Monday, December 22, 2008

What was the Star of Bethlehem?

Currently making waves in churches abroad and here in the Philippines are the website and DVD entitled “The Star of Bethlehem” by Frederick A. Larson, a litigation lawyer and professor at Texas A&M University. Essentially, Larson says that the Star of Bethlehem was “the planet Jupiter crowning the star Regulus in a rare triple conjunction in the constellation of Leo The Lion and then rendezvousing with the planet Venus.”

Reasons why Larson's theory is wrong

(1) Contrary to Larson's view, the vast majority of Biblical scholars and archeologists date Herod's death at 4 BC, based on the writings of Jewish historian Flavius Josephus. Larson's theory therefore has a significant problem since Herod would be dead by the time the Magi arrive.

(2) Larson's theory about the Star of Bethlehem emphasizes Jupiter's retrograde motion. Some astronomers have also emphasized this retrograde motion but have come up with different explanations and conclusions.

(3) Larson's theory is based on a gross misinterpretation of Revelation 12.

Old theory, different spin

Despite what Larson's DVD seems to claim, this theory on the conjunctions of Jupiter, Regulus and Venus being the Star of Bethlehem is not original with him.
More than twenty five years ago, Roger W. Sinnott, writing in the astronomical journal Sky and Telescope, was the first to draw attention to this unusual conjunction of Jupiter and Venus in 2 B.C.E.

Seventeen years ago, Professor Ernest L. Martin in his book “The Star that Astonished the World” positively identified this conjunction of Jupiter with Regulus and then with Venus on June 17, 2 B.C.E. as the Star of Bethlehem.
Martin (a follower of Herbert W. Armstrong’ s Worldwide Church of God) even went so far as to claim that Christ’s birth took place on September 11, 2 B.C.E. Because of Martin’s research, planetariums all over the world have been showing these spectacular celestial events.

Way back in 1987, astronomer John Mosley of the Griffith Observatory wrote about Martin's theory in his book “The Christmas Star.” (Please watch the Flash movie based on Mosley’s book to learn more about planetary conjunctions and retrograde motion.)

Larson in the FAQ section of his website acknowledges the previous research of Sinnott and Martin. He distinguishes his project and DVD however as being “built upon a leap of insight which is entirely new: that the Star of Bethlehem is part of a celestial poem that begins at Christ's conception and birth, but concludes with great drama on the day of the Cross.” Larson propounds the Biblical basis for his theory in what he calls the nine points of Christ's Star. The exact quotes from his website are posted below:

In 3/2 BC, Jupiter's retrograde wandering would have called for our magus' full attention. After Jupiter and Regulus had their kingly encounter, Jupiter continued on its path through the star field. But then it entered retrograde. It "changed its mind" and headed back to Regulus for a second conjunction. After this second pass it reversed course again for yet a third rendezvous with Regulus, a triple conjunction. A triple pass like this is more rare. Over a period of months, our watching magus would have seen the Planet of Kings dance out a halo above the Star of Kings. A coronation.

By the following June, Jupiter had finished crowning Regulus. The Planet of Kings traveled on through the star field toward another spectacular rendezvous, this time with Venus, the Mother Planet. This conjunction was so close and so bright that it is today displayed in hundreds of planetaria around the world by scientists who may know nothing of Messiah. They do it because what Jupiter did makes such a great planetarium show. Jupiter appeared to join Venus. The planets could not be distinguished with the naked eye. If our magus had had a telescope, he could have seen that the planets sat one atop the other, like a figure eight. Each contributed its full brightness to what became the most brilliant star our man had ever seen. Jupiter completed this step of the starry dance as it was setting in the west. That evening, our Babylonian magus would have seen the spectacle of his career while facing toward Judea.

You can read from the website or watch from the DVD the research, Biblical and scholarly bases for Larson’s claim that the conjunctions of Jupiter, Regulus and Venus were the Star of Bethlehem. You can then decide for yourself whether he is right or not about the Star of Bethlehem. As noted above, astronomers have confirmed long ago that there was a spectacular conjunction of Jupiter and Venus in 3/2 B.C. In Larson's own research, he used the Starry Night software based on the well-established laws on planetary motions by 17th century astronomer Johannes Kepler. (Kepler himself had his own theory about the Star of Bethlehem being a supernova.)

How can the Magi interact with a dead Herod?

In a December 2007 Baptist Press article, Michael Foust quotes the objections to Larson’ theory by Professor Denny Burk of Criswell College in Dallas:

Scholars long have known Jupiter and Venus were in conjunction around the time of Christ's birth, but few have gone so far as Larson in describing it in such detail.

Denny Burk, professor of New Testament at Criswell College in Dallas, said he believes Larson's theory has some problems but applauded him for putting together a "fascinating" DVD.

Among concerns Burk has with Larson's theory is that Larson "goes beyond what the Bible teaches was the symbolic significance of the Bethlehem star," and that Matthew "gives some indications that the Bethlehem star was a miraculous sign" and not a "natural (though unusual) alignment of the stars." Additionally, Burk said, the "vast majority of scholars" date Herod's death to 4 B.C., although he said there is a minority viewpoint putting it at 1 B.C. If Herod died in 4 B.C., Larson's theory would have a significant problem, since Herod would be dead by the time the Magi arrive.

Larson in defending his work cites a recent study of Josephus’ earliest manuscripts reportedly conducted by the British Library in London and the American Library of Congress. The study allegedly revealed a copying error in 1544 that caused all of Josephus’ manuscripts in both libraries dating after 1544 to say Herod died in 4 BC when all Josephus’ writings before 1544 concluded Herod’s death was in 1 BC.

However, Nick Strobel in his article “The Star of Bethlehem, An Astronomical Perspective” defends the 4 B.C.E. date of Herod’s death. He says that Herod’s three sons (Herod Antipas, Philip, and Archelaus), among whom his kingdom was divided, all reckoned their reigns began from 5 - 4 B.C.E.

Star Wars: Aries versus Leo, other conflicting theories by astronomers

Larson emphasizes in his theory Jupiter’s retrograde motion to explain among other things, Matthew’s account that the star stopped over Christ’s birthplace. However,
Strobel in his article cites theories by astronomers Ivor Bulmer-Thomas and Michael Molnar which make use of Jupiter's retrograde motion but which differ from Larson’s view.

Molnar of Rutgers University in New Jersey, USA, explains in his website "Revealing the Star of Bethlehem" that the Star was the retrograde motion of Jupiter in the Aries constellation and a conjunction with the Moon in 6 B.C.E. As Molnar puts it, “Other investigators of what the Star was were not only looking in the wrong constellation but they were also looking for the wrong celestial phenomenon.” (Molnar first published his findings in 1991.)

Larson's theory, as noted above, is that the Star was “the planet Jupiter crowning the star Regulus in the constellation of Leo The Lion in a rare triple conjunction and then rendezvousing with the planet Venus in 3/2 BC. In a CBS 11 News (Forth Worth) story, SMU adjunct professor of astronomy and physics John Cotton said Larson's approach is flawed, in part because he did not research ancient astrology as Molnar did. (In ancient days, astronomy and astrology were indistinguishable.)

Larson also states, “This association of Messiah with the tribe of Judah and with the lion is a productive clue. It clarifies the connection between Jupiter's behavior and the Jewish nation, because the starry coronation—the triple conjunction—occurred within the constellation of Leo, The Lion. Ancient stargazers, particularly if they were interested in things Jewish, may well have concluded they were seeing signs of a Jewish king.”

Molnar, on the other hand, dismisses this association of the tribe of Judah with the constellation Leo: “For religious and astronomical reasons people have proposed Pisces the Fishes as the site of the Star. A fish is a powerful Christian symbol. Also the spring equinox moved into Pisces close to the time of Jesus’ birth. So people assumed that Pisces was the sign for the dawning of Christianity – a beautiful but erroneous conclusion. Others have proposed Leo the Lion (thinking that this was the Lion of Judah), and others like Virgo the Virgin (believing that this was the Blessed Virgin Mary). Another notion claims “the manger” of Cancer the Crab. There are other clever ideas using Greek mythology and Christian symbols which have no basis in the ancient texts on Greek astrology.”

Larsons theory is based on a gross misinterpretation of Revelation 12

In my opinion, what makes Larson’s theory wrong is his gross misinterpretation of Revelation 12. Let me explain. First let’s see what Revelation 12 is all about:

Revelation 12 (KJV)

1. And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:
2. And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.
3. And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.
4. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.
5. And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.
6. And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.
7. And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,
8. And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.
9. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
10. And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.
11. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.
12. Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.
13. And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.
14. And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.
15. And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood.
16. And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.
17. And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
In his website and DVD, Larson explains Revelation 12 this way:
The last book of the New Testament is, in part, a prophetic enigma. But a portion of the Book of Revelation provides clear and compelling guidance for our astronomical investigation. The apostle John wrote the book as an old man while in exile on the island of Patmos. Perhaps the austerity of this exile or a lack of companionship left him time to ponder the night sky. Whatever the reason, Revelation is full of star imagery. In Chapter 12, John describes a life and death drama played out in the sky: the birth of a king.

1 A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. 2 She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. 3 Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads. 4 His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born. 5 She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron sceptre...

A woman in labor, a dragon bent on infanticide and a ruler of the nations. We have already seen this ruler in the Book of Genesis, above. This would be the Messiah, in his role as King of Kings. If that interpretation is correct, then according to the gospel story the woman would be Mary, the mother of Jesus. The dragon which waits to kill the child at birth would be Herod, who did that very thing. John says the woman he saw was clothed in the Sun. She had the moon at her feet. What can he be describing? When we continue our study of the sky of September of 3 BC, the mystery of John's vision is unlocked: he is describing more of the starry dance which began with the Jewish New Year.

As Jupiter was beginning the coronation of Regulus, another startling symbol rose in the sky. The constellation which rises in the east behind Leo is Virgo, The Virgin. When Jupiter and Regulus were first meeting, she rose clothed in the Sun. And as John said, the moon was at her feet. It was a new moon, symbolically birthed at the feet of The Virgin.

Summing up Larson’s interpretation of Revelation 12, the dragon is Herod, the woman in travail or about to give birth is Mary and the child is Christ. (This is also the interpretation of Philip Yancey in his book “The Jesus I Never Knew” if I remember correctly.)

What is the proper interpretation of Revelation 12?

1. Revelation 12 is prophecy of events yet to happen (i.e. the Tribulation) and not the Apostle John’s backward look at the events of Christmas as reported in the Gospels.

2. If King Herod was the dragon mentioned in Revelation 12, then what does verse 3 mean by the dragon having “seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads”? What exactly did Herod do when verse 3 says “his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth”?

3. If Mary was the woman mentioned in Revelation 12, what does verse 6 mean when it says, “And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days”?

4. Larson’s interpretation of Revelation 12 smacks of Roman Catholic imagery and Marian veneration. Take note again of Larson's explanation: "The constellation which rises in the east behind Leo is Virgo, The Virgin. When Jupiter and Regulus were first meeting, she rose clothed in the Sun. And as John said, the moon was at her feet. It was a new moon, symbolically birthed at the feet of The Virgin."

5. I don’t agree with everything that Ptr. John Macarthur says but I think that his explanation of Revelation 12 is what the chapter really is all about. He says in his study Bible that:
[a] The woman is not an actual woman but a symbolic representation of Israel, pictured in the OT as the wife of God (Is. 54:5,6; Jer. 3:6-8; Ezek. 16:32; and Hos. 2:16). The phrase “cried out in pain” refers to Israel which is often pictured as a mother giving birth (Hos. 13:13; Mic. 4:10; 5:2,3; Matt. 24:8). Israel had agonized and suffered for centuries, longing for the Messiah to come and destroy Satan, sin, and death, and usher in the kingdom.

[b] The phrase “clothed with the sun ... moon under her feet ... twelve stars” speaks of the exalted status of Israel, the people of promise who will be saved and given a kingdom. The picture of the moon under her feet possibly describes
God's covenant relationship with Israel, since new moons were associated with worship (1 Chr. 23:31; 2 Chr. 2:4; 8:13; Ezra 3:5; Ps. 81:3).The 12 stars represent the 12 tribes of Israel.

The phrase “a male Child” refers to Jesus Christ. In His incarnation, Christ was of Jewish descent (Matt. 1:1; 2 Tim. 2:8). Despite Satan's efforts to destroy Israel and the messianic line, Jesus' birth took place as predicted by the prophets (Is. 7:14; 9:6; Mic. 5:2). The phrase “to rule all nations with a rod of iron” refers not to Christ’s earthly ministry as recorded in the Gospels but to his future millennial rule.

[d] The great dragon is Satan. The woman's mortal enemy is Satan, who appears as a dragon 13 times in Revelation. The phrase “seven heads ... ten horns ... seven diadems” is figurative language depicting Satan's domination of 7 past worldly kingdoms and 10 future kingdoms. He has inflicted relentless pain on Israel (Dan. 8:24), desiring to kill the woman before she could bring forth the child that would destroy him.

[e] The period of “one thousand two hundred and sixty days” (42 months or 3 1/2 years) is the midpoint of the Tribulation when the Antichrist breaks his covenant with Israel, puts a stop to temple worship, sets up the abomination of desolation and devastates Jerusalem (11:2). At this point, many Jews flee for their lives.
BibleGateway’s commentary on Revelation 12 and even Matthew Henrys Commentary present another view of who the dragon and the woman are. These views are somewhat different from Macarthur’s view but still, they do not equate the dragon with Herod and the woman with Mary as Larson does.

Should we really be concerned about explaining scientifically what the Star of Bethlehem was?

Larson should have presented his theory as just that, a theory. A credible theory it may be but it is not a fact. Molnar states that his explanation is probably the best answer to what the Star was. He leaves the conclusion, however, with his readers. As he states in his website, “I am told that I have the best answer. Whether it is the correct answer can only be determined by your examination of my findings.”

The issue of what the Star of Bethlehem was has been vigorously discussed and debated down through the centuries. But should we really be concerned about explaining scientifically what the Star of Bethlehem was? A. W. Tozer decades ago in his essay “That Incredible Christian” probably said it best:
The current effort of so many religious leaders to harmonize Christianity with science, philosophy, and every natural and reasonable thing is, I believe, the result of failure to understand Christianity and, judging from what I have heard and read, failure to understand science and philosophy as well.

At the heart of the Christian system lies the cross of Christ with its divine paradox. The power of Christianity appears in its antipathy toward, never in its agreement with, the ways of fallen men. The truth of the cross is revealed in its contradictions. The witness of the church is most effective when she declares rather than explains, for the gospel is addressed not to reason but to faith. What can be proved requires no faith to accept. Faith rests upon the character of God, not upon the demonstrations of laboratory or logic.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Opportunities in Internet ministries, from Internet Evangelism Day

Specific ministries and opportunities

The following ministries can use unpaid sparetime volunteers. These opportunities are posted in good faith – we believe these ministries are, to the best of our knowledge, worthwhile in practice and orthodox in belief, but you must make your own judgement about them. Volunteers must expect to go through an application and vetting process; it is likely that an organization may wish to take up references about you with your church leaders.

A few of these ministries also offer fulltime ministry in online evangelism. Often, these will require applicants to raise their own support. There are also currently fulltime vacancies Lifechurch: designers.

Organization/contact person, and opportunity,

Writing, editing; Email counseling; Providing biblical answers/response; Administration,

Email counselors and evangelists; Article writers; Translators (English to Spanish); US liaison representative,

Writing; Posting articles; Website housekeeping (using website and reporting broken links, etc.),

Promote the site in personal conversations or in major promotion; Write & submit articles to effectively help college students understand either who God is or what it might be like to know Him. Write for unbelievers, in conversational & interesting style.,

Email Responders: Answer emails from seekers and inquirers; Prayer Team Coordinators: Collect, develop, publish and post content for weekly prayer letter; Research Coordinators: Research countries to be profiled in newsletter; Web Site Designers: Collaborate with Chief Technology Officer to design site content; Graphic Artists: Assist design for GMO brochures, posters or websites; Computer Input Assistants: computer data entry; software design, admin support; Translators; Prayer Partners: Sign up on website for weekly prayer letter; agree to pray regularly for GMO ministry
TruthMedia group of outreach sites: contact the team via the site

Audio – introduction to TruthMedia’s email mentoring. [Dial-up] and see video presentation by Karen Schenk, team leader.

Online Mentors: Email counseling, evangelism and discipleship; Blog mentors: coming alongside people who post on their evangelistic blogs; Mentor Coordinator: Manage mentoring requests; assign emails to mentors; Writers: Offer relevant insight to university students’ concerns, touching hearts, minds and spirits; Poster Girl/Boy: Post honest, funny, incisive, intelligent, down-to-earth reactions to website articles, to help stimulate conversation and build online community; Spinmeister: Create short (10-30 word) summaries for each online article. Requires ability to synthesize, creativity and a facility with language to help move reader from site entry point to Gospel. Especially important for French site,; Prayer supporters needed; Fulltime staff vacancies and internships frequently available email

Experienced publicists to write and circulate news releases and promote IE Day to denominations, Christian leaders and news media: details; Technical experts for occasional consultations on style, PHP coding, and design/usability; Professional graphic designer to create occasional graphics; Experienced counselors to give email advice and mentoring to non-Christians with life problems, arising from an evangelistic site; Full-time/part-time database expert based in Derby UK, (for Spanish) or (for Chinese)

Translators (English to Spanish); Translators (English to Chinese), To contact Ministry Response Centers, follow instructions on website.

Email interaction with seekers and inquirers;• Note: This site coordinates online follow-up for a growing number of ministries and seeks to blend high-tech with high-touch, personalized, prompt response., To contact Damaris, follow instructions on website.

Sparetime writers and contributors for the Damaris mission of relating Christian faith to contemporary culture. Also occasional vacancies for interns and full-time staff at their Southampton UK office., To contact Truth Media, follow instructions on the website

Mentoring; Prayer;• Writing articles;• Witing your life story; Chat participation; Chat hosting, Contact them via the site

Languages – translating course work and/or email correspondence; Research – respond to occasional requests for various types of information; Editing – coursework and/or testimonies; General help – respond to occasional requests for various types of assistance; Website – assist with various types of technical projects,

Write your own page about a hobby or interest, to be posted on the Acts website.

People to assist in article finding/writing, updating content, forum responses, blogging, prayer., To contact TechMission, follow instructions on the website

Training, encouragement and support, to teach IT skills to disadvantaged communities, anywhere in the world. Follow the ‘get involved’ menu link.,

Sparetime: co-ordinators for online courses in Russian and Thai. PHP/MySQL/Linux programmers, and help with security for CAN nations. Pastors/Bible college graduates as online facilitators for online learning courses. Course content developers. Graphic artists/web designers to upgrade website.

Various forms of Internet ministries

Be pro-active: find an online ministry with an agenda you identify with, and contact them directly. Many such sites are cited in the Web Evangelism Guide and the twice-monthly Bulletin email newsletter.

Some members of the Internet Evangelism Coalition may also need volunteers. There is a huge need for web ministry in Japan – can you be involved in any of the ministries listed on that page? You may find broader career and volunteer opportunities at and and Christian Volunteering. In UK, see Christian Jobs. and Christian Vocations.

Chat room evangelism (Work at home as an individual, or join a small team to cooperate and learn together.Some churches have trained church-based teams for chat evangelism: more

Bulletin boards – Yahoo Answers and other bulletin boards, or comment on blogs (Similar to chat, but you donot have to think so quickly! The new Yahoo Answers is an easy way to start. You can also contribute comments on other people’ blogs)

Social networking – just living in cyberspace and meeting people. There are many different ways to meet friends and interact with them online.

Second Life – the virtual reality parallel universe. Amazingly varied opportunities to share the Good News in this virtual world.

Video shorts (Create short video parables or other types of clip, and post them on secular social networking sites) Create a website (Consider the great potential of a Bridge Strategy site on a secular topic that interests you – for instance your hobby. Remember, there are huge needs for evangelistic sites in non-English languages. If you are not technical, you can build a site using a CMS template or the sitebuilder systems that many larger web hosts such as and Google provide.)

Start a blog (It is very easy to start a blog – no technical experience is needed.)

Church website (Create or assist your church in production of an effective site.)

Counseling/ mentoring (Offer support and advice to inquirers to an evangelistic or church website)

Social bookmarks (Use social bookmarking systems such as to encourage people to view good outreach sites: more information.)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

And the bride wore white ... Resources for youth leaders and groups

Click here to go to Dannah’s Purefreedom website. I gave a copy of this book to the love of my life as a graduation gift March 2007. She is the second most beautiful woman in the universe. Who’s the most beautiful woman in the universe? Who else but movie actress Angel Locsin!Note: I first posted this article December 10, 2007 in my Salt and Light blog. I am reprinting it here to include the results of the 2002 Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality Study conducted by the UP Population Institute and in view of the raging controversy over HB 3773 or the “Integrated Reproductive Health and Population Reduction Bill”. Please surf to the PRO-Life Philippines website for its critique of HB 3773. Baptist churches should make their voices heard on this issue.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Philippine statistics on teenage pregnancies and sexual experiences

Dr. James Dobson, I think, said that a million teenagers in the US get pregnant every year. In the Philippines, according to the 2003 National Demographic and Health Survey, one out of four women become mothers by age 19 while four out of 10 women in the 20-24-year-old bracket have already engaged in sexual activity.

The 2002 Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality Study (YAFS 3) conducted by the UP Population Institute and the Demographic Research and Development Foundation, Inc. revealed the following alarming statistics:

[1] Twenty-three percent of youth have engaged in premarital sex. A considerable number of sexually-active youth have had multiple partners, with almost half of the males (49%) and 11% of the females reporting more than one sex partner. One in five of the sexually-active males had paid for sex while 12% had accepted payment for sex. Prevalence of commercial sex is negligible among females, with less than one percent of the girls having paid or been paid for sex.

Over time, there has been an increase in the proportion of sexually active youth in the country, from 18 percent (among those aged 15-24) in 1994 to 23 percent in 2002. The age of first sex is also getting younger. Based on the 2002 survey, 1.2 percent of both young males and females have already engaged in sex before they turn 13 years old. Before reaching 18 however, the probability of engaging in sex increased sharply for males (28 percent) while 12 percent would have done so among females.

Previous analyses conducted by the UP Population Institute on the sexual behavior of Filipino youth have highlighted the increasing influence of peers on young people's decision whether or not to engage in sex. Peers have also been cited as important source of information regarding sex and reproductive health matters, along with the media.

[2] While nearly all (95%) young adults have heard of HIV/AIDS, 73% believe there is no chance of them getting HIV/AIDS.

[3] The percentage of young adults who think that AIDS is curable more than doubled between 1994 and 2002. In 1994, only 12.5% thought that there was a cure to HIV/AIDS. This increased to 28% in 2002.

[4] More males than females are familiar with sexually-transmitted diseases (70% vs. 63%) although males are more likely to think that AIDS is curable (30% for males vs. 26% for females).

[5] Thirty two per cent of Filipino teenagers (15-19 years old) knew that their single female friends are sexually active while 38 percent said that their single male friends have already engaged in sex. This interesting information provides yet another clue on the extent of sexual activity among Filipino teenagers.

In addition, their report on their friends' sexual activity also shows some degree of awareness on the possible consequences of sexual activity. They said that half of their female friends who have engaged in premarital sex got pregnant. Of this proportion, 4 out of 5 pushed through with the pregnancy and slightly more than half of those who went through with the pregnancy eventually married the father of their kids.

Among their unmarried male friends on the other hand, 4 in 10 claimed that their friends got somebody pregnant. Out of this number, 2 in 5 ended up marrying the mother of their kids.
On a more personal note, I have known of incidents involving unwed pregnancies and premarital sexual activities involving pastors’ kids and teenagers who grew up in church. One pastor asked me if he could solemnize a marriage between members of his church (both minors), the girl having gotten pregnant. I informed him that under the Family Code, no person below 18 can get married, even with parental consent. One pastor in Cavite who has become frustrated by what was happening to the young people in his church once asked me what to do.

I strongly support sexual abstinence and purity programs such as True Love Waits and Silver Ring Thing. One author I highly recommend to you (whether you are a mother or father, a teenager, a pastor or youth director) is Dannah Gresh.

Resources on sexual purity before and during marriage by Dannah Gresh

Dannah’s websites are, and Her books on sexual purity before and during marriage are “And the Bride Wore White”, “Pursuing the Pearl”, and “Secret Keeper Girl”.

November 2006, I gave a lecture for the BMP-HELP pastors conference in Tagaytay City. Rushing home to Manila in the afternoon, I got to OMF Lit Bookstore in Boni Avenue, Mandaluyong just before 5 PM. From the love gift given to me by the pastors, I was able to buy at nearly seven hundred pesos the very last copy of “And the Bride Wore White”. March 2007, I gave this book as a graduation gift to the love of my life. She is the second most beautiful woman in the universe. Who is the most beautiful woman in the universe, you ask? Well, who else but movie actress Angel Locsin!

In the Purefreedom website, Dannah and her husband Bob, explain what their ministry to young men and women is all about:

It is the mission of Pure Freedom to equip men and women of all ages to live a vibrant life of purity, to experience healing from past impurity if it exists in their lives, and to experience a vibrant, passionate marriage which portrays the love Christ has for his Bride the church.(Ministry verse: Ephesians 5:31,32)

Pure Freedom provides resources with radically-unique approaches to focus on specific issues that teen girls and/or guys face in the area of purity and holiness. Our events, the hallmark of our ministry, are about sexual purity and yet they are much more about the totality of a life submitted to the will of God in a quest to enjoy the blessings of His plan.

We believe that the temptation to fail sexually comes in different forms for girls and for boys. We also believe that they will one day enjoy God's gift of sex within the confines of marriage for different reasons. Whereas the girls are primarily emotionally driven, the guys are primarily driven by sight. Because of this dichotomy, it is vital that we educate them separately and emphasize different areas of temptation.
In their seminars for young men and women, Dannah and Bob have expounded on the Bible’s principles on sexual purity through their discussion of the Hebrew word "yada". In their website, they explain that "yada" is used to both refer to holy sexuality as in that between Adam and Eve AND to refer to the holy knowing that a man can know with God. It speaks of the emotional and spiritual nature of a relationship.

Seven secrets to sexual purity

Dannah, in her book “And the Bride Wore White”, discusses the following secrets to maintaining sexual purity:

[1] Purity is a process.
[2] Purity dreams of its future.
[3] Purity is governed by its value.
[4] Purity speaks boldly.
[5] Purity loves its Creator at any cost.
[6] Purity embraces wise guidance.
[7] Purity watches burning flames.
Dannah does not simply discuss things at a theoretical level. One of the very practical tips she gives in her book on how teenagers can stay sexually pure is to "stay public and stay vertical."

The quest for a pure, passionate marriage

The second book by Dannah Gresh which I have read is “Pursuing the Pearl” (it was a gift from Bro. David Witta and his family from Massachusetts, USA). In this book, she discusses what she calls “The Enemy’s Fake Pearls” which are [1] status and stuff; [2] social acceptance; [3] giving up and starting over; [4] pride and dreams.

Locally, this book costs around four hundred pesos. That is quite steep, but what Dannah says in page pages 62 and 63 are worth the price of the book. She warns her readers, “Sexual impurity is a zero tolerance arena. You are on shaky ground if there are emotional bonds being created between you and another man (or your husband and another woman).” Dannah explains that these bonds begin with little things like:

  • Innocently having lunch alone with a man

  • Seeking advice from a man about personal issues, especially marital issues

  • Seeking or accepting frequent praise or affirmation from the same man

  • Being or becoming comfortable with being alone in an office or a home together

  • Intentionally seeking out time to be with this man

  • Manipulating your schedule to see him

  • Spending time fantasizing about him
If you are parents concerned about your teenage kids and their sexual purity, a pastor or youth leader seeking to help your youth group, or a man or woman thinking of the best Christmas gift to give the love of your life, consider giving them any of Dannah Gresh’s books.

The only book by Dannah Gresh I haven’t read yet is “Secret Keeper Girl.” Two problems. One, as far as I know, there are no copies of this book locally. Two, even if it were available, how do I go about buying the book? Hey, I am a guy and I’m thinking, what would the store clerks say if I bought a copy of this book?

Friday, December 05, 2008

The Guide Network of Internet Evangelism Day, and Digital Japan

The Global Use of Internet and Digital Evangelism (Guide) Network is an networking resource, linked with “Internet Evangelism Day” and “Web Evangelism Guide”, Internet Evangelism Coalition, Global Christian Internet Alliance, Lausanne, and visionSynergy. Its purpose is enhancing global spread of the Gospel in multiple languages via the Internet and mobile digital devices, by networking with practitioners to share resources and information, encourage Kingdom collaboration, and help the body of Christ to embrace and engage in internet/mobile evangelism ”

The vision: Networking together for web and mobile evangelism

A special emphasis is assisting in the emergence of internet/mobile evangelism in more countries and languages beyond English, including the non-western world. There will soon be the ‘second billion’ web users outside the West, and even more have mobile phones right now. So our interest also includes the development of viral video clips and cartoons that can be used with mobile phones or online. We also wish to see increased convergence, synergy and collaboration between different electronic media, for instance DVDs and radio ministry, with the Web/mobile devices.

We also wish to help the cross-cultural missions community in developing digital evangelism and discipleship integrated with their ministries on the ground.

How the Guide network can help you

[1] Link you with others

Are you wishing to do web evangelism in a particular language? Are you planning a mobile phone initiative? Perhaps you are looking for training? We can probably link you with others working in the same area. With our involvement in the cross-cultural missions community as well as the new media, we do have a unique web of relationships to draw on. Or you may be a mission agency, just wondering whether to move into web or mobile ministry. Are you the editor of a Christian publication who wishes to interview people regarding web and mobile evangelism? Whatever your needs or questions, please write.

[2] Free articles for editors

A wide range of freely re-usable articles is offered to Christian print and web editors, and bloggers, like about web evangelism, MP3 interviews and talks, freely available for podcasting and broadcasting, and other articles which are seeker/skeptic-friendly for non-Christians, and features on broader evangelism issues for Christians.

Reaching Japan for Christ through the Internet

Digital Japan aims to link together anyone interested in any form of digital outreach to Japan including any combination of outreach websites, blogs, church sites, social networking, chat rooms, mobile phone evangelism, Bluetooth broadcasting, video clips, Manga comics, cartooning, teaching English online, podcasting, audio, gaming and anything else digital. It is is a private discussion group not listed in YahooGroups directory. Messages are only viewable by members, and are not spidered by search engines. Anyone with an interest in Japan is warmly invited to join.

Please share news, ideas, questions, and encourage others to join this group. Please link to the Digital Japan Network page from appropriate webpages and blogs. Digital Japan is linked with the Guide Network and Internet Evangelism Day's Japan resource page.

Join using the normal YahooGroup procedure (you will need to mention in a few words why you wish to join.)