Tuesday, November 28, 2006

YMCA Returns To Christianity


By Jenny Jarvie

Every day, 2,500 people pour into the Grenn Hills Family YMCA to lift weights, shoot hoops and swim. Scott Rrall believes many are searching for salvation.

On a recent evening, as disco music blared out of an aerobics room down the hall, Reall led a small group in prayer. Heads bowed, hands clasped, about a dozen men and woman sang "Amazing Grace." They had come to the YMCA-some in pearls, some in tank tops-to share their stuggles with depression, and their hope that Christ would pull them through.

"People come to the YMCA hurting," said Reall, who gave up his work as a fitness trainer to run a Christian ministry at Green Hills Y. "alcoholism, bulimia, divorce, grief, pornography addiction, loneliness, drug abuse...They're looking for so much more than exercise."

Reall is at the vanguard of a small but growing movement to bring Christ back into the Young Men's Christian Assn. About 13% of the more than 2,600 YMCA branches across the country have set up special committees to promote Christianity. Hundreds of Y leaders convene each year to swap ideas on how to "lift up the C in the YMCA."


About once a week I make deliveries to a local YMCA. As soon as you walk in the door, you will see posters and literature on the walls and counter tops offering help and encouragement to anyone in need. As you continue to walk through the complex, you get the feeling that the people who work or workout here are just normal people looking to better their lives. You don't see the massive egos associated with your "high dollar" fitness clubs. These are people of all ages looking for a simple place to exercise or workout and just be healthy... like my Dad occasionally does.

I absolutely love seeing Christian based organizations like the Salvation Army and the YMCA return to their Christian roots. I hope that more historic organizations like the Y will make the same types of changes that will impact society for Christ like they were initially created to do so long ago.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Study Claims Conservatives More Generous

Authur C. Brooks professor at Syracuse University, has written a book , titled "Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism", due for release on Nov. 24.

"In the book, he cites extensive data analysis to demonstrate that values advocated by conservatives--from church attendance and two-parent families to the Protestant work ethic and a distaste for government-funded social services--make conservatives more generous than liberals."

"The book's basic findings are that conservatives who practice religion, live in traditional nuclear families and reject the notion that the government should engage in income redistribution are the most generous Americans, by any measure." --Frank Brieddy

I was raised in a middle class, traditional, religious conservative family myself. I grew up watching my parents giving not only their money, but also their time and efforts to charitable activities. I guess that's mainly why I'm a conservative thinker today. I've witness the benefits of serving others, the satisfaction that comes from giving. So when President Bush talks about "compassionate conservatism", I get it!

Sadly, society today is drifting further and further away from the traditional family unit in which I believe is the foundation of this great country.

Interesting article. I guess I'll have to get the book.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Rick Warren Visits Syria

From Syria Arab News Agency:

Headline: American Priest Says no peace without Syria

American Protestant Pastor Rick Warren on Monday said there was no peace in the region without Syria, noting that 80% of the people rejected what the US Administration is doing in Iraq and considered the US policy in the Mideast as wrong.

Syria's Grand Mufti Sheikh Badr al-Din Hassoun received the American Pastor in Damascus in which he referred to the importance of spreading culture of amity, peace and justice to the American people which the US administration has distorted their image before the world.

Pastor Warren expressed admiration of Syria and the coexistence he saw between Muslims and Christians, stressing that he will convey this image to his church and country.

For those who don't know, Rick Warren is the author of the best selling book The Purpose Driven Life. He is Pastor of the mega-church Saddleback in California. Some have called him the next Billy Graham because of his growing international popularity.

Needless to say, Pastor Rick has infuriated many Christians in the States with his visit to Syria. I don't believe anybody expects Syria to do nothing less than roll out the red carpet for a man such as Warren. I understand "why" Warren made the visit but I sincerely hope that Pastor Warren is smart enough to see through all the "pomp and circumstance" that came with his arrival. I also hope that Warren made it clear that Peace with Syria means Syria must stop supplying and supporting terrorist activities in the region.

If 80% of Americans don't like how the war in Iraq is going, it is because the war is being complicated by the constant insurgency coming from Syria as well as Iran.

I don't have a problem with religious leaders meeting with world leaders, like Billy Graham does. But I do have a problem when these visits are being portrayed or used as "anti-American" propaganda.

Portion of Pastor Warren's letter to Saddleback

"In hindsight, I wish we'd been better prepared for our visit to Syria. We would have handled some meetings differently, watching our words more closely, and been more aware of the agenda of their state press..."

"...As we left, the official state-controlled Syrian news agency issued some press releases that sounded like I was a politician negotiating the Iraq war by praising the Syrian President and everything else in Syria! Of course, that's rediculous, but it created a stir among bloggers who tend to editorialize before verifying the truth. Does it seem ironic to you that people who distrust Syria are now believing Syriain press releases?"

Monday, November 06, 2006

Go Vote!

It is our duty as American citizens to vote. Please take the time today to do it.

I'm a conservative registered Republican which means that I usually vote down the party line, unless of course, a Democrat or Independent running thinks like a conservative...which is rare.

The Republicans have an agenda that I believe both strengthens our national security and economy. The Democrats plan is to raise our taxes and immediately start withdrawing our troops from Iraq, which I know is a sore spot with both Democrats and Republicans...I see the poll numbers. As much as I hate to see our troops in the Middle East, I believe that we should stay in Iraq until the newly elected government has time to establish their own economic structure and national security. Timing is everything.

Also, some very important federal court seats will need to be filled. I want judges that rule by OUR Constitution, not Europe's.

For me, these reasons are enough to take a few minutes Tuesday to drive my lazy butt to the polling place and vote. Don't stay home and be apathetic. You owe it to those who died for your country's freedom to vote!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Pastor Haggard resigns

By now I'm sure everyone has learned of the Rev Ted Haggard fiasco. Haggard has been accused of having sexual relations and buying meth from a male escort. Today, Haggard has formally resigned his position from the 15,000 member church New Life Church in Colorado Springs, CO.

I have somewhat of a connection to Haggard so this horrible news really makes me sad. Ted Haggard, in the early 80's used to be a youth pastor at one of the local churches just outside of Baton Rouge. He was a very dynamic pastor with a real vision and heart for young people. In just a few short years, he reached hundreds of kids for Christ including my sister. And if my memory serves me correctly, he left BR to build the church he has just resigned from in Colorado Springs.

Needless to say, all of us who knew Pastor Ted are in shock and heart broken. Christians should never take pleasure in seeing the fall of a Christian leader. We should be praying and believing for his total and complete restoration. Not simply throwing him out with the trash. I know that there are conflicting testimonies about what actually went on between Ted and the escort, but the damage has been done and he will need the church now more than ever.

I have seen many evangelist, pastors, and priest fall throughout my 20 years of being a Christian. Not one time did I ever questioned my faith or belief in Christ or His church. I know that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and that I am saved only by grace. People continue to attend or support the church because the church was and is established by God, not man!

I mentioned in a previous post about the importance of living a 'blameless' life as a leader. I can't think of a better example of the consequences.