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Christian Learning Centers of the Upstate, Inc

September 8, 2009

Have you heard? Public school students are learning the Bible during the school day. It’s called Released Time and over 590 students a day attend here in the Upstate, including Riverside Middle School this year.

Released time is a time set aside during the school day that public school students that provides public school students an opportunity to leave school grounds with parental consent and study the Bible. Currently there are more than 590 students in 9 programs in the Upstate area attending Released Time Classes. There have been more than 990 students who have made commitments to follow Jesus Christ in these programs since 1998.

The program costs approximately $35.00 a month (on a 12 month cycle) per student.

Go to and find out how you can get involved.

Fact: 85% of people come to faith in Christ before the age of 14!


FaithPoint Presbyterian Church

September 1, 2009

Rob Klouw and Katherine Randall  are co-pastors working to establish an emerging Presbyterian church in West Spartanburg. Services will begin at Faith Point Church, Sunday, September 13 at Brashier Middle College Charter High School, 1830 W. Gerogia Rd, Simpsonville 29680.
Churches of Foothills Presbytery are invited to send representatives of their congregations to support the new church developement on their first day of worship. Worship begins at 10:30 am with a celebration lunch on the grounds of the FaithPoint House.
You may visit their web page at and read a Presbyterian News Service article at

Haven of Rest Ministries is Opening a New Thrift Store

September 1, 2009

As you may or may not know, the Haven of Rest Ministries exists to see those bound by life-dominating problems rescued, restored, and released while experiencing the love of the Lord Jesus Christ. This ministry is funded through their Thrifts Stores and contributions from churches and individuals. Approximately one-half of their income is received through sales at the 8 Thrift Stores that operate.

Their newest store will be opening in Clemson on September 17, 2009. It is located in the Langston Place Shopping Center, 500 Old Greenville Hwy., Suite 3. Their operating hours are from 9:00 am -6:00 pm Monday- Saturday.

Salkahatchie Work Camp

June 23, 2009


Salkehatchie Work Camp is coming up in the first full week of July. A program of the United Methodist in South Carolina it provides a means of proclaiming the gospel through imporving the homes of needy families.  Our youth have participated in the program for years. This year Pendleton Presbyterian is scheduled to provide a lunch on Friday, July 10. Volunteers need to arrive at Pendleton United Methodist at 11:30am.  Thank you Greg Quarles for organizing our participation in this ministry.



Former Israeli Soldiers and Palestinian Fighters Unite for Peace

June 9, 2009

This story reminds me of Jesus in Matthew chapter 5-7.   Combatants for Peace is a group of former Palestinian fighters and Israeli soldiers who have united to reject violence and tell their stories to each other as a way of finding peace. As a teenager Bassam Aramin was imprisoned by Israeli forces for flying the Palestinian flag. He became more militant and later received a seven year sentence for planning an attack on Israelis. In prison, he and one of his jailors began a dialogue—not to convince each other, but to understand each other. Then in 2005 he met a former Israeli soldier, who told the story of all he had ever done in his career: humiliating Palestinians at checkpoints, torturing them, cutting down their olive trees. As Aramin listened his anger grew. When the soldier finished his story, Aramin told him: “I want to eat you.” But Aramin was frustrated because the soldier wouldn’t argue with him—he agreed that what he had done was wrong. Not to be outdone Aramin told of all that he had done—even exaggerating so that his deeds would be comparable to that of his enemy. At the end, the other man replied: “I want to eat you.” But somehow through this telling of stories and honest anger, these men became friends, and eventually partners in the search for peaceful solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Then, on January 16, 2007, Aramin’s 10-year-old daughter was shot in the head and killed by Israeli soldiers while she was walking home from school. Aramin has made repeated requests to speak with the soldier responsible, but has received no response. He is a man deeply committed to peace, even after suffering such senseless loss.

Awkward Questions from Children About God

June 9, 2009

I understand that this clip from YouTube is from the British sitcom called Outnumbered, in which the three child actors are partly improvising their dialogue.  Like other British programs (British Idol, Britain’s Got Talent) there is going to be an American version this fall.

Obviously meant to be entertaining how would you answer these serious questions about God? What would you say without being glib, bumbling or dismissive of the children?

The Spirit

June 9, 2009

Unlike the rest of the world much of the West had lost a sense of the spirit world until recently. Is there a god or God? Are there more gods than one? Is there an Evil One or Satan? Are there demons? Is there a Holy Spirit? Even assuming that there are “spirits” how close are they to our everyday world. 

Since our earliest childhoods we have been schooled in ways of thinking that do not allow for religion, God, gods or spirits. As I recall we were never taught why the Pilgrims came to the New World only that they did- boring. I am not trying to suggest that we should return to the past when Christianity was institutionalized in our schools.  But I wonder if we have overreacted to the mistakes and abuses of our past. As a result of removing all religious study from the classroom we have effectively favored only one way of knowing. Is it a problem that our modern, objective, scientific way of thinking does not allow room for anything that cannot be empirically known through the senses? Can this a good thing? 

There was a short time when those who wielded power, namely the church,  seemed able to resist the challenge of science and hold fast to ideas that are now ridiculous to us in our day. Fortunately, science has since flourished and enabled us to extricate ourselves from the mire of unknowing superstition. Now we KNOW! But do we?

I am thinking that this modern scientific mindset shares more in common with the uninformed flat earth thinking of our past than we realize. What if there is knowledge that is rounder, fuller and more true than what scientific enquiry alone can ever give us?  Consider love between two people or the love of a family. We know something about the physical science of attraction, of sex, but can science ever delve into the heart of two soulmates or  a mother as she gazes into the eyes of her nursing baby daughter? The great blessings of education, science and technology have alleviated unimaginable suffering and are in that sense supportive of things like faith, hope and love. But does this way of knowing actually produce such knowing as faith, hope and love?  Can science explain promise making and keeping without reducing it to theories of social Darwinism (i.e. self preservation or survival of the species, etc.)?  Can scientific discovery eliminate evil from our world? Unfortunately, the history of the twentieth century leaves no doubt as to the answer. Our knowledge of how the physical world works seems to intensify rather than eradicate evil; to make  it easier for the powerful to gather more power to themselves at the expense of the poor and dispossessed; easier for states to wage wars and kill their enemies; easier for small fringe groups to terrorize whole populations. 

Just as the state has successfully removed religious ways of knowing from public education, so much of the church in the West has eliminated God the “Spirit” from its life. I think the two are related. But things are rapidly changing;  religion, spirituality, God, gods are coming back and with a vengence. There is now more religion and spirituality in the West than ever before and it includes people with different skin color, different language, different faith and orientation to life.  Within the fasted growing parts of the church there is a “Spirit” emphasis. These are the churches who have not forgotten their first love. Their God is redeeming, transforming, creating and they are all about their “Father’s business.”  There are other churches who have organized themselves around the maintenance of buildings and organazational structures. The grounds and buildings are almost always immaculate, records are neat, worship is ordered. No one can be critical of such commendable things but what are they if unsullied by the messy chaos of sinners being transformed and babes in the faith blundering their way toward spiritual maturity?