Thursday, January 31, 2013

Are You Ready for a Cashless Society?

Published January 28, 2013 | By John Newman

A cashless society has long been a staple of sci-fi. Star Wars and Star Trek both have their version of credits, though more materially obsessed cultures do keep a form of hard currency around. It’s also a common trope in dystopian fiction, where money is completely electronic and usually controlled by either the government or mega-corporations.

Speaking as a citizen of a country that isn’t ready to let go of the penny, I’m not sure everyone is ready for a cashless society. Ready or not, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology (Mines), and possibly all of surrounding Rapid City, are about to embark on a pilot program for a cashless society in partnership withNexus USA’s Smart Pay system.

The Nexus Smart Pay system uses Biocryptology to scan your finger like it was a credit card.

In place of a card or some other form of ID, the program uses a system called Biocryptology. The biometrics technology uses a radio frequency to penetrate down seven layers into the skin on a user’s index finger to identify a valid user. The Smart Pay system even checks for hemoglobin in the blood of the finger to determine the user is alive.

If Smart Pay works as well as Nexus hopes, it could be adapted for use in other areas, replacing things like keys for your car, allowing for cardless IDs (that can’t be faked), and improving other areas of security.

“The convenience factor is huge. It’s safe, and I believe it’s going to accelerate fast. We’re in tune with the technology age. Look at how the fax went to email and then to our cell phones. Within three years we’ve gone from making calls to taking care of everything we need in our lives,” said Al Maas, Nexus USA’s president.

Below you’ll find a video about Smart Pay.

Source: PRWeb

Complex portrait of doctor linked to Sen. Bob Menendez probe

Posted on Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) in December 2009. | Olivier Douliery/MCT

Amy Sherman, Alfonso Chardy and Daniel Chang | The Miami Herald

MIAMI — By most appearances, Dr. Salomon Melgen embodies the great American immigrant success story: A native of the Dominican Republic, Melgen has earned renown as one of South Florida's leading eye surgeons. He owns a sprawling, waterfront home in North Palm Beach valued at about $3 million. He gives generously to charities and rubs elbows with prominent politicians.

"He's a man that loves the limelight. He always has," said Patricia Goodman, 70, a former office administrator and personal assistant to Melgen, who is now at the center of two FBI probes, one involving published allegations that he provided free trips to the Dominican Republic and prostitutes for U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat.

Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has called the allegations a politically motivated smear by a right-leaning website.

FBI agents raided Melgen's West Palm Beach office Tuesday night, apparently seeking records related to the second investigation, one involving possible Medicare fraud. The feds continued to search the premises on Wednesday, joined by agents from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, suggesting that the raid was linked to Medicare.

Lawrence Duffy, a criminal defense attorney representing Melgen, said his client is unaware of the reason for the FBI raid.

"The government has not informed Dr. Melgen what its concerns are," Duffy said in an e-mail to The Miami Herald. "However, we are confident that Dr. Melgen has acted appropriately at all times."

Goodman said Melgen never hosted a fundraiser for Menendez during the time that she worked for the doctor from about 1989 to 1999. But she planned all of Melgen's parties during those years, and said he helped raise millions for political campaigns - and had a blast doing it.

"He liked the excitement of it," Goodman said on Wednesday from her home in Palm Harbor on Florida's Gulf Coast. "He liked being with the big shots. That was his thing. He was very impressed with the politicians."

The politicians were equally impressed with Melgen, 58.

Among the politicians whom Melgen has befriended, and for whom he has hosted private fundraisers at his 5,000-square-foot home: former U.S. Sens. Christopher Dodd and Bob Graham, late Florida Gov. Lawton Chiles - who also was a patient of Melgen's - former President Bill Clinton, and Leonel Fernandez, former president of the Dominican Republic.

Goodman noted that Bill and Hillary Clinton vacationed at the doctor's home in Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic, and that he became good friends with Terry McAuliffe, former Democratic National Committee chairman and co-chair of Clinton's 1996 re-election campaign.

"He used to go to Dr. Melgen's home in Casa de Campo and play golf all the time," Goodman said of McAuliffe.

Behind Melgen's conspicuous success and powerful friendships, though, Goodman said, she also saw a man who behaved recklessly in his private life.

"There were things going on that I didn't like, not necessarily in the office," she said. "His personal life got to take a toll on me."

So much so, Goodman said, that she declined to return to work for Melgen in 1999 after she was diagnosed with cancer.

Melgen could not be reached at his home, office or on cell phones or by e-mail Wednesday, but his office issued a statement regarding Melgen's relationship with Menendez:

"Dr. Melgen has been a friend and political supporter of Senator Menendez for many years," the statement read. "Senator Menendez has traveled on Dr. Melgen's plane on three occasions, all of which have been paid for and reported appropriately. Any allegations of engaging with prostitutes are manufactured by a politically-motivated, right-wing blog and are false."

Menendez, who was first accused of improprieties in the conservative Daily Caller website in November, has denied what he calls the "fallacious allegations." He has not yet directly addressed his relationship with Melgen.

Interviews with Melgen's former employees and acquaintances paint a picture of an exceedingly generous man who struggled to adapt as an immigrant and succeeded wildly in his medical career and in various business ventures, including founding a Latino-themed digital media outlet,, which is based in Coral Gables.

He donated $15,000 at a recent fundraiser for experimental research into a rare muscular-degenerative disease that afflicts the 2-year-old son of Art Estopinan, the chief of staff of Rep. Ileana Ros Lehtinen, a Florida Republican..

"He is an angel. I consider him to be an angel," said Estopinan, his voice breaking into sobs. "This is the only hope my son has."

Goodman said Melgen "has got a really big heart for people. We used to see thousands of people that had no insurance, just write it off. He did that. He would never turn anybody away if they didn't have the money."

A woman who holds a high-level position at the Dominican Healthcare Association of Florida, which gave Melgen its lifetime honorary member award in April 2012, said she was surprised about the allegations.

"I was shocked," she said, adding that she always regarded Melgen as a professional totally devoted to his work.

"I see him as a great professional of great trust whose patients hold in high regard," the woman said. The woman remembered that when Melgen accepted the award at a gala dinner at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables he talked about the difficulties he had adjusting to the United States as an immigrant.

No one has a specific date when Melgen immigrated to the United States, but the woman at the Dominican Healthcare Association said it was possible he arrived in the late 1970s.

Melgen graduated in 1978 from the Pedro Henriquez Urena National University in Santo Domingo, and by 1980 was doing an internship at Danbury Hospital in Connecticut.

He found professional and financial success in South Florida, where he says he was the first physician to perform out-patient eye surgery in 1986.

But Palm Beach court records show Melgen also has faced financial problems - including multiple IRS liens for millions of dollars.

One lawsuit hints at complications in his personal life. Melgen's company, Vitreo-Retinal Consultants, sued Yuddehiris Dorrejo in 2000 amid a business dispute that involved a close relationship with Melgen.

Online records available immediately at the Palm Beach Courthouse Wednesday did not contain the full case file, but a four-page order by Palm Beach Circuit Court Judge John Wessel dismissing the case in March 2002 summarized the details of the legal dispute.

In October 1998 Dorrejo came to Florida and met Melgen at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Palm Beach County.

"Thereafter, an intimate romantic relationship developed," the judge wrote.

Then Dorrejo entered into an oral agreement with Vitreo-Retinal Consultants, which was owned and controlled by Melgen.

Melgen's company had agreed to make a $700,000 loan for Dorrejo's interest in a franchise retail store in the Dominican Republic.

Melgen acknowledged it was his idea to set up an account with Northern Trust Bank in Palm Beach County because his company had a relationship with that bank.

"Melgen claims that such a large sum of money would not be deposited by a normal person as a gift for a romantic relationship," the judge wrote.

But Dorrejo claimed that she was not a resident of Florida and doesn't engage in business in Florida and that "the consideration for the money deposited in Northern Trust Bank was the intimate romantic relationship between Dorrejo and Melgen," the judge wrote.

Dorrejo told the court that she had not breached any contract and that, "The money bestowed upon her by her lover, Melgen, was without any obligation for repayment" wrote the judge, who granted Dorrejo's motion to dismiss it.

Dorrejo, who could not be reached for comment on Wednesday, also reported that Melgen owns property in the Dominican Republic and advertises medical services there.

The doctor cuts an impressive figure on the Caribbean island.

In 2009, Melgen's son was married at Santo Domingo's historic cathedral, the oldest in the Americas, in a ceremony blessed by Dominican Catholic Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez. The wedding was covered by Dominican newspapers, which published photos of the well-heeled guests.

In May 2010 - a date that corresponds with allegations of alcohol- and prostitute-fueled parties at Melgen's Casa de Campo house - Melgen hosted a dinner honoring Menendez in which he said, "For me, Mr. Menendez is not the leader of the Hispanic-American in the United States, but a leader of Hispanics in all the Americas."

(Staff writers Marc Caputo, Carli Teproff and Jay Weaver contributed to this report. Herald special correspondent Ezra Fieser reported from the Dominican Republic.)


Read more here:

Path to citizenship best way to reform immigration

Posted on Wed, Jan. 16, 2013


Now that the elections are over, perhaps a new bipartisan consensus can be forged to finally fix our broken immigration system.

Both Democrats and Republicans can read the demographic tea leaves — in the last election the president’s perceived support for immigration reform gained for him wide support from both Hispanic and Asian voters. Lawmakers in both parties have made strong statements about “fixing” immigration in 2013.

This is good news. Of course, any immigration reform legislation would  need to address the legal status of the 11 million undocumented in our nation. But instead of providing this population a chance to earn their citizenship, some in Washington are suggesting that these immigrants should receive legal status but not an opportunity to become citizens.

They propose something like President Obama’s administrative action to grant “deferred departure” to the “Dreamers” — those who were brought here without legal status by their parents. In other words, these policy makers would extend protection from deportation and perhaps work authorization, but would not provide this population an earned path to citizenship.

An earned path to citizenship for the undocumented, supported by the U.S. Catholic bishops and a strong majority of the American people, does not have to mean an “amnesty”. Reasonable requirements for permanent legal status and a chance at citizenship — such as paying a fine and any back taxes still owed or learning English — would in fact be gladly embraced by these immigrants who remain in illegal status not because they want to but because legal remedies are not available to them.

A bill introduced in the last Congress by Sens. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., and Kay Hutchinson, R-Texas, modeled somewhat after the DREAM Act would not provide a path to citizenship for young immigrants. A similar proposal from Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida never put in bill form, would have done the same thing. Both proposals essentially addressed a situation that was already partially addressed by President Obama’s deferred action last year.

And like President Obama’s measure their proposal still leaves this population in limbo — with a quasi-legal status but no chance to upgrade to citizenship.

Even President Obama has given credence to the idea of legal status but not citizenship. In his first press conference after the election, he used the term “path to legal status” to describe a potential legalization program for the 11 million. It might have been a slip of the tongue, but words matter in Washington.

While perhaps better than no status, such an arrangement risks creating in our country a permanent underclass of persons who would never enjoy the rights of U.S. citizens. The lingering social costs of another era’s Jim Crow legislation show us that this is not the way to go. A path to citizenship is the best way to ensure that immigrants integrate fully into American society by allowing their civic participation and assuring them of access to full due process rights. It is, after all, the American way.

If the administration and Congress are serious about fixing our broken immigration system, they should fix it correctly, and not create more problems. A path to citizenship for the undocumented should be the centerpiece of any immigration reform effort this year. A path to citizenship offers immigrants the opportunities and freedom that are the essential components of the American dream. Both the party of Jefferson as well as the party of Lincoln should be able to embrace that.

Thomas Wenski is Archbishop of Miami


Read more here:

USCCB Chair Calls Senate Immigration Framework Important First Step, Seeks Bipartisan Cooperation For Just, Humane Legislation

January 28, 2013

An important first step in process and tone, says Archbishop Gomez 
Promises bishops' support for system to protect human dignity, homeland simultaneously 
Plan gives hope to millions of fellow human beings

WASHINGTON—Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Migration, welcomed principles set forth by a group of eight U.S. Senators as a blueprint for reform of our nation's immigration system.

"I welcome the introduction of a bipartisan framework to help guide Congress on immigration reform," Archbishop Gomez said January 28."It is an important first step in the process and sets a bipartisan tone."

The framework released by the "Group of Eight" working group would include a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented in the nation. It also would reduce family backlogs in the immigration system, which requires family members to wait years to reunite with their loved ones.

"It is vital that the framework includes a path to citizenship, so that undocumented immigrants can come out of the shadows and into the light and have a chance to become Americans," Archbishop Gomez said. "It gives hope to millions of our fellow human beings."

Archbishop Gomez noted that the framework leaves room for improvement, as it fails to restore due process protections to immigrants lost in the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) or address the root causes of migration, such as the absence of living-wage employment in sending communities or protection for refugees fleeing persecution.

Nevertheless, he pledged the support of the USCCB in pushing sound immigration legislation forward and working with Congress to create an immigration system which respects basic human rights and dignity while also ensuring the integrity of our borders.

"A reformed system can protect human dignity and the homeland at the same time," he concluded.

In their 2003 pastoral letter, "Strangers No Longer: Together on the Journey of Hope," the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) outlined several policy goals for immigration reform, many of which are consistent with the framework outlined today by the U.S. Senate:

″A path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented in the nation;

″The protection and enhancement of the family-based immigration system, including the reduction in backlogs and shortening of waiting times for husbands and wives and their families, ″A program which allows low-skilled migrant workers to enter and work in the United States legally and safely and includes appropriate wage and worker protections;

″The restoration of due process protections for immigrants removed by the 1996 Illegal Immigrant Responsibility Act; and

″Policies which address the root causes, or push factors, of irregular migration, such as the absence of living wage jobs in sending communities and persecution.

More information can be found at




Social Networks: portals of truth and faith; new spaces for evangelization

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

As the 2013 World Communications Day draws near, I would like to offer you some reflections on an increasingly important reality regarding the way in which people today communicate among themselves. I wish to consider the development of digital social networks which are helping to create a new "agora", an open public square in which people share ideas, information and opinions, and in which new relationships and forms of community can come into being.

These spaces, when engaged in a wise and balanced way, help to foster forms of dialogue and debate which, if conducted respectfully and with concern for privacy, responsibility and truthfulness, can reinforce the bonds of unity between individuals and effectively promote the harmony of the human family. The exchange of information can become true communication, links ripen into friendships, and connections facilitate communion. If the networks are called to realize this great potential, the people involved in them must make an effort to be authentic since, in these spaces, it is not only ideas and information that are shared, but ultimately our very selves.

The development of social networks calls for commitment: people are engaged in building relationships and making friends, in looking for answers to their questions and being entertained, but also in finding intellectual stimulation and sharing knowledge and know-how. The networks are increasingly becoming part of the very fabric of society, inasmuch as they bring people together on the basis of these fundamental needs. Social networks are thus nourished by aspirations rooted in the human heart.

The culture of social networks and the changes in the means and styles of communication pose demanding challenges to those who want to speak about truth and values. Often, as is also the case with other means of social communication, the significance and effectiveness of the various forms of expression appear to be determined more by their popularity than by their intrinsic importance and value. Popularity, for its part, is often linked to celebrity or to strategies of persuasion rather than to the logic of argumentation. At times the gentle voice of reason can be overwhelmed by the din of excessive information and it fails to attract attention which is given instead to those who express themselves in a more persuasive manner. The social media thus need the commitment of all who are conscious of the value of dialogue, reasoned debate and logical argumentation; of people who strive to cultivate forms of discourse and expression which appeal to the noblest aspirations of those engaged in the communication process. Dialogue and debate can also flourish and grow when we converse with and take seriously people whose ideas are different from our own. "Given the reality of cultural diversity, people need not only to accept the existence of the culture of others, but also to aspire to be enriched by it and to offer to it whatever they possess that is good, true and beautiful" (Address at the Meeting with the World of Culture, Bélem, Lisbon, 12 May 2010).

The challenge facing social networks is how to be truly inclusive: thus they will benefit from the full participation of believers who desire to share the message of Jesus and the values of human dignity which his teaching promotes. Believers are increasingly aware that, unless the Good News is made known also in the digital world, it may be absent in the experience of many people for whom this existential space is important. The digital environment is not a parallel or purely virtual world, but is part of the daily experience of many people, especially the young. Social networks are the result of human interaction, but for their part they also reshape the dynamics of communication which builds relationships: a considered understanding of this environment is therefore the prerequisite for a significant presence there.

The ability to employ the new languages is required, not just to keep up with the times, but precisely in order to enable the infinite richness of the Gospel to find forms of expression capable of reaching the minds and hearts of all. In the digital environment the written word is often accompanied by images and sounds. Effective communication, as in the parables of Jesus, must involve the imagination and the affectivity of those we wish to invite to an encounter with the mystery of God’s love. Besides, we know that Christian tradition has always been rich in signs and symbols: I think for example of the Cross, icons, images of the Virgin Mary, Christmas cribs, stained-glass windows and pictures in our churches. A significant part of mankind’s artistic heritage has been created by artists and musicians who sought to express the truths of the faith.

In social networks, believers show their authenticity by sharing the profound source of their hope and joy: faith in the merciful and loving God revealed in Christ Jesus. This sharing consists not only in the explicit expression of their faith, but also in their witness, in the way in which they communicate "choices, preferences and judgements that are fully consistent with the Gospel, even when it is not spoken of specifically" (Message for the 2011World Communications Day). A particularly significant way of offering such witness will be through a willingness to give oneself to others by patiently and respectfully engaging their questions and their doubts as they advance in their search for the truth and the meaning of human existence. The growing dialogue in social networks about faith and belief confirms the importance and relevance of religion in public debate and in the life of society.

For those who have accepted the gift of faith with an open heart, the most radical response to mankind’s questions about love, truth and the meaning of life – questions certainly not absent from social networks – are found in the person of Jesus Christ. It is natural for those who have faith to desire to share it, respectfully and tactfully, with those they meet in the digital forum. Ultimately, however, if our efforts to share the Gospel bring forth good fruit, it is always because of the power of the word of God itself to touch hearts, prior to any of our own efforts. Trust in the power of God’s work must always be greater than any confidence we place in human means. In the digital environment, too, where it is easy for heated and divisive voices to be raised and where sensationalism can at times prevail, we are called to attentive discernment. Let us recall in this regard that Elijah recognized the voice of God not in the great and strong wind, not in the earthquake or the fire, but in "a still, small voice" (1 Kg 19:11-12). We need to trust in the fact that the basic human desire to love and to be loved, and to find meaning and truth – a desire which God himself has placed in the heart of every man and woman – keeps our contemporaries ever open to what Blessed Cardinal Newman called the "kindly light" of faith.

Social networks, as well as being a means of evangelization, can also be a factor in human development. As an example, in some geographical and cultural contexts where Christians feel isolated, social networks can reinforce their sense of real unity with the worldwide community of believers. The networks facilitate the sharing of spiritual and liturgical resources, helping people to pray with a greater sense of closeness to those who share the same faith. An authentic and interactive engagement with the questions and the doubts of those who are distant from the faith should make us feel the need to nourish, by prayer and reflection, our faith in the presence of God as well as our practical charity: "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal" (1 Cor 13:1).

In the digital world there are social networks which offer our contemporaries opportunities for prayer, meditation and sharing the word of God. But these networks can also open the door to other dimensions of faith. Many people are actually discovering, precisely thanks to a contact initially made online, the importance of direct encounters, experiences of community and even pilgrimage, elements which are always important in the journey of faith. In our effort to make the Gospel present in the digital world, we can invite people to come together for prayer or liturgical celebrations in specific places such as churches and chapels. There should be no lack of coherence or unity in the expression of our faith and witness to the Gospel in whatever reality we are called to live, whether physical or digital. When we are present to others, in any way at all, we are called to make known the love of God to the furthest ends of the earth.

I pray that God’s Spirit will accompany you and enlighten you always, and I cordially impart my blessing to all of you, that you may be true heralds and witnesses of the Gospel. "Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation" (Mk 16:15).

From the Vatican, 24 January 2013, Feast of Saint Francis de Sales.


[00116-02.01] [Original text: Italian]


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

2013 Annual Meeting Schedule of Christian Churches Together in USA

Christian Churches Together in the USA

2013 Annual Meeting Schedule

Omni Austin Hotel Southpark

Austin, Texas

January 29-February 1, 2013

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

2:30 – 5:30 PM Registration Lower Foyer

3:30 – 5:15 PM CCT Steering Committee Meeting Southpark B

5:30 – 6:30 PM Dinner The Oaks

Welcome, Call to Meeting and Prayer

Father Leonid Kishkovsky, CCT Moderator

Rev. Carlos L Malavé, CCT Executive Director

Video: “Dying to Live”

6:45 PM Board buses to Saint Mary Cathedral Omni Main Entrance

7:15 PM Opening Worship St. Mary Cathedral

Celebration of Catholic-Reformed Baptism Agreement

CCT Annual Meeting Opening Worship

Homily: Bishop Joe Vazquez, Diocese of Austin

Announcements - Rev. Carlos Malavé

8:15 pm Walk to Reception at Central Presbyterian Church

9:30 PM Board buses to return to the Omni Hotel

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

6:30 AM Breakfast (open) Southpark A & B

8:30 AM Worship: Historic Protestant Family, Rev. Dr. Wes Granberg-Michaelson The Oaks

9:00 AM Prayer and Sharing Groups of Five (see list in binder for names)

Sharing faith journeys and praying for one another

9:45 AM “US History of Immigration: Dynamics of Inclusion and Exclusion” The Oaks

Introduction: Ms. Lisa Sharon Harper

Speaker: Rev. Jenny Yang, Director of Advocacy and Policy for the 

Refugee and Immigration Program at World Relief

10:45 AM Break

11:00 AM Plenary: “The Immigration Experience at the Border” The Oaks

Introduction: Fr. Ronald Robertson

Speaker: Bishop Daniel Flores, Diocese of Brownsville

12:00 PM Lunch Omni D

1:00 PM Board buses to University of Texas Austin Omni Main Entrance

2:00 PM Free time

 Seminarians meet with Dr. Jay Alanis for debriefing. Room 102
 Experts meet to finalize document with pastoral message and Room 104
points of agreement on legislative actions.3

3:00 PM Brief report from Seminarians/Young Leaders Omni C
Plenary: Introduction and discussion on CCT Common Statement on Immigration
Lead by Mr. Alejandro Aguilera-Titus

4:15 PM Break

4:30 PM Praise and Worship: Evangelical/Pentecostal Family, Rev. Gary Walter Omni C
Introduction: Rev. Gary Walter
“Biblical Foundations of Welcoming the Stranger” - Preaching: Rev. Samuel 
Rodriguez, President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference
Announcements – Rev. Carlos L Malavé

6:00 PM Dinner Omni D

7:00 PM Brief report from Rev. David Beckman, President, Bread for the World Omni C
Open Space Opportunities:

1. “I Was a Stranger Challenge” & “10,000 Pastor’s initiative” - Ms. Lisa
Sharon Harper, Director of Mobilizing, Sojourners
2. “Justice for Immigrant Campaign” - Mr. Tony Cubé, National Field 
Manager for Justice for Immigrant Campaign Office of the USCCB
3. “Church Between Borders“ Curriculum - Ms. Shannon Jammal-Hollemans, 
CRCNA Office of Social Justice and Office of Race Relations
4. “Gospel Without Borders” - video discussion led by Dr. Robert Parham, 
Executive Director, Baptist Center for Ethics, and Rev. Stephen Copley, 
Executive Director, Arkansas Interfaith Conference
5. "The Church As Provider of Physical Sanctuary While We Wait For The 
Dawning of a New Day for Immigrants in America" - Rev. Seth Kaper-Dale, 
Reformed Church in America

8:00 PM Good night rest

Friday, February 1, 2013

6:30 AM Breakfast (open) Omni D

8:30 AM Morning Opening Prayer: Bishop Mary Ann Swenson Omni D
Speaker: Rev. Stacy Martin, LIRS Vice President for External Relations and 
Development - Reflection on what we have heard at the gathering.

9:40 AM Stretch Break (5 min)

9:45 AM Final considerations & affirmations on CCT Statement on Immigration Omni D
Lead by Rev. Carlos L Malavé
Final Business Session
Election of at-large Steering Committee members
Other business

11:00 AM Break

11:15 AM Worship: African American Family Omni D
Commissioning Prayer and Closing of Annual Meeting

Noon......Safe travels!


What Did Hillary Accomplish as Secretary of State?

January 29, 2013


Posted by John Cassidy

Having stopped off in a hundred and twelve countries during her four years as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, in her last week in office, seems intent on visiting almost as many televisions studios. At the weekend, she did “60 Minutes” on CBS. Today, she will be on ABC, NBC, CNN, and Fox. Tomorrow, it’s the BBC. If you are a news producer at CNBC, Bloomberg, New York 1, or the Weather Channel, give the State Department a call. As far as I know, Thursday and Friday are still open.

O.K., O.K., all you Hillary fans. I’m just being flippant. We all know that once she decides to do something, she gives it her all, and this is probably just another case of the Wellesley-Yale standout overdoing things. And, perhaps, after playing the role of the dancing monkey to President Obama’s organ grinder during the interview with Steve Kroft, she is eager to speak for herself about her record, without the boss looking over her shoulder.

That would be understandable. Still, in view of all the publicity she is receiving, and her elevated approval rating—sixty nine per cent in the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll—a nagging question remains: What has she really achieved?

During the joint “60 Minutes” interview, Obama said, “I think she will go down as one of the finest Secretary of States we’ve had.”  But while he praised Hillary’s stamina, her professionalism, and her teamwork, the President was a bit short on specific achievements that could be put down to her efforts. Asked by Steve Kroft about the biggest foreign-policy successes of his first term, he mentioned ending the war in Iraq, drawing down U.S. forces in Afghanistan, and dismantling the leadership of Al Qaeda, adding, “That’s all a consequence of the great work that Hillary did and her team did, and the State Department did, in conjunction with our national-security team.”

Fair enough. But it’s no secret that the Administration’s policies on Iraq, Afghanistan, and counterterrorism were conceived and managed in the White House. In foreign-policy circles, the knock on Hillary is that, unlike some of her storied predecessors—John Quincy Adams, George C. Marshall, Dean Acheson, Henry Kissinger—she failed to carve out a historically significant role for herself. “There’s no question that Clinton has been terrifically energetic, as well as a loyal team player,” Stephen Walt, a professor of international relations at Harvard, wrote last July, shortly after a profile in the Times Magazine referred to Hillary as a “rock star diplomat.” “The problem, however, is that she’s hardly racked up any major achievements… She played little role in extricating us from Iraq, and it is hard to see her fingerprints on the U.S. approach to Afghanistan. She has done her best to smooth the troubled relationship with Pakistan, but anti-Americanism remains endemic in that country and it hardly looks like a success story at this point… She certainly helped get tougher sanctions on Iran, but the danger of war still looms and there’s been no breakthrough there either.”

Other experts agree. “She’s coming away with a stellar reputation that seems to have put her almost above criticism,” Aaron David Miller, a former diplomat peace negotiator, said to Paul Richter, of the Los Angeles Times. “But you can’t say that she’s really led on any of the big issues for this administration or made a major mark on high strategy.” A former diplomat who served in the Obama Administration told Richter, “If you go down the line, it’s tough to see what’s happened in world politics over the last four years that wouldn’t have happened without her. So, it’s tough to see how she gets into that category of truly great, transformational secretaries, like Acheson and Marshall.”

It’s hard to quibble with that assessment. Marshall gave his name to an economic-recovery plan for war-torn Europe. Acheson laid down the Cold War policy of containment and helped create NATO. Adams helped conceive the Monroe Doctrine, which defined Central and South America as part of the U.S. sphere of influence. Kissinger pioneered détente with the Soviets, instigated a rapprochement with the Chinese, and did much else besides (by no means all of it estimable). By contrast, Hillary’s signature achievements look like small beer. She was the public face of the U.S. response to the Arab Spring, which involved persuading Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian President, to step aside peaceably, winning international support for U.S. military intervention in Libya, and resisting international pressure for similar action in Syria. How these policies will ultimately play out, it is too early to say.

The Benghazi killings and their aftermath, for which she has taken responsibility while insisting that more lowly officials made the key decisions, or pieces of indecision, were the most controversial incident of her tenure. The most serious gap in her record, and the record of the Administration, is any serious attempt to tackle the Arab-Israeli conflict—but there, too, the White House held sway. The fact that Hillary didn’t bring peace to Palestine, or redefine the relationship between the United States and China, doesn’t mean she was a failure. Far from it. In carrying out the task she was allotted, she was a big success. It’s just that the nature of her job was very different from the ones that Acheson and Kissinger held. In reality, she wasn’t directing American foreign policy, or anything close. At times, she wasn’t even the Administration’s chief troubleshooter—a niche occupied by a series of special envoys: Richard Holbrooke, George Mitchell, and Dennis Ross. The post she really had was that of U.S. Ambassador to the world, and she made a pretty good fist of it.

In the “60 Minutes” interview, President Obama was surprisingly explicit about how he conceived of Hillary’s role. Referring back to late 2008, he said, “She also was already a world figure. And I thought that somebody stepping into that position of Secretary of State at a time when, keep in mind, we were still in Iraq. Afghanistan was still an enormous challenge. There was great uncertainty in terms of how we would reset our relations around the world. To have somebody who could serve as that effective ambassador in her own right without having to earn her stripes, so to speak, on the international stage, I thought would be hugely important.”

As a globe-trotting representative for the United States, Hillary has had few equals. According to the Travels With the Secretary page on the State Department’s Web site, she has logged 2081.21 hours on the road—not 2081.20, mind you—and clocked up 956,733 miles on the federal frequent-flyer program. In total, she was traveling for four hundred and one days—more than thirteen months—enduring hundreds of long flights and sitting through countless boring meetings. How far this crazy schedule contributed to her recent illness can only be speculated upon—after contracting a stomach virus in Europe, she fell and suffered a concussion that led to a blood clot—but nobody can ever fault her work ethic.

As well as adhering to Woody Allen’s motto that ninety per cent of life is showing up, she also delivered a distinctive message. While it hardly added up to a full-blown “Clinton Doctrine,” it did present a different and more inclusive image of America than the one conveyed by G.I. fatigues and drone missile attacks. Throughout her tenure, she was a vocal proponent of female empowerment, gay rights, and equitable economic development in poor countries. She also defended freedom of expression. Perhaps her most memorable moment was helping to secure the freedom of Chen Guangcheng, the Chinese dissident, who is now a scholar in residence at N.Y.U.

Doubtless, these actions by themselves, were insufficient to drastically change how the world sees the United States. According to polling data from the Pew Foundation, since 2009, shortly after Obama’s election, the number of people holding favorable views of the United States has fallen modestly in China, Europe, and Muslim countries. Even now, though, the Pew survey shows, America is more popular in Europe and Asia than it was at the end of the Bush Administration. (In Pakistan and parts of the Middle East it is less popular.)

Hillary didn’t create these trends, but she did her part for Team U.S.A. As a “rock star diplomat,” she toured tirelessly and put on good shows. Since that’s what she was hired to do, it seems a bit unfair to judge her too harshly.

Photograph: Theron Kirkman-Pool/Getty



Philadelphia Priest and Lay Teacher Convicted on Most Counts in Child Sex Abuse Trial

January 30, 2013 3:39 PM

(Phila. PD photos)

Reporting Tony Hanson

By Tony Hanson

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) –A Philadelphia jury today returned “guilty” verdicts on most counts against a former priest and a former lay teacher in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Father Charles Engelhardt and lay teacher Bernard Shero were charged with sexually molesting the same boy in 1999 and 2000 (see related stories).

Earlier this afternoon, the jury told the judge that it was deadlocked on one of the charges but had reached a decision on all the others.

The judge, not willing to let the jury declare itself hung on that one remaining charge, sent the panel back to continue its deliberations.

But about an hour later, the jury announced that it was unable to reach a unanimous decisions on the one remaining charge against Engelhardt. The judge accepted their verdict on all the other charges and ordered both men, who had been free during the trial, taken into custody pending sentencing at a future date.


US 'preppers' prepare for Armageddon


Mon Jan 23, 2012 7:6PM

Chuck Izzo, a "prepper" sits in his basement where he stores emergency survival goods.

Driven by a fear of imminent societal collapse, terrorism and natural disasters, a new growing subculture of Americans have emerged who are preparing for Armageddon.

The group who refer to themselves informally as "preppers" have been growing in America over the past few years.

Preppers store food and supplies to survive and be self-reliant for a certain amount of time in case of environmental cataclysm.

Unlike survivalists of the 1990s, who were hoping to escape the dictates of what they perceived as an increasingly secular and oppressive government, preppers are worried about the end of a functioning US economy --a belief fueled by the fact that tens of millions of Americans are on food stamps and that many US children are living in poverty.

"A lot of Americans sense that a massive economic storm is coming and they want to be prepared for it," one prepper, Michael T. Snider says.

Another prepper, Tegeler, 57, says that in case of emergency, she could survive indefinitely in her home, and thinks that the time of emergency could come soon.

"I think this economy is about to fall apart," she said.

According to Cathy Gutierrez, an expert on end-times beliefs at Sweet Briar College in Virginia, such behaviors are not unnatural in a time of economic recession and a growing national debt.




Israel conducts airstrike on truck convoy in Syria, regional security forces say

Published January 30, 2013

Associated Press

BEIRUT – Israel conducted an airstrike inside Syria overnight near the border with Lebanon, hitting a convoy of trucks, U.S. and regional officials said Wednesday.

The regional officials said Israel had been planning in the days leading up to the airstrike to hit a shipment of weapons bound for the Islamist militant group Hezbollah in Lebanon. They said the shipment included sophisticated, Russian-made SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles, which would be strategically "game-changing" in the hands of Hezbollah.

Hezbollah has committed to Israel's destruction and has gone to war against the Jewish state in the past.

A U.S. official said the strike hit a convoy of trucks.

All the officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the strike.

The Israeli military declined to comment, and Syrian officials and state media were silent on the issue.

Top Israeli officials have recently expressed worries that if desperate, the regime of President Bashar Assad could pass chemical weapons to Hezbollah or other militant groups. U.S. officials say they are tracking Syria's chemical weapons and that they still appear to be solidly under regime control.

Among Israeli security officials' chief fears is that Hezbollah could get its hands on Syrian chemical arms and SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles. If that were to happen, it would change the balance of power in the region and greatly hinder Israel's ability to conduct air sorties in Lebanon.

Israel suspects that Damascus obtained a battery of SA-17s from Russia after an alleged Israeli airstrike in 2007 that destroyed an unfinished Syrian nuclear reactor.

Earlier this week, Israel moved a battery of its new "Iron Dome" rocket defense system to the northern city of Haifa, which was battered by Hezbollah rocket fire in the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war. The Israeli army called that move "routine."

The military in Lebanon, which shares borders with both Israel and Syria, said Wednesday that Israeli warplanes have sharply increased their activity over Lebanon in the past week, including at least 12 sorties in less than 24 hours in the country's south.

A senior Lebanese security official said there were no Israeli airstrikes inside Lebanese territory. Asked whether it could have been along the border on the Syrian side, he said that that could not be confirmed as it was out of his area of operations.

He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

A Lebanese army statement said the last of the sorties took place at 2 a.m. local time Wednesday. It said four warplanes which flew in over the southernmost coastal town of Naqoura hovered for several hours over villages in southern Lebanon before leaving Lebanese airspace.

It said similar flights by eight other warplanes were conducted Tuesday.

A Lebanese security official said the flights were part of "increased activity" in the past week but did not elaborate. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the media.

The area of Lebanon where the flights took place borders southern Syria.

Israeli violations of Lebanese airspace are not uncommon and Lebanese authorities routinely lodge complaints at the U.N. against the flights.


Steve Wohlberg - Israel delusion


Published on Apr 8, 2012

Newsweek Magazine, 1 Nov 1999 says: The predominant emphasis in Christian prophecy is on the return of the Jews to the Holy Land and the rebuilding of the Jerusalem Temp;. This is what Christian generally believes. They look at the Middle East and looking for this to happen. Is this what the Bible prophecies will happen at the end of time?


Infant Baptism and 5-Point Calvinism are Limited

(Photo: Dan Delzell)

By Dan Delzell , Special to CP
January 24, 2013|7:55 am

Some spiritual practices and doctrinal positions held by Christians have definite limitations....and must be handled with care, lest people get the wrong idea about what it means to be spiritually reborn....and what it doesn't mean....and what the Bible means when it states that "God is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9)

There are many mature Christians in the world today who believe that Scripture supports the questionable teachings of infant baptism and/or 5-Point Calvinism. I say "questionable" teachings because millions of their fellow believers (including mature believers) question these doctrines and find no support for them in Scripture.

Let's start with the historic practice of infant baptism. Why should parents who practice infant baptism be careful with this approach? Well....a big reason is because there are so many teenagers and adults who were baptized as infants....but are not spiritually reborn through faith in Christ. Some ministers and parents seem to assume that a baptized person is definitely a Christian. That is not always the case. Quite a few teenagers who were baptized as infants want little to do with Christ. Other teens appear outwardly moral, but not all of them are spiritually alive and connected to Christ through faith.

One should be cautious about allowing infant baptism to give you a false sense of security for your loved one. Christianity is much larger than that particular practice. It involves a relationship with Christ through faith. (see Romans 3:21-24) Also, there is good fruit in the life of a born again person. (see Matthew 7:16,17) Does your loved one in question have saving faith in Christ, and good fruit....or just baptism?

What if Martin Luther had continued to assume that just because he had been baptized as an infant, he was already a Christian? What if Luther never applied the Gospel message personally to his own soul....through trusting in what Jesus did for him on the cross? Look at all his teen and adult years where Martin Luther was spiritually dead....even after he had been baptized as an infant. Many teens and adults are in the same condition today.

So just be cautious if infant baptism is something your church practices. It doesn't guarantee that your child will grow up knowing the Lord....or will die one day knowing the Lord. Every person who desires to know Christ must repent and believe the good news, whether he was baptized as an infant or not. (see John 3:7) If he does repent and believe, he will then begin to follow Jesus. That's what Christians do.

There will be many people who were baptized as infants who do not make it into heaven. Were you aware of that fact? Even though they were baptized in the Presbyterian church....or Methodist....or Lutheran....or Catholic....or in some other denomination, their infant baptism did not result in securing eternal life for them. Why? Because they lived a life devoid of a relationship with Christ. Without repentance....and applying the Gospel to yourself through faith....there is no forgiveness, and no salvation.

If you assume that everyone who has been baptized is saved, you are as misguided as the person who assumes that everyone who has ever gone forward during an "altar call" is saved. Those spiritual practices have meaning, but "what counts is a new creation." (Galatians 5:16) "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation." (2 Cor. 5:17) If he is not a new creation, then he is not saved....whether he has been baptized or not.

God has used many different people over the centuries who held varying perspectives on infant baptism. For example, untold thousands were brought to Christ during the 18th century through the ministries of these men who practiced infant baptism: John and Charles Wesley, George Whitefield, and Jonathan Edwards. Does that surprise you? Whatever your view on infant baptism, just try to appreciate how God chooses to work mightily through many of His children who don't share your view on that issue.

Infant baptism is not the only Christian practice which requires caution. One must also be careful with the system of theology known as "5-Point Calvinism." The proponents of this view are convinced the Bible supports all 5 points. Many believers beg to differ, at least on one or more of the points. If you are not familiar with the 5 points, it is an easy thing to research as you acquaint yourself with these ideas.

I have the love of Christ in my heart for 5-Point Calvinists....and I am inspired by their zeal for the Word and for genuine discipleship. I wish all Christians loved the Scriptures the way most 5-Point Calvinists do. I am simply expressing the concern many Christians have about certain aspects of their doctrine. Hopefully, some 5-Point Calvinists will be open to reconsidering "limited atonement" and "double predestination." I do not believe these particular doctrines are taught in Scripture....and therefore I do not believe these positions bring glory to the Lord.

Like millions of believers today, I find passages in Scripture that describe Jesus dying for His sheep. (see John 10:15) I find other passages which describe Jesus dying for everyone in the world. (see Hebrews 2:9) And I find still other passages stating Christ died for His sheep, AND for all people in the world. (see 1 John 2:2) But I do not find so much as one passage in God's inerrant Word which says Christ died ONLY for His sheep. This is why "limited atonement" is such a disturbing teaching....because it is not taught in the Bible....and because it claims that Jesus died only for the "elect" who will believe....but not for everyone else....and that everyone else is essentially "ineligible" for salvation from the moment they come into this world.

The doctrine of limited atonement robs Christ of some of His glory because it misrepresents what Christ accomplished on the cross. I understand that some faithful believers hold to the teaching of limited atonement (also known as "particular redemption")....and I am thankful that we will enjoy wonderful fellowship with one another in heaven. Here on earth, however, we would be remiss to pretend that the doctrine of limited atonement is not really all that significant, one way or the other. I believe it is vitally important, and that is has definite implications for evangelism....and prayer....and the purity of the Gospel itself.

I would like to offer 7 prayers which could be prayed by 5-Point Calvinists....and are in accord with their positions. I offer these prayers without an ounce of disrespect for these men of God and brothers in Christ who love the Lord. I do not question the sincerity and the commitment of those men who subscribe to these doctrines. (Aren't most 5-Pointers men?) I simply find myself being compelled, in love, to address these concerns.

If nothing else, perhaps some 5-Pointers will come to recognize that they don't necessarily have a lock on the doctrine of predestination....and that they have overstepped biblical revelation by insisting that God predestined multitudes of people to hell.

So what are these 7 prayers 5-Pointers could pray? they are....and if you are a 5-Pointer, please receive this in the spirit in which it is given....coming from a brother, who like you, loves the Lord and is passionate about true doctrine and reaching others for Christ.

1. "Lord, save my unbelieving uncle....if he is one of the elect."

2. "Lord, save my unbelieving neighbor....if she is one of the elect you died to save."

3. "Thank you Lord for dying on the cross for those people who belong to the elect."

4. "Help me Lord to be careful when I preach the Gospel that I do not give the impression that Christ died for everyone."

5. "Lord, lead my teenage daughter to have faith in You....if she is predestined to be one of your sheep."

6. "Thank you Lord for determining before a person is born whether You have predestined him to go to heaven....or predestined him to go to hell."

7. "Thank you Lord for making me your child and a 5-Point Calvinist, as compared to the other perspectives of my fellow believers."

It boils down to whether you believe the Bible teaches "single predestination," or "double predestination." One is biblical, and yet seems to be illogical. The other is unbiblical, and yet seems logical to some believers. The biblical doctrine of single predestination is not the only doctrine in the Bible which seems to defy logic. So also does the doctrine of the Trinity. Both doctrines are accepted by believers because the Holy Spirit gives us the discernment to believe them.

In the case of predestination, human logic teaches man that if God predestined believers to heaven….then likewise, He must have predestined the rest of humanity to hell. That is an abhorrent teaching, and it is found nowhere in Scripture. It is found only in the logic of man, including the logic of some Christians.

The doctrine of single predestination in the Bible has been placed there by the Holy Spirit to comfort God's children with the assurance of their salvation. It is addressed to believers....and not unbelievers. Not a word is said in Scripture to support the unholy doctrine of double predestination.

Everyone is commanded to repent. (see Acts 17:30) Anyone can come to Christ. "Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life." (Rev. 22:17) Salvation is available to all because "Christ died for sins once for all." (1 Peter 3:18) The Scriptures make it clear that Christ is "the Savior all men, and especially of those who believe." (1 Timothy 4:10) How much clearer could it be?

What if those believers who mistakenly use their logic to come up with double predestination were to also use their logic with the doctrine of the Trinity? Scripture clearly teaches that there is only One God. Human logic does not do well when trying to "fit" Three Persons into One God….and yet, that is what the Bible reveals to us….and it is what the Holy Spirit gives Christians the discernment to believe….even though it appears illogical to say there are Three Persons in One God.

If those who embrace all 5 points of modern Calvinism were to "back off" on their logical deduction of double predestination….and just go with what Scripture says about single predestination….there might be little disagreement among Christians on this issue. As it is, these conflicting views certainly do not keep either "camp" from being spiritually united with one another in the body of Christ. As St. John told us, "If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin." (1 John 1:7)

Dr. Ron Rhodes is a "4-Point Calvinist." He writes, "If Christ died only for the elect, how can the offer of salvation be made to all persons without some sort of insincerity, artificiality, or dishonesty being involved?" He is right on target. So if you have bought into 5-Point Calvinism, the message here is...."buyer beware."

In contrast to the "5-Point" prayers, here are 7 prayers which Christians who believe in single predestination and unlimited atonement could sincerely pray:

1. "Lord, save my unbelieving uncle....and I have absolute confidence from your Word that Jesus died for him and wants him in heaven."

2. "Lord, save my unbelieving neighbor....and thank you Jesus for dying on the cross for her sins."

3. "Thank you Lord for giving your life for the sins of everyone in the world, just as your Word says."

4. "Help me Lord to be careful when I preach the Gospel that I make it clear that Christ died "once for all." (1 Peter 3:18)

5. "Lord, bring my teenage daughter to faith in You....because I know you love her and want her in heaven."

6. "Thank you Lord for determining before a person is born that he or she, like all people, is eligible for salvation through repentance and faith in Christ."

7. "Thank you Lord for making me your child and for teaching me the truth about single predestination and unlimited atonement, and thank you for my fellow Christians who have different views than my own on this issue."

One day, we who are in God's family will all be together in heaven. Perhaps the Lord will sit us down and fully explain these issues to us....or perhaps He won't need to do so. "Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known." (1 Cor. 13:12)

In the meantime, we can thank the Lord for all that He is accomplishing in His kingdom through faithful Christians who hold different views from one another on baptism....and on predestination and limited atonement....and yet, are in complete agreement with one another that only the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin. Where we agree with one another in God's family is greater than where we disagree.

At the end of the day, all believers are related to one another through Christ's blood....and we have an eternal connection with each other because of the love of God. "In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace." (Ephesians 1:7) How cool is that!

And besides....I have never heard of a family where everyone agrees with one another on every issue....have you?

Dan Delzell is the pastor of Wellspring Lutheran Church in Papillion, Neb. He is a regular contributor to The Christian Post.


Christians ask for one church during Week of Prayer

Hundreds gather to seek unity among churches

By Lois K. Solomon, Sun Sentinel

5:20 a.m. EST, January 29, 2013

Can Christians shed their denominational loyalties to become one church? Hundreds of South Florida congregants who have high hopes for unity gathered in Palm Beach County churches last week to pray for a single Christian faith.

Catholics, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Baptists: All asked for guidance, respectful dialogue, cooperation and an emphasis on what the denominations have in common.

"The differences between us are not that great," said Kenneth Vianale, a parishioner at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church west of Boca Raton who is studying to become a deacon. "There has been foolishness on all sides, and we are ready for a thaw."

Each denomination believes in the Trinity and Jesus Christ as their savior, and reads the same 27 books of the New Testament, Vianale said. But differences persist on issues such as the primacy of the Pope and the sacraments.

Vianale, an attorney, reached out to a former colleague, the Rev. Russell Silverglate, a former attorney and pastor of Hammock Street Church, a Presbyterian congregation west of Boca Raton. Silverglate attended a Week of Prayer ceremony at Vianale's church and said he was thrilled to speak at a Catholic church for the first time.

"Our differences are more like a family squabble," Silverglate said. "We are all supposed to be one. We're not supposed to be divided."

Although a Great Schism in 1054 split the Latin-speaking church based in Rome from the Greek-speaking Eastern churches, the 16th-century Reformation initiated by Martin Luther spurred the separation of Catholics and Protestants. That split led to wars, family divisions, new churches and new Christian religions.

In 1965, the Second Vatican Council urged Catholics to embrace fellow baptized Christians without sacrificing their own beliefs. They were encouraged to pray together and learn from each other. The council's Decree on Ecumenism listed Christian unity as a primary goal.

Although many say the ecumenical enthusiasm of the 1960s and 1970s has waned, many Catholics still seek to find common ground with Christians and non-Christians. The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, begun in 1908 by the Graymoor Franciscan Friars, has become the focus of interfaith activities at many churches.

Still, the week is not the only outreach program in the Diocese of Palm Beach. Year-round activities include monthly meetings among pastors and rabbis, social justice events and holiday gatherings such as an interfaith Thanksgiving service.

"We are building relationships," said Dennis Demes, a deacon and chair of the Diocesan Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs. "Hearts are moved through these relationships. I just keep learning."

The Rev. Steven Thomas, of St. David's in the Pines Episcopal Church in Wellington, said the interfaith services he has attended for the past few years have taught him to be patient about the goal of unity.

Thomas said he was hopeful after the Second Vatican Council but thinks Christians have entered an "ecumenical autumn," with less enthusiasm and hope for a single church.

"It may not happen in our lifetime," Thomas said, "but you don't give up." or 561-243-6536


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Train up a child

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 22:6


Bob Menendez and Marco Rubio? Marco Rubio, Bob Menendez?

All of the sudden as 2013 kicks into gear two Cuban American Senators Bob Menendez and Marco Rubio have taken the spotlight. Why?

Last week, these same men headlined at Hillary R. Clinton's Benghazi Attack Hearings; This week they are front and center at the Immigration Reform Plan. Why?

It's a Jersey City-Miami thing? Is it a Northeast-South Florida phenomenon?

These two out of 100 are best suited for this job?

Why are they so prominent? So Prolific?

Somehow I feel a star is being created; someone  is being groomed, catapulted to the top.

Philadelphia Inquirer (blog) 

Marco Rubio, Bob Menendez Launch into Espanol at Press ...

Marco Rubio, Bob Menendez Launch into Espanol at Press Conference ... Menendez and Rubio apparently caught cable news networks and ...

Senators: Immigration reform to come by summer

... Jersey Senator Robert Menendez, one of the proposal's architects. Another co-sponsor, Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio, said ”This ...

Hillary Clinton Testifies on Benghazi, Robert Menendez and Marco ...

Two Latinos played prominent roles in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing Wednesday in which Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ...

What Menendez, Rubio said about Clinton's testimony on Benghazi ...

VOXXI-by Griselda Nevarez-Jan 23, 2013

Among them were senators Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). During her testimony, Clinton defended the actions she and ...


Last week:

Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Chairman John F. Kerry (D) Massachusetts

Ranking Member Bob Corker (R) Tennessee


Barbara Boxer (D) California

Robert Menendez (D) New Jersey

Benjamin L. Cardin (D) Maryland

Robert P. Casey Jr (D) Pennsylvania

Jeanne Shaheen (D) New Hampshire

Christopher Coons (D) Delaware

Tom Udall (D) New Mexico

Chris Murphy (D) Connecticut

Tim Kaine (D) Virginia


James E. Risch (R) Idaho

Marco Rubio (R) Florida

Ron Johnson (R) Wisconsin

Jeff Flake (R) Arizona

John McCain (R) Arizona

John Barrasso (R) Wyoming

Rand Paul (R) Kentucky

This week:

The Immigration Overhaul Group:
The plan was backed by Republicans McCain, Marco Rubio of Florida, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Jeff Flake of Arizona; and Democrats Schumer, Richard Durbin of Illinois, Robert Menendez of New Jersey, and Michael Bennet of Colorado.


BTW, the same Senate Foreign Relations Committee of which John F. Kerry is the Chairman, will vote today for his confirmation as U. S. Secretary of State. A sure [Neighborly] thing...


Senate Foreign Relations Committee to vote on Kerry nomination Tuesday ‎- 1 hour ago
WASHINGTON -- The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is scheduled to vote Tuesday on President Barack Obama's nomination of Sen.


Antonin Scalia: The Constitution is 'dead'

'The judge who always likes the results he reaches is a bad judge,' Scalia said. | AP Photo

By KATIE GLUECK | 1/29/13 8:26 AM EST

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia says the Constitution is “dead, dead, dead,” rather than a “living document.”

“It’s not a living document,” Scalia said on Monday while speaking at Dallas-based Southern Methodist University, according to a report from the Dallas Morning News. “It’s dead, dead, dead.” 

He appeared with SMU law professor Bryan A. Garner, with whom Scalia has written books, as they also addressed keeping personal views out of legal interpretation.

“The judge who always likes the results he reaches is a bad judge,” Scalia said.

Scalia, a Reagan appointee, noted that he has not “expressed my views” on gay marriage and gun control, the report said.


Monday, January 28, 2013

Constitution of the United States

Current United States Roman Catholic Supreme Court 
(Front row left, Clarence ThomasAntonin ScaliaJohn G. RobertsAnthony M. Kennedy; Standing, Sonia Sotomayor; Second from left, Samuel A. Alito.)  
The other three Justices are Jewish.


Many people wonder whether Ellen G. White was a prophet, and if Adventists have a proper interpretation of Prophecy?   

And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the Lord hath not spoken?
When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.
Deuteronomy 18:20, 21
How many other Christian denominations have or have had a prophet that foretold the erosion of our Constitutional rights and the imposition of tyrannical laws? 
Which other prophet foresaw our nation's Constitution (and mentioned it specifically) repudiated?  

Well, with this in mind let's look at what Ellen G. White foresaw about the United States Constitution.  


Quotations from the writings of Ellen G. White with the phrase . . .

Constitution of the United States

By the decree enforcing the institution of the papacy in violation of the law of God, our nation will disconnect herself fully from righteousness. When Protestantism shall stretch her hand across the gulf to grasp the hand of the Roman power, when she shall reach over the abyss to clasp hands with spiritualism, when, under the influence of this threefold union, our country shall repudiate every principle of its Constitution as a Protestant and republican government, and shall make provision for the propagation of papal falsehoods and delusions, then we may know that the time has come for the marvelous working of Satan and that the end is near. {5T 451.1}

By the decree enforcing the institution of the papacy in violation of the law of God, our nation will disconnect herself fully from righteousness. When Protestantism shall stretch her hand across the gulf to grasp the hand of the Roman power, when she shall reach over the abyss to clasp hands with spiritualism, when, under the influence of this threefold union, our country shall repudiate every principle of its Constitution as a Protestant and republican government, and shall make provision for the propagation of papal falsehoods and delusions, then we may know that the time has come for the marvelous working of Satan and that the end is near. {Mar 216.2}

By the decree of enforcing the institution of the Papacy in violation of the law of God, our nation will disconnect herself fully from righteousness. When Protestantism shall stretch her hand across the gulf to grasp the hand of the Roman power, when she shall reach over the abyss to clasp hands with Spiritualism, when, under the influence of this threefold union, our country shall repudiate every principle of its Constitution as a Protestant and Republican government, and shall make provision for the propagation of papal falsehoods and delusions, then we may know that the time has come for the marvelous working of Satan, and that the end is near.-- Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 451. {ChS 160.4}

When Protestantism shall stretch her hand across the gulf to grasp the hand of the Roman power, when she shall reach over the abyss to clasp hands with spiritualism, when, under the influence of this threefold union, our country shall repudiate every principle of its Constitution as a Protestant and republican government and shall make provision for the propagation of papal falsehoods and delusions, then we may know that the time has come for the marvelous working of Satan and that the end is near.-- 5T 451 (1885). {LDE 131.4}

By the decree enforcing the institution of the papacy in violation of the law of God, our nation [the United States] will disconnect herself fully from righteousness. When Protestantism shall stretch her hand across the gulf to grasp the hand of the Roman power, when she shall reach over the abyss to clasp hands with spiritualism, when, under the influence of this threefold union, our country shall repudiate every principle of its Constitution as a Protestant and republican government, and shall make provision for the propagation of papal falsehoods and delusions, then we may know that the time has come for the marvelous working of Satan and that the end is near. {Mar 190.1}

A time is coming when the law of God is, in a special sense, to be made void in our land. The rulers of our nation will, by legislative enactments, enforce the Sunday law, and thus God's people be brought into great peril. When our nation, in its legislative councils, shall enact laws to bind the consciences of men in regard to their religious privileges, enforcing Sunday observance, and bringing oppressive power to bear against those who keep the seventh-day Sabbath, the law of God will, to all intents and purposes, be made void in our land; and national apostasy will be followed by national ruin. We see that those who are now keeping the commandments of God need to bestir themselves, that they may obtain the special help which God alone can give them. They should work more earnestly to delay as long as possible the threatened calamity. If, in our land of boasted freedom, a Protestant government should sacrifice every principle which enters into its Constitution, and propagate papal falsehood and delusion, well may we plead, "It is time for thee, Lord, to work, for they have made void thy law." Some may think that because it has been revealed in prophecy that our nation shall restrict the consciences of men, it must surely come; and that if we make an effort to preserve our liberty, we shall be acting the part of unfaithful servants, and thus come under the condemnation of God. {RH, December 18, 1888 par. 6}

The Constitution of the United States guarantees

"The Constitution of the United States guarantees liberty of conscience. Nothing is dearer or more fundamental. Pope Pius IX, in his Encyclical Letter of August 15, 1854, said: `The absurd and erroneous doctrines or ravings in defense of liberty of conscience are a most pestilential error--a pest, of all others, most to be dreaded in a state.' The same pope, in his Encyclical Letter of December 8, 1864, anathematized `those who assert the liberty of conscience and of religious worship,' also 'all such as maintain that the church may not employ force.' Great Controversy, page 564.5

This BEAST not only compels the earth and its inhabitants to worship the first beast, as above noticed, but it causes them that dwell upon the earth to make an image to the first beast. The can be done only by a UNION OF CHURCH AND STATE, or by so subordinating the CIVIL to the ECCLESIASTICAL POWER that the state will be compelled to enforce the tenets and requirements of the CHURCH. A RELIGIOUS AMENDMENT to the CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES would speedily insure that result. {4SP 503.3}

We have now an exhibition in our land of how serious a matter it is to lightly esteem, or rise up against, and prove disloyal to, the government or constitution of our land. And then consider how high a crime it must be to trample upon and despise the laws of God's government, and bow to, and reverence, an institution of [the] Papacy, framed by the Man of Sin, who exalted himself above God, and who is the great enemy of God. Is not this the highest and most heaven-daring rebellion? Does it not deserve the highest punishment? Will God take to heaven, and into his own glorious presence, those who are living in open violation of one of the plainest precepts of the decalogue? No, no. It can never be that he will take those who are living in rebellion to his holy law to heaven, among pure angels who delight to do his will, and obey the laws of his righteous government, for there would be a second rebellion in heaven. The indignation of heaven is aroused at man's open and daring rebellion against God's holy law. {RH, September 16, 1862 par. 3}