February 1 - February 7 2010 
 News In Review
 Vol 5, Issue 2
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Dear Ron,

The News In Review newsletter is a service provided by Understand The Times that is a compilation of the news articles previously posted on our site . Understand The Times does not endorse these events but rather is showing the church the current events.  Our purpose of posting these articles is to warn the church of the Biblical deception.

 January 19 - Bethel's 'signs and wonders' include angel feathers, gold dust and diamonds
 Article:Signs And Wonders

Bethel Church has seen extensive growth over the past decade as the focus of the church has shifted to training people in prophecy, healing and other "supernatural gifts of God" taught under the leadership of Pastor Bill Johnson.

Ask Johnson about the affiliations, goals and purpose of Bethel Church, and he'll say the church has lots of "friends" who share in the pursuit of affecting the Earth with heaven, especially Pentecostals and those in the Association of Vineyard Churches.

Those who examine the practices of Bethel identify it as being part of a larger movement known as the Word of Faith movement. Connected to prominent revivalists and prophets including Todd Bentley, Patricia King, Bob Jones, and the leadership of the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship, the Word of Faith doctrine teaches that faith is a force through which anything can be done, said John Wolf, founder of the Church Education Resource Ministries.

McCurdy said he attended a Friday night service at the church, during which he saw people painting on stage, dancing and flailing around on the ground. He found their worship music unconventional when one line of the same song was played for at least 11 minutes, he said.

McCurdy said the repetitive music, dancing, painting and excessive stimuli serve to get people worked up into an emotional frenzy where they're expecting to see miraculous things. "They come looking for that feel-good feeling, that high, for supposed miracles, supposed signs and wonders, speaking in tongues, gold dust, diamonds, feathers. ... It seems like they're just ready for it," he said. "I see Bethel and those in this movement as idolaters," he said. "They worship the 'gifts' or the signs and wonders, rather than the creator, or the savior."

When "angel feathers" first started to fall at Bethel Church, Bill Johnson thought birds had nested in the air conditioning ducts, he said. "Then it happened in a restaurant and all different places - on an airplane," he said. "I don't know, I don't teach it, it just happens." Johnson said he bases his belief that the feathers are a sign from God on a Bible verse that says, "there is healing in his wings," and he doesn't try to explain it.

Bud Press, director of the Christian Research Service based in North Carolina, devotes his time to researching claims made by Christians for the purpose of debunking or confirming the claims. Bethel is part of the Signs and Wonders movement, within the Word of Faith movement, he said. Aside from claims of angel feathers, people in the movement say diamonds and gold dust show up at church and in their homes, he said.

Read More .... 

 February 2 - 'No peace with Syria could mean war'
 Article: Wars And Rumors Of Wars

In the absence of a peace deal with Syria, Israel could find itself at war with its neighbor to the north, Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned on Monday. Speaking at an annual gathering of top IDF officers, Barak said that it was crucial to open negotiations as soon as possible and to do so while the other side  Syria  perceived Israel as being strong.

The coming year, Barak said, would be one of many challenges but also of opportunities for peace with Syria and the Palestinians.
In the absence of a deal with Syria we could reach an armed conflict that could develop into a full-fledged war, he said. As is in the Middle East, immediately after the war we will sit down and negotiate exactly what we have been talking about for the past 15 years.

Regarding Iran, Barak said that the Islamic Republic was the greatest threat to world order and that while the United States was planning a new round of tough sanctions it was doubtful that they would have the desired effect.

We cant foresee the effectiveness of the sanctions and the chance of the Americans recruiting the Chinese is also not great in light of the developments in US-Chinese relations in recent days, he said. As I have said in the past, all options are on the table, and I mean it.

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 February 1 - Neo-Pagans Get Worship Circle at Air Force Academy
 Article: New Age

Witches, Druids and pagans rejoice! The Air Force Academy in Colorado is about to recognize its first Wiccan prayer circle, a Stonehenge on the Rockies that will serve as an outdoor place of worship for the academy's neo-pagans.

Wiccan cadets and officers on the Colorado Springs base have been convening for over a decade, but the school will officially dedicate a newly built circle of stones on about March 10, putting the outdoor sanctuary on an equal footing with the Protestant, Catholic, Jewish and Buddhist chapels on the base.

"When I first arrived here, Earth-centered cadets didn't have anywhere to call home," said Sgt. Robert Longcrier, the lay leader of the neo-pagan groups on base. "Now, they meet every Monday night, they get to go on retreats, and they have a stone circle."

"That's one of the newer groups," said John Van Winkle, a spokesman for the academy. "They've had a worship circle on base for some time and we're looking to get them an official one."

The Air Force recognizes several distinct forms of neo-paganism, including Dianic Wicca, Seax Wicca, Gardnerian Wicca, shamanism and Druidism, according to Pagan groups that track the information.

Since a 2004 survey of cadets on the base revealed dozens of instances of harassment and intolerance, superintendent Michael Gould has made religious tolerance a priority.

Read More .... 

 February 3 - Many Ways to God; Path of Beauty Is One of Them
 Artilce: Ecumenical Movement - Misc.

According to the president of the Russia Ecumenical Center, there are many ways that lead to God, but the path of beauty is a special one. The center aims to illustrate that "path of beauty" in an eight-conference series on the "Epiphany of Beauty."

The series is being held in Rome every Thursday of this month and next, starting this week. "It is exactly 33 years that the Russia Ecumenical Center has been spreading in so many ways knowledge of the riches and beauty of the Christian East," the director, Father Sergio Mercanzin, explained. "This year it is doing so with a series of eight meetings.
"Five authoritative scholars and three of the best masters of iconography present in Italy will speak about the liturgy, symbols, hymns and icons."

Topics will include Holy Week in the East,
the Shroud of Turin and its relationship to icons, gilding in iconography, the symbols and colors of icons, and others.
"The ways that lead to God are infinite; a special one is the 'via pulchritudinis,'" Father Mercanzin said. "It is this one that the Russia Ecumenical Center proposes in these eight meetings."

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 February 2 - In Westchester, preaching to the canine-ites
 Article: Miscellaneous

At Covenant Presbyterian Church in Westchester, dogs like Mr. Booby are welcome congregants at the Sunday night services, where howling and sudden bouts of scratching may interrupt prayers, and the collection plate holds treats for poodles and golden retrievers alike. And the Rev. Tom Eggebeen said he fully understands if some of the congregants need to step outside now and again.

The idea behind the service, Eggebeen said, was to make it more comfortable for people to attend the church, which has 120 members, discounting up to a dozen dogs that generally attend services. Cats and other animals are not permitted, perhaps out of a belief that of God's many creatures, dogs probably need more ministering.

"The heart of the whole thing has been to provide a worship service for the entire family, including the four-footed friends. . . . Their pets are very, very important to them and virtually comprise a member of family," he said. "I wouldn't be in the pulpit on Sunday mornings and say, 'Leave your children home.' "

More than a gimmick or an effort to build attendance, the dog services are part of a growing movement by churches to recognize the emotional bond between humans and their pets.

Animal blessings, memorial services and grief counseling for the loss of a pet are increasingly common in many denominations.

A writer on a religious website blasted Eggebeen, saying people like him "promulgate a false Gospel."

"The first step into church membership or the reason for attending a church service should be conviction and not comfort," he wrote. "If you suddenly feel called to hear the Word of God because Fido can come along, then reconsider the purpose of your trip."

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 February 4 - First Openly Gay Episcopal Bishop Says St. Paul Was Condemning Homosexual Acts by Heterosexuals
 Article: Perilous Times

In a section of his New Testament letter to the Romans (1:22-27) dealing with Gods admonitions against same-sex relations, St. Paul was actually writing about heterosexuals who engage in same-sex acts and not homosexuals, said  the Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal church.

So my question is, was St. Paul right inabout engaging in homosexual acts as being against nature? Bishop Robinson answered: The question you ask takes about two days to answer, but Ill try to give you the Cliffs Notes version which is: One of the things we have to understand is that any piece of scripture needs to be understood in its own context.  We have to understand that the notion of a homosexual sexual orientation is a notion thats only about 125 years old.

That is to say, St. Paul was talking about people that he understood to be heterosexual engaging in same-sex acts," said Bishop Robinson. "It never occurred to anyone in ancient times that a certain minority of us would be born being affectionally oriented to people of the same sex.  So it did seem like against their nature to be doing so. 
Robinson added, The question is, are there any answers there for what were asking today, which is the rightfulness of faithful, monogamous, lifelong-intentioned relationships between people of the same sex, and the Bible simply does not address that.
CNSNews.com asked the follow-up question, So you would say then that St. Paul is incorrect in this passage? Bishop Robinson said, No. I think St. Paul was absolutely correct in his own context given what he knew, and given the behavior which he was describing.  The questions were asking today are about a completely different set of circumstances.

.Read More .... 

 February 4 - EU Leader: Politicians Need Pope's Lent Message
 Article: One World Government

A former president of the European Parliament says politics needs Benedict XVI's message for Lent 2010.

The message, dated Oct. 30, was released today. It is on the theme of justice. Pöttering was president of the European Parliament from 2007 till last July. "If we want to preserve freedom and if we want to increase justice, then we have to place the value of fraternity or solidarity at the center of our political thinking," Pöttering said in presenting the message.

The former Parliament leader suggested that Europe has achieved a "unique political wonder in the spirit of solidarity, that hardly anybody would have considered possible at the end of the Second World War."

"We have proven ourselves with the principle of solidarity evident between the states and the peoples of the old and the new European Union," he contended. "Lately, the joint measures taken to combat the financial crisis have shown that a common way of thinking and a joint policy are possible in the European Union."

"The determination with which Europe and the world have reacted to the financial crisis shows that international cooperation can overcome huge challenges. A similar firmness is equally necessary in the fight against worldwide poverty," he reflected.

"It is exactly here that politics has to adopt the Lenten Message of the Holy Father," Pöttering declared. "We need again a European spirit of solidarity. And, more than ever, we need a European spirit of solidarity with all peoples and cultures of this one world. Those are the two most important social-ethical tasks that the European Union faces."

The former Parliament leader went on suggest that Europe needs to bring about a "spiritual renewal."

Read More .... 

 February 6 - Pink Ouija Board Targeting Young Girls Riles Critics
 Artcile: Rising Interest In The Supernatural

A pink version of the popular Ouija board game has some critics seeing red. The children's sleepover staple  sold by Hasbro since 1967  now comes in hot pink, an edition released two years ago that gets tweens to call on "spirits" to spell out answers to life's pressing questions.

It's designed for young girls ages 8 and older, but some say the mysterious product is a "dangerous spiritual game" that opens up anyone, particularly Christians, to attacks on their soul.

"There's a spiritual reality to it and Hasbro is treating it as if it's just a game," said Stephen Phelan, communications director for Human Life International, which bills itself as the largest international pro-life organization and missionary worldwide. "It's not Monopoly. It really is a dangerous spiritual game and for [Hasbro] to treat it as just another game is quite dishonest."

Phelan, who has never played the game, said the Bible explicitly states "not to mess with spirits" and that using a Ouija board will leave a person's soul vulnerable to attack.

Phelan also noted that the pink version of the game is explicitly marketed to young girls who may want to partake in "something dangerous" during a late-night sleepover.

"Just unbelievable," one posting read. "Hasbro  you should be seriously ashamed  you have lost your way. Ouija boards are NOT 'games' and they certainly should not be marketing these to children."

Toy expert and consultant Chris Byrne said he found "absolutely nothing" wrong with any version of the game. "And if something doesn't fit your value or belief system, you don't have to buy it," Byrne said. "There's absolutely nothing remotely Christian or un-Christian about it. I think people are projecting their belief system on it."

Read More .... 

 February 7 - Ahmadinejad Orders Higher Enrichment of Uranium
 Article: Wars And Rumors Of Wars

TEHRAN, Iran   Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ordered his country's atomic agency on Sunday to begin the production of higher enriched uranium, in a move that's likely to deepen international skepticism about the country's real intentions on the crucial issue of enriched uranium.

In comments broadcast on state television, Ahmadinejad said: "God willing, 20 percent enrichment will start" to meet Iran's needs. He did not give a date for the start of the enrichment process.

Producing enriched uranium is the international community's core concern over Iran's disputed nuclear program since it can be used to make nuclear weapons. Iran says its program is for peaceful purposes.

He, however, said that Iran has acquired laser technology for enrichment of uranium, but added, "For now, we do not intend to use it." He did not say why.

Iran is currently enriching uranium up to 4.5 percent for its under-construction nuclear power plant, using centrifuge machines. Its first nuclear power plant, built with Russia's help, will be operational later this year.

International concerns include Iran's refusal to heed U.N. Security Council demands that it freeze its enrichment program; fears that it may be hiding more nuclear facilities after its belated revelations that it was building a secret fortified enrichment plant, and its stonewalling of an IAEA probe of alleged programs geared to developing nuclear arms.

read More .... 

 February 2 - CIA chief: Al-Qaida likely to attempt U.S. attack in the next three to six months
 Article: Wars And Rumors Of Wars

Al-Qaida can be expected to attempt an attack on the United States in the next three to six months, senior U.S. intelligence officials told Congress Tuesday.

The terrorist organization is deploying operatives to the United States to carry out new attacks from inside the country, including "clean" recruits with a negligible trail of terrorist contacts, CIA Director Leon Panetta said. The chilling warning comes as Christmas Day airline attack suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutullab is cooperating with federal investigators, a federal law enforcement official said Tuesday.

Al-Qaida is also inspiring homegrown extremists to trigger violence on their own, Panetta said.

"The biggest threat is not so much that we face an attack like 9/11. It is that al-Qaida is adapting its methods in ways that oftentimes make it difficult to detect," Panetta told the Senate Intelligence Committee.

As al-Qaida presses new terror plots, it is increasingly relying on new recruits with minimal training and simple devices to carry out attacks, Panetta said as part of the terror assessment to Congress.

Panetta also warned of the danger of extremists acting alone: "It's the lone-wolf strategy that I think we have to pay attention to as the main threat to this country," he said.

Read More .... 

We hope the Weekly News In Review has been a blessing to you.

Ron Pierotti

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