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Offline John

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Re: Christian family - family and home topics
« Reply #96 on: April 02, 2016, 12:16:38 PM »

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hers is an alternative way:-
Basicly its to talk about facts and to let the facts speak.

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[Cfamily]Malaysia Rules Muslim Man Can Convert to Christianity
« Reply #97 on: April 03, 2016, 07:06:47 AM »
Malaysia Rules Muslim Man Can Convert to Christianity

In a landmark ruling last week, a Malaysian court upheld the rights of a Christian to convert from Islam.

The judgment establishes a precedent in a country where religious conversions, particularly from Islam to Christianity, have been steeped in controversy. The verdict reaffirms the right of freedom of religion, guaranteed under Article 11 of Malaysia’s constitution.

Rooney Rebit, the plaintiff, argued that his belief in Jesus was a fundamental human right, and the High Court in Kuching, Sarawak state, agreed. The judge, Yew Ken Jie, said, “He is free to exercise his right of freedom to religion, and he chose Christianity.”

Rebit was born into a Christian family in 1975, but his parents converted to Islam when he was eight years old. His Muslim name was Azmi Mohamad Azam Shah.

In 1999, Rebit embraced Christianity and was baptized.

In her decision, Yew ruled that since Rebit was underage when he became a Muslim, he could not be considered an officially professed Muslim. But when he became a Christian at the age of 24, he was mature enough to make a conscious decision, she said.

Cases of conversion in Malaysia have been plagued by official dissension and charges of apostasy as Muslim authorities challenged verdicts by secular courts in Shari‘ah tribunals.

The most prominent suit involved Lina Joy, who converted from Islam to Christianity in 1998 at the age of 26. Her application to have her conversion legally recognized by Malaysian courts was rejected in 2007 when the high court said it did not have jurisdiction over religious matters.

In other cases, one parent (usually the father) has converted children to Islam, and the appeals of the other parent have been brushed aside by Islamic authorities.

In this video, Malaysian lawyer Andrew Khoo discusses the recent case of a Hindu mother who challenged her husband’s “unilateral” conversion of their two children to Islam. In failing to rule on this, the federal court left the issue unresolved for Malaysia’s minority faiths, he said.

In a country with two parallel legal systems, appeals to secular courts to right such wrongs are often referred back to the Shari‘ah authorities, who don’t grant permission to convert but instead punish apostates. People who appeal for a change in religion are sent to counseling, fined, or jailed.

Rebit’s case was different: he was not challenging his conversion to Islam, which would fit under Shari‘ah court jurisdiction. Instead, Rebit asked that he be officially declared a Christian, and for the Sarawak Islamic Religious Department and Sarawak Islamic Council to release him from the Muslim faith. He also wanted the court to compel the government’s National Registration Department to change his name and religion on his identity card and its records.

Sarawak state’s Islamic religious authorities did not object to issuing the letter releasing him from his faith, but the registration department had insisted on a letter of release and order from the Shari‘ah Court. But Yew, in her decision, ordered the National Registration Department to make the changes to Rebit’s identity card.

She held that Rebit’s case was not one of jurisdiction, but of his constitutional right to religious freedom. “He does not need a Shari‘ah court order to release him from Islam, because freedom of religion is his constitutional right, and only he can exercise that right.”

She added: “His conversion to the Muslim faith was not of his own volition, but by virtue of his parents’ conversion when he was a minor. He is not challenging the validity of his conversion as a minor. But having become a major, he is free to exercise his right of freedom to religion and he chose Christianity. The National Registration Department had not acted fairly towards the applicant by insisting on a letter of release and order from the Sharia Court.”

Rebit’s lawyer, Chua Kuan Ching, welcomed the decision and said he hoped that the National Registration Department would not appeal the judgment. “In previous conversion cases involving minors, the courts did not go far enough to state what happens when the child reaches adulthood. So this is a different decision because the judge is saying that he has the right to religious freedom, according to the Constitution.”

The Association of Churches in Sarawak applauded the ruling for protecting the fundamental right to freedom of religion: “We call upon the federal government [in Kuala Lumpur] to honor and give effect to the guarantee of religious freedom as provided in the Malaysia Agreement [which formed the basis of Sarawak and Sabah state’s union with Malaysia] and uphold the constitutional rights and fundamental liberties accorded by the federal constitution to all citizens of Malaysia.”

Sisters in Islam, a civil society group committed to promoting democratic rights within the framework of Islam and universal human rights, also welcomed the decision. Their organization, which has come under criticism from Islamic authorities for its opposition to prosecuting Muslims attempting to leave Islam, said the judgment reaffirmed the supremacy of the federal constitution.

“As such, it is our duty to honor these rights equally and fairly, without regard to race or religion. Where our legal system provides for the right of conversion, it should not be the case that in reality the practice of these rights are denied, or made nearly impossible, to certain religions or races,” it said in a statement.

“Acting in the interest of our country and its people does not conflict with the principles of Islam as Islam is a religion of compassion and tolerance,” the statement went on. “Faith cannot be imposed through enforcement. Instead, faith is contingent upon free will. Islam itself means submission to the will of God–not the will of men.”

Rebit’s ruling offers hope to the beleaguered Christian community, who make up 9 percent of the 30-million Malay population. They have increasingly felt under attack; in recent years, Bibles in the Malay language have been seized, churches have been barred from using the word Allah to describe God, and places of worship desecrated.

Khoo, who represented the Council of Churches of Malaysia in the long-running “Allah case,” explains how it affected Malay Christians, as well as the overall religious freedom situation under current Prime Minister Najib Razak.

[Image courtesy of John Ragai – Flickr]

Source: Malaysia Rules Muslim Man Can Convert to Christianity

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[Cfamily]My Son’s Autism Changed Everything—Even Our Church
« Reply #98 on: April 04, 2016, 07:01:30 AM »
My Son’s Autism Changed Everything—Even Our Church

Editor’s note: National Autism Awareness Month is coming up in April. More than 3.5 million Americans live with autism spectrum disorder, whose symptoms vary widely from case to case. In light of the growing prevalence of autism, parents and church leaders are speaking out about the church’s role in welcoming families of children with autism or other developmental disorders.

Below, Sandra Peoples shares her family’s story. You can also read five tips for churches from writer Nish Weiseth. — Kate

Back in 2010, we held our three-year-old son’s hand and walked in to a meeting with a school psychologist, occupational therapist, and speech pathologist. We walked out holding our autistic son’s hand.

That moment changed everything in our lives. Our family dynamics shifted as we opened our home to four different therapists each week. Dinner became not only time to eat together, but also to help James regain the language skills he had lost (“Who is this? Daddy. Say ‘Daddy.’”). I settled into the idea of working from home to be available to him. Since insurance only covered a portion of his therapies, we adjusted our finances to cover the rest. We began to look into the future as a family of three, rather than envisioning me and my husband as eventual empty-nesters. I also turned to the Psalms and Job more and more.

One thing that couldn’t change was the church we attended. My husband, the pastor of a small church in central Pennsylvania, felt called to stay despite our concerns that our congregation might not be able to meet our son’s needs. Then, a member of the church who works in occupational therapy got some sensory-friendly toys for his Sunday school room. She helped his teachers understand his behaviors. She hugged me outside his classroom and promised me he would be fine.

After that, a special ed teacher volunteered to help as his “buddy,” and began to train others to do the same. They didn’t realize they were doing “special needs ministry;” they just got to know our son James and did what they could to help.

With this team in place, I started inviting other parents I met in therapy waiting rooms and autism parent support groups. I told them how welcoming our church was and passed out flyers about our respite nights—when parents could drop off their kids at the church and have a date night.

My husband stood at a booth for our church at an autism walk that drew thousands. Some asked him why the church was there; he said we wanted to share the good news of God’s love and tell families our church was a safe place for them and their special needs children. Sure enough, families from the walk showed up as visitors soon after.

Source: My Son’s Autism Changed Everything—Even Our Church

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More Americans Agree Christians Face Intolerance But Complain Too Much About It

A growing number of Americans believe religious liberty is on the decline and that Christians face growing intolerance in the United States.

They also say American Christians complain too much. In agreement: two out of five evangelicals, both when measured by beliefs and by self-identity.

Those are among the findings of a new study of views about religious liberty from LifeWay Research. Researchers surveyed 1,000 Americans in September 2013 and September 2015 and then compared the results.

Two-thirds (63%) say Christians face increasing intolerance, up from half (50%) in 2013.

A similar number (60%) say religious liberty is on the decline, up from just over half (54%) in 2013.

Meanwhile, 43 percent say American Christians complain too much about how they are treated, up from 34 percent in 2013. This includes 41 percent of self-identified evangelicals, 38 percent of Americans with evangelical beliefs, and 36 percent of weekly worshipers.

“More Americans worry the US has a hostile environment for religious liberty,” said Ed Stetzer, executive director of LifeWay Research. “As this perception grows, some approve of it while others speak up against it.”

Religious liberty has become an increasing contentious issue in American culture—with disputes over birth control, same-sex wedding cakes, headscarves at work, and prisoner’s beards.

The more recent LifeWay survey found faith plays a key role in how Americans view the state of religious liberty.

Two-thirds of Christians (64%) and those of other faiths (65%) say religious liberty is on the decline. Self-identified evangelicals (71%) and those who attend worship at least once a week (70%) are most likely to agree.

Catholics (56%) and non-evangelicals (55%) are more skeptical. So are Nones (46%).

“Christians are particularly sensitive to what they see as intolerance towards their faith,” said Stetzer. “But they share a common concern with people of other faiths—that religious liberty in general is declining. And, this perception is growing rapidly.”

Age also played a role in how Americans view the state of religious liberty.

Less than half (42%) of those 18 to 24 say religious liberty is on the decline. By contrast, six in ten (62%) of those over 25 see a decline.

LifeWay also found that non-Christians are less convinced that Christians face intolerance.

Less than half of those from other faiths (43%) or Nones (48%) agree when asked if intolerance towards Christians has increased.

By contrast, most Christians (70%), self-identified evangelicals (82%) and Protestants (74%) see more intolerance. So do three-fourths (76%) of those who attend services once a week or more.

Researchers found some signs that Americans are tired of arguments over religious liberty. A sizable number of Americans believe Christians’ complaints about how they are treated are excessive.

Among them:

  • 38 percent of Christians

  • 39 percent of Americans of other faiths

  • 59 percent of Nones

  • 53 percent of those who rarely or never attend worship

American Christians face a challenge, as the nation becomes more secular, says Stetzer. Calls for religious liberty may fall on increasingly deaf ears in the future.

“Most people now believe Christians are facing intolerance, however, a surprising large minority perceives Christians to be complainers,” says Stetzer. “Both of those facts will matter as Christians profess and contend for their beliefs without sounding false alarms around faux controversies. It won’t be easy to strike that balance.”

Bob Smietana is senior writer for Facts & Trends magazine.


The phone survey of Americans was conducted September 14-28, 2015. The calling utilized Random Digit Dialing. Fifty percent of completes were among landlines and 50 percent among cell phones. Maximum quotas and slight weights were used for gender, region, age, ethnicity, and education to more accurately reflect the population. The completed sample is 1,000 surveys. The sample provides 95 percent confidence that the sampling error does not exceed plus or minus 3.6 percent. Margins of error are higher in sub-groups. Comparisons are also made to a LifeWay Research telephone survey conducted September 6-10, 2013.

LifeWay Research is a Nashville-based, evangelical research firm that specializes in surveys about faith in culture and matters that affect the church.

[Image courtesy of Phil Roeder – Flickr]

Source: More Americans Agree Christians Face Intolerance But Complain Too Much About It

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Offline John

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Re: Christian family - family and home topics
« Reply #100 on: April 05, 2016, 07:29:05 AM »
As only Christianity values the individual, all other beliefs lump everyone together and as Christianity is no longer the driving force in society today what do people expect.
Try an experiment, look up the meaning of tolerance and ask non christians what tolerance means.
Many will have a correct understanding but also many younger people will have a distorted view of tolerance.


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[Cfamily]The Future of Music in the Church
« Reply #101 on: April 06, 2016, 07:03:22 AM »
The Future of Music in the Church

It may be a generalization to say the church today has three generational expressions, but I think we can work with it. You can walk into most churches and recognize quickly what generation it falls into. Most of today’s churches fall into one of these categories related to worship style.

Three Types of Churches

First, there is a traditional format.

Believers who worship in a traditional church will dress up and carry themselves in a more conservative fashion. In general, they will be more concerned about reverence in the church compared to others. The music will be traditional hymns. Anything more recent than Jack Hayford's "Majesty" might be suspect.

A traditional format will be very similar to a church service conducted in the 1960s or 1970s. This reflects my parent’s generation. (Remember, these are generalizations, but still predictable.) Interestingly, it is also what my daughter prefers!

Second, is the contemporary church.

It tends to be comprised of the Boomer generation and younger. Christians who are part of a contemporary church will usually be more relaxed in their approach. They dress more casually when they go to church. Men wear jeans more than khakis. More women will wear pants than dresses. Their order of service is casual, but probably more intentional than in many traditional churches. They will often have a blended musical style, or lean to contemporary. Ease of singing and passionately expressive lyrics are expected in the songs.

Third, some more emerging eclectic approaches.

This approach is a bit harder to describe. Some of these churches are intentional about not being predictable or appearing to come from a traditional mold. Their band may have an electric guitar, but it might have a cello and clavichord, too. While they don’t dress up per se, there is almost an unstated expectation that you will dress to reflect the culture they are trying to reach. (There will be suspenders!) The music may include a mix of modern worship songs. Many older hymns will have been updated. Theological depth is expected in the songs.

Now, I get that there are a thousand variants of musical style. My concern is more with the implications than the descriptions, but it is worth noting that we are the only generation in recorded history that can list its worship style by generation.

Hence, the point…

Unprecedented Shifts

Church survival doesn't depend on music style.

We’ve gone through a monumental shift of style in our lifetime, which has never happened before. If you were living between 1860 and 1890, you didn’t have the option of choosing between three generations of churches. But think about the remarkable shift that took place from 1960 to 1990.

My main concern is that the current patterns may not be sustainable.

Would it be possible to have four or five generations of styles at one time? In our generation, formality and traditionalism is shifting out of general church practice. According to research from a few years ago, churches were moving to contemporary (verses traditional) at an 11-1 ratio.

I love traditional church. I love contemporary church. I love all kinds of church. But the shift is happening around us.

Music has always been at the center of such shifts, and often brought controversy.

The church has not been immune. Isaac Watts, writer of some of Christianity's most revered hymns was criticized. John and Charles Wesley were criticized. Luther was criticized, as was Calvin. The tunes of the Jesus Movement were criticized as Larry Norman complained that the devil had all the good music.

Looking Around

Every generation tends to dislike the music of the next generation. But the current shift is unprecedented historically. So what can the larger church learn from the churches that are growing?

The contemporary church has done a great job of recognizing shifts and patterns in culture. They have stylistically engaged culture in relatable forms. Unbelievers aren't required to navigate or appreciate a unfamiliar musical style before they grasp the words. And the culture is responding positively to this effort.

I don't believe modern worship (necessarily) "dumbs down" the music, but makes it makes it more accessible to those unfamiliar with church, church music, and maybe with God.

The tunes of the Jesus Movement were criticized as Larry Norman complained that the devil had all the good music.

Our church has a campus that meets in a movie theater and one in an established church building we renovated. We have a more contemporary style that's not perfect, but it is where we are. Our style would bother some people in your church and maybe some of you reading this.

But we actually have senior adults who come. Senior adults in our church come because they love being around young families and children. Of those that attend most Sundays, almost half are children, students, or youth workers.

Focusing on What Matters Most

Most churches are going to make the transition to feel more contemporary than traditional. I think the third category will grow as well.

I’m not saying you should. I’m not saying it’s the only way. And, I am not even saying it’s the best way.

But, most churches are changing.

The camp revival era birthed much of the music in my denomination. So it was a lot of “Victory in Jesus” and “Have a Little Talk with Jesus” styled music. Few places in culture sing in that style any more.

People often say “We’ve got to teach them the value of the hymns” which they tend to associate with a traditional musical style. If by learning the value of hymns, you mean having a more robust theology in lyrics, I agree. If you mean that we need (as a measure of discipleship) to teach them an old musical style—I want you to hear this, so I’ll say it very clearly: That’s missing the point.

Styles Matter Less than Worship and Depth

Church survival doesn't depend on music style. You teach people primarily through words, not melodies. Words matter. Truth endures. Melodies fade in and out over time.

I am much less concerned that people sing "Victory in Jesus" in 4/4 time than I am that they sing about victory in Jesus. I want them to SING and know about the VICTORY.

When we talk about the great hymns of the faith, I want worshippers to live and sing about the faith. We sing “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,” at my church, but we sing it in a contemporary version.

At the end of the day, my church is more contemporary, because we think that approach engages our community well.

My daughter, as I mentioned, is about to go off to college and—in stark rebellion to the church her father planted—join the choir of a traditional church. (I'm joking, of course.) Now, she is not part of a trend—the large trend of large, non-denominational, contemporary churches. I’m good with the general trend toward contemporary, though I want more depth. My daughter is part of a counter trend, and I am thankful for her passion. (She DOES sing opera and all...)

If current trends continue, and that’s what trends tend to do, more and more churches will be contemporary. For us, and for many others, we want to embrace that, while encouraging more congregational singing, better depth of lyrics, and more.

So, we’re not going to be a Led Zeppelin concert from 1973 or a One Direction concert from 2013. The future is going to be contemporary. The mix will include some historical songs redone in a modern context, which will build some bridges across generations.

I leave you with this: most churches that want to reach their community will be more, rather than less, contemporary. As churches embrace that reality on the other side of the worship wars, we can (and should) bring back some of the things that might have been left behind—like more depth, broader variety, and congregational singing across generations.

What do you think? When you look into the future, what do you see stylistically/musically?

Source: The Future of Music in the Church

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Offline Seeker

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Re: Christian family - family and home topics
« Reply #102 on: April 06, 2016, 10:28:35 AM »
Interesting article. I do love music and have quite varied tastes. I think I am inclined to agree with depth over style, but why can't we have both :D. Sometimes some of the old hymns I do find less accessible for me personally. I find them hard to sing for a start and a lot, lot of verses, but I do read the words as they are projected on a screen. Even then, some of the words I don't understand, or the context.

I'll give you an example; I think there is a line about 'darkness hiding His face', or something like that and I was thinking 'how can darkness ever hide God, is that possible?' so some of the lyrics have me wondering, but then I do not have the answers and am just left confused and wondering why those lyrics were chosen?

Sometimes I hear songs that are not considered/classed as Christian and yet feel very strongly God speaking through them and then oddly enough I have some albums that are Christian bands and for the life in me I cannot fathom why, because I can listen to the whole album and there seems nothing in it that appears to speak of Jesus, outwardly or even implied :undecided:

I was reading an article the other day in 'Christianity' magazine (January 2016 edition) which was talking about culture in the church now, some interesting points were made on P.25 'Church should be aimed at the least spiritually mature, not the most' - I found that thought provoking and also; 'A young person can lose their faith because you said they can't come dressed like that to church. An older person probably won't lose their faith over that kind of issue. But when you're dealing with volatile age groups, be more generous, be more understanding, accept people where they are, but then help them to be like Christ.'

I do wonder if we are being generous, understanding and accepting though? The church often say they want younger people and then when younger people arrive it often tends to make many in the church uncomfortable, because younger people often come with 'issues' and I am not saying older people don't have 'issues', but it does annoy me that people say they want something and then when they get what they say they wanted, turns out they didn't really want it - or hadn't thought it through (or whatever). It reminds me of when people say they want the Holy Spirit in their church and then get upset that the Holy Spirit can and usually does :D disrupt their predictable set ways :D.

Offline homebird159

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Re: Christian family - family and home topics
« Reply #103 on: April 06, 2016, 02:14:21 PM »
If you have ever suffered from depression, or severe grief and trauma, you will now about "darkness hiding his face".  Of course, darkness cannot truly hide the face of God, but it can *seem* that it does at times.

When you are in the depths of despair, when troubles surround you, it can be a very, very, dark place.  And like when the clouds hide the Sun for a while during bad weather, so the clouds of our soul can hide the Son for a time to our perception.

He is still there, He always is.  But sometimes life is so dark, we feel like we cannot see Him anymore.

As for music, I love the traditional hymns.  The writers of these hymns knew a walk with God and experiences in the depth of their souls that some of us only dream about.  There was a style of writing in those days which poured the whole human experience into one set of stanzas.  And it touches our souls today.

Yes, the church does need to move on in some ways, to reach out to people who only know the modern hip-hop way of communicating.  But let's not throw out the old, old gems.  They truly are nuggets of gold to the soul.

In my humble opinion.

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