative unions at its annual meeting next week. "The homosexual pressure groups are angry and will force NEA to present the resolution," he asserts, "and we expect it will pass overwhelmingly."

The NEA wants to promote homosexual marriage "in every avenue they have available, including textbooks, to all children at all age levels and without the permission or knowledge of parents," Wildmon says, "and their plans will include every public school in America."

For that reason, the pro-family leader adds, AFA encourages pro-family teachers and administrators to withdraw from NEA membership and join other educational associations more in tune with their beliefs.

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