Interesting Article – Christianity Today, June 29th

New York City Churches Will No Longer Be Evicted from Public Schools—For Now

A district court judge today issued a permanent injunction order in the Bronx Household of Faith case.
Sarah Pulliam Bailey
[ posted 6/29/2012 10:22AM ]
New York City Churches Will No Longer Be Evicted from Public Schools—For Now

More than 60 churches that faced possible eviction Sunday from New York City public schools should have more room to breathe. The churches will be allowed to continue to meet in public schools, thanks to a permanent injunction issued today from a district court judge.

An ongoing conflict between religious organizations and the Department of Education has kept churches in limbo over the right to rent public school buildings for Sunday worship services. New York City Council speaker Christine Quinn recently blocked a vote to petition the state government to allow houses of worship access to school property. The resolution saw support from 31 of 51 council members, but the state legislative session ended this week, the Queens Chronicle reported.

In December, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal in the case. In February, the city’s department of education disallowed more than 60 congregations from meeting in public schools for a few days. But after a preliminary injunction, the churches were allowed to keep using the school buildings through June.

Churches faced a July 1 deadline on their access to public schools unless the preliminary injunction was extended. Today’s permanent injunction essentially means that those on the side of churches win the case at the district court level, prevailing on the free exercise clause and establishment claims.

But New York City—which has fought this case for 17 years—will likely appeal the case to the Second Circuit. Regardless of how the Second Circuit rules, the losing party at the Second Circuit could still appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.

Jordan Lorence, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund has argued the Bronx Household of Faith case since the city decided houses of worship would not be able to meet in public schools.

Location Information for Anderson Grove Community Center

WONDERFUL FACILITY FOR COMMUNITY VBS ACTIVITIES!!  COME AND SEE IT AND USE IT TO REACH OUR LOCAL CHILDREN FOR CHRIST!!

The roughly 5,000-square-foot building on Anderson Grove Road next to the community Headstart Center east of Wolfe Road is “truly a dream come true,” said Dorothy Bradley, secretary of the community”s civic association.

The $220,000 facility, which is the first of several capital improvement projects to be completed in Lowndes County and Columbus parks, has been a “long time in coming,” said Anderson Grove Civic Association Chairman Lardell Shaw.  “It finally happened,” he told a crowd of citizens at the grand opening Saturday. “We have a community center.” 

The center, which is between the community park and Anderson Grove Road, will serve as the go-to place for nearby residents, said Lillie Shaw Glenn, who grew up and still lives in the area.  “I like it,” she said, looking around the large main room. “It”s going to be a place to go to. It”ll be nice.”

The building has its own kitchen, smaller rooms for classes and offices, and storage rooms.  Community members said they would use the facility for family reunions, community gatherings, civic association meetings and exercise classes.  The facility was built years after locals first began pleading with the Lowndes County Board of Supervisors for funding.

 

 

 

Youth Mission V.B.S., July 2-5th – Anderson Grove Community Center

Acts 1:8 – But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

One of our biggest weaknesses in our churches is a glaring deficiency in local missions.  Why is that?  Could it be because foreign mission trips are seen as more exciting?  Perhaps.  Could it be that we think that those in foreign lands are more receptive to the gospel?  Perhaps, although God’s word is clear that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” so I don’t think that any people group is any more “lost” than any other. 

Could it be that with foreign mission trips, we don’t have deal with those that profess Christ for longer than a few days?  Perhaps.  It’s pretty easy to go into a far away land and sow seeds of the gospel, pat ourselves on the back for going, only to never have to spend more than a couple of days walking with them, “making disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”  And, more than that, what is going to happen when our churches continue to die because we have not maintained adequate  missions to our “Jerusalem?”  Let’s do something about it!  PARENTS, HELP US ENCOURAGE OUR STUDENTS TO GET INVOLVED IN THIS OPP!!

We have a great opportunity to reach our local population with Mission V.B.S. located at Anderson Grove Community Center, Monday through Thursday, July 2-5th, 8am – 1pm. 

This will be a joint venture with the YOUTH and congregation from Woodland Baptist and New Salem Baptist Church; children can come if parents are with them to oversee their involvement.

CLICK FOR PICTURES/DESCRIPTION OF NEW BUILDING!!  http://woodlandonline.org/2012/06/location-information-for-anderson-grove-community-center/

Examining the Scriptures Daily, Part II – Acts 17:10-15 – Wednesday Night in the Word

After Thessalonica erupts under the weight of the preaching of Christ and Jason is arrested and forced to post bond money, Paul and Silas are immediately sent on their way to Berea, 45 miles West.  As soon as they arrive in Berea, they go directly to the synagogue and begin to minister.  Talk about faithfulness!!

Luke describes these Jews as “noble” as they “examine daily” the Scriptures to determine whether or not Paul is teaching the truth.  After many days of examining the Scriptures, many of the Jews are convinced that Christ is truly the promised Messiah sent from their God.  Many Gentile men and woman also recieve the gospel, professing Christ.  But…as usual, the unbelieving Jews from Thessalonia [most likely Judaizers or related to them] hear that Paul has escaped to Berea, probably through knowing people in the community, and they immediately go to work to try to derail the missionaries’ preaching and teaching ministry.  These persecuting Jews are successful as they “agitate and stir up” the Bereans and Paul is forced to leave again and head to Athens while the majority of his travel companions stay behind.

Probably the most notable fact in this passage is how Paul describes the Jews that “examine daily” the Scriptures.  He describes them as “noble.”  Why?  Because they were discerning, not rushing to judgment, but listened intently and deeply searched out the Scriptures to try to understand what Paul was saying.

It is interesting that through the thousands of years of history past, many churches will describe themselves as “Bereans,” meaning that they too, are as the Bereans were, always examining the Scriptures, making every effort to preserve and understand its fullest meaning.

So, how are you doing with “examining the Scriptures daily?”  You will NOT grow as a Christian and you will NOT multiply yourself if you are not digging into and absorbing the life changing word of God on a daily basis.  Click the link and study the Word!  June 20, 2012 – Acts 17, 10-15 – Berea Notes final

 

 

 

Christianity Today Article from 6/20 – Do Jews Have a Divine Right to Israel’s Land?

Do Jews Have a Divine Right to Israel’s Land?

Part one of a conversation between John Piper and Jews for Jesus head David Brickner.
David Brickner
[ posted 6/20/2012 10:04AM ]
Do Jews Have a Divine Right to Israel's Land? Photo by Gali Tibbon / AFP / Getty
David Brickner

David Brickner

Do Jews have a divine right to the Promised Land? Are American pastors dismissive of Arab Christians in Israel? Should Christians treat the Israeli-Palestinian dispute differently than other conflicts? As pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, John Piper has been addressing these contentious questions for years. After he began informally discussing them with David Brickner, executive director of Jews for Jesus, we invited them to share some of their discussion with our readers. We begin today with Brickner’s response to some of Piper’s recent writings and sermons, and will continue tomorrow with Piper’s response.

Dear John,

It is an honor to dialogue with you on the important and timely subject of Israel/Palestine, the land and the people. I am deeply aware of your uncompromising commitment to the cause of Christ among all peoples, including the Jewish people. The opportunities you have consistently extended to Jews for Jesus to share our ministry with the family at Bethlehem Baptist Church—and the way you have stood your ground in supporting Jewish evangelism, even after receiving considerable pressure from Jewish community leaders—speak volumes. There can be no doubt that what we share in common is far greater than the areas where we may disagree.

Yet, if I understand your views regarding the modern state of Israel and its current conflict with its neighbors correctly, I do have some real concerns—particularly in light of the current political climate (the U.N. vote on Palestinian statehood) as well as a growing trend among certain Christian polemicists against Israel (see Gary Burge and Stephen Sizer). I believe our exchange will demonstrate to readers that, despite the heated arguments that occur at the poles of the Christian positions on these issues, there is a broad middle ground where the majority of us can stand and exchange our views in an irenic and thought-provoking way.

I have recently reread your article for World Magazine (May 11, 2002), along with sermons you preached at Bethlehem Baptist Church in November 2002 and March 2004, and more recently a blog from March 2011. I’ll begin this exchange on the basis of those writings.

I appreciate your clear statement of belief in God’s continuing purposes for ethnic Israel. I also note that you affirm, “God promised to Israel the presently disputed land from the time of Abraham onward.” And yet there seems to be a “disconnect” between those statements and your comments regarding the present-day situation as well as the future. As I see it, this disconnect occurs at two important points.

First, you say that because the majority of Jews do not believe in Jesus they have broken covenant with God and have no divine claim at this time to the land God promised them.

Second, you say that the future of the land promised to Israel becomes subsumed under the promise of God that all believers will “inherit the land … because the entire new heavens and new earth will be ours.”

I believe that these views can potentially undermine Christian confidence in the ongoing election of Israel based upon the Abrahamic covenant and give encouragement to those who have adopted a supersessionist position toward Israel today. (Editors’ note: supersessionism teaches that the church has replaced Israel in God’s covenants and plans.)

I agree with you that Israel does not currently enjoy a divine right to the Land. But I would argue that it has never been by divine right but rather by divine mercy that Israel has dwelt in the Land. God blessed Abraham in the land he had promised him though Abraham at times acted in unbelief, at times had to fight for his land, and at one point even paid for his land (and in the end never even possessed all the land that was promised him). Similarly, for much of the biblical record, Israel lived in the Land while rebellious and breaking the Mosaic covenant. Yet God was merciful and allowed Israel to remain in the Land despite her unbelief. He did this because of his gracious promise to Abraham and his descendants. Why could God not act the same in our present-day situation?

While God declared that his judgment upon Israel for her unbelief would include removal from the Land, he also promised he would re-gather his people to that land, not based on divine right but again as a result of his mercy. Could God in his mercy allow Israel to be re-gathered to the Land although in unbelief? I believe he could. In fact, it would appear the Scripture implies that Israel will indeed be back in the Land in unbelief prior to the return of Christ (see Ezekiel 37; Zechariah 12; Romans 11).

Could present-day Israel be uprooted once again from the Land because of her unbelief? I would have to say yes, though I hope not. There is a growing remnant of believers in Jesus in the land of Israel, and God has consistently extended mercy on behalf of the remnant of his people. Paul makes much of the theology of the remnant in asserting that God has not forsaken his people. The church can rejoice in that ever-increasing remnant, with all the ramifications it holds for the modern and future state of Israel. As you have noted, “these privileges belong fully and savingly to an elect remnant of Israel now.”

The future of ethnic Israel is indeed bright; just as God has promised, “all Israel will be saved. As it is written: the deliverer will come from Zion. …” But surely that bright future must also include the fulfillment of the specific land promises God has made to Abraham and his descendants as well. To imagine that God’s very specific promises are subsumed in his wider promise that all believers will inherit the new heavens and earth makes it seem as though God is reinterpreting his original promise so as to effectively make its original meaning null.

Imagine if I had offered your grandfather a beautiful home in Minneapolis and told him very specifically that it was not only for him, but for his descendants. After you move in, I inform you that some time in the future I will be renovating the entire city and you will have a much bigger and better house. Of course, you will share the city with many others as well. And in the meanwhile, several neighbors are moving into the original house I promised your grandfather. Probably you would find either my ability to remember my promises, or my intention of keeping them, somewhat lacking. It seems to me that subsuming God’s past and precise promises into his wider, future promises reflects similarly on God’s memory or intentions of promise-keeping.

As to the issue of how Christians should understand the current conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, I agree with you that Israel “should seek a peaceful settlement not based on present divine right, but on principles of justice, mercy, and practical feasibility.” Israel’s government is secular and should be evaluated by the same standards as any other secular government. There has been injustice and suffering on both sides of the conflict, and we are called to care for all those who are suffering. At the same time we must avoid the common practice today of drawing a moral equivalence between acts of terrorism against citizens and the efforts of a government to defend its people and territory.

Most importantly, I absolutely agree with you that “the Christian plea in the Middle East to Palestinians and Jews is: ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.'” The only hope for peace was born in the Middle East, our wonderful Messiah Y’shua. God loves Israelis and Palestinians equally. Indeed, when Arabs and Jews can say to one another, “I love you in Jesus’ name,” the world will truly see the reconciling power of the gospel. Through the proclamation of the gospel there today we are beginning to see this happening, to the praise of his grace.

Your Jewish brother in him,

David Brickner