Church overcomes sobering resistance

Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute

By Brad Dacus

President, Pacific Justice Institute

I’m excited to tell you about a church we have been helping recently … and a terrific outcome on their behalf.

The Holy Resurrection Romanian Orthodox Church in the Sacramento area had struggled for 11 years to find a place of its own to worship. They found what seemed like the perfect spot, in the Rio Linda area, with a building that had already been approved as a worship center with seating for a larger congregation.

They moved ahead with their plans … until they encountered some unusual local opposition. At PJI, we’ve been representing churches just like this one for many years, so opposition is nothing new to us – but the excuses being given to stop the church were some of the most illogical and unreasonable we’ve ever heard.

In short, an establishment next to the church property had a liquor license. They acknowledged that they were such bad neighbors in terms of traffic, parking, late-night noise and drunken patrons that they didn’t think a church next door would fit into their neighborhood. (Now is it just me, or does this sound like exactly the place where Jesus would want to minister to people desperately in need of healing and hope?!)

Sadly, some also complained that they thought there were already too many churches in the area.

Since PJI has represented and advised countless churches in similar situations and won some important precedents in this area, we helped this church present an appeal to the Planning Commission. It was sobering to hear some of these believers note similarities between the hostility they were experiencing right here in America with the persecution they had fled in Romania.

PJI Attorney, Kevin Snider, wrote to the Commission and spoke at a hearing on behalf of the church. We are thankful to God that the Planning Commission recognized the illegal basis of the opposition and voted 5-0 to approve the church’s plans. Members of the Commission specifically thanked Kevin for his helpful explanation of the law in this area.

It’s possible there may be further opposition and appeals we will need to counter, so stay tuned. In the meantime, if you know of a pastor or church that is even thinking about building, leasing, buying property, expanding, or anything similar that might require local permits, please let them know that Pacific Justice Institute would be honored to work with them at no charge to advance their important work. Oftentimes, we can help churches avoid major problems much more easily when we are involved right from the start.

Thanks to each of you who make our work possible!

Running the race …

This week’s homily

Tom and Virginia Boles

By Thomas M. Boles Phd., DMin., D.D.

In her book, “A Closer Walk,” author Catherine Marshall tells about a

great personal struggle she experienced after writing a novel

titled “Gloria.” Marshall began the novel in 1969 and then abandoned

the project two-and-a-half years later.

To her, the shelved manuscript was

“like a death in the family.”

In attempting to reconcile her conflicting thoughts and

feelings, Marshall spent time at a retreat house in Florida. While

there, she re-read a Bible story from Numbers about a time

when poisonous snakes filled the Israelite camp.

The people recognized the snakes as a punishment for their sin, and cried out in repentance.

The Lord told Moses to “make a (bronze) snake and put it up on a

pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” (Numbers 21:9.)

Marshall realized that just as the Israelites took that which had

hurt them, lifted it up to God, and were healed, so we each can take

our mistakes and sons, lift them to God in prayer, and trust Him

to heal us.

She writes, “When any one of us has made a wrong (or

even doubtful) turning in our lives through arrogance or lack of trust

or impatience or fear, God will show us a way out.” Even when we

stray, He knows both where we are and how to get us back on His

path.

Decisions can take you out of God’s will but never out

of His reach.

If we are faithless, He will remain

faithful, for he cannot disown himself.

2 Timothy 2:13

‘Fore’ golf and networking

Like to golf? Enjoy networking? Then the Whittier Area Chamber of Commerce has the perfect event for you.

Break out your clubs and head to the 36th annual Hathaway Golf Classic golf tournament and networking mixer on Monday, Sept. 8, 2014 at Friendly Hills Country Club. With only 144 spots available, potential duffers need to register by Sept. 1.

There are a variety of opportunities available. Eagle sponsors for $1,350 get a tournament package that includes four golfers, a cart, lunch, dinner, acknowledgement at the dinner and a Business Focus photo feature, tee sign and recognition in the tournament program. The Ultimate Golf Package for $285 includes one golfer, a cart, lunch, dinner and a tournament package. People who just want to golf for $225 include one golfer, cart, lunch and dinner. Tee sponsors for $100 get their company name on a tee sign and recognition in the tournament program.

The popular event also features a “19th hole mixer,” a $2,000 helicopter ball drop, raffle items and door prizes.

A variety of local businesses are sponsoring the event, including Rose Hills Memorial Park & Mortuary, California Domestic Water Company, the Credit Union of Southern California, the Quad at Whittier and PIH Health.

To register send a check payable to the Whittier Area Chamber of Commerce at 8158 Painter Ave., Whittier, CA 90602 or go online at www.whittierchamber.com.

Call 562-698-9554 for more information.

 

 

This week’s homily

Tom and Virginia Boles

By Thomas M. Boles PhD., DMin., D.D.

A comic strip created by Charles Schulz addresses the

need for each of us to make the most of the immediate presentin our lives.

Charlie Brown is  seen at bat. STRIKE THREE. He has

struck out again and slumps down on the players’ bench. He

says, “Rats! I’ll never be a big-league player. I just don’t have

it! All my life I’ve dreamed of playing in the big leagues, but

I know I’ll never make it.”

Lucy turns to console him. “Charlie Brown,” she says,

“you’re thinking too far ahead. What you need to do is set your-

self more immediate goals.”

Charlie Brown looks up and asks, “Immediate goals?”

Lucy responds, “Yes. Start with this next inning when

you go out to pitch. See if you can walk out to the mound with-

out falling down.”

The first step toward walking into any future is the step

that you take today. Make it a forward, positive, springy and

light-hearted, energetic, well-aimed, purposeful step. The steps

you take today become the well-warn path of tomorrow.

The only preparation for

tomorrow is the right

use of today.

Take therefore no thought for the morrow:

for the morrow shall take thought for the

things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is

the evil thereof.

Matthew 6:34

How Hobby Lobby decision helps area churches

Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute

By Brad Dacus
President, Pacific Justice Institute

I hope you were as encouraged as I was last week to hear that the Supreme Court took a stand for the religious freedom of family-owned businesses in the Hobby Lobby case.

At PJI, we noticed another positive aspect of the decision that will benefit churches. (Since the nuance that I’m going to explain next was completely overlooked by the media, I would encourage you to forward this e-mail to your pastor and make sure he is receiving our updates.)

The Supreme Court ruled that Hobby Lobby’s owners were protected by a federal law called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). In the process of interpreting that statute, the Supreme Court pointed to a related law, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA). This caught our attention because PJI has represented countless churches under RLUIPA and won one of the leading cases in this area at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. We have used RLUIPA successfully on many occasions to help churches overcome opposition from local officials who do not recognize the value of churches and would rather have their properties used for tax-producing businesses like bars or nightclubs.

So here’s the good news: as part of its Hobby Lobby decision, the Supreme Court stated that federal protections of church property rights go even further than the First Amendment. This is exactly what we have been arguing in case after case for more than a dozen years! And it is the opposite of what has been argued by leading opponents of church property rights. We expect this little-noticed holding of the Supreme Court to have some very positive implications for years to come.

If you become aware of any pastors or churches that are encountering hostility from local officials in the process of trying to expand or relocate their facilities, please let them know that PJI provides free and highly effective assistance in this area.

At PJI, it is our mission to clear away legal obstacles so churches and ministries can focus on what they do best – reaching people with the Gospel. It is our privilege to serve pastors and the people of God.

Running the Race,

Brad Dacus, Esq.

This week’s special homily

By Douglas McArthur (as passed along by Thomas M. Boles, Ph.D)

Nobody grows old by deserting his ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up wrinkles the soul. Worry, doubt, self-distrust, fear, despair, these are the long, long years that bow the head and turn the growing spirit back to dust.

Whatever your years, there is in every being’s heart the love of wonder, the undaunted challenge of the unobtainable, the unfailing, childlike appetite for the ‘what next?’ and the joy of playing the game of life. You are as young as your faith. You are as old as your doubt. You are as young as your confidence, as old as your fear. You are as young as your hope, as old as your despair.

In the central place in your heart, there is a recording chamber, and so long as it receives the message of beauty, hope, cheer and courage, so long as you are young.”

 

Former Roadrunner makes it to the “Bigs”

Pitcher Andrew Morales gets drafted by St. Louis Cardinals in second round

By Ruthie Retana
VMA Communications

WHITTIER – Former Rio Hondo College Roadrunner pitcher and 2012 Foothill Conference Baseball Player of the Year Andrew Morales is headed to the majors after being drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals.

The right-handed hurler, who had just completed his senior year at UC Irvine, was called up in the second round of the 2014 Major League Baseball Draft after he led the Anteaters to the College World Series. He received a $546,000 signing bonus.

Morales is ranked fourth in the country with 17 starts and 128 strikeouts. During his tenure at Rio Hondo, Morales earned the California Community College Baseball Coaches Association All-American and Pitcher of the Year awards, and won All-Foothill Conference first-team accolades in 2011.

“It was unbelievable, actually,” Morales told Sports Illustrated’s Redbird Rants regarding the draft. “(I’m) very blessed to have the opportunity; very thankful that the Cardinals believed in me to pick me in the second round. It was an awesome experience for (me) and for my family.”

Morales attended South Hills High School in West Covina where he was 8-2 on the mound as a senior. He helped guide the team to two league championships and a California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Division 3 title. At South Hills, Morales also earned All-CIF first-team recognition and was the 2010 All-San Antonio League first-team honoree.

“It’s just very well deserving for a guy who works so hard,” said Rio Hondo College Baseball Coach Mike Salazar. “He was 21-0 his two years at Rio Hondo until the last game, and 10-0 in his first year at UC Irvine. In three years he was 31-1 and during that time, he stood by his sister as she overcame cancer. Through all that adversity, it is very good to see him succeed.”

During his career at Rio Hondo, Morales made 28 starts and struck out 135 batters in 182 innings. He logged three complete games and a save, and with an ERA of 2.42, he walked only 42 players his freshman year. By the end of his sophomore year, Morales had walked just 23, earning an ERA of 2.01.

In 2012, Morales made the All-Pacific Association Division first-team. He went on to UC Irvine and racked up an impressive list of accolades, including the National Collegiate Writers Baseball Association pre-season first-team All-American; Collegiate Baseball “Louisville Slugger” pre-season second-team All-American; and College Sports Madness pre-season third-team All-American and first team All-Big West.

“Andrew Morales follows in the steps of great baseball players who got their start playing at Rio Hondo College,” said Rio Hondo College Superintendent/President Teresa Dreyfuss. “The District is surrounded by great talent and it is an honor that they want to play with the Roadrunners. We are all very proud of Andrew and wish him nothing but the best in his professional baseball career.”

Other notable Major League players who got their start at Rio Hondo include slugger Evan Longoria from the Tampa Bay Rays and pitcher John Urrea, who pitched for the Cardinals and the San Diego Padres in the 1970s and ’80s.

 

Hell a ‘hot’ topic at Plymouth Church

Some may not know that Plymouth Congregational Church has an apologetic (rational defense of the Christian faith) ministry. Dr. Glenn Peoples of New Zealand is scheduled to address the matter in “Hell as an Apologetics Concern” at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, July 8, 2014 at the church, 12058 Beverly Blvd. in Whittier.

The Los Angeles Area Chapter of Reasonable Faith, which is sponsoring the event, believes hell is a hot topic right now, pun intended.

Traditionalists believe hell is a literal place of torment while others hold that non-believers are annihilated. Can we defend the goodness of God while proclaiming belief in a traditional view of hell? This talk explores how one’s conclusion about this influences one’s view of the task of apologetics.

Peoples is visiting from New Zealand where he has a wife and four children. He earned his Ph.D in philosophy from the University of Otago and is founder of www.rightreason.org as well as a published author and speaker.

After his talk in Whitter, Peoples will travel to the “Rethinking Hell” conference in Houston.

To get an idea of Peoples’ views on hell watch the podcast: http://www.rightreason.org/2008/episode-005-its-one-hell-of-an-episode/.

Also visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/rfwhittier/ or e-mail reasonablefaithla@gmail.com

For more information call Chris Sandoval at 562-236-7515.

 

 

Rio Hondo plays on World Cup stage

By Ruthie Retana

VMA Communications

WHITTIER – It seems that every pub, restaurant and household in the United States has fully embraced World Cup fever, but did you know that Rio Hondo College has been a launching ground for some of the sport’s professional athletes?

The Rio Hondo Men’s Soccer program is one of the best in the Foothill Conference and Southern California. Coach Orlando Brenes, who is Costa Rican, has helped the Roadrunners win the conference title from 2002 to 2009 consecutively.

In the 2013 season, Brenes led the Roadrunners to a 13-5-5 overall record and a 7-1-0 conference record, clinching the Foothill Conference championship yet again.

“Many of Rio Hondo’s players have gone on to collegiate and professional careers,” Brenes said. “Soccer is by far the most popular sport on the planet. Because of that, scouts from around the world are always interested in players we produce here at Rio Hondo College.”

Such players include:

Marvin Quijano, Los Angeles Galaxy, pictured above

Marvin Quijano led the Rio Hondo Soccer Team to many victories while securing a slew of top honors, including All-Time Conference Most Valuable Player. He caught the attention of professional soccer recruiters and in 1999 Quijano found himself starting for the L.A. Galaxy. Quijano played for the Galaxy until 2002 when he began his tenure with the Colorado Rapids, where he finished his professional soccer career.

Luis Aguilar, Montreal Thunder A League

Luis Aguilar played on the Rio Hondo College Men’s Soccer Team in 2002 and 2003. In 2004, he transferred to the University of San Francisco where he completed his collegiate career in 2005 after winning back-to-back West Coast Conference (WCC) Division I titles with Second and First Team All-WCC awards. He has played with the Ajax Orlando Prospects of the United Soccer Leagues (USL) Premier Development League, the California Cougars of Major Indoor Soccer League and San Francisco Seals. In 2007, he signed with the USL First Division expansion team, California Victory, and later the Montreal Impact, where he made the starting squad for the playoffs.

“Our athletics program is definitely a crown jewel for the College,” said Rio Hondo College Superintendent/President Teresa Dreyfuss. “Men’s soccer, particularly, has a long and illustrious record of producing quality teams with quality players who go on to play on the world’s stage.”

 

This week’s homily

By Thomas M. Boles PhD., DMin, D.D.

Many years ago, Sandy Koufax, a Jewish pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers, announced that he wouldn’t play on the holiest day of his year, Yom Kippur. Koufax’s employer pointed out that it was the first game of the 1965 World Series. Couldn’t he pitch just a little?

“No,” Koufax said. But, he pitched a shutout in games five and seven, and the Dodgers won the series 4-3.

In 1996, Eli Herring, a 340 pound offensive tackle, who sported a 3.5 grade-point average, was expected to be the top senior offensive tackle in the pro draft. However, he turned down a possible multimillion-dollar deal with the Oakland Raiders because he wouldn’t play on his holy day, Sunday.

Unfortunately, most of the Raiders games were scheduled for Sundays. Herring could either sign up with the NFL and enjoy a very prosperous life, or teach math for $20,000 a year, keep the Sabbath, and enjoy a very honorable life. He chose honor and conviction over riches.

An old county-gospel song states the conviction underlying both men’s decisions: “You can’t be a beacon if your light don’t shine.”

Compromise makes a good umbrella but a poor roof; it is a temporary

expedient.

A good man is guided by his honesty; the evil

man is destroyed by his dishonesty.

Proverbs 11:3