Church Without a Building?

A leader of the house church movement in the U.S. says believers must put hands and feet to the gospel in order to impact those outside the church. Ken Eastburn is elder of The Well church, a network of home-based churches in Colorado and California. Recently, he encouraged organizations, such as the National Association of Evangelicals, to put more emphasis on people, as opposed to programs. “Our building had become an anvil around our necks, strangling the life out of our church body,” describes The Well’s website. By taking the building out of the equation, the church transformed from one “of stone and steel to a living, breathing church of flesh.” Eastburn says more programs are not needed in the church in America. Instead, he says a focus on local outreach should be of primary importance to believers in the United States.

  • The early church did not center around one building but rather many homes

Vatican Makes Anglicans an Offer: Come Back

The Vatican has opened an express lane to traditional Anglicans — unhappy with their own church’s moves toward accepting female and gay bishops — to reunite with the Roman Catholic Church their forefathers left nearly 500 years ago. In a surprise announcement from Rome, Pope Benedict XVI approved a provision to create a new church entity that will allow Anglicans to join the Catholic Church in a format similar to Ukrainian or Eastern Rite Catholics, keeping their liturgy and married priests, but not married bishops. The announcement Tuesday stunned many in the 77-million worldwide Anglican Communion, particularly the Church of England, where the Archbishop of Canterbury has wrestled for years with factions that opposed female bishops.

U.S. Sponsors U.N. Plan to Restrict Free Speech

A proposal sponsored by the Obama administration at the United Nations that purports to seek protection for “freedom of opinion and expression” actually is a call for a worldwide crackdown on freedom of speech and a mandate for nations to ensure “that relevant national legislation complies with … international human rights obligations” – a clear threat to the First Amendment, according to critics. The resolution was submitted recently by the United States and Egypt. It was approved by the U.N. Human Rights Council as a first step in its process through the international organization. It demands that all nations condemn and criminalize “any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence.”

  • The “hate crime” tactic to suppress Judeo/Christian beliefs goes international. So much for free speech and tolerance.

Obama Team ‘Controlled’ Media Coverage During Campaign

The Obama campaign’s press strategy leading up to his election last November focused on “making” the media cover what the campaign wanted and on exercising absolute “control” over coverage, White House Communications Director Anita Dunn told an overseas crowd early this year.  In a video of the event, Dunn is seen describing in detail the media strategy used by then-Sen. Barack Obama’s highly disciplined presidential campaign. The video drew attention after Dunn kicked off a war of words with Fox News last Sunday, calling the network “opinion journalism masquerading as news.” The White House stopped providing guests to “Fox News Sunday” in August after host Chris Wallace fact-checked controversial assertions made by Tammy Duckworth, assistant secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

  • They’re trying the same strategy now, but finding it a bit more difficult. However, as long as the mainstream media is controlled by the New World (Dis)Order folks, they will line up, for the most part, with Obamamania.

Support for Healthcare Bill Dwindles

The findings of the latest USA TODAY/Gallup Poll underscore the skepticism Obama and other Democrats face as they work on key details of their health care plan. One-third of those polled say they expect to oppose the final bill, one-fourth say they would support it, and 39% are undecided. The poll, which comes as Senate leaders are crafting a bill for a critical floor vote, finds that people who fear their costs would increase under the measure jumped 7 percentage points since last month, to 49%.

‘Moderate’ CAIR to Feature Radicals at Annual Banquet

While mocking an explosive new book that presents internal documents showing it is a U.S. front for global jihad, the Washington, D.C.-based Council on American-Islamic Relations is trumpeting a keynote speaker at its 15th annual banquet next week who was an uninidicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing investigation and who told New Jersey Muslims the U.S. government would one day be taken over by an Islamic caliphate. CAIR currently features Imam Siraj Wahhaj’s name on the opening flash page to its website, along with co-keynote speaker Dalia Mogahed, who sparked controversy of her own recently when she defended Shariah, or Islamic law, on a British television show hosted by a member of an extremist Muslim group, insisting the majority of women around the world associate Shariah with “gender justice.”

  • There is no such thing as a “moderate” Islamic group. They are all intent on subjugating the world to their beliefs.

Documentary an Inconvenient Truth for Gore

Sunday, October 18, the documentary Not Evil Just Wrong premiered worldwide via the Internet and premiere parties. Following the premiere, the film’s website suffered an attack and was down most of the day. The documentary tackles climate change and environmental legislation while exposing what husband-and-wife producers Ann McElhinney and Phelim Mcaleer believe is the anti-human agenda behind it. “What we did was we bypassed Hollywood. You know, Hollywood don’t want to tell a lot of truthful stories — they want to tell hateful stories a lot of the time,” determines McElhinney. “So we have decided to bypass Hollywood because this is an important film. This is the film that challenges Al Gore and the green religion in a lot of ways, actually. And people responded extraordinarily well to that. I mean, we had over 7,000 premieres.” She adds that more than 27,000 alone watched the premiere online.

Just before the premiere of the documentary, Mcaleer caught the attention of the media when he asked Al Gore a question concerning the British Courts’ ruling that portions of An Inconvenient Truth were inaccurate. Gore refused to respond other than with a deflecting quip. McElhinney explains that the reality is that the ice is melting, and it has been doing so since the end of the last Ice Age. McElhinney notes that during the medieval warm period the earth was much warmer than it is now.

Full Results Show AIDS Vaccine Marginally Effective

Fresh results from the world’s first successful test of an experimental AIDS vaccine confirm that it is only marginally effective and suggest that its protection against HIV infection may wane over time. Yet the findings are exciting to scientists, who think that blood samples from the trial may show how to make a vaccine that does a better job. The results also hint that the vaccine may work better in the general population than in those at higher risk of infection, such as gay men and intravenous drug users.

  • Interesting results from a spiritual perspective

Swine Flu Vaccine Running Late

Vaccine for the H1N1 flu won’t be widely available until November — a month later than first thought — and some states are expecting delays to last until December. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said last week that vaccine yields had been lower than hoped. Flu vaccine is grown in chicken eggs, and the yields can vary greatly. “The vaccine’s in a race against the virus, and right now the virus is winning,” said Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. “I just had three meetings canceled because people were sick.”

Census Predicts Fall in Response Rate

Turbulent political and economic times roiling the nation are expected to diminish initial participation by households in next year’s Census despite a $326 million marketing blitz that far outspends previous Census campaigns. Mounting mistrust of government, rising identify theft and record numbers of foreclosures could discourage people from mailing back Census forms next year. A Census Bureau analysis shows that about 64% of households are likely to mail in their forms without additional prodding from Census workers — down from 67% in 2000. That could mean 4 million more doors to knock on. Sending Census workers door-to-door — sometimes more than once — is expensive: $80 million to $90 million for every additional 1% of households.

In Hawaii, School’s Out for Recession

At a time when President Barack Obama is pushing for more time in the classroom, his home state has created the nation’s shortest school year under a new union contract that closes schools on most Fridays for the remainder of the academic calendar. The deal whacks 17 days from the school year for budget-cutting reasons and has education advocates incensed that Hawaii is drastically cutting the academic calendar at a time when it already ranks near the bottom in national educational achievement. The cuts come as Obama, who graduated from a top private high school in Hawaii, says U.S. students are at a disadvantage with other students around the world because they spend too little time in school.

No Increase in Stamp Prices Next Year

The price of first-class stamps will not go up next year. The Postal Service has been implementing rate increases annually in recent years, with increases announced in January to take place in May. But Postmaster General John E. Potter announced in an internal postal memorandum that there will be no rise in prices next year for products in which the agency dominates the market, such as first-class mail. While increasing prices might have generated revenue for the Postal Service in the short term, the long-term effect could drive additional mail out of the system. The post office has been struggling with losses as more and more letters and bill payments move from paper to the Internet. Thousands of jobs and work hours have been trimmed, local postal branches are being studied for closure, and increased automation is being put in place. Congress delayed for a year the agency’s requirement to make an advance payment of more than $4 billion in future retiree health benefits.

Day Care Aid Shrinks

As budget problems worsen, states are tightening rules for subsidies, eliminating enriched child care programs, raising fees that parents and providers pay, and halting new subsidies. At least nine states have growing waiting lists for subsidies, says Helen Blank, director of leadership and public policy with the National Women’s Law Center. States use federal and state funds to help low-income working parents pay for child care. Without aid, child care costs normally range from $4,000 to $14,000 a year, says Eric Karolak, executive director of the Early Care and Education Consortium in Washington, D.C. “The real impact of these cuts is on families,” says William Eddy, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of Early Education and Care. “Parents are forced to find makeshift care, one day with a neighbor, one day with an aunt, in order to get to work.”

Higher Jobless Rates Could be Here to Stay

Even with an economic revival, many U.S. jobs lost during the recession may be gone forever and a weak employment market could linger for years. That could add up to a “new normal” of higher joblessness and lower standards of living for many Americans, some economists are suggesting. The auto and construction industries helped lead the nation out of past recessions. But the carnage among Detroit’s automakers and the surplus of new and foreclosed homes and empty commercial properties make it unlikely these two industries will be engines of growth anytime soon. Many small and midsize businesses are still struggling to obtain bank loans, impeding their expansion plans and constraining overall economic growth. Retrenching businesses will be slow in hiring back or replacing workers they laid off. Many of the 7.2 million jobs the economy has shed since the recession began in December 2007 may never come back.

Watchdog Excoriates Execution of TARP

A Treasury Department watchdog is warning that a key $700 billion bailout program has damaged the government’s credibility, won’t earn taxpayers all their money back and has done little to change a culture of recklessness on Wall Street. “The American people’s belief that the funds went into a black hole, or that there was a transfer of wealth from taxpayers to Wall Street, is one of the worst outcomes of this program, and that is the reputational damage to the government,” said Neil Barofsky, special inspector general of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). His 256-page report, out Wednesday, said TARP played a significant role in bringing the financial system back from the “brink of collapse” but questioned its effectiveness in increasing lending to small businesses or reducing the risk of foreclosures. Initially designed by the Treasury to buy toxic assets that threatened the financial system, TARP funds ended up invested in 685 banks, bailing out auto companies and funding a program on home mortgage modifications. “We don’t even know where the money went,” says Rep. Daniel Lipinski, D-Ill., who recently called for TARP assistance to end in December, when it’s set to expire. The Treasury has the authority to extend the program until next October.

Obama Expanding Bailout to Small Banks, Businesses

President Barack Obama wants smaller community banks to have greater access to the government’s $700 billion financial rescue fund as the administration refocuses the bailout money on small businesses and homeowners and winds down programs aimed at big banks. Obama on Wednesday announced a package of initiatives designed to increase lending, including a request that Congress increase caps for existing Small Business Administration loans. The new effort comes as the administration is under pressure from liberals to shift the massive bailout fund’s spending away from big financial institutions and toward reducing foreclosures and creating jobs. But it also comes as Republicans press Obama to end the rescue program and use bank repayments to reduce the national debt.

Economic News

Construction of new homes edged up slightly in September, helped by a rebound in single-family construction. But applications for building permits fell by the largest amount in five months, a worrisome sign for future housing work. The Commerce Department said construction of new homes and apartments rose 0.5% in September while applications for building permits, considered a good sign of future activity, fell 1.2% in September.

The Obama administration is still considering whether to back extending a popular tax credit for first-time home buyers but is skeptical the government can afford the cost, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan said Tuesday. The $8,000 tax credit, which will expire at the end of November, has boosted home sales in recent months, helping to revive a flagging housing market that had been a key factor driving the recession. Donovan told the Senate Banking Committee that while he was aware the program was popular with lawmakers, “At the same time, I am mindful that these proposals can be very expensive, especially at a time of significant budget deficits.”

  • Wow. Someone in Obama’s administration finally gets it

The Bureau of Labor Statistics said its wholesale price index unexpectedly fell 0.6% in September because of lower energy costs. Outside food and energy, core inflation fell 0.1%. For the 12 months ended in September, core wholesale prices rose a modest 1.8%.Last week, the government said consumer prices edged up a modest 0.2% in September.

The price U.S. drivers paid to fill up at the gasoline pump soared to the highest level in five weeks thanks to rising crude oil costs, the Energy Department said Monday. The national average price for regular unleaded gasoline increased 8.5 cents over the last week to $2.57 a gallon, down 34 cents from a year ago. Higher crude oil prices raised the cost for refiners to make gasoline. U.S. crude oil prices gained for the eighth trading day in a row on Monday, settling close to $80 a barrel, the highest level in a year.

More than half of U.S. companies are reducing bonuses, and nearly half are scaling back on raises in an effort to cut costs in a tough recession, according to research released Monday. A third of companies are cutting back on employee health care benefits, and a third also are cutting back on stock options and other equity-based compensation to trim costs, according to a survey of chief financial officers and senior comptrollers.

Afghanistan

Afghanistan‘s election commission has ordered a runoff election for Nov. 7 after a fraud investigation dropped President Hamid Karzai‘s votes below 50% of the total. The announcement came two months to the day after the first round vote and follows weeks of political uncertainty at a time when Taliban strength is growing. The chairman of the Independent Election Commission, Azizullah Lodin, said the commission, which organized the Aug. 20 vote, did not want to “leave the people of Afghanistan in uncertainty” any longer. President Hamid Karzai‘s chief political rival agreed Wednesday to stand in the Nov. 7 run-off election, setting the stage for a high-stakes showdown in the face of Taliban threats and approaching winter snows.

Pakistan

Two suicide attackers bombed a women’s cafeteria and a faculty building at an Islamic university in the Pakistani capital Tuesday, killing two people and wounding 20. The International Islamic University was established in the 1980s. Its sprawling campus, on the outskirts of the city, has more than 12,000 students, nearly half of them women. Many of the students come from abroad. Most take Islamic studies of some description. Educational institutions were shut in Pakistan on Wednesday after suspected militants bombed a university close to the capital, sowing fear across the country as the army presses on with a major anti-Taliban offensive against an al-Qaeda and Taliban stronghold in the northwest close to the Afghan border.

Iran

Iran vowed retaliation Monday after accusing Pakistan, the U.S. and Britain of aiding Sunni militants who stunned the Islamic regime with a suicide bombing that killed top Revolutionary Guard commanders and dozens of others. A commentary by the official news agency called on Iranian security forces “to seriously deal with Pakistan once and for all.” And President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told his Pakistani counterpart that his nation must hunt down suspected members of Jundallah, or Soldiers of God. Iran made no specific threats against the U.S. or Britain, but the accusations came as talks began in Vienna over Iran’s nuclear program.

  • Iran has a blind eye about its own internal problems, including its heavy-handed treatment of election protesters which most likely led to this bombing

Iraq

Because of new rules that require Iraqi approval for all U.S. missions, and a general decline in violence nationwide, many of the 117,000 U.S. troops stationed in Iraq say they now have more idle time than at any previous point in the six-year war. Combat is still a daily reality in some parts of Iraq, and U.S. troops are being killed here at a rate of about one a week. But for many troops in places such as this large military base in southern Iraq, traditional soldiering such as kicking down doors and searching for roadside bombs has at least partly given way to book clubs, karaoke nights, sports and distance-learning university programs.

President Obama renewed his vow Tuesday to have all U.S. combat troops out of Iraq by next August, while nudging Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to see that his parliament quickly passes a critical election law essential to a nationwide vote in January. Without an election law, the vote could be delayed, snarling American plans to begin significantly scaling back U.S. troop presence after the national referendum.

Sudan

The Obama administration, after months of fierce internal debate, outlined a new approach Monday to settling the conflicts in Sudan, asserting a moral obligation to end “a vast sea of human misery” and a need to prevent the African nation from serving as a haven for terrorists. The new policy rests on offering incentives for the Sudanese government to end the violence and threatening stronger pressures if it does not. While emphasizing the role of diplomacy, it is a less accommodating approach than the White House‘s own special envoy to Sudan, Scott Gration, had been advocating. U.S. humanitarian groups embraced the new policy with varying degrees of enthusiasm. Jerry Fowler, president of the private Save Darfur Coalition, said the president had put his administration back on course to a more effective policy, but he said Obama must become personally engaged.

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