Charisma News | Breaking News. Spiritual Perspective. http://www.charismanews.com/component/content/?view=featured Fri, 28 Nov 2014 05:02:27 -0500 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb Mike and Cindy Jacobs call for prophetic prayer over US cities http://www.charismanews.com/culture/46298-mike-and-cindy-jacobs-call-for-prophetic-prayer-over-us-cities http://www.charismanews.com/culture/46298-mike-and-cindy-jacobs-call-for-prophetic-prayer-over-us-cities

LosAngelesProtest-MichaelBrown-ReutersObserving the backlash in Ferguson, Missouri, and beyond protesting the death of Michael Brown at the hands of police, Mike and Cindy Jacobs of Generals International have challenged Christians to pray for our cities.

"The racial tension in the United States right now is very real and warrants our cry to the Lord for peace and healing," the two said in an email to the organization's supporters.

They pointed readers to a previously published article, Shields Up Over Our Cities, which gives a prophetic perspective on prayer applicable to the Ferguson situation.

"For the past five years, the Apostolic Council of Prophetic Elders (ACPE) has repeatedly brought up the number of dreams and visions they have received concerning the cities of America on fire with riots. As far as we could trace, some were as far back as 1983 when Elizabeth Alves had gone away for a season of fasting and prayer. During this time she had a very disturbing vision with similarities to the current situation in Ferguson, Missouri, that erupted following the grand jury's decision after a young African-American was shot by a white policeman.

"The pictures of the rioting were eerily reminiscent of the descriptions some gave during the ACPE meetings. This whole situation could escalate even more, warranting the fact that we need to pray for the peace of God over our cities. If you read our report that we sent out from our General of Intercession of Missouri last week, you know that pastors from the area and worship leaders such as Kent Henry gathered to pray and bond together prior to the verdict announcement.

"Bishop Harry Jackson flew in to Ferguson from Washington D.C. along with Alveda King (niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.) and other African-American leaders just prior to the announcement. They take their responsibility both as American citizens and leaders in their community seriously.

"As I reflect in prayer on the situation, my heart goes out to all the families involved in this tragedy. If I were the parents of Michael Brown, I would be in shock that my child left home one morning and was dead that same day. The grief from both the trauma and loss can only be borne through God's supernatural help.

"For the police officer who is now receiving death threats, I can only wonder how he is concerned for his pregnant wife and unborn child. The recent statistics that I looked up said that so far this year, 105 officers have lost their lives in the line of duty. (1) In the midst of the pain of Ferguson, we need to be grateful for our first-responders and pray for them—particularly for their safety.

"I believe that we need to cry out to the Lord to heal the pain of racial injustice in our nation. Evidentially, there is a lot that still remains! Racism needs to be rooted out wherever it exists, in whatever community it wants to rear its ugly, hate-filled head.

"The Lord gave the prophets a forewarning of what could happen across the nation. Cities were burning. We must pray that this does not happen because in the end, we are not red, yellow, brown, black or white. We are Americans and one nation under God, indivisible! Every single American matters.

"With so many enemies at a door, we must remember that a house divided will fall. Our foes would love to take advantage of just such a moment and will do so if we do not stand together, loving and valuing one another.

"So, it is time to put Shields Up over our cities and pray that Dr. King's dream will not be torn asunder in the midst of us looking for answers to heal our land."

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Christine D. Johnson Featured Culture Thu, 27 Nov 2014 10:11:01 -0500
Creed frontman Scott Stapp says he’s ‘penniless’ http://www.charismanews.com/culture/46297-creed-frontman-scott-stapp-says-he-s-penniless http://www.charismanews.com/culture/46297-creed-frontman-scott-stapp-says-he-s-penniless

ScottStapp-Official

Rocker Scott Stapp made a name for himself as the frontman of Creed in the '90s. Now in a 16-minute Facebook video posted Wednesday morning, he claims to be under a "vicious attack" that has left him "penniless" and living out of his car or in a Holiday Inn.

"I had no money, not even for gas or food," said Stapp, who added that he ended up in the emergency room after two days of not eating.

Recently there were rumors that Stapp was dead or had relapsed into alcohol and drugs, but he denied the rumors by affirming that he is "sober as can be" and "safe as of right now in a hotel room."

He said he has been under "vicious attack," sharing that recently he had an audit conducted of his record company and personal finances.

"A lot of money was stolen from me or royalties not paid, so that's when all hell began to break loose," he said.

He also said he has been targeted by the Internal Revenue Service for what the IRS said was a "clerical error." He said he is to receive his money back, but not for nine or 10 months.

Having been" harassed," "stalked" and "slandered," he is asking for a "a good lawyer that's ready to fight." He is documenting what has been happening to him recently and plans to continue making public statements via Facebook.

Stapp said he is praying for his enemies and believes that God will give him "a future and a hope." He refers to his three children and said he wants a better America for them.

"I can't sit back anymore and allow this to continue and allow my children to be embarrassed and humiliated by the actions of others, not their father."

He said he rededicated his life to Christ in the last few years. He told his story in the 2012 autobiography Sinner's Creed (Tyndale House Publishers).

"I'm not going to stop sharing what Christ has done in my life," he said, but also reiterated his intent to pursue legal action. "I'm going to let the world know everything that's been done to me over the last nine weeks."

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Christine D. Johnson Featured Culture Wed, 26 Nov 2014 23:28:23 -0500
4 Kingdom Laws for Understanding Angels http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/46279-4-kingdom-laws-for-understanding-angels http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/46279-4-kingdom-laws-for-understanding-angels

It is essential for us to know how to be in a prime position to receive and activate God's supernatural (and often miraculous) influence of angels in our world. One of the main things we need to understand is how the kingdom of God works in relation to us and our earthly realm.

There are certain kingdom laws in the Word of God that angels abide by, and if we are to benefit from having angels as our allies, we too must abide by those laws. Here are a few points to help us understand God's kingdom and make this connection between His laws and our angelic allies.

1. The kingdom of God dwells within us. If Jesus is Lord in our lives, then His kingdom has come through us (Luke 17:21). Yet we will only have full access to it and its resources when we are born again by the Spirit of God (John 3:5). This access to kingdom resources requires a willingness to change (repent) and a submissive, broken spirit (Matt. 3:2; 6:33.) With the kingdom of God present all around us through angelic miracles, with old walls between churches being broken down, and with miraculous conversions occurring in the Islamic countries, it's clear that we are living in a time of kingdom breakthrough.

2. The kingdom of God is also yet to come. We do not yet see all the aspects and inner workings of God's kingdom (Heb. 2:8-9). Its "fullness" is still to come because we are still waiting for Jesus to return. Jesus also confirms this in John 18:36 by saying the kingdom of God is "not of this world."

3. The kingdom of God intensifies through the Holy Spirit. In the letters of the apostle Paul, he calls the baptism of the Holy Spirit a guarantee of the powers of the world to come in the here and now. Furthermore, the powers of the kingdom are released at our sealing and anointing (2 Cor. 1:21-22; Eph. 1:14). I'm convinced that many Christians are children of the kingdom but are not sons. All who are saved are children, yet the rights of sonship—which include angels, miracles, and signs and wonders—belong to those who have been baptized in the Holy Spirit.

4. The kingdom of God brings power and life into the world. Angels are a part of that realm we call the kingdom of heaven. When a church or a believer is willing to sell out to all God has, the angelic activity will increase exponentially. In a suffering, sad and dirty world we need this kingdom that is "righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Rom. 14:17) to be activated.

Ron Phillips is senior pastor of Abba's House (formerly Central Baptist Church) near Chattanooga, Tenn., where he has pastored since 1979. He is the author of more than 20 books.

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Ron Phillips Featured Opinion Thu, 27 Nov 2014 17:00:00 -0500
5 Ways to Resolve Offense http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/46278-5-ways-to-resolve-offense http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/46278-5-ways-to-resolve-offense

Matthew 18:15 spells out the clearest call in all of Scripture for us to walk in reconciliation: "If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother" (NKJV). When it's time to clear up a conflict, following the rules in this verse will keep us from falling.

1. The Law of Sensitivity. Jesus began by saying, "If your brother sins against you." This is a call to assess if we've truly been sinned against or are just being oversensitive. Sin means someone has violated Scripture and offended God. The fact that we don't approve of someone's actions doesn't mean he's actually sinned. Let's allow the Word to set our sensitivity levels (see Ps. 119:165).

2. The Law of Honesty. Jesus said, "Go and tell him his fault" because we need to be honest with ourselves and with those who have offended us. It is both dishonest and dangerous to pretend that we are not offended. If a valid issue has come up, we should approach our offender (see Prov. 27:5). Ignoring him only creates a hothouse of pent-up emotions in which bitterness and unforgiveness can germinate.

3. The Law of Privacy. Jesus said the problem is to be solved "between you and him alone." We need to keep others out of it. Gossip and talebearing may masquerade as something more refined, such as "sharing" or a prayer request, but they're both still sinful (see 2 Cor. 12:20). Violating the law of privacy may be a greater sin than the original offense because it multiplies the problem throughout the local body of believers and opens the door to division.

4. The Law of Responsibility. The words "If he hears you" raise the issue of our responsibility to listen when we're confronted. Everyone's healing depends on it. Ideally, forgiveness will be extended between the parties and the relationship will be saved. If your words are ignored, take the situation to God in prayer and try another approach. But don't forget: We are responsible to be active listeners in our relationships (see Matt. 5:23-25).

5. The Law of Victory. Jesus defined a successful resolution with the words, "You have gained your brother." The goal of honest confrontation is to regain the relationship, not further damage it. Aim for win-win outcomes so that no one walks away from the encounter shamed or rejected. Victory is not putting someone in his place. It's winning him back as a brother by speaking the truth in love (see Eph. 4:15).

David Cannistraci is the senior pastor of GateWay City Church in San Jose, California, and a frequent contributor to Charisma magazine. He travels as a speaker and has written Apostles and the Emerging Apostolic Movement and God's Vision for Your Church (both by Regal). For more information, visit davidcannistraci.org.

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David Cannistraci Featured Opinion Thu, 27 Nov 2014 15:00:00 -0500
The Key to Totally Transforming Your Life http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/46277-the-key-to-totally-transforming-your-life http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/46277-the-key-to-totally-transforming-your-life

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will" (Rom. 12:2, NIV).

As children of God, we want to weigh out, agree with and apply His truth in our lives. This requires nothing short of a transformation in our minds. We need to totally change how we look at things in order to perceive God's will. We cannot determine His plan through the counsel of man or the plans of this world.

Our minds, like our closets, can become cluttered—not by clothes that are in or out of season but by the patterns or trends of this world. These outfits, or thought processes, may look like they belong in our closets the first few years they take up residence there. But with the passage of time, they soon appear threadbare and out of sorts. They fit too tight or too loose, too long or too short. Unless our closets—our minds—are cleared out and reorganized on a timely and regular basis, we will not be able to test and apply God's truth to our lives.

We may rest assured of three characteristics of God's plan for us:

  • It is for good
  • It is pleasing to Him
  • It is perfect

The standard for determining what remains in our minds is God's Word. When we look into the Word, we can compare it to what is in our minds. In doing this we discover what needs to be removed or replaced, clearing space to make room for the wisdom and fresh insights God longs to give us.

How are you building a habit of cleaning the closet of your mind? Do you make time to immerse yourself in God's Word on a regular basis? Only the renewing of our minds brings true transformation! As you approach God's Word today, pray:

Father, thank You for the gift of Your Word! You have made Your wisdom available to me so that I can discover Your perfect will for my life. Holy Spirit, as I read Your Word right now, I ask for wisdom and revelation. Identify any clutter in my mind that contradicts or obscures what You say is true. Transform my mind today. In Jesus' name, amen.

Adapted from The True Measure of a Woman: Discover Your Intrinsic Value and See Yourself as God Does (Charisma House) by Lisa Bevere.

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Lisa Bevere Featured Opinion Thu, 27 Nov 2014 13:00:00 -0500
Warring With Wisdom and Revelation http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/46276-warring-with-wisdom-and-revelation http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/46276-warring-with-wisdom-and-revelation

At this time of year, there is a heightened level of demonic activity. The hearts of Americans are also being gripped by fear as Ebola ravages lives and communities, Islamic terrorism escalates, and our national security is severely threatened by open borders. We are reminded, however, "...we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul" (Heb. 10:39).

God is calling his remnant warriors to rise above this deluge of wickedness and employ the weapons of our warfare, which have the power to destroy even the mightiest of strongholds (2 Cor. 10:4). We cannot be tactical in our approach, however. God is calling us to a higher level in our warfare. As the church seeks God's direction for moving forward in victory, I feel strongly that we must reconsider the importance of warring with wisdom and revelation.

Several years ago my daughter, Hannah, received a dream from the Lord that was not only for Hannah and me, but also for the body of Christ in general. In her dream, we were dropping her off at a college or university.  She had to get a new pair of shoes before entering the campus, which she picked up inside "Safeway" supermarket. Wondering why her new shoes were found in such an unusual place, she looked back and saw the name was no longer "Safeway" but "Other Things."

As we prayed about this dream, we felt the Lord say that a new season or phase was coming (new shoes). On this new journey, we could not go the "safe" and familiar way; He was about to do "other things." God was calling the body of Christ into a time of tremendous stretching and paradigm shifting to prepare the way for those who would pioneer new methods and activities. I also understood that we would have to keep coming back to the Lord in a very deliberate way so that He can show us what, how and when to do it.

Next in the dream, Hannah was given her room assignment: Room 601 on the "Gray Floor." I knew that the color gray is biblically symbolic of wisdom. With my love of word studies, I remembered that 601 is the Strong's Concordance number which corresponds to the Greek words for "revelation." I knew this was a reference to Ephesians 1:17-18, "may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints."

The Two in Tandem

This dream was extremely significant to me. The symbolic designations of Hannah's room and floor were intriguing. The broader area (the floor) was wisdom, yet it wasn't complete without revelation (the room).  Neither would be adequate or function without the other. Unfortunately, most of the church focuses on one or the other—not a balance of the two—with the greater portion of Christ's body emphasizing the need for wisdom and knowledge. While I would never downplay the need for wisdom—in the dream it was the larger portion—it is also true that wisdom without revelation is very detrimental to our cause.

Wisdom is yesterday's revelation that has been processed and made into a way of thinking. It is a general understanding of God's ways, purposes and principles learned over time. Wisdom serves as our foundation.

Revelation is God's lifting of the veil created by sin from our hearts and allows us to receive fresh insight directly from Him (2 Cor. 4:3-6). Revelation is a spontaneous and specific understanding for current situations. It is applicable truth for today.

Revelation must be interpreted in the larger context of wisdom. Likewise, we cannot build, war and accomplish God's desires based solely on the wisdom and knowledge we've acquired through the years. We also must seek revelation on how to apply that wisdom at the right time, and in the right way.

If you just operate based on wisdom, you become an old wineskin that cannot take in the new wine, the present Word of the Lord. Without revelation, we will merely maintain our ministries and not truly operate in kingdom advancement. We must continuously come to God for fresh truth so that our youth is renewed like the eagle (Ps. 103:5). This heart posture will keep us willing to break out of the mold and jump off new cliffs into deeper waters that He can release through us.

A Recipe for Hope

Effective intercession is absolutely linked to revelation. When praying about any situation, we must ask ourselves, "What Scripture applies to this?" Or "Holy Spirit, what is Your will and strategy in this matter?" Regardless of His chosen method for speaking to us, when we rise up and place God in His rightful place of authority, we will hear from Him and be the overcomers He desires us to be.

Using these principles, countless believers throughout history have prayed rebellious spouses and prodigal children to the foot of the Cross. Cycles of poverty and infirmity have been broken off of families. And through a word of knowledge or prophetic word shared, table servers have been launched into their destiny! By following the Holy Spirit's promptings, nameless, faceless men and women have been used of God to deliver and transform entire people groups and nations.

Do you find yourself in a seemingly hopeless situation? Have circumstances caused your heart to be gripped by fear? Are you in need of direction or strategy for resolving a particular issue?

God wants you to find your room of revelation. It is often a process that requires time and great perseverance, but don't give up. Draw near to Him; He'll guide you there. Despite how difficult your situation, the Holy Spirit is willing to disclose heaven's strategy and insight to you, enabling you to break free of oppression and adversity. Your destiny is to be a kingly warrior, overcoming in life through the kingdom authority of Jesus Christ. You can do it—if you live on the floor of wisdom, within the room of revelation!

Dutch Sheets is an internationally recognized teacher, conference speaker and author of The Power of Hope. He has written more than 20 books, translated into over 30 languages. His first work, Intercessory Prayer, sold nearly a million copies and is being used to empower believers worldwide for passionate prayer and societal transformation. He and his wife, Ceci, make their home in the Dallas area.

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Dutch Sheets Featured Opinion Thu, 27 Nov 2014 11:00:00 -0500
4 Overlooked Ways the Holy Spirit Is Active http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/46275-4-overlooked-ways-the-holy-spirit-is-active http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/46275-4-overlooked-ways-the-holy-spirit-is-active

Experiencing God's work in my life began very early, as I was saved at the age of 10. Now, more than five decades later, every day, through praying in the Spirit, I enter dimensions beyond my cognitive being to praise and intercede before the throne of God.

As wonderful as the Pentecostal experience is, we must still be vigilant in our spirituality and guard what God has entrusted to us. We must keep our relationship with the Holy Spirit fresh and our dependence on Him constant.

For my devotions one year, I journaled through the Gospel of Mark. I found this daily immersion in the Scripture to be really invigorating, and it eventually led to my book Living in the Spirit: Drawing Us to God, Sending Us to the World. In it, I describe four activities of the Spirit we would do well to revisit and consider.

First, He is involved in creation. Genesis 1:2 says, "The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters" (KJV). The New International Version says, "The Spirit of God was hovering over the waters."

That is such an eloquent introduction in Scripture to the divine personality of the Spirit, who brings creation out of chaos. I would suggest to you that this also describes the work of the Spirit in your life and mine. Our life without God is chaos. The Spirit of God wants to create in us the personality of Jesus and to breathe into the formlessness and void of our life the life of Jesus. The Spirit is at work in that creation process. It is part of His divine nature.

Second, He is involved in regeneration. "When you send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the ground" (Ps. 104:30). As the Spirit brooded over the material creation of the earth and brought everything into being through His creative act, He is also at work in the spiritual re-creation of our inner lives.

"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws" (Ezek. 36:26-27). John 3:5-6 re-emphasizes a new heart made by the Spirit when Jesus says, "No one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit." The Spirit is always seeking to birth us into the kingdom of God.

Jesus does a beautiful thing in putting together the Spirit's work in creation with the Spirit's work in the human personality. After Christ's resurrection, He appears to His disciples and speaks peace to them. Then the Scripture says, "With that he breathed on them and said, 'Receive the Holy Spirit'" (John 20:22). Even as God breathed life into the lifeless form of man at creation, so Jesus spoke to His disciples and breathed into them life which is eternal.

Third, the Spirit is active in giving us the Scriptures. "All Scripture is God-breathed" (2 Tim. 3:16). The King James Version says, "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God." The correct translation of the Greek word is, "All Scripture is expired," that is, breathed out. All Scripture is the product of the breath of God. The function of the Spirit is to breathe the presence of God into human life. The Bible is a result of the activity of the wind of the Spirit—God breathing His word out of His nature.

Fourth, the Spirit is involved in resurrection from death. "And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you" (Rom. 8:11, NIV). The Spirit is the agent transferring the eternal life of God to us. The Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead lives also in you and me.

I often ask the Lord to help me stay fresh on the revelation side so that I'm inundated with His presence and spared from becoming drawn into argumentation, arrogance or exclusionism.

For those who are ministers, it is not adequate to merely sign our credential renewal each year, reaffirming our doctrines—or even to publicly proclaim them. We must see the Spirit's life and empowerment each day in our own life.

I encourage you to have an open mind and heart to the Spirit's leading and moving in your life. When I so recently experienced His healing touch, it was a fresh confirmation of His presence and power.

May we all keep an ongoing, open connection—not a dial-up connection, but a hardwired one—to the life-flow of the Spirit.

George O. Wood is general superintendent of the Assemblies of God. 

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George O. Wood Featured Opinion Thu, 27 Nov 2014 09:00:00 -0500
Nutcracker's Christmas Tree Puts PTA Up in Arms http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/46294-nutcracker-s-christmas-tree-puts-pta-up-in-arms http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/46294-nutcracker-s-christmas-tree-puts-pta-up-in-arms

We haven't even had time to hang the mistletoe and would you believe there are already skirmishes breaking out in the war on Christmas?

The latest yuletide battleground is Butler Elementary School in Belmont, Massachusetts.

Over the years I've covered my fair share of anti-Christmas schoolhouse shenanigans. There was the dimwit who confiscated a child's candy canes and the dunderheads who banned the colors red and green. And how can we forget about the simpletons who outlawed classroom poinsettias or the Junior League communists who rewrote the lyrics to "Silent Night"?

But those are junior varsity skirmishes compared to what happened at Butler Elementary School—where the PTA canceled a field trip to see "The Nutcracker" because there was a Christmas tree on the stage.

I'm not making this up, folks.

Television station WHDH did a stellar job reporting this act of lunacy. They report that a group of parents were alarmed at the "questionable content" of the popular ballet.

The questionable content had nothing to do with men in tights. The parents got their tutus in a twist over "O Tannenbaum."

"In the past years, there were parent complaints as 'The Nutcracker' has a religious content," PTA co-president Barbara Bulfoni told the television station.

Well, smoke some holly and call me jolly! Heaven help the unfortunate children who gaze upon a tree decorated with ornaments and sparkly lights and tinsel.

According to the reporting of WHDH, the issue came to a boiling point during a recent PTA meeting. Parents who supported the ballet were told accused of being discriminatory.

And to make matters worse, the PTA secretly canceled the trip.

Once the parents learned the trip had been canceled—they raised a ruckus and faster than you could say "Sugar Plum Fairy"—the PTA reversed its decision.

For the record—there are no reported instances of a child spontaneously converting to the Christian faith while attending a performance of "The Nutcracker."

I commend the PTA for coming to their senses and I raise a cup of eggnog in their honor. I may need a double.

Todd Starnes is host of Fox News & Commentary, heard on hundreds of radio stations. Sign up for his American Dispatch newsletter, be sure to join his Facebook page, and follow him on Twitter. His latest book is God Less America.

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Todd Starnes Featured Opinion Wed, 26 Nov 2014 16:00:00 -0500
School District Shelves Hobby Lobby President's Bible Curriculum http://www.charismanews.com/us/46295-school-district-shelves-hobby-lobby-president-s-bible-curriculum http://www.charismanews.com/us/46295-school-district-shelves-hobby-lobby-president-s-bible-curriculum

An Oklahoma school district has shelved a Bible curriculum that Hobby Lobby President Steve Green had hoped would be used by students in January.

Two legal groups that opposed the elective said Tuesday (Nov. 25) that the Mustang Public Schools decided not to feature the curriculum, which was approved in April by the School Board.

"In summary, the topic of a Bible course in the Mustang School District is no longer a discussion item, nor is there a plan to provide such a course in the foreseeable future," Superintendent Sean McDaniel wrote in an email to the Freedom from Religion Foundation and Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

The two groups, working with the American Civil Liberties Union, said they received the email in response to a freedom-of-information request they filed about documents concerning the school board's role with the curriculum.

Jerry Pattengale, senior editor for the high school curriculum, said he looks forward to working with other school districts.

"We understand Mustang's decision to withdraw the new, elective Bible course from consideration," said Pattengale, who also is executive director of education of the billionaire Green family's Museum of the Bible, scheduled to open in Washington in 2017.

"Museum of the Bible remains committed to providing an elective high school Bible curriculum and continues work on an innovative, high-tech course that will provide students and teachers with a scholarly overview of the Bible's history, narrative and impact."

Pattengale, who sits on the Board of Managers for Religion News Service, had said in July that the introduction of the curriculum's first textbook was postponed until January due to "unforeseen delays."

In June, Green's company won a closely watched Supreme Court decision that granted corporations such as Hobby Lobby religious exemptions from covering women's contraception in company health insurance plans. Green is the founder of Museum of the Bible, which will feature his family's vast collection of biblical artifacts.

See more here.

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Adelle M. Banks/RNS Featured U.S. News Wed, 26 Nov 2014 15:00:00 -0500
10 Reasons to Give Thanks in Tough Times http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/heres-the-deal/46293-10-reasons-to-give-thanks-in-tough-times http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/heres-the-deal/46293-10-reasons-to-give-thanks-in-tough-times

If you're like me, you appreciate practical tools to help you in your Christian life. With Thanksgiving approaching, here's a gift to enable you to cultivate grateful hearts in those with whom you gather.

First of all, living in our increasingly secular society, it's important we remind ourselves of the pertinent facts concerning the holiday of Thanksgiving. In 1863, a Christian president, Abraham Lincoln, proclaimed a national day of "thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwells in heaven."

Second, the first Thanksgiving holiday was a joyous event celebrated by 90 Native Americans and 53 Pilgrims who enjoyed a plentiful harvest after their prayers and hard work redeemed a very difficult first year in America. Remember that the Pilgrims signed the Mayflower Compact stating that their purpose of leaving England and coming to America was religious freedom not selfish greed.

That purpose is clearly stated: "For the glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith." Subsequently, they joined together for three days of prayerful thanksgiving to God for the harvest and the blessings He bestowed upon them.

It's important to review these facts with family members and guests, lest we fall prey to thinking this is just a day off for feasting, football and Friday shopping prep!

Third, as Christians, we always want to cultivate thankfulness in our lives. Recall how Jesus had 10 lepers whom He healed and yet only one came back to say thank you. God gives us a directive, not an elective: "In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you" (1 Thess. 5:18). We need to develop the habit of giving thanks "in" everything, not necessarily "for" everything that comes our way.

10 Thanksgiving Talking Points

Feel free to adapt, delete or custom design the following questions, or to use them as a springboard for some great interaction in a short devotional time before or after eating or while enjoying that scrumptious meal.

1. Thank God for sending His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, who lived a sinless life and then died the death we deserved. Why does this matter? What does it mean to you?

2. Thank God for the gift of freedom upon which America was uniquely founded. Ours is the only nation in history ever established on the principle that "all men are created equal" and enjoy certain rights that do not come from a dictator, king or government, but rather from the living God.

3. Thank God for all the bountiful varieties of food we enjoy every single day. Hunger is the No. 1 cause of death in the world. Fifteen million children die yearly, and 21,000 die daily because of this. One-third of the world is starving, while another one-third is underfed. Imagine if we had to search garbage cans for specks of nourishment to feed us.

4. Thank God for our health, medical technology and the personnel who keep us healthy. In the '90s, more than 100 million children died from illness and starvation alone. Yearly, more than 1 million children die from preventable diseases, such as diarrhea and pneumonia, because they lack treatment we easily take for granted. Does this matter?

5. Thank God for our eyes and the phenomenal gift of sight. Jesus called the eye "the lamp of the body," and it has more than 2,000 components! Cover your eyes for a moment and imagine what it would be like to live in darkness as some do. Would you take $1 million in exchange for your eyes?

6. Thank God for our parents and the promise that God gives: "Honor your father and your mother ... that your days may be prolonged, and it may go well with you" (Deut. 5:16). Why is this important?

7. Thank God for clean running water available in our sinks, washing machines, dishwashers and toilets. More than 1 billion people lack access to clean drinking water, which yields sickness and complex problems. How would you feel if this was our situation?

8. Thank God for police officers, firefighters, garbage collectors, 911 operators and others who protect us—especially men and women in the military. Can you picture what our life would be like without these public servants?

9. Thank God for the wonderful gift of electricity. More than one-quarter of the human population does not have access to any electricity. Name some items in your home powered by electricity. What would life be like without them?

10. Thank God for our teachers and education, whether it's public, private or done at home. One out of every four children in America grows up without the ability to read. Sixty percent of inmates in prison are illiterate. Are we thankful for our teachers and the gift of learning?

Here's the deal: It is so easy to take things for granted and to grumble and complain unless we catch ourselves and intentionally cultivate thankful hearts. The Thanksgiving holiday affords us a tremendous opportunity to nurture an attitude of gratitude. Carpe diem—seize the day!

Larry Tomczak is a best-selling author and cultural commentator with 42 years of trusted ministry experience. His passion is to bring perspective, analysis and insight from a biblical worldview. He loves awakening people to today's cultural realities and responses needed for a restored, influential church. Please visit LarryTomczak.com and follow him on Facebook or at @larrytomczak on Twitter.

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Larry Tomczak Featured Here's the Deal Opinion Wed, 26 Nov 2014 13:51:55 -0500
Sin Is at the Root of Racism, Says NFL's Benjamin Watson http://www.charismanews.com/us/46292-sin-is-at-the-root-of-racism-says-nfl-s-benjamin-watson http://www.charismanews.com/us/46292-sin-is-at-the-root-of-racism-says-nfl-s-benjamin-watson
The reactions to the grand jury's decision not to indict Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown continue pouring in. New Orleans Saints' tight end Benjamin Watson has seen nearly 300,000 fans like his take on the disturbing topic. 
 
A transparent Watson expressed a cadre of emotions. He says he's angry, frustrated, fearful, embarrassed, sad, sympathetic, offended, confused, introspective, hopeless, hopeful and, finally encouraged. Do his words resonate with your heart? Below is what he shared on his Facebook post:

At some point while I was playing or preparing to play Monday Night Football, the news broke about the Ferguson Decision. After trying to figure out how I felt, I decided to write it down. Here are my thoughts:

I'M ANGRY because the stories of injustice that have been passed down for generations seem to be continuing before our very eyes.

I'M FRUSTRATED, because pop culture, music and movies glorify these types of police citizen altercations and promote an invincible attitude that continues to get young men killed in real life, away from safety movie sets and music studios.

I'M FEARFUL because in the back of my mind I know that although I'm a law-abiding citizen I could still be looked upon as a "threat" to those who don't know me. So I will continue to have to go the extra mile to earn the benefit of the doubt.

I'M EMBARRASSED because the looting, violent protests and law breaking only confirm, and in the minds of many, validate, the stereotypes and thus the inferior treatment.

I'M SAD, because another young life was lost from his family, the racial divide has widened, a community is in shambles, accusations, insensitivity hurt and hatred are boiling over, and we may never know the truth about what happened that day.

I'M SYMPATHETIC, because I wasn't there so I don't know exactly what happened. Maybe Darren Wilson acted within his rights and duty as an officer of the law and killed Michael Brown in self defense like any of us would in the circumstance. Now he has to fear the backlash against himself and his loved ones when he was only doing his job. What a horrible thing to endure. OR maybe he provoked Michael and ignited the series of events that led to him eventually murdering the young man to prove a point.

I'M OFFENDED, because of the insulting comments I've seen that are not only insensitive but dismissive to the painful experiences of others.

I'M CONFUSED, because I don't know why it's so hard to obey a policeman. You will not win!!! And I don't know why some policeman abuse their power. Power is a responsibility, not a weapon to brandish and lord over the populace.

I'M INTROSPECTIVE, because sometimes I want to take "our" side without looking at the facts in situations like these. Sometimes I feel like it's us against them. Sometimes I'm just as prejudiced as people I point fingers at. And that's not right. How can I look at white skin and make assumptions but not want assumptions made about me? That's not right.

I'M HOPELESS, because I've lived long enough to expect things like this to continue to happen. I'm not surprised and at some point my little children are going to inherit the weight of being a minority and all that it entails.

I'M HOPEFUL, because I know that while we still have race issues in America, we enjoy a much different normal than those of our parents and grandparents. I see it in my personal relationships with teammates, friends and mentors. And it's a beautiful thing.

I'M ENCOURAGED, because ultimately the problem is not a SKIN problem, it is a SIN problem. SIN is the reason we rebel against authority. SIN is the reason we abuse our authority. SIN is the reason we are racist, prejudiced and lie to cover for our own. SIN is the reason we riot, loot and burn. BUT I'M ENCOURAGED because God has provided a solution for sin through the his Son Jesus and with it, a transformed heart and mind. One that's capable of looking past the outward and seeing what's truly important in every human being. The cure for the Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice and Eric Garner tragedies is not education or exposure. It's the gospel. So, finally, I'M ENCOURAGED because the gospel gives mankind hope.

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Jennifer LeClaire Featured U.S. News Wed, 26 Nov 2014 13:00:00 -0500
Do Christian Hashtags Rally the Faithful or Inspire Troll Attacks? http://www.charismanews.com/us/46291-do-christian-hashtags-rally-the-faithful-or-inspire-troll-attacks http://www.charismanews.com/us/46291-do-christian-hashtags-rally-the-faithful-or-inspire-troll-attacks

Standing on the sidewalk outside an imposing downtown church, Michael Corral carried a portable loudspeaker and a handmade wooden cross with an old-fashioned message: "REPENT & BELIEVE."

"They're twisting Scripture to see through their sins," he said, as a group of pro-LGBT evangelicals met inside.

Meanwhile, halfway across the country, conservative activist Eric Teetsel was monitoring the same conference from his home in Kansas, firing off 140-character tweets using the conference hashtag, #TRPinDC.

"I have more respect for those who acknowledge what the Bible says and reject it than those who twist it to serve their goals," tweeted Teetsel, the executive director of the  Manhattan Declaration project, which works to preserve traditional marriage.

It was essentially the same message, but two different mediums and two different audiences. In 2014, activists like Teetsel can reach a far broader audience—3,600 followers in his case, not counting retweets—than streetside evangelists like Corral.

Some leaders use trending topics or hashtags to build momentum around a certain conversation. The idea is that by pointing followers to a catchy hashtag, activists can spark conversation and rally supporters around a cause. On Monday (Nov. 24), for example, Twitter lit up with the hashtag #PrayForFerguson after a grand jury decided not to indict a white police officer who fatally shot a black teenager.

One of the earlier noteworthy mobilizing campaigns included #KONY2012, a movement founded by a Christian who launched a campaign to try to capture African Lord's Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony. First Lady Michelle Obama famously participated in the #BringBackOurGirls campaign after more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls were kidnapped by the terrorist group Boko Haram.

But everyone on Twitter is learning that a hashtag cuts both ways: It can be hijacked or lampooned by detractors, and it's a key way that online activists are pushing back against opposing messages or what some might even call hate speech.

Last week, embattled comedian Bill Cosby posted a photo of himself and wrote: "Go ahead. Meme me! #cosbymeme." The idea immediately backfired, as people began making rape allegations against him. The New York Police Department too asked followers to send photos of themselves posing with officers and using the hashtag #myNYPD. The effort morphed into a slew of negative tweets about aggressive policing.

The Duggar family of TLC channel's 19 Kids And Counting recently posted about daughter Jessa Duggar's marriage to Ben Seewald and the criticism they received for posting a photo of the chaste young couple kissing.

"We challenge all married couples to take a happily married picture and post it here," they posted. Several same-sex couples gladly took up the challenge, knowing full well that the Duggars have spoken out against homosexuality.

When more than 1,000 Southern Baptists gathered in Nashville last month for a massive Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission conference on homosexuality, the live stream set off fiery debate. Its official hashtag, #ERLC2014, was quickly hijacked with negative responses.

Aaron Meares, an evangelical pastor in western Michigan, wasn't able to access the conference's live-stream feed, so he followed the #ERLC2014 instead. At a conference that was notable for its kinder, gentler tone toward gays, "seems there's a vast diff. in tone b/w the presenters and the critics," he tweeted.

Evangelical author Barnabas Piper saw the hits from the other side coming in live time as Southern Baptist leader Al Mohler gave the opening address. "It's daylight, trolls," he tweeted, using the online term for take-no-prisoners critics. "You have to wait until sundown to tweet about #ERLC2014."

Evangelical author Rachel Held Evans did not attend the conference but followed the live stream, offering steady pushback to the conference speakers to her more than 56,000 followers. "You can't promote a livestream and hashtag and then get annoyed when people use it," she tweeted.

One of the conference sponsors said his company considered promoting materials through the official conference hashtag but decided against it because he didn't want his product associated with a feed that was already ripe with conflict.

Most organizers know online dissent is part of the game.

"It doesn't bother me," said ERLC head Russell Moore. "I think that just goes with the territory of social media right now. I think most people know that and understand that."

Indeed, Ed Stetzer, a veteran observer of the evangelical scene and a prominent pollster, tweeted that he was "glad to see people are (generally) not trying to troll #TRPinDC. It is a shame that so many use Twitter to twist & distort." 
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Sarah Pulliam Bailey/RNS Featured U.S. News Wed, 26 Nov 2014 12:00:00 -0500
Judicial Tyranny Strikes Again in Mississippi Marriage Amendment http://www.charismanews.com/us/46290-judicial-tyranny-strikes-again-in-mississippi-marriage-amendment http://www.charismanews.com/us/46290-judicial-tyranny-strikes-again-in-mississippi-marriage-amendment

U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves overturned Mississippi's ban on same-sex marriage on Tuesday. The judge stayed his ruling for two weeks so the state can appeal.

Mississippi state attorneys have already declared their intention to ask the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to block Reeves' order.

Mississippi voters amended their state constitution in 2004 to elevate protection for natural marriage to the state constitution. An overwhelming 86 percent of voters approved the amendment, which defines marriage as being between a man and a woman.

American Family Association President Tim Wildmon released the following statement regarding the ruling:

"This is yet another tragic example of an out-of-control federal judge violating the Constitution and the will of 86 percent of the voters of Mississippi. These renegade judges are robbing the American people of the right to govern themselves, and it is a travesty. The first three words of the Constitution are 'We the People,' not 'We the Judges.'

"We commend Gov. Phil Bryant for his declared intention to fight this egregious judicial overreach with every means at his disposal. God has defined marriage from the dawn of time as the union of one man and one woman, and what God has defined, no man, no judge, can redefine. This judicial tyranny must be resisted."

The text of the Mississippi marriage amendment reads: "Marriage may take place and may be valid under the laws of this state only between a man and a woman. A marriage in another state or foreign jurisdiction between persons of the same gender, regardless of when the marriage took place, may not be recognized in this state and is void and unenforceable under the laws of this state."

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Deborah Hamilton Featured U.S. News Wed, 26 Nov 2014 11:30:00 -0500
Why We'd Do Well to Remember America's 1st Thanksgiving http://www.charismanews.com/us/46289-why-we-d-do-well-to-remember-america-s-first-thanksgiving http://www.charismanews.com/us/46289-why-we-d-do-well-to-remember-america-s-first-thanksgiving
America's national "Thanksgiving" holiday is rooted in the nation's Christian origins and the habit of its first immigrants to set aside special days for giving thanks to God for His goodness and blessings. This custom can be traced back to the Pilgrims who landed at Cape Cod in November 1620, and who periodically would set aside days in which to offer gratitude to God for His mercy and blessings. This custom was carried on by succeeding generations and found its way into the national consciousness and calendar.
The First Thanksgiving
The Pilgrims who landed on Cape Cod in November 1620 were devout followers of Christ who had left the comforts of home, family and friends to pursue their vision of a renewed and reformed Christianity. They were not whiners but chose to maintain an attitude of gratitude even through the most trying times, such as the winter of 1620-21 when sickness ravaged their community and half of them—about 50—were taken away in death.
The first Thanksgiving was celebrated by the Pilgrims after they gathered in their harvest in the fall of 1621, about one year after their landing at Cape Cod. Although their hearts were still heavy from the losses suffered the previous winter, there were at least three areas for which they felt particularly grateful to God.
1) With the arrival of spring, the sickness that had immobilized the community and taken many of them in death had lifted. Their health returned, and although sad from their losses, they were able to apply themselves to carving out a home in the New England wilderness.
2) With the arrival of spring, God providentially sent to them an English-speaking Native American, Squanto, who became their interpreter and guide, helping them establish friendly relations with Massosoit, chief of the Wampanoag, the nearest and most powerful tribe in the region. In March 1621 they had signed an agreement of peace and mutual aid with Massosoit, which resulted in both peoples moving freely back and forth in friendship and trade.
3) Through hard work and Squanto's advice about farming and fishing (they were mostly townspeople and craftsmen), they experienced abundant harvests during the summer and fall of 1621.
Even though they still felt the loss of so many friends and family members, they could see God's hand of mercy sustaining them in the preceding months. So after gathering in their fall harvest, which was abundant, Gov. William Bradford designated a Day of Thanksgiving, during which they would pause to offer up thanks to God for His mercy and blessings. They were not whiners. They knew what it meant to "count their blessings."
Englishmen and Native Americans Celebrate Together
The first Thanksgiving was attended by an approximate equal number of English Pilgrims and Native Americans. After Gov. Bradford announced the Day of Thanksgiving, word of the event soon spread to their Native American friends. So when the day arrived, not only were there individual natives on hand, but Massosoit arrived with 90 of his people, and five dressed deer to add to the meals the Pilgrims had prepared.
The Pilgrims did not seek to force their faith on the Indians, but neither did they hide their faith. After all, in the Mayflower Compact they had stated that they had come to the New World "for the glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith." One can only imagine the emotions that filled their hearts as, in the presence of their new Native American friends, they joined Elder William Brewster in lifting up their hearts in praise and thanksgiving to God.
The day turned out to be more than they could have imagined. Not only did they enjoy meals together with thankful hearts, but they engaged in shooting matches, foot races and wrestling matches. It was such an enjoyable time that the one Day of Thanksgiving was extended for three full days.
And yes, it is almost certain that there was turkey at the first Thanksgiving, for Gov. Bradford had sent out four men to hunt for "fowl" who returned with enough "fowl" to last them an entire week.
Thanksgiving for a Remarkable Answer to Prayer
The next recorded Thanksgiving Day among the Pilgrims was celebrated in the fall of 1623 after a remarkable answer to prayer that saved their harvests. Gov. Bradford tells how the summer of 1623 was unusually hot with no rain whatsoever. As the blazing sun beat down day after day, the land became parched, and the corn—their primary staple—began to dry up along with other vegetables they had planted. Alone in the New England wilderness, it looked as though hunger would be their lot in the days ahead, and maybe starvation. It was a very critical moment in time.
Facing such drought and bleak conditions, Bradford called the Plymouth settlement to a day of "humiliation and prayer." By "humiliation" he did not mean a groveling or self-flagellation, but a recognition and repentance for the human tendency to trust in one's own human strength and ability rather than in God.
Their day of humiliation and prayer began like the many preceding days, very hot with not a single cloud in the sky. But before the day was over, God gave them, Bradford said, "a gracious and speedy answer, both to their own and the Indians' admiration that lived amongst them."
Bradford goes on to say: "For all the morning and the greatest part of the day, it was clear weather and very hot, and not a cloud or any sign of rain to be seen; yet toward evening it began to overcast, and shortly after to rain with such sweet and gentle showers as gave them cause of rejoicing and blessing God. It came without wind or thunder or any violence, and by degrees in that abundance as that the earth was thoroughly wet and soaked, ... which did so apparently revive and quicken the decayed corn and other fruits as was wonderful to see, and made the Indians astonished to behold. And afterwards the Lord sent them such seasonable showers, with interchange of fair weather as, through His blessing, caused a fruitful and liberal harvest, to their no small comfort and rejoicing. For which mercy, in time convenient, they also set apart a day of thanksgiving" (emphasis added).
The Nationalizing of a Day of Thanksgiving
These days of Thanksgiving were observed by succeeding generations, but at various times in different places as deemed appropriate and necessary by the local inhabitants. As the colonists began to form themselves into a nation, these days of Thanksgiving began to be nationalized and made part of the national consciousness and calendar.
For example, the Continental Congress which met between 1774 and 1789 issued several calls for days of humiliation, prayer and thanksgiving. The first one was to be observed on Nov. 28, 1782.
The proclamation reads in part: "It being the indispensable duty of all nations, not only to offer up their supplications to Almighty God, the giver of all good, for His gracious assistance in times of distress, but also in a solemn and public manner, to give Him praise for His goodness in general, and especially for great and signal interpositions of His Providence in their behalf; therefore, the United States in Congress assembled ... [d]o hereby recommend it to the inhabitants of these states in general, to observe and request the several states to interpose their authority, in appointing and commanding the observation of Thursday the 28th day of November next as a day of solemn thanksgiving to God for all His mercies; and they do further recommend to all ranks to testify their gratitude to God for His goodness by a cheerful obedience to His laws and by promoting, each in his station, and by his influence, the practice of true and undefiled religion, which is the the great foundation of public prosperity and national happiness."
Shortly after being sworn in as president, George Washington issued a proclamation designating Nov. 26, 1789 as a Day of Thanksgiving wherein all citizens should offer gratitude to God for His protection, care and many blessings. It was the first Thanksgiving Day designated by the new national government of the United States.
The proclamation reads in part: "Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor, and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me 'to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.'
"Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be. That we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks, for His kind care and protection of the People of this Country. ... And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions, to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually, to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed, to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shown kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace and concord.
"Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789."
A Day of Thanksgiving to be observed on the last Thursday in November was proclaimed by Abraham Lincoln in 1863 in the midst of the Civil War. In spite of the fact that the nation was at war, Lincoln enumerated the many reasons the inhabitants of America had for being thankful to God.
He wrote: "No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that these blessings should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union."
The final Thursday in November, set by President Lincoln, continued to be the observed as "Thanksgiving" until Dec. 26, 1941, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a joint resolution of Congress changing the national Thanksgiving Day from the last Thursday in November to the fourth Thursday.
Concluding Thoughts
Examining the history and development of our "Thanksgiving" holiday makes us realize how far, as a nation, we have removed ourselves from the Christian worldview and faith of our Founders. This Thanksgiving Day, our president will go through a silly formality and "pardon a turkey;" but the depth of faith seen in earlier proclamations, such as those by Washington and Lincoln, is glaringly missing. This is why we must pray for another Great Awakening in our land. 
In spite of the fact that "Thanksgiving" has become secularized and commercialized, we as Christians must never forget that the day is rooted in the commitment of our forefathers and foremothers to maintain a thankful heart even through the most painful and challenging times. So this Thanksgiving, let's count our blessings, "name them one by one and it will surprise you what the Lord has done."
 
 Dr. Eddie L. Hyatt is an author, ordained minister and founding director of "The Revive America Project," dedicated to seeing another great, national spiritual awakening in our land. In his book, America's Revival Heritage, he has documented this nation's radical Christian origins, available at Amazon and his website at http://www.eddiehyatt.com/bookstore.html.
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Eddie Hyatt Featured U.S. News Wed, 26 Nov 2014 11:00:00 -0500
Will You #DefendTheDuggars From the Gay Lobby's False Accusations? http://www.charismanews.com/culture/46288-will-you-defendtheduggars-from-the-gay-lobby-s-false-accusations http://www.charismanews.com/culture/46288-will-you-defendtheduggars-from-the-gay-lobby-s-false-accusations

The Duggar family (of TLC's 19 Kids and Counting) has been known and recognized for their devout Christian faith. They are unashamedly pro-life and live Christ-centered lives.

However, they have recently been subjected to a malicious attack due to their uncompromising stance on marriage and abstinence. The homosexual lobby has put the Duggars in their crosshairs, publicly ridiculing Jim and Michelle for their continued "ignorance" and "fear-mongering" over their stand on biblical marriage and sexuality.  

Recently, the gay lobby launched a petition demanding TLC "put an end to the Duggars show." With the help of the liberal media's propaganda machine their vitriolic petition has already garnered over 150,000 signatures.

It's time to fight back and speak up! TLC needs to hear from you and your Christian neighbors and friends. Send a message to the homosexual lobby, TLC, and the nation that 19 Kids and Counting should not be canceled just because gay activists don't like the wholesome Christian theme of the show.

Our goal is 1 million signatures by Christmas! Taking one step at a time let's reach 200,000 before Thanksgiving.  

Sign our petition to TLC registering your support for the show and your desire to see it remain on the air. Don't allow the homosexual lobby and liberal media to silence one of the few remaining wholesome shows left on television.  Sign the petition. Forward this page and help spread the word! Over 95,000 people have already signed on!

Click HERE to sign the petition.

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Buddy Smith Featured Culture Wed, 26 Nov 2014 10:30:00 -0500
Franklin Graham Sees God's Spirit Moving Amid Disturbing Signs of the Times http://www.charismanews.com/us/46287-franklin-graham-sees-god-s-spirit-moving-amid-disturbing-signs-of-the-times http://www.charismanews.com/us/46287-franklin-graham-sees-god-s-spirit-moving-amid-disturbing-signs-of-the-times

Ebola and ISIS have been dominating the news. Though these two scourges are very different, both bring death. In West Africa we have seen entire families wiped out by Ebola. For many of the people diagnosed with the virus in that part of the world, there is no hope.

Sin is like that—it infects every human who has ever lived, and sinners have no hope outside of Jesus Christ. Sin produces death, but with Christ we have life. As we come to this Thanksgiving season, we should be most grateful to God that "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners" (1 Tim. 1:15, ESV). He loved us enough to come and die on the cross in order to save us from the penalty of sin. This salvation is available for all who repent and put their faith in Him.

As ISIS spreads terror in Syria and Iraq, we are hearing of more and more Muslims coming to faith in Jesus Christ. These are not isolated stories, but thousands of lives. Because of this reign of terror, some who have followed Muhammad their whole lives are turning to faith in Christ. The Holy Spirit is at work even in times of trouble. Many are using their cell phones or a computer to actively explore the truths of the gospel through our Search for Jesus Internet outreach. We are supporting churches and Christians in this part of the world. They need our prayers and our help.

The prophet Isaiah speaks of God's "abundance of salvation" (Isaiah 33:6), and we see that abundance everywhere we proclaim the gospel. We thank God that already this year, well over a million people from across America and around the world have told us they made life-changing decisions for Christ as a result of BGEA's ministry, and we receive reports of more every day. We give Him all the glory.

A few weeks ago, I led an evangelistic outreach, called Rock the Lakes, in Erie, Pennsylvania. One 16-year-old girl with a troubled life was persuaded by friends to attend. She loved the energetic music and had fun in the upbeat crowd. But when I began to explain God's love, His offer of forgiveness, and the life-changing power of the gospel, she became quiet and serious. She knew that sin had wrecked her life, and the Holy Spirit touched her heart. She joined a surge of people who came forward at the invitation to give their hearts to Christ in repentance and faith.

Within days, the 16-year-old went to a church in Erie with her friends and talked to the pastor. Two Sundays later she was baptized. She gave her testimony, sharing how she had tried everything—drugs, sex, alcohol and anything that seemed attractive. She had become pregnant and now has a 4-month-old daughter. She remembers looking at her daughter and thinking, "What can I do to make her life better than mine has been?" It was then that her friends invited her to Rock the Lakes, where God changed her. She told the church that she has Jesus now and is asking God to make her life and her daughter's life totally different because of Him.

Stories like this of God's transforming power are repeated wherever God takes us to share the good news. We know that it "is the Lord's doing; it is marvelous in our eyes" (Psalm 118:23).

The Erie event was broadcast live over the Internet, and there were people all over the world, including nations in the Middle East, who logged on to watch and listen. Nearly 14,000 from the Erie area crowded the arena in person, and at least twice that many, from 138 different countries, participated online. Those who responded on the Internet were invited to connect with online counselors for prayer and personal follow-up and then encouraged—wherever possible—to locate a church in their area. All told, thousands made decisions for Christ as a result of this evangelistic outreach.

We have been praying and preparing all year for November, and we are excited that My Hope 2014 With Billy Graham is now under way—a major national outreach in partnership with thousands of local churches and individual Christians all over America. It will continue throughout November and beyond, and it's not at all too late for your church, or you individually, to participate. Pray for this countrywide effort, and pray for specific people you know who need Jesus Christ. You or your pastor can visit myhopewithbillygraham.org to request a free DVD copy of our powerful, new 30-minute evangelistic film, Heaven, or download it immediately from the website and then work out ways to get unsaved friends and loved ones to watch it with you. They will see compelling, real-life stories of people changed by the gospel, hear a clear and loving presentation of the good news and be invited to respond to Jesus. We believe that God will draw many people to Himself.

Our hearts overflow with gratitude to God for all He has done and is doing, and we are eager to keep pressing forward as He continues to open doors. We are also deeply grateful to you this Thanksgiving season for your part in making this work possible. We rely on your prayers and gifts "so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God" (2 Cor. 4:15). Thank you for all you do to serve Christ and advance His kingdom.

Read the original posting of this story here on the billygraham.org website.

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Franklin Graham Featured U.S. News Wed, 26 Nov 2014 10:00:00 -0500
This Prophetic Insight Shares God's Heart About Racism in America http://www.charismanews.com/us/46286-this-prophetic-insight-shares-god-s-heart-about-racism-in-america http://www.charismanews.com/us/46286-this-prophetic-insight-shares-god-s-heart-about-racism-in-america

Last August in Ferguson, Missouri, police Officer Darren Wilson shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown. The grand jury has handed down a decision of no indictment against Wilson. We now have no choice but to trust that the jury made the best decision it could, based on the evidence presented for them to consider. Our national racial wound, however, going back hundreds of years, is hemorrhaging and in the days to come I fear the growing anger.

I wrote in Visions of the Coming Days (2012) that we would soon see a resurgence of racism in America. Now it erupts and, as a result, Ferguson has burned. We, the church—one Father, one blood—must rise to the occasion and assume the ministry of reconciliation we have always been called of God to pursue. Under no circumstances can we allow ourselves to contribute to the growing hatred. For my part, I am personally cultivating close relationships of mutual respect and love with African-American pastors and congregations. I learn from them. We are brothers and sisters in the Lord. We must know one another. If we don't, then we will make things up and what we make up will never be pretty.

In spite of these efforts made by me and by other like-minded servants of God, my prophetic instincts tell me that the issues have become so complicated and our cultural foundation so seriously broken that, on a national scale, real reconciliation is not possible any time in the near term. Our culture, both black and white, has failed us and now the inevitable blaming has begun. Faced with cultural decline and the destruction it brings, lost humanity always looks for—and finds—someone to hate. New laws will not fix it. Changing "the system" will not heal it. Godly repentance alone, across the full spectrum of race and ethnicity, presents the only path to healing and our sole hope for cultural reform.

Meanwhile, I lament the insanity of violent protests that cause damage to the lives and economic well-being of those against whom the perceived injustices were committed in the first place. This hurts! And it makes no sense. I understand centuries of anger and oppression, but the anger of man does not accomplish the righteousness of God (James 1:20). Events in Ferguson clearly illustrate this truth.

We need a new generation of prophetic voices to arise and lead us to real change by nonviolent means. Where are the Mahatma Gandhis and Martin Luther Kings of our age who bring revolutionary change by peaceful means? Where are the powerful apostolic voices like Paul who confronted Peter with his racist refusal to eat with Gentiles (Gal. 2:11-12) and who taught us that the dividing wall between the races has been broken down in the sacrifice Jesus made at the cross (Eph. 2:13)? We are all of one household! Help us Lord!

R. Loren Sandford is the founder and senior pastor of New Song Church and Ministries in Denver. He is a songwriter, recording artist and worship leader, as well as the author of several books, including Understanding Prophetic PeopleThe Prophetic Church and his latest, Visions of the Coming Days: What to Look for and How to Prepare, which are available with other resources at the church's website.

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R. Loren Sandford Featured U.S. News Wed, 26 Nov 2014 09:30:00 -0500
Ferguson on Fire http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/46283-ferguson-on-fire http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/46283-ferguson-on-fire

I'm reluctant to speak to an issue as raw and sensitive as the events that have unfolded in Ferguson. It's an open sore, but not a flesh wound. Just because the surface will scab over and be all but forgotten like so many events before, does not mean that the body is healed. It is symptomatic of an internal disease, made manifest by external events.

Last night before the Grand Jury announcement was made, Lecrae tweeted"When people say 'Why are you making this a racial thing?' They've unknowingly answered their own question." 

You can choose to reduce this to a legal issue between two individuals and determine who was "right" and who was "wrong", but you would be missing the full picture. As Nobel Prize winner Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn observes "People in the West have acquired considerable skill in using, interpreting and manipulating law (though laws tend to be too complicated for an average person to understand without the help of an expert). Every conflict is solved according to the letter of the law and this is considered to be the ultimate solution."

We are called as followers of Christ to hold ourselves to a higher morality then nationalistic legal systems. According to the letter of the law it could well be that Michael Brown deserved what he got and that Officer Wilson was justified by his actions "legally." Or we could feel a great shame today; a deep pain that our "house is divided," that it cannot stand up to the scrutiny of principals that are higher and more transcendent then a grand jury's opinion, a police handbook's rule of engagement or our favorite news channel's opinion of what is "right."

There is nothing "right" about any of this. Michael Brown's crime of stealing and bullying a shop owner was "wrong." His aggressiveness in the face of authority was "wrong." His aggressiveness and seemingly suicidal decision to confront a police officer after already being wounded was "wrong."

The looting and torching of your neighborhood is "wrong."

I could fill pages about what "they" did as "wrong."

But there are other "wrongs," systemic "wrongs" that propagate a generation of Michael Browns: angry, young men who disdain their existence. Conscienceless mobs who vandalize and loot with impunity are symptoms of a broken and divided house.

As I wrote after the Trayvon Martin incident "the underlying causes that perpetuate a culture of distrust and hysteria that escalates into violence and young men being killed, is not "their" problem, it's  "our" problem and "our" disgrace.

All you have to do is look at these facts I came across from the NAACP to see that we are a divided house:

  • From 1980 to 2008, the number of people incarcerated in America quadrupled-from roughly 500,000 to 2.3 million people.
  • Today, the U.S. is 5 percent of the world population and has 25 percent of world prisoners. African-Americans are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of whites.
  • If current trends continue, one in three black males born today can expect to spend time in prison during his lifetime.

We are broken and no "legal" response has worked or will work. As believers we know that the law kills and grace brings life (2 Cor. 3:6). The paranoia of our divided house gives Officer Wilson a legal license to shoot, and Michael Brown a conscience license to resist at all cost. Both fall short of a measure of humanity characterized by restraint. A restraint born out of sacrifice and selfless risk. As Solzhenitsyn says,"Voluntary self-restraint is almost unheard of: Everyone strives toward further expansion to the extreme limit of the legal frames."

A new battle will now begin to toughen laws and militarize our police force on the right and to liberalize laws and demilitarize on the left. Unfortunately, neither of these propositions address the cancer of hate, distrust, inequities, pain and immorality that live inside us.

We, in theory, have civil rights in this country, but what we increasingly lack is civil obligations. When my right of happiness supersedes my obligation to love the Lord my God with all my heart, mind and soul and to love my neighbor as myself (Mark 12:30), I have misinterpreted my existence. This is not a pithy Christian mission statement, this is the core, the root, the center of my existence as a kingdom citizen; this obligation to love trumps all my rights.

Whether black or white, Christians are called to courage—a courage born out of Christ's courage, a courage that offers grace over law, sacrifice over happiness, and obligation over rights. Dr. Martin Luther King said, "My call to the ministry was not a miraculous or supernatural something. On the contrary, it was an inner urge calling me to serve humanity." If that obligation to serve is manifest by civil disobedience to overcome unjust laws, as in the case of Dr. King, or for me to serve an after-school tutoring program in the urban core, our obligation is loving service.

Ferguson is on fire. It is emblematic of the fire in all of us that needs to be quenched. A below-the-surface racism, regardless of shades, accents or other differences involved, is easily agitated and ready to flare at a wrong look, a misstep, an overreaction. Isaiah 45:18 declares, "For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens, who is God, who formed the earth and made it, who has established it, who did not create it in vain, who formed it to be inhabited: 'I am the Lord, and there is no other.'"

Submitting ourselves to His authority is the only way out of this chaos.

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Rob Hoskins Featured Opinion Wed, 26 Nov 2014 09:00:00 -0500
What President Lincoln Taught Us About Giving Thanks http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/46280-what-president-lincoln-taught-us-about-giving-thanks http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/46280-what-president-lincoln-taught-us-about-giving-thanks

Editor's note: The preceding is the proclamation that set the precedent for America's national day of Thanksgiving. During his administration, President Lincoln issued many orders similar to this. For example, on November 28, 1861, he ordered government departments closed for a local day of thanksgiving.

Sarah Josepha Hale, a 74-year-old magazine editor, wrote a letter to Lincoln on September 28, 1863, urging him to have the "day of our annual Thanksgiving made a National and fixed Union Festival." She explained, "You may have observed that, for some years past, there has been an increasing interest felt in our land to have the Thanksgiving held on the same day, in all the States; it now needs national recognition and authoritative fixation, only, to become permanently, an American custom and institution."

Prior to this, each state scheduled its own Thanksgiving holiday at different times, mainly in New England and other Northern states. President Lincoln responded to Mrs. Hale's request immediately, unlike several of his predecessors, who ignored her petitions altogether. In her letter to Lincoln she mentioned that she had been advocating a national thanksgiving date for 15 years as the editor of Godey's Lady's Book. George Washington was the first president to proclaim a day of thanksgiving, issuing his request on October 3, 1789, exactly 74 years before Lincoln's.

The document below sets apart the last Thursday of November "as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise." According to an April 1, 1864, letter from John Nicolay, one of President Lincoln's secretaries, this document was written by Secretary of State William Seward, and the original was in his handwriting. On October 3, 1863, fellow Cabinet member Gideon Welles recorded in his diary how he complimented Seward on his work. A year later the manuscript was sold to benefit Union troops.

The Proclamation:

Washington, D.C.

October 3, 1863

By Abraham Lincoln, the President of the United States of America

A Proclamation

The year that is drawing towards its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battlefield; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward, Secretary of State

For the original article, visit abrahamlincolnonline.org.

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Abraham Lincoln Featured Opinion Wed, 26 Nov 2014 08:00:00 -0500
15 Blessings You Should Never Take for Granted http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/46285-15-blessings-you-should-never-take-for-granted http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/46285-15-blessings-you-should-never-take-for-granted

At the beginning of this month, two Pakistani Christians—a husband and his pregnant wife—were beaten for three days, stoned by an angry mob and dragged behind a vehicle. Finally they were thrown into a brick kiln and burned alive. The crime: Shahzad Masih, 28, and Shama Bibi, 25, were falsely accused of desecrating a copy of the Quran.

More than 100 people participated in this brutal murder on Nov. 4 in the Pakistani city of Kasur. It's unlikely that anyone will be convicted for the attack. That's because freedom of religion—something Americans have enjoyed for more than 200 years—is not guaranteed in Pakistan.

As you celebrate Thanksgiving this year, I hope you are grateful that someone cannot drag you into an oven heated to 1,470 degrees simply because they believe you blasphemed their holy book. I encourage you to make a list of blessings you may take for granted. My list for 2014 might help you think of others:

1. Do you have religious freedom? The majority of the world's population—75 percent—live in areas with severe religious restrictions. And Christians in more than 60 countries face persecution simply because of their belief in Jesus Christ. About 1.6 billion people in the world live in repressive societies where they have no say in how they are governed.

2. Do you make your own decisions? There are 29.8 million people living as slaves today, according to the Walk Free Foundation. These people live as forced laborers, forced prostitutes, child soldiers and child brides in forced marriages. Walk Free investigated 162 countries and found slaves in every one.

3. Do you have money in a bank? More than 2.5 billion adults around the world are unbanked, according to data based on Gallup polling in 148 countries. Two-thirds of people without accounts said they simply don't have enough money to use a bank.

4. Do you own shoes? About 300 million children around the world don't own a pair of shoes. It is estimated that two billion people worldwide are currently plagued with parasitic diseases that could be prevented simply by wearing proper footwear.

5. Do you drink clean water? About 1.1 billion people in the world don't have access to clean drinking water. Because of that, about 9 million people will die this year because of water-related illnesses. The next time you open a bottle of Dasani or drink from your tap, remember that millions of women around the world spend an average of four hours daily walking to get water.

6. Did your mother survive when you were born? Approximately 800 women die every day from complications during pregnancy and childbirth. This is equivalent to 33 women an hour. Almost all these deaths occurred in developing countries, and most could have been prevented.

7. Did you live past age 5? Some 21,000 children die every day around the world because of poverty and preventable diseases. That is equivalent to one child dying every four seconds. The annual death toll is 7.6 million children a year.

8. Do you eat three meals a day? The World Health Organization estimates that one-third of the world's population is overfed, one-third is underfed and one-third is starving. Approximately 925 million people in the developing world are chronically undernourished.

9. Do you enjoy reliable electricity? About 1.5 billion people in this world have no access to electrical power. Do you enjoy that oven in your kitchen? The next time you prepare a meal, remember that 2.5 billion people in the world still use wood or charcoal to cook their food. Do you enjoy your washing machine? About 5 billion people in the world still wash their clothes by hand.

10. Do you have a roof over your head? The U.N. Commission on Human Rights says there are 100 million homeless people in the world. One in three children in the world live without adequate shelter. And today there are about 42 million people who are living as refugees. Most were displaced by war and live in crude camps.

11. Do you own a car? The United States still has the highest number of motor vehicles in the world. Globally, only 1 out of every 8 people has access to a car. Many of the others either walk, take crowded buses or public vans or ride on bicycles, rickshaws or animals. Did you fly somewhere in the past year? You are blessed. Only 5 to 7 percent of people in the world have ever flown in an airplane.

12. Do you have a flushable toilet? The United Nations Development Program reports that 2.6 billion people do not have access to any toilet facilities. India has the largest percentage of people who lack adequate sanitation. About 638 million Indians must go outdoors.

13. Can you read? Nearly a billion people entered the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their names. There are 72 million children who should be in school but are not enrolled. And if you have a college degree, you are in a privileged minority; only 6.7 percent of people in the world have a college diploma.

14. Can you see? Over 285 million people in the world are visually impaired. About 39 million of these are blind and 246 million have moderate to severe visual impairment. India is home to the world's largest number of blind people, due to the country's acute shortage of optometrists.

15. Do you have health care? Here in the United States, we are debating the pros and cons of Obamacare—and griping about the reliability of the government's health care website. But did you know that 1 billion people in the world have no access to any form of health systems—and their children cannot receive childhood immunizations.

King David wrote: "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits" (Ps. 103:2, NASB). Thanksgiving is not an optional virtue. Without it, our pride swells and our selfishness consumes us. Thanksgiving is an important exercise because it adjusts our attitude. It calibrates our hearts so that we stop complaining and instead remember how we are blessed and Who deserves the credit for our blessings. Happy Thanksgiving!

J. Lee Grady is the former editor of Charisma. You can follow him on Twitter at leegrady. His newest book is The Truth Sets Women Free from Charisma House. You can learn more about his ministry, The Mordecai Project, at themordecaiproject.org.

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J. Lee Grady Featured Opinion Wed, 26 Nov 2014 06:00:00 -0500
7 Subtle Health Warnings You Should Never Ignore http://www.charismanews.com/marketplace/46282-7-subtle-health-warnings-you-should-never-ignore http://www.charismanews.com/marketplace/46282-7-subtle-health-warnings-you-should-never-ignore

Men are notorious for ignoring health problems. Complaining about aches and pains somehow seems unmanly to many guys. That's one reason men are far more likely than women to avoid going to the doctor, surveys consistently show.

"Three out of four people who have not seen a doctor in more than five years are men," says Will Courtenay, M.D., a San Francisco-area psychotherapist and author of the book "Dying to Be Men."

"Men balk at going to the doctor because they like to see themselves as independent and self-reliant," Dr. Courtenay tells Newsmax Health.

This attitude is admirable in many areas of life, but it can be fatal when it comes to health. Here are seven subtle symptoms men should never, ever ignore:

1. Constipation. Many guys take a laxative to try to get past constipation. But the condition can signal a tumor in the lower bowel that's blocking waste from exiting the body. If the situation doesn't clear up after a few days, a doctor's visit is in order. Colorectal cancer is the third-leading cause of cancer-related death in men.

2. Strange-looking freckles. Skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men and women alike. "Skin cancer rates are skyrocketing," says Dr. Courtney. An odd-looking freckle or mole that is new or irregular in shape should always be checked out by a doctor as soon as it is noticed.

3. Chronic indigestion. Occasional heartburn is nothing to worry about, but if a man suffers from chronic acid reflux at least twice weekly he may have gastro-esophageal reflux, or GERD which can lead to inflammation, bleeding and ulcers of the esophagus. In some cases it can cause esophageal cancer. "The rate of cancer of the esophagus is skyrocketing, so it is essential for a man to have a checkup if he is resorting to antacids to feel comfortable," says Gabe Mirkin, M.D., author of The Healthy Heart Miracle.

4. Constant thirst. An unquenchable thirst can signal diabetes. Other symptoms include frequent urination, extreme hunger, unexplained weight loss or gain, nausea and blurred vision. Walter Gaman, M.D., of Executive Medicine of Texas, tells Newsmax Health that every man should get a "simple yearly blood test at his doctor's office that can measure glucose levels and diagnose diabetes."

5. Pain when urinating. In women, this pain usually signals a urinary infection. In men, it may be a symptom of enlarged prostate or prostate cancer.

6. Erectile dysfunction. A recent study at the Mayo Clinic found that men who had erectile dysfunction in their 40s or 50s were 50 times more likely to have heart trouble down the road than those who don't. Men who get erectile dysfunction should have a thorough cardiac exam.

7. Snoring. Dr. Courtenay points out that snoring can be an annoyance—especially to a bed partner—but it can also be a sign of sleep apnea, which affects men much more often than women. Men who snore regularly should see a doctor.

For the original article, visit newsmaxhealth.com.

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Lynn Allison/Newsmax Health Featured Marketplace Wed, 26 Nov 2014 07:00:00 -0500
“America, We Are Better Than This!” http://www.charismanews.com/us/46274-america-we-are-better-than-this http://www.charismanews.com/us/46274-america-we-are-better-than-this

Last summer, God revealed a message to me just before the tragic death of Michael Brown. "Alveda, tell the people of the world this: You don't have to live this way. You are better than this." Weeks later Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson.

Yesterday, my friend Bishop Harry Jackson, world leader and Pentecostal Pastor of Hope Christian Center spoke to our nation with these words: "America, we are better than this." The message is very clear. God values our lives, all of our lives. These words came just after a powerful "2014 Evening of Prayer for Our City & The Urban World" hosted by Bishop Raphael Green and other ministers and leaders in Ferguson.

Bishop Jackson, Niger Innis—National Spokesperson for Congress on Racial Equality (CORE), executive director of TheTeaParty.net and founder of Restore the Dream 2015—and I are part of a growing coalition of socially and ethnically blended preachers and civil rights leaders who are leading the charge to promote peaceful solutions to the systemic issues that are at the root of explosive eruptions across our nation. Right now, the spotlight is on Ferguson, Missouri, where a grand jury comprised of the peers (blacks and whites) of Michael Brown and Darren Wilson failed to indict Officer Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown.

Niger writes:

"A form of justice prevailed in Ferguson. Yet larger issues must be addressed by us all, together as a nation. The evidence has been examined and reexamined, undoubtedly with an understanding of the unique importance of the outcome. Yet we must understand that this is not just a decision on the perceived tensions between law enforcement and the black community. This is not the final say on the value of black men's lives, of indeed all human lives. This is even bigger than the decision on the actions of police officer Darren Wilson.

"Yes, all of us must step aside and look at the facts; we must discuss and react to this decision passionately, but respectfully.

"There are broader issues that have been brought to light in Ferguson that must be addressed by our entire nation in Red and Yellow, Black and White. It is important that our law enforcement community protects and serves the people with integrity and decency. It is also crucial that when this occurs, the community sees law enforcement as allies.

"The homicide rate among African-American men is far too high. Yet another somewhat confusing mitigating factor is that over 90 percent of the deaths of black males come at the hands of other black men, not white police officers. Are those black lives worth less than those taken by whites?

In the weeks and months ahead, Americans and our leaders must focus on addressing these issues in a thoughtful and inclusive manner."

"America, we are better than this," says my friend Bishop Harry Jackson, world leader and Pentecostal Pastor of Hope Christian Center.

America, we are truly better than this. Michael's memory deserves better than this. Michael stole cigarettes. This was a crime. Yet, we have elected at least two presidents who admitted to smoking illegal marijuana in their youth. A crime is a crime. How do we know how Michael's life may have turned out? Tragically, we will never know.

America, we are at a crossroads. Will we settle for burned-out cities or will we pray for an arising of hope?

Michael Brown's parents are calling for peace and justice. We can best honor Michael by agreeing with his parents.

We are reminded: "Don't repay evil for evil. Don't retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will grant you his blessing" (1 Pet. 3:9, NLT)

Again, peers, including several blacks, in a unanimous vote found that reasonable doubt might prevent the prosecutor from gaining a conviction of Officer Wilson.

Looking back, I can't help wondering what might have happened if Officer Wilson had waited for backup before engaging Michael? Tragically we will never know ...

Perhaps the words of my Uncle ML, my Daddy and most importantly our Heavenly Father best describe a solution for peace, not only in Ferguson, but for the world:

"After contemplation, I conclude that this award which I receive on behalf of that movement is a profound recognition that nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral question of our time—the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to violence and oppression" (Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., excerpt from NPPA Ceremony, 1964).

"Martin Luther King Jr. is a symbol of a movement that holds peace and agape love at its core. May this Nobel Peace Prize honor his sacrifice and humility; and ever remind us of what can only be achieved through faith and God's grace" (Rev. Alfred Daniel Williams King Sr., "Brother to the Dreamer," 1964).

I am amazed that after 50 years, Uncle ML's words are not only a page out of history, they are as relevant today as they were 50 years ago.

Not only are we still grappling with racial strife. What Uncle ML aptly described as "man's inhumanity to man" has escalated in Century 21 to mirror "the days of Noah," with abortion, sexual immorality, unholy war, greed, violence and much assault on God's people running rampant.

We need a move from the Lord, in Ferguson, in America, in the world. So let's call on our Creator and our Father God, our Lord Jesus, God's Lamb and Holy Spirit to help us. We love You, Lord! You love us best!

"For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him" (John 3:16-17, NLT).

Reprinted with permission from Priests for Life.

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Dr. Alveda King Featured U.S. News Tue, 25 Nov 2014 17:00:00 -0500
This Library Is Officially 'God Less' After Snubbing Fox News Host http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/46273-this-library-is-officially-god-less-after-snubbing-fox-news-host http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/46273-this-library-is-officially-god-less-after-snubbing-fox-news-host

I received a Facebook message the other day from one of my readers in Cordova, Alaska.

Kanji Christian had purchased a copy of my new book, God Less America, and he enjoyed the book so much he decided to donate a copy to the public library.

The folks at the library said it would take a while for them to approve the book. A few months later, Kanji dropped by, hoping to find his donated copy of God Less America on the bookshelf. But the book was nowhere to be found.

Kanji decided to investigate, and he soon learned that my book had been rejected by the library.

"She (the librarian) just said that if it didn't make it in it's because they check reviews and then decide whether or not it's something the community would be interested in," Kanji wrote to me.

Were the claims of my reader true? Did the public library determine that the good people of Cordova would not be interested in the writings of a gun-toting, Bible-clinging son-of-a-baptist?

There was only one way to find out. I called the public library and had a very nice chat with the librarian. She confirmed that my book had indeed been turned away. She said there were not enough "professional reviews."

That's odd, because God Less America had plenty of reviews. Gov. Mike Huckabee praised my "Southern storytelling and investigative journalism." Sean Hannity heralded my "signature humor." And my Aunt Lynn said I was her "favorite nephew."

The librarian also said they had limited space for books.

"We have a really small library," she said. "Real estate on our shelves is very valuable."

That's understandable.

I'm just glad the Cordova Public Library has ample room on their shelves for the works of Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Al Gore and President Obama. No wonder they don't have room for the bad boy of the literary world.

I can't say I'm all that surprised that the public library refused to accept my book. A few years ago Amazon banned my second book, "Dispatches From Bitter America." They said it contained offensive material.

Kanji tells me he's a bit disappointed in his local library. He was just trying to be neighborly.

But that's how the tolerance and diversity crowd operates. They don't burn books—they just ban them.

Todd Starnes is host of Fox News & Commentary, heard on hundreds of radio stations. Sign up for his American Dispatch newsletter, be sure to join his Facebook page, and follow him on Twitter. His latest book is God Less America.

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Todd Starnes Featured Opinion Tue, 25 Nov 2014 14:45:10 -0500
Mary J. Blige: 'I Started Praying and Crying ... My Life Shifted' http://www.charismanews.com/culture/46272-mary-j-blige-i-started-praying-and-crying-my-life-shifted http://www.charismanews.com/culture/46272-mary-j-blige-i-started-praying-and-crying-my-life-shifted

It's easy for regular people to think that stars—whether in music, film or TV—have such cushy lives so full of success, glamor and luxury that nothing ever bothers them.

But if the recent suicide of Robin Williams and the overdose death of Amy Winehouse before that taught us anything, it's that stars are people too. And they can suffer setbacks, depression and addictions, and sometimes these problems are amplified because they are stars.

Mary J. Blige is a case in point. She's one of the favorite musical artists of President and Michelle Obama and has been to the White House twice. But at this stage in her career, her recordings no longer reliably sell in the millions. She leaned hard on her loyal fan base to have a successful Christmas album last year. But her newest work "sounds like nothing she has ever done before," reports Billboard magazine.

"The empathetic quality she displays in person is all over her latest record, The London Sessions. Helping her fans feel better about themselves is a major goal of Blige's. But it turns out that she herself actually hasn't seen a therapist, despite a traumatic childhood, the struggles with addiction and bouts of depression," according to the Billboard piece written by Jonathan Ringen.

"I've never sat down with a doctor like that, no," she says. "But I meditate and pray and try to really take responsibility. That's therapy too, when you take responsibility for all the foolishness you're doing and all the things you did wrong. It hurts. You got to feel it, deal, then heal."

Her low point came at what should have been a joyous time: working on the songs for her second album, 1994's Sean Combs-produced My Life, which went on to be one of the year's biggest records, selling nearly 3 million copies, Billboard said. She was just 23 and wracked with self-loathing and doubt about her talent, her appearance, her worth as a human being—all of which she connects to an incident of sexual abuse by a family friend when she was 5.

"I was ready to just check out," she says now. "It was a moment—I can't get into it—but I saw my life going and I was grabbing for it. I was like, 'No, no, no, no, no.' That's when I realized that I don't want to die. And I switched, and I started praying and crying, and my life shifted right there."

The London Sessions kicks off with a clear declaration of intent: a blast of deep soul called "Therapy," which breakout star Sam Smith wrote with Blige in mind. When he first sang it to her in his London studio, she found herself profoundly moved.

"I just had to change a couple little words to make it fit me," she told Billboard a few weeks before the album's release. "It touched my heart because it's a topic that people don't like to talk about. I thought it would be nice to let people know, 'It's OK, you're not the only one.'"

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Mark Andrews Featured Culture Tue, 25 Nov 2014 15:00:00 -0500
Are Biblical 'End Times' Ushering in Rise of Natural Disasters? http://www.charismanews.com/us/46271-are-biblical-end-times-ushering-in-rise-of-natural-disasters http://www.charismanews.com/us/46271-are-biblical-end-times-ushering-in-rise-of-natural-disasters

Despite the wails of despair you hear from some quarters, Americans as a whole rank climate change dead last on a list of important issues.

Only 5 percent of Americans say climate change is the most important issue facing the United States today. The issue of climate change and its effects on the environment ranks behind the lack of jobs (22 percent), the increasing gap between rich and poor (18 percent), health care (17 percent), the budget deficit (13 percent), immigration reform (10 percent) and the rising cost of education (9 percent).

All this is according to a survey conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute and posted in a report on publicreligion.org.

But when the survey narrows in on what people who believe were are in the "end times" think about the relationship of the last days to the rise in natural disasters, some interesting statistics pop out. While five out of eight Americans (62 percent) say that recent natural disasters are the result of climate change, almost half (49 percent) believe the biblical end times are playing a role.

The number of Americans who believe natural disasters are evidence of the apocalypse has increased since 2011, when only 44 percent agreed.

White evangelical Protestants are much more likely to attribute the severity of recent natural disasters to the biblical "end times" (77 percent) than to climate change (49 percent), according to the Public Religion Research Institute survey.

Most Americans do not believe that God would intercede to prevent humans from destroying the earth. Approximately four in 10 (39 percent) Americans believe that God would not allow humans to destroy the earth, while a slight majority (53 percent) of Americans disagree.

"Americans generally reject the idea that God intended humans to use the earth strictly for their own benefit. Nearly 6 in 10 (57 percent) Americans say God gave humans the task of living responsibly with animals, plants and other resources, which are not just for human benefit. By contrast, about one-third (35 percent) of Americans believe that God gave human beings the right to use animals, plants and all other resources of the planet solely for their own benefit," the report said.

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Mark Andrews Featured U.S. News Tue, 25 Nov 2014 14:00:00 -0500
Lecrae Serves as Voice of Reason Amid Painful Ferguson Verdict http://www.charismanews.com/us/46270-lecrae-serves-as-voice-of-reason-amid-painful-ferguson-verdict http://www.charismanews.com/us/46270-lecrae-serves-as-voice-of-reason-amid-painful-ferguson-verdict

Lecrae Moore, 35, known as the Christian hip-hop artist and record producer Lecrae, has emerged as an articulate voice of reason in the wake of the grand jury finding that disappointed and enraged so many people in Ferguson, Missouri, and across the nation.

His bold stand for Bible-based faith has put Lecrae at odds with many in his industry, but Christians appreciate his outspoken views on how believers should conduct themselves in the face of adversity.

On Facebook, he posted a well-reasoned entry that implored Americans to turn their compassion inward to their own countrymen who are hurting.

"Sometimes I wonder how we get so up in arms and culturally empathetic with people in other countries. But can't do that in our own backyard. We rushed to Haiti. We adopt in Asia. We empathize with Africa. But struggle to humanize our struggles here in the States. Some people are responding out of hurt and are met with smug responses. If I tell you my brother got killed in a gang war, would you tell me 'That's what he gets! Shouldn't be gang banging!'? Of course not.

"As a Christian I see a Jesus empathize with the most undeserving people ever. He offers a thief on the cross a home in Paradise. He dies for a rioting mob of angry killers. He looks upon a sinful world with compassion. And here we stand saying we believe that and all the while unfazed at the pain of a community. Offering statements that don't comfort but only add salt to a wound we refuse to see. It's hurtful. I don't want anything to do with that kind of 'Churchianity.' When 'I lost respect for you!' is said toward my expression of pain, all I hear is 'Get over it!'

"If only it were that easy.

"If you are disappointed in me, well, you clearly can't understand my pain. This Ferguson case was a mascot for something much bigger. Something people want to hope for.

"A dream. A dream that has been etched in our hearts for hundreds of years. A dream yet unrealized."

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Mark Andrews Featured U.S. News Tue, 25 Nov 2014 13:00:00 -0500
What Ferguson Pastors Are Praying for Now http://www.charismanews.com/us/46269-what-ferguson-pastors-are-praying-for-now http://www.charismanews.com/us/46269-what-ferguson-pastors-are-praying-for-now

Like so many others Monday (Nov. 24) night, the congregants at West Side Missionary Baptist Church were glued to televisions as a grand jury decision in the Michael Brown case was announced.

One woman sobbed in her chair as she learned that police Officer Darren Wilson would not be indicted in the fatal shooting.

Then, with the press conference far from over, the church's television went dark. And the congregants at the church turned instead to prayer and preaching.

Within seconds, the Rev. Starsky Wilson was at the pulpit, calling for "contrary folk."

"Thank God for people who go against the teachings of the church," Wilson said, while referencing those who had told the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. that he was moving too fast on civil rights issues. "Thank God for contrary young people.

"To be contrary is to say we've had enough."

Wilson was named by Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon as a co-chair of the 16-member Ferguson Commission to look for a way forward after Brown's death.

On Monday evening, he said that despite the failure of the system to indict Wilson, the road ahead was not impossible. "God through faith turns curses into blessings," Wilson said. "Ordinary people with extraordinary faith can change the world."

The Rev. C. Jessel Strong, president of the St. Louis Metropolitan Clergy Coalition, also took the pulpit. "We're here because we're sick and tired," Strong said. "Why does it seem all of our children are shot by the police?"

At the same hour, St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson gathered for prayer at Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Roman Catholic Church in Ferguson. Later, he issued a statement calling for calm.

"I implore each of you: Choose peace! Reject any false and empty hope that violence will solve problems," the archbishop wrote. "Violence only creates more violence. Let's work for a better, stronger, more holy community—one founded upon respect for each other, respect for life and our shared responsibility for the common good."

On Monday afternoon, Interfaith Partnership, which represents 24 faith traditions in the St. Louis region, issued a statement calling for peace and understanding. "As we seek meaningful change and healing, we pray for understanding of the pain of others," read the statement, signed by Carlson and Strong, of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

In recent days, numerous clergy members have said they will open their worship spaces to serve as safe houses and sanctuaries.

As the grand jury announcement approached Monday night, worshippers at Christ Church Episcopal Cathedral downtown sat quietly. There was no broadcast of the press conference. Those listening on their smartphones were asked to use headphones.

When the Rev. Mike Kinman announced the decision, one person at the back of the cathedral shouted a mournful cry and was escorted out by friends. Others in the congregation, including social worker therapist Celeste Smith, covered their faces as if in grief. Smith, who is white, listened to the announcement with Claudine Allen, also a counselor, who is black.

As planned, all fell silent then for 4 1/2 minutes. Kinman read a prayer of forgiveness written by Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and all sang "Lift Every Voice and Sing," considered the African-American national anthem.

Then began a 24-hour vigil of prayer and song that would continue all night and day at the cathedral.

Kinman had sent out a notice to the community in advance announcing that people could gather at the cathedral for group prayer, song and silent prayer. He wrote: "Be not afraid. Be prayerful. Be bold. Be together."

Lilly Fowler writes for The Post-Dispatch in St. Louis. Margaret Gillerman of The Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.

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Lilly Fowler/The Post-Dispatch Featured U.S. News Tue, 25 Nov 2014 12:00:00 -0500
The Mysterious 'Lost' IRS Lois Lerner Emails Have Surfaced—What Do They Reveal? http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/46268-the-mysterious-lost-irs-lois-lerner-emails-have-surfaced-what-do-they-reveal http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/46268-the-mysterious-lost-irs-lois-lerner-emails-have-surfaced-what-do-they-reveal

Surprise, surprise.

30,000 of Lois Lerner's mysteriously "lost" emails, which the Obama Administration and Democrats in Congress claimed were gone forever, have been found.

We knew the Obama Administration's bizarre claim that the emails were unrecoverable, deleted, not backed up, crashed, and on and on was just flat false.

It's taken our work, the demands of the American people and congressional oversight to cut through this small part of the pattern of deception.

The government watchdog, the Inspector General who uncovered the targeting in the first place, has now found these supposedly missing emails.

As the Washington Examiner reports:

"Up to 30,000 missing emails sent by former Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner have been recovered by the IRS inspector general, five months after they were deemed lost forever.

"The U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) informed congressional staffers from several committees on Friday that the emails were found among hundreds of "disaster recovery tapes" that were used to back up the IRS email system.

"'They just said it took them several weeks and some forensic effort to get these emails off these tapes,' a congressional aide told the Washington Examiner."

What these emails reveal remains to be seen, but if they are anything like the emails we've already seen, they will continue to show a corrupt and politically partisan IRS targeting conservative and pro-life Americans.

President Obama's IRS has been in complete cover-up mode. It began be saying it had all the emails, and it would give them to Congress. That was false. Then months after it knew emails were missing, it was forced to admit that it has lost some of Lois Lerner's emails. It said that those emails were unrecoverable—that the backup tapes were gone. That was false. Now the IRS is claiming it was hoping all along someone would find those emails.

"As Commissioner Koskinen has stated, the IRS welcomes TIGTA's independent review and expert forensic analysis," the IRS statement said. "Commissioner Koskinen has said for some time he would be pleased if additional Lois Lerner emails from this time frame could be found."

The truth is that Commissioner Koskinen has been President Obama's chief stonewalling officer at the IRS.

Despite the continued deception, the truth will come to light.

Our multiple lawsuits against the Obama Administration's IRS continue in federal court. We continue working with Congress' ongoing investigation and are preparing to work with a brand new Senate investigation.

At the same time, the American people continue demanding President Obama appoint a Special Counsel—an independent prosecutor—to investigate this real scandal. Over 122,000 Americans have signed our petition at ACLJ.org.

As more continues to come out, we're getting one step closer to justice for those wrongfully targeted by their government.

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Matthew Clark/ACLJ Featured Opinion Tue, 25 Nov 2014 11:00:00 -0500
Ferguson Smolders After Racially Charged Riots Over Slain Teenager http://www.charismanews.com/us/46267-ferguson-smolders-after-racially-charged-riots-over-slain-teenager http://www.charismanews.com/us/46267-ferguson-smolders-after-racially-charged-riots-over-slain-teenager
The St. Louis area braced for another day of protests on Tuesday after a grand jury cleared a white police officer in the fatal August shooting of an unarmed black teenager, sparking a night of violent and racially charged rioting.
 
About a dozen buildings in suburban Ferguson, Missouri, burned overnight and police fired tear gas and flash-bang canisters at protesters, said St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar. Sixty-one people were arrested, police said.
 
Although no serious injuries were reported, Belmar said the rioting on Monday night and early Tuesday morning was "much worse" than the disturbances that erupted in the immediate aftermath of the shooting of Michael Brown, 18, by police officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9.
 
Protests also were staged on Monday night in New York, Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles, Oakland, California, and Washington, D.C., over a case that has highlighted long-standing racial tensions not just in predominantly black Ferguson but across the United States.
 
In the city of St. Louis, where windows were broken and traffic was briefly stopped on a major highway overnight, Police Chief Sam Dotson vowed to have a stronger police response on Tuesday night.
 
"A large presence, very early on, will be a deterrent," said Dotson, whose jurisdiction does not include Ferguson. "We'll have resources deployed."
 
Schools in Ferguson and its surrounding cities said they planned not to open on Tuesday and city offices in Ferguson were also closed. Protesters planned to demonstrate on Tuesday outside the courthouse in Clayton, Missouri, where the grand jury sat.
 
The rioting came despite calls for calm from officials ranging from Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon to President Obama. Activist leaders had spent weeks training protesters in non-violent civil disobedience techniques and police also had been through conflict de-escalation training, although tempers flared after crowds threw bricks at police and set patrol cars on fire following the grand jury's decision.
 
Officials disclosed that ruling well after sunset and hours after saying it was coming, a set of circumstances that led to protesters taking to the streets well after dark.
 
St. Louis police reported heavy gunfire late on Monday in the area near where Brown was slain but Belmar said officers did not fire a shot, even after they were pelted with rocks, bottles, batteries and other debris.
 
Wilson could have faced charges ranging from involuntary manslaughter to first-degree murder and Brown's family said through their lawyers that they were "profoundly disappointed" by the grand jury's finding.
 
"They want the police to be held accountable, to treat us like Americans, too, so we can get equal justice," Brown family attorney Benjamin Crump said on CNN. "This system always allows police to hurt and kill our children. We've got to change that dynamic."
 
Brown's family planned to speak to reporters at 11 a.m. CST, Crump said.
 
Attorneys for Wilson, who was placed on administrative leave and has avoided the spotlight since the shooting, said he was following his training and the law when he shot Brown.
 
"We recognize that many people will want to second-guess the grand jury's decision," their statement said. "We would encourage anyone who wants to express an opinion do so in a respectful and peaceful manner."
 
Wilson told the grand jury that Brown had tried to grab his gun and he felt his life was in danger when he fired, according to documents released by prosecutors.
 
"I said, 'Get back or I'm going to shoot you,'" Wilson said, according to the documents. "He immediately grabs my gun and says, 'You are too much of a pussy to shoot me.'"
 
The grand jury of nine whites and three blacks began meeting in late August and heard testimony from 60 witnesses called by the prosecution, including medical examiners who performed three autopsies, one by a private pathologist hired by Brown's family.
 
St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch declined to say if the jury's decision was unanimous. At least nine jurors would have needed to agree on indictment.
 
A separate federal investigation into the shooting continues and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder emphasized the Justice Department investigators had not reached any conclusions.
 
McCulloch described a tangled mass of conflicting testimony about what happened in the shooting but said much of it did not square with physical evidence.
 
Lawyers for Brown's family say he was trying to surrender when he was shot while Wilson's supporters say the officer feared for his life and fired in self-defense.
 
Witnesses disagreed on whether Brown's hands were up at the time he was shot, McCulloch said, adding that Wilson shot at Brown 12 times. The final shot hit the top of his head.
 
© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.
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Ellen Wulfhorst, Daniel Wallis and Edward McAllister/Reuters Featured U.S. News Tue, 25 Nov 2014 10:30:00 -0500
This Ministry Is Bridging Ferguson's Race Divide http://www.charismanews.com/us/46266-this-ministry-is-bridging-ferguson-s-race-divide http://www.charismanews.com/us/46266-this-ministry-is-bridging-ferguson-s-race-divide

Residents in the city of Ferguson, Missouri, and the surrounding region have been on edge since the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, Jr. on Aug. 9.

The suburban St. Louis community has been frayed after months of protests and protracted debates about race.

But area churches and pastors are countering the unrest with a message of God's love.

"When you walk into these doors or, as I like to say, when we walk into your life or you walk into ours, what you will encounter is the true God who is without prejudice," said Bishop Raphael Green who pastors the Metropolitan Christian Worship Center in south St. Louis.

For nearly 30 years, Bishop Green has hosted the Urban World Summit, a rally to prayer and action to heal across racial and cultural divides.

It's a timely message against the backdrop of Ferguson.

"We've all been challenged to really forgive," Green said. "And let's move forward out of the heart of God."

This year's keynote speaker was Bishop Harry Jackson, chairman of High Impact Leadership Coalition and pastor of Hope Christian Church in suburban Washington, D.C.

Jackson urged churches to rise up and take the lead by reflecting the unity found in God's love and Christian love or one another.

"Jesus was very clear when he prayed to the Father that we would be one," Jackson told CBN News. "The insight that we should all get is that when people see our love demonstrated in power, they'll know that Jesus is real. Nothing says that more powerfully in this day than black, white, Asian, Hispanic worshipping together, working together, in an open banner of Christ over their relationships."

The summit also included a legal clinic, with frank and honest conversations about race, religion and the rule of law. Attendees heard from pastors, lawyers, and law enforcement to learn from each other's experiences.

One of the panelists was Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol. Johnson has spearheaded the police response in Ferguson.

"I think if we're going to change the community - change this nation - it has to be everyone," Capt. Johnson told CBN News.

Johnson believes Ferguson has come a long way since the early days after Michael Brown's death. He credits area churches for taking an active role in the community's healing process.

"It's actually been a big part of the gains and the strive toward peace," Johnson said.

Bishop Green started the urban summit after a spate of murders around the city in 1987. He began planning for this year's event over a year ago.

Green believes the timing of the event ahead of the grand jury's decision was all part of a divine plan.

"A year ago I gave the invitation to ask Bishop Harry Jackson to join us," Green explained. "Of course, Michael Brown, Jr. was alive at that time. We had no idea that we'd be right here at the culmination of this decision. So I believe it's God's design."

Green's prayer is that the lessons learned at the summit will be applied beyond the walls of the church and into the community.

He believes it's the first step toward overcoming the dividing walls with faith, forgiveness and love.

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John Jessup/CBN News Featured U.S. News Tue, 25 Nov 2014 10:00:00 -0500
Ferguson Must Be Redeemed http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/in-the-line-of-fire/46265-ferguson-must-be-redeemed http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/in-the-line-of-fire/46265-ferguson-must-be-redeemed

On Aug. 22, I wrote an article entitled, "Five Obvious Lessons from Ferguson." Now, in the wake of the grand jury's decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting of my namesake, 18-year-old Michael Brown, and in the wake of the riots that immediately erupted, here are five more obvious lessons.

1) No verdict could satisfy both sides.

It was clear from the start that if the grand jury decided to indict Officer Wilson, many (especially white) Americans would see it as an example of the judicial process succumbing to political pressure. They would say that Wilson was condemned before the trial ever took place and that he was an innocent scapegoat offered up to quell an ugly uprising.

Conversely, it was equally clear that if the grand jury decided not to indict Officer Wilson, many (especially black) Americans would see this as yet another miscarriage of justice and one more example of why the judicial process cannot be trusted. They would use the verdict as justification for their protests, saying that this was the only voice they had.

Is anyone in the least bit surprised with the developments of the last 24 hours?

2) There is enough evidence to support skepticism on both sides.

On the one hand, the grand jury carefully sifted the evidence for several months. Surely they delivered a fair verdict.

On the other hand, there were nine white jurors and three black jurors. Was this fair to Michael Brown and his family?

On the one hand, there is forensic evidence pointing to a struggle in the officer's vehicle and reports that Brown struck Wilson in the face.

On the other hand, in the newly released photographs, Officer Wilson's face seems virtually unbruised and he did not appear to be in any rush to go to the hospital for treatment.

On the one hand, there were multiple African-American witnesses who supported Officer Wilson's narrative of being charged at by Michael Brown.

On the other hand, other African-American witnesses offered a very different account, including Brown's "hands-up" posture before he was shot.

Each side will believe the evidence that supports its theories, and so we shouldn't expect this to change for a long time to come, barring definitive video evidence, which, from all accounts, does not exist.

3) This is not about Ferguson.

If the shooting of Michael Brown were an isolated incident, then the protests would make no sense. But it is not. It points to a much larger, national issue, one that runs deep in the psyche of black America.

So, even if white Americans can point to the epidemic of black-on-black crime as well as to white youths being killed by blacks or to white police being killed by blacks, those statistics will not remove the deep convictions of many African-Americans who know by experience that they are more likely to be racially profiled and suspected by police than white Americans.

A white reader might say, "But that's because of all the crime in black neighborhoods. What do you expect police to do?

A black reader would respond, "We're all for justice, but you don't have the slightest clue of what we have had to put up with just because we are black."

Although my life experience is that of a white American, I have talked with far too many black Americans—primarily Christians, with great respect for the law and with a desire to honor authority—who have shared their horror stories with me, and so I do not dismiss their perspective.

That does not for a moment make Officer Wilson guilty (my own sentiments are to trust the grand jury) nor does it justify the protests, let alone riots.

But it does mean that, rather than focusing on Ferguson, we must look at the larger national issues.

4) The Ferguson tragedy must be redeemed.

Regardless of the guilt or innocence of Michael Brown or Darren Wilson, the Ferguson tragedy must be redeemed, and that can only happen when we sit down and listen to each other, not talk past each other.

I don't doubt that many of you have strong reasons for your convictions and that you feel confident you can "prove" your point.

But what does that accomplish? Wouldn't it be better to ask someone who differs with you why they believe their perspective is right? Is it so dangerous to hear someone out even when you're convinced that they're wrong?

Why does one group trust the police and the other does not?

Why does one group say, "Justice was done" and the other say, "This was a travesty of justice"?

Why are our perspectives so radically different?

It does no good to accuse one side of ignorance or the other side of bigotry, but it does lots of good when you say to someone, "I have a totally different perspective on this than you do, but I'd love to understand your point of view."

This must happen on an individual level, as friends and co-workers sit and talk, and it must happen on a corporate level, as we set up conferences and town hall meetings where we can sit face to face and interact.

And that will mean wading through a minefield of potential volatility and misunderstanding, but as I have seen in more than 6 1/2 years of daily talk radio, it's a risk worth taking.

5) The church must lead the way.

With all respect to secular government and politics and media and society, I believe that followers of Jesus must lead the way in bringing reconciliation and redemption. This is the very essence of the gospel.

We must be the peacemakers.

We must be the bridge builders.

We must be the one who transcend ethnicity and color, building instead on our unity in the Lord, where there is neither male nor female and neither black nor white.

It is an arduous task, but it must be done.

And so rather than inflaming and inciting, we must honor, respect, listen, learn, speak, and act—working together for justice for all.

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Michael Brown Featured In the Line of Fire Opinion Tue, 25 Nov 2014 08:47:00 -0500
Violence Strikes Ferguson After Michael Brown Grand Jury Decision http://www.charismanews.com/us/46264-violence-strikes-ferguson-after-michael-brown-decision http://www.charismanews.com/us/46264-violence-strikes-ferguson-after-michael-brown-decision

Gunshots rang out and police lobbed tear gas at an angry crowd that threw bottles outside the Ferguson Police Department in suburban St. Louis after a grand jury decided not to indict a white officer in the shooting death of an unarmed black teen.

Outrage over the decision fueled what had been mostly peaceful protests across the United States on Monday, including in New York City where marchers chanting "Black lives matter" snarled traffic on Broadway through Times Square.

In Chicago, demonstrators walked up Lake Shore Drive carrying banners that read "Justice for Mike Brown "–the 18-year-old who was shot and killed in Ferguson on Aug. 9.

Police in Ferguson used smoke canisters and trucks to force waves of violent protesters down the street away from the police building soon after sporadic gunshots were heard. Flames from a burning car rose into the night sky.

Whistles pierced the air as some of the hundreds of protesters tried to keep the peace, shouting, "Don't run, don't run."

Police who formed a wall of clear riot shields outside the precinct were pelted with bottles and cans as the crowd surged up and down the street immediately after authorities said the grand jury had voted not to indict Officer Darren Wilson.

"Murderers, you're nothing but murderers," protesters in the crowd shouted. One woman, speaking through a megaphone said, "Stinking murderers."

Dozens of police and military vehicles were poised for possible mass arrests not far from the stretch of Ferguson streets that saw the worst of the rioting after Wilson shot Brown in August.

"They need to feel the pain these mothers feel at the (expletive) cemetery," shouted Paulette Wilkes, 40, a teacher's assistant who was in the crowd at the police department.

A smaller, calmer crowd of about three dozen protesters gathered outside the courthouse where the grand jury had met. In that crowd, a white woman held a sign that read: "Black Lives Matter." Many of the protesters looked stunned.

"That's just how the justice system works - the rich are up there and the poor are down here," said Antonio Burns, 25, who is black and lives in the Ferguson area. The police "think they can get away with it," Burns said.

A handful of Amnesty International volunteers in bright vests tried to maintain the peace. Brown's family quickly urged a non-violent response to the grand jury's decision.

Officials urged tolerance and assured residents that the National Guard would provide security at critical facilities like fire houses, police stations and utility substations.

"I do not want people in this community to think they have to barricade their doors and take up arms," St. Louis County Executive Director Charlie Dooley said before the grand jury's decision was announced.

(Additional reporting by Adrees Latif in Ferguson, Sascha Brodsky and Paul Thomasch in New York, Scott Malone in Boston, Fiona Ortiz in Chicago; Writing by Barbara Goldberg, Eric Walsh and Peter Cooney; Editing by Leslie Adler and Paul Tait)

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REUTERS/By Ellen Wulfhorst and Daniel Wallis Featured U.S. News Tue, 25 Nov 2014 00:03:16 -0500
Kidnapping and Police Brutality Plague Egypt's Christians http://www.charismanews.com/world/46263-kidnapping-and-police-brutality-plague-egypt-s-christians http://www.charismanews.com/world/46263-kidnapping-and-police-brutality-plague-egypt-s-christians

It's been two months since Coptic Christians in an Upper Egypt village endured a traumatic sequence of events ending in heavy police abuse. The victims still have not received any justice from the state security authorities who broke the law and violated its citizen's human rights.

On Sept. 16, in Deir Gabal al-Teir village, Egyptian security forces ambushed several Coptic homes in the middle of the night. They proceeded to steal and destroy the families' belongings before dragging dozens of residents out of their beds, binding their hands behind their backs and beating them with batons. The police then proceeded to drag them to the police station by a single rope.

The security forces collectively punished the villagers in response to a demonstration initiated by a group of Copts the previous day. They were protesting outside the station to pressure the police to investigate the disappearance that initially occurred nearly two weeks earlier, of 39-year-old Coptic woman Iman Morqos Saroufim.

Her family initially filed a police report on Sept. 3, believing that she was kidnapped by Muslim Sami Ahmed Abd al-Rahman. They responded saying they were unable to help, declaring that they believed Saroufim ran away willingly, and that since leaving she had also converted to Islam.

After two weeks of her friends and families' unsuccessful negotiations with security and executive leaders of the province, hundreds from her Coptic community organized a demonstration outside the police station. The protest turned violent, leaving a police vehicle and a civil defense vehicle with broken windshields.

The police used tear gas to disperse the protestors, and then proceeded to raid their village late that night.

On Sept. 26, Saroufim unexpectedly returned to her family and told the media that she had "escaped."

Speaking with Mideast Christian News (MCN), she said that a Muslim man abducted her. "He tried to force me to go with him to Al-Azhar to convert to Islam, but I refused. He took another veiled woman to Al-Azhar, pretending she was me, to change my religion. He managed to change my religion using my photo."

Despite the collective punishment, no police were charged for the attack.

"The police brutality in this situation is similar to attacks under the former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's time. It's the same old thing," a Cairo pastor told World Watch Monitor.

In a meeting between Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim and a Coptic delegation from the Minya governorate on Sept. 23, Ibrahim promised to compensate the owners of the homes for any damages.

Editor Youssef Sidhom of Watani International said he was not satisfied with this type of response, "A non-biased investigation is needed into the brutal police response to the wrathful protest of the Coptic villagers against police failure—rather, inaction—to find the missing woman and bring her home."

"The way the police handled the events cannot be merely brushed over. It implies that we accept the police going back to their previous savagery and horror practices," Sidhom said.

Moktar Younan, a Copt from Deir Gabal al-Teir, told MCN On Oct. 5, "The residents of the village are waiting decision of the government on compensating them for the damage occurred to them, due to the attack committed against them after the disappearance of Saroufim."

Soon after Saroufim's return, the Samalout Coptic Orthodox diocese said that she returned to her family out of her own free will. The church asked the community and media to stop talking about the case, stating, "We hope that everyone stops talking about this matter and leaves it to the legitimate channels of the state."

Collective Punishment With Impunity

The Egyptian police's use of this form of collective punishment with impunity against entire communities is common practice.

"If some demonstrators attacked police personnel and hurled stones at them, then it is a transgression that needs to be addressed in accordance to the law. But in no way does it justify the use of collective punishment on the village, use of excessive violence and engaging in degrading practices," said Ishak Ibrahim, an officer for the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, EIPR.

On Oct. 2, EIPR urged the public prosecutor to launch an investigation into allegations against the police and into allegations made by Saroufim against the Interior Ministry.

"The unfortunate events that took place in Deir Gabal al-Teir revealed the roots of the main problem, which is the absence of a clear policy and specific laws to guarantee the freedom of faith, regardless of what it is, and the freedom of citizens to change their religion whenever they want," said EIPR in its press release.

"It is the state's responsibility to resolve sectarian disputes following the principle of the rule of law, without engaging in collective punishment, customary law or other methods that do not indicate respect for the citizenship rights of religious minorities," EIPR said.

Kidnapping of Copts Is "Big Business"

In terms of the long-recurring issue of kidnapped Christian women, Ebram Louis believes that demonstrations are the only method to force police to take any action to return these women.

Louis, the founder of the Association for the Victims of Abductions and Enforced Disappearances told MCN on Oct. 17 that the position of Egyptian police is biased against Christians whose daughters have been kidnapped by Muslims.

Police are notorious for not acting, he said, even if the girl has been missing for 24 hours and the family has been threatened for ransom, "because they are afraid of the militant groups."

"They did not even follow up phone calls, identify identities of the callers or arrest perpetrators. The police have not helped the families of the kidnapped girls at all. Moreover, some police officers told the families not to search for their kidnapped daughters, as they converted to the right religion," Louis said.

Without any protection it is especially easy for kidnappers to target members of rich Egyptian families, to extort their families for ransom. "Copts are still suffering from the incidents of kidnapping for ransom," EIPR's Ibrahim emphasized to MCN in an Oct. 18 report.

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Lauren Gunias (WorldWatch Monitor) Featured World News Tue, 25 Nov 2014 09:00:00 -0500
How the Church Can Respond to the Gay Agenda http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/46262-how-the-church-can-respond-to-the-gay-agenda http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/46262-how-the-church-can-respond-to-the-gay-agenda

If one topic in our culture could be described as the "perfect storm," I would have to say it is homosexuality. Social battle lines are forming around us as we grapple with homosexual marriage or civil unions, gay ordinations and homosexual theology.

How did we reach the point at which gay marriage is not simply on the horizon but happening all around us? And how should we respond as Christians in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of those who are caught in the trap of homosexuality?

Often when this topic is addressed, I find that the individuals personally dealing with same-sex attraction can be overlooked. But I see past the misplaced ideals and political propaganda to the individual. You see, I struggled with homosexual feelings and identity from childhood into my adult life.

Now I am a happily married wife and mother of three young sons. Because of Jesus, I am who I am today. It was not an instantaneous healing but rather a walk into maturity alongside my Savior that changed me from the inside out.

For the last 20 years, I have had the privilege of ministering to women and their loved ones who have been affected by homosexuality. I must say that the circumstances today make it much more difficult to leave the homosexual life.

The truth, that change is possible for those who want to follow Christ Jesus (see 1 Cor. 6:9-11), is often upstaged by gay propaganda--"once gay, always gay" and "people are born gay." Yet women and men are still leaving homosexuality and finding freedom in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

In order to fully understand the individuals, we need to look at the goals of the gay political movement, the response of the Christian church and why it is vitally important to shine forth the love of the Lord if we wish to see others find freedom in Him. My hope is to equip you to better understand and reflect our Lord to these individuals.

The Gay Agenda Today, when we hear about homosexuality, we often hear the following words or phrases: tolerance vs. intolerance, homophobia vs. acceptance, bigotry and hatred, unchangeable vs. changeable, and our "American" right to sexual gratification. It was not always this way.

About 20 years ago, homosexual activists set out to mold what Americans thought about homosexuality. Specifically, they desired to silence the moral voice of the church by minimalizing those who spoke against homosexuality.

Activists wanted to display those who spoke against homosexuality on television as ignorant or foolish. Attacking traditional views, the activists played the victim while acting seriously intolerant themselves.

I will never forget asking a TV producer of a national news show about giving the Christian viewpoint a fair share of broadcast time. He told me that the program dare not give us the last word. "The station will have bomb threats if we do," he said.

At the same time, gay researchers were attempting to prove a genetic component for homosexuality that would influence the minds of average Americans. Though those in the homosexual lifestyle have argued about the desirability and validity of the research, outwardly all supported the idea of being "born gay."


This idea was heralded in the popular press in 1993 and has been promoted by gay activists for so long that it has become fact to many. In my book Restoring Sexual Identity (Harvest House), I've devoted a chapter to examining this theory.

Based on the born gay theory, activists lobbied for civil rights status and hate crimes legislation. They also fought for acceptance of homosexual civil unions and gained support for church commitment ceremonies and finally, gay marriage--a goal of endorsement of homosexual relationships by the government. All of this is based on very faulty ground--that individuals are born gay and cannot change their orientation.

The Church's Response In general, the American Christian church has tried to avoid talking about difficult things. Homosexuality, abortion, divorce, eating disorders and sexual abuse are just a few of the uncomfortable topics regarding women that we have shied away from.

Avoidance was one tactic, and condemning those dealing with the effects of same-sex attraction was another response. In the 1970s, the church had an incredible opportunity to show love through service and through "speaking the truth in love" (Eph. 4:15, NIV) to those who were dying of AIDS.

We were the bearers of the good news of lasting hope through Jesus. Instead of offering hope, some Christians responded by gleefully pointing out the fault of those dying. "AIDS is God's judgment of homosexuals!" they said. Thankfully, not all Christians responded in this way.

After this time, gay theology and reinterpretation of the Scriptures referring to homosexuality abounded in liberal churches. Wild assertions about Jonathan and David having been in a gay relationship were made by "homosexual Christians." My husband's and my response was, "Then David must have been the first ex-gay--just look at how many wives he had!"

Although Jesus was not recorded to have said anything about homosexuality, He certainly did speak about God's design for human sexuality. "'Haven't you read,'" He replied, "'that at the beginning the Creator "made them male and female," and said, "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh"? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate'" (Matt. 19:4-6).

Gay theology comes down to revising Scripture to fit one's lifestyle instead of submitting one's life to God's authority. But the Bible endorses no sexual relationship other than that which exists between a man and a woman in marriage.

Although we do not gain salvation by our own perfection, we demonstrate our love for Christ through obedience (see John 14:15-21). Clearly we have been instructed to "flee from sexual immorality" (1 Cor. 6:18), and that includes sexual immorality in the form of homosexuality.

It would be easy to become discouraged about the church's failings, but in recent years, many Christian organizations have come alongside Exodus International, a 28-year-old Christian ministry that assists individuals in overcoming same-sex attractions. Groups such as Focus on the Family, the Southern Baptist Convention, Campus Crusade for Christ and the Assemblies of God have begun "speaking the truth in love" in the area of homosexuality.

One Soul At a Time There are women and men all around us who are unknowingly slaves to sin and in dire need of salvation, just as we once were (see Rom. 6:13). These are simply pawns in a greater spiritual storm threatening to destroy the souls of men and women.

I can recall an interaction I had a few years ago with about 20 "Lesbian Avengers" in the Northwest. In the previous month, my story had been published in a Portland, Oregon, newspaper called The Oregonian.


My husband and I were speaking at a conference about hope for those who struggle with unwanted homosexual feelings. When I saw the protest line forming on the sidewalk, I had a strong desire to go out and speak with the protesters. After praying, I walked out to meet the protesters.

"Hi," I said, "it's a nice day to be outside today. How are you doing?"

Then one of the women approached with a sign that read, "Anne, come back to us!"

"Well, I'm not coming back to you, but I did come out to you," I said. The play on words caused some laughter and enabled us all to relax a bit.

Finally, one of the lesbian women asked, "Do you think anyone can change?" A wonderful conversation began about God's redeeming love for all people.

I shared with them the hope that I had received from 1 Corinthians 6:9-11. Although the first few verses seemed discouraging, I found hope in verse 11: "And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God."

"If homosexuality is truly an issue of sin," I shared, "I knew God could help me!" In the end, they all signed the poster they had made and took a picture with me.

I couldn't help but say: "I thought you were the 'Lesbian Avengers.' The name sounds really tough!"

"Well, we're not really that tough," one responded. A young woman also seriously inquired, "You are not going to find our homes and set them on fire, are you?"

I couldn't believe my ears at first. "No, absolutely not!" I said. "We host these conferences because we want to offer the hope that we searched for so desperately years ago."

Amazingly, last year I was reintroduced to one of the women who had protested at the church event. She was attending Focus on the Family's Love Won Out conference and telling me about how she had surrendered her life to Jesus! It was a thrill to meet her again--this time as a sister in Christ.

Another example concerns a friend who reached out to her lesbian neighbors. Following a windstorm, Julie and her husband, Brian, noticed that the debris in the yard next door had not been cleared. They gathered the felled branches and began cleaning up the neighbors' trash.

Later, the women approached Julie to thank her. Tears welled up in the neighbors' eyes as Julie demonstrated Christ's love and then told them, "We love you." Little do they know that one of Julie's best friends left lesbianism.

Another friend engaged a lesbian couple in a discussion about Christianity and began meeting with them to discuss "things of faith." I encouraged her to avoid talking about homosexuality with them until they brought it up.

As she continued going through the Bible with the women, they realized who Jesus was and how much He loved them. They longed to give their hearts to Him.

My friend gently talked about the costs of discipleship, repentance and letting go of homosexuality in order to fully obey God. She also kindly explained that letting go of anything was a process, and homosexuality was no different.


She told them, "You will have good days and bad days, but surrendering yourself to your Savior and Lord is bottom line." After living as lesbians for more than 22 years, these women ultimately left the lifestyle to follow Christ.

We are called to share the gospel with gentleness and respect (see 1 Pet. 3:15). From our vantage point, we can reflect His love and truth with confidence to women who are craving "perfect peace" (Phil. 4:7).

I encourage you to pray fervently for our nation. We are now on the verge of a profound moral loss--the honorable institution of marriage.

Without prayer, we will lose this battle, and our nation, indeed the world, will never be the same. I implore you to contact your Congressional representatives in Washington about supporting a constitutional marriage amendment.

The sleeping giant of the church needs to wake up before the battle is over. Your heart and voice matter!


Anne Paulk is the author of Restoring Sexual Identity (Harvest House).

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Anne Paulk Featured Opinion Tue, 25 Nov 2014 08:00:00 -0500
Intercessors Win Major Prayer Battle in Colorado Supreme Court http://www.charismanews.com/us/46261-intercessors-win-major-prayer-battle-in-colorado-supreme-court http://www.charismanews.com/us/46261-intercessors-win-major-prayer-battle-in-colorado-supreme-court

The Colorado Supreme Court on Monday upheld the right of Colorado Governors to issue proclamations calling for state days of prayer, upholding an earlier ruling by the Colorado District Court, and overturning a subsequent ruling by the Colorado Court of Appeals. 

This case began in 2008 against former Governor Bill Ritter by a small group of atheists headquartered in Madison, Wisconsin. Judge Mullins of the District Court in Denver, Colorado, originally dismissed the case on Oct. 28, 2010, declaring "[T]here is nothing controversial about a restatement of a right protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. ... The proclamation [does] not have the force and effect of law, and even if [it] did, the language does not support the foundation for a state religion, but only an acknowledgment of the rights of the citizenry as recognized as far back as the Declaration of Independence." 

"Public officials today should be as free to issue prayer proclamations as the founders of America and Colorado were," said Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel and former U.S. Attorney for the District of Colorado Michael J. Norton. "State and federal courts nationwide have repeatedly upheld and recognized prayer proclamations as a deeply rooted part of American history and tradition."

Shirley Dobson, Chairman of the National Day of Prayer (NDP) Task Force added, "I applaud the decision by the Colorado Supreme Court. Since the days of our Founding Fathers, the government has protected and encouraged public prayer and other expressions of dependence on the Almighty. Prayer is an indispensable part of our heritage, and as citizens, we must remain faithful in our commitment to intercede for our states and nation during this pivotal and challenging time."

In 1952, President Harry Truman signed into law a joint resolution by Congress to set aside an annual National Day of Prayer. Congress amended the law in 1988, which was signed by President Ronald Reagan, specifying that the annual event would be observed on "the first Thursday in May each year." In April of this year, members of the U.S. House of Representatives introduced a resolution "affirming the vital role that prayer has played throughout the more than 200-year history of our nation, strengthening the fabric of our society, and recognizing May 1, 2014, as the 63rd annual National Day of Prayer."

John Bornschein, vice-chairman for the National Day of Prayer (NDP) Task Force commented that, "This is definitely a victory for the free exercise of religion that our Founding Fathers sought to ensure, and we are thankful for the outcome. I can't think of a time in recent memory when it has been more important to pray for wisdom and direction for our state and its leaders."

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Dion Elmore Featured U.S. News Tue, 25 Nov 2014 07:00:00 -0500
7 Disturbing Realities About Teen 'Sexting' Trend http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/heres-the-deal/46259-7-disturbing-realities-about-teen-sexting-trend http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/heres-the-deal/46259-7-disturbing-realities-about-teen-sexting-trend

You're sitting in the Publix parking lot at dusk and notice the unsupervised 12-year-old riveted to his iPhone with his wide-eyed friend looking on.

Walking through the mall you see three teen girls seemingly oblivious to surroundings as they stroll together each focused on their phones.

Munching their curly fries at Arby's, each one of five youths are simultaneously engaged with their phones.

Stopping at the intersection you glance over and observe a pre-teen in the back seat basking in the glow of her phone.

Mobile phones and teens are everywhere. The question is: "What are they looking at?" And as a parent are you aware what they're seeing?

"Vamping" refers to teenagers staying up after hours, engaging socially and possibly sharing sexually related items. "Sexting" refers to transmitting provocative sexual images of one's self to others.

If your son or daughter has access to an iPhone—or any kind of smartphone for that matter—are you absolutely sure there's no questionable activity going on? More importantly, do you know how to protect your children from the onslaught they face in today's technological revolution?

In recent days, the Atlantic Monthly magazine, Washington Post newspaper, NBC NewsPBS NewsHour and other news outlets are recognizing the rising tide of sexting among youth in our culture. We ignore these warnings to our peril. Let's survey the situation so we are both informed and prepared as parents.

Here are 7 realities regarding sexting:

1. Our culture encourages sharing information and images freely, including those of a sexual nature.

Nude—or nearly nude—pictures and themes are commonplace in ads, Instagram or on YouTube. Miley Cyrus, Nikki Minaj, Beyoncé, Rihanna and other "strippers" masquerade as dancers. Hot groups like "Nude Beach" fan the flames while Maybelline runs full-page ads heralding "Dare to Go Nude!" Shamefully explicit Victoria's Secret displays hit us on every side—television, posters and provocative magazine layouts.

The message is clear: Throw off restraints, don't hold back, show and enjoy what you got!

2. Exchanging naked pictures on iPhones or in other places is not viewed as unusual. We're being told it's "normal" and is "happening all the time."

In a recent Washington Post article on this topic by psychologist professor Elizabeth Englander, the "expert" calls us to stop demonizing teen sexting. She says in most cases it's "harmless" and a "normal part of a teen's sexual development."

3. Research studies reveal that 40 percent of teenagers have posted or sent sexually provocative messages. Over 10 percent of 13- to 16-year-old teen girls admit sending or receiving sexually explicit messages.

4. Seventy percent of young people acknowledge their sexting is with a boyfriend or girlfriend.

5. Fifty-five percent admit that, no matter what they say to others, they share content with more than one person. The average guy has little chance of discretely deleting that "juicy" picture with such bragging rights available the next time he's with his buds!

6. Thirty-three percent do it to "feel attractive/sexy." Girls send more sexual images then guys.

7. Twelve percent do it because they are pressured or manipulated to do so.


In this month's Atlantic magazine, the cover story on "Why Kids Sext" visited a high school of 1,450, where students surveyed said they believe anywhere from 60-80 percent of their classmates sext. Some of the more significant excerpts include:

• "The speed in which teens have incorporated the practice of sharing naked pictures of themselves into their mating rituals has taken society by surprise."

• "This is my life and my body, and I can do whatever I want with it!" declared one girl.

• In another high school surveyed, 28 percent of sophomores and juniors said they sent naked pictures of themselves and 31 percent asked someone to send them one.

• The act of sending sexually explicit material through mobile phones does not just entail bikinis and scantily-clad girls.

"Is This Really Just Harmless Activity for Young People—A Playful Stage to Pass Through?"

Last year, Audrey Pott, a curvy sophomore at Saratoga High School in California, wore a low-cut top and a miniskirt to school and got sexually explicit messages on Facebook.

What's amazing to consider is what publication probably did the longest feature on this incident—none other than Rolling Stone magazine! The herald of hedonism that celebrates drugs, booze, rebellion and "anything goes," as well as regularly features pictures of "cool" celebrities smoking dope, tells the story in all its gory details.

In Virginia a 13-year-old girl posted her naked picture on meet16.com and had grown men show up at her house.

Guys have learned to manipulate by threatening to send out naked pictures from their girlfriends unless given the sexual favors they demand.


Imagine your "naive," just-developing daughter looking in the mirror and repeatedly wondering, "Am I attractive? Do I look sexy? Guys at school say girls who don't sext aren't cool; they're stuck up. Is that me?"

Then some Justin Bieber guy on whom she's had a crush texts her. You and your spouse are asleep, and she's exiting the shower. The conversation goes: "BAE, WYD?" "Getting ready for bed" "WHAT ARE YA WEARING?" "Wraparound towel" "WOW! YOU ALWAYS LOOK SO HOT. BET YOU'RE SMOKIN' HOT NOW!" "Really?" "TAYLOR SWIFT'S GOT NOTHIN ON YOU. YOU'RE ALONE—SHOOT ME A PIX. JUST FOR ME. I'LL DELETE IT ... PROMISE. COME ON, I'M PERSISTENT BAE!"

Vulnerable. Gullible. Alone. Late. Why not ... Once ... Just for him?

Practical Guidance for Parents:

1. Pray to God for divine protection, discernment and wisdom. Your assignment is to equip and empower them to make wise decisions on their own. Help them understand choices and long-term effects.

2. Make sure you are meaningfully involved in a community of believers with like-minded parents who share a biblical worldview on sexuality and parenting.

3. Be engaged with cellphone use, monitoring and the safeguards available today. Many wise parents have initiated reasonable curfews in the evening regarding cellphone use.  

4. Reject the notion that in the teen years parents step back rather than stay involved. In this season they need you more than ever!

5. Remember you're first and foremost a parental authority, not a buddy or friend. Talk show host Kelly Ripa shared recently about her 13-year-old daughter having cellphone privileges curtailed. "I don't care if she doesn't like me. I'm not trying to be her friend. I'm her mom!"

6. Teach your children there is a mystique to sex that's God-ordained. While the culture seduces us with "Indulge yourself," the Holy Scriptures direct us, "Control yourself."

"Young women ... I charge you: Do not stir up or awaken love until the appropriate time" (Song 8:4, CSB).

"For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven ... a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing ... He has made everything beautiful in its time" (Eccl. 3:1, 5b, 11, RSV).

7. Clearly and convincingly explain there are very severe legal consequences for sexting. In some states teenagers can be charged with a felony, a 20-year prison sentence and registered as a sex offender for life. Continue with a very honest conversation about ruined reputation, humiliation, depression, revenge tactics, sexual predators and opening doors to pornography, homosexuality and eventually even suicide.

Remember your normal sexual curiosity as a youth? It's by divine design. But if parental authorities are not present to instruct, steer and oversee it in young people, it becomes like a fire out of control leading to disastrous consequences. In today's cultural morass, we have no more options except to hit this head on and trust God for His protection.

Here's the deal: There simply are no easy solutions or shortcuts anymore. The United States of America desperately needs a transformative revival. As we await that divine intervention, let us pray and stay close together as families did in the time of Nehemiah when the city of God was being restored.

Larry Tomczak is a best-selling author and cultural commentator with 42 years of trusted ministry experience. His passion is to bring perspective, analysis and insight from a biblical worldview. He loves awakening people to today's cultural realities and responses needed for a restored, influential church. Please visit LarryTomczak.com and follow him on Facebook or at @larrytomczak on Twitter.

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Larry Tomczak Featured Here's the Deal Opinion Tue, 25 Nov 2014 06:00:00 -0500
Ferguson Police Officer Will Not Face Charges for Michael Brown's Death http://www.charismanews.com/us/46260-ferguson-police-officer-will-not-face-charges-for-michael-brown-s-death http://www.charismanews.com/us/46260-ferguson-police-officer-will-not-face-charges-for-michael-brown-s-death

A Missouri grand jury voted not to charge a white police officer for the fatal August shooting of an unarmed black teenager, an incident that set off weeks of sometimes violent protests around the St. Louis area, a county prosecutor said on Monday.

The grand jury found there was no probable cause to charge Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson with any crime for the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown, an incident that highlighted longstanding racial tensions in the predominantly black city, which has a white-dominated power structure.

"They determined that no probable cause exists to file any charge against officer Wilson," St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch told reporters in Clayton, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis where the grand jury met.

Brown's family said they were "profoundly disappointed" by the grand jury's finding.

"While we understand that many others share our pain, we ask that you channel your frustration in ways that will make a positive change," the family said in a statement released by its attorneys.

A crowd of several hundred people gathered outside the Ferguson Police Department ahead of the news, and many began to scream angrily as the news of the grand jury's decision was read.

"Murderers, you're nothing but murderers," one woman shouted through a megaphone at officers clad in riot gear. "Stinking murderers."

Authorities had stepped up security in and around Ferguson ahead of the decision, and Missouri Governor Jay Nixon called up the National Guard to guard against the kind of rioting that flared in the weeks after the Aug. 9 shooting.

Some activists described the decision to preemptively activate the guard as unnecessarily heavy-handed, particularly following complaints that police inflamed crowds in August by responding in a heavily militarized posture, using tear gas and rubber bullets.

Ahead of the decision, officials called on area residents to remain calm following the grand jury's decision.

The grand jury, with nine white and three black members, began meeting in late August and heard evidence that included witnesses called by the prosecution as well as a private pathologist hired by the Brown family to review the shooting.

Nine jurors needed to agree to bring charges.

McCulloch declined to say if the jury's decision was unanimous, noting that grand jury proceedings are completely secret and that only the jury members themselves know the details of the proceedings.

CONFLICTING ACCOUNTS

McCulloch described a tangled mass of conflicting testimony from 60 witnesses about what happened during the incident that led to Brown's death, but said much of it did not square with the physical evidence.

"Many of the same witnesses acknowledged that they did not see the shooting," McCulloch said.

The grand jury met on 25 days and heard more than 70 hours of testimony, McCulloch said.

"The grand jury worked tirelessly to examine and reexamine the testimony of all the witnesses and all the physical evidence."

Lawyers for Brown's family say the teen was trying to surrender when he was shot, while Wilson's supporters say he feared for his life and opened fire in self-defense.

Witnesses disagreed on whether Brown's hands were up at the time he was shot, McCulloch said, adding that Wilson shot at Brown 12 times, with his final shot hitting Brown in the top of his head.

Brown is suspected of having stolen cigars from a nearby convenience store shortly before the incident. Brown and a friend had been walking down the middle of the street when Wilson approached them. Police said in August that Wilson was not aware of the robbery at the time.

Across the United States, in cities including New York, Chicago and Greensboro, North Carolina, activists were planning to hold demonstrations in solidarity with the Ferguson protesters.

A crowd of about three dozen protesters gathered outside the Clayton courthouse where the grand jury had met, and many stood in stunned silence following the news.

"That's just how the justice system works. The rich are up there and the poor are down here," said Antonio Burns, 25, who lives in Clayton. "They think they can get away with it."

(Additional reporting by David Bailey in Minneapolis, Carey Gillam in Kansas City, Fiona Ortiz in Chicago, Adrees Latif in Ferguson and Will Dunham in Washington; Writing by Scott Malone; Editing by Jim Loney, Will Dunham and Leslie Adler)

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REUTERS/By Daniel Wallis and Ellen Wulfhorst Featured U.S. News Mon, 24 Nov 2014 22:17:11 -0500
Ferguson Grand Jury Makes Decision in Fatal Shooting of Black Teen http://www.charismanews.com/us/46258-ferguson-grand-jury-makes-decision-in-fatal-shooting-of-black-teen http://www.charismanews.com/us/46258-ferguson-grand-jury-makes-decision-in-fatal-shooting-of-black-teen

A Missouri grand jury has made a decision on whether to indict a white police officer in the August fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, a killing that sparked angry protests in the St. Louis suburb, prosecutors said on Monday.

The shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, a resident of a predominantly black city with a white-dominated power structure, has become a flashpoint for strained U.S. race relations. Activists in Ferguson and around the United States have been preparing for the grand jury's decision for weeks.

The decision will be disclosed later on Monday, Ed Magee, a spokesman for St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch, said in an e-mailed statement.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon has called up the National Guard and local officials have been planning a massive police presence to quell any potential violence, particularly if officer Darren Wilson is not indicted in the Aug. 9 shooting.

Nixon plans to make a public plea for peace at 5:30 p.m. local time (2330 GMT) in remarks at the University of St. Louis, a spokesman said.

The victim's father, Michael Brown Sr., told a group of protesters outside the Ferguson Police Department that he had been told the grand jury had reached its decision but said he did not know what it was.

"He's calling for peace and he wants people to be not violent, not looting stores, not throwing things at police officers," said Byron Conley, 51, who briefly spoke with Brown. "I hope we can do this in a peaceful way. I just don't want no one to look at our little town thinking we're a bunch of wild animals. We're really good people here."

White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters at the White House that President Barack Obama has "delivered a pretty forceful message" that any protests following the grand jury's decision should be peaceful. Brown's parents, ministers and community leaders also have urged sympathizers to remain peaceful, whatever the outcome.

Ferguson has been on edge for weeks as residents await the grand jury's decision. Shop owners in the city, which faced weeks of sometimes violent protests following Brown's death, have boarded up their windows. Students in one area school district began an extended early Thanksgiving break on Monday.

Protesters have said they plan to demonstrate at the Ferguson Police Department and at the county courthouse in Clayton, about 8 miles (13 km) to the south, following the grand jury's decision. Many have said they will take to the streets regardless of whether Wilson is indicted, saying the case illustrates long-simmering tensions between black Americans and police.

Police in Clayton placed large barricades around the courthouse and put locks on mailboxes to prevent them being opened ahead of the announcement. The school district in nearby Hazelwood canceled all after-school activities on Monday following the news.

Lawyers for Brown's family say the teen was trying to surrender when he was shot, while Wilson's supporters say he feared for his life and opened fire in self-defense. Brown was shot at least six times.

Brown is suspected of having stolen cigars from a nearby convenience store shortly before the incident. Brown and a friend had been walking down the middle of the street when Wilson approached them.

The August shooting touched off a national debate about race relations and ignited nightly street demonstrations where police in riot gear, flanked by armored vehicles, fired rubber bullets and deployed tear gas to break up crowds.

Local and state authorities scrambled to keep a lid on the protests in the face of criticism their heavy-handed tactics were only making the situation worse.

McCulloch declined to file charges directly and instead had a grand jury hear evidence over recent months. In a move aimed at transparency, the prosecutor's office has pledged to release publicly the evidence heard by the grand jury, where proceedings are usually kept secret.

Legal experts say the grand jury can consider charges ranging from first-degree murder to criminal negligence.

© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.

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Daniel Wallis and Ellen Wulfhorst/Reuters Featured U.S. News Mon, 24 Nov 2014 17:29:28 -0500
Bible Sees Renaissance Among Children, YouVersion Reports http://www.charismanews.com/world/46257-bible-sees-renaissance-among-children-youversion-reports http://www.charismanews.com/world/46257-bible-sees-renaissance-among-children-youversion-reports

The most popular book of all time may be celebrating a bit of a renaissance.

Thanksgiving Day marks the first anniversary of the Bible App for Kids, developed by YouVersion in partnership with OneHope. The app has been downloaded in 200-plus countries and nearly 5 million times.

"This app literally brings the Bible to life," wrote reviewer Zach Green. "This app is great for new believers as well as for children."

Today's digital age requires new formats for media consumption. And Hollywood responded to that call with two Bible-based blockbusters: Noah and the December release of EXODUS: Gods and Kings.

"Today's kids love technology," said OneHope president Rob Hoskins. "We're raising a generation of digital natives. That is why we have placed a significant focus on developing digital ministry tools to support parents and churches by providing them with quality, age-appropriate, Scripture-rich content that is a good digital option for kids to engage with."

In late August, the Bible App for Kids was translated into its first language: Spanish. Now nearly one-quarter of all Bible App for Kids downloads use the Spanish translation. Last week, it launched in Chinese and Korean. By the end of 2015, developers plan to release the app in 9 additional languages, with a total of 40+ stories so children around the world can experience the gospel through this innovative and engaging platform.

"My 2- and 4-year-old love it," said Melinda York in her Google Play store review, "they love the interactive stories and I like that they are getting a good introduction to the Bible. Thank you to the developers of this app and for making it free."

Free downloadable parent resources were also created to accompany each story so that the whole family can engage in God's Word together.

In another app review, Terri Lozano calls it, "The BEST interactive Bible story app. It's the first thing they go to on my phone on our ride home from school. They even made a trivia game of it between them. It's such a delight to my heart to see their interest in the stories. Keep the new stories coming. God bless you."

The Bible App for Kids is available for free on the App store, Google Play and Amazon.

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Jocelyn Broder Featured World News Mon, 24 Nov 2014 16:00:00 -0500
General Jerry Boykin Urges Hagel to Speak Out About Obama's Choices http://www.charismanews.com/us/46256-general-jerry-boykin-urges-hagel-to-speak-out-about-obama-s-choices http://www.charismanews.com/us/46256-general-jerry-boykin-urges-hagel-to-speak-out-about-obama-s-choices
Retired General Jerry Boykin, Family Research Council's executive vice president and former deputy undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, called on senior military leaders earlier this month to resign in protest of the President's policies regarding our military. In light of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's resignation, Boykin is speaking out.
 
"Public statements made today by President Obama and Secretary Hagel regarding the state of our military do not reflect reality. Once Secretary Hagel leaves his position, he should speak out about the impact of the president's policies on military readiness as well as his feckless foreign policy. It would be wrong to wait, like his predecessors, until a book deal comes along.
 
"The American people deserve and have a right to hear the truth about the damage the president's policies have inflicted on the military. We can't wait any longer to restore the readiness of our military. Our national security depends upon it.
 
"The reluctance of the current joint chiefs of staff to resist damaging policies is having a devastating impact on military readiness and consequently national security. Programmed cuts in the military budget as well as cuts resulting from sequestration are reducing America's readiness to a dangerously low level. From personnel to major weapons systems, military leaders and defense analysts alike agree we are placing our national security on a dangerous footing. It's time for senior military leaders to go public with their objections even if it results in their resignation or termination.
 
"Consider that America has been at war for 13 years and our military has an all-time high suicide rate, out-of-control PTSD, and family disintegration at unprecedented levels. The Obama administration has not announced a serious and coherent strategy to destroy ISIS. Now we are sending our young men and women—who are not adequately trained to fight Ebola—on something that is NOT a military mission in the first place.
 
"One of the most serious and demoralizing actions of this administration is its attack on religious liberty, as the First Amendment rights of service members' faith are being infringed on constantly. By embracing the foolish and destructive decisions of the Obama administration, the military leadership is contributing to and overseeing the downfall of our most important national security asset, the U.S. Armed Forces," concluded Boykin.
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J.P. Duffy Featured U.S. News Mon, 24 Nov 2014 15:00:00 -0500
Kari Jobe Marries the Love of Her Life http://www.charismanews.com/culture/46255-kari-jobe-marries-the-love-of-her-life http://www.charismanews.com/culture/46255-kari-jobe-marries-the-love-of-her-life

Grammy-nominated Christian artist and worship leader Kari Jobe got a "taste of heaven" at her wedding on Friday, she said, when she married her worship colleague and best friend, Cody Carnes. The two then breathlessly shared many of the day's events on social media.

Jobe posted on Instagram, "I'm married!!! Yesterday was more than a dream, more than a reality—it was a taste of Heaven. I've decided that God loves weddings. His presence was stronger than I've ever felt in my whole life. I'm so very thankful for those of you that were there with us—we experienced such a sweet time with you. Thank you for always celebrating and supporting what God is doing in my life—and now my husband @codycarnes. What a day. #Carnes2014 @heatherarmstrongphotography (she's so brilliant) makeup: @victoriapt50 hair: @vagabondjuju"

Jobe described a photo of her father laughing and smiling this way: "My dad's reaction at seeing me in my wedding dress for the first time on the wedding day!"

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Mark Andrews Featured Culture Mon, 24 Nov 2014 14:00:00 -0500
Bill Cosby and 12 Signs of Abusive Leadership http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/the-pulse/46244-bill-cosby-and-12-signs-of-abusive-leadership http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/the-pulse/46244-bill-cosby-and-12-signs-of-abusive-leadership

As has been reported repeatedly over the past several weeks in the news and entertainment media, numerous women—23 as of late Sunday—have come forward and alleged that comedian Bill Cosby took advantage of them sexually. To make matters worse, most of these women fit a profile of a young aspiring model or actress, who was living alone, vulnerable, and looked to Mr. Cosby as a mentor.

I hope these allegations prove to be untrue, because I have always been a big Cosby fan. But, if true, this unfortunately fits a common pattern of abuse in which leaders use their position of authority to take advantage of subordinates who look to them for help.

There are many signs of abusive leadership, which can relate to leadership in the family, church, business, politics and any organization or voluntary association. Also, abusers often were themselves the victims of abuse earlier in their life.

The following are 12 characteristics and traits of abusive leadership:

(Abusive leadership can take one or many of the following traits.)

1. Such a leader uses his position of power to receive favors from their subordinates

Whenever a leader throws around his or her title with subordinates to extract personal favors from them, their motives are impure and said favors can get increasingly illicit. Unfortunately, subordinates and or mentees often want to play the game as much as their leader to satisfy their ambitious quest for success. In that case, both are equally wrong.

2. A leader threatens or manipulates subordinates to get what they want

When abusive leaders don't get what they want, they often resort to political, monetary or relational manipulation to coerce their subordinates into submission. When this doesn't work, said abuser often threatens to carry out actions detrimental to the family, career or life of their subordinate to force compliance.

3. A leader uses their title primarily for entitlements rather than to serve others

An abusive leader often desires positions of power so they can be served. They want the perquisites of their position without having a commensurate sacrifice for those under their auspices. They love the influence and power that comes with their position; this is always dangerous and can lead to leadership abuse.

4. A leader attaches to the most vulnerable in their midst

Abusive leaders often stay away from smart, confident, independent subordinates who are able to think and take care of themselves. They prey upon the naive, the vulnerable and the stargazers who will do anything to have access to power. Leaders who elevate the vulnerable in their company but shy away from confident individuals with strong core values demonstrate that their desire is to control and manipulate others more than to develop and nurture others.

5. A leader uses father wounds in others to gain paternal trust.

In a world rampant with family fragmentation, a large percentage of people in organizations have an orphan spirit or father wounds as a result of their biological father's neglect, abuse and/or abandonment. Abusive male leaders can easily discern this need for paternal affirmation and utilize this felt need in subordinates to take advantage of them. They first gain their trust by showing them attention, earning their loyalty and then eventually eliciting sexual or other favors from them as an expression of some sort of perverse paternal bond.

6. A leader makes subordinates inordinately dependent upon them and isolates them

An abusive leader often makes vulnerable subordinates monetarily, relationally or emotionally dependent upon them by "taking care of their needs." Their goal is to isolate subordinates so they can continue to control them and extract from them whatever they desire.

7. A leader demands absolute loyalty

Abusive leaders do not want their subordinates or mentees to receive help or instruction from anybody else. They demand absolute authority and feel threatened when or if their subordinate goes to anyone else for counsel or aid.

8. A leader threatens or attempts to scandalize those who don't comply with their demands

Abusive leaders slander those who turn away from them or whom they can no longer control. If they see that a person is or becomes self-aware or independent and refuses to "drink their Kool-Aid," they bad-mouth them and try to limit their ability to succeed without them.

9. A leader uses and objectifies others for their own agenda

An abusive leader views others merely as a means to an end to satisfy their personal agenda. They don't value people for who they are but objectify them to extract from them things they desire for themselves. Once said abuser gets what they want from a person, they ignore them and go on to the next person they perceive can help them.

10. A leader gets violent and exhibits rage when they don't have their way

Often an abuser has a short fuse and goes into fits of rage to intimidate their subordinates. If a person has a leader who attempts to elicit obedience through the use of threats, they should disassociate themselves as soon as possible or they may become co-dependent and complicit with said abuser's abuse of others.

11. A leader may be narcissistic and focused only on self-gratification

A leader who attempts to use their position merely as a means for satisfying their ego, to satiate selfish desires, and enjoy a lifestyle of consumerist idolatry are narcissistic and don't care about the well-being of subordinates. This myopic obsessive self-focus always leads to sacrificing others for the sake of their own aggrandizement and pleasure.

12. Abusive leaders are control freaks

Abusive leaders freak out when those in their family or organization do not bow down to their every demand. These "control freaks" are motivated by insecurity and fear and try to create followers in their own image and likeness. They demand predictability and obedience to the status quo, and they squash critical thinking, creativity and independence. They would rather have robotic obedience that produces mediocrity rather than flourishing family members or subordinates who fly like eagles.

In conclusion, God gives dire warnings to leaders who only care about themselves to the neglect of those they are supposed to serve. (Read Jeremiah 23:1-4 and Ezra 34:1-10.) Effective leaders understand that the main reason they have been entrusted with influence is to facilitate growth and maturity in the lives of those under their care.

Joseph Mattera is overseeing bishop of Resurrection Church and Christ Covenant Coalition, in Brooklyn, New York.

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Joseph Mattera Featured The Pulse Opinion Mon, 24 Nov 2014 09:30:00 -0500
Billy Graham Is Not Dead, So Who Started the Rumor? http://www.charismanews.com/us/46254-billy-graham-is-not-dead-so-who-started-the-rumor http://www.charismanews.com/us/46254-billy-graham-is-not-dead-so-who-started-the-rumor

Billy Graham today may be quoting Mark Twain, who once famously said, "The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated."

Somehow, a social-media report of the iconic evangelist's demise at the age of 96 gained enormous traction late last week—despite denials from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Nevertheless, an "R.I.P." Facebook page quickly gained 1 million "Likes."

Who would perpetrate such a malicious social-media hoax and why?

We may never know.

"News of religious figure Billy Graham's death spread quickly earlier [last] week causing concern among fans across the world," mediamass.net reported. "However, the November 2014 report has now been confirmed as a complete hoax and just the latest in a string of fake celebrity death reports. Thankfully, the 96-year-old religious figure is alive and well."

Rumors of the religious figure's alleged demise gained traction on Saturday after an "R.I.P. Billy Graham" Facebook page attracted nearly one million "likes." Those who read the "About" page were given a believable account of the American Christian leader's passing:

"At about 11 a.m. ET on Saturday (Nov. 22, 2014), our beloved religious figure Billy Graham passed away. Billy Graham was born on Nov. 7, 1918 in Charlotte. He will be missed but not forgotten. Please show your sympathy and condolences by commenting on and liking this page."

Christian media quickly debunked the rumor as a sad Internet hoax.

Graham's own website noted this about his legacy:

"Mr. Graham has preached the Gospel to more people in live audiences than anyone else in history—nearly 215 million people in more than 185 countries and territories—through various meetings, including Mission World and Global Mission. Hundreds of millions more have been reached through television, video, film and webcasts," reads part of his biography on the billygraham.org website.

The day before Graham's 96th birthday on Nov. 7, Charisma News reported this:

"At 96 years old, Billy Graham's desire to share hope with the world is as strong as ever. On Nov. 7, the day Graham celebrates his birthday, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association will debut Heaven, a film that includes a never-before-seen message from Billy Graham.

"Graham's message was recorded last year, while the aging yet still passionate evangelist worked with a camera crew to capture his thoughts in a series of interviews at his home in Montreat, North Carolina.

"I know I'm going to heaven. I'm looking forward to it with great anticipation," said Graham, who explains in the film how people can share that same hope.

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Mark Andrews Featured U.S. News Mon, 24 Nov 2014 13:00:00 -0500
Amid Sexual Abuse Allegations, Bill Cosby Speaking at Christian Event http://www.charismanews.com/culture/46253-amid-sexual-abuse-allegations-bill-cosby-speaking-at-christian-event http://www.charismanews.com/culture/46253-amid-sexual-abuse-allegations-bill-cosby-speaking-at-christian-event

Billy Cosby's accusers continue coming forward. The count is now up to 23 alleged sexual assault victims between 1965 and 2004. The comic genius isn't commenting publicly on the accusations, but he's not running and hiding, either.

Cosby is set to speak at Freed-Hardeman University near Jackson, Tennessee, on Dec. 5 despite protest threats from an advocacy group for sexual-assault victims.

"If he does show up Dec. 5 to the auditorium, I'll be out there protesting, and I won't be alone," David Brown, leader of the Memphis Chapter of SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests), told WREG.com.

Cosby has been accused of drugging and raping women, and Brown is up in arms about it. He said, "If you keep him as your keynote speaker, your fine university will hurt so many, and you will never know the harm that you have done."

Freed-Hardeman University issued a statement:

"Our 50th FHU Benefit Dinner remains scheduled for Friday, Dec. 5, to focus on our main goal—providing an avenue for donors to invest in the students' lives. We committed to a contract with Bill Cosby many months ago after soliciting input from alumni and friends. While recent developments have drawn attention to our event because of the speaker, we hope that people will remember: 1.) This dinner is about helping students, and 2.) while we are reading stories in the media, they represent real people whose lives will be affected long after FHU's dinner has passed. Please join us in praying for healing and peace for those involved."

 Not everyone has been so gracious to Cosby. Netflix cancelled his comedy special. NBC put the kibosh on plans for a new television series starring the iconic comedian. And TV Land stopped airing re-runs of The Cosby Show.

 Let's keep praying over this one.

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Jennifer LeClaire Featured Culture Mon, 24 Nov 2014 12:00:00 -0500
Biblical Win in Texas Could Impact School Children Across the Nation http://www.charismanews.com/us/46252-biblical-win-in-texas-could-impact-school-children-across-the-nation http://www.charismanews.com/us/46252-biblical-win-in-texas-could-impact-school-children-across-the-nation
The Texas State Board of Education, whose decisions can have national ramifications, on Friday approved nearly 100 textbooks despite criticism the books exaggerated the influence biblical figures had in forming the U.S. system of government.
 
The Republican-controlled 15-member body voted along party lines to approve the use of the textbooks for all ages of students in the second-most populous U.S. state, with about 5 million children in the public school system.
 
Once textbooks are approved in Texas, they are often sold nationally and used for years in classrooms across the country.
 
"I don't think there is any reason to fear these books," board member Thomas Ratliff told reporters. "I think by and large they are going to be very good books."
 
Critics say the social studies and history textbooks that were approved overemphasize the role that Christianity and biblical figures such as Moses played in the formation of the nation's founding documents while giving little attention to constitutional provisions against the state establishing religion.
 
They also say world geography textbooks downplay the role that armed conquest played in the spread of Christianity and misrepresent fundamental points of other major religions.
 
"The State Board of Education and these textbooks have collaborated to make students' knowledge of American history a casualty of the culture wars," said Emile Lester, a political science professor at the University of Mary Washington in Virginia and a critic of textbooks under consideration.
 
Some conservatives have criticized the textbooks for not giving more attention to what they said was the role violence played in the spread of Islam.
 
The more than 1,000 Texas public school districts can choose their own books and materials, but most follow the state-approved list.
 
Barbara Cargill, board chairwoman and a conservative, said opposition from liberals failed to "erase the role Christianity has played in the founding of this nation."
 
Reporting by Jim Forsyth in San Antonio and Jon Herskovitz in Austin; editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Eric Beech
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Jon Herskovitz and Jim Forsyth/Reuters Featured U.S. News Mon, 24 Nov 2014 11:30:00 -0500
Rewriting America’s Thanksgiving History to Remove God Is a Tragic Deception http://www.charismanews.com/us/46251-rewriting-america-s-thanksgiving-history-to-remove-god-is-a-tragic-deception http://www.charismanews.com/us/46251-rewriting-america-s-thanksgiving-history-to-remove-god-is-a-tragic-deception

As Americans mark Thanksgiving this week, one thing noticeably absent from public discourse is our nation's first Thanksgiving celebration—and the One to Whom those early American settlers gave thanks.

Instead, talk of "Pilgrims" is taboo, and talk of giving thanks to God even more so. And beyond this, very few in America today recognize the strong theme throughout our nation's history of national leaders' setting aside a day of Thanksgiving not to family, friends or an unnamed source but to God.

Religion and culture expert Dr. Alex McFarland says this is not only a tragic rewriting of American history but also a subtle strategy to strip America of the very core that makes her a nation worth celebrating: her acknowledgement of God.

"Our nation's founding fathers believed that, as individuals and as a nation, we should give thanks to our Creator. Yet, today, we see this truth being downplayed and even downright ignored. The truth of the matter is that when the Mayflower's 102 passengers arrived in Massachusetts in 1620 and then signed the Mayflower Compact, they put their names to the fact that their purpose in undertaking such a journey was 'the Glory of God, and the advancement of the Christian faith,'" McFarland says.

"And although more than half of the settlers died during that first, harsh winter, that following summer's farming efforts yielded a bountiful crop, due in significant part to the assistance of friendly Native Americans. That first Thanksgiving was set aside as a feast to thank God and celebrate with the Native Americans."

McFarland added that just a few short years later, the governor of Plymouth Plantation, William Bradford, declared an official day of thanksgiving, to "proclaim that all ye Pilgrims, with your wives and little ones, do gather at ye meeting house, there to listen to ye pastor and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for His blessings."

More than 150 years later, as governor of Virginia, Thomas Jefferson set aside a day of "public and solemn Thanksgiving to Almighty God." And in 1785, New Hampshire Gov. John Langdon set aside November 24 to "testify our gratitude to the Author of all our Mercies, and to confess our manifold transgressions."

"With the unanimous approval of Congress, our first president, George Washington, proclaimed a national day of Thanksgiving in 1789," McFarland says. "In his official declaration, Washington wrote that America should thank God for His many blessings, ask for forgiveness for personal and national sins, and pray that God would 'promote the knowledge and practice of the true religion.' And nearly 75 years later, Abraham Lincoln passed a Thanksgiving resolution that cited Psalm 33:12 and stated, 'It is announced in the Holy Spirit and proven by all history, that those nations are blessed whose God is the Lord.'"

McFarland says the truth is that throughout our nation's history, we have acknowledged Almighty God as the source of our blessings.

"Our belief in God and acknowledgement of our dependence on Him is what makes America America," McFarland says. "Religious liberty is why the Pilgrims sacrificed so deeply and came to our shores to begin with. This week, let's give our families a history lesson when we gather at the Thanksgiving table—and let's give thanks to the only One Who truly is worthy of it, God Almighty."

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Deborah Hamilton Featured U.S. News Mon, 24 Nov 2014 11:00:00 -0500
These 11 Retailers Are Effectively Declaring War on Christmas http://www.charismanews.com/marketplace/46250-these-11-retailers-are-effectively-declaring-war-on-christmas http://www.charismanews.com/marketplace/46250-these-11-retailers-are-effectively-declaring-war-on-christmas

Just in time for Black Friday shopping, American Family Association (AFA) has released its annual "Naughty or Nice" list of retailers who either embrace Christmas in their seasonal shopping campaigns or leave it out in the cold.

With the goal of keeping Christ in Christmas, AFA has reviewed the websites, media advertising and in-store signage of the top 100 national retailers in an effort to help consumers know which companies are Christmas-friendly and which are acting like "Scrooge."

"There are concerted efforts in our country to eliminate 'Christmas' because the word itself is a reminder of Jesus Christ," said AFA President Tim Wildmon. "Those who hate Christ want to eradicate anything that reminds Americans of Christianity. That is why it is important to remind companies to keep the word 'Christmas' alive. AFA wants to keep Christ in Christmas and Christmas in America."

AFA rates the retailers in four categories. AFA "5-Star" retailers promote and celebrate Christmas on an exceptional basis. These include: Belk, Hobby Lobby, Lowe's, Sears and Wal-Mart.

"Nice" retailers use the term "Christmas" on a regular basis and are considered "Christmas-friendly." The "Nice" list includes about 45 retailers, from Amazon.com to Zappos.com.

Thirteen retailers this year made the "Marginal" list, meaning these companies refer to Christmas infrequently or only in select advertising mediums.

The 11 retailers on the "Naughty" list may use "Christmas" sparingly in a single or unique product description, but as companies, do not recognize it. These include: Barnes & Noble, Family Dollar, Foot Locker, Limited Brands, Maurice's, Office Depot, Office Max, PetSmart, Staples, Supervalu and Victoria's Secret.

Last week, AFA announced a Christmas shopping boycott of the national pet retailer PetSmart for omitting any references to Christmas in its shopping promotions.

"PetSmart has ignored the pleas of its shoppers and AFA for years and doesn't deserve your business," Wildmon said. "As consumers, let's tell PetSmart that we won't be doing any Christmas shopping for Fido and Fluffy in its stores this year."

AFA reached out to PetSmart in 2007 and 2011 regarding its glaring omission of the word "Christmas"—with no response.

Soon after AFA sent the PetSmart Action Alert to its one million-plus friends and supporters last week, PetSmart sent a promotional email to its own consumer list, using the word "Christmas," but PetSmart's newfound "Christmas" spirit appears relegated to this one email and a small gift labeled "Merry Christmas" in a television commercial, with no indication of any real change on the part of the retailer.

In 2013, AFA encouraged a similar boycott of the Christmas-unfriendly Radio Shack, which saw dismal electronics sales and was forced to close 200 locations this year. In fact, many of Radio Shack's franchise owners joined AFA in urging the company to include "Christmas" in its marketing. This year, the shopping season at Radio Shack looks much different. The tech retailer began using "Christmas" well before the end of October. In fact, in a press release dated Oct. 22, Radio Shack promoted an "exclusive lineup of Christmas gifts."

In the past, AFA has called out Wal-Mart, Lowe's and Sears, urging them to use "Christmas" in their marketing efforts. Wal-Mart responded by stating, "We learned a valuable lesson. Next year, we will use Christmas early and often." Today, all three retailers are on AFA's "5-Star" list and have even set up Christmas shops inside their stores.

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Deborah Hamilton Featured Marketplace Mon, 24 Nov 2014 10:30:00 -0500
How the Pilgrims and Reformation Formed America http://www.charismanews.com/us/46245-how-the-pilgrims-and-reformation-formed-america http://www.charismanews.com/us/46245-how-the-pilgrims-and-reformation-formed-america

We know the Pilgrims became some of America's first English settlers. And because of Thanksgiving Day, we certainly know they were thankful.

But what else was it about these devout Christians that helped them shape what became the most free, most powerful nation on Earth?

It had much to do with the religious beliefs that were so precious to them; they were willing to face death and uncertainty in a strange New World to live those beliefs out.

World-Changing Reformation

The Pilgrims' Protestant faith was forged in the Europe of 500 years ago, ripe for a revolution—or what would become a world-changing Reformation.

"The story of America is literally the story of the Reformation," says narrator Peter Lillback, Westminster Theological Seminary president, in a new 11-part DVD and on-line series called "The Protestant Revolt: A Study of the Protestant Reformation."

***"The Protestant Revolt" can be viewed here for free.

This series visits all the historical birthplaces of the Reformation and follows its growth in both the Old and New World.

The Reformation began in Germany where Martin Luther preached that salvation comes through faith alone in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross.  Man didn't need priests or bishops to assure him that salvation. That came from God Himself.

David Hall, pastor of Midway Presbyterian Church in Powder Springs, Georgia, came up with the idea for the DVD series.

"Justification by faith proclaims that the human soul is not trapped and enslaved by any particular bureaucracy or denomination, but God by His Holy Spirit can save and justify based on the work of Christ," Pastor Hall told CBN News.

Pilgrim re-enactors in Plymouth, Massachusetts, give insight into this new Reformation way of thinking.

"We don't need the king or priest or bishop to talk to God for us. We can do it ourselves," said Leo Martin, a re-enactor clothed in the simple outfit of a 17th century Pilgrim.

Democratizing the Faith

Martin Luther then translated the Bible into common language, and because of the brand-new Gutenberg press, people could soon search out the truths of the Bible themselves.

"The Scriptures were translated out of the Latin into the language of the people," Hall explained. "And so this was a huge democratizing of faith by the Reformation. It took God's Word, which was always intended to be spread to the masses, and it opened that up."

And in its pages, believers like the Pilgrims found God wants man to be free, to live unshackled and in liberty.

Lillback speaks of that key truth in the DVD series, saying, "Now this story of religious liberty is one of the great fruits of the Reformation: the right of the conscience to go directly to the Scriptures to study."

Westminster Theological Seminary professor Carl Trueman points out in the same series that this was much bigger than the Pilgrims.

"The ambition of all of the Reformers was to place the Scripture in the vernacular in the hands of every man," Trueman says.

And narrator Lillback adds, "Of course it was true that once a person starts reading the Bible, different interpretations happen.  And those different interpretations create different movements."

As these new doctrines and churches sprang up, so too did religious wars that tore through Europe. After much bloodshed, the kings and leaders came up with a solution.

In The Protestant Revolt series, Trueman offers up that solution in the Latin, "'Cuius regio, eius religio,' which translates roughly as 'Whoever is in charge of this region, his religion determines the religion.'"

In England, that meant those outside the monarch's Anglican religion were seen as dangerous dissidents.  This included the Pilgrims, whose fierce belief in their God-given right to liberty caused them to flee England and form a new society in the New World.

Pastor Eddie Hyatt writes about this in his book America's Revival Heritage.

"They did flee persecution in the Old World," Hyatt admitted. "But they also came to America with a vision for seeing a renewal and a reformation of Christianity and seeing it implemented in this New World."

Unfettered and Free

That New World gave them a place to live out their faith unfettered and free of persecution.

Dr. Paul Jehle is another Pilgrim re-enactor and head of the Plymouth Rock Foundation.

He said to CBN News, "Think about it: in human history, nobody has the freedom to form a society directly from the Bible in a wilderness where they didn't have a king looking over their shoulder to say, 'No, do it this way or that way.'"

"One of the motivations coming to the New World and one of things they loved and they wanted to implement was this religious freedom and this freedom to worship God and to walk with Him according to the dictates of one's own personal conscience," Hyatt added.

Religious freedom was important to them, but after what they'd suffered under the English king, so was forming a free civil society.

"They were fearful, loathsome of anything that resembled someone having an unchecked, undue amount of power over the citizens," Hall explained.

For an alternative, they turned to the Bible.

"They studied Scripture for what God's opinion was on governmental structure, both in the state and the church," Hall explained.  "And as such, they found that God didn't always confer power to just one individual shaped in a hierarchy.  But instead He gave it to representatives who were elected."

So they enshrined that in their Mayflower Compact, and they began to form a free society also built around free markets and rugged individualism.

"We're all equal in the eyes of God; we're all made in His image," re-enactor Martin said, speaking as a Pilgrim might have.  "And if that is true, nobody has a right to be over anybody else."

They changed the order of government so it was no longer from the top down, but from the bottom up.  They expected their leaders not to be lords over the people, but to be their servants.

Revolutionary Principles

"Now the Pilgrims figure this: If God thinks we're valuable and we all have worth, we certainly should think the same thing," Martin said.  "And that's where self-rule came from.  The king shouldn't be in charge.  The people should be in charge."

"What this meant was they were not going to be ruled by a monarch or a dictator," Hyatt said.  "They were going to be ruled by laws on which they all agreed."

Fellow re-enactor Jehle explained, "This is what will produce the impetus, the principles by which the American Revolution is fought."

"And they passed it on from the Pilgrim forefathers to the founding fathers," Martin said of these beliefs. "And the founding fathers took those principles and wrote the Declaration (of Independence) and the Constitution based on those Christian principles."

So that's how a small, hardy band of Christians set the stage for what would become the most liberty-minded, most prosperous, and some would argue the most spiritual nation on earth, all based on biblical principles.

Narrator Lillback concluded. "The Protestant Revolt" series speaking of this founding of America and that key principle of liberty.

"This story is a story we must cherish and continue to celebrate today.  Liberty still matters.  Liberty is the story of the Gospel," Lillback states.

He then quotes Scripture: "'If the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed. Stand fast therefore in the liberty with which Christ has made us free.'"

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Paul Strand/CBN News Featured U.S. News Mon, 24 Nov 2014 10:00:00 -0500
How God Is Breaking in to Impossible Places http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/46249-how-god-is-breaking-into-impossible-places http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/46249-how-god-is-breaking-into-impossible-places

God is doing incredible things all around the world.

  • There are probably more Christians in China now than members of the Communist Party.
  • In Asia, the T4T training has resulted in more than 1.7 million baptisms over the past 10 years.
  • In India, a Hindu nation, one house church network with which I am familiar, is seeing around one million baptisms per year.
  • Now seems to be God's time for the Muslim world. In one nation we know, there are thousands of house churches. In another area of the Middle East, there is a movement that has more than 12,000 house churches.
  • A Buddhist nation has seen more than 110,000 new believers in the past 10 years.
  • In 1991, when the Communists lost control of Mongolia, there were maybe four or five known Christians. Estimates are that now, just over 20 years later, there are around 100,000.
  • In Africa, Rolland and Heidi Baker have seen more than 10,000 new churches formed in Mozambique and the surrounding nations.

A few years ago, all of this would have seemed impossible. We may not be seeing huge numbers here in the West, but God is on the move in much of the rest of the world. Most (not all) the examples I've given here have occurred with disciple-making movements/church-planting movements. In these movements, the emphasis is on what is going on outside of the traditional church building. Ordinary believers are making disciples and leading small groups that eventually meet as churches.

I know that numbers are not everything, but they are an indication of what God is up to. Several years ago, Wolfgang Simson did a survey of the largest churches in the world. If you include networks of churches that meet in homes, then numbers one through 19 are networks of house churches and number 20, at the time of his survey, was Paul Yonggi Cho's church in Seoul, South Korea.

Throughout the world, God is using ordinary people—just like you—to start churches. What is there to stop you doing the same?

Adapted from Felicity Dale's e-book, A Simple Guide to the Challenging Scriptures for WomenFelicity is the author of numerous books including The Black Swan Effect and Simply Church. She is an an advocate for women in the church and trains people to start simple, organic house churches around the world.

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Felicity Dale Featured Opinion Mon, 24 Nov 2014 09:00:00 -0500
How Israel's Restoration Signals the End http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/46248-how-israel-s-restoration-signals-the-end http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/46248-how-israel-s-restoration-signals-the-end

"Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began" (Acts 3:19-21, KJV).

The return of Christ is contingent upon "the times of restitution of all things." The word times is in the plural form, meaning "a series of events" linked to restitution. The word restitution is similar to the word restoration. The Greek word for restitution (apokatastasis) was used to describe the Jews' return to Israel from Egypt with Moses and their return to Israel after the Babylonian captivity. In both cases the Hebrew nation was released from bondage, returned to their land and brought restoration to the land through agriculture and farming (Jer. 27:22; Joel 2:25). Christ will return after an order of restoration occurs.

The biblical prophets also predicted a series of restorations that will unfold prior to the return of the Messiah. When these predictions begin to come to pass, it is a major witness that the closing out of the end of the age is at hand and the kingdom of the Messiah is over the horizon.

The first major event would be the reestablishing of Israel as a nation. Over 100 years before Israel was reborn on May 14-15, 1948, Bible scholars who accepted the literal interpretation of the restoration prophecies began writing and teaching that the Jews must return to a restored nation called Israel prior to the Lord's return.

One such man was Professor S.W. Watson, who in 1888 taught that three things must occur before Christ could return. First, Israel would again be a nation. Second, Jerusalem must be in the hands and control of the Jews, and, finally, the Jews would be returning from all nations back to the Promised Land. In 1912, A.B. Simpson wrote a book titled The Coming One, in which he stated: "Then there is the promise of their [Israel's] restoration. This is to be in two stages: first, national and then spiritual. The two stages are represented by Ezekiel in the vision of the valley of dry bones."

In 1940 Harry Rimmer wrote a prophetic book titled The Coming War and the Rise of Russia. In it he mentions 14 things that must occur prior to the coming of Christ. He stated that the Jews would be back in Palestine and will have Jerusalem back. He predicted that there would be a great war that would drive the Jews back to Palestine. He also spoke of Hitler dividing Germany and how Germany would later be united again.

In the 1930s and 1940s, a great Bible scholar, Finis Dake, author of the Dake's Annotated Bible, spent thousands of hours researching the Scriptures and writing personal notes and commentaries on each verse. In Isaiah 35, the prophet Isaiah predicted a time when the barren deserts of Israel would blossom as a rose and fill the world with fruit (Is. 35:1; see also Is. 27:6). At the time of Mr. Dake's research, most of Palestine was either a swamp or a desolate, dry wilderness with little or no vegetation. In this setting, Dake commented on the 2,500-year-old prediction by Isaiah that Israel's deserts would blossom and fill the world with fruit: "A complete restoration or reestablishment. It refers to the Millennium when Christ will reign 1,000 years. No prophecy about the coming of the Lord can be fulfilled until the Jews are back in their land."

In the 1930s and early 1940s, Dake understood two facts: that no prophecy about the coming of the Lord could be fulfilled until the Jews were back in their land (Israel), and that the blossoming of the desert was to be taken literally and not as some spiritual allegory. In other words, the dry land would one day become fruitful. He only missed one part of his interpretation. He placed the timing of this fulfillment during the thousand-year reign of Christ (Rev. 20:4), not during the time of the end. When his Bible notes were written, the Jews were still scattered among the nations and were being persecuted by the Nazis. The nation of Israel was nonexistent, and the land was called Palestine and was under British mandate.

When examining prophetic Scripture, these men and others like them took the prophecies about Israel's restoration literally and not spiritually or allegorically. They predicted a day when the Jews would return and rebuild the places of old. Several understood there were seven signs of the time of the end.

Perry Stone is the best-selling author of numerous books, including There's a Crack in Your Armor, The Judas Goat, and Unleashing the Beast, from which this article is adapted. He directs one of America's fastest-growing ministries, the Voice of Evangelism, and lives in Cleveland, Tennessee, with his wife, Pam, and their two children.

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Perry Stone Featured Opinion Mon, 24 Nov 2014 08:00:00 -0500
Teacher to Student: If You Don't Support Gay Marriage, Drop My Class http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/46247-teacher-to-student-if-you-don-t-support-gay-marriage-drop-my-class http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/46247-teacher-to-student-if-you-don-t-support-gay-marriage-drop-my-class

Students who oppose gay marriage are homophobic, according to an audio recording of a Marquette University instructor who went on to say that gay rights issues cannot be discussed in class because it might offend homosexuals.

I reached out to the 20-year-old student at the center of this outrageous episode and the story he tells should serve as a warning to anyone who thinks religious schools are safe havens for open discourse.

The story was first reported on a blog run by a Marquette University professor and was picked up by the good folks over at The College Fix

The young man, who asked not to be identified, explained what happened when his ethics instructor, Cheryl Abbate, led a conversation in "Theory of Ethics" class about applying philosophical theories to modern political controversies. There were a list of issues on the board—gay rights, gun rights and the death penalty.

"We had a discussion on all of them—except gay rights," the student told me. "She erased that line from the board and said, 'We all agree on this.'"

Well, as it so happened—the student did not agree with instructor Abbate.

So after class he approached the instructor and told her he thought they should have discussed the issue of gay rights. He also recorded their conversation—without her permission.

"Are you saying if I don't agree with gays not being allowed to get married that I'm homophobic?" the student asked.

"I'm saying it would come off as a homophobic comment in this class," the teacher replied.

"Regardless of why I'm against gay marriage, it's still wrong for the teacher of a class to completely discredit one person's opinion when they may have different opinions," the student said.

Abbate disagreed.

"There are some opinions that are not appropriate—that are harmful—such as racist opinions, sexist opinions," she said. "And quite honestly, do you know if anyone in the class is homosexual?"

The student said he did not know the answer to her question.

"Do you not think that would be offensive to them if you were to raise your hand and challenge this," she asked.

At that point, the student told the instructor he had a right to challenge that—"that's my right as an American citizen."

"Actually," the teacher replied, "You don't have a right in this class, especially [in an ethics class], to make homophobic comments."

The student retorted that the comments were not homophobic.

"This is about restricting rights and liberties of individuals," he said. "Because they're homosexual, I can't have my opinions?"

And that's when the teacher dropped the bombshell.

"You can have whatever opinions you want but I will tell you right now—in this class homophobic comments, racist comments, sexist comments will not be tolerated," she said. "If you don't like it, you are more than free to drop this class."

So the student dropped the class.

"I understand that other people have very different views than I do and that's understandable," the student told me. "But when a student is not allowed to have an open discussion in a discussion-type class on a specific issue because it's regarded as homophobic—that really irks me."

Marquette Professor John McAdams, who runs the Marquette Warrior blog, accused Abbate of using a tactic "typical among liberals now."


"Opinions with which they disagree are not merely wrong, and are not to be argued against on their merits, but are deemed 'offensive' and need to be shut up," he wrote.

The student told me he filed a complaint—but he said university officials dismissed his concerns.

McAdams wrote that he was not surprised because the university officials held the same intolerant views as the instructor.

"Like the rest of academia, Marquette is less and less a real university," he wrote. "And when gay marriage cannot be discussed, certainly not a Catholic university."

A university spokesman told me they were viewing "both a concern raised by a student and a concern raised by a faculty member."

"We are taking appropriate steps to make sure that everyone involved is heard and treated fairly," the spokesman told me. "In compliance with state and federal privacy laws, we will not publicly share the results of the reviews."

Abbate told the website Inside Higher Ed that the "class discussion was not meant to be an opportunity for students to express their personal beliefs about political issues." 

She said she hoped Marquette would "use this event as an opportunity to create and actively enforce a policy on cyberbullying and harassment."

"It is astounding to me that the university has not created some sort of policy that would prohibit this behavior which undoubtedly leads to a toxic environment for both students and faculty," she told Inside Higher Ed.

The only thing toxic at Marquette are teachers who oppose Catholic doctrine and try to silence dissenting opinions.

I would be remiss if I did not address the student's behavior. A full review of the audio tape reveals the student was in fact disrespectful to the instructor. And when the instructor asked if she was being recorded, the student did not tell the truth.

I asked the young man about his behavior and he admitted to me that it was wrong. He told me that he "regretted" his actions.

Nevertheless, the student's behavior does not excuse Marquette University's successful attempt to silence the free exchange of ideas.

So let's review—an instructor at a Catholic university taught material that is contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church and when a Catholic student brought this information to the attention of Catholic administrators, the student was the one who got rebuked.

I'm not a Catholic, but it seems to me Marquette University is one of those CINO schools—Catholic in Name Only.

Todd Starnes is host of Fox News & Commentary, heard on hundreds of radio stations. Sign up for his American Dispatch newsletter, be sure to join his Facebook page, and follow him on Twitter. His latest book is God Less America.

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Todd Starnes Featured Opinion Mon, 24 Nov 2014 07:00:00 -0500
Obama Buddy, HRC Founder Charged With Raping Boy http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/clarion-call/46246-obama-buddy-hrc-founder-charged-with-raping-boy http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/clarion-call/46246-obama-buddy-hrc-founder-charged-with-raping-boy

"It seems to me that in the gay community the people who should be running interference for NAM/BLA are the parents and friends of gays. Because if the parents and friends of gays are truly friends of gays, they would know from their gay kids that the relationship with an older man is precisely what 13-, 14- and 15-year-old kids need more than anything else in the world." – Harry Hay, founder of the modern "gay rights" movement

None of it matters: Neither common sense, nor an abundance of victim testimony, peer-reviewed studies, nor their own loathsome admissions and actions. Nothing will move secular-"progressives" to acknowledge the undeniable interplay between homosexuality and childhood sexual abuse.

Whether it's boy-raping, "gay" priests, or boy-raping, "gay" activists, the problem is systemic. Homosexual predators are targeting our boys.

You listening, Boy Scouts of America?

So here we go again. Yet another high-profile "gay" activist has been arrested for homosexual assault on a child. This time authorities bagged a big fish (a rainbow trout?) in boy-loving real estate mogul Terrance Patrick Bean. Bean co-founded the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), which is one of the world's largest, wealthiest and most powerful anti-Christian, pro-homosexual organizations. Bean is also a major bundler for the DNC and BFFs with Barack and Michelle Obama. He helped found HRC for the sole purpose of pushing the extremist homosexual political agenda. While, not surprisingly, HRC rushed to scrub its website of any reference to his existence, even now Bean remains on this extremist group's board of directors.

As reported in The Oregonian and a handful of other publications (don't expect widespread media coverage on this), 66-year-old Terry Bean and his 25-year-old twinkie boy toy, Kiah Loy Lawson, have been arrested and charged with felonies for allegedly sodomizing a 15-year-old boy.

"Bean has been one of the state's biggest Democratic donors and an influential figure in gay rights circles in the state," reports The Oregonian. "He helped found two major national political groups, the Human Rights Campaign and the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, and has been a major contributor for several Democratic presidential candidates, including Barack Obama. He's also a close friend of former Gov. Barbara Roberts."

While speaking at a recent HRC event, President Obama noted his close friendship with Bean: "To my great friend and supporter, Terry Bean, co-founder of HRC," he gushed.

"Bean's Flickr account shows him talking with Obama at several events, posing with first lady Michelle Obama and numerous other political figures, including former President Bill Clinton."

Just two years ago, 68-year-old Larry Brinkin, another high-profile and similarly respected (at least among Democrats) homosexual activist, was arrested in San Francisco for possessing and distributing reams of child pornography.

CNS News reported at the time:

"Police said that Brinkin, a former city employee, apparently had photos of children, as young as 1 or 2 years old, performing sexual acts and being sodomized by adult men."

"Concerning Brinkin, Theresa Sparks, director of the Human Rights Commission, told the Huffington Post, 'It's almost incredulous, there's no way I could believe such a thing.'

"'He's always been one of my heroes, and he's the epitome of human rights activist,' she said. 'This is [the] man who coined phrases we use in our daily language. I support Larry 100 percent; hopefully it will all come out in the investigation.'"

Brinkin pleaded guilty to all charges.

Yep—these monsters are "heroes" to both the HRC and the larger "gay" activist community.

Ever wonder why?


The cases of Bean and Brinkin follow a long-established pattern as old as the ancient Greek bathhouse. It's not just homosexual priestly predators on the prowl in the Catholic Church. From pedophile "LGBT" hero Harvey Milk, to high-profile "gay activists" like Duke University's Frank Lombard and USC's Walter Lee Williams, the homosexual lust for young flesh seems insatiable.

Of course, not every "gay" man, self-identified or otherwise, is a pedophile, but studies indicate demonstrably that homosexual assaults against boys occur at an alarmingly disproportionate rate when compared to heterosexual assaults. The very act of a man molesting a boy unquestionably involves both same-sex attraction and homosexual behavior (a "gay" by any other name ... ).

Consider, for instance, a study published in the left-leaning Archives of Sexual Behavior, of over 200 convicted pedophiles. It found that "86 percent of offenders against males described themselves as homosexual or bisexual." This demonstrates, as noted by Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council: "Since almost 30 percent of child sexual abuse is committed by homosexual or bisexual men (one-third male-on-male abuse times 86 percent identifying as homosexual or bisexual), but less than 3 percent of American men identify themselves as homosexual or bisexual, we can infer that homosexual or bisexual men are approximately 10 times more likely to molest children than heterosexual men."

But don't repeat these facts out loud or you might find yourself on the hard-left Southern Poverty Law Center's (SPLC) "hate group" smear list.

This homosexual abuse creates, at least in significant measure, a vicious cycle of abuse that has helped to populate the larger "LGBT" community. Again, the peer-reviewed research bears out this tragic reality.

Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), for instance, found that "gay" men are "at least three times more likely to report CSA (childhood sexual abuse)."

The aforementioned Archives of Sexual Behavior likewise determined in a 2001 study that nearly half of all "gay"-identified men were molested by a homosexual pedophile: "46 percent of homosexual men and 22 percent of homosexual women reported having been molested by a person of the same gender. This contrasts to only 7 percent of heterosexual men and 1 percent of heterosexual women reporting having been molested by a person of the same gender."

Though citing these studies snaps "progressive" heads like Pop Rocks, the connection between homosexual abuse and "gay identity" is irrefutable. Perhaps this is why groups like Bean's HRC have worked so hard to ban therapy for minors who, as a result of being homosexually assaulted by "gay" men, begin to experience unwanted same-sex attraction and want to take necessary measures to diminish or heal these disordered impulses.

"How many more children will have to be molested before America realizes the damage being inflicted by HRC and other gay activists," asks former homosexual Christopher Doyle, president of the ex-gay rights group Voice of the Voiceless. "Instead of trying to keep sexually abused and confused children out of the counseling office, HRC and their allies need to take a hard look in the mirror at their tactics to secure 'equality' and stop using innocent, sexually confused children as pawns in their political agenda."

"It is outrageous and tragic that the founder of the largest gay activist organization in the world is molesting boys, while at the same time their leadership is pushing for laws across the United States to keep those same boys out of the counseling office to heal trauma at the hands of homosexual pedophiles."

What say you, HRC?

Chirp, chirp.

Matt Barber is founder and editor-in chief of BarbWire.com. He is an author, columnist, cultural analyst and an attorney concentrating in constitutional law. Having retired as an undefeated heavyweight professional boxer, Matt has taken his fight from the ring to the culture war. (Follow Matt on Twitter: @jmattbarber).

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Matt Barber Featured Clarion Call Opinion Mon, 24 Nov 2014 06:00:00 -0500
Will Americans Go to War With Obama Over Immigration? http://www.charismanews.com/us/46243-will-americans-go-to-war-with-obama-over-immigration http://www.charismanews.com/us/46243-will-americans-go-to-war-with-obama-over-immigration
The morning after President Obama announced his sweeping action to overhaul the U.S. immigration system, conservative groups and states were already pulling together legal strategies to dismantle the plan.
 
Opponents said there will likely be a three-pronged legal approach to stymie Obama's moves: Congress could sue the president for constitutional overreach, states could file lawsuits arguing the action strains local finances, or individuals could try to prove they've been harmed by the order. Just hours after the speech, an Arizona sheriff filed suit arguing the reform is unconstitutional.
 
"There is going to be massive litigation all over the place because there is tremendous legal confusion about what the administration is doing and what the states' obligations will be," said Dan Stein from the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), which calls for restrictions on immigration.
 
While law scholars say the president is on strong legal footing, a flurry of lawsuits will cause headaches for the Obama administration in its final two years and may stir public opinion against a policy meant to be one of his signature triumphs.
 
Obama's health care plan, another major political victory for the President, has also been mired in legal challenges with opponents taking suits all the way to the Supreme Court. Just on Friday, Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives filed a long-anticipated lawsuit challenging Obamacare.
 
States are already lining up to sue over Obama's immigration action, under which he plans to grant temporary legal status to some 4.4 million undocumented immigrants who are parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents.
Republican governors Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Rick Perry of Texas and Pat McCrory of North Carolina have all voiced support for taking legal action without giving further details. Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt also announced his intention to sue.
 
Still, making a legal case will be an uphill battle. Presidents historically have had wide discretion to act alone on immigration and under a concept known as "prosecutorial discretion," can decide to not enforce every violation of federal law when resources are limited.
 
In a 33-page legal memo, the Department of Justice said the action falls within the bounds of the constitution and that Congress has supported favorable treatment of law-abiding immigrants with deep U.S. ties.
 
The main hurdle for any lawsuit will be proving "standing," a requirement under U.S. law that for someone to be able to sue, they have to show they have been directly harmed.  
 
The hardest case to win would be one filed by Congress, legal experts say, since lawmakers would struggle to prove standing. Republicans have vowed to act in other ways and could try to pass laws to take away the President's authority to act on immigration or slash funds for his initiatives.
 
States might have a stronger argument if they can prove financial harm from the program.
 
One ongoing case challenging Obama's previous executive action in 2012 to grant deportation relief to immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children, could serve as a model.
The suit was filed by a group of Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers upset by White House directives. The state of Mississippi attempted to join the action.
 
To prove standing, Mississippi argued illegal immigrants
 
drained state resources and the ICE agents said they were being forced to violate their oaths to enforce the law.
 
Even though a federal judge dismissed the case, he found the ICE agents had standing. Mississippi was dropped from the case but only because its economic analysis showing harm was outdated. The agents are appealing.
 
Conservative groups also said U.S. workers might be able to
 
bring a case if they can prove they were displaced by immigrants granted new work permits.
 
"We will be looking for people who can demonstratively prove that aliens who are getting work documents are working in similar fields," Stein from FAIR said.
 
The suit filed Thursday by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio - whose police force has been sued for racial profiling of immigrants - is short on legal reasoning and is likely to be dismissed, said Kari Hong a Boston College Law School professor.
 
"At this point it's all rhetoric. It's not based in strong legal analysis," Hong said.
 
Short of legal action, states could move to withhold benefits to recipients of the new status. But immigration advocates are likely to counter those moves with their own suits, potentially clogging the courts with more cases related to Obama's order.
 
After the deportation relief was announced in 2012, Arizona, Nebraska and Michigan all blocked young recipients from obtaining drivers licenses. Immigrants sued in all three states.
 
Additional reporting by Lawrence Hurley in Washington and Gabriel Denedetti in Boca Raton; editing by Alexia Garamfalvi and Martin Howell
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Mica Rosenberg/Reuters Featured U.S. News Fri, 21 Nov 2014 16:00:00 -0500
Celebrity Role Models Blamed for Rise in 'Sexting' http://www.charismanews.com/world/46242-celebrity-role-models-blamed-for-rise-in-sexting http://www.charismanews.com/world/46242-celebrity-role-models-blamed-for-rise-in-sexting

Celebrities are the cause of a sharp rise in the number of children sending sexually explicit text messages, a British child-protection expert has warned.

Dr. Zoe Hilton told MPs that schoolchildren are copying the "sexting" trend which is endorsed by adult celebrities.

Speaking to Britain's Commons Education Committee, she warned that children may be unaware of the dangerous repercussions of sharing explicit pictures.

Hilton, who is the Head of Safeguarding and Child Protection at the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Command (CEOP), said, "Children and particularly older children are looking at celebrities and are looking at what the adult population are doing. ... I think we've got to the point with older teenagers where sexting is actually a normative behavior."

Her comments come amid widespread concern about the number of teenagers who are sending sexually explicit messages to people their own age and in some instances even to complete strangers.

Last year, the U.K.'s National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children warned that sexting is now common among teenagers.

It found that 40 percent of young people admit to having sent a sexually explicit image or video of themselves, with 25 percent saying they sent it by text.

In July this year, school children in Nottinghamshire were warned that sending sexually explicit pictures via text and social media could lead to a criminal prosecution. The police sent a letter to all schools in the county, citing the recent case of a teenager who received a caution after "sexting" her boyfriend.

Earlier this month, an alarming report by Ann Coffey MP found that the sexual exploitation of children has become a "social norm" in parts of greater Manchester.

The report, ordered by Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd, argues that "sexting, selfies, Instagram and the like have given rise to new social norms in changed expectations of sexual entitlement, and with it a confused understanding of what constitutes consent."

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The Christian Institute Featured World News Fri, 21 Nov 2014 15:00:00 -0500
Prophecy Teacher Unpacks End-Times Revelation Through New Lens http://www.charismanews.com/culture/46241-prophecy-teacher-unpacks-end-times-revelation-through-new-lens http://www.charismanews.com/culture/46241-prophecy-teacher-unpacks-end-times-revelation-through-new-lens

A large number of Christian believers—perhaps a majority—are convinced that we are living in the end times. In fact, many are equally sure that these are the last days of the end times.

The careers of a slew of pastors and authors and even the theology of entire denominations are based on a specific view of how the Lord will return to gather His people.

In a new book and television miniseries, pastor and author David Jeremiah examines the pre-Tribulation view of eschatology from a new perspective: "He explores the book of Revelation through the lens of its major players—the exiled, the martyrs, the elders, the victor, the king, the judge, the 144,000, the witnesses, the false prophet and the beast," according to promotional material.

In an effort to make the topic digestible for unbelievers as well as for the faithful, Jeremiah mixes a fictional narrative with his nonfiction examination of the end of days.

"Each chapter begins with a dramatized account of the character and ends with an explanation of the Scripture behind the story," the publisher notes.

In "The Martyrs" chapter, Jeremiah gives this account of the rapture as seen through the eyes of one character: "A newsflash snapped Daniel out of his reverie. According to chaotic reports from around the world, thousands of people had suddenly vanished. People had disappeared from workstations, cars, airplanes, ships and military stations, causing widespread devastation. Cars had crashed. Planes had plunged to the ground. Gas plants had exploded. Cities were darkened by massive power outages. Daniel watched, incredulous, as casualty estimates rose into the millions."

"It is my heartfelt prayer that this book will impress the truth of Revelation into both your mind and your heart, and that it will strengthen your resolve to stand firm for Christ in the face of the worst of circumstances," said Jeremiah, founder of Turning Point Ministries and senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, California, a Southern Baptist congregation. "I also pray that this book will help you to realize the overarching truth of Revelation: that the believer's victory in Christ is an absolute certainty."

Jeremiah has written more than 50 books, several of which address the end-times theme. Among them: Living with Confidence in a Chaotic World, What in the World Is Going On? and The Coming Economic Armageddon.

On amazon.com, the book is listed as the number one best seller in Christian Spiritual Warfare.

One Amazon reviewer wrote, "In the spirit of the parable, Dr. David Jeremiah seeks to animate some of the heroes and villains of the Bible in his new book Agents of the Apocalypse. Almost like having two books in one, this book gives a fictional representation of Biblical personas and then explains the real Biblical facts behind the stories.

"I think the book was a great idea with some truly great insights and vivid passages, which will stick with you long after you've finished the last page, but there were also parts I felt were lacking. ... I think he explained his positions with clarity and skill. Frankly, his nonfiction side of the book was in many places more captivating and interesting than the fictional representations."

Another reviewer commented, "With the use of fictional stories, the author is able to explain the main events that occurred in the Bible to believers and non-believers alike. This is also a great way to explain the meaning behind Scriptures and tell the stories that contains the biblical prophecy."

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Mark Andrews Featured Culture Fri, 21 Nov 2014 14:00:00 -0500
Creationist Ken Ham Sounds Off on Biblical Accuracy of 'Exodus' http://www.charismanews.com/culture/46240-creationist-ken-ham-sounds-off-on-biblical-accuracy-of-exodus http://www.charismanews.com/culture/46240-creationist-ken-ham-sounds-off-on-biblical-accuracy-of-exodus

No one really expects mainstream Hollywood to go out of its way to glorify God in the films that come out of Tinseltown.

But the way Christians rolled their eyes at Russell Crowe's portrayal of Noah in the movie of the same name and with misgivings piling up over the upcoming EXODUS: Gods and Kings, you could be forgiven for wondering if filmmakers are going out of their way to stomp on the Bible.

Ken Ham, best known for his work to advance the "young earth" theory of creationism, is adding his voice to the body of believers who are expressing doubts, suspicion and outright opposition to the way the new film will portray Moses and the exodus of the Jews from slavery in Egypt almost 3,500 years ago.

"Biblically themed movies from many years ago (such as The Ten Commandments) were reasonably true to the biblical text, even though they took a bit of artistic license. But we've been noticing in recent times that movies based on biblical themes (such as Noah) are not just inaccurate, but seem to totally disrespect the Bible," Ham writes on his blog. "The directors don't seem interested in accurately portraying the events as recorded but in using the events for a drama that puts the Bible and the characters in a bad light."

Ham cites the way the parting of the Red Sea is "explained" in EXODUS, which premieres Dec. 12 in cinemas across the country, as proof that the screenwriter and director have no respect for God's Word.

"In this film it is not God who parts the Red Sea, but an earthquake," Ham writes. "Apparently the director 'want(s) to treat the incident as realistically as possible' and thought that he'd 'better come up with a more scientific or natural explanation.' The result is a parting of the sea caused not by God, as the Bible says multiple times (Ex. 15; Ps. 77:10-20), but by an earthquake and its resulting tsunami."

Ham also reminds his readers of how actor Christian Bale (of Batman's Dark Knight fame), disrespected Moses in an interview leading up to the film's release.

As reported on CharismaNews late last month, Ham writes that Bale said, "I think the man was likely schizophrenic and was one of the most barbaric individuals that I ever read about in my life. He's a very troubled and tumultuous man who fought greatly against God, against his calling."

On this, Ham comments, "Keep in mind that Scripture describes Moses as the most humble man living at that time (Num. 12:3); God calls Moses faithful (Num. 12:7; Heb. 3:5) and a man of character who refused the riches and pleasures of the earth in order to identify with his kinsman and obey God."

He also writes, "A description of Moses as 'schizophrenic' and 'barbaric' from the lead character in the film seems to suggest that the film will deviate quite a bit from the biblical account found in Exodus. In fact, Bale has already said earlier that EXODUS is 'a far cry from what Charlton Heston and Cecil B. DeMille delivered 60 years ago' with The Ten Commandments (which was, with some exceptions, largely faithful to the biblical text) and that Exodus has 'a lot of shocking stuff about it.'"

CharismaNews also reported a week ago that director Ridley Scott had cast a young boy as the voice of God, giving further evidence that little is considered holy in Hollywood.

"I believe such attitudes toward the Bible in these new movies reflect the secularization of the culture and the increasing anti-Christian sentiment that has permeated society," Ham concludes.

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Mark Andrews Featured Culture Fri, 21 Nov 2014 13:00:00 -0500
Hollywood Director: Seek First the Kingdom of God http://www.charismanews.com/culture/46238-hollywood-director-seek-first-the-kingdom-of-god http://www.charismanews.com/culture/46238-hollywood-director-seek-first-the-kingdom-of-god

Dr. Ted Baehr sat down with director Brad Silverman to hear how God radically changed his life and called him to make movies with a purpose. Read the encouraging conversation below.

Dr. Baehr: Hello, I'm Ted Baehr, publisher of MovieGuide and I'm here with one of my favorite directors, who won our $100,000 Epiphany Prize for Grace Unplugged, Brad Silverman. You do a great job.

Brad: Thank you very much. What a privilege to be here today, and what a wonderful and memorable night at MovieGuide.

Dr. Baehr: Yes, and I know we've interviewed you before, we've put you on stage before, but I want to go a little deeper. Just how you've lived in Hollywood when your life changed after you had a spiritual experience and came to Christ.

Brad: I was in my early to mid-20s. I'm of Jewish background. A dear friend just started dialoguing with me about, really at that time, the Jewish roots of the Scriptures, which, ironically, was very foreign to me. I really didn't know the origins of the Scriptures were of such Jewish influence.

Over the next three, four years, as our friendship grew, the Lord just broke me. Or I should say this: He allowed me to sort of achieve the effects of me running the show, and I just ran myself right into a brick wall. So, I came to faith in Christ, and just walked away from the entertainment industry for about a decade. My career was actually just starting to go somewhere as a writer/director and I walked away for about a decade. I wanted to go into full time ministry, and thought that's where the Lord was taking me until about four or five years ago, when I felt Him calling me to start making movies again.

Dr. Baehr: How has God sustained you or worked in your process of doing this?

Brad: Well, when I got back into the film business, I had nothing to lose. If you told me today, 'You can never make movies again' if it meant compromising what I believe to be honoring to God, the answer is no. I walk away. So we did a film a few years back, and then did "Grace Unplugged", and it was sort of like I'd rather not make movies than make movies that I feel dishonor God and the Scriptures.

Dr. Baehr: So what's your favorite part of the industry? What do you like about it?

Brad: I think my favorite part—it may sound a little hokey, I guess—but I really enjoy the team-building process.

Dr. Baehr: That's beautiful.

Brad: I really do enjoy the collaborative process, especially the privilege of being a director is that no one really tells me what to do, which has its positives and negatives, but I love the "let's build a team, let's create an environment, let's create a culture where we can truly try to build each other up from the ground up." It sounds so silly, but when we eat on set, I'll go sit with the interns, and they think it's interesting. The interns think, "Oh wow, the director is sitting with us." I'm going, "It's just me," but all that's to say I love building that culture of teamwork and that kind of thing.

Dr. Baehr: In the old days, when my father was a star, you used to get together with everybody. It was a community affair, and I remember those days. Now, the star has to have a trailer, then the star's hairdresser has to have a trailer, and then the hairdresser's dog has to have a trailer, and now you're going down the line, so everybody's locked up.

Brad: Maybe it's just a philosophy of mine, like "No, you have to be in the trenches." How dare I do that? How dare I expect someone to do something that I'm not willing to do? Same thing with the actors. I think—you know, I try to encourage them to be a part of this family. Look, you're making a movie. It's hard work, let's have fun, let's make it a family environment. I believe that in that we have so many opportunities to share Christ and speak the truth into people's lives.

Dr. Baehr: This is contrary to what most people think about the industry. They think the entertainment industry is a bunch of people who just are aimless. You know, you've got focus. You've got a family; you've got children.

Brad: Well you know if I may speak boldly, "seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and then all the other things will come." You can edit this out if you don't like it, but my priority is the Lord, and everything transfers from that. Everything stems from that, and that's my focus. I'm not ashamed of the Gospel, and I know that that may limit certain opportunities I have, but so be it. I just have to be true to who I am and who the Lord has made me to be.

This article originally appeared on Movieguide.orgWant to know what God's doing in Hollywood?

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MovieGuide Featured Culture Fri, 21 Nov 2014 12:00:00 -0500
Christian Couple Facing Death Sentence After Daughter Suddenly Dies http://www.charismanews.com/world/46237-christian-couple-facing-death-sentence-after-daughter-suddenly-dies http://www.charismanews.com/world/46237-christian-couple-facing-death-sentence-after-daughter-suddenly-dies

An American Christian couple in Qatar is facing a death sentence after their adopted daughter died unexpectedly in their home on Jan. 15, 2013.

The Qatari government alleges that Matthew and Grace Huang starved their 8-year-old daughter, Gloria, to death in order to traffic her organs.

Matthew Huang, an engineer, had agreed to work on engineering projects in Doha for the Colorado-based company MWH Global. He and his family moved to the Middle East with their two sons and a daughter, each adopted from Africa.

The couple was charged with murder and on March 27 they were sentenced to three years in prison. They spent 11 months in an Islamic prison before a judge granted bail last November.

There was no physical evidence that the child suffered starvation or trauma. While it is unclear how Gloria died, the Haungs said she suffered from an eating disorder common to some children from impoverished countries.

But Qatari police immediately suspected foul play.

Adoption is rare in an Islamic nation and biracial famliles are scarce. The government of Qatar accused the Haungs, who are Asian, of adopting their African children for the purpose of human trafficking.

World News Service reports that the lead prosecutor on the case cited an Islamic prohibition on adoption: "Allah has banned it as it leads to assembling of foreigners with each other, which leads to extremely bad outcomes."

Authorities sent the couple's two sons to an orphanage, but later allowed them to return to the United States to live with Grace's parents.

Members of Haung's Lake Avenue Church in Pasadena, Californa, have been holding prayer vigils for the family.

In the next hearing in the case, scheduled for Nov. 30, they could be sentenced to death.

The Huangs, who are now under a travel ban and house arrest, have found legal help from U.S.-based organizations like the David House Agency and the California Innocence Project.

Justin Brooks of the Innocence Project calls the prosecution's assertions "outrageous" and says the case "completely lacks any due process."

Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department said officials are concerned that not all of the evidence has been heard in the case and that cultural misunderstandings have led to an unfair trial.

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CBN News Featured World News Fri, 21 Nov 2014 11:30:00 -0500
#DefendtheDuggars Urges the Masses to Protect Duggar Family From This Fate http://www.charismanews.com/culture/46236-defendtheduggars-urges-the-masses-to-protect-duggar-family-from-this-fate http://www.charismanews.com/culture/46236-defendtheduggars-urges-the-masses-to-protect-duggar-family-from-this-fate

More than 40,000 people have signed a petition created by LifeSiteNews and backed by a number of prominent conservative activists urging The Learning Channel to keep the Duggars' show, 19 Kids and Counting, on-air.

Now LifeSiteNews is organizing a Tweetfest, using the hashtag #DefendtheDuggars, from 12:00 p.m. EST to 12:00 a.m. EST today.

The petition—launched 18 hours ago—and Tweetfest came after gay activists launched a Change.org petition demanding that TLC take the Duggars off the air. The anti-Duggar petition, which was launched in August, earned about 120,000 signatures after news agencies such as E! News and Huffington Post reported on the effort this week.

Now top conservative leaders are urging Duggar fans to rise up and support America's most-beloved large family.

This includes TV stars David and Jason Benham, former Fox News contributor Steven Crowder, American Family Association President Tim Wildmon, Media Research Center Vice President Dan Gainor, radio talk show host Alice Stewart, Father Shenan Boquet of Human Life International and American Thinker deputy editor Drew Belsky.

"The world needs more families like the Duggars to be featured in media, not fewer," said Father Boquet. "Their joyful, selfless and sacrificial love for one another has warmed millions of hearts, and has certainly caused untold numbers to reconsider their decision to live in an intentionally sterile marriage."

According to the Benham Brothers, the Duggars face "the same intolerant agenda that attacked our family."

"The Duggars have always been an example of Christian love for each other and society," said the Benham Brothers. "It's time for Americans to stand with them against this latest manifestation of anti-Christian bullying."

"Silencing those who disagree flies in the face of the 'free and open' mantra we often hear from the folks who want adult male strangers joining your young daughter in the bathroom," said Belsky. "But this is how 'tolerance' and 'open-mindedness' play out for a movement insisting that concrete concepts—like 'man' and 'woman'—can mean anything one chooses."

Wildmon was likewise critical, saying that "the homosexual lobby is intolerant of opposing views and castigates anyone who doesn't wholly embrace their lifestyle. TLC should reject the petition."

"Rather than being extreme, the Duggars represent the majority of people in state after state who have stood up for the traditional family," says the petition. "The real extremists are those who are demanding that a TV network penalize America's beloved family because they support the truth about family, which they have always expressed in a loving, compassionate fashion."

About LifeSiteNews: Founded in 1997, LifeSiteNews is one of the world's largest pro-life and pro-family news organizations. With reporters and contributors in 10 countries on six continents, it is a vital resource for the promotion of traditional values around the globe.

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Christian Newswire Featured Culture Fri, 21 Nov 2014 11:00:00 -0500
Stadium Church Service Stampede Kills 11 People http://www.charismanews.com/world/46235-stadium-church-service-stampede-kills-11-people http://www.charismanews.com/world/46235-stadium-church-service-stampede-kills-11-people
Eleven people were killed and dozens injured in a stampede at a stadium in Zimbabwe, as thousands of people at a church service tried to leave through the same exit, police said on Friday.
 
Around 30,000 people packed into a stadium in Kwekwe, 130 miles west of Harare, on Thursday evening to listen to Walter Magaya, a pastor who draws huge crowds, Senior Assistant Commissioner Shadreck Mubaiwa told Reuters.
 
When the service ended the congregation rushed toward a single exit, in a stampede that killed four people on the spot. Another seven were pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.
 
"Police tried to rescue people but they were overwhelmed by the crowds. It is unfortunate that people wanted to rush out, which made it difficult to contain the situation," Mubaiwa said.
 
Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe; editing by Joe Brock and Andrew Roche
© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.
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MacDonald Dzirutwe/Reuters Featured World News Fri, 21 Nov 2014 10:30:00 -0500