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October 2004
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January 2005

Miraculous Deliverance From The Tsunami

Here's an interesting story from the 12-30 Washington Post about a missionary who runs an orphanage in Sri Lanka and their miraculous deliverance from the Tsunami. Here's the link. Here's the important part:

…It isn't clear who saw the wave first. Sanders's wife, Kohila, said she was alerted by one of the orphans, a girl who burst into the kitchen as Kohila was mixing powdered milk for her 3-year-old daughter. Kohila ran into the brilliant sunshine and saw the building sea. Even the color of the water was wrong: It looked, she said, "like ash."

     Kohila ran to inform her husband, who told her not to panic, he recalled. "I said, 'Be calm. God is with us. Nothing will ever harm us without His permission.' " Wrapped in a sarong, he ran outside and looked toward the ocean. There on the horizon, he said, was a "30-foot wall of water," racing toward the wispy casuarina pines that marked the landward side of the beach. 
     Desperate, he asked if anyone had seen his daughter, and a moment later one of the older girls thrust the child into his arms. Sanders heaved her into the boat, along with the other small children, as the older ones, joined by his wife and the orphanage staff, clambered aboard on their own. One of his employees yanked on the starter cord and the engine sputtered instantly to life -- something that Sanders swears had never happened before. 

     "Usually you have to pull it four or five times," he said. 

     Crammed with more than 30 people, the dangerously overloaded launch roared into the lagoon at almost precisely the same moment, Sanders said, that the wall of water overwhelmed the orphanage, swamping its single-story buildings to the rafters. 

     "It was a thunderous roar, and black sea," he said. 

      The orphans' ordeal did not end when their boat pulled away from the shore. 

     Not only was water cascading over the lagoon side of the peninsula but it was pouring in directly from the mouth of the estuary about two miles away. Sanders feared the converging currents would swamp the small craft. At that point, Sanders said, he recalled a line from the Book of Isaiah: "When the enemy comes in like a flood, the spirit of the Lord shall raise up a standard against it." 

     He raised his hand in the direction of the flood and shouted, "I command you in the name of Jesus -- stop!" The water then seemed to "stall, momentarily," he said. "I thought at the time I was imagining things." 

     As the launch then headed away from the mouth of the lagoon, he began to worry that waves would overtake them from behind, swamping the small boat. Reasoning that it was better to hit the waves head on, he said, he ordered the helmsman to reverse direction and head back toward the open ocean…

As they say, read the rest.

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Is This The United States In 30 Years?

I guess this demonstrates the power and attraction of the secularist religion/non-religion. I believe this is where the United States is headed if all the trends continue as they are now. General prosperity and well being eliminate not only physical but spiritual hunger as well. That's the lesson of the books of Judges, Kings and Chronicles. But even then there was still a remnant which served The Great King. Here's the link: Britons' Belief In God Vanishing Here's a blurb:

By Anthony King (Filed: 27/12/2004) To say that Britain is rapidly becoming a godless country would be too strong, but a YouGov survey  provides overwhelming evidence that the British are now a largely irreligious people. Only a minority believe that God exists and almost everyone acknowledges that Britain is becoming an increasingly secular society…

Instead, the national mood appears to be one of benign indifference. Most people give the impression of regarding religion almost as a consumer good, one to be consumed by those who happen to have a taste for it.

A majority of people in 21st century Britain neither hopes nor fears for a life after death. Only about a third believes in Heaven, and even fewer in Hell and the Devil.

Marriage is no longer seen as a sacrament and even church weddings no longer find favour.

Moreover, the existing trend towards secularisation seems almost certain to continue. The incidence of religious belief has declined sharply in recent decades and young people today are significantly less religious than their elders. More than a third of today's young people describe themselves as either agnostics or atheists. Among middle-aged people and the elderly, the figure is far smaller…

Repeating a question that the Gallup Poll asked nearly four decades ago, YouGov began by asking people, bluntly, whether or not they believed in God. The findings, set out in the chart on Page 17, are startling. Whereas in 1968 more than three quarters of people, 77 per cent, said they did believe in God, that figure has fallen by nearly half to 44 per cent - a minority of the population.

The proportion prepared to admit that it does not believe in God has more than trebled from a mere 11 per cent in the late-1960s to 35 per cent today. The gap between the number of believers and non-believers, once wide, has thus closed dramatically.

As the figures in the chart also show, a majority of men, as well as a majority of young people, now decline to acknowledge the existence of God. However, today's religious doubt frequently amounts to just that: doubt. One in four of YouGov's sample, asked to say whether or not they believed in God, replied "Don't know" and, even among the 35 per cent who said they did not believe in Him, considerably more described themselves as agnostics rather than outright atheists.

Read the rest.

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Maybe Jesus Was Born On Christmas

I'd never heard this before but apparently there is some real basis for setting Jesus birth date on December 25. Here's a blurb from the article. Link: San Angelo Standard-Times: Religion.

Holiday debate

… there's also a small disagreement about why the church later chose Dec. 25 for Christmas. Two main theories compete.

One notes that in A.D. 274, the Roman Emperor Aurelian inaugurated Dec. 25 as the pagan ''Birth of the Unconquered Sun'' celebration at the calendar point when daylight began to lengthen. Supposedly, Christians then borrowed the date and devised Christmas to compete with paganism.

Aurelian's empire seemed near collapse, so his festival proclaimed imperial and pagan rejuvenation. Before 274, there's no record of a major sun cult at the northern hemisphere's winter solstice (the year's shortest day, which occurs a few days before Dec. 25).

William Tighe, a church history specialist at Pennsylvania's Muhlenberg College, champions the exact opposite theory.

Aurelian almost certainly created ''a pagan alternative to a date that was already of some significance to Roman Christians,'' Tighe wrote last December in Touchstone, a Chicago-based magazine for Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant traditionalists. True, the Christians later appropriated Aurelian's festival into their Christmas.

But Dec. 25 ''appears to owe nothing whatsoever to pagan influences,'' Tighe asserted. He said the pagans-first theory originated only three centuries ago in the writings of Protestant historian Paul Ernst Jablonski and Catholic monk Jean Hardouin.

Tighe acknowledged that the first hard evidence of Christmas occurring on Dec. 25 isn't found until A.D. 336, and the date became a fixed festival in Constantinople only in 379.

However, the definitive ''Handbook of Biblical Chronology'' by professor Jack Finegan (Hendrickson, 1998 revised edition) cites an important reference in the ''Chronicle'' written by Hippolytus of Rome three decades before Aurelian launched his festival. Hippolytus said Jesus' birth ''took place eight days before the kalends of January,'' that is, Dec. 25.

Tighe said there's evidence that as early as the second and third centuries, Christians sought to fix the birth date to help determine the time of Jesus' death and resurrection for the liturgical calendar - long before Christmas also became a festival.

The New Testament Gospels say the Crucifixion happened at the Jewish Passover season. The ''integral age'' concept, taught by ancient Judaism, though not in the Bible, held that Israel's great prophets died the same day as their birth or conception.

Quite early on, Tighe said, Christians applied this idea to Jesus and set the Passover period's March 25 for the Feast of the Annunciation, marking the angel Gabriel's announcement to Mary that she would give birth. Add nine months to the conception date, and we get Dec. 25.

Last year, Inside the Vatican magazine also supported Dec. 25, citing a report from St. John Chrysostom (patriarch of Constantinople who died in A.D. 407) that Christians had marked Dec. 25 from the early days of the church.

Chrysostom had a further argument that modern scholars ignore:

Luke 1 says Zechariah was performing priestly duty in the temple when an angel told his wife Elizabeth she would bear John the Baptist. During the sixth month of Elizabeth's pregnancy, Mary learned about her conception of Jesus and visited Elizabeth ''with haste.''

The 24 classes of Jewish priests served one week in the temple, and Zechariah was in the eighth class. Rabbinical tradition fixed the class on duty when the temple was destroyed in A.D. 70, and, calculating backward from that, Zechariah's class would have been serving Oct. 2-9 in 5 B.C. So Mary's conception visit six months later might have occurred the following March and Jesus' birth nine months afterward …

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:30 Minutes Toward Victory

THE GOD KIND OF FAITH Jesus said in Mark 11:22-23 that if we have the God kind of faith our words can move the mountains in our lives. Here's program number three of the series, God Has Not Left Us Defenseless, now available in 4 distinct flavors: Windows Broadband, Windows 56k Modem, Quicktime Broadband, Quicktime 56k modem.

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Those In A Position To Know Believe In Miracles

Link: Science or Miracle?; Holiday Season Survey Reveals Physicians' Views of Faith, Prayer and Miracles.

A national survey of 1,100 physicians, conducted by HCD Research and the Louis Finkelstein Institute for Religious and Social Studies of The Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City over the past weekend, found that 74% of doctors believe that miracles have occurred in the past and 73% believe that can occur today.

The poll also indicated that American physicians are surprisingly religious, with 72% indicating they believe that religion provides a reliable and necessary guide to life.

If anyone is in a position to witness miracles it would be doctors.

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