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Vol. 1 Issue # 13
MAY 2002 ISSUTHE
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*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** DIVORCE
Whether you turn to the right or to the
left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying,
"THIS IS THE WAY; WALK IN IT. Isa. 30: 21
Some readers of this
e-magazine may wonder why we run so many historical stories. We think that the following article shows that the Church at
the present time Is NOT so unlike the world, that mabe it has lost some of it morality.And we as christians need to relook
at the way we are representing the kingdom of Christ to the world.
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Americas Divorce Plague Infects the Church
By Sarah Pollak
CBN News Reporter
A study by the Barna Research Group says that Christians actually tend to get divorced slightly more often
CBN.com - Divorce seems to plague America. Around 43 percent of the country's marriages end in divorce.
Studies show Christians are no more immune to divorce than anyone else, and now the world is starting to take notice.
What sometimes seems like an escape from a difficult marriage only leads to more pain for couples down the
road, to say nothing of the devastating impact inflicted on children.
But divorce has grown so pervasive in American society that many consider it as a first option when their marriage
turns sour. "The reason it is becoming a post-marriage society is because it is a post-truth society. When it is a post-truth
society, you are post-marriage, post-love, post-morality, post commitment," explained author Ravi Zacharias.
Henry and Pam were regular churchgoers. But despite the teachings of the Bible against divorce, both began
to consider it a solution to a lack of personal happiness in their home. Deep problems from their pasts created a storm they
were not sure if they could weather as husband and wife.
"I was so unhappy," Pam explained, "I was ready to leave because the Lord wasn't really allowed in our home,
and I wanted to find Him, so I was ready to leave."
After 18 years, they were on the brink of calling it quits, and this Christian couple is not unique.
Every year, thousands of Christians decide, for whatever reason, to end their marriages. A study by the Barna
Research Group says that Christians actually tend to get divorced slightly more often than non-Christians.
Among born again believers, 27 percent are currently or have previously been divorced. Compare that to 24 percent
of adults who are not Christians.
And this disturbing trend of Christians divorcing is beginning to hurt the witness of Christians everywhere.
"Someone pulls the States together and says, What about the Christian community and their willingness to live
with their covenants?" said Gary Walch, president of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada.
Atheists seemed delighted to announce online that according to the same Barna study, they have the lowest average
divorce rates. They say having a belief in God makes no difference in one's married life.
Meanwhile, homosexual web sites give tips on how to shame Christians. At one point, a certain web site says
to Christians: "The jig is up folks. The pot's calling the kettle black."
Marriage instructor Jim Priest said, "The devil wants to break marriages apart, God wants to bring them together.
In Hebrews 13, God tells us, 'Let marriage be held in honor by all.' That's His game plan."
But if that is God's game plan, then why do Christians seem just as willing to file for divorce as anyone else?
One reason is Christians fall victim to the very same unrealistic expectations that non-Christians do.
"There's this fantasy and the fantasy has existed for generations, you know, you get married and you're instantly
going to be happy," explained Iris Krasnow, author of Surrendering to Marriage: Husbands, Wives, and Other Imperfections.
"And you get swayed into the myth because you have the big beautiful dress, the big room, lots of people and everyone's just
lost 10 pounds when they get married and you're into this Hollywood set, and how about the vows you make in front of God?
I do. I take this person forever to be my husband or wife."
Two lives are forever entwined, emotionally, physically and spiritually. But something has gone horribly wrong.
"I do think there is a spiritual disconnect," said Doctor Anthony Jordan of the Governors Marriage Initiative
Jordan says the bottom line is Christians just are not living what they say they believe. "We need a spiritual
awakening so that disconnect is removed and what we believe is practiced in the way we live," he said.
Walch believes part of the problem is that not enough people are standing up for Gods definition of marriage.
"There has been such an erosion of marital commitment and vows and understanding marriages even in the Christian community
we are embarrassed to stand and make the case for a covenant relationship," he said.
Once couples understand that marriage is a three-way covenant between a man, a woman, and God, Krasnow says
they have to determine to make it work no matter how difficult it seems. "This is about surrendering to your promise, to your
pledge, to your commitment. You said 'I do.' So do it. Work your marriages to the bone," she said.
And many couples are taking that advice. In the case of Henry and Pam, they had to fight hard to save their
marriage. For Pam, part of that process involved surrendering her hurt to God with the help of a Christian ministry.
"I really didn't think there was a way, I thought you could cover it up or be able to put it in the past, but
it wasn't until I had healing from the Lord that I realized it could be taken away," she explained.
And when Henry and Pam opened their lives to the Lord, it was then that God performed a miracle. Now the couple
prays and studies God's Word together daily. "The most amazing thing is the Lord is now in our home, He has made it His sanctuary,"
Rev. Steve Green of the Church of the Nazarene says that is the way it should be. "There's something so miraculous
in the coming together of a husband and wife that the only other imagery we have for that is the union that happens between
a believer and God. And as that is to be held in faithfulness, so also is marriage."
The following is a return to our normal historical views.
CHRIST, CULTURE, AND HISTORY
Is the "main character" in the church's story God, transforming faith, or an
inspired yet wayward community?
Fifty years ago, Richard Niebuhr's landmark Christ and Culture
both summarized and sparked much Christian thought by identifying five modes of interaction between his title subjects: Christ
against culture, Christ of culture, Christ above culture, Christ transforming culture, and Christ and culture in paradox.
Though Niebuhr's interest was primarily theological, roughly similar categories can be applied to histories of the church.
Three that have landed in my office recently model the distinctions.
The first is James Garlow's How God Saved Civilization,
subtitled "The epic story of God leading his people, the church" (Regal, 2000). Garlow holds a PhD from Drew University but
writes, in his own description, with "the heart of a pastor, not the head of a scholar." The people who endorse the book come
from the pastoral side as well, including the man whose phrase of praise appears right on the front cover: Tim
leaves no doubt as to his view of culture. "Civilization has no hope," he begins his introduction. "No hope at all, except
through God. God alone can preserve a person, a family, a people group, a nation or any part of civilization that's worth
preserving." Much later in the book he bewails the "moral bankruptcy of America" (384), a typical "Christ against culture"
sentiment, and vows to the enemies of the church, "Contrary to your wishes, the Church of Jesus Christ is alive and well"
(395). In Garlow's view God has
saved, and continues to save, humanity through supernatural intervention. Even the era
many Protestants wish to forget, 500-1300 (which Garlow magnanimously includes, though in a chapter titled "The Grand Detour"),
has a few saving graces -- just enough to ensure that the gospel would survive.
Alvin J. Schmidt tips his hand on the
Christ-culture question in his title, Under the Influence: How Christianity Transformed Civilization (Zondervan, 2001). A
Lutheran minister and career sociologist, he takes a less chronological approach than Garlow, seeking rather to document "how
so many of our current institutions originated and developed within the church, and how so many 'greats' in all branches of
culture were Christian" (8). His main argument for the resilience and righteousness of the faith, then, is this:
"No other religion, philosophy, teaching, nation, movement -- whatever -- has so changed the world for the better as Christianity
has done" (9).
Despite annoyingly persistent complaints in academe and the media that Christianity ruins everything
it touches, Schmidt has an easy case to make. Christians labored to eliminate such practices as female infanticide in ancient
Rome, slavery in Britain and America, and widow burning (suttee) in India.
Meanwhile Christians built hospitals, schools,
and the Western legal system. Christian fingerprints on great art, literature, and even scientific progress are similarly
Schmidt does not go so far as to suggest, in the manner of a thoroughgoing "Christ transforming culture" devotee,
that all of society can or should be brought under Christian influence; he's a Lutheran, after all, not a Calvinist. Still,
he celebrates Christianity's past successes on this front and would likely hail new sociological improvements, though possibly
not the political victories sought by some American
evangelicals. Schmidt considers the separation of church and state,
as long as that idea means "freedom of religion" and not "freedom from religion," one of Christianity's gifts to society.
last and favorite category, "Christ and culture in paradox," has always been the most difficult to define. Brian Moynahan's
The Faith: A History of Christianity (Doubleday, 2002) may or may not fit. Moynahan, a journalist with a history degree from
Cambridge, gives no indication of his theological beliefs, so he may well be looking at Christ and culture from outside Christianity
(not a stance Niebuhr seeks to address). Whether or not the paradox view is his own, however, he describes a history full
of irony and tension, the divine and the debased. "There is something of the wolf to the religion that adores the Lamb," he
writes in the introduction, noting that the label "Christian" has been worn by "crusaders
and pacifists, mystics, hermits,
jolly friars and joyless puritans, polygamists, flagellants, missionaries both
sensitive and crass, misogynists, heroines,
bigots, popes, emperors, and the frankly deranged."
Moynahan's story, like Schmidt's but unlike Garlow's, is intensely
human. It is not, fortunately, rigidly humanistic; for example, Moynahan expresses doubt that Jesus ever meant to claim divinity
(2) but later states without hedging that the Resurrection "was the evidence of Christ's divinity" (19). Still, theology is
not Moynahan's main concern, as he is not seeking to illuminate God's work in the world or trace the development of true faith
through many dangers, toils, and snares. He is interested in the faith and the snares, the interplay of factors that can lead
to development, decline, or an unsettling mix of the two.
The scope and heft of The Faith (at 800 pages it is nearly
as long as the other two books combined) make it difficult to adequately describe here, but one topic illustrates Moynahan's
approach. On the subject of early Christian social ethics, the author first describes Jesus' example, taking the gospel narratives
basically at face value. The author also notes directives from Paul, particularly in the epistles whose Pauline authorship
scholars deem most certain (Galatians, Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, 1 Thessalonians, Colossians, and
Moynahan delves into post-biblical history to show how human error obscured the New Testament ideals. Galatians 3:28 proposes
radical equality of the sexes, and this principle bore some important fruit, but before long, "Christian sects were to become
quite as patriarchal as Judaism" (35). The same verse, along with several episodes from Jesus' life, proposes a radical social
egalitarianism as well, yet early Christian communities continued the practice of slavery and showed
little political ambition.
"The faith was a spiritual revolution," Moynahan writes, "but it was meek and intensely conservative in the face of temporal
authority and the social order" (61).
By focusing on the interplay of Christlike ideals and an all-too-human body of
believers, from the dawn of Christianity to the present, Moynahan tells a believable story. It's messy and frequently disappointing,
but what else can one expect from "a faith exposed to the inconstancies and energies of mankind" (730)? Paradox rings true
in history, too.
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We thought the following article
was relevant, as it is always great to see people live out their faith. And this e-magazine for the most part would agree
with the Mennonites in doctrine.
An Introduction to the Mennonites
The name Mennonite often evokes an image of somberly dressed rural
folks who travel about with horses and buggies and refuse to take part in the military. In reality most Mennonites dress in
fashionable clothing, drive modern cars, and live very much like their neighbors in urban and suburban North America. However,
many of these modern Mennonites still practice non-resistance or pacifism, refusing to participate in any form of violence.
folks sometimes do not appreciate the austere perception many people have of them. They are occasionally quick to explain
that it is the Amish who actually live the kind of separated life frequently associated with the Mennonites.
there are also thousands of Mennonites who have no Amish connections who dress in a distinctive garb, drive horse drawn vehicles,
and live separately from the mainstream of secular and
religious society. These are the Old Order Mennonites.
thousand additional Mennonites have been more open to modern technology and church programs but like the Old Order Mennonites
have been quite firm in preserving a separated life-style, including modest, plain dress. These are the conservative Mennonites.
Old Order and conservative Mennonites stem from the largest group of Mennonites in North America, officially known as the
Mennonite Church (note the capital C for Church). This group has also been called the (Old) Mennonite Church (note the parentheses
around Old) to distinguish them from other groups of Mennonites.It is important not to confuse (Old) Mennonites with Old Order
Mennonites. The designation "Old" signifies that they are descended from the "original" body of Mennonites, which had its
beginnings in 16th century Europe.
The Mennonite Church descends from the Swiss branch
of Mennonites founded in Zurich, Switzerland, in 1525. At first Mennonites were called Anabaptists because they rebaptized
those who had been christened as infants. They believed baptism should be a voluntary act of an adult believer. This was one
of the main
points of contention between the emerging Protestant movement and the group which came to be called Anabaptists.
The Anabaptist-Mennonites also believed, in contrast to the Catholics and Protestants, that the church should be composed
only of truly converted Christians living dedicated, holy lives. They were
convinced there should be complete separation
of church and state and that followers of Christ could take no part in any form of violence, including self-defense.
separate movement of Anabaptists developed in Holland and produced a leader named Menno Simons. Both the Dutch and Swiss Anabaptists
eventually took their name -- Mennonite -- from him. In Switzerland, Holland, and what is now Germany the Anabaptist-Mennonites
experienced severe persecution from both Catholics and Protestants. Thousands of Mennonites were exiled, imprisoned, tortured,
and martyred for their faith. Persecution in Switzerland was especially long lasting and severe. Many Swiss Mennonites found
a small degree of tolerance in the German Palatinate, beginning in the 1670s. However, even in thePalatinate it was small,
and they were put under many restrictions and limitations. (For example, they could not own land.)
************************************************************************************** Bean Burgers
3/4 cup dried brown lentils -- cleaned
1 3/4 cups unsalted vegetable -- or beef broth
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 slices whole wheat bread
1/2 cup grated carrot
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh mushrooms
1/4 cup finely chopped scallions
3/4 cup shredded nonfat or reduced-fat Cheddar -- or mozzarella cheese
6 (6-inch rounds) whole wheat pita pockets -- or multigrain burger buns
6 lettuce leaves 6 slices tomato
3/4 cup alfalfa sprouts
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons bottled nonfat ranch dressing
Combine the lentils, broth, and pepper in a 1 1/2-quart pot, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the
heat to low, cover, and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the lentils are soft. Remove the pot from the heat, drain off
any excess water, and set aside to cool. While the lentils are cooking, tear the bread into pieces. Place the bread in a food
processor or blender, and process into fine crumbs. Transfer the crumbs to a small dish, and set aside. Place the cooked lentils
in a food processor (this mixture is too stiff for a blender), and process until the mixture is almost smooth. Add the carrot,
mushrooms, scallions, and bread crumbs, and process to mix well. Add the cheese, and process just until mixed. Shape scant
1/2-cup portions of the lentil mixture into 6 (3 1/2-inch) patties. coat a large nonstick skillet or griddle with nonstick
cooking spray, and preheat over medium heat. Place the patties in the skillet, and cook for 7 to 9 minutes, turning every
3 minutes, until golden brown. Place each pattie in a pita pocket or bun, and top with 1 leaf of lettuce, 1 slice of tomato,
2 tablespoons of sprouts, and 1 tablespoon of ranch dressing. Serve immediately.
Baptists Boycott Hotel
Because Of "Sex Bash"
( CNSNews) -- Don't look for members of the Southern Baptist Convention at Howard Johnson hotels.
The Southern Baptist Convention announced it is urging its members to avoid the hotel chain, after CNSNews.com
reported that one St. Louis Howard Johnson is hosting a sex bash for devotees of bondage, caning, flogging, and whipping.
Those are just a few of the "alternative" sexual practices headlining the event.
The three-day "Beat Me in St. Louis" seminar - sponsored by a sex club called St. Louis Leather & Lace
- is taking place at the Howard Johnson's Lambert International Airport franchise on April 26-28.
The Southern Baptist Convention plans to meet in St. Louis two months later, on June 11-12.
In an April 4 announcement, the Southern Baptist Convention said it was "parting ways" with Howard Johnson
Hotels because of the Leather & Lace sex bash.
"The SBC has canceled its block of rooms at Howard Johnson and will recommend that Southern Baptists find alternative
lodging during the June 11-12 annual meeting. Furthermore, the SBC said it does not feel comfortable recommending other Howard
Johnson locations for future meetings," according to a report from the Baptist Press. (See Baptist Press article)
Jack Wilkerson, vice president of business and finance at the SBC Executive Committee and convention manager,
told hotel officials about the convention's decision in an April 4 letter.
"Howard Johnson Hotels have historically supported the traditional family and solicited family business, but
the current environment and philosophy has made an apparent shift dramatically against that position," he wrote.
"It is extremely unfortunate that your hotel and parent corporation has chosen this departure, which is a direct
attack on the fabric of traditional family values and the Biblical heritage of our denomination and its churches," he added.
Southern Baptists who already have made reservations at Howard Johnson hotels in the St. Louis area will get
help in finding other quarters, Wilkerson said.
The convention is expected to book as many as 4,000 rooms in the area for its June convention, and it's not
clear how many of those rooms would have been at Howard Johnson hotels.
The Baptist Convention is the nation's largest Protestant group.
St. Louis Leather & Lace bills its seminar as an "educational pansexual event dedicated to the free expression
of alternative lifestyles and forms of loving."
Membership in the club "is offered only to those individuals who have shown a genuine commitment to the BDSM
(bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism) lifestyle and who will contribute positively to the group."
(Editor's note: On Friday, April 5, the St. Louis Leather & Lace website no longer included links to its
"Beat Me in St. Louis" sex bash. Links to other events also were severed.) © 2002 CNSNews.com
© 2002 Maranatha Christian News Service
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