Monday, June 30, 2014

This is very sad news and deplorable. These three teenage boys were hitchhiking and called the police with a distress call that they had been kidnapped. They had not been heard from for several weeks and have just now been found in a shallow grave north of Hebron in the Palestinian West Bank.

This is quite amazing for us since we were filming the life of Abraham in the area where they found the bodies today. We were looking for the authentic site of the Oaks of Mamre which is mentioned in Genesis 18. Two weeks ago we were in this part of the Palestinian West Bank filming those scenes for our movie.

This makes the peace process in Israel very difficult. Since the kidnappings are the result of Hamas who has just partnered with the Palestinian Authority, it will make any further discussions of peace nearly impossible in the coming months or even years.

One thing people are not mentioning is that these boys were part of families who are settlers. That means that they are Jews infiltrating and setting up settlements inside the Palestinian West Bank which is a very provocative endeavor. Settlers live in risk by the very nature of their lifestyles of trying to appropriate Palestinian lands.

However, this is no excuse for murdering three young teenagers and burying them in unmarked graves. Israel has every right to defend themselves.

I do want to make one very important comment for those who are considering a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. The areas where these kidnappings took place are NOT in the itinerary where we take our groups. The holy sites in Israel that we visit are completely unaffected by this situation which is far removed from areas where we visit on pilgrimages.

{ 1 comment }

Hobby Lobby Wins; Religious Freedom Wins!

by Steve Ray on June 30, 2014

Hobby Lobby just got a victory from the Supreme Court. This is a HUGE legal decision which punches Obamacare right in the face. It is a ruling which defends religious liberty. Any business that objects to abortion and birth-control no longer has to pay it in their health insurance.

U.S. Supreme Court Rules in Favour of Hobby Lobby

In 5-4 Decision, Court Says Family Businesses May Claim Religious Exemption from Mandate on Contraception Coverage

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 30, 2014 (Zenit.org) – Religious groups in the United States are celebrating a U.S. Supreme Court decision today which has ruled that closely held companies can claim a religious exemption from the requirement that they offer contraception coverage in their worker health plans.

The justices voted 5-4 in favour of family-run businesses, including the craft-store chain Hobby Lobby Stores Inc., saying that on religious grounds they do not have to mandate the free provision of contraception to their employees, according to Bloomberg News.

The court majority concluded that the Obama administration failed to prove that the so-called HHS mandate is the least restrictive means of advancing its interest in guaranteeing the provision of free access to contraception in health insurance plans.

It also said the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act requires that closely held companies receive the same accommodation the administration has already granted to nonprofit organizations that object to the mandate on religious grounds.

The ruling is a significant advance in the expansion of corporate rights, showing that for-profit companies as well as individuals can claim religious freedoms under federal law.

Safeguarding the religious rights of corporations “protects the religious liberty of the humans who own and control those companies,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the court.

Bloomberg News said the case divided the court along ideological lines. Alito’s majority opinion was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Anthony Kennedy. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan dissented.

The case centered on the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which says the U.S. government may “substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion” only when it meets a demanding test.

The Obama administration argued that the law doesn’t cover corporations and that the government’s interests outweighed any religious rights the corporations possess.

Responding to today’s decision, Human Life International President Father Shenan J. Boquet said the full implications of this decision are not yet known, but this appears to be “at least some good news in the fight for religious freedom.”

“What many found deeply disturbing about this case was not only the assault on religious freedom, but the manipulation of scientific facts in order to support a radical political agenda promoting abortion,” he said in a statement.

“There’s scientific consensus that when sperm meets egg and fertilization occurs, a new human life begins. Yet we see our own government and pro-abortion lobbyist groups like American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) play games with the words ‘fertilization,’ ‘conception,’ ‘pregnancy,’ and even ‘abortion’ to make it seem as though the drugs and devices in question in the Hobby Lobby case don’t kill innocent human life-when it’s scientific fact that they can, and do destroy new life in the womb.”

Fr. Boquet said not only does the “HHS contraception/sterilization/abortifacient mandate seek to undermine our God-given freedom to practice our faith, the mandate furthers U.S. government support for the greatest human rights abuse in history, using taxpayer dollars to kill preborn human life.

“There’s no doubt that legal action will continue on this mandate, and the many other troubling provisions of Obamacare,” Fr. Boquet said. “The American people must make clear to our elected representatives that we will not allow our religious liberty to be violated by our own government, especially in pursuit of an immoral agenda that furthers the erosion of human rights, and ends human lives.”

{ 1 comment }

Leonard Alt debates an anti-Catholic named Phil. He writes:

I have a choice: I can listen to the Evangelicals who confuse the blood of animals, with the blood of Christ and choose not to eat the Flesh and drink the Blood of Christ, or, I can listen to Jesus who said; “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day” (Jn 6:54). Who will you listen too? 

Phil Wipperman in the Facebook group “The Catholic Church is NOT a Christian Church” says, “Leonard Alt claims that Jesus Christ endorsed sin by COMMANDING people to drink blood even though he has given CLEAR COMMANDMENTS in the Old Testament FORBIDDING the wicked behavior of the heathens. Why is this not shocking?” 

Phil Wipperman cites the Old Testament, out of context, not mentioning that the blood they didn’t drink was the blood of animals.  However, the drinking of blood of animals is a moot point because no one is recommending drinking the blood of animals in the New Testament.

Jesus commands us in the New Testament to drink of His blood and there is no prohibition against this.  In fact, it was Jesus who said, “For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink” (Jn 6:55).  At the same time Phil Wipperman says; “Why is this not shocking?”  

Phil is actually correct; it was shocking.  In fact, Jesus asked the same of those who were having difficulty believing Him; “Does this shock you?” (Jn 6:51).   It was shocking because this is the only place in all of the Gospels where many of Jesus very own disciples “returned to their former way of life” (Jn 6:66).   Of course, as shocking as it was, His twelve Apostles did not leave Him.  Peter said, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (Jn 6:68). 

When Jesus said “For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink” (Jn 6:55), it was very difficult for some of His disciples to believe; and it is difficult for some of us to believe today.  

When Phil and other Evangelicals oppose drinking blood, they are confusing the prohibition against drinking the blood of animals in the Deuteronomy 12:27, with drinking the blood of Christ, which was commanded by Jesus.  It was Jesus who said, “I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you” (Jn 6:53).

Many claim that the drinking of the Blood of Christ is not Biblical, even Pagan; however, that is not the way Jesus saw it.  

  • IT WAS JESUS WHO SAID,Drink from it all of you, for this is my Blood, of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins” (Mt 26:28)
  • IT WAS JESUS WHO SAID, after drinking from it, “this is my blood, of the covenant, which will be shed for many (Mk 14:24).
  • IT WAS JESUS WHO SAID, “I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you” (Jn 6:53). 
  • IT WAS JESUS WHO SAID,“Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day” (Jn 6:54).
  • IT WAS JESUS WHO SAID, “For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink” (Jn 6:55). 

The Catholic Church follows Biblical tradition by echoing the words of Jesus “For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.”  However, this begs the question; is it possible for Phil and other Evangelicals to be following a Biblical tradition and at the same time not accept these words of Jesus?   Yes, they have a Biblical tradition as well; they are following the tradition of the disciples who could not accept the words of Jesus. 

These disciples were quoted as saying; “This saying is hard; who can accept it” (Jn 6:60).   These same disciples left Jesus and “returned to their former way of life” (Jn 6:66).   There is one difference between the disciples who left Jesus and todays Evangelicals.  The Evangelicals of today still claim to be followers of Jesus; however, they are not following Jesus when He says, “For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink” (Jn 6:55).  

In fairness, it should be also said that there are many non-Catholics today, who while not having exactly the same understanding of Communion as Catholics, still believe in a real presence of Jesus in or around the elements of bread and wine during their liturgies.   Martin Luther and John Calvin believed in a real presence; Ulrich Zwingli did not.  Most Evangelicals today are coming from the Zwinglian tradition.  

I can listen to the Evangelicals who confuse the blood of animals, with the blood of Christ and choose not to eat the Flesh and drink the Blood of Christ.  Or, I can listen to Jesus who said; “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day” (Jn 6:54).   Who will you listen too?

FRANCIS CHOUDHURY COMMENTARY:  Any Christian who believes that God’s OT prohibition on eating blood still stands (after Christ), needs to explain why he/she eats normal meat (with blood in it), instead of eating only Kosher/Halal meat (drained of blood), as Jews and Muslims, who are stuck in the OT and do not accept Christ’s teachings, do.

{ 3 comments }