||FIRST, THE NEWS:
BULGARIAN ORTHODOX LEADER SUPPORTS ‘MUM, DAD & KIDS’ NATURAL MARRIAGE INITIATIVE IN EU
from: LifeSite News
(22 Nov) The leader of Bulgaria's 4.3 million Orthodox Christians is strongly backing a definition of marriage as between one man and one woman. Pressure from more liberal countries in the European Union (EU) has prompted a "European Citizens' Initiative" dubbed the "Mum, Dad & Kids Initiative." Bulgarian Orthodox Church Patriarch Neophyte sent a letter of support for the initiative that insists on an official common definition of both "marriage" and "family" for the EU.
In Patriarch Neophyte's encyclical, he states that Christianity "is the guardian of traditional marriage," and that the Orthodox Church gives her blessing to the initiative. Pro-natural marriage conservatives across the continent are responding to “the increased undue pressure from Brussels in recent years to redefine marriage.” In June 2015, European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans directed the Commission to "try to get all member states in the EU to unreservedly accept same-sex marriage as other marriages.”
The "Mum, Dad & Kids Initiative" is gaining popularity in Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, Croatia, Sweden, France, Portugal, and Germany. "The State recognizes marriage not because it cares about feelings but because the renewal of generations and the raising of children guarantee the future of the nation," the initiative's website explains. The initiative proposes an official definition of "marriage” as "a union between a man and a woman," and that "family" be “based on marriage and/or descent." [read more...]
UZBEKISTAN: MORE JAILINGS, LONG-TERM PRISONERS' SENTENCES INCREASED
by Mushfig Bayram: Forum 18 News Service
(18 Nov) Prisoner of conscience Tohar Haydarov was released from prison in Uzbekistan on parole on 8 November, Council of Churches Baptists told Forum 18 on 14 November. He had already served six years 10 months of his prison term. He was sentenced in March 2010 on alleged drugs charges, which his fellow church members insist were fabricated. Appeals against the conviction and sentence to the Supreme Court were rejected. "God heard the prayers of many Christians," his fellow Baptists told Forum 18. "We are thankful to everybody who prayed for him and sent letters to him while in prison."
Why the amnesty? Baptist Gleb Serin told Forum 18 on 16 November that "Tohar was amnestied for his good behaviour, and because he had already served more than half of his prison term." His brother Andrey Serin commented on 15 November that "Tohar was released quietly, which came as a surprise to him and us, and no one was there to meet him outside the prison when he was released."
Andrey Serin noted that it is as yet unknown what conditions are being imposed on his release as this has not yet been stated in his new internal passport. "But he was told verbally when he was released that he should not get into trouble and return to prison," Serin added. "We will wait and see after he gets his passport." [read more...]
(23 Nov) If Patriarch Kirill fails to keep hold of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Russia will turn into Muscovy. Myroslav Marynovych, vice-rector of the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv was reported as saying this by Gazeta.ua. “Russia’s imperial structure is based on the conviction that Kyiv is the epicenter of its origin and must therefore belong to Russia. Otherwise, the latter will hang in the air, will become an ulus or the Kazan Khanate. Moscow cannot let Kyiv become independent in ecclesiastical aspect. All the Kremlin’s claims that they will not let this happen have become ridiculous. No one is able to curb the course of history. And the course of history is the rise of the capital of Ukraine and the recent decline of Moscow. Everything falls into its place,” he said.
A Christian Kyiv will continue to revive and restore its power, Vice-rector of UCU is confident. “Eventually, Constantinople will recognize autocephaly of the Ukrainian Church. Meanwhile, it eschews doing so. Ukraine is in a transition situation. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church is experiencing dramatic changes and they are not over. The process will be continuing in the future inside the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church but will gradually boost the unity of the historical Kyivan Church. What form it will take is hard to imagine, but it all comes to this. But the two trends will always persist: some Church claims their monopoly, another church will be trying to drag the blanket. On the other hand, the spirit of unity will intensify because it is present among the people. The people of ancient Kyiv did not want hatred, they were tired of it. The ones who admire Muscovy will leave the historical arena,” Myroslav Marynovych said.
The Ukrainian government should clearly state that it does not just oppose an autocephalous Ukrainian Orthodox Church, but supports this idea. It will not be regarded as interference in the affairs of the Church, this human rights activist believes. [read more...]
IS THE RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH A PROPAGANDA CHANNEL FOR PUTIN?
from: Christian Today
(25 Nov) The European Union Parliament could be on a collision course with Russia – including the Russian Orthodox Church. A draft resolution which is being debated discusses the role of Russian propaganda, through channels such as the RT television news channel. It also names the Church as an agent of government messages. Since being restored after the end of Communist rule, the Russian Orthodox Church has become more and more closely associated with the Russian government. President Putin and the Patriarch Kirill of Moscow are known to be close.
The EU initiative comes from a Polish politician, Anna Fotyga. Poland, a heavily Roman Catholic country, is known to be nervous about Russia's possible aggression on its borders. The draft resolution says: "The Russian authorities are actively using a wide range of tools, including multilingual channels (like RT), news agencies, social and religious groups (including the Russian Orthodox Church, social networks and internet-bots), to challenge Western values, to divide Europe and to gain support in their own country." The Russian regime has been accused of interfering with the American presidential election in an unprecedented way. Putin's administration is also accused of human rights abuses and stifling free speech within Russia as well as an expansionist foreign policy – in Ukraine, Georgia, and other areas of Eastern Europe. [read more...]
MOSCOW PATRIARCHATE WILL NEVER ALLOW INDEPENDENCE OF UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH - PATRIARCH KIRILL
(21 Nov) Attempts to separate the Ukrainian Orthodox Church from the Moscow patriarchate will fail, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia said. "Our Church will never leave its brothers in Ukraine in trouble and will never disown them. We will never agree to a change of the holy canonical borders of our Church because Kiev is the spiritual cradle of Holy Russia, like Mtskheta for Georgia or Kosovo for Serbia," the patriarch said on Monday at the celebration of his 70th anniversary in the cathedral of Christ the Savior. The patriarch said attempts are now being made to involve the Ukrainian Church "in a deep conflict separating society and make it a pawn of this conflict."
"Forcible takeovers of churches are occurring, court decisions are being ignored, there is an information campaign against the Church, the Ukrainian parliament is proposing bills whose purpose is to discriminate and put into difficult conditions the largest religious community of the country," he said. The patriarch said that, as a rule, discriminatory bills against the canonical Church in Ukraine are proposed by those deputies who support the division or are Greek Catholics or atheists.
There are three Orthodox religious organizations in Ukraine: the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate and two organizations that are not recognized in the orthodox world: the Kyiv patriarchate and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church. Since the beginning of the military action in Ukraine, church schismatics have taken over dozens of churches of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, including with support from the local authorities. [read more...]
WHY UKRAINIAN CHRISTIANS ARE CLOSING DOWN ORPHANAGES
from: Christian Today
(16 Nov) Maybe you remember the heart-breaking images of children chained into cots rocking themselves to try and get some sensation and stimulation in their lives. Maybe you remember their shorn hair and expressionless faces as portrayed on the news a few decades ago. There were many thousands of children in these situations right across Eastern Europe. Children whose parents were too poor to care for them or who had died were put into appalling conditions in institutional care.
The images spurred many Christians to get involved in these orphanages, doing both short term and long term work to help show the children some love and to fight for an improvement in their conditions. But over the last 10 years God has been mobilising the church to do something revolutionary for the sake of these children. I have spoken to many church leaders around the world who seem to be catching the same vision. This week I was in Ukraine to see first hand the remarkable things God is doing.
Through a movement called "Ukraine without Orphans" the church is being mobilised. Not just to lobby government to improve children's care homes. Not to send clothes or toys or volunteers. Not to raise sponsorship, train choirs or start educational programmes. But to close orphanages down, bring the children out and ensure each one has a safe and loving forever family. In Kiev last week I met hundreds of adoptive and foster families. The average carer I met had taken in more than seven children. I met one couple that had adopted 11 children.
The motivation for these carers was not infertility as the vast majority had their own birth children. They were not wealthy people, they were not celebrities, or film stars with large mansions. They were ordinary people – mothers, fathers, teachers, pastors, and youthworkers – who felt compelled by God to do something radical. Many of the children had additional needs or scars from early neglect and abuse. And yet these families were queuing up to welcome them into their homes and lives. [read more...]
OTHER NEWS HEADLINES:
PATRIARCH BARTHOLOMEW HOPES TO VISIT UKRAINE SOON
from Religious Information Service of Ukraine
IMMANUEL’S CHILD OPENS UP TO INDIVIDUALS
from Mission Network News
PATRIARCH KIRILL TO PRESIDENT PUTIN: WE HAVE BUILT SUPPORTING STRUCTURE FOR STATE-CHURCH RELATIONSHIP
VLADIMIR'S BAPTIZER: PRESIDENT PUTIN FOUND SECRET LINK WITH PATRIARCH KIRILL
from Moskovskii Komsomolets
HIS HOLINESS PATRIARCH KIRILL AWARDED ORDER "FOR MERIT TO THE FATHERLAND," 1ST CLASS
from Russian Orthodox Church - Moscow Patriarchate
A TEENAGER’S MEETING WITH GOD
MOLDOVA: HOW ONE CHRISTIAN FAMILY IS STRIVING TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE DESPITE CORRUPTION AND SUSPICION
from Sight Magazine
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The tug-of-war continues between Kyiv and Moscow: Myroslav Marynovych says in the article RUSSIA TO BECOME MUSCOVY WITHOUT UKRAINIAN CHURCH that an autonomous Ukrainian Orthodox Church is inevitable, and Russian Patriarch Kirill in the article MOSCOW PATRIARCHATE WILL NEVER ALLOW INDEPENDENCE OF UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH says it will never happen. Or will it?
This debate has been going on now ever since Filaret, who was Moscow's representative for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) started the Kyiv Patriarchate shortly after Ukraine gained independence in 1991. But with the Russia-fomented insurrection in Donetk'and Luhansk provinces and the invasion and takeover of Crimea by "little green men in unmarked uniforms" (Russian "off-duty" soldiers) the debate has turned into a violent argument, including the torching and takeover of each other's church buildings. We must pray for a peaceful and mutually agreeable resolution to this seemingly unresolvable conflict.
Meanwhile, our lead news article BULGARIAN ORTHODOX LEADER SUPPORTS ‘MUM, DAD & KIDS’ NATURAL MARRIAGE INITIATIVE IN EU indicates a grassroots movement within several EU countries to push for an end to the liberal-leftist gay marriage movement that is being foisted on Western societies. It seems people are becoming fed up with the "progressive" elite telling them what they must believe (or disbelieve) and how they must behave, to "tolerate" what is morally repugnant and intolerable.
Our fourth news article IS THE RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH A PROPAGANDA CHANNEL FOR PUTIN? describes the close coordination between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian government, together with Internet bots on social media sites and the state-controlled Russia Today (RT) propaganda broadcasts in English and several western European languages driving a campaign to interfere with European and American public opinion.
Our news headline VLADIMIR'S BAPTIZER: PRESIDENT PUTIN FOUND SECRET LINK WITH PATRIARCH KIRILL tells of an interesting twist of fate: it claims that the priest Mikhail who baptized the infant Vladimir Putin on St. Mikhail's Day, the 21st of November, was actually the father of a boy who is now Patriarch Kirill, whose birthday is also the 21st of November. This just happened to come out on the Russian Patriarch's birthday. I will leave it up to you to decide whether to believe it, but I'm sure the vast majority of Russians are delighted to.
Perfect People: Possible But Improbable
How is it possible that Christ has already made us perfect, as Hebrews 10:12-14 shows here? In Revelation 13:8b we read - "...the Lamb who was slain from the foundation of the world." The sacrifice of Christ took place in eternity past, because He is One of the pre-eternal Trinity. So Christ the God-Man is both outside of time as God and inside time as man, thus His work of perfecting us has both an eternal and a temporal aspect.
In our last article - "Are Perfect People Possible?" - I quoted "Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect" (Matthew 5:48) and "Follow after peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man will see the Lord" (Hebrews 12:14). How is it possible that Christians can be perfect, how can we fulfill these commands to be perfect and holy?
St. Paul wrote in Philippians 3:8-16 on striving to become perfect:
"Yes most assuredly, and I count all things to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord, for Whom I suffered the loss of all things, and count them nothing but refuse, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own, that which is of the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, becoming conformed to His death; if by any means I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Not that I have already obtained, or am already made perfect; but I press on, if it is so that I may take hold of that for which also I was taken hold of by Christ Jesus. Brothers, I don't regard myself as yet having taken hold, but one thing I do. Forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."
St. Paul wrote that he was not already made perfect (in the human dimensions of space-time), but he was pressing on to take hold of what Christ had already (in eternity) taken hold of: Paul's perfection. This also explains the "predestination/free will" paradox: Christ as eternal God knows all those who are predestined for salvation, perfection, and sanctification; but we mortals are limited to space-time and cannot know the future, therefore we must freely choose to "press on toward the goal for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."
From God's eternal point of view, there is predestination; but from a human point of view, there is free will and moral responsibility. As a Protestant might say, "God is a Calvinist, but we are all Arminians." In Hebrews 12:25 the Apostle Paul wrote - "See that you don't refuse him who speaks. For if they didn't escape when they refused Him Who warned on earth, how much more will we not escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven." Humanly speaking, it is possible for us to turn away from Christ, just as it is possible to turn toward Him and follow Him. Let's look at some examples:
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Please remember to pray for Christians in the former Soviet bloc countries, and for...
Bob & Cheryl
p.s. We have laws against murder, rape, theft, slavery and child molestation. Who says you can't legislate morality?