Monday, February 28, 2011

We got snow near San Diego this weekend.

We got snow near San Diego this weekend. The attached photo is awesome. It was taken from Point Loma looking east across North Island Naval Air Station and downtown San Diego toward the eastern SD County Mountains. Courtesy NBC Channel 7, San Diego & Bill Jenkins of Christ United Methodist Church.

Friday, February 25, 2011

This Week in Christian History

Friday, February 25, 2011

155 - Old Bishop Polycarp
John was the last of the original apostles, but the truths of Christianity did not die with him. Polycarp, the last one of those personally taught by the apostles, was burned at the stake on February 23, 155. As the Lord required, Polycarp was faithful unto death; he did so in expectation that he... (Read more)
Read the full article here

1536 - The Gentle Hutters Viciously Killed
What was the surest way to make yourself unpopular in 1530? Join the Anabaptists. The name, which was given by their enemies, means "re-baptizers." Protestant and Catholic alike reviled these usually peaceable, Bible-loving souls and massacred large numbers of them. The name Anabaptist took on overtones of fanaticism because of... (Read more)
Read the full article here

1636 - Rutherford Exiled for Publishing
Not many pastors rise at 3 A.M. to be sure they have sufficient time for God and their people. Samuel Rutherford was one who did. Thus it came as a great blow to him when he was compelled to leave the folk he loved. Rutherford had published a book against the heresy of righteousness based on human works. This work offended the government. On February 20, 1636, Rutherford was exiled to Scotland and forbidden to... (Read more)
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1948 - Trever Asks to Photograph Dead Sea Scrolls
A Bedouin stumbled across scrolls in pots in a cave. Thinking they might be of some value, he placed them with Khalil Iskander, an antique dealer in Jerusalem. Iskander supposed they might be Syrian; valuable, but not immensely so... (Read more)
Read the full article here

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Aging, interrupted

February 24, 2011

A 4-year-old boy with Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome. (The Progeria Research Foundation)   The current pace of population aging is without parallel in human history but surprisingly little is known about the human aging process, because lifespans of eight decades or more make it difficult to study. Now, researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have replicated premature aging in the lab, allowing them to study aging-related … more…

Mind and body

The reason loneliness could be bad for your health

Healthy living

SCIENCE has many uses, but it doesn’t often produce handy pick-up lines. Recent work on the genetics of disease, however, suggest a way of opening a conversation with that solitary attractive stranger in a bar: loneliness can make you ill.

Lonely people, it seems, are at greater risk than the gregarious of developing illnesses associated with chronic inflammation, such as heart disease and certain cancers. According to a paper published last year in the Public Library of Science, Medicine, the effect on mortality of loneliness is comparable with that of smoking and drinking. It examined, and combined the results of, 148 previous studies that followed some 300,000 individuals for an average period of 7.5 years each, and controlled for factors such as age and pre-existing illness. It concluded that, over such a period, a gregarious person has a 50% better chance of surviving than a lonely one.

Steven Cole of the University of California, Los Angeles, thinks he may know why this is so. He told the AAAS meeting in Washington, DC, about his work studying the expression of genes in lonely people. Dr Cole harvested samples of white blood cells from both lonely and gregarious people. He then analysed the activity of their genes, as measured by the production of a substance called messenger RNA. This molecule carries instructions from the genes telling a cell which proteins to make. The level of messenger RNA from most genes was the same in both types of people. There were several dozen genes, however, that were less active in the lonely, and several dozen others that were more active. Moreover, both the less active and the more active gene types came from a small number of functional groups.

Broadly speaking, the genes less active in the lonely were those involved in staving off viral infections. Those that were more active were involved in protecting against bacteria. Dr Cole suspects this could help explain not only why the lonely are iller, but how, in evolutionary terms, this odd state of affairs has come about. For inflammation is an antibacterial response.

The crucial bit of the puzzle is that viruses have to be caught from another infected individual and they are usually species-specific. Bacteria, in contrast, often just lurk in the environment (like tetanus), and may thrive on many hosts (as does bubonic plague, for example). The gregarious are therefore at greater risk than the lonely of catching viruses, and Dr Cole thus suggests that past evolution has created a mechanism (the details of which remain unclear) which causes white cells to respond appropriately. Conversely, the lonely are better off ramping up their protection against bacterial infection, which is a bigger relative risk to them.

What Dr Cole seems to have revealed, then, is a mechanism by which the environment (in this case the social environment) reaches inside a person’s body and tweaks its genome so that it responds appropriately. It is not that the lonely and the gregarious are genetically different from each other. Rather, their genes are regulated differently, according to how sociable an individual is. Dr Cole thinks this regulation is part of a wider mechanism that tunes individuals to the circumstances they find themselves in. Where it goes wrong is when loneliness becomes chronic, and the inflammatory response becomes chronic at the same time.

Before civilisation intervened, such chronic loneliness would have been so rare (because isolated individuals are so vulnerable to predation) that evolution would have ignored it. Now, paradoxically, the large population that civilisation makes possible means loneliness is commonplace—and with it consequences that natural selection, which is blind to the future, has not yet had time to deal with.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Where the Veterans Are:

County Supervisor Bill Horn declared this month that San Diego is home to more Iraq and Afghanistan veterans than any other place in the country. San Diego Fact Check wondered if that could be true. It is.

We've got more veterans of those two wars in our county - at least about 29,000 - than any other in the United States.

Why does it matter? For one thing, high numbers can mean that veteran's hospitals need to serve more people. And, as data reporter Keegan Kyle explains, "A growing population with wartime injuries and mental health problems can place greater pressure on county social services and law enforcement, who ultimately serve as the last line of support."

The Missional Mom

February 23, 2011

A New Mission for the Burnt-Out Mom

In The Missional Mom, Helen Lee says women should expand their ministry focus to beyond the home front. In a recent "Stuff Christian Culture Likes" post at Beliefnet, humorist Stephanie Drury poked fun at signs positioned so that they can be read only when people are leaving a church building or parking lot that read, “You Are Now Entering the Mission Field.” They remind churchgoers to share God’s love with the people they encounter “out in the world.” In the act of leaving the property, Christians are being sent out, as it were, on a mission.
When I was growing up, the word mission was used exclusively for those self-sacrificing believers who packed their bags and moved to a hot and sometimes unpronounceable locale. (Remember trying to read the words “Irian Jaya” as a kid?) Missionaries sent annual prayer letters to supporters, cards which pictured large “quivers” of children whose names were taken from the Old Testament, never shortened into nicknames and often began with the same letter of the alphabet. “Christmas Greetings from Daniel and Esther . . . and Jacob, Jonathan, Jesse, Judith and Jemima  on the Mission Field in Konang!”

But times have changed. Now instead of being “called to the mission field,” all Christians are urged to “live missionally.” But what, for the love of Jacob, Jonathan, and Judith, does that mean? In a climate in which we throw around terms such as emergent, organic, and Church 2.0 with such frequency that they lose whatever meaning they might have begun with, is missional another trendy, soon-to-be ignored modifier?

Not if Helen Lee can help it. Lee is a journalist, home-schooling mom and is author of The Missional Mom: Living with Purpose at Home and in the World. Since her book’s publication, Lee has engaged others in the work of nailing down what “missional” really means. In a recent interview with author and New Testament scholar Scot McKnight, posted on her website, Lee asked McKnight what “this new buzzword” means and whether its “popularity [is] matched by its practice.”
“Being missional comes down to answering a simple question: ‘How can I help you?’ ” McKnight said. “Pastors are using the word, but I don’t know that they understand it. Defining the word has become a game. In missional churches, people’s ears are open, their eyes are open, and they are asking, ‘What does our community need?’ A pastor friend of mine wrote to the local police department and asked, ‘What are the biggest problems you deal with in this community?’ The police said, ‘Drugs and alcohol.’ . . . if that’s the answer your church hears, what are you going to do about it?”

Missional living, then, is no longer reserved for the Jim Elliots of the world, but for soccer moms, men and women in business, and other regular people. Lee’s passion is to help restore “missional urgency” something she believes existed in the early church but has fizzled out in recent generations in Christians today. Early on in her book, Lee quotes prominent missional pastor Dave Ferguson, who has written that “the last thing the mission of Jesus Christ needs is more Christians.”
A provocative statement to be sure, but Ferguson, whose book The Big Idea is highlighted in Lee's, states that American Christians are no more likely to help homeless people, keep their marriage vows or correct a cashier when they are given too much change as those who don’t identify as believers. Ferguson asks whether to be a Christian in our culture means to be “no different than anyone else.”

Lee recognizes the same malady in Christian mothers. Many of us, Lee writes, describe ourselves as burned out. We feel boredom and even despair in our parenting. We are spiritually parched and, after a grueling week of work and parenting, we engage in activities our “comfort-craving culture” provides for escape.

“God had strong words for his people when they spend too much effort building their own households at the expense of his house,” Lee writes. “The missional mom . . . acts as God’s warrior of light and love to those who most need it.”

Lee encourages women to step out of prescribed roles and look further than their own homes and Sunday School classrooms for places to serve. Women can live missionally by using their gifts, caring for the poor and otherwise living lives fueled with intention. Instead of feeling more depleted, Lee avows, mothers who live missionally find new purpose and energy.

“Motherhood is critically important, but even the role of being a mother cannot come before our commitment to God and the particular mission he has designed for each and every one of us,” Lee said. “And more often than not, that mission includes—but also goes beyond—the walls of our homes to the greater world around us.”

When we are aware that we are on a “mission from God,” serving on “the mission field” or “living missionally,” what we’re not doing is living by chance. Lee’s book details the ways in which to live missionally, is to live deliberately as we seek to serve Christ in everyone we meet whether or not we are standing inside the doors of our churches.
Jennifer Grant is a journalist and columnist for the Chicago Tribune. She has written for Her.meneutics about the sexualization of young girls, girls in sports, mid-life callings, multitasking, and Lady Gaga. Her memoir, Love You More: The Divine Surprise of Adopting My Daughter, will be published this summer.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


Coptic Christian Christmas service, Church of St. Barbara, Old Cairo
A Coptic Christian service at the Church of St Barbara in Old Cairo.
Although some media reports say that Christians make up 10% or more of Egypt's approximately 80 million people, Pew Forum researchers have been unable to find any Egyptian census or large-scale survey that substantiates such claims. Read more about Egypt's Christian population »
If you have a question related to the Pew Research Center's work, please send it to

Monday, February 14, 2011

Monday, February 7, 2011

Walking in the Kingdom Conference on Spiritual Warfare & Personal Wholeness

February 11 & 12, 2011
Poway, CA 

Guest Speaker:  Suzanne Shure
Tells of her battle & victory over breast, liver, and bone cancers

Children's Workshop "Jesus Heals Today!" Workshop for Children  9 to 16 years of age.
Based on The International Order of St. Luke teachings and taught by teacher and OSL member Lynnea Hiebert

Topics Covered
Do you want to walk in supernatural victory? 

Do you desire to rise above adversity in your life and experience new power and effectiveness in your spiritual life? 

Do you want to be a vessel of God's bondage breaking power and help set the captives free?

Join us as Pastor Josh Acton leads you in ways to be powerful against the forces which seek to corrupt and destroy the creatures of God.

Guest speaker Suzanne Shure  will talk of her battle and victory over breast, liver, and bone cancers and how you can be an overcomer. 

Jesus Heals Today! Workshop for Children ages 9 to 16 years of age. 
Based on the teachings of The International Order of St. Luke and taught by  teacher and OSL member Lynnea Hiebert.
They will cover the healing miracles of Jesus in the Bible and have  hands on training. This workshop will be held on Saturday from 9am to 3 pm and is for ages 9 to 16 onlyCost of $10/child covers study materials only.  
                         No childcare is available at this conference.

There will be an opportunity for you to participate in a prophetic clinic in which those with a gift of hearing and sharing a prophetic word for your life will pray for you that you may hear from the Lord a message just for you. 

Power from On High Workshop led by Deacon Dee Crimmel during the lunch break.  Those who have not yet received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit can stay during the lunch break and receive the power from On High.

Come and see what incredible blessings God has in store for you! 
Conference Information
The Connection Church
14047 Twin Peaks Road
Poway, CA  92064

Children's workshop: $10/child  Ages 9-16 only
There are nearby restaurants, or you can bring your own.

You can register from the Desert Call Ministries website with PayPal.  Go to and register today! 


Friday, Feb. 11  Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
The conference begins at 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 12  Doors open at 8:30 a.m. 
Conference begins at 9:00 a.m. and ends at 3:30 p.m.
Restaurants are located nearby for lunch or bring your own.

Conference Contact Information:
                 Carolyn Burns

Friday, February 4, 2011

Obama delivers major speech on personal faith

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

President Barack Obama gave an unusually personal speech about his religious faith on Thursday, saying that "it is the biblical injunction to serve the least of these that keeps me going and keeps me from being overwhelmed," in address to a prayer breakfast in Washington.

The speech, delivered at the National Prayer Breakfast, comes on the heels of public opinion surveys that show only a minority of Americans know that Obama is a Christian and that a growing number believe he's a Muslim.

"My Christian faith has been sustaining for me over the last couple of years and even more so when Michelle and I hear our faith questioned from time to time," the president said Thursday, referring to his wife. "We are reminded that ultimately what matters is not what other people say about us but that we are true to our conscience and true to our God."

"When I wake in the morning, I wait on the Lord, I ask him to give me the strength to do right by our country and our people," Obama said later. "And when I go to bed at night, I wait on the Lord and I ask him to forgive me my sins and to look after my family and to make me an instrument of the Lord."
The address was televised and streamed live on the White House website.

The White House denied that the speech is a response to public misperceptions about Obama's religion.
"He's a committed Christian, one who takes his faith very seriously," said a White House official before the speech. "There may be misunderstanding and some folks who attack his faith, but at the end of the day the American people know who he is and where he stands."

A major survey last fall, however, showed that a substantial and growing number of Americans believes that Obama - a self-described Christian - is Muslim.

Nearly 1 in 5 Americans believes Obama is a Muslim, up from about one in 10 Americans who said he was Muslim in 2009, according to the survey. It was conducted in July and August by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

Fewer than half of Democrats and African-Americans, core components of Obama's political base, correctly identified Obama as Christian.

The Rev. Joel Hunter, a Florida minister who is close to the president and was consulted about parts of Obama's Thursday speech, says he has encouraged Obama to open up about his faith.

"He needs to openly declare himself a Christian and not settle for people's skepticism at that point," said Hunter, who leads an evangelical church in Orlando. "All of us ought to be able to say who we are and taken for our word. It's frustrating because he still has some people questioning his faith."

Hunter says that he and the White House were caught off-guard by the results of last year's Pew survey on Americans' views of Obama's religion.

On Thursday, Obama spoke at length about his prayer life, saying his prayers fall into three categories: for those who are struggling, for personal humility, and to be closer to God.

"Faith reminds me that in spite of being one very imperfect man I can still help whoever I can, however I can, wherever I can for as long as I can," Obama said of the first kind of prayer, "and that somehow God will buttress these efforts."

"The second recurring theme in my prayer is a prayer for humility," Obama said later. "God answered the prayer early on by having me marry Michelle."

"The challenge is to balance this uncertainty and humility with a need to fight for deeply held convictions," he continued. "I pray for this wisdom very day. I pray for God to show me and all us the limits of our understanding."

With regard to his third kind of prayer, Obama said the recurring theme "is that I might walk closer to God and make that walk my first and most important walk."

The White House believes that some of the ignorance about the president's faith is the result of a misinformation campaign against him.

"Under the radar there are of course those who would not tell the truth about him," said the White House official, who would not speak for attribution. "There are folks who have a misunderstanding of the president's faith and who repeat that misunderstanding."

But Hunter said that the speech was as much a product of Obama settling into office and feeling more comfortable about revealing his personal side.

The White House official echoed that point. "He's had a little over two years in office now and he's had some time to reflect on how his faith intersects with public work," the official said. "He's had the time to make those reflections."

The National Prayer Breakfast has been an annual Washington event for 58 years.

Obama had been a member of Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago until spring 2008, when he left after videos surfaced showing his pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, delivering controversial sermons about the United States.

U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' husband will speak at the breakfast on the congresswoman's behalf, her office announced Wednesday.

Capt. Mark Kelly, a NASA astronaut, will deliver the closing prayer at the event, the Arizona congresswoman's office said in a statement.

Authorities say Giffords was the primary target of a shooting that left six people dead and 13 injured in Tucson, Arizona, on January 8.