Charisma News | Breaking News. Spiritual Perspective. Fri, 29 May 2015 13:56:04 -0400 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb Lawmaker: 'Quit Figuring Out Reasons to Justify Killing People'

As state legislators across America grapple with proposed laws on euthanasia, South Dakota State Rep. Steve Hickey (R-Sioux Falls) – facing a potentially terminal illness himself – has no qualms sharing exactly where he stands on the issue. 

Yesterday, Rep. Hickey sent a letter in reply to a constituent's question on "death with dignity" and felt strongly enough to tweet it to his followers.

In the letter, Rep. Hickey shares from his experiences as a police chaplain and minister as well as how he may have "only 3-5 years" to live after being diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, considered terminal unless he receives a lung transplant. "The world of death and dying is a world that I spend quite a bit of time in," he comments.

"Death is strictly the domain of God," he writes with conviction. "We need to quit figuring out reasons to justify killing people: abortion, death penalty, euthanasia." 

This year alone, 24 states and Washington, DC are actively considering new laws to provide "death with dignity" – legalizing the practice of a person taking deadly drugs to end their life prematurely, also known as euthanasia. South Dakota has yet to introduce such a bill. 

The full text of his original letter is reprinted below:

Thank you for your letter inquiring about my interest in supporting Right to Die legislation. Initially I want to extend my concern and prayers for you with regard to your declining health. Reading your letter reminded me of my Uncle Thomas, who shot himself rather than let his terminal illness drag on.

Believe me, I understand the rationale, especially considering the hope we can have of eternity with God through our faith in his Son, Jesus. Perhaps you are a person who shares my Christian faith and also appreciate that sentiment. Countless times I've seen Jesus take the sting out of death for the believer. 

Enclosed is an article which you perhaps have seen which tells some of the story of my own health situation. My mother died, and so did her brother and sister, from what I have been diagnosed with: pulmonary fibrosis. Doctors say there is no cure and the average patient lives only 3-5 years after diagnosis without a transplant.

I lost another half liter of lung capacity since last fall. My uncle died before a lung transplant was available to him. My aunt lived two years after her transplant and my mom lived six years after her transplant. It's a hard way to go. I'm only 48. 

Also, you may know that I'm a minister and have been at the death bed of countless people over the years. As a Sioux Falls police chaplain I've also been at the scene of a number of suicides. The reason I share all the background with you is so that you can see the world of death and dying is a world that I spend quite a bit of time in.

Out of all these experiences including my own situation, and my religious background, I have come to the conclusion that death is strictly the domain of God and we need to quit figuring out reasons to justify killing people: abortion, death penalty, euthanasia. The Bible teaches God gives us sufficient grace to live and I have found this includes sufficient grace to die.

I've written a few books and in one of them I write about how we have a "fraidy cat" view of death – seeing it as the worst thing that could happen, as a travesty, final and the end. God sees it very differently. To him death leads to life. Confidence and strength in facing death comes from good theology. Please forgive the little sermonette there, but these are things I deal with daily and have found to be true. 

From my position in the legislature I can't in good conscience be a part of a "death with dignity" bill. Hopefully my comments above are sufficient to explain my reasoning. Please feel free to respond as frank as you'd like. Again, know that my thoughts and prayers are with you. 


Rev/Rep Steve Hickey (District 9, Sioux Falls) 

Several state legislatures, including ColoradoConnecticut, and Maryland, have now voted down "death with dignity" bills in their state – rejecting extensive lobbying by out-of-state groups funded by the Soros America Foundations. Many state legislature sessions continue through the end of June.

"Please join with me in praying for Rev. Steve Hickey's healing, believing for his prolonged voice for righteousness in America," says Bound4LIFE Executive Director Matt Lockett.

Reprinted with permission of Bound4LIFE.

Josh M. Shepherd Featured U.S. News Fri, 29 May 2015 13:45:00 -0400
New Witchcraft-Inspired Challenge Lures Kids Into Summoning Demons

"Charlie Charlie" is a malicious new viral challenge that has swept the nation and the world, drawing teens into demon-summoning under the guise of a carefree fortune-telling game.

Using similar tactics as Ouija boards, participants in the game write "Yes" and "No" on two quarters each of a sheet of paper. They then lay the pencils in a cross—one resting atop the other—on the sheet of paper, dividing the makeshift game board into quadrants containing one "response" each.

Seemingly innocent thus far, not distantly removed from the paper "cootie catcher" fortune telling toys popular with school-aged children in the U.S. since the 1960s. But this is where the new fad makes a sinister departure with its forbears.

In a version of a Mexican occultist ritual, participants gather around the paper and chant "Charlie, Charlie, are you there? Come to me."

The purpose of the chant is to summon a demon, who is then asked yes-or-no questions by those present. The demon is then believed to move the pencil to point at the question's answer.

When participants are finished playing the game, they have to ask "Charlie" if they can leave, and they are not allowed to disband until the demon gives them permission.

So much for innocent schoolyard fun.

The game, which is trending on Twitter as #CharlieCharlieChallenge, has garnered some terrifying experiences, even after participants thought they were done.

"We we felt like we were surrounded by evil and were being watched," said one participant from Texas named Zody, according to a Christian News story. "[I saw a] man figure at the top of the steps with black and red eyes."

Meanwhile, many teens have taken to social media to share their experiences, posting videos to Facebook or Instagram, while others have offered parody takes on the game, making light of a terrifyingly grave fad.

Interest in tapping into the demonic realms has soared since last year's horror film Ouija, despite the movie's message clearly emphasizing the dangers in doing so. And although those who claim that Ouija board movement is due solely to the power of suggestion and groupthink, the hands-free nature of Charlie Charlie does not offer that excuse for the activity users have experienced.

While Ouija users are ostensibly trying to contact spirits beyond of any variety, Charlie Charlie teens are specifically seeking advice from a demon.

How far have we fallen as a culture when our youth think a demon is the best counselor for sound direction on their life choices?

Jeremy Burns Featured Culture Fri, 29 May 2015 13:00:00 -0400
What Planned Parenthood Doesn't Want You To Know

There is an old saying, "beware of Greeks bearing gifts" from the legend of "The Trojan Horse."

Today, we could substitute the name Planned Parenthood for the Greeks, because like the Greeks, Planned Parenthood is waging a war on the lives of mothers and our children; and like the Greeks, PPH wants to hide their secret agenda.

During her lifetime, PPH Founder Margaret Sanger was a popular eugenicist, promoter of the development of birth control pills and one of the founders of Planned Parenthood. This is what she had to say:

"While the colored Negroes have great respect for white doctors, they can get closer to their own members and more or less lay their cards on the table ... They do not do this with white people and if we can train the Negro doctor at the clinic, he can go among them with enthusiasm and ... knowledge, which ... will have far-reaching results among the colored people ... The minister's work is also important and he should be trained, perhaps by the Federation as to our ideals and the goal that we hope to reach. We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population, and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members." [Sanger] used Black doctors and church ministers to push her agenda to kill Black babies in the hood.

"W.E.B. DuBois of the NAACP helped encourage Sanger to take her agenda to Black leaders. At some point, she even tried to get help doing her dirty work to promote birth control in Harlem from Adam Clayton Powell Jr. and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. A clinic was actually opened there, but eventually closed. However, larger examples of those small black birth control clinics still exist today, like good ol' Planned Parenthood."

Uncle M. L. was targeted as one of the desired leaders to promote this horrible agenda. He was actually offered "The Maggie Award" in 1966. Thankfully, he never wrote the speech, never attended the ceremony; he likely didn't even draft the acknowledgement letter. His wife accepted the award. Mrs. Coretta Scott King was pro-choice, along with Mrs. Barbara Bush, and Mrs. Laura Bush. They all supported allowing women to abort their babies. Like Presidents George W. and Daddy Bush, MLK was pro-life. See MLK and Planned Parenthood: Part 1 and Part 2.

Warning: Birth Control Pills, Depo-Provera, and Norplant were all originally tested on people around the world in places like Brazil, India, Africa, Mexico and Puerto Rico before it even got here to the United States. When this scourge arrived here, it went straight to the minority communities where mostly Medicaid patients used the PPH clinics, local clinics and even school clinics.

So, in the manner of the ancient "Trojan Horse," PPH rolls into our communities, promising "safe, legal and rare" abortions, and leaving millions of dead babies, and often hurt, bleeding and dying disappointed mothers in the aftermath. This sounds like a war doesn't it?

[Isn't it also ironic that one of the most popular condoms is named "Trojan"? Condoms have been known to fail, leading women to pregnancy and abortion options.]

Troy and the other Greek city-states were pretty good friends. But times changed. They first became competitors, and finally enemies. Peaceful co-existence became unthinkable and impossible.

The opposing Greeks could not find a way in, and the Trojans did not seem able to drive the other Greeks away. Today, at first Planned Parenthood couldn't find a way into our communities to abort babies; yet the prolife community couldn't drive them away.

Odysseus, a Greek general, had an idea. His plan was to build a beautiful and huge wooden horse, and leave it outside the gate.[Sounds like PPH designer fortresses, doesn't it?] Then, the entire Greek army would pretend to leave, as if they had finally admitted defeat. But the horse would be hollow. Thirty soldiers would be hiding inside.

Same thing happened with "The Birth Control League, which later became Planned Parenthood. Founder Sanger publically denounced abortion during her lifetime, while supporting the KKK and "The Negro Project," an African American sterilization program.

After Sanger's death, Planned Parenthood was among the largest beneficiaries of the new "Roe v. Wade" abortion enabling law of 1973. PPH has gone on to become America's largest abortion provider, funded to the tune of over $500 million U.S. tax dollars annually. They also provide a lion's share of the over 55 million babies aborted here since 1973.

Long ago, while the Trojan people were sleeping, the men hiding inside the wooden horse climbed out and opened the gates. The waiting Greek army entered Troy. That was the end of Troy.

In the 20th century, while the churches and communities of America were sleeping, abortion crept in bearing gifts. The rest is history. Yet the clock is still ticking, and the tide is turning. It's time for us to look that gift horse in the mouth, and say "whoa" to abortion.

Alveda King Featured Opinion Fri, 29 May 2015 12:30:00 -0400
Assisted Suicide Bill Advances in Legislature

California lawmakers on Thursday revived a bill that would allow physician-assisted suicide in the most populous U.S. state, after a renewal of debate on end-of-life issues prompted by the death of 29-year-old Brittany Maynard last year.

The bill, which is being fought by numerous religious and medical organizations, would allow adults suffering from incurable illnesses that their doctors say will kill them within six months to request medication to end their lives.

It was approved by the state Senate appropriations committee days after the powerful California Medical Association dropped its opposition.

"We are one step closer to ensuring Californians have access to all options when they are facing the end of life," said Senator Lois Wolk, a Democrat who co-authored the bill.

Another co-author, Democratic state Senator Bill Monning, said the bill was inspired by the death of Maynard, who moved to Oregon from California so that she could commit suicide under that state's aid-in-dying law.

It was one of several bills that made it out of legislative limbo on Thursday, as lawmakers faced a June 5 deadline for passing bills out of at least one house. It now goes to the full Senate.

Also approved by committees in the Assembly and Senate were bills to allow high school students greater access to community college classes, legalize Internet poker and allow undocumented immigrants to purchase health insurance through the state's Covered California health insurance exchange if the federal government approves.

Backers of the assisted suicide proposal made some changes to the bill to gain more support after it initially met with strong opposition from hospitals, doctors, anti-abortion organizations and disability rights groups.

As currently written, it allows hospitals and medical providers to refuse to comply with a patient's wish for assisted suicide, and also makes it illegal to pressure or manipulate people into ending their lives.

On May 20, the California Medical Association, which still opposes the concept of assisted suicide, removed its formal opposition to the bill.

The California ProLife Council, which opposed the bill, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday. But the organization, which opposes abortion, said on its website assisted suicide puts at risk people who are disabled or depressed.

"The medically dependent such as Alzheimer's patients; the depressed disabled; and other non-terminal have all been killed under 'assisted suicide' regimes," the organization said last month in a blog post.

© 2015 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved. 

Sharon Bernstein/Reuters Featured U.S. News Fri, 29 May 2015 12:00:00 -0400
Co-Victors Declared in National Spelling Bee

Eighth-graders Gokul Venkatachalam of Chesterfield, Missouri, and Vanya Shivashankar of Olathe, Kansas, were co-winners of the Scripps National Spelling Bee on Thursday.

Gokul ended a tense standoff before a packed hotel ballroom and an ESPN television audience by spelling "nunatak," an Inuit word for an exposed ridge in a glacier.

He stood with hands at his side when pronouncer Jacques Bailly told him that if he spelled the word correctly, he and Vanya would share the title. He then raced through the correct spelling, and the hotel ballroom erupted in cheers.

"This is the culmination of six years of work. I'm finally happy to have success," said Gokul, 14, after he and Vanya raised the championship trophy.

Their win was the eighth in a row by Indian-Americans and the 12th in 16 years.

Vanya, whose sister Kavya won the Bee in 2009, said she was dedicating the shared win to her grandmother, who died in 2013.

"This is a dream come true. I can't believe I'm up here," said Vanya, 13, who attends California Trail Middle School.

The co-victory is only the fifth in the 88-year history, with the last time in 2014. Each will receive $35,000 in cash along with other prizes.

Contest rules call for co-champions to be declared when a 25-word championship round is completed.

Vanya and Gokul became the last remaining contestants when Cole Shafer-Ray, a 14-year-old eighth-grader from Norman, Oklahoma, misspelled "acritarch," a kind of fossil.

Vanya and Gokul displayed differing spelling styles during the two-hour finals, with Vanya writing out words on her hand. Gokul, whose idol is basketball player Lebron James, kept his head down, eyes sometimes closed and hands at his side.

Vanya and Gokul, who attends Parkway West Middle School, were among 10 finalists among the 283 contestants in the Bee, held outside Washington, D.C. The finalists chatted onstage between rounds and exchanged hand slaps when they got a word right.

Unfamiliar foreign words rocked some of them. Given "hacek," a Czech word for a pronunciation mark, Siyona Mishra, a sixth-grader from Orlando, Florida, asked Bailly, "Can you say it five times?" before misspelling it.

The top seed coming into the finals was eighth-grader Dev Jaiswal from Louisville, Mississippi, but who finished fifth after missing "iridoscyclitis," an eye inflammation.

"Thank you so much, everybody!" he said when he exited to a standing ovation.

Vanya and Gokul emerged from more than 11 million hopefuls in local contests in eight countries and all 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories and Defense Department schools.

Ian Simpson/Reuters Featured U.S. News Fri, 29 May 2015 11:45:00 -0400
Former House Speaker Indicted on Federal Charges

Former House of Representatives Speaker Dennis Hastert was indicted on Thursday on federal charges, including for lying to the FBI, relating to an alleged effort to hide $3.5 million in payments he was making to a person to conceal past misconduct.

The Illinois Republican, who left Congress in 2007, was charged with structuring the withdrawal of $952,000 in cash to evade the requirement that banks report cash transactions over $10,000, and lying to the FBI about his withdrawals, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Chicago said.

Each count of the two-count indictment carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Hastert, 73, resigned on Thursday from the Dickstein Shapiro law firm in Washington where he was listed as a senior adviser and from the board of the exchange operator CME Group Inc., representatives of the law firm and CME said.

Hastert could not be reached immediately to comment on the indictment.

According to the indictment, the unspecified misconduct involved payments to an unnamed individual who had been a Yorkville, Illinois, resident and had known Hastert for most of the person's life.

Before his terms in Congress, Hastert served three terms as an Illinois state representative and was a teacher at Yorkville High School in suburban Chicago for 16 years, according to a biography from Wheaton College where he graduated in 1964.

Hastert also was a football and wrestling coach at the high school.

According to the indictment, Hastert met with the person several times around 2010 and discussed past misconduct by the former lawmaker. Eventually, Hastert agreed to pay the person $3.5 million in compensation to conceal the misconduct, the indictment said.

Shortly afterward, Hastert began making cash payments to the individual, according to the indictment. He withdrew $1.7 million in cash from various domestic bank accounts from 2010 to 2014 and gave it to the person, the indictment said.

Hastert made 15 withdrawals of $50,000 each from June 2010 until April 2012 when bank representatives, who are required to report cash transactions in excess of $10,000, asked him about the withdrawals, the indictment said.

In July 2012, Hastert began to make cash withdrawals in increments under $10,000 each, at least 106 totaling $952,000, the indictment said.

The FBI and the Internal Revenue Service began investigating the withdrawals in 2013 and the indictment alleges Hastert lied to FBI agents when they interviewed him in December of last year.

The indictment said agents asked Hastert to confirm, as he had previously indicated, that he was withdrawing the cash to store it because he did not feel safe with the banking system, and he said: "Yeah ... I kept the cash. That's what I'm doing."

Hastert served as a congressman from suburban Chicago for more than 20 years before resigning from the House in November 2007, having lost the speaker's job when Democrats gained control of the House in the 2006 elections.

The case has been assigned to U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Durkin.

© 2015 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.

Tom Polansek/Reuters Featured U.S. News Fri, 29 May 2015 10:45:08 -0400
WATCH: Pope Francis: The Devil is Working to Divide Evangelicals and Catholics

Evangelicals and Catholics have their vast differences, but there are some wars the two branches of the body of Christ need to fight together, focusing on commonalities above differences.  

"The unity that is budding among us is the unity which begins under the seal of the baptism we have all received," Pope Francis says. 

He calls the division between the two a wound created by the father of lies.

Watch the video to see how the pope suggests defeating the devil. 

Jessilyn Justice Featured World News Fri, 29 May 2015 11:30:00 -0400
5 Things Every Christian Voter Needs to Know About Rick Santorum

He won 11 primaries in 2012 with his devoutly Catholic, homeschooling-dad culture-warrior campaign. On Wednesday (May 27), he declared for the 2016 race with his traditionalist moral views freshly sharpened.

Five faith facts about Santorum:

1. He's opposed to abortion, same-sex marriage and the teaching of evolution.

Santorum served in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, where he staked out positions opposing abortion, same-sex marriage and the teaching of evolution. The breakdown of the traditional man-woman family is America's most urgent problem, he told the Homeschool Iowa Capitol Day Forum in April.

2. He would not attend a same-sex wedding.

Pope Francis may say "who am I to judge?," but not Santorum. A Daily Beast writer called him "a few Knights Templar short of a holy war," highlighting comments such as Santorum's view that contraception is "dangerous" because it offers "license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be." In an April interview, he told radio host Hugh Hewitt, "As a person of my faith, (attending a same-sex wedding) would be something that would be a violation of my faith. I would love them and support them but I would not be a participant in that ceremony."

3. He appeals to evangelicals.

He can talk the talk with evangelicals who want to see politicians spell out the ties between their personal faith and their actions. Catholic traditionalist Robert P. George told Religion News Service that Santorum is one of the few Catholic Republicans who has "figured it out." Santorum had the endorsement of traditionalists at for his "unified moral and economic vision," according to the National Review. But a New York Times look at exit polls in the 2012 primaries showed Santorum lost the Catholic vote to Mitt Romney by significant margins in 10 of 12 states where pollsters asked about religion. It also found that more than 40 percent of Catholic voters didn't even know Santorum is Catholic.

4. He's not a fan of church-state separation.

The concept of separation of church and state — at least as expressed when Catholic John F. Kennedy addressed Baptist ministers in the 1960 presidential election campaign — makes Santorum "want to throw up." In 2012 he told George Stephanopoulos, "I don't believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute," and Santorum called that notion "antithetical" to the vision of our country. Also antithetical: liberals. He told the Spartanburg Herald-Journal that the American left "hates Christendom."  According to ABC News, he also told a South Carolina town hall that the national ideal "is rooted in the Christian ideal — in the Judeo-Christian concept of the person" and not in any Eastern faiths or philosophies.

5. He works for a Christian movie distributor.

Santorum has a culture-warrior day job. In the wake of his failed 2012 campaign, he found another way to "impact people's lives" — he's the CEO of Christian movie distributor EchoLight. It produces and distributes Christian family movies directly to hundreds of U.S. churches. Santorum told The National Journal: "I think culture is upstream from politics, and maybe it's important to get involved in the upstream and see what the impact can be to the countrygenerally as a result."

© 2015 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. 

Cathy Lynn Grossman/RNS Featured Politics Fri, 29 May 2015 11:00:00 -0400
Two Pastors Facing Death Sentence for Preaching the Gospel

After the May 19 start of the trial of Yat Michael and Peter Yein, the judge ordered a 12-day recess.

Nahmia Shaloka, a Sudanese lawyer who left the country because of his human rights activity and now lives in the United States, said a judge of Khartoum North (Bahri) Criminal Court set a May 31 date to resume the trial.

According to Shaloka, on May 19 a lawyer for the defence, Osman Almoubarak, told the Sudanese news website al-Taghyeer that the prosecutor showed to the court a CD, claiming that it contained an illegal speech given by Michael at the Presbyterian Evangelical Church of Khartoum North (Bahri). Almoubarak also produced a computer memory disk that he claimed belonged to Michael and contains evidence against him, according to Shaloka.


May 18

Two South Sudanese pastors being held in Omdurman prison in Khartoum could face the death sentence when their trial continues on May 19.

World Watch Monitor reported in February that Yat Michael and Peter Yen (also named as David Yein Reith in some reports) were held in unknown locations after being arrested during a visit to Khartoum, Sudan's capital, from their homes in South Sudan, which gained independence in 2011. On May 4 they were charged with a series of offences, two of which—undermining the constitutional system and waging war against the state—carry the possibility of the death penalty or life imprisonment.

Michael was taken into custody on 21 December after preaching that morning at the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church (SPEC) Khartoum Bahri congregation. After the service several men who identified themselves as officers from the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) demanded that Michael go with them, and took him away without further explanation. The next day the security forces went to Michael's temporary home and took some of his clothes and personal belongings. They informed his wife that he was being held in relation to an ongoing investigation but did not reveal any further details, whether he was under arrest or what the charges were.

Michael and his wife had taken their child to Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, for medical attention but had been asked to preach at a church during their visit, sources told World Watch Monitor.


Yen was arrested on 11 January after he delivered a letter to the Religious Affairs Office in Khartoum asking about his colleague Michael's arrest in December. Both men belong to the South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church.

Their case was postponed until this week due to the availability of a representative of the NISS. The lawyer representing the two men believes the charges against them will be dropped, but the involvement of the NISS may lead to a different outcome.

Shaloka, the former Sudanese lawyer, said the NISS legal advisor will try to connect Michael's speech at the church to the charges filed against them.

"For me there is no evidence," Shaloka said. "So far the whole thing is to give their [the NISS] action legal justification. The NISS claim to have evidence and this will be clear at the hearing on May 19."

According to Amnesty International, the NISS is an agency that is above the law. Priscilla Nyagoah, a campaigner for Sudan and South Sudan at Amnesty International's regional office in east Africa, said in a recent blog that the Sudanese parliament amended its constitution in January to extend NISS' mandate to perform duties currently carried out by the armed forces and law enforcement agencies, adding that the amendment doesn't require the agency to abide by relevant international, regional and domestic law. "Conferring an intelligence agency such as the NISS with such a mandate, in addition to its already extensive powers of arrest, detention, search and seizure under the National Security Service Act, is particularly alarming," Nyagoah wrote.

Rights violations

Nyagoah is calling for a human rights-compliant legal framework for the NISS, which would subject its arrest and detention practices to judicial oversight, and ensures that NISS agents perpetrating human-rights violations are held to account. The African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights recently sent out a message against the impunity of the NISS, by declaring the Republic of Sudan guilty of violating the rights of three human-rights defenders while in NISS detention in November 2008. The decision, published in February this year, requests Sudan to pay adequate compensation to Monim Elgak, Amir Suleiman and Osman Hummeida and to prosecute all those responsible for the illegal incarceration and torture of the three.

At the continuation of their trial May 19, Michael and Yen will stand charged with disclosure and receipt of official information or documents, arousing feelings of discontent among regular forces, breach of public peace, and offences relating to insulting religious beliefs. They also will face charges of undermining the constitutional system, and waging war against the state, which carry the possibility of harsher penalties.

The church in Khartoum that Michael had been preaching at has suffered pressure from government authorities over land rights, resulting in most of the church being destroyed in December last year.

This is not the first time this year that a church building has been demolished by Sudanese authorities. In February and June 2014, churches were destroyed in Omdurman and Khartoum.

While South Sudan has a largely Christian population, Sudan is predominantly Muslim. However, many thousands of Southern Sudanese who fled the long civil war to live in the north are now so rooted there, they choose to remain. There are still churches in the north to meet their needs, although some have come under pressure in recent months.

Sudan's minister of religion, Shalil Abdullah, has said that the authorities would not issue permits for the construction of new churches.

World Watch Monitor Featured World News Fri, 29 May 2015 10:30:00 -0400
Does 'San Andreas' Shine Prophetic Light on Apocalyptic Judgment?


Larry Tomczak points to the film San Andreas and a coming earthquake that could cripple our infrastructure, knocking out our communication and power grid, disrupting our water supply, killing and injuring tens of thousands and rendering half our buildings unusuable. Is this part of an apocalyptic judgment of God?

Watch the original video here

Larry Tomczak is a best-selling author of 8 books with 43 years of trusted ministry experience. He is a cultural commentator whose weekly articles appear on sites reaching 26 million monthly. Connect and view short video commentaries at

Visit Larry at, his Facebook page , and follow him on Twitter @larrytomczak.

Larry Tomczak Featured Here's the Deal Opinion Fri, 29 May 2015 10:00:00 -0400
Pastor Commits Suicide in Church-Owned Home After Admitting Adultery

I never enjoy writing about pastors falling into sexual immorality—and when pastors take their own lives it reminds me of the suicide in my own family just a few years ago. But this column is among the most tragic I've ever penned.

Please understand, I am writing this with sorrow upon sorrow for the sole purpose of laying an axe to the root of the devil's plans to steal, kill and destroy more lives.

Yesterday I learned that Seth Oiler died in the prime of his life. The 42-year-old pastor of First United Methodist Church (UMC) in Newark, New Jersey committed suicide in his church-owned home a week ago. His untimely death followed an adulterous affair with a church staff member to which he admitted. I can only imagine the guilt, shame and condemnation that was flooding his soul.

We reported on a similar story in December 2013, when Isaac Hunter, former pastor of Summit Church in Orlando, took his own life. His death came about a year after he admitted to an affair with a former staffer. Unlike Oiler's story, with Hunter there were apparent warning signs, including reports of a downward spiral of violence, drug and alcohol abuse, and suicidal thoughts. A suicide note was even discovered far in advance of his death.

Stopping This Deadly Cycle

Sexual immorality is tragic, but there is a way back from this sinful path. Indeed, we know that many pastors have been fully restored to ministry even after falling into immorality and idolatry. What's especially tragic is that the devil that tempts people into sex immorality—or any manner of sin—is the same devil that later brings accusations, guilt, shame, condemnation and the like. It's a set up. The question is, how do we stop the deadly cycle?


When we hear stories about pastors like Oiler and Hunter, our first reaction should be to make intercession for the families these men of God left behind. Next, we should also look for the root of pastor suicides so we can prevent more tragedies in the future. Keep in mind that suicide is not a new problem among clergy—and it's not relegated to pastors who committed some grave sin, either.

There is no lack of statistics about pastors and depression, burnout, health, low pay, spirituality, relationships and longevity—and none of them are good. According to the Schaeffer Institute, 70 percent of pastors constantly fight depression, and 71 percent are burned out. Meanwhile, 72 percent of pastors say they only study the Bible when they are preparing for sermons; 80 percent believe pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families; and 70 percent say they don't have a close friend.

The Schaeffer Institute also reports that 80 percent of seminary and Bible school graduates will leave the ministry within five years. It's not clear how many commit suicide, but it is clear that pastors are not immune to it. Psychologists point to several reasons why people commit suicide, from depression to psychosis to stressful life situations. But one thing is certain: Whatever drives someone to take their own life ultimately begins in the mind. Suicidal thoughts precede suicide.

Suicide Starts With a Thought

Indeed, every action we take starts with a thought. As one who struggled with depression for years, I am not trying to oversimplify the solution, but rather merely point out one contributing factor. Many of the harmful actions we take originate from the seed of a thought Satan whispers to our souls. That seed grows as our minds reason out the benefits of acting on the thought. For those contemplating suicide, I believe the seed grows in their minds as they reason themselves out of living because life's circumstances are too overwhelming.

When the enemy plants a vain imagination in our minds, we have two choices: cast it down or meditate on it. When we meditate on vain imaginations, we tend to connect demonic dots that create skewed pictures of reality. Believing what we see in our thought life is real, we talk ourselves into taking action based on a wrong perception. Although there are issues of chemical imbalances, I believe this is what happens with many suicides. The enemy plants a seed in the form of a thought that an already distraught soul doesn't discern as a demonic attack on their life.

If we want to win the battle against suicide in the pulpit and the pew, we need to, among many other things, take hold of Scriptures that instruct us about the battle in our mind. Paul told us, "The weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled" (2 Cor. 10:4-6). No one can take your thoughts captive for you, but you can take your own thoughts captive, and it starts with girding up the loins of your mind (1 Pet. 1:13).

Think On These Things

Of course, I am not suggesting chemical imbalances don't cause depression. I have close friends who have tried everything to overcome depression and other mental health issues without medication but only found relief with either natural supplements or prescription anti-depression drugs. Even still, there is power in our thoughts. One can take the best anti-depressant on the market but if we think depressing thoughts we'll remain depressed. If we think suicidal thoughts, we'll move toward suicide. If we think about Jesus, we'll find greater peace in any circumstance.

Paul also offered this advice: "Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you" (Phil. 4:8-9). If we do what the Word says—if we meditate on what the Word tells us to meditate on—the enemy's seeds won't take root in our souls.

If you see your pastor or anyone else struggling with depression or hear them speak disturbing thoughts that aren't in line with the Word of God, pray and ask God what He would have you do. Then do it. Suicide is a leading cause of death in the United States, and the enemy is targeting our spiritual leaders in this hour. Let's rise up and battle against this disturbing trend in the name of Jesus.

Jennifer LeClaire is senior editor of Charisma. She is also director of Awakening House of Prayer in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and author of several books, including The Next Great Move of God: An Appeal to Heaven for Spiritual AwakeningMornings With the Holy Spirit, Listening Daily to the Still, Small Voice of GodThe Making of a Prophet and Satan's Deadly Trio: Defeating the Deceptions of Jezebel, Religion and Witchcraft. You can visit her website here. You can also join Jennifer on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.

Jennifer LeClaire Featured Watchman on the Wall Opinion Fri, 29 May 2015 09:30:00 -0400
Is Conquering Depression a Matter of Spiritual Warfare Alone?

The first time it manifested in recent memory, I was jogging. Tingles started skimming along the outside of my legs, and my hands started to fall asleep, for lack of a better term. 

Soon after, I was in so much pain I couldn't climb out of my bed. I imagine it feels a lot like drowning. The pressure was so extensive that moving my limbs felt like running through the ocean. 

With my age and relative health, doctors thought it was Multiple Sclerosis. When MRIs ruled that out, they thought it was fibromyalgia or damaged nerves. They proceeded to quite literally shock the living daylights out of me in one of the most painful experiences I've ever dealt with. 

Turns out the answer was much simpler: a medical diagnosis of major depression to be treated with medication. My Christian doctor prescribed an antidepressant.

Major depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. In 2012, an estimated 16 million adults 18 or older in the U.S. had at least one major depressive episode in the past year, which represented 6.9 percent of all U.S. adults.

Being raised in the church and choosing a Christ-centered university for my college experience, I'd had my fair share of teaching about the spiritual warfare that can drive the fear, anxiety, loneliness and persistent sadness that are often associated with depression. 

That was my attitude—and of those surrounding me—when it came to depression. Pick Jesus and don't depend on medication. Godly counseling, community involvement, pursuing Jesus through worship and the Word can cure many a spiritual ailment. But rebuking demons and seeking a prayer shield didn't fix my symptoms. 

In fact, they made it worse.

I felt like there was something wrong with me that, at that time, I couldn't sustain my life on the Bread of Life. For months, I literally cried out to God from the floor of my room, praying for healing, praying for a miracle, praying for doctors to figure out what was wrong so we could treat it.

My church family cried out with me. When I went to prayer group, men and women laid their hands on me and joined me in warring in the Spirit over what was going on, pleading the Blood of Jesus and His mercies over my body. 

But sometimes, depression isn't just a spiritual fact that can be fixed with prayer and meditating on Scripture. 

In my case, I'm dealing with a chemical imbalance that affects my body to the point of lack of function. I can be emotionally flying high when my body shuts down and then I spend all day in my bed, unable to roll over. I fight it like a baby fights a nap, but still, I am overcome.  

That's where medication comes into play. 

If left untreated, or treated incorrectly, depression can lead to suicidal thoughts and actions, according to the Mayo Clinic.

I firmly believe that the American medical system is out to make money off the general public, prescribing all sorts of pills that diet, exercise, friendship, attention and/or a good vacation can fix. The more we dope people up, the less they have to face reality, right?

Sometimes, yes, but for me, no. God gave us doctors who give us medicine. Depression can be a physical illness that requires treatment beyond Christian counseling. 

The longer we demonize medication and cover depression with a stigma of spiritual warfare, the more we hurt those who need treatment for a physical illness that's progressing. 

We lead those who are struggling to believe that if they just had more faith, they wouldn't be in their present situation. While that may be true of some, it's not true of everyone. 

What would behoove the church is to open up an honest dialogue about depression: spiritual elements and tangible treatments in all. 

Jessilyn Justice is the assistant news editor for Charisma. You can reach out to her on Twitter @jessilynjustice

Jessilyn Justice Featured Opinion Fri, 29 May 2015 09:30:00 -0400
WATCH: 9 Ways to Discern Between a True and False Prophet

In this day and age, judging if our pastors are being good shepherds or wolves in sheep's clothing can challenge the best of us. 

As we pray for the spirit of discernment as we listen to their messages, Jim Bakker has some other ideas for how we can tell if they're being true prophets. 

Watch the video to see what he says. 

Jessilyn Justice Featured Opinion Fri, 29 May 2015 09:00:00 -0400
7 Reasons I'm Not a Christian Dominionist

There have been some in the Christian camp who have labeled themselves Christian dominionists, possibly because they refer to the original covenant found in Genesis 1:26-28 as "the Dominion Mandate" and because they advocate a top-down approach regarding the imposition of biblical ethics on secular society.

Regarding my teachings on the kingdom, some with an anti-Christian bias have no doubt referred to me as a Christian dominionist even though I preach against it. These folks try to label and intimidate any Christian leader who believes biblical ethics belong in the public square.

Since I am not in agreement with Christian dominionist language, methodology and/or conceptual framework, I will use this missive to give seven reasons why I am not a Christian dominionist. Some reasons are theological and some methodological.

1. The word "dominion" in Genesis 1:28 is not referring to the exerting of dominion over humanity.

As we examine this passage we realize God never commanded Adam to exert dominion over other human beings, but to have stewardship over the created order. (Read the context in Genesis 1:29-30.)

Consequently, I have theological issues with those who use language like "God has called the church to take our cities!" The church is never called to force the gospel message upon the general public. Of course, when a law that reflects biblical ethics becomes public policy, the civil authorities should enforce its application, which is much different from forced conversions.

In a pluralistic society such as the United States, only those who win the public's perception earn the right (meritocracy) to frame culture with their worldview. Instead of using force or depending upon mere political coercion, Christians are called to prove that their biblical values best serve society in the context of everyday life.

2. The New Testament model for gospel influence is through service, not through coercion.

The New Testament equivalent to dominion is influence. Jesus modeled how the church is to have influence when He washed the feet of His disciples and said that the greatest in the kingdom is the one who serves. Those who serve eventually lead because they become the problem solvers of their families and communities. Jesus did not just preach the Word, but He met the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of the people.

Consequently, if we want to influence a city, we don't take it but rather love and serve it. The problem with the early church after Emperor Constantine began to favor Christianity (A.D. 313) was not that Jesus was proclaimed the universal or imperial ruler, but that the church transmuted itself and became elitist in nature. In some ways the oppressed (the church) became the oppressor and the Roman Empire influenced the church more.

3. I do not believe politics is the primary means to kingdom influence.

As a case in point, the Christian Right put most of their time and money into political elections since the late 1970s. Although they have won many elections which include two presidencies (Reagan and Bush), they have lost the public relations battle with the secular humanists, and lost influence in the majority culture. Consequently, while they were focusing on mere politics their opponents focused on the music, arts and entertainment industries and won the hearts of most of the millennials.

Presently, the highest value in the Western world is freedom of expression and the Christian Right is now viewed as intolerant bigots who are against progress, creativity and equality. Politics is very important but will never ultimately work unless the hearts and minds of a culture are in agreement with its stated platform and philosophy of life. Thus, the church should focus on reflecting God's truth in every aspect of culture, not just politics.

4. I do not vote for a political candidate just because he/she is a Christian.

There have been several elections, both national and local, in which I voted for a non-Christian over a Christian candidate. I would rather vote for a qualified person than someone who agrees with me theologically. Regarding the presidency, we are not electing a theologian in chief but a commander in chief! Also, if we elect an unqualified person just because they are a believer it can backfire if their failures in policy are blamed on Christian beliefs. I will vote for a person irrespective of their beliefs and lifestyle if their values, qualifications and methodological approach to policy is closer to my view than their opponent, even if their opponent is a Christian.

Of course, all things being equal, if two candidates are virtually equal in regards to policy, values and pragmatics, I would choose the Christian over the non-Christian. My hope is that eventually more Christ-honoring people will be qualified to lead in every realm of society because the consummation of history will ultimately unite heaven and earth under the Lordship of Christ.

5. God uses non-believers to fulfill His purposes.

In Romans 13:4-7 non-Christian magistrates are called God's servants. Isaiah 45-46 and the books of Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther demonstrate how God uses unsaved political leaders for His purposes and even calls them His anointed ones. (Pagan kings such as Cyrus, Artaxerxes, Nebuchadnezzar and Darius are all biblical examples of how God used kings to save His people from a holocaust, to return them to their own land and to rebuild and restore Jerusalem.)

Through His common grace, God works through all people for the good of humanity even if they are philosophically opposed to Him. For example, many of the charitable outreaches I have participated in have been resourced and/or aided by secular agencies, political officials and some private citizens who have espoused a lifestyle different from mine yet we still serve together for the good of our communities.

6. I believe God has called believers to work toward having flourishing communities.

I am not opposed to Christians getting involved politically and I believe in biblical ethics in policy. However, our greatest ethos regarding ethics is to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.

Consequently, this means that the church should not do community service merely when they can evangelize and add members. This is disingenuous and the world sees through this and has a right to be offended by it. We are to love for the sake of love and use our gifts and abilities as image-bearers of God, to creatively enhance our communities for human flourishing.

As we live a life dedicated to love and service we will inadvertently change the narrative folks have regarding our churches and our faith. The church once transformed the Western world through music, art, the promotion of aesthetics, abolishing slavery, fighting for civil rights, and through the founding of universities, disaster relief agencies and hospitals. Without the love and ingenuity of the church, the Western world would still be living as their pre-Christian Barbarian ancestors did.

Hence, God is calling believers back to both kingdom orthodoxy and orthopraxy.

7. I do not believe all nations will be Christianized before the bodily return of Christ.

The Bible teaches us that Jesus will not return until the restoration of all things (Acts 3:21) and all His enemies are under His feet (Ps. 110:2). Furthermore, Jesus as the last Adam (1 Cor. 15:45) came to fully implement the cultural mandate given to the first Adam (Gen. 1:28), which is why He called believers to disciple whole nations (Matt. 28:19). While some Christians (some, not all Christian dominionists) have interpreted these passages to mean that every nation will eventually become Christian before He returns, I do not agree.

The Bible is not clear regarding what it means for His enemies to be put under His feet, so we are only left with conjecture regarding what kind of kingdom witness will be on the earth before His coming. Jesus said (Matthew 25:25-41) that there will be disobedient goat nations when He returns, thus showing that all nations will not be saved at His return. Also, scripture teaches in 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10 that "when He comes He will punish those who know not God and disobey the gospel." Hence, there will be plenty of unbelievers at His return.

Finally, it says in Revelation 20:8-10 "that near the end of human history Satan will deceive some of the nations" and Revelation 21:24 (KJV) that "the nations that are saved will be able to enter into the Holy City" which implies that there will be large collections of unsaved people groups at the consummation of human history. What all these passages teach is that, this side of heaven, we will never experience the fullness of the kingdom until Jesus returns. This does not mean that we do not try to manifest His kingdom wherever we go, but that we occupy and function as the salt and light of the world until He comes (Luke 19:13; Matt. 5:13-16).

Joseph Mattera is an internationally known author, futurist, interpreter of culture and activist/theologian whose mission is to influence leaders who influence nations. He leads several organizations, including "The United States Coalition of Apostolic Leaders (" He also has a blog on Charisma magazine called "The Pulse." To order one of his books or to subscribe to his weekly newsletter go to

Joseph Mattera Featured The Pulse Opinion Fri, 29 May 2015 07:00:00 -0400
Discerning (and Not Mocking, Scoffing and Scorning) the Holy Spirit's Many Moods

As a minister I've been privileged over the years to be in all kinds of meetings. There are always participators and spectators who attend—believers, skeptics and at times even mockers, scoffers and scorners.

I would say that the meetings most people have a difficult time receiving, embracing and participating in are the Holy Ghost meetings that exude much joy, laughter, dancing and wild demonstrations. Concerning these type of meetings, I've heard the following criticisms from various Christians:

1. We need to reverence God and not carry on with such foolishness.
2. These are fleshly manifestations and emotionalism.
3. These manifestations are not scriptural. Show me that in the Word!
4. If it's God there will be change in the people, but if their lives don't change then it's not God.

These types of critical comments are a failure in Christians to understand the multifaceted nature and personality of God. He is not always serious.

The Holy Ghost has many moods. Sometimes the Father plays with His children and He lets His children play. Irreverence would be to not enter into the mood that the Holy Ghost is manifesting at the moment. Irreverence is to be serious when it's time to play.

God said He would pour out of His Spirit on all flesh beginning in Acts 2. Often when this happens there are wild manifestations. People are filled with the Holy Ghost and joy, singing and laughter. People run, dance and shout. In the presence of the Lord there is fullness of joy (Ps. 16:11).

Have you ever seen a drunk man? How does he act? Often they display some very wild, unusual and funny behavior, don't they? It's the same with being drunk in the Spirit.

"Be not drunk with wine wherein is excess but filled (or be drunk) with the Holy Spirit" (Eph. 5:18).

And yes, people do change and are transformed in God's presence. But soon they will be sober again, and will need to fill up once more. I've seen people healed, delivered and set free from all kinds of oppression and bondage.

Many Christians only know one side of God or one mood and stream of the Holy Ghost. Denominations and different streams of faith are usually only familiar with their particular brand or stream of how God manifests Himself within their group. And frankly, in many places He is hardly ever allowed to manifest Himself at all.

As I stated, God is multifaceted in His character and personality, and the Holy Ghost has many moods. We've already mentioned the joy and hilarity by which the Lord manifests Himself at times. Here are other moods and atmospheres by which God manifests:

1. The fear of the Lord – This is what happened in Acts 5 when Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead for lying to the Holy Ghost. I've been in meetings where the Spirit of the fear of the Lord was in manifestation, and you could hear a pin drop. Everyone was quiet and reverent or on their faces weeping. No one could talk; no one wanted to talk because the atmosphere was so impregnated with a holy fear.

2. The miracle atmosphere – This is when God flexes His muscles and manifests His power to heal all kinds of sicknesses and diseases. People are delivered of various ailments, the lame walk, the blind see, and demons are cast out or they just leave. The people witnessed this in Samaria through the ministry of Philip (Acts 8).

3. The sweetness of the Lord – This is an anointing that touches people deep in their emotions. It manifests in healing for broken hearts and people who are desperate and hurting. It is the Lord moving in His kindness and compassion. We see this continually in the ministry of Jesus.

When the Holy Ghost manifests Himself in these various ways just flow with it and participate. Don't stand back and criticize it because you don't understand it or are not familiar with it. Do not quench the Spirit.

Judge everything not only by the Word but by the anointing and the presence of God that is there. Are people being healed and delivered? Are they being filled with the Spirit? Are they being blessed and helped? If so, then rejoice in what the Lord is doing. Thank God He is not boring.

The final wave of the great outpouring of the Holy Ghost in these last days will be a great tsunami and will be a culmination of all other previous waves. I believe it will be the wave that will take us into the shores of heaven.

Get acquainted with your Father. Get to know the multifaceted personality and moods of the Holy Ghost, and the manifold wisdom of God. Receive all the Lord has for you. Go outside your own camp if you have to.

Be glad and rejoice in the goodness of God and all He is doing.

Bert M. Fariasrevivalist and founder of Holy Fire Ministries, is the author of several books including The Real Spirit of Revival and the newly released My Son, My Son—a beautiful father-son memoir co-written with his son Daniel for the purpose of training up a holy generation. He ministers inter-denominationally and cross-culturally in nations, churches, conferences, on the streets, and in homes. He and his wife also host The Holy Ghost Forum—a school of the Spirit. Follow him at Bert Farias and Holy Fire Ministries on Facebook or @Bertfarias1 on Twitter.

Bert Farias Featured The Flaming Herald Opinion Fri, 29 May 2015 06:00:00 -0400
Duggar Family Molestation Revelation 'Sickens' Rick Santorum

Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum said he was "sickened" by revelations of molestation by the eldest son of the Duggars, the Christian family that features in television hit "19 Kids and Counting" and helped the conservative in his last campaign.

Santorum's comments, aired on ABC's "Good Morning America" on Thursday, suggest he is distancing himself from Josh Duggar, who actively campaigned for the former senator from Pennsylvania in 2012 and is alleged to have molested several underage girls as a teen 12 years ago. The young man is now 27.

"I was sickened by it, just sickened by it," Santorum told ABC's George Stephanopoulos after launching his campaign for the 2016 Republican nomination on Wednesday.

"I pray for those girls, in particular. To have gone through that is just hard to think about."

His sharply worded reaction adds more pressure on Discovery Communications Inc and its cable network TLC, grappling with the loss this week of at least a dozen advertisers for its top-rated show about the large Arkansas family that espouses Christian values.

Major corporate names like Walgreen Co and General Mills Inc were among the advertisers distancing themselves from the popular show, which ended its latest season earlier this month.

Josh Duggar acknowledged wrongdoing and apologized for his actions last week after In Touch magazine published a police report alleging that he had fondled several girls. He was never charged and the police report was destroyed last week by court order to protect the identity of an alleged victim.

Parents Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar, who hit the campaign trail for Santorum in 2012, acknowledged that Josh "made some very bad mistakes."

Another political backer and Republican presidential candidate, Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, last week stood by the Duggars in a post on his Facebook page.

"Josh's actions when he was an underage teen are as he described them himself, 'inexcusable,' but that doesn't mean 'unforgivable,'" the former Southern Baptist pastor said in the post.

TLC pulled all episodes of the show last Friday, but has refused to comment about the fate of the show, which has aired since 2008 and is currently not in production.

Streaming service Hulu showed error messages to viewers who try to see the show, but as of Wednesday night, episodes were still available for streaming on Amazon.

© 2015 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved. 

Mary Milliken and Daina Beth Solomon/Reuters Featured U.S. News Thu, 28 May 2015 17:00:00 -0400
Obama Visits Beloved Cuban Shrine in Miami

President Barack Obama toured a Catholic shrine beloved by Cuban Americans on Thursday, a nod to his pledge to end more than 50 years of hostilities with Cuba and restore diplomatic relations and commercial ties.

The Cuban exile community in south Florida has been split on Obama's move to normalize relations with Cuba - a deal that Pope Francis and other Catholic officials helped broker.

"The president is visiting the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity in Miami to pay his respects to the Cuban-American diaspora that worship there," said Bernadette Meehan, spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council, in a statement.

"He will honor the sacrifices that Cuban-Americans have made in their pursuit of liberty and opportunity, as well as their extraordinary contributions to our country," Meehan said. 

The Miami shrine features a replica of a statue of the Virgin Mary known as Our Lady of Charity found floating on the coast of Cuba by fisherman. The original statue is at the shrine of El Cobre near Santiago, Cuba.

© 2015 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved. 

Jessilyn Justice Featured U.S. News Thu, 28 May 2015 16:12:12 -0400
North Carolina Lawmakers Make Strong Stand for Christian Rights in Gay Marriage Era

North Carolina lawmakers voted on Thursday to allow government officials to refuse to perform marriages by citing religious objections, protecting those who oppose same-sex weddings from losing their jobs.

The measure, already passed by the state Senate, heads to Governor Pat McCrory's desk after being approved by the Republican-led House of Representatives in a 67-43 vote.

The Republican governor's office did not comment on whether he will sign the bill. McCrory has said he does not support letting public employees sidestep their duties, but he could allow the measure to become law without his signature.

The bill allows magistrates and other officials to refuse to perform marriages or issue marriage certificates by citing a "sincerely held religious objection." Once they have asked to be recused in writing, magistrates would be barred from performing any marriage, gay or heterosexual, for six months.

During lengthy debate over several days, supporters of the measure said it would offer needed protection for magistrates who have said they would not perform gay marriages since the practice became legal in North Carolina last year.

"Really the question is, should you be fired from a job or subject to disciplinary action because you choose to live your life by sincerely held religious beliefs?" Republican Representative Dean Arp said.

Gay marriage is legal in 37 states and Washington, D.C. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to decide next month on whether same-sex marriage should be legal nationwide.

© 2015 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved. 

Marti Maguire/Reuters Featured U.S. News Thu, 28 May 2015 16:00:00 -0400
What Is My Role as a Non-Jew Concerning Jews?

What Is My Role as a Non-Jew Concerning Jews?

Jews must be made envious for the glory of God that once belonged to them in order to embrace Jesus as Messiah. In this teaching, Steve Gray explains how salvation will come to Israel and the Jews through you, a non-Jewish believer.

Steve Gray

Jews must be made envious for the glory of God that once belonged to them in order to embrace Jesus as Messiah. In this video teaching, Steve Gray explains how salvation will come to Israel and the Jews through you, a non-Jewish believer.

Steve Gray Featured Standing With Israel Opinion Fri, 29 May 2015 06:00:00 -0400
Why Foster Care Is Messy, Difficult ... And Totally Worth It

As our nation marks National Foster Care Month in May, it's an opportunity to share my family's unique experience inside this ministry of loving on children and their families in crisis. Key word being unique—as in, "being the only one of its kind; unlike anything else."

Since America's foster care movement began in 1853, it has had many different faces. To shed some light on this ministry, I want to clarify that this is one family's story. Just because you read this article does not mean you will understand all fostering families.

Fostering families and each child they care for are as unique an experience as someone's marriage, or a mother's labor stories between her different children. Because circumstances within fostering are so "case by case," your experience will not be identical to any other.

Foster care is an intense subject. It's not beautifully packaged, not even well-thought-of among many in our society ... yet. One of my husband and my dreams is for foster care to become as normal and accepted a ministry in the Christian world as adoption has become.

When my husband and I had talked about adopting, the responses were: "Oh wow, that's so exciting!" "It's going to be an incredible journey!" However, when we talked about fostering to friends, the responses were: "Why?? Aren't you afraid of the type of children that will come into your home?" "Really? Don't you want to wait until you have children of your own?" "I could never do that and then give them back." 

I get it. I really do. It's different. 

We care for children as long as the government says we can. A judge decides or approves our schedule for biological visits, vacations, speech therapy appointments, doctor visits, play therapy, Guardian Ad Litem visits and Department of Human Resource visits.

We are licensed through a private foster care agency that helps us navigate the maze of this world while keeping us up-to-date on all our yearly legal records, continuing education credits, paperwork, etc.

The goal of foster care is reunification. We are actually treating this as a ministry to heal and reunite families. These children have real families that are in crisis. They are not orphans in the literal sense, though I would passionately argue that they feel the emotional ramifications of the term.

Our role as foster parents is to take in, care for and love on children and minister to their families. We pray for biological families, love on them and share Jesus with them—when or if we are given the chance.

We do not get to make a lot of decisions outside of those roles. The court decides if and when it is safe for the child to return to his biological family. The court tells us when the child is to leave our home or stay.

Our job is to try to make their biological family a different, "more full of light" place to go back to once/if reunification happens. Glamorous it is not. And really messy. Worth it? Well, I know it is.

Your reaction right about now is, Oh, I couldn't do that. And my painfully candid response to you is: If you can't, then who will? I've had close, personal friends grow up in foster care and I won't go into the devastating details. Suffice to say, there are people who will foster with the wrong intentions. 

I've heard so often that you must "feel called" to it—like a life-calling you put on as an occupation that brings you joy. Well, I'm probably going to make some people upset. It is a calling, but it isn't that kind of calling. I don't think it's as black-and-white as that. (And I am the queen of the "black and white" mindset; just ask my grey-minded, let's-analyze-every-perspective husband.)

A family considering foster care needs to understand the circumstances they will be entering, they need to be extremely committed in their decision to foster ... and flexible. But here is where some people are going to be upset with me: You have already been called to it.

You know from hearing the vision of fostering that you will see a child process suffering and pain, and being part of that process will cost you those same emotions ... maybe more. And your response is that you do not want to enter their suffering or their loss. "It's too hard," you say to yourself. "Especially emotionally."

I respect those feelings; I assure you, I truly do. But let's consider a better question. Would it change anything for you to know that these children will feel suffering and pain without a loving family that can hold their hand through it ... or better yet, feel it with them?

"For to this you were called, because Christ suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps" (1 Pet. 2:21).

God already called you. That verse does not just refer to foster care. Many ministries will cost you suffering and pain: praying with post-abortive women, rescuing and restoring sex trafficking victims, counseling at a crisis pregnancy center, caring for widows, feeding the poor and others.

Don't let your suffering be an excuse to never try an impactful ministry for a season of your life.

Just as Jesus suffered for us because we were worth it to Him, we are called to enter into suffering along with Him because His children are worth it too. Jesus is our example and we are called to follow in His steps.

I'm writing about foster care because I know there are incredible families out there scared to take this step. You may have even thought about it before, but you hear those lies: You couldn't ever do it. It's too hard. It would hurt too much. I'm humbly asking you to pray about it as a family.

The children and families you could impact are waiting to see someone represent Jesus to them. They never thought they were worth it; you are going to prove them wrong by your love.

The Holy Spirit will equip you with love that overflows, and He will make up for all the holes you don't know how to fill for them. You do not have the responsibility to "fix" or "heal" them. That is Jesus' job.

As the church, I pray we move forward in recruiting and training Christian couples involved in foster care to love children and minister to families in crisis.

Natalie Brumfield has been the Bound4LIFE Birmingham Chapter Leader since 2008. She works as a children's director and curriculum writer for the children's ministry at her local church in Birmingham, Alabama. 

Reprinted with permission from Bound4LIFE.

Natalie Brumfield/Bound4Life Featured Opinion Thu, 28 May 2015 15:30:00 -0400
WATCH: Did We Miss the Book of Revelation's Fifth Trumpet?

Are we really that oblivious?

"Let me give one astounding illustration," says author and Pastor Carl Gallups. " ... Everything I'm going to say is documented profusely with credible (documentation). I'm talking about language study departments of major universities; I'm talking about U.N., United Nations documents, transcripts; I'm talking about scientific sites; geographic sites; military sites; historical sites. I'm not talking about conspiracy-theory websites."

Gallups believes the seventh trumpet is the rapture of the church, which means six need to sound before it. 

And the sixth trumpet is looking pretty close to reality ... so did we miss the fifth?

Watch the video to see what Gallups has to say.

Jessilyn Justice Featured World News Thu, 28 May 2015 15:00:00 -0400
Former NY Governor Pataki Makes Presidential Bid

Former New York Governor George Pataki entered the race for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination on Thursday, positioning himself as a Washington outsider and moderate who won three terms in a heavily Democratic state.

Pataki, 69, enters a crowded field that includes a number of staunch conservatives who hope to attract the support from the Republican base of presidential primary voters.

In his announcement, Pataki appeared to eye a different audience, reflecting his appeal to Democratic "blue" voters.

"I was a Republican governor in a very deep blue state, the state of New York," he said in a video titled "Pataki for President," posted on his website.

Pataki served as governor from 1995 to 2006 and has flirted with running for U.S. Senate or the presidency in past years. He stressed the importance of unifying the country, recalling how Americans worked together to overcome the trauma of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

His long-shot bid could bring a moderate voice to the Republican field that includes conservative favorites U.S. Senator Ted Cruz and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee.

More recently, he has criticized "religious freedom" bills that conservative candidates backed and called it "inappropriate" when Republican lawmakers wrote to Iranian leaders in a move largely seen as undermining Democratic President Barack Obama.

Pataki presented himself as a Washington outsider and invoked a conservative theme on the outsized power of government.

"Washington has grown too big, too powerful, too expensive and too intrusive," he said. "This is exactly what the founding fathers feared. It is time to stand up, protect our freedom and take back this government."

Pataki launched a fundraising super-PAC in January and has made appearances in New Hampshire and Florida, important states in the presidential nominating contests.

Pataki was a first-term state senator in New York when he narrowly beat incumbent Democrat Mario Cuomo in the 1994 governor's election.

After leaving the governor's office in 2007, he was a delegate to the United Nations and started a business development firm focused on energy companies.

© 2015 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved. 

Doina Chiacu/Reuters Featured Politics Thu, 28 May 2015 14:30:00 -0400
This Presidential Candidate Is Calling Americans to Pray for Spiritual Revival

Conservative stalwart Rick Santorum is jumping into the race for the Republican presidential nomination, calling on Americans to pray for a spiritual revival "to heal our land."

The former Pennsylvania senator is pledging to focus his campaign on fighting for American workers while also standing strong on conservative social issues.

"As president, I will stand for the principle that every life matters - the poor, the disabled, and the unborn," Santorum said.

He also vowed to fight to preserve religious freedoms, to "fight for the freedom for you to believe what you are called to believe, not just in your places of worship, but outside your places of worship too," he said.

Santorum is among the nation's most prominent social conservatives, having dedicated much of his political career to opposing same-sex marriage and abortion rights, while advocating for conservative Christian family values.

The 57-year-old former senator officially declared his candidacy Wednesday, flanked by factory workers and six of his seven children in a cinderblock warehouse near his western Pennsylvania hometown.

The newly declared candidate was also quick to jump right into the foreign policy fray over comments from Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who blasted hawkish Republicans Wednesday, accusing them of inadvertently helping create ISIS.

Santorum told ABC News that Paul just doesn't get it when it comes to ISIS.

"I think that is fundamentally a misunderstanding of the nature of the enemy we face," Santorum said. "ISIS came about because they hate everything that we believe in and that we stand for. That's what the problem is; they hate who we are."

This will be the second White House run for Santorum. He ultimately won 11 states in the GOP's 2012 primary election after an unexpected and narrow victory in the opening contest in Iowa. He emerged as a conservative favorite after touring the state's 99 counties in a pickup truck.

"The last race, we changed the debate. This race, with your help and God's grace, we can change this nation," he said.

CBN News Featured U.S. News Thu, 28 May 2015 14:00:00 -0400
Al Sharpton Asks: Are Texas Floods God's Judgment on America?

The floods sweeping Texas are some of the worst in history, and Rev. Al Sharpton believes it may go deeper than weather patterns:

"#KeepingItReal QOTD: Do you think the #TexasFlooding is related to climate control or God's rebuke? Call 8775325797 or tweet me your thoughts," he tweeted

The deadly flooding has killed at least 35 people, according to CNN

"It's just very heartbreaking that we have this loss of life," Kristi Wyatt, city spokeswoman in San Marcos, Texas, tells CNN. "Some of those people were in a home together, celebrating the holidays, and they were swept away in the stormwater. ... It's just a terrible situation."

But is this "terrible situation" God's judgment or just weather being weather?

Sharpton garnered many responses when he posted the question. 

"I think the @ChurchOfSatan did caused (sic) the flood. @TheRevAl," one person tweeted. 

Another tweeted: "@TheRevAl TOTES MAN'S DOING."

Yet another: "@TheRevAl Rain. I think it's because of rain."

What do you think? Sound off!

Jessilyn Justice Featured U.S. News Thu, 28 May 2015 13:00:01 -0400
WATCH: God Miraculously Delivers Woman From Rare 'Suicide Disease'

"Out of nowhere, I had like this lightning bolt of piercing, burning pain. It was the most excruciating pain I'd ever felt in my life."

And so begins the testimony of Chris, a woman who suffered a rare disease that's so painful, most people eventually kill themselves. 

When a local pastor hosted a woman with the gift of healing, Chris' husband encouraged her to go up for prayer. 

What happened next seems straight out of the Bible. Check it out. 

Jessilyn Justice Featured Culture Thu, 28 May 2015 12:00:00 -0400
Christian Artist Brady Toops Walks Off 'Bachelorette' to Win the Heart of Ousted Britt Nilsson

Christian/gospel singer and songwriter Brady Toops made his foray into reality television to pursue the heart of The Bachelorette's Britt Nilsson.

When Nilsson, one of two bachelorettes, was eliminated, Toops made his move and left the show too. 

"I don't think I expected it to turn out this way," Toops says. " ... I came here to get to know this girl."

"God consistently works things out for good when we trust Him ... even through pain, mistakes, sadness. I learned a lot about human nature and about myself," Nilsson says of her experience on television. 

The two are both incredibly open about their faith, Nilsson on her Instagram and Toops in his lyrics

Do you think God can use reality TV to work things out for His good? Sound off!

Jessilyn Justice Featured Culture Thu, 28 May 2015 11:30:00 -0400
Should TLC Cancel '19 Kids and Counting' After Duggar Scandal or Stand Strong?

Despite the recent controversy surrounding the show "19 Kids and Counting" could return to TLC's schedule.

The Discovery Communications-owned network has not canceled the program in the wake of the recent disclosure that Josh Duggar, one of the central figures in the show, admitted to molesting teenage girls 12 years ago. "Kids" focuses on the family of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar and their 19 children, and has been on the air since 2008. Josh Duggar is the oldest of the family's children, all of whom have names that start with the letter J.

The company has not yet decided whether the show should continue or be canceled, according to a person familiar with the situation. If the program were to continue, this person added, it would have to do so without Josh Duggar and with an emphasis on other members of the Duggar family. The most recent cycle of the series concluded in mid-May, but Discovery has pulled it from TLC and the Web.

The Duggar family has issued a statement in support of their son, who has stepped down from a job he holds at the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian lobbying organization based in Washington, D.C.

Discovery is being methodical in its deliberations, this person said, allowing the devout Christian clan at the center of the series to deal with the crisis at hand; "19 Kids and Counting" is not currently in production, this person said.

Advertiser support for the program appears to be wavering. General Mills, Choice Hotels Intl. and Payless Shoe Source have all indicated they are working to keep their ads separate from "19." In most cases, advertisers put in place a larger deal with the network or even an array of outlets owned by Discovery, rather than buying a particular program. None of the advertisers said they were puling ads from TLC or Discovery in general.

"19 Kids and Counting" isn't the first controversial program Discovery has had to scrutinize. In 2011, TLC launched "All-American Muslim," a reality program that followed Muslim families in Dearborn, Mich. Lowe's, the large home-improvement retailer, pulled its support of the show within weeks, after being contacted by an advocacy group known as the Florida Family Association. TLC did not cancel the first season of the show but declined to produce another, citing low ratings.

In 2014 TLC had to grapple with reports that June Shannon, one of the central figures in the popular reality series "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo," was dating a man convicted of child molestation. The program was taken off the air.

© 2015 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved. 

Brian Steinberg/Reuters Featured U.S. News Thu, 28 May 2015 11:00:00 -0400
Marco Rubio: Liberals Will Soon Argue Christian Teaching Is Hate Speech

Plus, some of the nation's largest cities have been turned into bloody battlegrounds and the Obama White House and professional race agitators remain silent. And one NYC hotel is apologizing for disrespecting a Navy officer.

Todd Starnes Featured American Dispatch Opinion Thu, 28 May 2015 10:30:00 -0400
Will Terrorism Erupt if DC Subway System Agrees to Run Cartoon Ads of Prophet Muhammad?

Washington's transit system is weighing whether to allow a subway ad featuring a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad that won first prize at an event in Texas this month that was attacked by two gunmen.

The Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority is conducting a standard review of an ad submitted by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, Metro spokesman Mike Tolbert said on Wednesday.

The advertisement calls for Americans to support free speech, and features a cartoon of a bearded, turban-wearing Mohammad waving a sword and shouting: "You can't draw me!"

In reply, a cartoon bubble portrays the artist, his hand grasping a pencil, saying: "That's why I draw you."

Depictions of the prophet of Islam are considered offensive by many Muslims.

On May 3, the cartoon won the top prize at AFDI's "Drawing Mohammad" event at a civic center in Garland, Texas, before two men armed with assault rifles wounded a security guard in the parking lot. Police shot and killed the gunmen, identified as Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi of Phoenix.

"There is nothing about this cartoon that incites violence," AFDI founder Pamela Geller said in a statement on Tuesday.

"It is within the established American tradition of satire," Geller said. "If America surrenders on this point, the freedom of speech is a relic of history."

AFDI, which is on the Southern Poverty Law Center's annual list of U.S. hate groups, has run controversial ads on subways and buses in Chicago, Philadelphia and San Francisco and it ran an ad on D.C.'s Metro in 2012.

New York's Metropolitan Transit Authority voted to ban all political ads in April after it lost a court battle with the group over an ad that read: "Hamas Kills Jews."

© 2015 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved. 

John Clarke/Reuters Featured U.S. News Thu, 28 May 2015 10:00:00 -0400
A Word to Self-Righteous Christians Attacking Josh Duggar

I have been terribly grieved by some "Christian" responses to Josh Duggar, as if there are some sins God cannot forgive or some people that He cannot transform. Such an attitude betrays a fundamental lack of understanding of the gospel of grace and is actually a slap in the face of the Savior.

When I shared some redemptive thoughts about Josh's situation earlier in the week, I did not for a moment minimize the gravity of his acts. Specifically, I wrote that "he did sin grievously"; I put his actions in the category of "wicked things" that some of us did as teenagers; I stated that, "There's no excuse for sin, so own up to it"; I referred to Josh committing "serious sexual sin"; and I said "there are consequences to our actions" but that God can redeem, also stressing the importance of the church helping the victims of abuse.

And although I have never been the victim of sexual abuse, I have listened to the stories of abuse victims for years, often devastated by what they shared.

I remember reaching out to a blind, facially disfigured teenage girl at a church service one night. She told me that her problems began when she was sexually abused as girl, after which the pain was so great she got into drugs, finally making a death pact with her boyfriend and another friend. The other friend would shoot each of them in the head and, hopefully, not get caught.

Tragically, her boyfriend died as a result of his wounds, the other boy did go to jail for his actions, but instead of dying, she was blinded.

I thought to myself, "What kind of divine judgment awaits the man who abused her if he does not repent and find mercy before that day?"

A number of our ministry school grads work tirelessly in several nations to combat human trafficking, and I support their work however I can. They tell me in detail about the trauma experienced by these kids and teens sold into sex slavery, with full recovery being extremely difficult and rare (if they even manage to survive and are rescued).

In no way would I dream of minimizing the sin of a sex offender, even a younger one like Josh was, but I absolutely believing in maximizing the grace of God, who delights in saving the worst of sinners.

That's what Paul wrote in 1 Timothy, using himself as an example. He explained that "I was previously a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and an insolent man. But I was shown mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. The grace of our Lord overflowed with the faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the worst. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, first, Jesus Christ might show all patience, as an example to those who were to believe in Him for eternal life" (1 Tim. 1:13-16).

Sadly, professing Christians have written to me, assuring me that God could never forgive Josh for what he did or that "once a molester, always a molester." And they also assure me that they understand grace and believe in the power of the gospel.


Responses like theirs make me wonder if they have ever experienced God's mercy themselves.

The fact is, the very best of us are worthless wretches outside of His grace, and on the holiest day of our lives, in ourselves, we are utterly depraved in light of God's perfect brightness.

If you have ever come under deep conviction of sin, either as a sinner or a saint (meaning, as a nonbeliever or as a believer), you know what I'm talking about.

Suddenly, your flesh is revealed, as happened to the prophet Isaiah when he encountered the Lord, crying out, "Woe is me! For I am undone because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips. For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts" (Is. 6:5)

Suddenly, you become aware of the depth of your guilt and depravity, of the impurity of your motives, of the corruption of your actions, of your selfishness or greed or envy or lust or hatred or pride or rebellion or bitterness—or all of the above.

You feel as if the worst hell is too good for you, and you are completely overwhelmed when you realize that not only is God willing to forgive you, but that Jesus died for you and paid for every one of those sins, pronouncing you righteous through faith and bringing you into His family as a fellow child of the Father.

In the words of John Newton, the former slave trader, guilty of committing atrocities against fellow human beings, "Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me."

I know extraordinary men of God today who used to be in involved in terrorist activities or who were once sexually depraved or consumed by hate, and they are some of the saintliest people on the planet. And all of us, no matter how we lived our lives, were sinners in need of salvation and mercy.

Those who have been shown mercy should lead the way in showing mercy; those who have been forgiven should lead the way in forgiving others; those who have been transformed should be the first to believe for the transformation of others.

We should exercise wisdom when it comes to putting certain people in certain positions (for example, no matter how transformed a convicted former child molester might be, I would never put that person in the church's children's ministry, for many obvious reasons), but we should absolutely believe in the power of God to forgive the worst of sinners and trust the power of the blood of Jesus to make us truly clean.

I really do fear for those who do not recognize the depth of their own sin in light of God's holiness and who do not understand the principle that "he who has shown no mercy will have judgment without mercy, for mercy triumphs over judgment" (Jacob [James] 2:13).

May we be ambassadors of the transforming mercy of God, and may we glory in the life-transforming power of the gospel.

That's what the cross is all about.

Michael Brown is the author of 25 books, including Can You Be Gay and Christian? and host of the nationally syndicated talk radio show "The Line of Fire." He is also president of FIRE School of Ministry and director of the Coalition of Conscience. 

Michael Brown Featured In the Line of Fire Opinion Thu, 28 May 2015 09:30:00 -0400
US Military Mistakenly Ships Live Anthrax Across Country and to South Korea

The U.S. military mistakenly sent live anthrax bacteria to laboratories in nine U.S. states and a U.S. air base in South Korea, after apparently failing to properly inactivate the bacteria last year, U.S. officials said on Wednesday.

The Pentagon said there was no known suspected infection or risk to the public. But four U.S. civilians have been started on preventive measures called post-exposure prophylaxis, which usually includes the anthrax vaccine, antibiotics or both.

Twenty-two personnel at the base in South Korea were also given precautionary medical measures although none have shown sign of exposure, the U.S. military said.

The four in the United States face "minimal" risk, said Jason McDonald, a spokesman for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which has begun an investigation of the incident. They had been "doing procedures that sent the agent into the air," he said.

When anthrax becomes airborne, it can cause a deadly illness called inhalation anthrax. That occurred in 2001, when anthrax sent through the U.S. mail to government and media targets killed five people.

The anthrax, which was initially sent from a Utah military lab, was meant to be shipped in an inactive state as part of efforts to develop a field-based test to identify biological threats, the Pentagon said.

"Out of an abundance of caution, (the Defense Department) has stopped the shipment of this material from its labs pending completion of the investigation," said Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steve Warren.

The CDC said it has launched an investigation of the mishap.

All samples involved in the investigation will be securely transferred to the CDC or affiliated labs for further testing, spokeswoman Kathy Harden said, adding that CDC has sent officials to the labs "to conduct on-site investigations. 

The mishap comes 11 months after the CDC, one of the government's top civilian labs, similarly mishandled anthrax.

Researchers at a lab designed to handle extremely dangerous pathogens sent what they believed were killed samples of anthrax to another CDC lab, one with fewer safeguards and therefore not authorized to work with live anthrax.

Scores of CDC employees could have been exposed to the live anthrax, but none became ill.

That incident and a similar one last spring, in which CDC scientists shipped what they thought was a benign form of bird flu but which was actually a highly virulent strain, led U.S. lawmakers to fault a "dangerous pattern" of safety lapses at government labs.


In the latest case, the Army's Dugway Proving Ground in Utah reported in March 2014 that gamma irradiation had inactivated the anthrax stock in question, and along with another Army facility, began shipments that continued through April 2015, a U.S. official said.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the suspected live anthrax samples were sent to U.S. federal, private and academic facilities.

The anthrax was sent to laboratories in Maryland, Texas, Wisconsin, Delaware, New Jersey, Tennessee, New York, California and Virginia, officials said.

The Maryland laboratory alerted the CDC late on Friday that it had a live sample and by midday on Saturday, the laboratories were notified, the U.S. official said.

The four civilians receiving post-exposure prophylaxis are in Delaware, Texas and Wisconsin. "Workers who were not in the same area at the same time are not at risk," the CDC's McDonald said.

The sample sent to South Korea was subsequently destroyed, the Pentagon and the U.S. military there said.

A U.S. emergency team responded to destroy the sample on Wednesday at the U.S. base after what was expected to be an inactive training sample was thought to be live bacteria, the U.S. military in South Korea said.

Precautionary medical measures were given to 22 personnel who may have been exposed during the training at the base about 35 km (20 miles) south of Seoul and none of them have shown any sign of exposure, it said.

Experts in biosafety were astonished by the lapse.

"These events shouldn't happen," said Stephen Morse of Columbia University, a former program manager for biodefense at the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Scientists working with the most dangerous pathogens follow a "two-person rule," never handling samples alone. The second pair of eyes is meant to insure scientists take proper precautions during experiments.

Two people should also vet shipments of supposedly killed anthrax. "We can put greater safeguards in place," Morse said.

© 2015 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved. 

Phil Stewart and Sharon Begley/Reuters Featured U.S. News Thu, 28 May 2015 08:45:00 -0400
From Jack Hayford to Reinhard Bonnke, Pentecostals Prove Holy Spirit Still Moving in the Church

Jerusalem 2015 sponsored by Empowered21 proved to be a powerful event that brought Pentecostals and charismatics from around the world to Israel for Pentecost Sunday, a day when the outpouring of the Holy Spirit is joyfully celebrated.

The five-day event was streamed live on the Internet. TBN recorded it and will use it along with interviews from leaders for a period of weeks. Our Charisma News covered it and, if you follow me on Facebook or Twitteryou saw my posts of some of the worship, some clips of powerful preaching and people I met along the way.

I was amazed at the number of top leaders who came at their own expense to minister. The preaching and worship was the best of the best from around the world. E21 presented the first Lifetime Global Impact Awards to Reinhard Bonnke, Morris Cerullo, Jack Hayford, Marilyn Hickey, David Mainse and Vinson Synan.  

While attendance records were not discussed, it seemed that the largest groups came from Asia—mainly from Indonesia and China. On the last night, those of us in leadership formed prayer tunnels and prayed for every person in less than half an hour. I served with five others and prayed for mostly Chinese attendees who seemed overwhelmed being prayed for on Pentecost in Jerusalem. I felt out of my element, but I stepped out in faith and prayed in the Spirit for those who passed before me. It was a powerful experience.

Billy Wilson, president of Oral Roberts University, and Dr. George Wood, General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God, are co-chairs of Empowered21, which grew out of the Azusa Centennial in 2006. The vision of E21, which I endorse, is that every person on earth would have an authentic encounter with Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit by Pentecost 2033.

Charisma Media served as one of the event's main sponsors and presented the Modern English Version of the Bible, which the public seemingly received well. I spoke with leaders about it, explaining that in only nine months it had cracked the top 10 among all translations. Many leaders like Dr. Mark Williams and Dr. Jack Hayford have given rousing endorsements. Other leaders seemed to like the idea of a new literal translation into modern English in the King James tradition.

During the conference, author and worship artist Faytene Grasseschi from Canada and I emceed a session in the arena. She gave away a CD of the worship that took place at the event. I gave away a copy of the MEV; a lady from Africa almost tackled me to get it, much to everyone's delight! Later, Cris Doornbos, CEO of David C. Cook (which owns Integrity Music) and I co-chaired a breakout session on media. I said I'd give away a Bible and the place was packed. I conducted a short writer's seminar and connected with many new writers for Charisma House and Charisma News.

I flew home yesterday feeling full and inspired. The renewal movement seems alive and well. The conference put an emphasis on the next generation and raising up leaders. And the more than 100 volunteers from ORU seemed to be everywhere serving and encouraging.

The event encountered a few problems. It began with the fact that, while services were held Wednesday and Thursday night, no service could be held on Friday night in observance of the Jewish Sabbath. Not only that, but the following day is the holiday Shavuot—Feast of First Fruits. It was as if two consecutive Sabbaths had occurred. On Pentecost Sunday night, we had to wait until 8:15 p.m. when Shavuot ended. While we were lined up outside waiting, officials kept us out longer just in case the first star hadn't come out signaling the beginning of the new day.

On Friday, a special celebration was planned in Manger Square in Bethlehem partly to show solidarity with Christians in the Palestinian area and to avoid the Jewish Sabbath. But there was so much local controversy over this that, hours before the event, local officials cancelled it. It was moved to the area during the late afternoon, a time that had been allotted to travel to Bethlehem. But we had to end by sundown!

The next day, a special baptism was held in the Jordan River was planned where a few Jordanian Christians were baptized on the Jordanian side as a sign of Christian unity. I missed this because I was interviewed on TBN about the Modern English Version.

Some people took Saturday and Sunday to view a few of the many significant sites in the Holy Land. Since I've been six times previously, I did no touring. But I used the time to drive to Tel Aviv to visit a messianic congregation called Adonai Roi (The Lord is my Shepherd) on Shabbat. What a blessing to see this thriving congregation. It's worth seeing the video clip of Senior Pastor Avi Mizrachi saying the Shema. The children also did a little dance for Shavuot, which I'd never seen.

The next day—Sunday—I attended Calvary Baptist Church in East Jerusalem pastored by an amazing young man named Steven Khoury whom I'd met on my last trip to Israel. Even though the name said Baptist, the service was fully charismatic. And the congregation of about 120 (huge in Israel) is solidly pro-Israel, unlike some Arab Christians. I was so impressed by what I saw, we will be writing about this congregation and their efforts to buy a much-needed building.

Another thing that impressed me was the new Friends of Zion Heritage Center founded by my longtime friend Mike Evans. It's a multimedia experience that tells how Christians were early supporters of Israel and how many like Corrie ten Boom risked their lives to save Jews during the holocaust. We'll write about this later as well.

I felt the goals articulated in the beginning were achieved:

  • To unite the global Spirit-filled community together intergenerationally for the purposes of seeking a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the 21st century
  • To focus the energy and resources of the Spirit-empowered global church on the harvest and the challenge before us
  • To provide a platform for addressing the crucial issues facing the 21st-century Spirit-empowered church
  • To discover contemporary methods, vocabulary, spiritual grace and relational favor for engaging every generation in Spirit-empowered living
  • To witness greater convergence and collaboration of Spirit-empowered ministries around the world

To witness greater convergence and collaboration of Spirit-empowered ministries around the world

I've been to many large Pentecostal gatherings over the years—probably an average of one a year for 40 years. This one had a good spirit. No big egos were evident. Powerful ministry took place.

Despite the doom and gloom we often hear, there seemed to be optimism about the work of the Holy Spirit around the world. If anything, the message seemed to be that, with the world we live in, we have no choice but to rely on the power of the Holy Spirit.

Steve Strang is the founding editor and publisher of Charisma. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook (stephenestrang).

Steve Strang Featured Opinion Thu, 28 May 2015 09:00:00 -0400
The Biggest Lie Employers Tell Employees

LinkedIn calls itself "the world's largest professional network," with more than 300 million members. Co-founder and executive chairman Reid Hoffman presumably knows something about vocational relationships. In his new book The Alliance, he identifies the biggest lie employers tell employees: "The employment relationship is like family." Some employers tell this lie, according to Hoffman, because they have deluded themselves into believing it. Others tell it because they want the employee to believe it. But Hoffman says it isn't true: "You don't fire your kid because of bad grades."

Here's where the body of Christ is different from any other organization: It truly is a family. We are all children of one Father, sisters and brothers of one family. The church is intended to be a community of grace, not grades. And our community is perhaps our strongest appeal to a culture driven by performance, evaluation and competition. 

However, we're not always the family our Father wants us to be.

I became a Christian in 1973 after a Baptist church in Houston, Texas, invited my brother and me to ride their bus to church services. Our church cooperated with other Baptist churches to do missions, youth camps and other programs. But I don't remember a single time when we worked on a ministry initiative with a non-Baptist church.

We Baptists weren't alone in our denominational exclusivity. Prior to Vatican Council II (1962-65), many Catholics believed that non-Catholics could not enter heaven. Many in the Church of Christ have believed that only those baptized into their church could be "saved."  Other traditions have their forms of doctrinal insistence.

By contrast, Jesus prayed for His followers across time "that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me" (John 17:21). Our Lord knew that divisions in his body would hinder our ministry and witness. When the world sees Christians fighting with each other, why would they want to join us? Jesus also knew that unity is a great enticement to the faith. When the world sees Christians working together, they are more likely to want the love and community they see in us. 

Clearly, there are doctrinal commitments that supersede denominational cooperation. Jesus' virgin birth, atoning death, physical resurrection and promised return are non-negotiable. But believers can differ on significant but less-essential issues—mode of baptism, method of church organization and eschatological positions, for instance—while cooperating to do evangelism and ministry together.

I have lived in Dallas, Texas for 17 years. In recent years I have seen pastors praying for and with each other on a level of intensity I've never witnessed before. I've seen millennials gathering for worship and ministry, and churches cooperating across ethnic and denominational divisions. Movement Day Greater Dallas is one example of a collaborative initiative in our city. There are many such examples of gospel movements in other cities across the land. Clearly, the Spirit is unifying the people of God to advance the kingdom of God for the glory of God.

"In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, and in all things charity." How is God calling you to answer Jesus' prayer for unity today?

Jim Denison, Ph.D., is founder of the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture, a non-sectarian "think tank" designed to engage contemporary issues with biblical truth. Join over 100,000 who read Dr. Denison's daily Cultural Commentary: For more information on the Denison Forum, visit To connect with Dr. Denison in social media, visit or

Jim Denison Featured Marketplace Thu, 28 May 2015 08:00:00 -0400
Angels Fascinate American Culture but Do New Agers Know These 5 Things?

Creatures with wings and harps, babies with a bow and arrow, and halo-singing children are some of the popular images of angels in our world today. Some images are accurate (as far as the Biblical record goes: some do have wings), and some images are downright strange. But the truth is, angels fascinate people.

According to author, Ron Rhodes, "angels have infiltrated the popular culture big time. Indeed, interest in angels is virtually soaring across the religious spectrum in North America—from mainline Christians to New Agers who seek comfort from these heavenly helpers in a troubled and often chaotic world."

Case in point: soccer legend and megastar, David Beckham, has a couple of large angel tattoos on his back and arm. And by last count, there are dozens of movies portraying angels: from the 1946 classic, It's A Wonderful Life, to the 2015 Fallen (highlighting a dark angel).

The cultural fascination with angels has a root in reality. The Bible is firm in its proclamation that the supernatural world, angels included, is real.

Angels are mentioned 196 times in the Bible. 103 references are found in the Old Testament, 93 from the New Testament. In all, angels are mentioned in 34 books of the Bible. The Hebrew word for angels is mal'ach; the Greek is angelos. Both words mean "messengers."

Here are a few other things to know about angels:

1) God created angels. Angels are part of God's created world. Though supernatural, angels are not like God; they are not all-knowing and all-powerful. In certain ways angels are more like human beings: They are created beings and have a free will. Angels can talk, fight and they worship God. The Bible even conveys some angel names: Michael and Gabriel, as an example. In time past, some angels rebelled against God—led by Lucifer (see Ezek. 28 and Is. 14)—demonstrating that angels have a will and choice.

2) Angels do not have a physical body like humans. Angels are of a different created order than humans. People do not become angels when they die. Angels are called "ministering spirits" in the Bible (Heb. 1:14), and usually cannot be seen by the human eye, existing on a supernatural, transdimensional level. Though, at times, God has allowed angels to enter in our time dimension for us to interact with them (see Luke 2). Jesus tells us that angels are not given in marriage (Luke 20:34), which may mean that they do not have family relations or the ability to procreate.

3) Angels have a job. The Bible teaches that angels have three main jobs. One, angels enact the will of God. They are messengers and ambassadors for God, doing what the Lord asks them to do. Two, they minister to Christians, the children of God (Ps. 91:11-12, Matt. 18:10; Heb. 1: 14). Three, angels worship and surround God in heaven (Rev. 4:8).

4) Types of angels. We do not know how many angels there are, but the Bible tells us that there are different types of angels. Besides those referred to simply as angels, there are Archangels such as Michael (Jude 9), there are Cherubim (Gen. 3:24, Ezek. 1:5-25 and 10), and finally there are Seraphim (Is. 6:2-3 and Rev. 4:6-8).

5) Arbitrators of Judgment. One last thing about angels is that they will be the ones to administer God's judgment at the end (see Rev. 15).

Though angels are fascinating and powerful, angels are not to be worshipped. Furthermore, we are not to seek out information or spiritual agendas from angels (Gal. 1:8), keeping our focus on Christ and what is taught in the Bible.

However, we can be thankful that God has created them, and that He uses them as ministers to us and for His glorious purposes.

I don't know about you, but I'm interested to know that God created beings other than life on earth. It is an interesting thought to think of what may be out there in the cosmos, supernatural or otherwise.

Angels are truly amazing creatures, showing the awesome nature of our Creator God.

Brian Nixon is a writer, musician, artist, minister and family man. To learn more: You can contact him at

Brian Nixon/Assist News Service Featured Opinion Thu, 28 May 2015 07:00:00 -0400
Don't Quench the Spirit in the Next Move of God

Last weekend, my wife and I helped lead a retreat for ministers in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. I knew most of the couples who were joining us, but I was surprised to learn that one of the attendees was Sally Fesperman, a leader (with her late husband, Jay) during the early days of the charismatic renewal of the 1960s and 1970s.

Sally is 88, but she is as bright-eyed and energetic as any 20-something I know. She loves to talk about her relationship with Jesus, and she shared many stories about the early days of renewal when thousands of Baptists, Methodists, Episcopalians and Presbyterians were discovering the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Sally brought back so many memories of the mid-1970s, when I was filled with the Spirit as a teenager.

While in the mountains God spoke to me from Isaiah 35 about another wave of the Holy Spirit that is coming soon. He told me, from verse 6: "Waters will break forth in the wilderness." I have never been more convinced that God is going to refresh us again with a sudden outpouring of His presence and power. I was so excited about this promise that I asked Sally on Friday morning to pray over us, and to prophetically pass the torch of renewal to the younger generation.

I wept when Sally prayed over us because I am desperate to see revival. However, by Saturday I was sobered by the responsibility of receiving this torch of renewal. That's because I know that when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the American church more than 40 years ago, we mishandled this precious gift.

I believe God will visit us again soon, but we must prepare now to avoid the mistakes of the past. Here are five ways we mishandled the outpouring of the Spirit in the last season:

1. We exploited it. The first attempt at quenching the Spirit's power in the New Testament church was made by Ananias and Sapphira, who were full of greed (see Acts 5:1-11). The same thing happened to the charismatic movement in the 1980s, when prosperity preachers with dollar signs in their eyes showed up to merchandise the Spirit's anointing. Swaggering evangelists in white suits and Rolexes began pushing people to the floor and convincing crowds to dig into their wallets to give in "miracle" offerings. And so began the slow but steady sell-out. We didn't realize the greed was driving us farther and farther from the Spirit's blessing.

2. We fabricated it. In the early days of renewal, charismatic leaders had a sense of holy awe when they prayed for people. They didn't want to do anything to grieve the Spirit. But somewhere along the way, some ministers realized they could fake the gifts of the Holy Spirit and still draw a crowd. Charlatans began hosting charismatic sideshows, complete with faked healings, spooky stage drama and mesmerizing manipulation. God's holy anointing was replaced by mood music and a quivering voice. Anybody with discernment could sense that the Spirit's sweet presence had exited the building.

3. We corrupted it. In the early charismatic days, I cut my spiritual teeth on meaty messages from firebrands such as Judson Cornwall, Leonard Ravenhill, Corrie Ten Boom, Keith Green, Derek Prince, Joy Dawson and Winkey Pratney. They preached regularly about the fear of God. Their messages demanded holiness. But if you fast-forward to today, you will find that much of the preaching in our movement has been reduced to drivel. It is sad that people can attend a "Spirit-filled" church today and never hear a sermon explaining that fornication is a sin. It is sadder that we have preachers in our pulpits who shamelessly flaunt sexual sin under the banner of a cheap grace message that will actually send people to hell.

4. We denominationalized it. When the Holy Spirit fell on certain groups in previous decades, their leaders assumed that the blessing of God was an indication that they were "special." Some denominations even taught that all other Christians would one day come under their group's banner—because they believed they had elite status. Sectarian pride might sound spiritual, but it is still pride. And don't ever think that nondenominational church networks are immune to this virus. There are trendy new groups today that claim to have a corner on truth. Their subtle message is, "We are better." Don't let this smug attitude quench the Holy Spirit.

5. We professionalized it. In the early days of charismatic renewal, there was a sense of childlike wonder as people discovered the power of the Spirit for the first time. The meetings were Christ-centered, the sermons were solidly biblical and the fellowship was deep. We could sing They Will Know We Are Christians by Our Love because we felt a deep bond with each other in the Holy Spirit.

But it didn't take long to replace the genuine sense of New Testament koinonia with something colder and less inviting. We began emphasizing titles. We discovered slick marketing techniques. Churches and their budgets grew. Then a funny thing happened on the way to the megachurch: We lost our simplicity. We turned church into a business. We stopped being relational and we became professional.

I'm not against growth, megachurches or marketing. The Holy Spirit can produce and direct all those things! But if we sacrifice the freshness and warmth of relationships on the altar of professional Christianity, we may discover the Holy Spirit has withdrawn from our ministries.

May the Lord help us to cultivate an atmosphere that attracts His presence rather than repels Him. May we be ready to receive the baton as a younger generation embraces the promise of another move of God. Come, Holy Spirit!

J. Lee Grady is the former editor of Charisma. You can follow him on Twitter at leegrady. He is the author of The Holy Spirit Is Not for Sale and other books. You can learn more about his ministry, The Mordecai Project, at

Pockets of true revival are breaking out across America. Want to know more about the next great move of God? Click here to see Jennifer LeClaire's new book, featuring Dutch Sheets, Reinhard Bonnke, Jonathan Cahn, Billy Graham and others.

J. Lee Grady Featured Opinion Thu, 28 May 2015 06:00:00 -0400
Jews and Christians: A Great Need for Healing and Repentance

The Lord has given me two ministry focuses. The first is this reconnection message between Jew and Gentile in His Church that I write and preach about across the country; to blow its shofar deep into the body of Messiah/Christ to help us spiritually reconnect as family during the days, and all that goes along with that message. And the second is through Messiah's House Messianic Center, which has a local parachurch focus in the Westchester, New York and Connecticut areas. (Please visit for our latest ministry brochure).

Messiah's House has been established specifically to serve the local church with Jewish ministry and better connection to Israel. In this ministry model, we do not act as a congregation, but rather as an arm to the local church to encourage Jewish evangelism; to help Christians better connect to Jewish people and to foster greater intercession for Israel and the Nations. There could be several Messiah's Houses all around the country, wherever there is a strong Jewish population working side by side of the local church.

More recently, one of the fastest growing churches in Connecticut, headed up by senior Pastor Glenn Harvison, opened its doors to the Messiah's House vision and ministry, giving us full use of their facilities to help promote the benefit of the One New Man vision and more effectively reach the Jewish population in the Connecticut and Westchester areas. The month before our first meeting they proudly hung the Israeli flag on their land, reinforcing their strong desire to connect with their Jewish roots and heritage. Harvest Time Church is undergoing is latest expansion into a 1,000-seat auditorium, which hopefully will be completed sometime in 2016.

When a church is located in areas of strong Jewish population, there is a whole lot more that can be done to help foster Jewish ministry and evangelism, as well as to obtain a deeper understanding between the two groups. This is one of Messiah's House main functions—to help bridge this gap working in tandem with the local church.

Of greater importance however, is the great need for healing and repentance to flow between Jews and Christians. In fact, I believe that before the Holy Spirit can have any real effect in this area, there is a great need for a spiritual reconnection to take place between Jew and Gentile, especially in this day as we come closer to the Lord's return. For the bride must be prepared and is not yet complete without Israel's spiritual awakening, thus calling His church into this fray.

Through Messiah's House, we celebrate the biblical feasts. We believe that these feasts are for all of God's children and celebrate them in the fullness of the New Covenant through Messiah/Christ. They are also a wonderful way for Christians to better relate to their Jewish friends and neighbors. And it was on one of these feasts last year during Tabernacles, otherwise known as Sukkot, that something wonderful happened at Harvest Time Church.


When Pastor Glenn and I met to discuss how we would actually celebrate this feast, instead of putting up a tent for food and fellowship, which would be the norm, we decided to take the feast into the Spirit and set up a tent over the altar so that people could come and celebrate the presence of the Lord—which, if you think about it, is exactly what Tabernacles is all about. Incidentally, this is also one of the feasts that all believers will celebrate in the Millennium (see Zech. 14:16), so why not celebrate it now? 

We held several meetings during that week, and I have to say that on each night God showed up with a different manifestation of His Spirit. It was simply marvelous, and the meetings were so full of the presence of the Lord. Pastor Glenn and I agreed that I would initiate the preaching and he would finish it when we celebrated Tabernacles through the regular different church services that weekend. But this weekend was no ordinary weekend, and the Lord led Pastor Glenn to preach on identificational repentance.

I want to encourage all readers of this article to watch and listen (click through to Church Breakthrough Identification Repentance) to Pastor Glenn Harvison's message from Harvest Time Church and forward it to your friends and church leaders. As something very strategic happened that weekend in the Spirit between Jew and Gentile that will affect the body of Messiah/Christ for its future in this area, and that can also affect your local church and community. That in light of the Church's ancestral position towards the Jewish people, the church as a whole is in great need of this kind of healing and spiritual reconciliation.

Pastor Glenn Harvison's Thoughts and Comments

As a young seminarian, I was always taught that the evangelization of the Gentile world was the last "piece of the puzzle" that had to be put in place before the return of Y'shua/Jesus. Through my friendship with Grant Berry, the Lord helped me to see that there is one more event in the sequence of human history: the evangelization of the Jewish people and the manifestation of the One New Man. Leading up to the Feast of Tabernacles, I felt impressed by the Holy Spirit to break the spiritual strongholds that have held our church back from our call to share the gospel with the Jewish people. As I began to write a prayer of identificational repentance, the Holy Spirit began to flood my mind with so many attitudes, words and actions that have prevented us from loving and reaching out to the Jewish people. As our congregation participated in the prayer, there was a powerful shift in the atmosphere. Jewish and Gentile believers in Y'shua/Jesus wept and embraced one another. Since that week, God has continued to add Jewish believers to our congregation.

We Must Break Off The Past In Order To Find Our Future

I believe during these end days, that it is necessary for us in the Church to break of any negative past spiritual influences, in order for us to find our future destiny in the kingdom of God, which is so characteristically made up of Jew and Gentile. As we enter the time of the fullness of the Gentiles, so it says, all Israel will be saved (Rom. 11:25-26), that there are some adjustments for us to contemplate regarding Israel and their spiritual awakening in the church.

During these days there is an amazing role for us yet to play out that perhaps we have not seen too clearly up until this time, which is to help breathe spiritual life back into Israel. Yet before that can happen all past influences, ignorance's and mistakes need to get broken off of us, so we can truly find our destiny in God's glory plan to awaken Israel in the last days, and finally unite His family. For did He not tell us that the first would be last? And did Jesus not say that you will not see me again until you (Israel—paraphrased) say, "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord?" (Matt. 23:29).

I believe that Israel's spiritual awakening and our connection to it, is also linked to the last great outpouring of the Holy Spirit that will ultimately usher in the Lord's return. And why I am always emphasizing the significance of this transaction between us in the church, known as "The Reconnection," as it is hugely significant to the advancement of the Kingdom of God upon the earth and why the enemy puts out such resistance to it, because it begins to unlock the door to his demise. Yeshua/Jesus cries out for this unity in His body between the two groups, so ultimately His family will be united (John 17).

Below is the prayer that Pastor Glenn Harvison wrote for himself and the church that he pastors. As he read it to me, all I could do was weep. My response and prayers of forgiveness on behalf of the Jewish people to the church are on the video.

My Personal Act of Identification Repentance

Grant, in the presence of God, I would like to address you as a representative of the Jewish people, and as a representative of Jewish believers in Y'shua.

I speak, today, representing myself, representing my present family and representing the past generations of my family.

In the presence of God, I want to confess my sins, and the sins of my family, in the area of racism and especially anti-Semitism.

I ask God for His forgiveness, and I humbly ask for your forgiveness, on behalf of the Jewish people, for any and every anti-Semitic prejudice, thought, word, gesture and deed on my part, and on part of the members of my family, present and past.

I ask God for His forgiveness, and I humbly ask you for your forgiveness, on behalf of the Jewish people, for any and every failure to show the love and dignity due to the Jewish people as fellow human beings, and, especially, as God's beloved covenant people.

I ask God for His forgiveness, and I humbly ask you for your forgiveness, on behalf of the Jewish people, for any and every expression of cursing, when God has commanded blessing.

In the presence of God, I would also like to speak as the Pastor of Harvest Time Church, as an Assemblies of God minister, and a leader in the Church of Jesus Christ, speaking to you as a leader in the Messianic Jewish community.

I ask God for His forgiveness, and I humbly ask you for your forgiveness, on behalf of the Messianic Jewish community, for any and every failure to love the Jewish people and Jewish believers, as God has commanded.

I ask God for His forgiveness, and I humbly ask you for forgiveness, on behalf of the Jewish people, for willful ignorance of the New Testament Scriptures concerning God's plan for the salvation of the Jewish people.

I ask God for His forgiveness, and I humbly ask you for forgiveness, on behalf of the Jewish people, for partnership with replacement theology, and every other discriminatory doctrinal error

Going back in history, I ask God for His forgiveness, and I humbly ask you for your forgiveness for the church remaining silent while millions of Jewish people were exterminated in Europe, and for the teaching from pulpits that this was their just recompense.

I ask God for His forgiveness, and I humbly ask you for your forgiveness for a lack of evangelistic zeal for the Jewish people, and for failure to cultivate a dynamic ministry atmosphere of the Spirit that provokes Jewish people to jealousy, and then to reach out for Y'shua.

Grant, I ask you these things, in the Name of Y'shua Ha'Mashiach, Jesus Messiah, Jesus Christ.

Congregational Act of Identificational Repentance

Now, to everyone who is not a Jew by birth.  I would like to ask if you would stand with me this morning, and join me in a prayer of identificational repentance:

Father God, we stand in your presence today representing ourselves; representing our present families; representing our past generations and representing the Gentile church.

Father, we confess our sins of racism and especially anti-Semitism.

Father, we ask your forgiveness for any and every anti-Semitic prejudice thought, word, gesture and deed.

Father, we ask your forgiveness; for perpetuating derogatory stereotypes, jokes and anecdotes.

Father, we ask your forgiveness for any and every failure to show love and dignity.

Father, we ask your forgiveness for cursing and not blessing your people Israel.

Father, as wild branches grafted into Christ, we repent of boasting against the Jewish branches.

Father, we repent of every doctrinal error that has caused us to neglect our duty to the Jewish people and to Jewish believers in Jesus.

Today, Father, we renounce all partnership with racism and with anti-Semitism. In the Name of Jesus.

Cleanse our sin through the blood of Jesus. Pour Your love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.

In the Name of Jesus, we break every demonic stronghold of anti-Semitism off ourselves, off our children, off our family line and off our church.

In the Name of Jesus, we declare that we are free to love the Jewish people;  we are free to understand the Scriptures; we are free to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit; we are free to provoke the Jewish people to jealousy and to lead them to faith in Yeshua Ha'Maschiach.

Father, we pray these things in the mighty name of Jesus/Yeshua. Amen!

Please feel free to use this prayer in your church and for further information on breaking off all past influences please read chapter 6 of my book, The Ezekiel Generation—The Fathers Heart.

Grant Berry is a Jewish believer in Jesus and author of The New Covenant Prophecy and The Ezekiel Generation. He has founded Reconnecting Ministries with the specific focus to help the church reconnect spiritually to Israel and considers it vital to the kingdom of God in the last days.

Grant Berry/Reconnecting Ministries Featured Standing With Israel Opinion Thu, 28 May 2015 06:00:00 -0400
Do Wealthy Americans Pay Their Fair Share of Taxes?

A new Associated Press-GfK poll finds that 68 percent of Americans think the wealthy don't pay enough federal taxes in America. At the same time, the poll reveals that six of 10 respondents believe the middle class pays too much.

This poll result has caused many media mavens to conclude that the voters support President Barack Obama's policies to raise investment taxes on the super-rich and spread the wealth around to people lower down on the economic ladder.  

It's no great surprise that middle class voters are feeling overtaxed. This has been a dreadfully slow recovery and millions in the middle class are treading water at best.

Over the past five years (ending this past November) median household income inched up just 0.14 percent (or $75 yearly for the median family), so the idea of taxing someone else's paycheck sounds mighty appealing.

But the idea that the rich aren't paying any taxes is based on misinformation fed to voters. They have been told over and over by politicians and the media that the wealthiest among us—Warren Buffett, Mark Zuckerberg, Tom Brady, and Taylor Swift—are paying very little income tax compared to the rest of us.

We are told by no less than Barack Obama that these millionaires and billionaires have all the money, but they don't bear much, if any, of the burden to pay for the schools, and the roads, and the police, and the welfare benefits, and the rest of the tasks of government.

So time for a reality test. Mr. Obama wants to raise the income tax payments from the top 1 percent to level the playing field and enhance tax "fairness." 

The top one percent earned 19 percent of the total income and paid 35 percent of the federal income tax. So one of 100 shouldered 35 percent of the entire burden. And the average of the five most recently reported years (2007-2011) is closer to 40 percent.

Several years ago Al Sharpton, now of MSNBC, said the "top 1 percent in this country pays very much less than 10 percent" of the income tax. Most Americans no doubt believe the same thing.

The top 10 percent pay two-thirds of the income tax. And the bottom 50 percent -- all Americans with an income below the median - pay just 3 percent of the income tax.

The federal income tax, according to a recent study by the Tax Foundation, is one of the most progressive tax systems in the world. Scott Hodge, president of Tax Foundation, says: "Almost no other industrialized nation depends on the rich to pay the bills more than the United States."

What about the super duper rich? The multimillionaires and billionaires. Warren Buffett famously says he pays a smaller share of his income in tax than his secretary. But when properly accounting for the taxes paid and income earned, the top 0.1. percent paid 16 percent of the income tax.

So the top 0.1 percent paid an aggregate amount more than five times that of half the population. That isn't enough?

President Obama wants to raise the capital gains and dividend taxes to 28 percent - almost twice what they were when he entered office. He wants an effective inheritance tax rate of over 50 percent.  It's a Robin Hood strategy.

But raising tax rates on the rich is a proven failed policy to increase the share of taxes paid by the wealthy. History proves that CUTTING tax rates is a better way to get money out of the rich than raising them.

In 1980 when the highest income tax rate was 70 percent, the richest 1 percent paid roughly 19 percent of the income tax. In 2007 when the top tax rate was 35 percent, the tax share of the richest 1 percent was more than twice that amount.

How did that happen? Raising tax rates on the rich takes money right out from under small- and medium-sized business owners and hurts the economy. It takes dollars from employers which leaves less left over for hiring more workers. 

The best way to soak the rich is through low tax rates on work and investment, which creates a prosperous economy with rising incomes for everyone.

You don't have to believe me. Listen to John F. Kennedy who said in 1962 at the New York Economics Club that "it is a paradoxical truth that tax rates are too high today and tax revenues are too low and the soundest way to raise the revenues in the long run is to cut the rates now." Amen.

Stephen Moore is an economist with the Heritage Foundation and a Fox News contributor.

Stephen Moore/CBN Featured Marketplace Wed, 27 May 2015 17:00:00 -0400
Boko Haram Using Children as Suicide Bombers

The United Nations says the terror group Boko Haram is increasingly using children as suicide bombers.

In northeastern Nigeria, 27 suicide bombers have already carried out attacks this year, compared to 26 attacks for all of 2014.

UNICEF reports that Boko Haram abducts women and children weekly. It estimates that 743,000 children have been uprooted by the nearly 6-year-old Islamic uprising.

UNICEF says women and children carry out three-quarters of all reported Boko Haram suicide bombings.

"Children are not instigating these suicide attacks; they are used intentionally by adults in the most horrific way. They are first and foremost victims, not perpetrators," Jean Gough, UNICEF representative in Nigeria, said.

The U.N. report comes in the wake of weekend attacks by Boko Haram. On Sunday, 37 people in Borno state lost their lives. Boko Haram also razed 400 buildings, including mosques, and torched vehicles and motorcycles.

CBN News Featured World News Wed, 27 May 2015 16:00:00 -0400
Appeals Court Strikes Down 12-Week Abortion Ban

A U.S. appeals court on Wednesday struck down an Arkansas law that banned abortion at 12 weeks of pregnancy, upholding a lower court's decision last year that had blocked the law.

The Arkansas law violates a woman's right to terminate a pregnancy at a point before the viability of the fetus, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit said.

Two doctors challenged the Arkansas law, which had granted exceptions to protect the life of the mother and for pregnancy resulting from rape or incest.

"By banning abortions after 12 weeks' gestation, the act prohibits women from making the ultimate decision to terminate a pregnancy at a point before viability," the appeals court said.

The judges said the appeals court was bound by a 1992 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that upheld the right to choose an abortion before viability and that Arkansas made no attempt to refute assertions the doctors' lawyers made.

The court said medical and technological advances make the application of the 1992 viability standard more difficult.

"This case underscores the importance of the parties, particularly the state, developing the record in a meaningful way so as to present a real opportunity for the court to examine viability, case by case, as viability steadily moves back towards conception," the court said.

The Arkansas abortion case was heard by an appeals court panel in January at the same time as a North Dakota appeal of a federal court decision that blocked a state law that banned most abortions after a fetal heartbeat could be detected.

© 2015 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved. 

Reuters Featured U.S. News Wed, 27 May 2015 15:30:00 -0400
Realty TV Star Bristol Palin Shares Pain of Canceling Wedding

Bristol Palin, a reality television personality and the daughter of former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, has spoken out for the first time since her wedding was called off this month, saying it is a "painful" time for her and her family.

Palin, 24, had announced on her blog in March that she was engaged to Dakota Meyer, 26, a Medal of Honor recipient who saved 36 Marine comrades from an ambush in Afghanistan.

The wedding date had been set for May 23 but last week, Sarah Palin said in a message on her Facebook page that the wedding would not take place on that date. Bristol Palin took to her blog on Tuesday to "address the elephant-in-the-room."

"This is a painful time for family and friends and I would just really appreciate your prayers," she wrote in post titled "The Wedding That Didn't Happen."

Palin, who has a son, Tripp, 6, from a previous relationship, did not directly address whether she might wed Meyer in the future but said her life was moving forward with her family in Alaska.

"I know God's plan is greater than anything else, and Tripp and I are in Alaska beginning to rebuild our lives under much different circumstances than we anticipated," she said.

Bristol Palin said she met Meyer in 2014 when he came to Alaska to film the reality television show "Amazing America" with her mother, who was the 2008 presidential running mate of Republican presidential nominee John McCain.

Bristol Palin appeared in the ABC television competition "Dancing with the Stars" in 2010 and 2012.

Meyer was awarded the Medal of Honor, the highest U.S. award for bravery, in 2011 for saving 36 of his comrades' lives during an ambush in Afghanistan in 2009.

© 2015 Thompson Reuters. All rights reserved. 

Victoria Cavaliere/Reuters Featured U.S. News Wed, 27 May 2015 15:00:00 -0400
Lawmakers Reject Bill to Allow Rape Victims Abortions

Peruvian rape victims who have become pregnant have no legal option but to keep an unwanted pregnancy after Congress voted against a bill to legalize abortion in such cases, an issue that has divided ordinary Peruvians.

The vote, late on Tuesday, meant the Latin American nation kept in place a stringent law that permits abortion only if the mother's life or health is at risk. 

"It has been decided to shelve this bill, which was proposed by civil society groups that aimed to decriminalize abortion, based on criteria proposed by the Congress committee that the basis of the right to life is from the moment of conception," said conservative congressman Juan Carlos Eguren.

Congressman Julio Rosas said the decision was taken to "safeguard the health of a mother and the greater interests of the unborn child."

Peruvian women's rights groups had collected 64,200 signatures in favor of the bill in the past year to support their campaign to get it debated in Congress.

Before the vote, campaigners for and against the bill held demonstrations outside the Congress building in the capital Lima, pro-choice activists standing topless with the message 'Let me decide' painted across their waists.

A recent opinion poll published in El Comercio newspaper found Peruvians were divided over the abortion issue, with 52 percent of people questioned in Lima saying they were in favor of allowing abortion in the case of rape.

Rights groups say the plight of pregnant rape victims is made worse by a law that bans public health services from providing emergency contraception—which is however available from private healthcare providers for those who can afford it.

The Church's enduring influence on society, and public condemnation of abortion, are factors behind the strict abortion laws in Peru and across predominantly Catholic Latin America, where six countries have a total ban on abortion.

The Catholic Church and conservative lawmakers argue that abortion infringes on the rights of an unborn child, which should be protected by law at all costs.

Women unable to obtain a legal abortion often risk their lives undergoing a dangerous backstreet abortion.

The World Health Organization has said botched abortions are a leading cause of maternal death worldwide, accounting for 12 percent of all maternal deaths in Latin America and the Caribbean, based on 2008 figures.

The impact of stringent abortion laws on girls in Latin America recently came to the fore when Paraguay denied a pregnant 10-year-old girl an abortion after she was alleged to have been raped by her stepfather, sparking international debate.

© 2015 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved. 

Anastasia Moloney/Reuters Featured World News Wed, 27 May 2015 14:45:00 -0400
After Josh Duggar Scandal, Advertisers Bailing Out of '19 Kids and Counting'

Four advertisers pulled out of TLC's reality show "19 Kids and Counting," putting pressure on the U.S. cable network to decide the fate of the top-rated program about a Christian family after reports that the eldest son had molested underage girls.

Retailers Walgreen Co and Payless Shoesource Inc, and hotel chain group Choice Hotels International Inc on Tuesday followed the lead of General Mills Inc in removing their ads from the program.

TLC, which is owned by Discovery Communications, had pulled episodes of the show last week and said Tuesday it had no comment on whether it would cancel the show.

Some of the advertisers took to Twitter to address consumer complaints.

"We share your concerns and we have decided to remove our advertising from the show," said Choice Hotels, which runs Comfort Inn and Econo Lodge chains, among others.

The network pulled all episodes after In Touch magazine last week published information that Josh Duggar, now 27, had molested several female minors when he was a teen.

Duggar issued an apology on Thursday acknowledging "wrongdoing" 12 years ago and quit his job at the Family Research Council, a Christian lobbying group. But he did not directly address the allegations.

The controversy over the Duggars, an Arkansas family of devout Christians, has spilled into the political realm as conservatives rallied to the family's side.

Parents Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar have become popular among conservatives for embodying an honest family struggling to raise 19 kids with wholesome values.

Former Arkansas governor and U.S. presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee came out in support of the family on Friday, while several petitions circulated asking TLC to cancel the program.

The show has been on the air since 2008 and finished its most recent season in May. It is not in production and it is unclear when a new season was scheduled to begin filming.

The most recent season averaged 3.5 million viewers per episode, down from 3.9 million the previous season, according to figures from Nielsen.

With such a devoted following, TLC may take its time to decide the program's fate, said Jeff McCall, a media studies professor at DePauw University in Indiana.

"Right now there may be a lot of outrage, a lot of concern," said McCall. "On the other hand, the American audience is pretty forgiving."

TLC could take weeks or months working with advertisers behind the scenes to find a palatable future for the program, he said.

© 2015 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved. 

Daina Beth Solomon and Mary Milliken/Reuters Featured U.S. News Wed, 27 May 2015 14:00:00 -0400
The Radical Atheist Assault on Christians in the Military Must Be Stopped

If there was ever a misnamed organization, it would have to be the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF). Masquerading as a religious rights organization, the MRFF's real purpose appears to be silencing those whose religious beliefs it opposes—especially if they are Evangelical Christians.

Just last week, for example, MRFF Founder "Mikey" Weinstein called for the Air Force Chief of Staff to court martial Major General Craig Olson, USAF. Mr. Weinstein's allegations were so outlandishly wrong that we were compelled to write a letter to the Air Force Chief of Staff to set the record straight.

General Olson's alleged misconduct? Sharing publicly that he was a Christian believer who valued prayer and giving God the credit for his successes as an Air Force officer. Mr. Weinstein claimed that, by doing so, General Olson had violated his oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. In fact, Mr. Weinstein insisted that General Olson be court martialed and, in his words, "aggressively and visibly brought to justice for his unforgivable crimes and transgressions." Hogwash!

Mr. Weinstein needs to reread the Constitution.

The First Amendment guarantees both the right to free exercise of religion as well as the right to free speech. In fact, the Supreme Court has noted that religious speech is specially protected [see Capitol Square Review & Advisory Bd. v. Pinette, 515 U.S. 753, 766-67 (1995)]—noting that "private religious expression receives preferential treatment under the Free Exercise Clause" (emphasis added).

General Olson's remarks spoke of his personal faith. He was speaking as a private individual, not as a commander to subordinates. There was no captive audience. No one was required to listen to what he had to say. No coercion was involved. Yet, in his fertile imagination, Mr. Weinstein conjured up a Constitutional crisis of such proportion that he claimed it was imperative to court martial the General for having the temerity to express in public personal religious sentiments that might offend someone—and did offend Mr. Weinstein. He also claimed that General Olson's comments could be used by Muslim jihadis against the United States.

Mr. Weinstein's solution? Apparently, it is better to stifle free speech at home than to risk that some Islamic jihadi overseas might use someone's personal views to argue that all Americans are modern-day Crusaders who wish to elevate Christianity over Islam.

Mr. Weinstein's cure—denying persons like General Olson their First Amendment rights—is worse than the putative disease—that some random radical Muslim might mischaracterize the person's comments for the jihadis' own purposes. The exercise of our Constitutional rights cannot depend on the sensitivities of the most hypersensitive among us—nor on the fact that our enemies might theoretically use a person's comments to further their propaganda. Constitutional rights must depend on reasonable men and women who understand that, in a free society like ours, we are likely to hear sentiments—both religious and non-religious—that may offend us. Our Constitution protects the right of others to say things we find offensive. That is the hallmark of a free society.

Mr. Weinstein and his organization seek instead to stifle speech they find offensive. In our society, that is their right. Yet, as Americans, we don't have to yield to the demands of the religiously hypersensitive like Mr. Weinstein and his supporters. We can stand up and be counted.

The ACLJ has engaged Mr. Weinstein and the MRFF frequently in the past—when they attacked a chaplain in Alaska for writing an article whose content they did not like, when they attacked the West Point Superintendent because of six questions tangentially referring to a cadet's views on religion in a confidential survey, and when they attacked the Air Force Academy Superintendent for allowing former Muslim terrorists to address the cadets at the Air Force Academy, to name but a few. We stood up for the rights of those attacked in each of those instances. We stand ready to do it again and again. Now is the time for all of us to do so for General Olson!

Robert W. "Skip" Ash is a Senior Counsel at the ACLJ and at the ECLJ. Ash heads the ACLJ's national security practice.

Skip Ash/ACLJ Featured Opinion Wed, 27 May 2015 13:00:00 -0400
Rick Santorum to Enter White House Race

Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, a staunch conservative whose 2012 White House bid fell short, will announce on Wednesday his plan to make another run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, according to ABC News.

Santorum, a senator from 1995 to 2007, will make the announcement later on Wednesday at an event near his childhood home in Cabot, Pennsylvania, ABC News reported. The network said it has a planned interview with the candidate.

A representative for Santorum could not be reached immediately to comment on the report. 

In the 2012 Republican nomination race, Santorum finished behind eventual nominee Mitt Romney. He had strong support from voters who were drawn to his unwavering social and religious conservatism and wary of the more business-oriented Romney. 

Santorum won Iowa's kickoff contest and a string of later primaries in 2012, outlasting other White House hopefuls before falling to Romney in the Republican nominating race.

His support has languished in the low single digits in most polls ahead of the 2016 race and he faces a stronger and potentially larger field of Republican hopefuls this time around, including former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and U.S. senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz.

© 2015 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved. 

Emily Stephenson and Susan Heavey/Reuters Featured Politics Wed, 27 May 2015 12:30:00 -0400
A&E, TLC Shows Accuse Moses of Making Up Genesis Stories

Did Moses steal Noah's Ark? Did the first Charlton Heston (The Ten Commandments) rent some semi-trucks, dismantle the Ark and hide the parts in an airplane hangar somewhere?

Well no, but I'm surprised the scenario didn't end up in Russell Crowe's "NOAH," everything but the biblical story did (love those exploding rock monsters). I'm referring to the media myth that Moses borrowed or premeditatedly stole ancient Mesopotamian stories (Gilgamesh Epic, 2600 BCE) to write Noah's Ark/Genesis—a common, veiled claim about many Bible events over the last three decades on television Bible documentaries.

"In the case of Noah and the flood, it's very clear that it (was) borrowed from an older version ... "—Daniel Smith-Christopher (Noah and the Flood, A&E).

"If you read the stories, the passages in Gilgamesh and you didn't tell people where they come from, you'd say this is from the Bible. It sounds almost the same." —Bruce Zukerman, University of Southern California (Mysteries of Noah's Flood, The Learning Channel).

Are there similarities between Noah's Ark and the Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh? Yes there are (11) but the overall proposition is that Genesis is rooted in pagan myth. Is this true? The following are examples of the differences between the Bible and Gilgamesh rarely mentioned on television.

  • Gilgamesh is polytheistic (many gods).
  • The Ark was launched.
  • It had a ship's captain and sailor.
  • Twenty lines missing on the artifact (unrecoverable).
  • 6-7 days was the flood length.
  • There was a battle and gods fled in fear.
  • Ark craftsmen onboard.
  • The Noah figure (Utnapishtim) and his wife became like gods.

"If television documentary creators revealed these facts it would obliterate their 'controversy for ratings' goal/premeditated attempt to discredit the Bible's foundation—if you can't trust the foundation (Genesis) the house (Exodus–Revelation) will fall. Do I sound like a conspiracy nut? It's one thing to have a documentary or two insinuate this false belief quite another when theatrical/television films in the 1970s and 1980s propose this and for the next three decades documentaries do the same," stated Rick Dack of Defending the Bible Int'l.

Historian Dr. Kenneth Kitchen stated, "It's fair to say that the Mesopotamians had a flood tradition in common, which existed and was transmitted in several versions. Therefore it is out of place to talk of borrowing the Hebrew from the Babylonians (or Sumerian) or vice versa (Bible and Spade Magazine)."

What do you think? Did Moses steal Noah's Ark?

Rick Dack/Christian Newswire Featured Opinion Wed, 27 May 2015 12:00:00 -0400
Muhammad Cartoon Contest Organizer Pamela Geller Takes Campaign Nationwide

The foundation of a free society is based on free speech, something on which political activist and commentator Pamela Geller is forming a campaign. 

Geller hit national headlines recently during her Muhammad Art Exhibit and Cartoon Contest in Texas, which drew literal shots fired from Islamic State agents on United States soil. 

Now, she's supporting the launch of the American Freedom Defense Initiative ad campaign on public transportation in the District of Colombia.  

"Drawing Muhammad is not illegal under American law, but only under Islamic law," Geller says. "Violence that arises over the cartoons is solely the responsibility of the Islamic jihadists who perpetrate it. Either America will stand now against attempts to suppress the freedom of speech by violence, or will submit and give the violent the signal that we can be silenced by threats and murder. ... We cannot submit to the assassin's veto."

The goal of the campaign is for Americans to see what the "cowardly" press is covering up because they're afraid of offending Islam. 

AFDI Vice President Robert Spencer, though, says radical Islamists are already provoked, and the better decision would be for Americans to demonstrate consequences for Islamist actions rather than submitting to fear of offense. 

Jessilyn Justice Featured U.S. News Wed, 27 May 2015 10:30:00 -0400
WATCH: Why the Church in America May Go Underground Very Soon

TruNew's Rick Wiles thinks he knows the future of the church—and it doesn't bode well for true believers. 

 "There will be a harlot church," Wiles says, "But the real church will be underground."

Why? Watch the video to see.

Jessilyn Justice Featured Opinion Wed, 27 May 2015 11:30:00 -0400
Irish Gay Marriage Vote Is a 'Defeat for Humanity,' Says Vatican Official

The Irish vote to allow same-sex marriage was a "defeat for humanity," a senior Vatican official has said in the first high-level reaction from the Holy See to last week's landmark referendum.

"Not a defeat for Christian principles, it was a defeat for humanity," Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said in comments quoted by Vatican Radio late on Tuesday. "I was very saddened by this result."

Parolin, Pope Francis' most senior Vatican official, added that the referendum result showed the Church needed to improve the ways it preached the Christian message.

"The Church must take account of this reality, but in the sense of reinforcing its commitment to evangelization," he said.

The comments by the Italian-born cardinal, a veteran Vatican diplomat, underlined the shock created by the landslide vote in traditionally Catholic Ireland to allow homosexuals to marry.

After the vote, Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin told Ireland's RTE radio that "the Church needs to do a reality check."

Pope Francis has struck a more sympathetic tone towards homosexuals than many conservative Catholics, famously commenting soon after taking office: "If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge him?".

But the Argentine-born pontiff has shown no sign of easing his firm disapproval of gay marriage or shifting Church doctrine that homosexual acts are intrinsically sinful even if homosexuality itself is not.

In Italy, the government of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi is preparing to present legislation that would allow civil unions between gay couples although there are no plans to allow full marriage.

The Irish referendum has boosted calls in Germany, which allow same-sex civil unions, to go further and legalize gay marriage. Pressure has started to grow in Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU), which opposes any change.

"One would think that what the Catholic Irish can do, we can do too," CDU parliamentarian Jens Spahn, a member of the party's presidium, told the daily Die Welt.

© 2015 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved. 

James Mackenzie/Reuters Featured World News Wed, 27 May 2015 11:00:00 -0400
Yes, Transgender Really Is the New Black in Hollywood

For all the talk about the "Year of the Bible" and blockbuster Bible-themed films like NoahExodus: God and Kings and God's Not Dead, it appears there's another force working in Hollywood and it's anything but biblical.

Yes, it appears—as an article in Variety magazine suggested earlier this month—that transgender is the proverbial "new black" in Hollywood. The Variety article was based largely on Laverne Cox, who writer Ramin Setoodeh described as the "first breakthrough transgender star in Hollywood."

"In June, Cox will slip back into the unglamorous outfit that opened these doors—the drab beige prison uniform from Netflix's Orange Is the New Black, which enters its third season," Setoodeh writes. "It's one of the many priorities on the 30-year-old actress' packed schedule. She just wrapped a CBS pilot called 'Doubt,' in which she plays a defense attorney dressed in Hillary Clinton-like power suits; landed a Daytime Emmy for producing the MTV doc Lavern Cox Presents: The T Word; and travels to college campuses to deliver lectures as an LGBT activist."

The Tipping Point of Perversion

About this time last year, TIME magazine put Cox on its cover. I proclaimed at that point that this was the tipping point of perversion. Sadly, it looks like I was right. Just four months later, Amazon came out with an original series called Transparent in which "an LA family with serious boundary issues have their past and future unravel when a dramatic admission causes everyone's secrets to spill out."

The mainstream media tested the waters, it seems, and discovered the temperature was just right to push a little further up the mainstream. In April, Bruce Jenner wowed 17 million viewers in a two-hour interview with Diane Sawyer on ABC. He offered intimate details of his journey from a male Olympic athlete to a woman. 

The floodgates are now officially open. The Variety article points to Magnolia Pictures July release of Tangerine, a film that follows two transgender prostitutes on a Los Angeles Christmas Eve. In November, we'll see The Danish Girl, starring Academy Award-winning actor Eddie Redmayne as a transgender painter.

That's not the half of it. ABC Family will soon broadcast Becoming Us, about a teen who works through his father's transition from male to female. Jenner is producing his own E! docuseries that will debut on July 26. Oh, and the Wachowski siblings, one of whom was the first Hollywood director to come out as transgender, will premier a new Netflix original program called Sense8.

On top of all that, TLC is rolling out All that Jazz, which focuses on a 14-year-old named Jazz Jennings who decided he was a girl at a young age. His parents let him live as a girl and give him hormone treatments from age 11. There's more but we'll stop there.

Battling the Prince of the Power of the Air

Satan is the prince of the power of the air (see Eph. 2:2). We've long seen all manner of perversion coming out of Hollywood, including the glamorization of adultery, fornication, idolatry, thievery, greed, drugs and more. Clearly, though, this devilish prince is strategically pushing perversion to new heights in the name of equality.

I don't doubt there is a captive audience who will celebrate these films and television shows and others like them because it makes them feel accepted in a world that largely shuns them. We should not shun transgendered people or anyone else. We should show all people the love of Christ while rejecting the sin. People are not our enemy—there is no question that we're not wrestling against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world and against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places (see Eph. 6:12). In this case, we're wrestling for souls and we cannot compromise the truth to make someone feel good.

We need to remember this as the battle intensifies: Our war is not against transgender people. We love all people. Our war is against a demonic agenda to call evil good and good evil (see Is. 5:20). This agenda is seducing people into a lifestyle of perversion that ultimately separates them from God. This agenda is working to mainstreaming a way of life that leaves people in bondage. And, ultimately, this agenda is demonizing anyone who won't embrace this new "civil rights" issue.

The Agenda Goes Beyond Hollywood

Mind you, this is not just an issue in Hollywood—the agenda is creeping into other aspects of society. The Girl Scouts are now allowing boys who identify as girls to join their ranks. Franklin Graham is calling out schools for teaching lies about transgenderism, as new class curriculum will teach gender fluidity as normative. One school district said the federal government forced it to allow transgender kids to use any bathroom and President Obama opened the first gender-neutral bathrooms at the White House.

There's no hiding from this issue. The question is whether or not you will speak the truth in love or call evil good. Do you really care about people—all people—or is it easier for you to go with the flow on this one?

What would Jesus say to a transgender? Jesus would have compassion, but He would not embrace the false identity. Jesus would tell the transgendered man or woman that they are created in God's image (see Gen. 1:26-28); that they need a savior just like every other person on this planet who is hurt and broken; that He can deliver them out of a lifestyle that separates them from Him—that He will help them every step of the way. Jesus loves transgenders and we should too, but love means sharing the truth with compassion. It's a life and death matter.

Jennifer LeClaire is senior editor of Charisma. She is also director of Awakening House of Prayer in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and author of several books, including The Next Great Move of God: An Appeal to Heaven for Spiritual AwakeningMornings With the Holy Spirit, Listening Daily to the Still, Small Voice of God; The Making of a Prophet and Satan's Deadly Trio: Defeating the Deceptions of Jezebel, Religion and Witchcraft. You can visit her website here. You can also join Jennifer on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.

Jennifer LeClaire Featured Watchman on the Wall Opinion Wed, 27 May 2015 10:00:00 -0400
You Need to Know What Really Happened in Ireland

I almost never do this, but I felt it was very important to share a letter with you so that the whole world could understand what really happened in Ireland as this predominantly Catholic nation voted decisively to redefine marriage.

After the vote, I posted this on Facebook:

"What can we learn from the vote to redefine marriage in Ireland, a traditionally Catholic country?

"1) Traditional 'Christian' religion cannot stop the juggernaut of gay activism. Only a living, vibrant faith will have the energy and commitment and depth to stand firm.

"2) Sex-scandals in the Catholic Church in the 1990s robbed the Church of its moral authority. How can the Church speak to the society about sexual morality when it has largely disqualified itself? Scandals like this take a long time to get over, and here in America, we have been plagued by evangelical scandals as well, involving some of our well-known leaders. To the extent we are deemed hypocritical, to that extent we lack moral authority.

"3) Ireland was not ready for the massive influx of gay activist funding from America. Sadly, from President Obama down, America has been an aggressive force for normalizing homosexuality, and without American funding and vision, it is doubtful that Ireland would have voted so strongly for such radical change.

"What happened in Ireland should be a wake-up call for the church worldwide."

In response to my post, a woman who supports our ministry and lives in Ireland wrote to me, concerned that I was implying that believers in Ireland "hadn't done enough to get the gospel out." (Actually, the reverse was true: I wanted people to understand the opposition they faced.)

She continued: "Let me tell you more about what really happened here ... ."

What she wrote is so important, giving detailed support to what I had read elsewhere, that I wanted to shout it from the rooftops for everyone to hear. There was extraordinary pressure brought against those who stood for marriage in Ireland, and the vote hardly reflects an unbiased enlightenment.

She wrote: "I am an Irish citizen who voted and campaigned for a NO vote. For anyone who thinks we were negligent concerning the gospel or in any other way, let me tell you some of what we were up against...

"This news is devastating to the nearly 37.9 percent of us who voted NO, many of us born-again Christians. We tried so hard to prevent it, but were up against every political party and up against millions of U.S. dollars that were being poured into the yes campaign. American billionaire Chuck Feeney alone contributed over $24 million. Every 'civil rights' group on the block was behind the yes vote. When NO vote campaign signs were posted in Dublin and other places, they were vandalised. Public media (are) supposed to allow 50:50 coverage for each side of a constitutional issue. This was blatantly ignored. The public police force was drafted in to support the YES vote and to register college students to vote, and they passed out YES badges to each student as they did so. And these things are only part of the story. The pressure was incessant and unbelievable. Even the ballot paper was biased. We argued that the term 'marriage equality' was biased, but yet that term made it on to the ballot paper.

"Meanwhile, Christians fasted and prayed. We passed out flyers. We used social media to communicate our concerns. But all this was on a very grass-roots level. Only the Iona Institute stood up for the NO vote. Only three representatives in our entire Dail (our parliament) stood up for a NO vote. Is there any small nation on earth that would survive such an onslaught?  I'm actually amazed that the NO vote was as high as 37.9 percent after what I have seen.  

"As for the gospel, can any of us really do 'enough'? No matter how much we do, will we not always wish we could do more? We have God on our side though. I believe He has allowed this to happen for His reasons. But we will have the ultimate victory."

Sadly, the tried and true tactics of bullying, intimidation, media bombardment, aggressive activism and massive U.S. funding won another victory for the gay revolution.

But this Irish Christian woman is absolutely right: We will have the ultimate victory (not over gays but in the Lord), which is one of the main points I make in my newest book, due out in September, Outlasting the Gay Revolution: Where Homosexual Activism Is Really Going and How to Turn the Tide.

Right now, though, the believers in Ireland need our prayers, our encouragement and our solidarity. This is part of an all-out war on the gospel.

Michael Brown is the author of 25 books, including Can You Be Gay and Christian? and host of the nationally syndicated talk radio show "The Line of Fire." He is also president of FIRE School of Ministry and director of the Coalition of Conscience. 

Michael Brown Featured In the Line of Fire Opinion Wed, 27 May 2015 09:30:00 -0400
This Is a Big Loss for the Pro-Life Movement

The California State Assembly approved a bill on Tuesday that would require licensed pregnancy centers, which sometimes steer women away from abortion, to inform clients about state programs offering such services, officials said.

The Democratic-led Assembly voted 49-26 to approve the bill, which has the support of California's Democratic attorney general, Kamala Harris, and will next go to the state Senate, said Allison Ruff, aide to Assemblywoman Autumn Burke, a Democrat and co-author of the bill.

With the vote, lawmakers in liberal-leaning California are moving in the opposite direction of a number of more conservative states, where laws have placed increased obligations on abortion providers.

Eleven states, but not California, require in-person counseling and a waiting period before an abortion can take place, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which tracks reproductive policy.

The California bill would require pregnancy centers that are licensed as clinics to notify patients that the state has programs that offer free or affordable abortion services, as well as help with family planning and prenatal care, according to Burke's office.

Pregnancy centers that are not licensed as clinics would be spared from having to give notice to clients of state programs, but would be required to disclose they are not licensed medical providers.

California has about 200 so-called crisis pregnancy centers, which may be licensed as clinics or unlicensed. All generally steer women away from abortion, Ruff said.

"That is their focus and they have every right to focus on adoption and other services, but they also can't misinform," Ruff said.

Sandra Palacios, associate director for governmental relations for the California Catholic Conference, which opposes the bill, said her organization would support an effort to fight the legislation in court if it is enacted.

"If I walk into a pro-life center, then I'm trying to figure out what can I do to get some medical help to make sure that my baby is safe and healthy," she said.

"It's almost like saying that I'm walking into McDonald's but they're supposed to put up a notice that says across the street a Burger King or something better is offered."

© 2015 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved. 

Alex Dobuzinskis/Reuters Featured U.S. News Wed, 27 May 2015 08:45:00 -0400
What Does It Mean to Bless Israel?

In the last days, God will gather the nations back to Himself and establish a holy hill where the nations will go to Jerusalem.

Nations have had the right and privilege over hundreds of years to make choices that govern their destiny. Many of these choices have led to bloodshed, exploitation and disregard for God's Laws.

Very soon however, Jesus Christ will rule these very same nations with an Iron Scepter as He rightly reclaims them as His own and brings the earth to a period of peace never before known.

Those choices, whether right or wrong, shall yield the rewards set by King Jesus. One of the most important choices that face nations today and the one that can change their fate is regarding the blessing of Israel.

Do you wonder why so much of the news you read lately is centered on Israel? It seems lately that Israel has its hands tied whether it's land settlements in Jerusalem, the Palestinian Peace Process and more.

The Bible states in the last days, Jerusalem will become a burdensome stone.

Zechariah 12:3 states "And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people; All that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces; though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it."

God is saying to the nations that you should expect this. God also says that Jerusalem will become an issue in the last days that will affect everyone. The peace process that you are hearing has far reaching effect that will impact every nation.

What can you do today Africa that keeps you in God's grace that is so necessary in these times.

You can choose to make right choices that bless your men, women, and children. Or you can choose to make bad choices.

What happens when you make bad choices is seen in the Book of Hosea.

"My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children" (Hos. 4:6).

"Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth" (2 Tim. 2:15).

"'Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!' declares the Lord. Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who care for my people: 'You have scattered my flock and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for your evil deeds, declares the Lord. Then I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. I will set shepherds over them who will care for them, and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall any be missing, declares The Lord'" (Jer. 23:1-4).

The Lord however is gracious, slow to anger and compassionate.

Let us examine the right choice a nation can make that can bless her people.

Ezekiel 34:26 says of the nations that will bless Israel, "I will bless them and the places surrounding my hill. I will send down showers. There will be showers of blessing."

God is saying that if you bless Israel, I will bless you. He that curses Israel I will curse. However, many people do not understand that blessing Israel means blessing God Himself. Therefore to go against Israel, known as The Apple of God's Eye, is to go against God Himself.

There is a line that is being increasingly drawn in the sand regarding morality versus immorality; good and evil; righteousness and unrighteousness.

The issue is, does Africa want to be blessed or not?

The nations of the world including Uganda have entered into a valley of decision: Will they or won't they support Israel. Israel is known as the light to the nations and that light is being felt right now.

The question is not should I bless Israel but rather how much.

The series of lessons will teach churches to how to become a source of blessing to Israel. These lessons are written by a Messianic Jewish Minister who carries the light of Yeshua—Jesus Christ.

What does it mean to bless Israel? When we are blessing Israel, we are really saying to God Almighty that He alone is the God of Abraham, Jacob, and Isaac. There is only one God. The very name Jehovah means Jealous.

Ron Arnow is president of Messianic Media and Broadcasting and Bless Israel Network. Mr. Arnow has spent more than 15 years advancing Messianic Judaism in the Nations and teaching people about the place Israel holds in God's End Time Plan. Mr. Arnow works with Almavision, Gospel TV, CSN Radio,, TCT.TV and Crown for the purpose of honoring Israel.

Ron Arnow Featured Standing With Israel Opinion Wed, 27 May 2015 06:00:00 -0400
10 Simple Tips for Biblical Fasting

Many people think about fasting for a variety of reasons. Perhaps you need to renew your body and soul. Maybe you're feeling sluggish or toxic and need to cleanse your body in short order. Or maybe you want to fast for spiritual reasons, such as a breakthrough in your personal life or for revival in this land.

Whatever your reasons for fasting, here are 10 tips to ensure you fast smart:

1. Prepare your mind. Before you begin, think about why you want to fast. What do you want to achieve? It's important to have the right mindset before you start or you may lose heart early on. Pray for discipline and a strong will to complete the fast.

2. Stock up. Shop for everything you'll need before the day you begin. Not having everything you need on your first day is a sure way to fail. If you're doing a juice fast, for example, look at the recipes you'll be using, and make sure your shopping list has all the ingredients.

3. Drink water. Drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of purified water while you are fasting so you can flush away toxins and waste. This will also help you stay energized. Dehydration can cause you to feel tired and hungry.

4. Go easy. Gentle exercise, such as walking, is good, but don't overexert yourself. Your body is working hard to eliminate toxins, remove damaged cells and restore vitality. This important work is often not completed when we eat regular meals. That's because the body focuses its attention on digestion throughout the day. Fasting frees your body from this daily chore so it can work on cleansing, repairing and healing. It's like taking a week's vacation to thoroughly clean your home.

While all this important work is going on inside, you want to give your body the rest it needs. Take more breaks. Avoid exhausting work. Go for walks. Get fresh air and sun. Go to bed early, as powerful healing hormones are released while you sleep. Relax before bed by taking a bath, reading a good book or listening to beautiful music.

5. Choose a plan. Many people think fasting means a strict water fast. Some people even try to follow the model of some biblical heroes—no food or water, which can be dangerous. But there is more than one type of fast. Choose the one that is best for you.

  • Water fast. A strict water fast for more than two or three days is not recommended unless you can completely rest and are medically supervised.
  • Juice fast. Freshly made juice is rich in antioxidants that bind toxins so they don't damage cells—and those antioxidants are critical, especially during a fast.

Unlike in biblical times, where the air, soil and water were virtually pure, we have thousands of different chemicals pouring into our atmosphere every year. Most of our food is sprayed with pesticides and packaged with preservatives, additives, dyes and fillers. (Therefore, you ought to choose organic produce.) Our water is treated with chemicals, and our air is assaulted with industrial pollution.

Toxins are stored mainly in our fat cells. When we fast, those toxins are released in greater amounts. Without antioxidants to bind up free radicals, our cells can be damaged.

On the juice fast, you can drink vegetable juices, purified water, coconut water, veggie broth and herbal teas throughout the day. I emphasize vegetable juice because fruit juice has too much sugar, which can cause spikes and dips in blood sugar, leaving you tired. However, you can use a little fruit to flavor and sweeten veggie juice recipes.

All this will keep you healthy, energized and hydrated. To keep from boredom, try new juice and green smoothie recipes, such as those in my book The Juice Lady's Big Book of Juices and Green Smoothies.

  • Daniel fast. As described in Daniel 10:3, the prophet abstained for three weeks from delicacies, meat and wine, which would include all animal products and alcohol. This is a vegan diet, in other words, and includes abstaining from rich foods and desserts.
  • One meal a day. Everyone can fast for one meal or from certain foods. You can deny yourself coffee, sweets, soda pop, fast food, snack foods and junk food. None of these things are good for your body anyway. And if you can't do a strict fast because of your age or health, choose instead to give up some of your favorite foods. You could also fast one meal a day and drink a veggie juice instead.

6. Be wise. You may have a physical condition that would make water or juice fasting unwise or dangerous. Seek medical advice first. However, be aware that many doctors have little knowledge of fasting or training in nutrition. People who should not do a strict water or juice fast include women who are pregnant or nursing, people who are anorexic or bulimic, anyone who is emaciated or underweight, and those who are on dialysis.

Be aware of medications and their effects while you fast. For example, a vegetable juice fast can lower your blood pressure quickly, so you would need to cut back on medication, for which you should seek your physician's advice. People with diabetes or hypoglycemia can modify a vegetable juice fast and include green smoothies made with avocado for extra protein and fat. This would also be my recommendation for anyone who is elderly or weak.

During your fast, if you become so hungry you could eat the plaster off your wall, you may have parasites or yeast overgrowth. It could be that freeloaders in your body are screaming for food. You may need to do a parasite cleanse or a yeast-control diet to get this infection under control before continuing any other kind of fast.

Please note: Children under the age of 15 should not do a strict water or juice fast.

7. Determine the length. You can fast from one day to an extended period of time, like Jesus did for 40 days. Most people can easily handle a three-day fast. If you work, start on Friday. Then you'll have the weekend to complete the fast at home.

8. Know the symptoms. As your body releases toxins, you might get some detox reactions, such as headaches, tiredness, foggy brain or bad breath. (Chew parsley for your breath.) This can be part of your body ridding itself of toxins that could cause disease, which is a good thing. Don't quit your fast when this happens. The symptoms should pass rather quickly.

9. Pray. Fasting and prayer are linked throughout the Bible. Whenever we fast, we are admonished to pray, which facilitates our spiritual growth and renewal.

10. Break smart. How you break a fast is as important as the fast itself. Break your fast the first day with only vegetable juices, green smoothies, raw fruits and vegetables, veggie soups, dehydrated vegan foods or steamed vegetables. Never break a fast with a heavy meal like a burger and fries or steak and potatoes, as you can harm your body and end up with stomach cramps and digestive issues.

Bonus: Know the Benefits

The ancient discipline of fasting offers health benefits no other therapy can provide. On the physical side, it rapidly rids the body of waste and toxins—like changing old water in an aquarium. It can eliminate edema and lower blood pressure. A study published by the Journal of Alternative Complementary Medicine in 2002 found that 90 percent of 174 patients with high blood pressure who incorporated fasting achieved normal blood pressure. Each of the participants who had been on antihypertensive medications were able to get off their drugs.

Fasting also helps rebalance your body's pH level. The typical American diet is mostly acid forming. A slightly acidic body contributes to weight gain, cancer and a host of other diseases. Fasting facilitates weight loss—water weight first, then fat. This ancient practice appears to reset the metabolism, much like a computer reboot.

A fast also gives your digestive tract a rest. This helps your digestive system heal, which can lead to significant health improvements. Allergy symptoms often improve with fasting. Autoimmune disorders may heal. Fasting improves insulin sensitivity by lowering blood sugar, which helps diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

In addition, fasting is part of our spiritual heritage. It was an expected discipline in both the Old and New Testament. The Orthodox Church still has four main fast periods during the calendar year.

However, fasting is one of the most neglected spiritual disciplines of the 21st century. It is rarely discussed in most nonliturgical churches or on Christian TV. Yet Scripture admonishes us to fast and pray.

According to Scripture, when God's people fast with the right motive, seeking Him with a broken, repentant and contrite spirit, God hears from heaven (2 Chr. 7:14). He promised He will heal our lives, our churches, our communities and our nation.

Our land is in desperate need of healing. Repentance, fasting and prayer are the only hope for our nation. Fasting and prayer can bring revival and a change of direction in our country. It can also rekindle our love for Christ. Fasting is a powerful spiritual tool to make a difference in our lives.

Cherie Calbom, M.S., C.N., is the author of more than 20 books, including The Juice Lady's Big Book of Juices and Green Smoothies and her most recent, Remedies for Stress and Adrenal Fatigue, releasing this month. She holds a Master of Science degree in whole foods nutrition from Bastyr University. Cherie and her husband, John, offer juice health retreats throughout the year, along with health and healing conferences. For more information, visit

If you liked this article, you can order some of Cherie Calbom's books, click here.

Cherie Calbom/M.S., C.N. Featured Opinion Wed, 27 May 2015 09:00:00 -0400
Growing Number Believes Animals Should Have Human Rights

PETA must be happy. According to a new Gallup poll, more Americans than ever before believe animals should have the same rights as humans. 

The poll found 32 percent of Americans support equal rights for animals, up from 25 percent in 2008. Meanwhile, 62 percent of Americans believe animals should have some protections but can still be used to benefit humans.

"The growing belief that animals should be on par with humans when it comes to rights raises the timeless questions: 'What is a human being?' and 'Is a human being a different kind of creation?'—questions that take on increased importance given not only this survey, but also the growing trend of robots taking on human-like characteristics and activities," said Southern Evangelical Seminary President Dr. Richard Land.

"For centuries, society—including our laws and our cultural mores—has been based on a belief that humans are distinct creations. Indeed, our own Declaration of Independence establishes the premise that humans are 'created' and 'endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.' 

"One of our responsibilities as human beings created in God's image is to care for animal life. Proverbs 12:10 clearly says that the righteous man regards the life of his animal. However, when society loses the ability to make meaningful distinctions between human life and animal life, it doesn't so much elevate animals, but rather it inevitably devalues the unique character of human life."

Land pointed out specifically the irony that while there are laws imposing penalties for destroying unborn turtles, outcries arise over efforts to protect unborn babies—a clear indication of the loss of a societal moral compass that can make meaningful distinctions between the relative value of human beings and animals.

"Should our treatment of animals be humane? Yes, absolutely. For example, I am the proud owner of what may be the world's most spoiled-rotten German Shepherd," Land says. "However, when we begin to place the lives of animals on equal par—at that point, with the lives of human beings, we have reached a position that is logically defenseless, as we are advocating, essentially for either dehumanizing human beings or humanizing animals."

SES delves into the questions of the nature of humanity through its Ethics of Emerging Technology initiative, which specifically evaluates the nature of humans in light of technological advancements.  

Land recently taught a summer module called "A Christian Perspective of Ethics," which asked and answered such questions as "Is a human being a separate creation of God and different in kind or merely degree from the animal kingdom?"

"Our beliefs regarding the nature of humanity have far-reaching implications," Land continued. "This isn't simply a question of whether Fido should be humanely cared for, but of whether as a society we are moving towards a scenario in which Fido will have equal claim to medical resources and legal protections that human beings currently possess."

Deborah Hamilton Featured U.S. News Wed, 27 May 2015 08:00:00 -0400
'40 More Days and the Nation Will Be Destroyed'

Use your sanctified imagination to envision the following make-believe scenario.

Joel Osteen, Andy Stanley, Joyce Meyer, Ed Young Jr., Dave Ramsey, James Robison, Ken Copeland, Pat Robertson, Matt Crouch and other high-profile Christian leaders all begin their programs with an agreed-upon in-advance, sober warning to their collective millions of listeners.

"The following message is completely uncharacteristic of our normal broadcast. But we are not living in normal times. We can't keep pretending God's judgments aren't real. What's happening currently can't be dismissed as coincidental but providential. We have come to the conclusion that God has directed leaders across this nation to simply communicate eight words: '40 more days and America will be destroyed.' That's what He instructed us to say. But there still is hope if we believe that God will have mercy on us if we humbly turn back to Him and the ways of our Founding Fathers."

"Larry, that's unrealistic and too far fetched!"

Do you know that the greatest awakening in world history took place when an obedient servant of God echoed those exact words in a different location? The leader and the people were so shaken by the severity of the message that they turned from their sinful ways and returned to God.

"When God saw their actions, that they turned from their evil ways, He changed His mind about the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it" (Jonah 3:10).

Read the entire account of this amazing, historical event in Jonah 3:3–10.

What Will It Take to Awaken Us?

On an individual basis, scores of people say their conversion took place after a series of events jolted them to humble themselves and turn to God. Should we not expect something similar needful for a nation at large?

"Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them. Then they cried unto the Lord in their trouble, and He delivered them out of their distresses" (Ps. 107:5-6).

An amalgam of unexpected, swift events exploding in tandem with each other would certainly get the attention of millions in America. The following are real and within the realm of possibility very shortly: devastating economic collapse; horrific drought, gas and food shortages; Middle East war; a series of coordinated Islamic terrorist attacks; outbreak of new AIDS-like virus; racial riots erupting nationwide; multiple massive earthquakes, EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) Internet-crippling attack; assassinations and political chaos.

David Stockman, Ronald Reagan's former Budget Director, says of the economy, "All hell is about to break loose!"

ISIS just released a statement, as reported in Charisma News, that they have over 70 trained terrorists in 15 U.S. states now.

To picture what it could be like when some of these events explode on the scene, picture a segment from the film "Mad Max" or the TV show "Walking Dead." [I don't watch these but have seen pictures from them.] Or visualize a city like those in the Ukraine—once-thriving cities now lawless centers of desperate people who've become marauders and looters carrying out criminal acts with impunity.

Our parent's generation exhibited patience, sacrifice, discipline and civility in difficult times. Being realistic (recall Ferguson or Baltimore recently?) and not dismissing all of this as nonsensical conspiracy theories, do we really expect people in a crisis today to let others go ahead of them in lines and folks patiently serve one another amid shortages, curfews and roving vigilantes?

God hasn't given us a spirit of fear, but it might wake people up to pause and ponder some of these coming realities. Just read afresh what Jesus said would be taking place prior to His Return.

How Should We Then Live?

In the '60s, theologian and prophet Francis Schaeffer posed this question to Christians. Analyzing events in history and foretelling what was coming to our nation, he warned us of this implosion while calling us to engage our culture and beseech God for divine intervention.

Christians can no longer settle for "status quo" religion with neatly packaged, sanitized, inspirational programs and services while ignoring the epidemic of Christians being persecuted and Western civilization crumbling. In England, the former Archbishop of Canterbury said, "Christianity is facing extinction in Great Britain."

We are currently engaged in a titanic, unprecedented struggle with forces of evil and must categorically reject wishful thinking that this is simply temporary, cyclical or manageable. We are at a tipping point where either we experience a divine intervention of God in a Third Great Awakening or we will witness the fulfillment of A.W. Tozer's prophetic warning: "Historians will conclude that we of the 20th century had the genius to create a great civilization but we lacked the moral wisdom to preserve it."

One Word Captures Our Charge

In Matthew 24 and Mark 13, Jesus told us the signs of the end of the age. He basically summed everything up with these words, "He who perseveres till the end will be saved. " (Mt.24:13; Mk.13:13). And in Romans 5:3 God tells us, "...suffering produces perseverance."

There simply are no shortcuts in difficult days. We must draw upon the grace of God and make a quality decision that we will persevere.

Presently I'm reading a book called The Churchill Factor - How One Man Made History. This biography of the towering figure of the 20th century who saved Western civilization from extinction demonstrated one overarching quality: perseverance.

When his fellow countrymen and Cabinet were capitulating to Hitler and his war machine, Winston Churchill told them to persevere, to fight and not to negotiate. "If this long island story of ours is to end at last, let it end only when each one of us lies choking in his own blood upon the ground!" With this almost Shakespearean climax, he rallied them to press on till victory was theirs.

Days ago I spent some time with my wife in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, called the "Secret City" during World War II. Here 75,000 citizens worked tirelessly to develop the atomic bomb to ultimately defeat Japan and bring about their surrender. These patriots, alongside of our servicemen and women who gave their lives on battlefields, and the D-Day invasion persevered to secure our freedom.

During these turbulent times, if you need a fresh read to bolster your perseverance, let me suggest a book called Staying Power by my year friend of 33 years, Ken Roberts (

Ken faced incredible adversity when his wife of 25 years was killed in a car accident, a church building project and pastoral team imploded and he resigned his ministry in a mudslide of despair.

Yet Ken Roberts drew upon the grace of God and discovered lessons to sustainability. He persevered and today has new life, a new wife and a new ministry impacting multitudes. I highly suggest readers check it out.

As we await the Supreme Court ruling that may tip the scales in a way that may accelerate judgment on our land, may perseverance be our watchword.

Remember the words of the prophet Jeremiah, "If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?" (Jer. 12:5).

Larry Tomczak is a best-selling author of 8 books with 43 years of trusted ministry experience. He is a cultural commentator whose weekly articles appear on sites reaching 26 million monthly. Connect and view short video commentaries at

Visit Larry at, his Facebook page , and follow him on Twitter @larrytomczak.

Larry Tomczak Featured Here's the Deal Opinion Wed, 27 May 2015 07:00:00 -0400
Joshua Duggar's Fall: A Teachable Moment for Christians Everywhere

Not too long ago, a few members of the Duggar family from the reality show "19 Kids and Counting" spoke out against homosexual marriage. Many gay activists attacked the show with demands for cancellation. At that time TLC didn't budge.

On Thursday, May 21, Reality TV star Joshua Duggar issued an apology after reports surfaced that he allegedly molested girls as a teenager, saying: "Twelve years ago, as a young teenager I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret. I hurt others, including my family and close friends," The Duggars are known for being devout Christians who do not believe in compromising the gospel. They are all followers Jesus Christ, like the rest of us, they are not perfect, but they follow Him to the best of their ability.

TLC pulled all episodes of the show currently set to air, according to Shannon Llanes, a spokeswoman for the network. The network had already replaced several scheduled repeats of "19 Kids and Counting" with "The Little People."

Those on CNN and some other networks who promote the secular worldview want to blow this out of proportion. Their goal is not so much reporting the news as it is to lift you up or tear you down depending on whether or not you agree with their point of view. We should not fall into their trap and we should not give them this kind of power. They sweep under the rug the sins and failures of those with whom they politically agree while magnifying the transgressions of the Christian community. They do this with a straight face and false indignation. There are gay activists who believe that the Duggars don't deserve love, respect and grace because they claim they didn't show love, respect and grace for the gay community when they chose not to support gay marriage.

A question we must ask In Touch Weekly is if they broke the Duggar story as a way to sell more magazines, or possibly with the motive to end the reality show, and have they treated other similar stories in the same manner.

We have all done things in life that we are not proud of, including those in the media, such as CNN. We have all done things that can and might come back to bite us. What Joshua did is despicable. I can, from personal experience, imagine what those young girls are going through. We don't know how this could be impacting their lives at this very moment. Psychologically, this could affect all the victims who were molested by him.  

I was molested by my mom's now deceased husband and by an altar boy at the age of 13. This influenced my desire to never be in a relationship with a man. As a matter of fact, I thought all men molested women and I wanted no part of that. Those who knew me as a kid witnessed how I made most young men pay for what happened to me. I started beating up all my high school male friends; attacking them for what was done to me, because I could not hurt those men who molested me. Could these other girls (now women) be feeling the same way? Could they later have come out with a story against Joshua Duggar as many did with Mr. Bill Cosby? We are hearing of this kind of thing over and over again.

For those of us that claim to be Christians, this is a teachable moment, even for someone like me who was molested at the age of 13. I never wanted to forgive those jerks who molested me. I kept quiet until I was 21 and realized later in life that another family member was molested by the same man and never mentioned it until she was married. See, they could no longer hold inside what had been done to them at a young age. Being molested is not something you can forget, especially because I hear of this kind of thing over and over again. They say you can forgive but can't forget, and that would be me. My heart goes out to the women that have been put in such a horrible place. It's one thing to deal with being molested and the not knowing what to do or say, and to make matters worse (as if they could be); it is even more devastating if the one who violated you was your own brother.

I'm sure some of you are asking, how can this be a teachable moment? I was awakened last night, and this issue was all I could think about. I really believe the Lord was showing me something not only because of my own pain pertaining to being molested, but because He wanted me to remain in grace and forgiveness of those who willfully hurt me.

The Lord took my mind back to Moses when he committed murder and then fled to Midian.

Exodus 2:11-15 GOD'S WORD Translation (GW)

"In those days, when Moses was grown, he went out to his brothers and looked on their burdens; and he saw an Egyptian striking a Hebrew, one of his brothers. He looked this way and that way, and when he saw no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. When he went out the next day, two men of the Hebrews struggled with each other; and he said to him that did the wrong, 'Why do you strike your companion?' He said, 'Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you intend to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?' Moses feared and said, 'Surely this thing is known.' Now when Pharaoh heard this thing, he sought to slay Moses. But Moses fled from the presence of Pharaoh and settled in the land of Midian, and he dwelled by a well"

But listen to the puncher Moses went on to marry Zipporah. "Moses was content to dwell with the man, and he gave Zipporah, his daughter, to Moses" (Ex. 2:21).

What I've learned is that in spite of some of the stupid and sinful things we have done in life, we all can go on to do great things for the kingdom of God as Moses has done and as Joshua Duggar is doing. Moses for many years was nowhere to found but he resurfaced to go on and do great and mighty things. When we all think of Moses the first thing we think of is that he led the people out of Egypt in the middle of the night, not that he killed a man (Ex. 14).

When we think of Joshua Duggar, we think of him as a family man who is in one of the greatest Christian shows that embody Christian values, not as a child molester.

I'm sure some of you are saying you can't put Moses and Joshua Duggar in the same sentence. They both sinned and fell short; however, God restored both of them and they both have and are doing great things for the kingdom of God. 

Jesus was persecuted for doing what was right and true. He never sinned but died so that we could repent and be restored. No matter if we kill, steal or molest someone, Jesus died on the cross for all of it. Yes, there are consequences, however, Moses received a second chance, and you and I received forgiveness and a second chance. We need to extend the same grace to this young man, Joshua Duggar, which Jesus gave to us. We should examine the fruit in their life after repentance. It appears Joshua has passed that test.

Now I know some of you will say he doesn't deserve a second chance for what he did. Well, you are not Jesus and you aren't the one to decide, so get off your high horse. Quit trying to play God Junior. For those of us who understand the true gospel, let's continue to pray for the Duggar family and hope that their show will be allowed to remain on air on TLC.

If the devil has his way, it won't go that way for the Duggars. Don't just lie down and do nothing, church. Look at what happened with gay marriage in our nation because we remained silent to long. Make a stand so that we can continue to see wholesome shows on our television. Aren't you tired of the perversion that has been coming out of our televisions?

I will end with this, when Jesus was at the Temple speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. "But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning He returned to the temple. All the people came to Him, and He sat down and taught them. The scribes and Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery. When they had put her in the middle, they said to Him, 'Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of adultery. Now Moses in the law commanded us to stone such, but what do You say?' They said this, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear them. So when they continued asking Him, He stood up and said to them, 'Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.' Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Being convicted by their conscience, those who heard it went out one by one, beginning with the eldest even to the last. Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had stood up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, 'Woman, where are your accusers? Did no one condemn you?' She said, 'No one, Lord.' Jesus said to her, 'Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more'" (John 8:1-11).

Janet Boynes is the founder of Janet Boynes Ministries, a nondenominational outreach that ministers to individuals questioning their sexuality and those who wish to leave homosexuality. As the author of Called Out, Boynes chronicles her story of living as a lesbian for 14 years until God called her out of that lifestyle. Read more of her story here.

Janet Boynes Featured Opinion Wed, 27 May 2015 06:00:00 -0400
WATCH: Pastor, Wife Lose Newborn, 2-Year-Old in Gut-Wrenching Car Crash

To lose one child is heart-breaking, but to lose two is pure anguish.  

That's exactly what Gentry and Hadley Eddings are experiencing right now. The young family was traveling in a caravan when the car with a pregnant Hadley and the couple's 2-year-old was struck by another vehicle.

The 2-year-old died in the crash, but Hadley had an emergency C-section, delivering her baby about a month early.

Sadly, the newborn died just two days after the crash.  

Watch the video to see more of their story. 

Please lift the Eddings family up in prayer.

Jessilyn Justice Featured U.S. News Tue, 26 May 2015 17:00:00 -0400
B.B. King's Daughters Claim Music Legend Was Poisoned

Nevada officials said on Monday they would conduct a homicide investigation into the death of B.B. King, who died this month at age 89, after two of his daughters leveled accusations that the blues great was murdered.

The Clark County, Nevada coroner's office said in a posting on Twitter that it had taken jurisdiction over King's body, and that autopsy results would take a minimum of six to eight weeks.

"Our coroner takes jurisdiction over #BBKing body, performs autopsy. Results:6-8wks min," it said, adding that a homicide investigation would be conducted along with the Las Vegas police department.

Two of King's children, Karen Williams and Patty King, alleged that King was poisoned, ostensibly by two of his longtime associates, including one who had power of attorney over his affairs, the Associated Press reported.

"I believe my father was poisoned and that he was administered foreign substances. I believe my father was murdered," each woman said in statements contained in documents submitted to the AP by their lawyer.

An attorney for King's estate called the allegations unfounded and disrespectful, AP said.

The women also claimed in a news video posted online that members of King's family were prevented from visiting him by the two associates during his final days.

King, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member who died in Las Vegas on May 14, had said earlier in the month he was in hospice care at his home after being hospitalized in April with dehydration related to diabetes.

King's funeral was scheduled to be held on Friday in Mississippi. It was unclear whether the investigation would delay that.

© 2015 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved. 

Chris Michaud/Reuters Featured U.S. News Tue, 26 May 2015 16:30:00 -0400
Mike Huckabee Makes Controversial Statement About Duggar Family

Presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee is making a controversial statement about a Christian family the media is crucifying. Huckabee is affirming his support for the Duggar family.

Josh Duggar on Thursday addressed allegations that he molested children 12 years ago. Subsequent revelations indicated four of the victims were his sisters. Duggar has apologized and resigned his position at the Family Research Council, but the backlash continues growing.

Nevertheless, Huckabee and his wife, Janet, are affirming support for the family, whose claim to fame is the 19 Kids and Counting reality TV show. TLC has officially cancelled the program, even as the Duggars are trying for their 20th child.

"Josh's actions when he was an underage teen are as he described them himself, 'inexcusable,' but that doesn't mean 'unforgivable.' He and his family dealt with it and were honest and open about it with the victims and the authorities," Huckabee says.

As he sees it, no purpose whatsoever is served by people who are working to trying discredit Josh or his family by sensationalizing the story. Good people make mistakes, he says, and do regrettable and even disgusting things.

"The reason that the law protects disclosure of many actions on the part of a minor is that the society has traditionally understood something that today's blood-thirsty media does not understand—that being a minor means that one's judgment is not mature," Huckabee says. "No one needs to defend Josh's actions as a teenager, but the fact that he confessed his sins to those he harmed, sought help, and has gone forward to live a responsible and circumspect life as an adult is testament to his family's authenticity and humility."

Huckabee made a bold statement: Those who have enjoyed revealing these long ago sins in order to discredit the Duggar family have actually revealed their own insensitive blood thirst. There was no consideration of the fact that the victims wanted this to be left in the past, he says, and ultimately a judge had the information on file destroyed—not to protect Josh, but the innocent victims.

"Janet and I love Jim Bob and Michelle and their entire family. They are no more perfect a family than any family, but their Christian witness is not marred in our eyes because following Christ is not a declaration of our perfection, but of His perfection," Huckabee says.

"It is precisely because we are all sinners that we need His grace and His forgiveness. We have been blessed to receive God's love and we would do no less than to extend our love and support for our friends. In fact, it is such times as this, when real friends show up and stand up. Today, Janet and I want to show up and stand up for our friends. Let others run from them. We will run to them with our support."

Jennifer LeClaire Featured U.S. News Tue, 26 May 2015 16:00:00 -0400
Jentezen Franklin: Let Your Kids Hear You Pray in Tongues

Does the failure of the church rest on parents not speaking in the Spirit? Yes, says Jentezen Franklin.  

"If we don't preach on the baptism of the Holy Spirit we will not see it in the next generation. We've got to get up and preach the truth about being filled with the Holy Spirit and let the Holy Spirit do its work," Franklin said at the Empowered21 Conference. "... Speak in tongues. Let them hear the language of the Spirit because if they don't hear it they won't speak it."

Franklin, much like Rabbi Jonathan Cahn, points to America's parallels with Israel, particularly with Deuteronomy 6:

"Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God. The Lord is one! And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.  These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up."

To put that into practice, Franklin says to speak in tongues to train your family on how to fight in the Spirit. He looks to Joshua 3, saying that those who turned away from the Lord were not taught the things of the Spirit. 

"They stopped teaching the Word to their children," he said. "I'm saying to every parent and to every grandparent, when you get those children, let your kids hear about how the Lord has moved in your family. Tell the stories of His grace. Tell the stories about how you went to a Holy Ghost church, and never been to one before, and my God it scared you to death. Tell how everybody, the only church you went to, the only time they raised their hand was to vote the preacher out, but when you went to that Pentecostal church every hand was raised."

Jessilyn Justice Featured World News Tue, 26 May 2015 15:00:00 -0400