30 April, 2007

Man's Apparent "Second Blessing" Only A Seizure


Ezra Martin has been a member of Calvary Pentecostal Church in Toronto for almost 25 years. Faithfully attending services, he has sought for most of those years to receive a so called "second blessing," and be "slain in the Spirit," but has sought, as it were, in vain.

"Every time we've had a service I've tried to get slain, but it just never happens." Said Martin. "I've had people pray over me in tongues, lay hands on me, touch me, but it never happens. I just can't get it."

For years this congregation of charismatic believers has looked on with pity as Martin is the only member that has never received his "second blessing."

"It's so sad." Said friend Adam Harvell. "My young son just got saved a year ago and already he's been filled, but Ezra has been trying ever since I've known him with no such luck. We pray for him all the time, but it just never happens."

So this past Sunday the congregation became extremely excited during the service when Martin began to suddenly exhibit signs of being "slain."

"I looked down during the worship time and saw Ezra's eyes start rolling into the back of his head." Said William Hughes, Martin's pastor. "I shouted out 'Look everyone, he's got it!' Everyone looked over at him and got real excited. Ezra just started shaking and then he fell to the ground just shaking all over, convulsing and vibrating."

Members of the church gathered around Martin and immediately began to speak in tongues, laying on hands and shouting.

"We were all so thrilled for him." Said Harvell. "We thought he had finally got it!"

But what, for a moment, seemed like a cause to celebrate suddenly turned into a a major medical emergency. After shaking violently on the floor for several minutes Martin suddenly stopped moving. It was then that the tongue speaking stopped and the church went into action.

"We realized something was wrong when he stopped breathing." Said Hughes. "I knew then that perhaps he had not really been filled. I didn't know if he'd had a heart attack or something."

Hughes was able to revive Martin after a few minutes by slapping him repeatedly on the face. He was then taken to a local hospital for observation.

"I broke my hand when I fell." Said Martin from his hospital bed. "But I'm doing okay I suppose. I'm just so disappointed that it wasn't the real thing. For a minute I thought I was being filled as the room began to spin and I felt my knees get week. I just don't know if I'll ever get it now."

26 April, 2007

New "Rapture Ready" Public Service Announcements Hit Airwaves


For Fellowship Church of God in Little Rock "community outreach" means more than just helping people right now; it also means helping them for the future. About four months ago the church was looking for new ways to reach out to the surrounding community when a phrase on a t-shirt gave them the idea.

"I saw a woman wearing a shirt one day that said 'If the rapture happens, you can have my shirt.'" Said Chris Koister, the church's pastor. "That just gave me a wonderful idea. We need to be teaching people what they need to do in case they get left b

So several members of the church got together with Koister and formulated a plan to inform the non-Christian community what to do in case the Rapture occurs. The plan includes a series of public service radio announcements that address different subjects such as How to Avoid Out of Control Cars, What to Do with All of Those Extra Clothes and How to Fly an Airplane, the script of which states,

"In the event you find yourself aboard a large passenger jet in which the pilot and co-pilot have been raptured, do not panic! The first thing you will want to do is see if there are any other pilots on board the aircraft. While a professional pilot familiar with commercial aircrafts is preferred, any pilot with limited experience is acceptable. If no pilot is available be sure to make contact with the near
est air traffic control tower and they will assist you in landing the plane safely. It, IS, however, extremely important that you get through this situation alive as your being left behind is indicative of the peril of your soul."

While the church has been extremely pleased with the quality of the announcements, people in the Little Rock community have not taken favorably to them.

"These radio announcements are absolutely absurd." Said Carol Hampton, one angry listener. "I was driving the other day and I heard this message about what to do if a car starts driving towards me out of control because of the rapture. I thought it was a joke at first then I heard the tag line that this was a public service announcement from some church."

"We've received a number of calls complaining about the adds." Said Koister. "We may have gone a little too far with a couple of them perhaps. In the plane one we have a bunch of people at the beginning screaming in terror as the plane swerves out of control. We might have to tone them down a bit."

But despite the criticism, Koister says his church still plans to expand their ministry to those who will be left behind.

"We really want to put in a driving track out back and teach people how to avoid all of those out-of-control cars that will be zipping around out there." Said Koister. "We're just here to help the community."

25 April, 2007

Episcopal Church Offers Free T-Shirts to Attract New People

Now, you too can look like a rockin' Episcopalian with Extreme Unction wear!

With Extreme Unction wear you can display your faith(s) and make people think you're wearing some kind of punk-rock band t-shirt at the same time.

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Sizes available include baggy, extra baggy, and huge and cost just $29.95!

All profits go to support either the National Endowment for the Arts or the National Organization for Women.

24 April, 2007

Pastor Begins 35th Year of Preaching Through Ephesians


Expository preachers are often known for spending lengthy periods of time in one book of Scripture. The well-known British pastor, Martyn Lloyd-Jones spent almost 12 years preaching through Romans, and one noted Puritan spent over two decades preaching through the book of Job. But recently the Rev. Alvin Jones of Kirk of the Hills Presbyterian Church in Raleigh entered his 35th year of preaching through the book of Ephesians...and he's still only on chapter one.

"When I began my pastoral ministry at Kirk of the Hills 35 years ago I had intended to spend one year preaching through Ephesians and then move on to some other books." Said Jones. "I suppose I just got caught up."

After 35 years of preaching through the book on Sunday mornings, Jones has managed to make it through verse 10 of the first chapter, and for some this is just too long.

"I understand that the truths contained in the first chapter of Ephesians are so great that we could spend the rest of eternity examining them." Said Jack Miller, a member of the church. "But we need to be fed from some other parts of the word too. We need to see some things in context and know how they all fit together. A couple of years ago my Bible split and fell in half right on the page where Ephesians begins, and I had to get a new one."

Jone's Sunday evening sermons also show the same pattern. He has been preaching now through the book of Genesis for 5 years and has managed to reach half-way through chapter 2.

"Genesis is a much larger book, so understandably I'm moving faster through that one." Said Jones.

When asked what his plans might be for future books in his preaching Jones replied, "I've been eying Revelation for a while now, and really want to tackle that one, but I just can't predict how much longer we'll be in Ephesians and Genesis. There's still a lot more ground to cover. I'm hoping we'll make it to Ephesians 2 by 2009."

23 April, 2007

Coming Soon to the Tominthebox News Network

Coming soon to the Tominthebox News Network, a poorly drawn cheaply done cartoon about three friends determined to turn the church upside down.

You'll enjoy the exciting adventures of Ricky Relativism, with his home-spun relevant interpretations of the Bible. Neo Nate with his all-organic, veganesque wholesome goodness. And Cussy McFoul, complete with U2 enabled iPod.

Don't miss a moment of the post-modern action! Coming in May to the Tominthebox News Network.

20 April, 2007

Man Aspires to be Missionary to the Extremely Wealthy


Patrick Morgan has wanted to be a missionary since he was 10 years old and met some missionaries to Africa on furlough at his home church in Dover. He majored in history during his college years, and then went on to study missions at seminary. But after seminary he went to work not doing what he had always dreamed of doing but working as a manager of a restaurant in his hometown. Now at age 36 Morgan again feels the pull to the mission field. This time, though, the calling is not to Africa or even to a foreign country. Morgan feels that he is called to be a missionary to the extremely wealthy in Beverly Hills, California.

"I know it sounds crazy." Said Morgan. "But those people need the gospel too. I've prayed a lot about where I should go, and Beverly Hills just keeps coming up over and over again."

Morgan recently presented his idea to the deacons and pastor of his home church, Lighthouse Baptist Church in Dover, but the idea was not well-received.

"We were excited when Patrick said he felt called to the mission field, and we were ready to support him fully." Said deacon Alec Fryer. "But when he started telling us about where he wanted to go and how much it was going to cost, he lost us completely."

As it turns out, in order for Morgan to fulfill his "vision" he will need to raise at least $5 million dollars a year, plus an extra $8 million dollars to make an initial purchase on a mansion in Beverly hills.

"I've found a lovely place right next door to actor Jackie Chan that I think would be perfect." Said Morgan. "The other $5 million will go towards clothes, cars eating out, and joining a number of prominent organizations such as country clubs, health clubs and such. I'll also budget some vacations in there too."

But for the time being Morgan's vision is just that, a vision. He has so far been unable to raise any money towards going.

"Things have not been going too well thus far." He Said. "My own home church will not even support me in this, nor have I found anyone else willing to help. It just upsets me, here I am willing to go and take the gospel to all people and no one will support me at all. I'm going, but there's no one sending."

Contributions can be made to Morgan's mission endeavors by contacting the Tominthebox News Network.

19 April, 2007

Pastor Makes 1 Timothy 4:8a His "Theme Verse"


Rev. Charles "Chuck" Dewease, pastor of the First Pentecostal Church of Youngston, is not ashamed to tell anyone his weight.

"I'm a little over 415 pounds and proud of it." He says.

About ten years ago while reading the book of 1 Timothy, Dewease came under "intense conviction" when he read 1 Timothy 4:8a which says, "For bodily exercise profiteth little." Since that day Dewease has made it a point to avoid any and all manner of exercise, intentionally gaining a tremendous amount of weight to show his "conviction."

"I've never been what you might call a 'small man.'" Said Dewease. "But ten years ago my life changed. It was a liberating and freeing experience when I read that verse in 1 Timothy. I never much cared for diet and exercise, but when I read those words my heart just leaped for joy! I knew that I didn't have to worry about it anymore."

Now, Dewease no longer concerns himself about what he eats. His breakfast often consists of a large six-egg omelet with cheese, ham and sausage, four or five biscuits with gravy, a large serving of grits, and 8 strips of bacon. During the day he usually keeps a large stash of snack foods and soft drinks in his office. For lunch he normally eats out.

"I love fried chicken." He said. "There's a local place just down the road called "Claire's Cafe" that makes the best you'll ever eat, and I go there just about every day. They all know me. I just walk in and say 'I'll have the usual' and they bring me my ten-piece family meal with baked beans and potato salad."

Dewease does not concern himself with how people might look at him but rather refers to his obesity as his "testimony to godliness," claiming that the larger he gets, the more he displays himself as one who is not concerned with bodily exercise.

"What I'm doing is found right there on the pages of the Bible." He said. "This is how we are all supposed to be living our lives, not spending time at the gym. I don't have time for that. With so much sinning going on in this world, with so much alcohol and tobacco use in my own community, I've got my work cut out for me. This is a holy pursuit."

Despite Dewease's passion for "holy pursuits" some members of his own congregation are concerned about his weight.

"I just think he needs to slow down a bit." Said one member who wished to remain anonymous. "He's going to keel over with a heart attack one day."

But despite the criticism Dewease is unwaivering.

"I don't care what anybody says." Said Dewease. "They can mock me, ridicule me, and scoff, but it is better to obey the Bible rather than men."

18 April, 2007

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17 April, 2007

Church Experiments with Having Members File "Tithe Returns"


For the past 3 years annual giving has steadily declined for Park Hills Church of Christ in Memphis. Although the number of church members has grown slightly, the church's giving has gone down almost 25% since 2004, which has pastor Drew Morgan both confused and concerned.

"I'm not sure what's going on." Stated Morgan. "Our membership has gone up as well as our attendance. I'm not aware of anyone in our congregation having any particular financial struggles. People just haven't been giving like they used to."

Since the beginning of this year, because of the drop in giving, the church has been running into some financial struggles, unable to meet a number of requirements. The church's facilities currently need work in a number of areas, but because of the lack of funds the repairs have not yet been made.

"I started preaching on giving and tithing back in February to try to encourage people to start giving more, but nothing seemed to work." Said Morgan. "No matter what I've said giving keeps declining."

Morgan, as well as the church's deacons, recently agreed that something must change if the church was to continue to function. So in a recent meeting of the deacons board, the deacons and Morgan devised a plan to help "boost" and "encourage" giving.

"This may sound strange, but we got our inspiration from the government." Said deacon Mike Hall. "This is the time of year that everyone is thinking about taxes, filing their returns and such. So we came up with the idea of our members filing 'tithe returns' to see who needs to boost their giving."

"We have lots of people in this church who are taking advantage of goods and services that we provide, but do not contribute." Said Morgan. "They're drinking the church's coffee and eating the church's donuts before Sunday School. They're eating the food on family nights, going on missions trips, and relaxing in free air conditioning, but they're not giving to the work of this church. It's time this stopped. This will encourage them to do their part."

So this year the church will require each member to file a "tithe return." Each active church member will be given a form that he or she must fill out stating his or her gross income, how much tithe he or she paid, and any other gifts or offerings he or she made to the church. If the total number of offerings do not equal at least 10% of the member's adjusted income then he or she may owe the church money. Failure to do so may result in church discipline, loss of membership and possible refusal to transfer membership to another church.

"Once we get these returns then we'll know where the deficit is coming from, and which members aren't doing their part to help." Said Hall. "If they owe, all they have to do is pay by cash or check. And if they don't, well, we'll just have to deal with that. I can guarantee you this though, they won't be drinking our coffee and eating our donuts next Sunday."

The plan was announced this past Sunday after the morning worship service. Members were given the forms, which they hesitantly accepted, as they left the church. All members will have until June 15th to file their tithe returns, unless they file for an extension.

16 April, 2007

Jack Van Impe Starts "Rumors of Wars" to Hasten the End Times


The Bible teaches that in the end times there will be 'wars and rumors of wars.' While popular Bible prophecy teacher Jack Van Impe has no control over the first part of that statement, he definitely believes he can contribute to the last part, and thus plans now to devote his ministry to the spread of 'rumors of wars.'

"I feel it is my calling and my duty to hasten the end times." Said Van Impe. "I can't start a war. I'm not the leader of a nation. But I can start 'rumors of wars,' and that's what I plan to do both on my weekly television show and through the medium of the internet from now on."

Van Impe's weekly program, Jack Van Impe Presents, is a weekly 30 minute show which usually features Van Impe offering 'up to the minute prophecy.' Weekly world events are looked at in light of prophetic passages in the Bible and connections of fulfillment are made.

"Just last week we saw the fulfillment of Isaiah 25:25 where it says, '
Like heat in drought, You subdue the uproar of aliens; Like heat by the shadow of a cloud, the song of the ruthless is silenced.'" Said Van Impe. "When Don Imus was fired from his radio program he was silenced, that was a direct fulfillment of this prophetic verse. There's no doubt about it."

But now Van Impe hopes to change the focus of his program so that the end will come quickly.

"We're going to go after this full force." He stated. "Just last week we ran a whole story about possible war between China and Australia, and this week we're doing a rumor of a war between the U.S. and all of Europe. Though such stories may or may not have any real factual basis behind them, the fact that we're spreading these rumors is itself a fulfillment of prophecy."

Further 'rumors' that Van Impe plans to spread include wars between Russia and China, World War III and Iran and Uganda. In addition Van Impe's website will begin including pictures of 'rumored skirmishes' between countries showing scenes of mass destruction.

"We want these rumors to spread far and wide." Said Van Impe. "The faster they spread and the more there are the quicker the end will come."

13 April, 2007

Pastor's Scottish Accent Discovered to be Fake


For almost five years now Eric MacLeod has been the pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Austin. Loved by his congregation and the community, MacLeod is known affectionately as the "Silly Scotsman." Many describe him as "charming" and "whitty" with his Scottish accent, but still able to be serious and sensible when it comes to preaching. Members of the congregation speak highly of his preaching abilities, often encouraging their friends to visit the church just to hear MacLeod preach.

"We loved his accent." Said Elizabeth Thompson, a member of Trinity. "He could read the phone book and it would be interesting. It really made us pay attention more during sermons."

But recently MacLeod's standing in the eyes of his congregation took a serious nosedive when it was uncovered that he was not Scottish at all, but rather, he was from Florida. Now he faces losing his job as the church's pastor.

"I came up to the church late one Tuesday evening to pick up some papers that had been left in my box." Said Alex Hampton, one of the church's ruling elders. "I walked past the main office of the church and noticed there was a light left on. As I went in to turn it off I heard someone on the phone in Eric's office, but it didn't sound like him. So I went in and there he was, talking on the phone with someone in a plain old American accent. I was just plain shocked. Our eyes met, and I could tell he was nervous about being caught. Neither of us said anything, and I just left."

MacLeod was called before the elders the very next night where he confessed that he had lied to the church for five years, and that he was not from Scotland.

"He told us that the accent was all a fake, that he really wasn't from Scotland." Said Hampton. "But it's more than just the accent. All the stories about the 'old country' that he used to tell us in his sermon illustrations, his supposed knowledge of Scottish ales, his quoting of 'old Scottish sayings,' the rolled "Rs" and the witty jabs at America 'from across the pond,' all of it has been fake. We've been betrayed!"

Since the scandal was uncovered MacLeod has not spoken to the congregation, nor has he made any public statement, but is expected to this upcoming Sunday morning.

"All these years I've been telling everyone we had a pastor from Scotland when we've just had some guy from Florida." Said Thompson. "It really irks me. You take away the accent and he's about as dry as the Sahara."

While the elders have not formally decided what will happen to MacLeod, it has been suggested that he resign as pastor.

12 April, 2007

Lakewood Church Proposes to Purchase Liechtenstein


Lakewood church in Houston has over 29,000 members. The small European country of Liechtenstein has a population of just over 33,000. For Joel Osteen, the church's pastor, the size is just about right for their congregation.

"Quite frankly we've outgrown the Houston area." Said Osteen. "It's time to look elsewhere, perhaps at a place where our whole church family can stick together and live closely."

During services this past Sunday Osteen unveiled his vision before the congregation which now meets in a former sports arena. Osteen stressed the need for unity among the members of the congregation.

"It's time for us to take our vision elsewhere." He stated. "We need a place we
can call our own. It's time to start thinking towards the future, and our future is in having our own country. The vision begins here today. We're going to purchase Liechtenstein and call it Laketenstein!"

The congregation's response was more than enthusiastic, and now the church has committed itself to a 5 billion dollar fund raising campaign to establish its own country.

"We hope to meet this goal in 5 years." Said Osteen. "We have some very generous people in our church, and already we've raised a substantial amount of money. There are so many advantages, though, to us making this move. We'll basically have complete autonomy in what we do as a church. Citizenship in our country will be the same as being a member. I will, of course, be ruler of the country, but we'll have other leaders as well. We'll govern ourselves, have our own businesses and such, and a tourist will simply be referred to as a 'visitor.'"

While the Laketenstein Campaign began with much enthusiasm, there are still a number of questions that must be answered and obstacles to be overcome, namely getting the purchase approved by the Liechtenstein government and where to put of the current citizens.

"I've got an email in to Hans-Adam II, the prince." Said Osteen. "I haven't heard back from him yet about the purchase, so that might delay our efforts a bit. Some people have already asked me what we're going to do about Liechtenstein's current citizens, and we've already thought about that. Those that wish to join our congregation and learn English will be able to join our congregation of Laketenstein. Those who do not want to join will be relocated to either Germany, Switzerland or Austria."

11 April, 2007

Parents Seek Therapy for "Brainwashed" Child


Charles and Linda Harris are feeling "duped" these days. Last summer they innocently let their eleven-year-old son Mark attend a vacation Bible school at a nearby church, Ruthville Christian Reformed Church. Though devout members of another congregation in town, they decided to let Mark attend for the week because some of his friends had invited him.

"Everything was going great at first." Said Charles. "The first day Mark brought home some drawings and other art projects he had done with the group. They were also memorizing the first few verses of Ephesians 1 for the week. I personally thought it was great. I'm always supportive of him learning more about spiritual matters."

But what began as a simple and innocent week at vacation Bible school soon turned into what the Harrises now call their "nightmare."

"We were having dinner Friday night after the week had ended." Said Linda. "It seemed like Mark had had a good time and made some new friends. So I asked Mark, 'Tell me what you learned this week, sweetie?' and he started telling me a bunch of different things they had learned, all of which seemed good. But then he said 'We also learned that God chose his elect from all eternity and predestined them to salvation.' Charles and I just stopped and looked at each other, and I said 'What did you say, love?' and he said 'We learned that God chooses us first, we don't choose him first.' I mean our jaws just hit the floor. We were speechless!"

As the meal progressed the Harrises soon discovered that during the week Mark had been taught about the doctrines of election and predestination, common to reformed theology.

"We called the church the first thing on Monday morning and really let them have it." Said Charles. "How dare they brainwash my child with all of that mess!"

The family is now faced with an even bigger problem regarding their son. Not only was Mark taught the doctrines, but he himself came to understand and believe them.

"I really don't see why my parents are so upset." Said Mark. "I mean, the Bible just says it right there on the page that God chose and elected and predestined. How could I not believe it?"

The Harrises tried for months to persuade their son to change his new views, but to no avail. The situation has recently become so frustrating for the family that they are now seeking therapy for Mark in order to "help" him with his "problem."

"Mark is now meeting weekly with a counselor on staff at our church." Said Charles. "They've only met twice, and so far Mark hasn't changed his mind, but we're going to give it some time and see what happens. We're just praying that soon we'll have our boy back the way he was before and that he'll soon give up this nonsense."

10 April, 2007

Bob Jones University Starts "ThySpace" for Students


Life at Bob Jones University can seem "strict" to some. Girls are restricted from wearing pants on certain parts of the campus. All dates must be chaperoned by one of the college staff, and under no circumstances are couples allowed to touch. Violations of these rules are strictly enforced, and those who accumulate enough demerits during a school year face expulsion. But recently rules regarding internet access on campus have been reevaluated.

"We recognize that the internet is both a wonderful and a perilous thing." Said Dr. Bob Jones III, Chancellor of the University. "Every day there is something new out there, and while many of these things are worldly, there are, on occasion, good ideas."

One of the ideas that Jones appreciates is that of the popular website MySpace, in which people can post information about themselves such as likes, dislikes, pictures, etc. But given the nature of much of the content on MySpace the website is blocked by the campus' internet filtering software.

"I like the idea of MySpace," said Jones, "a place where our students can connect and learn about one another, but MySpace is a terrible website, filled with worldly and base things. We just cannot let our students have access to such a website without monitoring them, and checking up on everything they are writing and posting. But we have come up with our own system called ThySpace, which will allow our students to basically do the same thing."

ThySpace will be launched this fall at the beginning of the 2007-2008 academic year and will only be available and accessible to Bob Jones students on campus. Students will be able to customize there own home page and list their favorite classes at Bob Jones, their favorite Bob Jones III quote, their favorite Bob Jones choir music that they like to listen to, and their favorite food at the Bob Jones Dining Common. In addition, students may post pictures of themselves so long as they were taken on the campus of the university, and they may regularly blog about the things they have learned during Sunday AM services at the Founders' Memorial Apithorium.

"What this will do is increase our community." Said Jones. "You take a good idea, like MySpace, and you tweak it just a bit and you get what we have here with ThySpace."

The site will be free to use by all campus students, and will be monitored by the school's staff to avoid any inappropriate remarks being made. Furthermore, under no circumstances may students of the opposite sex add each other as friends.

"We're here to show the world that we at Bob Jones University can be old fashioned and yet use new things." Said Jones. "But we're not going to compromise though. We're here to stand in the gap and show the world how Christians should live."

09 April, 2007

South African Barrister Frustrated by Deceased Client's Fortune


Twenty-five years ago when Mikaiah Kamara accepted the job as personal barrister for Mr. Jean Atonne, a wealthy gold merchant from South Africa, it seemed like a dream job.

"It was the best and most ideal job any barrister could ever hope for." Said Kamara. "Mr. Atonne was a dear man, and was very generous towards me. He was not a hard man to work for, being a Christian, and he was constantly helping someone out in need."

Day after day Kamara managed the legal affairs of Mr. Atonne's gold mining business, ensuring that all taxes and paperwork had been taken care. But there was one small bit of paperwork that had not been taken care of that Kamara had been impressing upon his boss.

"Mr Atonne had no will, and no family." Said Kamara. "If he passed away the state would surely take control of his fortune of some $25 million."

Sadly, Mr. Kamara's worst fears for his client came true last week. As Atonne was inspecting one of mines in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, he suffered a heart attack and died, never having declared an heir to his fortune.

"When I heard the news," Said Kamara, "I was deeply saddened by the passing of my friend, but then I began to realize that I had to act fast or else his assets would be seized by the government."

Kamara had to find a way to quickly transfer the money out of the country, so he turned to the internet. Composing a tactful yet urgent email recounting the touching details of Mr. Attone's life, work, ministry and Christian testimony, he began to search various places for Christians living in other countries. After discovering a few in the United States he sent them the email offering to let them assist in the transfer process with a promise of at least a million dollars for their trouble.

"I sent out five emails at first to some Christian brothers in the United States with an offer of one million dollars if they would simply let me transfer five million to their bank account." Said Kamara. "All they simply had to do was contact me, give me their bank account number and routing number and I would deposit five million dollars in their account within 24 hours."

But, unfortunately for Kamara, his plan is not being well-received.

"I keep sending out emails, but no one is responding!" He Said. "I cannot understand what I'm doing wrong. Here I am offering people a million dollars, but no one is accepting the offer."

So the search continues for Kamara with hopes that he will find someone to accept his offer.

"I only have 72 hours left before the government takes control of Mr. Atonne's assets." Said Kamara. "If anyone would like to help all they simply have to do is email me at mikaiah.kamara@mail.sa.net with their bank account number, routing number and any passwords or pin codes, and I will be glad to help them out."

06 April, 2007

Infra and Supralapsarian Couple Learns to Live and Work Together


The story of how Karl and Emily Crisler met and fell in love is a moving one. They were both in their first year at Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson. She was fresh into her studies in Marriage and Family Therapy, he a Master of Divinity student struggling through Greek and Hebrew. They met in Theological Foundations, a three-hour-long Monday night class, and became fast friends.

"We started out just chatting some during the break time." Said Emily. "At first I thought he was just the typical MDiver, trying to impress me with how intelligent he thought he was. I just tried to be polite. But soon I really begin to notice him more and more. He was different, humble in many ways. We became good friends."

"I knew I wanted to marry her the moment I laid eyes on her!" Said Karl. "She didn't know it then, but I did. We were going to get married some day."

And, indeed they did. By the time they entered their second year at RTS they were husband and wife.

It would be great if the story ended with "and they lived happily ever after," but, unfortunately, that is not what happened. While the Crisler's faced many of the struggles common to newlyweds, one in particular caused significant problems in their marriage.

"It was a typical evening at home." Said Karl. "Emily had cooked a wonderful meal, and we were just having some dinner conversation. I began telling her about what we'd been studying in my Systematic Theology class on Infralapsarianism and Supralapsarianism."

Infra & Supralapsarianism are two views known commonly within reformed doctrine. Infralapsarianism argues that God's disposition towards the reprobate in his eternal decree is somewhat more "passive," that God determined that the fall would happen before he predestined some to salvation, thus "passing over" those who would not be saved. Supralapsarianism places God's decree to predestine some to salvation ahead of his decree of the fall. Thus reprobation occurs in a more "active" sense.

"As our conversation continued it suddenly became clear that Emily and I weren't on the same page." Said Karl. "When I was describing Supralapsarianism to her she said 'Well, that's what I believe.' and I asked her "How in the world can you believe that?"

"It was a big mess." Said Emily. "We argued for almost two hours about the whole thing."

In the days and weeks that followed tensions began to mount in the Crisler's marriage. Finally, they decided to get some counseling to help them through this trial.

"I really think things are beginning to get worked out now." Said Emily. "Even if we have this major theological difference between us, I know we can work it out and learn to live and work together."

"I still think she's wrong, but I love her." Said Karl. "And I know we've committed to stay together 'for better or for worse.' That's what I intended to do. I know we're not the only ones dealing with these things though. I have a friend out at Westminster Seminary, and he and his wife are going through some struggles over some major theological issues. His wife actually believes that flowers in the sanctuary are an acceptable thing, even in light of the regulative principle of worship. I don't know how it's going to work out for them, but we're committed."

05 April, 2007

Holy Week Turtle Compliments Easter Bunny


The Easter Bunny has had a "love-hate" relationship with Christianity over the years. For many, the mysterious character that comes on Easter Eve to bring children baskets full of candy is nothing more than a fun fantasy for kids to enjoy. But for others, the idea of the Easter Bunny represents commercialism and selfishness, ignoring the true meaning of the holiday. Some Christian leaders have tried to find a way to "Christianize" the Easter Bunny, making him relevant some how to the whole celebration of the resurrection, but none have successfully accomplished the task. That is, perhaps, until this week when Gateway Church unveiled their latest idea.

"The subject of the Easter Bunny is a tough one." Said the church's pastor, Carter Wilson. "With Santa Claus, at least you have the Christian character of St. Nicholas to refer to. But with Easter it's a magical bunny rabbit. Some parents just have a problem with that. So we've got to take a different approach to this situation if it's going to work."

Wilson's approach, in his own words, involves "balance."

"I finally realized that the Easter Bunny alone is pretty hard to spiritualize. He needs someone to balance him out. That's where we came up with the idea of the Holy Week Turtle."

"The concept of the Holy Week Turtle is simple." Said Erin Bennett, a member of Gateway Church who helped Wilson develop the idea. "The turtle is a slow, almost depressed animal which represents the sadness and the almost dirge-like feel of Holy Week, especially on the eve of the crucifixion. But what this character does is make the Easter Bunny really have relevance! The bunny is a fast and upbeat creature. Just like the bursting forth of the resurrection, we have the bunny rabbit with bursting speed."

Bennett further went on to explain that the Holy Week Turtle comes on the eve of Good Friday (Maundy Thursday), but instead of giving kids candy, he takes away all of the candy and sweets in a particular house.

"So kids wake up on Good Friday morning and all of the candy and sweets are gone." Said Wilson. "No cookies, brownies, jelly beans, etc. It's all been taken away. So the kids are sad, and the sweetness has been taken out of life. It's just like the crucifixion. But what's so amazing is that on Sunday morning the Easter Bunny comes and fills the house again with sweetness, abundant sweetness, just like the resurrection!"

Gateway Church began promoting the idea for several weeks prior to Holy Week, meeting secretly with parents and trying to get as many families involved as possible.

"We have almost 100% participation from our parents." Said Wilson. "We've been telling our kids 'Be careful, cause the old Holy Week Turtle is going to come tonight and snatch away all of our sweetness!' But just think how happy they'll be on Sunday morning when the good old Easter Bunny brings all of that back. It will be a deeply moving moment for our families I'm sure."

03 April, 2007

"The Puritan Message" to Hit Shelves Soon


Leonard Harris loves the writings of the Puritans, but has little time these days to "hack through" the tough, theological language in which they are written.

"I really would love to read more of the writings of the Puritans, but I just hate having to hack through all of that complicated theological language." Says Harris. "Those guys were so deep and profound when they wrote, but sometimes sentences just go on and on, and there are sub-points to sub-points to sub-points. I just don't have time for all of that."

Harris' sentiment is not unique either. Many faithful believers avoid the Puritans simply because they find them too difficult to grasp and read.

"I know that [the Puritans] are saying things that are good and helpful spiritually." Said Erin Carnes, who attends a weekly devotional book study at her church in Colorado Springs. "But I just want something I can read, something in my language that communicates to me."

So what to do in this situation? Who can help? None other than Eugene Peterson. Peterson, who is best known for his popular contemporary paraphrase of the Bible, The Message, heard the cry for help and immediately set out to bring the Puritans into the modern age.

"Where else could I begin but with the writings of that Puritan giant, John Owen?" Commented Peterson. "So many people would benefit from his works, but many just can't understand them. He has sentences sometimes that go on for whole pages! Owen needs to be brought into the 21st century and put in the language of today. So I went about this by asking the question, 'How would John Owen have talked if he lived today?'"

Peterson's first edition of The Puritan Message: The Writings of John Owen is due to hit the shelves by mid-April. Samples are already available for viewing online where one can compare the original writings of John Owen with the new Puritan Message paraphrase.

"The effect, also, and actual product of the work itself, or what is accomplished and fulfilled by the death, blood-shedding, or oblation of Jesus Christ, is no less clearly manifested, but is as fully, and very often more distinctly, expressed; -- as, first, Reconciliation with God, by removing and slaying the enmity that was between him and us;"

The Puritan Message:
"Here's what's happening people. When Jesus died it really worked things out. Everything is totally cool between us and God now."

"I'm pumped!" Said Harris. "I've been waiting for something like this for a long time. I've already got my copy pre-ordered."

The Puritan Message: The Writings of John Owen is 250 pages long, condensing Owen's traditionally multi-volumed work into a single read. In addition to the "contemporary language" of the work, all point and sub-point numbers have been removed giving Owen's writings are more "personal feel." The cost will be $19.95 for hardback, $35.99 for bonded leather, or $59.99 for genuine leather.

02 April, 2007

Palm Sunday Decorations "A Bit Much" for One Congregation


Palm Sunday is a time of great celebration at the First Methodist Church of Southwark. Each year this small congregation of just over 75 members in rural Idaho begins Holy Week with a festive service in which the sanctuary is decorated with palms. In addition, the whole congregation processes into the church carrying palm leaves while singing a chorus of Hosanna to the Son of David. But this past Sunday, rather than being marked by celebration, ended up being marked by frustration and confusion.

"The lady who normally decorated the sanctuary each year, Mrs. Harrison, died last year sadly." Said Larry Green, the church's pastor. "So this year the torch was passed to a younger woman, Mrs. Lacy. And I'm afraid people aren't too happy with her work."

As the members processed into the sanctuary they were confronted with what one member calls a "palm extravaganza."

"There were potted palm trees everywhere!" Said Nick Shute, a frustrated member. "They were in the aisles, on the pews, in the windows. You couldn't see the pulpit at all. Palm leaves completely covered the walls all over. She had even put palm leaves on the ceiling fans. It was a palm extravaganza! It was like some kind of tropical island fantasy."

As it turned out Margret Lacy, the woman responsible for decorating the sanctuary, had placed over 400 potted palms in the small church building, such that parts of aisles and certain rows were impossible to navigate.

"We all squeezed into the building somehow." Said Green. "I couldn't even see my congregation during the service. I had a wall of palm trees surrounding me. I felt like I was in a jungle somewhere shouting a sermon to people."

But despite the situation, Green is urging people to remain calm.

"We're just going to need to talk with Mrs. Lacy." Said Green. "I think this was an honest error in judgment, but we definitely need to set a few things straight, especially before Christmas rolls around and we find ourselves in a pine forest or something."