Apr 16

Time to Drop the Hyper-Grace Rhetoric

Michael L. Brown
A hyper-grace pastor recently accused me of believing that “Jesus is not enough.” How should we respond to accusations like this? And are these catchy little phrases, which attempt to make others look like subpar Christians, really helpful? Do they even tell us anything at all? This particular pastor was critical of my book Hyper-Grace: Exposing the Dangers of the Modern Grace Message (or, at least, he was critical of how another author presented my book, often in extremely misleading ways). He stated, “In Jesus you’re forgiven, sanctified, made holy and made eternally righteousness, yet, Dr. Brown says Jesus isn’t enough. Now he wouldn’t come right out and say such a thing but … Dr. Brown still depends on human effort to complete the work Jesus began.” Really? I say (or believe) that Jesus isn’t enough? I depend on human effort to complete the work Jesus began? This is news to me, after leaning on Him as my only source of righteousness and life these last 42 years. What point, then, is this pastor trying to make? Is he saying that I don’t mean it when I sing the words, “Oh, precious is the flow that makes me white as snow; no other fount I know, nothing but the blood of Jesus”? More

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Apr 16

BLASPHEME – Lady Gaga Resurrects ‘Jesus’ in Soft-Porn Music Video

Lady Gaga G.U.Y. video
Lady Gaga’s music is often tasteless, though admittedly catchy. But the Madonna-esque pop star’s new music video takes tasteless to new heights—and new lows—as the Christian masses prepare to celebrate Resurrection Day. In a grotesque video for the song “G.U.Y.,” Gaga has “resurrected” Jesus, Gandhi and Michael Jackson after calling on her false gods. Listen to the demon-inspired lyrics: “Greetings Himeros/God of sexual desire, son of Aphrodite/Lay back, and feast as this audio guides you through new and exciting positions.” At the heart of the song is a sex-change theme, suggesting it may not matter if you were “born this way” after all. Gaga sings her intentions, explaining that the girls are the “G.U.Y.s,” meaning “Girl Under You,” and the guys are the “G.I.R.L.s,” meaning “Guy, I’m Romancing Loves.” The video simulates various semipornographic group encounters, synchronized to the beat of the Billboard Top 100 song. At one point in the video, Gaga not only resurrects Jesus from a tomb but also clones Him with the aid of horned females. Gaga also takes on the form of a fallen angel—some Internet chatter suggests she’s channeling Satan—only to be born again. It’s sickening. It’s blasphemous. It’s sinful on multiple levels. But apparently that doesn’t bother California officials, who are more concerned that Gaga “wasted a massive pool of water” at the Neptune Pool at Hearst Castle, where the video was shot, while the state suffers a historic drought. (Gaga denies it.) And Real Housewives of Orange County star Tamara Judge is peeved that Real Housewives of Beverly Hills stars were in the video and she wasn’t.

After a flood criticism from Christians and conservatives, though, some are defending the pop star. Indeed, apparently Gaga has now officially reached martyr status. British pop singer Lily Allen rushed to Gaga’s defense in a Rolling Stone magazine article: “If she’s not succeeding commercially because she’s standing by what she does as art, then that’s a (expletive) great thing,” Allen said. “That’s to be commended. That’s what makes a martyr. There’s nothing wrong with that.” We need to turn the world upside down. Lady Gaga a martyr? Jesus was the martyr, and He died for Gaga’s sins. I can’t imagine how grieved the Holy Spirit must be—not merely by the sexual immorality but the Jesus mockery and more—in Gaga’s video. Friends, this is what today’s youth are watching. It’s one of the most popular videos on the planet. Where do we go from here? We need to continue praying for our youth because they live in an age where sexual immorality is positioned as the new norm. We need to pray for Christians who won’t compromise with the spirit of this world to rise up in the entertainment industry and reach the unsaved masses with Holy Spirit-inspired music. And, yes, we need to pray for Lady Gaga, who appears to be one of the blind leading the blind into a place where she’ll no longer be able to find Christ, much less mock His resurrection. Charisma

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Apr 16

SIGNS IN THE HEAVENS: New moon spotted on Saturn

According to Nasa, Saturn already has 53 confirmed moons and another nine which are described as “provisional”
Images taken by Nasa could have caught Saturn in the process of giving birth to another moon.

Scientists at the American space agency are examining the photographs produced by the Cassini spacecraft. These include a small icy object at the edge of Saturn’s outermost main ring, which has been compared to a baby bump. This bump is 750 miles long, six miles wide, but the actual “baby” is probably no more than around half a mile in diameter. It has already been christened Peggy – after the mother- in-law of one of the scientists involved in the project, Carl Murray, an astronomer at Queen Mary College, London University.  ”We have not seen anything like this before,” he said.

“We may be looking at the act of birth, where this object is just leaving the rings and heading off to be a moon in its own right. ”We are not sure what is happening, it may be leaving the rings or it may be going back in. We will have to keep track of it. According to Nasa, Saturn already has 53 confirmed moons and another nine which are described as “provisional”. Most of them are made of ice. ”Witnessing the possible birth of a tiny moon is an exciting, unexpected event,” said Cassini Project Scientist Linda Spilker, of Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. However it will take another two years before more detailed information about Peggy becomes available. This is because at the moment the “baby” itself is too small for Cassini’s cameras to take a clear image. However this should change by 2016, This is when Cassini – a joint project involving Nasa, the European Space agency and the Italian space agency – gets close enough to Saturn’s outer ring to take photos of what scientists believe will prove to be the planet’s final moon. The Telegraph

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Apr 16

DAYS OF LOT – Louisiana House Votes To Keep Anti-Sodomy Law


The Louisiana House voted 66-27 on Tuesday to keep the state’s unconstitutional sodomy ban under Louisiana’s crimes against nature law. The Supreme Court’s 2003 Lawrence v. Texas decision invalidated all state bans on gay sex, declaring them unconstitutional. But Louisiana, along with several other states, has refused to strike the provision from state law. On Tuesday, the House rejected a bill, sponsored by state Rep. Patricia Haynes Smith (D), that would have done just that. The statute that bans sodomy cannot be used as a cause for arrest, but Smith told The Times-Picayune that she introduced the legislation after East Baton Rouge Parish sheriffs’ deputies arrested more than a dozen men suspected of “attempted crimes against nature.” ”We want to be fair to the law enforcement individuals,” Smith said during a committee hearing last week, according to The Times-Picayune. “We don’t need inefficient bills on our statutes that they cannot take to a prosecutor.” Advocates of the law, including the conservative Christian Louisiana Family Forum, argued that the statute protects children from aggravated “crimes against nature,” although Smith pointed out that at least a dozen other laws protect minors from sexual assault.

In a letter urging Louisiana lawmakers to reject the proposal, the influential Christian lobbying organization wrote, “Louisiana’s anti-sodomy statute is consistent with the values of Louisiana residents who consider this behavior to be dangerous, unhealthy, and immoral.” In a hearing earlier this month, Bill Smith, a member of the Louisiana Family Forum, told committee members that anti-sodomy laws save the lives of gay people by decreasing their exposure to HIV. ”I have homosexuals in my family. I’m here out of love and concern for the health of these people,” Smith said in April. “The fact is this opens up ways for them to really kill themselves.” Although Patricia Haynes Smith did not believe the bill would pass, she expressed dismay at the overwhelming numbers that opposed the effort. ”I never thought it would pass, but I thought it would do better,” Smith told The Times-Picayune. “Some of the folks who voted to get it out of committee voted against it on the floor.” Huffington Post

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Apr 16

Oklahoma School Board Approves Hobby Lobby President’s Proposed Bible Course

MUSTANG, Okla. – A school board in Oklahoma has voted to approve an elective Bible course proposed by the president of the popular arts and crafts chain Hobby Lobby. The Mustang School Board agreed Monday to move forward with the “Museum of the Bible” curriculum presented by Steve Green, the president of Hobby Lobby and overseer of the traveling Bible exhibit “Passages.” As previously reported, Green introduced the course to the school board last fall, explaining to those present that he would like to offer an introductory course on “the Old and New Testament’s impact on society.” He had been invited by Mustang School District Superintendent Sean McDaniel to speak about the proposed class for Mustang High School. According to reports, the school will beta-test the course during the first semester, beginning this fall. If successful, “Museum of the Bible” will then serve as an elective spanning all four years of high school. Local television station KOCO reports that 170 students selected the course as their first choice for an elective when recently polled about the matter. Green hopes to expand the curriculum to educational institutions worldwide.

Green Credit The Green Collection“We have a list of universities that we are working with today all over the world,” he told reporters last fall. “We want to find the leading scholars to help us and we will be pulling from this group to help write this curriculum and it will tie to the three parts we want to teach.”  “With the history, we want to show the archeological evidences of the Bible and then we want to show the impact of the Bible,” Green continued. “The Bible has had an impact on just about every area of life, whether you like it or not, it has. It has impacted government, education, art, science, literature, you name it. Thirdly, is the story, meaning what does the book say.” As previously reported, Green is simultaneously working on opening a museum in Washington, D.C., which will also focus on the Bible and similar artifacts. Last October, the entrepreneur announced that he had obtained “the oldest Jewish prayer book ever found” and would add it to the D.C. collection. The Greens have over 40,000 pieces to their name, which they began collecting in 2009. More

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Apr 16

Atheist Activists Complain Clemson Football Program is ‘Entangled’ in Christianity


CLEMSON, S.C. –
 A prominent atheist activist organization has lodged a complaint against the practices of the Clemson University football program, claiming that it is unlawfully ‘entangled’ in Christianity. The Madison, Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) recently sent a letterto the university, asserting that head coach Dabo Swinney is violating the separation of church and state. “Christian worship seems interwoven into Clemson’s football program,” wrote FFRF Staff Attorney Patrick Elliott. “We are concerned that this commingling of religion and athletics results, not from student initiative, but rather from the attitudes and unconstitutional behaviors of the coaching staff.” The letter contended that Swinney selected James Trapp to become the chaplain for the Clemson Tigers, and that Trapp was granted access to the students between drills for Bible study. It also accused Swinney of scheduling devotionals for the team, as well as taking players out to “church day” and a Fellowship of Christian Athletes breakfast. “When the coach grants the team chaplain access to the entire football team, he violates his duty to remain neutral under the Constitution,” Elliott stated.

“By granting Mr. Trapp such access, Coach Swinney again displays preference for religion over non-religion, alienates those players who don’t believe as he does, and creates a culture of religious coercion within the university’s football program.” But officials with the university told reporters this week that Swinney and others are within their rights and that FFRF is “mistaken in its assessment.” “We believe the practices of the football staff regarding religion are compliant with the Constitution and appropriately accommodate differing religious views,” read a statement issue to the Charlotte Observer. “Participation in religious activities is purely voluntary, and there are no repercussions for students who decline to do so. We are not aware of any complaints from current or former student-athletes about feeling pressured or forced to participate in religious activities.” More

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Apr 16

Kitchens could be sources of drug-resistant bacteria.

Children cut chicken in the kitchen of the Vermont Kids Culinary Academy during a residential cooking summer camp in HighgateCutting boards used to prepare raw poultry may be an important source of drug-resistant bacteria in hospital kitchens and private homes, according to a new study. The more bacteria are exposed to antibiotics, the higher the chance they will develop resistance to the drugs. Unnecessary exposure can happen in humans who take antibiotic drugs they don’t need, like for the common cold, which is caused by a virus and not affected by antibiotics. It can also happen when large numbers of livestock are given feed laced with antibiotics to help them grow faster and larger. According to the World Health Organization, 75 percent of antibiotics sold are destined for use in animals. Drug-resistant bacteria originating from both humans and animals can cause infections, which are harder to treat than infections caused by non-resistant bacteria. The fact that cutting boards were contaminated with drug-resistant bacteria is troubling, but not surprising, Dr. James R. Johnson said. Johnson, an infectious diseases researcher at the Minneapolis VA Health Care System in Minnesota, was not involved in the new study. ”If other foods go on those boards before the boards get cleaned, or even after they’re cleaned if the cleaning isn’t 100 percent effective, the other foods, which may not get cooked, or not as thoroughly as poultry, likely would get contaminated and so could possibly pose an even higher risk of transmission to humans than the poultry products themselves,” he told Reuters Health in an email. The new study took place in Europe, where growth-promoting antibiotics for animals are banned, but antibiotics can still be used in livestock “therapeutically.” The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced the first move to phase out growth-promoting antibiotics in animals processed for meat in late 2013.

For 16 months, Dr. Andreas F. Widmer of University Hospital Basel in Switzerland and colleagues collected cutting boards and used gloves from their hospital’s kitchen, which prepares meals for 650 patients daily, as well as for hospital staff. They also collected cutting boards from kitchens in private homes in Switzerland, France and Germany, and swabbed for bacteria after the boards were used to prepare food and before they were cleaned. Ten of the 154 cutting boards taken from the hospital kitchen tested positive for a type of drug-resistant E. coli bacteria, compared to five of the 144 boards taken from homes, according to results published in Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology. There were probably more bacteria in the hospital because hospital kitchens process much more meat than household kitchens, experts said. ”These E. coli are resistant to some of the last good drugs we have to treat them,” Lance B. Price, who was not involved in the European study, told Reuters Health. ”The ‘nightmare superbug’ is just one step further than these,” said Price, who studies antibiotic resistance at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. That makes the results alarming, he said. Half of the used gloves from the hospital also tested positive for drug-resistant bacteria, indicating that gloves and cutting boards could be sources of bacteria transmission, the authors write. More

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Apr 16

ANOTHER Measles Case Confirmed in NYC…Now 26 Affected by NYC Outbreak

Measles Outbreak Reported in NYC; Vaccinations Urged
Another case of measles has been confirmed in New York City, bringing the total number of cases considered part of the outbreak that emerged in February to 26, the Health Department said Wednesday. The outbreak remains centralized in upper Manhattan, the Health Department said, though cases have been identified in the Bronx, the Lower East Side and Brooklyn. It’s not clear where the latest case was.  Twelve children and 14 adults have tested positive for measles so far. An additional case was identified, but the Health Department said it was associated with foreign travel and unrelated to the outbreak. The most recent case was identified more than two weeks after the last confirmed cases, and the Health Department is urging continued vigilance. Anyone older than 12 months who hasn’t been vaccinated for measles should be as soon as possible, authorities say. Measles is a viral infection characterized by a generalized rash and high fever, accompanied by cough, red eyes and runny nose, lasting five to six days.

The illness typically begins with a rash on the face and then moves down the body, and may include the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.  As many as one in three people with measles develop complications, which can be serious and may include pneumonia, miscarriage, brain inflammation, hospitalization and death. Infants, people who have a weakened immune system and non-immune pregnant women are at highest risk of severe illness and complications.  Officials investigating the source of the outbreak are looking into whether it could have spread through exposure at medical facilities, including emergency rooms and doctor’s offices. Dr. Jay Varma, the Health Department’s deputy commissioner for disease control, said last month the outbreak may have spread because workers in those medical facilities didn’t recognize the symptoms quickly enough to isolate patients and prevent them from spreading it to others.  Varma didn’t specify any facilities where lapses may have occurred. He said exposure in such places was common, but since the outbreak wasn’t localized to any specific group of people, it may be more challenging to contain. In a statement Wednesday, Health Commissioner Mary Bassett urged people who suspect they may have the virus to contact their medical provider before going to a doctor, urgent care center or emergency room to avoid exposing others. Bassett also advised health facilities to educate staff about isolation protocol in suspected measles cases. 4 New York

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Apr 16

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Apr 16

Beef, Pork And Shrimp Prices Soar To Record Highs.


We previously noted that both beef and pork (courtesy of the affectionately named Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus) prices have been reaching new all time highs on an almost daily basis. It is time to update the chart. Below we show what a world in which the Fed is constantly lamenting the lack of inflation looks like for beef prices..

 

… pork

 

… and shrimp.

More from Bloomberg: Prices for shrimp have jumped to a 14-year high in recent months, spurred by a disease that’s ravaging the crustacean’s population. At Noodles & Co., a chain with locations across the country, it costs 29 percent more to add the shellfish to pastas this year, and shrimp-heavy dishes at places like the Cheesecake Factory Inc. are going up as well. Restaurant chains, already struggling with shaky U.S. consumer confidence, are taking a profit hit as prices climb. Even worse, the surge is happening during the season of Lent, when eateries rely on seafood to lure Christian diners who abstain from chicken, beef and pork on certain days. “It’s coming at a tough time for the industry,” said Andrew Barish, a San Francisco-based analyst at Jefferies LLC. “With the Lenten season, what you’ll see out there is a lot of promotions with seafood, and usually shrimp is a big part of that.” In March, shrimp prices jumped 61 percent from a year earlier, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The climb is mainly due to a bacterial disease known as early mortality syndrome. While the ailment has no effect on humans, it’s wreaking havoc on young shrimp farmed in Southeast Asia, shrinking supplies. James Johnson, a Jewel-Osco supermarket shopper in Chicago, has noticed the price increase. He’s been cutting back on one of his favorite dishes — shrimp and potato soup — because of the cost. “I haven’t made it in a while,” the 29-year-old said. “Shrimp looks expensive.” At Noodles, it now costs $3.34 to add the shellfish to a meal of pasta or pad thai, compared with $2.59 last year. “We still want to at least offer it as choice,” Chief Executive Officer Kevin Reddy said in a phone interview. “As soon as the costs begin to normalize, we’ll return to the regular price.” Ah yes, because retailers are always so willing to lower costs… So for all those whose sustenance includes iPads and LCD TVs, or heaven forbid the pink slime known as fast food – you are in luck: the BLS’ hedonic adjustments mean the rate of price increase in your daily consumption has rarely been lower. For everyone else: our condolences. More

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